Home Is Where The Story Starts

Found: Five Fun Facts About Historic Research!

Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Found: Five Fun Facts About Historic Research!

Sunday evening I visited a friend. I wanted to return some books he let me use while researching my most recent children’s mystery, The Nearly Twins and the Secret in the Mason Jar. I also wanted to give him a copy of the book. We had a great time talking about local history and I could have come home with several more books about the history of Western North Carolina. Mr. Pooch Pace is not just a respected veteran of the Korean War, but, as I have discovered, a valuable local history source. When I set out to write my first book I certainly didn’t plan to write historical fiction. In fact I chose to write in the present because I didn’t want to deal with historical research. It seemed too hard. I just wanted to tell a story about cousins at their grandparents’ ranch. The only history I really wanted to talk about was mine! But then the second book happened and in the process it became imperative and even—gasp!—interesting to find out more about the town where the mystery would be set. After all, the history would inform the plot of my book. And so it began. Now I start with learning about the history of the town then let that give me the plot. In the process I have learned several things. I thought I would share a few with you!   Sharing stories is a gift that gives both ways. People sometimes thank me for writing stories they like to read. But, the truth is I get as much, or more enjoyment from learning about the town. I had no idea that Saluda, NC, had such a varied and rich history. Now I dream of time-traveling back to Saluda for a summer. In addition, the people you meet along the way, or the friendships that are deepened, are gifts that will keep giving.   Every place has history that can add value to our current life. I learned about the power of music in the treatment of patients with dementia while researching for this most recent book. I am a nurse. My two worlds collided and I’ve actually used music in a room to help calm a patient. In addition, when you learn the history of your area it opens up opportunities for fun family activities like museums, historic sites, even just an awareness of what was on your piece of land before you arrived. What value do you suppose you could gain by learning some of your neighborhood’s history, or researching a new topic?   There is always more history under the surface. History layered on history. – As I’ve researched for my books it’s become difficult sometimes to decide which historic element will be used in my story. Saluda was like that. There was history from before the Revolutionary War, clear back when the first settlers made their way into the mountains. There was Native American history. There was Civil War history, 19th...

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Music – Don’t Waste The Gift

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 1 comment

Sunday I had the privilege of playing the piano for church. At various times in my life I’ve played every time the church doors were open, but since we have been in transit so much the past few years my piano playing has been more of the fill-in kind. I’m thankful for every opportunity because music is therapy for me. It is how I worship best. Often when we have visited churches they happen to be in desperate need of a pianist that day. Their pianist is sick. Their pianist is on vacation. Their pianist moved. Because of the way I was raised—to jump in and help if I’m able—I volunteer. While this has been an incredible blessing for me, it brings up a troubling trend. There is a serious lack of church pianists out there. True, we come from musical people, but our parents were determined that we would have enough musical training to be able to serve in church. No, not everyone has the gift of music. No, God doesn’t want everyone to be a church pianist. But, I have a feeling there is a great untapped level of gifting and talent out there. The incredible power of music has been much on my mind lately. In my latest release the children use music to help an Alzheimer’s patient remember the answer to a critical clue. It isn’t just a made up plot element. It is solidly based in scientific studies! I am so impressed by the power of music in treatment of people with dementia. I would love for you to click on this photo and check out the website of this group who is promoting the use of music in patient’s with dementia. You see, whether we enjoy music in corporate worship at church, in the privacy of our own home, or in a concert hall, music is a gift from God. A gift that just keeps on giving. Don’t waste that...

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Where In The World Has She Been?–Missing in Action

Posted by on Jul 2, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Where In The World Has She Been?–Missing in Action

It has been far too long since I posted here. Every weekend and Wednesday it has been on my to-do list. Yet, no posts. I’ve thought of ideas that came and went. But yet, nothing. So, here in pictures is my past month!       So there you have it. A pictorial diary. Look for upcoming opportunities to get your copy of the newest book here and on my Facebook page. It is available in online stores as well!        ...

