Thursday’s Teaser

I’m writing this as I go. A real discipline on my part as I rarely finish the way I started. We’ll see.  Oh–and there’s no chance this will ever be published because I forfeit that right by posting it here chapter by chapter. Just don’t leave me stranded!!  🙂


Trey used the strength of his shoulders to give a mighty heave and roll away from his assailant. As long as he could keep the guy on the ground maybe he’d have a chance. Arm pulled back for his next blow, he leaned to confront his attacker and came face to face with the stranger who’d bloodied his nose and left teeth marks on his wrist. Blue eyes loaded with anger met his in defiance, and a splatter of freckles adorned a nose much to pretty to punch.
This couldn’t be happening. Could it? “A girl? You mean I got knocked down by a girl?” Lord, please tell me Ben didn’t see this.
“No, mister. You ran over a lady. Kindly leave.”
“I question the lady part, ma’am.” He stuck his wrist in her face. “You bit me. Wildcats bite, dogs bite, ladies do not.”
She squared her shoulders. “You were on top of me, and I couldn’t breathe. I did what I had to do. Now, please go away. You’ve managed to draw a crowd.”
He wiped the blood off his face with the back of his hand and smeared it on the seat of his britches. This was downright humiliating. He spun on his heel to leave.
“Wait. You’re not going to let me just sit here are you?” She had her hands on her hips, and a multitude of packages were strewn about.
“You just told me to leave.” He wiped his nose again. Just like a woman not to know her own mind. She was a feisty thing, for sure. There she sat in the dirt with her skirt above her knees. Something white and lacy fluttered like a flag of surrender, but her expression signaled this was a good spot for a battle.
“A real gentleman would never have to be told what to do. Either you help me up or I’ll scream.”
“You scream all you want,  ma’am.” He helped her to her feet. “ Just so you know, I didn’t try to knock you down. You weren’t lookin’ where you were goin’.”
“And how would you know where I was looking? You had your hands jammed in your pockets, kicking a rock like a schoolboy. You looked real grownup, I must say.” She gave her skirts a flip and planted her fists on her hips. “A gentleman would never blame a lady for such a predicament. And he would help her retrieve what she dropped because of his clumsiness.”
“Yeah, well I already told you I question the lady part.” He stooped to get the biggest package. “Hold out your arms so I can stack all this stuff again. You goin’ on a trip or plannin’ on being the fanciest lady in these parts? Never saw so many bundles of goods without a wagon to load ‘em in.” He dared a look at Ben and vowed it’d be the last ‘til he could give him a good punch.
Her shoulders heaved with a sigh. “Could you please not stack them so willy-nilly. If you’d start with the largest one they wouldn’t topple.”
He frowned, but wished he hadn’t. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw eyes so blue. Except maybe Chloe’s. But that was a long time ago. Besides that, these blue eyes were leakin’ all down her cheeks, and she wasn’t makin’ a noise. The least she could do was sniff or hiccup or something to let a fella know. “Guess it ain’t none of my business about all these packages. Didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, ma’am.”
She smiled through her tears, and his chest tightened. He finished stacking her purchases without further conversation. If only he could keep his mind on pilin’ on boxes instead of…of…
“Thank you. And just so you know—my feelings were hurt long before we bumped into one another. I do hope the rest of your day will be less uneventful.” She turned away.
            Trey removed his hat. “Wait. Please don’t leave. I don’t even know your name.”
“SuAnna,” she called over her shoulder but didn’t slow her step and was soon lost among the crowd that began to disperse.
Ben ambled toward him, his grin as wide as his steps. “Well, my good friend. You sure have a way with women. Knock ‘em right off their feet.”
“And you had to see it, didn’t you?” He brushed his hand through his hair and put on his hat. “You have any luck finding a housekeeper?”
“Not yet. Was on my way to Lorna’s. Figured she know someone.” He laughed. “Don’t want to talk about her, do you?”
“Ain’t nothin’ to talk about.” But he’d sure be thinkin’ on her. Next to Chloe, he’d never had a girl who could make him all hot and cold at the same time.
SueAnna. Maybe Lorna would know her.



