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Friday, April 16, 2021

A Lesson in Contentment - Part 3

 Hello,

How are you this chilly, cloudy, rainy morning? Of course it might not be cloudy and rainy where you live. Funny, isn't it, to think that those who read this blog post are all most likely experiencing different weather from everyone else.

Life feels crazy busy. Juggling has never been something I've been very good at. Are you good at juggling? I taught writing class yesterday. Camp is still going on and means I have more work to do with that, oh, and to make it even better, our internet has been really slow or almost not working several times. Helpful, don't you think? (Notice the sarcastic voice.) My sis and I are providing child care tomorrow for a ladies fellowship at church. There are 13 kids and a baby signed up.

I've been writing. I finished and sent off "Lessons from Liberty" (my 4th of July story), so that's done! Yay! Now I'm back to "Phil Wood." It was slow going until I realized I was afraid of the story. Afraid I was going to mess something up again and have to rearrange or cut out parts because it didn't fit. So I was trying to make sure every idea was thought through to the end before I wrote it. Ha! For a planner that might be a good thing, but for someone who writes best without planning, it was a terrible idea. I ended up erasing all my carefully planned thoughts and just writing. And it's going so much easier and smoother now!

 I can't believe this month is half way over! I want to slow it down, but I'm still looking for the pause button. Has anyone found it yet?

I hope you enjoy the next part of this Kelsey story.

 

A Lesson in Contentment
Part 3

    Zoe’s shout made Kelsey pause in the middle of the stream and look back at the bridge. Some boy was standing beside Zoe, but she wasn’t sure who it was.
    “Don’t worry, I’m just going to get a few of the ones with more red in them, then I’ll be done.” She chose to ignore the presence of the stranger though she couldn’t help wondering who he was. “If it’s someone from school, the news will be all over by tomorrow that I was seen walking barefooted in the stream picking weeds. But these are not weeds. Humph! Why do I care what they think of me?”
    When she couldn’t hold another flower in her hand, she carefully walked back up stream and then paused glancing at both banks. Which would be easier to climb up?
    “Here, I’ll give you a hand up,” a masculine voice said, and the young man left the bridge and stood on the bank of the stream with his hand out.
    It would have been rude to refuse, and Kelsey hated to be rude. In a few minutes, therefore, she was standing on the road again while Zoe exclaimed over the beauty of the flowers.
    “Oh, excuse me, Kels,” Zoe said after a moment, “let me introduce you to my brother, Wally. Wally, this is Kelsey.”
    “Hi,” Wally greeted her cordially. “I’ve seen you at school but have never been introduced. It’s nice to finally get to meet you.”
    “Hi.” Kelsey nodded and focused her attention on rearranging the flowers so that the ones with red were more mixed with the others. Having grown up with a house full of girls, she wasn’t sure what to say around boys. Except for her sister’s friend; he felt like one of the family.
    “Say, do you girls want a lift home? Aunt Olive told me where to find you and said you’d been out a while.”
    “We’d ruin your car, Wally,” Zoe laughed. “In case you hadn’t noticed, we are rather wet.”
    “You can stand on the running boards on either side. I’d drive slowly. It would be faster than you could walk. And easier on your feet.” He glanced significantly at Zoe’s bare feet. “Come on,” he coaxed.
    Linking her arm in Kelsey’s Zoe replied, “What do you have up your sleeve, Wallace?”
    “A piece of Aunt Olive’s lemon cake,” admitted Wally with a grin. “She promised me one if I’d bring you two back.”
    Kelsey, having finished arranging her flowers, looked at Zoe and raised her eyebrows. It really didn’t matter to her what they did. She wouldn’t mind a lift, though she had never ridden on the running board of a car before.
    It only took Zoe a moment to give in, provided that Kelsey would come with them. Not feeling the need to refuse, Kelsey nodded and was soon laughing with delight as the gentle rain pelted her face and the wind tossed her wet curls.
    The ride was brief and when they had reached the house, Kelsey gathered her flowers which had been laid on an old shirt on the seat, and thanked Wally shyly.
    “Come along, girls,” he said, motioning them forward. “I believe Aunt Olive would rather see you dripping water in her kitchen then in the hallway.”
    Aunt Olive’s greeting was cordial and she handed each girl a towel, telling Zoe she’d probably find clean, dry clothes in the guest room. “Come down when you’re dry,” she told them.
    Kelsey held out her flowers. “These are for you, Miss Olive. I thought they matched your kitchen.”
    “Coreopsis! Kelsey, did Zoe tell you these are my favorite flowers?”
    “No.”
    “I didn’t know they were, Aunt Olive,” Zoe turned around at the door to say.
    “They are. Wally, would you get that vase.” She opened an upper cabinet and pointed. “I think there are enough flowers to fill it.” She was right, and soon the vase with its bright nodding flowers stood on the table. “These take me back a long time ago,” she mused half aloud. Her hand reached up and she clutched something inside her dress. “I–” With a quick shake of her head, she turned to the girls. “Go on. Get out of those wet clothes and then come back. I’ll have some lemon cake waiting for you.”
    Kelsey soon found herself dry and in borrowed clothes. The dress was a perfect fit and Zoe nodded approvingly.
    “Candace and I have spent so many nights here at Aunt Olive’s that we’ve taken to leaving some of our clothes so we don’t have to pack every time. That dress fits your slender figure much better than it ever did me. Are you ready to go down?”
    Giving another look in the mirror, Kelsey shrugged. “My hair looks terrible, but it always does after it gets wet unless I spend a long time fixing it properly.”
    “Nonsense! You look fine!” remonstrated Zoe. “I love your curls. They fit you. Now let’s go down before Wally eats all the cake. What do you suppose the other girls have done in our absence?”
    Kelsey had completely forgotten about the other girls. Perhaps it had been rude to run off and leave them even if they had offered the others a chance to go with them. Candace would be sure to make some remark about her hair or her borrowed dress. For the first time since she had arrived, Kelsey wished it was time to leave and she could set off for home. But Zoe didn’t give her time to think any longer, for she linked arms with her in the friendly fashion she had, and together they descended the stairs.


