Saturday, October 31, 2009
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No real "Catholic" posts from me this week, but I invite you to poke around a little while you are here, I did review a few books. This mom will especially refer you to a picture of my youngest, who won the costume contest at school. Oh, and don't forget to enter my giveaway for Can God Be Trusted. I'll draw a winner sometime after 6 p.m. tomorrow. You have to go there to enter, but if you participate in Sunday Snippets, you meet a requirement to enter. You can enter weekly, so get your entries in! Hatchette likes to give these books away!
Thanks for participating, and have a great week!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Tonite was Trunk n Treat at my youngest's school. Even though it rained, turning it into "collect candy at decorated tables", a good time was had by all. For a costume, I planned to send her to the large box of dress-up clothes to assemble some sort of princess or dancer garb. However, when we got home from school this afternoon, she went into the room she shares with her sister and put on her sister's candy corn witch costume. Her sister had planned to purchase the teen version, but when she got to Party City, all that was left was the adult version. My husband asked her what the difference was, and she replied "This one is shorter, I'll have to wear leggins under it. Smart girl. My teen daughter looked cute when she wore it for a Girl Scout party Monday nite, even with leggins, but when the little one came out in it this afternoon, was was adoreable.
The bag in which it came showed the model wearing very high heeled black shoes, so my little one thought SHE should have high heeled shoes. She wore my sensible black work shoes, which for her WERE high heels. Lots of folks tonite said that the shoes made that costume. Well, something must have "made" it because she won the costume contest and won a pumpkin full of candy (like she didn't collect enough in her own pumpkin, right?).
I have to admit, I think she's pretty special.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
About the Author:
Jill Greenberg regularly shoots advertising and celebrity portrait photography for such clients as Dreamworks, Sony Pictures, HBO, Bacardi, Rolling Stone, Time and Newsweek. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and began her career in New York City. Jill now resides in Los Angeles with her husband Robert and children.
Harold Feinstein's distinguished career in photography began in 1950, when Edward Steichen purchased his work for the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and exhibited it frequently during his tenure there. Feinstein's photographs have also been exhibited by and represented in the collections of the International Center of Photography, the George Eastman House, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Musie d'Art Moderne in Paris. His work has appeared in such periodicals as Life, Audubon, Connoisseur, and Popular Photography. He is the author of 100 Flowers, Foliage, The Infinite Rose, and The Infinite Tulip. Feinstein lives in Merrimac, Massachusetts.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
In general the recipes are short and contain ingredients found in most kitchens. I'll share two with you--one with Jack, the other without.
Mashed Potato Casserole (page 71):
6 medium potatoes, peeled
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400. Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and mash. Add onion, sour cream and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into greased 1.5 quart casserole. Sprinkle with bread crumbs dot with butter. Bake until brown.
Pineapple a la Jack Daniel (page 36)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Jack Daniel's Whiskey
2 fresh pineapples, cut into cubes
Bring sugar and water to boil, simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat. Add Jack Daniels Whiskey. Pour over pineapple cubes and chill for a few hours in the refrigerator.
I can hardly wait to start cooking some of this food!
Thanks to the Thomas Nelson Book Review Program for providing a complimentary copy of this book for my review.
To purchase from Amazon: Jack Daniel's Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook
Thomas Nelson Product Page
Note: The cover of my book does not look like that shown above; mine resembles the Jack Daniel's label.
Monday, October 26, 2009
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
B&H Books (October 1, 2009)
James David Jordan is a business attorney in Texas and was named by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the most influential leaders in that legal community. He holds a journalism degree from the University
of Missouri as well as a law degree and MBA from the University of Illinois and lives with his wife and two children in the Dallas suburbs.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (October 1, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
I hadn’t seen her for twenty years, and the idea that she might show up at my door was the farthest thing from my mind on a Thursday morning, a few weeks before Christmas, when the music alarm practically blasted me off my bed. With the Foo Fighters wailing in my ear, I burrowed into my pillow and tried to wrap it around my head. I rolled onto my side and slapped the snooze bar, but smacked the plastic so hard that it snapped in two, locking in another minute and a half of throbbing base before I could yank the cord from the wall socket. It wasn’t until my toes touched the hardwood floor and curled up against the cold that I remembered why I was waking up at five-forty-five in the first place. Kacey Mason and I were meeting Elise Hovden at eight o’clock in a suburb northwest of Dallas. We would give her one chance to explain why
nearly half a million dollars was missing from Simon Mason World Ministries. If she couldn’t, our next stop would be the Dallas police.
Since Simon Mason’s murder earlier that year, I’d been living in his house with Kacey, his twenty-year-old daughter. I had promised to watch out for her if anything happened to him. It wasn’t a sacrifice. By that time Kacey and I were already so close that we finished each other’s sentences. I needed her as much as she needed me.
I slid my feet into my slippers and padded down the hall toward Kacey’s door. Chill bumps spread down my thighs in a wave, and I wished I’d worn my flannel pajama bottoms to bed under my Texas Rangers baseball jersey. Rather than turning back to my room to grab my robe, I decided to gut it out. I bent over and gave my legs a rub, but I knew they wouldn’t be warm again until I was standing next to the space heater in the bathroom.