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Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

If you could go back in time for a few days where would you go? What time period? I have many such locations, but one place I would love to visit is Saluda, North Carolina during the early 1900’s.   Let me explain why.   The first time I visited Saluda was March 2004 when I came to North Carolina to meet my soon-to-be husband’s family. When we pulled into town Bruce pointed out which direction would take to his grandpa’s farm house and the church where some of his ancestors were buried. He also pointed out that the Saluda interchange sat on what used to be his grandpa’s corn field. I believe this may have been the first time I ever heard the phrase, “When the road took the farm.” It wasn’t the last.   As we drove down Main Street I was drawn in by the old-time small-town feel of the place. I noticed the depot and the bright yellow buildings beside it. I spotted the big Baptist Church. I love depots, yellow, and Baptist churches. I was hooked.   Over the next ten years we waved each time we passed Saluda, greeting our family—live and dead, as we rushed on our way to the place we would eventually call home on the other side of Hendersonville. There was no time for a stop in Saluda, for our home was calling us. It was a place to clean out and fix up.  A home full of memories.  A lovely place away from the noise and overpopulation of Florida. Here, despite the work I found peace. I could hear the birds sing. A rooster woke me each morning. But, it was a lot of work and even once we moved to Newberry, SC and eventually up to the house in Hendersonville, our visits to Saluda were few and far between.   A couple of times I made an unexpected stop at Saluda . . . well, at least at the interchange. Yep. My car engine blew up not once, but twice right in the middle of—you’ve got it, what used to be Grandpa Bradley’s corn field. Was it a sign?   So, when I decided it was time to start a new mystery series—this time set in the South—it was a no-brainer where the first book should take place. Saluda. After all, this is where my husband’s people come from. My other series started on my grandpa’s ranch. Why couldn’t this one start where Bruce’s grandpa farmed? So, the research began. I drove over to Saluda and wondered through town. I read a book written by some of the people in Saluda, a book that shared first person accounts of those days during the early 1900’s. I was blown away by the history Saluda can claim. I mean, not just one thing, but several.   One Sunday afternoon, armed with the book I returned to Saluda and drove around and around and around the town trying to find...

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Remember Why We Celebrate

Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Remember Why We Celebrate

One of the many life lessons my daddy taught me was to use words properly. I was reminded of this a few minutes ago while I watched a beautiful Memorial Day video tribute.   The thought that shot through my mind was this: It is Memorial Day, not Celebrate Day. Today we stop to Memorialize, Remember, and Commemorate those who gave their lives so we can Celebrate our country, our freedom, our day off, and our family gatherings.   Let’s not allow the busyness of our celebrating cause us to forget the true meaning of the holiday, to remember and honor the ultimate sacrifice so many men and women made on our (insert your name here for a powerful reminder)...

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World Stroke Month – A New Perspective

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 1 comment

World Stroke Month – A New Perspective

If I had written last May about World Stroke Month, as a nurse of more than thirty years, I would have been able to share many facts, signs and symptoms, treatment options, preventative measures, and even some of the struggles patients and families will face after a stroke.   If I had written it last May.   But I didn’t write it last May, as a nurse of over thirty years. Instead I am writing it this May, as a daughter of a stroke patient.   Here are some of the statistics I would have shared last year: According to the CDC at cdc.gov “Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. In 2008 alone, more than 133,000 Americans died from stroke—or one person every four minutes—died from stroke, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, almost 800,000 strokes occur in the United States. Strokes often lead to serious, life-changing complications. . .”   Strokes don’t just happen to the elderly. It can happen to anyone. Some of the effects of stroke listed by the CDC are below: Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body. Problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory. Problems understanding or forming speech. Difficulty controlling or expressing emotions. Numbness or strange sensations. Pain in the hands and feet. Depression So, back to my story. Last May my Daddy suffered a stroke. It was determined that it was an embolic stroke, meaning that due to atrial fibrillation in his heart, he had formed tiny clots that had traveled to his brain and caused the damage. He miraculously recovered a great deal of function, but was left with some significant challenges in how his brain processed. But, for the most part we believed God had given us a miracle and we had dodged the bullet. The doctors put him on a medication to prevent further clots and strokes and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Until autumn, when he incredibly suffered a second stroke. I say incredibly because the doctors are still befuddled by how someone on that particular medication could have a stroke. But he did. And this time, he was left with damage to his speech center. We are still thankful. Grateful. Counting our blessings. Daddy is still with us, he is still wise, loving, funny, kind, and gentle. We count each day a blessing. But, it occurred to me. I’ve learned a few things through this experience so I thought I would share them here. A stroke will change your life forever – We can’t go back. It isn’t going to go away.  Daddy has said it over and over—“My brain just doesn’t work the same.” The damage requires rehab, exercises, medications, doctor’s visits, retirement, all lifestyle changes not only for my dad, but for my mom as well. And, despite the best care and an incredibly motivated and hard-working patient, the damage is still there.   It isn’t...

