Blog

Grandma McKnight, Mountains, and Memories

Posted by on Nov 1, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 1 comment

Grandma McKnight, Mountains, and Memories

The other day, I glanced out the window of my bedroom in the mountain home I visited and I saw a chipmunk skittering around on the ground. Mountains and chipmunks remind me of Grandma McKnight. Especially chipmunks in mountains! Why? Let me tell you.   When I was a little girl my grandparents lived in Mariposa, California, a charming town worth visiting.  We lived in Nebraska at the time, so going to California was always a long trek. But, each visit involved a drive to Yosemite to see the massive redwood trees and incredible waterfalls, a lesson from Grandma about some little piece of nature, and a Psalm. Grandma was big on the Psalms. She especially liked the Psalm that said, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.” (Psalm 121:1) I couldn’t help but think of that Psalm as I looked out the window at Grandfather Mountain. Well, at the clouds where Grandfather Mountain was supposed to be! The second mountain community was Gunnison, Colorado where they moved in 1973, shortly after my mother died. Having them closer was such a comfort. Daddy could drive us the four hours to their house and they would love on us, instruct us, and love on us some more. We explored the mountains with them. Grandma let us make crafts using natural things like rocks, lichen, and pinto beans. (She was creative at keeping the grandchildren occupied in a productive way.) And all of the time we were doing our craft, she had us memorizing verses. Often the Psalms.   One summer, after we moved to California, we returned to Gunnison for a visit. Aunt Rachel, Uncle Paul, and their girls were living in Grandpa and Grandma’s basement while my uncle attended the university. One day we drove through the mountains and enjoyed a picnic along an icy mountain stream. The campground was inhabited by chipmunks, and they were used to being fed! I still remember Grandma, squatting down on the ground to help us feed the chipmunks.   Those memories came flooding back last weekend as I sat in a vacation home at a writer’s retreat surrounded by mountains, trees, and chipmunks. The trees were still vibrantly colored as it was just past peak leaf season, but soon the mountains will be ugly. Sticks on the mountain, I call it.   But last weekend? Wow! The verse Grandma taught me ran through my head, along with another one I found in a journal:   As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever. Psalm...

Read More

Turning. . . A Simple Gift

Posted by on Oct 28, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

Turning. . . A Simple Gift

  Saturday, Bruce and I drove down to Newberry, South Carolina, for Oktoberfest. We hung out at one of our favorite bookstores, Books On Main, visited with friends old and new, and sold books. It was delightful. But, in our minds was the little detail of time. We were on a schedule. At 2:30 we needed to leave since I had another destination that evening. But there were people still buying, so we lingered a bit. After all, if people are buying, you don’t leave. But as soon as we could we packed up, hurried to the car, and Bruce drove back up the mountain.   Then I switched gears. Throwing my already packed bag in the car, I said goodbye to my husband, and off I drove for a writer’s weekend near Boone, North Carolina. Whew.   This is our life. Switching gears. The turn around. The next event, next day at work, next project to get done, next book, next trip. As we drove, the spectacular Autumn foliage popped up around every curve. The season has changed and the trees have “turned”. Bruce commented on the song from The Byrds called Turn, Turn, Turn. (To Everything There Is A Season) by Pete Seeger. As a young adult it was one of his favorite songs. He especially liked the harmonies, and the words come straight from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which of course talks about the changing seasons.   Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.   I didn’t know the song well, but as he described it, the melody and words floated into my memory, as songs often do. Yes, I knew that song.   Then he mentioned a song I didn’t know. Simple Gifts, a Shaker tune. Here are the words to this piece.   Simple Gifts (by Elder Joseph) Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free. ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, And when we find ourselves in the place just right, ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight. When true simplicity...

Read More

How Sweet The Sound!

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 4 comments

How Sweet The Sound!

