Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shaker Sayings & The Gifted

My book in fine company at WalMart
Every week on my Facebook author's page, I do what I call "Shaker Wednesday." On those days I hunt up some bit of Shaker history or maybe a picture of something the Shakers made or a building in one of their villages. Some days I just post one of the Shaker sayings. They had a lot - many of them credited to their founder, Mother Ann. Many more were added as the years went by. Most of the sayings are based on commonsense. The Shakers were a practical, hard-working group of people who just happened to believe they weren't meant to marry and they were meant to dance as they worshiped. 

I use some of these sayings in all my Shaker books. One that I use most and is probably the most familiar to anyone who knows anything about the Shakers is "Hands to work. Hearts to God." That is so much a part of the Shakers' beliefs that it has to go in all my stories. Other sayings I drop in as needed. Another I've used a lot is "Do your work as if you had a thousand years to live, and as if you were to die tomorrow." To me, that one reveals how they thought their work was to be perfect but also as productive as possible with diligent attention to the details of their tasks. 

I've often allowed an established sister or elder to speak the following one to my character who is generally a novitiate trying to learn about this strange group of people and their odd ideas that go so against the ways of the world. "Our testimony is for peace, now and always. No Christian can use carnal weapons or fight. He never did so. We oppose wars of households, and wars of nations. All wars are the result of lusts for lands and for women. Those who marry will fight." I suppose the Shakers didn't think about the fun of making up. 

 This is one I like too. "None preaches better than the ant, and it says nothing." I don't know what Shakerisms I'll find for my Christmas Shaker book. Perhaps this one. "Man is a harp with a thousand strings.  Touch the spiritual cord of his heart, and lo, with what inspiration he sings!”

I also came across a few bits I'd pulled out of my book The Gifted for some kind of promotion. I don't know that those ever got used, but the quotes weren't half bad. So I'm going to share them with you.

Security generally trumped love in the game of life. Love was a poor man's card of choice. (Tristan thinking about how he was expected to marry to enhance his family fortunes.)

"A waste of time chasing the past. It won't do anything but bite you if you catch it." (Laura Cleveland's father warning Sheldon Brady not to look backward.)

And last, Laura telling Tristan why they can marry but perhaps never have love. "Love can’t be ordered up. It is a serendipitous thing with wings that swoops here and there and sometimes lands on you when you least expect it. Or when you can ill afford to follow your heart.”

 It's interesting trying to pull a quote or two out of a 100,000 plus word novel. Do you ever notice particular passages in a fiction book? It is probably common to underline this or that part in non-fiction books, and now with the e-readers, favorite places can be easily marked and highlighted. At least that's what I've been told. If you have an e-reader, have you ever done that?

Thanks so much for reading. I do appreciate each of you.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Struggle of the Blank Page

"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word."  (Margaret Atwood)
I’m struggling to write a story now. I love to write. I have always wanted to write. I have always been writing something since I was ten years old and maybe before. I like the feel of a pen in my hand, a notebook open in front of me. I like my fingers perched over a keyboard ready to record whatever words pop into my head. I like filling the blank page. And yet, I often struggle to write. I put it off. I delay the hard work of getting the words of a story out of my head and onto this blank screen.
I don’t struggle to write here in my on-line journal. These words come easy. I grab a picture off my phone or out of my photo files and write something that matches. Or not, as it turns out tonight. This picture is just one I really like and that I took last spring when the tree was blooming. That doesn’t have much to do with the struggle to write a book. But then, maybe it does. Maybe that’s what a writer needs – the seed of an idea that buds out into words that bloom into scenes on branches that lead back to the entire story or trunk of the tree and down into the roots of what the story is really about. Now that was reaching, wasn’t it?

Ah, but pulling those words out of my head is what I’ve always done. I do my best to make my characters get up off the black and white page of my imagination and explode out into the colorful pages, alive and ready to live their stories. Then comes the worry that the story is not going to be right. That’s a worry I have had to overcome with nearly every book I’ve ever written. Somewhere between the excitement of typing Chapter 1 and finally finding the end, I nearly always hit a slippery spot where the doubts bombard me and make me lose my confidence in the story. Then it’s good to remember what James Thurber said. "Don't get it right, just get it written."
I can’t make anything better until I have it written. And after writing dozens of books, I know I’ve done it before and that perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll be able to do it again. I’ll be able to tell the story I set out to tell. Or if not that one, the one my characters reveal to me along the story road.

