Friday, December 31, 2010

Snow in South Carolina

It snowed in the deep south and froze the local football team in place. This member was found days later, his jersey laying in a pool of water. They may have been tears from the way they played this year.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Frontier Christmas

The wind howled about the sod covered roof of their log cabin. The window panes rattled and the shutters had been pinned shut. As the snow swirled in white streaks outside the Tanners sat in warmth within.

Gill had left the East to find a place in the West and he never looked back. He was tired of the congestion of the cities and when he read the newspaper stories about the West it fired his imagination. Finally he made his mind up to sell what few possessions he owned and head West.

It cost him nearly a quarter of his money just to complete all the arrangements for going. That was all a year ago and tonight as the storm tore at their home he didn't regret one thing. Well, maybe one thing.

As luck would have it while traveling in close quarters with nearly a hundred others he found his heart had been lost to the daughter of one of the other families in their wagon train. He couldn't believe it had happened but one night as the men gathered to talk Gill tapped Mr. Darrel Hartley on the shoulder and begged a moment of time.

Mr. Hartley was a carpenter by trade. Work was getting slack in the city and he had decided to go West where building was booming according to the newspapers. He had large weathered hands and a stocky body. He was strong outwardly but he had a weakness. His two daughters had but to beg slightly and he would turn the world upside down to meet their requests.

The oldest daughter was well onto nineteen and though not what others might describe as beautiful, she was a kind woman. She was hardly plain. Her long dark hair spent most of its time wound and tucked in a bun under a hat or kerchief. She was of average build and had been valued by her father many times for her hands and help at many jobs.

Her simple beauty along with the way she showed kindness and care to others before herself, endeared her to Gill. He had spent many a meal with their family. Being single he was often the odd guest around their fire.

Only after wards did he realize Heather had been keeping him close with designs of her own. There were several eligible bachelors and single women in the caravan. Early on she had taken a liking to Gill for his own helpfulness to all who needed. He would drive the oxen pulled wagon of others while they slept or endured illness.

Heather knew such qualities were rare and she was going to make sure she got first crack at him. She found things he could help with even though she could have managed alone.

Now it is understandable having been fished for, Gill had no choice but to bite the hook.

Mr. Hartley tried to keep a serious look of doubt on his face as Gill requested the right to court Heather. Mr. Hartley nearly burst into laughter when Gill suddenly choked and started coughing. His eyes turned red and tears ran down his cheeks as Mr. Hartley gave in a slug from his private bottle to stay the coughing. It took a good slap on the back to bring him around from that.

Nodding thoughfully he looked at the stars and the dark sky. Poor Gill was about to suggest they forget the whole thing when Mr. Hartley finally placed a large warm hand on his shoulder. "Well, I guess she could do a whole lot worse." He slapped Gill on the back again and pushed him toward their wagon. He didn't want to let him know he had been expecting this and was pleased with the request.

Heather was trying to appear busy about the fire but as they came into view she faltered. Her father was behind Gill. Neither was smiling and she felt her heart sink. She loved her father but how could he object to Gill? Her heart sank.

They stopped across the fire from her and both just stared. Finally Mr. Hartley took a deep breath and let it out in whistle. "Gill would like to ask you something Heather."

Gill sputtered and swallowed hard. He was sure he had a whole loaf of dry trail bread stuck in his throat. "Heather, I've asked your Pa for permission to court you, if that would be alright with you of course?" He choked and grabbed the dipper in the water bucket. He wanted to pour it over his head but his throat had a greater need.

Heather turned with hands on hips. She looked him over with not so much as a smirk. She circled round the fire to get a closer look. Gill felt like a calf about to be traded off. She turned from him and looked her dad in the eye. His face was stolid but the fire danced in his eyes. In those she could see his amusement. There was no objection in their jovial flickering.

With a sigh she turned and looked once more on her would be suitor. "Well," she drawled. "I guess I could do a lot worse."

She walked around the fire and picked up the pot she had been scrubbing. Walking to the far side of the wagon she hung it on the hook there.

Later Gill found out the whole story of how she went there to have a little cry in private. Her fear that she might lose him was over, finally.

Gill thought through all of this while sitting watching the fire in their stone fireplace. Heather sat with a quilt she had made draped across her legs. On her face a happy smile played and her eyes glistened in secret joy.

It was Christmas Eve and with all the expense of buying land and getting supplies for winter Gill had failed to buy anything for Heather for Christmas. He was sad for it and for days contemplated the hike to town despite the snow. He could not believe his oversight.

Then it hit him. Working with Mr. Hartley, Gill had found he possessed a unique talent for turning wood into furniture and other needed things.

Once the idea came to him he thought through what he planned and worked in the back shed of the log cabin quietly. Heather was busy in the main house and Gill spent the days in the shed.

Tonight he was going to give her the present. She would be surprised. He hoped it might spark the one thing they did not have, though not for lack of trying.

He stood and tossed another log on the fire. She watched as he turned and walked toward the shed. Her hands busily fumbled under the quilt.

Gill returned with a hopeful smile. He set a large bundle down in front of the fireplace. It was covered with a blanket. "I hope you like it. It will be ready when you are." He blushed, his cheeks flushed in the firelight.

