Y'all come on in!

Y'all come on in!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Strawberry Tarts...

Several people have asked for the recipe for strawberry hearts tarts that were served in The Strawberry Hearts Diner--
which is on sale at Amazon right now for only $1.99!

So I rustled up the recipe and the picture for all of y'all who have asked. Note: they are totally made from scratch and I used heart tart pans but they can be made in cupcake tins if you don't have the tart pans.


Strawberry Tarts
Crust:
1 cup of finely ground pecans
2 T. sugar
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 T. butter (not margarine)
1 T. ice water
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix together pecans, sugar, flour and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture is like cornmeal. Add the water and form into a ball. Chill for 30 minutes. Press into tart pans, keeping the dough as even as possible. Bake at 350 degrees until slightly brown, about 15 minutes.

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
2 t. vanilla
1 pint Cool Whip

Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Fold in Cool whip and fill cooled tart shells with the mixture.

Glaze:
1 pint of strawberries
2 T. sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 T. corn starch

Crush half of the strawberries to make 1/3 cup. Put in saucepan and add water. Heat to boiling and then reduce heat and cook for 2 minutes. Press through strainer to make 1/2 cup of puree. Return to saucepan and add sugar and cornstarch. Stirring constantly cook over medium heat until thickened and clear. Add a few drops of red food coloring if desired.  Cool to room temperature. Spoon over the tarts and either top with sliced strawberries or a whole berry.  Chill and serve.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Get Lost in a Story...

My good friend, Heather Burch's, brand new book, Something Like Family has hit the shelves. Today she is over at Get Lost in a Story answering questions. There's two of her books up for grabs and I'm offering signed copies of two of my backlist to each of two folks who comment on that site. So chase on over to the site, get to know Heather and leave a comment. You just might win one of four books!!

Abandoned by his mother when he was young, twenty-two-year-old Rave Wayne knows all about loss. That doesn’t mean he’s used to it. After he’s dumped by the girlfriend he assumed he’d spend his life with, Rave is longing more than ever to connect.
Then, as if by miracle, he receives an invitation from his grandfather, a man he thought was long gone, to come for a visit in rural Tennessee. Loyal, honest, and loving, dear old Tuck is everything Rave could have hoped for. He’s family. Soon, Rave finds himself falling for a down-to-earth local girl, and he thinks his life is finally coming together.
But the past isn’t through with Rave. When his mother returns after many long years, looking to reconcile the terrible mistakes that once defined her, Rave struggles to put together the unsettled pieces of his heart. Will this once-estranged family be able to come together to understand the meaning of unconditional love, the fragile bonds of family, and the healing power of letting go?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

First Chapter

Forever Romance presents the first chapter of
Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas!

