Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Musings: Happy New Year to all!

Well, the world didn't end. 
I have to say, I was dumbstruck by all the hoopla around this whole calendar date of 12/21/12. The Mayans said it would happen so it was believable? Why? Because they weren't 'Christian' therefore their predictions were more trustworthy? Really? What part of no one knows the day and the hour (or the year) do they not get? Happens every time there is a prediction as to the day, hour, or the year. You'd think people would learn but they don't. 
My personal philosophy about the earth is different. It's like searching and finding the perfect spot and designing the best environment to fit that spota beautiful house and grounds. If you take all that time to design it and then build it, furnish it, and set up the best ecosystems to keep it running indefinitely while providing everything needed to sustain life why would you allow all your time and effort be destroyed by renters who don't appreciate it? Wouldn't you simply give notice and remove the unappreciative renters, repair and clean  it and then move in new ones who would take care of it the way the lease reads (and trust me, there would be a lease and a copy of the owner's manual)? I would. I certainly wouldn't consider it a solution drop a bomb, incinerate it, or any number of things 'predicted' to happen to destroy it! To do something like that would say all my time and effort was for nothing. That's my personal opinion based on flawed human logic, but there you have it. 
I hope all of you had a lovely holiday season and have some great plans and goals for the new year. May it be filled with an abundance of love, faith, and happiness.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I love this piece by the incomparable Yvonne Lewis. I tried to analyze why it touches me so. I think because it captures the spirit of hope and the magic of the season. All I know is it's a lovely piece for the season. 


Outside of a shop window,
A boy, clothes all tattered and torn.
His hair a complete mess,
His shoes all dirty and worn.


He peered into the toy shop window.
His sad eyes were transfixed.
He looked in awesome wonder.
Holding a bundle of sticks.


It was just coming up for Christmas,
Would he get anything at all?
He nearly jumped out of his skin,
As he heard his mother call.


"I'm only on the outside looking in" he said.
As he noticed her anxious look.
For they were as poor as church mice,
She couldn't even afford a book.


Christmas Day dawned like any other day.
Cupboard, hardly any food.
Realization showed on his face,
That today was not going to be good.


During the day a knock on the door,
Santa stood there looking merry.
With food for the two and toys for the boy,
For the mother a bottle of sherry.


"I was on the outside looking in" Santa said.
As astonishment showed on their faces.
With tears in their eyes, Santa said his goodbyes,
And was whisked off to faraway places.


Copyright . All rights reserved

Friday, December 21, 2012


I thought we'd change pace a bit and add a paranormal styled holiday story.

Padrig banked left gliding ever lower to the harbor of lights. Below him were boats of all sizes decked out in fanciful holiday lights. He took care to stay above the bright lights of the harbor itself but close enough for Rowan to have a clear view of the beauty.

Nothing in this world could compare to the beauty of the woman straddling his broad back. She was a courageous and daring warrior on the battlefield. Tender yet bold in their bed. She could set his loins on fire with just a look. Without Rowan, there was no beauty in the world for him.

Rowan’s infectious laughter warmed his heart as she viewed huge gossamer butterfly wings of light on the boat below. He’d come too close to losing his mate. 

“Isn’t it beautiful Padrig? Oh look there’s one over there that looks like Santa and his sleigh taking off. Can we get closer?”

“Aye, m’lady. Hang on.” His mighty wings caught the air as he rose to circle around the harbor. He used the shadows of the night to bring her lower to the water and a closer view of the ship that caught her eye. He hovered; the downdraft of his wings caused the water below him to dance and shimmy as they watched Santa sail by. Behind it floated a Charlie Brown barge with trees and lights arranged to look like falling snow. He caught the wisp of thought from her of how she missed seeing snow fall. He smiled knowing he would show her falling snow this night.

“Oh my gods would you look over there at the floating Graceland? They even have a rocking Elvis impersonator. A rather drunk Elvis a little too far aft in his blue suede shoes and if he were to fall he’d be in danger of the propellers.”

Elvis was lifting his glass as they flew over. His eyes widened as he caught sight of Rowan and Padrig, his glass crashed to the deck as he stepped back. Arms wind milling to catch his balance as he fell against the railing and went overboard.

