Tag Archives: relationships

Examining My Own Mortality by John E. Stack

Something happened to me a few weeks ago that I’ve seldom gone through.  I read the name of a friend from long ago in the local obits.  It really threw me off since it was a person that had helped change the direction of my life.  It also from a time over thirty years ago and two thousand miles away on the far side of this United States.  He was distant kin and I was almost half way around the world when I chanced to meet him. Out of respect, I called him “Chief” due to military rank, and he called me “Cuz”.  Often times when old friends pass, particularly when they are not that much older, it sets your mind off on an excursion to rediscover the things that you went through, especially those things that may have had an impact on the lives of others.

I was about halfway through my Air Force career, stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. I would have been described as an arrogant and self-centered young sergeant.  I worked on the high side of construction and design.  We often went on temporary assignments and completed construction projects, such as buildings, roads and utility systems.

Not long after I was stationed in Las Vegas, I came across a brass, cigar-smoking chief master sergeant who had the same last name as my mom’s maiden name “Whitlow”.  A short while later I asked if he was kin to the Whitlow’s from North Carolina.  To my surprise he said he was.  He also said that my grandfather was his uncle.  What a coincidence!  It always gave us something to talk about.

The other things we often had opportunities to talk about was my mouth and attitude.  Both were horrible.  Not a time I’m proud of.  I often wonder now how my wife could stand to be around me back then. I won’t go into everything, but after the second time I lost my temper and said some very unprofessional, rude things to a young lieutenant he came to my rescue.  The lieutenant was extremely angry because of the name I called him and threatened to put me up on charges.  Chief saw (heard) what was going on and moseyed over to where we were having our conversation. He said that I was needed back on the job site right away because there was a problem. I think I was the problem.  As I walked away, I heard, “Excuse me sir, could I speak to you for a moment?”

I don’t know what was said in their conversation, but I do know that after I apologized to the Lieutenant, he agreed not to file charges.  After the butt-chewing I received from Chief, all I could say was thank-you.  I still remember some of the words he told me.  He said, “Stack“, I knew I was in it deep. “This is the last time I save your ass.  You are the best at what you do.  You don’t have to tell people, they can see it in the quality of your work.  You need to grow-up and make sure that you want to make the Air Force a career, because if you keep on this path you won’t last.”  I was surprised that he cared enough to call me out, and I’ve never forgotten.  It was more than just being family.  Even though I lost track of him, I never lost respect.

I often wonder if I have touched people in this way (the caring part, not the rude part).  I started to turn my life around and eventually I became a Christian.  After retirement, I went back to school and became a middle school teacher.  I felt that God pulled me in this direction and now I’m completing my twentieth year.  I’ve taught hundreds of middle-schoolers.  When I think back I question whether my old-school ways had positive effects on these students or was I too tough?  Did I care enough?  I like to think I did but often felt that my standards were a lot higher than the parent’s or kid’s expectations.

And then I think about the children that have lived in our home.  God provided us with a house way too large for just my wife and I, and then asked “what are you going to do with all these rooms?” (no, God did not speak directly to us but as we talked this was what we felt.)  We became foster parents about eleven years ago and have had twenty-two babies get their start from our arms.  I hope these beginnings have been positive.  I often ask myself, “have my fallings and failures affected these babies?”

As a teacher we are supposed to reflect on what we do.  Self-examination is much more difficult, and I hate them both.  I don’t like the feelings of inadequacy that I have when I question myself.  Will I get past this before I’m called to account that final time?  I know that I can’t please everyone, but will I meet my own standards for me?


***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody and the Great Zoo Escape and co-authored with his daughter Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.