I pressed my ear to Kacey’s door. The shower was humming. Of course she was awake. Had there ever been a more responsible college kid? Sometimes I wished she would let things go,
do something wild. For her, that would probably mean not flossing before going to bed. If hyper-responsibility got her through the day, I supposed it was fine with me. After all, she was a markedly better person than I had been at her age.
By the time I met her father I was twenty-nine, and thanks to a decade of too much alcohol and too many useless men, I was dropping like a rock. But Simon Mason caught me and held me
in place for a while, just long enough to give me hope. Then he did what he had to do, and he died for it. Some things are more important than living. He and Dad both taught me that. So now I was changing. To be accurate, I would say I was a work in progress. I hadn’t had a drink since before Simon died, and I’d sworn off men completely, albeit temporarily. Frankly, the latter was not much of a sacrifice. It wasn’t as if a crowd of guys had been beating a path to my door. I simply figured there was no use getting back into men until I was confident the drinking was under control. One thing I had demonstrated repeatedly in my life was that drinking and men just didn’t go together—at least not for me.
As for Kacey, after everything she’d been through, it was amazing she hadn’t folded herself into a fetal ball and quit the world for a while. Instead, she just kept plugging along, putting one foot in front of the other. I was content to step gingerly behind her, my toes sinking into her footprints. She was a good person to follow. She had something I’d never been known for: Kacey had character.
I shook my head. I was not going to start the day by kicking myself. I’d done enough of that. Besides, I no longer thought I had to be perfect. If a good man like Simon Mason could mess
things up and find a way to go on, then so could I. Even in his world—a much more spiritual one than mine—perfection was not required. He made a point of teaching me that.
I closed my eyes and pictured Simon: his shiny bald head, his leanly muscled chest, his brilliant, warming smile. As I thought of that smile, I smiled, too, but it didn’t last long. Within seconds the muscles tightened in my neck. I massaged my temples and tried to clear my thoughts. Soon, though, I was pressing my fingers so hard into my scalp that pain radiated from behind my eyes.
If only he had listened. But he couldn’t. He wanted to die. No matter how much he denied it, we both knew it was true. After what he had done, he couldn’t live with himself. So he found the only available escape hatch. He went to preach in a place where his death was nearly certain.
I lowered my hands and clenched them, then caught myself and relaxed. This was no good. It was too late. Not this morning, Taylor. You’re not going to think about Simon today. I took a deep breath and ran my fingers back through my hair, straightening the auburn waves for an instant before they sprang stubbornly back into place. Today’s worries are enough for today. That was the mantra of the alcohol recovery program at Simon’s church. It was from the Bible, but I couldn’t say where. To be honest, I didn’t pay attention as closely as I should. Regardless of origin, it was a philosophy that had worked for my drinking—at least so far. Maybe it had broader application: Focus on the task at hand and let yesterday and tomorrow take care of themselves.
At the moment, the first priority was to get the coffee going. I started down the hall.
When I turned the corner into the kitchen, I could see that Kacey had already been there. The coffee maker light was on, illuminating a wedge of countertop next to the refrigerator. In the red glow of the tiny bulb, the machine chugged and puffed like a miniature locomotive. Two stainless steel decanters with screw-on plastic lids waited next to the ceramic coffee jar, and
the smell of strong, black coffee drifted across the room. I closed my eyes, inhaled, and pictured the cheese Danish we would pick up at the corner bakery on our way out of our neighborhood. That was plenty of incentive to get moving. I headed back down the hall.
When I reached the bathroom I flipped on the light, closed the door, and hit the switch on the floor heater. I positioned it so it blew directly on my legs. Within a minute the chill bumps were retreating. I braced my hands on the edge of the sink, leaned forward, and squinted into the mirror. Glaring back at me was a message I had written in red lipstick the night before: Start the coffee!
I wiped the words off with a hand towel and peered into the mirror again. A tangled strand of hair dangled in front of one eye. I pushed it away, blinked hard, and studied my face. No lines, no bags, no creases—no runs, no hits, no errors, as Dad used to say. I was beginning to believe the whole clean living thing. Zero liquor and a good night’s sleep worked like a tonic for the skin.
It was tough to stay on the wagon after Simon’s death. I had never been an every-day drinker. My problem was binge drinking. With all that had happened during the past six months, the temptations had been frequent and strong, but I was gradually getting used to life on the dry side of a bourbon bottle. There was much to be said for routine. Maybe that’s why dogs are so happy when they’re on a schedule. When everything happens the same way and at the same time each day, there’s not much room for angst.
On second thought, the dog analogy didn’t thrill me. I pulled the Rangers jersey over my head, tossed it on the floor, and turned to look in the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. Standing in nothing but my bikini panties, I rocked onto the toes of one foot, then the other. My long legs were still lean and athletic. Fitness was something Dad had always emphasized—fitness and self-defense. There were times when I had hated him for it, but now I was glad for the benefits. It would be years before I had to worry about really showing age. I might have lived harder than most twenty-nine year olds, but I could still turn heads in a crowded room. No, the dog analogy was not appropriate. I had plenty of issues, but I was no dog. At least not yet.