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Lessons from a Chewbacca Mask

Posted by on May 22, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Lessons from a Chewbacca Mask

Right up front there are a couple of things I think I should share about myself. Confessions of a sort. First, I have never seen Star Wars. Okay. Take a minute to process that. I know some of you need it. After all, I remember the look on my husband’s face when I blithely informed him of this fact. It just isn’t my genre. So, it should come as no surprise that until recent events I had zero idea what a Chewbacca is. I do now.   Yesterday morning I got up early to work on a small editing project for a friend, and as is my pattern I skimmed through social media while drinking a cup of coffee. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the happy faced lady with the strange mask. So, I watched the video. I laughed until I cried. Such an infectious laugh. So much joy. I watched it twice.   Then, this morning (while having coffee) I found a second video. It was the same “Chewbacca Lady!” She was speaking at a Fine Arts Event, telling about the events of the past two days. I was more and more excited as lesson after lesson popped out of her mouth! She had so much to share in such a short time! Wow! Just Wow!   So, I want to give you five lessons I learned from (or was reminded of) by the “Chewbacca Lady.” 1. Joy comes from letting God use you how he made you! This woman didn’t hold back. She let her personality shine, come what may. She didn’t worry about how it looked, what people would think. She just shared her joy with others, and that joy spread. Everywhere. 2. After times of loss we can get our joy back. She spoke in the second video about what happened when she saw herself with the mask on and the Chewbacca’s head was thrown back in laughter. She realized that the Chewbacca had his joy back. After all, she said, Han Solo was dead. That was sad. But, it brought her joy to think that the Chewbacca could get his joy back. Sometimes, when slogging through grief that truth can be elusive. It is nice to have this reminder. 3. Sometimes you just have to laugh. Don’t hold back. She spoke of trying to get control and stop laughing, but she just. couldn’t. quit. Laughing. There are moments like this in life and they are really awesome stress-relievers. Enjoy them! 4. God wants more from us that a willing heart. Yes, we are all given a gift from God. Yes, he wants us to be willing and surrendered to letting him use them. But there are some other things we should be. Diligent. Patient. Obedient. We can be gifted, willing, and driven to be our best, but if we aren’t diligent, patient, or obedient He won’t be able to use us to our full capacity. Powerful stuff. 5. When God opens a...

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The Older Generation – Up For The Challenge

Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

This is a repeat, a piece I wrote a few years ago and included in my book All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life. This month is Older Americans Month and I am starting to really look forward to our family reunion just one month from today. So, I chose to re-post this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! The Older Generation – Up For the Challenge I love this picture from the reunion. It might be my favorite. To someone who doesn’t know our family it looks like nothing but a picture of a group of 60-70 something adults. But for those of us who know these people, there are some things that might make us look a second time. The fifth from the left is my Dad.  He is surrounded by his wife, sisters, brothers-in-law, cousins, and their spouses. Oh, and his sister-in-law. This picture started as one of those spur of the moment, grab a group of chatting people, make them line up, and take their picture photo-ops.  I think we started with five or six. Then we started noticing more from their generation in the room and called them over. There are several pictures in the series and each has one or two more people. My dad’s brother, Jim had already left to go to the fair so he is missing, but his wife is there. My favorite part is that they are mixed up. With the exception of two couples they aren’t standing with their spouses. I love photos that give different groupings. I like the unexpected twist. Here we have a group of people who have grown up together, their spouses have been part of the family for ten to 56 years, and they are family. They have differences of opinion, differences of belief, differences of interests, but they are family. Another thing I like about this picture is the fact that none of these people have been divorced. A couple are on their second marriages, but that is due to the death of a spouse. These folks are in it for the long haul. They had a good example in my grandparents and their parents, all who stayed married until death parted them. In this day where families are so transient, ours stands out. I can truly say I have been surrounded by great examples. At a store in Broken Bow I saw a plaque. It read. . .  “a good marriage is a union of two great forgivers.” I’m thankful for this generation and their determination to stick it out and make their love grow instead of letting it die. I love you all! I understand why you aren’t quite ready to be called “the older generation” but I’m thankful for the wisdom and strength you bring and I really think you are up for the challenge. Your parents were proud of you and we are so grateful. You can buy the book by clicking here and it will take you to Amazon. Please also not that right NOW the kindle edition is...

