Daddy Was a Musical Instrument

No kid in my family, or the generation before mine, took music lessons. But we had the music in us. I know, because if Daddy was with us, there would be music wherever we went.

He didn’t need to haul around a guitar, a banjo, or even a pair of bongo drums. He was the musical instrument. Yes, you read that right.

Mom grew up on the West Coast. Dad was born and raised in West Tennessee, so we traveled back and forth across country many times. He always had the radio on. He’d listen to it all–hillbilly, cowboy country, rock-n-roll, or preachin’. But during those times when radio was not available, he made his own music.

He was not singing. There were no words to his music. Literally.

music-624421_1280Daddy played the nose trumpet, the mouth harp, the pec drums, the ab drums–you get the picture? He also played the harmonica, but not as often. And once, when I was ten, I saw him strum an electric guitar.

Oh, this man was talented. He had rhythm. He was right on key, and his nose trumpet was to be envied. His audience adored him. We laughed till we cried and sometimes had to beg for a potty break along the way.

Mom was a little less enthralled by his grand abilities. When she wouldn’t laugh at his concerts, he’d make his pecs dance. Guaranteed giggles, especially from the peanut gallery.

Tom was a navy boy
Tommy Thomason, US Navy

Where did he develop these wondrous talents? We’re not really sure, but he definitely honed them in the Navy. I guess they had a lot of down time on board ship and  had to learn to entertain themselves. And he was guaranteed a captive audience.

It’s not really something he passed on to the next generation. I don’t think either of my brothers inherited this talent. But in my mind and heart, I can still hear Daddy playing his music. The memory always makes me smile. And I really believe that was the purpose of his one-man concert.

“All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15 NKJV

Scripture from <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+15%3A15&version=NKJV>

Surrender to Peace, by Rose Allen McCauley

website-photos-002-640x427I am honored to welcome to my blog, Rose Allen McCauley, a fellow Kentuckian and Christian writer, who has just released her novel, Surrender to Peace.

Rose McCauley has been writing for over ten years and was first published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals which are listed on her website/blog at www.rosemccauley.com . A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for over four decades, she is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and grandmother to five lovely, lively kids! Although Rose grew up in the largest city in Kentucky, she has lived on a farm of almost four hundred acres for the past forty-two years, and last month moved to a small town in Kentucky. She loves to read and write small town stories. If you have a small town story you’d like to share, please stop by her website and leave a comment. She would love to hear from you. You can also reach her on twitter @RoseAMcCauley and Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1LrXNoS

In the Spotlight

Betty: Rose, you’ve written a beautiful, inspiring story. Where did you get the idea?

Rose: After brainstorming with some friends, one of them mentioned she was born in Puerto Rico, another said she grew up there as a child while her dad was stationed there in the service, and the third one said she’d enjoyed her stop there on a cruise. I said if I wrote a book set there I would have to visit! So, we decided to each write a story set in Puerto Rico. Although they didn’t work out as a series, that discussion is what gave me the original idea. And I did visit the Island after I had written most of the book, to make sure I got the details correct. I had to make a few changes when I saw certain places in person! One restaurant advertised as being on the waterfront had a small view of the water a block away!

Betty: Please tell us about your main character.

Rose: Joy Worth is a travel agent who had often set up lodging etc. for her clients, but had never visited Puerto Rico herself. When she gets engaged she decides to go there, but her fiancé breaks the engagement, and she ends up going on a honeymoon-for-one!

Betty: What is her most intriguing or interesting characteristic?

Rose: Her mom died when Joy was 10, and her dad is a loner, so she is very independent.

Betty: Can you give us a sort of “snapshot” (brief description) of the young man she meets in Puerto Rico?

Rose: Benigno Cook considers himself 100% Puerto Rican although his father was an American who left Ben and his mom when Ben was only two. He is a strong Christian and very kind and dependable, just the kind of man Joy always wanted! But now, she is afraid to trust him and to trust her own discernment, after the mess she made with her first engagement.

Betty: Okay, I have to ask, did you do all the things your character did in the book? Are you the adventurer, or do you live these adventures through your characters?

Rose: I do some of both. My husband and I were only in Puerto Rico for 4 days, but we did go to both forts, and took the hike to La Mina Falls in El Yunque National Rainforest, We also ate at several places on the Flavors of San Juan tour. We did not have time to do the zip lining in Puerto Rico, but we had done that in Costa Rica a few years ago, so I used that experience to write that scene which one of my critique partners told me was very realistic. Hope you thought so too. My husband and I also walked the Promenade de la Princessa and saw the Raices fountain and other sites and took pictures, of course. A beautiful country, with very friendly people.

