Living East of the CLE ~ by Darlene Kuncytes

Mistake by the lake.

When people think of Cleveland, Ohio - many of them immediately go to this. It has been a moniker for the city for as long as I can remember.

Having been born and raised just East of the CLE (as we like to say) I have wonderful memories of the city that is the home of Rock and Roll.





Cleveland was an amazing place during her glory days.

The days of Higbee’s, May Company, and Woolworths , with their magical store window displays that they would astound us with at Christmastime (Think A Christmas Story. Which was actually filmed right here in Cleveland.) 

The days of taking the rapid to go shopping and having lunch at The Silver Grille on Higbee’s 10th floor. Oh, it was always such a treat! You felt SO special dining there! 



Then, of course, there were the dark times.  Crime. Social unrest. Hard times financially.  And the river actually DID catch on fire, but that was years before. In 1969. 

Things closed. The flats, once the hot spot of Cleveland, became a ghost town. As I finished High School, we avoided downtown like the plaque. 

But, the city of Rock and Roll rose from the ashes like the Phoenix. We may not have a winning football team lol – but we darn well have heart! 

And our theatre district is really something to see. 

Gorgeous theatres – lovingly preserved in all their glory still stand proudly today. I love going to the theatre downtown. The lights. The excitement.


It was here that I fell hopelessly in love with a Phantom. It was here that I flew with a green witch - defying gravity in a way that stopped my heart in my chest. 



I love this city. I actually worked downtown, right smack dab in the theatre district for almost seven years. And it was so much fun. 
We have world class restaurants, and of course the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. Museums that are extraordinary, and an Imax theatre that will blow your mind. 

I know I sound like a travel commercial, but Ohio, and Cleveland, have a lot to offer, and this month, I wanted to share just a bit of why I do enjoy living here. 

I’m the first to say, that I am a total water girl. I would love to live on the beach. But I think I would still miss my hometown. I’d miss that change of seasons and the drives to Amish country in the fall with the trees exploding in color. 

I think it’s nice to stop sometimes and remember what we love about the places we live. It’s much too easy to forget the wonderful things around us. 

Wherever you happen to plant your roots, always remember to find the magic in your hometown. It’s there for the picking!  

Stay safe. Stay healthy. 

Darlene




Why I Write Books for a Living ~ Armand Rosamilia

Dean Koontz is the answer. There ya go. Glad I could share that with you. My work here is done.

Oh, wait… you want the more elaborate answer? I’m fine with doing that. My wife says I love to talk about myself. The woman is not only smart but she’s kinda into me, too. Go figure.

I was a very bad child growing up. Not so bad I went to jail or the cops had a talk with me, but bad in the sense I was hyper and liked to push the envelope. My brother is only eighteen months younger than me, so we’d get in trouble a lot together. I was sneaky but he was a bull in a China cabinet when it came to trouble, his head down and chaos running rampant.

We also fought a lot. I’m not talking yelling, either. I mean fists and kicks and trying to hurt one another. He has a couple of scars to prove it and so do I. I also have some crooked teeth from when he kicked me in the back of the head. He once pushed me over a barbed wire fence and began pummeling me while I tried not to get my body ripped apart and defend myself.

We had a stay-at-home mother. This was the seventies into the eighties. During the summers it must’ve been pure hell to have us around all day and night, especially when my father sometimes worked long hours. Our days were spent outside playing kickball, football, and baseball with the neighborhood kids. There were a lot of them our age, too. We lived in a small fishing village in New Jersey on a dead-end street.

The summer between fifth and sixth grade I remember well. My brother and I had been brawling for days on and off and my mother had had enough. School was coming to a close and we must’ve really given her the final straw, the last big fight, and she’d had enough.

From the first day of summer break until the first day of school, we were both punished. No outside. No TV. We were allowed out of our rooms for meals and then right back into our cells.

My brother got the best deal… at least I thought so at the time. I was twelve. I wanted to play with my action figures and listen to Top 40 radio or be outside with all the kids who weren’t punished. He got to stay in our bedroom, which we shared. I was only allowed in it at night for bed.