Here's more great writing advice from Barbara Kingsolver. "Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."
I tell myself now that my problem is time. My problem has always been time. Every writer struggles for the time to block away their everyday world of chores and duties to go off into their fictional world. And then to use that time wisely. It’s easier to read. Every writer needs to read. It’s easier to write in a journal. Every writer needs to organize his thoughts and keep in touch with her inner self. It’s easier to check messages or post on Facebook and all writers want to connect with their readers.

But here is the advice I’m going to have to keep in mind in the next few weeks as I look at a deadline headed my way with life pulling at me on every side.
"Planning to write is not writing. Outlining--researching--talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing." (E. L. Doctorow)
And writing is what I’m going to do. As soon as I get this blog post finished - and check my messages - and...

Thanks for reading. I so appreciate each and every one of you who read this and those of you who take the time to leave a comment. For those of you curious about my post on Facebook that went viral, it has gotten over a million likes and nearly 12 million views. I have been moved by the many people who have wanted to celebrate with this one child who has defeated cancer. Many have shared their own fights against cancer or those of others in their families. I’ve scanned hundreds of the comments and have been impressed with the joyfulness of the comments. I’ve only seen two or three that were in any way negative. People are ready to hear good news.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No Batteries, Just Fun

Did you ever play with a June bug? That's the bug in the photo. On a walk several weeks ago, the June bugs were swarming along the path I took. Just in one area. I'm on first name basis with this bug and have never really been afraid of it even though it has a hard outer shell and can make a loud buzz sound when it flies. June bugs love berries, so if you've ever picked blackberries out in the field, I'm sure you've encountered a few of these iridescent green bugs. Japanese beetles resemble them, but they're not as large and not nearly as nice a bug since those beetles love eating my roses and June bugs just like over-ripe berries.

Plus you can play with June bugs. Now some of you will probably think this is cruel, but when I was a kid, we'd sometimes tie a string around the June bug and have a bug on a leash. Why we wanted to, I can't say. Well, maybe I can say. We didn't have all those electronic toys to keep us out of trouble. The only thing my dad would buy batteries for were flashlights (not counting vehicle batteries) and you had to have a real need to dispel the darkness to be allowed to use the flashlight. LOL. Then I don't think batteries lasted so good back when I was a kid. Else why would the flashlight go dim every time I got down into the cellar to fetch my mothers a canned jar of tomatoes or beans. Every time!! As you may be guessing, I was terrified that a snake or mouse or perhaps a Twilight Zone monster would be waiting to jump out at me down in that dark and dank cellar. I used my memory of that fear in my Hollyhill books and let Jocie feel the same heebie-jeebies going down into her cellar.

So with no iPhones to ask Siri the meaning of life, only a couple of hours of lame kids' programs every day, and no games on computers of any type - well, no computers of any type - we had to come up with our own entertainment. Guess that's why we tied strings to June bugs and let them buzz. We also used string to make crows' feet and Jacob's ladder by wrapping the string around our hands and put this bit of the string over this finger and that bit over that finger. Sometimes this involved the teeth to slip the string in the right place. Eventually you gave your hands a twist or a flip and there was whatever string marvel you were making. Then there was the trick of making a spinner out of a big button and string. We must have had a lot of string. 

We did have actual games too. We played solitaire with real cards. We drew circles in the dirt and knocked marbles around. Jacks were more my game. I could sit and play Jacks for hours. Now it's almost impossible to find the metal jacks necessary to properly play Jacks. Too big a chance somebody might step on them or something.

Of course, there was always fun waiting outside. Mud pies to make. Grapevines to swing on. Trees to climb. Puddles to stir up with a stick. Lightning bugs and frogs to catch. Creeks to wade in. Woods to explore. Deserted houses with the idea of ghosts lingering to send shivers up our backs. 

And always books and more books.

I don't think I'd exchange any of that for battery powered fun. How about you? Do you remember any of those things? What was fun for you when you were a kid?

