Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Writing Isn’t for the Faint of Heart

Posted on: February 27th, 2012 by Donna 2 Comments

Now that my book is coming out, I can say this. In the past ten years the publishing world changed dramatically. Big firms gobbled up little ones. In addition to paperbacks, shorter, less costly soft cover books emerged. When the recession hit, rumors abounded of pending publishers’ bankruptcy. Advances, marketing and PR budgets, and staff size all shrunk.

Literary agents found few takers for new manuscripts, even those written by their best clients. Like big box stores vs. small grocers and Mom and Pop retailers, independent book shops found it impossible to compete against national sellers like Barnes and Noble, Borders, and the wild and wooly Amazon. Even as chains folded, reading devices came along. Doom and gloom-sayers predicted the end of books; no one would buy an electronic reader because they’d miss the tactile sense of paper pages.

Still, perhaps because of computers and research availability, or less insistence for quality literature, books proliferated. In response to some of these factors, self-publishers popped up everywhere. Writers’ conferences, magazines, and columns buzzed with a mixture of jubilation and feverish consternation. An author whose agent unsuccessfully pedaled his manuscript to houses for years fired his agent and self-published. After great sales he sang praises to the process. Equally vociferous purist authors and booksellers felt only the untalented, unschooled or unprincipled would pay to have their work published. Indeed, most self-publishers needed a running start to overcome the (deserved or not) common moniker of Vanity Press.

Today millions of books are published each year. Millions! Whether produced by a traditional house, a respected self-publisher, or a little print on demand shop, some books are exquisite, some just a darned good read, and others, well, you have to wonder what that “editor” did for a living before he hung out his shingle. A daunting experience for any writer consists of sizing up his competition by going into a book store for a slap-in-the-face wakeup call. Unless one has LOTs of money he’ll never see his book on the front table at Hastings, or on a rack at the entrance to the book section at his local Wal-Mart. Yep, kids, those spots are purchased for big bucks.

After seven years, I’m still a newbie in this writing business. I lost my agent before we had a chance to introduce my book to a single publisher. Discouraging, true, but I love writing, even though it’s difficult. There are so many ways to lose a reader – weak plots, unbelievable characters, the lack of tension—or this blog going on much longer. It’s solitary work and sometimes lonely, yet writing can take over your life. I mean, I don’t miss the housework, but I just spent an entire week writing to get four pages of my second book nailed tight. That doesn’t even begin to cover what it takes to actually sell your book once it’s published. No matter which publishing route you chose, you’re pretty much thrust out there before the ink dries. Another whole subject, but if you want to learn about marketing, let me hear from you and I’ll share secrets.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: no matter how a book is produced, there’s an author behind it, doing his very best to entertain you, make you think, or see new possibilities. Regardless of the format you prefer, keep reading. Keep buying books, borrowing books, or checking them out of your library. Read to your kids, your grandparents, a friend’s great grandchildren. There’s a whole wonderful world to experience through someone else’s eyes. If you find a book that makes you feel better, or inspires you to take action, pass it along and tell others by every means at your disposal. It’ll do a body good. And if, by any chance, you have a story to tell—and I think everyone does—start writing. It doesn’t have to be the next great American novel. It can be a family history, pure fiction, poetry, a children’s book, or a cookbook. Start today, and let me know why and what you’re writing.

Sometimes I Hate E-mail

Posted on: February 8th, 2012 by Donna 4 Comments

Sometimes I hate email.  At first, when I received a couple a week, it was like getting a letter – exciting, mysterious, and a real highlight in my day.  As it became more common, I became privy to things I would never have sought out on my own.  Now I find it ‘s hard to get through it all, especially when much of it turns out to be a waste of time.  (I’m pretty good at wasting time all by myself.)  Even if I like a joke, a picture, a U-tube or an anecdote, I seldom pass it along and admit to deleting more than a few without even opening them.

But this one… well, this one’s title intrigued me.  Maybe because I’m a nurse; perhaps it was just part of The Plan for me.  One of my fondest memories of my mom was her delight in the patterns of nature.  From here on in, I will experience the produce section of my grocery store from a whole new perspective.

My friend Sandra passed this to me.  (Thanks, Sandra) Click on the link, God’s Pharmacy below and scroll down through the pictures, read, and learn.  Even if you don’t want to send it on, I think you’ll enjoy it.

