A Time to Look Forward A Time to Look Back & Coffee Mugs

As the new year approaches, we start making all those great promises to ourselves about what we want to do and accomplish in 2017. But I like to look back and see what this past year has brought. For me, it’s been a ton of medical expenses, and it’s not over yet. I think that has made me want to erase a few things from my mind, because I really don’t want to think about them or dwell on them. So I started to look even further back and that brought me to heirlooms.

When I was little there was a trunk. It was large. (Hey, I was little, who knows what large really was.) It was made from wood and covered with leather. The top was rounded. The inside was papered and somehow pink stands out in my mind. The trunk went to my oldest brother so who knows what happened to it. Anyway, it was filled with notions, and other sewing supplies. Nothing Mom actually used. And somehow I wound up with that stuff. All I know about the trunk was that it had come over in the boat from Germany when my great-grandmother was 8 years old, and it contained all of her worldly possessions.

There was black velvet ribbon and white velvet ribbon. Many a time I cut a length of it and tied it on my girls’ pigtails, knowing I was tying their past to them. There was also all this fascinating flat lace. I still have the lace, and I’ve never figured out how I might use it. It’s beautiful. I also have no idea if it’s from the 1900’s or earlier. Part of me worried that if I used that it might be somehow destroyed. It’s so old – would it survive? (All suggestions appreciated!)

I knew that great-grandmother, not well, but I remember her. What I remember is much too long for a blog post so I’ll save you. 🙂  But I’ve thought arwabout her quite a bit because when I wrote A Rancher’s Woman, I realized my grandmothers would have been the same age as the teens in that story making my great-grandmother the age of Alisa Coleman. Oh would I love to pick my great-grandmother’s brains now!

I only know bits and pieces of my maternal great-grandmother’s story that my grandmother passed to me. I also have all sorts of things in my house that once belonged to her including several pairs of her earrings. So I guess her legacy lives onward. My father’s grandmother… I know very little about her only my father’s stories about her and growing up on that farm.

Mentally I moved though time to my lifetime.  I know this might sound silly, but somehow over the years I’ve collected coffee mugs. Not just any mug but mugs from friends who have moved away. One of the last mugs I have is from a dear friend who loved giraffes . The giraffe’s neck makes the handle. I use those mugs when I’m lonely. Somehow mugs seem to hold that person. It was her favorite mug and she gave it to me when she moved. I gave her my favorite mug.

Seems we collect odd things in life.  Sometimes it’s physical, and sometimes it’s not. The stories that I’ve gathered from sharing a pot of coffee with neighbors/friends, often wind up in my stories. My head is filled with such things. If I had another 150 years to write all those stories, I still would not run out of them because we seem to collect more of them along the way.

When I wrote Loving Matilda, a historical western, I brought the heroine EA smback to the area where I grew up. I didn’t grow up in Germantown, but very close to it. I was familiar with the land. I had been in the house where my father was raised and and stepped onto the widow’s walk where I could still see Ben Franklin on top of Philadelphia’s city hall. I didn’t use the school where he attended, I used Germantown’s. My father attended a two-room schoolhouse. And often the farm kept him at home. But his grandmother who raised him never let him slack off. By the time he was six, he could read the Bible without stumbling over words. He left school at the end of sixth grade. But I could bring home calculus problems and he’d look at the “gobbledygook” that I did to answer the problem and tell me if I was right or wrong. Of course, I couldn’t figure out how he solved the problem, but he was always right. He’d just shake his head and comment about the crazy stuff we were learning. By the time my granddaughter was bringing home math problems in sixth grade I was totally stumped as to what they were teaching her. (HUH? What is that nonsense they wanted her to do? Of course today, they don’t use slide-rulers.)

I love tucking bits and pieces of “real ” life into my stories. It doesn’t matter if they are contemporary or historical novels. So I tuck things into the stories and keep going, because I’ve learned that no one is alone. No matter what anyone has experienced, someone else has been in those shoes.

So pouring a cup of coffee into a friend’s mug is like sharing that cup with with my friend even though we might be separated by two or three thousand miles. Or wearing a great-grandmother’s pair of earrings, somehow brings me closer to her. Bridging the gaps in time, seem to hold a special place in my heart. Maybe the past, be it distant or near, holds meaning as we look forward.