“Aw hell, stupid man.” Rowan’s blue light shot out and caught him mid-fall. The magic gently lifted Elvis back to the deck while Padrig provided extra sparkles of light to make it appear part of the show. Applause and whistles filled the air.

“Very nicely done, Padrig. Those sparkles were almost better than the rest of the light show.”

“Tis something he will no doubt remember for many a year.” 

“I’m thinking it’s the sight of a dragon and rider flying over him he won’t be forgetting. I’d love to hear how he tells the boys he was saved by a magical black dragon.” Rowan’s laughter rang out.

Padrig rose in the night sky banking gently so as not to jar his lady and headed north. His heart was full of thankfulness she was healing. He took such delight in her fascination with the light displays for the holidays. Padrig once glimpsed a holiday light parade through their link while still trapped in solid stone. The marvels of the modern world still baffled him but he appreciated the freedom to explore them.

He wanted tonight to be very special and had mapped out each stop with care to give her the gift of wonder and beauty of the world around them. The simple joys still present even with great evil loose in the world. He wanted her to see more than the battles of life and death they had been engaged in the past few months. Battles that had almost taken her from him.

He again felt the anguish and terror that besieged him when she nearly had been butchered by an Annuvin demon. 

Her voice, full of warmth and love, interrupted his gruesome memories. “Padrig, my love, it’s over. Your anguish is breaking my heart. Please.”

“Tá brón orm, Rowan. I had thought I was doing so well with blocking my thoughts of that day from you.”

“Not possible with something you feel so strong. We both are alive and well, Padrig. We will kick Annuvin ass later. Tonight is ours. Let’s celebrate.”

“Your wish is my command, a ghrá mo chroí.”

Rowan snorted. “Yeah, until my wish interferes with your recent belief I’m made of spun glass.”

“Ah, but a dragon knight is always right, m’lady.”

“Póg ma thoin!”

Padrig chuckled as he circled the pier in San Francisco. “Who has been teaching you to swear in Gaelic, m’lady Sass?”

“Didn’t I say it right? I was telling you to kiss my ass, Sir Macho.”

“Tis close enough. Look below, m’lady.” He felt her indrawn breath as she looked at the city below.

“Oh, it’s so beautiful at night and especially during the Christmas season. Look at the tree on the Pier and they’ve made the whole area a winter wonderland.”

He circled once again before heading further north. “Hold on Rowan, we are going up and over the Golden Gate Bridge.” The strong winds buffeted them as they flew over the bridge and up over the Marin Headlands. He climbed higher still circling the top of Mount Tamalpais and to the east peak dropping through the fog and into the snow falling gently around them. Padrig smiled at Rowans shout of glee. He glided downward finding a place to land. The hush of falling snow was beautiful. The wet snow coated the surrounding redwoods and added to the three or so inches that had already fallen.

He closely monitored Rowan who was trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue and laughing. She stretched her legs out in front of her, ankles crossed, on his neck as she lay back near his wings watching the snowfall. Her off key rendition of Let It Snow made him rumble with laughter. Padrig could feel her exhaustion. It was time to fly to their final destination. Still, she managed to protest leaving.

Padrig secured protection wards around her and told her to sleep for the part of the flight around St. Helena and above Clearlake. The area was peppered with hot springs. His destination was a secluded spot high in the mountainous hills. He scanned the area to be sure they were alone. It wouldn’t be wise to land as a dragon where one could be seen. There was a resort far below and several miles away. No demon activity in the area either.

“Rowan, tis time to awaken. We have to walk in from here, m’lady.”

Rowan unbuckled her harness, slid off Padrig, and leaned against him until she felt able to stand. As she stretched she looked around. She could see the soft lights of the resort below.

“Padrig, that’s more than a bit of a hike to the resort. Couldn’t you have gotten in closer?”

“Our room is up a bit further, m’lady, not down.”

“Have I mentioned I’m a bit reluctant to go caving given the past months?”

“There is no danger anywhere near.”

She shivered as she eyed the rock face in front of her. Rowan wrapped her arms around her as she scanned. “Are you sure?” 