This is the best way I know to share something great.
God’s Pharmacy

Serving the Cause

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by Donna

Recently I heard someone remark, “If elected, I will not serve.”  Perhaps it was said in jest, maybe not; nevertheless the sentiment seems to be contagious. Americans have always been willing to provide funds and manpower to accomplish great deeds. Even though the old 80/20 principle held fast with eighty percent of the volunteers watching as twenty percent did all the work, we gave hours and talent, pledges and service. In fact, the most common reason folks didn’t stay active in worthy causes was that they weren’t given an assignment.

I belong to a number of civic organizations and today they all seem to struggle to fill positions from board members to officers, chairmen, and committee members. So, what’s going on? Are the causes we once felt important less so now?

I’m not talking just political volunteerism and voter apathy, although you know I feel that America is slipping off the edge of sanity by allowing elected officials to continue the excess they’ve fostered. I’m addressing dwindling church attendance, shrinking civic organizations, PTOs, and non-profits. They all struggle to meet ever more modest goals. When did we go from turning the other cheek to turning our back to one another?

I’m talking about the things we worked hard for in the past. The issues our parents deemed important; our churches, homes, schools, and neighbors’ well-being. Has the need for assistance to the widowed, homeless, unmarried pregnant girls, abused or—God forbid—orphaned children, accident victims, jobless,
unchurched, or impoverished diminished? I think not.

Are we truly busier than ever? Or are we chasing dreams of meaningless material fulfillment? Have we become so jaded by the ignoble that cheat, lie, and steal that we’ve given up? I sincerely hope not.

Since its founding, our country opened its arms to the poor and huddled masses that flocked to our shores. Those immigrants didn’t come looking for a handout. They were willing and ready to pursue happiness through honest labor. Nationalities blended into communities, then cities, and then states, and finally united into one great republic admired by the world. Ours is the people who opened their doors, wallets and hearts to the less fortunate.

Every one of us has something to give, and I hope this awakens the donor in you. We are the people—you and me—and it’s up to each of us to love our neighbor, extend a hand, and give until we feel good.  Really good.

Thank you for the Gift

Posted on: December 29th, 2011 by Donna 6 Comments

Somehow the holidays always sneak up on me. You’d think with all the hoopla starting around Halloween that I’d prepare myself and  our home well in advance.  Nope. By bill payment time in early November I write out checks in response to seasonal mailing label bribes for worthy charities.  And so it begins.

While grocery shopping, I can’t resist buying new Christmas cards.  I also try to recall where I stashed last year’s because they’re most likely still in unopened boxes.  Placing the new cards in the cart with our Thanksgiving turkey, I wonder how many street addresses on my contact  list are current.  Although I shoved after-Christmas-sale rolls of wrapping paper in the guest room closet last year, I don’t recall seeing any of it lately.  I buy a three-pack, just in case.

As usual, I have no idea what to buy several family members. Even though we assured one another during visits last summer that we  didn’t need anything, that Christmas was for kids, and everyone has less money this year, I am certain boxes will soon arrive from their homes.  At least shopping on-line makes things easy.

But first, I’ll get ready for Thanksgiving.  I love to cook and plan to serve a crisp and golden bird, a great stuffing, homemade  potato rolls, and a couple of pies.  Per recommendations from Christopher Kimball at Cook’s Illustrated, I order a fat separator and non-stick V rack for my roaster.

Alas, no family can make it here for Thanksgiving, so I round up lakeside neighbors in the same boat as us.  I’ve done it  before—inviting a young divorced dad and his three year old and borrowing a lonely woman from a nursing home.  It was fun having young and old share a  special time—until our substitute grandmother asked for the fifteenth time, “Tell me dear, who are you again?” and “Where am I, anyway?”

We neighbors all know each other, of course, and enjoy our meal together.  I am especially grateful this year for our families–the relative, neighbor and church ones, our little choir, my writing sisters and P.E.O. ones, my new friends at Tate Publishing, and our health this year.

I know I should be addressing those cards, but the weekend drifts by amid football games, leftovers, and naps.  By Monday, elegant cards  begin to trickle in with the bills.  All the rest of the Paul family women are organized and punctual.

A trip to the doctor turns urgent as my Sweetie is scheduled for surgery.  Pre-op work up, day surgery, pain management, and meals take up the rest of the week.

