Category Archives: Scribblings

My motherly musings, raving rants, and humorous humdingers.

The 4th Blog of Christmas

The Xmas Blogs continue with our fourth author.

IMG_9021_4044 WEB copyVirginia Gray is a bestselling women’s fiction novelist. A former university professor, she stepped away from academics to pursue a writing career. She is a great lover of humor, music, and all things food, and is best known for The Susan Wade Saga.

Website  and Blog

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

I wasn’t always so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to believe—very badly, in fact. I also wanted to believe in the stories I read. I wanted to know for sure that there had been a Middle Earth, where hobbits and wizards and dragons ran amuck. I prayed that Narnia existed, and that I might be lucky enough to discover one of its secret passages—they’re everywhere, you know.  I truly hoped there were wrinkles in time, and that I might be called upon to save our very universe. I wanted to believe in magic! READ MORE

To read the 5th Blog of CHRISTMAS, Click HERE

and to read the 12 Blogs of Christmas from the beginning, CLICK HERE.

The 3rd Blog of Christmas

Keith R. BakerKeith R. Baker

 In addition to being an avid history and genealogy buff, Keith has been an avid outdoorsman his entire life. He has a variety of hats in the business world after completing two periods of duty with the US Navy.  His hobbies apart from reading and research include shooting and teaching others the basics of gun safety and handling. Until recently he took an active role in local and regional politics as a public speaker and campaign consultant.

Keith and his wife Leni have enjoyed living in several places in the US, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Montana.  They have two adult children, two adult foster children and nine grandchildren scattered around the country. www.keithrbaker.com

Links: Amazon Author Page / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Current Promotion:

Read about Rob Finn and his family in the Longshot series, beginning with Longshot In Missouri, price reduced through Christmas, here.

 Here is Keith’s contribution for the 3rd Blog of Christmas:

Fire in the Snow

The big man’s boot carefully kicked aside a remaining hunk of what appeared to be a roof rafter.  Burnt nearly to ash, it had almost no weight to it.  Still, it was best to be careful.  Any of the smoldering pile of debris that had been their family home could yet be white-hot.  He didn’t need a burnt foot; he had enough trouble already.

Rob Finn’s young family had few enough possessions before the fire.  Now, it seemed, they had none.  Farming their tiny acreage had barely provided enough food in the good times.  Along with everything else they’d lost, even their supply of necessary food stuffs were gone.  What would they do?…READ MORE

TO READ from the 1st Blog of Christmas CLICK HERE

Head to the 4th Blog of Christmas from author Virginia Gray.

The 2nd Blog of Christmas

Author Sarah LaneIt’s the second day sharing stories with you from various writers’ blogs. My guest today is author, Sarah Lane, and she is going to read to you…what a treat!

Sarah Lane is the author of The God of My Art, the story of a young woman’s journey to become an artist and a quarter finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Lane’s short fiction and poetry have also featured in a number of literary magazines, including The Antigonish Review, Roar Magazine, and Quills: Canadian Poetry Magazine.

Lane’s upcoming young adult novel is a psychological read about a cerebral seventeen-year old who struggles to learn salsa dancing only to be shown up by her doppelgänger. (You can sign up on her website to be notified when it comes out).

Sarah Lane hopes you will enjoy listening to this reading from her young adult crossover novel The God of My Art. This chapter is taken from near the end of the book, when Helene visits her mother over the winter holidays. Watch the video here.

TO READ the 1st Blog of Christmas CLICK HERE

Head to the 3rd Blog of Christmas from Keith R. Baker HERE

 

On the First Blog of Christmas

Join me and 11 other authors and bloggers on our Christmas blog hop! A gift that keeps on giving…better than a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get!

Our first illustrious writer is Ellen Chauvet! Check back each day for a different post from our 12 Blogs of Christmas contributors or click SUBSCRIBE to this blog to receive an update each time one is posted. ENJOY!
EllenChauvet_2015-2049-Edit-Edit-5

Ellen Chauvet lives in Vancouver, Canada, where long months of rain are particularly conducive to writing dark stories.