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My Edition or God’s . . .

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

My Edition or God’s . . .

Several years ago there was a series on TV called Early Edition. Every morning the main character—played by a handsome young man—opened his front door and found tomorrow’s paper on his door step. His job was to read the paper and prevent all of the tragedies reported there from actually happening.   Interesting premise. I only saw it a few times, but I loved the show. The thought that someone could make that much of a difference intrigued me. Besides, I’m a happily-ever-after sort of person.   Imagine! What if I could move through life confident in the knowledge that what I am doing is the right thing, the thing that will make a difference in the lives of those with whom I come in contact. What if . . .   But wait a minute! He had a paper, magically delivered to him. Incredible and obviously impossible.  But, what about me? I have . . . gasp. Deep breath. No way!   I have the Holy Spirit living in me. I have the promise of God that this power is available to me if I’ll listen to the Spirit and follow His prompting. I don’t even need the paper. I just need a willing heart totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit. Just. But, that’s the kicker isn’t it? We spend so much of our life with the attitude of a toddler—“I can do it myself”—and miss the opportunity of a lifetime. What if I was totally surrendered and in-tune to the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life? What would He do with me? Imagine . . . “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that ye ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” Ephesians...

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Thoughts on Dads and Mother’s Day

Posted by on May 7, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Thoughts on Dads and Mother’s Day

It is Saturday morning and I’ve spent the past hour or so drinking coffee, poking through social media sites and catching up with the world. There are so many wonderful Mother’s Day posts out there. Warm, fuzzy ones. God-honoring ones. Funny ones. And men slamming ones. What? Yep, they are there.   I don’t like these. Let me tell you why. I was given the gift of two amazing mothers, my Mommy and then, when God called her home, Mom. Words can NOT adequately describe the power these two women had in molding me into who I am. God gave me the perfect tag-team to meet the goals He had for me. Incredible. This mother’s day I want to honor them. I want to shout to the entire world, I AM BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE.   But, there is someone else in that equation. My daddy.   First, my mother and father chose each other based on the fact that they were in love. They also made this decision based on a lot of prayer and a confidence that this was the person God meant for them to marry. When they married in 1957, they became a team. Each of them utilized their strengths to create the marriage and home that my siblings and I needed to be born to. They chose well.   When the unimaginable happened and Mommy went to heaven, Daddy grieved. Then, he sought God’s will. He knew that he needed a wife, a partner in ministry, and a mother for his children. He knew that the Sovereign God had a plan. He put himself in the place of finding that plan. He chose again and he chose well! Twice! Forty-four years later it is obvious to all that know them that Mom and Daddy are a great team. They compliment each other. They are uniquely gifted for the ministry God gave them. And, Mom was exactly what Daddy needed in a mother for his children. Exactly. No one could have done a better job or been a better Mom to us.   And Daddy—with God’s direction chose her.   You see, when you let God lead and choose well, that other person makes you better. Better at being who you should be. Better at being all God wants you to be. My mothers did that for Daddy. And, he did that for them.   So, I find it makes me cringe when attempts at humor put down the dads out there. They are part of a team. Moms are incredible. Moms are great! We have to have moms.   But moms need the dads and dads need the moms. That’s the way God intended it to work. Let’s not put down one to lift up the other. Let’s lift them both up! So, Happy Mother’s Day to Marvin Jones—after all, he was our only “Mom” for eighteen months—Nora Ann McKnight Jones and Dortha Onstott Jones. I am so thankful you all chose wisely and loved...

