Flying Solo ~ so, what’s that about?

Fighter Piolot

Party of One.

Flying Solo doesn’t mean there are no other people around. It means you alone are in the cockpit flying the craft. The fighter pilot has a ground crew, yet, when he’s at the controls, it must often feel as if he is alone. As believers, we are in the army of God, and for some of us who have lost a mate, who have prayed for a mate and are still single, whose mate has repeatedly and consistently been unfaithful or alcoholic or drug addicted or addicted to pornography, those who have outlived all their relatives and friends, or for some other reason are living alone…the reality might be we are flying solo. And we really are. It’s not just a cute statement. We go home and we’re cooking for one, watching TV alone, sleeping alone in the bed. An individual can be in assisted living or in a nursing home surrounded by people and still be solo.

Flying Solo also doesn’t mean that there is no radar system. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit and we must develop a closer relationship with God. That’s an absolute if you are flying solo. You need the best guidance system you can possibly have and that starts with making Jesus the Lord of your life, and getting into the manufacturer’s manual…the Bible.

I’ve been a widow for nearly four years, yet it was only about six months ago that it hit me, as if I’d slammed into a wall, that I was flying solo and what that really meant. I wish I could say I handled it in a delightfully pretty and delectably appropriate manner. I didn’t. Still, I’m pretty stoic. I kept functioning. My house was clean, I fed my strays every morning and my inside cats, walked Sophie the Wonder Dog twice a day and fed her. Published my latest murder mystery release by the deadline. But, but…emotionally, I was messy, messy, messy.

Of course, I went to ‘my’ default. Whining. I whined to friends and associates. And mostly, I whined to God. And I heard very clearly in my spirit that I should pay attention to my feelings and actions because God had given me the gift of writing and my assignment was to write about flying solo for the purpose of helping other people. So, I whined about THAT to God. I’m pretty sure the Bible says, “Whining endureth for a season.” It’s probably in the Taylor Swift translation.

So, what have I learned about flying solo in the last six months? To go back to the basics.

PRAY. Pray for yourself, bless your house, your pets, put a prayerful hedge or protection around yourself and what’s yours. Talk to God. It’s okay to have an out-loud, running convo with God. Talk to Him as if He’s an older, wiser friend, a father, a brother. He’s all that. Pray for others. Pray for their healing, prosperity, the health and protection of their children. Pray for the nation. Keep it up and soon you’ll become a prayer warrior without even trying.

KEEP AFTER THE DETAILS. Get up, get dressed, eat nutritious meals. Keep your home/surroundings in good order. God loves you. Take care of yourself. And, as much as you can, surround yourself with the things you love.

KEEP IN TOUCH. You have a phone, so use it. Phone, text, and/or email friends and associates. Get involved on social media. Facebook has groups you can join. So do other social media platforms.

GO OUT. Don’t stay trapped in your home. Go to church…and also to the mid-week service. Don’t have a church? Go church shopping for a few weeks or months until you find one that’s warm, comfy, and welcoming for this stage of your life. Get your hair cut and/or styled regularly and start a convo with your stylist. Go to the library, sit, read some magazines, recipe books, holiday decorating books, health and beauty books. Ask the librarian to guide you. Start a dialog, but a quiet one…it’s the library.

I hope this is helpful. I’ll be praying for everyone who subscribes and /or reads this blog.

The Softest Breath (Echoes of the Heart Book 2) by Naomi Musch ~ a review

AAA The Softest Breath

Historical Romance

What I really love about this novel, well aside from the fact that the author captures the post WWI era perfectly, is that her characters are multidimensional. It’s not the often reworked scenario where the flapper has a heart of gold, but that Gwendolyn Smith has a deep interior life.

The saddest thing was Gwen’s early life. She was abandoned by her mother, befriended by Hugh Phelps, an older man who purported to be father-like, but used her incredible singing ability to make a lot of money for himself. He controlled and intimidated her, holding her emotionally and financially captive, and even physically abused her on occasion.

Jacob Hessman doesn’t have a way with women. From what I gathered in backstory, he had his heart and his pride smashed to smithereens in the previous novel in the series. I started with this novel because I like the Roaring Twenties era so much. He completely misreads Gwen when she actually physically runs into him at the St. Paul train station as she frantically tries to find a train she can board to run away from Phelps. She follows Jacob onto a train and to a small town where he helps her partially out of Christian kindness and partially out of an intense instant attraction.