Chapter 1
Nash could taste the sand in his mouth despite the bandana covering his face. Thank God that tomorrow he would be headed back to Texas for a month-long leave. He was looking forward to the green trees, fishing in the Big Cypress Bayou, and his grandmother’s cooking. But right now a little boy needed his help. And there was no one to save him but Captain Nash Lamont.
The whirr of helicopter blades above the base meant that it was time to leave. Three of his six-man team would be going home in flag-draped coffins—one of them had been married and had children. He’d been the one who saved Nash’s life at the expense of his own, but the captain couldn’t think about that now. There was a child in danger out there beyond the base perimeter. He could hear the mother screaming her son’s name somewhere in the dust behind him.
Nash rubbed the sand from his eyes and focused on the child outside the command center. He yelled at the kid, and the kid waved and nodded. He kicked the inflatable ball he’d been playing with all day toward Nash, but wind picked it up and twirled it back at him like a boomerang, floating over his shoulder and landing twenty feet behind him. Nash couldn’t take a chance on the boy running through that minefield, so he took off in long strides and threw himself on top of the little boy. Then in a flash, he was on his feet with the boy slung over his shoulder. With a kicking and screaming kid beating at his back, he prayed that he’d make it through the gates without stepping on an IED.
When they were inside the gates, Nash set the boy down and let his breath out in a long whoosh. He’d saved him— this time Nash had saved the kid. The boy might be upset, but at least he was in one piece. Everything was going to be all right. He had failed in his mission and half his team was going home in caskets, but he’d saved the boy.
***
Kasey tightly held the red bandana across her face and bent her shoulders against the wind bringing half of the dirt in New Mexico across the border into the Texas panhandle. When the storm hit she’d gone to the back door and yelled at her six-year-old son, Rustin, to get inside the house. When he didn’t come running, she’d yelled again and again and finally with worry and fear mixed, she’d started out to find him, stopping every few feet to scream his name.
He’d been kicking a ball around inside the yard fence the last time she checked on him. She searched the barn first, but no one was there. Then she remembered the last time he’d slipped off that she’d found him over at the ranch next door. His dog, Hero, had run away and Rustin had gone looking for him. Hoping that’s what had happened this time, she made a beeline down the rutted path leading that way. She’d moved to Happy the spring before to live close to family and to raise her kids in the wide open spaces of a ranch but it was times like this that she missed living in town with a fenced yard and close neighbors.
A quarter of a mile to the barbed-wire fence didn’t seem like far unless there was a fierce wind blowing dirt everywhere. When she reached the fence separating Hope Springs from the Texas Star Ranch, she found a piece of Rustin’s jacket stuck in the wire and flapping in the wind. She was on the right track. Hopefully, he was holed up in the barn and out of the driving, miserable dirt storm.
She crawled through two strands of wire and then called Hope, her grandmother, to tell her that she’d be back to the ranch house soon with the runaway. Shielding her eyes, she could see the barn through the sand. Who was that in the doorway? He was too tall to be Adam’s father, Paul, her children’s grandfather who leased the ranch property from Henry’s sister. She took another step and rubbed the dirt from her eyes.
Oh, no! Whoever it was had raced out and grabbed her son. He’d thrown himself on top of Rustin, then stood up with the boy thrown over his shoulder like a sack of chicken feed. Rustin was kicking and screaming out for her the whole time. She took a deep breath and started coughing when her nostrils filled with dirt. Feeling as if she was running in boots filled with lead, she could hear Rustin bellowing as she fought against the hard wind trying to knock her backward.
“What the hell!” She gasped for breath when she was finally inside the barn. “What are you doing to my son? Put him down right now!” She shouted as adrenaline rushed through her body like fiery hot whiskey.
Kicking and screaming, beating the man on the back with his fists, Rustin didn’t even see her and turned on her when she grabbed him away from the man. She put her boy behind her and faced the tall, dark cowboy. “Who are you and why were you kidnapping my child?”
Dirt dusted the stranger’s dark hair, but his near-black eyes looked blank, as if he was seeing but not seeing, if that made sense.
“I was saving him. You are safe now, Ahmid.” The man looked as if he was sleepwalking.
Kasey snapped her fingers in his face, and he quickly grabbed her wrist. She jerked it free and took a step back.
“I’m not Ahmid. I’m Rustin.” Rustin wrapped his arms around her waist and peeked around her side.
The cowboy’s brow furrowed in a frown. “You aren’t Farah. You have red hair.”
She jerked off the bandana, letting it hang around her neck, and shook her hair out of the stocking hat. “I’m Kasey McKay and this is my son, Rustin.” She took a step back and looked into his dark brown eyes. “What are you doing in this barn?”
He shook his head slowly. “I’m sorry. I fell asleep out here and when I woke up the sand—I thought I was back,” he stammered. “That’s classified. I am Captain Nash Lamont and I just saved this boy from—oh, no!”
He squared his broad shoulders, standing at attention, but after a few seconds they sagged and he ran a hand over his angular face. So this was Nash. Everyone in Happy had been talking about how he’d taken over Henry’s old ranch. He’d moved into the old house last week, but no one had seen him. Not at the café or at church the previous Sunday. Folks wondered if he might be like his great-uncle—a harmless hermit.
He was well over six feet tall, his black hair brushed the collar of his denim duster that strained at the shoulder seams, and those dark brown eyes darted around the barn as if he wasn’t sure where he was. His broad chest narrowed down past a silver belt buckle with the state of Texas engraved on it. Faded jeans, cowboy boots, a felt hat thrown over there on a hay bale said he was proud to be a cowboy. Yet he’d identified himself as Captain Lamont, and that was definitely military.
“You deserve an explanation.” His accent was a blend of Texas drawl and something even farther south, maybe Louisiana or Mississippi. “I was in the army and did some work in Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Iraq. There was an incident involving a young boy who had kicked a ball outside the gates in dangerous territory. I tried to save him but didn’t get there in time and wound up with a head wound of my own. I came out here to check on the sheep and the sandstorm hit. I thought—” He shrugged.
“You thought you were back over there, right? The sand- storm and the kid out there in it gave you a flashback?” Kasey understood, but she still kept Rustin behind her.
Nash nodded.
Kasey had lost her husband, Adam, when he was on a mission somewhere over there in what the guys called the sandbox. Before that, she’d held him many nights through the nightmares that his job caused, so she understood. But it didn’t take away the fear that had tightened her chest so that she couldn’t breathe when she thought he was abducting her son.
“Mama, I’m okay,” Rustin said in a steady voice. “Cowboys don’t hurt little kids.”
“I would never harm a child, and I’m very sorry for the misunderstanding, Miz McKay.” Nash’s deep voice had a dose of deep-seeded southern in it.
“Have we met before?” she asked.
“I heard about you living on the next ranch over.” His gaze went over her left shoulder and landed on the barn door.
There was no doubt that he had been a soldier. Shoulders ramrod straight and squared off. Chin tucked back and eyes ahead. Filled with respect. Ready to do battle. No one stood like a military man, especially one who’d been a cowboy before he enlisted.
“Well, then, we’ll be going home. Welcome to Happy, Nash.” Kasey knew she should invite him to Hope Springs for coffee or supper, but she wasn’t feeling too hospitable, not with all those memories of Adam flashing through her mind. Not to mention dealing with a son who was in big trouble for wandering off when he was explicitly told not to leave the yard.
She pulled the bandana up over her nose again and stooped down to zip Rustin’s jacket, making sure that the collar protected his nose from the roaring wind and dirt.
“I’ll drive you home. My truck is sitting right there.” He motioned toward a black Chevy Silverado parked to one side of the barn. “It’s still blowing like crazy out there. It’s the least I can do for scaring you. And again, I’m very sorry.”
“Apology accepted, but—”
“Mama, I don’t want to walk home in this stuff,” Rustin whispered.