Visit Ellen Here

or Read her BLOG 

A Visit From St. Nick

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
Composed by Clement C. Moore

When Martin Crosbie invited me to participate in the 12 blogs of Christmas I immediately said yes. I’ve always treasured Christmas and the opportunity to share my love of Clement Moore’s ‘A Visit from St. Nick’ poem appealed to me. After several hours of research, the following is what I gleaned…READ MORE

Go To 2nd Blog of Christmas

Smells Like Success!

Smells invoke memories…and produce emotions…and affect our bodies, minds and spirits. I’ve always believed this and it took colourful wax and a guy with a penchant for sniffing stuff to help me remember how important our senses are to help us connect! Our senses can create such powerful memories and reactions that using senses in writing will strengthen a story and round out characters, and help you plug back into your creativity. Allowing your senses to guide you in any business venture might produce effective results.

Our sense of smell might be our most powerful, and scents that take us back to childhood are particularly emotionally charged. As children we are influenced by our environment and our reactions are more honest. When something takes us back to those moments when we were more open and vulnerable, it connects us with our real selves–our more creative selves.

When I am writing about a character and describe a scent or how a character reacts to a scent, it helps to create a deeper connection for the reader. It makes the “character” more real.

Try it for yourself: try and connect with the younger, more creative you–you will relax and find answers. And if you are writing about a character, help the character connect with his past and you’ll find that the character will guide you and surprise you with how he reacts to the imaginary world you are building around him.

What smell brings your childhood memories flooding back? How does connecting with your childhood help you create in business and in your writing projects?

To watch the inspirational video that will get you sniffing a box of crayons: https://youtu.be/p5kMHXuO_kg

When Nature Calls

The following tale will be featured in Adventures in Potty Training and Other Bathroom Mishaps, soon to be released. Okay, so the story is about my potty mishap and not my children’s, but I would rather embarrass myself than them — they are bigger than me now!

The highway rose steeply toward the crown of mist as I gripped the steering wheel, willing away the pressure building in my coffee-filled bladder. Sweat beaded my brow and upper lip as my urinary tract threatened to unleash a wave of hot yellow liquid.

I glared accusatorily into the rear view mirror at the slumbering tots, snug and secure in their car seats. They were the reason I was now suffering. This was the moment when my urethra would throw in the towel and say, “Screw it! First you abused me pushing out those two ham-headed kids, and now you expect me to hold back the floods with stretched out muscles and the sheer force of will power? I mean, come on!”

It was true, my poor bladder had been through a lot, and I was asking too much. Not only had my pregnancies done things to my body that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but I had chugged mugs of coffee that morning to keep me awake for our journey home. I had not anticipated the long stretch between rest stops on the highway. I had also not considered how desperate I would be to keep my kids asleep once they’d finally nodded off.

The visit with my parents in Abbotsford had been pleasant until the last night when the sleep that I had hoped for eluded me. I had been kept up most of the night tending to one child who was full of a cold, then my youngest who was restless from sleeping in a plastic playpen on a humid summer night. I almost regretted my decision to take a short trip alone with the kids and fantasized about getting home and napping while daddy spent some quality time with the two of them. So, I packed up the car, grabbed a quick breakfast, downed a pot of coffee, and wrestled my babies into their seats.

The long stretch over the mountainous Coquihalla Highway back to Alberta was only the first leg of the journey, and was proving to be the most difficult. My tired and irritable children had dozed off after fitful bouts of crying and whining and I couldn’t bear to wake them. They looked so angelic with their flushed little cheeks, and tousled curls. I almost resented their uninterrupted slumber, but couldn’t focus on much besides the ache in my groin area. I had to do something—and fast!

My frenzied mind ricocheted from thought to thought, and I tried desperately not to think of raging waterfalls, dripping taps and the satisfying flush of a toilet. One image popped into my head and gave me an inspiration. I almost wept with joy. Let me set the scene: A cool fall evening at the Commonwealth Stadium. The final quarter between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. An intense game that my husband and his friends knew they wouldn’t want to tear themselves away from so they planned ahead. A cooler full of beer, cushions, and adult diapers. Yes, that was not a typo . . . adult diapers. I remember being horrified when they told me that they would rather piss themselves than miss a play. I shuddered at the time to think of grown men voluntarily releasing urine into a diaper so they could enjoy another beer with their buddies and not have to leave the game . . . for any reason.

