Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hit that Publish Button Again

God, I’m so nervous.

I hit publish again for my mother’s letters.

I know I’ve been through this before, don’t know why I’m so anxious this time. Excited maybe. 

I went back to Bookbaby, for they will distribute the eBook on many sites including Page Pusher which means it can be easily read on the computer. No tablets, Kindles, Nooks, etc. required.

This morning I read through the manuscript again, changed a few things, cleaned the letters up a bit, found some typos—again. 

I know writers need an editor for a writer has a hard time seeing their own mistakes. Mistakes bad, but if the grammar or syntax isn’t correct, I’m not going to worry. I wanted the voices to be mother’s and mine.

Strange isn’t it to read words of someone long gone, words of someone you thought you knew intimately. Mom was secretive with me, embarrassed. She never spoke of the Lord in our conversation as she does in these letters, but then she was speaking to a Christian Adoption Agency. I know she opened up more to her next children than she had with me. She had no reason to be embarrassed or uncomfortable with them, and I wish she had not with me…

I never knew I was her pride and joy as she stated in the letters, nor do I remember that she ever said to me, “I love you.”  I accepted it somehow, and it didn’t stop me from telling my children I love them.  I know Mom never resented me, even thought she was sixteen when I was born.  We lived with my grandmother, and I remember she and I at night lying in her bed finding shapes in the tree outside our window.

Mom felt she “had” to get married. I know my father and Grandma got along famously, not so much my mother and him. 

Dad was an artist with a hobby of taxidermy. He built a “can house” behind the house that they said would take dynamite to bring it down.  It was a shop built of cans, large cans like drums, for he worked at a shoe factory and glue and such was delivered in those cans. He filled them with cement, thus the need for dynamite.

Dad befriended a mentally challenged boy next door who liked to draw water from the well, and on hot Illinois days would egg my dad on for a water fight with my mother so he could draw the water. One day, the kid entertained himself without the water fight, and we can home to an empty well. 

It sounded as though my parents had fun, but their marriage ended in divorce. It spun my mother and me into the next portion of her journey, however, and that led to her heart’s desire, more children. She told me that she always wanted a baby in the house, yet for 19 years all she got was me.

The tragedy was that she died 12 years after adopting her second family, and 10 years after having a natural-born son. Then there was the secret she never knew about. I hope by my telling that secret it will forge a legacy for both mother and my sister Jan.

I think of little Jan and how she wandered around the house calling “Jo” when I was gone. My getting married and moving away was like the older sister going away to college and leaving the little ones behind—we had forged a bond, however, that will remain forever.

Once again I am presenting this book, new title, new cover, now titled Mother’s Letters…and mine.

P.S. On an upward swing, want to join me for a 30 day challenge? Check out

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friendly Ground

“Hi Jack,” I would call as Jack strode past our kitchen window on his way to our front door.

“Don’t say that to a flyer,” he would call back.

Jack was never hijacked that I know of, but he was the lone survivor of two airplane crashes.

Jack was a navigator in the Second World War. The spot where the navigator sat, so he told me, behind the pilot and before the cargo hold, was the safest place on an aircraft.

Jack’s second crash happened in Germany behind enemy lines. And, as with the first crash, Jack walked away, except this time he was captured.

A German soldier stuck a gun to his back and was pushing him through the forest, while all around ammunition exploded from the fallen aircraft. As he was stumbling through the brambles, Jack tripped, and as he fell he reached into his boot for his pistol. Righting himself, he slid the pistol up the front of his body, laid it on his shoulder, aimed it to his back, and beside his ear he heard a deafening explosion when he pulled the trigger.

He ran like hell, fully expecting any minute to feel a bullet in his back.

No bullet.  Nobody came after him. Apparently, his shot blended in with all the others. No one heard, and he never knew what happened to the German behind him.

Jack escaped.

He hid during the day and was privy to real dogfights that was planes overhead shooting it out with each other. By night he traveled to what he hoped would be safety. By then he had pneumonia, but he happened upon a French farmhouse, where the lady took him in, hid him and cared for him.

She was so poor, he said, that she wore a dress woven out of cellophane, and the garden that sustained them was so overused it produced tasteless food.

One day, to his surprise, GI’s appeared at their front porch. Instead of his escaping past enemy lines, the allied forces came to him. He explained to the GI’s who he was, and how this destitute lady had cared for him. They explained that now they were on friendly ground. 

But that’s not the end of the story.

The following day a jeep came laden with provisions for the lady.

This is a true story that ought to be told with more depth that I have explained here, but I told  what I know.  Jack lived to become our friend, and a UFO investigator with my husband. He died years after his harrowing ordeal, at home in his apartment on friendly ground.

Aren’t we lucky?

Fascinating isn’t it, how little we know another human being? “How are you doing?” we ask. “How’s life?” “What’s happening?” We are met with, “Not much,” “Could be worse.” “Mildewing.” “This and that.”

We read novels and there we see the inner workings of a human being. We read their mind droppings, hear their voice. We know their foibles, you know those things we try to hide from our acquaintances, and even our family.

I am not able to tell you how Jack responded to his trauma, if it lingered with him, if it haunted him, or how he rose to the challenge. We can imagine he had a love affair with the woman, but that is only speculation, but he never married, or wasn't when we knew him. One can only imagine, but that’s good too, we can empathize. We can be in awe. We can think, “Whew, thank God it wasn’t me.” “Good for you Jack.” He was a person.