Wordless Wednesday

While I usually post only a picture on Wednesday, I feel this one needs some explanation.   

This is my Bob, cutting willow TREES out of our very, very dry cove. So you understand just how dry we are, Bob is 6’1″, and the willows are taller than he is. At this point, even if we were to get enough rain to get water again, we could never get a boat through the trees.  This will be the third summer without water. 

We love our wee cottage, but it’s becoming harder and harder to say we live on the lake.  And it’s near impossible to sell a waterfront home when there is no water.

Tuesday’s Tale From theTailboard

Who’s in Charge?

One of the hardest transitions for me, as a fireman’s wife, was the change in roles that occurred every-other-day. When Bob first started on the fire department we had a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. I never wanted to be the kind of mother that threatened “you just wait until your daddy gets home”.  And at five and three there weren’t any huge battles to be decided.

However, with the passing of years and the addition of two boys, dynamics changed. Add to that, two daughters diagnosed with an incurable neuromuscular disease and all that entails, and there were times when it got really heavy. 

Attempting to balance what I could control and what I couldn’t became very much a tightrope performance. Even harder was knowing WHEN I was in control, and when I wasn’t.

It wasn’t hard for me to be in charge on Bob’s duty days. And while the rules didn’t change when he was home, the roles did. 

Those who know us, are also very aware that we are on opposite ends of the personality poles. Bob is, and was, very much the ‘walk and speak softly and carry a big stick’.  On the other hand, I carried a big stick, stomped a bigger foot and was never accused of speaking softly. 

Parenting is hard no matter the occupation. 

While I’ve never intended for these posts about being a firefighter’s wife to be devotionals, or short sermons. Allow me this one rant!!

There are a whole lot of single parents out there struggling to be both mom and dad. Whether they’ve chosen that role or not doesn’t lessen the struggle.

There are also two parent homes where the roles are so blurred the kids have no idea who is in charge, so take on the role themselves. And a child should never have to be the parent.

The next time you are annoyed by screaming kids in a restaurant, or crying kids in church, or trantrum-throwing little ones in the aisle of the grocery store…before you pass judgment too quickly, stop and consider that maybe, just maybe there’s been a major disruption in their lives, too.

Yes, there are disobedient kids. Yes, there are loud and obnoxious kids. There are times when you might think to yourself that “what that kid needs is a good spanking.” (please don’t call Child Protection Services)

And yes, there are loud and obnoxious parents. And more than once I’ve wanted to ‘smack’ them, too. 

But there are also times when a child just is that—a child. And we’ve all been embarrassed by behavior that in no way reflected the training our child received. 

We had a child wipe his snotty nose on a neighbors newly-starched white muslin curtains. 

We had a kid (same one, in fact) who blew the paper off the end of their straw only to have it go down the BACK of a lady’s dress three tables over. 

We had a daughter who went potty in a paper cup in the front yard. 

We had a child who hid himself in a roll-around display of dresses and thought it was funny to roll away from me when I attempted to catch him, and had other shoppers dodging the action. 

We had a child who pardoned himself for ‘tooting’ in the restaurant and when we ignored it he announced it a second time, both the toot AND the apology.

It is in THOSE moments when I could switch roles very quickly: i.e. “that’s YOUR child.” 


Who’s in charge?

Well, God and I have had many, many, many conversations regarding this very subject.

Guess what?

It isn’t, and never was—me.

And it isn’t, nor ever will be—you.

Never before in history have young families needed prayer more than this very day, this very moment. 

Just do it!!



















Mundane Matters

NO FUN–BUT IT MATTERS !!

Because I like to share, this time it was Bob’s turn.

It started yesterday afternoon–at 4:00 o’clock to be exact.

