Author: T. L. Sherwood

T. L. Sherwood lives beside Eighteen Mile Creek in western New York. Her work has appeared in Rosebud, Thema, Literary Orphans, and Vestal Review among other places.

September Thoughts

This month seems contradictory in it speeding by while dawdling. The rapidity of the election taking forever to go from 60 days to 40 was cute. I’ll be glad when it is over and happy if the people I want to win do.

Reading has taken up more of my time than writing. I haven’t submitted anything either, nor queried, but I’ve been doing Pilates and thanks to Myfanwy Collins and Sarah Yaw, I’ve dusted off my Tarot cards.

I think there’s a story in there – one I haven’t discovered yet.

The weather is changing, the leaves are falling and the garden looks sad

but the morning glories are still blooming.

Deer, being the piggy pigs that they are, informed the consolidation of flowerbeds. I haven’t planted the bulbs yet, but this fencing should keep them out when I do.

We’re trying a new idea this year – leaving the base up for over the winter. Fingers crossed the snow doesn’t take it out.

The cat has a new perch to keep an eye on her domain. She’s hilarious. Anytime someone walks in there, she jumps up, stretches out, and adorably asks to be petted just like this.

Instead of the seasonal draining of the hot water heater, we bought a new one. The fear of the old one leaking and destroying the library has dissipated, but now the new fear is that the new is bad. Knock on wood, it isn’t but…

Otherwise, it’s been a mostly quick month trying to finish up chores before the raking starts.

I’m glad you stopped by and I apologize I wasn’t more entertaining. Cheers to you and yours!   

A little chat about characters in August

I can’t imagine a worse job than being a neurologist stuck trying to study the brain of a writer. Even the prefrontal cortex of a reptile is complex. Writers create characters and those characters have needs, wants, and desires. Some become so real, they “come to life.”

August tends to be the month where I get a lot of writing done because I can sit alone in cabana without radio or internet and focus on a story. After one of those sessions, one of Mary Aker’s characters stopped by. Atlas was…unbalanced in the book. (No doubt you’re thinking I am as I tell you this.) He asked if I remembered a fight scene in her book. I did. He told me he had a problem with it. I nodded at him with the wary respect I lend to forest animals. He went away.

The next time I was out there and getting ready to leave, he showed up again and asked if I’d spoken to Mary. I told him I hadn’t had time and rushed away. Mary happened to text a breezy, hi-how-are-ya-I-miss-you. I told her I’d been thinking about her book.

Atlas reappeared and told me he thought a certain baby was his. I told him he was mistaken. The sperm was from – he cut me off. He claimed it was switched. Or mixed. There was a chance that it was his. I told Mary this. We had a zoom with Gina, and the subject was brought up. We all hashed out possible plot twists. What if a Gloria switched the sperm and told Atlas about it in a certain scene – trying to keep from rewriting down. It was a weird but good exchange. I was done with the matter. I went out, worked on my own story, and Atlas stayed away – satisfied, I suppose.

Gloria waited until I was cutting up fruit for dinner to make her appearance. She likes Atlas. She can’t have children, but sees nothing wrong with taking Sylvia’s baby away when it’s born. If there’s one successful pregnancy, there would be another. Sylvia could use the sperm of the specimen she really wanted. What was 9 months of delay?

I find it all rather Meta that these shifty characters Mary created had a way to pop into my head for a chat. Are all the abandoned characters out there waiting for us to notice them again? Would a neurologist be able to explain away the phenomena instead? These are the things that have been on my mind.

Otherwise, I’m rewriting a book which is frustrating because two characters that had little to do with each other in the original are about to fall into bed – or shoot each other. Either outcome challenges the rest of the plot. Sigh.

Husband had another happy 45th birthday.

The garden is producing many tomatoes.

The dog

Went to the groomer.

The rose bloomed.

Wild grapes were picked.

There was a nocturnal visitor at the hummingbird feeder.

Another section of the house is being painted.

And thus concludes this month’s blog post. You are wonderful and full of grace. Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

July and Domestic Adjustments

This month, the fear of everything closing down again served as an impetus to get things done. We replaced our king-sized mattress with two extra-long twins and installed an air conditioner. Both were objectives we kept putting off and now that we’re both getting a good night’s sleep, we wonder why.

We put in another step on the walkway down to the south lawn. The Chipmunk of Doom was warned it was going to happen, but he doesn’t seem happy about it, does he?

Husband finished up the remaining drawer fronts in the kitchen.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

I believe this is a picture of the last bouquet I bought. Cheap flowers from grocery stores were one of the few things that kept me sane this spring. Now, it’s blooming season and these beauties greet me every time I walk out the door.