What's your weather like?
Do you want to read "Lessons from Liberty"?
Have you ever picked flowers in the rain?

Friday, April 9, 2021

A Lesson in Contentment - Part 2

 Good morning, FFF,

I hope you are enjoying this month of April. I was until the weather got warmer and we had the windows open and allergies hit me. :P I'm still fighting an allergy cold. I'm feeling better than I was, but not back to normal yet. And I've been busy. It feels like this month is crazy full!

Saturday was busy as I was trying to get a lot written and do some other things. I ended up not writing too much.

Sunday I sang in the ladies ensemble for church, then got to read in the afternoon at home. So nice.

Monday I reached the end of my 4th of July story! It's out to beta readers now.

Tuesday was one long and boring day. I worked as an election judge and had 16 people come in to vote. I can't say that I was too surprised since the only thing on the ballot was school board and none of the 3 people had been on before, so you couldn't check their track record.

Wednesday I was so tired! And spent most of the day playing catch-up. I did get some planning and plotting done for "Phil Wood" so that I could write.

Thursday was busy. Almost all my nieces and nephews were over all morning and half the afternoon. I helped Sissy design a mock cover for her story for school. Helped Funny Boy trace and cut out a baseball bat for his school project, listened to Doodle Bug read his school paper, played some violin/piano duets with Goof Ball, and played with Buddy, Missy, and Buster. I did get almost 500 words written, but they were words hard to come by because I was so tired.

Today. Maybe today I'll be able to get some things done. My family is going to a school performance for some of my nephews this evening so I'll have to write before then if I'm going to write.

 Anyway, that was a very short glance at my week. Add to that Camp stuff, regular life, emails, and more. Yep, I'm busy. But here's the next part of the story. Hope you enjoy it.

 

 A Lesson in Contentment
Part 2

    Before Kelsey could think of something to say, Aunt Olive was back. “It looks like you girls are on your own. Have fun and don’t catch a chill, or your mothers will never let me invite you again.” With that laughing remark, Aunt Olive waved the two dripping girls back out into the rain.
    The walk was delightful. Kelsey, used to walking barefooted through wet grass, over rocks and along broken sidewalks, thought the paved road an easy path and walked along confidently. But Zoe, her feet tender, felt each small pebble and, though she said nothing, half wished she had worn her sandals. To keep her mind off her feet she asked, “How many brothers and sisters do you have, Kelsey?”
    “Seven. One older sister and the rest younger sisters.”
    “No brothers?”
    “Not one. Poor Dad always wanted a son, but he got daughters instead. He likes to tease Lauren, she’s my older sister, and me by saying that all the girls have been used up in the family now and we’ll no doubt get a house full of boys when we get married.” She laughed brightly and tossed back her wet hair.
    “Do you believe him?”
    “It doesn’t matter if I believe him or not. Neither one of us is married. Lauren does have a boyfriend though. And I think–” she hesitated and then lingered in the road until Zoe was right beside her. “I think he’s going to propose soon.” The sparkle in her eyes and the bright smile showed just how delighted she was.
    “Oh, Kels! How exciting!” And Zoe clapped her hands.
    “But you must not say anything about it, because I don’t know for sure, and I don’t want Lauren to suspect anything.”
    Zoe promised silence and then exclaimed, pointing ahead, “Look, there’s the bridge!”
    Soon the girls stood leaning over the railing watching the water dance and swirl below them.
    “Kels,” Zoe asked, “why are you so quiet at school?”
    Without turning around, Kelsey replied, “I’ve never been good in large crowds; besides, everyone else always has things to say, and I like to listen.”
    “Well, what things do you like to do? Besides take walks in the rain.” And Zoe smiled.
    Kelsey laughed and tipped her face back and closed her eyes against the falling moisture. “I often ride my bike to the old folks home and visit with the residents. Sometimes one or two of my sisters will go with me. I could sit and listen to them tell stories for hours.” Shaking off some of the water from her face, she looked over at the girl beside her. “I suppose you think I’m strange.”
    “Why? Because you enjoy visiting the older folks?”
    Kelsey nodded. “Most girls give me a sympathetic look and soon after find an excuse to leave me.” Picking up a pebble from the side of the bridge, she dropped it into the water below. It made a soft splash and the ripples spread out to mingle and combine with the ripples from the raindrops.
    “I don’t think you’re strange. I like listening to my grandmother, well, actually she’s my great grandmother. She lives with us, you know. You should come see her sometime,” she invited warmly. “I know she would enjoy a visit. And so would I.”
    Stealing a glance at the speaker, Kelsey wondered if Zoe was just being polite or if she was in earnest.
    Almost as though Zoe read her thoughts, she added, “I’m mean it, Kels. I would love to have you come over. Sometimes it gets rather dull in our large house. Do you live in a large house? I would think you’d have to with all you girls.”
    A merry laugh escaped Kelsey’s lips. “Large house? Us? You wouldn’t call it large.” Another laugh burst forth. “Zoe, the eight of us girls share two bedrooms and in each bedroom are two sets of bunk beds. Mom and Dad have the other bedroom. There are two bathrooms in the entire house, and the kitchen is so small that if anyone is in there cooking, you have to practically go outside to turn around. I could invite you over some time, but it’s not exactly the kind of place most people want to come to.”
    “Well, I want to see it.”
    “You’d be the first person who does.” There was no bitterness in Kelsey’s voice, just a matter of fact statement. “Come on,” she suggested, changing the subject. “Let’s see what the water looks like on the other side of the bridge.”
    Quickly the girls crossed the road and leaned over the railing.
    “Oh, Zoe! Look at those flowers!” Kelsey pointed to the golden yellow coreopsis which bloomed all along the bank. “Wouldn’t those look lovely in your aunt’s kitchen?”
    “Yes. And Aunt Olive does love flowers. But Kels, we’d get drenched trying to pick some in this rain with the grass so tall.”
    “Zoe, we already are drenched,” Kelsey chuckled. “We have been out in the rain, you know. But you might tear your dress. Mine will be fine. Wait for me; I’m going to get a handful.” So saying, she hurried from the bridge, and was soon pushing her way through the long wet grass down to the water’s edge where the flowers were growing thickest. Looking up, she waved at Zoe before proceeding to gather one flower after another. She wasn’t content to remain on the slope at the edge of the water, for she saw more lovely ones growing on a tiny island in the stream.
    “Kels! Be careful!”