Thanks for reading. And if you're in the Frankfort area, you can come see me at the Gathering of Authors this Saturday, August 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Paul Sawyier Library. Lots of authors there to talk to about reading and books.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Honk, Honk, Honk for the Good News

The horns are still honking!
I'm totally amazed by the response on my Facebook author's page to the photo I posted about my great-niece having her No More Chemo party at St. Jude's Hospital last week. I've tried to figure out why so many people were touched by the photo enough to share it with their friends and on and on until tonight the views are over 6 million and the comments over 20,000. That's a lot of people celebrating with our family about my niece's good news.

I think one of the things that might have struck a chord with the people on Facebook - besides my niece's beautiful smile - was that we put the number of days Kaelyn had been taking treatments. 969 is a lot of days. Then the message on the back car window "Honk for No More Chemo" was fun. It set off a lot of honking all over the country and even the world via keyboards.

The comments have been touching and I wish I could say I've read them all, but too many have come in for me to keep up. I have dipped into them at various times and I'm moved by the love that is evident in the words of those who took the time to write a comment. They are all so happy for Kaelyn and all of her family. The praises and thanks to the Lord are heartfelt and lovely to read. It's great hearing from the cancer survivors and so sad reading about those who didn't make it. And yet, even those families are rejoicing with Kaelyn while grieving the loss of their own child or family member.

So I thought you might like to see some of the comments pulled from the thousands. These are just a few of the many I could have highlighted. I didn't include any names, just the heartfelt messages as they were posted on my Facebook page.


  • FANTABOULOUS. See sweetie, cancer can be beaten. I too am in remission when no Dr. said I would survive, in March 2005, I was at end stage. I love you, now get out there and enjoy life, you lil sweet thang.

  • GOD BLESS!! My Nephew also found out yesterday that he was cancer free 6 yrs old. God does miracles. I will pray that she stays in good health

  • not in a car...but HONK HONK HONK

  • That is good....Congrats.....I hope will be doing the same thing for my Sister Linda...

  • Well done Kaelyn, my son Quinn has done 1104 days and has 60 more to go, he's having a no more chemo party in October, and we can't wait! Good luck to you and your family for the future.
  • We have all known cancer whether it is ourselves, someone in our family, or very good friends, it is so good to hear happy news. What a beautiful smile she has! 
  • God Bless her, it’s because of kids like her I give to St Jude"s each and every month. PLEASE GIVE what you can.
  • My wife is a pediatrician at St. Jude. She's very attached to all her "babies".
  • That is wonderful I am happy for your great niece and hope she has many, many happy cancer free years ahead of her
  • Been there done that, good for her!!!!!thank you Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Now I feel good, cause I am a regular donater to St. Jude Childrens Hospital. So Happy for You Sweety
  • not sure how to triple like on here. YAY
  • This is great news. My daughter went thru this when she was small. She was diagnosed with ALL at the age of 7,we finished chemo at age 11 and she now has 2 almost grown daughters. Congrats little one and a big hug. You had to have been very brave.
  • So happy for her.. we give to St Judes each month what we hospital child turned away!! bless their hearts ..
  • My granddaughter had chemo 15 years ago, she is now 18 and going off to college tomorrow. God is good, congratulations and best wishes for many years to enjoy this precious child.
  • Honk! Honk! Honk! Love from Memphis
  • I remember that day, too,Kaelyn. Congratulations. I have been Cancer Free for 9 years. (((( HUGS ))))
  • Just shared Kaelyn's picture. My son is on day number 19. The photo of her sweet smile gave me hope. She represents the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for posting.
  •  this is great news!!! Having spent many months with kids with cancer, I celebrate each victory with tears of joy and a song in my heart.
  • Yeah ... outstanding little Kaelyn! I'm a survivor and know how tough it is to make it through!
  • Kaelyn best wishes for a life of many birthdays! I am fighting cancer too!
  • I would have to honk and not stop honking
Thanks for all the honks and blessings to all those still fighting the fight. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NoMo Chemo - A Celebration of Life

Today was a day of celebration of life in my family. My great-niece, Kaelyn, had her NoMo Chemo party at St. Jude Hospital today. It's been a long road for her. Let me tell you a little of her story.

