I’ve created a survey for my next book title in Typeform. If you have a minute could you help me decide between one of three titles?
Last month when it snowed, my I unceremoniously got my vehicle stuck in a snowdrift. It wasn’t one of those driving down the freeway at a high speed and slide into the mountain of snow situations. That would be edgy, cool and a great story to tell the grandkids to show grandma had some chops back in the day.
No, I was driving maybe two miles an hour and failed to maintain control of my vehicle. Slowly, my Jeep Grand Cherokee lodged itself (with my help) into a knee deep snowdrift. Walking away from the five-minute ordeal in absolute frustration, I vowed to buy snowshoes and walk the six miles to work the next time my white flaky nemesis made an appearance.
Guess what. My anger subsided with the snow melt, I never made that Amazon purchase, and we are expecting a 12-hour snowfall. This is where an actual image of my impression of snow comes into the picture.
Put a cute, red and white, crocheted hat on Mr. Snow and you have a pretty good idea of the Merri Maywether people were seeing today .
And this is why I love small town life. Someone who lives nowhere near us said, “We can always ride home together.” There was no mockery of my fear, or poo pooing of my poor driving skills. She offered the same solution for every problem I’ve encountered in the far, far north. Many variations of the phrase, “Let me help you.”
What I loved about the moment was the understanding of how I’ve accomplished more in three years than the first 30 years of my adult life. Up here, fear is something to be conquered–and it will happen whether or not you’ll like it.
Life gives us snow, and slick roads, and extreme weather conditions. The way we handle those conditions determine the outcome. I have been lucky enough to be placed in a situation where conflict is resolved pragmatically.
And my wish for you is this: May people who understand your problems be there to patiently guide you to a solution. I’m adding to this wish, that their guidance gives you the ability to recognize the courage hiding behind the cranky face that comes with the initial reaction to those unpleasant experiences.
It happened for me. I drove myself home.
Until the next blog
Lately, the news has been weighing on my heart. It seems everyone in our country has lost their ever loving minds. When I finally muster the courage to deal with the world where do I go? Yes, the local coffee shop.
Bear in mind coffee shops in small towns are not a place to go for quiet. If we could get anyone to listen to us, the world would be a better place, because we have solved all its problems.
Except this time, the world didn’t need help. I did. And, after one hour with some good friends, all the axises realigned and everything was as close to normal as we could hope for. They helped me realize that in the darkness, my little birthday cake sized candle of love needs to shine. It may not be much, but it’s what the good Lord gave me and I need to be a good steward with it.
Every romantic person has a friend that is a realist. It’s how we keep balance in the world. Invigorated by our conversation the day prior, today, I told my coffee klatch my new vision. For every token of negativity, I will try to put something positive out there.
With a straight face, the friend asked, “What are you going to do, break into people’s houses and hug them?”
I said, “No, but I might dust and vacuum a bit for them.” All of us around that table about died laughing.
Neither solution was viable, but isn’t that what good friends do–they help with creative problem solving.
And, so you have yet another reason why I love our small town in the far, far north. Our elixir for fear is a cup of coffee sweetened with some healthy banter.
With that being said, my wish for you reader is that you have people that can look you in the eye when you’re having a bad day, and tell you that love is larger than the monsters, and then prove it to you.
Until the next post….
Every Friday my afternoon involves reading and teaching library skills to Kindergarten, first, and second grade students. Today the same child cried when another girl got The Lion King book before her, and subsequently declared this the best day ever when she was able to check out Kittens First Full Moon.
Today I taught the kids about cliff hangers within Chris Van Allsburg’s
The Widow’s Broom.
The kids oohed and ahhed and bit their nails.
At the end of the book two very sweet girls rushed to talk to me. This is a familiar Friday routine. They want to be the first to get another book by the author. I am pleased and prepared to answer their question.
Except they didn’t have the question I expected. Cute little girl with the bright eyes said, “The best thing happened today. There was a wedding on the playground today.”
Going along with the conversation I asked, “Who got married?”
Beaming she answered, “I’m married to a boy in our class.”
I said, “We really shouldn’t marry boys until we’re 25.”