As I face a new year and make plans for 2017, I don’t make resolutions, just plans, I find myself bringing the past with me. It’s embedded in my genes and a part of me. So I’ll raise that darling giraffe to my friend as I once knew her for today she is battling Alzheimer’s. That mug will mean nothing to my children and it doesn’t need to mean anything. It’s my way to remember my friend and the wonderful times together.  My family that came before me is here in my house in my possessions, a constant reminder of my roots.

I had a tough year, so did a lot of people. Many have faced more difficult battles, and I’ll admit so have I. We all seek an artificial goal of perfection that none of us will ever obtain. Maybe we need to learn to accept our pasts and move from there. I can’t make my past go away anymore than I can stop my hair from going gray – I can hide it, but I can’t stop it.  I can’t change who I am. But I can strive to be a better person while knowing that I’ll never be perfect.

There’s nothing wrong with making resolutions and if that helps someone face the future with a positive attitude, go for it! Maybe I just don’t put a date on it or attach any sort of time restraint to what I do. But somehow what goes through my head is change what you can, accept what you can’t, and cross your fingers that you have the wisdom to know the difference.  I swear that often the most difficult thing to do is to change something. Habits can be ruts and climbing out of the them is possible – not easy but possible.

I know I have a few very bad habits. Everyone does! I’m not going to say I’m going to change all those negative things about myself this year. But I’ve made plans to seriously work on a few of them. Maybe this year I will succeed! What makes me think that this time it will be different? Maybe, just maybe, I’ve hit that point in my life where I’m honestly ready to let go of that bad habit. Maybe this year I can finally see myself making a few changes in those areas.

sheridan-1890

Sheridan, WY, 1890’s

If the roof doesn’t need total replacement, and everything else goes as planned, I’m going to Wyoming this year. I keep threatening I won’t come back. But one look at their winter temps and I know I’d never survive that cold!

Anyone here live in Wyoming? Hit the contact page and tell me about it! I’ve heard I should go to Cody and the museum there. Any other recommendations? Yep, Sheridan, I know you’ve changed in the last 120 years. For a the first time in ages, I think it just might be this year that I get there.

Change will happen. Every passing day we change. Everything we do changes us, and the things around us change. We cannot stop all the changes. But we can control what we do and how we face whatever comes our way.  So I’m putting a smile on my face and looking forward to this new year. I’ve got some great plans and I don’t want the things that I can’t control getting in my way.

One major habit to break, another that needs to be, shall I say, modified, and an overall plan to continue to make gains where my health is concerned. My intent is become a better me. Plus, there’s a few things with this old house that I’m hoping to fix. And I really want to take a trip to Wyoming. So that’s my plan. Camera, toothbrush, laptop, and I’m out of here!

There’s a new year coming and I’m ready for it! Are you?

New Year’s Resolutions – Yes? – No? – Maybe?

I trust everyone had a fabulous Christmas! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, a time for family and love.

Now that Christmas is behind us, there is the new year to look forward to. 2016 held happy days, sad days, and sometimes opportunities beyond belief. Whatever your 2016 held, be thankful and know that 2017 holds promises we can embrace as new harmonies with life.

I ask myself, why? Why make excessive resolutions when I know I’ll never fulfill them? I’d rather feel positive about an important short list, than a spreadsheet that becomes overwhelming.

Life does have a way of taking over, and maintaining sanity is key.

85-360525547

Know thyself! Okay, I do. I’ve had a lot of experience with past goals and know some New Year’s Resolutions simply don’t stick to my expectations.

Why? A new year means a new beginning, and new beginnings mean change. Change is a good thing, but not if you’re frustrated trying to reach goals that are too widespread. So aspire to make resolutions that are attainable, meaningful. When goals are realistic, they’re easier to follow. Whatever plan you have in mind, make it work for you.

So…this year I’m simply going to do what works even if those undertakings need a tweak here and there. Who doesn’t need to tweak? I do, and have a feeling some of you do too.

Happy New Year, everyone! I wish you love, butterflies and music.

To keep in touch with what the Authors of Main Street are up to, go to the right top of this page, and sign up for our newsletter. We appreciate each one of our readers and love sharing our stories with you!