How was your week?
Do you have allergies?
Have you ever picked flowers in the rain?

Friday, April 2, 2021

A Lesson in Contentment - Part 1

 Good morning,

I really need to write some more short stories. I was searching through my list of what I'd posted and I wasn't finding many that weren't just shared. Today's story was first published here in 2017. I had hoped that by now I would have finished the book about Kelsey and her family, but I haven't. I've written a few other stories about them, but not the full book.

This week has been busy. Haven't they all been this way? I taught yesterday, and babysat my nieces and nephews last evening. And KDWC started yesterday. I worked in the nursery on Wednesday night, so I didn't get much written then. However, on Monday and Tuesday I was able to write 2k words each day. That was fun. I ended up writing more in March than I had ever written in a month before. We'll see what April looks like.

Anyway, here's your story, or the first part of it anyway. Enjoy!

 

Smiling in the Rain
Part 1

    Feeling foolish, Kelsey ducked her head and stared at her sandal as she spun it around with her toe on the wooded floor of the neat living room.
    An uncomfortable silence pervaded the room for thirty seconds before Zoe laughed. “Of course I think that going outside in this rain would be fun. Who cares about our hair. Come on, Kelsey, let’s go.” Springing to her feet, Zoe almost skipped across the floor and pulled the blushing girl to her feet.
    No one else made a move to join them as they disappeared from the room.
    Once the two girls were alone in the hall, Kelsey stopped short. “You don’t have to go outside, Zoe,” she whispered. “I just made that suggestion because the others wanted something new to do, and Candace kept vetoing every sensible idea. I–”
    “I know.” There was a merry twinkle in the taller girl’s eyes. “Candace likes to rule the girls, and most of them are more than willing to follow her lead. But she’s not the only leader. I’m just glad you did suggest this. I’ve been longing to get out in the rain all day!”
    “You have?” And Kelsey eyed the well-dressed girl in astonishment.
    “Yep.” At Kelsey’s continued stare, Zoe went on. “Look Kels, just because I come from a family with considerable means doesn’t necessarily signify that I’m a snob.” Her grin took away the sting such blunt words might have caused. “Now come on, let’s go have some fun.”
    Leaving their sandals on the covered porch, the two girls, one from the upper, wealthier side of town and the one from the other side of the tracks, ran down the steps and into the light summer rain.
    Kelsey loved the rain. Tipping her head back, she squinted her eyes against the drops. With a toss of her head that freed her red hair from the confines of bobby pins, she laughed in pure delight.
    “Oh, this is fun!” Zoe exclaimed. “Kels, do you ever stomp in the puddles?”
    “Of course! Where are they?” And Kelsey, feeling that for the first time in years she might have a friend, blinked the drops from her lashes and hurried over to Zoe who was standing before a large puddle. “Come on, let’s jump on the count of three.”
    “All right. One, two, three!”
    The splash sent the water as high as their knees and caused both girls to laugh merrily.
    After several minutes of enjoying the puddle and the rain, Kelsey ventured to remark, “I love to walk in the rain.”
    “Barefoot?”
    “Uh huh.”
    “All right, where shall we go?” questioned Zoe, apparently ready for anything.
    Kelsey looked around. “I don’t know. I’m not in this part of town very often. At home I like to walk down to the creek and watch the water. Sometimes I go visit old Mrs. Mead. She always has a fire going on rainy days and I get dried off there and listen to her tell stories.”
    “Oh, Kels, that sounds like fun. How far away is Mrs. Mead’s house?”
    Kelsey raised her eyebrows. “Too far for us to walk.”
    Zoe looked disappointed, but she shrugged and said, “Oh, well. Let’s walk down to the drug store. We could get something to drink there.”
    At that suggestion, Kelsey burst into laughter. “Zoe, we look like a couple of drowned rats! We’d never hear the end of it at school if we did such a thing, for someone we know is bound to be there with it being Saturday!”
    Reaching up, Zoe pushed back a bit of her dark hair which was plastered to her face. “I suppose so, but don’t you think we could walk down to the stream? It’s not too far from here.”
    Looking back toward the house, Kelsey hesitated. “I wish some of the other girls would come out,” she remarked softly. “I feel sort of bad going out and leaving them.”
    “Well, don’t feel bad. Aunt Olive invited all of us girls so we could enjoy the day together. She loves both her nieces, but she knows Candace can be a snob and overly bossy. Suppose we run around to the kitchen, I’m sure Aunt Olive will be in there, and we can ask her.”
    With a feeling of relief, Kelsey nodded and squeezed Zoe’s hand as hers was taken in a friendly clasp.
    Aunt Olive was indeed in the kitchen and stared in astonishment at the two girls standing on her back porch before she began to laugh heartily. “Oh, girls, are you having fun?”
    “Yes, Aunt Olive,” Zoe nodded. “But Kels and I want to walk down to the stream, but we want to know if you think it would be rude to run off and leave the others.”
    “Didn’t they want to join you?”
    Zoe shrugged. “Candace is in one of her moods, and I don’t know if we can convince any of the others to join us or not. But may we take a walk, Aunt Olive? You have no idea how delightful this rain is!”
    “Suppose I go and find out if any of the others want to go too.”
    Zoe nodded quickly and Aunt Olive disappeared.
    “I don’t think anyone will come, do you?” Zoe asked in low tones.
    Kelsey shrugged. The afternoon was not starting off as she had thought it would. Well, it had started off with the usual stiff circle of girls, and one in particular who didn’t want to do anything, but things had rapidly changed. 