It was like I was talking to air. Her friend added, “I’m trying to figure out how to get (a very sweet and wisely oblivious boy) to marry me.”
These are the same kids that I have to seat boy girl when I want them to be quiet. I had to laugh.
Thankfully, the next girl that approached me wanted to check out Jumanji.
I close this blog wishing you days of refreshingly amusing conversations, and introductions to books that will brighten your reading experiences.
I prayed for a snow day. Like a kid promising a parent they’d eat their broccoli, I made bargains. And, the good Lord said something to the effect of, “You’re going to face this challenge.”
With a face grim with determination, and knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel, I set out on the four-mile journey that may as well have been a cross country trip.
Words of encouragement like “I’m a big girl, I can handle it.” And, “You drive as slow as you need to. It doesn’t matter what people think,” got me into town and as the distance between where I was and the final destination decreased, my elation increased. Whooo, go positive self talk.
Things were going so well, I rebuked myself for being scared in the first place. Then, without warning, this happened.
I can teach the most reluctant person how to read and write well. I can write novels that entertain and delight. My nemesis skill is driving in the snow.
What does that mean? Prepare yourself for the blogs. The season for hunkering down to write has begun.
I close this one with warm wishes and hopes that there are people in your life to help you the way the people in our small town work with me through my weaknesses.
Three months ago I wrote a blog about small town life. And then it seemed I fell into a chasm. Actually, I did. Kind of. But not really.
I had facebook, twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr talking to each other. And, for the life of me, I could not get any of them to connect to this blog.
So, life went on, and I captured it in those forums. Except, I missed my first love. Blogging. Eight hours, a template purchase, and some tech assistance from Fiverr and I have something that talks to everybody that cares to hear what I have to say.
Be warned. I have stories. Lots of stories. And they are waiting for you to read them. And ending on that note. I am logging out to write and send you well wishes until the next post.
Summer. Think vacations, hot dogs, staying up to stargaze, and being bit by mosquitos. It’s a time where heartwarming memories are simmered to perfection.
This weekend was our annual Gala Days; which was also combined with the all school reunion. Every person that ever attended the high school is invited to come home and relive the glory days. Our town went from a population of 150 to some number over 1000. Houses were full, RV’s abounded and friendships were renewed.
We also learned what people outside our community think about us and this is where the story begins….
A couple came into the coffee house around the time everyone else in the community were leaving to get their class pictures. So, four people, the coffee shop owner, the couple, and I get the chance to get acquainted.
It was established quickly they had never been to our town and were directed by a stranger in another community to visit our hamlet.
So we listened to them explain the beginning of their journey started on a train in Tucson, Arizona.
Under the advice of arriving before 11:00 they were party to the Gala Days parade. Think vintage cars and trucks, the ambulance, the fire trucks, police cars, collectors versions of military vehicles, and anything that would make someone say “oooh” throwing candy as they roll down the street.
They were amazed.
Time passed and people returned. I was in the corner for a book signing and several women sat around the table loaded with my books and we began talking about the town when they lived there. This couple gets invited to the table and what I call storytime starts happening.
A couple minutes into the conversation, the wife turns to her husband and says something to the effect of our community matching their expectations of a small town.
I looked around and once again the coffee shop was bustling with life. It was getting close to dinner time and they’d been in the coffee shop for a little over two hours chatting away with people they’d never met but thought well enough of them to treat them like they’d been in our town all their lives. So, we said our goodbyes, recommended another place they’d like, and they went in their way.
And I had to chuckle. The same people who wonder why I’d made the decision to spend the rest of my days with them proved why to two random people life brought their way on a warm summer day.
Oberon’s feet barely touched the ground beneath him. The grass behind him stood firmly as though nobody had been there moments prior to tread upon it. Dolph, knowing the appearance of the king of the fairies was a rare occurrence, burned an imprint of the Fay King in his mind. His foreknowledge of fairies altering memories, reminded Dolph to burn the image in several places in his mind. One would surely remain.
Stooping to examine a taller stalk of prairie grass, Dolph witnessed Oberon’s eyes changing from an earthy brown to a dark gold that glowed and dimmed returning to the neutral tone. There was only one other person who was as tightly connected to nature. Dolph asked, “Have you mentioned any of this to Demeter?”
