Christmas Interview – Patricia Sands

I managed to find Patricia not traveling in France, long enough to answer a few questions about her Christmas traditions. Welcome, Patricia.

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1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Always and with great gusto!

2. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I love giving gifts more than receiving. The joy has always been watching our children and now grandchlldren revel in the excitement and wonder of this time of year.

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3What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Skiing at Whistler with our family.

4. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Once children came along, the stockings were just for them.

5. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Drawings from our grandchildren.

 6. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Every year I give all of our children tins of shortbread made from their great-grandmother’s recipe.

7. What would you change about Christmas?

I would want to make “peace on earth” a truism.

 8. What would you keep the same if you could?

Have a white Christmas every year.

9. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

English cathedral choirs singing carols.

10.  What do you like best about Christmas?

Everything.

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 Patricia is the author of two novels:

TPOP_med

The Promise of Provence amazon link

TBC Kindle cover

Christmas Interview – Lorne Finlayson

Christmas card 1

Are you wishing for the old days? Read Finn’s interview and see if you share some of his nostalgic longings for the Christmases of days gone by.Finn

Christmas Interview with Finn, of “Muck and Finn” Fame

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I certainly have, more than once

3. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

People just overdo it. The last time we went to the gift opening someone’s place we sat for an hour or more as their child opened gift after gift. It was a gross display of overwhelming the kid with stuff.

4. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Christmas. St. Nicholas Day?

5. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

A selection of really yummy goodies from my late sister.

6. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

A stuffed raccoon

7 What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Perhaps a pair of mittens that my mom knit for me?

8. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Back in the day, I made a tool tote for someone. I put a lot of time and effort to make it as good as I could but it just got chucked out. I don’t make things for anyone now.

9. What would you change about Christmas?

I would eliminate the need to give stuff and just enjoy the company of friends.

10. What would you keep the same if you could?

The songs and decorations that one encounters in stores in the lead up to Christmas.

11. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I love it all, the traditional carols and the schmaltyz made up songs.

12. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

What may have been, or could have been is a time to get together and enjoy a feast and good cheer. Increasingly it is just another time of  year to buy junk . There are lessons to be learned by watching the “Returns” line ups at large stores the day after Christmas as folks deal with stuff they have been given.

snow on the woodpile

Christmas Interview – Chris Longmuir

 As part of our Christmas countdown, author Chris Longmuir has agreed to share her ideas, beliefs, and experiences about the holiday season and Christmas.

Welcome, Chris.

Chris Longmuir

Chris is the author of several novels. See the cover image of her latest one at the end of this blog. Do you like mysteries? You can find Chris’s books on amazon sites.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

I have Christmas dinner with my son and daughter-in-law at their house, but I have a post-Christmas dinner in January to which all the family are invited. There is always a Christmas story about Santa coming a cropper at Christmas time and having to leave a Santa sack with granny for the younger members of the family (there’s only 1 child eligible for it now). One year Santa tripped up and broke his ankle, another year he got lost, then there was the year he was arrested before he could make all his deliveries. And, of course, we can’t forget the year he got legless on mulled wine. The older members of the family bemoan the fact that once they reach the grand old age of eighteen they don’t get a Santa sack at granny’s post-Christmas dinner.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No, but I did spend Christmas in hospital once after an operation. However, did you know that Santa has hospitals on his list? So, I got a Christmas stocking with some goodies in it.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

Not really, they’ve all been the traditional turkey and trimmings.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I like to give my family what I think they will like, and I love to spoil the children. As far as getting gifts is concerned, it’s quite nice, but I don’t really need anything nowadays. I’m not so keen on all the commercialisation around Christmas though. I’d much rather it was all simpler.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

I don’t really do activities, but my daughter-in-law loves games (the kind you don’t need to move out of your chair to play) so that’s always fun. My granddaughter, aged 11, has story cubes and she brings them along and challenges everyone to take part in story telling after throwing the cubes. Some weird and wonderful stories originate from these cubes. It’s great fun.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Christmas Day of course. Although now I’m on my own there’s no one to fill a stocking for me.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

I don’t think I could pinpoint any one gift, however two years ago my adult granddaughter gave me two tickets for Strictly Come Dancing, the live show, at Newcastle. She paid for the train fares and the hotel as well. I took my daughter-in-law with me. I did a blog on it at the time and you can find it here http://chrislongmuir.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/strictly-come-dancing-live.html

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

Probably a mulled wine set. It was lovely but I don’t drink and I don’t like the taste of wine. It’s still sitting at the back of one of my cupboards.