Do you like walking in the rain?
How was your week?
Have you ever been with people who act like Zoe's friends?

Friday, March 26, 2021

Alan's Farewell

 Good morning and happy Friday!

It looks like we'll have sunshine here today! Yay! It's been more cloudy this week than sunny. It's also supposed to be close to 70ยบ instead of in the 50s. But spring is here. The trees are budding or blooming, depending on what kind of tree. Tiny leaves are showing on bushes and trees. Flowers are popping up. And the spring beauties are opening their delicate faces to the sun.

This was another busy week. I haven't gotten quite as much writing in this week as last week. Last week I ended with 10k words. Right now I'm at 7k. It might depend on how much I get written today and tomorrow. Both stories are still moving though the 4th of July story is picking up speed and "Phil Wood" seems to be slowing down a little.

KDWC opened its gates yesterday! Camp doesn't officially start until the 1st, but we are taking any sign-ups. Right now we have around 60 campers and 6 aunties. Plus Mary Poppins. ;) 

My youngest niece is turning one tomorrow so we'll be going over for her birthday party. I have to get her presents wrapped first. Her three loves are baby dolls, stuffed animals, and balls. Yes, she has 5 brothers. :)

Anyway, I thought I'd give you one more short story taken from my very first book. I did rewrite this story so it wasn't in first person with someone looking on. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Alan’s Farewell

    The evening sun was nearing the horizon as Alan McLean, attired in his Scottish garb with kilt, bray and sporran, climbed the hill to the cliffs overlooking the sea. His face wore a look of pain as he stopped near the edge and gazed about. It was harder than he thought it would be, this saying good-bye. Softly he began playing his much loved bagpipes which he carried over his shoulder. The notes wandered here and there as though unsure of how to find expression, growing louder with each moment, full of an unspoken yearning as they settled into “Amazing Grace” and filled the still air.
    As he played the familiar tune, Alan’s thoughts drifted back over the years. Leaving Scotland and settling here in Nova Scotia, Canada had been difficult, but the family had been together. Now he would be leaving for war, alone. Already Britain, France, Canada and others were fighting the German nation. And it all started, he recalled, with an archduke being killed. Part of Alan longed to stay at home fishing with his father and brother, but he knew the very freedoms they enjoyed were being threatened. That was why he had signed up to fight.
    He continued playing as he gazed out over the waters which reflected the sun’s evening glories. The sudden realization that tonight was his last night to stand here caused him to pause in the midst of the song and then begin a new one. As the haunting melody of “Auld Lang Syne” floated out over the water, the cliff, the trees, Alan tried to fix the image of the place in his mind. It had grown so dear to him. Pouring his very soul into every note, they swirled and dipped around him revealing the pain in his heart.
    Tomorrow all this would be beyond his sight. He dared not turn and look down the hill where the McLean home stood. The very thought of not seeing his brother, not feeling the kisses of his mother nor the handclasps of his father brought the tears to his eyes. Would he have the courage to say good-bye?
    His heart felt like lead and the notes from his pipes began to falter and break. Choking back the sob that rose in his throat, Alan tried to continue playing, but somehow the notes, which usually came so readily, refused to come. His shoulders began to shake and the tears to stream down his cheeks.
    “Och, my hame! My faither an’ maither, I cannae leave ye! My hert isna at war--!” Sobs shook his tall form, and he covered his face with his hand.
    All at once, the sounds of another piper continuing the broken song floated to his ears. Alan swallowed hard. He knew who it was but didn’t turn to welcome his father as he approached the cliff. Closing his eyes momentarily, Alan drew a long shaky breath and glanced beside him. Nothing was lacking in his father’s attire as a proud Scotsman.
    The very sight seemed to inspire Alan, for he began once more to play. Though he began softly, he couldn’t remain so, and soon the two pipers were sending the remainder of the song out on the wings of the evening breeze.
    Then Mr. McLean spoke. “Aye lad,” his strong voice was clear as he placed a hard, rough hand on his eldest son’s shoulder. “We’ll ne’er be foregettin’ ye. Donnae ye ken that?” Scanning the young face before him, he saw the traces of tears and rightly guessed the cause.
    Alan replied in a voice not quite steady, “Aye.”
    “Then donnae break yer mither’s hert with sic dreeful songs,” Mr. McLean chided gently. “Her een are upon ye frae oor hame, an’ it’s sair her hert will be if ye’re gang far to war wi’ out singin’ oor favorite hymn. Be ye able to sing?”
    There was a moment of silence. Alan gazed out over the waters. Straightening his shoulders he looked his father in the face. “Aye, wi’ David I am.” The words were clear and steady.
    Turning to gaze resolutely towards the McLean home, he watched his mother and brother climbing the hill towards him and burst into a lively march on his pipes. The sun was a flaming ball of fire, casting a golden light to tinge the purple and pink clouds. In the east, one or two stars were bravely peeking out of the dusky sky.
    All was hushed now. Even the pounding waves seemed subdued. In the expanse above, an eagle hung motionless, waiting. After kissing his mother, Alan gripped his brother’s hand, looking deeply into his eyes. David gazed back and a smile of brotherly love flashed between them. Mr. McLean had begun the melody. Full and touching floated the skirl of the pipes, only hushing its strength when Alan’s rich tenor and David’s perfect harmony began, blended as never before.