Now a shudder of relief went through me as I glanced over at the diaper bag on the passenger seat beside me. Could I?  Was it even possible?

If an idea pops into my head, and I think, “Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly!” I usually listen. But the twisted part of my brain that likes to one-up people yelled at me, “Oh, go on . . . you can do it! If those guys did it, why the hell can’t you! Don’t be such a girl!” Well, that did it! Now I had to prove a woman could do anything a man could do. And I had a perfectly valid reason for doing it—I didn’t want to wake my children.

I reached over and pulled out a diaper from the bag, laying it across my lap. Just in case. If I didn’t see another sign for a rest stop in the next few minutes, then I would have no choice. I casually unfolded the diaper while keeping my eyes on the road. Moms can do these kinds of things with one hand, blindfolded, and usually while standing on one foot and picking up dirty laundry with the other.

I deftly shoved the diaper between my legs after hitching up my skirt and scooching my panties down. That part was easy. The hard part was letting go of the social taboo of peeing outside—though the car surrounded me, it was still in public. Even with a bladder ready to burst, I fought the desire to relieve myself. Look, I thought, there is absolutely nowhere to stop and you cannot leave the kids in the car on the almost non-existent shoulder while you try and find a spot behind a bush. This is life or death. You might suffer an aneurysm while driving if you hold it in any longer.

My little pep talk worked and I went . . . and I couldn’t stop . . . even when I realized the tiny receptacle between my thighs would never be sufficient to hold the contents of my bladder. I panicked and grabbed for another diaper, shoving that one on top of the first. By the time I was done I had three heavily soaked diapers and I was crying with relief. I pulled out a plastic bag I had wedged in the door compartment beside me and carefully slipped the diapers into it and placed them on the floor. I somehow had managed to keep the car on the road. I know, looking back, it was ridiculous of me, but tired moms do dumb things sometimes.

I rearranged my clothes and smiled slyly into the rear view mirror. The kids were still asleep and no one would ever know. Until now—when I have apparently lost all sense of self-respect and decided to share this sordid tale with you, dear reader. But you won’t tell anyone, will you? And you especially won’t mention that five minutes after I answered nature’s call, I saw a huge sign for a pull-out with bathrooms and a parking lot full of well-adjusted parents who do not feel the need to outdo a bunch of diaper-wearing, drunk guys at a football game.

Friday the 13th: A Good Day in My Book

November the thirteenth is a special day to me, and though it does not fall on a Friday this year, I thought I would share my musings about this auspicious day and Friday the 13th in general. Someone I care about was born on Friday, November the 13th and because of this, I have never thought the day to be unlucky…though some certainly do!

Friday has been considered a doomed day since Chaucer wrote “The Canterbury Tales” in the 14th century. Friday has long been regarded as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. The number 13 is always thought of as extremely unlucky and almost every religion and culture regards it as an evil, sinister digit. For Christians, this is most likely because of its association with Judas Iscariot, the thirteenth guest at the Last Supper. The superstition surrounding Friday 13th could also be linked to Norse mythology. According to legend, 12 gods were at a banquet at Valhalla when Loke, the demi-god of mischief who was not invited, turned up, bringing the total number of guests to 13. He was responsible for the chaos that led to the death of one of the other gods.

Friday the 13th facts:

  • Just as many people are born on Friday the 13th as any other day, but there are slightly more people who die on Friday the 13th.
  • It’s a good day to travel, as many people avoid this day.
  • Friday 13th in August is considered unluckier than any other Friday 13th in Brazil, especially as agosto (August) rhymes with desgosto (sorrow).

People born on Friday the 13th must be born under an unlucky star–You’d think…

But several blessed celebrities cut into cake on this unholy of days: Mario Andretti, Kat Dennnings, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Feist, Margaret Thatcher, Kate Walsh, Darius Rucker, DiDi Conn, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Steve Buscemi, Max Weinberg, Christopher Plummer…did I miss anyone?

Oh, yeah…and my gran.I think of her fondly on November 13th; and, in fact, on every Friday the 13th.

She may have had pause to wonder if she was in fact born under an ‘unlucky star’ as she had quite the life of turmoil. Raised in wartime England with memories of diving behind a couch when bombs blasted the street outside, and sharing the affections of her mother with five other siblings, and some who didn’t make it. Her life was filled with death and loss. She later lost her husband at a young age, leaving her to raise two children on her own.