I turned on the water and cupped my hands beneath the faucet. It was time to wake up and plan what we would say to Elise. After splashing my face and patting it with a towel, I turned around, leaned back against the countertop, and crossed my arms. I caught a whiff of the lavender cologne I’d taken to spraying on my wrists before bed. The Internet said it would soothe me into peaceful slumber. For fifty dollars an ounce, it should have brought me warm milk and rocked me to sleep. I tried to recall how I’d slept the past few nights, then caught myself. I was just looking for ways to waste time. I needed to focus. The issue at hand was Elise.
Simon informed me about the missing money just before he left for Beirut. His former accountant, Brandon, had confronted him about it, thinking that Simon had been skimming. Simon wanted someone to know that he hadn’t done it, someone who could tell Kacey that her dad was not a thief. That’s why he told me. In case he didn’t come back. And as the whole world knew, he didn’t come back.
Elise was the obvious person for the board of directors to choose to wind up the business of Simon’s ministry. She had been his top assistant for years. When I told Kacey about the missing money, though, she bypassed Elise and went directly to the board to demand an audit—impressive gumption for a twenty year old. It didn’t take the auditors long to confirm that Simon had nothing to do with the missing money.
The accountants concluded that the board had assigned the cat to clean the birdcage. Elise had set up dummy vendor accounts at banks around the country in a classic embezzlement scam. Simon’s ministries had major construction projects going, and Elise issued bogus contractor invoices to Simon
Mason World Ministries from fake businesses with P.O. box addresses that she controlled. When the ministry mailed the payments, she picked up the checks from the post office boxes and deposited them in the bank accounts. Who knows where the money went from there?
The ministry had grown so quickly during the years before Simon’s death—and Simon was so trusting—that controls were lax. When the invoices came in, the payables department
paid them without question. By now the money was probably stuffed under a mattress in some tropical paradise. That was another thing I intended to pursue with Elise. She had developed a great tan.
Before I stepped into the shower, I wrapped myself in a towel and went back into the bedroom. I pulled my Sig Sauer .357 out of my purse and checked the magazine. It was full. I slipped the pistol into the inside pocket of my purse. Elise didn’t strike me as the type to get violent, but people did weird things when backed into a corner. If I’d learned anything during my time in the Secret Service, it was to hope for the best—and prepare for the worst.
I was lucky enough to win The Smart One and the Pretty One
on My Guilty Pleasures.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
To Purchase from Amazon: When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Permission Slips: Every Woman's Guide to Giving Herself a Break is a breezy chat with a girlfriend who realizes that life isn't over at 40, that we all make mistakes and that it is ok to take care of yourself. Sherri Shepherd, if you are like me, and didn't already know, is a co-host of The View, a TV show that features several other women including Barbara Walters. Born in Chicago in the late 1960's, she was conceived out of wedlock, but her parents soon married. When she was a child, her mother (and at her mother's insistance, her father) became Jehovah's witnesses. After fighting their way through her childhood, Shepard's parents divorced when she was in high school,and her mother moved Sherri and her sisters to California. After high school, Shepard got a job as a legal secretary, and eventually started doing stand-up comedy on the side. Eventually she was able to make show business a full-time job.
This book takes us through the high points in Shepard's life, but uses them to make the point that we need to give ourselves permission to do things that are good for us. One chapter is titled "Permission to Get Better as I Get Older" and talks about her first nightclub trip after her divorce. She talks about not knowing the "language" after 10 years of marriage--was the cable guy trying to hit on her, or not? She tells us about how clothes don't fit the same, and that she finally realized that she couldn't check the 25-35 age range on applications. She notes that she doesn't have the energy the young moms at the playground have. Each vignette is followed by a "permission". The one about the younger moms says "Write yourself a permission slip to slow it down. Redefining forty doesn't mean you have to act thirty.
While I don't believe this book is marketed as "Christian", Shepherd speaks a lot about her faith. As noted above, she was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. She left that church, and God, as a young adult and engaged in a lot of behavior not in keeping with any form of Christianity (or good sense). She found her way back to God and then to a Pentecostal church. She speaks of an ongoing dialogue with God and hearing Him tell her not to do things, or to do others. She also speaks of telling Him "no" and doing it her way.
I enjoyed the book. As women we often spend our lives doing for others, and feeling guilty if we do for ourselves. Our culture says we should be smart, thin, nice, hardworking, available, but we can't always be, and she says we need to accept that, and be ok with it. If this sounds like the book for you, you can enter my giveaway. Click on the link and good luck.
If you'd like to purchase from Amazon:Permission Slips: Every Woman's Guide to Giving Herself a Break
I'd like to thank the folks at Hatchette for providing a complimentary review copy of this book.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
- One entry for leaving a comment with an email address
- Another entry for leaving a comment with a link to your blog
- Another entry (up to three) by linking a review you wrote to one I wrote on the same book. Leave me a comment here to say which review you linked to. You can do it via Mr. Linky if he is up on the post, or via comment, if not.
- Another entry for following or subscribing, tell me if you are new, or just joining us.
- Eva was wearing a tutu of white with pink ballet slippers she looked quite the sight.
- Sheva's Tuxedo, suspenders and tie gave him a look that was handsome and sly
- Keva was dressed in red tights and a tank. We wore them well like a star of high rank.