Kasey took one look out the door and realized her son was right. Visibility was practically zero. “Maybe we should just wait it out a little while right here in the barn until it lets up,” she said. She cast a glance at Nash as she pulled her phone from her hip pocket and quickly called her grandmother, gave her the news that she’d found Rustin and that the neighbor would bring them home as soon as the wind stopped blowing.
Nash smiled while she talked, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He sat down on a hay bale and a big white cat meandered out and hopped up in his lap. He started to rub her long fur and she curled up, as if she belonged there.
“That’s the white cat that Aunt Lila talked about. Can I pet her?” Rustin left his mother’s side and took a few steps toward Nash.
“Sure. You can even hold her if you want,” Nash said. “Sit right here and I’ll put her in your lap. She’s real tame.”
“My sister would love her. She’s purrin’,” Rustin said when the cat was in his lap.
“So you have other children?” Nash looked up at Kasey.
“Two. Emma is three and Silas is eighteen months.” She kept a close watch on her son, sitting so close to a stranger.
“And where do you live?” Nash asked.
“On the ranch right next door,” Rustin answered.
“Hope Springs, with my two brothers, Brody and Jace,” Kasey said. “Where did you live before now?”
“The last two years out south of Jefferson, Texas, on my grandmother’s little spread.”
“And before that?”
“Wherever the military sent me.”
His dark eyes were boring holes in her. Not like a man who was hitting on her but more like someone trying to place her in his mind. Like he’d met her before and couldn’t quite remember her name. But he did because he’d called her Miz McKay a few minutes before. When he did look up, his dark eyes were veiled. It was impossible to see exactly what he was thinking, but there was definitely something haunting Nash Lamont.
A couple of baas caused Rustin to cock his ear toward the stalls on the other side of the barn. “Is that sheeps I hear?”
“Yes, they are. I heard we might have a dust storm so I brought them inside. Want to see them?”
“You bet. I ride the muttons at the rodeo grounds sometimes,” Rustin said.
The veil on Nash’s dark eyes seemed to lift a little as he watched Rustin run from one stall to the other looking at his small flock. “Look, Mama, this one has babies.”
Kasey edged around Nash, careful not to get too close, still not fully trusting him, even if the white cat and her son didn’t have a problem with him. “They’re cute little things, but you do know this is cattle country, right?” she asked.
He straightened up and towered above her. “Yes, ma’am. But I’ve always liked sheep, so that’s what I’m raising right now.” He wandered over to the door and looked outside. “I think the wind is dying down. Please let me drive y’all home.”
“Come on, Rustin. We have to get home,” Kasey said.
Rustin took time to stick his hand into the stall and pet one more lamb before he ran to the truck. With long strides, Nash hurried ahead of them both and swung open the doors. Rustin climbed up into the backseat without a moment’s pause, but before Nash could slam the door, the boy’s dog, Hero, jumped right into the truck with him. Kasey hiked a hip on the seat and pulled the seat belt across her chest.
Nash slung open the double barn doors and then hopped into the truck, slammed the door shut, and fastened his seat belt. “Hope Springs? I drive to the end of my lane and turn right? I guess that dog belongs to you?”
Kasey bobbed her head twice.
“His name is Hero and he’s got a sister, Princess, and a brother, Doggy. They belong to Emma and Silas, but they ain’t as smart as Hero,” Rustin said enthusiastically. “I think he likes you.”
“He looks like a good dog.”
Hero flopped his big black head over the seat and licked Nash’s face from chin to ear then lay down with his head in Rustin’s lap. If it was true that children and dogs knew who to trust and who to back away from—everything would be just fine.
Nash sat rigidly straight in the truck seat, reminding her again of Adam’s posture, even if they didn’t look anything alike. Adam had topped out at five feet nine inches, and that was with his cowboy boots on. He’d had clear blue eyes and blond hair. He’d always looked so young that he was carded anytime he ordered a drink, and he had a smile that would light up the whole universe.
The man sitting beside her with a death grip on the steering wheel was a silent, brooding type who had a lot of darkness inside him. He might be late twenties or maybe early thirties, and no one would ever mistake him as being underage.
He drove slowly to the end of the lane, made a right, and then another one a quarter of a mile down the road. The first big raindrops fell, mixing with the dust to create mud that hit the windshield in splats. The wipers couldn’t work fast enough to keep the smears from the windows, so Nash backed off the gas and took them the rest of the way at five miles an hour.
“Rustin, you go straight to the bathroom and shuck out of those clothes. And you”—Kasey turned toward Nash— “you do not have to be a gentleman and open doors. Thanks for the ride.”
“You’re welcome,” he said. “And thank you, Kasey, for not shooting me. I apologize once again.”
“Didn’t have my pistol,” she answered as she bailed out of the truck and ran through the nasty rain toward the house. Dripping mud, she stopped inside the front door and kicked off her boots.
Wiping her hands on an apron tied around her waist, her grandmother, Hope, came out of the kitchen with Silas, Kasey’s youngest son, and Emma, the middle child, right behind her. Their little eyes widened out like they were looking at a monster.
“Mama, did you and Rustin have a mud fight?” Emma was totally aghast.
“Mommy all yucky.” Silas’s nose twitched.
Hope giggled. “Got to agree with them, Kasey. You look like you lost a mud-wrestling match. I was about to call to check on you when Rustin came through here like a shot and headed toward the bathroom.”
“I told him to go straight to the bathroom and get cleaned up. It’s practically raining mud out there with that dust storm.” Kasey pulled gobs of wet mud from her naturally curly red hair when she ran her fingers through it.
“Ick,” Emma said. She grabbed Silas’s hand and dragged him toward the living room. “Let’s go build a Lego princess castle.”
“Yep.” Silas nodded seriously.
“So, you got to see Nash Lamont, huh?” Hope sat down in a ladder-back chair beside the foyer table. “What does he look like?”
“He’s every bit as tall as Brody. Dark eyes, dark hair. Military for sure. He doesn’t talk a lot, but he seems nice enough.” Kasey started on down the hall.
“Did he mention his great-uncle Henry?” Hope fingered the gold locket around her neck with a wistful look in her eyes.
“No, but he had Rustin slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Scared the devil out of me.”
Hope clucked like an old hen as she stood up and brushed her hair back with her hand. She wasn’t much taller than Kasey, had gray hair and bright green eyes, and was still the queen bee of Hope Springs, even if she had turned most of the day-to-day operations over to Kasey’s brothers, Brody and Jace, the spring before. Her face and attention to style belied her seventy-two years. “I got to go call Molly and tell her that you almost killed the new man in town.”
“Granny!” Kasey’s green eyes, so much like her grandmother’s, popped wide open. “I didn’t even try to kill him. I might have if he’d been kidnapping my son, but he was having a flashback to the war stuff. Adam did that more than once. I felt sorry for him.”
Hope headed for the kitchen. “Might be wise to stay away from a man who’s got problems like that.”
Kasey couldn’t agree more, but then there was something in those dark, brooding eyes that made her want to know more about him. She dropped her dirty clothing on the bathroom floor and stepped into the shower. She lathered up her hair three times before the water ran clear. With a towel wrapped around her body, she peeked out the door before she darted down the hall. She almost made it to the wing of the house where she and the kids lived when the front door opened.
“Hey!” Her sister-in-law, Lila, grinned as she removed a mud-splashed yellow slicker and laid it across the chair where Hope had been sitting. Not a single bit of dirt stuck to her jet-black ponytail, and her brown eyes glimmered. “I heard that you had a confrontation with the new neighbor. I also heard that he’s quite a hunk.”
Kasey wiped a hand across her brow. “Granny didn’t waste a bit of time, did she?”
Lila followed her back to the bedroom. “I was out in the barn helping Brody when the storm hit. Thought I’d come get the whole story from you.”
Kasey told it again as she got dressed.
“So the part about him being downright sexy is true?” Lila asked.
Kasey shook out her curly red hair and started to brush it. “You ever read Wuthering Heights?”
“Of course. I used to be an English teacher, remember?” Lila nodded. “Is Nash a Heathcliff?”
“Oh, yeah, exactly.” Kasey nodded.
Excerpted from LONG, TALL COWBOY CHRISTMAS by Carolyn Brown published by Forever. Copyright © 2017 Carolyn Brown.
Available September 26!