The directions said 4 FOUR tablets of laxative

Followed by cocktails.  Recipe follows:
 238 gram bottle of powdered laxative mixed with 64 ounces of Gatorade that was to be consumed 8 ounces at a time, every 10-15 minutes (required to be done within a two-hour period.)

Arrive at hospital surgery center at 6:00 a.m. (which meant we left our home at 4:00.

Procedure at 7:30 a.m. 

Then home again, home again, jiggity jig !!

There is absolutely nothing mundane about a colonoscopy. 

But I URGE you—if you are over 50, and have never had one, DO IT !!

And if you have a family history of colon cancer—ask your doctor when to start having this procedure done.

It’s no fun!! 

BUT IT MATTERS !!





Thursday’s Teaser

Okay!!  I’m starting something new. Someone suggested I write a story I can put on this page a chapter at a time, instead of hit and miss like I’ve been doing.  SO–here it is. This has actually been written, submitted and turned down and right now I don’t plan to re-submit it. But will, instead, edit and make changes as I post. Don’t want to lose my readers!!  🙂

Threads of Grace
ONE
June 14, 1873
Prairie Grove, Kansas

If Trey Martin had been a gamblin’ man, he’d have bet his last dollar he’d never lay eyes on his boss layin’ in bed clad only in a nightshirt, and that pulled up higher than was decent. He didn’t dare look at his partner, Ben Penwell. If the big rubber-faced redhead as much as twitched a muscle they’d both be in more trouble than they bargained for.
“Hilda said you want to talk to us sir?” Where did a fella look at a time like this? He moved closer to the head of the bed. “She sounded serious.”
Adam Covington frowned. “It is serious. Now you listen up. I’m going to say this once. Hilda’s leaving—”
“Leaving? Where? Why?” He loved her The old housekeeper reminded him of his ma. Why would she leave now of all times?
“Well, if you’d shut that mouth of yours for the next two minutes, I might be able to answer your questions.” Mr. Covington used his arms to push himself further up on his pillows. “Hilda’s sister is sick, and she’s going to go take care of her. I can’t and won’t tell her she can’t go. That’s where you two boys fit into the plan.”
Ben grinned. “Trey, here—he can cook real good if you was thinkin’—”
A ghost of a smile crossed Covington’s face. “Sorry, Ben. Trey’s cooking isn’t my first thought. I’m sending the two of you to town to find us a housekeeper.”
“Today? Bring somebody back today?” Trey hated the way his voice squawked. Sounded like a schoolboy.
“I don’t know how long it’ll take. Hilda’s agreed to stay until we find someone, but she’s most anxious to get to her sister.”
“I’ve never shopped for a housekeeper. How’re we supposed to know if she’ll be good or not? Can’t check her teeth or legs like buyin’ a horse.”
The boss closed his eyes. “Look fellas, we don’t have a lot of time here. Go to Nelson’s Mercantile. Lorna knows every woman in Prairie Grove. She’ll have some ideas. But I’ll promise you this—you come home before you’ve found someone, one of you will be wearing an apron from now on.”
Trey was careful not to slam the door on his way out of the room. How hard could it be? Find a widow woman and bring her back to Covington’s ranch. Everyone for miles around knew the K/M was one of the finest ranches around. And his boss had the reputation of being one of the most God-following men in this part of Kansas. So it shouldn’t be that difficult to find someone who wanted to work for him. Should it?
Once off the porch, Ben grabbed his arm. “What’re you gonna do, Trey?”
“What am I going to do? Listen buddy, you’re in on this, too. You were listening, weren’t you?”
He shrugged. “Sure, I was listenin’, but since when do I have an opinion? You was the one who said ‘come on, Ben. This looks to be as good a place as any to work for awhile. Now one of us is gonna end up bein’ the inside help, and I got me a real bad feelin’ it won’t be you.”
Trey pulled him to a stop. “It has been a good place to work, hasn’t it?”
“Yeah.”
“When we met we were both dirty, hungry and broke. At least you were all of that. I was only hungry and broke.”
Ben gave him shove with his shoulder. “Ya just think you didn’t stink. My horse even shied away from ya.”
Trey laughed. “Your horse didn’t shy away, you were fixing to turn and run.”
“So used to runnin’ it just came natural-like. Never had me a friend, you know. Didn’t know I could trust a body what smelled so bad.” His grin stretched across his face. “Been good, hasn’t it pal?” He flung his arm around Trey’s shoulders.
“Sure has. That’s one reason we’re gonna do what boss asked. Mr. Covington has been nothing but fair, honest and right-down good to us. He’s asked no questions, took us in like we belonged, and this is the first time he’s asked us to do anything different than any of the other men. What say we find him a housekeeper. Come on, I’ll race you to the barn. The loser has to buy supper, and I like my steak rare.”
Ben grabbed his arm. “Wait.” He pointed back to the house. “Look.”
Trey turned, and Ben gave him a shove. “I like mine well done.” He took off on a dead run.
He’d never had a brother. But he sure loved that grinnin’ redhead.

