Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year, good-bye old deer

Happy New Year to one and all. Celebrate sensibly and have fun. God bless you all in the New Year. Welcome to my new followers and thank you to my regular and occasional readers. I do appreciate all of you.

Beware of those resolutions!
Yesterday morning I poured myself a cup of coffee, reached into the bottom of the snowman cookie jar and gasped. I knew it would happen sooner or later, but I thought I had a couple more days left. "Someone" beat me to the last cookie so, I raised that rotund snow dude to my mouth, and dumped the peanut butter cookie crumbs onto my tongue and allowed them to dissolve slowly, deliciously.

"That's it! No more, I am going to behave myself," I said just before we left to have brunch with friends. I had an omelette, fried potatoes and English muffin with jelly. Well crap! I'd fallen off my wagon before I ever hitched my horse.

Later in the day, I ate a bowl of whole grain cereal, and towards evening when my hankering started, I told myself to behave. I popped a handful of green olives. That wasn't satisfying, so I retrieved my favorite healthy snack, an individual serving size cup of Del Monte Ruby Red Grapefruit in its own juice. I love that stuff. I once read that grapefruit juice causes you to burn calories.

I was heading to the fridge for a double dose of calorie burner when I burped. Lordy, something fermented in my gut; it was like corn pone whiskey shooting up my espohagus. Not that I would know, I am not a drinker but that stuff had kick. That belch was like a jet propelled explosion.

People, heed my advice, never ever layer these foods in your gut.

Reminiscing ...
When granddaughter Ashley, was three, my mom was babysitting her on New Year's Eve. I called her at midnight and said, "Grab a pot and spoon and go outside and bang on it and shout, 'Happy New Year. Go away old year.'"

She was a very bright little girl with above average language skills.

"You want me to really go outside and hit him with a pot and spoon and yell, 'Go away old DEER!'?"

Life can be confusing no matter how old you are. Bring in the New Year any old way you want, then tell me all about it. It is supposed to be 60 degrees here, so I am taking a hike, but I'll be baaaack.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

That was some road trip!

GUESS where my honey took me.

He knows how I love the shore, and he made my wish come true.

Sand castles and love letters in the sand ... and walking with my honey hand in hand.

We could hear the trickling waterfall, and then we came upon this wonderful surprise.

Although it wasn't Florida, he took me to the shore, half an hour from home, to a park named Creve Coeur. The day was sunny and fifty-five degrees. I feel renewed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Oh what a night!

My computer is out, again, and I am at the library. Until the part arrives, I will not be posting. To say I am frustrated would be an understatement. Please continue to respond with comments. I can see them on my cell phone.

Not only did Santa arrive at our house, but we had a some extra excitement too. It was about 8:00 p.m. and many of the thirty people were still at our house. Bill's daughter's adult step son and his wife were sitting on the couch. He was playing video games on his phone. She was busy poking buttons on hers too. After an hour, I asked, How long does it take to play that game?"
She said, "He's playing the game. I am timing contractions."
"How far apart are they?"
"Two minutes."
She was hesitant because her water hadn't broken yet. We had to talk her into going. Little Ariana Noel was born about twelve hours later. Oh what a night! And I have been so excited to tell all of you, but the libraries were closed yesterday.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The way it really was, the night before Christmas

Contemporary Version of ’T Was the Night Before Christmas
by Linda O’Connell
with apologies to Clement C. Moore

‘T was the night before Christmas at the North Pole
Old Santa was edgy, feeling quite droll.
Mrs. Claus was baking, and the house smelled yummy.
Santa walked into the kitchen, snuck up on his honey.

He reached for a snicker-doodle still warm on the tray.
Big Mama said, “No more! You’ve eaten two dozen today.
Your cholesterol is up, your triglycerides soaring.
Absolutely no more, and I’m tired of your snoring.

“You’re going to have to start losing some weight.
And do you realize the time? It IS getting late.”
Chubby old Santa said, “Oh, Woman, drat!
You’re always complaining about this or that.