This novel is well worth the read. I recommend it to anyone who loves the 1920s era in American history as much as I do.

Purchase The Softest Breath On Amazon

Lavender vs Mackey ‘ACTS OF MALICE’ ~ which of the 4 Classic Temperaments are they?

AOM Cover

Phlegmatic, Sanguine, Melancholy, Choleric

Lavender Raines: Diplomatic, Appropriate

Mac “Mackey” Mackenzie: Guardian, Tough Guy

 

I use the Four Classic Temperaments when viewing my main characters in terms of similarities, complimentary attitudes, and conflict. I don’t use personality charts because personality can be something that is acquired over time to cover something deeper. Temperament is that deeper part.

Most people aren’t just one type. They are dominant in one and recessive in another. I see Lavender as Phlegmatic/Winter Dominant/Sanguine~Spring Recessive. And Mackey is Melancholy/Fall Dominant~Sanguine/Spring Recessive.

AAA 4 Temperments

Lavender and Mackey hardly know each other. Their temperaments appear to be in opposition to each other. He is emotionally shut down about his life, but protective of others. She is a pillar of strength in her family, but distrusting of Mackey and guarded around him. Her husband was brutally murdered right before the holidays, and the FBI isn’t telling her anything. She’s afraid for her life, her daughter’s, and her mother’s. She afraid of tough guy Mackey, but he could be the only one who can find her husband’s killers. Can they find common ground amidst the treachery, lies, and turmoil?

Excerpt:

Chapter Eight

Lavender Raines

 Wrapped in my ratty robe, I sat in George’s recliner with my feet dangling off the raised end in equally shabby, fluffy slippers. Savoring my first mug of coffee, I watched a favorite home buyers, renovators, and flippers cable show. On this morning’s episode, a petite woman with aqua combs in her frosted hair, and an artistic bent, shopped for a tiny house.

My mother waltzed into the living room in her kimono, carrying a steaming mug.

I pointed at the home improvement show. “Isn’t that A-frame adorable? I can see myself in it.”

“Oh, sure. I see you bumping your head when you climb that silly ladder trying to get into the loft to go to sleep.” She sat on the sofa.

“It’s got wheels. I could move anywhere I wanted. There are so many places I’d like to visit.”

“And just how would you haul that thing around?” Her laugh conveyed skepticism.

“I’d buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee and tow it wherever I went.”

My mother stared at me. “Lavender, I think you’ve lost your mind since George died.”

I lowered the sound. “Why? Tiny houses are the new rage. Lots of people, from all walks of life, buy them or build them.”

“Well, Strickland’s don’t do that sort of thing.”

“Mother, I’m no longer a Strickland. Haven’t been one for a long time. I’m a Raines.” What she could never be told was why I longed to run away. The problem was, I’d take the image of George’s tortured body with me wherever I went.

She placed her mug on the coffee table. “Lavender, darling, for your own good, I think you should come live with me for a while.”

I turned off the television. “Mother, I appreciate your offer. I do, but I’m going to stay right here. I’m not running off in a tiny house on wheels, as appealing as that might seem.”

“You exasperate me. I’m worried about you.”

I walked over to the sofa, sat beside her, and hugged her. “I love you.”

“I never doubted that. I love you too.” She stood and swiped at a tear. “How about some more coffee?”

I followed her into the kitchen and sat at the table while she brewed a fresh pot.

She turned to face me. “Kendall and I will be leaving this morning. She can’t miss any more classes. Duke will be only so forgiving.”

“Yes, she has to get back to school.” I stood and wrapped an arm around my mother’s waist. “Thank you for chauffeuring her.”

She stepped back and took a long look at me. Her head bobbled for a moment. “Really, Darling, you must do something with your hair. That bun is falling apart.”

“It’s a loose chignon. It’s a mess right now, and I don’t care one bit.” I laughed and gave her a quick hug.

“Darling, I swear, somebody switched you at birth. You can’t be mine.” She emptied the old coffee out of our mugs and filled them with fresh brew.

I placed two percent milk and artificial sweetener on the table, added a splash of the milk to my coffee, and doused hers with both the sweetener and the milk.

We sat at the table in somewhat companionable silence, drinking coffee.

I placed my mug on the table top. “I have to review our finances to see if Kendall can remain at Duke next year. We’re not broke by any means. George always did the responsible thing and, of course, had a life insurance policy. That only goes so far, and we don’t have George’s salary coming in.”