Heather stood and handed him a small bundle. It was wrapped in brown paper tied with string. "This isn't actually for you but they go with something that is. I hope you like them."

Gill stood near his handmade rocking chair. He opened the package and stared at what fell into his hands. Heather pulled the blanket off the bundle Gill had set down. Tears came unbidden as she threw herself into his arms.

They stood like that as she looked at the rocking cradle he had made with love and care. He held the hand knit booties and hat that she had made.

He pushed her away to arms length for a moment. "You mean?" She nodded affirmation. Folding her gently into his arms they hugged and sobbed a joyful Merry Christmas to each other.

Christmas 2010

Christmas came and went. Once again it was full of unexected events.

The most unexpected was the near sudden advent of winter. Just a few weeks ago I looked in our small pond realizing it was time to remove the pump for the winter. Funny the day I decided to do it I found the pump solidly encased in ice. The housing is plastic so I can pretty much figure part of my winter shopping will include a new pump.

The cold has settled in and the park pond had ice fishing over the weekend. I'm not sure but I must have slept through Autumn.

If you found yourself in similiar predicatments we're in good company.

An Angel Sounded

Exerpt from my latest project.

10. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11. And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.



No Innocents


The television screen was blurred with lines and the signal kept cutting out. Families gathered before the ones that still worked hoping for words of good news. There was none.
“Jerre, you gotta stop picking at the scabs. You’ll end up with ugly scars and I don’t have any ointment to cover the sores. If you get another infection there is no place to get antibiotics.” Tall and thin, Maggie was angry and yet pitied her little brother. Her once long black hair had been cut short and several scabs itched in her own scalp. Since the first meteors had hit, the water was getting bad and numerous outbreaks of disease were causing all kinds of symptoms.
They had cut their hair so the scabs could be treated more easily and not have hair growing in the sores. The sores were only part of the problem. She looked at the gaunt boy and his bones sticking out from his skin. Hers were no better. In the reflection of the store window she looked a scarecrow. Only months ago she was considered pretty.
“I can’t help it Sis. They itch and it lets up when you get the scab off. I’ve got too many to stand the itch!” He pulled his shirt up and dark splotches dotted his abdomen. Several oozed in ugly yellow streaks and Maggie knew he had too much infection. He’d soon be feverish again. There was no helping then.
The television flickered and everyone waited in silence. The signal to the few working sets was poor and every word was important. The crowd settled down and finally the familiar red circle with a black X in the middle appeared on the screen.
The voice was in broken English and that made understanding it worse. The face was occasionally distorted by interference. A woman whose long dark hair was in perfect condition appeared on the screen. Her face had none of the scabs and it was obvious she had never been infected or injured by falling rocks from space.
“This is the International Emergency Broadcast System. This transmission to the North and South American Continents is weak due to the destruction of many satellites by meteors. We do not know how long the remaining ones will last. Please pass on this information to those areas that cannot get this signal.”
“Since our last broadcast the governments of Europe and Asia have formed a Coalition to better govern survivors and fairly distribute resources. Some areas have been less devastated and therefore it is recommended that citizens look for those areas in your perspective continents and go there. Take whatever foods and medicines you can find. If you do not work together to do this, many of you will die.”
The signal flickered again and some the message was lost. No one grumbled. They waited with clenched fists and lips clamped tight.

Hello, is anyone out there?

If you read one of my articles or short stories, let me know how it struck you by checking one of the options. Also, leave a comment. I moderate all comments before they are published. Read the archives and check out the links to other sites. Have fun!

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http://www.last.fm/music/Andy+McKee

http://a1keene.awardspace.com/main.html ; This page is my friend Jack who has published 2 books. You can purchase them on his page. Check them out. I'm reading Time Angels and have Time Angels II the Omega Key to read as well. I'll post a review when finished so come back and see it.

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Links to sites I promote

These are friends and associates who do art and music, and authors who have books available. If you are interested in such, email them and check out their site. They will contact you back with specifics.



If you want me to post a link to your site, email me. I will check out your content and let you know.



I am an author and lover of art and music and promote the same of those whom I know do the same.



http://littlesistersstudio.blogspot.com/ This site has some incredible dolls, all handmade, for sale. These artists are very talented and if you are looking for dolls and artwork I think this is one of the best places I've seen.



http://graphitegirl.blogspot.com/



http://livies-mind-has-been-compromised.blogspot.com/



http://a1keene.awardspace.com/main.html This link is to an author friend who has his books available. "Time Angels" and the sequal "Time Angels II the Omega Key" by Jack Keene.

About Me

My childhood was spent growing up on a farm in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. In those years I learned the lessons that would mold my character and moral center. In my teens I moved to a small city in southeastern PA. Like many teens I had my rebellion and found the futility of it. During my late teens I moved to central PA and in high school lost my heart to the girl who is now my wife. Presently I'm well into midlife and slowing rapidly. The things I used to do, I can't even remember. Married for 37 years, we have a son, a daughter and five grandchildren. My son has two boys, my daughter three girls, I love irony! I'm self-employed for most of 25 years in construction. Doing a project for a customer and getting their approval is wonderful and inspiring. I started writing when my children were younger. I did some stories for them and over time it became more of an interest. I now have four completed novels and several shorts and am working towards getting one or more published. One short has been published.

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