One Last Time

I couldn’t help but think about my mother this Thanksgiving. I thought about the many meals she planned just for her family to come celebrate with her all the things she was thankful for. She didn’t have the happiest of childhoods, she lived through the depression and life with my dad was difficult because he suffered from a mental illness. Still, she was thankful she made it through all she did.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, she would grab a couple of used envelopes and on the back of one envelope, she would write everyone’s names . On the other, she would write her shopping list. She had rather large handwriting, so, in the end, the whole envelope would be written on.

She would go to the store, bring home the groceries and hide anything she thought we might get into before she cooked, like the colored marshmallows for her cathedral cookies or the large marshmallows for the sweet potato casserole.

A few days before Thanksgiving, Mother began to cook. As she  cooked, the house filled with the savory aroma of a big old Tom Turkey roasting in the roaster,. That roaster sat on the washing machine while it cooked that turkey to perfection.. She had a humongous bowl in which she mixed the dressing. She made two  extra large dishes of it. Her dressing was by far the best thing she made. There was  a time when I realized it would be prudent to get the  recipe if I wanted to carry on the tradition.

“I won’t know how to make it after you are gone and no one will know how to make it,” I told her.

“Well, I just put in a pinch of salt, some sage, bread crumbs, chicken stock, you know.”

“Yeah, but how much of it? I need measurements.”

“Honey, I don’t measure it, I just know how much to put in.”

“Can’t you just measure it and tell me?”

“I wouldn’t know how.”

I never learned that dressing recipe and I have tried to duplicate it as best as I can, but to no avail. Now that my mother is gone, so is the dressing I loved so much. Oh, what I would give to have just one more Thanksgiving with Mother. The cooking, the laughter, the late nights with her during the holidays-now gone, but never forgotten.

 

 

 

 

 

Jack’s Fight, an Update

Thursday, I took Jack to the vet for the surgery to rid his body of a cancerous skin tumor. The vet, Dr. Brittain, thought it would be approximately a forty-five minute surgery. As it turned out, it was a little more complicated than that. But, he came through the surgery with flying colors . The incision was quite long , due to the size of the tumor and it looks as if he’s had a tummy tuck.

But, the news is good. No cancer in his lymph nodes and she doesn’t suspect any on the inside. The tumor could grow back, but in the event it does, we’ll catch it when it is small and it will be easier to remove.

Two days after his surgery, he is happy as a lark and last night resumed howling with the coyotes promptly at 11:15 p.m. as is his nightly ritual. He is on antibiotics for two weeks and then his stitches will come out.

I am so grateful to my friend and fellow author, Jackie Smith, for setting up a Go Fund Me account for Jack. We could have never gotten the surgery without it. For those of you who donated to the account, thank you so much. Our Jack is on the mend!

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Jack’s Fight

It has been an emotional time here at Baker’s Acres. Our Jack, an American Dingo, who stars in his own book- Jack Learns to Grill , was diagnosed with a fast growing cancer. He has a tumor on his side and it has gotten quite large very quickly. The vet told me surgery was needed, but I didn’t know how that would play out since we  live, like some Americans, paycheck to paycheck. How we were going to pay for his surgery, we didn’t know.

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Enter my friend, and fellow author Jackie Smith. Jackie is such a great friend and would do anything for her friends. Upon hearing my sad tale of Jack’s cancer and having helped me publish Jack Learns to Grill, she offered to create a Go Fund Me campaign. Maybe there was a light at the end of the tunnel! Maybe there was some hope for my Jack!

Once I sent the information to her, Jackie then set up the campaign and got it off the ground. She didn’t waste any time. Our goal was met in two days time! Two days!

This whole ordeal has restored my faith in humanity and reinforced the importance of having good friends. I want to thank all who donated, some were friends and relatives of Jackie’s and some of mine. Whoever you are, whatever your reason for helping, please accept my sincere gratitude.

As of now, surgery is set for next Thursday . I will keep you updated on Jack’s progress. He is a lovely boy who deserves a long life. I’d like to think that’s possible now.

Thank you all for your help!

 

 

 

 

 

Gettin’ With the Times

My husband and I are generally the last people in the world to get in  on the new product bandwagon. We were some of the last folks to get a microwave oven, for heaven’s  sake. He didn’t want one at all. I did. Eventually, I won, but it took a long time to convince him.

Well, sir, when cable TV came out, we got it, but, it turned out to be way too expensive for our small budget. What with three kids at the house, two of which were under 5, well, there was just no extra money for cable. At that time, we didn’t have to have a digital converter to watch regular broadcast tv, so, we were set with that. I didn’t mind, really, because all my soaps were on ABC and we got that with no  problem. And of course, the night-time line up was pretty good for those days.

