Did You Survive the Christmas Holiday?

Planning, shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, baking, working a public job, maybe, and between handling all the extra curricular activities can be exhausting during the Christmas holiday.

I know. I didn’t plan far enough ahead to keep the jitters away. But somehow everything gets done…and you sit back and wonder how everything came together.

We are WOMAN! We always manage to set out a perfect, or maybe not so perfect, dinner-dressed to the nines. Okay, perhaps some of us may have waited until the last minute to remove our pajamas. That’s okay too, because we can get the job done and open the door to relatives and friends with a smile.

I can say all the above, because I didn’t cook this year. My son, daughter-in-law, and grandson prepared a fabulous Christmas Eve dinner and scrumptious Christmas morning breakfast.

We were blessed.

I hope all of you had the best Christmas ever. No matter how your holiday went, I’ll bet you can find blessings in the day.

Have a Happy New Year!

Until next time…I wish you Music, Butterflies and most of all…Love.

Cards, Reflection & Renewed Hope

th287EENOVThis time of year, the pace of life seems to increase as the light decreases. By winter solstice, the longest night of the year, which is this Friday, the magic and the reality of the season will be in full force. Then the light will increase again by two minutes or so a day until June when the longest day will bring its own magic.  


In Wisconsin, these late fall days vacillate between crisp with brilliant blue skies and more dower, damp days filled with shades of gray that inevitably lead to introspection. Today is one of those gray days. Yesterday was filled with sun and relatively warm temperatures at 37 degrees. Yesterday my son and I finished his annual Christmas letter—a tradition I started before he was born and have continued every year since. This was the first year he, at 19, wanted to add more than a few bullet points. I love doing the letter, even when our year in review has been filled with loss. This year it was simply filled with joy, celebration, and a boat (a really big cruise-ship-like boat) load of work.  

The letter was fun to create.  

thV6P0A1FRFilling in the addresses for the cards, less so. Hence the introspection.  

I filled in 72 addresses today, before I sat down to write this. There are still a few more to do, but those require handwritten letters to be sent overseas. I’ll do those tomorrow. They won’t arrive for Christmas, but they will be welcome as we celebrate Hogmanay—The New Year. I am grateful for each and every card I am able to send. What is hard is viewing all the addresses of the friends, family and loved ones who can no longer receive Christmas cards. I know I can reach them far more quickly—and without a stamp—simply by thinking of them, sending my love and sharing my innermost thoughts. I can do that, but it still makes me more melancholy, than I should be at this time when there are so many Blessings all around. It’s not just the gray of the day, but the gray of spirit that settles for a while over the shoulders, like a cashmere shawl, light, soft, comforting even, when the chill sets in. I never keep it on for long. Just long enough for the quiet, gentle, acceptance that comes after the initial constriction of my heart seeing the line crossed through yet another name.  

That’s okay. More than okay. That feeling tells me how lucky I am to have people who matter to me in my life now, and people who have mattered who will live inside me until the day I become another address with a line through it.  

As Christmas draws closer, I will keep all those who have gone before in my mind and in my heart. We will raise a glass to them at dinner, like we do at every Thanksgiving and every Halloween. And with every ornament that we unwrap to put on the tree from grandparents, parents, and friends, we will smile and be thankful for all they have done to shape who we are.  

This Christmas is filled with new additions to our family, new Blessings that close out this year and lead us into the next with joy and much love. th

Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate. Happy Yule to everyone. May this season fill your hearts with love. May you experience the joy of memory and none of its sadness. May your new year be filled with health, happiness and every Blessing. 


Fun with Photos

I love finding places where you can play with photos for blog posts and Facebook posts. Thanks, The Book Designer for telling me about PhotoFunia.com It is so simple to use. This took literally 10 seconds to make and upload:

There are all kinds of pictures there to use and add your photos (or book covers, for authors). Or just a little holiday fun. Enjoy!!