Kaelyn is my husband's brother's granddaughter. My brother-in-law, Bobby, married young the same as my husband and I did. He and his wife, Joy, had three beautiful daughters and a little boy on the way when tragedy struck. On the way to the doctor when Joy was almost nine months along, the back gate of a horse trailer came loose, flew into a pickup truck, instantly killing the driver. That truck veered across the road and ran head-on into the truck my sister-in-law was riding in. A friend who was taking her to the doctor was not injured. Joy and her little baby boy died at the scene. A very sad day in the life of our family. 

But life does go on. In time, Bobby met another beautiful woman who had also suffered some hard times. She'd married a man who made her feel worthless and had treated her badly. Soon she was expecting a baby. She says that baby saved her life because although she didn't love herself enough to get out of the bad situation, she did love her unborn baby enough to remove her from danger. When that baby was around three, Kathy and Bobby fell in love and married. That little girl became Bobby's fourth daughter and eventually grew up to be a lovely young woman with a heart for Jesus. The church where they were members called a young pastor who was swept off his feet by my beautiful niece. And so the love circle continued as the two of them vowed their love to one another in a touching wedding ceremony. 

Before long, my niece was expecting their first child, a little boy she lost because of an undiagnosed problem with her ability to carry a baby full term without special precautions. She and her husband grieved, but continued to trust in the Lord. Soon she was expecting again, but this time with foreknowledge of the problem, steps were taken to allow her to carry the child to term and a beautiful little girl named Kaelyn came into our family. She was a happy baby and grew into a delightful toddler with long wavy hair.

Her father heard the call to go back to Louisiana where he had once served a church and take a church there. The people loved him and the church grew. Another child, a cute little boy, was born into their family. A couple more years and with another baby on the way, Kaelyn kept being sick. The flu, the doctors said. A virus that kept hanging on. Maybe mono. They were packed up to come home to Kentucky for Christmas when Kaelyn's father took her to the doctor before they got on the road since she still seemed so ill. That doctor saw what the others had not imagined. Instead of heading to Kentucky for a family Christmas, they were racing for St. Jude Hospital with only hours before the tumor growing in Kaelyn's chest might be so big it stopped her heart. St. Jude's slammed the chemo at her to save her life. Then when her condition stabilized, the doctors outlined the treatment for ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Nearly three years of chemo treatments. She was five years old

She had always been a very intelligent child, precocious in her social skills and even at five, aware of the love of Jesus in her heart. But for several weeks she wouldn't talk as she looked the enemy, cancer, in the face and didn't like what she saw. But in time she came out of her shell of sorrow and took hold of Jesus' hand and began walking the road to recovery. Her mother and father did the same. When her little sister had a stroke during birth a few months later, they kept trusting God, kept believing in miracles of healing, kept praying. The baby sister recovered completely. 

Kaelyn kept getting treatments. She lost all her beautiful hair. Her father let her shave his head when they shaved hers. She got better and went into remission. She still had chemo. The enemy had to be defeated completely. And she and her parents began making appearances to support St. Jude Hospital and help in fundraising. Kaelyn appeared in St. Jude commercials. She was on the Today Show talking about her cancer and her treatments at St. Jude. She turned six, but couldn't go to school. Not while she was getting treatments. Her mother became her teacher. She had to wear a mask when she went to church. Her hair would start growing in and then fall out again with the next major treatment. She had to take steroids that made life miserable for her and the whole family. 

And then 969 days later, she got to have a NoMo Chemo party at St. Jude Hospital today. It's celebration time in our family. Kaelyn faced down the enemy cancer and won. A major part of that victory and the victory of every child who is healed goes to Danny Thomas who believed every child deserved the very best treatment to give them a chance to live their lives. He had a vision of all children healed and he worked tirelessly to make that vision true at St. Jude's Hospital. These two facts (from St Jude) show the success of his vision.
  • St. Jude has developed protocols that have helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80 percent today.
  • In 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was 4 percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is 94 percent, thanks to research and treatment protocols developed at St. Jude.
Thank you, Danny Thomas, and thank you all the doctors and nurses at St. Jude's. And thank you to all those who contribute to St. Jude's to make this possible. I'll be taking part in the St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk in November. Here's my Personal Page in regard to that. Kaelyn may have had her NoMo Chemo party, but there are many more children who need to have theirs.

