Tag Archives: musings

Mythical Truth by Arhonda Luman

unicornWe live in the day of instant knowledge. The internet, with a tap of a button, can search for anything you can imagine, and plenty of things that are unimaginable. One can search  until they are blue in the face, and still, have a problem finding truth. Truth seems to be as elusive as a unicorn.

It has been said, that knowledge is the answer to truth. The problem   with that statement is, knowledge  fails to provide us with a mental grasp of every topic that can be thought of,  from religion to politics and believe it or not, every day living.

We base our truths on our heritage, environment, education, life experiences and probably a few more factors I missed.

In the name of truth, people on opposite sides have been killing each other  since the beginning of time. All of whom believe in their view of truth.

Oh, I know from personal experience that many of us think we are living in truth. I’m the first to be guilty of that.

When I was a young woman, I believed myself, to be honest. When someone who knew me asked a question, they knew they better have their loins girded up because I would tell them the truth. As an old woman, I have come to believe that the truth is; there are many truths to any given situation. As a result of that, now I can only say, “My answer is my truth.”

Every day of our life is a revelation that will eventually lead us closer to the truth. Sometimes I miss the interpretation because of being busy, or maybe I rob myself from enlightenment because of lethargy or denial, but it is ever-present and will reveal itself a little at a time to those who seek it. There are those who are exempt from learning. They are like the potatoes in granny’s bin, they have eyes but cannot see.

I’d like to share a couple of “aha!” moments that happened in my personal life that might give credence, and maybe a bit of sanity, to this muse. Perhaps it will aid someone else in their search for truth!cherries

One day a couple of weeks ago, I poured ice from a local establishment into my cup to make myself a soda. Just like I do every day,  I poured the soda over it. When I took a drink,
I shuddered. It tasted like it was flavored with cherry or some other fruit. It wasn’t awful, but it was not what I thought I was getting. My first thought was to check the can of soda to see if I accidentally picked up one with cherry flavor. To my amazement, it was not cherry flavored. My next thought was that the Dr. Pepper company had “Improved,” the taste again. I was aggravated and poured it out.

A few days later, the same scenario happened. This time, one of my children got the ice and I thought, they must have bumped the cherry button on the soda machine. I rolled my eyes and threw that concoction out. Three times this happened. Finally, I was determined to search for the truth. I opened my own refrigerator; a dorm sized one that I usually only keep soda and ice in, and discovered that my husband had brought me a bag of apples and plums as a gift. He did not tell me he did that, so I hadn’t discovered it. I blamed several entities, but the fault lay on my doorstep.

You would think I would have learned a valuable lesson. Not so. It wasn’t two days later that I was driving down a street and saw a house where someone had planted trees in their tiny front yard. The trees were cute last year, this year they are almost touching. I gasped.

Totally in disbelief, I asked myself out loud, “Why do people plant trees that close together. Don’t they know they grow? It won’t be long, and their yard will look horrible.!”

Exasperated I turned down the street my shop was on, and when I started to turn in, I saw a pile of garbage and limbs in my yard where my husband was clipping branches.  My yard looked horrible. Shame encompassed me like a vice. Again, I gave away blame, but I was more guilty than they were.

Food for thought.

In my quest for a deeper meaning, I did a search on, “Fault line.”  I was surprised but not shocked at the definition.

 

 

 

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An Open Letter to the Parents of Teenagers

Last week, I found myself parked in the pick- up line of the local high school.  I’d gone to meet my daughter to give her some money for a baseball game.  Our schedules didn’t mesh exactly and I ended up waiting for her for several minutes.  I pulled up and out of the way of the parents picking up their children, put my car in park, and waited for my daughter.

While I sat there, I checked emails and Facebook and occasionally, looked around to see if my daughter was approaching.  This was when my jaw dropped to the floor boards.

Sitting a mere ten feet from me was a young girl who apparently, tried to sit on a bench, but missed.  Instead, she found herself seated upon the lap of a young man I can only assume was her boyfriend.

Their arms and legs were intertwined and from where I sat, it was nearly impossible to discern where one appendage began and another ended.

