Christmas in Garfield-- Part three. Terri

The noise of the crowded mall faded away as Terri circled the large tree. She studied the ornaments carefully, nodding, tapping her pursed lips with her finger tips. An even dozen, I think. Finally, after two full circuits around the tree, Terri began plucking white cardboard angels off the tree like a farmer picking apples. Once she had her harvest she retreated to the food court for lunch. With her burger and fries spread out before her, she dug a note book from her bag and began to make her shopping list.
Andy, age 12, Skate board.
Cassie, age 3, winter coat. Awww, a coat for Christmas, bet Santa brings you a baby doll too.
JoAnne, age 10, Skates. Terri made a note to add helmets and knee pads to both Andy and JoAnne’s package.
Hannah, age 3, Elmo doll.
Derrick, age 5, Foot ball. How about a ball and bat too, buddy?
Ronnie, age 14, Batman video game.
Crystal, age 12, this request consisted of a long list of books. Terri smiled, a girl after my own heart. I’ll make sure Santa hooks you up.
Mollie, age 7, a new sweater for my mama. Terri’s eyes swam with tears. Will do, baby, along with a matching one for you and a stuffed animal.
Hank. She sipped her soda and smiled at the sturdy picture the name alone drew in her mind. Hank, age 8, a puppy. Ouch. “Oh, Hank,” she whispered. “A dog?” With her chin propped on her fist she pondered Hank’s request. Santa would need to be extra careful with this one.  Terri wrote Hank’s name at the top of her list and circled it for special attention. Maybe one of those robotic things from Radio Shack.
Andrew, age 8, Legos.
Elizabeth, age 5, horsey. Terri rubbed her face. Another animal? At least this wish was easier to work with than the dog. She’d seen some stuffed rocking horses earlier in the month. Complete with bridle and galloping sounds when you rocked. Too cute!
Terri smiled when she turned over the final angel. Twins, a baker’s dozen. Shelly and Kelly, age 4, tricycles. Terri scribbled a note to give Callie a call. Benton better break out his tool belt. She was a pretty good Santa, but not much of a tool girl.
She looked at her list and did some mental math. A winter coat for all thirteen, stocking caps and gloves for all, along with a toy, requested or not. Thirteen stockings stuffed with candy and fruit. Terri would need Benton for more than tools this year, she’d need his truck to fill in as Santa’s sleigh.
The chair legs screeched on the concrete floor as Terri scooted back from the table. She studied the stores across the food court. Better get busy. Santa had a long list to fill.

A Garfield Christmas, part 2 Pam

How did you lose a three foot reptile? Pam shook her head as she restacked the Christmas gifts under the tree. “Jeremy, he’s not hiding under the tree.”
“Thanks, Mom. I’ll keep looking.”
“Yes, you will.” Goose bumps marched across the bare flesh of Pam’s arms. There was a slithering creature loose in her house. She shuddered. It could be worse, they could have agreed to Jeremy’s plea for a snake. Pam took a deep breath. Okay, not a snake, thank God, an iguana. A cold, scaly, beady eyed, bad tempered snake with legs.
Her son reappeared, dropping small pieces of romaine lettuce on the carpet in a trail from the kitchen to the empty terrarium in the corner of the enclosed back porch. Lizard central due to the direct sunlight the room received. Jeremy looked up and intercepted his mother’s frown. “Bait. Spot has to be hungry by now. Maybe I can lure him back to his cage.”
“You think he’s just going to climb back in?”
“He climbed out.”
“I live in a zoo,” she muttered. Two dogs in the back yard, a newly acquired cat, an FFA project in the form of a goat, and a lizard. The animals outnumbered the people, especially if you counted the dozen or so fish swimming in the aquarium. Were fish animals? How had this happened?
Pam faced her son with her sternest expression. “I’m going to bed. You will find that creature before you come upstairs. When Harrison gets home tomorrow night we’ll discuss Spot’s living arrangements.”
Jeremy crossed his arms and jutted his chin. “Yes Ma’am.”
She ran her fingers through her hair as she climbed the stairs. Before heading to her own room, Pam stopped to knock on her daughter’s door. “Megan?”
Pam heard the sound of something heavy sliding on the carpet behind the door. Said door opened just an inch.
“You barricaded the door?”
“Barricaded and towels stuffed under the crack. After a complete and thorough search, I can report that Jeremy’s missing beast is not in here and I intend to keep it that way. Reddy and want nothing to do with the slimy little nuisance.”
“He’s not slimy, just scaly.” Pam corrected.
“Okay.” Pam kissed her finger and touched it to her daughter’s nose. “Sleep well.” The door closed without further word and she laughed when she heard dragging noises again. “I really don’t think he would have climbed the stairs.”
She turned to her own room. The thought of spending another night alone made her shoulders slump, and it had nothing to do with the missing lizard. Harrison was hunting and would be back from his week in the woods tomorrow. Pam missed her husband. She changed into a sleep shirt, turned out the lights, and crossed the dark room.  Leading with her hands she pulled down the comforter and slid between the cool sheets. The nest of pillows at the top of the bed scattered as she tossed to make herself comfortable. Her out flung arm came into contact with cold scales. A pounding heart propelled her from the bed. Mystery solved.  “JEREMY!”
***This short post was taken from a personal memory. Yes, I found a pet lizard in my bed one winter night. What's the most surprising thing you ever encountered in a dark room.? Post your answer, or leave a comment over on Terri's page regarding the interview with Deb Raney and I'll register you to win a copy of Deb's book, Forever After. Be sure to leave a name and E-mail address so I can contact you if you win. If you enjoyed your visit, please consider becoming a member.***