Filed under John Stack, life, memory, musings, writing

Honey-Do’s Part 2 by John E. Stack

Summer is coming to a close way too fast and I will soon return to school. After nineteen years of teaching math, this year I have the opportunity to teach 7th grade Social Studies, but that is a story for a different time. This is a continuation of my last post about my adventures in the remodeling of our master bedroom and adjoining bath.
First off, let me say that even if you pay fifty dollars a gallon for paint (with primer), there is no such thing as one coat paint. I guess if you prime the walls with a flat paint the same color, but that defeats the concept of one coat. Anyway, the job that should have taken about three days took about a week.  The eleven foot ceilings didn’t help much either.
We used a real cool paint called “Sandstone”. Feels like sandpaper. We used a light gray on three walls and an aqua blue on the fourth. I trimmed it out with white. I thought it was looking pretty good, and I was almost done when my wife suggested that we should also paint the ceiling. Did it need it? Probably. Did I want to spend another day cutting in the edges and then staring at the ceiling for a few hours? No. Did I do it? Yes, and it looks good.
I used an aqua semi-gloss in the bathroom, trimmed in white. I didn’t do the ceiling yet, but probably will before all is said and done. By this time, I was used to doing two coats, so no big deal.
About three years ago, my oldest daughter won a shower door. She could not use it, so gave it to me. She asked if I could take pics of the installation in order to show how easy the install was. Since we were re-doing the bath, I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to install the door. Well, I took everything out of the box and started looking at the instructions, only to find out that the maximum width of the door was one-half inch less than the opening we had. So, I placed it back in the box and ordered a new door. Maybe that one will be installed within the next month or so.
Before the paint was even dry, it was time to go look at flooring. We needed new flooring for the bedroom and for the bath. It started out with bathroom flooring, but I guess the bedroom floor was jealous, so we caved and purchased flooring for the bedroom first. We found an engineered hardwood that looks like weathered planks. It’s nice, and was very easy to install. It took about two and a half days. Since we had no place to store the bedroom furniture, it was move furniture – remove carpet – lay floor, move furniture – remove carpet – lay floor, etc. I got my work-out for those three days, but it looks pretty good with the paint scheme.
The next day, we went to pick-out/pick-up the flooring for the bathroom. We found a gray vinyl plank system that was waterproof. It looks similar to marble. It took about three hours to remove the existing vinyl floor. It consisted of adhesive tiles on top of sheet vinyl. It was nasty. It took another couple of days to place and cut into all the nooks and crannies, and then replace the toilet.
Over the next couple of days, I have to install quarter-round trim in both rooms.  After that, I get to build my barn door. This was the small project that started the renovation. I previously purchased the rail and yesterday I bought the wood. I really wanted to have all this completed before school started, but that might not happen since I only have a few days before I have to go back.
Once I hang the door, I will have spent a little over a month working on this. My wife keeps reminding me that a lot of people have volunteered to help, but you know, there is just something about saying “look what I did.” (Anyway, most sane people wouldn’t want to work with me, because I’m very particular about how things are done.) Maybe next time I’ll include pictures.


By the way, I know that some of you readers are used to me writing about foster care, and often about our last little boy, Bill.  We had Bill for almost three years.  I won’t place blame, but the transition to the adoptive home was absolutely horrible for us, for Bill and for his adoptive parents.  It took a while, but Bill seems to be adapting and bonding to his new mom and dad.  So, my wife and I decided to take a few months off from being foster parents, and are now trying to decide if it something we should continue doing.  I am still very passionate about foster care and adoption, and maybe one day I will include a few excerpts from the book I have been working on about real kids in foster care.


*** John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure, and Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo.


Filed under John Stack, life, musings, writing

Be the Example by John E. Stack


I had a date this past week and my date was one of the prettiest girls there.  I’m sure that every other guy believed the same about their date, but theirs didn’t even come close. She wore an emerald green dress and her hair was fixed just so. She looked good and she knew it – you could tell by the way she carried herself.  She was ready for an evening of partying and dancing.  This date had cost me at least $50 and we hadn’t even dined or arrived at the dance.  Who knew what to expect.


When she saw me, her eyes just sparkled.  She told me that I looked very handsome – not something most men hear when they arrive to pick up their dates.  We were running a little behind schedule, but we knew that we would arrive at the Father/Daughter dance right on time. 


I decided many years ago, and I was strongly encouraged by my wife, that I would be the first guy that my daughters dated. I hoped that the example I presented would help influence the decisions that they would make in the future.  I wanted them to always believe that they were special and they deserved to be treated that way.


My dad taught me the proper way to behave toward ladies, and it is a shame that the dads of today don’t believe that it is important.  I was born in the 50s, 1953 to be exact, and I still believe what my dad said. Too many men, today, believe that men and women should be treated equal. 


Dad said to always treat a girl with respect. What does that mean?  First off, when you pick her up for a date, ask for her at the door, don’t blow the horn from the curb. Then open doors – car doors, restaurant doors, any doors. And by all means, don’t use foul language around her. And last of all, be even nicer to her mom (this one will go a long way.) Oh, and one more thing.  Just because you asked a girl out on a date and paid for it doesn’t mean she owes you anything. Yes, the guy should pay for the dates until you both have discussed taking turns paying.


