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The Shepherds

I wrote the following passages several years ago, and as December hits I long to read it again…it is your Christmas card. 

When I think of the shepherds that visited the manger, I imagine them minding their own business…just star-gazing and sheep-counting….a typical night, but Christmas in Sarajevo by Trans-Siberian Orchestra gives my imagination legs.

For me this is how the angels filled the air with sound….and how the shepherds were impacted. Listen to the song, and think of young boys, sunburned and thin…old men with faces scarred by the bite of winter…woolly lambs bleating…and a black sky peppered with pinpoints of light.

As the song begins……

On a cool evening the shepherds sleep around a dwindling campfire. One young boy stands guard, gazing out over the rocks and withered grass. He is ever mindful of the lion and the wolf. He leans against his shepherd’s crook for the day has been long, and the night will be longer.

A flash of light…a falling star…turns his eyes heavenward. He blinks and rubs his eyes. More flashes fill the sky, and the lights blinds him. The air around him  pulses and hums. What is happening? He rushes to awaken the others, but they are slow to rouse. 

“Get up! The sky is falling. Gather the lambs! Run to the caves. Run!”

The shepherds ignore the boy as their heads rest upon their rock pillows. A crash of music forces all their eyes to open. Light floods the night, trumpets blast, and angelic voices croon in swells of joy. The shepherds grab the nearest lambs and each other as the angelic song pounds and pulses with the Good News. They are terrified.

Angels with white-fire wings form a ring above them. Their beauty forces the shepherds’ fear to fly away, and peace nests in their hearts. They have been chosen to hear the Good News first! CHOSEN! An old man with sore knees leaps high in the air. His pain is long forgotten as he dances. The others join him, stomping and swaying. Even the lambs frolic in exultation.

There is no shortness of breath…no fatique…no wobbling…the dance consumes them as they move with the angelic music. It is a celestial celebration!

A meteorite shower of incredible proportions planned from the beginning of Creation gives the birth announcement.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

The message sears their souls with conviction. They grab their staffs, and the shepherd boy lifts an orphaned lamb to his shoulders. The campfire is left smoldering. Bedrolls are discarded. The Chosen Ones leave the fields…. to seek the Promise made real in newborn flesh.

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2014 Mystery Dinner “Crawdaddy…a Swamp ‘Killin”

Every year my church hosts a mystery dinner. My partner-in-literary-crime, Teresa McCarthy, and I plot and plan for months. The end result? An original script full of laughs and, of course, a dead body.

These are pictures from this year’s production “Crawdaddy…a Swamp ‘Killin”.  The mayhem took place at a wake for Crawdaddy Boudain, a Louisiana gator farmer. His death appeared to be natural (well, the gators ate part of him), but it was actually a…DUH DUH DUHHHHHH!….murder.

Now why would a church stage a murder mystery? Laughter is a gift from God….Jesus had a sense of humor….and we reflect his joy and love.

Then our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2

Mystery Dinner-41THE CAST OF CRAWDADDY IN A SERIOUS POSE

Mystery Dinner-42THE CAST OF CRAWDADDY IN A NOT-SO-SERIOUS POSE (I am the second redhead from the right/bottom row.)

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MUSKRAT SALLY… gator wrestler deluxe

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GRANDMA JOAD…voodoo mama

Mystery Dinner-24

BOB BOB BOUDAIN… zydeco musician and gator wrangler

Mystery Dinner-25

LAWRENCE T. CROCKEFELLER… owner of the Tara Bella Plantation

Mystery Dinner-26

SHERIFF ROSCOE COLTRANE…Shrimpbait’s fuzz

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FORREST STUMP… swamp ranger

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BARTY T. SWAMPLADLE…gumbo cook

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GIGI BOUDAIN…beauty queen and daughter of the dead guy

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JOHN T. FILER… records clerk at the local Shrimpbait Courthouse

Mystery Dinner-32

THE DUBOIS TRIPLETS….(Left to right) Tilly Boo Boo, Shy Violet, and Icy Anne

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CYRUS J. ETOUFEE… creator of the Tame-A-Gator Whistle