I got stuck in my parent’s room, with their giant canopy bed and walls covered in bookshelves. Books? No thanks. I liked to read but there was nothing in this room for me. This was all old people stuff. The junk my mother read. Hundreds and hundreds of dog-eared paperbacks. All piled on top of one another.

With nothing else to do, I started reading them. For hours. From the time I woke up until I went to bed, I read these books. They had demons and spiders and scary-looking houses on the covers. My mother was (and still is to this day) a huge horror fiction reader. She had a to-be-read pile taller than me on her nightstand. Still does.

Once she saw I was starting to get as obsessed with reading as she was, she began leaving a pile for me. She’d make sure she went through and crossed out the ‘dirty parts’ so my twelve-year old brain wouldn’t be completely corrupted. She left in the profanity, since we grew up in New Jersey and you could use the F word in every sentence as every other word without missing a beat. I mean… not twelve year old me. Unless I was using it as I rained down blows on my brother.

I told a story last year while at the Necon writer’s gathering in

Rhode Island. I was on a panel about Clive Barker, and I mentioned being a bad kid and everything I’ve just written. When I told the part about her crossing out the sex parts and one particular book I still remember, where a couple go into a dark movie theater, stare longingly at one another… and then the next page and a half was blacked out… author Grady Hendrix, who not only writes horror but released a must-have called Paperbacks From Hell with a ton of those old paperbacks I’ve read, was seated in the front row and started to laugh. He asked me a few questions at the end when the panel was wrapping up about it.

Not that I remember what he was asking. I know I answered. Seriously… Grady Hendrix was talking to me. He graciously signed a copy of Paperbacks From Hell to my mother.

But, wait… in the opening line to this amazing post I said it was Dean Koontz who was the reason you became an author.

Even though I was reading so many books each week of my imprisonment, none caught me as off-guard as the Dean Koontz paperbacks. They weren’t just horror stories to devour and move onto the next. They were literally life-changing to twelve year old me.

I know this isn’t hyperbole. I distinctly remember telling my mother I was going to be a writer someday. She remembers this, and reminds me I should’ve said I wanted to be a rich and famous writer.

Hey, I was twelve. My bad.

Anyway, books like The Vision and Whispers blew my mind. I’d also read some of the novels he’d written under pen-names like The Funhouse and The Eyes of Darkness, not knowing it was Mister Koontz but knowing I loved those books as well.

His writing changed everything for me. I began writing awful rip-

off stories of a few pages, using his character names with slight variations. All set in New Jersey, where I lived. I’d give them to my mother, who’d smile and nod. Poor woman. I’d like to think, thirty-eight years later, I’ve improved a bit.

And so began my love of Dean Koontz and writing stories I hoped to someday sell and make millions. While all of my friends would eventually get into King, I was a Koontz loyalist.

When Phantoms was released, my mother let me read it before she did, knowing I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on it. The book blew me away and cemented my life’s dream to do this for a living.

No, I never saw the movie. Stop asking.

Without Dean Koontz I might’ve still been an avid horror book reader but maybe not a writer at all. I’d be seated right now in a retail store, on my lunch break, trying to escape my awful life inside the new Koontz book.

Instead, I’m living the dream. If I someday get to meet Mister Koontz, I will tell him all of this. Or, likely, stutter and be unable to form words around the man that taught me words can be a solid living.


Armand Rosamilia


You can connect with Armand at his WEBSITE or at his PODCAST SITE
 

The Little Things in Life ~ by Jennifer Daniels





Spring… just the word makes me smile. It has always been my favorite time of year. Everything is starting to sprout and the leaves are popping open with bold colors of green. Then the smell of the fresh air, there is just something about good old country air.



I am fortunate enough to live in the country in a pretty secluded area with no one around. So last night, my son and I went for a walk. I needed some fresh air and he needed to get his exercise in for his homeschooling gym class (he is not happy about that.)



