April 12th, 2010

Mr. and Ms. Taste E. Buds

The Buds, yeah,I know um. You do, too. We live with them, those sweet and sour trips on the tongue. Masterpiece’s in the mouth. They are sometimes ever so sour, sour. Salty, ooh, yes that, too, and spicy. But they can be bitter. I hate it when they get like that; drives me nuts. We foodies can spin them right around, though, with crunchy sweet apples and salty pretzels. Or Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, which snaps open the ears and floods the buds with peanut-y plunge. Happy are they with combinations: sweet, salty, crunchy, munchy. “Hallelujah, brother,” they shout. “Get it, sister!”

Mine like stepping off a sidewalk occasionally into an exotic forest of knee deep pink roses, some plucked and transformed into fragrant jelly. Now that bullets the Buds back in a time machine and they tumble out, blinking into a cozy kitchen, a mom in a white apron, her soft brown hands making that wild rose jelly. And homemade wheat bread, too, slathered with salty white butter and eaten freshly popped from the oven, mouths exploding, igniting and delighting.

When Mr. and Ms. Taste E. Buds get bored they really yawn for herbs and spices like basil, dill, cumin, cilantro, sage, saffron, bay leaf, garlic, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, rosemary. Did someone say Rosemary? Now she’s an edgy girl. I pair her up with a pork loin from time to time and she forces it to tango.

Think velvety sauces stung with white pepper. And glistening milk gravy flavored with sausage then poured over hot biscuits and fried potatoes. Have you ever had chocolate gravy? Well, I never! But the Bud’s have, courtesy of long lost Arkansas cousins.

biscuitsngravy.jpg Biscuits 'n' gravy image by fanofall

But now we’re screaming the Buds language. And they really are easy to delight. Variety, baby, give them variety and they’ll dance a jig for you, or belt out that Marshall Tucker classic tune: “Can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, she’s been doin’ to me.” Yeah, that one.

I’ll tell you what, though. If we deprive them of sweets for too long, we’d best throw them a key lime pie made from scratch to appease them. And by all means jack up the crust with Ritz crackers to tease them. The salty switch up will beam them to a star and back. They will wail uncle. If that doesn’t work, give them death by chocolate. Notice how the food choices have gotten progressively worse? Can I get a woot, woot?

Actually,I do eat healthy. My thoughts are these: eating right is doable as long as we throw in those occasional, well loved treats.

Hey now,foodies, what makes your Taste Buds tingle?

Well, peeps, my job here is done. This finishes out my five senses series. Hopefully, you smell better, not you personally, although that’s a plus. And dream of touch and hear and see things you might have missed, and taste it all. If you’re begging for food after reading this post, please don’t blame me. I’m just the lowly writer, clasping my occasional bowl of Captain Crunch.

Please stay tuned for a hair raising sixth sense post, coming up.


March 22nd, 2010

Hearing History

Testing, testing, can you guys hear me? I couldn’t think of a snappier way to present sound than a recent trip to southern Louisiana.

In New Orleans the decibel levels flew off charts, right along with history, dog ugly and gorgeous as any I’ve ever heard. Even so, I relished the whole Who Dat and Zydeco music and the waitress named Nicole but pronounced Ne-cole. Her inflection piped out like a shot of New York swirled with Louisiana Creole. I kept asking her questions, well, because I’m irritating that way, and because I adored her voice.

“Why y’all don’t vee zeet more?” she finally said, grinning.

Ne-cole, Ne-cole, Ne-cole. A charming sport if I ever met one.

The sounds of New Orleans were spicy crazy indeed. In the streets were drummers, harmonica players and clacky washboard renditions. People were chattering like squirrels, their shoes popping on sidewalks.

In Café Du Monde, we finally plopped down, legs worn and feet aching from traipsing every inch of the French Quarter and miles beyond. I figured I’d earned myself a beignet, snowed under with powdered sugar and washed down with a café-au lait. Spoons were clinking against glass coffee cups while sugar buzzy conversations exploded, and underneath that, the sigh of our pooped waitress, trying to keep up. A fat tip was in order, which made her smile.