She looked over her shoulder and watched as the subtle amethyst light suffused the body of the dragon and leaving a man in its place. There was no transformation with popping and stretching just a dragon one moment and a warrior the next. He stepped forward and enfolded her in his arms. “You are quite safe, m’lady.”

A soft nimbus of light enveloped them as she looked up into the striking face of the warrior holding her. His silky black hair was pulled back leaving only two of his braids hanging loose from his temples. Mustache framing his mouth and into the small beard on his chin. She felt like a windblown mop and he looked perfectly groomed. It wasn’t fair.

“While I might not be spun glass I’m still not up to full fighting strength my lord dragon. I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous still. It’s been a beautiful night Padrig. Thank you.”

“Ah, but the best is yet to come, a ghrá. Come.” He took her hand and led her up about twenty feet until they came to a solid rock face. He moved his open hand in a half circle to reveal an opening. They stepped through and he closed it before pulling her further along the dark path. He increased the light so she could see where she stepped. They traveled about a hundred yards when they came to smaller opening. A soft blue light showed inside. As they stepped through Rowan caught her breath. The pool was a blue and green. Steam lifted off the surface and while it wasn’t a full sized swimming pool it was large enough to play in. She stripped down to her long sleeve shirt as she walked to the edge, pausing to take in the fat candles burning in several candelabras. 

“Oh it’s beautiful Padrig. A bit of magic to light the way? And champagne?” She spun around laughing. “Oooh, we even have a nest of pillows to sleep in.” She sat on a cushion sitting near the pool and dropped her feet in the water. “Mmm, this is heaven. Where did all of this come from?”

“Dyfed helped with his magic to give us a safe refuge and light the pool for you. He also helped provide this.” He held up a large thermos.

“Coffee? You remembered coffee? Cream and sugar?” 

Padrig grinned and nodded. He opened the thermos and poured her a cup. She could smell the rich aroma from across the cave. Her mouth watered in anticipation. “Perfect.”

Rowan crinkled her brow as she looked up at him. “Hmmm.”

“What is it, m’lady?”

“There is only one thing missing from making this a perfect moment.”

Padrig looked around in puzzlement. “Missing?”

“Oh yes. A serious thing necessary for a faultless evening.” Rowan lifted the cup to her lips as she watched him mentally go through his checklist.

“You have on entirely too many clothes, my love, and you’re too far away.”

“Really?” A wicked grin appeared. “Easily remedied m’lady.” Padrig snapped his fingers and his clothes and her shirt disappeared.

“Handy trick. I like it.” She cocked her head to the side and watched the play of light over his impressive muscles as he stalked closer. He really was magnificent dressed in only a fall of hair over his shoulders and a smile quirking his mouth. He lifted her up in his arms as if she weighed nothing and stepped into the pool. Padrig let her slid down his body until her feet touched stone. Burying his hands in her hair, he kissed her.

“You are my heart, Rowan. My soul. Without you I wouldn’t want to live.” His lips softly kissed her forehead, her cheeks, before claiming her mouth.

“Tá grá agam duit,” he whispered.

“I love you too, my dragon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Christmas means many things to many people. For some it's a profound holy day. For others it's a day of gift giving, or just another day. Still others have learned to revere the holiday and what it stands for through other ways and means. 
Such is the story showcased here today. White Christmas, by Simon Garte, tells the story of a soldier at war, raised an atheist and what changed it all for him.

It was not a white Christmas that year. At least not for him. He was in a land that had never seen snow. Rain, yes - lots of rain. But no snow. In fact it was raining that Christmas morning. He was sitting by himself in the rain. Alone. The camp was almost empty. He had volunteered to stay since he wasn't a Christian.

Not then.

And also Snake eyes had asked him to stay. That weird thing had happened two days earlier, when he had been sitting alone in the rain, just like now. Snake eyes had come up to him and started talking. Snake eyes hated him, so that was already weird.

“Hey man” Snake eyes said.


“I need a stabber for Christmas.”

He looked up at Snake eyes dark, inscrutable face.

“Me?” He asked.

“Yeah you. Abdul can’t make it and all the other brothers and crackers are going to that thing down river. But I figgered, you bein a atheist or a Jew, or whatever the f-ck you are, maybe you want to do it.”

He thought about it. He had never done this before, never been asked to.