But wait.  It gets worse.

I couldn’t see this girls face.  Whyy, you ask?   It was because her face was firmly in the crook of her boyfriend’s neck so she could suck on it.

Now, this was no occasional kiss or nibble.  The behavior I witnessed was barely appropriate for any public setting, let alone the bench of the high school pick up line.

Let me be clear.  I am not a prude.  I have two children of my own, which means that if my math is correct, I’ve had sex at least twice in my life.  However, I will go so far as to tell you that I’ve never had sex on a bench in a public setting or displayed any such behavior like I was seeing at that moment. Even at that young age, I knew that if my parents were to see that display, I would be, at the very least, grounded and, at the worst, beaten to within an inch of my life. Of course, in my day, a “beating” didn’t have the same connotation it has now. Back then, a “beating” meant a swift kick in the pants or something of the like. And no, I didn’t threaten my parents with calling social services, nor did my neighbors call on my behalf. I knew I’d done something wrong and was being appropriately punished. I can assure you, the offending behavior was never done after that point.

As I sat in my car staring, mouth agape, at these two kids, I tried to figure out what bothered me so. I came to realize that what was so startling to me was that not a single person stopped to stare, point, or jeer at the couple.  Human nature dictates that we stop and stare at those things that are foreign and/or different to us.  The only person who seemed bothered by this behavior was me!  Apparently, I’m not accustomed to two people pawing at each other during high school dismissal time….yet a bunch of high-schoolers are.  And what does that say about today’s youth?

What is your reaction to this?  Would your reaction be any different if I told you that the child – yes, she is a child – was your daughter?  Or your son?

Because let me tell you something, if it were my daughter sitting on that bench, I would have gotten out of my car so fast it would have made her head spin.  Would I have embarrassed her?  Absolutely.  But, quite frankly, a little embarrassment when you’re doing something stupid, in my opinion, goes a long way.

Parents, take a stand.  We’ve all got to have those discussions. I know they’re awkward and uncomfortable – all the more reason to have them!  Tell your children in no uncertain terms that that sort of behavior is inappropriate in such a public setting!

Am I foolish enough to think it doesn’t happen?  Of course not.  I wasn’t born under a rock.  Kids are going to do things we don’t like.  They’re going to push their limits, and our buttons in the process. But here’s the issue:  It’s the audacity in which the action was performed that really got to me.  It was like the two kids sitting on the bench were just daring someone to come up to them and stop them.

And let me be abundantly clear on this:  It’s the setting of the behavior that’s inappropriate.  By this I mean that I don’t want to see anyone going at it like that on a public bench!

When did all sense of decorum leave us?  Have we gotten to the point that we are so afraid of confronting an issue like this one that we just ignore it? Or have we become a group of parents who feel they can’t punish our children unless we’ve specifically laid out the “bad” behavior and the corresponding punishment? Sorry, but there is no way humanly possible for us to think of and explain every type of bad behavior our children may explore. At some point, they’ve got to think on their own and develop an innate sense for what is right and wrong. This business of laying out every consequence and not punishing behavior that we haven’t expressly forbidden has gotten out of control. Come on, parents! Let’s teach our kids the basics and then let them figure it out as they go. And this means telling them in no uncertain terms that their choice was stupid and inapprpriate if the label fits. Stop being afraid of hurting your child’s feelings; stop wanting to be their friend.

You are their parent. It’s your job to raise a fully functioning adult. One that knows it’s not in their best interest to be sucking on their boyfriend’s neck in the middle of the high school pick up line. It’s called such because it’s where the parents pick up their kids – not where the kids get to “pick up” their next conquest. Zip up your dress, folks. It’s time to be parents again.

Oh! And if anyone knows whose child I saw that day on the park bench, call her parents.

Donna Small is tha author of three novels, Just Between Friends, A Ripple in the Water, and the forthcoming Through Rose Colored Glasses. Her books can be purchased here: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!donna-small/c1ewn

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Life in Havre, Montana (Part II)

Last month, I told you about moving to Havre Air Force Station, thirty-eight miles north of Havre, Montana and six miles from the Canadian border. By the way, that’s pronounced HAV-ER, rather than the pronunciation one would imagine, since it was named after a city in France.