Jill James
author of In My Dreams, one of the stories of Christmas Wishes on Main Street

Stories make us who we are

This time of year is all about the stories. We’re starting to think about family get-togethers, foods that come out for our special festivals, ghosts of festivals past…

Do you remember the time that Grandmother took several glasses too many of the Christmas wine and danced the cancan till her hip gave out?

Don’t let Matthew near the barbecue: not after what happened two years ago.

Let the children sleep all tumbled together in the same room, same as we used to do when we were kids.

Our shared histories define us as individuals, families, friendship groups, and communities. My Masters thesis was based on narrative theory: the concept that we use pieces of story to strengthen bonds within a group — a few words or a couple of sentence that remind members of the group of their shared history, while meaning nothing to outsiders. As a storyteller from way back, I loved using this theory to measure the strength of a group.

My New Zealand culture is bound together (and sometimes split apart) by stories from English history and more recently New Zealand history, fairy tales from the whole of Europe and from Maori legend, and stories from a Judeo-Christian past that many today barely remember, except in glancing references to the Prodigal Son, Jonah and the Whale, and Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

We celebrate the little fellow in the black singlet and gumboots who uses ingenuity and a can-do attitude to make a difference. Our national heroes and heroines are self-effacing, determined, and surprisingly successful, just like in the stories we tell one another.

Other countries have their own stories. The self-made man (or, more rarely, woman). The titled hero. The revolutionary. The working-class slum-dweller who rises to the top. The flamboyant artist. The lonely hero who saves the world but can’t save himself (this one is almost always a male).

On the first Sunday in Advent each year, I put up my Jesse Tree — and this year I finally threw out the old artificial Christmas tree I’d been using and found a dead tree I could paint silver to represent the ‘branch that grew from the root of Jesse’, as the story goes.

The Jesse Tree is a way of remembering the stories that make up Jesus’s whakapapa, his family history. Each day, we add a symbol. Day one is the tree. Day two is the star that represents the creation of the heavens and the earth. Day three is the apple, day 4 Noah’s ark and the rainbow, and day 5 a field of stars.

Do those story-fragments ring a bell? If so, your group and mine intersect in the days leading up to the Christian festival.

Whether or not Christmas is a Christian festival for you, please accept my fondest wishes for you, your family and your friends this coming holiday season. May all your stories have happy endings.

Why We Need Friends

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

-C.S. Lewis

This is a retelling of a story, it’s not mine. And it can be widely applied.

A band of travelers  set out to cross the desert. Strangers who had nothing in common but their desire to reach a city across the sand, they each carried their own provisions. Not long after they set out, a terrible dust storm arose, darkening the sky and burying the path in silt and debris. Many turned back. Some hunkered down to wait out the storm. A few carried on. They became separated, lost. But two of the group were fortunate and stumbled upon an inn. There they found rest, shelter, food, and water while the storm raged on.

The next day, one of the travelers set out for the city alone. But the storm blew around him, and he was forced to dig a shelter. There a band of thieves found him. They took his supplies and left him without food or water.
The second traveler was also in a hurry to reach the city, but he remembered the others in the desert behind him. He worried they would run out of water and get lost, so he set out to find them. Eventually, he was able to help them to the inn. The wind still blew and clouds obscured the sun. The road still wound through the sometimes deep sand, and thieves were still in the hills. But this time the traveler was not alone. The group was large. When sand blocked the way, work parties were organized to remove it. When some faltered, the strong shouldered the burdens of the weak. When night came, there were watchmen to man the watch. After many days, the second man and his friends arrived safely at their destination.
When they arrived at the city, they gathered around the second traveler and said, “We could not have come to this place without you. What can we do to repay you?”
And the second man replied,  “I have not brought you to this place, we have brought one another.”
This reminds me of the connection between a storyteller and a reader. We often don’t know each other, and yet the storyteller is, essentially, offering to take the reader on a journey. Sometimes we may think we know the destination, but always the reader has to learn to trust the storyteller and the storyteller has to earn the trust of the reader. They need each other.
This story can also be related to the Indie community. Or any community, family, marriage, classroom, country. People need people. It’s not enough to simply not cause harm, if we’re in a position to do so, we should also help. And not just because it’s good for the helpless–it’s also good, if not necessary, for the helper.
As Ecclesiastes tells us:
Ecclesiastes tells us: Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
King James Version, Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
Every romance is, in it’s purest form, a buddy-story. It’s about two people finding each other and committing to spend their lifetime walking together. It’s about learning to smooth out each other’s rough patches and helping each other when obstacles roll by.
I’m so grateful for my friends here on Main Street. We were strangers from all different corners of the globe who had one thing in common–we all write contemporary romance. E. Ayres (check out E’s books) cobbled us together to create this blog. We were so impressed with ourselves, we put together a boxset of Christmas stories. That first collection rocked the Amazon charts. And we’ve been creating boxsets and deepening our friendships ever since.
Whether this is a frequent hangout for you, or if you’re just dropping by, thanks for being a part of our tribe. Even if we don’t know you, we love you for just being here.
Kristy Tate