Monday, August 28, 2017

AMAZING CONTEST

Do you like Women's Fiction Books?
 

How about the amazing selection
(pictured above),
all signed and sent to you?
Then this is the contest for you!!

Several of us authors have a contest starting this morning
and the prize
is a signed book from each of us plus a $100 gift card.

Just click right HERE
and it will take you right to the entry
...plus all the buttons for the extra entries.
Good luck to you all!!





Friday, July 7, 2017

Family reunions...

Family reunions! Don't you just love them?

That's when everyone brings their favorite covered dishes, pies, cakes and other marvelous fattening foods and one must choke down a little of all of it or Granny or Great-Aunt Molly will get their feelings hurt.

So right along with the heat, mosquitoes, flies and poison ivy, we overeat on cherry cheesecake, Mississippi mud cake, fried chicken, barbecued ribs, potato salad and forty nine casseroles. And our little cellulites think they've died and gone straight to heaven.

Everyone eats until they look like a cross between Miss Piggy and the Pillsbury Doughboy and Aunt Molly, God love her sweet soul, passes out anti-acids from a quart jar like they were candy. And everyone smiles like they are having a lovely time with people they barely know.

Now it is not an easy feat for me to sit quietly in any situation but after my first reunion on the in-law side, deep in the heart of Yankee territory, I found there really is a gold mine in keeping my mouth shut and listening. I found a chair in the shade and my little fat cells were ecstatic after the third piece of Aunt Molly's peach pie.

Now Mr. B was amongst his own and visiting with his cousins he hadn't seen since they were all in Birdseye fashions. My half-breed children (who are all grown now but at that time they were just kids) were keeping true to their southern manners. After all, they did have to go home with me so they knew to say, "Yes, ma'am," and "No, sir." Of course, at that time no one was talking to me--after all I was a Texas Rebel and it was not good practice to fraternize with women who wore their skirts too short and talked with a Texas accent.

I could hear cousin Harriet tellin' about some horrible rare disease that she had, the worst case a woman ever had this side of the Mason/Dixon line. Before anyone could top her story, she gathered up her three bratty kids and said she was going home. The dust wasn't settled on the road before they commenced to rake her over the coals.

"Did you ever see such monster children? If those little heathens belonged to me I'd beat them with a white coat hanger until all the paint was gone every morning before breakfast! And she's not sick. She just wants attention. Did you see that plate of food she put away?"

"The first plate or the third?" Another one giggled.

They'd barely gotten over talking about her when Uncle Theodore's cousin's niece packed up her hen-pecked husband, six daughters and a cooler full of watered down Kool-Aid and off they went. She almost got out of hearing distance when she became the newest topic.

"Did you see the way that oldest daughter of hers was dressed? That thing she had strapped around her top that she called a shirt didn't have enough material in it to sag a clothes line. And the second one from the oldest was hanging all over that son of Henry's second son's wife. Her mother better get her straightened out or they'll be bringing a diaper bag to next year's reunion."