    “I am far frae my hame, an’ I’m weary aften whiles,
    For the longed-for hame-bringin’, an’ my Faither’s welcome smiles.
    An’ I’ll ne’er be fu’ content, until my een do see
    The Gowden gates o’ heav’n an’ my ain country.”

    As verse followed verse, the sun sank lower until the McLean family was left silhouetted against the glowing clouds of the western sky. There they remained until the last echoes of the hauntingly sweet notes had died away to be remembered in their hearts in the years to come.
    A thrill ran through Alan’s frame, and he gazed at his father. Whatever this war held for him, or for these dear ones waiting at home, they would be united again. If not here on earth, than in “oor ain countrie.” This was not a last farewell. One day they would be together again.
    “Aye,” Alan spoke aloud as his mother slipped her hand through his arm, “though mony years may pass before we see one another, someday we’ll a’ be in a countrie whaur we’ll ne’re part nae mair!”
 

Have you signed up for camp?
Has spring arrived at your home yet?
Do you like bagpipe music?

Friday, March 19, 2021

Two Chicken Stories

 Good morning, FFFs,

This has been a very busy writing week for me. Since I'm trying to write the 4th of July story for "A Very Bookish 4th of July" and still work on "Phil Wood", I've been writing 2k words or more a day this week. I try to get 1k on "Phil Wood" written in the morning or afternoon, then switch to "the 4th" in the later afternoon and after supper. This means I've already written 9k words this week! Since I normally write between 5-6k words a week with an occasional week where I get 8-9k, this is rather astonishing. But I'm really enjoying getting so much written.

I also started teaching writing classes again this week. Yesterday was my first classes. I had 5 students in one class and they were all new, which was rather fun. Then in the afternoon I had two older girls and we did a creative writing class. They are both going to write a short story. Both classes went well and were a lot of fun.

And guess what? Registration for KDWC is now open. We already have 40 campers signed up. The gates for camp open on the 25th, but camp itself doesn't start until the 1st. This will be a month long camp. If you're a writer and have never joined camp, maybe you should consider coming this time and seeing what it's like.

 Today I have two short stories for you. Since I'm celebrating the 10 year birthday of my first book, I thought I'd share two short stories from it with you today. These are both based on real events.

 

This first story is true. It was told to me by a friend. I only changed the names, time in history and place so as to fit in my book: Home Fires of the Great War


Time: April 1919. The Great War was over but many of the soldiers had yet to come home including the father of this family.
Place: A farm near Codell, Kansas
Family Info: The one telling the story is 17-year-old Emma. Her twin brother is Edmund. Emma is writing a letter to her cousin, Maria, who lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Nighty, the Rooster

         Oh, I must tell you about Evie. It would have been laughable if it were not so pitiable. We have, or rather did have, a black rooster whose name was Nighty. I believe Georgie named him, not that it matters. Nighty was mean. His favorite past time seemed to be terrorizing any person, with a few exceptions, who was outside. For some reason he never chased David, Edmund or Karl. Any of the rest of us were fair game as far as he was concerned. He was treacherous. If you turned squarely around on him and started walking toward him, he would turn tail and leave, but the moment your back was turned, he would be running straight for you. It got so bad that the younger ones wouldn’t go outside without one of the older boys. That rooster was the only one Kirsten couldn’t tame. Evie loves to be outside, but was terrified of Nighty. She would run screaming to the house or to the nearest person if he so much as looked at her. Finally Edmund had enough of it. One day he caught Nighty, who had just chased Evie inside, grabbed his legs and snapped his head against a fence post before tossing him behind the barn.
         When Evie heard the news she ran outside at once and shouted, “Nighty’s dead! Nighty’s dead!”
         Kirsten and Rosalie were much quieter upon hearing the news but also took immediate advantage and spent the rest of the day playing happily outside.
         A day or two later, Evie was outside playing and singing, “Nighty’s dead! Nighty’s dead!” I was in the kitchen with the older boys when a sudden, shrill, terrified scream came from outside! The boys sprang to their feet in an instant, knocking over their chairs as they did so.
         “Nighty’s comin’ af’er me!” Evie’s holler sent us all into action. At once we rushed for the door. Edmund was first. Leaping off the porch he sprinted across the yard and scooped up Evie in his arms. I stared from the safety of the porch. There indeed was Nighty. His head was hanging down at a grotesque angle from a broken neck, and he was staggering straight for Edmund.
         “That beast!” Edmund exclaimed. “Here, David, take Evie, and I’ll deal with him.” That was easier said than done, for Evie refused to let go of Edmund. Try as they might, they couldn’t get Evie to leave Edmund. Meanwhile the rooster was coming closer and closer. Evie’s screams again rent the air, and Edmund gave up to the inevitable and said, “One of you can do it, and make a good job of it!”
         David caught the luckless rooster and Karl grabbed a hatchet. In another minute, the rooster was without his head. Unlike the other butchering of chickens they do, the boys didn’t let go of this one for some minutes after his head was off. If you don’t know chickens, they run around like crazy for a little bit after their heads have been chopped off. Nighty would most certainly have headed straight for Edmund and Evie.
         Evie was still clinging in terror to Edmund’s neck and crying, saying over and over, “Nighty’s af’er me! He is!”
         “No, Evie,” Edmund soothed. “David has him, and Karl is chopping off his head. He won’t be after you any more.”
         “But he comes back!” Her face was buried against his neck while her legs were wrapped tightly around his waist. She was shaking and trembling.
         Mama and I hurried over, but even with our combined effort, it made no difference. Edmund was the only one she wanted then, and it took nearly a quarter of an hour for him to just get her calmed down enough to raise her head.
         He took her to see that Nighty was really dead, and then they watched as he was buried. Still, it was almost a full hour later before Evie would let go of Edmund’s neck. She refused to go outside alone for two days after that, and will never go anywhere near where Nighty is buried, probably fearing that he will somehow come out of the ground and chase her. She has regained most of her courage by now, though she still looks warily at the barn when she passes it. The other way she was affected is that she dislikes any and all chickens. No longer will she go with Kirsten to feed and gather the eggs. She wants nothing to do with them. I can’t say that I blame her, can you?