Travel at Holiday Time

Travel is generally good, fantastic even. Any travel at holiday time, especially when one is in the Northern Hemisphere, is special.

travelAs a small-town girl from the little redwood hamlet of La Honda, California, cities are not my favorite, whether we’re talking about Auckland or San Francisco.


My partner’s a big-city boy, London born and bred. And still in the city much of the time. He gets his big city fix during the week and comes home on weekends. I go up there sometimes to go to events… and remind myself why I brave the farm, the mud, and the animals, living in at P.O. Box Middle of Nowhere, somewhere between the Hauraki and Coromandel Districts of North Island, New Zealand.travel

But I digress.

I’m in the SF airport en route back home, and it’s been a wonderful, if busy, trip. The second visit to California in the space of a month. The first took me to visit family and attend my 30th reunion of my U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine class.


I hadn’t realised how much I missed all of those people. The official reunion at the school, and the fantastic three-night stay with a twenty or so of them at the lovely Zephyr Point, with daily long hikes in the Sierras.


Then back to NZ for a few weeks, followed by more travel to California, this time to…

  • have a book signing at Chapman’s Books in Ferndale, CA, which was wonderful. Thanks Christine Chapman for having me!


  • travel to Butte County Fairgrounds to help the horses and other animals who have been injured or displaced by the Camp Fire. I no longer maintain my California veterinary license, so I went as a technician, but I was happy to help make a lot of horses happier. 🙂



  • exhibit my Equi-Still Portable Equine Stocks at the AAEP, the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Annual Convention at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.


I stayed in San Francisco at the old Hotel Grant. Once it must’ve been opulent. The rooms are huge, still with wainscoting and WINDOWS THAT OPEN, with NO AIR CONDITIONING. TRAVEL TRAVELMy favorites. Hands down.

I had a whole week in San Francisco, probably the longest I’ve ever stayed in a city.

And I enjoyed it, some of it, but with all the getting ready (including 8 hours cleaning my recently transported stocks, which had been stored outside in PA over the winter, under trees, etc.  Not ideal…) and playing tourist, it flew!



Three days of conference and transport of said stocks to their holding place, repairs, etc. and visitation of old, special friends wrapped it up! And the Russian Cultural Center… I need some research help for Tatiana!  Awesome museum and curator!

Found the Union Square Apple Store… wow!

The holidays, though… pretty lights in SF, lighting up the palm trees and huge Christmas tree in Union Square, beside the Happy Hanukkah menorah, against Macy’s wreaths in every window, the opulent decorations of Williams-Sonoma and ice skating in the Square.



Now back to New Zealand summer and more writing. Speaking of writing, have you read Authors of Main Streeet’s  Christmas Wishes on Main Street? It’s out now! Find it here! 

My story in Christmas Wishes on Main Street is another installment in the Once Upon a Vet School series, this time it’s #10: Greener Pastures Calling, featuring Lena in the country of my heart, New Zealand.

Greener Pastures Calling

A new country, a great job, and a “good Kiwi bloke”.
Life couldn’t be better.
Until it gets worse.