So, two days later, I listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival in the car as we headed to St. Francisville, because it would have been a sin not to hear Born on a Bayou if one is going to hang out with gators and Cajuns. And because I’m a Creedence groupie.

Visiting here is like stepping on ancient, exotic soil. Did you know even history has sound? It wails and screams and laughs here in the wind, the birds and bayous.

Three times now I’ve come to this place, trying to grasp a tragic and mysterious chunk of history. Bits and pieces the land has absorbed and yet shouts through the live oak trees. But none makes sense, nor do I condone it. Meanwhile I fancy the people and appreciate the beauty of place. And I remember those without voices and try to honor them with my presence. My heartfelt interest.

The following poem is based on a cemetery we visited while staying on plantation grounds. It was only one visible record, but there are still many loud secrets. Listen for sound in silence.

Fallen Stars

They have gone silent and cold
yet I heard a woman’s voice
in a crows cackle
calling
suppertime…suppertime…suppertime

But that can’t be
sixteen souls long hushed
resting like whispers in black dirt beds
on loud property
they didn’t have time to praise

Days booming with tears and laughter have passed
no more spring afternoons, summer days
snappy fall breezes
or horizons
blazed with red

They lie silent atop a hill now
ringed by a stone wall
gray and chipped
shaggy cedar to ward off sun
and pine silt carpet for decoration

I traced their names with fingertips
when the sun was blooming
and remembered those I never knew
Marguret, Thomas, Mary, Edward, Sarah, Percival
and the others

Then when night turned to coffee
we walked through crispy grass
flashlights beaming
sky flushed with hot stars
now fallen icy atop the hill.

Bonjour Mes Amis- Good day, my friends. Listen well.


March 8th, 2010

Lipstick Kiss

When my middle child-a mama’s girl- started kindergarten, she clung to my waist like lichen on stone. The separation for us was painful, me leaving her, crocodile tears in her eyes, a little waif dressed in tiny jeans and a yellow shirt sprinkled with daisies. I’d done my best to prepare her. She’d been to Pre-K and had play dates. But this little sensitive, towheaded girl still resisted leaving her mama. Out of desperation, before we left the house, I put on red lipstick and kissed her soft, dimpled hand, leaving my lip-print like a colored picture.

“There,” I said. “When you feel sad or scared, look at your hand and mama will be there.”

I still remember how delighted she was, as though I’d plucked a secret star fresh from the sky and placed it hot in her hand. To her, it was the most famous kiss in the world. For a month after she never left for school without that lipstick kiss. Yes, her eyes still filled with glassy tears but then she’d stare at her hand, unscrew her grip, squeeze me tight and bravely walk into her classroom, carrying her Pink Flintstones lunch box.

Ironically, this mama’s girl has gone off to college twelve hours away and although I miss everything about her, the way she kissed my cheek before leaving for her daily adventures, is what I miss most.

We crave touch. Some need more than others but our skin is hard wired for it. Have you ever had a hot stone massage? If not, get yourself over there as quick as possible! I’ve had one but want more. Let me describe.

Flat, slick rocks are heated, while you lay like a bird without plumage between cashmere soft white sheets, woodwinds in the air, the scent of lavender or patchouli piped in. The world drips away. The hot rocks are then placed down your spine, which further melts you like butta. Drenched with warm oil,they are then whirled, looped and kneaded with delicate intuition over every inch of skin you own and in the end you’re left on the table like a lump of sensual bread-dough, covered up and left to rise again into something gorgeous.

Warning:

You won’t be worth a flip the rest of the day. I lay about like the Queen of Sheba, pink skinned, drinking Bud Light, okay wine, and eating butter-cream chocolates and watching sappy movies, thanking the universe, my family, the masseuse, everyone and his brother. Ahhh……. We can all take a day off from the world occasionally. And should.


