Celebrating Thanksgiving ~ and purposing to enjoy it solo

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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.

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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.

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

 

ACTS OF MALICE, a Lavender Raines/Mac “Mackey” Mackenzie Novel ~ Cover Reveal

AOM CoverDetective Story, murder mystery, national security

Heroine Lavender Raines and hero Mac “Mackey” Mackenzie are polar opposites. Thought not a holiday novel, per se, ACTS OF MALICE has Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s scenes that will touch your heart, make you gasp, have you laughing, or all three.

ACTS OF MALICE IN A NUT SHELL…

ACTS OF MALICE:  A taut and compelling classic murder mystery with a national security underlying theme. Interpersonal relationships, greed, dry humor. Unrequited Love. Uplifting.

Lavender Raines gets the ‘doorbell ring’ no wife ever wants to get. Her husband has been brutally murdered, and the FBI is more secretive than helpful. The problem is, his body was found in Caracas when she thought his business trip had taken him to New Orleans.

Mackenzie just opened a second beach resort-town restaurant, this one in Ribault Beach, Florida…but now the clandestine security organization that from-time-to-time sends him on covert missions wants him to find Lavender’s husband’s killers.

Forces from within the “Deep State” have shaped circumstances that will alter the course of both their lives. Then a local man is murdered. Mackey is emotionally shut down about his life, but protective of others. Lavender is a pillar of strength in her family, but distrusting of Mackey and guarded around him. Can they find common ground amidst this treachery and turmoil?GreenStar Burst

Excerpt:

Chapter Five

Lavender Raines

Yawning, my mother entered the kitchen with a lazy, graceful sway. She tightened her fuchsia kimono-style bathrobe and headed for the coffee maker. “I didn’t sleep well at all last night.”

I placed my coffee mug on the kitchen table and swiveled in my chair to face her. “Was the guestroom bed uncomfortable?”

“Well … no, Darling, not really.” She waved, limp-wristed, as if she were shushing me. “I need to get some coffee in me.”

“On the counter. Help yourself.”

She poured coffee into a mug. “I simply can’t understand why George’s parents didn’t fly in to attend his memorial service.”

If I cared for hard liquor, which I didn’t, I might want a shot in my coffee before long. “Mother, you know Marianne has early onset dementia. Henry doesn’t want her to be told George is gone. Besides they recently moved into an assisted living apartment in Seattle and are still settling in.” The fact was neither of his parents had any idea their son’s death certificate and funeral papers had been falsified to make it appear he’d died while visiting them. I went along with this charade because I had no idea who was behind George’s murder, or why. I was afraid for Kendall’s safety, as well as my own and my mother’s.

“Yes, yes, of course.” She added two percent milk and artificial sweetener to her mug and stirred.

“What a pretty bathrobe.” I hoped to change the topic of conversation.

She brought her mug to the table and sat opposite me. “This old thing? I got it several years ago at this marvelous little shop when your father and I were in Santa Barbara. Now he’s gone, and George is gone. It’s just us three girls.” She tilted her head and slid her fingers through her highlighted, chin length hair.

Hard liquor was looking better and better. I slipped my hand behind my neck and scooped my hair out from under my knit robe that had seen better days. “Mother, we’ll be fine. You’ll see. We girls will pull through.”

She ran her French manicured index finger around the rim of her mug. “I want more for you and Kendall than pulling through. Really, dear, this house is not in good shape. You should sell it and come live with me in Virginia Beach.”

I stifled a gasp at the same time that Kendall lurched into the kitchen. “Sell the house? No, never. This is Dad’s house. We have to keep it.”

I stood and hurried over to her. “Honey, Grandma was just thinking out loud.”

“Kendall, darling, it isn’t ladylike to eavesdrop.” My mother’s sing-song rhythm was light, with a softness to it.

Kendall pouted. “I wasn’t eavesdropping. I was coming into the kitchen to get coffee.”

I sat down at the table and kept to myself that I’d also been unable to sleep. In the wee hours, selling the house had very briefly crossed my mind. “The house does have a few projects still left to be done. George finished the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Only the bedrooms need a little cosmetic touch-up.”

“Both bathrooms need a complete renovation. The master bath is very outdated. Really, Darling, there’s not even a hint of open concept. With your talent in home décor, you should know that.” My mother wriggled her nose.

“Grandma, you make it sound like Daddy didn’t provide a good place for us to live.”

