Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Thank you so much for sharing
this small memory with us.
And we have to remember those who could not be home for Christmas this year. Those who are still deployed overseas to keep us safe.
I too remember the Korean war. Sad to say I lost a first cousin in that battle.
We have had many wars 'police actions' since. Bless all our troops and we pray for their safe return.
Peace on Earth, good will to men would truly be a miracle.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Howdy Cate, and Merry Christmas.
Glad to have you today with your memory of the holiday and your new release.
In the past few years, I’ve stopped one of the traditions I started when my kids were little. Every holiday, I’d buy a new ornament for each of my three children. I wanted them to be able to someday fill their own Christmas trees with ornaments that held wonderful memories of holidays past. But now they are adults themselves. I have no idea where the time went, but I hope they treasure their collection.
Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
So nice to have you back on my blog with the wonderful story you wrote about faith.
I'll step back and let you share the story with our visitors today.
Anne Collins curled up in her over-stuffed easy chair and glanced at the daily newspaper. The glass of wine on the end table reflected the crackling fire beyond the hearth. Her workday had prompted her to fill a much larger goblet than normal. If one more person mentioned having a ‘Merry Christmas’, she thought for certain she’d lose control. This year, the yuletide held no reason to celebrate. Her husband, Daniel, lay in the hospital, hanging by a thread. Being festive rated last on her ‘to do’ list.
Warmth spread throughout the room as the logs on the grate crackled and popped, chasing away the chill brought on by frigid temperatures and two feet of snow outside. Anne grew comfortable and tossed the paper aside. She picked up her white zinfandel and sipped it while reflecting on past holidays.
She always considered her life was full and blessed…until the diagnosis. Daniel never smoked a day in his life. How did he end up with throat cancer? Surely there were plenty of murderers or child molesters God could punish. Why her husband? He was the epitome of everything good.
Tears trickled down her cheeks, and she took a tissue from a nearby box and blotted her face. Hell couldn’t be any worse than watching Daniel waste away, suffering with every breath. The radiation and chemotherapy burned his throat and made it impossible for him to speak. Seemed an eternity had passed since he flashed that smile she loved so much.
This was the first time in their married life she’d picked out and put up a Christmas tree without him. The anger festering inside made her want to rip it down, burn the gifts, and rant at the Lord for the unfairness, but…
A blast of cold air blew into the room as the door opened. “Hey, Mom, sorry, I’m late, but I stayed after school to finish up a science project.”
A smaller version of her mother, fourteen-year-old Casey slugged inside, stamping her feet on the rug in the foyer to clear the flakes from her boots. Peeling off her coat, she tackled the layer of sweaters beneath. “Boy, it is freezing out there.”
She opened the hall closet and hung everything inside, then turned to her mother with an arched brow. “Do you realize it’s the second week of December and we’re the only house on the block without outside decorations?”
Anne took a sip of wine to hide a grimace. “I know, dear. I just haven’t been in the mood this year.” She looked at her daughter and sighed. Casey was the only reason Anne hadn’t cracked under the stress.
Casey crossed the room and perched on the chair’s arm. “I can help put up the lights, Mom. All we need is a ladder. Dad left the little hooks up from last year.”
Anne shook her head. “We’ll do just fine without lights, Casey. Besides…” She stared into her lap, her eyes blurred with unbidden tears.
“Dad’s going to get better and come home, so why are you acting like he’s gone?” Casey stood and pulled her lips into pout. “You know how much he enjoys the holidays.” Her chocolate eyes glistened in the firelight, her tone demanded an answer.
Anne rose, walked to the mantle and picked up a filigreed picture frame. Looking upon Daniel’s smiling face sent pain stabbing at her heart. The photograph had been taken the year they went to
She put the photo back and turned to her daughter. “Casey, I just can’t muster up any Christmas spirit. Your dad isn’t doing very well and I don’t feel very festive.” She returned to her chair and downed the rest of her wine, hoping it would numb her worried mind.
Casey peered down at her. “I know if Dad was standing here, he’d be disappointed that you’ve lost faith. Why have we gone to church all these years if you can’t trust God to take care of things?” She spun and stomped out of the room.