An out of town December wedding might allow me time to finalize a mailing list, or at least sign the new cards.  I pack the cards in  a suitcase.  Instead of signing cards, we patrol the Lake Jackson streets we knew well long ago, marvel at new businesses, miss old ones, and cluck at the increased traffic.  It’s great to catch up with family and old friends, share meals and stories, laughter and memories.  The bride is radiant, her parents and  grandparents proud, and many of us cry watching little girls turned into high-heeled beauties with beaus and husbands and children of their own.  My, how fast time flies.

We glimpse lit Christmas trees and decorated yards as we head north on Sunday.  I drive while Sweetie rests.  The beautiful songs of  Christmas settle over us as we pass through a chain of our favorite Christian radio station waves.  We return home exhausted from the drive, all the  celebratory events, and sleeping in a strange bed.  How does Ron do it?

We find a dozen phone messages and a hundred emails waiting.  Lots more cards are stacked high on the counter, courtesy of our  neighbor Dave.  Word that we’ll have no family here for Christmas comes too.  There’s now no need to haul out the decorations, although our cheerful little table top tree always makes me smile.  Even my Christmas cactus isn’t ready, and in fact has dropped most of its blooms.

Christmas Eve is drizzly.  Dark arrives at church with us. Inside we nestle as a small congregation which chooses to fill only one side of our sanctuary.  We are the merry and bright.  We are the reverent.  We are held in the spell of the real celebration; our Lord and Savior’s birth.  Indeed, Oh, Holy Night.

The treasure of this time of year comes not with holly, pretty ribbons and papers, or thoughtful, sentimental cards.  The gifts, the tree, the festive meals are just trappings.  It’s us, the people, one at a time pausing to reflect what God sent down from the heavens.  I hang my head in shame at the ways I’ve not been ready to receive that blessing.  And I vow again to do better.  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Have a blessed New Year.

The Smell of Smoke

Posted on: October 13th, 2011 by Donna 11 Comments

Memories of my youth in northern New York always include the feel of fall. By late September, maple, elm and birch trees covered our streets and yards in cast-off blankets of red, orange, and yellow leaves. I still hear the rhythmic sounds of a rake scraping along the sidewalk, taste the juiciness of a crisp Macintosh apple, and can smell burning leaves.

As a little girl, taking a good long run and jumping into piles of leaves seemed great fun, particularly if dried leaves tickled my arms and legs, or their dust caused me to cough and sneeze. Afterward, nothing soothed my throat faster than a jelly glass full of cold tangy apple cider. Resting in an Adirondack chair with the glass on its broad arm, I envisioned carving a giant pumpkin. I wondered—and since I’m being honest here, I also worried not a little—about the costume my mother would sew for me to wear in our city’s annual Halloween contest. Mom always came up with exotic, one-of-a-kind outfits. Like most kids, I didn’t enjoy being different even if I did win a shiny new silver dollar first prize for seven straight years. Today’s prices of silver make me wish I’d kept more of them.

Now that I’m a silver-haired Texas citizen, I no longer dress up for Halloween, I find pine straw much less fun to admire or rake, and at all costs I avoid flinging myself to the ground for any reason. In these parts, I seldom find fresh apple cider for sale. And unless I actually see someone in a yard burning a teensy pile of wet leaves, I don’t enjoy the smell of smoke.

Smoke means fire, and living in the woods magnifies the danger of uncontrolled burns. In fact, few things frighten me more than thoughts of my house burning. Although it only happened once in my lifetime and damaged little, the terror on my mother’s sooty face, the urgency in my father’s rapid commands to us three sleep-drugged kids, and my visiting grandmother’s tears remain vivid sixty years later.

A chink in the mortar of our new fireplace caused a beam in the cellar to catch fire. As smoke billowed from the living room, Dad had my brother shepherd my grandmother, my other brother, and me to the back porch in the relative safety of a frigid February night. He and Mom fought the fire with cooking pots of water for the better part of an hour. Sloshing water as she ran, Mom raced up and down our narrow old cellar stairs to the basement to throw water up at the burning beam. Meanwhile, Dad, who had no stairs to slow him down, outpaced Mom with two containers to her one. Never shouting a warning, he poured his full pots directly into the fireplace, raining ashes, soot, and black water down on hapless Mom below. She explained to me later that Dad had too much pride to summon help from the fire station half a block from our house. He’d built the fireplace.