Mother blinked twice.

Oh, my, I didn’t dare laugh. She’d already put on her false lashes.

She stared and blinked again. “I’ll pay for Duke. Kendall is not going to some state school.”

Resisting her would be emotionally exhausting, and she’d drag Kendall into it. “Thank you, Mother. Kendall loves Duke. I know she’ll appreciate your generosity.” I took a sip of coffee. That was one thing off my plate.

Kendall would be happy at Duke. That left two things.

How I was going to get the information, I didn’t know, but I had to find out what had happened to George. Agent Lightfoot had stopped returning my calls.

And what was up with Randall Creston? Why was he intimidating Abigail and Olivia?

 

Day Ten, Morning

Mac “Mackey” Mackenzie

The water sluicing over my body was bracing, but in an abbreviated wetsuit, not frigid. I kept swimming out to sea. The waves were with me. I caught a big one and rode it farther out. The return would be the trial.

My dive watch told me I’d gone far enough, so I stopped and treaded water.

Through a pair of military grade goggles, I fixed my eyes on the shore and began the strenuous swim back. My thigh muscles strained as my legs sliced through the waves, which were now against me. I hadn’t worn flippers intentionally, to make the swim more difficult. When I reached the shore, I was winded.

Sunrise Boulevard ran north and south along the beach. It had a bike path and sidewalks on either side but no parking along the road. Three large public lots intruded onto the beach, having hard-packed sand due to constant vehicle usage. They were spaced evenly apart along the beach front. I walked to my graphite colored Jeep Wrangler, parked in the lot at Sunrise and Beaumont.

I shed my wet suit, slipped a pair of jeans over my swimming trunks, and fastened a clip-on holster to my belt. Then, I stowed my wetsuit in the four-by-four’s cargo space.

A seagull swooped low over the vehicle as I opened the driver’s side backdoor. I removed the floor mat, punched a code into a tiny panel, and lifted the cover of a custom-built secret compartment beneath the floor. I pulled out my Berretta, and secured it in my holster. After I threw on a black untucked, long sleeved shirt, I was good to go.

That’s when I noticed Lavender Raines walking on the sidewalk next to the bike path. The early morning sun, rising over the ocean, played with an occasional red strand of hair in the bun that looked as if it was about to fall apart. Her hair was lush and dark, but not quite as dark as I had thought.

“Mrs. Raines.” I waved. No time like the present to do as The Old Man requested. Check up on her.

She stopped and placed the flat of her palm over her eyebrows, to ward off the morning sun, as she tried to figure out who I was. Then she smiled.

I trotted to her. “It’s good to see you. How are you doing?”

She clasped her hands together. “I’m fine. Thank you for asking. Mackenzie, is it?”

“Yes, ma’am. It’s so good to see you again.” I’d never been accused of having a way with words.

“So kind of you.” She backed up a step.

Awkward.

A kid on a skateboard propelled himself forward by repeatedly striking his foot on the sidewalk. He lost his balance and the skateboard left the pavement, flying six inches off the ground, directly at her.

She let out a small, frightened cry.

I grabbed her and turned her away from the wooden missile. We both staggered backward.

The skateboard grazed my calf. I winced.

“Ouch, my ankle,” she cried.

The kid ran after his board, and we never saw him again.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I tried to get you out of the way.”

She held onto my arm. “Don’t apologize. I’m grateful to you. Are you hurt?”

“Nothing much at all.” I’d have a bruise and would feel it for a while.

She took a halting step but found it difficult, painful. “I think I twisted it.”

Her leg buckled. As she collapsed to one side, she tried to break her fall by grasping my waist. Her head jerked and her eyes opened wide. She withdrew her hand from my weapon as if a snake had bitten her. If she hadn’t known I carry concealed, she did now.

I lifted her, holding on to her until she was able to stand up more-or-less straight. “Keep your weight off your foot.”

“I’ll do my best.”

“If I brace you on one side, can you hobble to my Jeep?”

“I’ll try.”

We took a faltering step, then another. A three-legged dog could’ve done much better. When she whimpered, I scooped her up in my arms and carried her to the Jeep.

Once I got her comfortably settled, I ignored her protests as I untied her running shoe, slipped off the sock, and examined her foot. “There’s nothing major broken. Still, you could have a hair-line fracture. Would you like to go to the emergency room?”