A Garfield Christmas, Part 1 Callie

A couple of steps away from the tree gave Callie room to survey her handiwork. Lights twinkled, throwing prisms of reflected color from creases in the silver tinsel. She circled the seven foot evergreen and studied it with a critical eye, looking for bare spots still in need of attention. A tug on the braided garland here, an extra ornament there, and two hours from start to finish Callie breathed her approval into the room. “Just right.” Almost.
Callie’s gaze traveled from the tree, to the sofa, and the item she always saved for last. Her heart beat stumbled in her chest as she took a seat. She braced herself against a flood of emotions and pulled the worn tin box into her lap. Thirty five years had not blunted her grief. Thirty five years of hanging this final decoration on the tree had not made it easier. Thirty five years and her fingers still trembled as the lid came off the box.
Her hands were gentle as she unfolded soft blue flannel. Eleven months in storage had allowed the sterling silver to tarnish again. Callie shook her head and used the cloth to shine the ornament, rewarded as the metal brightened and began to reflect the red, green, and blue lights from the tree. A single tear plopped onto the surface as she worked. She ignored it, working the moisture into the surface where thousands of tears had gone before. Memories blurred Callie’s vision.
Their first Christmas as man and wife, just a few weeks short of their one year anniversary, opening their gifts from each other. Benton dancing a stuffed monkey across the top of her very pregnant belly. The piercing pain as she stretched to straighten the star on top of the tree. The shock of blood puddled at her feet. The assurances of her doctor that seven month babies could do “just fine”. Labor that lasted into the wee hours of the next day while Benton refused to leave her bedside. The precious hour she’d spent holding her baby as the light faded from his tiny blue eyes.
A shiver jerked her thoughts back to the present. The scent of pine had changed from pleasant to cloying. Callie shook it off and rose to face the tree. She stood on tip toe to place the final ornament high in the branches and gave the sterling silver bear a gentle nudge to bring the inscription into view. Gavin Wayne Stillman, December 26th. Her fingers traced the date. Just a day, less really.  “Merry Christmas, Angel.”

A special post for a special friend

When I was a little girl I loved Christmas and I believed in Fairy tales. I still love Christmas, but I thought I’d outgrown Fairy tales. That was before Linda Goodnight gave us her book The Christmas Child.
Fairy tales are back…
The Christmas Child has all the elements, all that's missing is the "once upon a time":
A pure and beautiful princess whose love will cure the broken hearted.
A handsome troubled prince whose faith is gone.
A child in need of a Christmas Miracle.
A Scrooge out to put an end to the Season’s joy.
And a town where the focus is still on Christ at Christmas, and the whole town loves it and no one protests it. What more could you ask for in a place called Redemption?
Read the book. You will believe again.
I’m giving away a copy of the book, but instead of an interview with Linda to comment on, I need your help.
Linda’s whole life has been dedicated to helping others. She has been a nurse, a teacher, and now a writer.
Linda suffered a personal tragedy over the Thanksgiving holiday. On top of that a close family member is battling a particularly vicious form of cancer. Linda and her family are holding onto Christ, believing for their own Christmas miracle. Will you help?
Please leave a verse of encouragement or a promise to join Linda in praying for the miracle they need. The Bible says that when 2 or 3 agree wonderful things happen. I think we can get lots more than that. In a couple of weeks I’ll give the book away and I’ll include all your verses and pledges to pray in a card to Linda. I know it will bless her and uplift the entire family.
Please click on the word "comment" below and leave a special message for Linda and her family. Every response is a chance to win the book.


I’ve wrestled control away from the women this week and using the blog for my own purposes. I want to give Thanks for the chance to follow a dream.
I’m waiting on news that could change my life. I wanted to say, from this place of limbo, before I get my news, good or bad, that I’m thankful to have had the last three years.
Writers amaze me, they always have. We have brilliant doctors and lawyers in this word, financial wizards that understand things I’ll never grasp, they went to school for those things and they learned them well, they have my admiration, but writers…
To string letters into words and words into scenes and scenes into stories with the ability to transport you to another place or time, to allow you to see and smell something never physically experienced. You can hone that talent in the class room, but the writing, that’s a gift. Before I can call myself a writer I wanted to give thanks to the many writers in my life who have managed to take me places, allowed me to dream, and offered an escape in times of stress.
All the way from the authors of my childhood, Beloved, often read books like Tom Sawyer, Harriet the Spy, The Velvet Room, Tomas Takes Charge, to the Trixie Beldon-Nancy Drew series books, followed by people like Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart to today’s John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Irene Hannon, and so many more.
Thank you. Thank you for using the gift God gave you to bring me happiness in an often unhappy world.
Besides writing and learning the craft, there are two other benefits to this journey that I want to give thanks for today.
I have found a whole new level of friendship over the last few years. Ladies I’ve known for decades have become my readers and my strongest supporters. If it was in their power to publish my stories I would have been published long before now, long before I was ready. They prayed for me, they believed in me, they held my hand when I didn’t deserve to have it held. I won’t publish their names, they know who they are and I hope this makes them smile.
Then I’ve been privileged to meet writers. Real, honest to God, published writers. My heros! The first meeting I attended of our local American Christian Fiction Writers group, I was in awe. These people were living my dream and they had time to talk to me… a wanna be? I recognized a couple of the names in the room that day and could barely look them in the eye. I was unworthy. I laugh at that now, they would too if they knew, cause now I know they’re just people like me. I hope, soon, I can be a writer like them.
Happy Thanksgiving.