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JOLENE FENCER…owner of the local Hock-N-Go Pawn Shop

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BEAUREGARD SLEEZEBUCKET…lawyer

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Phyll Pillpusher…pharmacist at the Fast Rx

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POLECAT BOUDAIN…brother to the deceased

Mystery Dinner-44

DR. BETTY BELLEVUE…local vet, coroner, dentist, and general practioner

Mystery Dinner-45

CRAWDADDY BOUDAIN…the dead guy

Mystery Dinner-47

TECHMAN…..Marvel Comics’ newest superhero

the banner

Mystery Dinner-20OUR BELOVED CREW

Mystery Dinner eric spaude

OUR CHEF

4

Taking a Breather

Take-a-Deep-Breath-Whale

Today I checked this blog, feeling…you know…guilt. I had ignored it so much lately. I was clearing my spam filter when I read this noteworthy internet junk statement: “You are my inhalation. I possess few blogs and very sporadically run out from to brand.”

Wow! Inhalation? I had provided air to a junkbot who…uh…like doesn’t breathe. I’m glad to have provided some form of resuscitation. (Hey, but don’t spam me to death!)

Taking a deep breath is important before you plunge into deep water or step out onto a stage before a crowd…or even say ‘I do’.

I’ve been taking many deep breaths lately and ‘breathers’ (note my blog absence).  My book is 3/4 complete. I have some truly excellent critique partners who have supported me every step of the way.

I used to think that such support was not needed…that writing was this magical process where it just ‘happens’. Yeah….rigggghttt.

DISCLAIMER: Helen is about to go ‘other-worldly wise’ on ya.

In the movie “The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension (yes, I’m about to quote this obscure, odd, and bad movie), Dr. Bonzai, who is a physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, and rock musician, makes this statement, “No matter where you go, there you are.”

Huh? What the???????

That line fits writing. Wherever you are in a manuscript, there you be….and you draw forth from all the back info and the character relationships to create a new now for the cast in your book.

Whew! Heavy.

Well, actually, Dr. Bonzai did not brainstorm that line himself. It’s a quote from Confuscious who also wrote the following bits of wisdom which fit so well with the writing journey:

  1. It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.  
  2. When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.
  3. Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
  4. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
  5. If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself. (Critique partners are soooo important.)
  6. Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

That #6 is a favorite….because writing is an awesome endeavor…and I am blessed!

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Yes, I’m still around! Just spooky busy! Let’s end the month of October with a bit of a Halloween mystery. Nothing really scary about it…no…it’s just a poem I memorized in second grade. In fact, all my sisters learned the poem courtesy of Mrs. Gilmore, the best elementary teacher ever. We recite it yearly to each other.

HALLOWEEN BEWARE!

Tall black hats
Coal black cats
Elves and witches, too!

Grinning faces
Going places
They may call on you!

Doorbells ring
Ting-a-ling
Still no one is there

Ghosts are out
Goblins about
Halloween beware!

The author is unknown. Every year at this time, I search for the who and the what of the poem. The closest I’ve come to solving my Halloween poem mystery is a newspaper article published in The Daily Messenger, Canandaigua, New York. Written in 1949 the article lists local school news. It refers to a second grade class, too.

….Victor School Notes Grade 2–Miss ‘ Colligan: Tall black hats, coal black cats, elves and witches, too. are rapidly replacing our brilliantly painted October flowers and trees….

Mrs. Gilmore really was a wonderful teacher. I learned to read like a maniac because of her. She had an amazing black beehive hairdo with decorative pins stuck in it and cat-eye glasses. Her dress went ‘swoosh’ when she walked on her black pumps. She brought unusual things to school for her students to see, taste, touch, and smell….like canned octopus. Boy, was it stinky! And don’t get me started on the chocolate coins and candy corn. Yummy!

Have a Happy Halloween!