“Kendall, darling, I’m expressing my feelings. Would you like me to be dishonest with you and your mother?”

Kendall smacked her mug on the countertop, and liquid sloshed over its brim. She ignored it. “Daddy’s memorial service was only yesterday. So, Grandma, I don’t mean to be rude, but if you can’t put him in a good light, don’t say anything.”

She rushed out of the room, her eyes brimming with tears.

Lavender Raines, Afternoon 

A walk along the waterfront might calm my jangled nerves. I’d been a walking enthusiast for years and had been known to go for miles. Sunrise Boulevard wasn’t that far away and was a lovely stroll along the beach.

I slipped into and tied my running shoes. Did I need a sweater? I checked my phone for the weather report. High seventies. No sweater. I’d be exerting myself, and that would keep me warm enough. I slipped the phone into the diminutive leather bag slung across my body.

After a slow trot to the end of our driveway, I turned and inspected the house. A white concrete ranch on residential Catalina Street with a large picture window, a dark-blue front door, and a couple of palm trees in front. We lived in a respectable neighborhood. George had wanted the house. After growing up in the sizable two-story colonial with a pool I thought of as the house my father bought for my mother, I would’ve preferred a three-bedroom townhouse. Still, George, Kendall, and I had been happy here. So, why had I felt so defensive during my mother’s manipulative harangue, feeling almost as if our house was a hovel?

While walking along Sunrise Boulevard at a leisurely pace, the blahs of self-recrimination had set in and settled. When I pulled my gaze up from the sidewalk, I realized I’d turned the corner onto Mystic Drive. I found myself standing before Funky Boutiking and immediately felt a bit better. The quaint shop sat behind the graceful yet casual Blue Dolphin Boutique Hotel.

Ribault Beach benefited from naturally occurring, softly rolling dunes which somewhat protected the city during fierce storms. Sunrise Boulevard, one of the city’s major thoroughfares ran north and south along the beach. At its southernmost end, a small concrete and steel bridge crossed a short expanse of ocean to Cannoner Island.

“Such a funny shape.” I placed my flattened hand over my sunglasses to block out the hot sun and stepped to the side, trying to get a better view of the small island. Not used to talking to myself, a giggle bubbled up. Then I giggled again. “Looks like my feet brought me here for a reason.”

Recalling the often-told tale charmed me. French Huguenot settlers in the mid-1500s gave the island that name because its seaward end rose higher out of the ocean than its landward end. They thought it resembled a cannon. Of course, the name had long since lost its French spelling and pronunciation– and Ribault Beach had also lost its French pronunciation.

I turned toward the pale yellow 1950s bungalow that was Funky Boutiking and placed my foot on the first step. Should I go in? “I don’t want to be a burden.” This talking to myself was weird.

The house rested on a foundation of concrete blocks two-feet-high with spaces between them which would allow a rushing storm surge to pass underneath. The bungalow sported a craftsman-style stone porch with concrete steps and blue painted wooden pillars. It was a sturdy little structure.

I held onto the railing and walked up the steps and onto the porch which displayed outdoor and indoor pieces of furniture for sale. I continued into the store.

Abigail Hunter stood at the front counter, behind the register, worry reflected in her eyes.

A well-dressed, thirty-something man on the opposite side of the wooden counter faced her. Randall Creston, another of George’s distant relatives. He hadn’t come to the memorial service. He and his family lived in Crescent Beach, just north of our city. We hadn’t seen him or heard from him for so long, all memory of him had escaped me, until now.

He slapped his hand on the counter. “You and your sister are two stubborn old ladies.”

Abigail winced but still managed a thin smile. “It’s probably true we’re set in our ways.”

“I’ll be back again, and we’ll continue this conversation. I have an appointment in less than twenty minutes.” He turned on his heel and stalked off.

His shoulder nearly brushed against mine as he left. He grunted and nodded. “Good day.”

“Good … day.” I turned and watched him rush out the door, not sure if he recognized me.

When I turned back, Abigail clasped and unclasped her hands.

I walked up to the register. “Are you all right? Wasn’t that Randall Creston?”

“Our cousin Randall, the lawyer. He helps with our finances, such as they are.”

Olivia peeked out from the behind a display toward the back of the store. The sizable bungalow accommodated a small two-bedroom apartment in the back and sat on a half-acre lot. “Is he gone?” She noticed me and rushed over. “Lavender, I’m so glad to see you. I just put on water for tea. Would you like to join us?”

“Thank you, that would make my day.”