During this time of finding ourselves at home, take the time to enjoy the things you may not usually enjoy. Read a good book, open your windows and let the air in while you're spring cleaning. Listen to music and dance around your house. But most of all spend some quality time with family, even though you may be getting sick of them being under foot all the time,  find something fun to do together, like a puzzle, a game, or taking a walk outside.



While my son and I were walking he decided we should take some pictures to capture the moment. Please continue being safe, and until next month, enjoy the little things in life, the things we may take for granted.

A LITTLE ABOUT WHERE I LIVE~by Margarita Felices

…and the reason why I can be inspired by just walking around.

City Hall
I have always lived in Cardiff, the capital of Wales. It’s home to Triassic and Jurassic coastlines, ancient ruins, castles, mountains, rugby, Doctor Who and Torchwood. I live here with my partner and three little mad dogs and I work for a well-known TV broadcasting company.



Norman keep

I love living in Cardiff because for all its 
modernisation, there are still remnants of an old Victorian city. 





Then you can venture a few short miles towards the bay. 
You probably wouldn’t believe that 50 years ago this land was the Docklands and where the pillars in this picture stand, it used to be the Dry Dock where ships came in for repair. It’s changed a lot since I was young. I’m from the area and even though they have made it one of the top places to live in the country, they took away the community that lived there and it doesn’t have the heart that it had once. It’s modern and clean, but it’s also cold and uncaring, and as much as I do like what they’ve done with it, I miss the history, the mixed cultures and the smiles from the families I used to know.

I love writing and will often base my stories in Cardiff because it has such character. When I can, I go out to the coast and take photographs. We have a lovely castle in the city centre and a fairytale one just on the outskirts, so when I feel I can’t write anything, I take a ramble to those locations and it clears my head. 

I have a TV production background. I used to be a professional photographer and decided to move into the TV world. I started off working on our local news programmes and then moved on to Arts, Factual, Drama, back to Factual, back to Drama (Torchwood, Doctor Who and a few regional shows). Now I work for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and we produce some of the music for well-known TV shows- Doctor Who for example! I’ve learnt so much from working there about Marketing and Promotions. It’s been an absolute blessing.

It was inevitable that someday I would write novels. My teachers at school used to limit me to no more than ten pages when they’d give out written assignments. I was a reporter on the school magazine and later became its Editor. When I left school, I paid my way through college by writing short stories for various women’s magazines and I later took a course in scriptwriting and came third in a BBC writing competition (I wasn’t working for them at the time).  

I have pretty much written stories all my life and one day I had a unique idea for a story and I began to write it. It took ten years to get it the way I wanted and when I’d finished I began to search for a traditional publisher, but got rejected each time. Every author goes through those rejections, but the trick is to never give up. If you have a story, then tell it. I did a little more research and found a small independent publisher and submitted the synopsis for Judgement of Souls 3. The publisher asked to read the whole thing. That was 2012 and I've not looked back since.



MY WRITING PROCESSES
I have a rather strange process. I usually know the outcome. I may even know the beginning and that's it. I will sit down and type what the first page should be about. Then on a new page I will put my characters in certain places/situations. I go through that process until I have a basic outline and then I fill in the blanks. It may be as many as 30 pages with a very basic outline. 

I have a notebook with me at all times. There's never a time when I'm not thinking about the plot or perhaps character dialogue. I'm a researcher too. If I can, I will visit the locations and take notes and pictures. I will read books in the library or search the internet for information. Judgement of Souls 1: Origin, for example, involved the Crusades so it was a lot of reading to get the battles, the uniforms, the main tribes correct. Judgement of Souls 2: Call of the Righteous, involved the French revolution plus 300 mortal years of an organisation so dates, places, and times all had to be accurate. 

WHO ARE MY FAVOURITE AUTHORS?
I am a lover of paranormal horror. I read Anne Rice (Vampire Chronicles is my favourite) and Stephen King (pretty much anything from him except IT – nope, nope, nope).
  