This post is longer than most I do, but I wanted to tell Kaelyn's story and the story of her parents who have trusted the Lord and never been discouraged. Their witness has touched thousands of people and thousands of people have prayed for them. I put Kaelyn's photo on my author Facebook page and it has been viewed over 35,000 times with over 200 comments and thousands of likes. As many of the comments say, God is good.  

I also promised to announce the winners of my blog giveaway tonight, so I hope those of you who entered read this far to find out the winners. Denise and Sue H. won a copy of The Gifted. I also picked a bonus winner, and that's Maxie. Sue, I don't have your e-mail so if you'll get me that info, that will be great. 

Thanks so much for reading and for praying for children like Kaelyn. Tonight we're rejoicing. On the back window of Kaelyn's car, her mama wrote, Honk for NO MORE CHEMO!! A lot of honking is going on!!     

Sunday, August 12, 2012

One Thin Dime and Other Treasures

I'm sure you've heard people say they don't have "a dime to their name." Or that some things are a "dime a dozen." Or it's "not worth a dime."

You can be absolutely sure they weren't talking about this dime. Take a good look at this beauty and then take another look. It's worth it. I'm not a coin collector, but this story caught my eye in the newspaper yesterday. This little dime sold for 1.6 million dollars. Yes, this one thin dime. And actually after the buyer's fee is added, it ends up costing 1.84 million. It was minted in Carson City, Nevada during a one day run of dimes in 1873 and was part of a collection of every coin made in Carson City before that mint closed in 1893. I've just got one word for that. Wow! And if you happen to come across a dime that looks like this, remember, it's definitely not worth a dime. It's worth a million of them.

It's interesting to think about what things are worth. Makes me think of that commercial about how some things are priceless. This dime wasn't. It brought a price - a big price. But so many other things in life are beyond price. Love. Family. Health. True friends. The wag of a dog's tail. Watching a grandchild (or two of them) blow out birthday candles. Being able to do the things you love to do. In life, the things that matter most aren't for sale. They are gifts that we can open with joy.

What are some of the gifts or blessings without price that you treasure?

Remember, I'm giving away a copy of The Gifted to two of you who comment on one of my posts this week. Either this one or the one last Wednesday, Romance with Books. In fact if you comment on both posts, then I'll throw your name into my hat twice.

I do so appreciate the way some of you follow me when I visit other blogs. I was a visitor on Cathy West's This is a Blog about Books last Friday answering the question, Who Am I? If you want to read about my writing roots, you can check that out. But you also definitely deserve a chance to win here. Of course, if you just want to comment without being in the drawing, that would be great too. Always enjoy seeing your comments.

Thanks for reading and commenting too.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Romance with Books

 "Books in a home with growing children is one of the most important things you can put in a house." ~ Thomas D. Clark (Kentucky historian and friend)

I was a guest blogger over on The Romance Dish this week with a post about "The Romance of Writing." Lots of good comments came in about what readers liked in the books they read. Then this afternoon while I was walking, I thought about what a romance I've had with words and books almost all my life. These two books, Black Beauty and Little Women were probably two of the very first "big" books I owned. They were Christmas gifts and treasured ones at that. I got a lot of my books from the library on loan, but these I could put my name on the inside cover. And I did. These words made a horse and a family of sisters come to life in my head. I was officially in love with books. 

Before I go on chattering, what do you notice about these books? Besides the worn spines. I'll tell you what I notice at the end of this post. And since I've been all over giving books away on other blogs, I think it's time I gave away a couple of books here on One Writer's Journal. If you leave a comment before the post next Wednesday, you'll be entered in the drawing. Two winners chosen by random will get an autographed copy of The Gifted. And let's make it fun. Tell me the first book you remember reading and if you can't remember that one, tell me a favorite book or the last book you've read. 