If you haven’t gotten our latest Anthology, please check it out!

boxed-set-v3bk

Amazon http://tinyurl.com/jxmoedb

Barnes & Noble  http://tinyurl.com/zldgnjp

Please check out these links to my books, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

Happy Yule

1The longest night of the year is always a time of deep contemplation for me ~ I am pleased to spend some of this magical day celebrating the solstice and the season with all of you.

4The dark is important to all Celts. It reaches its apogee at the solstice. We honor Yule and Christmastime together. It is a time of rest while we wait for rebirth of the sun. It is also the time for storytelling and story weaving.

Long nights curled by the fire in the North stir the heart and feed the soul. Now is the time to honor the Dark while yearning for the return of the Sun/Light.3

It is the time when stories are born. It is the time the year is remembered; including the darkest parts. Now is the time to face the dark and to know with certainty that tomorrow brings growing light.

14Yule logs are lit.

Christmas and Hanukkah candles are lit.11

Our fireplaces and Christmas trees are lit to fill our homes and our lives with the beautiful, soft, glow of colored light.13

On clear nights, if you live away from city lights, you can see that even the stars shine brighter, gifting us all with light. The beauty of the stars, and the sun, is that they shine whether or not we can see them.

I’ve always been struck by the words:

“BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM”15

These words seem perfect for Yule as we celebrate the rebirth of the Sun – and for many of us, the birth of THE SON.

As we welcome and celebrate the coming of the light, I’ll leave you with a treat for Santa.

Merry Christmas & Happy Yule.

May love & light live within even on the darkest of days.

Leigh

 

Recipe/Idea to welcome Santa with a treat:

Today or Tomorrow or Anytime through the weekend~

10Light a candle, preferably a red one, while you bake (or place on a plate if you purchase from a bakery) cinnamon rolls. Think of a wish you would like Santa to grant. Meditate on that wish while you bake or while you arrange the rolls.16

The spiral in the rolls depicts our endless spirits and the eternal spirit of giving.

A fitting gift for the Santa within us all.

Holding your wish in your mind, blow out the candle. Believe. And share your rolls!

Yours always,

Leigh

 

 

Only five more sleeps until Christmas!

When I was a kid, the week before Christmas felt interminable, while I waited eagerly for the night Santa came down the chimney with mounds of new toys for my sister and me. I always had a hard time falling asleep Christmas Eve. I remember lying awake one Christmas Eve, listening intently, and at the stroke of midnight I could have sworn I heard the sound of hooves landing on the roof.

I also remember the stage when I began to clue in about the secret behind Santa, though I wasn’t quite ready kermitto let go of the magic. This was around 1980, when The Muppet Show was one of my must-see TV programs, and the one thing I really wanted for Christmas was a Kermit the Frog doll. It was the only thing I asked the mall Santa to bring me. To shore up my chances, I made sure to tell my mother what I’d asked Santa for.

Lo and behold, I found Kermit under the tree Christmas morning. (My sister got Animal, the drummer from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem). Was it Santa who had granted my request? Was it Mom? Who could be sure?

My best friend, Jennifer, received a Kermit too. We played with our Kermits for hours and brought them everywhere with us, even to summer camp. The doll was about 14” tall and had Velcro fasteners on his feet and hands, so I could hang him or prop him up in all kinds of places. I dressed him in baby doll clothes so he didn’t have to be naked all the time.

Kermit is still with me but spends most of his time in a box now. All these years later, he’s  in pretty good shape. Whenever I see him, I smile, thinking back on a time when the magic of Christmas was real. And he reminds me to enjoy the magic through my kids’ eyes for as long as it lasts.

Santa Snippets

There are so many fun holiday romance stories. From the Hallmark channel to the library bookshelves–you can find them most anywhere–including our very own Main Street. Do you have a holiday romance to share? It can be from a novel to a personal experience. (If it’s a novel, be sure and leave a buy link! Don’t tease us with a snippet and leave us hanging.) Please limit your excerpt or blurb to 150 words. Here’s mine:

bcf34-christmas2blie2bwhiteCarson Trent doesn’t know the beautiful Millie Cruise who literally falls into his lap is really Camille Harper,  a bestselling romance writer.
Millie doesn’t know she’s headed for Carson’s grandmother’s inn in a quaint New England town.
Neither Carson nor Millie know that their lives are about to spin out of control thanks to a patch of black ice, a cow, and a little white Christmas lie.