Jack's Dreams Come To Life is a cute children's book I recently received from the author for review. Jack is the big dog in the picture. He went out one day and discovered a snake and a turtle and after his fun with them, curled up in his favorite spot and went to sleep. He had a dream where he started of chasing a squirrel, but then the squirrel grew very large and started chasing him. Next, his squeak toys got large and came to life. He was cornered by the duck. He woke up, checked his toy box and found that they were back to their normal size.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Barbour Books (October 9, 2009)
Marcia Gruver lives with her husband in Huffman, Texas, and has published various articles, poems, and devotionals. Her novel, Love Never Fails (renamed Chasing Charity), won third place in the 2007 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest. Marcia is a member of ACFW, Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW), and The Writers View.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (October 9, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
The stagnant well appeared bottomless, as dank and murky as a grave. Emmy rested her arms on the cold, jagged stones and leaned to peer into the abyss. Mama’s embroidered lace hankie, shimmering in the meager light, hung from an outcropping of rock about four feet down. Narrowing her eyes, she peered at the spot of white that stood out from the surrounding darkness and heaved a sigh, stirring the fetid air below and raising a noxious odor that took her breath.
She pushed up her sleeves and blasted a droopy blonde ringlet from her eyes with a frustrated puff of air. There was no help for it—at the risk of certain death, she had to retrieve that handkerchief.
A figure loomed, drawing alongside her with a grunt.
She jumped, and her heart shot past her throat. Chest pounding, she wasted a glare on the dark profile, noticing for the first time a scatter of lines around his eyes and tiny gray curlicues in his sideburns.
“Nash! I nearly leapt over the side.” She swatted his arm. “I’ve asked you to stop sneaking up on me. I’ve a good mind to fit you with a cowbell.”
A chuckle rumbled from his chest, as deep as the chasm. “I didn’t go to scare you, Miss Emmy.” He bent his lanky body so far she feared he’d tumble headfirst into the never-ending shaft. “Say, what we looking for inside this hole?”
“We’re not looking for anything. I’ve already found it.” Emmy clutched his shirtsleeve and pulled him away. “Go fetch me a lantern, and be quick about it.” She tucked her chin in the direction of the palomino pony languishing under a nearby oak, nibbling at the circle of high grass around the trunk. “Take Trouble. He’ll be quicker than walking.”
Nash frowned and rubbed the knuckles of one hand along his temple, as if an ache had sprung up there. “What you need a lantern for, with the sun up and shining the past five hours? There’s plenty of light to see.”
She braced herself and pointed. “Not down there.”
Nash’s sleepy eyes flew open. His startled gaze bounced along her finger to the circular wall of weathered stones. “Down there?” He took a cautious step back. “What’s in this sour old pit that might concern you?”
Emmy swallowed hard. She could trust Nash with anything but dreaded his reaction all the same. “It’s. . .one of mama’s hankies.” She squeezed her eyes shut and ducked her head.
His shoulders eased, and he ambled over to gaze inside. “Is that all?”
If only it were. Emmy risked a peek at him. “You don’t understand.”
He winced as if she’d spoken a bad omen. “Uh, uh. Not from her good batch? Them she’s always cackling about?”
Emmy cringed and nodded.
The delicate, lacy linens held an uncommon depth of meaning for Emmy’s mama. Hand embroidered in Germany by her grandmother then brought to the Americas and placed in Mama’s hope chest, they represented heart, hearth, and homeland to Magdalena Dane. In equal measure, they represented distress, discontent, and discord to her only daughter, because the bothersome bits of cloth seemed determined to cause Emmy grief.
Nash’s stunned expression hardened into an accusing glare. “Why, Miss Emmy? Why you done brought about such misery? You ain’t s’posed to touch ’em, and you know it.” His graying brows fluttered up and down, like two moths bent on escape. “There’s scarce few left, and your mama blames you for them what’s missing.”
She moaned and flapped her hands. “I didn’t mean to take the silly thing. It was warm when I rode out this morning. I knew I’d likely sweat, so I snagged a hankie from the clothesline. I never looked at it until a few minutes ago. That’s how this terrible mishap came about. I held it up as I rode, staring in disbelief. Trouble was galloping across the yard when the wind caught it and. . .” She motioned behind her. “The willful rag drifted down the well before I could stop the horse and chase after it.”
Emmy lowered her eyes then peered up at him through her lashes. “None of this is my fault, Nash. Papa should’ve covered this smelly cistern months ago, and those wretched handkerchiefs have a mind of their own.”
The hint of a smile played around Nash’s lips. “If so, they harbor a mighty poor opinion of you.”
She wrinkled her nose at him.
Wagging his head, he rested the back of his hand on his side. “In all my years of working for your family, of all the fits I’ve seen your mama pitch, the worst have been over the loss of them fancy scraps of cloth.” He shuddered. “Miss Emmy, I’d be mighty grateful if you’d wait and break the news to her after I leave for the day. She gon’ be powerful upset.”
Emmy held up and wiggled a finger. “On the contrary. I won’t be upsetting Mama.”
“How you figure that?”
“Because there’s no need to tell her.”