Lena loves her new adopted country of New Zealand, its horses and dairy stock, her veterinary workmates and her boss… but her luck with men is, shall we say, funny to watch… from the outside. She’d love a “good Kiwi bloke”, but they’re proving as elusive as their nocturnal namesake.

Nigel’s staying away from females, unless they’re cows, horses, or his mother. After his first marriage went off the rails, or the road, anyway, he just plain won’t be responsible for anyone else’s life… but Lena’s a bit of a different kettle of fish… or is she?

Sparks fly when they meet for the first time—the first official time, anyway. Not the time they conversed over the dirty instruments after she’d just survived an afternoon of malodorous veterinary treatments. They seem to be made for each other… but then Nigel remembers where he first saw her. And the questions start. Can they get past their past to see to the future they both want so badly?

Travel Greener Pastures

Get it now 

Travel ChristmasWishes

Get it now, just in time for Christmas!


See you all soon!

Lizzi Tremayne



Snow! Save it for a White Christmas

It’s that wonderful time of year when everyone begins to think about snow, holly, Christmas trees, etc. The Christians celebrate Christmas, the Jews celebrate Hanukkah, and add a few extra holidays in there such as Kwanzaa, Yule, and also the winter solstice. It doesn’t really matter what anyone celebrates but the one thing that all have in common in the northern hemisphere and far enough North is the concept of cold temperatures and snow. We’ve even have songs about snow such as White Christmas, Let it Snow, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, and of course Jingle Bells.

In the last few years, I’ve not even bothered with a Christmas tree. Bah humbug, maybe, but not really. It’s just not worth it for me. Instead I enjoy the trees that my girls put up and decorate. They’ve taken over Christmas Eve dinners. Usually they take turns as to which one will host it. All of the fun and none of the work, the holiday has become easy for me. But this year my one daughter is considering doing something a little different. She wants to experience a little holiday fun in the Big Apple. Just how does she plan on getting there? Oh, she’s driving.

Honey, we live in Virginia. We might get a snowstorm and a couple of inches can be crippling in this area. You’re talking about going further north into Yankee land. They get snow.

She tried very hard to assure me that she knows how to drive in snow. Driving in snow is not really a big problem – it’s snow and snow in Virginia is the same white stuff in Pennsylvania or New York. Except in Virginia, we measure it in small increments. We get two and a half inches. Notice the half inch? They will close down school for a half inch of snow. When you travel North into Yankee Land, snow is measured in feet.

My daughter’s little sports car is adorable, but I don’t think she’s considered snow deep enough to cover her car.

When I was seventeen, I decided to go visit my girlfriend in Pennsylvania. After dinner, I made quick phone to her house, and I was on my way. When I left the island where I was living in New Jersey, the only thing predicted was possible rain. It was normally a few hours drive to my friend’s house. I hadn’t been on the road but maybe twenty minutes when it began to rain. It continued to rain, but then I noticed the rain was getting a little bit icy. I crossed the bridge into Philadelphia and directly into falling snow. From that point forward, I crawled. It should have been just a short ride. Hours later and well after midnight, I finally made it to my girlfriend’s house. No cell phones in those days to call ahead and say hey I’m on the road. I made it and drove down their long driveway to a darkened house. The entire family assumed, because it was snowing, that I would have never attempted that trip. Wrong!