My employer told me about Refer-a-Friend program from AT&T and Direct TV. I was able to get a pretty decent deal on internet and TV. So, I set up the installation. I must admit, I was pretty excited about getting cable. For me, however, the downfall of having cable TV is there are so many shows to watch , so many channels to check out.  I kinda get lost in all of it. I mean, I find a show I like, one that we like and the next week, we can’t remember what station it was on or what it was called. Consequently, we never get to watch it again! It’s hell getting old.

Now that we’ve had cable for almost three weeks, I have fallen in love with HGTV. All the Tiny Home shows, the Fixer Uppers, House Hunters, all of it, we just love to watch. Of course, I love the vet shows on Animal Planet and the bevy of movies we can watch-it’s limitless! Now, something I really love is the “On Demand” feature. Oh my goodness! There is such a huge choice of shows you can watch whenever you want to. And then, I am , of course, able to watch General Hospital when I get home from work or whenever I like because I record it! I’m in TV Heaven! I feel like  a kid in a candy shop.

It’s always fun to have something new to explore and we are having a ball with cable TV. I know- it’s about time, right?

 

Books, Dance and Weddings

These past few weekends have been really busy ones for me. Last weekend, I was attending Authorfest up in Denison, Texas. It was so much fun and was a two day event. Friday, there was dinner and readings from the participating authors and Saturday, there were book signings , Bark and Paws events and even a parade. After the main event Saturday, there were more readings from the authors.

When I got home from church, Sunday, my kids came over, along with my grand daughter. This is an every week occurrence that we love. It gives us time to catch up with what is going on in our kids’ lives and time to play with Miss Doodle. She loves to play school and of course, being the kid, she has to be the teacher. She is quite strict and we get sent to time out if our participation is less than stellar. At any rate, there is a lot of giggling, eating, laughing and loving all meshed together in these little visits.

This weekend, Saturday boasted Doodle’s first dance recital. Her little class danced ballet to “A Spoonful of Sugar” of Mary Poppins fame. All were cute, but , I have to tell you , being the doting  nana, our little Doodle was the best and the cutest! When I was dancing in recitals, we danced and went home, glowing because we had made our mommies and daddies proud, but these kids, well, they get flowers for their performances . So, the glow is only secondary to the big people flowers they get for dancing their little hearts out.

Sunday, my husband, Stephen and I drove up to Pottsboro, Texas to Camp All Saints, the camp we perform “labor of love” weekends (getting ready for the children who come to the camp during the summer) with our Church for the unhoused. Only, this week, we went for Jason and Tricia’s wedding. What a beautiful couple they made. Tricia in her yellow dress and wedgie shoes and Jason in his nice pants and suit coat. Their vows, tender and loving made me think back to my own wedding day. Talk about glowing- Tricia was the most beautiful bride. Jason is a lucky man to have her and she is a lucky woman to have Jason.

And the world keeps on turning.

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Working Title

Hey y’all! I have finished the sequel to The Conservative Congregant and now have a working title. The title, as of this moment is “And Time Stood Still.” It encompasses the book pretty well, I think .

If you have read The Conservative Congregant, then you know it is about a woman who leaves her comfort zone to make a meal for the “unhoused” congregation of The City of Hope. The City of Hope is a church for the unhoused or homeless folks of the city. It is set in Dallas as the book is based on my actual church, The Gathering. The Gathering was a dream of Archdeacon Jim Webb  of the Episcopal Diocese here in Dallas. Thankfully, he was able to see it come to fruition before he passed away .

Back to the book. Because Eloise Dowager stepped out of her comfort zone to feed the homeless, many blessings come her way. I don’t know if you have noticed it, but that is truly what happens in real life. TCC  follows her as life takes her through the many changes that take place in her life, up to and including the day she makes the dinner. The blessing she receives is much more than one could ask for and she is truly blessed.

The sequel follows up on her blessing and all that entails. I cannot go through it with you for obvious reasons. But, suffice it to say that something big comes out of this book. I am very excited about it and hope to publish it to be released in June 2016.

My plans are to publish one or two more novellas and then publish the novel that will tie the story fully together. I hope you will follow me in this exciting journey and pick up the books as they come out in print or on Kindle.

Have a great week  and keep reading!

 

A Love Song For Stephen

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I love Valentine’s Day as much as the next girl. I love to be told I’m loved and adored, I love to laugh  with my husband, Stephen and I love presents. But, some years, we’ve not had enough to get a Valentine’s present and make it through the week. You know, those lean years when you just have to choose which is more important. It is during those times I have felt more love than when I am given some token of love.