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“GET CAUGHT READING MONTH” CONTEST!

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

“GET CAUGHT READING MONTH” CONTEST!

ANNOUNCING: THE FIRST EVER “GET CAUGHT READING MONTH” CONTEST! Fact: May is Get Caught Reading Month. Fact: I like to give away books. Fact: If you send a picture of you reading a book you will be entered in the drawing for a free book. Fact: You can pick which of the books by Miriam Jones Bradley you want to win! Fact: You must post the picture on Facebook by “liking” the Double Cousins Mysteries (Ages 7-13) page and then posting your picture there, OR email it to me at miriamjonesbradley@gmail.com and I will post it there for you. (Please give me the name of the person in the picture so I know who to enter in the contest! After all, I may not see your face because you will be . . . well, reading! First name is fine.) Fact: All pictures posted by midnight EST May 31st will be entered in the contest. Fact: You can be CAUGHT READING any book, but if you send a picture of you reading a book by Miriam Jones Bradley you will be entered twice! Fact: Somebody will be really happy on June 1st! Maybe it will be you! Them’s the rules folks! READY . . . SET . . ....

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A Legacy Worth Nurturing

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

A Legacy Worth Nurturing

First thing yesterday morning I hurried out to the front yard and peeked at my lilies of the valley. After all, it was May first and the lily of the valley is the official flower for the month of May. It rained off and on all night and there were still droplets on the flowers. It made my heart sing. These flowers are from home. Last summer, my sister-in-law dug out some plants from her yard, stuck them in an ice cream bucket, and we carried them all the way back to North Carolina where I plopped them in the ground. I anxiously watched this spring to see if they would come up and was overjoyed when they did. May isn’t May without lilies of the valley. Besides, these came from my parent’s retirement home. I lived there for several years before getting married, my brother and his family have lived in it since, and now my parents will be moving into it. It is a family home, one where many of my favorite memories live. Last summer also, my husband’s aunt gave us some plants. Some were daffodil bulbs from her home which I put between the hostas a friend from church gave us a few years ago. The hostas are magnificent this year. The daffodils came up, but didn’t bloom. I’m assured they were just adjusting to their new home. There’s also a Joseph’s Coat cutting she put in a planter and it has continued to thrive even though we still haven’t transplanted it. We will find a home for it and put it in the ground this week. The gorgeous red flowers make me smile just to look at them. The other thing she brought was a mass of peonies. I love peonies. They remind me of the parsonage where my parents have lived for the past 25 years. Every summer, the peonies in the side yard bloom and we carry ant covered blossoms in to grace the table. Such a big part of summer. I separated them and put some along one side of the house, and the other at the end of the porch by the lilies of the valley. They are doing great and will be blooming before long! They are especially precious to Bruce. These plants are separated from plants that were separated from plants at the farm “over home” where Bruce’s great-grandparents lived. It was the place that his mother and her sister thought of as “home.” “Mama would be so pleased that we have some of those peonies,” Bruce said. My heart smiled. Heirloom plants are a legacy of love and should be cherished and cared for. Speaking of care, my African violets aren’t doing so well. During the time that we were at the beach this winter, there was a cold snap here, and I’m afraid we had the heat turned down too far for indoor plants. One looks like it might survive, but the two that came from...

