As Time Goes By-Of Stuffed Animals and Weddings

Somewhere, buried in Mom’s photo albums is a picture.

Vonda, my little sister, was good at entertaining herself. She would line up her stuffed animals—and her cat if she was in a tolerant mood—and she would lead them in Sunday School songs, followed by a lesson.

Mom’s picture is of one of these “Sunday School lessons.” A dozen stuffed animals attentively listen from their perch on the couch as Vonda diligently taught her “lesson.”

It seems, not so long ago that Vonda was that little five year old, but yet, we have another generation already grown and getting married.

I teased my niece, Megan, at her wedding a couple of weeks ago, that she might be married, but she was still eight in my mind. That she always would be.

But, as I watched her stand under the lovely trellis with her groom, absolutely princess-level beautiful in her wedding dress; I didn’t see an eight-year-old after all. I saw a woman, and I teared up. Joy? Or sadness?

A bit of both, I guess.

But wait! Maybe one of these days there will be more great-niblings from some of these eight year old brides and grooms.

Possibly a little girl or boy teaching their stuffed animals or pets about Jesus.

Maybe a little girl with three pigtails running with her arms rotating like a windmill “to make her go faster.”

Or, several, gathering around the new books they received from Great-Aunt Miriam.

And, in three blinks, there will be another group of weddings. That’s how life goes, isn’t it?

 

 

For more on the below opportunity follow Double Cousins Mysteries (Ages 7-13) on Facebook!

Daddy’s Yellow Truck

The other day, someone posed a question. If you could spend an hour visiting with anyone, past or present, who would it be? I immediately thought of Daddy.

Oh, there are many other people from history that I would love to talk to, including my mother and my grandparents. There are also many, still alive, that I would love to visit with for an hour. But still, I would have picked Daddy.

I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because his birthday was coming up (today) and I miss him a lot.

But, today a friend posted a picture of a red truck her son painted. A memory flashed across my mind. It was the story of Daddy’s first memory and it involved a pickup like the one my friend’s son painted, only his was yellow.

Click on the link below to hear Daddy tell the story of the yellow truck. The tapping sound is me typing as he spoke.

Daddy and his brother, Jim.

Interview with Daddy 12142010b First Story a

I have this story because we sat down ten years ago and spent almost ninety minutes talking and recording his memories. I listened to some of it today, including this story and it was bittersweet. I’m so glad I have his voice and the memories.

Slicing the Turkey

I know I harp on this a lot, but our parents aren’t around forever, like we thought they would be. And then there are our grandparents. Get their stories. Use that record feature on your smart phone this Christmas. Let the whole family submit questions. Make it a group activity! Maybe you’ll discover your own yellow truck story.

“Now What?”

A few years ago a friend asked me a question. “When you finish the Double Cousins Series you aren’t going to be one of those authors that grieve the loss of your characters are you?”

“Probably,” I answered, without a pause. After all, these kids have been “part of my life” since 1999. That’s longer than some of my nieces and nephews. I had no clue when I created Max, Carly, and the rest of the cousins, that they would become so special to me. But they are.

So, that brings up another question. Now that the series is complete, will I just sit around feeling sad?

Or, am I going to remember the question Grandma Jones always asked me when I called after a rejection, or a delay. “Now what?”

Grandma and me with the book!

I think I’ll do that. So, what’s next? I’m so glad you asked! Here is a little bit of a sneak peek at some of the ideas in the queue.

  • First, I am writing a devotional to go with each of the Double Cousins books. These devotions will feature—you guessed it—Max, Carly, and the gang. They are intended to use alongside or independent of the books. I am quite excited about this project.
  • Next, I want to continue the Nearly Twins Mystery Series. This series is set in the South and the first book, The Nearly Twins and the Secret in the Mason Jar, was released in 2016. It is set in Saluda, NC. I have not decided, for sure, where the next mystery will be set but I am leaning toward either Elizabethton TN, or Linville/Crossnore NC.
  • Thirdly, I am planning a picture book telling a story about Grandpa Jones. This was my original dream when I started the writing life.
  • And finally, I have one more project that involves YOU! Last Spring, we presented the first Double Cousins Read Along on Facebook. In January, I will host another one. I’ve debated whether I should use the newest release, The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Sod Schoolhouse, or go with the second book and continue chronologically. After much thought, I’ve decided to stick with their order and do book two this time. So, in January, we will read The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Torn Map. I will release the dates soon, so stay tuned. If you don’t have this book, they are available online, through your local bookstore, or from me.