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The lilies take turns showing off their soothing brilliance.

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And the wildflowers in the far back are a delight. I brought this one in to identify and haven’t yet – but if you know what it is, please don’t hesitate to tell me at TLSherwood01@gmail.com

As ever, the garden is what it is and currently, it’s well weeded. The peas were wonderful and now the beans and squash are here.

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Inside, I made new cases and transferred the feathers from my pillows into them. It’s so nice to have plump and cushioning ones again. I’d used Husband’s sewing machine. In a flurry of texts, that to me still feel unreal, I’m the proud new owner of a Singer sewing machine in a cabinet. Many, many thanks to the marvelous XO Man for the amazing offer and gift.

It’s setup in the bedroom and when not in use it serves as a new writing spot and I’ve even used it to set up the tablet for a Zoom session with Gina and Mary.

Speaking of Mary, she sent a ticket for virtual Crab Con and I went to check out the platform she used. I stayed for the Baby Crab Cam and some interesting discussions as well as a video. It was fantastic! She also let me do a bit of ghostwriting. Thank you!

I managed to submit seventeen pieces this month and am thrilled to say my piece “The Thinnest of Veneers” will be published in Cathy Ulrich’s amazing Milk Candy Review later this year. It started from a prompt in Kim Chiquee’s Hot Pants Office. I’ve knocked out at least five rough drafts for new flashes and an essay. A few things happened that have given me fodder I plan to explore soon. It’s been a while since I’ve felt competent in my writing. (And as soon as I wrote that, I received a rejection. Ugh!)

The library reopened and so far I’ve read Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and  The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz. I’m catching up on stories in the New Yorker, too. I grew brave on a perfect day and visited with the spectacular Nina Fosati – outside and six feet apart. Not giving and getting hugs saddened me, BUT hopefully soon Covid will be in the past and we can all get back to whatever we choose to be a brighter and more humane normal. In the meanwhile, this creature tempts me to pet and to play, otherwise I’m sure I would have done even more this month.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. Remember, you are AMAZING and I probably miss you!

Fast. Hot. Slow. Wet Cement.

I took advantage of Kathy Fish’s generosity last week and joined in the Fast Flash Reunion Extravaganza on Zoetrope. It was a great time and I adored reading other people’s work and saying “hey” to many fabulous and talented writers such as Raima Larter, Todd Clay Stuart, Nan Wigington, Cezarija Abartis, Matthew J Robinson, Jayne Martin, Jolene McIlwain, Alex Reece Abbott, Jan Elman Stout, Karen Schauber Karen Jones, Chris Haven, Patience Mackarness, Melissa Saggerer, Amy Braziller, Mary Crawford, Gay Degani, Andrew Stancek, Tommy Dean, and Chelsea Stickle. Over the course of that weekend, I wrote one creepy/Stephen King-ish flash, another that has a lot to flesh out and then two I didn’t post because they decided they couldn’t be flashes at the time.

What I’ve noticed is a similar progression of “lessening” lately. After a recent absence from Hot Pants, the first flash I wrote was solid and earned a finalist slot in a contest. The next piece wasn’t as good – though it had good parts – and the stories since then have had no true endings.

This is a reflection of my life. The lack of “the end” to Covid is insane and driven me to apocalyptic theorizing. The political news has altered my mind. Case in point: Mattresses. Not only is it the usual “what size and softness.” No, this creative mind of mine rushes to the financial outlook – no, not everyone will be all right. Will we? What if they stop making mattresses? What if we wait for the riots in Hamburg and Orchard Park and grab one then? What if our mattress is the only one in the neighborhood without bed bugs? What if climate chaos turns us all into backstabbing-for-survival neighbors? What if we lose in that battle? I don’t want to be murdered for my mattress. Black people have been murdered for less. Black people have been killed for no reason. The wide spreading-about of “bad apples” in law enforcement is astounding. Until it isn’t. Then it’s sad and awful. What kind of white privileged person am I? I may get Covid and I might survive even though my life has no more worth than anyone else’s simply because I am white and live in a state that took the threat seriously. Then again, I might fall under the care of that worthless physician assistant in Springville and die because he’s a useless jackass idiot.

Ah, there’s nothing like way too much information for a whizzing bang to the head. Obviously I’ve had time to over think and let small things fester. I vote we proceed to the picture portion of this post…

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A few of you dear readers were sent a video clip of an Evening Primrose exploding into bloom. You would think this boring, but it is fascinating. The process takes a variety of time but you notice it in the day, the ones getting ready. They grow plumper, like nourishment is rushing up the stems. In the dusk, you come out and watch. And wait. Perfect interlude on early summer nights when you seek communion and there isn’t a campfire. But with Covid, who is there to commune to?