And so it went all afternoon. As soon as one left he or she became the topic of gossip so hot that it would scorch the hair right off Lucifer's horns.

So I sat there and discovered the secret of family reunions whether they be Rebel, Yankee or mixed company--listen, smile, nod occasionally and always be the last to leave!



Saturday, June 24, 2017

Walkin' Two Miles...

You ever heard that old adage that says, "That broke me from suckin' eggs?" It comes from an old expression about a hound dog that liked to get in the chicken pen and eat eggs until one day he got crossways with a mama hen.

Well, that was very real to me several years ago and I flat out learned my lesson the hard way just like that hound dog did. It all started when my daughter said that we were going to walk two miles a day--before breakfast. She didn't say that we were going to attempt to walk two miles a day but that we would start with a reasonable amount and build up to the two miles within a year. No sir, she didn't and me not paying close attention was my first mistake.

Then she said we would drink two or three quarts of water each day which would be good for our muscles, all our insides, fat cells and I believe she mentioned something about ingrown toenails and gray hair. Again, I wasn't listening too closely because I figured that if I walked two blocks that morning I'd be ready for at least a gallon of water.

The first morning she arrived in her walking shoes, some kind of stretchy knee britches and a determined expression on her face that said this was some serious business. No jokes. No puns. No excuses.

I'd donned my stretchy knee britches and a long shirt to cover up a multitude of fat cells. The britches were necessary, she informed me, to keep our fat little thighs from rubbing together. Even though the thermometer on the back porch was not reading in the three digit numbers, I was afraid that much friction would set me on fire. I tied my walking shoes in a double knot so I wouldn't trip over the laces and I did my best to look as serious as she did.

Her legs are a good bit longer than mine so after that first block of doing double time to keep up, I'd started to pray that my britches would live up to the promise of keeping my thighs from going up in flames. Sometime during the second block, every fat cell in my boy started to moan and I started to sweat. I hate to sweat. I don't care if it's natural. I have never been accused of being a lover of nature.

"If we don't slow down your going to have to call the fire department and an ambulance," I huffed. My poor little heart was threatening to jump right out of my chest and race back home to the air conditioned house.

Good grief! This walking stuff was supposed to increase my cardio-vascular something-or-other and give me more lung power. My heart was tellin' me that I'd been lied to. And my lungs were screaming that they didn't need more power. My children were grown and grandmothers aren't nearly as prone to raising their voices as mothers are.

"You're walking faster than the speed of sound," I told her when we'd rounded the bend in the road.

"I'm hoping that we can build up to three miles by the middle of next week," she said without a hitch in her breath.

"Yeah, right!" I need oxygen. I had shin splits, chest pains and my feet were crying out in pain.

I survived the first leg of the journey, which was the mile mark she'd charted out. Now all I had to do was turn around and make it home. My mouth felt as if it had been swabbed out with cotton balls soaked in alum. But I managed to turn around and right there was a root beer bottle that someone had tossed out to the side of the road. It was half full and had a cap on it. I didn't care if the folks who tossed it had chicken pox, the flu or if the root beer was warm and flat. It was so hot that any self respecting germ had long since been fried and sent to that great germ place in the sky. I reached for it and my daughter kicked it over a barbed wire fence.

Lord have mercy! She could still kick a bottle like a football after walking a mile in the heat. I felt sorry for anyone who ever thought they were mean enough to tangle with her.

We made it back home where I collapsed on the sofa in a moaning heap. She made us each a tall glass of ice water and brought it to me. I wasn't sure if I wanted to drink it, pour it on top of my head or maybe soak my feet in it. It seemed a shame to waste it all on the inside of my body when the outside was in such pain.

Every day she arrived at my house at eight o'clock and at the end of the summer we weren't up to that three mile mark. She kept talking about the goal being four miles by Christmas. I couldn't burst her little dream bubble by telling her that four miles was her dream. It was my nightmare and if she pushed it past that two miles, I would jump the barbed wire fence and drink every drop of that root beer.

That all happened years ago and we stopped walking one week when the fall rains set in. Never got back to it but I did find my stretchy britches when I was cleaning out a dresser drawer. I trashed them in a hurry!

Y'all got an event in your life that broke you from suckin' eggs?

Friday, June 9, 2017

The first divorce...


I certainly do not feel like I'm an authority on this business of folks divorcing, but I did live through one set of parents splitting the blanket. And I managed to survive a stepfather and at least nine stepmothers. Even though I'm not an expert I do have an theory about why a big majority of divorces ae on record and it's not because of that cute little bar room rosie down at the Corner Bar and Grill making eyes at someone's husband.






Let's go back to the days before us women even heard that song about burning our bras, our bridges and the candles at both ends. Back before women demanded rights when it came to jobs, children and even the right to raise her voice to her husband. 

As Sophia said on Golden "Picture This,":

Here is the dutiful wife sitting home raising kids and keeping husband happy.

Husband gets up in the morning and chooses a freshly ironed shirt and slacks from the closet. His shoes are polished and right there beside the dresser where his tie, socks and underwear area all laid out neatly. He dresses and goes to the kitchen where his breakfast is all ready: ham, eggs fried perfectly, hot biscuits, hash browns without a single burnt edge and pancakes. There's his choice of white syrup or dark, and six kinds of homemade jams on the table.