I have endeavored to make my mother a person as well. She was secretive with me, embarrassed, not revealing much and thus I saw more into the woman in her letters than I did in real life. She wrote her letters in private to Grandma Holt.  In the dark of night, alone, sitting at her kitchen table, the children asleep, her husband at work, she could say on paper what she could say in the light of day. She would have been appalled to think her words would ever be made public. Yet I believe they ought to be read.

Her letters will be published again, this time under the title of Mother’s Letters…and mine.

Here is my new cover.  Zinnias for Mom—they remind me if her.

A link will come later. First I have to learn to format for a new publication. You could say I’m a flake and can’t make up my mind, or you could say I persevere until I am satisfied. Choose which.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

And Then Came Monday

Yesterday I drove up I-5 while all around me green popped. Green filled the fields beside the freeway. It saturated the fields and splashed up into the hills beyond. It dripped from every possible surface. 

Springtime has come to Oregon.

And there were sheep in the fields all facing the same direction. Does that mean they were facing into the wind or the other way around?
 Were they aligned to the magnetic field? What is it? Oh, there is always an oddball facing the other way. I'm sure we can relate.

In my drive contemplation, I wondered how much
Woolite it would take to restore the sheep’s rain-grayed coats to newborn white. Have you ever seen 4H Club kids wash their lambs? Yes, they use Woolite soap, and then they clip, and brush until their sheep resemble a Serta Mattress commercial.

Yesterday I whined, “I have been blogging for more than five years, and today I have nothing to say.” Could be that the 2 a.m. study of the Corel Paint Program sucked everything else out of my brain.

Then came Monday.

I drove with my husband to his work so I could keep the car, and on the way back home, I saw the most glorious rainbow. Later driving up I-5, another rainbow, straight ahead, I was driving straight into it. I put a CD  in the player and listened to one of my favorite speakers who said, “Before you leave the parking lot write down three things you want today. So, I wrote down three things.
1. I want a great time with my niece.
2. I want a good subject for a picture.
3. I want a topic for my blog.

Everything was magical after that. I exited the freeway too early, but ended up beside where I wanted to be—Powells Bookstore in Portland Oregon. And, more magic, there was a parking place directly across the street.
Upon entering Powells I was overwhelmed—talk about green dripping, books dripped from every available surface. I was salivating. When we were in California I read that even Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, known for its square block of books, had downsized. It looked as big as ever to me, even more so. And people were swarming everywhere, more than the sheep in the fields.
Going up the stairs, I almost ran into my niece. Whew, I found her.

Apparently Powells had closed their technical store down the street—that could account for the downsizing. But this store was being re-modeled. The future of books looks alive and well in Portland Oregon.
I had a great time with my niece. She bought me a birthday coffee—thus my picture.

And here is my blog topic.
I was on a roll that day, the next day at home I rolled into computer programs that work when they take a notion, cat litter boxes that needed changed on a regular basis, my grandson who is adorable and wonderful, but needed some attention, and taxes that screamed at me to DO THEM NOW. 

It's easy to roll on vacation days. the challenge is to keep on rolling...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Time To Bury The Mule

I have spent the last few blogs on the subject of happiness, and have concluded that I am not going to chase happiness.
I’m going to let it come to me.


But I am seeking JOY. As I mentioned in a previous blog, Joy are moments. And I decided I was named Joyce for a good reason. Joy is the first part of my name.

I had an epiphany this morning—that was that each day is a new opportunity. No big surprise there, but you know how it is, a concept can bounce around for years, it grows, it changes, it turns its back on us, it spits in our faces, it loves us, it evolves.

And one day we get it. 

We CAN change the quality of the day. (According to Henry David Thoreau, changing the quality of the day is the highest of the arts.)

Perhaps that is the reason we have nights and slumber. In sleep we wander into the twilight of Neverland, we refresh, we can, if we choose, put a period at the end of yesterday’s sentence.

Although I have a habit of dragging the cares of yesterday, like a dead mule, into the new day.

Time to bury the mule.


".... Remember that feeling as a child
When you awoke and morning smiled
It's time its time you felt, felt like that again
Come with me, leave your yesterdays, your yesterdays behind,

---written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, sung by TAJ MAHAL
Read what Elizabeth Gilman (Eat, Pray Love) says about creating/art on

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Happiness is the First Egg

February 24, 2014  was an auspicious day. That morning I opened my chicken house door and found a surprise. Our first egg of the season. The first egg from my hen.

This shows the color-- a lovely seafoam green.

This afternoon I decided to give Gertrude and Victoria, the two hens, nice clean hay, deserving chickens that they are.  Hay has a nice sweet aroma, and probably some seeds, while straw is stems only, so, it's hay. Low and behold I found two more eggs. Probably the first one I found was from the day before, since I hadn't checked.  They look white here, but aren't.

I bought the chickens, on September 5, 2013, they were probably two or three days old when I bought them, and now 7 months later they are grown up laying hens.

The light-colored chick turned out to be a rooster--verboten in town--so he was adopted by a wonderful woman who lives outside the city limits.

She calls him the "Wonder rooster," for his is holding his own with her resident rooster.

This is Gertrude or Victoria, I can't tell which.

Since I had the camera in hand the morning of the found egg, I snapped this daffodil growing by our foundation. Quite a juxtaposition from 2 months ago.

December 6, 2013

                                                                            February 24, 2014
That's the news from home this week. For more information, or to click on my other sites kindly scroll to the bottom of the page.
Thank you for reading.
Love from our house to yours,
For a more pithy Joyce check out Granny Shoots from the Hip