“OK” he said.

Now he was waiting in the rain for Snake eyes. “It’s Christmas” he thought to himself. His father, a committed atheist, refused to have a tree or any decorations in the house. The family had always exchanged presents on New Year’s day. Christmas meant nothing to him.

Nothing good.

An hour later, he and Snake eyes were walking north on the trail. They were soldiers, and there was a war, but they were not fighting. They hadn't been fighting for months. There was no point to it.

When they got to a place that Snake eyes recognized, he pointed into the jungle, and the white boy left the trail. He found himself a position with a good sight of the trail and Snake eyes. He rested the M1 on a branch, and settled down to wait. The rain stopped and then started again. Snake eyes was sitting in the mud of the trail.

The two kids in black pajamas came down the trail smiling and laughing. They were the “enemy”, but had been doing business with the platoon for a long time. One of them carried a large sack, the other an old rifle of some kind. The kid with the rifle went into the jungle on the opposite side of the trail from where the white soldier was crouched, and that left Snake eyes and the kid with the sack standing on the trail. Snake eyes started talking to the kid. They were smiling and laughing. At first. But then the kid started saying something that Snake eyes didn't seem to like. Snake eyes began raising his voice, and the words came through the thick jungle to him sitting with his M1.

“That’s bulls-it, man. That is bulls-it. What the fu-k are you saying?”

The kid answered, but too quietly to be heard. Finally he shook his head, and put down the sack. Snake eyes reached behind him and took out a small stack of bills from his rucksack. The kid took the money and then grabbed the bag and began running.

“Fu-k”, shouted Snake eyes, “shoot the mother.”

He raised the M1 and fired a round which went wild, and then he saw that Snake eyes was down.

“Snake eyes”. He yelled. No response. Except for the rain it was quiet. He scanned the jungle on the opposite side of the trail, and saw nothing, but lay down a lot of fire. Then he ran to the trail. Snake eyes was alive, but there was a hole in his chest and blood was mixing with mud all over.

“Fu-k it man. Its Christmas, I don wanna die on Christmas.”

And then he did.

The white soldier tried carrying the body back, but only got a few yards. He dragged the body into the jungle a couple of feet, and then headed down the trail. His mind was blank. At the camp, he went into his tent and lay down. The chopper had not returned from the party yet, and he still had a couple of hours of solitude left.

The angel appeared as a dark haired, blue eyed young girl of about fifteen. She was dressed in pure white, and she stood in the center of the tent. He knew it was a dream. The angel spoke in a foreign language, but he understood it, as if he were reading the subtitles at a foreign movie. She said this to him,

“Your sufferings will be intense, but the Lord loves you. Never forget this.”

Many decades later, he had forgotten those intense sufferings, but he never forgot the dream of the angel standing in white in his tent on that Christmas day.

His white Christmas. 
Simon Garte has published non-fiction and also writes fiction. He's a marvelous storyteller. Simon is a New Yorker currently living on the East Coast.

Monday, December 17, 2012


The month of December has traditionally been a month I've used as a break. I usually don't do much beyond holiday stories.  Sometimes I use the month for writing or other projects. This year I've had the added…blessing…of working. It’s been awhile since I worked this many hours and I feel the toll. December break? Ha! What break, lol!

I've been missing my normal routine. It makes me feel totally discombobulated. I haven’t had a lot of time to visit as many blogs as I normally do—I have a list and try to get to all on it once or twice a week. This year is a bit different and has been the past two and a half months. I don’t know how others are, but when I’m chained to my computer and a phone 7 hours a day the last thing I want to do is hang out on the computer or talk to anyone in my down time. I find myself hightailing it out of the office and outside, go visit with my critters, which have been feeling abandoned, catching up with chores, which have also been neglected. 

And releasing my creative spirit with baking. 

To add to the toll, I've also been dealing with a grieving Great Dane who lost his faithful companion of the past five years. Poor baby. He’s had a rough time the past three weeks. I spend most of my breaks with him. He’s doing better. The first few days after my Roxy died, he was in a frenzy. Very agitated—barking and howling. This is a dog I've never heard howl.  It about broke my heart to hear his mournful grieving. Anyone that thinks animals don't grieve should have been at my house and they'd change their minds very quickly. 

