Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Candy Corn Confessions

Millions of pieces of candy corn are made every year, and loved by many. I even watched a newscaster who  documented the candy corn making process, listing all its yummy ingredients and the delightful colors, confessing that she couldn't get enough candy corn. Even though one of the ingredients is marshmallow cream (a weakness of mine) I really can't abide candy corn. For our Thanksgiving get-together, we were given 5 pieces of candy corn to use as counters to recount five things we were thankful for. I had to put the candy corn markers somewhere after I said what I was thankful for, so they went in my mouth...nearly. This is after two things I was thankful for:
When I got done with all five things, I looked even better:
That was about all the gratitude I could muster with a face full of candy corn, so after that I was grateful to spit them in the trash.
Don't cry, kids, there were more in the bag.
What delectable treat turns your stomach? That might make a nice character trait for your next protagonist.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful for friends and books

My friend Heather Moore (a.k.a. H. B. Moore) was my house guest a week ago. I was delighted to have her stay, even though it was a crazy night because I had tickets to the Snow College play. It got out so late that Heather didn't come over until 10:30 p.m. A true writer, she got up at 4:30 a.m. to, what else? Write! She took time over breakfast to talk shop with me, discussing writing methods and writing conferences. I was surprised to learn that Heather is somewhat of a "panster" or someone who writes without a clear ending in mind. It was a delightful conversation. As the generous friend she is, she gave me a copy of her book "Athena," one of the Newport Ladies Book Club series. Isn't it pretty?
What are you reading next? 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Where'd they go?

My guys did an early morning father/son outing, complete with camouflage. Monkey (in the blue stripes) is camouflaged for school. The others... I don't know, Bob, Brian, and Zack were in here somewhere when I snapped the picture. Maybe this will be like one of those "Look and Find" pictures. Where are the guys?
Jeff went the extra mile and even camouflaged his hair.
Yeah. He can hide down low and the coyotes will trot over to smell the flowers and never know he's there.
We're off to see the oldest Bahlmann boy and family this weekend.
Thanks for being my funny family!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Forgetful Memory Foam

I took the challenge when my employer, Ephraim City, (for my Story Time job) began a fitness program for its employees. The person who walks the farthest in a month receives a cash prize, so with Christmas sitting on the horizon, I've been walking and walking and walking. (Stepping in place counts.) To my reckoning, I've walked over 500 miles in three weeks. (There's mileage compensation for about a hundred activities such as bike riding, swimming, housework, and raking leaves, too. Unfortunately, no mileage is allowed for eating. I can't figure that out.)
In my enthusiasm, I have been stepping in place while cooking, putting on makeup, waiting in checkout lines and any other time I find myself vertical. (My husband calls my energetic stepping "the pee-pee dance." I'm not sharing any of my prize money with him.) My writing place is at my piano, which is tall enough for me use my laptop on, but unfortunately, it's in a room with a hard wooden floor. To compensate for leg and foot fatigue, I've been stepping on a memory foam mat (I still get leg fatigue, just not as soon) yet it appears that I've stepped all the memory out of it. (See pad above left.) The un-stomped pad on the right still has the lofty softness that endears it to my feet, but the other one is like stepping on a plan old flat towel.
I wonder if the company is aware that their memory foam forgets after 500 miles?  

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Magic Family

How did I get so lucky? Here I am on Saturday, November 3, 2012, with my first sister and my last sister. (No "oldest" here, we're all young! Just look at our smiles!) The coolest thing is, there's more magic than what you see here...fitted in and around us are three more magic sisters. But wait, there's more! We also have two brothers who are so magic, they never fought during their growing-up years. Really. When I realized I couldn't remember them fighting, I asked them if they duked it out when I wasn't around. They looked at each other, then turned to me and at the same time answered, "No." Maybe their behavior stems from two boys trying to survive in a family of six girls Oh, no, too much estrogen! But for whatever reason, they always got along remarkably well, in spite of four years and two sisters between them.
Coming up on Thanksgiving, (my new favorite holiday, as of last year), I declare that I am extremely thankful for my magical family. Even though we are all very different personalities, the magic is that our love for one another is as solid as ice, flows through our family as easily as water, and permeates our hearts as thoroughly as mist fills a room.
(Incidentally, I'm also thankful for popcorn and clean sheets and modern dentistry!) 
What are you thankful for?   

Monday, November 5, 2012

An ADVENT Christmas book!

Now that it's November, I feel safe in letting you know of a COOL NEW Christmas book that contains (AHEM) a story from Yours Truly! Each story is this collection is titled after a Christmas song. The one I contributed is a true story titled "Silent Night."
These heartfelt, warming tales are donated by a team of authors from across the country, coming together for a good cause. 
Twenty-five stories mean you can read one every day through Christmas itself, making this anthology a new advent tradition for your family holidays.
I've had advent calendars before, but never an advent BOOK!
Best of all, all the proceeds from the sale of this anthology are donated to the National Down Syndrome Society. 
Happy Holidays! Have yourself a warm and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Spooky Story AND mysterious Yard Turkey...