A Valley View Thanksgiving, part 2

Callie watched Benton from the doorway of the kitchen.  He opened the crock-pot, and pulled out a piece of simmering ham with his fingers. He fumbled it when Callie cleared her throat behind him. “Benton, this is the last time I’m going to tell you to get your fingers out of the food and your body out of my kitchen.”
“I’m hungry.”
Callie looked behind her at the snack foods spread out in messy array on the dining room table.
 Benton clarified his meaning. “I’m hungry for real food.”
Callie jerked a thumb across her shoulder. “Out. Paul and Randy need your help.  They were trying to explain football rules to Trent.  I’m sure you can do a much better job than they can, you’re closer to his mental age.”
“He’s a baby…”
 Callie smirked at her husband. “My point…”
Benton mumbled under his breath.
“What was that?”
“I said, that I was going to be glad when you decided I’d suffered enough for the vacation debacle.”
Callie narrowed her eyes at his reminder.  “You’re a long way from absolution on that one, my love.  You’re lucky I’m feeding you at all today.”
 Benton snagged a last bite before settling the lid back in place.
He edged out of the kitchen, his wife’s eyes boring into his back. He stepped aside to allow Sophie and April to pass.
 Sophie laughed at the look that passed between her mother and father. “UH OH, someone’s in trouble.”
Eleven-year-old April agreed. “Even I don’t get that look anymore.”
 Benton muttered. “Women…”
Callie’s daughter Sophie and her granddaughter April washed their hands at the sink.  “What can we do to help?” Sophie asked.
Callie looked around the kitchen, mentally organizing the things that still needed to be done. “I was about to make the filling for the coconut cream pie.” She motioned Sophie to the refrigerator. “If you’ll cut up the veggies for the salad, I’ll let April help me with the pie.”
“I can do that.” Sophie took down a cutting board and arranged vegetables on the counter top.
 April looked into the pan that Callie was stirring. “What did you want me to do?”
“We need to bake the pie shell, but it needs some holes poked in it to make sure it doesn’t get any air bubbles underneath it.  Think you can handle that?”
When the oven timer went off ten minutes later Callie transferred the browned pie shell to a cooling rack and looked at the small half moon shaped holes in the crust. The crust was fine, but the irregular markings puzzled her. She called her granddaughter back into the kitchen. “April, what did you use on this crust?”
April looked from the crust, to her fingernails, to her grandmother.
Callie leaned back against the counter. “You used your fingernails?”
April nodded. “I washed my hands.  You said to poke holes in it, I poked holes.”
“That’s generally done with a fork.”
April huffed out a breath. “Now you tell me.” April fled the kitchen when her grandmother gave her the same look her grandfather had received earlier.
***What’s your favorite childhood memory of helping in the kitchen, or a memory of a child helping you in the kitchen?  While you’re here take a moment to look at Karla’s page, she has some pictures to share with everyone. There is also new news on my personal page. If you like what you read, please consider joining the page.***

A Valley View Thanksgiving, part one

 Muffled giggles had Karla’s eyes popping open bright and early Thanksgiving morning. The bedroom door creaked and she heard a soft “Shhh”. The noise gave her just enough time to roll over in the king sized bed and make some room before eight-year-old Kathy and her five-year-old sister Heather abandoned all attempts at stealth and bounced into the bed between her and Mitch. The mattress trembled with the aftershock of their landing.  
Mitch rolled over with a mock groan. “We’ve been invaded.”
“What’s ‘vaded?” Heather asked.
Mitch rolled over on top of her, pinned her to the sheet, and rubbed his overnight stubble against her soft cheek. Shrieks of little girl laughter filled the room as he turned his attention to the older girl. “Attacked, overrun, plagued, pestered.” He rolled back over and settled the younger of the two children in the crook of his arm. “Morning puddin’ two.”
“Morning, Grandpa.”
He looked at Kathy. “Morning puddin’ one.”
“You’re the silliest grandpa,” Kathy told him as she snuggled in next to Karla. She handed her grandma a book “We’re ready for our story, Nana.”
“Just the two of you?” Karla asked.  “Don’t we need to wait for Matt?” 
Kathy shook her head.  “He says he’s too old for Dr. Suess.”
“He’s a dufus,” Heather added with five-year-old sincerity.
Karla felt her heart crack a little at the inevitable changes of time.  No doubt Matt’s decision to miss their Thanksgiving morning tradition was only one of the changes occurring since their last visit six months ago.  They were growing up faster than the four or five yearly visits could keep up with. 
Their daughter Cheryl, her husband Austin, and the three children had arrived from Kansas City late last night.  
Lucas, his wife Michelle and their two children, twelve-year-old Mark and six-year-old Holly, lived outside of Tulsa and would be there by mid-morning.  Their youngest son Jonathan, his wife Amber, along with their two kids, ten-year-old Aiden and seven-year-old Renee, lived in the opposite direction, just across the Texas line in Gainesville. They would be here by noon. The eldest of their four children, Nicholas, would spend the holidays deployed. Karla sighed. With almost twenty years in the Air Force Nick and had spent his share of holidays overseas.  She’d never gotten used to his empty place at the table.
Thanksgiving dinner was scheduled for two o’clock.  The men and boys would turn the living room into a rowdy man cave, cheering their favorite football teams to victory, swilling sodas, and ruining their appetites with snacks. The women would seek the quieter sanctuary of the kitchen to catch up on each other’s lives while they prepared a meal that would be properly appreciated only in memory.
She glanced at Mitch. Almost forty years together and their family was healthy and whole, and growing. They had much to be grateful for.
Kathy patted Karla’s face, pulling her back to the present.  “Nana, we’re ready.”
Mitch scooted a little closer, just as eager as Karla to share in these quiet moments with their grandchildren. “Yeah Nana, what are we reading this morning? I’m not too old to enjoy it.”
Karla laughed at the three of them and looked at the book in her hands. “Yertle the Turtle. One of my favorites.” She opened the book and began to read.
“On the far away island of Sala-ma-sond, Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond.”
***I have grandchildren two states away. I travel to them for Thanksgiving. When they were young they were usually in bed by the time I arrived late Wednesday night. I use to wake up bright and early on Thanksgiving day with three little boys piled in the bed on top of me. It broke my heart the year they decided they were "too old" to climb into bed with grandma. What's your favorite Thanksgiving memory? While you're here take a moment to visit the rest of the pages. Terri has a contest running on her page and Callie has a new post.  If you like what you read, please consider joining the page.***