§

Tuesday’s Tale from the Tailboard

To the Rescue—Again

It was one of those days. Our Lori was slowly, very slowly, improving after being in a coma, the result of a car wreck. (Lori would never allow us to call it an ACCIDENT.  Over and over again, when she was able to communicate, she reminded us that there were NO ACCIDENTS with Jesus.)

And though she was improving, she still required a respirator to breathe. Even before her wreck her incurable neomuscular disease made it necessary to use the respirator at night. Now, because of her head trauma, she needed it during the day, too. 

We were tired. All of us. But we were encouraged that at least she was out of the coma and making some progress. 

The down side to this day—there was freezing rain. While we didn’t need to be out in it, we did need the electricity to stay on for the respirator. There was an emergency battery backup, but there was only a short window of ‘help’ we could expect. 

Peering from window to window didn’t still the storm. 

Opening the door and hearing the crackle of the frozen branches did nothing for our anxious hearts. 

When the lights flickered, we felt so very, very vulnerable. 

And you guessed it!! The electricity went off. 

Alarms buzzed. 

Our hearts pounded.  

We were on an emergency call list for the electric company, but the outage was so widespread, and weather becoming worse by the hour, that there was no way they could get to us any faster than to any of the others whose lives depended on electric power.

That’s when we called for HELP. One phone call, and the Fire Department was there with their generator. 

These were the same fellas who made it possible for us get Lori home by ambulance plane from Indiana after her wreck. 

These were the same fellas who worked extra shifts so that Bob wouldn’t have to lose his sick days. 

These were the same fellas who came to our door with money they’d collected to help. 

And the same fellas who sat with Bob, on more than one occasion, when the days seemed never to end and the mornings brought no visible relief.

Oh, how blessed we were to have them. What comfort those yellow coats brought us. Their slipping and sliding on the ice to hook up the generator. Their smiles, hugs and assurance that all we had to do was call if we needed anything else. Their tender greetings to Lori. 

Help!  

Much needed, and greatly appreciated help

…again.

Mundane Matterrs

THE INVITATION

PHONE CALL FRIDAY NIGHT: 

Leah: Hi, grandma. What are you doing tonight?

Me: Watching a movie, Grandpa went to a ballgame.

Leah: Do you want to ride to Manhattan with me?

Me:  I’d love to. What time? I need to change clothes.

Leah:  Actually, I’m taking Amy to the high school and we’re on the dirt road now (*dirt road is the last mile to our house*). But, I’ll drive real slow. 

**Now, Leah has always been our grand who HAS to be making some kind of movement or noise: clicking tongue, snapping fingers, bouncing, or singing. Just so you understand!!**

Leah: Does it bother you to have the radio on?

Me:  Not at all.

Leah:  Do you care what station?

Me:  No. You  listen to whatever you want. I’m just enjoying the ride.