Any time I take my wife out, this is how I behave. So, when I take my daughters out I act the same way.  I want to be the example that my daughters compare their dates to.  My opinion is that if the guy doesn’t treat you better than I do, then he doesn’t appreciate you for who you really are.  Therefore, that guy doesn’t deserve to go out with you.


Though I would never admit it when I was young, my dad was a lot smarter that I wanted to give him credit for. He gave me advice on a lot of things, but I won’t go into them right now. I need to get back to the story of my date. 


She was kind of shy at first, but when she saw everyone dancing we had to hit the floor. We danced several songs and she got thirsty, so we took a break to get food and something to drink.  We were back on the dance floor after a few bites and really had a blast.  It is difficult to slow dance when you are six foot and she is only three and a half feet.


I only really embarrassed her once.  I tried to get her to do the chicken dance, but she was having none of that.  So, she laughed at me while I danced.


I got her back home before curfew, around 8:30, and right before bedtime.  He mom was happy that we made it home with time to spare.


Dads, I challenge you to be the example for both your sons and your daughters.  Teach your sons the correct way to behave when dating, and tech your daughters to except nothing less.  You will seldom be disappointed.




***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.



Filed under John Stack, life, musings, writing

Halloween, then and now! By Arhonda Luman (based on true events)

The excitement was thick enough in the air, it was almost smothering to my mom and aunt. bunch-of-kids-and-old-houseNine kids were scurrying about trying to get their chores done. It was a special day! It was Halloween, and that meant “Candy!”   The kids could almost taste it. Having candy was a rare treat in those days. It took a massive amount of work and ingenuity to feed a family of seven, and now there were twelve. We always had plenty to eat, but we ate a lot of beans and water gravy.

Aunt Dee and my mom did not know if they could survive the barrage of questions that were fired at them. Those questions were like a machine gun, pelting them from all directions. They didn’t have time to answer one before another one was asked!

“Is it time to go yet?”

“Are we ready?”

“Is it going to be scary?”

“Can I sit in the back?”

Aunt Dee and mom took it good-naturedly. After all, they had  a total of  nine children, when you added them together, and believe me when I say, “We were together!”  All nine of we children slept in the same bedroom. That room always sounded like a barnyard fullgoats-playing of goats, jumping and running and playing.  We spent a lot of time outside because of the amount of energy we spent having fun! Oh, don’t get me wrong, there was a few hair pulling and knuckle knocking incidents too, but when all the anger left, we all loved each other very much.

We lived in a house that was barely habitable but my mother decorated it with so much love; everyone wanted to come.  Mom had five children. I was the oldest and at the time had just turned twelve years old. Her youngest was four years old. Aunt Dee had four boys ranging from six years old to a baby in diapers. Well actually, she had two in diapers.

Aunt Dee was having some hard times, and my mother invited her to stay with us until things straightened out. It required a truckload of patience on everyone’s part, but we made it work.

It was cold as ice,  the day of Halloween.  Mom saved her brown paper grocery sacks for old-pickupeverything from wallpaper to kindling. This time, they were used to collect the candy. Mom and Aunt Dee put all our coats on us and put socks on our hands for gloves. They set us larger children in the back of our pick-up with our backs to the cab and set the smaller children in front of us so we could hold them while we drove five miles into town. It was also warmer on all of us to snuggle together. The two babies rode in the front with the adults, and away we went to trick.

Every time we pulled up in front of a house, it looked like the owners were invaded. Seven little kids clamored over the side and tailgate of the pickup and raced each other to the front door. Everyone wanted to be first. Not because they were greedy, but because it

candy was a game and all in fun. We all knew when we collected all the loot; it’d go into a community bowl at home. Mom could make it last longer if she budgeted it, so all of us were ok with that!

It was so cold, our noses were running and our fingers were numb but we didn’t’ want to stop. Halloween only came once a year!  I carried the sacks for some of the smaller ones and let them warm in the truck  for a while, but they could not stand missing the excitement.  They jumped out and ran with us.

Too soon the night was over. On the ride home, the sun had gone down and the temperatures dropped even more. It was a cold ride home but we looked forward to pouring the candy in the big bowl to see how much there was!  We got to pick our favorite piece. I spied a popcorn ball right away. My oh my was that a wonderful thing! Homemade cookies and caramel apples lined the bowl.

I’ll be taking my grandchildren tonight. I will take them to something called a safe house, so they will not be served a dose of meanness. The time has passed when caramel apples and popcorn balls will be served. Now, only candy that is unopened in its original wrapper is acceptable.  The kids don’t know the difference, but I remember.