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

If I have anything I have no use for it usually winds up in a Charity Shop.

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Cherry cakes. My daughter used to make me a load of cherry cakes at Christmas. She doesn’t do it anymore and I miss them.

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

When I was a shopkeeper I used to crochet fashion garments for the family because at that time the most valuable gift I could give anyone was my time. So the garments were all crocheted with love.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

The only thing I would change would be to have my husband back to share it with me. But that’s impossible.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

I wouldn’t change a thing.

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I’m not really a musical person, but I do like the Christmas Carols, and Bing Crosby (I’m showing my age here).

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

Being with the family. It’s the one time we all get together.

Granddaughter Amy:

Amy with her Santa sack Xmas day - Amy

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Chris Longmuir is the author of several novels. Here is her latest one:

Missing-Believed-Dead-AMAZON

amazon.co.uk

amazon.com

Dundee Crime Series 2

Christmas Interview – Carol E. Wyer

Today’s Christmas interview guest is Carol E. Wyer. Don’t be alarmed when you read that she calls her husband Mr. Grumpy. It’s all done with love. Here is Carol, author of several humorous books about which you can find out more at the bottom of the page. Welcome, Carol.

Carol E Wyer

1.Do you celebrate Christmas?

Since our son left home Mr Grumpy has decided that we shall no longer celebrate Christmas. Consequently, we now go for a walk in the morning and then he spends the rest of Christmas day ranting about the television offerings, while I hide in my office and watch the latest box set of Dexter DVDs that I squirrel away during the year ready for the event.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

 No. Although these days I quite fancy spending Christmas alone!

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

Last year we had a pot of yogurt and an apple. We had huge problems with our drainage system that meant we had no water for three days and couldn’t flush toilets, cook, wash, etc. Mr Grumpy spent the entire afternoon in the pouring rain attempting to bail water out of a ditch in an attempt to prevent it from backing up to our bathrooms and flooding them. It wasn’t our best Christmas.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

They have changed over the years as I now feel there is far too much emphasis on gifts and not on the true meaning of Christmas. Nowadays, I only give gifts to my mother, son, and his girlfriend. Mr G and I don’t give each other presents either.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

The best Christmas was one we spent in France. We opened stockings filled with gifts in the morning, had next door’s children around to choose chocolates from the Christmas tree, went out for lunch at a local restaurant filled with French ambiance, then had a walk around a picture postcard perfect village that twinkled with lights, snowflakes, and charm. We then went back home in the snow, made Lego toys out of my son’s present with him, sang Christmas carols while we did that and had an idyllic time.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

We always used to have stockings first thing on Christmas Day. The presents were always small gifts but we had such fun opening them. Even Mr Grumpy used to enjoy opening silly presents such as a DIY small glider when our son was younger.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Tricky question. I always love anything I get because someone has taken time and trouble to get it for me. I am rather fond of a fluffy teddy bear that Mr Grumpy bought me. It was because it was out of character for him to buy such a sentimental present and he knew I would fall for it.

8. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

My father made me a ‘ship in a bottle’ using a walnut shell and a tiny bottle. He called it HMS Nutiless. I treasured it for years.

9. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I always made Christmas boxes for the lunch table. They became the focus of Christmas. I started making them to replace Christmas crackers which I thought were a waste of money and never had any nice presents inside them. I made up a box filled with Christmas chocolates, a little gift like a nice key ring, jokes that I printed out from the computer. I drew holly branches and Christmas trees on the little slips. Each set of jokes were relevant to the person so one year Son got jokes about drinking and Hubby got jokes about aeroplanes. Each box had an exploding popper to represent the ‘bang’ in a cracker and a kazoo or blower to make a noise with. Over the years, the boxes got bigger and had more in them, including puzzles and challenges like ‘sing this Carol in a foreign language’ (words provided). My son loved the boxes more than the stocking presents. They certainly made lunchtime entertaining and invariably meant I burnt the turkey.