The recent smell of smoke from numerous East Texas wildfires made it seem prudent to pack clothes, fill both our vehicles with gas, and round up my three M’s: money, medications, and memories. Given the distance of the closest fires, I also had time to gather pet food, carriers, and leashes and weigh the options for taking other possessions. Granted, personal belongings are worldly goods and not relative to eternity, but since I had time and space for more than just emergency provisions, I readied laptops, jewelry, an extra pair of prescription glasses, and a few framed photographs. For two weeks the fires roared, burned out, and regrouped in drought-stricken fields, communities, and forests all around us. Although our neighborhood remained relatively free of imminent danger, brisk winds carried heavy, choking smoke hundreds of miles.

Homes and property can be abandoned for a number of reasons. It’s been a long time since I huddled in a school hallway during a drill for an air raid or stood outside in a winter’s night in my pajamas. But I sure wished for an escape plan when an intruder banged on my door while I was home alone in a blizzard. I lamented no family plan when I found myself surrounded by hundreds of panicked people screaming for their kids as we all fled a mall during a bomb scare. I would’ve paid a fair amount of money for a faster, emptier route after being stuck in a car without air conditioning for hours fleeing an August Gulf Coast hurricane.

Recent internet and television news evoked terrible sadness at the losses suffered by other Texans. Looking around our home now, I feel almost guilty that we didn’t lose pieces of our family’s history. For the moment, fire no longer threatens, although it’s still very dry everywhere, and occasional smoke still drifts our way. The wildfires brought to mind that all of us could be better prepared for emergencies of any sort. Our neighborhood civic association discussed potential emergencies and updated our shared list of other family’s contact numbers. In addition to streamlining my emergency evacuation procedures, I also plan to:

Give an extra donation to our local volunteer fire department and support all their fundraisers.

Write out directions to at least four safe havens within fifty miles of home and carry a road atlas and/or Texas road map in case of detours, a good flash light, a blanket, a jacket, several bottles of water, and protein bars. I will notify members of my family where I expect to go, the route I’ll take, and which vehicle I’m
driving. If other family members are also leaving, we’ll arrange a meeting place.

Scan and organize my favorite photos from albums and storage boxes and save to a jump drive. I’ll load a few more of my most treasured authors’ works and the Bible onto my Kindle.

Carry a list of telephone numbers of family/neighbors/friends in case cell phones don’t work.

And despite the inevitable rolling of my children’s eyes for the few antiques I can fit in the limited space left in my vehicle, I’ll determine which irreplaceable personal effects to save.

I’m a Twelve

Posted on: September 6th, 2011 by Donna 5 Comments

As a kid, Wayne’s brothers owned dogs; he never had one. About a year after we married, he confessed he wanted a puppy for his next birthday.

“What kind of dog do you want, honey?”

He didn’t ask for just any dog, though—my sweetheart wanted a Doberman. As resident expert of all suitable pets, I had serious doubts about his request. I’ve owned cats, horses, hamsters, turtles, and birds. I’ve also owned two high strung collies—and for a short time, their litters of 14 puppies each—one manic Irish setter, a loud-mouthed beagle, and a sweet cocker spaniel. I’ve walked, fed, brushed, shampooed, and trained dogs. I’ve let them sleep on my bed, taught them to walk on a leash, do tricks, and for the most part, behave in public. I love dogs, but I’ve never had a breed which scared me to death. Justified or not, Dobermans have a certain reputation. “Honey, I’m not sure that’s a good choice for a first dog.”

Wayne’s stubborn German heritage pops out every now and again. “Maybe so, but that’s the kind of dog I want.”

Being a sensible woman who avoids confrontation over the trivial things in life, I capitulated. Not, however, before I added my own stipulation, “Okay, we’ll get you a Doberman puppy if you promise to enroll in obedience school and learn how to train it.”

Smiling, Wayne nodded.

“I’ve already been to obedience school but you need to understand what it takes to have a trained dog. I won’t have a dog that frightens me or is a threat to anyone else. Agreed?”

His nod sealed a done deal and a great long term solution.

A few weeks later, I presented a black and tan female Dobie to Wayne on his birthday. Envisioning a new running partner, he named her after the first Greek marathoner, Spiridon. We called her Spirit.