Life there was pretty basic. On the station, we had no doctor, dentist or minister. A trip into the town of Havre was necessary to fulfill those needs. We did have a small commissary that supplied milk, bread, cereals, canned goods and occasional fruit. But since we were all in the same boat, those hardships didn’t seem too bad. We shared the good and the bad, like family.

In the winter, that part of Montana typically had several feet of snow each year. Often, early in the morning, we wives were out shoveling our single-car driveways so our husbands could get up to the radar site to go to work, and we knew it was important to keep those driveways clear in case of emergencies. I’ll always remember my next door neighbor, Toni Spaconi. She was a little shorter than my 5 feet 4 inches, and one day we were both out shoveling. After about thirty minutes, as I looked next door, all I could see of her was the bobbing pompom on the top of her ski hat and phantom shovel-fulls of snow flying up on either side of her driveway. It was such a funny sight, I had to laugh.

Later, the wives would all congregate at one house for morning coffee and all the children would play together in one of the bedrooms. We rotated for a change of scenery. Since the winters were so cold, the base telephone operator would call us each morning to tell us how long it was safe to allow our children outside to play in the snow. All the moms would bundle their kids up in boots, snowsuits, gloves and scarves and we’d let the herd out, and sometimes only five minutes later, we’d call them all in again, unbundle each one, throw their clothes in the dryer and start all over again after an allowable time period. I remember, the winter I was there, we had a low of 54 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

Because of the frigid winters, plug-in headbolt heaters were required to keep our cars from freezing up. To save money, my family’s car’s engine was treated at night to a quilt, a heating pad set to “medium”, and a blanket placed on the hood, inside our garage. It’s probably a miracle we never had a problem. But then, we spent only one winter there.

At the time we were stationed in Montana, there was a law that when temperatures plummeted, if you came across a stranded driver on the highway, one had to pick him up and take him to safety, and there was a steep fine for noncompliance. The possibility of someone freezing to death was very real there. That was long before cell phones. I imagine that law is no longer on the books these days. Luckily, we never ran into that situation in winter at least, but I’m sure it happened from time to time.

Even though it was difficult dealing with hardships, they were offset by wonderful people who became lifelong friends. Next month, I’ll tell you just how wonderful, especially after two particularly harrowing experiences!

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A New Addition!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an animal person.  Pretty much anything with fur appeals to me.  My apologies to the fish, reptile, and bird lovers, but I want something that will curl up beside me on the couch while I’m watching a little HGTV.

There is something about the wag of a dog’s tail or the way a cat rubs up against your legs that just seems to melt my stress away. Most nights, in fact, I can be found on my couch, working on one of my novels or some other project. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, my beagle, Charlie, is never far from me.

My children have the same love of animals that I do. The only difference is that their animal of choice is cats. In fact, immediately after my ex-husband and I told our girls we were separating, I wanted to do something to make them feel better. They’d been asking for a cat for years but hadn’t been allowed to get one. Since the rules were now changing, I told them I’d get them each a cat. Within thirty seconds, their tears had vanished and they were thinking of names for their new pets.

To me, having an animal is part of growing up. I’ve had a dog or cat all my life and want the same for my children.

Many, many years ago, friends of mine had a pair of bassett hounds. I loved those dogs. In fact, when I would visit said couple, I would spend most of my time stroking the soft fur of their ears and snuggling their smooshy faces. They were the sweetest dogs I’d ever been around. I loved how their legs were too short, their ears were too long and their bodies didn’t quite match the rest of them. The shape of them was just comical to me and make me love them all that much more.

Thus began my love of bassett hounds.

Flash forward to this week. I was innocently perusing Craig’s list as I do if I’m interested in finding a piece of furniture to refinish. I’m still not sure how I ended up in the “Pets” section, but….