Pam, Part two

***This week's post is a bit different. After you've read it please take a few minutes to answer the question at the end of the entry. Your opinions will be a great help as I write Pam's story.***

Pam leaned against the wall while her husband worked to replace the screening in the patio door. “Rufus has to go.”
“Hon, you know that’ll ruin Jeremy’s grade.”
“So he says, but I’m more concerned with what the goat is doing to our home.” She stopped to hand him the screwdriver that had rolled just beyond his reach.
Harrison used the blade of the tool to press the mesh into the groove of the screen’s frame. “Rufus is just a baby—”
“That’s my point. If he’s this much trouble at six-months-old, what are we going to do with him when he’s full grown?” Harrison continued to work and Pam knew by his silence that the battle was lost long before he replied.
He stood and, using force and his weight, wedged the repaired frame back into the slots that held it. He slid the screen back forth a few times. “There you go, good as new.” When Pam simply stared at him he continued. “I’ll talk to Jeremy after dinner. We’ll fence off a portion of the yard and confine your nemesis to his own space. Will that work for you?
“We should have done that from the start.” Pam took a few steps forward, put her arms around Harrison’s waist, and tucked her hands into the back pockets of his jeans. How did I get so lucky? “We don’t deserve you, you know?”
Harrison placed a kiss on the top of her head, and slipped his hands into Pam’s back pockets. “How do you figure that?”
“You’re so good to us. My own personal hero and a champion to the kids—”
 “Awww…go on.” He chuckled when she didn’t continue. “No, really. Go on.”
Pam pinched his butt through the fabric of his jeans. “I think that’s enough ego stroking for one day.”
Harrison spread his fingers and pulled her closer.  “I double dog dare you to do that again.”
Pam snuggled against him and grinned at the lines that formed between his eyes as her husband’s expression changed from teasing to something more serious. She tilted her head back and wet her lips. “Kiss me.”
He bent to accommodate her request. His hands moved up her back and around to frame her face. His lips were insistent against hers. He pulled back just enough to whisper against her mouth. “Come upstairs with me.”
Pam stood on her tip toes and drew him into a second kiss.  The fingers still buried in his pockets flexed to deliver two sharp pinches. She danced away with a mischievous laugh and sprinted for the stairs. “Sissy.” His first grabbed missed her by centimeters as she gained two steps on him. He caught up with her just as she stepped through the door of their bedroom. They faced each other across the expanse of polished wood floor, both breathless from the race up the stairs. Pam’s heart quickened at the look of intent on Harrison’s face as he nudged the door closed, turned the lock, and reached for the top button on his shirt. His voice was husky when he spoke. “You lose.”
Hers was just as husky when she replied. “Oh really? Feels like winning to me.”

***Here's my question. Did this scene go too far for you? Pam and Harrison have a healthy, married relationship. Is this an acceptable scene under those circumstances? If your answer is no, why not?  Please use the comment button below and leave your thoughts. (The word "comment" right under this post is the button.) Also, don't forget to stop by Terri's page while you're here. There's a new interview with Gina Holmes and a chance to win her book "Dry as Rain". It's a great book. Leave a comment, get registered!***


Just a note to let everyone know that each page now has it's own comment box. The "comment as" drop down is a pain, but you can select anonymous, then leave your post, just be sure to include your email so I can contact you if you should win the drawing.  Hopefully this will be so much easier. I tried to do this several weeks ago but the site was having problems. It's fixed, YEA!!!

Remember a comment on any blog element registers you to win the prize.

Meet Pam

***Before we get to the story, I wanted to thank you for stopping by and encourage you to use the "join the blog" button to the right. Just so you'll know, Pam posted a new recipe on her page tonight and the Interview with Loree Lough is still on Terri's Page. I'm giving a copy of her book away at the end of the week. You can register to win by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post. Feel free to comment about anything you find here or at the end of tonight's post there is a question geared towards generating some dialogue.  Enjoy!!***

Let's meet Pam Jones:

“Rufus, stop! Jeremy, get in here, now!” Pam sank to her knees on the carpeted floor, hands outstretched, watching helplessly as her spreadsheet disappeared an inch at a time. She made a conscious effort to gentle her voice. “Rufus, come here boy.” The goat took a single step towards her.
“What?” Jeremy hustled into the room and skidded to a stop next to Pam. Startled, the goat bounded through yesterday’s hole in the patio screen. The last hour of Pam’s work went with him. She dropped her head into her hands.
“Jeremy, that goat is one breath away from being a gyro sandwich.”
Her son looked at the hole in the screen. “I already gave Dad my allowance to replace the screen--”
“I’m not worried about the screen. Well, I am, but,” She motioned to the coffee table and the paperwork spread across it. “He ate my spreadsheet.”
Jeremy snickered. “It’s a good thing Dad’s your boss. No one else would buy that excuse. Sounds sort of like ‘the dog ate my homework’.”
Pam got to her feet and stared down her fourteen-year-old son. “You think this is funny?”
“Well…” Jeremy studied his mother’s face and apparently thought better about any flip comment he’d been about to make. “No Ma’am.”
She returned to her desk. “The goat has got to go.”
“No buts. I’ll put an add on Craig’s list. We’ll find him a good home.”
“It’ll cost me my grade for the whole year.”
Pam shook her head. What had possessed her and Harrison to allow this child to bring a barnyard animal into their lives? Sure, he’d been cute at twelve inches tall, all soft and dependant with those big eyes and spindly legs, drinking from a bottle, and sleeping in a box of hey on the back porch. The box was their first mistake. The stupid goat thought he was a dog. The whole family had doted on Rufus for the first few weeks. Then he grew horns and an appetite. Never had she seen a more stubborn animal. Stubborn animal. She thought of her first husband. “Does your father have a fenced back yard?”
“Mom.” Jeremy rolled his eyes. “I can’t have an FFA project a hundred miles away.”
Worth a shot. Pam turned back to the computer to begin the work of recreating the spreadsheet that Rufus had enjoyed for lunch. “We’ll talk about it when Harrison gets home from the hardware store. In the meantime put Rufus in the garage. I don’t think there’s anything in there he can eat or break through.”
“I can take him up to my room—“
“Jeremy Alan Archer. Has that goat been up stairs?”
Her son tucked his hands in his pockets and ducked his head. “Just a time or two…”
“Out.” Pam ordered her son. “No wonder he busted through the screen when you came in yesterday. You’ve corrupted that poor animal.”
To be continued...
***Rufus is based on a real animal in my life. My stepson lives across the street and has a goat names Steve. Steve's been in my house and the little building my ome business is based out of. Steve has eaten my paperwork on at least one occasion. Steve thinks he's a dog.  We'd love to hear about the interesting anilmal in your life.***

Karla part 2

     Karla unwrapped her hamburger. “Yep. That yard is her pride and joy. She said the kid that gave her lawn its final fall trim, a couple of weeks ago, missed some spots. I don’t know why she didn’t just call Mitch.”
     “Bless her heart. She’s used to doing for herself. This has to be very difficult for her.”
     “I know, Callie, but she’s ninety-three years old.” Karla took a bite of her burger, obviously taking some time to regroup. “She’s been blessed with such good health.  It’s only been the last couple of years that she’s been forced to slow down. We had this conversation with her the last time she tried to use the weed eater. She dropped it, and then lost her balance when she stooped to pick it up. She had to crawl to a tree to help herself up off the ground.” Karla rested her chin on her fisted hand. “I swear the Blacks have an extra marker in their DNA for stubbornness. Thank God, Ida had her panic button around her neck when she stepped into that hole.
     “Mitch is really beating himself up over the whole thing, especially this nursing home decision. He’d like to move her in with us, but with all the bedrooms on the second floor, it’s just too dangerous. All we need is for her to take a header down the stairs. I can just see DHS stepping in and taking all the decisions out of our hands. I’m just glad we found a home that could take her on such short notice.”
     “Is it nice?”
     “Callie, it’s perfect. God really worked it out for us, and her. She’ll have a private room in the assisted living wing. We’ll be moving her own bedroom furniture over there. The room has a sliding patio door that goes out to a fenced courtyard. She can sit outside as often as she likes, and once her leg has healed, she can still have the plants she loves so much.”
     “Well, at least she’s settled for now.”
     “I wish.  All she talks about is coming back home just as soon as the cast is off her ankle.  Mitch has tried to tell her that she won’t be moving back in here.  She won’t even discuss it with him. As heavy as she is, she’s looking at months of therapy before she can walk again.  There’s just no way she can live by herself anymore.”
     Callie sipped her milkshake, the remnants of the treat rattled in her straw.  “Don’t make yourself sick over it, Karla.  She’s Mitch’s mother.  He’s going to have to do the convincing.”
     “I know. All things considered, cleaning up this place and sorting through fifty years of Ida’s life is probably the easier job.  Thanks, by the way.”
     “Not a problem. I don’t mind helping.”
     Karla grinned.  “You say that now, but I don’t think you get it.  Ida has lived in this house for fifty years. I don’t think she’s thrown a single thing away in all those years.”
     Callie crumpled up her trash and stuffed it in the bag. “Better get to it, then.”
     Karla followed suit and tossed the balled up sack towards the trash can. She missed. “Leave it.” She stood, wiped her hands, and picked up a stray fry from the table. “Maybe this will entice the little beast out from under the bed.” Armed for the battle she headed back down the hall.
     Laughter urged Callie to follow. She found her friend sitting on the bed, tears of mirth rolling down her face.
     Karla pointed to the carrier. Reddy lay in the corner, curled into a tight ball of fur, sound asleep.She wiped her streaming eyes. “Maybe there’s hope for this whole situation after all.

***Sharon here*** I hope you enjoyed getting to know Karla. Next week we'll start a Pam story.  In the meantime check out Terri's page to the right, there's a new review and interview posted. This week we welcome LOREE LOUGH and talk about her book "From Ashes to Honor". We have a copy to give away at the end of next week, so leave a comment about anything you see here and you'll be entered to win the book. I've also update my page with s what I've been up to since conference. Thanks for visiting with us!