Looking forward, Oberon tapped his finger on his lip as though weighing his words before releasing them. “Maleficent failed in her understanding of the spell she cast on the land.”
“I don’t follow.”
His gaze focused on the landscape ahead of them, Oberon said, “When Aurora slept, the land remained dormant with her. When she woke, the sleeping dust remained. No one thought to purge the kingdom of it. They left it to take on a life of its own.”
“True love’s kiss! Aphrodite must have a solution.”
“She tried. The result was a population explosion followed by a stronger hate between the kingdoms, and the dust grew even more powerful.”
They walked in silence. Images flashed and settled in Dolph’s mind beginning with a white flaky substance drifting from the sky to land on the countryside barren of people, grass, or any forms of life. Wires connected the poles to a sagging fence; separating him from a solitary car passing by on a road made of a hard, cracked black substance. The grey atmosphere around him mirrored the desolation he knew extended for miles beyond his vision. The images of the future created an unlikely alliance between the two world.
Stopping in front of the entrance to the Adam’s farm, they faced the house. Silhouettes of boys rough housing in one window contrasted several girls sitting in what he guessed to be a circle in the other window.
“You need a princess?”
“A descendant of a ruler would suffice.”
“And we won’t be killing her.”
“Quite the contrary.” Oberon’s eyes left an imperceptible, yet definite imprint in Dolph’s mind. It was a present—except the time not right to open it, kept curious fingers at bay. “It doesn’t have to be a she. Just one of them must remain. Respect for your question compels me to answer. We are about life, not death. She’d never age, therefore she’d never die.”
Both of them returned to the tableau in front of them. The present and the future meeting in one place. And, the subjects were only mildly aware of the reason why.
By now, you know the routine. Leave a comment to let me know what you think of the story so far. I am interested to know what you think.
The last thing any of the boys expected was to see Dan raise his arms in the air; run into the middle of their impromptu wrestling match; pick up the first person he caught—which happened to be Peter, raise him over his shoulder and gently place him down on the ground before pinning him. The move, quick and sudden, left all of them silent with mouths agape.
Through a broad grin he said, “It gets easy after branding cattle for a couple years.”
Slowly, the shock melted away, and beginning with Brian, the questions erupted. “How did you learn how to wrestle?”
Holding his hand out to help Peter up, Dan said, “You’re not taught how to wrestle. Like I said, classic cow handling practices. Just be glad I didn’t have rope. Otherwise this young man would have his hands and feet tied together.”
Hoping for a chance to prove he wasn’t an easy target, Peter pretended to accept Dan’s assistance. Instead, he ran at Dan’s waist and tried to upend him. Dan caught Peter by the waist, threw him into a firefighter’s carry, and slowly moved into a circular motion that made them look like a human helicopter.
“Aww, he got you good!” Damien goaded.
Brian and Demetrius leaned into each other to prevent themselves from falling as they laughed.
“None of us saw that one coming,” Eugene exclaimed.
Dan slowed his twirling. Coming to a stop, he set a dizzy Peter on the bed. “I hope I didn’t hurt you too badly.”
Holding on to the side of the bed to maintain his balance, Peter said, “I’m alright.”
Damien spoke for the group, “We’re sorry if we were too loud.”
Rubbing the shoulder he used to hold Peter, Dan said, “You boys are fine. I stopped in to tell you tomorrow we have an early day. There’s someplace I think is important for helping you understand how you got here.”
“Can you give us the cheat codes version?” Nicholas asked.
“A cheat code?”
“You know what we need to know to get to the next step.”
“We all wish life had cheat codes,” Dan sympathized. “No, there are no cheat codes. Actually, after tomorrow things may get even more complicated.”
“Then why take us there?” Damien asked.
“Remember you have two choices go through the problem and grow, or you walk around it and have to face the same issue all over again. And to be honest, I don’t know why you came here. Maybe you’d be able to provide some answers so the surprise visitors will stop coming. With that closing thought I bid you goodnight gentlemen.”