This little guy’s picture popped up.

new puppy

I know! Adorable, right? I clicked on him, backed out. Clicked on it again. Closed my browser. Later, I found myself going back to his picture. I simply couldn’t stay away. When I could stand it no longer, I called the number listed on the ad and left a message. The posting indicated that a sale on the puppy was “pending.” I figured I didn’t stand a chance. After all, who would let this little guy out of their hands? I left a message saying that if the sale fell through, please call me.

And you know what? She did.

The sale fell through and the puppy was now available for purchase. Did I want to come see him?

Did I? Is the pope still catholic? Does he still wear a funny hat?

You betcha!

My girls and I drove to meet this little guy Wednesday night. When we went into the barn to meet him and his seven siblings, I feel certain that the sound of our voices would have shattered any glass if it were within hearing distance. We immediately fell to the ground and scooped up whatever puppy was closest to us. It took several minutes for us to discern which one was the actual puppy from the ad. When we finally did, it was love at first sight.

new puppy with abby

Yup. We pick him up next Friday.

However, we still haven’t picked out a name for him. This is where you come in. Reply in the comment section with your name and email address and a name suggestion for my new addition. Keep in mind, you’ve got to impress a fourteen year old and a twelve year old. If they pick your name as the name of our new bassett, I will send you a copy of one of my books – your choice!

It’s a win/win! You may end up with a free book! And me? Well, I’ve already got a cute, new puppy!

He just needs a name…. Go!

Donna Small is the author of two novels, Just Between Friends and A Ripple in the Water. Both are available here: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!donna-small/c1ewn

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My New Word for Nostalgia

This is the time of year many of us have musings of a bygone time in our lives and we call it nostalgia. I always thought “nostalgia” was a sad word, because it brought to mind events of the past that we could only relive in our memories, of a time already gone that we could not visit again. The dictionary says nostalgia is a longing or homesickness for something far away or long ago for former happy circumstances. That longing is what gives sadness to the word.

To remedy this, I made up a new word. “Hearthy.” To me, hearthy is a happy sounding word to start with, and it illustrates the mood or moods of this time of year. When I ponder on the word hearthy, I think of brightly-colored falling leaves and shuffling through them on the way to somewhere; bobbing for apples; lounging on a braided rug in front of a fireplace all aglow; watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV; looking up at the stars on a still, crisp night; listening to the carols of the season; catching the first flakes of snow on my tongue. These are not just memories of the past, but things that can be experienced year after year. Now, and in the future. That’s what makes hearthy — happy.

In my office, I have bookshelves on either side of my desk that are filled with photos of my family and friends. When I enter each day I am greeted by them and often I find myself thinking about and remembering favorite times with them. Granted, some of those people have passed away, but I have made peace with that, and only think of them in happy terms now. Although they are part of nostalgia, I prefer to think of them when I am doing something hearthy and they become part of my hearthy life rather than my past nostalgia one. I have no idea if that makes any sense to you, dear reader, but for me, it’s a way to remember without being sad.

So, here it is November. I’m probably one of the few who still sends out Christmas cards to almost a hundred people each year and I’ve got them all ready to address and to write a little note in each. I’ll start putting up Christmas decorations soon and make my power company happy for the next couple of months. As I decorate the tree, hearthy thoughts will fill the room as brightly as the hundreds of lights that sparkle on it.

Hearthy holidays!

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This tough gig we call ‘parenting’

Being a parent and raising a well-mannered, polite child is the perhaps the toughest job there is. And I say that having worked in some lousy places, for some even lousier bosses.

The thing with parenting is that, unlike your job, where there is, at best, a handful of people who give you feedback, everyone feels it’s their job to tell you what you’re doing wrong with your child. Which, as we all know, is simply their way of telling you that you are not doing in the way they did it.

It starts out when your children are babies with your neighbor questioning your clothing choice for the either too warm or too cold day. “Should she be wearing that?” Your neighbor asks, eyeing the sweatshirt you chose. You then question yourself as to whether or not the brisk fifty degree weather actually warrants a hat, scarf, and gloves along with the LL Bean jacket that is suitable for temperatures below zero.