Our First Christmas

Life is full of firsts – first step, first day of school, first car, first job. But there is something magical in a couple’s first Christmas, a first Christmas as a family. Ours was 1988. We were engaged Christmas of 1987, married June 1988, and had our first Christmas as a family in December 1988. My daughter Jennifer was 7 years old.

We so wanted to make it special for our new, blended family, so we found Disneyland’s Main Street playset at Sears. It was enormous and one of Jen’s favorite spots in the world.

disney-main-streetOkay, looking back, we should have left it in the box and worked on it with her as a family, but we were young and excited. So we decided to put it together on Christmas Eve after she was asleep and surprise her with it in the morning. Big mistake!!

It took hours to put the buildings together, glue stuff to the big plywood base, and set it all up. We finally finished about 4:00 AM. You parents out there can guess what happened next…Jen work up at 6:00 AM, excited to see her presents and open them. LOL

We were exhausted and dragged butt all day, but it was a magical Christmas, our first as a new family. A child’s excitement for the season makes it all worthwhile. Let’s all take a little of that childish glee and absorb it this holiday season. Enjoy each magical moment and make some memories with your loved ones.


My story Waking Up for Christmas in our boxed set Christmas at the Inn on Main Street is all about the magical wishes for the joy of Christmas. With the help of a cheerful innkeeper and her young grandson, Nick, Chase will find our if wishes do come true.

   He would have spent the past weeks eating hospital cafeteria food and fast food on the go if not for Mrs. Macgregor and her home cooking. He stepped into the empty dining room as Mrs. Macgregor’s grandson Nick came out of the kitchen with platters of food.
   The young man had a permanent smile on his freckle-covered face, as if sadness was unknown for Nick Macgregor. He had the bright-red hair to go along with those freckles, as well. “Just in time, Mr. Thanos. Get it while it’s hot.”
   “I’ve told you, you can call me Chase.”
   “No, sir. Nana would take me out to the woodshed,” he said, his smile growing wider to let him know Nick was kidding. “If we had a woodshed.”
   Chase looked around the room. “Where is everyone?”
   Nick rubbed his chin. “Well, the Peterson’s left yesterday afternoon.”
   Chase sighed in relief. The Peterson twins had been running up and down the hallways and yelling at the top of their lungs the last few days. He wouldn’t miss them at all.
   “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson had to leave in the middle of the night and head home for an emergency,” Nick continued. “And Mr. Olivera is packing now and leaving shortly.”
   “So, that just leaves me?”
   “Yep.” Nick smiled at him. “Just you through Christmas.”
   Another reminder the holidays were right around the corner. The touches of red and green around the room snagged his attention. A set of lighted houses sat across the buffet behind the platters of food. The same set Darcy had collected during the years of their marriage; a new house for each Christmas they’d spent together. The same set he’d found in the trash the last Christmas they’d spent together.
   A clear spot sat in front of the bay window. Chase pointed. “For the tree?”
   Nick nodded, his thick hair sweeping across his forehead. “I’m getting it tonight. Nana makes a big production out of decorating it. Tells a story for each ornament we put on the tree.”
   All he could do was nod. He didn’t trust his voice not to crack with emotion. Darcy did the same thing. A story of getting an ornament. She remembered where and when they’d gotten each one. This one on a trip. This one from a relative. That one from a friend.
   He moved over to the buffet and placed a spoonful of each item on his plate. His chest ached at the thought of shoveling food into his mouth. Telling himself he had to eat to stay healthy for Darcy helped, but not enough.
   As if Nick could read his thoughts, the young man grabbed a plate, filled it, and sat down beside him. “Hope is a powerful thing.”
   “What?” Chase said, his fork halfway to his mouth with scrambled eggs.
   “Hope. With hope, anything is possible. Your wife is still there. You just have to reach her and give her a reason to come back.”
   “She’s in a coma.”
   “Doesn’t mean she can’t hear you.” Nick said, wiping his plate clean and pushing his chair back.
   He reached over and placed a hand on Chase’s shoulder and squeezed. “Tell her why she needs to come back.”
   Gathering his plate, Nick walked across the room and disappeared into the kitchen. He heard mumblings as he talked to his grandmother and then the clink of dishes being washed. Chase forced himself to finish eating even though the delicious food was tasteless as he was lost in thought.
   Give her a reason to come back.
   He straightened in his seat. He could do that.


