Y'all come on in!

Y'all come on in!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Graduation...


Two of my grandchildren are graduating from high school this year. They will move the tassels and become the future leaders of our world. Little bit scary, isn’t it?

I’ve never quite understood just how it is that we expect them to grow up overnight. Especially when it took more than the movement of a bunch of long strings to mature us. But it’s a tradition. One second the tassel is on the “kid side” of the cap; the next it’s moved to the “adult side” and magic is supposed to happen.

But that’s not the way it works. Yes, there does come a time when a mama bird kicks the babies out of her nest and they either fly or the tom cat has them for supper. And I guess it is time for these students who know everything and their parents are super dumb to hop out there in the real world of taxes and jobs and responsibilities. They’d sure better learn to fly because the world is full of hungry tom cats.

I can feel them all rolling their eyes at everyone’s advice. After all, they are all super intelligent beings even if they haven’t mastered the art of getting the cap back on the toothpaste and do not have the foggiest notion about how to put toilet paper on a roller or get their dirty laundry into the basket instead of thrown beside it. And forget all about how to start a washing machine or shut a dresser drawer.

So here’s my advice to the whole bunch of you no matter whether you are graduating with more than a thousand students or less than twenty. The place in which you will learn the most probably won’t be in a classroom with a professor lecturing on the effects of the Civil War. It will be in the school of “hard knocks” but don’t worry, if you don’t pass, they don’t send you home. You get another chance and another until you get it right. Remember you come from a long line of survivors (your parents survived raising you so you have good genes) and sometime along the path of life you will figure out that your parents aren’t nearly as stupid as you thought they were.

There is a day of reckoning at the end of every semester if you are in college. It’s called “finals” and “grades”. Even though the results are neither one are put on the movie theater marquis on Main Street, a letter will be mailed to your parents. If they’ve never ever opened one thing addressed to you in the past, they will open that letter. So try to spend a little bit of time with your little nose inside an open book.

The college will not give you knowledge. I don’t know of a college in the world that offers a degree in the ancient art of loafing. Or one in flirting. Or partying. And when you finish school and go to look for a job there is no place on a resume that asks how much experience you’ve had in those areas.

Sometimes you will go back to college after a weekend and there will be no money tucked away in the folded laundry. That’s the week that your car insurance and your cell phone bill were both due, so cinch up your belt and eat in the cafeteria. You will survive for a week without pizza.

There won’t be anyone there to pick up your dirty socks or to wash your favorite shirt in the middle of the week. Don’t be too embarrassed to ask someone how to operate the washing machine (usually located on the lobby floor of the dorm). I’ll even let you in on a secret. There are instructions written on the lid of the washer in most places.

In five or six years you will walk across another stage. Your parents will cry even more at that time than they did at your high school graduation. That’s because after putting you through school, you are all they have left. The savings account is in the red. They’ve got three mortgages on the house. They’ve been working three jobs each and are riding a bicycle to work so that you can drive a car.

So every now and then call home and say, “I love you,” and don’t ask for money. And one last thing. All the advice in the world, be it from Grandpa, Uncle Herman or Great Aunt Gert, will not get you through some situations. You will have to figure out a few things on your own. Good luck and may the turning of the tassel take you on that wonderful journey called life!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ahhh, Spring...

It must be spring!

I've seen some definite signs supporting the theory such as teenagers are flirting more, old men are tilling the garden and all women, young and old, are out shopping for summer clothes and flip flops.

And me, well, that strange illness called spring cleaning has hit me! It doesn't affect me every year--as a matter of fact, I can't remember when I got a dose of it last. Maybe putting new windows in our house caused it. I did ask the doctor if there's a cure or an antibiotic for it and he assured me that it had to run its course so that which I cannot whip, I merely join.

For me, spring cleaning begins in the closets and since the last time I even thought about straightening them was when Moby Dick was a minnow, I almost fainted when I opened the doors of the first one of six in my house.

One does not simply open the doors and dive in with a dust rag, mop and a heaping spoon full of ambition when it comes to real honest-to-goodness bonafide closet cleaning. To make it safe, sterile and sanitary for another ten (or twenty) years, first comes organization.

That means everything is taken out of every single closet in the house, laid on the sofa, the rocking chairs, and even the kitchen table. Then it is organized: those things which I will never wear again or never wore in the beginning (like that sweater Great Aunt Mabel gave me for Christmas in 1972) go in the pile to be taken to that little red donation box at the corner of Main and Twenty Ninth Street. The things that I might wear again (someday I might get into those size 8 jeans, right?) go into a box marked, "Wishful Thinking" to be stored in the shed. Trash is self explanatory and must be double bagged into two big black leaf bags, tied with zip ties that cannot be undone and the ends burned so that Mr. B won't go through them and haul it all back in the house.