As your child ages, everyone has an opinion everything from their clothing, to your choice of school, to bedtime. We find ourselved justifying our choices and explaining our reasoning, which shines a spotlight on our insecurities. And being a parent is the one place I don’t need to feel insecure. It’s tough enough to please the two mini’s I’m trying to raise. Never mind my parents, neighbors, and friends.

You’d think that with all this scrutiny, we’d do what we can to make things easier on ourselves, but we don’t. We do more and more for our kids, seeming to forget that our job is to raise an independent adult who is able to think for himself. Perhaps the one method of parenting that causes me to wonder about all of this is how we discipline.

It seems that over the past twenty years or so, there has been a shift in parenting style from consequences that are swift and firm to a style that is more feedback oriented. You know what I mean. It’s where the parent warns the child to stop doing a particular behavior. We may count to three, or ten, (or twenty!) and then explain exactly what will happen if said behavior doesn’t stop.

I can’t help but wonder if this method is teaching our children that the only consequences they should only expect are the ones that are specifally spelled out for them. By spelling out the consequences for them, do they learn to not think about what might happen on their own? It seems to me that after a lifetime of being told exactly what is going to happen if they perform a certain act, it may take away their internal caution barometer. Are they being taught over a lifetime that for each action, there is a specific effect? Does this somehow train our children not to ponder the countless possible consequences?

I have no idea. I do know, however, that if our children aren’t taught to think about everything that might happen, bad things occur. Take the child who has a couple drinks, then drives home. What about the child who is late to work on more than one occasion and loses his job because his boss in in a bad mood on that particular day. Perhaps the most horrific example I can give is something I watched many years ago.

It was one of those dateline specials and it showcased a water park. A group of teenagers decided to see how many of them could fit into one of those enclosed water slides. They started at the entry point and climbed in, one by one, back to chest, filling the slide. The weight inside the slide became too heavy and the slide fell into the water. More than a dozen teens lost their life that day. I can’t help but wonder why no one pondered the possibility that there is a reason only one person at a time is allowed into the slide. Personally, I can’t even fathom what it would take to get me to climb into a dark tunnel with water flowing through it.

This is a horrific example but life is full of surprises and many of them are unpleasant. What is scary to me as a parent is that I cannot begin to cover all that may or may not occur if my child chooses to perform a particular action. And if I don’t cover all the possible consequences, am I somehow not doing the best by my child?

I certainly don’t know the answer to any of this but I thought I’d pose the question. Parenting is always a hot topic!

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My Tale of Traveling With a Medical Mask

In recent years, I’ve seen on television, people traveling through airports wearing medical masks, but I hadn’t actually encountered anyone doing so, much less a person such as me!

Well, after thoroughly ruining Christmas and New Years for myself, my sister and her husband by getting sick only a couple days after arriving from Florida to the Adirondacks for said holidays, I then needed nursing back to some semblance of strength  so I could return home. My poor sister was the designated “nurse.” Scratch that! The word is Saint!

She provided all the ingredients a dying person needs, warm blankets, plenty of fluids, nourishment in the form of soup, grilled cheese mini-sandwiches, eggs, (as much as a weak patient could handle) and later slightly more hefty meals. For two weeks, she helped me stay with the living.

The clinic treating me provided medical masks for my trip home. I was over my contagion stage by then, but I didn’t want to relapse by re-catching anything or being exposed to something new.

Upon arrival at the airport, I hooked the elastic from either side of the mask to my ears, fluffed my hair a bit and dragged my luggage up to the ticket counter. The agent behind the counter checked me in and then said the conveyor belt wasn’t working and I’d have to lug my checked-in bag down the corridor to another conveyor belt that did work.

It wasn’t a long distance, but in my weakened state, even a few feet was a long way for me. Trying to breathe through the mask felt like trying to suck a blanket through my lungs. By the time I delivered my bag to the working conveyor, I was exhausted and had to step out of the way to rest before making my way to security.