Anne Rice is almost poetic in her writing and she gave me advice a few years back that helped immensely. She's a friendly, approachable person. 
Stephen King knows how to make you jump just at the moment when you think all is well. I am hoping to do that in my novels and have attempted to use his magic in my short story, The Trancers.

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH MY TIME?

My latest book release in January 2020 is called RHIANNON. I have always loved the myths that in the darkest parts of Wales there were witches in covens. There are several tales such as the Mabinogion that mentions Rhiannon and I’ve always found the old tales fascinating. 



Rhiannon must have been the fastest novel I’ve written. Once I started, I couldn’t stop thinking about where to go next. The story was to start in modern day with just flashbacks, but I felt quite early on that it had to start with her story, so that even though you knew she killed men, I explored why she did it. She had a history and a past that needed to be told in full before I brought her into our time.


The first half of the book is based in the 16th century and it centres on a beautiful woman called Rhiannon as she arrives in the village of Treharne in North Wales. But Rhiannon isn’t all she seems. She has come to visit an old woman who has lived on the outskirts of the village for over 40 years. You see this woman has a secret and Rhiannon wants what she has hidden – souls. But the old woman should have sensed Rhiannon’s aura, after all what’s the point in being a witch if you can’t spot one of your own? But soon the old woman is gone and Rhiannon has taken over her cottage. One day she meets a man and his wife in the village store and soon after becomes his lover. 

A jealous wife, village gossip, special medicinal potions and Rhiannon is accused of being a witch and goes to trial. But she’s pregnant now and her powers don’t work while she’s pregnant. Rhiannon tries to escape but is captured while she is giving birth, her child is left out for the wolves and she is sentenced for witchcraft (after all why run if you’re innocent) and she is burnt at the stake. 

Four hundred years later, a student researching a story finds an interesting artifact and accidentally brings Rhiannon back – and Rhiannon is out for revenge.


To learn more about Margarita Felices and to see her complete list of books, visit her on her 
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE and AMAZON UK.


What is in a Lump of Coal...Fact or Fiction? ~ by Grace Augustine


depositphotos/graceaugustine

And the question remains today…are diamonds formed from coal?
To answer that, simply, no. For a broader description, please visit  GEOLOGY.COM

Today we will explore diamonds: shapes, sizes, colors, meanings—anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to know about these beauties. (Well, maybe not everything.)

The very first diamonds were found in India in the 4th century. So, you see, they’ve been around for a long time. The majority of these gems were moved between India and China on what became known as the Silk Road. What is the Silk Road, you ask? It was a network of routes used for trading and connected the East with the West in the 2nd through 18th centuries. They were integral to the economic, political, cultural, and religious interaction between the countries who used the routes.

Back to the theory of coal and diamonds. Ironically, both are from the most common of substances…carbon. The difference between the two is found in the molecular atom arrangement. Diamonds are formed when carbon is heated to extremely high temperatures and pressures found 90-240 miles within the earth. (According to  BRILLIANCE.COM )

The use of rings as a symbol of commitment dates back to ancient
Photo courtesy Riddle Jewelry
history, specifically to the betrothal (truth) rings of the Romans. These early rings, often formed from twisted copper or braided hair, were worn on the third finger of the left hand. The placement of the ring was significant, as Romans believed that a vein in the third finger (vena amorous) ran directly to the heart. For Romans, betrothal rings were given as a sign of affection or friendship and did not always represent the rite of marriage.

The history of the engagement ring began in 1215, when Pope Innocent III, one of the most powerful popes of the Middle Ages, declared a waiting period between a betrothal and the marriage ceremony. The rings were used to signify the couple’s commitment in the interim. It was around this same time that rings were introduced as a major component of the wedding ceremony, and it was mandated by the Roman government that all marriage ceremonies be held in a church. In addition to serving as symbols of an intention to marry, these early rings also represented social rank; only the elite were permitted to wear ornate rings or rings with jewels.