It is a well-known fact that I am a hummer. (Not to be confused with a humdinger or the vehicle by that name, please.) The truth is I am almost always humming something. It is a humming habit. I don’t know where it came from; it has been a part of ME as long as I remember.   In addition to humming, I also am known for the ability to think of a song lyric for every situation. For instance, if I am having a difficult day, I might burst into song with “Smile, though your heart is breaking, smile, even if your faking. “ Yes, sometimes I change the lyrics. As I woke up this morning I thought of my trip to this beautiful mountain home in Boone where I am enjoying a writer’s retreat with friends. It was Saturday night. I had already been to Newberry, SC with my husband for Oktoberfest, then back home where I gathered up my things and jumped back in the car.   By the time I arrived in the Boone area it was dark. Pitch dark. My GPS failed me, not even recognizing the name of the road. But, I was confident. After all, we lived near here for a year and I drove this road back and forth to work many times. All I had to do was find the intersection.   Well, let’s just say that after several tries I was inordinately relieved to find an email from one of my friends with a phone number to call if I needed anything. So, I phoned a friend.   Deanna talked me in and when I couldn’t find the keypad to get into the gated community (we decided they made it impossible to find in the dark so those who don’t belong can’t get in—that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) Glenda drove down and let me through the gate. We laughed about “how many writers does it take to get into a gated community”?   But, this morning as I remembered this episode, a single line from a song drifted through my head. “I’ll be on your side forever more. . . That’s what friends are for. “ I smiled. Then, I thought of yesterday at our church in the mountains. When the choir sang an arrangement of “All The Way My Savior Leads Me,” I sat with my eyes shut and let the words wash over me. This is one of my favorite hymns and one particular line has comforted us more than once.   “For I know what e’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.”   I thought of my Daddy. Since June he has suffered two strokes. He is still alert, oriented, moves all of his extremities well, able to care for himself, but weak. And, he can’t talk. Oh, he gets a few words out. Sometimes an entire sentence pops out. But it is hard work. And frustrating. But, one of his first...

Read More

Lovingkindness. . . A Gift To Me

Posted by on Oct 17, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Lovingkindness. . . A Gift To Me

I woke up this morning and snuggled under the covers. I asked God to show me what HE thought of me, and these words came to mind. “Oh love that wilt not let me go.” I smiled. Several years ago when we went home for a visit, my oldest niece, Kari came to me and said, “Aunt Miriam, will you sing a special with me for church?” Of course I said yes. (I say yes to my nieces and nephews as often as I can.) This is the song we chose: O Love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe, That in thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be. O light that foll’west all my way, I yield my flick’ring torch to thee; My heart restores its borrowed ray, That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day May brighter, fairer be. O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee; I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not vain, That morn shall tearless be. O Cross that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from thee; I lay in dust life’s glory dead, And from the ground there blossoms red Life that shall endless be. by George Mattheson Today I am attending the last day of a women’s conference. Allume is a conference for Christian bloggers and writers and I am here because my publisher suggested it. (I also like to say yes to my publisher as often as I can.) At Allume I have been challenged, taught, encouraged, brought up short, and thrown to my knees before God. I have been uplifted by sweet friends, old and new. I have been reminded that I am a wonder to God. I have been shown that God delights in me. I have been challenged to see myself as God sees me, all of my messiness . . . but YET. . . he delights in me. He made me this way. And, though—like my daddy reminded me—he may not want me to stay exactly how I came out of the womb, he created me to be who I am today. Then he strategically placed and removed the events, trials, joys, opportunities, and people into and out of my life to make me capable of doing and being what he wants me to do and be.Today. So, my nieces and nephews? Gifts of God. To me. Music?  A gift of God to me. The opportunity to sing this song with my niece a few years ago so that whenever I sing it I think of her, and pray? A gift. And, then the Holy Spirit whispers in my heart, “Miriam, if HE loves you that much. . . If He arranged all of that? WHAT good thing is he arranging for you today?”   Jeremiah 31:3  The LORD hath appeared of old unto...

Read More

Adjectives! You Need More Adjectives!

Posted by on Oct 5, 2015 in Blog, Double Cousins |

Adjectives! You Need More Adjectives!