“Where are my long Johns?” he dared to inquire.
“For Pete’s sake,” she said, “They’re still in the dryer.”
She wiped her hands on her apron and turned with a jerk
Mumbled under her breath, “It’s all women’s work!”

“Now, go hitch your reindeer and load up the sleigh.
Get all the presents and be on your way.”
He tugged on his suit, and as Mrs. Claus watched
Santa had to loosen his belt another notch.

“Santa, remember when you had a pillow-gut?”
“Yes ma'am, and back then, you had a size seven butt!”
“I think you should leave now!”
“I think that I will, but first I need my cholesterol pill.

Blood pressure too and one for arthritis,
and another one for my sinusitis.
A Dramamine pill so I won’t get dizzy,
a calm-me-down pill, so I’m not in a tizzy.

Vitamin C so I don’t sniffle and sneeze,
Asthma medication so I don’t hack and wheeze.”
“Be on your way, Man! Get going; you’re done.”
“Wait,” Santa shouted, “I forgot just one.”

He popped a Viagra, climbed into his sleigh.
“Ah, the miracle drugs they have today!
I’ll be back in a jiffy,” he smiled with affection
I have forty-eight hours to get a…”

“LONG WINTER’S NAP!” she exclaimed as he drove out of sight.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Holiday hoots

As Hubby and I fought the maddening crowd this morning we had a few laughs.

Sign on a chiropractor's office: Ninety Minute Peppermint Massage (maybe it's legitimate but we used our imagination and cackled a bit at the candycane jokes).

Sign on a car next to us: Holiday Special, Back Hair Removal $15.00 (Talk about entreprenuership) Bill's wise crack, "Hans Weiman restores hair and this guy removes it. They ought to go into business together."

I said to a forty-something year old, female cashier in a retail store, "I'll bet you see it all."

"You wouldn't believe it. This guy came in yesterday dressed in women's clothes and high heels and brought the girl I work with, who he doesn't even know, flowers and candy." She lowered her voice and looked around. "Today he came in dressed like a man and tells her he is looking for a lesbian lover. And she's got the nerve to look over at me. Oh Huh-uh, honey! I told her to quit talking to him. Yes, I see it all."

She rolled her eyes at me, shook her head, and I almost choked laughing so hard.

There was a two car wreck on the corner as we were darting to the grocery store. We came home half an hour later figured the mess would be cleaned up. There was a four car wreck, same spot, different tow truck and emergency vehicles.

I'm taking a nap; this traffic and crazy stuff wears me out, or maybe it's all those cookies making me sluggish.

Come back tomorrow for my poem, A Contemporary Verison of 'T was the Night Before Christmas

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chasing down the UPS dude for my package wrapped in plain brown paper

Today as I am baking cookies and eating way too many misfits, I am reminded of my brother, John, who makes the best cookies in the world, chocolate chip cookies the size of Texas. Well, that may be an exaggeration, but they are saucer-size and an inch thick, made with real butter.

When my children were young, and I was too, my best friend and I waited and waited for the U.P.S. delivery truck for a package my brother sent from Reno. This was before computers and tracking devices, but somehow I knew the date they were to arrive. Maybe there was a phone number that I'd called. All indications were that the box of coma-inducing cookies was on the truck and would be delivered that day.

My best friend and I took turns peeking out the front door everytime we heard a truck clunk by. Our street was an east-west bypass, so there was fairly heavy traffic. Rose and I sat in my kitchen crabbing about our husbands and drank black coffee. I fanned her cigarette smoke out of my face, and we giggled about everything and nothing. Her laugh was like a machine gun, rat-a-tat-tat. Hearing her laugh, made others laugh.

We sat on the porch swing until our teeth started chattering. We let more cold air in the house fanning that front door open and closed. We had several false alarms. Then, I spied that mud brown box truck and squealed, "Here he comes!"