The first recorded presentation of a diamond engagement ring was in 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed marriage to Mary of Burgundy. Although engagement rings were common at this time, diamonds were a rarity and were reserved for royalty and the upper elite class.”

In 1866 a 15 yr. old boy found a 21.25 carat diamond in South
Photo: Pinterst Cullinan Diamond
Africa. The largest diamond ever found, the Cullinan Diamond, found in 1905, weighed in at a whopping 3,106.75 carats. It was named for Thomas Cullinan, chairman of the mine where it was harvested. Today, it’s estimated worth is $400,000,000, it is not up for sale because it is part of the Crown Jewels and owned by the UK.

The DeBeers Diamonds held a monopoly on the diamond marked for years, beginning in the early 1800’s. Thanks to them, the diamond has become the symbol of love. You can read more about the DeBeers rise and fall in the diamond industry HERE .

The diamond is the birthstone for the month of April. It is the hardest substance known and is used not only in jewelry, but as cutting tools, stereo needles, and in the health industry. It marks the 60th wedding anniversary.

A diamond’s worth is based on the 4 C’s—Cut, Color, Clarity, and
Photo courtesy Riddle Jewelry
Carat. Diamonds are used in engagement and wedding rings, set in necklaces, and worn as studs in the ear.

A symbol of purity and innocence, this precious gem also embraces the aspects of truth and trust. The owner and wearer of diamonds can revel in its power. The diamond is known to improve the wearer’s energy, endurance, and love life. It is believed to bring inner peace and positive mental attitude. When worn around the neck or on the third finger of the left hand (because of a vein-vena amoris-that is said to go from your finger straight to your heart) the diamond’s power increases.

The diamond will always be a favorite among those preparing for a proposal. The stone can be cut in many ways that enhance and showcase the facets of the particular stone. Pear, Round, Princess, Marquis, Cushion, Emerald, Radiant, and Oval are the major shapes for cutting.
Photo courtesy Riddle Jewelry
And, diamonds aren’t only for women, although, with settings in
rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, you can see why they are purchased for women. Men, too, enjoy a little sparkle in a ring, tie clip, or cuff links.

If you enjoyed learning about the Diamond, please check out  MY PAGE for other gemstone posts. In May, we will explore the beauty of the Emerald. Until then, Sparkle on!


Photos are used with permission of Riddle Jewelry and Deposit Photos via Grace Augustine.

Lakeside Living 8: Otterly Ridiculous by Ruth Ross Saucier


      When I first moved to the lake, it took me nearly two years to sort out which critters were swimming in my little cove: otters or beavers?  Chance flashes of tails brought the answer: both. But their tails rarely showed above water and their heads were too close to call; I needed more evidence to reliably identify my neighbors.  Eventually, I discovered their habits and their seasons were different.



      In the spring, the otters would show up in the early morning and fish the little cove in front of the house, diving and swooping, traveling 50-70 feet underwater and only resurfacing for air or to nibble on a sushi snack that didn’t immediately surrender. Their long sleek lines would curl over smoothly as they dove and rarely if ever did they show their long, pointed tails. But their speed and fluidity were unparalleled. 
Otters getting a breath leave the ice pockmarked.


      At some point in late spring the otters would move out of my cove and wouldn’t return until winter.  The lake would rarely freeze; but when it did, the otters came out to play. One year the lake developed a thin skin of ice and snow.  Before the ice melted away, though, the cove was full of otter sign: the thin ice was pockmarked with holes where the otters had surfaced. Each hole soon began to skim over with ice, but the pattern was unmistakable.


      One winter morning I woke to a bleak vista. The lake was frozen hard, with only a few places where the water was still open. There was a bitter wind gusting out of the southwest, causing swirls and clouds of snow to scud across the open ice. But there was something weird out there, a large dark lump on the ice about 200 feet out. The binoculars didn’t help, the clump was unmoving; probably somebody’s stray tarp or … but wait!



      As I watched, the clump began to heave and disentangle itself into two large otters and three babies. The family started a wrassling match right there on the ice, heedless of the frigid wind. They dove and rolled like a frenzied ball of snakes, the orb seething and twisting over and over until one of the babies zoomed away from the pack and slipped across the ice and into the open water.