This month is all about school visits. No wait, this month is all about finishing the manuscript of my latest book. Sigh. These are both true statements. I am focusing a lot on school visits. In between I am snatching a few hours here and there to revise my current work in progress. Throw in a couple of days a week at my “day job” and the other stuff that must be done. Yes, sometimes I’m not sure if I’m coming or going. But, in the midst of the hectic days I find humor. It is what makes it all joyful fun! Last week I visited Pomaria-Garmany Elementary School in South Carolina. I spoke to all of the students from 1st through 5th grades. I was allowed to set up in the library and each hour a different grade would come in, the students would sit on the rug, and I would talk to them about the writing process. It was a blast. One of the things I talk about is plot. I try to demonstrate to the students that you must have a plot. I’ll usually say something like this: “So, if I wrote a book about being at my grandpa’s ranch and I said, ‘One morning Carly and Max got up and they gathered the eggs, watched Grandpa milk the cow, rode the horses, picked berries, and Max stepped on a snake. . . The End. . .’ would that be a good book?” Of course, inevitably I hear a chorus of “NO! That would be boring!” At this point I ask them what is missing. The older grades often guess that it is plot I am talking about. Sometimes, with guidance they come to the answer. But, last Monday in the first grade class I had a totally unexpected response. One little girl raised her hand as high as it would go. When I pointed to her she burst out with a brilliant answer! “Adjectives! You need more adjectives,” she declared. I didn’t laugh! I looked at her teacher and she was looking at the other teacher with an incredulous look. They shrugged their shoulders. She must have been listening in class. I told her that adjectives are always a good addition and went on. Later that day, I sat at my computer and contemplated my revision project. I need to go through each scene and count how many of the senses I’ve used in description. I must have at least three senses in each scene, and it would be great to have all five. What I need are. . . wait for it. . . ADJECTIVES! I need more...

Read More

A “Someday in Heaven” Week

Posted by on Sep 27, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 4 comments

A “Someday in Heaven” Week

  I don’t often have strong moments of missing my mother. She went to heaven when I was ten, so it has been a lot of years. But, last Sunday as the soloist sang, a thought flashed through my head that led to a sudden sadness. “Mommy would have loved that song (Grace) and she would have sung it.” Then, the pianist hit a really interesting key change and I thought, “That would be fun to play.” That’s when the moment of sadness hit. When my mother died I lost the opportunity to ever accompany her on the piano. But, just as quickly as the sadness arrived, a response which I’m sure was prompted by the Holy Spirit popped into my head. “Ah, Miriam, someday in heaven. It has been a “Someday in Heaven” sort of a week. This week a sweet friend from work held her Papa’s hand as he went to heaven. I wrote about him recently; I wrote of his love for his little great-granddaughters. It was a powerful thing to see. Another day, one of my favorite guys—my best friend’s Dad—graduated to heaven. It is good to know he suffers no more. He fought valiantly and lived with grace and truth. But, oh the hole he leaves. We will miss his humor, wisdom, and love. And then, tragic news of a friend’s son in his first year of college, unexpectedly called home. So much unused potential, we think. But God, He is good all of the time. He is with us through it all. I began to dread looking at emails and facebook, or receiving calls. It was so much sadness and loss. Heaven sure was looking better and better. Then, I was reminded of a letter Grandpa McKnight sent me a couple of years before he went to heaven. In it he started listing all of the people he was anxious to see again in heaven. To be honest it made me nervous. I didn’t want him focusing on that! It seemed too much like a “goodbye, I’m tying up loose ends” kind of letter. It made me sad. But, now I get it. He was reminding himself of the glorious hope we have in Christ. There will be a day. A day of no more tears. No more goodbys. No more parting. No more sin. No more pain. And maybe on THAT day, I’ll accompany my mother as she sings a song for Jesus. Just think. . .   As I wrote this, one line from the song on Sunday came back to me. It is a powerful truth. Your will cannot lead me where your grace cannot keep me. (Grace by Carolyn...

Read More

Ten Things This Author Loves to Hear!

Posted by on Sep 14, 2015 in Blog, Double Cousins |

Ten Things This Author Loves to Hear!