Me being rather curious and chatty- even during a massage, but not through all of it, I swear- I asked my masseuse about her profession. Did she enjoy this, did she feel it was her calling and was it hard for certain people to relax and allow a stranger to touch them?

She told me she could feel, by touch alone, a person’s essence. She knew whether they were joyful, depressed, or in pain, emotionally or physically. “The elderly bring me the most sorrow and joy,” she went on. “Some have not been touched in so long and are in so much pain it brings them to relieved tears. What a powerful, magical gift, given and received.

Touch your stories. Touch people’s lives. Leave your lipstick kiss upon the world.


March 1st, 2010

Seeing is Believing

Last night the full moon appeared like a flamboyant floodlight. It seemed to echo, “Is anyone alive down there…down there…down there? It is I, floodlight moon.” It appeared close but was actually 238,857 miles away! Our eyes can play tricks on us.

Even so, they are rich visual collectors. Two blue, brown, hazel or green mini artists, taking in life portraits, freeze framing them into memory the way paint adheres to canvas. A scoop of bangs across a forehead, inky black like a raven’s wing, dead leaves twirling on bare sun drenched branches or snow swelled on the ground like thick, whirled whipped cream.

I remember seeing my newborn daughter’s eyes for the first time. Like soul windows, new, but ancient and full of penetrating light. When they lay each in my arms, of course in different years, their haunting eyes explored mine, speaking without sound. Why hello dear mama, they seemed to say. I’ve felt your heartbeat and heard your cries and laughter a thousand times. Here you are now. I see you. They knew me and I them. Any mother can tell you how poignant this is. It is something we never forget, this lavish visual communication without words. I promise not to mention babies anymore, but I do love them.

Eyes alone speak of innocence, pain, sadness, joy, confusion, wildness and sometimes evil, all without saying a word.

If we have been blessed with our vision intact, our brain does the work of preserving previous sights into memory. I can still see the metallic shimmer of dollar sunfish, greasing through an Arkansas River, sun catching the star-burst of yellow bellies. And creamy vanilla colored jack-in-the-pulpits, glazing up an Illinois spring forest we wandered through as children. And red-winged black bird eggs, pale blue-green and freckled, cuddled tight in marshy nests.

It’s exciting to use this visionary sense in our writing. Here’s an example from my WIP, The Passion Diary.

Driving through Millview, men with wilted faces sat outside Hunters Gas Mart. On splintered wooden benches some whispered and whittled while others stood, eclipsed by smoke clouds wafting from lit points of cigarettes. The locals referred to the spot as Limber Dick Corner. God help me, I didn’t want to grow old.

Turning down Main Street, earth rose behind ancient buildings, disguised in fresh paint. Brambly blackberry vines clamored up a long row of fence, berries dangling and not yet flushed purple. Trees, heavy with green foliage, clung to hillsides and I wondered what was blending and dashing through not visible to the naked eye.

This is pure visual description and why I wanted to use it as an example. I could go back and add smell-the soil, cigarette smoke, etc…  I could also throw in taste-of the eventual ripened berries, but for these paragraphs I probably won’t.

Hopefully, if I’ve done my job well, sight alone tells you this is a small town with old secrets.

So, my writing buddies, please enjoy every visual treat this week. Remember, seeing is believing…sometimes.


February 24th, 2010

Come to your Senses

To me, being in a wild world with so many sights, sounds, odors, tastes and textures is a little like walking down dusty paths of a renaissance festival and being bombarded with the scent of apple dumplings and roasted turkey legs while my ears buzz with pan flutes and tambourines, all as I’m touching velvety lamb’s ears and then hard, exotic handcrafted jewelry. But there is more. Yes, taste, we must include that. How about fresh corn crepes smothered in cream and then chocolate doused strawberries for dessert?

Oh, enough, enough! I’m ready for a festival, how about you? Yeah, I know. It’s still too cold. Until then, I’ll attempt to warm up our rich creamy layers of writing. Each post will focus on a different sense and I might even bring in that rowdy SIXTH SENSE to round everything up. Okay lords and ladies, let’s begin with scent, shall we?