15 Oct 2011

     Callie raised her hand to knock on the door of the sprawling white house.  The sound of breaking glass and stifled grunts propelled her through the door ahead of the intended courtesy. “Karla?”
     Karla’s muffled voice answered from somewhere deep inside the house.  “Back here.”
     She hurried through the small living area and down a long hallway. Her eyes skimmed over the total disarray of the rooms as she passed, but the continued odd grunts and whispers filtering down the hall kept her focus on finding Karla. After a short search, she found her friend in the smallest of the houses three bedrooms. Relieved that her friend wasn’t lying , broken and bleeding on the floor, Callie leaned on the door frame and tried to make sense of what she saw.
      Karla Black was on her hands and knees, head half under the bed, denim clad fanny sticking up in the air, breath coming in short gasps as she swept the space under the bed with the broom handle. Pieces of a broken lamp were scattered across the floor.
     “Come out from under there you little beast.” The broom made another wide swipe. “Mitch is so going to pay for this.
     “What on earth are you doing?”
      Karla sat back on her heels with a deep sigh.  Dust bunnies, from her foray under the bed, dotted her silver hair. “Ida’s stupid cat, Reddy,” she answered, brown eyes dark with frustration.  “He must have a sixth sense about today and knows he’s on borrowed time.  He’s got himself backed up under there, all the way to the farthest corner, and won’t come out.  Every time I reach for him he hisses and bats at me.” She inspected her hands. “Thank God Ida had him de-clawed when he was a kitten or I’d be a bloody mess by now.”
     Callie hefted the bag she carried.  “Leave him be for now.  I brought lunch. Maybe the smell of burgers will draw him out.”
     Karla pushed herself to her feet, using the bed for leverage. Her fifty-nine-year old knees popped in protest.  “Bless you.  My blood sugar bottomed out thirty minutes ago.” She motioned to the open pet carrier in the corner of the room. “I wanted to get him caged and out of the way so we wouldn’t have to clean around him. There’s enough cat hair in this place to build two more just like him.”
     “Did you found a home for him?”
     “Meagan wants him.”
      “Pam’s Meagan?”
      “Yeah, apparently she’s been angling for a pet ever since Jeremy got his goat. More power to her. I like cats but this furry little demon and I have never gotten along.” She dusted her hands together. “Looks like he won this round.”
     Callie followed Karla to the small kitchen and looked for a clean spot to set out their lunch.
     “Hang on a minute,” Karla went to the sink and wet a handful of paper towels.  “Let me clean off the table.” She bent to the task, stacking dirty dishes and unopened mail on the cabinet behind her.  “I know what you’re thinking, but there’s just so much you can do when they’re determined to live by themselves.”  Her wave took in the whole house. “Ida dismissed every housekeeper we sent over here and refused to allow me to clean for her. She insisted she could manage just fine on her own.” Karla dried the table off and pulled out a chair, motioning for Callie to do the same. “Breaking her leg last week was the last straw.”  
     Callie shook her head.  “This was like, what…her third trip to the ER in as many months? I only hope I have half her stamina when I’m her age. Was she really trying to weed eat the back yard?”
***To be continued***

***This week's dialog question***Do any of you have a feisty senior in your life?
Don't forget to look at the page tabs to the right. There's something new there as well.  Leave a comment before you go. There are still two days left to qualify for our first book give away.

Happy Birthday Pam

Pam is celebrating a birthday on Oct. 12th. In recognition of her special day I'll be giving away a copy of Cynthia Ruchti's They Almost Always Come Home. Terri reviewed this book for everyone last month.

How do you qualify to win?  Visit the blog and leave a comment on either the story or about something on one of the ladies pages between today and the 16th.

And since we are all learning together. If you want to commemt, look at the bottom of this post where it lists the number of comments. The word "comments" is the link, click on that and it will open a dialog box for you.
If you like what you read, please sign up to follow us, or take advantage of the box at the lower right hand side of the page and sign up your e-mail address to receive the weekly posts.

Here's a couple of questions to get a dialog started.

In our first story Callie was frustrated with Benton for over-riding her vacation plans. Has your spouse ever made plans you initially didn't want to participate in, but you enjoyed once you did?

Terri bought a wedding dress and she dosen't even have a steady guy. Some would call her foolish, but she's following her dream. Whats the most foolish thing you've ever done to follow your own dream?

I'll announce a winner next week. Good luck!!

Terri, Part 2

Terri continued her shopping, eventually scoring a new pair of shoes. Shoes didn’t fall into the see now, buy later category. Shoes were “trophy fish”, netted and added to her collection. The final store in the last leg of the sprawling complex was a Bridal shop. Terri stopped, her breath trapped in her throat. The sidewalk to roof display window held a collection of wedding dresses on headless mannequins. As Terri walked she could see herself and the dresses reflected in the windows, almost like she wore them. A glance at the sign over the door brought a smile to her face. Princess for a Day Bridal.
She leaned her purse and the shopping bag against the window and studied the selection of dresses, moving from one to the other, arranging her pose to match the displayed gowns. “That one,” Terri murmured. Don’t be goofy. Terri scolded herself. What would you do with a wedding dress? Invisible hands pulled Terri into the store.
A clerk appeared from behind a rack of dresses. “Welcome to Princess for a Day. Can I help you find something?”
Terri shook her head and felt her cheeks flush with warmth. What made me come in here? “No, I’m just…looking.”
The clerk put on a perky smile and rocked on her toes. “Oh, we like lookers. Have you set a date? We have the racks arranged in seasonal selections. If you can tell me when you’re getting married, I can show you a selection of suitable gowns.”
“We haven’t decided yet,” Terri mumbled. She turned to leave and felt her feet freeze to the floor. That’s it. The dress drew Terri’s attention like a magnet. Off the shoulder, beaded bodice, layers of tissue thin white and silver lace cascading down the full skirt. A separate train attached to the back with a bow. Her hand trembled as she brushed her fingers across the lace.
“Would you like to try it on?”
“I really shouldn’t.”
“Sure you should. It’ll look beautiful on you.”
Terri lifted it from the rack and held it in front of her. Tears stung her eyes when she turned to the mirror. The reflection staring back at her was the one she’d envisioned her whole life. She looked at the price tag and bit her lip. I couldn’t afford this if I was getting married.
The clerk must have seen her hesitation. “Everything in the store is thirty percent off during the grand opening.”
Terri swallowed, unable to find her voice. She turned to look at the mirror again. She needed a groom, at least a steady boy friend first. Didn’t she? “I’ll take it.”
Thirty minutes later Terri found herself back in front of the fountain on her way out of the mall. The garment bag was heavy over her arm, and she still couldn’t believe what she’d done. She closed her eyes and saw the dress again. A girl was allowed to dream, wasn’t she? Her hand slipped into the pocket of her jeans and drew out a fist full of change. Eyes closed, she tossed the coins into the water. You and me Lizzie, you and me.
***While you're here check out Callie's new page to the right.***