 

In the Nests

    It was a lovely spring morning on the farm. The older boys and Papa were out in the barn milking the cows. Emma had gone out to gather the eggs as Kirsten, who usually gathered them, was sick in bed. Emma enjoyed gathering eggs especially on such a pretty morning. Everything was still waking up, the grass was damp with the night’s dew, and a meadowlark sang loudly on a nearby fence rail. Emma’s thoughts were not on the eggs she was placing in her basket. A breeze tossed her dark hair and whipped her dress around her ankles. It was a perfect day.
    Emma had gathered almost a dozen eggs, when reaching into the next nest she felt something move! She let out a shriek and almost dropped her basket. Staring at the nest in horror she thought, “What have I just touched?” She didn’t dare put her hand in the nest again. On seeing a slight movement among the straw, she screamed once more just as Edmund, David, Karl and Papa arrived.
    “What happened?” they demanded a little breathlessly.
    “Something moved in that nest,” Emma shuddered, pointing with a trembling hand to the straw which was still moving slightly. David reached boldly in and dragged out a large black snake! Stifling another cry that rose to her lips, Emma looked away. How the boys laughed!
    “Emma,” Edmund laughed at his twin. “It was just a nice little black snake.”
    “I don’t care, he scared me!” Emma had a dread of snakes which her brothers thought ridiculous. “I don’t think I dare gather any more eggs.”
    After a little more teasing from the three boys and even some from Papa, Edmund stayed to help her. He put his hand into the next nest and exclaimed, “Oh!” in a startled voice.
    Emma gave a stifled squeal.
    “Oh, it was only an egg,” Edmund said with a teasing little grin.
    “You!” Emma exclaimed and gave him a slight push.
    When there were only three nests left, Edmund tried coaxing his twin to get the eggs again. Emma shivered and shook her head.
    “Look,” he reasoned reaching confidently into another nest, “there aren’t any more snakes.”
    Only two lone nests remained unchecked. “Come on, Emma,” he urged. “I’ll get these, and you gather from that last one.”
    Slowly, with great reluctance, Emma reached into the last nest. Immediately, she let out a piercing scream and jumped back in terror! There was another snake! Edmund doubled over with laughter, but Emma shrieked again as the snake poked his head out, his small red tongue flicking in and out and his black beady eyes gleaming. Edmund was of no help, for he was bent double with laughter while tears ran down his cheeks from his merriment. As the snake began to wriggle out of the nest, Emma’s scream rose in a crescendo louder, and she whirled around to run to the house. As she turned, she bumped into Karl.
    “Karl!” Emma implored clutching his arm frantically, “Do something!”
    For a moment, he looked at her, the snake, and Edmund. Striding over, he caught the snake, which really wasn’t very big, and without a moment’s hesitation dropped it down the back of Edmund’s shirt! The sight of his face made Emma stand still for a minute and watch. Edmund’s laughter stopped suddenly as he felt the snake wriggling against his skin. One look at Karl and he burst into uncontrollable laughter once more. Shaking with mirth he untucked his shirt and let the snake fall to the ground. At that Karl joined in the laughter. So Emma left the two of them to their merriment and their snakes and went inside. “See if I ever gather eggs again!” she thought as the boys’ laughter still rang out from inside the safe, quiet kitchen.

Have you ever found a snake in something?
Do you like stories that are from real life?
Are you going to be a part of KDWC this time?

Friday, March 12, 2021

Life

 Good morning Readers,

I realized that I didn't have a story for you today. Sorry. This week has been somewhat crazy and my brain feels crowded. Has your brain ever felt crowded? (Maybe it's just my brain.) Anyway, I didn't get a story picked out and I don't have any new ones written. But I will give you a poem after in a little bit.

What a week! It was one of those weeks that don't seem too busy and crazy at the time. If you don't want to see what's making my brain so full and crowded, you can skip to the poem or just run away. ;)

Friday– Last Friday my nieces and nephews were over most of the morning and through lunch. We had a good time playing and visiting. It was also one of my nephew's birthdays, so he got to open his presents on his birthday.

Saturday– It was a lovely day. I got some things done in the morning and went for a lovely walk in the afternoon. I wrote a bit and felt as though I was so close to finishing up "Phil Wood." Then my nieces and nephews all came over again. This time for supper while their parents attended a "fancy dinner" as my 3-year-old nephew informed my sister. I read stories, played duets on the piano with my oldest nephew, talked, played, enjoyed the baby, and wondered when my brother and sis-in-law would return. We were all wondering that because they normally arrive between 8:30-9:00, but this time they didn't get here until almost 9:45.

Sunday– Since my sister was teaching Sunday School for someone, she and I went to church a little early. I was able to copy some things for the widows' ministry, and then got to help in the nursery during Sunday School. That was fun since I finally got to hold a little guy. I got a few more people signed up to be secret sisters for the windows' ministry. In the afternoon I got to read. But the first book I tried I ended up quitting.