What is that smell?

What springs to mind here are Sunday suppers, pork loin dotted with rosemary, the scent of raisins and stuffing and spice exploding each time the oven door opens.

Aroma’s, rather delightful or not, invoke memories.

If you have a keen sniffer, you might also be able to detect a storm before it arrives. The earth is different then, soil sighing and humidity yelling. Did you know moisture heightens our sense of smell? It does. And were you aware women have a keener sense of smell? They do. As we age, our sense of smell weakens, though. Middle age is peek smelling season. I vote we all stay middle aged. Oh, wait, too late for me.

Did you ever notice that houses have layers of odors? I remember an old farmhouse we lived in, which smelled of plants, laundry detergent, and an undercurrent of all previous owners combined. It’s as though scent embeds itself into walls and floors.

In developing characters and their environments, we can see how smell could be a vivid way to make a story breathe. If we are writing about a house full of men, scents will be different. I’m telling you,I know these things. I have brothers. The masculinity, shall we say, does shout smoke, spice and sweat.

On the other side of the road, where mostly females reside, you’ll find the staggering scents of cinnamon, lavender oil, powder, perfume and candles. Of course there will be fruity odors mixed in and funky, too, depending on whether they keep a clean house and if they cook.

So, if we want our characters to live and remember that they have lived, scent is one worthy tool. It is exactly why, when I smell baby powder, I can be yanked back to a morning, fifteen years ago, baby on my lap. She has just finished her oatmeal and given me an open-mouthed kiss on the cheek, leaving a smear. There is sticky oatmeal in my hair, too, left from chubby fingers grabbing to draw me close. I can still hear her coo at the birds, so early my eyes are barely slit open, but yet I’m chattering to her and overwhelmed with tenderness. Yes, baby powder can snap me back that fast.

Our world is one big, smelly memory.

This week I’m taking my basket of scent and sprinkling it throughout my work. How about you? What particular scent fires up your memory?


February 11th, 2010

Alice in Bloggerland

Since I’ve been in bloggerland, I’ve felt a little like Alice, falling down the rabbit hole and discovering wonderland, although I might well be the Caterpillar. Oh, wait, the caterpillar was a male, who sat on his mushroom and liked to tell Alice how to grow and shrink. Remember his phrase: Whooo…are…you? Well, I do know who some of you are and I’m sure to meet many more delightful characters along the way. One never knows if they’ll discover the real Alice, the Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, Tweedledee, the Cheshire Cat, March Hare or the true Caterpillar. Or maybe some talking flowers. I might have already found them all.

Thank you to all my lovely blogger friends, old, new, and yet to be discovered. Your friendships and expressive posts have kept me well informed and delighted. The tea parties around here are just fantastic!

Please allow me to thank some extra special friends for all the kindness and goodwill shown me regarding book reviews, author interviews, encouragement and fine friendships. You have kept my little world afloat and for that I thank you. I appreciate all of you so very much.

Let’s start with the Wonderland Queen herself, Ms. Ronda from Ronda’s Wonderland. Yes, there is such a mystical place in bloggerland! You never know what you’ll find over there but you can bet it will always be magical. I get curiouser and curiouser every time I visit. She is a delightful hostess who can spin words like silk. You might find her in a field of talking flowers, so you can’t miss her.

Moving on down the rabbit hole we discover an Ultimate Cheapskate! Hey, what the heck is he doing down here? Well, he is quite a colorful character and we bloggers like to save money, don’t we? Jeff Yeager excels at this and can help you as well with his rich, humorous tips. You’ll laugh all the way to the bank. Please do yourself a favor and check out his website and book The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map To True Riches.

Oh, look who else I’ve discovered. Stacy Post from A Writer’s Point of View at http://stacypost.blogspot.com She’s got the sweetest outlook on life and always has something spicy or sweet cooking over there. She can flood your senses with descriptions of everyday smells, sights and sounds. Don’t miss the chance to be part of her sensational entourage.