Then it's time to sweep the cobwebs, wash down the walls, make sure no little baby spiders are lurking in the corners and get everything clean enough to pass military inspection before the clothing and shoes can be put back in the closets. How the cleaning supplies shrink a closet is beyond my understanding but it happens every single time I clean it. Everything will not go back on the racks and rods, no matter how hard I try. I know I took six bags of trash, two bags of donations and put one box of wishful thinking in the shed this year, so what's the problem here.

Then a little voice in my head reminded me that they sell these under the bed containers so I took the pickup truck to the store and came home with half a dozen of those wonderful items. Then I realized that the bright red sale price was still stuck to the bottom of each one, right over the top of the last four sale stickers. Lord, have mercy! I couldn't leave those on the containers. Someone might come into my house, sneak into my bedroom and find them. I wasn't sure if it was a sin to store things after spring cleaning in containers with stickers on them. I might get banned forever from the grocery store or horror of horrors, from the donut shop. After all if a woman does spring cleaning, she dang sure better be sure that it's done right and stickers on boxes...well, that's walking pretty close to the edge of the cliff.

They had to be removed. I got out the alcohol, razor blades, baby oil, W-D 40 and everything else I could find to take those nasty little critters off my brand new containers. A little voice in my head said there was a possibility that if I didn't get every single bit of the sticky goo that held them fast that there was a possibility the ailment known as spring cleaning might stick around until fall. Now that, dear hearts, is enough to scare any woman half to death. Two days is all any of us can stand!

So there I sat in the middle of the living room floor with clothing, shoes and every imaginable thing that can be shoved or crammed into a closet for ten (or was it twenty) years spread out around me. The price stickers were those things that were made to discourage shop lifting (as if I could shove a container the size of twin bed up under my skirt tail and walk out of the store with it). I just know that written on the back side in small print was a guarantee that if anyone got a whole sticker off without damaging it, they could return it to the company for the full refund of the retail price of three cents.

I scraped. I oiled. I pleaded. I cussed.

They were not going to get the best of me and by midnight there was not a single sticker on any of those boxes. If anyone checked my house, it would pass inspection. The closets were still empty. The house looked like a tornado hit the clothing section of Walmart. But I had perfectly clean, clear boxes to store all my stuff in tomorrow! The next time this spring cleaning bug hits me, I'm buying a bottle of Febreeze (and I don't care if the sticker price shows). I will spray every room in the house...and that will be the extent of my cleaning.




Friday, April 7, 2017

Shortcuts...

(Disclosure: This is the truth but it all happened before cell phones and GPS, back in the days when telephones had cords and there were no cell towers dotting the landscape. And when folks used plain old paper maps to guide them from one place to the other.)

There wasn't a four-lane turnpike or even a road shown on the Oklahoma map from Caney to Coleman so we asked a lady if there was a little-used back road connecting the two of them.

"Sure," she smiled and pointed off to the left, "you go down here to the first road that turns back west. It will turn into a dirt road after a couple of miles but just stay with it until you go through the bottom. There's a road that goes off to the left...no!" She turned around and put up her hands like they were on a steering wheel (that should have been my first clue) and said, "Don't turn left. Go right on the first road after you go through the bottom. Just keep on that road until you come to a T in the road, make a right at the first one and a left at the second and third ones and you'll come right out in Coleman."

She hurried back into the church where the ladies were cleaning up after a wedding. Mr. B and I'd been there to photograph the wedding so our job was done. Now I can get lost if I go in one door at Walmart and out the other so I'm not a bit of good at following directions so I depend on Mr. B to listen to all the left at the big oak tree and left at the old falling down school.

Mr. B said, "Sounds easy enough to me."

I trusted him but lookin' back there were a lot of back west, turn right, pretend to drive and T's in the road but it was too late to write it all down on the palm of my hand.

We found the first road and turned left. I thought the lady said to turn right at the top of the hill but Mr. B assured me that we hadn't reaching anything that resembled "the bottom" yet and it was there that we were supposed to make the right hand turn. So I held my tongue and hoped there was an open service station where we could get directions on up ahead. We found a flat spot or at least what we figured might be the bottom and made a right hand turn. By that time I was ready to turn around and do our best to retrace our footsteps back to the church and follow the map instead of the lady's directions.

Another mile passed and the dirt road was no more. We were driving on a cow path with grass growing in the middle and craters big enough to hide bury army tanks inside them. I did see a barn but it had collapsed the week after the flood waters receded in Noah's day, and another one where Cochise and Geronimo met up to talk about Mr. Custer. I began to really worry when I saw the skeleton of an overturned covered wagon and realized no one traveled in one of those since Ward Bond took the wagon trains to California. My hands were so sweaty that if I had written down the directions, they'd  have done been smeared to badly to read.