Anne pondered the question. Why couldn’t she trust God? The answer was easy. He’d allowed Dan to get sick in the first place. She stood and wandered into the kitchen, her wine glass in hand. After pouring a re-fill, she gazed out the window over the sink at the drifts of snow in the backyard. The old tire swing Casey used to love still hung from a giant branch now devoid of leaves. The setting sun was lost behind a gray wintry haze, and everything looked frozen. While her mind questioned God’s motives, Anne watched until the last trace of daylight disappeared and darkness fell.
She picked up her goblet and started to turn from the window, but a flash of light caught her eye. Too bright at first, it soon softened, and Anne blinked in disbelief.
The shimmering outline of an angel, dressed all in white, appeared just outside the glass. A glowing halo shone brightly above her head, and the assuring smile on her face sent a peaceful feeling coursing through Anne’s body.
The entity raised her arms, and as if by magic, an orb of light floated from her hands and rose into the heavens. Anne’s gaze followed the star’s trail as it climbed higher, illuminating the yard, the trees, the swing, and the old storage shed in the corner where Dan kept the gardening tools. Anne thought to call her daughter to witness the scene, but couldn’t find the voice to do it. She stood rooted to the spot, her eyes fixed on the wonder outside.
The heavenly creature floated a few feet above the ground and gestured toward the sky. The gray haze was gone and a canopy of stars twinkled above. One stood out above the rest, sending a blaze of light flashing to the ground. In the snowdrift just beyond the trees, Anne beheld another wonder. Unveiled one letter at a time, an invisible hand seemed to etch the glowing word ‘believe’ into the blanket of white. Anne gasped, trying to call out for Casey, but the image, along with the angel, vanished as quickly as they’d appeared. The stars still twinkled brightly overhead, but the yard turned dark again. Her mouth agape, Anne marveled at lightness in her heart.
With a sigh, Casey stood and walked to the bookshelf across the room. She searched the shelves until she found her Bible. She thumbed through the index, looking for verses pertaining to hope and found Proverbs 3:3-4. Turning to the passage, she read:
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
She’d barely finished when she heard a strange noise coming from downstairs—a heavy thumping sound. Her put her Bible back in its place and tilted her ear to listen. She heard it again. Casey opened her door and the sound became louder. “Mom, what is that,” she called out.
When she received no answer, Casey went to investigate. The noise had stopped but she couldn’t find her mom. She walked through the entire house only to find it empty. A half-filled wine glass sat near the easy chair, but no sight of her mother.
The thumping began again—close and right outside. The porch light cast a strange-looking shadow on the front window. Casey grasped the knob and opened the door just a crack. She saw a ladder and a pair of legs from the knees down. She recognized the fur-lined boots.
“Mom, what are you doing up there?” Casey walked to the edge of the porch and peered up.
Bundled against the weather, her mother hammered at the wooden eave. “I’m putting up Christmas lights. Some of the hooks are loose and I’m tightening them. How about if you get a coat on and check the bulbs in the next strand while I finish hanging these.”
“But… I thought…” Forgetting the cold, Casey picked up a coiled cord and began unraveling it.
“I know, I know. I lost faith for a while,” her mother glanced down and nodded,” but for some strange reason, I’ve found it again. I have a strong feeling that Dad is coming home and we need to be ready.”
Casey smiled up at her mother. “Let me get my coat and I’ll be right back. Tomorrow we can put up the manger scene in the yard.”
“Good idea.” Anne went back to pounding.
Casey paused for a moment and looked to heaven. Her mind wandered to her last week's Sunday School lesson. Make A Joyful Noise Unto the Lord - Psalm 100. "Who would've thought hammering could qualify?" she muttered, then smiled. Humming “Silent Night,” she headed for the coat closet. For the first time in weeks, she enjoyed feeling a sense of peace that magnified the joy of the holiday. Faith would bind their family together; love would sustain them.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
With a little bit of luck, Tales of a Texas Boy is now available as an audio book. I started this process at the end of October. I learned about http://ACX.COM, Amazon's audio book division. Like Kindle and CreateSpace, Amazon is determined to take over books in every way, shape, and form. You can read books on your computer, smart phone, e-reader, or even a good ol' paperback. With audio books, you're able to listen to books on all those (except the paperback) and even have the narration waft in from the cloud to your ears.
