Excerpt from Project: Burning Bush – weather

“How long do we have to put up with this mess?” Nita complained.

“It’s springtime in Texas,” Luthor replied with an eyeroll he didn’t let her see. “It’s going to rain whenever it feels like it, for as long as it wants to. We don’t have weather satellites and meteorologists to give us any hints. We all just have to put up with it.”

“Put up with it,” Nita snarled in low tones. “I hate rainy weather.” She adjusted her poncho and curled her lip at the tribespeople. At least they were all on horseback and didn’t have to slog through the mud.

The Apache boys had scorned any protection and rode cheerfully on their new mounts. The elders had accepted the extra ponchos with delight and wonder. Even Burning Wind had taken one, if with more suspicion. Dark Moon Rising wore his over an emergency blanket, his body fat still too low to keep him warm. Minji had given him her knit jacket to wear as well.

Singing Bird was wrapped in Harper’s jacket, an emergency blanket, and a poncho. Luthor had devised a frame and woven a small shelter over her to protect her from the wind and rain that tried to penetrate her covering. She slept much of the day, rocked gently with the easy stride of the big black horse beneath her.

The gray skies were not stormy, but the rain was steady. Occasionally the wind would rise and splash their uncovered faces if they were not careful. Most of the trail they followed had branches cleared back from it, so they were spared the slap of wet leaves.

“Deer,” Luthor had commented when they first noticed the clear trail. “Eating their way along. Handy for us.”

The trail was worn deep in the soil and soon filled with mud and then running water. The horses splashed along with lowered heads and flattened ears, but offered no complaint or hesitation. It was the kind of day that could only be endured.

Excerpt from The Warlord’s Heart: “Love and Secrecy”

Edward cupped his hands around Betsy’s cheeks. He savored the velvet of her skin, the silk of her curls, her sweet smile, her soft blue eyes. She was perfect. Every inch of her petite form pleased him, from her curves to the strength he knew hid beneath her uniform.

He took a deep breath, praying he would recite the words he had practiced, had even written down trying to perfect them. If only they would come out without error. He wanted both Betsy and himself to remember this night for the rest of their lives, to tell their children and grandchildren with sighs and smiles, like his parents did.

“Betsy, I know we cannot make plans for our future until after graduation, when we receive our duty assignments. But I want to make my intentions clear so that you will know. I love you, Betsy. I love you and I want to marry you, as soon as possible. I love you enough to even dare ask the Warlord for permission to court you and ask for your hand.”

Betsy blinked rapidly. Her smile widened. She touched his cheek with trembling fingers. “Oh, my beloved Edward,” she whispered. “I do so love you, too.” Mischief crept into her smile. “But don’t say anything to the Warlord yet. He takes his role of my guardian so seriously, he is likely to make a great fuss and threaten to throw you in the dungeon lest you be carried away by your feelings before we take vows. Please, wait until after graduation. I turn 21 that day, and he will be totally different.”

Edward’s eyebrows pinched together. “What is he likely to say then?”

She giggled. “Most likely he will throw his arms around you, weep joyful tears, and thank God I am your problem now!”

He laughed with her, then blinked as the laughter drained out of her like water. “Betsy?”

She closed her eyes and leaned her forehead on his chest. “I love you, Edward. I loved you from the moment I first saw you. But I have secrets, my love. They are a terrible burden, and I cannot reveal them to you until after graduation. Once I do, your heart may change.”

“Secrets?” He tipped her chin up. “Darling, there can be no secret so dire it can change my love for you.”

Her poor attempt at a smile faded quickly. “I hope not. I pray not. I believe with all my heart you are a better man than all others. But like others in the palace, I have borne secrets for the princess my entire life. Sometimes they have caused me to weep into my pillow at night, or scream in frustration at the poor Warlord who could change nothing for me. Many men would either rage at me for only keeping the secrets, and others could not share the burden of my duties once I take them up.”

“I swear, nothing will change my love! We will marry no matter what your duties are!”

“I believe you mean that, now. But please, for my sake, speak no more of our future until you discover what I must keep silent about. The poor Warlord does not deserve to listen to my frustrated screams again.” She made a better attempt at a smile this time.