Nash propped his elbow in one hand and rubbed his chin with the other. “Missy, I thought you was done telling lies and scheming. Don’t forget you’re a saint of God now.”
A saint of God. Yes, she was, through no fault of her own. Like Elijah’s fiery chariot, God had swirled into Emmy’s life in a weak moment and delivered her from herself. Not that she minded His day-to-day presence. In fact, she rather enjoyed the peace He brought. It was during times of temptation when she found the constant stirring in her heart to do the right thing a bit of a bother. Yet no wonder, really. In the past, she’d had precious little practice in doing the right thing.
She blinked up at Nash. “I have no plans to lie, and I won’t need to scheme. We’re simply going to return great-grandmother’s hankie to Mama’s clothesline, washed, rinsed, and fresh as a newborn calf.”
Nash stared then shook his head. “No ma’am. You jus’ forget about what we gon’ do. Question is how are you gon’ pull it off?”
“I’ll show you.” She shooed him with her hands. “Run fetch that lantern like I asked and leave the rest to me.”
Still shaking his head, Nash mounted Trouble and laid in his heels. The horse bolted the short distance across the yard to the well-kept shed tucked behind Emmy’s two-story house. With a furtive glance toward the porch, Nash eased the door open and slipped inside.
While she waited, Emmy watched a rowdy band of crows swarm Nash’s cornfield. The black bandits bickered and pecked for position before settling in for a meal, oblivious to the mop-headed stick Nash had dressed in a ragged shirt and floppy hat and then shoved in the ground. She dared not call his attention to the culprits or he’d bluster after them, shouting and waving his arms like a demented windmill, leaving her to cope alone with her pressing dilemma.
She jerked her gaze from the birds when Nash rode up and slid off Trouble to the ground, a lighted lantern in his hand.
Handing over the light with a flourish, he lowered one brow and pinned her with a squinty look. “Here’s what you asked for. Jus’ be sure to leave me plumb out of the story when you go explaining yourself to your mama.”
He turned to go, but Emmy caught hold of his shirttail. “Not so fast. I’m not done with you.”
Nash covered his ears and reeled away. “Don’t tell me no mo’. I ain’t seen nothing, and I ain’t heard nothing. If anybody needs me, I’ll be feeding the chickens.”
Emmy aimed a haughty laugh at his back. “It’s too late for that. You’re in up to your hat, and it’s no less punishment than you deserve for sneaking about all the time.”
Nash dug in his heels and stood facing the grove of loblolly pine at the edge of the yard, his body stiff as a post.
Repentant, she softened her voice to a plea. “I’m sorry, Nash. I had no call to utter such a thing. It’s just. . .I can’t do this without you.”
Arms dangling at his sides, he tipped his head toward the sky and whispered something, a prayer no doubt, before turning to face her. “What you want me to do?”
She peppered him with grateful kisses then grabbed his hand. “Come over here.” Hauling him to the gaping cavity, she lowered the lamp. “See? There it is.”
They gazed at the only bright spot in the oppressive gloom, their ability to see inside the shaft made no better by the frail circle of yellow light.
Nash shrugged and drew back from the side. “Too far down. May as well wave it goodbye then go fess up to what you done.”
Emmy gripped his arm. “Nonsense. We can get it out of there.”
“How, short of fishing it out with a cane pole? And I got no hooks.” He scratched his head. “I reckon I could take my hammer and pound a bend in a nail.”
She shook her head. “Too risky. If the hankie slips off it’ll settle to the bottom, and that’ll be the end of it.” She drew a determined breath. “I have a better idea.”
Nash’s eyebrows rose on his forehead, reaching new heights, even for him. “What sort of idea? Harebrained or foolhardy? Them’s the only two kinds you have.”
She swallowed hard and fingered the wooden bucket sitting on the wall. “I’m going to straddle this, and you’ll lower me down to fetch it.”
The shaggy brows bested their last mark. “You cain’t mean it, Miss Emmy.”
“I do so.”
“Then your idea is both harebrained and foolhardy. You must be plain tetched up under them pretty white locks. S’pose that rope snaps in two?”
“Oh, pooh.” She patted the heavy hemp coiled around the crank. “This rope is thick and sound.” She pointed over her shoulder at the horse. “You could lower Trouble down that well.”
He nodded. “Yes’m. That’s exactly what I’d be doing.” He jerked off his weathered hat and dashed it against his leg. “Don’t ask me to put you in that kind of danger. No, missy. I won’t do it. Not for nothing in this wide world.”
Touched, Emmy smiled at the man who’d been like a father to her over the years, far more of a parent than her own papa, who didn’t stay home often enough to have much practice at the role. She took Nash’s hand and squeezed it. “I won’t be in any danger. As long as you’re holding the handle, I know I’ll be safe.” She peered up into his sulky brown eyes. “You know if you don’t help me I’ll just find a way to do it myself. I have to get that hankie.”
He gaped at her. “The silly thing ain’t worth dying for, is it? Your mama has fussed at you before, and you lived to tell the tale. Why is this time so all-fired special?”
She squared around to face him. “I can’t have her angry about anything just now. I’m planning to ask permission to go to St. Louis when Mama travels with Aunt Bertha to South Texas. It’ll be hard enough to convince her as it is. If she gets in a snit, my plan is doomed.”