10. What would you change about Christmas?

I hate that shops start trying to sell you stuff already in October. I would prefer it if everything began on December 1st, towns had Christmas parades and illuminated their decorations then, and stores kept everything under wraps until the same time. In fact, Mr Grumpy would like it if it were abolished altogether.

11. What would you keep the same if you could?

Christmas Nativity plays and Christmas carols. They are always the best part of Christmas for me.

12. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richard.

13. What do you like best about Christmas?

Having a glass of champagne at lunchtime!

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And here is a photo of last year’s snowfall that kept Carol housebound for quite some time.

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Here are three of Carol’s books. Check them out if you’re looking for something fun to read.

www.carolewyer.co.uk

www.facing50withhumour.com

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Christmas Interview – Caroline James

The countdown to Christmas continues. Since it is traditionally a time for sharing, I thought I’d start by sharing our ideas, beliefs, and experiences about the holiday season and Christmas. Over the next few weeks, I will be hosting friends who have agreed to let us into their lives by answering a few interview questions.0

Bravely volunteering her answers today is our guest, Caroline James. Is she really that wild?????

Caroline James press pic 1

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Very much so – I love Christmas and like all the traditions that go with it.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No, I haven’t, thankfully.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

Not on the day –  I am a total traditionalist and the turkey and all the trimmings are something I look forward to all year.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I think it’s all too much these days. This year I have really been firm with family and friends and set a low budget – if at all. Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive; it is after all, supposed to be a religious occasion.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

I love it when it snows and will be the first out to make a snowman or go for a lovely long walk. One year we walked up to a local castle and had a snowball fight around the turrets. Everyone else out walking joined in and it was a great deal of fun to play – men turned into little boys and women let their hair down.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Yes – every year, filled with very small gifts. It takes me back to being a child and the crunch of the stocking on the end of my bed when I woke in the dark – such excitement!

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

My son and his first Christmas.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

A fire-extinguisher from my husband… sorry – ex-husband!

9. What do you do with gifts you hate?

Give them to charity

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Chocolates from my god-daughter, oh and a lovely wool cape that my sister made for me

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Yes, I always give gifts that I’ve made. A friend tells me it wouldn’t be Christmas without one of my cakes and I like to give Christmas marmalade made with oranges, cranberries and whisky. I make small cakes and fudge and chocolate truffles – all things that package beautifully with festive ribbons and bows.  I’d like to give the sloe gin that I make in the autumn but I’ve usually drunk it all by Christmas… too delicious!

chocolate flapjacks

12. What would you change about Christmas?

I wish it wasn’t so commercial – Christmas shopping in November just seems wrong.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

That loved ones are safe and well.

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Anything Christmassy – whether carols in a church or Noddy Holder screaming… “It’s Christmas….!”

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

There’s an air of expectancy – I can’t explain why but it’s there and it’s lovely.

16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Christmas is the culmination of the year to me, an ending before a beginning. A time to reflect, before the new year starts.

***

Web:          www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk

Twitter:     @CarolineJames12 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolinejamesauthor

Blog:          www.carolinejamesauthor.blogspot.co.uk

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/550084.Caroline_James 

Caroline’s novels:

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 Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me

 Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

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So, You Think You’re A Celebrity… Chef?

Amazon.co.uk 

Amazon.com 

 

Christmas Interview – Bonnie Trachtenberg

 As we count down the weeks and days until Christmas this year, I thought it would be interesting to share our ideas, beliefs, and experiences about the holiday season and Christmas. I know it may seem a wee bit early, but the Christmas lights are already being put up all around town.

Over the next few weeks, I will be hosting friends who have agreed to share their ideas with us in the form of an interview. My first guest is the fabulous Bonnie Trachtenberg.