Both of us wild-eyed women bounded off the porch, down the concrete steps and darted out into the middle of the street, in front of the UPS truck. The driver honked. We waved joyously and smiled. He swerved to avoid us.

All we wanted to do was save him a few steps so he didn't have to run up on the porch. The poor young fellow looked us up and down, swore under his breath and kept tooling down the street, leaving us in a cloud of exhaust fumes.
"Hey, come back here, we want our cookies."

We couldn't run fast enough.

"What's wrong with HIM! I know our cookies are on that truck." I crabbed.

We went back in the house resigned to waiting one more day for the delectable box of calories.

Then, we heard it, the rumble of that same UPS truck coming up the street from the opposite direction. When we heard it screech to a stop out front, we darted to the driver's side, laughing, giddy as two kids. The poor guy froze in his seat; he looked like a deer caught in headlights.

"You have our cookies! We're waiting for our cookies."

He spoke but one word, "COOKIES?" Then he went right to work, handed me the package and I signed for the jerk!

Rose and I ran up on the porch and ripped into the plain brown wrapper. We laughed until our sides hurt wondering what that poor guy must have imagined about us and the contents of that package.


To this day, those were the best chocolate chip cookies ever!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What a night! What a day!

The preschool Christmas program was wonderful. Two parents called early to say their children were sick. The two I needed! Since November, during practices, the little girl carried the class of boys in singing. The little boy, who is extremly anxious over new things wanted to be in the play. I was disappointed for both kids and myself.

My heart nearly skipped a beat when both students showed up. The little girl sang beautifully and the ten boys kept time. The little boy did an outstanding job as one of Santa's elves and Santa didn't have any misphaps this year, except...ten year old Nicholas, whispered in my ear, "I think that could be Grandpa!" I said, "SHUT UP!" like Elaine on Seinfeld, but, I didn't shove him, because Nicole had jumped up on Santa's lap and was nuzzling her cheek into his beard. I will post a photo as soon as I can.

She bellowed her songs louder than her classmates, and was as animated as one of those battery-operated holiday toys. It was a great program, a fantastic after party with faculty, staff and a wonderful boss.

I slept until 7:00 a.m., which I never do. Then I got up and cleaned the house top to bottom. Doesn't it just make life seem good when the house is sparkling and the toilet seats are down and the tub is scrubbed?

I opened my emails and received two acceptances, a final on the Chicken Soup Messages from Heaven, and also one from Princess Dominique for her shoe anthology titled, The Perfect Pair, which has been in development for nearly two years. I had almost given up on it. Both pay well. AND I received payment for my story in CS Food and Love. I'm going shoppping.

YAY! My kind of day. Hope yours is good too. I am blessed.

Tomorrow I am baking (and eating) cookies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Almost an R-rated Santa

My husband graciously agreed to don the Santa suit and play Ho-Ho for my preschool classes when the dad who usually does the job had to have knee surgery.
"Make sure I have a mirror," Bill said.
He had a closet!
"You can't leave me here to get dressed by myself."
"You'll be fine." I had more faith in him than he did in himself.
"Wait, come back here and help me get the wig on straight!"
Pull the hat down over your ears and no one will notice if it's cock-eyed."
I click-clacked away on my high heels and greeted the audience, of over two hundred.

As my little students performed, one baby climbed up on stage like a chimpanzee escaping from her mother. I had to rescue her.

A little boy sang louder than all the rest, "Let's all do a little jumping." At that, his pants fell of his skinny little butt and pooled around his ankles. He laughed, his mother hissed from the audience and ran up on stage to hike his drawers when he refused.

A seated litle girl flipped over backwards from the riser and landed in the velvet curtain, feet int he air, stuck like a flannel board character, velvet to velvet.