**So we go to Dick’s Sporting Goods so she can buy whistles that she needs for Saturday’s club volleyball tournament.  Then we go to Freddy’s to eat**

ON THE WAY HOME:

Leah:  **bouncing, singing and harmonizing with songs on the radio**  Are you sure it doesn’t bother you?

Me:  No, sweetie. It doesn’t bother me at all. 

Leah:  I’m so glad you came with me, grandma.  I wanted someone to talk to!!!

MUNDANE?  No, no, no, a thousand times no. 

Being invited to accompany a teenage grand for ANY reason

MATTERS !!!!


Thursday’s Teaser

Topeka, Kansas
 November 1880
            Brady, hold still. I know you hate this but I’m trying to keep you safe.”
            Faith Dantin’s fingers shook as she tied the bow of a girl’s bonnet under the chin of her six-year-old nephew. “You know what? You make an awful cute little girl.” She kissed his nose and laughed as he wiped it away.
            “Don’t call me a girl. My mama would be mad with you if she knew what you’re making me do.” He crossed his arms in front of his chest, his chin jutted in defiance.
            She knelt in front of him and shook his shoulders. “Look, little man. Your mama would thank me over and over again for doing this. It’s just for a little while and you’re going to cooperate. Need I say more?”
            Tears puddled in the small boy’s eyes. “I’ll be good, Auntie Faith, but I’m scared.”
            She lowered herself to the floor and cradled  him close. “I’m scared, too, Brady Cooper. But please wait until we’re safe on the train and then we’ll both cry.  Now, are you ready?”
            “Ready.”  He took an angry swipe at the tears that threatened.
            “Okay. Let’s go over it all again—what’s your name?”
            “Betsy”
            “How old are you?”
            “Six. . . no, seven—I’m seven.”
            “Good. Now, where are we going?”
            “To visit relatives.”
             She hugged him. “You’ll do fine. Now, remember—if there are other questions you let me answer. And Brady, no matter what you may hear me say, don’t you try to change it. Do you understand? You let me do the talking.”
“Are you going to lie some more, like telling people I’m a girl?”
“Brady, anything I might say, or do, is to protect you. It’s wrong to lie, but sometimes I might have to in order to keep you safe. Just don’t argue with me, okay?”
He ran his fingers under the ribbon tie around his neck and stuck out his tongue.
“Is that too tight? Why do you keep messing with it?” She would address the ugly face later.
 “Not too tight—just feels stupid. Besides, I would get in big fat trouble if I told a lie.”
Faith sighed. Yes he would, and she should. “Don’t argue with me. Now remember, pretend to be shy. And please don’t get mad and punch somebody. Young ladies  must act… well, lady-like”
            He giggled. “You get mad sometimes. Aren’t you a lady?”
            “That’s different, and I don’t need your sass.” She tweaked his nose. “Now, help me up so we can get out of here”       
            She took one last peek in the mirror to make sure the black veil completely covered her face.
Oh God, if you’re really up there, please let me get out of here. If it were only me, I would stay and fight with the old man, but I have to get Brady to safety. I promised Danielle and I can’t go back on my word. 
She took a deep breath then picked up her mama’s ragged tapestry valise. “Okay, sweetie, here we go. Remember to skip. Little girls skip, not drag their feet. And don’t kick at rocks, and  don’t forget to giggle now and then.”
“My legs get all mixed up when I skip, and I don’t giggle. I ho-ho-ho.” He pulled on her hands and puckered his mouth to demonstrate.
“Brady, please.”
“I’m just teasing, Auntie Faith.  That’s what little boys do, you know?”
“I know, and they carry frogs in their pockets and don’t like to wash their hands. But for now, until we get to Denver, you’re a girl and don’t you forget it.”  She took one last look around the room then clicked the door shut behind her.
I’m doing my best, Danielle, my sweet sister. Sleep well in the arms of your Jesus.
§
            Faith breathed a sigh of relief when the train was finally on its way. She smiled at the young imposter sitting next to her. “You’re doing great, Miss Betsy,” she winked. “Except next time you let the man help you up the step. No more crawling in on your hands and knees like a ruffian. Girls don’t do that.”