The kettle whistled, and the petite woman spun around and hurried to the back.

I returned my attention to Abigail, wondering if I’d just witnessed elder abuse, or perhaps intimidation. “This is none of my business, but it seemed as if Olivia was trying to avoid ‘cousin’ Randall’. I made quotation marks in the air with my fingers.

“Lavender, honey, you have your own troubles. Come sit and have tea with us.” Abigail walked toward an alcove to the side of the front counter.

I sat on the cushioned bench built into the alcove. “Abigail, you and Olivia are my husband’s family. If you’re having any problems, you can come to me.”

Abigail settled her long frame into the seat of an upholstered chair. It was positioned to one side of a small coffee table. “You’re sweet, just like Georgie.”

Olivia bustled in carrying a tray which she placed on the coffee table. “You’ll have to add milk and sugar to your taste. Please help yourself to home-baked oatmeal cookies.” She sat in an upholstered chair on the other side of the coffee table in front of the alcove.

I added a splash of milk to my tea, and then took a cookie which I rested in a napkin on my lap. “Olivia, Randall Creston nearly collided with me as he rushed out.”

She rolled her eyes and mixed two heaping spoons of sugar into her tea. “He’s a very busy man. His clients are the cream of the crop in Ribault Beach. He wouldn’t even come here otherwise, except for this business deal he’s all worked up about.”

“You and Abigail are also his clients?” I sipped my tea.

Olivia shifted in her seat. “We’re his poor church-mouse relatives. His charity account.”

 

ACTS OF MALICE IS NOW ON PRE-ORDER ON AMAZON

NIKE N. CHILLEMI’S AUTHOR PAGE ON AMAZON

 

Reno On My New Condo ~ life surging forward!

I moved to Jacksonville from Brooklyn (NYC) over two years ago and have been looking (on and off) for a new home…and soon realized I was in need of a condo. I am through with yard work and hiring handymen to do outdoor upkeep on the house. Through, I say! Through! I finally found the perfect spot for me in the Old Mandarin neighborhood.

Hebrews 3:4 [New American Standard Bible] ~ For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

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I decided on this condo in large part because of the beautiful tiled floors and fireplace. Of course the existing ceiling fan had to be swapped out for a new one, same thing with the small chandelier in the dining room area of the open living space.

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Ray, a friend of Christian author Dalyn Woods, is doing my reno. Here he’s working on the electric outlet in my daughter Victoria’s room.

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Another shot of Victoria’s room.

 

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The master bedroom after the first coat of paint. The bar stools for the counter off the kitchen were given a dark stain. We got them through Offer Up at $5 each.

When I take a breath after painting a door, or trim (Victoria has slathered white over the walls), I realized I’m a further step away from Brooklyn and my late-husband,, both physically and metaphorically. After two years, the bad days come much, much less frequently. Life does go on. The move is fun and exciting, but I can’t wait for the work to be done so we can settle in.

 

Memorial Day And You’re Alone ~ singles, soloers

soldiers widow, grave

 

Some of us are single, solo, and alone because our hero husband died on the battlefield, or in a training accident. Some are single, solo, and alone because our hero husband came back from the battlefield all messed up in the mind or the body, and he left us.

In this world today, Memorial Day is not only to honor departed military, but also departed first responders. They are also on the battlefield to hold off those who would destroy civilization.

In times of grief, darkness, loneliness, it’s the time for prayer…for all of us.  This is the time to know God loves us. He has not left us. He is near us. It’s time to know what God’s Word says about us.

Psalm 139 ~ New American Standard Version [NASB]

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
20 For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

 

Tips and Suggestions for Singles/Soloers on Memorial Day:

  • Make sure you have time with God.
  • Start your day with praise and worship music in your home.
  • Plan a Memorial Day activity with family and friends. Make sure there’s time for remembrance and time for fun in your day.
  • Get around others. Don’t be alone all day. Go to a public Memorial Day activity.
  • If you need to get away from grief, go to lunch/dinner and a comedic movie with a family member(s) or a friend(s). Go bowling, swimming, surfing, fishing with family and/or friends.

May you and yours be blessed this Memorial Day.

Memorial Day

Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens ~ the inspired pen

Sutters Landing

I write detective stories. Mostly that’s what I read and showcase. But every-once-in-awhile I come across a general fiction novel that’s so good, I have to promote it. SUTTER’S LANDING by Betty Thomason Owens is such a novel. Although it does have a measure of suspense, too.