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The hummingbirds were ferociously hungry this spring. I’ve never filled the feeders so much, but I only hung two feeders instead of three. There are many fuchsias, though. One has cascaded down from the hanging pot and I have watched the birds visit each of those flowers before visiting the nearby feeder. Other times, they treat the blooms as their dessert.

What is beyond sweet is the promotion work done by The London Independent Story Prize. The gorgeous and generous highlighting of their winning artists is amazing and much appreciated. I’m also grateful to Nina Fosati and everyone in the Hamburg Writers’ Group for their help and many, many thanks to Kim Chinquee and the Hot Pantsers for theirs! Also wonderful is the promotion the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts does for its writers. My story is here with much gratitude to Randall Brown for including it in this year’s amazing group of stories. I am honored. Thank you!

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At 10 months, new cat sprawls about when not terrorizing the dog. I’ve had her out on a leash and harness. She is a skittish thing, afraid of everything. I ordered “The Tiny Tawny Kitten,” a little Golden Book written by Barbara Shook Hazen and read it to her. New cat doesn’t believe it was my favorite story as a kid.

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The reestablishment of the once railroad ties steps is slowly taking shape. We’ve been to the campfire area a few times. Letting it seed out last year seems to have worked, but now there is greenery up there to mow. The labyrinth and all paths leading to it are the best maintained. I’m not up to discussing the garden. I don’t want to talk about my mild inconveniences and minor tragedies. It doesn’t seem fair to mope. At least not online. I think there is so much more people agree on than not, but it’s so hard to get anyone to shut up long enough to see the obvious things. How is observable, data backed science something to debate? Opinions are not fact. Health emergencies aren’t about your rights…

Sorry/not sorry. I feel like it is something I need to say. If you’re reading this, please wear a mask.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Speaking of opinion, the moon looked sneaky one night. Actually, that sounds like a great first line. After I post this, I’ll go see if it works. Who knows? Maybe it will lead to a story with a happy end. One with Covid contained and my Facebook family and friends intact. One where I have an agent, a book deal, and can report being annoyed over faulty sock elastic and feeling dread over how to effectively transfer feathers without feeling guilty for having such belligerent nothingness on my mind.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. I appreciate you!

One breath in, out, repeat

I’d tell you how quarantine is going, but I’m not sure that’s the right word. Lock down isn’t any better since I may leave the house, though I do so sparingly. Husband has returned to work and the anxiety that causes is all sorts of fun. I’m grateful to live in this house – any house – and be relatively safe in this bizzaro time in a world gone mad, but recent events have eaten into my creativity and my soul…

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The seasons progress though hiccups occur, like the snow that fell two weeks ago. I refused to take pictures of it. The crab apple bloomed along with the surviving lilac bush.

During the holiday weekend, we put up the screened in tent. The neighbors came out to listen to the insults and cursing, but there was little of that this year. The saving grace might have been that I told him I would work on it until 11:55 am then I was going in to watch Washington Week. After the break, we finished up and now I’m hoping to get the yard work done so I can enjoy it more than I have.

Anyway, that’s the post this month. I hope next month I’ll have amazing news to share and maybe – just maybe – the worthless curs with too much power will come to the realization that no matter the color of skin or language they speak, we are all just humans trying to get by. I hope to emerge from this funk a stronger writer and better human, but right now, I don’t know.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. I do appreciate it. I appreciate YOU. Cheers.

 

The Chipmunk of Doom is Visiting and He Brought Me a Bout of Ennui

I’m slightly mad at the world. Yes, I know it does me no good. Yes. I know all sorts of “oughts” to remove thoughts but I’m still kind of pissed – not about the lock down – but the indefinite time it will remain. I miss going to my writer’s groups, but we’re doing Zoom and Skype. I’ve touched base with the usual suspects. Some people I don’t frequently deal with have sent messages. I’m not lacking connection or – knock on wood – anything like food, so I’m fine and should shut up, but not knowing the end date is maddening. Maybe it’s just me.

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I’ve been working on the new novel. I’m fairly certain about the end – not exactly – but I think it will be hopeful and life affirming so yes, you should speculate if aliens have abducted and changed me. I’ve shown the start to the amazing Nina Fosati and she thinks the voice is good, so I’ll continue. As most people know, I don’t talk about my books while I’m writing them, so that’s all I’ll say about it – that and thank God for Mary and Gina for pushing me through this writing biz as long as they have. I was truly afraid when Gina left for PA it would be the end of the group, but oddly, the lock down has revived it.