The show was becoming a comedy. I talked about the fun of Santa and the true meaning of Christmas. We sang about Baby Jesus. Then, it was time for the big guy to exit the closet on cue: Jingle Bells. I forgot he was hard of hearing, and when he didn't bound into the room, I worried. I invited the audience to sing a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells. Hard of hearing Santa heard them and came Ho-Hoing into the room with his sack upon his back, and as he came close to the stage I saw it!

I gasped and jumped off the stage and bellied up to Santa. "X-Y-Z" I shouted in his ear. He grabbed the mike and obligingly sang, "A-B-C-D-E-F-G"
NO! I shouted, Santa, X-Y-Z!

He finished the ABC song as I shook my head and screeched,"eXamine Your Zipper, X-Y-Z!"

He looked down and saw that in his haste to get dressed, he had cinched the bottom of his Santa jacket into the belt, his red velevet draw string pants wide open, exposing his blue jeans, thank goodness.

He shouted in my ear, "Why didn't you just say, "Your barn door's open? I don't
understand your lingo. I thought you wanted me to sing the A-B-Cs to the kids."

It was a pageant to remember, one that is being talked about all over the world. This true story was published in The Ultimate Christmas 2008.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa was a dork, a perv, a lover boy?

HO-HO-HO....Santa Claus is coming to town again. Over the years I have had some experiences with the big guy.

We have a home movie of Tracey at 18 months old. The neighbor said if we'd leave a toy on the porch, he would dress as Santa and deliver her special gift which she could open in his presence.

The honking Super 8 movie camera was loaded and ready. Santa came through the door and the camera panned to our little girl who was very excited and tore into her present. She loved the dolly in it's little battery-operated walker. Only problem was, Santa couldn't figure out the operating instructions. You could see him getting more frazzled as the moments wore on. Finally I jumped in the picture, flipped on the switch and watched our baby chase her baby doll. Years later, viewing the movie, she asked if Santa had been a bit challenged and on the verge of a breakdown.

Another fun Santa episode was when my granddaughter was four and caught Santa (Uncle Joe) in the act of kissing Aunt Michele in the back bedroom after assembling Ashley's kitchen set. He ran past her and out the door leaving her dazed and confused. She was a lot more excited about the kissing than her new kitchen set.

"Nana, I want to write a letter to Santa and tell him never to kiss Michele again. And I have to tell HER never to kiss him again, because if she's kissing him when he puts his finger aside his nose, she'll fly right out the chimney with him."

The grandpa of one of my students used to play Santa for my preschool program. Only problem was, he didn't say, "Ho-Ho-Ho," he would look at the kid's moms and say, "Heh-heh-heh."

I'll save the best for last and tell you more tomorrow.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

From our home to yours

We have downsized our tree, and now it is perfect for us and our small home. In the past we would have to move furniture, take out a recliner and a table in order to display the six foot tall tree. Now, we put this plump little tree on an end table and I hang the ornaments that are senitmental to us. I gave the delicate, red, green and clear, frosted ornaments to my granddaughter.

These handmade ornaments made by the grandkids mean more to me than crystal ones. The little heart with the two chipmunks swinging is a gift from hubby on our first Christmas.

This angel is a reminder of my late mom who had so much love in her heart. After all, Christmas is all about love.

I love snowmen. Bill made the largest one years ago for me. I have collected the others over the years. These are on the top shelf. There are five more shelves, but the one that makes me happiest is the man in the Norman Rockwell reproduction. He reminds me of my late dad.

My stuffed snow family collection came together over the years as I found one here and one there at thrift shops and yard sales. They make a nice blended family.

I recently found this cute little guy at the Goodwill store for $2.00. He just happened to match a candle snuffer that I already had, and they look happy to be together.

It is the meaningful messages on the candles and figurine that mean the most to me.
May you and your family feel the peace and calm, love and joy that is Christmas.

Which is YOUR favorite?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thank God it's Friday

TGIF! (Thank God it's Friday) The kids are wound up, and I am winding down. There's one little girl who talks like a Chatty Cathy doll with high powered batteries. No, she's more like a See and Say toy with its string being continuously pulled. Then there's the little boy who I guarantee you is at the top of Santa's naughty list, but his mommy and daddy thinks he wears a halo.