 

Literature, Biblical Allegory

Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep.

In early spring of 1955, Annabelle Cross and her daughter-in-law, Connie have nearly made it through the first winter on their own. Then the skies open up as West Tennessee and much of the south endures one of the worst floods in history. As many of their neighbors endure losses due to the flooding, Annabelle and Connie sit tight on dry ground.

As spring gives way to summer, Annabelle begins to dread Connie’s upcoming marriage and removal to Sutter’s Landing. Though she’s happy to note the growing affection between Alton Wade and her daughter-in-law, their marriage means Annabelle will be on her own for the first time in her life.

Connie’s doubts increase when Alton’s bigoted brother Jensen uses every opportunity to drive a wedge between them. Is she doing the right thing? Did she move too quickly? Unexpected summer visitors and anticipation of a new neighbor provide diversion and open possibilities for both Annabelle and Connie.

EXCERPT:  Chapter One

Connie Cross sat straight up in bed. What was that sound? Slowly, her vision adjusted to the semidarkness of her room. Outside, but close—too close. A gunshot? She slipped out of bed, donned her robe and tiptoed through the next room where her mother-in-law Annabelle lay. A soft snore told her the woman still slept.

Quiet as possible, Connie opened the back door and stood looking through the screen. Chilled air curled around her ankles and sent a shiver up her spine. She pushed the screen door open. Outside, on the small back porch, she stood for a moment to get her bearings. A thick, white fog enveloped the surrounding area. She wrapped her arms around herself for warmth and peered into the mist.

One of the hens broke into a loud cackle, which wasn’t unusual, though a bit early in the morning for such a racket. Connie was just about to retreat to the warmth of her bed when she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye. She squinted in that direction, listening. Was someone approaching the house? An odd noise, like an animal snuffling, was the only sound. Her scalp prickled. She trembled, though not because of the cold. The sound moved closer.

Gradually, a shape emerged, advancing through the mist. Before she could make out what it was, there came a sharp whistle. Her back straightened as her nerves uncoiled. She recognized that whistle. The thing halted. Connie stepped forward. “Samson, is that you?”

The dog whined, and gave a soft yip. He trotted closer, nose to the ground, tail at attention.

A smile warming her insides, Connie peered into the mist. “Alton?” Their nearest neighbor, Alton Wade, was also her fiancé, though they hadn’t publicly announced it yet. A moment later, she made out his lanky frame, moving toward her.

“Samson, sit,” he said.

The dog sat.

Alton stopped below the porch, too far away for her to make out the face beneath the brim of his hat. Dressed in a loose jacket, he held a disjointed shotgun in the crook of his arm. “Did I wake you?” His voice was low, as though he was not yet fully awake.

Keenly aware of her state of undress, Connie kept both arms crossed over the front of her blue chenille robe as she crept closer to the edge of the porch. “You did. Was that a shot I heard?”

“Yes, it was. A fox was about to have herself a morning snack on Miss Annabelle’s chickens.”

Connie caught her breath. “Did you kill it?”

“Of course I did.”

Connie could hear the prideful grin on his face. She gave him an answering one. “Of course you did.”

 

Author Bio:

Betty T Owens

Betty Thomason Owens has been writing for almost thirty years. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and serves as vice-president/secretary of the Louisville area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. Her writing credits include the Legacy Series, and the southern historical Kinsman Redeemer Series (Book 1, Annabelle’s Ruth, is a 2016 Grace Award winner, and has recently been translated into Spanish). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM. When she’s not writing, Owens is a part-time bookkeeper, who loves to travel and spend time with her family.

Betty would like to invite you to her Facebook author page, Twitter, GoodReads, Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon Author Page.

And she posts weekly on her blog, Hello, Thursday Morning, found at LOVE IS THE LEGACY ~ BETTY THOMASON OWENS.

SUTTER’S LANDING @ AMAZON

A New Year! Are You Enough Without Him? ~ widowhood

2017-2018, femaleI recently had to decide whether to purchase an extended warranty for my husband’s car, which I now drive. I called an umpteen number of people asking their advice on extended warranties. I stressed and called a few more people. I prayed about it and stressed some more. In the end, I had to make the decision alone. Just me.

Disclaimer: Widows aren’t the only women who have to make important life decisions alone. Divorced women do and so do single women.