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Working with a wireless keyboard makes me wonder if there will ever be a gadget that would write down one’s thoughts – or better, dreams. I’ve heard people are having vivid dreams. I haven’t been. I can usually remember them fairly well and jot down a few lines about them but recently, I haven’t been doing that. Are there only so many dreams around? I know, what an invalid theory since I can’t begin to imagine how anyone could test for such a thing. This is what happens in quarantine, odd thoughts which end up getting typed out instead of forgotten.

It’s also led to Husband completing another part of the kitchen – the corner cabinet door.

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Every year there is a yearning in spring for change. Sitting on the couch in the mudroom, I’m imaging the furniture in different places. Tomorrow, I need to check in during different times of the day. What will work as the sun goes down might be annoying in full sun. I haven’t worked up the energy to move anything. There’s a chance I’ll change my mind about the arrangement of this room. The new pest – I mean pet – hinders a lot.

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We’re keeping her as an indoor cat, but she’s insistent on getting out. I don’t know how the last cat learned her moves, but this one is brash and adamant about its right to do whatever it wants. Dog thinks that, too but he’s smarter than this cat. He generally stays within bounds.

So, that’s what I’ve managed to write for this post. My birthday cake was delicious. If I’d not been in a locked down state, I would have shared it with you.

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read. I miss all of your faces.

Dogged Perseverance in the Time of Covid-19

I mentioned last time I hoped to have happy publication news to share with you and I do! The fantastic Journal of Compressed Creative Arts accepted my piece “Ethan’s Machine” on Monday and earlier this month, my copies of the Smoldr Anthology arrived.

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Husband has been home. A lot. My normal days now need to be altered and with that has come cleaning and organizing. My closet is sorted. My massive paper pile is filed. I’ve made a master list of all the short fiction I’ve written and it now is printed out and color coded for easy reference. My office has rarely looks this neat.

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His “homeness” did accelerate the installation of the doors in front of the kitchen sink. Why yes, they are so shiny you can see the reflective of my pants in them.

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He and I kicked around ideas to protect the “babies” from this terrorist:

And came up with this protection for the cucumbers and cantaloupe I started early.

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See? They are right by her bed and still standing. 18 Mile Creek is visible through the window. More proof that we really do live “creekside.”

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In the interim of spring I chose to have some cheap bouquets that made life a little better.

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But now the snowdrops are out and daffodils will soon follow.

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And we’ve been admiring the extended unfurling of the amaryllis.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo here it is, the end of the month, and I’m writing this post. I honestly do have intentions to compose them earlier, but this year, it’s only the threat of a deadline driving me to the keyboard. Speaking of deadlines, there are a few venues closing today. And then April, I will be off to a new world as I plod my way through the goal of writing a new novel during Camp NaNoWriMo. Wish me luck and know I love and miss most of you very much. I thank you all for reading and hope you’re able to stay healthy and strong.

Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Some Days You Tour the Darwin Martin House and Some Days You Spend Hours Dealing with Customer Service

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture is from earlier this month. If I’d taken one today, it would be white from the wind whipping the snow around. Hello and welcome to the recounting of my strange day. I’ll intersperse photos from the Botanical Garden to break it up. It started last night when the cable box went wonky. I was working toward one solution via the Spectrum prompts, but hung up when I remembered Husband was recording a show. I called back after the show and talked to a human. It was close to eleven p.m. but the human said he’d have a guy out here between 9 and 10 this morning. I said, “But there’s a snowstorm predicted.” Human said, “He’ll be there.”

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I scurried to pick up and move books then went to bed. I woke to find Husband wasn’t going to work. I bent the earpiece on my glasses only to have the frame break, so that was nice. And then the cable guy ended up in a ditch. Great. Sure, I’d love to get up early again tomorrow.

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After seeing the nonsense hoops for help with an online operator, I called to retrieve my password from Tracfone. My, did I ever have fun with a gentleman who did not understand I wanted the password for my Tracfone account, not my email account. He had a script, and lord forbid he venture away from it.

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The upshot was that when I searched AGAIN for the Tracfone password, I found my Brother International password. Big deal, right? Well, Office Max quit carrying the printer I have and its accessories. I’d been on the Brother site and the drum kit I needed for my printer would not come up as an option, but when I entered my account info, it was there, so I ordered one and now it’s on its way. I’m happy since I did not want to replace that printer; it’s been a good little workhorse for me.

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There was another call from Spectrum. A different tech was in the area. Would I mind if he came by in 20 minutes? Of course not! He came, he found the problem and now I can watch the On Demand channels, too. I’m thrilled I needn’t wake up early again tomorrow.