“Hmph. If I must keep silent for your sake, he may find himself forced to listen to mine!”

Project Burning Bush excerpt-embarrassment

“Truth or dare, Harper! You queer?”

Harper raised his head from the brochure he was reading. He blinked under raised eyebrows. “Am I queer? You know, Dwayne, I usually only hear that question from old perverts.  Aren’t you worried your boyfriend Jose will get jealous?”

Dwayne’s jaw dropped, then fury twisted his face. “I ain’t no queer, you –“

A snort came from the seat behind Harper. “Come on, Dwayne, everybody in school knows about you and Jose. The way you and your boys all hang together, some of us think you have a kinky little club thing going on. ‘Fess up, you guys into trading partners and all that weird stuff?” The white-haired girl leaned into the bus aisle with an exaggerated look of interest.

The girl with almond shaped eyes sitting next to her sniffed. “There is no need to ask him that. His behavior at school is evidence enough. Putting his hands down boys’ pants, pressing his body against theirs, putting his face in theirs. Bah.”

“He’s a homosexual predator. Harper, maybe you should exchange seats with me.” The enormous black youth beside Harper followed his suggestion with a narrow-eyed sneer at Dwayne.

Dwayne could not speak, he could only make incoherent noises. The students around him laughed, though some tried to hide it. He started to rise from his seat, and Luthor did as well. But before he could get all the way up, a hand slammed down on his shoulder and forced him back into his seat. He started to knock the hand away, then froze as he realized it belonged to his teacher.

“If you can’t take the heat, don’t light the fire.” Marie Williams spoke with no emotion, but her eyes promised a world of hurt if he protested. She turned to stare past Harper. “Sit down, Luthor. The only person allowed to be out of their seat is ME.”  

The Warlord’s Heart

(A work in progress)

There were those who whispered the Warlord had no heart. Others, who had earned his wrath, muttered he did indeed have a heart. The heart of a child. Kept in a very small sealed chest. Late at night, they said, when the evil in his soul kept him from sleep, he would wander the halls of the palace, tossing the chest from hand to hand, and the sound of the child’s heartbeat would echo in the dark halls, louder and LOUDER…

“So you’ve been scaring the new maids with your ‘restless soul’ routine in the halls again, have you?”

“How else am I to scare them into instant obedience? Works every time!”

“You may have outdone yourself this time. Several of them ran to Cook, waking her up with their hysterics, and she was that angry she told Betsy she didn’t want to cook your breakfast.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, OH! Betsy was so annoyed with you she told Cook not to bother, she’d prepare your breakfast herself. Hungry now?”

“What! I’m to be poisoned? You know her cooking!”

“Lucky for you I do, so I persuaded her to let me do it. Eat up, and prepare for a scolding.”

“What, this was not?”

“This was a friendly warning. Betsy is VERY annoyed.”

Project Burning Bush

 “Ha sido castrado por su padre.” Nita shook her head again. “I’ve seen bad stuff done by the cartel, but your own daddy. Good grief. Get up, blow your nose again, and let’s go rescue those prisoners. Come on, we haven’t got all day.”

“Don’t let your sympathy make you do anything out of character,” Luthor growled, sniffling, then blowing his nose again.

Harper thumped his back.  “You know you’d be suspicious if she was nice to you, big guy.”

           (Skip)

           Moonie laid his four fingered hand on Luthor’s forearm.  “We must stop them before they harm your friends. We must be strong, and brave.”

Luthor sniffed, staring at him. “You, too? By your own son? And a bunch of other men?”

Moonie nodded. Burnie bared her teeth and snarled, her eyes distant

Minji watched her. “I believe she has also seen this happen to some she knows.”

Nita nodded. “Yeah, that old woman looks like she’s seen a lot. You saw what she did to those guys I killed. Bet if she gets a chance, she’s going to put some holes in some people.”

Harper shrugged back into his pack and settled it comfortably. “Time for us to hit the trail and find this headquarters so we can all put some holes in people.  Luthor can patch up anybody who gets hurt, and Minji can use her staff to hit some homeruns with the heads of anybody trying to hurt Tweety – if Burnie doesn’t get them first.”