Anyway, I entered the info on the book and posted a couple of pages of text. Within a day, Baarns Narration and VO upload a sample narration of my script. Love at first listen? Yup. We made a deal and (as I write this in November), we're looking at TALES OF A TEXAS BOY being available at audio.com and Amazon by today. If it's earlier than today, then so much the better. I'll post a link when the book is available.
Alas, the audio book isn't quite ready for production. One more pass through by the producer, Don Baarns, we should be in business. In the meantime, here's the new book trailer to keep you entertained.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Thank you so much for sharing this adorable Santa memory with us. Your dad sounds like quite the clever and inventive man.
Take it away.
We decided to spend Christmas at my parents’ house which caused great consternation amongst my three young children.
How would Santa know where they were? And, because Gran and Gramp didn’t have a proper fireplace, how would he get down the chimney? Assured by me and their father that Santa always knew where good boys and girls were and being so magic could get down ANY chimney, we set off.
The children reviewed the offending fireplace, a circa 1970 coal-effect three-bar electric fire set into a tiled surround with a small hearth, still unconvinced that anything good could possibly come from this defection from the norm. My Dad, however, had a grand scheme.
On Christmas Eve the children watched him roll out a sheet of paper on the hearth, set on it a glass of milk and a cookie for Santa and a dish of coloured sugar strands, those used to decorate cakes, for Santa’s fairy helpers, and assured three still disbelieving children they would see for themselves the following morning that Santa could, indeed, get down any chimney.
Once the children settled down and finally fell asleep, he set to work. Taking out his whittling knife and a circular eraser, the like of which I never saw before or since, he carved tiny foot prints around the outside edge of the eraser. Next, he took his hiking boots outside to the site of his garden bonfire and pressed the heavy-treaded soles into the ground, coating them with a mixture of dirt, soot and ashes. The boots were then marched over the paper, looking for all the world as if Santa just stepped out of the chimney and walked across the hearth to sample his treats.
The little carved eraser wheel received the same treatment. Dad whizzed the wheel this way and that across the paper, running his gadget between Santa’s footprints before finally scattering some of the sugar strands across the paper, off the hearth and onto the carpet. Messy fairies! He ate the rest of the strands, along with the cookie out of which he took just one bite and left the rest crumbled beside the glass, now drained of its contents.
Thanks to dad, Santa didn't miss them after all. A treasured memory, I'm sure.
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Friday, December 6, 2013
With the Christmas season upon us, I thought it might be fun to discuss some of the folkore and literature surrounding elves.
In folklore, elves are usually extraordinarily long lived or immortal beings that often possess magical powers. They’ve become common fixtures in fantasy literature, entertainment and popular culture.
We’ve seen them in commercials baking cookies in hollow trees, in film and fantasy literature as badass warriors, on TV as would-be dentists and even as video game characters. But where did the legends of these beings spring from?
In Folklore, the term elf and fairy are generally interchangeable. The word elf comes from the Germanic languages (aelf) whereas fairy derives from Latin (fata). Elves and fairies are generally thought of as nature spirits and stories of them are found all over the world. They are also referred to by the terms faery, fairie, fay, fae, Wee Folk, Good Folk, People of Peace or the Fair Folk.
The elves that we are familiar with in fantasy and pop culture stem from the folkloric traditions and mythology of the Germanic and Norse peoples as well as the Celts.
The Norse believed that there were both “light” and “dark” elves, the first a benevolent, shining race of beings and the latter as malevolent creatures bent on harming humans. Stories of the two races of elves appeared in the Prose Edda, but it is unclear whether the distinction between the two types was a creation of the author or a result of the importation of the Christian belief in angels.
J. R. R.Tolkien was influenced by the Norse concept of elves when he created Middle Earth. The light elves of Norse myth inspired the elegant, mysterious inhabitants of Lothlorien and Rivendell, where the dark elves became the orcs. The word orc is derived from the Latin term for monster (orcus), which is also the root of the name of the Killer Whale (orca) and the term ogre.