Betty: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about this story?

Rose: The spiritual message. Like most books I write, Joy learned a lesson God has been impressing on me—to be still in His Presence and learn to hear and discern His voice. Hope my readers take that away, too, and that if we are following Him, He can work things out much better than we could have asked or imagined! To Him be the glory! (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Betty: I love that. As a Christian, I am very aware God often uses the circumstances, the results of our personal choices to teach us and draw us back into His perfect will for our lives. Now, what’s up next for you?

Rose: I recently was asked to join a Christmas boxed set with six other authors set to come out in November—working title Joy to the World, but that may change. Then the day after I returned from Puerto Rico, my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, called with the great news that my novella idea I had submitted many months ago had been contracted by Barbour Publishing to be part of their Courageous Brides collection. That is the story I am working on right now, as it is due by December 1st, and will be out next July, 2016! I’m very excited about the story as the heroine is named for my granddaughter who lives in a pre-Civil War home in Cynthiana, just like in the story! I hope I can tell your readers about it next year! Thanks so much for having me, Betty. I always enjoy our visits, whether they are in person or cyber-visits! God’s blessings on you and your readers!

And you and your readers are the first to know that I am starting a new weekly blog day today—Tuesday’s Travelogues. For the next few weeks I will be blogging about photos I took in Puerto Rico to help my readers enjoy the reading experience even more! Please stop by and let me know if you enjoy them. And I have many more countries I have visited that I will be featuring if the interest is great enough! www.rosemccauley.com

Betty: Thanks so much, Rose. It’s always a pleasure to talk with you. I’m excited about your newest release and wish you continued success!

Surrender to Peace - minus logo (2)Surrender to Peace – Now Available!

Joy Worth arrives in Puerto Rico on her honeymoon trip–without her ex-fiancé. On a tour, she meets Park Ranger Benigno Arroyo.

On several more outings, he shows her the joy of living through the beauty of his beloved island. She begins to hear God’s voice again.

Joy so loves the island she decides to stay. Benigno falls in love with Joy but realizes her pain is still fresh. Joy loves him but doubts her judgment.

On a hike, Joy falls and is knocked unconscious. At her bedside, thinking she is still unconscious, Benigno proposes. Opening her eyes, she accepts. They make plans to marry on an island cruise a month later.


Buy Link at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1fsTxcG

More books by Rose Allen McCauley: Christmas Belles of Georgia and Christmas Grace (both available in print and in e-book).

Gibson County Tennessee

Gibson County, Tennessee is the location I chose for the Kinsman Redeemer series. Annabelle’s Ruth, the first book in that series, takes place almost entirely in Gibson County–specifically–Trenton, Tennessee. Trenton is the county seat and one of the three main towns in Gibson County.

11666289_10205133027745183_2390596382820159736_nI recently returned from a trip to the area. This photo shows the house my family rented in Trenton (a number of years ago–not telling how many years). Guess what? It’s still a rental! There was a “For Rent” sign in the yard. The weeping willow tree I used to climb is gone, and the green color of the house has changed from a pale green to a brighter, darker one, but little else has changed. Of course, there was no ramp or satellite dish in those days either. There were only two bedrooms in the house, so I–the only girl in the family–got to sleep on the built-in back porch. How many girls get to have a washer in their bedroom? The porch wasn’t insulated, so in really cold weather, I slept on the couch in the living room.

TrentonSign31
31 mph speed limit in Trenton

After visiting our little house, we headed for the town’s centerpiece – the elegant Victorian-style courthouse. On the way, we passed this speed limit sign, mentioned in Annabelle’s Ruth.

Trenton has tons of interesting history, including David (Davy) Crockett. He was an early resident statesman who started the process to organize the area into Gibson County. In those early days, the courthouse was a log cabin. The present courthouse was erected in 1899.

Note: In these photos, the flags are at half-staff to honor the fallen soldiers in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

TrentonCollageAfter leaving the courthouse, we took a little tour of the town and it’s lovely old houses, including the one pictured below, which I used as a model for Jensen Wade’s house in Annabelle’s Ruth. It’s a Greek revival style home built in 1831. It was said the residents stood on the balcony and watched the Battle of Trenton during the Civil War.

HighStHouseTrentonOh, by the way–this one’s for sale. You can see inside it and check out the details here.

Present-day Trenton is a pleasant little town of approximately 4,300 residents in a mainly agricultural community. But the town does boast a world-famous collection of Night Light teapots. You can view them on display and read their history here.