Here is another character I’ve been blessed to discover. Georganna Hancock at A Writer’s Edge at www.writers-edge.info/Blog.html There you’ll find a treasure trove of wit and wisdom. She has more than enough to share with all. Geo is a true blue professional on all matters of publishing and writing. You won’t want to miss her posts, bursting with knowledge learned from years on the front lines. She has been an inspiration to myself and many, many others.

Now who is that wee lassie flinging out glorious posts as fast as one can shuffle a deck of playing cards? Oh, it’s Elizabeth, from Ramblings at www.elizabethre.wordpress.com . You can bet she’ll keep you entertained and well informed with her unique spin on the world. There is always a burst of activity over there, fit for a queen or king. You will want to stop in for her fresh views on life and the way she weaves it.

We are now coming to the end of our journey and who should I meet but possibly Alice herself, all drenched with southern hospitality. In Deanna Schrayer’s world, there is much to discover over at The Life of a Working Writer Mommy at writingwonder.wordpress.com

She’ll not only keep you laughing and crying with her interesting appraisals of the world but also well fed with her mouth watering recipes, which usually have family stories attached. You can find these over at Deanna’s Happy Accidents at deannashappyaccidents.wordpress.com

February 1st, 2010

Spring Frills

Something thrilling will happen soon and it has to do with nature intoxicating us once again with her charms. Right now old man winter has his white woolly blanket thrown over landscape’s bed but hang on tight and a fresh morning will soon arrive.

Covers will be flung back, the bed sun-warmed. And then, popping through a steamy mattress of soil will be vibrant pink and yellow ruffled tulips and perfumed roses and multi-colored fields shrieking with evening primrose and baby blue-eyes. Our gardens will yawn first, and then shout with bullet shaped blue bonnets and crimson clover, like bright red tubes of lipstick. The days will lengthen; night caught short, the pungent smell of roots, new leaves and lavender exploding in air.

Prepare to feast your eyes on purple fhlox and red frilly poppies and lavender colored larkspur tightly packed around stems. And those mischievous robins will be back, too, excavating backyard worms in the midst of Indian paintbrush and rain lilies which open slowly at dusk to appear in full flower the next morning. Oh, and butter yellow corn flowers, we can’t forget those loud ones, butterflies swooping around them like in air ballerinas’.

We will emerge,too, from dark winter houses, blinking and rubbing our eyes in sheer wonder at the rich, staggering beauty, scent and color surrounding us.

Here in Texas we also have many trees which riot with color and scent. Mountain Laurel, whose grape fragrance could rejuvenate a zombie and creamy tulip magnolia’s, which remind me of generous scoops of vanilla ice cream. Lest we forget ornamental pear, exotic in lace, their lusty scent driving bees and butterflies wild.

Yes, spring will arrive. Sooner in south Texas, but even in colder climates it will come. Release your grip on the white quilt and keep an eye out. You can’t miss the lacy bows and hot pink tights.

Speaking of hot pink tights, my colorful blogger friend, Ronda at rondaswonderland mentioned the 5th Annual Cyberspace Poetry Slam on her latest blog entry. She has a hothouse of ideas over there, so please pop in and say hello if you have a chance. I hope some poetry finds you as well. Here’s a wee one of mine to share.

Flower Pageant

There is a garden I know
Where opulent flowers grow
And birds rally there, lizards, too,
Perch on hems of daisy’s, that’s what they do.

They laud flowers modeling exquisite dresses,
Roses in hot pink, passion flowers red tresses,
But when it’s time to choose a winner,
Birds fly home for dinner.

The lizards with bubblegum pouches,
Linger on verbena couches,
Puzzled at what to do,
Knowing they must say who.

Flower girls hold heads tall,
Daisy, Rose and Poppy, all dolls,
In closing throw a celebration ball,
For a flower pageant has no stiff laws.