Filed under fun, life, musings, writing

Say That Again? by Chuck Thurston

One day my granddaughter began reciting a nursery rhyme she had just learned: “Hunky-Dunky sat on a wall…”

“No, sweetheart, that is Humpty-Dumpty.”


Oh well, Why not. We knew what she meant. In fact, we had been waiting, and were prepared, for this quirky trait to show up.

When her mother – our daughter — was very young, she had her own words for certain things. A helicopter, for instance, was a “hopty-clopter.” Well, that sounds rather like the noise they make. When she wanted a Popsicle, she looked in the “freezerator.” How original! The rest of the family had no trouble understanding her, and, as a matter of fact, accepted these words as improvements on the originals!

I once worked with a fellow of Lebanese extraction. He was bright and clever, and had a collection of remarkable proverbs and sayings that I had never heard before. He would remark, for instance, “It’s too late to close the barn door, before your eggs are hatched.”

Or perhaps, “Birds of a feather are only skin deep.”

I used to marvel at these constructions and thought that perhaps they were bits of old Armenian wisdom. Upon my asking him whether or not he thought a particular project would be done on time, he might give me a knowing squint and remark: “Better late than spoiling the broth.” I got his meaning perfectly.

But back to the genetics that my Danish-born wife has passed down.   I must begin by noting that she speaks perfect English, with impeccable grammar, so I smile benignly when her word confusions occur. She has ‘raked her brain’ for years. This has some nice logic, when you think about it. It’s much more descriptive of the process than “racking.” You are, after all, combing through your grey cells trying to recall something.

My wife looks up from her knitting one evening, and off-handedly, says, “I see that O.C. is in trouble again.” Think quickly! Is this a TV show? A new proposal by the county commissioners? I rake my brain, and finally, casually, “O.C. — more trouble?”

“Ever since he retired from football – one thing after another. I used to like him when he was running through airports in those Hertz commercials. But now…”

Ahhh. “Yes indeed. You are so right, Dearie. What’s the latest?”

I believe we must keep an open mind about these different pronouncements. Every language worth its salt is dynamic – ever changing. We should try to find the real meaning behind such constructions instead of discouraging them with ridicule. I grant that this can be difficult at times.

During a church service one Sunday, we hurriedly flipped through the prayer book to the Nicene Creed so we could catch up with the rest of the congregation that had already begun reciting it. As we walked to the fellowship hall for coffee afterwards, my wife said, “I wonder why they did away with the Apostle’s Creed? It was so much shorter and easier to recite than the Nissan Creed.”

“Hmm…that’s a Japanese automobile I believe.”

She recovers quickly, “Oh, yes. Of course — I meant the Niacin Creed.”

“Actually,” I replied — while suppressing what would have been a catastrophic snicker — “I think that is a B-complex vitamin…Oh, I but I know exactly what you mean!”


This and other stories by Chuck Thurston are from his book, “Senior Scribbles Unearthed.”


Filed under writing

The Beauty of Black Sheep by Sheila Englehart

Some families look forward to gathering for the holidays. My unconventional family prefers to remain still in hopes they creep by unnoticed. Gatherings are often dreaded and avoided. In fact, the common thread in my family is our desire for independence. I was curious to know where this began, or if someone in my family tree had ever made a connection that stuck. For the first time, I made inquiries with my Christmas phone calls. And what to my wondrous eyes did appear? A whole tree full of outcasts, black sheep for reindeer.

My father struggled to remember pieces of his past. His grandparents on both sides emigrated here sometime during the First World War. One set from Italy, the other from Germany. They found work in a railroad town on an Indian reservation where my parents and I would eventually be born. My father was never very interested in the family history and English was not their native tongue. It kills me that he didn’t pay better attention to the many stories his grandparents probably tried to share. He did remember that, as a boy, his Italian grandfather’s job was to take bags of grain by mule to the mill ten miles from home. After unloading he got to ride the mule home.

“Where was this?” I asked.

“All I know is it wasn’t Sicily.” No mob connections.

His son (my grandfather) did a bad thing. He married a German girl. His Italian family and her German family cast shunned them for that. My father followed his footsteps and also married a German girl his family did not approve of.

I got the impression that my mother’s side didn’t care for my father either. Her father took off when she was a baby. And all I knew about my grandmother was that she had worked for a furniture company and she’d been married three times before cancer claimed her. That alone would have made her a black sheep at that time. And who knows what secrets she took to her grave?