From “The Angel Tree”

From “The Angel Tree”

Trigger warning for those who need it: This is a story about a woman contemplating suicide who gets…distracted. This excerpt begins partway through the story.

Published in the short story collection “Once Upon A Christmastime” (https://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Christmastime-Peggy-Perry-ebook/dp/B00KO5Y5DY/)

“There’s another bathroom in the master bedroom at the end of the hall,” Christie said automatically.  Her mind whirled as she was forced to deal with the invasion when she had been set on dying alone in peace. 

The little girl came out of the bathroom with her mother as Edith passed.  As her brothers shoved past them, elbowing each other and slamming the door, little Susanne pulled at her mother’s hand as she peered into the dark kitchen.  “I’m thirsty!”  she cried.  “I want some hot chocolate!  And cookies!”

Her mother hushed her and looked up at Christie, an apologetic smile on her face.  “That’s what we always have on Christmas Eve,” she explained.  “Susanne, honey, we’re not at home.  We’re at…”  She looked up, realizing she didn’t know her hostess’ name.

“Oh, uh, I’m Christie, Christie Wright.  And I can make some hot chocolate, but I don’t have any cookies made.  But I do have some canned food that we can probably make into a meal.”  She went into hostess mode automatically, locking onto something she could deal with.  She went into the kitchen and turned the light on.  The little girl followed her in and began exploring the cabinets she could reach, ignoring her mother’s reprimands. 

“It’s okay, those are childproofed.  My youngest son is the same – aahh!”  Her voice stopped with a gasp.  When Annabelle looked at her, frowning, she shook her head frantically and fumbled with the pan she was putting on the stove.  The little girl wandered out the door and her mother chased after her.  Christie fought for calm as she measured the ingredients with shaking hands. 

She nearly dropped everything as an arm wrapped around her waist and squeezed lightly.  “I put away the vodka and pills,” Edith whispered in her ear.  “Wouldn’t want the children to come upon them.  I put them in the closet up on the highest shelf.  That little girl looks like she might go through all your drawers if she gets away from her mama.  You don’t have a gun around anywhere, do you?”

Christie shook her head numbly.  She had disposed of her husband Rick’s guns as well.  She didn’t need them.

“That’s good.  Do you need any help here, dear?” Edith then said in a normal voice.  “Why don’t we fix something to eat?  I’m sure everybody is hungry.”  She began opening cabinet doors until she found the pantry and began pulling out cans and jars.  She looked in the refrigerator and freezer, but they were empty.  Christie had no need of fresh or frozen food before she left this world.

Edith didn’t seem bothered.  She asked Christie to introduce herself again, since she had missed it on the way to the bathroom.  When Beth came in asking if she could help, Edith put her to work opening various containers, explaining as she went what needed to be done. 

“You got no tree!” young Ricky exclaimed in the living room, outrage in his voice.   “How can you have Christmas without a tree?  You got no decorations at all!  Don’t you believe in Christmas?”

“Does that mean Santa isn’t going to stop here?”  His little sister cried over his parents’ frantic shushing noises.  “How are we going to get presents if he doesn’t stop here?”

“Children, children, he’ll leave the presents at our house, like he does every year!  We just have to wait until the storm is over, and we’ll be able to get home and get your presents.”

“But the lady here won’t get any presents!” their oldest boy Jody complained.  “Why didn’t she get ready for Santa?” 

Christie came out of the kitchen to meet the children’s accusing faces.  She fumbled for an explanation.  “I, uh, I just got here.  I didn’t have time to put anything up.”

Tim peered out the window around the blinds.  “I’d volunteer to go get a tree, but not in that storm!”

Mack looked out the other window.  “Yep,” he agreed with a nod.  “Just going to have to make do this year kids, till we can get home.  If we did have a tree we could make popcorn strings and our own decorations, but looks like that’s a bust.”

Beth came out of the kitchen, holding a tray of cups.  “I remember sharing my first apartment with four other girls.  There was no room for even a tiny tree, and we wound up hanging a paper tree on the wall, and stringing yarn to hang paper ornaments.  It wasn’t half bad.”   She offered everyone a cup of hot chocolate before returning the tray to the kitchen.  She and Edith came out holding their own cups and finding seats on the big roomy couches and chairs in the living room.