Back to chattering.  Once I discovered reading, I was never far from a book. Books were my friends, my entertainment, my teachers. The words soaked deep into my mind and filled me with the desire to spill my own words out on paper. The beauty of words transported this little farm girl into thousands of different settings to live thousands of different lives. I've fallen in love with countless handsome heroes. I've mourned too many sad deaths to number - even the death of a spider in Charlotte's Web. Who could have ever imagined crying over a dead spider? But oh, the magic of words that can lead us down a fictional path into a make believe world that swallows us up.

So come on and share the first book you remember reading. Any comment will get you into the drawing next Wednesday, but we might as well have fun remembering favorite books. That will be a little bonus fun for those of you like me who rarely win these kind of drawings. 

Thanks again for reading. Oh, and did you figure out what I was noticing on those books in the picture? No author's names on the front covers. The author's names might have been on the spines that fell off the books long ago. Of course, these books were packaged especially for young readers like I was then. Maybe that's why the companies didn't think the author's name mattered. Maybe the author's name still doesn't matter. The story - that's what matters.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Wonder of Hummingbirds

"Hummingbird darts lightly through the world, spreading its message of joy and beauty, and teaching us to appreciate the wonder and magic of everyday existence. Hummingbird brings the gift of joy. Learn to laugh and be happy." ~Unknown author

I love seeing hummingbirds. They do seem nearly magic as they hover and drink from the throats of flowers. Just the sight of them or the sound of them buzzing past my head brings a smile. I put out a feeder every year to attract the little jewels of nature to my porch. The ruby-throated hummer is the only one I've ever seen in this area, but he's a beauty. And a wonder as shown in this quote. 

 "The ruby-throated hummingbird is a wonder of migration. Every winter it makes an amazing journey. Some have been known to make a journey of 2500 miles or more, from Alaska to Central America. Because of it, the hummingbird is a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible. It will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances." ~ Ted Andrews 

The one in my picture is a female. Amazingly enough, every spring the very first time I see this hummer or one like her is when she buzzes my office window as though to tell me, "Okay, I'm here. Get with it and put that feeder out." I obey her command and don't see her at my window again. At least not until I have flowers in my window boxes. Then she just works through the flowers and ignores the window. Unless I let the feeder run dry the way I did today. And here she is, not sipping from the flowers, but instead hovering on the outside of my window and staring straight at me as if to say, "What's the matter with you? Don't you know a hummingbird has to eat?" Needless to say, the hummingbird feeder is freshly cleaned and filled this evening.

Thinking about hummingbirds and the way they can astound us seems to fit well with the Olympics going on now. Those athletes do amazing things through dedication and training. Every day in the gym or running or swimming. For hours. Every day for years. Focused completely on improving their natural abilities to compete on the world's stage. I watched some of the women doing the hurdles today. Looked as impossible to me as the hummingbird flying backward.  

One more beautiful hummingbird quote
"Hummingbird shows us how to re-visit the past for the purpose of releasing it instead of being caught in a permanently backward flight pattern. It also helps us to see that if we step aside we may see our life differently. Hummingbird teaches us to transcend time, to recognize that what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future is not nearly as important as what we are experiencing now. It teaches us to hover in the moment, to appreciate its sweetness." - Constance Barrett Sohodski

May we all hover in the moment and appreciate its sweetness. As always, thanks for reading. Do you have a hummingbird story? If so, share it with us. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Bright Orange Purse and Winners

Some of you who hang out with me on Facebook know that Monday my purse was stolen - with my checkbook in it. With my phone in it. With my credit cards in it.

You see it was like this. I was taking Mom home for a home visit to see what might need to be done there before taking her home from the nursing facility. The physical therapist followed us up to Mom's house in her car. So I was rushing to get Mom's walker from the house. Grabbed my keys and went to unlock the door and then get the wheelchair out of the back of the car. Turned my brain off and forgot to grab my purse and/or lock the car. I always lock my car. Well, I guess not always. But almost always. In fact, they say I forgot to shut my car door. That's really bad.  

This one time when I was too distracted to do anything right, somebody was watching. It was, as they say, broad daylight. The car was pulled up next to the house in the driveway. But the pocketbook was bright orange and too big a temptation. I almost invited him to steal it by my absent-mindedness. That doesn't mean he should have taken it. In a perfect world, he would have hollered at me and told me I forgot to shut my door. But the world is far from perfect. 