But with all the normal confidence of going to a house that I’d gone to for years that was as much my home and sometimes felt more like home then my own home, I merely found be magical way into a house that was locked with a huge security system. I left my car in the driveway because no one left room for my little car in the garage, which just meant my girlfriend’s mom took up a whole lot of parking space in garage. Yes, we used to tease her. She was lost without valet parking. How she could manage to take up at least two and sometimes as much as three parking spaces in the garage was beyond me. It’s probably why that house had such a huge garage. But if they knew I was coming, her dad always made sure I had plenty of room on his side where he parked his car. No such luck on that cold night. I left my car in the driveway, came in through the mud room, and my little excursion outside to sneak into their house without setting off all the alarms had left me coated in a layer of snow. I took my coat off and hung it over something in the mudroom knowing I would leave a puddle of melted snow under it and I’d probably hear about it in the morning. Then I quietly tiptoed upstairs and climbed into the bed that I always used. And after a very long grueling drive, it didn’t take me but a few seconds to go to sleep. Then I heard my name being called. I was always raised to believe if my father said something, I needed to jump and as quickly as possible. My girlfriend’s father made my father seem like a pussycat. There were actually several reasons for that partly because my father knew her father from the time he was a little boy and my girlfriend’s father was he a grown man compare to my father. I think he was about 15 years older. But his wife was quite a bit younger than he was and I will tell you that story another day. So when he called, I rose off that bed came flying down the stairs. He looked at me standing there in my pajamas and said I saw your coat so where is your car? I simply replied it’s in the driveway. He told me to go find it. This man was probably six-six or six-seven and had a very deep baritone voice, so as a teen, he could be a little frightening. (Another words, I didn’t play around, although he was always nice to me and everyone else. I was probably just as much a daughter to him as his own daughter.) Back up the stairs I flew and by then my friend was awake. We pulled on our jeans, but I had come without any boots. So I borrowed her mother’s boots because we were about the same size.

My car was a little MG Midget. Very cute and very tiny, and it was a convertible with a soft top, meaning it had black canvas for a roof. My friend and I had to walk out from the mudroom because the snow is too deep to try to get onto it from the garage door area. But the mudroom exit meant I could just skip the steps down to a walkway and walk across the snow I really figured I’d find my car easily except there wasn’t even a lump in the snow to give any indication where my car was parked. My girlfriend and I went out to approximately the area where I thought I parked my car. We got on our bellies and began to sweep snow away,and we had to try to figure out how far down to sweep the snow because we didn’t want to put a foot through the roof. It took a while, swimming the breaststroke on top of the snow, but we eventually found my car. Once we had done that, her father could take his big Jeep out with a plow on the front and clear the driveway.

The weekend that had started as a nightmare of a drive and then a lost vehicle under the snow, actually turned into one of those magnificent memories of playing in the snow. We took the horses out, staying mostly to the wooded areas. We rode for hours. Snow has a way of making the world very quiet. (Fortunately, I always had a pair of riding boots at her house.)

Then that night we had more snow followed by an ice storm. Not a little ice – a whole lot of ice. It knocked the power out. Her family had a generator, but it didn’t power everything. We didn’t care. For us it was an adventure, and we had fun. Kerosene lamps sat in the main room downstairs. We carried candles upstairs when we headed to bed. The following morning, we put on ice skates and we ice skated over fields and meadows. At seventeen and eighteen, we were old enough that no one said come in, you’ve been out there too long. We did what we pleased.

We traded ice skates for boots. We did some cross country skiing. We’d come in long enough to drink coffee or hot chocolate. We’d grab something yummy from the refrigerator (powered by generator) and go back out again. Just for fun, we built an igloo in the front yard. We couldn’t stand up in it, maybe somebody’s five-year-old could, but we could crawl around in it. We washed it down in water so that it would freeze. I think the igloo probably lasted until April.

The ice had taken down the phone lines and I couldn’t even call home to alert my mom that I would not be home. That also meant I would not be in school on Monday morning because I couldn’t get away from where I was.

No matter what, the horses had to be cared for and fed. Once we had the ice, we couldn’t go riding, as it would have been too dangerous for the horses. They had their heavy blankets and we gave them extra oats and sneaked a few carrots and apples to them.

The family dog was almost as old as we were and she couldn’t stay out very long with us, but we let her come, and then we put her back in the house while we wandered hill and dale.

I remember such a storm as a child and my dad and I went around the neighborhood and collected people and brought them to our house. We had a huge fireplace and Mom had the ability to cook over that fireplace. Our house became a madhouse of people and children, and although I had a chance to go outside and play, it was not the same. The ten years difference between those storms was the difference between being trapped inside and having total freedom.