“The food should be ready in a few minutes,” Edith told them, and sighed with satisfaction as she sipped her cocoa.  “Hot cocoa and a fireplace and a comfortable seat.  Just what we need on a night like this.”

The children weren’t satisfied.  “We need to make a paper tree,” Jody decided.  “That wall there doesn’t have anything on it.  We can hang a big one there.  You got any paper, lady?”

Christie almost told them there was no way they were going to mess up her good wall with tape and tacks, until she realized how stupid it was to care about her wall when she was planning to kill herself.  “Why don’t you just draw a tree on the wall?  That way we can save the paper I’ve got for ornaments.”  The adults protested, but Christie waved her hand dismissively.  “Let me find the kids’ – I mean, some pencils and coloring pens or something.”

She ignored the looks the adults gave each other as she hurried to her children’s bedrooms.  She had to stop inside the boys’ door to pull herself together.  She had not been able to come in here since that night a year ago, and everything was unbearably familiar.  Hurrying to the desk against the wall, she grabbed the trashcan and put all the drawing and coloring utensils she could see into it.  She found some paper and tacks and tape and put those in as well.  Her little girl’s room had glue and glitter and all sorts of stickers.  She found yarn and beads and other craft materials and threw them in.

Taking the can back to the living room, she handed it to the children.  “See what you can do with this.  Don’t worry about making a mess, it will clean up. Excuse me; I have to check on the food.”  She headed for the kitchen.  The sight of the children digging through the materials just like her children always had tore at her heart.

Where Did THAT Come From?

Somebody is always asking Stephen King where his ideas come from. He has lots of answers, but one that stuck with me was that in his opinion, everybody’s brain has a filter, and whatever they observe will go through that filter. By example, he said that he and Zane Grey could both look at a bubbling, oozing tarpit and write a story based on it. Zane Grey would probably write a story of a battle over water rights and land by ranchers, while he would probably write one of monsters crawling out of the pool.

I’m currently writing a trilogy of novels that was supposed to be a quick sort of sword and sorcery story of young people who somehow wandered off the beaten path and wound up in a strange place with a magic weapon and saved the day from the evil overlord. You know, popcorn. It has been rattling around in my brain for YEARS.

But it would never gel. I started writing it. For some reason, it had to be two girls and two boys. I don’t remember why. A double budding romance, I think. But it wouldn’t work. One day I was staring at my computer screen and the short girl stares back at me and says, “Hey, stupid! I’m a guy!” and the handsome young man stepped up and snapped, “And I’m a girl! What’s wrong with you?” I looked at the other two and they held up their hands. “No, we’re good.” Okay, back to the beginning. So, a short, cheerful blond guy and a taller, aggressive, hostile Latina girl paired up with a really big, muscled black guy and a medium-sized girl from the Far East…uh-huh. I know. SO cliched and stereotyped!

But it only went so far as their wandering off the beaten path and meeting the downtrodden folk on the other end. It was a terrific episode. I did so much research on the location. I was holding my breath while writing it. The action! The terror! The suspense!

But it didn’t work. Back to the drawing board. I started at the other end of their journey. A dark scene, a dungeon, dying men, despair, terror, torture, and murder. Escape through natural disaster to freedom and a hard journey to the meeting place with the young people. It felt better, but…

About that time I got the opportunity to go to a writer’s conference and for an extra fee, get the first chapter or two of my work in progress (WIP) reviewed by other budding authors and two professional writers. The resulting opinions were interesting. One blew the whole story off because he hated the alternate world trope. I would have preferred he at least gave some opinion on how I wrote it, but he didn’t. Others weren’t ‘into’ that sort of fantasy or science fiction, so they didn’t say much other than “eh”. A few said it sounded interesting, but they were interested in short stories and didn’t like that it had no ending. One young man, who was my intended target group, loved it! Hope he finds it once it’s finally published (even if I have to self-publish it) and still likes it.