Terri's story, part 1

Is that the look he was hoping for? Terri shook her head and chuckled to herself as a pale young man with a purple mohawk and pants three sizes too big passed her bench. She blew her dark bangs out of her face. Young people of every generation had their own fads and trends. Her parents had worn bell bottomed jeans and maxi dresses. She’d owned her share of stirrup pants, slouchy socks, and leg warmers. Turning slightly, she watched him walk away, one hand gripped tightly in the waistband of his pants. At least her clothes had fit.
She popped the last bite of cheesy pretzel in her mouth and chased it down with a final slurp of soda. This new mall was huge, partly enclosed, partly open to the air. The food court had the standard table and chairs, but there were also benches arranged around an artificial waterfall, flowing into a landscaped fountain. A lovely place to indulge in a snack while taking a break from a strenuous morning of shopping. Shopping? Well, trolling, in her case. After three hours Terri still traveled light, waiting for that one perfect item.
For Terri, shopping was more pleasure than necessity. She referred to it as retail therapy and considered it her favorite hobby. Combining a set of skills learned from her mother’s bargain hunting and her father’s bass fishing, she could troll the mall all afternoon on a lazy Saturday, walking from store to store with no real goal in mind, nothing specific on her want list, just looking, waiting for that one special buy to speak to her. It might be the item she saw in the first store she entered, but she never bought anything till she’d looked at everything. And here, she diverged from her father. There was no catch and release in her world. Where was the fun in spending the day engaged in your favorite thing only to come home empty handed? She collected her trash, refreshed by her snack and ready to tackle the remaining half of the mall.
“Throw them in, Lizzie.”
Terri looked towards the voice. A young woman stood in front of the fountain, a baby cradled in her arms, a little girl at her side.
The youngster, dressed in pastel striped overalls, outfit completed with ruffled socks and matching shirt, watched the waterfall, eyes wide, mouth drawn into a pink bow. “Oh…pretty, Mama.”
“Very pretty, Lizzie. Toss them in so we can go.”
The little girl opened her fist. Terri saw several new pennies clutched in the child’s hand. The lights from the fountain glinted off the shiny copper, almost the same color as the toddler’s curls.
“My money, Mama.
The young mother’s laughter brought a small ache to Terri’s heart. She looked up and reminded God. I want one just like her. She shook off the sadness. Someday God would send Mr. Right her way. Till then, she’d continue to love the kids that came to Tiny Tikes every day. She was blessed. Her Day Care business was the most sought after in Garfield. The children she cared for hers by default.
“Lizzie, I’ll give you some more money.” The young mother’s tone remained patient. “Those are special pennies, for wishing not for spending.” She stooped down and kissed her little girl’s fist. “Hurry now. Make your wish and throw them in the water.”
Terri looked on as Lizzie closed her eyes and scrunched up her face.  Her lips moved as her wish was made, then the pennies were hurled into the water.
“Like that?”
“Exactly like that, sweetheart.” Mom held out her free hand. “Let’s go.”
Terri watched them head for the exit sign. She stood with a sigh, looking back up to the ceiling, adding a post script to her earlier comment to God. Maybe twins.
***Sharon here*** While you're here, please take a look at the page tabs to the right. Pam posted a new recipe a few days ago and Terri just add a book review and author interview featuring Janice Hanna Thompson.  Good stuff!!
The scent of roses perfumed the air. The flickering light from the candles softened the familiar lines of the sanctuary, rendering it intimate and romantic. No one would have guessed today was the result of less than a month of non-stop activity for Callie and her friends. 
Sister Gordon had mentioned, in passing, that she’d never had the chance to enjoy the sort of traditional wedding she’d dreamed of as a young girl. That was all Callie needed to hear. Seven quick phone calls later, three to her friends and four to Elizabeth’s children, and the wedding plans had begun.
Callie chewed her lip and considered Karla’s question.  Was it possible that Benton had mentioned Cozumel when her mind had been on other things? 
The wedding march started. From his place at the front of the stage, Benjamin motioned for everyone to stand.  Hannah proceeded up the aisle on the arm of her bother Aaron. Once they reached the front, they separated, Aaron to the left, taking his place next to his father, Hannah to the right. The music changed and Elizabeth started up the aisle on the arm of her beaming son. The dress she’d called frivolous and un-necessary shimmered in the shifting candle light. She held her bouquet of pastel colored roses at her waist like a shield.  At seventy-three she was still a lovely woman. Tonight she was a radiant bride. Callie stole a look at the groom and her eyes filled at the expression of love on his weathered face. Obviously fifty years together hadn’t dimmed the emotions that burned between these two precious people.
Callie’s attention shifted to the aggravating man at her side. She compared the sandy Cozumel beach and fourteen lazy days with Benton to the crowd and rushed itinerary of a cruise.  There were things she wanted to show him. The view from the lighthouse on the south end of the island, the turquoise blue waves throwing themselves against the shoreline, and snorkeling. Maybe they could take the ferry across to the mainland one day and spend a few hours at Xel-Ha. Then there was the shopping. The town square across from the ferry pier always amazed her with its color and variety. Maybe Benton hadn’t been hasty after all.
“I do.”
The words drew Callie’s attention back to the flower strewn stage where Jacob had just given his mother to his father.  She watched as he kissed her on the cheek, placed her hand in the groom’s, and stepped aside.
Callie wiped her eyes and reached for Benton’s hand. “I love you.”
***Sharon here*** This instalment ends our first get acquainted story. Next week I have the beginnings of a Terri story for you.  Don't forget to check out the individual pages. Pam has posted a new recipe and I added dates so you could see what was new since your last visit. As always feel free to post comments about anything on the Blog under the main entry. I'd love to hear your thoughts about the women.
Benton ran a finger around the collar of his new shirt, trying for just a centimeter of extra space between his neck and the starched fabric. He looked up when Mitch gave a low whistle.
“That was ugly.”
“Hum?” Benton frowned.
“You better be glad you’re facing this way, Bud. Callie just served you a look hot enough to toast your soul.”
“Crispy,” Harrison Jones agreed. “So what did you do this time?”
Benton shook his head. His response more than a little confused. “I booked a vacation for our anniversary.”
“And for this you’re getting the look?” Mitch asked, sounding almost as puzzled as his friend. “I thought that particular female weapon was reserved for when we forgot special dates.”
“Yeah well, apparently it has multiple uses,” Benton cautioned them. “You know how our wives always tell us we don’t pay attention to what they say?”
The other two men nodded.
“This time I’m in trouble for listening.”
“Do tell,” Mitch encouraged.
“Where is Callie’s favorite vacation spot?”
“Cozumel,” Harrison and Mitch answered in unison.
Benton held his hands out in surrender. “See? Even you guys know that. A few days ago, one of my customers was complaining that they’d put a deposit on a Cozumel vacation. Two weeks on the beach. They were upset because their plans had suddenly changed and now they were out the non-refundable $1000.00 deposit.”
The lines around Harrison’s eye’s deepened in a frown. “Ouch.”
“That was my first thought. Then I remembered all the times Callie has begged me to take this trip with her. I told the guy I might be interested in bailing him out.” Benton shrugged. “I’ll admit, she did have fourteen lists scattered on the table in front of her when I mentioned Cozumel, and we had discussed an Alaskan cruise. But in my defense,” he paused when Harrison laughed out loud.
 “You’re a lawyer,” Benton grumbled, “pay attention. In my defense,” he continued, “she looked at me and I know she heard me. I thought she agreed.”
Harrison shook his head. “You thought? You booked a vacation, different from the one you’d already discussed on a thought? Without Callie’s direct consent?” He clapped Benton on the shoulder.  “You better pray for an all male jury.”
Benton hung his head and shuffled through the auditorium doors to join the women. He wasn’t sure, at this point, which was worse, wives or friends.
To be continued...