There's one certain little girl who stole my heart the day she was born. She loves her pink cowgirl boots as much as I love her, but sometimes she gets a bit confused. I'm drilling her on the Christmas story everyday as we drive to school.

"Which baby was born at Christmas?"


"No, Baby J-."

"Jason!" she shouts her daddy's name.

"No, Baby Jesus, and his mom is named?"

"Mary! And is dad is Jofuf."

"Yay! You got that right!"

"So, Nana, Jesus is a superhero and angels are fairies?"

"WOW! Look at that giant blow up Scooby Doo and snowman on that lawn."

My husband snored at deafening decibels last night. When tugging the blankets off him and poking him in the ribs didn't wake him, I tossed from my left side to my right and back again. On the cruise ship, he liked the swaying movement. Hmm!

He mumbled, "Having a little trouble sleeping, are we?"

"WE sure are, because YOU are snoring like an old bear."

"Am not, ssssnuuuuuuggghhhhhh." He didn't miss a beat and went right back to sleep.

This morning he swears it never happened. My pillow and blanket on the couch are proof that it did.

I just devoured a pancake, (because I have devoured all of the cookies) and as I was smothering it in syrup, I looked out at the bird bath and shouted.

"Bill, come quick, put on your clothes!"

"What?!" He came running.

"Go outside and unfreeze that little sparrow stuck in the frozen bird bath, poor little thing."

He looked at me. I stared right back, eyebrows arched.

"Go! Please. Go help it."

"You need help. That's a big leaf sticking up out of the frozen bird bath."

With that, I spun away from the window and kicked my left foot with my right big toe and nearly tripped myself carrying that flat pancake. (Not fat, FLAT. As Flat Stanley. It didn't rise to the occasion like I did."

Toodle loo, I am heading off to school. TGIF!(Things Gotta Improve Fast)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Readers and writers

The turnout was wonderful, even though there was a glitch with the launch party for St. Louis Reflections. Robin Theiss, the book publisher sat up front taking orders, but the book was not available until the next day. However, in just a few minutes, the St. Louis Writer's Guild sold fifty-one books. Other local authors sold their own books displayed on tables around the train station. A night of fun, for sure.

We are having literary fun at preschool too. This is fun learning, not forced learning. The pre K 4 & 5 year olds learn ABC's and the letter sounds by May. Most are so ahead of the game, though. My little future authors are identifying alphabet letters, learning phonics letter sounds, matching letters and hanging the letter ornaments on the tree.
Two of my students are actual readers, but the rest think that they are readers too. They choose a word card, sound out the first letter and match it to the holiday picture. We do this activity with the words on a table first, so they can read left to right. The project is now on the bench, and looks overwhelming, but they can all do it and choose this as a free time activity. This is what I hear.
A "Hey, this word is "A, like apple." They walk up and down looking for a picture. Then I say, "A has another sound." They squeal, "A, angel."
B "I know-I know! This one is Baby Jesus."
C "Cuh-cuh...cookies" or Caa-caa, CASTLE."

And who doesn't enjoy trying to figure out what is in a wrapped present? It is my delight to watch their animated faces when they've 'read' a word or matched a picture to its package.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I hear the train acoming

Tonight, 7:00 p.m. at Kirkwood Train Station; yes, the real station,other writers and I will be reading aloud and signing copies of the St. Louis Writer's Guild anthology, St. Louis Reflections, in which my story appears. Cost $9.99, what a deal!

Other local authors will be selling their own books, so this will be a great oopportunity for last minute holiday shopping and a way to support local authors.