We only had to endure the short term until Spirit was old enough to benefit from training. Fortunately, she stayed out doors most of the time, so the chewing, digging, and barking weren’t much of an issue unless she escaped the yard. Which, of course, she learned to do once she discovered the great fun of jumping into our creek and swimming around the end of the fence…

Many apologies to the neighbors later, Spirit and her master celebrated her ten-month birthday as they enrolled in the Tuesday night sessions of obedience school. Although I had complete confidence in the instructor and my husband, I went along. I had to see this. Admittedly, the first class went well—puppy playtime, putting on the leash, everybody starting off on the right foot. At the end of the hour, the instructor called out, “Okay, everyone. Practice what we worked on tonight. See you next week.”

As Wayne practiced during the week, Spirit enjoyed the attention, and I relaxed for six days.

At dinner Monday evening, Wayne’s face told me something was amiss. Sure enough, he’d agreed to teach a Dale Carnegie class. We needed the money and the schedule was set in stone. He’d be teaching on Tuesday nights.

Still frightened of Spirit’s potential aggressive side, I found myself at obedience school walking a very resistant canine in the pouring rain the next night. Those lucky souls with complacent, obedient dogs walked in relative quiet, murmuring praises to their pooches, smiling at one another. Between Spirit’s lunging at the leash to reinstate puppy playtime, walking anywhere but beside me, and totally obstinate attitude, I lurched and staggered about the field timidly asserting my will.

Bookies would place her as odds on favorite. As the class ended, the instructor looked straight at me, “Okay, everyone. Practice. See you next week.”

After work Wednesday, I stepped into yesterday’s shorts, pulled on a fresh t-shirt, put a training collar and leash on Spirit, and drove to the high school for a half hour of dog training. Before I could even park the car, the dog went ballistic. Growling and barking, she lunged at the windshield, apparently intent on devouring a group of men standing near the track. Horrified, I finally settled her. My face burned as I walked past the now wide-eyed and wary bystanders and headed toward the far side of the track. If I’d had a gun I don’t know if I’d have shot my husband or the dog.

The audience grew as Spirit and I walked the track for the next half-hour testing one another’s right to dominate. My command, “Spirit, heel” should A. gain my dog’s attention, B. direct her to calmly walk beside me, and C. let her know she needed to stop when I did, sit, and look up at me to see what her next command might be. Each time I corrected her meandering with a jerk on her leash, she let out a loud pitiful yelp. I noted a few of the guys nodding in approval. Demonstrating to everyone I was the boss, I refused to let sympathy enter the picture.

By round ten, Spirit had quit pulling toward the sidelines, but remained standing each time I stopped walking. When I reminded her to sit with another leash jerk, she sank on her haunches and refused to look at me. The sideline crew was snickering out loud by now. I still meant business. Three more times I commanded her, “Spirit, heel.” We walked. We stopped. We both remained standing.

I was ready to call it a draw for a day, but decided to try one more time. Staying close to my right leg, she heeled perfectly, stopped when I did, sat down, and raised her head to watch me. Eureka!

“Good girl Spirit,” I praised, leaning down to pat her chest.

I saw a flash of pink behind my knee. It was fabric of some sort. It didn’t register as anything familiar until I reached around my leg to pull on it. Out from the back of my shorts came yesterday’s pink underwear which apparently had been draped down my leg the entire time I paraded the track.

Now as I said at the beginning of this story, I’m a twelve. That’s not a superlative to “She’s a Ten.” It’s also a sad fact that the twelve doesn’t refer to my dress size. It’s a panty size. Stuffing those things in my pocket was like trying to hide a king-sized sheet in there. Pocket bulging, face flaming hot, the trainer and her dog shot to her car while their audience laughed until they collapsed against one another. Some of them are probably still laughing.

Don’t think of this as a blog, but more of a slower, slightly more formal slog which might instill your desire to respond. I welcome and thank you for your thoughts, comments, or suggestions.

Life’s A Passing Parade

Posted on: August 18th, 2011 by Donna

Peach Crisp

Once I had one hundred parents. Not literally, of course, but that’s how I chose to look at the residents of the assisted living community where I served as administrator. I loved singing to them as I joined the rest of the staff serving meals in the dining room. Some sang along, some requested favorite songs, and even those losing a grasp on life’s reality mouthed every verse of the old hymns. And when things went well, the challenges of being administrator balanced with reward and satisfaction.

Sometimes, however, a simple promise to your parents can get you into hot water. Before leaving on a much-needed weekend at our lake house, I announced to everyone that I’d bring back East Texas peaches. Confident of my culinary skills and wanting to give our kitchen staff a break, I announced, “Next Monday, I’m making Peach Crisp for everyone.”