“I’m sorry, I just forgot.” Brady’s chin quivered.”
Faith’s chest tightened. The little fella was trying so hard to be brave.
“You can cry, Brady,” she whispered. Even big men have tears inside of them. But remember—you’re Betsy now, so act like a girl.” She winked and gave him a hug.
            He hid his face in her lap and cried until the tears soaked through her skirt. Then, with a
shudder, he closed his eyes in sleep.  Good. That would give her time to herself.  She never dreamed the promise she made to her dying sister would lead to this. Never in her twenty-six years could she remember her grandfather ever caring about what happened to the family. But now he wanted Brady. Was quite adamant, in fact, that he would go to any measure to see his great-grandson taken away and raised properly, not wild and wayward as he deemed her twin, Danielle. Faith rested her head against the  back of the seat and let the water out of her eyes, too. She was grateful for the black veil. No one could see her.
“Pardon me, ma’am.”
            Faith jumped at the man’s voice. She scolded herself for being so careless. The gentleman leaned toward her across the narrow space that divided the seats and was now full of legs and feet.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if you would mind me sitting next to you? It’s. . . it’s rather crowded here. ” He nodded toward the passengers flanking him. A fat man, on one side, snored loudly and his head bobbed against the stranger’s shoulders. The lady on the other side of him had a large feather in her stylish hat that hung in his face like it was alive and looking for a perch. The train car lurched and the  man sneezed when the tip of the feather hid itself in one nostril.
Faith bit her cheek to contain her laughter. It was a good thing her face was covered with the veil. She  gathered her skirts and scooted over. “My little girl is sleeping right now so there isn’t much room.”
            He slid in next to the sleeping child and winked. “Thank you,” he mouthed. “ I think the feather in the lady’s bonnet is still attached to something living—I would swear I heard a gobble-gobble come from somewhere.”
            His smile was kind, but his eyes seemed to bore holes through her veil. Did he know her? Was this the man grandfather threatened would find the boy—no matter what? Her chest tightened.
            “Perhaps I should introduce myself. Traveling alone like you are I expect you would be somewhat hesitant to be my friend, now wouldn’t you?” The man’s dark eyes softened and he patted the sleeping child on the head.
            Faith stiffened. She could use a friend—but not a man. “I’m sorry, sir. You may sit here, but I really don’t care for conversation. You see . . .”
            “I understand, ma’am. Excuse me. I was not trying to be forward.”
            There was a time, not so long ago, when she would have welcomed the attention of this handsome stranger, perhaps even encouraged it. Black hair, graying at the temples, was combed away from his face and fell to his pristine white collar. Tight fitting black britches, black boots, and a string tie with silver tips set him apart from the other older, flabby men inside the coach. He smelled good, too—bay rum, she surmised.
            Brady stirred and the stranger moved to accommodate his wiggles.
“She sure is a pretty little thing. I’m partial to little girls. Got  me a passel of boys back home.”  He smiled at her then patted the child’s shoulder. “Do you have a long trip ahead of you? I’d be more than happy to help . . . “
Think before you speak, Faith. Once words leave your mouth you can’t take them back. “Not far, and thank you. I have someone waiting to help me when I arrive at my destination.”
 That was a lie. How easy it was to lie these days.   
            “Well, Mrs. Dantin, just let me know if you need anything—anything at all.” He smiled and leaned his head back on the seat and closed his eyes.
            How did he know to call her Mrs. Dantin? How could she have been so careless. If he knew her name, what did he know about Brady? Faith’s spine tingled as she drew the child closer to her.
            God in heaven, where are you? We haven’t gone twenty miles and I’m in trouble. I thought I had this all planned out. I’m so afraid.
***