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When We Were Very Young

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

When We Were Very Young

When my older sister and I were very young we had an adopted set of grandparents, the Akeys. I was so young most of what I remember about them comes from stories that survived our time with them, with one exception—the doll house. My dad’s first church was up in the mountains of northern California in the tiny town of Adin. That is where we met the Akeys. One year our mother’s parents, Grandpa and Grandma McKnight and our two aunts, Connie and Carolyn came up to our house for Christmas and Grandpa and Grandma Akey came over also. Another church sent us a wonderful gift of a doll house. This doll house was special. It had metal floors and the people and animals had magnets on the bottom. You could hold a magnet under the floor and move the characters around. It was such a novelty that my one true remaining memory of Grandpa Akey is that he and Grandpa McKnight monopolized our new doll house ALL DAY LONG. Recently, when we were in South Dakota for a visit I was looking through old photos with Daddy. There were some from that time and some of the Akeys. In an attempt to learn more about the pictures and that time period I’ve been re-reading the notebook of letters my mother wrote. She told Aunt Rachel about the doll house and about how intrigued the adults were. It made me laugh. Reading old letters is one of my favorite things to do. Also, while we were home Mom had a pile of books that she wanted us to divide between the four children. They were books that had been in our home all of our lives and I found it interesting which ones we had memories of. I ended up with a set of three books by A.A. Milne—When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six, and Winnie the Pooh. I was surprised that my sister didn’t want them, but there were others she cared more for. She informed me that they had come from Grandpa and Grandma Akey and they were given to the two of us, that being all the children there were at the time! So, I gladly took them. They were my favorites, after all! Today is National Great Poetry Reading Day. You can argue with me about this if you must, but a good deal of my favorite poetry comes from A.A. Milne. So today I’ll leave you with this piece from When We Were Very Young.   DAFFODOWNDILLY She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, She wore her greenest gown; She turned to the south wind And curtsied up and down. She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbor: “Winter is dead.” by A.A. Milne Building Legacy . . . one story at a...

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A Tale of Two Chairs

Posted by on Apr 18, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Back in 2001 I moved into an apartment and quickly realized that some of my furniture just wasn’t going to fit. So, I called my sister and she offered to go along furniture shopping—with her four children. It became obvious within moments of walking into the store that furniture shopping with four small children has its advantages, the main one being that the sales people leave you completely alone. They see you, avert their eyes, and suddenly find it necessary to go do . . . something . . . somewhere. So, unbothered by enthusiastic sales people we wandered around and found a lovely couch and a small pink swivel rocker. The rocker was incredible. I could fall asleep in that chair. A couple of years later, having paid off the couch and chair, I decided I wanted to buy some more pieces. I had a hankering for a huge overstuffed chair in my bedroom. I wanted this so much that I was willing to trade my double bed for a single in order for the chair to fit. I know, it was strange but it was what I wanted. And I was single so I could, and I did. Remembering the lovely sales-person-free shopping from the previous trip, I called my sister, now with five children, and off we went. What we found was perhaps my favorite piece of furniture ever, a massive blue chair with an equally massive blue ottoman. The denim cover looked tough and the kids loved it! It almost swallowed me up and I could take the most amazing naps in that chair. When I met my husband we spent many hours on the phone—a lot of those, I was in the blue chair. So, one of the things I insisted on taking with me when I married was the blue chair and ottoman. I left the rocking chair behind with my parents, with the stipulation that if they ever tired of it, I would take it back, but not the blue chair. No way, no how was I parting with that. As we’ve moved here and there the blue chair has become a problem. It worked wonderfully in the house in Florida! It was great in our bedroom in Newberry. But, here in Hendersonville? Well, we are downsizing and the chair doesn’t fit that word. At all. First I crammed it into the bedroom and turned the ottoman sideways and it swallowed up the entire corner of the room. It was tripped over, kicked, and very under appreciated. I would occasionally sit in the chair for a glorious  afternoon of writing. But, more often than not it was neglected. Finally, I decided to take the ottoman to storage and I made do with a box covered with a pillow instead. It wasn’t the same. The chair lurked in the corner for the past couple of years, pouting—or maybe it was mourning—the separation from its ottoman. I kept hoping maybe we would need it....

