Fun Friday

And the Winners Are:

Didn’t get as many actually signed up as I hoped, but that may be because not everyone understands how to do that little task.

So–I do have winners!!

The first to sign up on my actual blog was–bjames.

Jody–is the other one who is now officially on my blog site.

I also have two other ladies who have contacted me, either through face-book or through the contact feature on the home page of my blog:  Lois, and Mary.

I will PM Lois and Mary for their addresses  (I already have the others) and your prizes will be mailed on Monday!!

Thank you for following me.

Watch for more FUN stuff on Friday!!

Thursday’s Teaser

Lark

Chicago
Early April, 1878
“Ma’am? Sorry to awaken you, ma’am.” A tap on her shoulder startled Lark from her reverie. “Do you have your ticket? I’ll punch it and let you get right back to your dreaming.”
The elderly conductor smiled at her while she dug in her reticule. “Take your time, Miss. You traveling alone?”
Lark nodded and handed the man the necessary slip of paper. “I’m on my way to Kansas to visit my sister and her husband.”
He took her ticket, then frowned. “Miss, where did you say you were going?”
“Kansas…Cedar Bluff, Kansas.”
“You’re sure it’s Kansas?”
Lark’s heart thumped. How many times had she answered such a question when the students and staff  at the Academy learned of her destination. Professor Lucas had been particularly adamant about her leaving. Why would you leave all I am prepared to give you, to live in such a wild and dirty place? Why indeed. But here she was, and even the conductor was questioning her choice. Wasn’t it marked on her ticket?
“Yes, I’m very certain. Is there a problem?” Of course there’s a problem, Lark. You’re going where you don’t want to go, to do what you have no idea how to do, and you made a deliberate effort to ditch the one person who might be able to help you now.
The man knelt by the side of her seat. “I’m sorry. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m afraid you boarded the wrong train. This one is headed to Omaha.”

Tales From the Tailboard

First Time Behind the Wheel.

When one was on the job for 32 years, and has been retired for 18, it means 50 years of memories. It also means trying to fully recall events that were firsts.  But we all know–some things you just never forget.  Such is the first time Bob drove an engine on a fire run.

There was a six-month probation period for new firefighters. During that time you were the probee–the new guy, the flunkie, etc., and you prayed for someone else to be hired so you would no longer be the low man on the ladder. That time was also an intense learning time. Before you were allowed to drive an engine on an actual fire call you had to know where all the streets in town were located, which streets were your area, and where the fire hydrants were located on said streets.  Station #1 went north and west of the train tracks which dissected the town, and station #2 went south and east. However, if it was a structure fire, then an engine from each station responded, and hoped there wasn’t a train on the tracks at the time.

Since the first engine a probee would drive (the one they trained on) was the one that responded to car and trash fires in the city limits and all fires outside city limits, whether car, trash, grass or structure, plus the one that was sent on mutual aid, each man also had to know the location of the various county roads, by number (naming of county roads didn’t come into being until the 9-1-1- system), and whether the address was an east/west/ or north/south road. (no Google maps 50 years ago)

The day Bob made his debut drive was also the day they were assigned to paint the running boards and the tailboard of this particular engine–with aluminum paint. He remembers thinking that even if an alarm did ring, he’d be able to step over the running board.

Well, the alarm rang and it was dispatched as a fire along the railroad tracks. He recognized the location as being in his territory-and in his excitement he stepped on the running board anyway.

The officer in charge always rode shotgun.  Chief at that time was  Elvin Warhurst. He set high standards for himself, and for his men. One of his goals was that the driver knew his streets before he ever responded, behind the wheel, to an alarm. He didn’t want the driver talking to the officer en route to the fire. Some officers were adamant about this rule. Others were cautious enough not to be driven to the wrong address, so would allow talking.