Tolkien was not a fan of industrialization. He was repelled by the harshness of his experiences during WWI and romanticized the “simple life” of an earlier age. But he wasn’t the first to do so.
In the Victorian age, many adults became caught up in a “fairy craze”, which some scholars believe was partly influenced by the Industrial Revolution. Fairy paintings and stories of the time were rich in nostalgia for a vanishing way of life. The Pre–Raphaelite school of art, in particular, depicted pastoral and woodland scenes from romance, legend and myth, many of which featured elves and fairies.
In Celtic mythology, fae fall into two categories derived from Scottish folklore: the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court. Seelie are the benevolent fae and unseelie malevolent. The term seelie is thought to be the origin of the English word “silly”. The Seelie court and unseely court fae are similar to the Norse division between light and dark elves. Later, William Butler Yeats, in Irish Fairy and Folk Tales, divided the fae into Trooping Fairies and Solitary Fairies. The Celtic tradition includes many fairy-type creatures, from pixies and brownies to ogres and giants.
Baobhan sith (pronounced baa'-van shee) are femme fatales found in Scottish Gaelic oral tradition. These siren-like creatures waylay male travelers and insist they dance with them. They are similar to Banshees and the Rusalka and Wila of Eastern Europe as well as the sirens of ancient greece. Wila is sometimes spelled as Veela. Fleur Delacourt in Harry Potter is part Veela.
Folkloric and mythological traditions throughout the world feature their own versions of elves and fae. In classical myths we find nymphs, fauns and satyrs.
Dryads are a type a nymph, considered to be the souls of trees. In The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, dryads fight alongside Aslan and the Pevensie Children. A Dryad named Juniper appears in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.
So how did elves become bound up in the Santa Claus legend? Elves have long been associated with Scandinavian and German gift-giving customs, but much of the belief in the USA surrounding Jolly Old St, Nick has evolved largely out of popular culture and advertising.
Back in the sixties, my family used to have a plastic elf who allegedly reported back to Santa when we kids were naughty. Imagine my surprise when I learned of that there is a book now called The Elf on the Shelf. And I thought my Dad invented the custom. Talk about your zeitgeist. Or is that zeitalp? Did all parents get the same idea about these creepy plastic and felt figures at the same time? Not my favorite custom surrounding elves.
It’s not really clear where and when Santa’s elf army cobbled their way into the mythos. Perhaps, like many Christmas customs we observe today, the presence of benevolent elves is a reminder of an earlier time, when people drew together in the shortest days of the year and feasted and made merry in hopes of dispelling the cold and gloom of winter.
So, Happy Holidays, whatever holidays you celebrate and don’t forget to leave some cookies for Santa and a little something for the elves to boot—just in case they happen plotting some mischief against you.
DENISE: THANKS FOR ALL THE GREAT INFORMATION ON ELVES. TERRIFIC TOPIC FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Thanks so much for stopping by to share one of your favorite Chrismas memories with us.
You take the easy chair by the tree and settle back with a nice cup of hot choclate
and tell us about your special memory.
Well, I’ve often said, there are so many memories from my past. Heck, when you get to be my age, there are tons of them. Besides all the ones from my childhood, there are ones from my early marriage, ones with my children and grandchildren, and now I’ll begin some with my great grandchildren. So which ones to write about? It’s a hard decision, but I’ll start from my childhood.
We usually put our tree up around that time also. Maybe that’s why Christmas is my favorite holiday. My parents, especially my mom made it special. It wasn’t just a day, Christmas was a season, beginning the day after Thanksgiving.
Lo and behold in one of them, I found hubby’s wedding ring. I guess some kids never grow up and snoop even as adults. I almost wrapped it up for him, but I couldn’t hold a secret that long. Besides, I wanted to pick on him about snooping, so I gave it to him that night.
What a cute memory. I think there is a short story in there somewhere. lol.
Speaking of stories, please share you latest with us.
Thank you again, Roseanne, for sharing with us today.
Folks, visit Roseanne's page to see more of her great books. I've enjoyed many of them. Please go to Amazon Page You won't be sorry.