      A split second later he slipped up and out of the water, rejoining the family frolic. But the whole family got the message now. Running and slithering across the ice, they all took turns sliding and slipping into the water hole and resurfacing onto the ice as smoothly as they left.

     And then they were gone; lured into the dark water and its promise of sleeping fish. And I, once again, was left with nothing but the memory, seared indelibly by my profound joy.


Slow Writer~ by Lexa Fisher



Photo by Esther Wechsler on Unsplash

I admit it, I'm a slow writer. Not monastically slow--making my own ink, stretching parchment, applying fine gold leaf to an illustration. But I've found my own pace and I don't apologize for it. No race to market here.

Being self-published, I'm on my own schedule -- not pressured to get the next book out, or to write another story in the same series. It's a pleasure having time to ponder nuances and add depth to a tale. It's a joy to linger over a plot or to craft characters I'd like to spend time with.

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash
When I research background material, I don't feel guilty over the time I spend. Research creates a story with greater legitimacy and one that will hopefully keep the reader from disengaging because of inaccuracies. However, I am writing fiction so some diversion from reality must be allowed and adds a touch of magic. 

That said, I'm not a big name writer nor do I have a commercial publisher. I practice what I learn in classes, take note of what makes an impression on me in the books I read, and this week I've also enjoyed participating in a virtual writers' retreat. 


Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash
Sure, faster, well-known writers make money. Speaking of money...no, I don't make money from writing -- far from it! But I enjoy the challenge of creating a story, refreshing and improving my knowledge of grammar, and especially working with a book cover designer. This week I learned that my Christmas book cover is a finalist in a contest!

Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

What costs does a self-published author incur? Even on my low-budget schedule, each story goes to a development editor for a professional view of the plot, character arcs, inconsistencies, and just plain questions of what is going on here? After incorporating that feedback, a cleaned up copy goes to my copy editor for syntax and grammatical polish. 

How do I justify it? It's a self-challenge and a pursuit I enjoy. It sharpens my critical thinking skills by employing questions of what if?... Crafting fictional stories has made me a better student of human nature. Fiction writing also requires a lot of patience because there is no plot store where you shop for ideas. Eventually, like that yoga pose I finally conquer, my writing muscles will kick in and voila! -- characters, plot, and pacing will become second nature. 

Meet Our Members

Author Andi Lawrencovna

Andi Lawrencovna is a fantasy and science fiction writer from Ohio.  Her education includes a BA in English from Denison University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College. She works as a legal secretary during the day and removes her glasses at night…wrong genre.  

Please check our our REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS page to view Andi's books and social media links. 

Chocolate...Just a Little Bit of Magic ~ by Josie Riviera

As an author, I like to think readers enjoy my books. I hope that it
gives them a form of escape, even if just for a little while. I have visions of them sitting in a comfy chair, blanket draped over them, with a warm drink and…chocolate!

Why chocolate? Well, it’s a lovely visual of a way to spend an afternoon without the calories. Hah! A real joy and a bit of self-care we all deserve during these challenging times.

Truthfully, I may be a little obsessed with chocolate and all of the
ways it can be enjoyed.

Surprisingly, chocolate in its earliest form goes back to 450 BC in Southern Mexico when the Aztecs discovered cacao beans. They believed the beans were a gift from the god of wisdom, Quetzacoatl. As a drink, it was used as a puree along with corn and spices. Though bitter, it may have been the first chocolate drink.

In 1502, Christopher Columbus delivered the beans to Spain, and thus, Europe, believing them to be good for trading. Plantations were started, and the laborious work of cultivating and growing the crops was left to low paid workers and slave labor. Now, approximately two-thirds of all cocoa production takes place in West African nations.

Along came the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th and early
20th century. The chocolatiers we all are familiar with and who continue to be powerhouses in the industry – Henri Nestle, Randolphe Lindt, Milton Hershey and Cadbury – began perfecting the processing and recipes that we all enjoy today.