    1. I  couldn’t stop reading your book. 2. When is the next book coming out? 3. This reminded me of my Grandma/Grandpa. 4. I just put a review up on Amazon. 5. This is the first book my son ever enjoyed reading. He can’t wait for the next one. 6. My children/grandchildren and I are reading the book together. 7. I caught my child reading your book under the covers with a flashlight. 8. I would like two please! 9. I could really relate to that piece! 10. Can I publish your book and give you a large advance? (A girl can dream, can’t she?)      ...

Read More

Learning at Their Feet

Posted by on Sep 7, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 4 comments

Learning at Their Feet

The other day I saw one of those meme’s come across my Facebook page with this quote by Andy Rooney. The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person. The picture was of an old lady back in the fifties or sixties sitting in a bus or train station with a little boy wiggling beside her while she talked about something undoubtedly  important! At a glance, I could have sworn it was my Grandma McKnight. My breath caught in my throat and it wasn’t just because of the photo. It was the quote. The friend who posted it said this: “I always thought this was true. Do young folks today believe that?” It made me a bit sad that she asked the question. That she had to ask the question. I believe this is a fundamental problem in our culture. The children MUST learn at the feet of the elders. The photo and sentiment brought another photo to mind. I dug around in my computer picture files until I found it. Yep, there it was. A precious picture of Grandma Jones and one of her great-great grandsons. Even as her brain refused to stay awake, she always would wake up for the “new ones.” She lived for the events where they were visiting. And, the grandchildren, greats, and great greats valued her presence, wit, and wisdom. Then my mind flew to another photo I knew I had floating around my house. I’ve intended to scan it in for several years now. It is a picture of Daddy with two of my nieces. The photo is almost twenty years old now, and the nieces are adults finishing up their college degrees this semester. That didn’t keep them from sitting with their grandpa at the hospital when he had his stroke this past Spring. Daddy is much like his mother. He loves all of the visitors, but the ones he gets really excited about are the grandchildren. I called him one evening recently when he was spending a couple of nights in the hospital and he was anxious to share that my oldest nephew stopped by all on his own to see him.   Then, just a week ago I went to work and found I was being “floated” to another unit. I wasn’t particularly thrilled. (That is a colossal understatement.) But, even as I grouched and grumped around I knew in my heart what was going to happen. God was going to make this a day to remember. I was there to receive a blessing. I might even be given the gift of BEING a blessing. Ugh. I wanted to be a grouch. (Yes, I did have that bad attitude, I am sorry to report.) I was right. In the first room I entered sat a grandpa, propped up in the hospital bed. A great-grandpa. His “night shift daughter” was at his side. Soon the “day shift daughter” arrived. He was charming and cheerful even...

Read More

A Time Capsule of Sorts

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

A Time Capsule of Sorts

Every time I pull out our little red rice cooker my husband says, “There’s a big one somewhere in the basement.” To be honest, I was kind of tired of hearing it. This past week’s house project included cleaning out one area of the basement so that we could make a tool and work area for Bruce. Guess what we found right where he thought it was? Yep, the rice cooker. We pulled it out and set it on the back steps to take upstairs when we were done. Sunday morning we took it out of the box. We wanted rice for dinner and thought there was no time like the present. It was something more than an old rice cooker. It was kind of like a little time capsule. Here are the facts: This rice cooker has never been used. It has been there for years. It is Japanese. It was most likely purchased in Japan and brought to Bruce’s Grandma or mother by his Uncle who lived in Japan. The box still has his last name written on it with marker. It is in perfect shape. The instructions are written in English, but by someone for whom English is a second language. It is much better English than foreign instructions today. There are many more things you can cook in a rice cooker besides just rice! The cloth wrapped cord was still tightly coiled, just like it came from the company. There are Japanese characters on the power plug. It doesn’t appear to be worth a lot of money per my research online. It makes awesome rice. I wondered why my mother-in-law never used the rice cooker. Then, I looked at the tiny kitchen she had and realized that if I was wondering where I was going to keep it in my new, roomier kitchen; she surely wouldn’t have had room for another appliance. One that was taking the place of a simple pot she could use for many tasks. My husband shared more with me about his Uncle and what a wonderful event it was when he came to visit. I listened and learned more about this family I joined ten years ago. I am currently writing a mystery set in Saluda, NC. The kids in my mystery find a time capsule buried in a tater house. They learn things about people who lived long ago. People they will never meet. Just like I did with the rice cooker. Maybe I’ll call it my rice capsule. Or time cooker. Hmm. Maybe I’ll work on that idea some...

