Sweet Hour of Prayer

imageMaggie married Melvin shortly after her first husband died.  Maybe she should’ve waited longer, but she was exhausted after her long struggle to support Ray through his illness and then Little Ray after he died, so she was glad to have Melvin’s companionship and support, even though he was odd from the start.  Things went well enough for several years, but by the time Melvin reached his late forties, he’d developed religious delusions that made him impossible to live with. Continue reading

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Y’all Got a Snake in Y’all’s Tree!

eve and serpentIt’s not everyday one hears a dynamic statement like this! Melvin was the ex-husband of Mother’s old friend, Maggie. A good man, he’d gone just a bit “off the rails” and Maggie, had reluctantly left him as a result of his increasingly fantical religious leanings. Mother and Daddy had long been faithful congregants of their church, only missing services if unable Continue reading

Playing Among the Headstones

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Sometimes we are fortunate enough to look past what lies on the surface and find pleasure in unexpected places.  Before our children started school, we decided it would be best if I put off working until they started school.  Most days, the children and I were home.  I rambled the lanes around our rural home were on foot pulling the little ones in a red wagon behind me.

We frequently strolled to a lovely old pre-Civil War cemetery with off a gravel road near our home..  The children were fascinated by the tall, graceful tombstones and loved running between them, seeking out their favorites with angels, little lambs, ornate curlicues, or crypts enclosed within wrought-iron fences.

In their exuberant innocence, they played happily in the deep shade under the ancient oaks, having no knowledge of death or its connection to their favorite destination.  Sometimes they sat in the sand of the unpaved tracks, playing with their trucks or other small toys.  To them, it was no more than a park.  As often as not, I spread a blanket on the grass for them to picnic on peanut butter and jam sandwiches, milk and cookies.

Later, they’d stretch out on the blanket while I read to them, sometimes drifting off for their naps.  Late in the afternoon, We’d walk home in the long shadows as they searched for little treasures of pretty stones, colorful bird feathers, or bright flowers or toss small stones from their vantage point on a small wooden bridge into the clear creek below.

I cherish the memory of those lovely afternoons and hope that the souls resting beneath that cool green carpet of grass enjoyed the laughter of children playing and the time we shared with them.

6 Tips To Hook A Reader on Page One

This is a very helpful post from Carrie Waters

Carly Watters, Literary Agent Blog

I’ve read thousands of “page ones.” Very often I don’t read page two.

Sometimes all I read is that first page and I make judgements based on what I see there. As an agent and a reader my practice is that if I’m not connecting with the material I move on–and quickly.

I wish I had time to give writers (and their books) more of a chance but I can tell a lot by one page: sense of dialogue, setting, pace, character, voice, and writing talent–yes, usually all from one page. Five at the most.

So how are you supposed to get us past one page?

6 Tips To Hook A Reader on Page One

1. Learn how to balance what readers need to know vs. what you, as the writer, want to tell us. I can sense a writer who is trying to show off very quickly. It really only takes…

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Ask Auntie Linda, November 4, 2015

Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda,  I am a fourteen year-old girl with parents in a miserable relationship.  My father is verbally and emotionally abusive to my mom and us kids.  She can’t stand up to him.  Frankly, even if she tried, he’d out out-shout and out-argue and overwhelm her with cruel remarks about her family, her habits, any old wrongs, imagined or real.  She has no more power in the relationship than the kids do.  I’ve begged her to leave him, but she says she can’t take care of us.  She even said she’d feel guilty knowing He couldn’t take care of himself.  I am not an idiot.  I know it would not help me to run away or rebel against him.  My mother uses self-pity and self-denigration to keep me under her thumb.  “You can’t leave.  I wouldn’t have anybody.  I can’t get a job.  Who would take care of the younger children?  Nobody would hire me anyway.  I don’t have any skills.  I don’t have the clothes to go to work.”  Her wailing and misery goes on and on.

I know I have no choice except to tolerate a miserable situation until I graduate high school.  I am working like a maniac in school so I can get away from this unhappy situation.  Do you have any advice for me.  Caught

Dear Caught,  This is awful, but it sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders and understand the situation thoroughly.  I don’t know that there is any recourse against being hateful or verbally abusive, but should your father become physically abusive, you could contact the police.  As for your mother, you need to shut the conversation down when she starts manipulating you with self-pity.  It won’t help her or you.  I am glad you have a plan.  It sounds like a smart one.  Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie,  I love my wife dearly.  She is an excellent cook but a  horrible housekeeper.  I love her, but hate having total responsibility for cleaning the house, yard, and doing the laundry. She says it doesn’t bother her living in a mess and refuses to help at all.  How can I get her to do better?  Messy House

Dear Messy, You may not be able to.  If that is your major complaint, maybe you should take over the housework yourself.  Maybe you would feel better if she took over another responsibility that you are handling now.  Perhaps she could do all the cooking, shopping and bill paying, or some other job you can reallocate.  Unfortunately, millions of people are in the situation of getting stuck with all the housework.  Auntie Linda

Fancy Dan, the Coffee Man

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We splurged and bought a Fancy Dan coffee maker in 1987.  It was heavenly staggering into the kitchen to find a carafe of freshly made coffee waiting at five in the morning.  True love!  We enjoyed it precisely one month before we got a recall notice and a gift certificate for a replacement to use while we waited for the fine new Fancy Dan.  It seems the original was setting houses on fire.

We went into mourning and trashed Fancy Dan, picking up his replacement, a very plain model.  About a year later, our new Fancy Dan arrived.  Dan had our steaming coffee waiting when we awoke.  All we had to do was “sasser and blow it.”  It saved our marriage.  Alas, a mere six joyful months later we received word that this model was also likely to be an arsonist.  Out came the plain old replacement model till we made it to the store with our gift certificate for a new pot.

Since1987, that faithful coffee-maker has one back on the shelf six times, only to be called back into service when the fancy new one failed.  Less than a month ago, we were once again seduced by a coffee-maker with lots of great features.  It had a water filter, reuseable basket instead of filters, several cup size settings, and a beeper to let us know when coffee was brewed.  Of course, it would have our coffee ready when we got up, which by now, we had no intention of using, having no wish to roast in our bed.

We hurried home and moved Old Faithful back to the shelf.  We couldn’t wait for the first pot.  As soon as we hit the brew button, water poured all over the counter.  We reseated the pot and tried again.  We were rewarded with a second gusher.

Old Faithful went right back to work.  When I’m gone, my kids can draw straws to see who gets Old Faithful.  The loser gets the family fortune.