Trying to organize my coat, shoes, inhaler, medicine bottles, purse, and a carry-on bag into the plastic trays at security felt like trying to handle an octopus since it all overflowed the containers. And, of course, I neglected to spot and transfer the one more than 3 oz. container of mouth wash  from my carry-on to my checked bag, so it had to be discarded. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get home, take off the mask and breathe again.

Finally I made it to my gate where I sat for one hour and a half past my original departing time which meant a total time of a little more than 3 hours. Passengers were encouraged not to leave the gate area in case updates to our delayed flight came in. We were also assured connecting flights would be waiting for us after the next leg of the trip.

During this waiting time, people walked by, found a place to sit and generally created little islands of anonymity as they settled down with their Smartphones. Some actually made calls. Others, did whatever Smartphone users do. I have a dumbphone, so I wouldn’t know this.

Anyway, my countenance  never created even a glance from anyone as I sat trying to concentrate on a book I’d brought along. But when our flight was called and it was time to line up for boarding, the dynamics changed.

This airline had open seating, so within a certain number of seats, passengers could pick their seats. I was near the back of the group so by the time I walked into the cabin, only middle seats were available.

It was interesting to note the expressions on people’s faces when they spotted the bemasked me. Some people looked away, very obviously uncomfortable as they imagined what the mask was for. Others didn’t seem to notice. I weighed my choices and settled on sitting between two men.

The middle-aged man next to the window, turned his face away from me and remained there for the whole flight. The other man was young and had a hint of Goth about him. He smiled and very kindly helped me with my carry -on. I found out he was a freshman with very good grades at a college near the town in which I live. My mask didn’t seem to phase him at all.

At the start of this journey, I was curious about how wearing a mask would effect my flying experience and that of others. Although there was some reaction from other people, I was surprised there was not more. As for me, now that I’m home, thank goodness I can breathe again without something in front of my face!

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The Hurrier I Go the Behinder I Get – by Coco Ihle

I’ve always thought I was organized and efficient, even anal, as some people say. Since my book was published last April, my skills in being organized, efficient and anal have obviously fallen by the wayside. With all the blogging, reading other blogs and leaving comments, reading articles recommended, going to conferences and conventions, and generally promoting said book, the days and months have whizzed by and now my house is a wreck, I’ve lost weight because I haven’t stopped long enough to eat proper meals, my guest room is piled with “book stuff” and I’m frustrated about not having enough time for myself. Is it just me?

Get this. The other day, a neighbor, Ron, from across the street came over and knocked on my door. He’s a former cop and sometimes asks to use my fax machine, so when I saw him standing there I expected him to make his usual request. Instead, he lowered his head a bit and looked up at me through bushy eyebrows in what I could only describe as a serious or even grave expression. I was instantly alarmed. My overactive imagination conjured up my forty-something year old son in a terrible gory accident or my grandson with a surf or skateboard wrapped around his head. Maybe my sister was hurt or my brother-in-law had another heart issue. Could Nellie, my ninety-six year old next-door neighbor have fallen again? Was she still alive?

The whole second that sped by before Ron opened his mouth was filled with agonizing thoughts of doom and gloom. I had already broken out in a cold sweat, my knees were rubbery, my hands visibly trembled and my heart rate was competing with Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee.

Ron stepped closer and said, “I’m the Christmas Police. It’s time to take down your Christmas tree.”

I was so surprised and relieved, I almost melted right there on the vestibule concrete, but then I saw the smirk on Ron’s face. I was torn between explaining why I haven’t yet had time enough to take the tree down and fighting the impulse to smack him in the nose.

The only thing I could think of was, “What can I say. I love Christmas.”

“Just saying.”  With that, he turned and went back across the street.

I closed the front door and muttered to myself, “As soon as I finish my taxes I’ll take down the tree and clean and straighten the house and prepare a good healthy meal and sit down and relax and…”

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My Bucket List by Coco Ihle

I’m on the road right now going to writers’ conventions and signings and looking for a Wi Fi hot spot so I can send this.