Enjoy the Christmas spirit with 5 sweet, exquisite tales of the holidays. Christmas at the Inn on Main Street is available as an eBook and in print from Amazon.


Season’s Greetings and Wonderful Memories, Jill

Christmas Gifts

It’s December and for most people that means Christmas is around the corner. It’s a time for shopping, wrapping those presents, and tucking them under the tree. But how many of those gifts last in our memories? Probably only a few, and I’m not certain why. But I can tell you about a few in my life.

I think I was one when I received a doggie pull toy.  I don’t remember that Christmas or anything about receiving it. It was listed in my baby book. That’s why I know it was a Christmas gift. But that little wooden dog that clacked when I pulled it along had flogp-building-setppy ears made of felt. I loved it and can remember having it forever. The other gift that stands out in my mind was a Girder and Panel Building Set. Considering I loved my blocks, this was the ultimate in building things. I would sit for hours and play with it. I actually considered being an architect or structural engineer as I looked towards college.

My oldest brother always gave me the best stuff! Mostly books. But whatever it was, it became an instant favorite. One year he gave me a gold Siamese cat pin with emerald green eyes. I wore that cat forever and when a green eye fell out and was lost, I gave it back to him and he had the eyes replaced with red ones. I liked the green eyes better, but at least I could wear it. Most of my jewelry wasn’t suitable for everyday wear, but that cat I could pin on a jumper, blouse, or shirt dress, and go off to school. But his choice in books for me were always filled with adventure, from knights in armor to fairies, or they were true stories of great sea adventures. I think I was grown before I realized that his gifts were always inexpensive, but somehow he always managed to find me the perfect gift.

When my nephews were little, my sis had a problem, and it was sending Christmas down the drain for her boys. So I bought them football PJ’s, sheets, and a half dozen other things with their favorite teams on them. And let’s not forget the Lego items! My nephew told me about 2 years ago that the Christmas that Santa gave him and his brother all that wonderful football stuff was the very best. He could tick off everything I had bought. (Even I had forgotten what some of it was!)

Why do some things stand out in our minds? I have no idea. But it’s fun when you do find that perfect gift and it’s remembered many years later.

This year I’m not going to do much for Christmas. I’m not baking or putting up a tree. The grandchildren are grown, and there’s no company coming. But enjoy it, I will.  It’s the spirit of Christmas that I love and the time with family. That’s more important than all the decorations, gifts, and commercialism.

One of my girls will be hosting the traditional dinner, and we’ll all go there. We always try to keep the meal simple. The important thing is to enjoy the togetherness and that doesn’t happen when someone is tied up in the kitchen. There’s always the pre-meal nibblers, so cheese and crackers, cut up fruit, and a tray full of raw veggies. My girls like the spiral hams, so that’s what they buy. A side of mashed potatoes, a few veggies, and we are all happy. But along with the ham, is the traditional Tourtiere, a French Canadian meat pie served with gravy. (You’ll find the recipe in last year’s post. https://authorsofmainstreet.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/the-wonderful-holidays-the-things-ive-learned/)

boxed-set-v3bkI also intend to spend some time over the holidays reading. I hope you’ve picked up our limited-time boxed Christmas set of books. The whole box is 99c. We think this might be the best annual Christmas box that we’ve done.  Ebook for 99c or our bind-up print book with all five wonderful stories that are perfect for gift giving or for those of you who love to hold a book in your hand. I’ll warn you , it’s a fat book! We aren’t writing little stories!

My book in the set is Chelsea’s Christmas. This is the newest book in sm-frontMontgomery family saga.  Chelsea is grown up and after a bad relationship, she’s come home  and is now working in her father’s law firm as a lawyer. She’s not interested in allowing another man in her life until she figures out what went wrong in her last relationship. Except she’s fallen in love with a little boy and his father. But sometimes it takes more than just love to make a relationship work. If you enjoy a meaty story where the happily-ever-after isn’t going to be easy, I think you’ll like this one. Here’s what one reader emailed me the other night. “I just finished reading your book in the Christmas at the Inn on Main Street. I love the Montgomery family and the way you invite them back to me from time to time is always exciting.”