Love is a state of being. It’s not just a one day thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying (or am I ?) that one day out of the year does it for most people. I somehow can’t imagine that. But, many times, people choose only to show their affection through words and gestures on this one day.

My husband is not perfect. Neither am I. That’s what makes us so perfect for each other. But, my husband brags on me, tells of when we met with a gleam in his eye, talks about strengths he sees in me even before I see it myself and I do the same . We’re crazy about each other! That’s the whole thing. We are the real deal.

It’s not always been this way. No siree. There was a time when we were divorced. For two long years. I’m here to tell you we were the world’s worst divorced couple. We were miserable together and apart. But the thing was, we were more miserable apart than we ever were together. I moved away -way far away – to Granger, Texas. A four hour drive  from Stephen. Distance made no difference. If my car broke down, Stephen was there. If I was sick, he came to nurse me back to health. Flat tire? He came Stephen from Dallas to fix it.

Eventually, I moved back to Dallas and because I had no place to stay, Stephen let me stay at the house. It was Valentine’s Day 2000, when  he and the boys came in my room and said they’d talked and wondered if I would marry him again! He had asked the  boys if it was okay with them before he asked me. It was romantic and amazing and I realized I never had lost the love of my life. So, we married that April. We still celebrate our first marriage on our anniversary and six months later, we celebrate our second wedding anniversary. What could be more perfect than that?  We have the occassional argument, but not often at all.

So, I would like to suggest that Valentine’s is a state of mind and we would all do well to practice it every day. Besides, it’s more fun. It’s not the cards, flowers and stuff. Shoot! I have those things. But, the best thing, is the state of mind.

Stephen, “Wild Horses couldn’t drag me away.”

Stuff Around the House

It’s that time of year at our house. The time of year when everything we own begins to fall apart. Yep. When it’s that time , there is no winning against home products. I have to admit this time has lasted a lot longer than previous eras.

Okay, so one day when everyone (read the whole world) was at my house, the Keurig coffee pot decided to quit making coffee. I have one of those small ones, red, if you please, not the full size Keurig. Our full size Keurig lasted about three years ,which is a record for me and a coffee pot. But, this little red Keurig I bought that day lasted only a couple of months. I would put the water and the coffee in the pot, turn on brew and nothing. I’d try again and it would brew. The next time, nothing, then, brew. This went on and on until I finally got an old fashioned (which not so long ago was the standard pot) coffee maker. Oh my! I was so spoiled by the Keurig. Perfect coffee everytime. Standard pot? Not so much. Either it was too strong (my husband loves strong coffee) or it wasn’t strong enough.  How did I ever survive with a Mr. Coffee pot? The world will never know, I’m afraid. At any rate, my Keurig finally just gave up the ghost. Or so I thought.

As I was preparing to write this  blog, I was looking for images of things that had broken around our house. I wanted this to be a pretty visual blog entry so everyone would know the chaos that has ensued at our house. What I found was a photo of a broken Keurig with someone sticking a paper clip in the orifice. I brought up the photo and there was, lo and  behold, an article about Keurigs you thought were dead. I read the article in hopes of reviving my poor little Keurig (and me). According to the article, I was to put said paper clip in the orifices and turn it round and round, thus dislodging any bits of coffee, debris, minerals from water, etc from the orifice. Then, I was to descale it with vinegar and water. I was somewhat sure nothing would help poor old Mr. Keurig, but to my surprise, when I put the water and vinegar in, it started  boiling the water straightaway. Previously, this step was skipped in the brewing process, and so no brewing took place. But, I had brewing going! Still skeptical, I let it brew with the water and vinegar, turned it off, poured out the vinegar water from the cup, filled up the Keurig and did it again. IT WORKED! But, I was still not convinced and ran it two more times before trying to brew a cup of coffee. The coffee was made and it was the perfect cup. Mind you, I’m still a bit skeptical that it is well and truly fixed. But, we’ll see with time.

So, my original blog post will stay in my head, but if you have a Keurig and you think it may be broken, get a paper clip, stick it in the orifice that punctures the coffee container, wash everything you can wash, use half water, half vinegar and wash that thing out!  For those who already knew that, no “i told you so’s please. I already feel kinda dumb that I didn’t know to do that, and kinda smart because I fixed it! I’m so excited.

Note to my husband: Honey, you make the best coffee when you know it’s for me, but when it’s for you, it’s just tooo strong for me. But, I love you!