We all spawned from outcasts. And two black sheep don’t produce white sheep. Rebellion was bred into me and history repeated again when I married a man my mother didn’t approve of. But to a writer, black sheep are better than plump geese that lay golden eggs. Why rely on imagination if the coolest characters might be hanging on the branch above you to the left? On one side you might find a great aunt who sold homemade wine to the Indians during Prohibition, while on the other, an uncle who was a famous judge. I found generations of black sheep who defected from their families. Filling in the missing blanks can only make for richer characters, not to mention the deepest connection with my family that I’ve ever made.

Who broke from convention in your family tree? And can you write them into more trouble than they actually lived?



Filed under fiction, fun, life, writing

Tough Birthdays

My birthday is tomorrow the 12th, and it’s a big one. The one after “middle age” and the beginning of  “elderly.” It’s difficult to fathom I’m there already. I don’t feel elderly. I’m told I don’t look elderly. However, the calendar says I am. During the last several years when my birthday rolled around, I said it was just a number. I still felt young and vital and physically fit, so it didn’t have any effect on me. This one is different. I’m feeling my mortality, as a being who must eventually die, the dictionary says. Ye gads! This is the first time my age seems connected to a time schedule.

I remember thirty was difficult for me. Was I where I was supposed to be, I wondered? I reviewed my accomplishments and goals and soon became absorbed in just living and forgot all about time passing. There were too many things yet to do, places to visit, people to meet. I had a child to educate, nurture, train, and wifely duties, and responsibilities to my community. The concept of age was too remote to be concerned about.

This past August I had a stroke and barely a month later I was a passenger in a potentially fatal car crash. Wow, what a wake up call. For the first time in my days on this Earth, I realized I was actually mortal, that I wouldn’t be here forever. Of course, I knew the Grim Reaper would eventually claim me, but I didn’t think it could be this soon. The aftereffects of the stroke are about gone now, but the impact of what it did to my psyche is on-going. I’m also healing from the injuries incurred in the car crash, and now I have this urgent need to get my life in order, just in case. I’ve never felt like this before.

After the stroke, shock gave way to relief that I was still here. I can’t say I was afraid per se. It was more like incredulous. How could this have happened to me? Disbelief became a desire to educate myself so I could make changes to lifestyle, diet, exercise. Then gratefulness settled in that I was “warned” and had time to learn what to do to survive. An author friend e-mailed me about her stroke and offered encouragement and guidance, which helped tremendously. It gave me the comfort of knowing I wasn’t alone and it gave me a course of action to take.

That was what I needed. I found out what a wonderful family and great friends I have. I mean, I already knew that, but in this time of crisis, knowing they were there, ready with their love and support gave me the fuel I needed to keep on keepin’ on. As one gets older, relationships become more and more important. I am truly blessed to have deep and meaningful relationships with both my family and my friends.

So, when it finally comes my time to shuffle off this mortal coil, I’ll go in peace.


Filed under life, musings

Why Do People Get Married? by Pat Bertram

Karen opened a store about the same time she started going out with Max. That year, she lost so much money and he made so much money they married at the end of December to enable him to save a bundle on taxes, which they split fifty-fifty. Ah! The sweet romance of tax deductions! Decades later, they are still married and muddling along together quite well.

Ted and Alison married for love, and despite their mixed marriage—she’s a night owl and he’s an early bird—they, too, are muddling along quite well.

Between these two extremes—marrying for money and marrying for love—are thousands, perhaps millions, of religious, legal, sociological, and cultural reasons why people get married. In 2008, 2,162,000 marriages were recorded in the United States (down from 2,279,000 in 2004), which means that 4,324,000 people found a reason to get married. All of the newly wedded had a personal reason for getting married, though many of them may not know their particular reason beyond that it seemed the thing to do if they were going to take their relationship to “the next level.”

There are practical reasons for getting married. Gifts, of course! To secure various legal and financial protections for themselves and any children they hope to have or already have. And, in this age of exorbitant health costs, so that the uninsured spouse will be covered under the insured’s policy. With this insurance policy, I thee wed.

And there are impractical reasons for getting married. Because the relationship has gone stale, and getting married seems an easier choice than breaking up. Because she can no longer stand her mother’s nagging her to get married. Because he is tired of holding in his belly. Because, why not?