(This photo does not show the old church of my story. The one pictured here is actually bigger and brighter. If you read on, you'll discover why I didn't post a picture of the actual church.)
          I intended to write this post yesterday, but because that didn't happen, you get to read about turkey surprise as well as an incident that not only spooked me, but three big, strong Bahlmann men. (Or Bahlmenn, as the case may be.)
          It was sunny July in South Dakota on our family vacation. We drove along a wooded road one bright afternoon, our truck rolling over asphalt dappled with warm sunshine until a small sign came into view. It read, "Church in the woods."
          Someone asked, "What does a church in the woods look like?"
          I wondered the same thing. Since I was driving, we turned off the asphalt onto a single vehicle wide dirt road to see for ourselves. After a few bumpy yards of travel, the dirt road forked. With no sign of the correct path to take, I veered left. Around a curve, up a hill, between the trees, we drove for nearly a mile before we saw a state campground sign. Deciding there wouldn't be a church located on state land, I executed an interesting 5-point turn and we headed back. This time, I veered right. Down through a muddy trickle of water crossing the road, turning to follow a left bend, trees branches growing thicker overhead, we found the turn-off to the church about a quarter mile past the fork.
         Steering left, I pulled into a small clearing beneath a shaded canopy of dark green leaves. Everyone in the car fell silent as we crept past a square building. It was made of rough horizontal boards weathered to the color of graveyard dirt. A single short board that had to have been nailed to the wall over a hundred years ago read "nunnery." It seemed as if a cold breeze blew through our open windows, because I shivered. There was no movement, no sign of life in the clearing. In the deadly quiet of that place, a small warning crept down my back.
          Pressing my foot on the brake, I let the truck slow to a stop, idling between the grim nunnery and a second square, dark building. Sliding my gaze over the dark strips of weathered wood gave me the creeps. Three fourths of the way up the wall was a continuous row of screened windows. Discolored, it seemed impossible for the old screen to hold back the weight of the row of dented pans and lids leaning against it, pressed up so close it was as if they were desperate to break free of the dark room behind them. There was no sign on this building. What was in there? Were the pans a clue? They didn't look to be in very good shape for cooking, but how could anyone really tell through the dirty screen? Maybe they weren't for cooking food. What else could they cook? My fingers felt cold where they gripped the steering wheel. Adding to the unreality of the situations was a long carport along one side of the clearing that had three cars parked beneath its uneven roof.
          "Where's the church?" my son asked in a subdued voice.
          "Maybe it's that building with the screens," I answered doubtfully.
          "It's over there," my husband said, pointing to a building set further back in the trees. From our vantage point, it was located in the center of the two buildings lurking beside us. It was as if we perched in the center of a gigantic forehead within a forest of hair, looking past two square eyeballs to a nose that supported a small dark rectangle of a chapel. A slight rise on one end of the roof wasn't a steeple. It looked like a steeple that didn't make it.
           A sense of oppression glided into the truck windows, wrapping us all in silence. If we spoke, what might look our way? I suddenly didn't want to draw any attention to us. I glanced at the cars again. Where were the people who'd driven them here? The cars were dusty, but not rusted. They appeared to be driveable. Did the people they belonged to know we were here? Why weren't they showing themselves? Wasn't it human nature to come out and ask what we wanted? Were they standing inside the dark interiors of the buildings staring out at us?
          I glanced around the small, shaded clearing. There was still no movement. It was as if a dark, unseen force had closed itself around those three buildings and anything near them. Like us.
          My son's voice startled me. "This is creepy."
          "I don't like it here," the other son said. "Can we go?"
          I hesitated. So far, I'd made an impression by saying, "Take a picture!" so often that it had become our vacation catch phrase. This was certainly a place like nothing we'd ever seen before. But something held me back from taking a picture of any of the dark, brooding buildings. Since I have an impetuous nature, this was an oddity in itself.
          As I glanced again at the dark nunnery, the thought drifted into my brain, "If you take a picture, it will follow you home."
          Chilled to the bone, I didn't bother asking what "It" was, but backed the truck around and managed to escape with a simple three-point turn. I didn't even look in my rear view mirror as I rolled out onto the sunny dirt road and headed back to the highway. 
          That was four months ago. Even though the thought crossed my mind that it might have been nice to have a picture of that place to put on my blog for you to see, I dismissed it without regret. That's because if I put that picture here for you to see, then it might follow you home, too.
- - - - - - - - - -
         You've heard of yard gnomes? This morning I heard a strange sound in my backyard. When I went out to investigate, I found a turkey strutting around on my frost-nipped grass. As soon as I walked outside, it darted along the fence line, trying to stuff itself through the little square wire holes. Turkeys aren't square, so it didn't work. (Its high, warbling gobble didn't help it fit, either.) Tonight it's roosting in our tree house. I found it highly ironic that a turkey would show up in our yard on the first day of November to serve as our Yard Turkey. Gobble, gobble!