At 4′ 11″, she took up more space in a room than anyone else. Her presence was palpable. You had the feeling she knew what you were thinking at all times, so of course I always felt guilty about something when I was around her. She was a stalwart woman, not given over to emotion and superstition. She would have none of it. Many thought her cold and distant, but I think her hard-nosed attitude evolved over decades of hard work. She was practical, strong, and spoke her mind with a wit like a pistol butt to the back of the head.

She was not a woman of many words–I would never have called her chatty; so when she did speak, her words had weight. I remember her observations, not as criticisms, but just how she saw life. Open and honest, she was, with no time for dressing up her words.

Before my mom, dad, sister, brother and I moved to Canada when I was twelve, we lived in my gran’s house for a while. She was even more brusque and distant than usual, and I could tell it was because her heart was breaking. She was going to miss us, but she couldn’t tell us that. When it came close to the day we were to leave, she grabbed me as I passed her one day and hung onto me for a few gut-wrenching moments, her fingernails digging into my back. She did not know how to hug, but I felt more love from her in that moment than she’d ever shown me before. We did not speak.

Years later, just before she died, she made the long trip from England to Canada to visit me and her first great-grandchild. She was awkward holding my baby, but would watch her like a hawk, perhaps trying to see a resemblance in the tiny doll-like face. Gran softened around the baby and after the first few days she relaxed and started sharing more and more stories about her childhood and life, and eventually began discussing her inevitable death. I think she knew. Only a few weeks after returning to England, she had a stroke. She was found sitting in her armchair, a crossword on her knee and a cup of cold tea at her side. English to the end.

I picked up the phone on November the 13th of that year and dialed her number. The phone rang a few times before I slammed it down into the receiver, suddenly remembering she would not be on the other end to pick up.

I hope she is happy wherever she is, and looking down on us all with pride. She would be delighted to see her little great-grandaughter growing up into a strong woman, and her other descendants she never got to meet, unknowingly carrying around a little part of her within them.

Happy Birthday, Gran.

Friday the 13th falls next in February, 2015 for all you superstitious folk. What are your thoughts on whether or not it is an unlucky day?

Parenting Teens Gives Me INDIGESTION

Parenting Teens Gives Me (2)

As a single parent, I feel a HUGE responsibility to raise my kids well. I feel judged when I make mistakes, and spend sleepless nights just contemplating the horrors that could be. Both my kids are well into their teens and testing every parenting theory out there.
With each year comes a different challenge, and the teen years may be the most challenging yet.
Letting go and trusting my children so they can grow into functioning adults is causing me gastric distress. My stomach is in a constant knot of worry—mainly because I have NO control over what my kids are doing out there on their own. I like control and I don’t like the feeling of it slipping through my fingers.
When I warn my daughter about the dangers that lurk in the big, bad world, she brushes me off with, “Oh-ho, Mother, you have NO idea what I get up to.” WHAT? EXCUSE ME? Well, now I am imagining the absolute WORST things possible, and there is no doubt in my mind that she is selling toddlers into slavery and drinking the blood of Marilyn Manson.
If I’m not worrying about whether my teens are contracting STDs and experimenting with drugs, I’m groaning at my son’s jokes at my expense. I purchased a HUGE box of condoms—trying to be a proactive parent—and my son laughed and said, “Wow, look at that! Mom’s spending money on things she’s NEVER going to need anymore!” Thanks for that son . . . the cheeky grin and pat on the head you gave me does NOT make up for the fact that you will one day be getting more action than I could ever DREAM about. JERK! At least no one has been dipping into the box of prophylactics yet . . . should I be glad or worried?
And I’m definitely deluding myself into thinking I have the household under control. Every time I give my son a list of chores and ask if he has any questions, he responds with, “Yeah, could you explain to me in detail where babies come from? With pictures.” or “How come you have hairs growing out of your chin?” And I thought he was staring at me so intently because he really cared about what I was saying and wanted to make sure he understood my list of instructions thoroughly. I laugh but sneak off to the bathroom with a pair of tweezers. And the chores? Yeah, they get forgotten.
*Sigh* at least he is developing a sense of humour. When he is rich and famous he can pay for my therapist.
The bottle of TUMS on my bedside table is getting larger and larger, and my confidence as a parent is growing smaller. I hope desperately that the lessons I taught my children when they were young will help them make choices they will be proud of; all I can do is wait and see . . . and pop more antacids.
But, though my gut is wrenching, and my heart is sometimes on the verge of breaking, every second is worth it—every sarcastic remark, every eye roll, every worry line around my tired eyes.
As my teenagers struggle for their independence, I’m also learning and growing, and taking another step towards being an empty-nester who might be able to sleep at night, but will miss her little monsters. After all, who is going to alert me about my chin hairs?
I love being a mom and wouldn’t trade one single day with them—not even for a day with Robert Pattinson on a remote island in the Bahamas . . . hmm, well, perhaps that is going a bit far—I’m only human!
~ YOUR turn! How do you deal with the pressures of parenthood? What horrors keep you up at night? Comment below . . . and it had better be funny ‘cause laughter cures indigestion.