After our little tour, I paid a visit to the Gibson County Memorial Library and librarian Connie Bates. She has now read Annabelle’s Ruth and told me she loved it, especially the familiar places referenced in the story. The library has a copy of the book, and I’ll be returning in the future to speak to the local book club.

Annabelle's Ruth FRONT final CoverNow I’m all set to begin the second novel in the Kinsman Redeemer series with scenes of the home town fresh in my mind. The cotton is tall and green in the fields, the temps this past weekend topped 100 degrees. Ah, West Tennessee summers! So fry up some fresh okra and put the cornbread in the oven. Call me when dinner’s ready. I can’t wait to see what happens to Annabelle and her family next.

Annabelle’s Ruth is available on Amazon.

I’m Thankful for Thanksgiving

RoyaltyFreeThanksg
I have a confession to make. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a beautiful time, when families gather together. We live on a small court and like us, many of our neighbors have lived here a long time. As the holiday approaches, extra cars are parked in their driveways. Their children have arrived.
I remember those days, when we packed up the car and left on Tuesday night, or Wednesday evening, to drive the seven hours to Mom and Dad’s. It was a special time filled with hikes in the woods, roasting marshmallows over a fire, and of course, the main event: Thanksgiving Dinner. Mom spent days preparing and finally, dinner is spread on the table and we sit down. 
Yes, it was over in minutes. But we lingered around the table, laughing and talking. Clean up meant time spent on my own with Mom as we put the food away and washed the dishes. We put away all the special things she only used on holidays. We reminisced about past Thanksgivings, and loved ones now gone. Our sleep was sweet, maybe because of all the turkey we ate, but also because we were tired from all the activity. 
If you ventured out on Thanksgiving evening, stores were closed. Restaurants were closed. Ghost town. And I liked that feeling. Families gathered together to celebrate. They weren’t working. They weren’t shopping. I was reminded of my childhood, when Sundays meant darkened store windows. Even the grocery stores closed on Sunday, the traditional day of rest.
Those days slipped away and now you can buy groceries on Sunday. And if you forgot cranberry sauce, you can buy it on Thanksgiving. I guess it’s convenient and the stores make more money, but it makes me sad to see these old traditions slip away. And now, Christmas has encroached on Thanksgiving. 
Yes, in a way, Christmas has always out-shined Thanksgiving. When I was little, I was happy to see the back of Thanksgiving, because I knew Christmas was close behind it. Now, I want the days to linger longer. I want to enjoy Thanksgiving and then turn my attention to Christmas. But I realize it’s a personal choice. Christmas lovers all around me already have their houses decorated. And there’s really nothing wrong with that. 
Their emphasis is still on celebrating families, and that’s what Thanksgiving is all about. Taking time to be thankful for the year’s bounty. I’m thankful for all that God has given this year. Like so many others, we’ve been through some things. But in the midst of all that, I can be thankful for God’s provision throughout our time of need. He’s brought our family together in a positive way and helped us overcome our difficulties. 
When we sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner this year, we’ll have so much to be thankful for, beyond the food that is set before us. Each individual sitting at our table is a part of something so much greater. When all the pieces come together, we are whole, and we are blessed. 
I hope your Thanksgiving is a time of celebration. Thanks for stopping by!

photo credit: cafemama via photopin cc

From the Bluegrass to the Pacific (There and Back Again)

Today, I’m flying to Seattle for a short visit with friends and family. I was born in Seattle and some of my mother’s family still live there. My son married a Seattle girl and that was a double blessing, because I’ve had an excuse to return to the region and visit one of the most beautiful areas in the continental U.S.

My son and his wife are relocating to Kentucky, thus the reason for this trip. I get to make the journey, too. We plan to take full advantage of this opportunity to see places we’ve never seen. And we’ll be looking for dog-friendly places, since Gusto will be with us. As you can see, he’s happy to be included.

After we leave Seattle, we’ll head to Oregon, where we’ll stay a couple of days then head down the Pacific Coast, hoping to visit some new places we’ve never seen. I plan to post pictures and thoughts here and on Facebook, documenting this trip so my friends and family can see these places with us. Not like being there, I know. But hopefully it won’t be as bad as sitting through a long slide show of vacay pics with the neighbors. After all, if it’s boring, you can leave. I’ll try not to be boring and in any case, it’ll be short. Usually.

So thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll drop back in during this series of blogposts. You can follow this blog or friend me on Facebook or like my Facebook author page to keep up with what I hope will be an interesting trip. In any case, I’d love to hear from you regarding your favorite Western or Midwestern stops, especially if you know of any dog-friendly places along the way.