After breakfast, he picks up his briefcase at the door, kisses her on the cheek and tells her to have a great day. Right? There's laundry knee deep, floors to mop, dusting to do, grocery shopping to get done and four hours worth of ironing to finish before she starts supper that evening, plus the five kids will have to be fed lunch and dealt with all day.

At five thirty the husband walks back in the door to find a house that could be featured in "Better Homes and Gardens" or maybe at least considered for an ad for a soap commercial. The kids are clean, their little faces aglow from a scrubbing only five minutes ago. His slippers and evening paper are laid out beside his recliner. His supper, complete with candles, place mats, and home made cherry cheesecake is ready to put on the table at exactly six o'clock after he has a cocktail and relaxes for half an hour.

Dutiful wife has on a clean dress, high heeled shoes and has taken the bobby pins out of her hair so that it's fluffed out in curls around her freshly made up face. She smells like gardenias and kisses him sweetly on the cheek.

The husband pats her on the shoulder and says," Oh, honey, I had a rough day at the office. My associate had the flue and had to stay home. The "O" key on my typewriter stuck and that sandwich you packed for my lunch was dried out because you didn't get the waxed paper around it right. Try to do better tomorrow. You know how I hate dried bread. And how was your day? Did you have a nice gossip session with the ladies this morning and read a romance book all afternoon?"

And that, dear hearts, was the cause of the first divorce...and many more since that. It might have been the cause of the women's rights movement and for sure caused many folks to declare law as their major when they started to college.

Am I stepping on anyone's toes?

Friday, June 2, 2017

One Size Fits All...

The clothing business has gotten lazier and lazier in the past years. Used to be a body was a size 6 or 8 or 16 or 24 or even 52 and they could walk into any store or order from any catalog and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the outfit would fit. They didn't even have to try it on...just hang it in the closet and wear it when the time arrived.

Not so these days!

According to the experts, the more you pay for the article of clothing, the smaller the size on the label. So if I want to pay a fortune for a t-shirt, the label can say it's a small. If I don't mind looking at a tag that has a XL on it, then I can buy the same t-shirt for about one tenth of the cost. Seems to me like the whole clothing industry isn't geared to size but to ego. After all I can cut the labels out of both t-shirts since they itch anyway, and no one would be able to tell the difference. They might ask why I bought two just a like, but I can always tell them that one lets me have wings and think I'm a small and the other one is reality and tells me exactly what size I wear.

Then out of nowhere, the industry throws a new size in the mix: ONE SIZE FITS ALL.

Right!


My friend, Lula Rose, is only slightly bigger than the fleas the tom cat out in the back yard brings home. A size 3 hangs on her skinny frame like a burlap bag on a broom handle. Then there's cousin Viola Ruth who buys her clothing at the surplus tent store when it has a sale. Just tell me exactly how one size is supposed to fit both of those women.

Maybe they aren't talking about the garment fitting the whole body. It says, "one size fits all" so maybe that's the secret. It only promises to fit "all."


If the garment falls off Lula Rose's scrawny shoulders then is her all too small? Is it something she should see a psychoanalyst about? Maybe that's why her husband, Jimmy Don, has been seen checkin' out the bar room rosies down at the Y'all Come Back Saloon. He feels cheated because his wife's all is too small.

If Cousin Viola Ruth can't talk the garment down over her shoulders or up over her fanny then is her all too big? We need to figure out just exactly where this illusive all is located so we know if the one size will work, don't we?

It's flat out got me puzzled. Now I have to add this "all" business to my list of worries and the list was plenty long enough before. Last week I didn't even know I had an all and now I have to figure out where it is, whether it needs a few extra pounds to fluff it out so the new sized garments will fit, or if it needs to diet for a week or two. I need to know if my all looks best in spring colors or if it can wear winter colors without looking pale. I've got to figure out if it will blend well with my gray hair and do I need to buy silver rimmed glasses or will my white ones still work?

On the positive side, though, there are garments in every store that will definitely fit my all when I get it all figured out!

Friday, May 26, 2017

FAT "CELLS"

For a long time now folks have been concerned about the overpopulation in prisons. Seems there's not enough cells to accommodate the number of folks who have done something that warrants them one of the few rooms they have in those places.

Reading all about that caused me to realize why we have fat "cells". Not fat particles. Not fat jugs. Not fat packages. But fat cells.

We're told that we're born with a certain number of fat cells. It's evident that I got my share,  my neighbor's share and my friend's share when they were passing them out at the birthing process. Some pudgy little angel was sitting up there on a white, marshmallow cloud, looking down at the hospital maternity wards and said, "Hummm, let me see, yep, that one looks real good. Since I was napping through two births and having dinner on the third one and didn't toss any fat cells on those kids, then I'll just dust this one with their share. Zap!" And it was done.

So I got a whole prison of fat cells begging to be filled up. Most folks can pass a candy shop window without it hurting them too much. Not me! My fat cells cry out that I'm not utilizing the space. Since, even in youth, I was not known for willpower above and beyond the call of duty, I waltzed right into the candy store and my fat cells and I were very happy when I left.

I remember once when I was a teenager, I looked in the mirror and didn't like my overstuffed prison of fat cells. That's when I learned all about that horrid thing called a calorie, when I introduced my body to something called diet pop and commenced to not caring if there were a few empty cells in my prison of fat cells. I closed the prison down for good now that I was a slim, trim and mean machine. I knew how hard it had been to get control of the prison and now I would never, ever let even one of those dormant cells fill up again.