The two professionals’ opinions made me blink. One found it unbelievable because one of the girls was a prostitute. “Where were her parents?” The whole table stared at her. The other threw his copy of my manuscript down and announced it was all stupid because “nobody talks like this!” This time the table stared at me, embarrassed sympathy on their faces. Eh, I’ve faced harsher words. I worked the phone lines for the IRS…

But, again, it wouldn’t progress. Was I secretly inhibited by their criticism? I didn’t want to think I was. Maybe I was working too much. Then I retired, so I didn’t have that excuse. Then I wrote my three collections of short stories, and my sisters went through cancer, my mom got sick…you know, life happened. Then one day…(ellipses are my favorite vice…)

I was idly skimming the Internet one day during a rare moment of free time and came across a reference to ley lines in Texas. I live in an area where weird stuff happens all the time, so I clicked onto it. That started a long and winding path to Enchanted Rock State Park. It caught my interest and soon I was researching it, and ran smack dab into information about the Lipan Apaches who used to hang around there.

Like Stephen King, my mind went to “What if?” What if four modern teens ran into Lipan Apaches in the mid 1700s? What if one of the teens could speak Tex-Mex and one of the Apaches could speak Spanish learned from Spanish monks? But what would happen if that one teen was the exact double of the tyrant who terrorized them and was slowly killing the Apaches off?

Then my ‘ghostwriter for God’ kicked in and suddenly God was a major character. I took the manuscript I had so far to my writer’s group. One of the members remarked that it sounded like Exodus. Epiphany! It was, and the story was a trilogy. It was a tale of an enslaved people, a brutal tyrant, and four saviors sent by God to rescue them and teach them to be free. “Project Burning Bush”, “Project Exodus”, and “Project Promised Land” was born.

Why four heroes? Why are they ‘red and yellow, black and white’ like in the old children’s song? That puzzled me and my writers’ group for a while, but I knew they all had to be there. My fellow writers warned me of possible complaints about racism, political correctness, and too many main characters! I couldn’t help it though. They all had to be there.

I was researching the Lipan tribe and found they had a website. I sent an email asking if I could ask questions and make sure I got details correct. I never heard from them, but they did have a book list of the Lipan history for people wanting to know more. I’ve bought three so far. At first I just skimmed, looking for certain details. Then stuff began popping up that BLEW MY MIND.

There were four teens, and they were those ‘colors’ because the Lipan spiritual beliefs were based on the number four and the colors black, white, yellow, and blue. Yes, blue, not red. Once you read the book, you find out how that works out.

The weirdest part of writing this story is that the details of the Lipan tribe were written into the story first, then I found the writing in the history books that backed it up. Like their myths and legends, and how the teens fit into them.

It is amazing how much research is going into this story. I’ve even got blueprints of early Spanish settlements in Texas and topographical maps of Texas. Dates, and names, and I love Pinterest for photos of clothing worn back then. Padlocks and keys of the 1700’s, wildlife and fish found in Texas, the fastest way to kill somebody with a knife (yes, there is violence, just like in Exodus in the Bible) and how to use an old fashioned slingshot – the kind without elastic. Headgear from the Middle East, Marine training and slang, spy gear. Survivalist equipment, medical supplies, priests and conquistadores, the food they ate. I have a very fat file of research details.

Project Burning Bush first draft is done. Now I am winding my way into Project Exodus, which takes place in our time, to the people left behind when the teens disappeared. More violence, mystery, good vs. evil, tragedy, and triumph.

I assume this story is coming from God, because I can’t figure out how I’m making it up. I can hardly wait to see how Project Exodus comes out.

EULOGY FOR A GOOD MAN

My uncle Bruce Perry died June 1, 2019. It was a relief for him and everybody who loved him, because his body decided to quit before his mind and spirit were ready, and left him in great pain until his soul was finally released. Nevertheless, we all will miss him for a long time.

Uncle Bruce was one of those people that so many cynics would say, “Nobody is that terrific! You’re either ignorant or hiding something!”

He wasn’t perfect. He was always the first to admit that. He had a temper, he was impatient, and he had opinions that could put people’s backs up. But he was a solid family man, loved his wife even after she died, loved and worried about his sons and their children, didn’t drink, didn’t gamble, and only smoked cigars for a while.