I hope to see YOU. The trains will be zipping down the tracks, rattling the walls, stopping traffic, interfering with our readings for brief interruptions, and it will be sooooo much fun to be this close to a train and published writers. Congratulations to all forty-five who made it into St. Louis Reflections. If you can't make this event, you can purchase a copy from Amazon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul book signing in St. Charles, MO

Our third annual Chicken Soup for the Soul booksigning/Canned Food for the Body food drive was a huge success. T'Mara Goodsell, Theresa Sanders, Linda O'Connell, Cathi LaMarche gathered at Main Street Books in St. Charles, MO. Vicki Erwin, proprietor.

The Christmas Festival and parade were an added attraction for visitors who flock to this quaint little historic river town during December to browse the independent shops and purchase from local merchants and crafters. Thanks to Dianna Graveman, Lynn Obermoeller, and Sioux Roslawski, fellow writers who came to support us.

Jack frost was nipping at my nose, and I was in a hurry to return to my car. I had to stop in my tracks at dusk and take a picture of this gorgeous tree.

This lovely angel was a beautiful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

Right out of Charles Dicken's novel, walking directly towards me, came characters portraying Bob Cratchit and little Tiny Tim hobbling with his homemade crutch.

This young lady represented Sweden where the celebration of Christmas lasts two months beginning with Advent. December 13th is St. Lucia's Day. The eldest girl in
the family wears a white robe and head wreath with lit candles. She serves the family St. Lucia buns (lussekatter) and coffee in bed.

The holidays would not be complete without a visit from the Sugar Plum Fairy.

He does not look like our jolly Old St. Nick, but this is one of the many 'Santas from around the world' who were on hand to greet the children. Perhaps Pere Noel.

Not a one horse open sleigh, but certainly a lovely carriage ride down Main Street listening to the clip-clop of horse hooves on the cobblestone streets and taking in the sights, sounds and aromas of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and Grandma's Cookie shop selling freshly baked saucer sized cookies on the street corner.

There were groups of carolers on every block wearing period clothing singing the traditional Christmas carols in perfect harmony. We wish you a Merry Christmas...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A famous author personally responds

Kudos to authors who really care about their readers, not just their sales. High fives to any writer who responds with a personal letter to his or her number #1 fan.
Accolades and hugs to Randi Barrow, author of Saving Zasha.

Nicholas is nine and a half years old. He is kind, caring, has a winning personality and smile, a thick shock of dark hair and large feet that he is finally growing into. His lofty goal is to be a professional hockey player. He and his dad, my son, watch St. Louis Blue's Hockey. It is not uncommon to hear him cheer when the players get into fist and stick fights. I used to be appalled at the violence and feared he would incorporate these actions into his daily life. Well, he IS a rough and tumble kid on the football field. His team was undefeated until the playoffs. He participates in and loves all sports and he prefers outdoor play with the neighbor kids, which usually ends in a dispute between someone. Nick either defends his position or the underdog. He likes wrestling with his dad, but he also enjoys snuggling with his mom. And he teases, as much as helps his little sister. He is fond of his large reddish brown dog, Nash and his cat, Tweeny.

This kid will defend to the end a bullied student on the playground. He is not afraid to preach his convictions of right and wrong, and he is proud to be a Christian. He is a member of Student Council, and he attends meetings an hour before school when he'd rather stay tucked under the covers. He is passionate about everything, so I was not surprised when I came to visit and he began to expound on a book he'd been reading.

"Nana," His green expressive eyes widened. "I'm reading the best book I have ever read in my entire life, and I have read every one of the Captain Underpants books. I'm telling you, this is the best book EVER and did you know that in World War I, we fought the Germans? Well this book is about a dog that was in the war, well he wasn't a soldier-soldier, but he came to this kid..."

Nicholas has given me DETAILED snippets of this book for two weeks. The book is set in Russia and involves a German shepherd dog. The main characters are boys and, I could tell you the whole synopsis, but I think you should purchase a copy of this book for the preteen or tween in your life.

Nick is usually dropped off first at school and his mom brings his little sister to our house at 8:00 a.m. Nicole is in my preschool class. I am used to her 'surprising' me with a big hug in the morning. I was completely surprised when Nicholas came through the door and directly to the computer room where I was busy writing. I knew I would have to listen to more of his wonderful tale.