Bob doesn’t remember if he asked questions. He does remember being very nervous, and his leg shaking so badly, he didn’t think  he was even going to be able to hold the clutch in to shift gears.  Now–lest you think this was a simple 1-2-3 shift, it wasn’t!!  In fact, this engine was probably one of the most difficult to drive. (This will only make sense to men, but it is interesting to note) This GMC truck had a two-speed axle.  So one would shift into gear #1, then into high-axle #1, then back to gear #2, and then high-axle #2. And somewhere in this shifting you would break sequence between high and low axles. If you happened to miss that shift, it was very difficult to get into any gear, and would sometimes require coming to a complete halt and starting all over again. Need I say it was a probee’s nightmare. No firefighter, or his officer, wanted to be stalled in the middle of the street, sirens howling, and gears grinding.

They did get to the fire, and it was only a kerosene smudge pot that the railroad was using to keep their switches thawed.  Some passerby saw it and called it in as a fire.

I asked him, while we were talking this morning, if he kept that day in mind when he was the officer and had a probee driving for the first time.  He just smiled, and said he didn’t remember.

So, anybody out there who drove, for the fist time, with Bob riding shotgun?  Let’s hear your side of the story!!

That’s the tale for this week!

Mundane Matters

The Lowly Hedge Apple

Whether standing in line at a checkout counter, sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or even waiting for the light to change, one can see visuals of a person’s relationship with God. Okay, I’ll not get into whether or not it’s real or just popular. That’s not for me, or you, to judge. But think about it and take note how many times just observing one of the visuals make you think about your own commitment: Crosses, worn in  many ways; bracelets with a verse or acronym; bumper stickers, ‘honk if you love Jesus’; tattoos with a scripture reference, T-shirts that boldly proclaim Jesus as ‘my life saver walks on water’.  And many more.

One you won’t see (or if you do, please let me know) is the hedge apple. The fruit of what we know as the hedge tree, or osage orange, or various other names depending on where one lives, is pretty useless.  You can’t eat it. You wouldn’t wear it. It’s not something you’d put on the bumper of your car, or the front of a T-shirt.

But if I can believe that all things were made by Him; and without him was not anything made that was made (and I DO believe this with all my heart) then I can see Him  in even an ugly hedge apple.

It’s my own visual of the hedge he puts around me. The strength of the parent plant reminds me how important my hedge of prayers is for our children and grandchildren–our ‘fruit’ if you will.  The heat and the light the wood of a hedge tree produces is a reminder of how I’m to be warm, welcoming safe place for those close to me, and a light to those who seek. And the sparks which are produced by even the slightest whisper of wind, remind me not to ‘give up’ when life storms come my way, but rather to continue to burn and perhaps start new fires along the way

When the flesh of the lowly hedge apple rots, it reveals the seeds for new growth.  Oh, if that can be said of my life.

And to me…that matters.

Fun Friday

I’m Not Above Bribing


You who have already joined my blog site will be receiving a message shortly. Wait for it!

Now–the next three (and it won’t be hard to tell who you are) to join will receive a pretty little brass Christmas ornament which depicts Kansas!!  



Have a Fantastic Fun Friday!!

Thursday’s Teaser

From chapter one of Robin, book #1 of Brides of the Feather series to be published by OakTara Publishers. 





Cedar Bluff, Kansas
Late April 1877

            He didn’t come. Now you’re alone. We told you so. Now you’re alone.

          Her sisters’ admonitions taunted in rhythm as the big iron wheels of the steam engine began to roll, and the train hissed and chugged past Robin Wenghold. She braced herself against the strong hot wind and gripped the handle of her valise so tight her fingernails dug into the palm of her hand.

            Squinting against the afternoon sun, she limped to the end of the platform that ran the length of the stone depot. Heat shimmered above the silver tracks which stretched as far as she could see in one direction, and a twist of dust skittered down the street when she peered toward town. 
Why wasn’t he here? He promised. Had he discovered her infirmity and changed his mind?

Watch my Books page for further announcements, and please join me every Thursday for a ‘teaser’. 

Tuesday’s Tale From the Tailboard

FIREHOUSE BROTHERHOOD

There is a certain type of relationship that grows among the men in a firehouse, not unlike the military. Personalities either blend, or not, but the bottom line–when the alarm rings, or a fellow firefighter is in need, they work as one. 

Christmas 1983: Bob and our sons went to Michigan to bring our youngest daughter home for Christmas and on the way home they were stopping in Chicago to pick up Bob’s niece. Simple enough–if things hadn’t gotten so complicated.  