Although he played for some time in a country and western band in honky-tonks, it was more for the pleasure of making music with his friends than any other reason. He worked hard during the days at various jobs, supporting his family and saving his money so that he and his wife could have a worry-free retirement. They looked forward to growing old together.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way. His wife became ill and their savings were drained. After she passed away, his health got worse and he spent more time than he wanted to in the hospital. His eyes and his ears began failing, totally frustrating him because he could no longer hear his beloved music, or easily read the Bible studies that were his main interest. He had to move in with his son Barney after his son Clay who had been living with and watching over him passed away. Such are the afflictions of age.

He didn’t like the change in his circumstances and it frustrated and annoyed him that he could no longer be independent, but he understood it. What he couldn’t understand was one anxiety that he could not get rid of and spoke to me continually about: Was he really saved?

When he first brought it up in conversation, I was astonished. I didn’t know many men who embodied the Christian virtues more than him. He had not always gone to church, but never stopped his prayers and Bible study. He didn’t smoke, drink, fool around, gamble, cuss, and very rarely spoke critically of other people.

I began to think he was sort of like Job. He was never rich with 10 kids, but there wasn’t much the Devil could use to torment him. He lost his wife, oldest son, and a grandchild , but that didn’t affect his relationship with God. He lost his savings and was cheated out of a lot of money by people he trusted, but he didn’t get angry with God. He lost his health, and then his independence, but he didn’t lose his faith.

What he lost was his confidence in his salvation. All the Devil could use was the guilt of a child and he used it well. You see, when my uncle was young they had preachers who, especially during revivals, would pressure the youths to ‘come forward and be saved!’ so they could quote numbers of souls saved. Services could last a long time until somebody came forward.

During one such service he and several other ‘unsaved’ boys were getting weary of the constant exhortations of the preacher and one finally suggested they just go forward and claim to repent and get baptized just so they could finally go home and get some sleep. Exhaustion won out over their reluctance to lie in church, and they went forward as a group.

Ever since, Uncle Bruce felt guilty about his lie and wondered if it meant he had never really been saved. He worried about it constantly. He knew and believed I talked with God all the time and asked me if I could find out if he was really saved. I told him God said, “He’d better wise up and stop letting the Devil get between them.” I had to repeat that often.

I don’t think he worries about it anymore. I figure if he showed up at the Pearly Gates and hesitated to go in because he wasn’t sure he qualified, Jesus might come out and grab him by the ear to drag him inside. I imagine he’s picking and grinning with an angel band now, and getting all his questions about things he read in the Bible answered. No painful failing body to bother him, no more anxiety, no more worries, but surrounded by love. A fitting end for a good man.

Book Review: “Dead Sea Rising” by Jerry Jenkins

 

Just as in real life, one life connects to others in this thriller by Jerry Jenkins.  The father of the man who would become Abraham; a young Jewish man maturing under fire in Vietnam; and his daughter, years later, determined to follow in her father’s archeological footsteps. Murder, Biblical history, love, and loss come together in a riveting tale.

At first, I thought of the triple story in this book as a braid, each piece even and tied together in the end, but it didn’t seem to fit. Then I realized what I was observing was a trio of instruments playing together, harmonizing and creating a song that sticks in your memory. They didn’t just come together in the end, the separate pieces worked to enhance the story all the way through.  I was so caught up in it I had a hard return to reality when I got to the end. Excellent story by an excellent composer of words!

Deja Vu (What, Again?)

We survived another August.  Barely.  The aftershocks are lingering, keeping us from our rest, but at least the outside temperature has dropped 10 degrees.  Sure, it’s only dropped from 102 to 92 degrees, but you have to appreciate the small stuff or scream, right?  Right?  Excuse me, I have to press a pillow over my face for a moment…

I wrote a previous blog, The Ides of August, about the trials that strike my family during the infamous month.  This year is up for top awards in the “I’m really tired of this…” category.  My sister came down with her second round of ovarian cancer.  It’s been very painful for her, expensive, frustrating, and exhausting for her and me both.  She had surgery in May to remove the cancer they could find, then began chemotherapy.  It didn’t go well.  She has had strong reactions to the drugs.