We got Mom in the house. Looked through the rooms to see if there were any hazards or problems to be corrected to make sure she could move around safely. Talked about 30 minutes and then headed back to the nursing home. I couldn't find my purse. Well, since I know I'm distracted and absent-minded, I think I must have taken it in the house. I go back and search through the house. It's not there. It's a bright orange flowered purse. It can't hide. I go ahead and take Mom back to the nursing home because I know the therapist is waiting to help her inside. Look at the nursing home. Know it's not there, but look anyway. Then I head back to Mom's to look through her house again. Search through my car. Look in the trunk three times. The purse is bright orange. I don't know why I think I wouldn't see it the first time, but it's hard to think about it being stolen. But finally, I decide there's no other options and I call the police. 

A very nice young officer shows up to help me. He looks at me, sees I'm not as young as I used to be, and with kindness, says, "Are you sure you just didn't misplace it? A person would have to be awfully brazen to steal your purse from your car in your driveway in bright daylight." I tell him I certainly hope he's right and he's welcome to search the premises and my car. He looks around. Even goes out in the garage though I wasn't in the garage at all. He looks through my car. The trunk is examined yet one more time. No orange purse. He calls the nursing home and gets someone to go look in Mom's room there. No orange purse. Then the neighbor, seeing the police car, comes over and says he takes video of his property and maybe he caught something on his security camera. He winds it back to about the time I think we got to Mom's and two frames later, there's a guy running across his driveway carrying a bright orange purse. 

The nice young policeman now believes I'm not mistaken about my purse being stolen, just scatterbrained for not locking my car. He calls for back-up and goes to investigate, saying the thief won't run long carrying a bright orange purse. I have hopes he'll nab the guy right away and I'll get my purse and phone back. No such luck. I cancel my credit cards, stop payment on the checks in my checkbook. The next day I go get a new driver's license and a new phone. I try not to think about how much information about me is in that bright orange pocketbook, but I feel like somebody is watching from the shadows. 

I pack up Mom and bring her home from the nursing home. All the aides and nurses sympathize with me about the stolen purse. My Facebook friends hug me long distance and tell me about times they've experienced something the same. Mom does well at home most of the day. Then the neighbor shows up and says a young man has come to his door saying an acquaintance told him he stole a purse from an "old 81 year old woman on a walker." This guy says that's just not right and so he tells the neighbor who did it but wants to keep his name quiet. The neighbor calls the police, and at about five o'clock the nice policeman shows up at the door carrying A BRIGHT ORANGE POCKETBOOK with my phone still in it. With everything still in it except the cash. That was a cheap price to pay for my carelessness. The thief was arrested and I had to go to the police department to claim my purse. The nice young policeman told me that I should always take my purse in the house with me or at least close my car doors.He was very polite as he should be to old, absent-minded ladies, but even if he hadn't been, I would have still been smiling at him because he was handing over to me that orange purse. (A side note - I saw a state policeman in Radio Shack when I was returning my new phone. He said Cracker Barrel was a favorite place for thieves. They would watch people coming and if the lady didn't get out with her purse, they'd wait till they went inside, then smash the window and take off with the purse.) Now all my FB friends are smiling with me and being as amazed as I am that I got my purse back and my phone too. I was feeling like I'd won the day.

And since we're talking about winning, I picked the winners for my Celebration Giveaway for The Gifted. Drum roll please!Joanne from Maine won 1st prize, the Shaker music box. Gary from Florida won 2nd prize, the basket and a copy of The Believer, and Judi from Indiana won the pottery pitcher. Plus I gave a bonus prize of a copy of The Gifted to Valerie of Maryland. She was the very first entry in the contest. Being first should count for something sometimes besides in the Olympics. Thank you all for taking part in my celebration fun. We'll do it again - well, maybe just book prizes then - for my birthday in September. The winner of the Fresh Fiction contest has been picked too, but I don't have his or her name yet.

Oh, and if you didn't win this time, you might win next time. I've got a guest post "What's in a name?" on Romance Junkies with a chance to win a copy of The Gifted if you leave a comment on that post. 
As always, thanks for reading.