January 25th, 2010

Sweetie Pie Baking Company

When I’m older, I might open a bakery. But for now cooking is just another one of those passions of mine. For all I know, it may be the only reason I have friends. I give them stuff, see. They want my lemon custard pies and raisin cookies and cinnamon rolls. I have a particular friend I call, Chick-a-pee, who is quite enamored with my skills. We don’t exchange birthday presents per se, but every year for her celebration, I make and deliver a mound of cinnamon rolls to her doorstep. She has hung around me for awhile now.

The kick is all mine. Really. The whole process of creating and giving away feels oddly magical. The dough kneading, pounding, lacing of cinnamon and sugar and rolling up, the rising and baking, cinnamon saturated air, sugar, sugar baby. If I’ve had a crappy week, making rolls rejuvenates me. Let me explain. I pound that dough.

Did you just sass me, young lady? Pound. What? I can’t believe so and so did that. Pound. Ug, this weekend I just feel like lying in bed, wailing and eating. Pound. And my personal favorite line, when something has really floored me- what the heck? Pound. Pound. Pound. By the time I’ve finished, my arms ache like a mother but I’m back to my happy self. Yes, making cinnamon rolls does that for me. However, my hips and thighs are not fond of them…ba ba boom! Good thing I like to exercise. And great thing I don’t make them often.

Making pies is different. When I stand in bare feet, stirring custard, I feel like an exotic Italian woman in a Tuscany tiled kitchen with huge windows, watching skiffs on a glassy Mediterranean Sea.

What the heck?

Just stay with me. I’m not done yet.

Steam is rising from glossy, watery custard, hot lemon and chocolate lava, bubbling, Olive trees shining. Wait… no olive trees. But pies, yes, we have silky pies. Look, I’ve created smiles.

Now to the meringue. Whipping egg whites to resemble perky mountain peaks makes me downright giddy. And that chocolate pie next door is glammed to the hilt with whipping cream spun up like shiny cotton candy, Mexican vanilla whirled in and curly cues, tiny and chocolate glittering on top.

Are you hungry, sweetie pies? Well, I’m sorry. This story is virtual. But if you ever do see a Sweetie Pie Bakery Company, do pop back to the kitchen and say hello. It’s possible I’ll be there, barefoot, whipping cream stuck in my hair. And if you mention olive trees, I’ll toss in a free pie.


January 17th, 2010

Shoe Stories

I am in love. With shoes. My closet is chock full of pumps, boots, and shiny flats. Every time I see a shoe store I get the urge to yank my car over and partake in the rapture of finding that new pair. Maybe I need a twelve STEP program. It’s about the only materialistic thing I have a problem with and I rationalize this because, by gosh, these shoes DO take me places.

Obviously I’m not alone with this addiction. Go to any shoe store and you’ll catch mysterious women, buzzing around footwear blooming from boxes like sun lit peonies’, then flung and scattered, scattered and flung in a frenzied picking. I once tried on a pair of red heels at Target and a woman next to me oohed and awed until discovering they were the last pair in her size eight. Her creamy complexion then flamed and her eyes turned flinty. For fear of being maimed, I sheepishly handed the pumps over. I mean, if I get thrown in the slammer for brawling over shoes, it’ll be a pair of Jimmy Choo’s.

So, I’ve tried on glossy black pumps and envisioned myself in that silky blue dress, sauntering down New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue, cell phone humming and shopping bags winking and swinging in the sun. A green pair of flats have easily transported me to a pub in Ireland, having a loud conversation with a bloke about the virtues of Irish whiskey. Well, maybe not that. Quite possibly I’d be corralling sheep in a field that I’d inadvertently let out to picnic underneath a birch tree.

Recently I was clearing out my closet (finally) and had every pair of shoes I owned scattered like chunky confetti on the bathroom floor. One of my daughters peeked in.

Daughter said, “Gosh, mom, you have a ton of shoes.”

My tone was defensive. “Say what?”

She added, “Nothing.” Her eyes gleamed, sudden like. “Oh, can I borrow those black flats?”