There are so many wonderful ways to enjoy chocolate! Here are a few:

• I recently tried a Tuxedo Cake. It’s made up of multiple layers of chocolate with a white chocolate cream filling. You can find a recipe HERE


• Hot Chocolate: Enjoy it as simple as when we were children--adding marshmallows, whipped cream, and crushed peppermint sticks.

• Or something more adult?

• Here is a list of 30 different varieties from Country Living Magazine. LIST
Surely one will tempt your taste buds. 


Have you ever tried something you were afraid to try because it mattered so much to you? I did, when I started writing. Take the chance, everyone, and just do something you love.  Cozy up with your favorite (chocolate) beverage, and lose yourself in the joyful seasons of love. I love chocolate so much that I even wrote about it!

A Chocolate-Box Christmas
Love is sweeter with a touch of mischief.
A Chocolate-Box New Years
Some recipes don’t turn out quite as you predicted…
A Chocolate-Box Valentine
It’s your last love who truly matters.

Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary,
inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable shih tzu, who constantly needs grooming, and live in an old house forever needing renovations. You can connect with Josie through the following links:

WEBSITE (Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free ebook)


When You're Weary, Feeling Small ~ Jacquolyn McMurray


Weary 
Have you ever had a particular song get stuck in your head? Ever had lyrics go into auto rewind and the accompanying music lull you into some form of reverie that cushions you from reality? 

That's where I'm at with Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." 

Do you remember the lines? When you're weary...feeling small?

Feeling Small 
I've experienced plenty of days when I needed a nap and felt like I wasn't big enough/experienced enough/wise enough to tackle the most mundane chores before me.  

And then a little miracle happens and someone calls, or texts, or posts something encouraging on facebook and I'm recharged and ready to tackle my most difficult tasks. 

And during these uncertain times, I'm fortunate to have a husband to keep me company while we self-isolate and lots of friends and family who cheer me on when I'm feeling down. 

Not everyone has what I have. Some live alone. Some struggle with a lack of social contacts. And these folks might not be the ones you think are struggling. 

There's plenty we can we do to bridge the troubled waters --pick up the phone and call or text someone you haven't talked to in a long while, post positive messages on social media, write a letter to someone who would love to hear from you, or post funny signs in your front yard (my husband's specialty).


Lawn Decorations


I'm on your side, Paul Simon sings, when times get rough.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-XCmb6t6Zw








We're in this together, so let's practice hopeful, uplifting behaviors. 



Hope. It's the bridge over troubled waters. 









Life with Mazie~Part 4~by Joanne Jaytanie


Is anybody out there? 
It’s me, Mazie. 
It feels like years since we last chatted. I miss our conversations. I miss my classmates and visits from my Auntie Ruth. At this point, I’d even get in the Jeep and head over to visit my vet—Nah.
















Since we’ve had to stay at home, I keep a close eye on Mom and Dad. We're watching Mom make my dinner. 



















It’s my job to make sure they don’t get bored. I’m always up for a game of tug. Here’s my new, really cool toy and it’s my favorite. 
I could play tug for hours.







When my people get tired of playing with one toy, I bring them another, and we start a whole new game. 











The other day Mom put a pair of bunny ears on me, and I got to wish everyone a Happy Easter. It was lots of fun to hear from all the friendly people.
 

And I’ll tell you a secret—I didn’t mind the ears.  







Then she got carried away and put more stuff on me. 

She thought it was funny.















 But I got tired of sitting, so I started a new game...



                                





Catch me if you can!


Guess Mom didn't think that game was very much fun, because she went into the house. 







I gotta go.
My favorite show is on.  
But don't you worry.
I'll be sure to catch up with you soon.
Until then ~ Smooches!
Luv, Mazie


Thanksgiving Hangover and a New Holiday Season ~ by Darlene Kuncytes

  Well, we did it. Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday is done, and we are now in full on holiday mode! This year is going to be different th...