The boys settled into their bed and sleeping bags and Dan dampened the wick in the lantern. Moonlight kept the room bright enough for them to see the outlines of each other’s bodies as they tossed and turned in an attempt to get comfortable.
Demetrius whispered into the dark room. “Are you asleep Brian?”
“No,” Brian sat up. “I keep replaying the last conversation I had with my mother. I told her I wish I lived somewhere else. If I don’t get back she’s going to think I ran away because of her.”
“We’ll get back.” Demetrius assured him.
“How can you be so sure?”
Demetrius sat up and leaned against the wall. The wood sent a cooling sensation down his spine. Glad to be feeling something, Demetrius pressed harder making the effect reach his shoulders. “I had a dream last night. It didn’t make sense until just a while ago. There were two men talking about the kids being a reversal of a curse.”
Damien’s head popped up. “What did they look like?”
One was a typical Montana rancher, but the other had long hair with braids on the side. The cowboy said something about trying to work peaceably. The longhaired one said he didn’t think it was possible. I thought maybe I watched too much television before going to bed.”
“Did any of them say how we were able to get back home?” Eugene’s voice joined the conversation.
“You could always build us a time machine,” Nicholas mocked.
“You’re stupid.” Eugene rolled over and threw the covers over his shoulders.
“Anyway,” Damien said, “Did they look like the two people that were out a ways from the bus earlier today?”
“I didn’t see them.” Demetrius admitted. “And it was night time in my dream.
They were at the end of a trail,” He stood on his knees and peered out the window. His body froze, “Like those two guys standing at the edge of the ranch.”
Damien, Brian, and Peter threw aside their blankets and hustled to reach the window. Demetrius turned to hush them. When he looked out the window, the two men were gone. “They’re gone! I swear just a minute ago they were there.”
“After a day like today, I believe you,” Damien remained in his position by the window. Resting his chin on his hands, he stared out into the night.
One by one the boys returned to their sleeping bag until it was Demetrius, Damien, and Brian. “Do you think we should take turns keeping watch?” Brian asked.
“I don’t think they could get us in here,” Damien said.
“Then again, did you ever think Mrs. Almstead and Alex were going to disappear in front of our eyes?” Demetrius asked.
“I’ll take first watch,” Brian offered.
“I’ll stay with you for a while,” Demetrius kept his gaze on the place where he saw the two figures.
The three boys woke in the morning with sore backs from sleeping with their heads resting on the windowsill.
Dan and Ella offered to let the girls sleep in two rooms and have the boys sleep in the bunkhouse. All of a sudden, Selene and Andrea who had the hardest time getting along since kindergarten developed a friendship requiring them to be in close proximity to each other. The two of them insisting upon being close together without provocation from anyone else drew stares of shock that were followed by comments of not seeing that one coming.
Crammed into a room with three twin beds and two trundles, the girls in the absence of the boys found chatting about their situation a pleasant situation.
Leaning against the headboard of a bed with her knees tucked into her chest, Andrea said, “I’m glad Mrs. Authry made me change my shoes.”
“How did she know you weren’t supposed to wear them?” Caitlin wondered aloud.
“I’ve asked myself the same question,” Andrea answered. “They were red and bright, but I’ve worn them to school before. Mrs. Almstead said they looked cute.”
The furtive glances the triplets shared temporarily silenced the conversation. Andrea with one eyebrow raised, and Caitlin developing a keen interest in the quilt patterns waited for one of them to divulge the part of the story they obviously missed.
Angelica, who was usually the quieter of the triplets, spoke. “We were in the office when Mrs. Authry took the call about your shoes.”
The look of relief passing on Selene and Marjorie’s faces told there was more to the story and they were glad Angelica was the one telling it. She spoke so rarely that when she passed on advice or helped someone it was accepted without question or argument.
“And?” Caitlin prodded for the rest of the story.
Despite the pressure from Caitlin and Andrea’s stares, Angelica searched within herself for the right wording. Her eyes darting from right to left as though she were reading an invisible script Angelica seemed oblivious of anyone else being in the room.
“Because someone you don’t know, but knows you well called and said you wouldn’t be able to walk for as long as you needed to in those shoes. I don’t know who it was, but I know it was a relative.”