“Mm hmm.”

With three girls who also adore shoes, I’ve learned to be quite thrifty. None have cost me much over twenty dollars and most, much less. Did I mention I had a shoe addiction?

CLASSIC BLACK PUMPS: This pair has taken me to weddings, where chocolate fountains drip like silky rain. And tiered raspberry filled vanilla cake can never have too much butter cream icing.

WET TURQUIOSE FLATS: I’ve walked down dirt roads of Louisiana history in these; explored plantations along the Cane River and those outside of New Orleans, Baton Rough, and St. Francisville. I also went deep into the swamps and held a baby gator and stroked a river rats head while wearing these. Yes, I did. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

PLAID BOOTS: Plenty of Texas two-stepping in this pair, music loud, dance floor slick with sawdust. I’ve danced in these at the Garner State Park pavilion, too, under a full moon bright as a lit cigarette end,jukebox blaring Ring Of Fire by good ole Johnny Cash. As you can see, they are well loved.

BLUE COMFY FLATS: These are taking care of business shoes-volunteer work, grocery shopping, doctor visits, running kiddo around kind of stuff.

LUCKY SLIPPERS: Got these for Christmas and I anticipate they’ll take me down many hills and valleys of inspiration in the story telling arena. Comfy is the name when I’m at home with my mind on writing. Writers can stay in PJ’s and slippers if we choose and barring a knock at the door and the occasional raised eyebrow of the UPS man, nobody need know we’ve been creating little worlds of our own. Don’t you adore that?

Yes, I have a compulsion for shoes. I admit it. How about you?


January 11th, 2010

The Unsinkable Molly Brown’s

Gutsy and kind-the world would have us believe this is a rare combination, that these people aren’t completely trustworthy. I ask you, who is? Show me a perfect person and I’ll kiss a gecko! I don’t expect I’ll ever have to do this. I’m terrified of them. And I’ve yet to see perfection, not in life, people or love. But despite this, we can accomplish more than we realize.

Case in point: Molly Brown. Born Margaret Tobin in Hannibal Missouri in 1867, she was taught progressive views by her parents. At age 13 she worked in a factory and volunteered in soup kitchens encountering head on struggles of the working class. Later, employed at a hotel, she met Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) who mentioned there were riches to be found in Colorado, where she later moved.

After meeting her future husband J.J. Brown, poor like herself, she said this. “I wanted a rich man but I loved Jim Brown.”   A few years later, J.J. did strike it wealthy when his engineering skills landed an ore mine for Ibex Mining. Although they lived lavishly, her giving nature didn’t wane. Poor times, wealthy times, it didn’t matter. She gave from her heart, like she always had. One doesn’t need money to have a philanthropic influence.

She is best known for being a survivor on the Titanic but what some might not know is how she rallied the first class passengers into giving money to help the less fortunate survivors, those who had lost everything. Before the rescue ship Carpathia had reached New York, she had raised 10,000 dollars! Did she accomplish this by being too kind? Or being too gutsy? Of course! This woman knew it took both to make a fire.

When the Carpathia arrived in New York, 30,000 people were waiting. Her deeds had already preceded her. When asked by reporters how she survived, she said, “Typical Brown Luck. We’re unsinkable.”

There are many men and women who quietly light up the world for others. It could be they’ve baked something for a sick neighbor. Or taken time for a sad friend. Maybe they’ve tried to understand someone instead of judging them. I’m honored to know many of these genuine people. They know who they are.

Close your eyes and keep your mind wide open. Things are not always as they seem. See the blinking fireflies? A lit candle? A black, dead night crackles and sparks with one. Add a strand and we’ve lit up a dark corner of the world. We are among stars. Perhaps you are one. I do try and some days go better than others. Such is life.


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Eleven-year-old Marnie Evans longs to be precious. She wishes on stars for parents who adore her, even though her family is dysfunctional. She also believes that jack rabbits and a boot-wearing Texas angel show her mysterious signs of things to come. Continue Reading


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