Oops! Six months later my prison was overfilled again. I drug out my little calorie book, started gagging on diet pop and got out the locks to shut that blasted thing down once and for all.

After that time I realized I could empty the cells but that didn't mean they were gone for good. It was always going to be there...willing, waiting, whining and ready. My body was tired of the eviction process and they really did whine every time we passed the Braum's store and there were posters of hot fudge sundaes. My fat cells were now multiple offenders but they kept getting released to beg for donuts, fried potatoes, candy bars and even pasta. There was no keeping them locked up and empty, not after they'd figured out the escape plan.

The only thing they whine about more than being deprived of their favorite fattening foods is when I tell them that if we eat that, we will have to ride the stationary bicycle or walk three miles. That's when they lay on the floor and pitch a regular old southern hissy fit. They are spoiled rotten but there doesn't seem to be any help for it so I've stopped trying to evict them.


And that's why, in the beginning, they were named fat "cells"!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Happy Mother's Day...

Some women declare that everything they knew about motherhood was learned from their grandmother, their mother or even Great Aunt Rosie. I give credit where it is due and those women certainly played a big part in what I know about motherhood. But most of what I've learned was while driving down a little state highway from Bells to Whitewright, Texas almost fifty years ago.

To begin with, the highway hadn't been resurfaced since my Grandpa was still a carpenter and he'd been retired for a long time. The road was like motherhood. There were days when I'd think I was going to get through the present phase in my kids' lives without a hitch and then I'd fall right into a hole big enough to swallow an army tank. So much for thinking that one good day meant another would follow.

The highway is a two lane road, one lane for going and one for coming back from Grandpa's house. When you become a mother, they don't let you go back to the delivery room if you don't have a current driver's license. And if they ask you to spell mother, you say T-A-X-I. There will be times when you'll be going down one lane of the highway and times when you are coming back on the other side of the road but from the time you hear that baby's first cry and you are a mother, you will never be sitting still again.

Sometimes you'll be traveling along with older cars that can't go more than 35 MPH and sometimes you're doing good to keep up with the little sports cars trying to make a seven mile straight stretch in two minutes. They're all going to the same place, right along with you. That old model with the tail fins will get to the PTA meeting just as surely as the brand new red sports car with a spoiler on the back end. The meeting doesn't even start until seven thirty and there's always plenty of doughnuts and coffee.

The scenery is always changing. At times the front yard is freshly mowed and the flowers are blooming. Other times it's full of dandelions and the flower beds need to have the weeds pulled up. Just like those children that made you a mother--they eventually get past the pull-up stage and to the school age stage but it still takes constant work to keep the bad things out of their lives.

Before you can turn around, they're to the driving stage and then the dating stage, the cutting-the-apron-strings stage and hopefully that long awaited responsible adult stage. But just because they've graduated from each stage and made you proud, does not mean you are finished because once you became a mother, you're always a mother. It doesn't matter if you are the mother of the multi-billionaire computer soft ware genius or of a ditch digger, you are still a mother.

See that crossroads over there that says you can go to Savoy one way or Ida the other? There's lots of times like that in motherhood. Sometimes we actually brake and think about where that road might lead or where the kids might be today if we'd chosen to take a different road. But rest assured, the journey will end where it's supposed to and neither of those roads would take us to grandpa's house where he always gave me the best advice.

And take a look at that 1948 John Deere tractor sitting out there in the pasture with weeds growing up around it. It's not sitting there because it is useless. No, ma'am. Do not make the mistake of underestimating it. It's just resting a spell. It has plowed more fields, cut more corners and knows more about life than any of those new fangled models that keep breaking down every time they hit a hard spot in the road. It might not be air conditioned or have that fancy radio stuff in it. The green paint might have rust spots, but honey, if you put some fuel in it and start it up, it'll prove it's got a lot of get up and go left in it.

As you travel down the roads of life remember to stop and smell the flowers this Mother's Day! And maybe even pick a bouquet of yard roses for your mother.

Happy Mothers Day to all mothers out there from this old 1948 tractor.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Little White House...

This morning I was looking out the kitchen window at a couple of young squirrels playing chase around the trunk of our old hackberry tree. I wondered how many stories that old tree could tell if it could talk. It was a big tree when we bought this place almost forty years ago so it's been around for a long time.

Had it been planted to someday provide shade for a little white house sitting out there at the back of the lot because when it was a baby tree, not everyone could afford indoor plumbing? As much as I sometimes wish I could crawl into a time machine and go back to that slow, southern life style of the eighteen hundreds, I sure wouldn't want to stay very long because I do love indoor plumbing.

However there were benefits of that era. No one had to stand outside in the cold with their legs crossed and doing a tap dance while they waited because a person did not tarry long once they got inside. There was no central heat and air and that little moon provided both ventilation and light. Jogging was invented because a person had to get back to the house to wash their hands.

There was no need to put a magazine rack in the little house because a person only had so much lung power and that was never enough to read a whole article. Folks learned early to take a big gulp of air before opening the day and to pray that they didn't have to inhale again until they were jogging back to the house to wash their hands.

It was not an absolutely waste of time. The entire inside was wallpapered in old newspapers and folks training for a walk on the bottom of the ocean (see previous paragraph about holding your breath) could read the latest news concerning the Dalton gang's latest bank robbery. Or if they turned their gaze to the other side of the place they could read all about the newest medicine in a bottle, guaranteed to cure everything from the seven year itch to ingrown toe nails. It might taste like warmed over sin but hey, it couldn't be worse than the eau de toilette in the little white house.