My Black Magic gets all my dogs howling in sympathy. Good thing I don’t have any close neighbors. J He’s settling down but he misses her something awful. 

I do too. She had a good life—thirteen and a half good years, some gorgeous pups, and was one of my favorite leg warmers.

Or maybe a better description, I was her leaning post. 

My sweet Roxy was my first Great Dane. It's not the same without her. 

I’m looking forward to after the holidays. I’ll be working less and back on schedule with everything. 


Friday, December 14, 2012


Grab some cookies and some of this wonderful coffee and enjoy a Christmas story that tugs on your heart.

Gingerbread Latte
2 fluid ounces espresso coffee
2 tablespoons gingerbread flavored syrup
1/2-cup milk, steamed
1/8 cup whipped cream1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1/2-teaspoon vanilla powder

In a coffee mug, combine espresso coffee with flavored syrup. Pour in steamed milk. Top with whipped cream, and sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla powder.

~Story by Ken Coffman~
Owner: Stairway Press

Tom carefully parked the old Toyota on the crest of a hill. The starter did not work, so he needed the incline to compression-start the car. The sky was obscured by woolen blanket of clouds that seemed to suck color from the world. He rested his head on the steering wheel for a moment and gathered the willpower to move. Tommy was with the next door neighbor, Claire Jensen, who watched daytime dramas with the TV volume turned up so high that Tom could hear the tinny chatter in his car as the cooling engine ticked. With the steering wheel imprinted on his forehead, he slowly raised his hand and wiggled his fingers. He was not paralyzed, but it was as if the world pressed on him with cruel force. Cold wind slipped through loose window seals. Snow looked imminent. He needed to go.

Standing on Claire's sagging porch, he lifted the knocker and let it fall. It snapped like a toy pistol. Tommy's feet clomped on the floorboards; miniature thunder as he ran to the door.

"Daddy," he shouted. "Where have you been? I've been waiting. It's Christmas."

Tom was proud of Tommy's vocabulary. He was not quite four, so his enunciation was sloppy, but his thinking was clear. Tom gathered him in his arms squeezed.

"No, Christmas is tomorrow."

"No, Christmas is today, right now, they said so on TV," Tommy explained patiently as if that settled the matter.

"Okay, maybe I'm wrong," Tom said.

Dressed in several layers of bathrobes, Claire muted the TV and poked her head around the corner.

"Merry Christmas, Tom," she said.

"Back at you, Mrs. Jensen. I hope Tommy was no trouble."

"Never. I wish my kid was as good as him Tommy's an angel. We were watching the Christmas special As the World Turns. It's a rerun of old highlights, but it's still pretty good. Eddie didn't find out Deena was his mother until after Margo killed her."

"That's nice, Mrs. Jensen."

"A man in a uniform walked around your house. I think they turned the power back on."

"Why would they do that?"

"I don't know, but look."

Tom peered through lace curtains at his little house. It was true, some of the lights glowed.

"I didn't pay the bill," he mused.

"If it's still cold over there, come back. At five o'clock I'm going to have a nip of Smirnoff from the freezer. You can share a toot."

Tom knew that a nip meant a fifth, but he did not begrudge her habit; she was always sober during the day. He knew she didn't want to share her bottle but he appreciated her asking.

"We have something to do, but we might stop by later."

"You do that, Tom."

She waggled her fingers at Tommy and he returned the gesture. Outside, Tom strapped Tommy in the car and settled himself in the driver's seat.

"Are you ready?"

Tommy nodded solemnly and took a deep breath. He was convinced the car would only start if he held his breath. Tom released the parking brake and popped the clutch as the car picked up speed. It rumbled to life with a puff of blue smoke.

"See, Daddy, it works," Tommy said.

"It always does," Tom replied.

They turned at the corner.

"Where are we going? It's Christmas, you know."

"So I've heard. We'll go see Mommy."

"Oh." Tommy watched the scenery flowing outside his window for a minute. "What's a pregnancy test? I asked Mrs. Jensen, but she said I should ask you."

"Is that something you heard on the TV?"

Tommy nodded vigorously. "Yes," he said.

"We'll talk about that later, okay?"