Many of us have a bucket list of things we want to do, accomplish or experience before we leave this Earth. Some are extraordinary and some are more mundane. Mine have been few and rather simple. I’ve always wanted to find my birth family and part of that goal has been satisfied. I found my sister, Joanie, after searching for more than fifty years, but sadly, I also found a death certificate for my birth father and I assume because of the time element, my birth mother has also died. Somewhere out there is a brother and sister yet to find. The chances of my discovering their whereabouts is slim, but I keep hoping.

Another goal was to write a book about my family search and the discovery of my Scottish roots, and incorporate a murder mystery into the plot. Since I found Joanie, I was able to complete the book, SHE HAD TO KNOW, which was published in April 2011. It is the first in a series, so there is room in the storyline for the discovery of more siblings and/or further development of the sisters’ relationship.

Another item on my bucket list is travel. Having the opportunity to see and experience people and places, art, history and nature different from my own is a passion with me. I’ve been fortunate to have already seen much of Europe, the United States and Canada, but there are still so many more countries to explore. I haven’t been to New Zealand and Australia, Egypt and Jordan, India and China, Peru and the Galapagos Islands. The list could go on and on. I wish I were younger, only because that would give me more time. I know I’ll never be able to see all the things I want, but I’ll certainly try the best I can.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue writing about the adventures in Scotland of my two protagonists, Arran Hart and Sheena Buchanan, as they learn more about each other and the nature of murder. I hope you, dear readers, will follow along with me as we discover what will happen next in Arran’s and Sheena’s adventures.

Do you have items on your bucket list? What sort of things do you wish to discover or accomplish?

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Got Snow?

The snow pile by my driveway

     Every state in the nation, except Hawaii, has experienced a snow fall, or twenty, this season. I have no idea how many we’ve had since the first one in October, which was unseasonably early, even for Minnesota. It snows and we shovel. The snow bank next to our driveway is taller than I am. That’s a lot of heave-hoeing shovelfuls of snow, often heavy with water. The light, drier, flaky version is less straining to throw.
     The Inuits have fifteen root words for snow, about the same number we have in English. In Minnesota, most of us simplify to wet snow or dry snow. Snow with a higher water content works for making snowmen. Drier snow doesn’t stick together–not good for snowballs, but great for skiing. Wet snow is not as good for skiing or sledding. 
     Growing up in a northern climate, I took many inventions for granted: ice skates, toboggans and sleds, hockey sticks and pucks, skis and poles, snow shoes, and snowmobiles. The old expression, “necessity is the mother of invention” could be rephrased, “finding ways to have fun in snow is the mother of invention.”
     Then there’s ice fishing and all the equipment it requires: an auger to bore through the ice to the water below, adapted poles–a large variety from short ones with sharp points to stick into the ice, jiggle sticks, mini spinning rods, and on and on–fish houses with square holes cut out of the floors in the four corners. Some are portable, made of canvas, others are like little cabins, elaborate and designed for lengthy stays. 

A temporary village of fish houses on the lake

A number of years ago, I was at work at our local county sheriff’s department. The jail overlooked a lake. Two officers from Texas came to pick up a prisoner we were holding for them. One of them asked me, “What are all them little shacks out there?” I said, “Well, that’s a lake and those are fish houses.” He said, “Oh, I heard about that, but I didn’t think it was true.”
     It made me realize it is a difficult concept to understand. The lake freezes over and continues to freeze until it is thick enough to walk on, then to drive a car on, then to support the weight of a pickup. Fish houses are hauled out, sometimes pulled out by hand before the ice is safe to drive on. Before long, frozen lakes turn into small villages.
    

Hoar frost on the trees

     A lifetime in Minnesota has rewarded me countless snow and ice experiences, some funny, some scary, some fun, some dangerous, some painful, some calming. There are many things I appreciate. Hoar frost covering tree branches is breathtakingly beautiful. A good blizzard provides an unexpected retreat from outside demands. Moonlight on snow brightens a dark night. The way children look and smell when they come in from an afternoon of sledding delights the senses. I find the cold and snow of a Minnesota winter refreshing and renewing.

Christine Husom is the Second Wind Publishing author of Murder in Winnebago County and Buried in Wolf Lake.

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