This week I worked hard to learn and successfully install a sign-up button on my website for both the blog and the newsletter. Go to MiriamJonesBradley.com and sign up!

I would love to hear from you in the comment section of the blog! Let me know which idea is your favorite and why.

A Moment to Bask in the Joy

A couple of weeks ago three boxes of the Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Sod Schoolhouse showed up on my porch. It was an exciting day, very exciting!

But, the excitement was tempered by the fact that I was still recovering from recent foot surgery. Now, however, my mind is kicking into gear and I’m ready to get excited about this. But, I’m a little befuddled.

After all, how on earth did I go from this: 

To this?

I’m not kidding. The realization that I’ve written an entire mystery series—“kind of like Trixie Belden Mysteries, only Christian”, my lifelong dream—has me experiencing a bit of disbelief.

One day, when I was fretting about the fact that I needed to get cracking on marketing for this book, a good friend said this: “Maybe you should just take a moment and bask in the realization that you wrote an entire series.”

Indeed.

So, this morning my husband moved the three boxes of books off of the piano bench and into the guest bedroom so we could take the above photo. And I basked a little as I stood there gazing at the books.

The first book was a dream, something I honestly never thought I would finish. After all, I had a lot of dreams which I never completed.

But God.

God wouldn’t let me give up on this one. He used nieces, nephews, grandparents, writer friends, cousins, and my husband to push me ahead. And miracle of miracles, I finished it and we published it, just in time for Grandma Jones to see it before she went to heaven in 2009.

Grandma and me with the book!

By then, I realized that I would have to write another book about Max and Carly. And another. And so it happened. But getting to my goal of seven? Not sure I really saw it happening. But, idea by idea, book by book, and word by word I kept going. And here I am eleven years later with a completed series.

The Double Cousins Mystery Series.

I’ve been reading a lot while recovering from surgery. I think I’ll pick up this series and read it from beginning to end. After all, it won’t hurt to bask a little more in what God helped me do.

 

The Double Cousins Mysteries are all available through the usual sources. To order directly from the author email me at miriamjonesbradley@gmail.com

Why We Will Never Be Minimalists

 

   Three weeks ago I had foot surgery to repair a failed tendon and the damage it had done. I was ready. I’ve worn a brace for six years, so it was time.

   But, surgery is never fun and often inconvenient. After all, six weeks of non-weight bearing and a twelve week recovery wasn’t my idea of a normal fall season.

   Fortunately I have an extremely helpful and resourceful husband. “I’ll have to get that old footstool up from the basement and fix it so you can use it,” he said. I was delighted. We both pictured the small stool we knew was “somewhere” and smiled in delight that it would be used.

   But, when he went looking he didn’t find it. Instead he found another one which I think is actually a better size and didn’t need repaired. So, I started using it.

   I use it in front of my pink rocking chair in the bedroom where I’m currently sitting. I use it under the table, so I can sit and work on my computer or work puzzles without having my foot down the whole time. It has been quite a useful little stool.

   Then my husband asked this. “Do you know where I got this stool?”

   My story radar went off. I love a good story and I wasn’t disappointed. It turns out that when Bruce was in graduate school “umptyjillian years ago”, as he likes to say, he found a wooden box in the lab that was to be thrown away. He took it home. Then he found a piece of foam which he added to the stash, and finally a scrap of brown and tan material. He had all the makings of a stool, except for the castors, which he bought. Now, he just had to put it together.

   “Kay’s dad made it for me,” he continued. Kay was his neighbor and Bruce has been life-long friends with Kay and her late-husband Robin.

   “Really!” I exclaimed.

   “Yep. He asked me what that was all for and I told him. He took it home and brought the footstool back to me.”

