Endearing Traits

I’m always surprised by Wednesday, especially when I don’t have a post ready for Thursday. Like today. I always mean to write several posts and schedule them. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Hello, Thursday Morning friends! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by, sparing a few moments from your busy, busy day to visit with me.

I just returned from a quick dinner out with my husband (Bob). He was uncertain what he wanted to eat and where he wanted to go, but we have dozens of good restaurants nearby to choose from. We’re driving and he says, “Hey, let’s go to that place with the big fan.”

I laughed, because this is classic Bob. He’s a smart guy, but he can’t remember names. Now, lest you think he’s on the road to memory loss, that might suggest he had something to lose. Where names are concerned, that is. It’s an endearing trait that provides ample opportunity for humor in our family.

We went to the place with the big fan. On the drive home, I was musing about all the other places he can’t remember. “Hey, how about the place with the horses out front?” Some of you may recognize that one.

“Let’s go to that place next to “chillis” (Chili’s—that’s another joke, but for a different reason). Chillis is how his mother pronounces the name of the restaurant. I guess the red pepper on the sign wasn’t an ample clue for her. It’s been years, but we still call it that. Bob doesn’t care for chillis, so we go to the restaurant next door.

Hey, don’t we know that guy?

It’s not only restaurant names he can’t remember. I often get an elbow in the ribs when we’re at church, or at a party. “Quick, what’s that guy’s name?”

I give him the “I can’t believe you” stare. “We’ve known him over forty years—he was in our wedding!”

“I know, but what’s his name?”

My favorite episode happened recently. We were sitting in a nice little Mexican restaurant when a friend walked in. She stopped by our table to say hello before taking her seat. We had to pass her table on the way out, so Bob wanted to speak to her. He punched me. “Quick, what’s her name?”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “Oh, my gosh. You’re kidding me.”

He frowned. “What’s her name?”

“Her name is Betty.”

“No, really, what’s her name?”

I leaned closer. “Betty.”

We cracked up.

We’d been married barely two weeks when he forgot my name, while introducing me to a friend. At the time, I was shocked. “Really, Bob? How could you forget my name?” These days, I just shrug and smile. “Classic Bob.” I squirrel it away to tell later, when the family gets together.

Oh, and he’s directionally-challenged, too. But that’s another endearing trait for another day.

Once Upon a Time

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello! Happy Thursday morning! I’ve got my  cup of coffee, and I’m ready to work. So, what’s stopping me? The squirrels playing outside my window. The robins hopping around the yard, enjoying the springlike weather. Distraction is a writer’s worst enemy.

I know the phrase, “once upon a time” is clichéd, over-used and abused. But those words still get my imagination going. Like the castle and fireworks, along with Disney’s theme music. You settle in, prepared for a treat.

I used to tuck my little ones into bed and after prayers, I’d say, “Once upon a time, a long, time ago…” and make up a story, usually silly, but always sprinkled with characters who shared their names. It never failed to make them giggle.

The thing is, that little phrase never failed to conjure up a tale. It’s ancient, but it works. You can’t really use it in writing, unless you’re being sarcastic or ironic. An editor would view those words much as she would “a dark and stormy night.”

Backstory-effective. Once upon a time often sits in the back of my mind as I begin work on a new historical. It helps me slip quietly out of the here-and-now, into the “that was then.” [Click to tweet]

I close my eyes and let my imagination carry me places I once knew so well. Riding along in the back seat of my parents’ car, the windows are down, and it’s dark outside. I hear the croak of the bullfrog, peep of tree frogs, millions of insects. The call of the whippoorwill. The lowing of cattle.

The night air, heavy with the scent of freshly-turned earth, cools my cheek. My parents’ quiet voices lull me to sleep. What sweet memories I have of days gone by.

These are just the things to stir the juices of my imagination. My characters come alive as I recreate long-ago scenes. I need to get better at it. Too often, I forget to include enough to help my readers “see” the imaginary rooms where my characters live. I forget, because I’m so familiar with them.