Never once have my children ever experienced anything like that. The area in Virginia where we live does not get that kind of snow. My girls cannot imagine ice skating across fields. But now I’m listening to a daughter who’s talking about heading north, because she knows how to drive in snow. I haven’t had to drive in snow, well in deep snow, probably since I was seventeen. But I two feet of snow on the ground and more snow falling.

I wonder if my daughter even knows she needs to carry a shovel, sand, etc in her car, a blanket for each of us, and I think we will need lots of chocolate. We still haven’t decided, but I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll go north and we’ll have fun. With a little luck, the really heavy snows will stay away until at least until Christmas Eve and by then we will have returned home.

Love puppies?

This year’s Authors of Main Street beautiful box set of holiday stories to warm your heart contains Christmas Paws.

Flint just opened another Joe Wags. Paisley is forty-something, divorced, and the mother to two grown girls. She wasn’t looking to find love nor was her oldest daughter. Maybe it was an Irish Setter named Cinnabun who’s at fault.

Here’s a little tidbit of that story for you.

Image may contain: text

Flint looked around and grabbed a cup of coffee.

“Is that your way of being certain that the coffee is always fresh? Do you ever get tired of drinking so much?” Paisley grinned as she said it.

“Never. And your coffee is always fresh. I do have a question for you.”

Paisley swallowed and sat at a table. “What’s up?”

“Are you doing anything different – something that you find works well and brings in customers?”

“Sorta. I figured it doesn’t cost much so I keep training treats and other goodies by the registers. People know that their dogs can sample whatever is there.”

Flint turned in his seat and then walked to the jars on the counter.

She followed and whispered, “Stand back and watch.”

Aileen brought in her Foxhound. The dog anxiously waited in line. Then he stood on his hind legs with his front paws on the counter. “Here, Major. Here’s your little treat. I would like a hazelnut caramel coffee and– Stop it, Major. You got your treat. Oh dear, do you still have the pumpkin cookies for the dogs?”

Tim smiled as he waited on them. “Does Major want the large-sized cookie?”

“Give him two of the medium ones and a large minty breath chew.”

The dog’s tail was wagging so hard it could have been considered a weapon.

“And you always have the jar out there?” Flint asked.

Paisley grimaced. “Sometimes it’s a plate with samples of whatever is new or an old favorite. I had the pumpkin cookies for a week, and then I went to the mint chews. This week I have the new Bitty Betty Beef training treats. I announce which treat on the sandwich board by the front door.”

“Keep it up.” He looked at her. “How do the customers like Bitty Betty Beef?”

“Well, I’ve not had a single complaint from one of the dogs, and I’ve never had an owner make any comments.”

Flint went to the jar and grabbed a few treats.

Aileen smiled politely at him.

Flint, the perpetual showman, kept that sweet smile on his face and turned on his charm. “They are new treats. Seems your dog likes them. Have you tried them?”

The look Aileen gave him was priceless.

“Really, everything I sell is one hundred percent human grade food. Taste!” He handed her one and put a few in his mouth.

Paisley looked at Aileen and reached into the jar. “It’s true. It’s all top quality.”

Paisley popped a little treat in her mouth and immediately spit it out. “Oh, that was disgusting.”

Flint swallowed. “On second thought, don’t try the Bitty Betty Beef. I promise, you will not like it.”

Flint looked at Major. “What did you think? Do you need another to be sure before you comment?”

Flint reached into the jar, grabbed a few Bitty Betty Beef treats, and fed them to the dog. “I do believe, Major approves.”

Aileen looked at Flint. “He’d eat road kill if I let him.”

Flint put on his best smile. “In that case, I’m sure he’d love a whole container of Bitty Betty Beef.”

Paisley vanished into the back room and dissolved into laughter that made tears run down her cheeks. Oh, Flint, I can’t believe you did that. I can’t believe I put one in my mouth. I wish I had my toothbrush. Her laughter rose to the surface again. Maybe I’ll grab one of the mint chews to whiten my teeth and freshen my breath while removing any tartar. Won’t my dentist be thrilled?

Happy Holidays, Everyone!