Trouble is, by the time we left church and headed toward the produce stand at the orchard, the only ripe peaches left were the size of plums. The clerk gave me the peeling secret, “Put ‘em in boilin’ water a coupla minutes an’ the skins will slip right off.” I bought a full bushel and lovingly placed it on the floor of the back seat.

The car smelled like heaven. It was 102°.

I snoozed while my husband drove south. Somewhere around Lufkin our air conditioning blew noticeably warmer air. It got muggy and close. I adjusted the vents and fiddled with the controls, but the car became progressively hotter. Peaches like heat. They ripen and send out waves of perfume. People do too.

By the time we got back to Lake Jackson the car interior sizzled. Even with the windows open, the peach smell was so sweet I could barely breathe.

Humming, the next day I started rummaging around in the facility kitchen about one o’clock. I figured an hour prep time, about the same time in the oven, and no more than fifteen minutes to scoop servings into our small dessert bowls. I still had plenty of time left to chill the bowls in the walk in cooler.

Dinner was scheduled for 5:00 pm, and I was going to make it grand—provided I could get all those peaches ready. Feeling just a tad superior, I gave the peeling secret away to our cook and asked for something to boil them in.

Cook grinned and pointed to a pot large enough to park a Volkswagen in.

Smiling back, I carried the heavy pot over to the stainless steel sink and turned on the tap. It took lots of water to fill it.

I couldn’t lift the pot out of the sink.

Cook smiled, dumped out half the water and hefted the pot to the stove. “Sure glad you volunteered to make dessert today.” She cranked up the gas under the big burner, sat on a stool, and folded her arms. “Looks like a heap a work to me. You ever use canned peaches?”

“Oh, no,” I gushed, “fresh fruit makes the best crisps.”

It didn’t take long to find that peeling small peaches isn’t a great deal of fun, even if they’ve been treated to a few minutes in a hot bath. First off, the skins weren’t slipping anywhere except out from under the knife. The main thing slipping was the peaches. Popping out of my hands, they slithered around on the stainless work table, and then rolled right off onto the floor. Now Cook kept a clean kitchen, but you really shouldn’t eat off the floor.

I peeled and sliced until my hands cramped in protest. Needing a break from the knife, I made a huge batch of topping. Gold and red, bald and slimy, my efforts mocked me, barely covering the bottom of Cook’s gargantuan mixing bowl. Two huge baking pans—steam table size—waited for the peach filling. I looked at the mountain of fruit beside me, felt the heat from the five gallon pot boiling on the stove, and sniffed at the crumbly flour/oatmeal topping, sprinkled with grated nutmeg, toasted pecan pieces and chunks of still cold butter. Thought I’d never finish. By the time I filled the second pan and slid it into the big oven I was covered in sticky peach juice, flour and oatmeal. So was about half the kitchen. I brushed at several peelings stuck to my skirt.

Cook giggled. Surveying her once sparkling domain and shaking her head, she sent me back to my office to change clothes. “Honey, you even got that stuff in your hair!” Now laughing so hard she had to cling to the sink, she managed to tell me, “I got it from here.”

I beamed that evening as I joined other staff carrying trays of desserts to residents’ tables. Most of my ‘parents’ dug right in. I listened, but didn’t hear a single “Yum” or praise for the chef. Spoons scraped the last bits out of bowls and slowly the dining room emptied.

Wouldn’t you think someone would say it was good?

A lone diner sat quietly at the corner table. Sometimes he needed prompting to rise and return to his room. If he wandered, staff or another resident reminded him of its location. As I approached, he looked up at me and I recognized his look of frightened confusion. He seldom remembered who any of us were.

“Hey, Charles, would you like me to walk back to your room with you?”

Relief flooded his face. “Okay.”

Arm in arm, we walked toward the hallway.

“Say, that peach stuff was really good.”

“Why, thank you Charles.” I knew he had no idea I’d cooked it, but that was okay. He liked it. I squeezed his hand.

A brief flash twinkled his blue eyes. “I’m pretty sure I like vanilla pudding better, though, don’t I?”

I laughed all the way home. Cook’s going to love this story tomorrow.

Don’t think of this as a blog, but more of a slower, slightly more formal slog which might instill your desire to respond. I welcome and thank you for your thoughts, comments, or suggestions.

You can reach me at