I've heard a story about Great Aunt Rosie's second husband. The first one died from what the coroner called an acute case of ear problems brought on by severe nagging. The second one did not read the death certificate until after they were married--bless his heart. Now this second one had a little more backbone than number one and when Aunt Rosie went to pitching a hissy for an indoor bathroom, he stood his ground and told her that it was not happening. She already had the prettiest toilet in the whole county. It had two holes and roses planted all around the outside and he'd even put a couple of nice seats that had lids on them over the holes.

It was winter time and the children decided they'd play a prank on Uncle Henry (That's number two. Uncle Herman was number one. She had some throw pillows that she'd embroidered with the letter H so she bypassed Cyrus and Vernon when she was looking for a new husband.) So back to the story: the kids in the neighborhood were building a snow man between the house and the toilet and about the time of the morning when he made his way down the path, they smeared a thin film of glue on both toilet seats. It said right on the bottle that it would dry in ten minutes and was guaranteed to stick for life.

Aunt Rosie missed him about noon when he didn't come to the table for lunch. He loved her chicken and dumplings and nothing ever kept him from being right there when she put them on the table. She went to lamenting, figuring that he'd done dropped dead in some neighbor's yard, and throwing herself a first rate bawling fit. After all there weren't many widowers with a first name beginning with the letter H left in the county. When he wasn't there at twelve fifteen, she just went on and called the undertaker and picked out a suit for him to be buried in.

In the middle of all the hullabaloo, what with the neighbors already bringing covered dishes of food to the house (they kept them ready in the freezer just in case because nobody wanted to be the last one to bring in food to a mourning family), she had to make a run to the outhouse. She found Uncle Henry sitting there, teeth chattering, blue from the cold and unable to utter a single word, bless his heart. They had to get a pair of pliers and take the toilet seat to the house with him since that glue lived up to its claim. But some smart kid who'd accompanied his granny to the house knew what to do to separate Uncle Henry from the toilet seat and by supper time he was able to partake a little of Aunt Rosie's dumplings and several of the dishes the kind folks had brought to the house in case he was dead.

The undertaker was one happy man because he didn't know how in the world he was going to get a suit on Uncle Henry with that toilet seat stuck to his backside. Uncle Henry's sister was really glad because she wasn't sure he could get into heaven in that condition. But the preacher was more than a little miffed. He'd already started preparing the funeral sermon and now it would be wasted.

Aunt Rosie figured her nagging had finally worked because the next day Uncle Henry called a local contractor and told him to come on to the house and put an indoor bathroom at the top of the stairs. He didn't mind giving up a bedroom for it but he did want a lock on the door and a magazine rack on the right side of the potty.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Rules...

It's been a long time since our two daughters were dating age and several of the granddaughters have passed over from dating to marriage. But there are still a couple of granddaughters who are in that age when boys have become very important. So being the good father-in-law that he is, Mr. B is passing on the list of rules that he used when our daughters were that age. Some of them are a little politically incorrect and out of date but I do believe they can be adjusted to fit the day and time.

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you had better be delivering a package because you are sure not picking up anything. Get out of the car, come into the  house, sit with me for fifteen minutes and then I might let you walk her outside. Be sure to open the door for her, both house and car.

Rule Two: Do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you can't keep your eyes and hands off her, I can and will remove them.

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so that they appear to be falling off their hips. I want to be fair and open minded about this so I propose a compromise. You may come into my home with your underwear showing and pants six sizes too big and I will not say a word. However, to insure that aforementioned pants do not fall completely off your bony butt, you will not whimper when I use a nail gun to fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four: I'm sure that you've been told that in this modern world, sex without utilizing a "barrier method" can kill you. Let me elaborate, when it comes to that issue, I am the barrier and I will kill you if that thought even crosses your mind.

Rule Five: It's usually understood for a potential boyfriend and a father to get to know each other they should talk about sports, politics, religion and other important topics. Not so. The only information I require of you is when I can expect to have my daughter back safely at my house and the only word I want to hear is "early."

Rule Six: I have no doubt that you are a popular fellow and could date any girl in town. That is fine but as long as you are dating my daughter you are not free to look at any of those girls until such time as my daughter is done dating you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven: As you sit in my living room with me not six feet away, waiting for my daughter to appear down the hallway, do not sigh and fidget. My little girl is making herself beautiful for you and that process takes longer than painting the Golden Gate bridge with a one inch brush. You are allowed to change the oil in my car or mow my lawn while you wait.

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: places where beds, sofas or anywhere with something softer to sit upon than a wooden stool are available; places where there are no parents, policemen or nuns in the same room; places where the temperature is warm enough to entice my daughter to wear anything other than a sweater or a goose down parka zipped up to her neck; movies with strong romantic themes are to be avoided...but those with chain saws are fine. Old folks homes are wonderful places to visit and remember I do own two chain saws.

Rule Nine: Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a pot bellied, balding, middle aged dim-witted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel (read rule eight about chain saws) and five acres behind my house. Do not trifle with me.

Rule Ten: Be afraid. Be very afraid. I use the time when you are on your dates to clean my guns. As soon as you exit the car with both your hands in plain sight, I expect you to announce that you have followed all the rules in a loud voice. Walk her to the door and then leave. That camouflaged face in the window is mine and I will be watching.

If you are unable to read these rules and sign this paper stating that you understand them, you can still date my daughter. However, I will be sitting between you kids in the front seat of your car. Enjoy the evening and have a great time.

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