Monday– Sent emails, worked on this thing, that thing, and the other thing. It was so nice out and I got outside and trimmed some plants and pulled weeds in the flower garden. That evening I tried to write. But it just wasn't working. My editor had told me "Phil Wood" was missing something. Something vital for a good story. So I started rereading the book. She was right, and I could tell I'd gotten off track, but getting things straightened out again was hard.

Tuesday– I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out "Phil Wood". I had all sorts of thoughts and questions, but nothing was working. So later I had a talk with my editor and we were able to figure something out. While I was excited to finally have the problem at least hopefully figured out, it mean I had to rearrange almost ALL my scenes, cut scenes, write new scenes, and put the story all back together again. Pulling out my dry-erase board, I began making a timeline and dropping the scenes into place where they belonged. That included the scenes I needed to write or rewrite. It felt like the story was actually going to work this time.

Wednesday– I got some things done and then started reorganizing the actual scenes in "Phil Wood". And I wrote. I wrote almost 700 words before lunch which is not usual since I write best late afternoon/evening. In fact, this story was coming along so well, that I was able to get 2k words written that day even though I couldn't write after supper since I was working nursery at church. But that wasn't the only thing going on. Nope. I was trying to get as much of the work for the Widows' Ministry as I could so I could hand out things that night at church. This meant sorting papers, printing cards, getting papers together and folded and names written on them. But I couldn't do all the papers yet, because I still needed one more secret sister. (I did get her that night.) And that's not all! I got asked by Sarah Holman if I'd be interested in jumping in and writing a story for the "A Very Bookish 4th of July" collection. Wow! I had wanted to write a story for this collection since I first heard they were doing one, but they already had all the authors. But after some had to drop out, I got to join! And yes, I'm writing one. :D

Thursday– Yesterday my mom, sister, and I traveled 2 1/2 hours to spend the day with my grandparents, and then drove home again. It was so nice to see them again. We got the rest of their pictures hung in their new apartment, so now it looks more like their house. It was a lovely day, and my sister and I took a stroll out in the sunshine with our grandpa after lunch. After we got home, I was able to write 600 words of "Phil Wood." And I decided on which book I'm going to be using for the "4th of July" collection. :) I'm eager to write it, but also really want to finish "Phil Wood" first.

Today– We have to clean the house this morning and I have a whole list of things to do. Then the kids are coming over this evening so their parents can have a date. Not sure how much time I'll have for writing, but I'm hoping to get some written. Oh, and I need to get the rest of the Widows' Ministry things together so I can hand out the last of the papers.

And that, my readers, is why my brain is feeling crowded.

This poem was birthed on a rainy evening in May of 2009. I had spent some time cleaning out a drawer and rereading cards from so many family and friends. If you have never sent a card to a friend, do it now. They might just need a bit of encouragement.

The Gift of Cards

Memories stirred while light spring rain
Falls gently on my window pane.
Cards I read again and see
The blessings God has given me.
Notes of birthday love and cheer,
And some o’er which I shed a tear.
Precious friends, your words still ring
With sweetest blessings that make me sing.
Cards of thanks for some kind deed
Returns to meet my own small need.
Remembering the things now past
Found in little notes that last
Long since the writer has forgot
And dreams no more that written thought.
How very dear these notes now seem
As I fondly read and stop to dream
Of days gone by and years now past
And know God’s love will always last.
Although my friends may go or stay,
They’ve left me sunshine to brighten the day.
And as the rain falls gently down,
Fresh and clean on thirsty ground,
I gather strength to onward press
Reading again these cards that bless.
Thank you Lord for each dear friend,
Who cheered this day with word and pen.

 

Has your brain ever felt crowded?
Do you keep cards and notes?
Are you excited to read my 4th of July story?

Friday, March 5, 2021

Travels of Tracy – Summer

 Hello, FFFs,

It's been a lovely spring week. Yesterday's temperatures reached into the 70s and the sun shone brightly in the sky. Today we might have rain, but that's okay. We've had sun every day this week since Sunday.

Here's a peak into my week:

Saturday– Gathered everything for decorating for the luncheon and then in the afternoon my sister and I joined a few others and set up and decorated for the Widows' Valentine Luncheon that had only been postponed three times. :P

Sunday– Right after church we had the luncheon. We were missing quite a few widows and secret sisters, but we did enjoy finally getting to have it. Afterwards we cleaned up and headed home. I read in the afternoon.

Monday– Cleaning up the decorations and packing them away for next year, or putting things like suitcases and the globe away. Yes, we did a travel theme this year. I also wrote over 2k words that evening on "Phil Wood".

Tuesday– My mom and I took down the rest of the winter decorations and now we're really ready for spring. I know some of you probably don't get spring in March, but we do. Our crocuses are blooming and I expect we'll have daffodils blooming in a few weeks. I wrote again in the evening.

Wednesday– That was Tax Day. Usually I try to get my taxes done in February after the luncheon, but since the luncheon didn't happen until the last of February, taxes didn't happen either. But I got them done! It felt so freeing! More writing done that evening.

Thursday– I got different things worked on, and walked with my best friend and caught up with her. I also wrote again. This story is just over 25k words and the lowest word count I'm aiming for is 30k. Yep, it's almost done. I know the last things that have to happen. At least I think I do.

Today– My nieces and nephews are coming over this morning. We'll actually get to celebrate "Buddy's" birthday on his birthday. (No Buddy isn't his name, just the nickname I gave him.) He's turning 8.

Other odds and ends have gotten done this week. Like preparing for the next writing camp, and working on the "Anything" collection.

I hope you enjoy this summer story about Tracy. I must say I had fun writing her stories and this one made me laugh.