Childhood Memories

I found these wonderful images on FB (Ormskirk Bygone Times) and spent an afternoon reminiscing about growing up in England. The quaint market town were I spent most of my time hardly changed over the years. I still recall cobblestone streets, the butcher and the fish and chip shop, corner sweet shops and double-decker buses.
I walked through a graveyard on my way to school and climbed up a tower to my English class wearing my school uniform and polished shoes.
I remember the sights and sounds of the Saturday market and playing in the magical woods.
All these memories were vague until I stared at each photo, unlocking times gone by.
Enjoy the slideshow of Ormskirk, Lancashire, England…

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Seniors Kick Ass!

I am in my forties, approaching my fifties with confidence, and actually looking forward to my sixties. Crazy, you say? But there are advantages to those golden years!

At my age, I have a lot to say, and less time to say it. So, if I offend people by getting right to the point, TOO BAD! I have to get my thoughts out there before my short term memory glitch kicks in and my brilliant observation or astute criticism is lost forever. I know everyone wants to benefit from my wise witticisms, so my forthrightness will just have to be excused. Get over it.

This is one of the joys of ageing — bluntness. Older people seem to be masters at “telling it like it is”. They can cut to the chase and expound concisely on any subject. And the younger folk sit back and listen in silent reverence…or perhaps it is horrified shock. No matter. People tend not to debate with seniors. It may be that youth regard old folk with respect, or think they’re batty. Don’t care. As long as I can look forward to voicing my opinions without being confronted.

My granny was a hard-nosed realist, and I used to laugh (internally) at her quirky comments, marvelling at how tactless she could sometimes be, but never dared question her. Now I understand that she just didn’t want to mess about. She had no fear of judgement, and no qualms about her opinions, even if they stung a little. I look back now and appreciate her honest and open way, but perhaps she could have been a tad more considerate of people’s feelings.

I grim maniacally and rub my hands when I imagine myself with grey hair, my grandkids at my mercy, forced to listen my musings. One of the many benefits of ageing.

I have no problem getting older…not that I am ancient, YET. I’m really not bothered about the lines and sagging, because with the fading of the façade comes an interior renovation that kicks ass! Out with the self-doubt! Tear down the walls that confine or paint over them with self-contentment. Remove the clutter of want and relax into the minimalism of need.

Let’s change the old adage, “Over the hill,” to “Cresting the peak.” And remember brilliant quotes like:

  • “Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.” ~ Gloria Steinem
  • “It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” ~ Andy Rooney
  • “Wisdom comes with winters.” ~ Oscar Wilde
  • “Old age is no place for sissies!” ~ Bette Davis
  • “I have reached an age when, if someone tells me to wear socks, I don’t have to.” ~ Albert Einstein
  • “By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.” ~ George Burns

There is a sort of peace that settles into the crevices and softens the edges of life. Peace with who you’ve become and knowledge that you have learned just about all you’re going to learn, or all you want to learn, and you’re going to pass your sage advice on to someone, damn it, whether they like it or not!

Growing older means appreciating what you have and who you are. With age comes wisdom and a certain freedom to speak your mind and say, “To hell with what you think of me. I am who I am!”

Feel free to ask me a question about anything…I promise to be (brutally) honest!