Walking in the barn lot at Grandma’s, I almost always heard a sound as if a dog followed along behind. Yet, there was no dog. It may have been the echo of my own footsteps. It never frightened me, only intrigued me. Stirred my overly active imagination.

I pretended it was one of my grandparents’ old hound dogs, long ago turned to dust in the ground—a faithful old friend that just couldn’t leave—couldn’t be parted from his favorite people. I never told that story, but I might someday. If I do, those old memories will serve me well. Maybe I’ll even start it out with once upon a time.

How about you?  Do you have a favorite memory, or an intriguing thought from days gone by? I’d love to hear it!

All I Want for Christmas-Part 1

crown-1299136_1280If I were a beauty pageant contestant, I’d say, “All I want for Christmas…is world peace.”

But I’m not, nor have I ever been a contestant in a beauty pageant.

Most ordinary people want to live a peaceful life. Especially those who have teenagers living in the house.

cat-787733_1280⇐⇐⇐I’m more like this…

…and my list starts with…something entirely different. It’s been a busy year. If you keep up with my blog posts, you may have noticed that.

I’m not sure what happened to bits and pieces of last year. They’ve disappeared entirely from my memory.

  • Fallen through the cracks between the big stuff.
  • Part of my winter, all of my Spring, part of my summer.
  • Gone.

clock-691143_1280So one thing I’d like for Christmas is time. Time to think. Time to remember the stuff that happened in between. Maybe after I finish my latest work-in-progress. It’s due by end of year. I’m nearly there. Nearly finished, nearly at the end of the year.

Yes, that’s the first item on my list. Time.

turkey-1456681_1280Yes, I’ve overdosed on turkey, so if I’m a little woo-z, that’s why. But there’s a reason behind the madness. I promise. I will have a point.

I plan to share another item or two next week. I’m determined to put some fun in December. Smile at a stranger. Share a joke with a friend. Give a gift. Forgive a transgression. Honor those who love you with your time and presence of mind–not just the big lump of your carcass while you peruse Facebook or play video games. Put the electronic devices down (end of rant).

Most people spend more one-on-one time with their fur babies than they do with their human loved ones. 😦

By the way, in my opinion, Thanksgiving and Christmas–entirely too close together. Let me know what you think. See you next week!

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A Timely Delay

earringsI don’t have any sisters, but I have an older cousin named Norma, who is as dear as a sister to me. I thought about her one day as I was putting on a favorite pair of earrings I hadn’t worn in a while. When my grandmother was dying, I wore those earrings when I went to the hospital. My cousin Norma arrived from Illinois wearing earrings just like mine. I guess that means we have similar taste, good genes, or something like that.

I kept thinking about Norma, throughout the day. I’d not heard from her in a while, and she’s not on the computer, so I found a card with an appropriate message and wrote her a note.

“Do you remember when Grandma was in the hospital and we arrived wearing the same earrings? Well, they’re back in style, and I’m wearing them today. I’ll always think of you when I see them.” I finished with some news about the family and sealed the card.

The next day, I had the card with me at work, planning to mail it, but I’d forgotten to write the address on the front, and I didn’t have her information with me. She didn’t have a “land line” so her address wasn’t in the online phone book. I put the card back in my bag so I could mail it the next day. A few days later, I was looking through the bag and came across the card I’d forgotten all about. So I took it out, found the address, and put it back in the bag.

I finally remembered to mail the thing several days after I had written it. A few days later, I received Norma’s answer.

AuntJen8-2015
Aunt Jen

“You are such a blessing,” she wrote. “Your sweet card arrived on Mama’s birthday.” Her mother, my favorite aunt, had died a little over a year before. Norma was feeling sad when she went to the mailbox and found my card.

I smiled at the memory of my forgetfulness, but after re-reading Norma’s note, I wondered. My delay in sending the card meant it arrived on Aunt Jen’s birthday (which I’d forgotten about). Coincidence? I don’t think so. I prefer to believe in a loving heavenly Father who cares about our every need. His plans for us sometimes include precious surprises that brighten our day and help us through difficult times.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3 NIV

Originally posted on Facebook, September 15, 2011