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Public Displays of Affection . . . or Not

Posted by on Feb 14, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Today is Valentine’s Day, the day the whole world seems to go crazy with displays of “love”. Everywhere you look there are flowers, chocolate, and public displays of affections. It reminded me of a piece from my book about legacy, All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life. Today I am posting that piece. You see, I didn’t learn about love from society, television, or silly cards. I learned from people who knew what love was really about. So, here you are. Enjoy!   Public Displays of Affection . . . or Not My dad’s parents were ranch people. They grew up in Nebraska during simpler times when the work was hard and there weren’t many frills. They lived in a sod house (where Daddy was born), and they lost everything during the Depression. When people talked about the “good old days,” Grandma would say, “They weren’t so good.” They were loving but not demonstrative, at least not toward each other in front of others. That wasn’t their way.   When Grandpa was about ninety, he developed a lump on his neck. He ignored it as it got bigger and bigger. After all, he was ninety. He didn’t expect to live forever. One day it started causing trouble with his breathing, so they took him to the hospital, rushed him sixty-five miles from Broken Bow to Kearney, Nebraska. That lump had to be removed. The morning of surgery, the staff came in to take Grandpa to the procedure and told Grandma, “You can kiss him goodbye if you want.” To my parents’ amazement and delight, she did. It wouldn’t be considered a romantic moment by today’s standards, but it certainly impressed Daddy. After all, at age sixty-five he was watching—for the first time—his parents kiss. During the preparations for surgery, Grandpa’s IV came apart, and he bled some. He bled enough that the doctors decided they should take him back to his room and check his heart before doing surgery. After all, he was ninety. Once he was cleared for surgery, Grandma had her chance again, and she went for it. “Twice,” Daddy said. “I saw them kiss twice!” The look on his face when he was telling us was priceless. It was pure delight and comfort. Proof of what we all knew. They loved. (As if one hundred direct descendants and sixty-five years of marriage wasn’t enough proof.) A couple of years later, Grandpa was hospitalized with a mild heart attack. It was caused, it turned out, by prostate cancer, and he was dying. Grandma, herself well into her 80s, couldn’t care for him at home, so they put him in the nursing home attached to the hospital. During the next six weeks, Grandma went up every day to eat lunch with him … well, at least until she figured out that he wasn’t eating when she was there in hopes she would take pity on him and take him home. She certainly wanted him home, but it was...

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A Morning Prelude

Posted by on Feb 11, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

A Morning Prelude

I clutch the mug close in the cold morning air and let the smell of coffee awaken my brain. Leaning on the seventh floor patio rail, I gaze across the Atlantic Ocean. There’s water as far as my eyes can see. In the dawn—that half hour before the sun rises—the pastel light show begins, a prelude to the main event. For Myrtle Beach, SC the temperature is frigid, low thirties, and I have the patio to myself. Indeed, I seem to have the entire beach front to myself. I don’t see anyone down on the sand. No life at all. Except for the daily gathering of permanent residents, the seagulls. It is high tide this morning, there really isn’t much beach to walk on. I don’t know if that is the reason, but the surfside avian grandstands are empty, no flock of seagulls gathered at water’s edge today. Where are they? Then I spot them, floating just beyond the breaking surf. They rise and fall with the waves, tiny black and white dots on the gray water. Waiting. Watching. A few birds fly overhead, circling around the gathering throng until they eventually settle on the water. Maybe they found their friends or family, these latecomers who just could not get out of bed in time to leave with the rest of them. I don’t know. A peacefulness settles over the scene as the shifting pink, blue, gray, and peach hues push the pre-show to its climax. A mild disturbance to the gathering crowd occurs when six young birds—they must be young, don’t you think—skim across the water in front of the crowd. Their formation is impressive, a perfectly straight line. My heart is in my throat as they barely clear the waves, daring anyone to do it better. And, sure enough, here comes another group, taking up the challenge. They fly in from the other direction, same straight line, same get-as-close-to-the-water-as-you-can-without-touching-it flight plan. I imagine the grandparents shaking their heads and chuckling. One dad announces, “That’s my kid!” The mothers cover their eyes, hoping they don’t have to make a run to the birdie ER. As the sky lightens, the tension rises and all eyes turn toward the horizon. When will the star of the show arrive? I glance at my watch. Yep, due any moment. I fix my eyes on the horizon. Then, across the water one bird calls it. There! There! There! Other birds jump in, frustrated that Sally Seagull was the first to announce it AGAIN. Soon a chorus of cries arises from the grandstand. A few birds lift from the water, unable to stay in their seats. Over the horizon the top edge of an orange ball appears and the ocean grandstand breaks into verbal applause. From my perch I join the chorus. “There it is! Good morning...

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