“Why they going off so far?”
“It’s Aunt Bertha’s idea. Now that she has money, she’s determined to go into the cattle business. She’s bent on learning all she can. Papa knows a very successful rancher down south who’s willing to teach her everything he knows.”
“Cain’t you jus’ stay home?”
“They’ll be gone for a month or better. Mama refuses to leave me here alone for that long, and I’d much prefer going to see Charity.”
Nash smiled and nodded. “ ’Specially with her jus’ done birthing the little one.”
Emmy beamed. “Exactly. I can help Charity bring him home.”
A thrill coursed through her at the thought of seeing Charity and Buddy’s new baby boy. Emmy and Charity were as close as twin sisters, best friends like their mamas had always been. Emmy’s mama and Aunt Bertha had grown up together in Jefferson before moving to Humble.
Last year, a handsome young oilman came to town and found oil on Aunt Bertha’s land. Charity wound up married to him and soon left for St. Louis to meet his parents. When Buddy found out she was expecting, he kept her in the city so she’d be close to good medical care.
Not a day had passed that Emmy didn’t think of Charity and long to see her. She was coming home next month, bringing little Thad to meet the family.
Nash narrowed his eyes. “You ain’t jus’ trying to sneak off to St. Louis to see that oilman friend of Mistah Buddy’s, are you? Don’t think I didn’t see you making eyes at him the whole time that preacher was trying to marry off Miss Charity.”
Emmy whirled. “Who? Mr. Ritter?” She dismissed the thought with a wave of her hand. “Jerry Ritter was just a passing fancy.”
Nash raised a cynical brow.
“Oh, pooh, Nash! You stop that!” She fiddled the row of tiny buttons on her sleeve. “Besides. . .Aunt Bertha claims Mr. Ritter was recently betrothed to a childhood sweetheart.” She flicked off an insect from the cuff of her blouse and dashed away her humiliation with the same resolve. “Therefore, my desire to be in St. Louis has nothing to do with him. I just need to see Charity. If I get into any more trouble, Mama’s bound to haul me with them to that dreadful desert town instead. If she does, I’ll just dry up along with it and perish. I mean it!”
Grinding the toe of his oversized boot in the dirt, Nash sighed and shifted his weight. “I don’t know, Miss Emmy. . .”
Emmy stifled a grin. She had him. “I’ll be just fine. I promise. Now help me climb up.”
Still mumbling his objections, he offered an elbow to Emmy so she could pull up and sit on the uneven stones. Unfastening the buttoned flap on her split skirt, she swung her legs over and settled on the side, trying hard not to look past her boots. “Turn your head while I sit astride the pail. It won’t look so dainty in this outfit.”
Nash gazed toward the field, obviously too distracted to notice the raiding crows.
Still clinging to his arm, Emmy held her breath and pulled the dangling rope closer, guiding it between her legs. “All right, I’m ready. Lean your weight into the handle. I’m about to push off.”
Nash shifted his gaze to the sky. “Oh, sweet Jesus. Please protect this chil’.”
Holding her breath, she scooted from the edge, squealing when her body spun and dipped about a foot. “Nash! Have you got it?”
“I’ve got it. Stop squirming now. You heavier than you look.”
Emmy forced herself to still, more afraid than she’d expected to be. She felt more than saw the yawning gulf, a great gaping mouth poised to swallow her whole. “Hand me the lantern and then you can lower me. But go slowly, for heaven’s sake.”
She breathed a prayer as she spiraled past the opening and descended. Glancing up, she bit her lip and watched the rope unwind from the wobbly reel, outlined by a circle of light. Misguided but determined white roots that had pushed through cracks in the mortar groped at her, snagging her hem and sleeves. Crisscrossed nets of taught, silky threads offered whispers of resistance before giving way and sticking to the exposed parts of her legs. Emmy held the soft glow of the lamp closer to the side, shuddering when eight-legged bodies skittered in every direction. She gritted her teeth, suppressing a shriek and the urge to order Nash to haul her out of the wide-awake nightmare.
You can do this. Just a little more and you’ll be there. Three more turns and you’ll have Mama’s hankie in your hands. This will all be worth it then.
Exhaling her relief, she drew even with the jutting rock that had caught the precious heirloom. Holding the lantern out of the way, she swayed her body until the motion brought her closer to the wall.
She snatched at the white spot. Instead of soft linen, she felt thick, sticky padding. In place of the crush of a napkin gathered in her palm, there was the unmistakable writhing of something alive.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
I know I have two sets of readers (with some overlap)--Catholic bloggers and blog readers and book bloggers and those who read them. For those of you who are not Catholic, let me tell you something about this often misunderstood prayer. Most of us have seen the rosary being said in movies even if we've never held one. It is a string of beads that begins with a crucifix followed by a bead set apart from others, three beads together and then a medal of some sort. Connected to the medal is a circle of beads which consists of five beads set apart from others, and in between them, 10 beads close together. Each set of ten beads is called a decade. In some ways the rosary is a simple prayer, you say the Our Father and Glory Be on the separate beads and the Hail Mary on the ordinary beads. However, that isn't all there is to it. The "meat" of the rosary is meditating on what are called the mysteries--stories from the life of Jesus and Mary. The repeated prayers are there to drown out distractions, to help you focus, kind of like a mantra. You can learn more about the mysteries by following my links.