As a reviewer once said about our boxed Christmas sets: “There’s not a sinker in the bunch.”

We love our readers and this 99c ebook set is our gift this holiday season.

Here’s another excerpt from Chelsea’s Christmas.

“Line one, a personal call.”

              Chelsea was certain it was Keefe. So she was surprised when it was a woman’s voice.

              “Chelsea Montgomery, I understand your father is not in the office. I’m sure you don’t remember me, but you probably know who I am. I’m Jenna Montgomery Sheller. I’m your mother.”

              Chelsea swallowed and found her authoritative voice. “How may I help you?”

              “I was hoping to meet you and your sisters while I was in town.”

              Chelsea’s head spun. Bide time. She forced herself to smile because everyone says it comes through in the voice. “Where are you staying and how long will you be here?”

              “I’m hoping to leave by Wednesday. I need to see your father, but I want to see my beautiful daughters. I’ve lived for so long without you. I’m certain that you’ve been brainwashed with some sort of story about me, but I never wanted to leave you.”

              Chelsea noted the desperation in the woman’s voice.

              “Chelsea, believe me when I say your father tossed me out and threatened me to stay out of your lives. He paid me off.”

              The woman began to cry. Chelsea looked at the blue button on the phone that said the conversation was being recorded. If Chelsea didn’t tell the woman, it was considered an illegal recording. “Ma’am, this conversation is being recorded, there’s a device on our phone system that does it automatically.”

              “Ma’am? Is that what I get? I bring you into this world and I get ma’am? I’m your mother. Omigod, I know he’s turned you against me. Who knows what he’s said about me. I had to leave my beautiful daughters, my babies.”

              Another round of tears, and sniffling, along with a few wails came through loud and clear. Chelsea leaned her head into her fingertips as she placed her elbows on the desk.

              Pictures that her father had kept of Jenna showed a young pretty woman. Of the three of them, Julia probably grew up to look the most like her birth mother. Chelsea wanted to hang up on the woman who had abandoned her father. But another part of her was curious about who this woman was, and why she wanted back into their lives after so many years.

              She let the woman ramble, but some of what she said was disturbing. Could there be another side that her father had failed to tell them? When the woman paused, Chelsea took that as her chance to slide in a comment and see how the woman responded. “I’ve been told I look so much like my father.”

              “Oh, you do! You did. You were his little clone when you were born. You are your father’s child, there’s no doubt about that!”

              Chelsea wanted to ask who her father really was, but she kept her mouth closed and listened.

              “When’s the best time to catch up to your father?”

              “I have no idea. Where are you?”

              “The hotel here in the downtown.”

              Chelsea smiled. “I’ll be sure to tell him.”

              “What about catching up with you and your sisters tonight?”

              “Tonight is impossible on such sort notice. I’ll call them. Maybe we can do it tomorrow night. Let me have your phone number.”

              “I’m in room 126. I’m so excited, darling. I’ve been waiting for years to see my daughters again.”

              I’ll bet you have! “I’ll call you later.” Chelsea disconnected the line. She was on some sort of psychological trip and none of it was pleasant. Using her cell phone, she called her dad and left a message. Her second phone call was to Julia, and when that conversation ended, she called Melissa. They all had the same feelings. They were curious about this woman, but it was obvious that she never suspected that their father had the children’s DNA tested.

              Chelsea pressed the intercom to connect with Carlie. “I’m taking this afternoon off. I have some family obligations to handle. I’ll be here in the morning.”

              A few hours later, three sisters sat in Melissa’s house.

              “Let’s do it!” Melissa was enthusiastic about the meeting. “Three cats and one mouse. She has no clue.”

              “But what if some of what she’s said is true?” Chelsea protested.

              Julia shook her head. “If she had wanted back into our lives, she would have done it before now. Dad said she went through the money in a few years. Something has happened and she’s looking for more money.”

Chelsea’s road to a happy Christmas is going to be a very complicated one. She has that big family behind her and a one man who truly loves her. But she has to live long enough to get through the next few weeks.