Read More

Hospitality – A Gift

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Hospitality – A Gift

We often look at hospitality as a gift. One we give to others. But it can go both ways. The other evening at church the Pastor was talking about the importance of showing hospitality. He spoke of the challenge of not letting our own plans get in the way.   My husband and I both love having company come. We really do. I think hospitality is one of our gifts. But, that night the word made me anxious. You see, we had a friend call and she wanted to come spend the weekend. I was delighted she was coming. But, I was a bit stressed since we were/are in the middle of a major “turn everything upside down organizational push” at our house and you know how we women can be.   As I thought of hospitality, I realized I had seen a good deal of it just this summer. In May we planned to visit Rapid City for a couple of weeks. Our hosts and dear friends were gracious and excited about our visit. We had a busy schedule planned. Then, my daddy suffered a stroke and we left early for South Dakota. Once there, we decided we would stay two weeks and leave. But, then we would miss my nephew and niece’s graduation, the original purpose for our visit. We didn’t want to do that. But, staying two weeks with friends is a big deal. Three weeks? That’s a lot to ask.   But, not for these friends. They were gracious. They said it hadn’t been bad at all having us there. They let us know they didn’t mind. And they meant it, we could tell. What a gift.   When I went to Hayesville for the book event in July a friend of a friend opened her lovely home to me. Because of my two night stay I now have a new friend. One who knows what hospitality truly is.   Two weeks ago we visited a home that has become dear to me. I have visited the Clark’s many times over the past 24 years. Every time I pull into their driveway and enter their house a sense of peace descends. This family has perfected the art of hospitality. They could teach graduate classes on the subject. They could write the book. When we arrived, the Clark’s were still at a VBS event. “Just go on in,” they said. We grabbed our bags out of the trunk and climbed the steps to the back step. When we walked through the door into “The Room That Richard Built” we were welcomed by the huge dining room table. I heard it say, “Let’s play a table game.” I turned and looked at my husband who had never visited this home. The look on his face said it all. It was peace. It was delight. It was comfort. They had him from the get-go.   The next morning Mom Clark took us out and showed us around the yard. She...

Read More

Circle C Milestones Books – Great Contest Opportunity!

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Blog |

Circle C Milestones Books – Great Contest Opportunity!

When we published the first Double Cousins Mystery, the publisher assigned me to Susan Marlow for my substantive editing. I tell people she was worth her weight in gold. She taught me so much about writing and editing. Besides that, she “got” my little story. She loved my book. As I looked at her books I understood why. We were kindred spirit writers. I am proud today to share this contest  to help celebrate her latest release! These are quality Christian mysteries for children and young people. Ready. . . Set. . . GO!   In celebration of the release of the new Circle C Milestones book, Heartbreak Trail, Kregel Publications and author Susan Marlow are hosting a mini-writing contest for kids under eighteen. In 100 words or less, write a response to the following prompt: I walked into the backyard and there stood the horse of my dreams. The first thing my new horse and I did was . . . Great prizes for five winners in three categories! Go to www.marlowcontest.weebly.com to enter the contest, starting Monday, August 10. Contest ends Friday, August...

Read More

Saluda Dream – A Summer To Remember

Posted by on Jul 24, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 4 comments