Unsettled by the information, Andrea’s voice wavered. “How do you know?”
“The same way we knew we weren’t dead when we saw Caitlin’s grandfather.” She moved her face to shift the attention from herself as an individual to the three sisters. “Sometimes we find out about things before they happen. I see them as words on a wall, Marjorie sees them as pictures, and Selene feels them.”
“Which is why I grow impatient with people,” Selene admitted. “I forget that we have an advantage.”
“Did you know we were going to miss the science fair?”
The three sisters looked at each other with blank faces and turned to Caitlin and Andrea. In unison, with their voices candid they said, “No.”
“Honestly, do you think we’d have worked so hard if we knew it was for nothing?” Selene sniped and then grinned at being caught falling into her typical response.
“Do you know why we’re here?”
The three sisters shook their heads affirming their lack of knowledge.
“I wonder—” Caitlin crawled over the field of blankets between herself and the backpack. Unzipping the front pouch, she pulled out a key and continued searching for something. Unable to find it she huffed, “I know I put it in here this morning.”
“What?” Andrea peered over Caitlin’s shoulders as though the object would magically appear.
“This morning I had an argument with my mother over what to wear. After wishing I didn’t live there I went to the trunk and put Dan’s watch in here.”
“The one he has chained on his belt loop?” Marjorie asked.
Caitlin nodded, and continued rifling through her backpack.
“It isn’t there. An object cannot be in two places at one time.”
“Why do I still have the key?”
Selene rolled her eyes. “It’s a copy.” She put her fingers over her lips before offering a smile of apology. “I need to work on my delivery.”
Accepting the information Caitlin said, “There’s something else I want to check.” She held the key and tiptoed to the door.
“What are you doing?” Selene whispered.
“There was a leather pouch with two cool stones I never saw before. I wonder if it’s still in the trunk.”
Tiptoeing through the hall, the girls gestured with their hand to communicate what they were doing. Whenever they made a noise, they covered their mouths with their hands to either stifle a giggle or, in the case of Selene, a rebuke. Slowly they worked together to move the leather trunk above the one Caitlin sought after. Sitting on top of one trunk, Caitlin opened the midnight blue travel trunk she used for treasures for as long as she could remember. The hinges creaked their complaints.
All the girls cast quick glances towards the door expecting someone to come in the room and catch them in the act. When no one appeared, Caitlin continued with her intention and completely opened the trunk. A loud burst of laughter from the boys’ room startled the girls. Andrea gasped and threw her hand over her mouth.
“It’s safe to say, they won’t be able to hear us if the boys follow their usual behavior pattern,” Angelica whispered.
“I give it ten minutes until a wrestling match breaks out,” Marjorie added.
Moving books she had seen all her life to the side, Caitlin said, “This morning when I was looking for the watch, there was a brown pouch with two stones. I didn’t remember placing it in here. The stones glowed and were warm. I wonder if they were in here.”
A piece of string snagged Caitlin’s pinky finger. When she pulled at it, the leather pouch came out from between two of the books. Pleased with her find, Caitlin held up the bag for everyone to see. She opened the pouch to reveal its contents. Nothing came out. “It’s empty.”
“So someone in this time has the stones, and you haven’t received them yet.”
“Do you think that’s why we’re here?” Caitlin asked.
The triplets shrugged their shoulders. Marjorie answered, “Your guess is as good as ours.”
“But. I thought. I mean what about?” Trying to ask the question without being offensive, Caitlin gave up.
“We aren’t oracles.” Selene hissed. “We’re just able to see things better than other people and put it together faster.”
They heard a loud thud come from down the hall. “And the wrestling match has begun.”
The girls closed the lid of the trunk. Without bothering to lock it, they replaced the other trunk on top of it. Using the noise from the boy’s room to cover their actions, they hustled out of the room and back to their bedroom. When the last girl entered the room, they heard Dan’s voice at the top of the stairwell.
United by their complicit mission they giggled. “This is the first time, I’m actually glad they’re so annoying.” Marjorie laughed. The immediate silence that followed the sound of the door to the boys’ room opening was enough for the girls to laugh louder.