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4

Living in Tandem

Sunday afternoon I sat at my usual spot writing. It was bliss. The hubby had disappeared to watch a football game. The house was quiet. The dogs were snoozing. The front windows were open, and a lovely breeze stirred the sheer drapes.

I was in the zone. Words were flowing from my fingers. Then I heard it….a horrible squeaking and grinding. At first I ignored it. I didn’t want to put a wham-mo on my writing mojo. But after a few more seconds of the irritating noise, I went to the window and peeked.

This is what I saw — a man and a woman in their fifties, huffing and puffing, as they pedaled a tandem bike with obvious brake-rubbing issues up the hill in front of my house. They weren’t looking at the bike pedals. Nope. Their heads were up…focused on getting to the top.

I couldn’t believe it! The noise was horrible. The drag to the wheels from the brake pad compounded with the hill itself made their effort herculean. But they kept on pedaling! Heck, I would have gotten off and pushed the dang thing!

I watched them disappear, still huffing and puffing. It was my Sunday afternoon life lesson. Oftentimes, we are faced with impossible tasks. We have to stay on task, ignore the screeches, and keep our eyes on the end-goal. This applies to writing, work, and relationships. Note the two were working as one…that’s the relationship thing. (That is an inadvertent love arrow to my hubby.)

MY GOALS FOR THIS GLORIOUS FALL WEEK:

  • Pen two chapters to ODS.
  • Nip and tuck the murder mystery dinner script with the fabulous Ms. T.
  • Prop lists…prop lists…prop lists.
  • Costumes solidified.
  • Research minor characters in Shakespeare’s plays.
  • Walk every morning and pray.
  • Keep my eyes focused on the things that matter.
  • Drink more coffee, laugh more often, and savor the chocolate.

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Spam Graboids

Internet spam can be very entertaining and irritating. As I was clearing my spam filter on WordPress today, I burst out laughing at the following bit of ‘net junk:

I will right away seize your rss
feed as I can’t to find your email subscription hyperlink
or newsletter service. Do you have any?
Kindly allow me understand
so that I could subscribe.
Thanks.

What triggered my chuckling? Examine the first threat of the spam:  I will right away seize you rss (feed).

My eyes played a trick on me, and I thought rss was a##. Oh, my….I felt as if I was about to be virtually graboid-ed (word?). After I had wiped my eyes of the happy tears, I grinned from ear to ear. What a start to a Monday!

All I can say is, “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto! But, alas, you can not grab my rss.”

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Howdy-do!

Yep…I’ve been AWOL.  I have not been posting….please pardon my absence. I received my comeuppance by having to delete five million-jillion spam comments from my filter.

“SPAM? PLASTIC MEAT LOADED WITH CHEMICALS….YUMMY!”

“NAAH…TWEREN’T THAT KIND OF STUFF…I’M REFERRING TO MINDLESS CHEAP DRIVEL THAT CREATES QUITE A CLOGGING IN YOUR INTERNET TOILET. 

Ahem. Pardon my use of the word toilet. Sometimes I forget my genteel upbringing.

I have been writing. Nine chapters on a new book!  Woot woot! I’ve been bwahahaing with a writing buddy. That is code for penning a new murder mystery dinner. (Wink! Wink!)

And you can catch a post I wrote for the A to Z Challenge site at:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

It’s about ‘Blog Block’. I know. Art imitates life. Go figure.

I will return to regular postings anon. Be warned. My inner hoochie mama writing self will run amuck.  Wear protective eye coverings. 

colleen moore 3

 

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Gas Powered Again!

This post was first published in May 2013. Enjoy!

Today’s post really is not about writing nor anything related to writing. It’s about….gas.  Not for your car. Not the gas in neon signs. It’s about the other kind. The embarrassing kind that whistles and zips when you least expect. The kind that can stop a conversation or a charging bull moose. No one wants to acknowledge that ‘passage’ has occurred. Most people suddenly begin to ramble about ‘Great Aunt Sue and her begonias’ when the trumpet sounds, but there are times when being flatulent is a good thing. So the tale begins with….

I went for a bone density  several weeks ago,  and the tech was totally obnoxious.