   I looked under the table at the ragged old footstool and smiled. A great story, indeed. But Bruce wasn’t done.

   “You know, Kay’s father was a prisoner of war in WWII? And, if I remember right, he was in the Bataan Death March. He was a tough old bird.”

   So, now this rather pitiful looking old ratty footstool has a special place in my heart too.   We are story people and we are people people. And when we connect a story, a person, and an item together. . . well, it’s a very special thing.

   This, folks, is why we will never be minimalists.

This morning I called my mom and sister. But, alas, our conversation was cut short for they had a date.Turns out they were being escorted to breakfast by my oldest two nephews. When I called Mom this afternoon she reveled in their gentlemanly behavior.

A couple of days ago, I received a letter from niece number four. She shared how much she enjoyed my recent visit and expressed a desire to exchange letters with me. She wants to get to know me more.

My heart soared at these stories. Not just because it made my day to receive that letter, or it delights my mom and my sister to spend time with the nephews, but for the benefit these young adults will gain from time with their elders. You see, I know first-hand the value of time alone with other generations.

When Grandpa Jones died I ended up in Broken Bow with Grandma and her children for the two or three days before the funeral. I was the only grandchild. It was an eye-opening experience, let me tell you.

I had already been visiting my other grandparents without my parents and had experienced this phenomenon before, but it was etched forever in my heart those days in Broken Bow.  Maybe because Grandpa Jones’ death came just six weeks after my other grandparents went to heaven, but whatever the reason, it became a firm part of my psyche.

I realized then what a gift I was given. Here’s why. It is a completely different experience to visit grandparents, aunts, and uncles by yourself. You aren’t just one of a passel of grandkids. You are another adult in the room. The opportunities for deep, meaningful, life-altering conversations open up like an ocean in front of you.

I became compelled to go back every chance I had to spend time with Grandma. After all, she had so much wisdom to share and she was hilarious and interesting. And now that my grandparents are all in heaven, I do my best to spend time with aunts, uncles, and Mom.

So, yes. My heart was delighted to hear my nephews took Mom and Vonda out to breakfast today. And, I’ll be writing a letter to my niece soon.

 Tomorrow, Sunday September 13th is Grandparent’s Day! How about it? Are your grandparents or parents still living? Give them a call or stop by for a visit. Let them know how important they are and give yourself time to listen to them. You’ll most likely come away happier and a bit wiser.

So Much Green

So Much Green

I have poison ivy. Again.

I had it not three weeks ago, possibly caused by mowing the grass with culottes on. This time I was wearing a dress.

The first time, I initially thought it was mosquito bites behind my knee. But when the “bites” began spreading in a long ridgy line a voice in my head started talking, no, shouting. POISON IVY.  

When I told my husband he made a matter-of-fact statement.

You know the kind. Logical. Obvious. Really annoying if you aren’t the one making the statement.

“You’ll have to learn how to identify poison ivy.”

“But I tried,” I insisted.

And indeed I had.  One day I googled poison ivy and spent quite a bit of time reading about, and studying pictures of, poison ivy. When I finished I was confident I would be able to spot it. But, realistically, once in the great outdoors here in North Carolina there was a major obstacle and I was quick to let him know just what it was.

“There’s just so much green.” Everywhere you look. Green trees. Green grass. Green weeds. Green shrubs. Ditches full of green masses of unnamed green plants. And then there are the named ones. Like poison ivy.

He had to admit that the green seems to have exploded this year. The weeds on our property act like God has been showering them with steroid laced weed fertilizer, and we haven’t been able to keep up. We are doing good to keep the yard mowed.

So, I avoided mowing near areas where we have known growths of the bane of my existence, and Bruce sprayed as much of IT as he could find with week killer. But, yet, here I am with poison ivy again.

I guess I’ll have to go with the other obvious, logical, and possibly a wee bit annoying thing he said.

“You shouldn’t be mowing without long pants and sleeves.

 

 

 

“There’s just so much green.” Everywhere you look. Green trees. Green grass. Green weeds. Green shrubs. Ditches full of green masses of unnamed green plants. And then there are the named ones. Like poison ivy.