"At least there's electricity poles and lines so there must be civilization somewhere," Mr. B said cheerfully.

"They're only here so the film crew will have power to make sequels to Children of The Corn and Deliverance." I shivered and made sure the car doors were locked. My overactive imagination went into high gear and I pictured a bunch of bare foot fellers in bibbed overalls standing in the middle of the road with double barreled shotguns pointed at us.

By the time we'd turned right on six T's we decided to forget right turns and left turns. We would simply follow the power lines until we came to either Coleman or Hollywood. Maybe we could find our way back home from either of those places.

It was a smart idea because an hour later we were in Coleman, population 253. Thank goodness we had a full tank of gas--there was a convenience store with one gas pump--but the sign on the door said it was closed. We were grateful to see a real highway sign showing us the way Milburn. From there we knew our way home. It might have taken twice as long to get there as it would have if we'd followed a real map but hey, no one kidnapped us and made us eat barbecued 'possum or fricasseed raccoon for breakfast the next morning. So we felt real lucky.

A few weeks ago Mr. B asked me if I'd like to take a drive and see if we could find that road again.

My answer does not bear repeating. I still shiver when I think of what might have happened if we'd made another right turn at the next T in the road.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Sayin' Goodbye

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiLT4l0STXA
I hate goodbyes. I mean I really, really do not like them. I don't even like telling someone goodbye when I know I'll see them the next day.

And saying that final goodbye when we know it's for the best--well, I don't like it either. It's the selfishness in us that wants to hang on to the ones that we love one more day, to say those things that we've put off sayin' and to get one more hug, to see one more twinkle in the eye at an inside joke.

That's the way I'm feelin' this week as I say goodbye to my precious brother-in-law, Dr. William D. Brown after he's fought a battle with cancer for the past 17 months. He's always been Brother Bill to me because for more than fifty years he's been my big brother. Being the oldest child in my own family, it's nice to have someone just a little older to share life with and to call my brother.

Way back in 1966 he and his new southern wife, Marge, were the first ones to welcome me into the Brown family. They stopped by Tishomingo, Oklahoma on their way from California to Arkansas to meet me. Then when Mr. B and I got married, Brother Bill was his best man and Marge was my Matron-of-Honor.

But I have one bone to pick with Brother Bill. While Mr. B and I were getting ready to go on our two day honeymoon, he decorated the car. It was a fine job and I truly felt like a new bride as we left in that little blue car. But, and there's always a but to a good story, he also fiddle with something under the hood before we left. Now the idea was that we'd made it about a block down the road and the car would stall out. We'd have to walk back (remember in 1966 there were no cell phones) and get help.
Only the plan didn't work the way it was planned.

We got all the way to Washington D.C. and that's when the car decided to stall out--at every red light! Do you know how many traffic light and stop signs there were in Washington D. C. fifty years ago? I do! Somewhere in the neighborhood of eight million. And those folks trying to get from point A to point B did not appreciate a car holding up traffic while Mr. B tried to get the car to start again. That's where I got my very first lesson in road rage and figured out exactly what that middle finger on a hand meant.

I was ready to park that car beside the Washington Monument and call my Poppa back in southern Oklahoma to bring me a wagon and a couple of mules. And the only thing that saved Brother Bill from the wrath of a southern Rebel when we made it back to Pennsylvania on Sunday evening was the fact that he knew how to fix the car.

As the older brother, he's gone on to pave the way for the rest of us that've been walking with him in this family for all these years. Selfish tears are shed and will be for days to come and we'll miss his humor, his example and his love. But (there's that word again) I'm so grateful that he's leaving me with a southern sister and I hope the two of us can make more memories as we travel down this road of life together. Lord knows, I'd have never made it through all these years without her. So hat's off Brother Bill for doing a good job while you walked on this earth. We love you and this song is for you...

LEAD ME HOME

We love you.
We miss you.
Dr. William D. Brown
April 3, 1943 - March 30, 2017



Friday, March 24, 2017

Tornado

This picture pretty much says it all. Spring in Oklahoma means tornado weather
and we stay prepared...well, most of the time anyway.
I remember a time when our three kids were young and it became one of those "dark and stormy nights" that Snoopy talks about. Then the tornado alert sounded and it was time to get serious about going to the shelter which was the underground elementary school about a block from our house.

I wasn't sure about the laws of child endangerment. Could the DHS come and take all three of them away from me if they found out I hadn't protected the little darlin's by takin' them to the shelter? I wasn't takin' a chance like that because my taxes had not been filed and I wasn't about to give up three deductions.