"Does later mean never, Daddy?"

"You're a funny little guy. I don't know what I'd do without you."

The cemetery was on a hillside. Cedarville, in all of its small-town patchwork glory, spread out on the valley floor. The river weaved through trees and glistened in the flat winter light. Tommy fumbled with his seatbelt and door and then ran to his mother's grave site. Towels, decorated with sprigs of holly and evergreen fronds, were spread on the damp grass.

"Mama didn't forget Christmas," he shouted. "Hurry up."

Tom handed him a pair of woolen socks.

"Put these on, it's cold."

"Wally has mittens, they're really cool. I mean they're warm, but they're cool."

"We don't have any mittens, so you have to wear socks. They're warm, put them on."

"No one else wears socks on their hands," Tommy complained, but he pulled them on.

Tom stood for a minute reading the inscription. Rebecca Thomas, Beloved Wife and Mother, Taken Too Soon. 1982-2007. RIP

He wanted to scream and tear out his hair and rip the stone from the ground and throw it down the hill. Instead, he pulled a Thermos from a paper bag.

"Give your mom a kiss and have some chocolate," he said.

Tommy kissed the cold granite and settled on his haunches on the picnic towels. He sipped the hot chocolate and studied his father.

"Are you alright, Daddy?"

With his thumb, Tom worked on a smudge of chocolate on Tommy's cheek.

"Sometimes," he replied.

A man, dressed in a long gray overcoat, picked his way from the parking lot. It was George Wilson, Rebecca's boss.

"I took a chance on finding you here. Hello Tommy."

"Hello, Mr. Wilson," Tommy replied.

"We took a collection around the office and got your power turned back on."

With creaking knees, Tom stood, and then took George's arm and led him a few steps away.

"We don't need charity," he said.

"You can call them and tell them to turn it off again."

Tom took a deep breath.

"I'm sorry, I know you mean well..."

"Rebecca wouldn't want you two to freeze to death on Christmas. Let us do this small thing. Also, the man from the insurance company came by again."

"I told you, I don't want their money. It has Rebecca's blood on it."

"You're so melodramatic. He gave me papers. The money will go into a trust for Tommy so he can go to college when he's 18. Rebecca would not want you to be stupid."

"I'll get a job after the first of the year."

"Don't be a fool. You don't want the insurance money, that's fine, but sign the damn papers for Tommy, okay? The man from the insurance company is driving me crazy."

"Okay. I don't have a pen."

George proffered a silver pen and Tom scribbled on the paperwork at all the places marked with red X's.

"Another thing is, you need to turn on your cell phone. That agent lady from New York has been trying to get in touch with you. I don't understand all this stuff, but she says there are two bidders and you need to decide if you'll sign a two-book deal. That's good, right? She says it's a fair amount of money."

"I can't think of that stuff right now. My wife is dead."

"I know all about the horrible accident, Tom," George said gently. "I also know she supported you for three years so you could write that book. I told the agent I'd let you know. Now you know and I'm done. You take care, okay, Tom?"

"Yeah," Tom said.

He watched George navigate his way back to the parking lot for a moment before turning back to Tommy.

The picnic bag held a partial package of Oreos. He held out a handful for Tommy who took them in his ensocked hands.

"I haven't had dinner yet," Tommy said.

"On Christmas, you can have cookies for dinner."

"I like Christmas," Tommy mumbled through a mouthful. "There's no money for presents, is there? We're flat."

"That's right, Tommy, we're flat busted." A sprinkle of snowflakes drifted from the woolen sky. "But, maybe your mama sent you something..."

"What?" Tommy jumped up and ran around the tombstone. "I don't see anything."

"Maybe she left it under the holly."

The holly flew as Tommy tossed off the sprigs. He raised a package wrapped in red and green paper.

"Look, you're right. Mama didn't forget about me."

"No Tommy, your mom will never forget about you."

Tommy jumped on his dad's lap clutching his present tightly in his chubby arms.

"Go ahead and open it."

"Can I wait a while, Daddy? I don't care what it is."

"Wait as long as you like," Tom said.

The snow, drifting from the sky like apple blossoms, slowly turned the ground white. They stayed as long as they could stand the cold and then headed for home.