She kept giving me info in minute detail about the procedure, her training, bone loss in older woman, why  bone loss occurs, etc. It was overkill and not because I have a medical background. It was just too dang much. Plus she talked about the patient before me, sharing a few private details. HIPPA, baby.  Not good.

When I requested a thyroid shield, she argued with me about the need for it.  Peering over her bifocals, she said,  “Mrs. Jameson, I am exposed  to radiation every day. I wear this meter.  Believe me, you get more radiation on a hot summer day than with a bone density test. You have nothing to worry about.”  Blah. Blah. Blah.
 
 I explained that I always use a thyroid shield because I have a history of thyroid disease. It’s just a  little heavy plastic thingie with lead inside that you drape over your neck. It is no big deal to put on or take off.
 
She told me I didn’t need it.
 
I told her that I did.
 
She told me again that I didn’t need it.
 
I told her once more that I did.
 
 On and on.
 
Finally she gave in and reached around the corner and pulled a thyroid shield off a nearby shelf and handed it to me with quite a bit of attitude. I said thank you and draped it on my neck as I assumed the appropriate position for a bone density test. I was flat on my back with my legs bent at the knee and placed on a giant foam block. I also had to assure her that I had no metal zippers anywhere and that I had no calcium for breakfast.
 
The test itself is very short, but it appeared that I needed further instruction.
 
“Mrs. Jameson, your scan in 2010 showed osteoporosis in your lower spine. Were you aware of that?”
 
“Yes.”
 
“Have you done what is needed to prevent further loss and fractures?”
 
“Yes.”
 
“Do you take calcium and D3?”
Yes and yes.
 
“You know what will happen if you do not follow the doctor’s directions?” (This was said in a very aggressive/doomsday tone.)
 
At this point I wanted to yell, “Hell, yes, I do! I’ll turn into bone dust, and someone is going to have to sweep me out the door. Let’s check my fragile bones out right now. You want a piece of me, baby!” but instead I said very politely, “Yes, I am following my doctor’s recommendations.” (My mama raised a lady, and  I am not supposed to curse or use expressions  like ‘shut your pie hole’.)
 
“Well, good,” she said, and she pushed a button. A beep sounded and the scan was completed. Then the time came for me to get off the exam table and leave.
 
DISCLAIMER: This is when I talk about ‘gas’. If you have phartophobia, you might want to stop reading. BTW that is a real medical term from the Merck Manual used by health care professionals. It was an online source, and everything you read online is very reliable.  You can trust the internet. 
As I stood up to receive my final instructions concerning when my doctor would receive the results, I passed gas…loudly and badly. Not intentionally. It just happened. It was a tremendous  flutter-blast with a sky rocket whistle as a punctuation point.
 
Suddenly, the woman was speechless.
 
I said politely, “Pardon me. What were you saying?”
 
She pointed to the exit and told me to take a right.
 
I could not help but smile a little ornery grin as I walked away. It was  a case of legume justice.
6

Goodbye to Mr. Williams

I’m breaking my ‘I’m-not-a’gonna-post-anything-until-September’ pledge. I can’t help it. I was very sad when I heard of the death of Robin Williams. He is the reason I love rainbow suspenders. He made me laugh. He made me cry. At one point in time I even wanted to do stand-up comedy because of him.

In the early 80’s a friend of mine  pulled me to a TV set to watch a guy do a comedy routine about sperm and a diaphragm. I practically busted a gut laughing.  Yep, it was Robin Williams. He could take any subject/object and morph/whip it into a chuckle machine (just like his friend Jonathan Winters).

I have favorite movies…Popeye, Patch Adams, The Fisher King…Mrs. Doubtfire…The Big White…I could on and on.

But I really love this video by Bobby McFerrin with Mr. Williams in it. The song title is “Don’t worry. Be Happy”. Sometimes when a person is in the depths of despair and the blackness is eating away at the soul, it’s just not possible. So long, Mr. Comedy. Goodbye, Mork. Na-Nu Na-Nu!