Saluda Dream – A Summer To Remember

Have you ever wished you could go back to the past? I have often thought I would love to spend one day on a Wagon Train. Just one. I’m pretty sure the novelty would wear off quickly. Today I believe I might enjoy a return to Saluda, NC in the first part of the last century and I think I could last much longer than one day. Here’s why. Saluda, North Carolina, a small town at the top of the mountain sits just off of I26 as you come up from South Carolina to Hendersonville and Asheville. The interchange consumes what used to be my husband’s grandpa’s corn field. The family refers to the building of the road as, “When the road took the farm. . .” Because, well, it did. Take the farm, that is. If you drive down into Saluda you see a sleepy little town, a tourist destination of sorts with a railroad track running right down Main Street. There are no trains now, mores the pity. (Reason # 1 I want to go back to the former Saluda.) Anyway, you would never guess if you just drove through, the rich history hidden in this tiny town. I’m talking a colorful and varied history. There is the history of the Cherokee Indians who lived in these parts first. Then you have the first settlers who came through on the Indian Trails in the 1700’s and stayed to make a living off the land. There is Revolutionary War history and Civil War history. All of that was before Saluda even got its name. What really made the town come alive was the railroad. In 1878 the track was built up the Saluda Grade and the town’s name was changed from Pace’s Gap to Saluda. When the trains arrived, the people from Florida and South Carolina flocked to this mountain town for the summers. Hotels and boarding houses popped up everywhere. At one time there were over thirty of them. The first third off the 20th century Saluda was a happening place. Besides the tourist industry, there was the baby hospital started by Dr. Lesesne Smith. The homes on his property housed a hospital for the sick babies who were brought to the mountains. A group of benefactors in Spartanburg decided they needed a hospital for those who couldn’t pay too, so the Spartanburg Babies Hospital was born. It sat across Greenville Street from Dr. Smith’s hospital and he saw the babies there too! The doctor also ran a Seminar every summer for pediatricians from all over the country. As incredible as this seems it all happened in Saluda. So, I have been researching all of this for the book I am writing. It is the first in a new series of children’s mysteries set in the South. But, I’m having a problem. The research is so much fun. Driving around town finding all of the old hotels and boarding houses is a bit addictive. Dreaming about how...

Read More

A Real Place, One I Called Home

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

A Real Place, One I Called Home

If I ever build a town from scratch, I’ll start with a town square, one with a park in the middle surrounded by brick streets. If you have one of those, the people and stores will come.

Read More

Independent and United

Posted by on Jul 4, 2015 in Blog, Uncategorized |

Independent and United

This is a column I wrote for the Newberry Observer, in Newberry, SC several years ago. It is included in the book just released, “You Ain’t From Here, Are Ya?”. It was true then. It is true now. God Bless and Save America. Everywhere I look there are reminders that the 4th of July is next week,. When I walked downtown this morning, they were putting out the flags on Main Street. Even the blooming crepe myrtles coordinate with the flags and banners. Words like Independence and United run through my head. While I still believe we live in the best country in the world, I wonder sometimes if those words are really still true in America. We are constantly bombarded with fighting between our elected leaders and reminded of our differences by people who speak about the red states versus the blue states. I don’t feel very united. And, with all of us so dependent on the government to provide many of our daily needs as well as foreign governments to lend us money, I really question our independence. This week I was reminded of what America is all about, how it is supposed to be. I have a friend who moved from South Dakota to Minot, North Dakota. We still keep in touch via Facebook. I have watched in horror as the flooding threatened and then consumed not just her home, but her entire neighborhood, indeed an entire section of her city. As I watched the reports something struck me. These people didn’t holler for the government to come save them. No, they loaded their belongings into cars, vans, trucks, and cattle trailers and emptied out their houses. Those whose homes weren’t threatened showed up to help. People who had space took in families, belongings, or both. Once the evacuees’ belongings were safe, they went back to help someone who wasn’t done yet.  People lent their RV’s to perfect strangers and even stocked them with food. They were United against the force of nature that threatened their community. The thing is, the people in North Dakota are a proudly independent, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps sort. They don’t ask for help. They believe in doing it themselves. But, when they come to the end of the rope, they will call out for help. And, if you are one of the lucky ones who isn’t experiencing the trial, you get under the rope ready to catch. That’s independence and united rolled into one situation. Thankfully, in the time I’ve been in Newberry, we haven’t had any major disasters. I get the sense, though, that people here would be the help-each-other-out sort. This town is full of people who get real joy from helping others and I am privileged to know several of them. I believe this is a city-country difference. People in the small towns and rural areas are more in touch with their neighbors, feel more connected. When a disaster strikes, they help because they know these people and they know...