“No. No, thank you. I was on my way to my friend Emmi’s house. It’s on Beaumont off of Catalina– not far from here. If you could drop me there.”

I shimmied the sock back onto her foot over pale-pink painted toes that matched her fingernails. Then, I slid the shoe back on. After I tied the laces, I gently patted the shoe. “All done.”

When I got behind the wheel, she looked directly at me. “A lot of men in Florida carry concealed, but you’re more than you appear to be. From what George told me, Mr. Agard, he’s pretty important in the government.”

I looked straight ahead. “I don’t know that much about what Mr. Agard does.” True, very true.

“At the funeral, you said you knew my husband. Do you know what happened to him? He said he was going to New Orleans and they found his tortured body in Caracas?”

“I can tell you with absolute certainty, it had nothing whatsoever to do with another woman.”

“I already know that,” she snapped. She closed her eyes and took a breath. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”

“No apology necessary. Your world has been turned upside-down. I’ll take you to your friend’s house.” I fired up the engine, determined now more than ever to learn what had happened to George Raines. The man should be home with his wife.

Which of the Four Classic Temperaments are you? Leave a comment. I’d love to know!

PURCHASE ACTS OF MALICE ON AMAZON

NIKE N. CHILLEMI’S AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

 

 

Celebrating Thanksgiving ~ and purposing to enjoy it solo

Thx Pix 1
The fun of adding pumpkins, Pilgrim figurines, and a harvest angel to my baker’s rack. Oh, yeah, and a pesky cat got into the shot.

When Joseph was alive I prepared a huge Thanksgiving feast for family and a friend or two. I was known for my super moist turkey, and it was so simple. I’ll let you in on the secret. I got it years ago from Cooking Light magazine. You mix equal parts of maple syrup and unsweetened jarred apple sauce and smother the bird in it. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it. But the whole mess, and it is a mess, cooks away and you have an apple/maple glaze and a really moist and tender bird. I always cooked my bird at 325 degrees and it’s really good to use a meat thermometer to know when it’s done. Nothing is worse than eating raw poultry. I made the a traditional giblet stuffing recipe from the back of the stuffing package and added chopped dates and chopped, peeled apples and stuffed the bird. Of course, you also have to bake a pan of it, and the trick there is to pour broth over it so it’s not dry. I can’t give a recipe because I don’t cook with recipes, as a rule. I’ve spent years enjoying myself pouring over cookbooks, especially holiday cookbooks, trying different “tricks of the trade” my mother, grandmother, or a friend passed along. It got to where I cooked by eye and by taste. Yes, you have to keep a teaspoon or two or three at the stove to taste or you can get in real trouble. Add a little spice, butter, whatever, then taste. You can always add more but you can’t take out.

Thx Pix 2
My mantle and another pesky cat. She’s annoyed because I disturbed her nap.

So, now it’s just me, Sophie the Wonder Dog, and as as Sophie refers to them, “those pesky cats.” About six months ago, a series of circumstances occurred and it hit me like a tidal wave that I was basically alone on this planet. And yes, I stewed and whined about it. If you know me at all, if I didn’t admit to whining, you’d know I wasn’t telling the truth.

Of course, it goes without saying, so I almost didn’t say it.,,I have God. I have Jesus. And of course, I have friends and associates. However, as I get up in years, I find that my friends have issues they are dealing with, some excruciatingly serious. So, I really do have to exercise my “spiritual chops” and lean in to God, follow Him, rely on Him, and seek His face.

One thing I keep hearing Him say in a variety of ways is, “Live life. You are fearfully and wondrously made. Don’t stop celebrating life.” I recently heard Joyce Meyer say on a broadcast that we humans are the closest things to God. We have been made in His image and likeness. And we should act like it. We have to choose to do that. It’s a decision we have to make and sometimes re-make.

So, I’ve been invited to a huge southern family Thanksgiving Day dinner in central Florida. I’ve been informed (forewarned maybe) that it will be an experience. Looks like God has a new delight in store for me.

Thx Pix 3
My mantle at night. Now I’m anticipating decorating for Christmas!!!