It was the day before Christmas Eve, early evening traffic around Chicago, already dark, and they got headed the wrong direction on the toll road. Finally were able to get turned around, and then the fuel pump gave out. It was so cold the windows frosted over on the inside of the car. Fortunately, they hadn’t been stopped long before a Highway Patrol came along and loaded them all into his car and took them to a service station, and had the car towed in and a new fuel pump installed. 

They made it to Chicago, much later, much colder and with much less money. We didn’t use credit cards and not a lot of money in the bank. They made it to near Springfield, Illinois, and the alternator light came on.  It was now near midnight and very, very cold. After the light came on, Bob took the next exit hoping they could find someplace to check it out. They couldn’t find anything open, and the car was running fine, so they decided to continue on. Then–on the ‘on’ ramp to get back onto the interstate the transmission gave out and the car quit moving. He could go backward but not forward. There was snow everywhere, but from their vantage point on the ramp they could see the lights of a motel in the far distance. This was before cell phones, and a fence separated the interstate from any businesses, but their only recourse was to walk. To make matters a bit more complicated–Lori’s normal mode of transportation was a wheelchair, and for her to keep breathing at night she required the use of a respirator, a turtle-shell type of contraption that had a suitcase size power supply that had to be plugged in. 

They wrapped Lori completely up in blankets, even her head (pneumonia was a real danger for our daughters), put her in her wheelchair and Bob sent the ‘kids’ on ahead while he gathered the respirator, etc., they would need.  I can’t even imagine how they must have appeared. And it must have aroused the suspicion of another Highway Patrol as well. He stopped them and asked what was in the chair. When Kip replied, “my sister”, they were once again loaded into a patrol car and this time taken to a motel.  Bob witnessed this ‘taking away’ from behind…but the patrolman did come back after him. 🙂 

This time, the call was a bit more frantic. They probably weren’t going to make it home Christmas Eve. And since he wasn’t going to make it home, could I pick up his paycheck? Problem–he had the car. Well, sort of a car. 

I called the station the next morning, explained the mess, and that’s when the ‘brotherhood’ kicked in. Before noon there was a knock at our door, and two firefighters delivered not only the paycheck, but a collection of money they’d taken among the others.  It was Christmas. Every one of those men needed that paycheck as badly as we did. 

But they gave…because. 

P.S.–They went beyond the giving of money. Bob was working at the airport for his part time job.  Two other ‘brothers’ also worked there. We never found out how, or who arranged it,  but one of the pilots (with Bob along)  flew Lori back to South Bend, Indiana where her fellow workers met her.  And this same pilot bought Bob’s niece a commercial ticket to fly on into Chicago. 

We’ll never forget.





Kip and Lori 







Monday’s Mundane Matters

There’s a tendency to think of mudane as common, ho-hum, nothing spectacular, boring, routine,

But the older I get, the more I realize that IN the mundane is where most of life happens

In today’s tech-frenzied world, my biggest fear is losing the excitement of the simple, everyday happenings. Don’t get me wrong–I love the new ‘stuff’ that is available. I have a smart phone, I text, I tweet, and I face book. I also Skype and face-time.  Yet, to me nothing can ever replace the actual presence of a friend. The conversations that happen around a kitchen table. The look-you-in the eye kind of fellowship that accompanies real flesh you can reach out and touch. The actual moving of the mouth to form words that express themselves not only in the hearing, but the watching. The face, the eyes, the body language that fills in the blanks between what is uttered.

Today, I accompanied granddaughter #2 to her doctor’s appointment. She’s not too young to go alone, but she didn’t want to be by herself. Then she came and spent most of the day lying on the couch at our house. We watched old Christmas movies…and talked!

I know, from experience, these kind of days we pass all too soon. And there will come a day when, because of college, distance, and time, we will be satisfied with texting, etc..  But today was mundane. I did laundry while she was here. But above the chug of the washing machine, and the hum of the dryer, our voices mingled.

Boring? NO  Spectacular? NO, unless you count going through half a bag of fun-size Snickers!!

But life happened. And I’m truly grateful for the mundaneness of  today, because it DOES matter.