How do we pray the rosary? Here is how!
Would you like to see pretty pictures showing all the mysteries?
These coloring sheets show many of mysteries of the rosary.
Here are coloring sheets of all the mysteries. Try coloring a sheet a night as you say the prayers for just that mystery.
Here is an interactive rosary. It shows you which bead you are on and how to say the prayer. Give it a try!
How would you like a coloring book of the mysteries of the rosary?
Isn't he cute? No, he's not mine; I don't know him at all. What I do know is that he is a baby whose mom chose life, not death for him. He and eleven other babies grace the pages of this year's Right to Life Calendar. Each of the first nine months also contains a picture of a baby in-utero, along with a short blurb about the baby's current development. Each month also contains a pro-life quote and a suggestion of something you can do to fight abortion. To order the calendar, which supports Louisiana Right to Life, visit their website. The calendars sell for $5.00 each if you buy 1-99 of them. They are $3.00 if you buy 100 or more. Our Lifeteen group sells them every year.
DISCLOSURE: MY RECOMPENSE FOR PUSHING THIS CALENDAR WILL COME IN HEAVEN. I PAID $5.00 FOR THIS CALENDAR THIS YEAR AS I DO EVERY YEAR AND SUPPORT NOT ONLY RIGHT TO LIFE BUT ALSO YOUTH MINISTRY IN MY PARISH.
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Barbour Books (October 1, 2009)
Annalisa Daughety lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where she works as an event planner. After attending Freed-Hardeman University, where she majored in American Studies, Annalisa worked at Shiloh National Military Park as a park ranger. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and loves gardening, shopping, and watching sports. For more information, visit her Web site at .
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (October 1, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Yet, two weeks ago, one last soldier had been injured on the majestic field. And Kristy had the battle scars to prove it. Admittedly, her wound was emotional, not physical, but she still wondered if the splintered pieces of her heart might be tougher to knit back together than a bullet-shattered bone.
Ready or not, her recovery time was over, so she squared her shoulders and headed back onto the hallowed ground. Never let it be said that Kristy couldn’t soldier up with the best of them. Ranger hat firmly in place and gold badge glinting in the May sunlight, she marched briskly to the visitor center.
“Morning, Kristy.” Ranger Owen Branam stopped putting money in the cash register slots long enough to nod in her direction. “You have a nice trip?” He closed the drawer, finished with his preparations for the day’s visitors.
Nice trip? A cruise spent faking allergies to explain away tears. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
“Lovely.” she managed what she hoped was a convincing smile. “The weather was great.” Scooting past him, she attempted to make it to her office without further questioning.
The apprehension in the older man’s voice made her stop in her tracks. She slowly turned to look back at Owen.
He ran his finger around the neck of his shirt as if he had a little too much starch in the collar. “The chief asked me to have you go straight up to his office when you got in.” He motioned toward the counter. “You can leave your things here. I’ll keep an eye on them while you’re upstairs.”
Only five minutes into her morning and her plan to fly as far under the radar as possible had already gone out the window. So much for the low-key first day back she’d hoped for.
“Thanks, Owen.” Kristy put her hat on the counter and tucked her purse underneath the desk.
As she got to the top of the stairs, an unfamiliar voice called out a greeting to Owen. Twisting around, she peeked over the railing. Wow. A Johnny Depp lookalike was helping Owen straighten the brochures. The second thing she noticed about him, after his movie star resemblance, was the park service uniform he wore. Surely, he wasn’t a new employee. She’d only been gone a few weeks. Things didn’t usually happen that quickly at Shiloh National Military Park.
“Glad to have you back.”
The gruff voice of Chief Ranger Hank Strong made her jump and turn around.
She felt her face grow hot. Had he been watching her ogle Ranger Depp? She cleared her throat.
“Glad to be back.” She followed him into his office and perched on one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs in front of his desk. Her gaze skimmed over a hodgepodge of furniture, maps, and historical books. None of the furnishings matched, except for Hank’s oversized desk and equally oversized chair that had always reminded her of a king’s throne.
“Good, good.” Hank settled himself behind the desk and peered at her over his round bifocals. “Look, Kristy. There’s no easy way to tell you this.” For a moment, an expression that looked like uncertainty flitted over his weathered face.
Uh-oh. As befitted his name, Hank Strong was always sure of himself. Whatever he was about to say, she wasn’t going to like it.
“I told you before you left on your trip there’d be a job waiting for you when you got back,” Hank paused.
Kristy could tell he was choosing his words carefully.
She nodded. “Yes. And believe me, I’m so grateful.” When she’d turned in her two-week notice, it had felt like she was letting him down, letting the park down. After all, she’d begun working at Shiloh while she was still in college. It was the only place she’d ever worked—or ever wanted to work, for that matter. After her plans had abruptly changed, she’d been relieved when Hank stepped in and told her there was still a place for her at Shiloh.
“Well, there was one thing I didn’t mention.”
“Oh?” Why do his words sound so ominous?