 

Multi-Grain French Toast ~ a breakfast brew-ha-ha, my second attempt

Bkfst Casserole Savory (2)

Healthy Home Cooking, Cooking For One

 

My second try at a Breakfast Casserole or Baked French Toast using multi-grain bread. This one is ‘savory’ (2 beaten eggs, then beat in 2 C 2% milk, 1/4 finely chopped pecans, 1/2 pkg Hormel less fat real bacon bits, Lawry’s season salt to taste and my advice is take it easy, ground pepper, 1 rounded Tbs sugar). Spray baking dish well. Bake at 350 for 45-50 min or till done. I had to moosh the bread down and crush the crusts to get them to absorb the liquid. It rose back up in baking. I could’ve cut off the crusts but that would’ve eliminated seeds which are healthy. ~ Can serve warm with maple syrup or honey, raspberry jam, sprinkled confectioner sugar. Or eat as is. ~ 3 servings.

In my first casserole/French Toast/bread pudding attempt I used multi-gran bread, the egg and milk bath (no seasoned salt) and apples with brown sugar. Didn’t crush the bread and it didn’t look as good coming out of the oven. I called it bread pudding, which it wasn’t. It tasted good.

BTW, there will be a third attempt. This is a work in progress. And a fourth and fifth…gotta get it right someday as I eat my way thought the test trials.

Guarding Candy Kane by V.B. Tenery ~ a review

Guarding Candy KaneChristmas novella, Mystery, RomSuspense

This is a wonderful Christmas mystery. I enjoyed reading the mystery driven part of it and the Christmas part of it. Loved the main characters. At points, the suspense was chilling, by the end it was uplifting and filled with Christmas cheer.

I loved the Colorado setting. In one scene we’re walking with the characters through the quaint village of Christmas Tyme, with all its cheerful seasonal decorations. Then in another scene, we’re in the snow-swept Colorado wilderness fearing for the characters’ lives.

The author is a skillful writer who takes the reader through a delightful Christmas mystery and adds that something additional that makes it a read that’s on more than one level. If I had one question to ask the author, it would be: “What’s next?”

Purchase GUARDING CANDY KANE on Amazon

Trinity Widows Group ~a much needed time

Trinity
Trinity Baptist’s large foyer, widows group meets in Next Steps room.

support, laughter, food

My “Florida sunshine” friend Deborah asked me if I’d like to meet her this afternoon at Trinity Baptist Church for it’s widows group. I immediately said, “YES.”

I’d been feeling down in the dumps. Another dear friend who I’ve known for many years (since my time in NYC) is battling cancer and she’s just moved. Packing up the old house, a cancelled flight and an overnight at an airport hotel, arranging for another flight…and when she arrived in Texas, she was hospitalized. She and I had been texting back and forth for over 24-hours and I was emotionally drained.

My husband passed away three years ago on December 8th, so the holidays are bittersweet for me. Even still, on the very year Joseph died, Christmas was a comfort to me. That year, my house had been decorated since the day after Thanksgiving. So, when I arrived back home in Florida after the memorial service in NYC, my little two-bedroom house had its halls fully decked out…and Christmas enveloped me and comforted me. I know it’s not that way for many who have lost loved ones during the holidays, but the spirit of Christmas held me in its arms that year…and it did last year, and I expect it will this year. Of course, this was Jesus expressing Himself in a gentle and tender way through the symbolism and spirit of the holiday we believers choose to celebrate His birthday.

So meanwhile, back to today…when I got to the church Deborah met me in the parking lot. Inside, the tables were decorated with Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers and there was an informal Thanksgiving buffet. The turkey had been ordered, but all of the other dishes were prepared by the women. When we got to our tables, the very first topic of conversation was how good it was to cook again. Nearly every woman at our table, including me, said she hardly cooked anymore since it was cooking only for one. The ladies had enjoyed breaking out cooking chops again and preparing a dish for a large group. I was really a good cook once, and I feel my skills in the kitchen have diminished from lack of use. I do find that disturbing but it is what it is.

Women shared a lot about their grandchildren, trips taken to Israel, Ireland. And then we got to how even years after your husband’s death…you’re going along…and out of the blue something blindsides you and triggers the old feelings of grief. Of course you knew you weren’t over it…but you thought you’d tucked the worst of it away…and then Pow!

It wasn’t a discussion group. Just a gentle back and forth and it was good and it was healing.

‘A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.’ ~ Psalm 58:5 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fl  904.596.2400

Trinity Baptist College, Jacksonville, Fl   904.596.2351

Trinity Christian Academy, Jacksonville, FL   904.596.2460