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The day was winding down; I was a bit antsy, but fine. Husband went out to retrieve the mail and now I have a check – yes, a check, not a bill – for nearly $20.00 from the hospital. I have no clue why and when I called to find out, no one answered the phone in the billing department.

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(And as I was writing this on Thursday night while watching Rachel Maddow  – who is freaking me out about the virus and the nation – a text from the groomer’s came through. She had a family emergency and closed down, but has returned. I honestly thought she ghosted me for some reason.) I’m telling you it’s been one fun day around here…and I am happy for this fun. My problems are the best! I love them!

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She is NOT a problem; she is a delight. This is Niece from Boston who stopped by during her spring break. We kidnapped her, took her to the Botanical Gardens, the Basilica, and then to Steelbound Brewery. She spent the night then drove home in the morning.

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Earlier this month, Husband and I took a tour of the Darwin Martin House. I don’t have any pictures from that excursion – they don’t allow cameras in there unless you take a different, expensive tour. Afterwards, we went to Big Ditch Brewing for lunch. Buffalo culture involves beer, apparently. I’m glad I got to go then. Lent has begun.

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And so has the stress. I’ve sent out queries for my new novel.

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Luckily, I have books to review that will keep my mind off that part of the process. I’ve not had the urge to write a flash yet, but Monday, Gina will be back in town and we’re set to meet Mary in Lockport.

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I hope your days are not as strange as mine, that your Valentine’s Day was sweet and you’ll be back next month when I hope to have good news – either about an agent or an acceptance. Thank you for stopping by and for the read!

 

January Blues. Again…

My mind has developed this marvelous trick which I embrace every year. Instead of being paralyzed with sadness, I pay no attention to the 16th. On the 19th, the day my mind insists is the anniversary of my mother’s death, I’m relieved to discover I’ve lived through another year. I’m waiting for my mind to develop more tricks to get me past other roadblocks, but so far it hasn’t.

It has produced some decent stories and characters I’ve enjoyed spending time with. This is where I’m now – spending time with a cast of novel characters, polishing their speech, improving their verbs, possibly holding them too close. The question becomes,when will I get past the point of being afraid it isn’t good enough and let others see it? I thought I was ready, but I’m not.

My “band” is breaking up; Gina has moved to Pennsylvania so the monthly meetings will change but I do hope they continue. I’m trying out another group. One meeting in and I’m willing to see where it goes. It’s hard not to have expectations, of wanting what I had in the “cheerleaders,” but I don’t remember the beginning. Maybe it was exactly like this and the strangeness and unknown expectations are normal to joining all new groups.

Another year, another set of doldrums, same old me wishing you well and appreciative of your stopping by for the read.

 

 

Counting Down to 2020

Here it is, the last possible day to write my monthly post, and I’m starting it at 4:00 p.m. You may think I’m procrastinating but in fact, I’ve been very productive…and not just trying to capture a semi-decent picture of the cat in a Santa hat.

Actually, a lot of other “writer related” things have been going on, but I’ll be discussing those in the new year. In 2019, I did have some pieces published, but not a lot. I believe that goes hand in hand with submitting very little. In 2018, I was keeping tally with a goal – which I failed to reach – but this year? I don’t want to know. Writing – and all its aspects – is a process. So what if this year was different from others? I’m still a writer and have at least two pieces coming out in 2020 – one in an anthology (Please vote for team Blake & Jaimie!) and another in a dear to my heart journal. I can’t wait to share them with you!

This year was spent searching for experiences and connecting with people. I ran into childhood friends at the fair, enjoyed the hell out of the reunion with Husband’s family at the schoolhouse, and was joyful to attend a wedding with my family. One of my favorite parts was going back and forth with a writer friend on some of her pieces. She just revised one that would have made me cry at the end if I didn’t know what was coming. I know, I know, it’s more blessed to give than receive, but working on her stories truly showed me that and made my heart happy – though not as happy as Kobie was on Christmas with his new toys.

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And I truly was excited to receive so many holiday cards. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who sent one.

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Perhaps I’m simple, but I do love them and now threaten to send more random cards throughout this new year. I saw a Tweet about calling a person a day to thank them for something. That’s not going to happen, but sending a “thinking of you” card? I could do that. Small actions equal big results or something…

One maxim I know to be true is that children would rather play with the box than the present inside.

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The presents we found in our boxes were amazing! Many thanks to Michael, Mary, and Rachael.

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But on Christmas morning, before we had our customary pancakes & mimosas, we each thought, “Rachael, darling, what is up with you and tape?” Another tradition…

Like lovely snow, that covers tree limbs in wondrous ways.

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Thank you for stopping by and for the read! Happy New Year! I hope it treats you extremely well!