“By the time I found out you weren’t moving and were still available to work, your position had been filled.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry, Kristy. The paperwork had already gone through. There was nothing that could be done.”
She tried to catch her breath. Knowing she was at least able to come back to work at the park was the only thing that had gotten her through the past two weeks. “But you said. . .” Her voice trailed off as she willed herself not to panic.
“I know. I said I had a position for you. And I do.” He leaned back a little in his chair, visibly relieved to have the bad news off his chest. “You’re welcome to stay on as a seasonal ranger.”
Seasonal? That was where she’d started, nine years earlier, the summer after her freshman year of college. She glanced around, hoping for a paper bag she could breathe into. Of course, what she needed most was a rewind button that would allow her to go back in time and decide not to quit her job. But if she could travel back to the past, knowing what she did now, there wouldn’t have been a reason to leave Shiloh in the first place.
“You want me to be a seasonal?” Kristy’s voice squeaked. “What about my salary?”
A frown drew his bushy brows together. “There’ll be a pay cut. And you’ll move to the office shared by the seasonal staff. In fact, Owen has already put your box of office doodads in there.”
If she hadn’t been so shell-shocked, she probably would’ve laughed at his word for the contents of the box she’d left in her former office weeks earlier. Instead, all she could think was how she’d planned to stop by and pick her things up once the movers arrived. But the moving van had been permanently rerouted.
“You can still live in park housing. I know you’ve already packed most of your things, but Owen said he didn’t think you’d actually moved anything out yet.” He handed her a manila folder. “Your decision, kiddo. We’d love to keep you around. You’re a great park ranger. But I understand if you want to go in a different direction now.”
She took the file from him and glanced at the paperwork inside. The contents of the folder would effectively help to move her back down the career ladder she’d been climbing.
“What happens in September?” The seasonal positions at Shiloh ran from Memorial Day through Labor Day. And since they were only a few days shy of Memorial Day, she figured she should feel lucky there was even a seasonal position still available. They usually filled pretty quickly.
“Well.” He leaned back even farther and pressed his fingertips together. “At that juncture you’ll have a few options. Perhaps a permanent position will open here. Or we can look around at other parks and try to get you a transfer.”
Or I can leave the park service.
He rose to his feet. “If you want to think about it for a day or two, that’s fine.”
She knew Hank well enough to know that giving her time to consider the offer was his way of being sympathetic. Despite her trembling legs, she managed to stand. “Thank you,” she mumbled and scurried for the stairs, her mind spinning like a recently fired cannonball.
A permanent position opening at Shiloh was pretty much out of the question. Most of the rangers planned to stay until retirement age, some of them even longer. And she wasn’t interested in a transfer. This was the park she loved. Kristy had grown up in nearby Savannah, Tennessee, and some of her earliest memories were of the cannons and monuments at Shiloh.
Owen avoided eye contact with her as she descended the stairs.
Thanks a lot, buddy.
He’d obviously known what the meeting was going to be about, but hadn’t had the nerve to give her a warning before she went upstairs. Kristy couldn’t blame him though. No one liked to be the bearer of bad news.
And with her newfound knowledge, the mystery of the unfamiliar ranger was solved. The Johnny Depp lookalike was the ranger who now had her position. Not to mention her office.
She silently gathered her hat and purse from the front desk and took them to the room reserved for seasonal staff. As she passed the office she used to occupy, a fleeting glance told her that Ranger Depp wasn’t inside. The seasonal office, if it could even be called an office, was full of old desks and equipment. Kristy turned on the light and took in the sparsely decorated white walls. It was a far cry from the cheerful yellow she’d painted her former office last year. Thankfully, the other members of the seasonal staff wouldn’t arrive until Monday. At least I should have peace until Memorial Day. She could even move the desks and junk, buy some paint for the walls, and live out the next few days in Pretend Everything’s Okay Land.
Except, eventually, she’d have to face reality.
She flipped on the computer and silently tapped her fingers on the desk as she waited forever for it to boot up.
Can I do this? Can I take a step down in pay and status? Seasonals were at the low end of the totem pole. She remembered those days all too well. Getting assigned the tasks no one else wanted to do and being expected to do them without grumbling. Would they do that to her again? Or would she continue to be treated as permanent staff, despite the demotion?
Either way, it wouldn’t be pleasant.
She glanced down at the box of her things on the floor next to the computer, and tears flooded her eyes. Empty picture frames peeked out from the box flaps. The pictures that had once been in them were nowhere in sight. Someone had wanted to spare her feelings today. Either that, or they didn’t want to be stuck with an emotional female to console.
The frames might’ve been without pictures, but Kristy knew what they’d once held. Her heart pounded as she grabbed all three frames and tossed them in the trashcan, taking unexpected pleasure in the sight and sound of shattering glass. A yellow and white wad under a large shard caught her eye. She couldn’t resist carefully fishing it out of the can, even though she knew better.
Kristy unwrinkled the ball and smoothed it out on the old, beat-up desk, running her hand over the creases in the paper. Fancy paper, as Owen called it months ago when he’d first seen it. Her vision blurred with fresh tears, but she didn’t need to read the words to know what they said.
For a long moment, she stared down at the engraved invitation.
To her wedding.