But because August has to show up the rest of the calendar, the first of the month found her back in the hospital having major abdominal surgery AGAIN.  The rest of the month has had her in wound care and physical therapy, and me playing nurse, chauffeur, cook, housemaid, and donkey since she was ordered not to carry anything.  She still has all the usual ‘fun’ of cancer like uncooperative taste buds, neuropathy, weakness, exhaustion, and exorbitant medical bills.

Experience has caused our family to adopt a policy of never leaving members in the hospital alone.  I was staying with her but had to run home for a day to pay bills and wash clothes.  As anybody who has been there knows, you don’t get much sleep in a hospital. The hospital they put her in was almost four hours away, so I was even more exhausted by the time I got home.  I was going to spend one night at home, so I was rushing to get laundry done and paying as many bills online as possible.

Of course, I made a mistake.  It just had to be on the biggest payment – our mortgage.  I completely forgot I had just the month before set it up for automatic payments.  Yep, I paid it twice.  And I didn’t notice, until a week later when the overdraft fees and chiding alerts began arriving on my account.  I live on a fixed income and a very tight budget.  My sister’s bout with cancer left her unable to work and with no money to add to the family budget.  I immediately contacted the mortgage company and they said, hey, no problem, send us a bank statement showing both the payments and we’ll send one of the payments back.

You guessed it.  It is now September, and I just spent a very frustrating call with the company.   Frustrating first because the static on the line was so bad, I asked him to send me an email because I couldn’t understand a word he was saying.  Second, because, duh, I still don’t have my money so I am going to be short this month but they said my account shows the money was supposed to be sent to me August 25.  Then where is it???  Third, they took my September payment, but NOT ALL OF IT.  Why? They are researching. Gah.

My sister had her chemo drugs changed, and it helped, and her surgery is healing well.  But she still can’t work, she’s still in pain, and she still is pretty shaky on her feet.  Then our oven stopped working.  Then the hot water heater blew a gasket (actually, literally…).  Luckily (?) I noticed before it flooded the kitchen.  (Forty gallons of hot water? Eesh.  Welcome to the jungle…)  So no hot showers, no dishwasher use, and no baking until we get these appliances replaced.  Repair is no use, we were told.  Of course not.

We deal.  Life goes on, and we have endured worse.  I have a teakettle to heat water.  The air conditioner is working, the cold water still runs, and my sister lives.  We have a home.  We have a car.  We have food to eat.  We have family and we have friends.  My sister gets cheered by Skype calls from the newest member of the family born in May, and his grandmother, our sister.  Later this month an even newer member will arrive from our sister’s other daughter, who has triumphed with a second child after five miscarriages.

People shake their heads and ask how I can laugh about our travails.  Oh, I keep the screaming for my bedroom.  I hate watching people grab their ears.  But, mostly, it’s because God gave me a sense of humor to endure such frustration and constant tripping over life’s rocks.  What’s the point of being given a useful gift if you never get to use it?  Heh.  Careful what you ask for, trust me.  If He gives you something, you’ll usually get lots of opportunities to use it.

I noticed my year has been so chaotic I haven’t blogged for a while.  Sorry.  I need to write up a bunch during the odd moments I’m not dashing around doing and can actually sit and think so I can schedule them for publication.  I have been on Twitter meeting other writers and some admittedly odd characters, but it’s been fun.  If you’re actually interested, my Twitter handle is @ghostwriter4God.

I have finished my third book and named it Angels With Attitude.  Of course, it’s available on Amazon in print or Ebook, like Once Upon a Christmastime and Standing Next to a Miracle.

I have also contributed a story titled Sweet Talking Man to a sweet romance anthology called Cool Weather, Warm Hearts.  It will be released in Ebook form October 30 but is available for pre-order now.  The proceeds will go to two charities, The Magical Moon Foundation which helps sick children and their families and The Wounded Warrior Project which helps our Vets!  For those of you as ignorant as I had been about terminology, ‘sweet’ romances mean no sex.  I would assume it also means no vulgarities of speech or actions.  I don’t write that sort of thing, so I didn’t have to censor myself.

I hope your year is going better.