Read More

A New View

Posted by on Jun 9, 2015 in Blog, Double Cousins |

A New View

Today I experienced a long-time tradition with a new-found awareness.  This evening I accompanied some of my nieces and nephews to Storybook Island in Rapid City, SD. I have been coming to this wonderland since the late 70’s when I watched my little sister delight in the discovery of this incredible storybook world. Ever since, I’ve taken every opportunity to experience the park with the children in my life! Today was no different. But, yet—it was. After our visit to the park we gathered around a table along one of the Rapid Creek tributaries and enjoyed a picnic with my brother and his family. We sat just a few hundred yards from Rapid Creek and the former site of Storybook Island; the site that was completely destroyed by the Flood of 72. We are very aware of the flood, especially this year. As you may have noticed in the news the Great Plains have experienced a LOT of rain this year. Rapid Creek is really high and is over its banks in several places throughout Rapid. As it flows into the waterways placed there to hold   the excess and spreads out across the flood plain we are reminded of the reason for the beautiful park system that winds through Rapid City.  It is there to prevent another disaster the size of the one that happened June 9, 1972.   In the third Double Cousins Mystery, the cousins learned about the devastation and loss of that night. As I researched for that book I learned many things I didn’t know.  Though I lived in Rapid City for ten years, I still didn’t “get” how terrible that day was. Every year I would hear the reports; 238 people died, thousands of vehicles destroyed, entire neighborhoods devastated. Yet, I didn’t understand. Not until I read first person accounts. Now, I will never look at the creek the same way again. I will never enjoy Storybook Island without a hint of sadness for the loss of the original park mixed with gratitude for those who rebuilt. I think of those lost in the flood every time I walk on the bike path. And, when I re-read one particular scene in The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Rushmore Treasure, I cry. Every time. Researching the history of my town changed my life. I bet if you went to your library or local museum you would find information that would bring your town’s biggest historic events to life. Then, like me you will gain a more complete appreciation of your...

Read More

A Growing Legacy!

Posted by on May 5, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

The grass shimmered with dew and the air was still cool when I gathered the rake, hoe, and a small bag of seeds and headed out to celebrate my birthday! Yes, you read right. I celebrate my birthday by planting things. It started about thirty years ago when we just happened to be planting our garden on my birthday. I clearly remember helping Daddy mark the rows with sticks and string, then planting corn and bean seeds every few inches. Something about putting those seeds into the ground, knowing that plants would grow, food would be created, and we would be able to eat it spoke to my soul. That may have been the first time I ever really helped plant a garden, I’m not sure. But it wasn’t my last. I was hooked. Of course, if my birthday was in November—like my older sister—it would be harder to keep this tradition. But, May 2nd clearly lends itself to such an activity. The seeds I planted were ones I received from a dear friend. “Mom” Clark has been an inspiration to me for over twenty years now. (See photo above for a view of their yard.) Every time I visit them I am challenged, blessed, and delighted to see the home she has built there with her husband. Not only is their house a haven, but she has a flower and vegetable garden that serves others. She has flowers that are cut and placed “just so” into jars, then taken to the shut-ins that she ministers to, or friends that need a pick-me-up. A couple of years ago she let me harvest some seeds from her cock’s comb and I have been itching to find a place to plant them. So, happy birthday to me. . . this year I did it! Last week we transplanted some daffodils and peonies which Bruce’s aunt gave us. She had thinned some of hers and sent him home with a car load. We planted the daffodils between the hostas we received a couple of years ago from friends at church when they were thinning theirs. The peonies, it turns out, originally came from “Over Home”—the name of Bruce’s great-grandparents place in Polk County. These are legacy plants. In my kitchen I have an African violet that came from one Grandma Jones had. I also have a mother-in-laws tongue that I got from Mom. It keeps growing little babies, so I have several plants I need to give away. We have a plant Bruce saved from his mother’s funeral and another plant his aunt gave us. If you look at all of the plants in and around this house, all but one came from someone. Even the huge Norway spruce tree beside the house was once the little Christmas tree for Bruce’s family. Heritage. Legacy. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could be as small as a seed. Which reminds me. I have some Bradley beans which I soaked overnight....

Read More
Page 5 of 14« First...34567...10...Last »