"Nana, since you're a writer, do you think you could get me an autograph?"
I'm thinking Blue's Hockey Player. "Sure, I can try. Which one?"

"Could you look up Randy Borrow? This guy is the best writer I've ever read. His words got into my emotions and I feel like I am in every scene in Saving Zasha."

I did a Google search on Randy Borrow. Then I searched the title and came up with Randi Barrow. I found contact information. I told Nick he could write to his favorite author. He wrote from his little heart. Then, I showed him the author's photo.

Those darned stereotypes. His eyebrows shot up. "Huh? Wow, this is different than what I expected. Oh wow, I don't care; she is the best author, EVER."

Amazingly, Randi Barrow, author of "the best book in the whole wide world" responded. Her friendly email included confidential information, "Shhh, Nicholas, it's our secret, but you haven't heard the last about Zasha."

I took the email to him after school and I have never seen a happier, more stunned, surprised little boy. That night ...

"Can I take the email to school?"
"YES, be proud of it."

"I don't think I should, because then I would be telling 'our secret' and she told me shhhh! So that means don't share the information, and I'm worried I might ruin it for her."
"It's OK, Nicholas. Share it only with your teacher then, not the class."

"Nana, would you write her back again and tell her I would prefer her autograph, because she said I could have EITHER a book OR her autograph, and I want this author's AUTOGRAPH not an inscription."
"Nick, inscription means she'll address the book to you AND sign her name."

"Nana, I feel bad that she has to pay to mail the book, so tell her to just sign a paper with her name on it."
"NICK, it is past your bedtime, and mine. I'll offer to pay postage."

"Nana, when you write her, be sure to tell her this is the best book I have ever read, and I cannot stop thinking about Zasha."
"I will, Buddy. Love you."

"Mom, you can't believe how happy Nicholas is about contacting this author."
"Son, I am so happy for him. Do you know how many times he's called me tonight? Isn't it past YOUR bedtime? Love you."

Next day, I pulled up after school and handed Nicholas her note stating his book is in the mail. His grin was slow; it grew clear across his freckled face, and I thought he was going to cry. Me too.

Randi Barrow is a former adoption attorney who has also written, Somebody's Child:Stories from the Files of an Adoption Attorney.Her books can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and

I am certain her books have deeply touched adults, students and little boys like Nicholas, the world over.

THANK YOU, Randi Barrow, especially for making an impact on me and my grandson!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saturday multi-author event, can you help us?

Multi Author Event ... please pass this information on to others.

20% off your entire purchase at Main Street Books, 307 So. Main Street,
St. Charles, MO

THIS Saturday, December 10th, from 1-3 for those who make a purchase and donate a canned good. Please come out and support local authors at the

2nd Annual Chicken Soup for the Soul book signing/ Canned Soup for the Body food drive to benefit the local food pantry.

Theresa Sanders, T'Mara Goodsell, Cathi La Marche and Linda O'Connell will be signing Chicken Soup for the Soul books on a variety of topics.

Come, let's take another tour

The Chatillion-Demenil House, rich in French Cultural history, is on the National Historic Register. It is located in a neighborhood known as Benton Park in South St. Louis. The mansion was built in two sections, a modest two story brick house was built in 1850 and owned by Henri Chatillion who was a guide and hunter for the American Fur Company. He was immortalized in Francis Parkman's bestseller, The Oregon Trail about an expedition the two men made together.

The Chatillons sold their house in 1856 to French native, Dr. Nicholas DeMenil, a physician and pharmacist. He married Emelie Sophie Chouteau, a descendant of our city's founding family. The Greek Revival portion of the mansion, pictured here, was completed in 1863.
The furnishings are original and date from 1820-1880. Ceiling medallions, marble mantels, parquet floor and the front hall, gas powered chandelier are original pieces.