 

 

Beyond Words

I am hardly ever at a loss for words. I’m a natural talker and words are always my best friends. But, last night, my friend, Kim, sent me this photo her daughter took of the marquis of Half Price Books Flagship store in Dallas. It’s me! On the marquis! I was so surprised. I have a book signing for The Conservative Congregant this coming Sunday, so the store was advertising it.

I was so shocked! Needless to say, I’ve never had my name on a billboard, marquis or anything other than the role at school. So, I wanted to share this with you . I don’t want to toot my own horn, but it’s pretty cool!

 

 

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Which leads me to talk a little bit about marketing books. I’m trying to learn how to do this as Independent authors do not have the luxury of a publicist or marketing director. So, I thought, “What better way to advertise than to use my husband.” It was brilliant when I saw the advertisement for the shirt. I had to buy it. It was his Christmas present this year. He laughed when he saw it and said, “It’s really all about you, isn’t it?” Well, maybe  not all the time, but it’s fun when it is. Enjoy his promo ad for me.

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This Time a While Ago

This time of year, a while ago, my sister and I would be cleaning house like crazy, getting ready for the company to come for Thanksgiving. My mother was world famous for catching bits of dust we might have missed. How? I have no earthly idea! She could catch a speck of dust that God couldn’t even see. No kidding!  My sister and I actually worked pretty good together, as I remember. Now, that may be a wishful memory, I don’t know. But , the crux of the matter was, we just wanted to get the housework done so we could do our own thing. For me, that was playing any  sort of thing. I loved games. Yahtzee (which I still love), cards, Risk, Monopoly , oh and Scrabble. Anyway, I digress.

While my sister (Martha) and I didn’t like cleaning the house, the only thing we really hated to do was clean up the backyard after the dog. EWWW. Neither of us were big into cleaning up the dog poop. But, we wanted the dog, so it was our job.

Martha and I shared a room-especially if there were people who would be spending the night.I have to admit, her side of the room was always neater than mine. Well, we all have our flaws.

My favorite thing to do was vacuum. I don’t know- it was some kind of thrill to hear the bits go into the vacuum cleaner bag. Like, it was proof things were actually getting cleaned.

My mother, about this time of the week would have written everyone’s name down on the back of an envelope who would be attending the Thanksgiving dinner. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, babies. You name it, they were on it. She also would have a different envelope in which she had the menu. All the delicacies we would be eating was on that envelope. We had a big people table and a little people table. If one was unfortunate as to have to eat at the little people table even after reaching the age of the big people table, it was just too bad. Our family was huge and if you had a place, you were lucky to get it.

Although Mother had to work everyday, she stayed up late working out the details of the dinner down to the minute. I don’t know how she did it, but every item of the dinner was ready at the same time the other things were.I am not that coordinated in my culinary abilities to be able to achieve that feat. I am just not that person, I guess. She could have given me that talent in the gene pool, but maybe I was standing behind the door when it was passed out.

Not only did Mother work out the details, but she had time for a bit of television and Bible study. She studied her Bible every night and knew more than I will ever know about the Bible. She would wake my dad, who would be sleeping in the chair and say, “Paul, Paul, let’s go to bed.” She had this tone to her voice that she only ever had when she was tired and ready for bed. Or, when she was telling him in the night to turn over because he was snoring.

So, off to bed she would go just to get up and start it all over again. And our job?  Mine and Martha’s? To keep the house clean until after Thanksgiving.

Come Thanksgiving day, of course, Martha, Barbie (my oldest sister, now deceased) and I would wait anxiously for the guests to arrive. We always knew who would be first to arrive and who would be woefully late -holding up the dinner. Mother always said we would eat at noon, sometimes, one o’clock. Invariably, we ate at one at the latest. If anyone would have the audacity to show up after one, they would find themselves having to eat after we got started.

Every year, we’d sit at that very same dark wood dining room table and tell the same stories and laugh as if they were brand new. It was the funniest thing ever how last year’s and the year before that and the year before that memories got such huge laughs every single year.

The memory I hated the most was told so many times that if it had been cute when I said it, it wasn’t any longer. And never would be again. To this day, I hate that memory still. What was it? Well, my mother had a habit of calling each girls name when she wanted one of us. If she wanted me, it would be “BarMarPaula” One day, I got aggravated that she did that and said, “Oh! Just call me Suzy!” Whoop. I just can’t conjure up even a grin when I think of it. Brother.

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This photo is of one of the smaller reunions. My niece was just lucky she got to sit at the big people table!

Do you have an unfavorite memory of Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear it.