 

Travels of Tracy—Summer

    The hot summer sun shone down on the small, blue Road Runner which was near a wire fence. The windows were rolled down to catch what breeze was blowing over the sparsely vegetated land where the only signs of life were two curious horses. The only occupant of the car to be seen was a young woman whose tawny curls were pulled back in a loose ponytail by a yellow ribbon.
    “Oh, dear,” came a sigh as Tracy Linnet lifted her head from a map she had been poring over and stared about her. “Where on earth are we, Lyn?”
    There was no answer and Tracy looked at the seat beside her where her constant companion, a long-haired, yellow tabby usually rode. But the seat was empty.
    “Madalyn?”
    A light paw batted at her ear and Tracy twisted around to find her cat perched on the back of her seat. Pulling her down into her arms, she gently stroked the fur of her little friend saying, “Oh, Lyn, what are we to do now? I have no idea where we are, and I can’t drive a car that is out of gas, now can I, Lyn?
    A contented purr was the only answer, and Lyn blinked in the warm sunshine.
    “Well, we can’t just sit around here all day waiting for those horses to tell someone about us.” And Tracy tried to glare at the animals in question, but her sweet face wasn’t made for glaring and the most she could manage was a puckered frown. Picking up her purse and snatching her light straw hat from the floor of the car, Tracy opened her door and stepped outside. The glare of the sun was blinding and, after coaxing her cat to her shoulder, Tracy dug through her purse until she found her sunglasses. It was easier to see with them on, and eagerly Tracy peered about hoping to see a house or another car. It was no use. There wasn’t a house or car or other living being there except herself, her cat and the two horses on the other side of the fence.
    Tracy squared her shoulders and gave a nod of her head. “Well, Lyn, we’ll just have to go find someone. But where should we go?”
    Stepping around from one shoulder to the other, the cat’s tail swept over Tracy’s face and she uttered a loud “Meow,” in her ear.
    “If you had told me which direction to go before we got lost,” Tracy scolded as her cat leapt to her arms, “we wouldn’t be lost right now. You never were good at reading maps, Lyn. What will Tad say when I don’t arrive at his uncle’s by four o’clock?”
    Lyn blinked and yawned.
    “Oh, you’re no help. Maybe I’ll get better answers from the horses.” And Tracy timidly stepped near the fence. She had never been on a horse before and the only time she had been this close to one was when she was six.
    “Where do you horses live?” she asked politely, wishing that horses could talk. “I do wish you could take a message to your owner and tell him that a girl is stranded here without gas and helplessly lost. Would you be so kind as to do that?”
    The light colored horses pushed his nose over the fence and gave a half snort.
    “Oh dear, I was afraid you would say that.” Tracy’s shoulders slumped and she moaned, “I wish I were back at home or at college. At least I never ran out of gas there. Or got lost,” she added.
    Feeling the need to do something, she began to think and analyze her situation. If there were horses in a pasture, then somewhere there must be a house. Perhaps if she just followed the fence she would soon find a house and get the help she needed to set her on her way again. Quickly deciding which way looked more appealing, she was about to set off when a sudden movement off in the far distance caught her eye.
    “Is that another horse?” she mused. “Why, I do believe it is and there is a rider on it! Oh delightful! Now if only I could get his attention. Yoo hoo!” she called, but her voice couldn’t cover that length of space.
    “Lyn, we’ll just have to go and ask for help.” Making her careful way to an opening between two posts which would admit her if she slipped in sideways and ducked her head, she hesitated. Looking at the distant rider she was unable to tell which direction he was going. “I just have to reach him,” she decided.
    The horses moved aside as Tracy, after setting her cat carefully down, managed to squeeze through the fence. Calling to her cat, Tracy started off, but much to her dismay, the horses decided to come along. Fearful that her beloved cat might get stepped on, Tracy scooped Lyn up in her arms and began walking quickly.
    So fearful was Tracy over the closeness of the horses and afraid that the rider would disappear before she could get his attention, that she didn’t think to watch where she was stepping. Recoiling suddenly, Tracy closed her eyes and stopped short. Through the open toes of her new wicker boots, she could feel something. She wrinkled her nose and moaned, “Oh dear, not these shoes!” Through flat soles of the boots she noticed for the first time that she could feel each rock and clump of dirt. But this wasn’t dirt, there was no mud in this dry place and this was a pasture! Shuddering, she gingerly stepped forward, trying not to think of what she had just been standing in. She had to get help.
    “Hello!” the sound of a deep voice brought Tracy’s head up so quickly that her hat fell off and one of the horses stepped on it.
    “Hello!” Never had Tracy been so glad to see anyone. “My car is lost and I’ve run out of gas,” she blurted quickly.
    A deep chuckle made Tracy blush as the older man swung down off his horse, but he only said, “Got lost did you? And you’re out of gas? I think I can help. Got a truck just over the rise and there’s a can of gas in the back. Care to ride over with me?”
    Staring in panic at the horse, Tracy drew back, “I think I’d rather walk, thank you. I . . . I have my cat. She doesn’t like horses.”
    The man seemed to understand, for he said he’d take the horses back with him and then would meet her at her car. For this Tracy was grateful and turned to walk back, being very careful of where she stepped this time.
    The man in the truck arrived at the fence at the same time Tracy did and soon her car had enough gas to get her to a nearby town. She also had a very carefully drawn map and written directions from the man. “I hope the rest of your journey is uneventful, Miss,” he said, touching his hat as Tracy started her car.
    “Thank you,” she sighed. Carefully Tracy turned the car around and drove off down the dusty road. “Lyn,” she remarked when at last paved road was under her tires once more, “It’s nearly four! I do hope Tad hasn’t started looking for me yet. And I wish I could change my shoes! Do you think they’ll ever come clean?”

 What did you do this week?
Are you excited for Writing Camp?
Have you ever gotten lost and had to ask for help?