The DeMenil heirs retained title to the house until 1945. Lee Hess then bought it and capitalized on the natural system of caves under the property. This area was home to several large breweries that used the caves as a refrigeration system and underground connecting walk ways tot heir businesses. Hess opened and operated Cherokee Cave from 1950's-1960's. I toured that cave when I was ten years old. It is one of my fondest memories, as my overprotective mother allowed me to ride the Broadway bus from North St. Louis to South St. Louis with a teenage neighbor and her sister to tour the cave.

The path of Interstate 55 closed the cave and threatened the demolition of the mansion, but $40,000 doanted by Union Electric, allowed Landmarks Association of St. louis to purchse and oversee the restoration. The formal dedication took place in 1965 when the house was turned over to Chatillon-DeMenil House Foundation. It is open to the public for tours Wednesday through Saturday for a nominal fee. There is an indoor and patio cafe on the premises.

I was distinterested in local, national and world history when I was young. Now, I am awed by the significance of these historic local structures and the street names of founding fathers and land owners. Take a tour with me through the Chatillon-DeMenil House.

The piano was built specifically for the family and has always been in this place.

The gas lamp is original. This is a depiction of Aphrodite and she holds a sprig of mistletoe. Can't you imagine the glorious holiday parties back in the days?

How would you like to write your correspondences from this desk?

The candelabra are original pieces, a bit too elborate and ornate for me, but oh those crystals.

I certainly could have sat a spell in this antique chair after climbing so many flights of stairs in so many houses on this wonderful Soulard Historic House Tour.

Which picture is your favorite?

Monday, December 5, 2011

A glorious historic tour in my own town

I attended a holiday house tour and this church was one of our stops. I was astounded at the beauty, the history and this altar.

This is the interior of Dreieingkeitskirche, now known as Trinity Lutheran Church, and earlier, as Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran Church. It is located in Soulard, an historic neighborhood.

Trinity was founded by Saxon immigrants in 1839. It is just a few blocks from downtown St. Louis and a block from historic, Soulard Farmer's Market which is still in operation. It cost $117,000 to build the church. Note the intricate carving on the white and gold carved altar and baptismal font.

Rev. C.F.W. Walther pastored the early church in 1848. He also founded a school, the oldest elementary school still in operation in St. Louis. Other recognizable local institutions established under Walther are Concordia Lutheran Publishing House, Lutheran Hospital (no longer affiliated) Concordia Seminary, Missouri Lutheran Synod. this was the Mother Church.

In 1917, with the onset of World War I, there was bitter anti-Germnan sentiment in St. Louis and unruly folks hurled rocks through the stained glass panel that was inscribed with the word Dreieingkeitskirche. The sermons originally preached in German were then preached in English until after the war, when the church returned to their native tongue. To this day, 172 years later, on the last Sunday of each month the sermon is preached in German, continuing the founding fathers' tradition.

Today Trinity Lutheran has an outreach and is a diverse and caring Christian community serving homeless, needy, wealthy and every soci-economic group.

This 100 year old diarama (about six feet long)was imported. The Nativity figurines were designed by an artist. An electrician designed the backdrop and installed a carbon arc light bulb. On Christmas eve, when the congregation is singing Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, the day sky, turns to night, and the sanctuary dims as stars in the night sky illuminate the diarama. The congregation sings Christmas hymns, and at the conclusion, the "star" shoots a beam of light throughout the church. It must be magnificent to be in that congregation and feel so connected to the first Christmas when Jesus was born and to feel what the shepherds felt.

Look at the intricate artistry. Lest you think that these are ceramic, let me assure you that each figure in this nativity scene is made of paper mache`. Aren't they incredibly beautiful at 100 years old?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lay down your sweet heads

The children on the stairsteps are not mine, but the story is. It is near and dear to my heart as those days were so precious to me.

Please click HERE to read my Christmas story in Sasee Magzine.

I welcome your comments.