Some people get married for the very reasons they later get divorced. She married him because he was a dreamer and divorced him because he was unrealistic. He married her because she needed him and divorced her because she was too needy. She married him for his boyish charm and divorced him because he never grew up. No wonder the divorce rate climbs and falls in sync with the marriage rate.

Marriage, more than anything, is a statement of hope. When people get married because they want someone to come home to or because they are afraid of growing old alone, they are trusting the marriage will last their lifetime. When they get married because they want a home and family, they are trusting in each other’s commitment. When they get married for any reason, he is trusting that she will not turn into her mother, and she is trusting he will not turn into her father.

And, when they get married so they can always see themselves through the eyes of love, they are trusting that their partner will look on them with love no matter how much they change, will always notice them. And perhaps, this is the most important reason of all. In the movie Shall We Dance, Beverly Clark (Susan Sarandon) says: “We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet . . . I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things . . . all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.’”


Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.  At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!


Filed under life, Pat Bertram

Home is Where the Mama Is

I’m in the midst of selling my childhood home. As nostalgically sad as it may sound, I’m not having a problem with it. On this path, I look neither left, right or behind; I keep my feet pointed forward.

The roses were in full bloom a few weeks ago. A solid line of red blossoms climbed along the side of the house as bees busily buzzed in and out. I checked the permanent nine-year old bird’s nest to see if any new babies were in it, but it was empty this year. The coalition of mother birds had moved on to other places.

Maybe it was a sign.  Not a sign for me, though. I don’t have sentimental attachments to structures I own.  The sentimental attachments I carry are for the structures I build.

My relationships are my buildings. My family and close friends are my houses. I furnish my homes with my heart, and, though I may move from place to place over the course of my life, I carry the hearth with me. I have always told the kids, “Home is where the mama is.”

Lately, world events have dominated most conversations. Beginnings and endings over the past several days give one pause to reflect. Selling my childhood home is an ending and a beginning. I know what the ending means; the beginning, eh, not so sure, yet.

At the beginning, I write a book. At the end, the book is published. I see it on its way and then I don’t look back. I’m sure that’s a character flaw for a writer, but it’s how I am. Rewrites? Oh, yes, I’ve had my share – before the novel flies out to the publisher. After that, it’s pretty much, goodbye, baby bird.

All of the things happening around me, in my own world and in the bigger one, remind me of a line in a song by The Three Degrees:

Is this my beginning
or is this the end?

Although the sentiment is slightly morbid (considering the world is scheduled to end next year – guess I better get busy . . . or not), beginnings and endings are necessary for the entire scope of the human experience.

With the Monterey Pine, fire serves to end and begin the life of this tree. The cones stay closed until the heat from a forest fire pops them open and scatters new seeds upon the burnt ground. Our own personal fires signal our starts and stops throughout life.

Goodbye, childhood house. May your next journey take you on as many adventures as the first family who lived within your walls did. You and I will never cross paths again in this life, but I will speak of you fondly to those who ask. Goodbye and godspeed a quick sell.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Filed under fiction, life, musings, writing

Reading as an Aphrodisiac

I started reading romance novels about 3 years ago on a whim. I had been an avid Chick-Lit reader before then, with the occasional high-brow literature thrown in. I had always seen Romance as a “lesser” genre, assumed it was probably poorly written, and therefore never even ventured to that section of my local bookstore.

The interesting thing about me has always been that I tend to take on personality traits of the heroines in the books I read (my mom actually used to take books away from me because they affected my disposition.) When reading Chick-Lit, I tended to become fiercely independent. I would get snarky and sarcastic with my hubby. I wouldn’t want to cuddle or be close as much as I normally did. I became a twenty-something working girl who didn’t need a man to make her feel good about herself.

Well, that’s great and all, but it wasn’t me, and Hubby knew that. I’m a romantic at heart who loves to be cuddled and cared for. So, deciding to take a break from my independent working girl heroines, I took a jaunt through the romance section of my local bookstore and picked up a Julia Quinn novel which, I later learned, was a Regency-set historical novel. Without getting too detailed, let’s just say that Hubby and I were ready to name our first born after Mrs. Quinn!

I can’t explain what happened to both of us, even though I was the only one reading. It was if the whole world turned pink and birds sang and grass grew just for us. I fell in love all over again – all thanks to a romance novel. And my disposition? Well, the snarkiness eased out of me. I still read chick-lit from time to time, but Hubby always knows. What can I say? I’m an impressionable gal!

Jerrica Knight-Catania is the author of A Gentleman Never Tells, soon to be published by Second Wind Publishing.


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