***Sharon here***
I hope you are enjoying our little continuing story.  I've added a lot to the page over the last few days.  Please take a look at the "pages" tabs to the right. Each of the ladies and I have individual pages now. Just some fun things to read and enjoy.  If you happen to click on a blank page, please revisit it later. I'm working, writing and getting ready for the ACFW conference, and probably just haven't had a chance to develop it yet. Please feel free to come back here and leave a comment about anything that catches your attention. Thanks for stopping by.
“Uh oh,” Pam said.  “That wasn’t a happy look. Benton’s in the doghouse. What did he do?”
Callie shook her head. “Oh nothing. He’s…he’s just such a…man.
Karla tipped her chin down and looked at Callie over her glasses. “You’ve been married for almost thirty-five years. You’re just now figuring that out?”
Callie ignored Karla’s question and turned to Terri instead. “Stay single, sweetheart. You don’t know how truly blessed you are not to have to mess with a man in your life.”
Terri put an arm around Callie’s waist. “Ah, you don’t mean that. You and Benton have one of the best relationships I’ve ever seen.”
She laid her head on Terri’s shoulder. “No, I don’t. But sometimes he frustrates me so much.”
“What did he do?” Pam asked again.
“Booked a trip to Cozumel for our anniversary.”
Terri took a step back. “And you have a problem with this, how?”
Callie shrugged. They are going to think I’m crazy “I had my heart set on that Alaskan cruise. We talked about an Alaskan cruise. He knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Three pair of raise eyebrows met her response. “Come on, girls. I’ve been to Cozumel four times—”
“All without Benton,” Pam reminded her.
“And each time you’ve complained that he wouldn’t go with you,” Terri chimed in.
Karla motioned to Terri and Pam. “What they said and a question. How many times have we all heard you say there were things on the Island you wished you could share with him?”
“You’re right,” Callie admitted. She chewed her lip, looking for a way to make them understand. “I wanted this trip to be special. Thirty-five years of marriage is a landmark, I wanted it to be a fresh adventure for both of us. I wanted the opportunity to experience new things together.” She waved her hand in dismissal. “Never mind. I guess it’s just me.”
“Well, I think it’s sweet,” Terri told her. “Not just that he’s finally going somewhere you’ve wanted to take him, but that he surprised you with it.”
“I don’t think he intended it as a surprise. He swears he mentioned it to me days ago.  When I had no clue what he was talking about, he was the one who was surprised.”
“Callie,” Karla began. “You’ve been awfully pre-occupied putting this together for Bro. and Sis. Gordon. We all have. Are you sure he didn’t mention it to you? Could it have gotten lost in the madness of organizing this ceremony, start to finish, in less than four weeks?
“I’m sure,” Callie answered. She glared over her shoulder with narrowed eyes. “There’s no way I would have missed that.”
to be continued...
While you wait, please check out the new pages.