Disclaimer #2: Not all widows have ultra-loving feelings toward their deceased husbands. Some husbands were serial lotharios, abusive, gamblers, alcoholic or drug addicted. In many cases it’s complicated. He was overbearing, but a good provider. He wasn’t romantic or complimentary but was an excellent father.

My friend Carol, who moved to the west coast, adored Richard, her second husband. However, when he got extremely ill, he became difficult. As his physicality worsened, so did his mental capacity and he said mean things to her. Ten years older than me, and having lived in NYC most of her life where she took public transportation, she didn’t drive. Living near Seattle at that time, she called a taxi and went to the hospital almost every day to be with him. When she returned home, she usually phoned me. Being a blunt Brooklynite, she’d often shout something like this: “I’m gonna kill him if he doesn’t die first.” When Richard passed, the stress of his illness was forgotten. As far as she was concerned he was the best man who had ever walked the earth. She is also gone now, and I miss her terribly.

Whether the marriage was a dream come true, or something much more complex, when he dies, the wife is alone. She may find she’s now a fifth wheel when in the company of other couples they had socialized with. The company of other widows and single women can be a blessing. Within a posse of women without men, you can more comfortably say krazy-widow things and confess to having freaky-widow feelings.

Entering a new year can be difficult for women who are alone. Hanging a new calendar on the wall or opening a new datebook only reminds them how forlorn they sometimes feel. Those feelings of desolation are much worse for a widow than for a divorced woman whose husband is still running around (pun intended). No matter how wonderful or ignoble her husband was, he is no more. She can’t hold him, hug him, laugh with him, or argue with him, as the case may be.

Still, it is a new year and getting through it will be much easier with gal-pals. I feel more than blessed to have found a group of Christian women friends who are joyous. Laughing is the norm in our get-togethers. Upon learning Logan’s Steakhouse had power after Hurrican Irma knocked out electric for three days, Lynn, Charlotte, her daughter and I cracked sweaty-body jokes and laughed so hard other diners stared at us. We were so grateful just to get a cooked meal. Okay, they’re not simply joyous, they’re as nutty as I am. Let me tell you, when you’re a widow, zany friends are good, very good. Laughter breaks through the solitude and there’s lots of solitude. So, widows, get yourselves some fun-loving, single women friends. It’ll do you good.

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22 [KJV]

 

 

Olde Faux Trees the Best? ~ transitions

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I ‘drug’ my old and once quite expensive fake Christmas tree from Brooklyn to northeastern coastal Florida. Nearly twenty years ago, my husband and I went to one of those upscale Christmas stores AFTER the season and bought one of their larger and fuller display trees. At that time and with the end of season sale it was still over $200.

Joseph is gone, and though I’m still 39 (yeah, right), I’m no spring chicken. Last year, when I hauled the tree out of my shed and put it up in my tiny two-bedroom house in Florida, I swore I’d never do that again! It was too heavy for me to drag in and then at the end of the season drage out. Putting it up and taking it down was too much work. It’s one of those that must be assemebled branch-by-branch. Yet, this year I got it out again and managed to get it up with a ton of whining and murmuring. As some of you might know, I’ve had a rep for having perfected whining to an art form. However, totally through the grace of God, I’ve been able to knock a lot of that nonsense off.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing ~ Philippians 2:14 [NSB]

 

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A good start.

When I say it’s work to put the tree up, that’s what I mean. The trunk has to be assembled. long the trunk letters Have been printed (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and they are color coded. The branches also have those letters printed on them in the corresponding color. Twenty years ago, those letters were easy to read, not so much now.

 

In Brooklyn, we’d assembled a layer of boughs, then layer lights in a cirsle around the tree at that level. We’d continue…a layer of boughs topped by a layer of lights until we reached the top. By the time we were done, we might have three hundred lights on the tree. Of course, there were two or more of us decorating. Now there’s just me. I love decorating. I love everything about Christmas. Decorations are a symbolic tribute to the babe who was born in a manger over 2000 years ago. The many lights abounding in every home, business, and thoroughfare mere representation of the Light that entered the world.

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Coming along. A long way to go yet.

 

I hope to make another transition in 2018 and enter a new season in my life. I plan to move to an apartment where yard work will be handled by management. I’d like to have a swimming pool for exercise and to keep limber. And so I have caught myself muttering, I’m not going to take that tree. It’s going to Goodwill. Sounds a lot like what I was saying last year. Will the tree go with me? Only time will tell.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. ~ Isaiah 9: 6-7 [KJV]

 

Nativity