So I woke them all up from a dead sleep, made them get dressed and put on shoes. Of course we did have to get six stuffed animals for the girls and my son's hamster because it would have been the end of the world if they'd gotten blown away. Getting them all to the car was another trick since it had started to rain cats and dogs and baby elephants by then.

And that's when I realized I wasn't dressed. So it was a quick run between the raindrops back to the house to grab a robe. I sure didn't have time to get dressed and find shoes--no sir, that black cloud coming toward us meant business. So I slung my faded green robe over my pajamas which used to be purple but now were a washed out gray.

As I settled into my seat, Mr. B realized he'd forgotten his camera and it would be an unpardonable sin if he didn't get a picture of the tornado to send back to Pennsylvania to his brother. While he made a mad dash into the house to get the camera, I fastened my robe together with a couple of leftover diaper pins. The buttons had fallen off years ago but the pink ducky diaper pins kept me from being arrested for indecent exposure. (NOTE: My pajama top had a couple of holes in the chest area)

Finally, we were off to the shelter. Of course everyone in half the town of Davis had already arrived. Apparently, they didn't have to take along hamsters and stuffed Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald or a husband who had to have his camera. That meant the parking lot was full and we had to run in the rain for about half a block...did I mention that I didn't think to put on shoes?

We barely got into the cramped space when the all clear whistle blew. But, dear hearts, it was not before everyone in town saw my green robe pinned together with pink ducky pins or notice that I was barefoot. I shrugged and told them I was doing research and they all nodded--but I don't think the crowd of women with perfect makeup and wearing cute little hot pink yoga outfits believed me.

Mr. B was disappointed that he hadn't gotten to take a picture of the tornado. The kids simply went back to sleep when we got home. And me, well, I had a nice little funeral for my green robe. It had been with me through the birthin' of three kids and lots of good books read well into the night. It deserved a tombstone but our tax return wasn't big enough to buy one for it.

I invested in a fancy chenille robe with a zipper and some of those rubber shoes that you just slip your feet inside. And wouldn't you know it, the robe faded and one of the shoes got lost before we heard the sirens blowing again. But now the kids are grown and I don't have to worry about the DHS so when the tornado alert sounds, all I have to do is locate Mr. B's camera and light the oil lamps in case the electricity goes out.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Rest of the Story...HOT COWBOY NIGHTS


A little more of
Hot Cowboy Nights…



Do you ever wish there was just a few more pages when you reach the end of the book? If only you could be at the wedding that was mentioned? Or maybe got to sit in the waiting room with the family when a new baby was about to be born?

A few months ago Hot Cowboy Nights hit the stands with Lizzy and Toby’s story in the Lucky Penny Ranch series. It got amazing reviews and made the USA Today Bestseller list.

And it also had an exclusive epilogue in the Walmart edition. On March 27, next Monday, that epilogue is going to be available for the folks who got their copy of Hot Cowboy Nights for an eReader or somewhere else other than Walmart. Again it will be an exclusive last chapter which will be published ONLY in my newsletter which goes out Monday, March 27.

If you’d like to go back and visit Lizzy, Toby and the family all you have to do to get that exclusive epilogue is sign up for my newsletter today. And it’s super easy…just fill in the two blanks at the top of my WEBSITE!


Happy Reading,

Carolyn Brown




Monday, February 13, 2017

20 YEAR CELEBRATION!!

To celebrate the twentieth year since I got the first call from an editor who wanted to buy my romance books, my first four books with a brand new novella have been combined into one Small Town Romance Collection. The collection will be on the market TOMORROW and is available now for preorder now at Amazon for your Kindle.


Romance on Valentine’s Day
…now that’s romantic!!


This collection of vintage romances plus a
brand new novella all has
secrets, secrets and more secrets to uncover
and with love to be found!


Honky Tonk Angel
Angel Conrad’s secrets ran deep and even though she’d made a
successful life for herself, she’s never gotten over that pain.

Red River Deep
Tracey has a secret, and bittersweet memories that she keeps close to her heart. Maybe a brand new start in a brand new town would help erase the memories.


An Old Love’s Shadow
Mercy thought that what happened in Mexico was supposed to stay in Mexico but
the secret followed her home to Oklahoma.

Bride for a Day
Cassie was on the run with a sheriff coming right at her and a handsome farmer close enough that she could touch him. Then she was married at least for a day—and his family wanted to know all her secrets.


THE THIRD WISH
(The BRAND NEW NOVELLA)
Jessica certainly had no desire to get involved with anyone once she’d found out the secret in her background, especially not the arrogant Rocky Rycroft.


Happy Reading!
Carolyn Brown