Bonnie is the multi-award-winning, bestselling author of Wedlocked: A Novel, Neurotically Yours: A Novel, and The Fine Art of Delusional Thinking. She writes a monthly relationship and advice column for Love a Happy Ending Lifestyle Magazine. Bonnie was senior writer and copy chief at Book-of-the-Month Club and has written seven children’s book adaptations. She has also written for three newspapers and penned countless magazine articles. She lives in New York with her husband, four cats, and a dog.

Bonnie

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

I don’t exactly celebrate Christmas as I am Jewish, but since I grew up with Christmas Envy (Chanukah just isn’t the same), over the years I’ve developed my own Christmas rituals that bring me joy during the holiday season. These include eggnog flavoured coffee, hot spiced cider, gingerbread cookies, and old Christmas movies watched while still in my pyjamas.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

Yes, but my favourite Christmas shows on TV kept me company.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

I do every year; it’s called Chinese food!

 4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I hate shopping in crowds and I never know what to get people, so around this time of year I tend to be grateful for being Jewish! LOL However, I do donate to charities and this keeps me in the holiday spirit.

 5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Ice skating. I’d never done it before and I’ve never done it since, but I had a blast!

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

I used to hang my knee socks on our oven, and my mom filled them with Chanukah gelt (chocolate coins). These days I save my calories for Godiva.

 7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

My Grandpa Sol took me to the city at Christmas time and we spent a lovely day together. I’ll always treasure that memory.

 8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

 I don’t recall; I must have blocked it from my memory. 😉

 9. What do you do with gifts you hate?

Give them to people I think might appreciate them.

 10. What would you change about Christmas?

The traffic.

 11. What would you keep the same if you could?

The good cheer and the eggnog.

 12. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Little Saint Nick by The Beach Boys

 13. What do you like best about Christmas?

The wonderful old movies: Christmas in Connecticut, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol (only the Alastair Sim version!), March of the Wooden Soldiers, It’s a Wonderful Life, to name just a few. I DVR them during the year so I can watch them on Christmas, and I never seem to tire of them.

 14. Any additional thoughts about Christmas.

It still beats the heck out of Chanukah! LOL

***

Bonnie is the author of several novels. Here are the cover images of some of them.

Wedlocked_Book_Cover

Buy Wedlocked

Amazon: http://is.gd/2XLInB

Amazon UK: http://is.gd/hIKHRa

Barnes & Noble: http://is.gd/t8Izux

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Neurotically_Yours_Cover_JPEG

Buy Neurotically Yours

Amazon: http://amzn.to/HY4PyF

Amazon UK: http://is.gd/e14qU0

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/KumteQ

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delusional-thinking-FINAL-Amazon

Buy The Fine Art of Delusional Thinking

Amazon: http://is.gd/dquC6v

Amazon UK: http://is.gd/2u3KnV

Barnes & Noble: http://is.gd/FTczLh

______________________________________________________________

Learn much more about Bonnie at her website: http://www.BonnieTrachtenberg.com

Read her advice column at: http://www.loveahappyending.com/category/in-search-of-a-happy-ending/

Find her on Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/BonnieTrachtenberg

Follow her on Twitter: @Writebrainedny

 

Memory Patchwork

Luanne

Luanne Castle

I’d like to welcome Luanne Castle to Anneli’s Place today. Luanne is writing a memoir called Scrap, about growing up in the sixties over a bomb shelter and in front of the city dump.

She taught English at California State University, San Bernardino, before moving to Arizona, where she now lives with a herd of javelina.

Her creative nonfiction took first place in a contest sponsored by Midlife Collage. Her poetry has been published in The Antigonish Review, The MacGuffin, A Narrow Fellow, 13th Moon, Redheaded Stepchild, and many others. She recently put together her first poetry manuscript, called Doll God.

 Grandma's crazy quilt

Memory Patchwork

When my grandmother moved out of her duplex and into a nursing home, she gave my father a Victorian crazy quilt which had been stored, wrapped in tissue, in her bottom dresser drawer.  In my sixteen years, I’d never seen it before, but was immediately drawn to the warm shades of dark reds and soft golden beiges  and tans dramatized by the hint of Yale blue in lush velvets, as well as the intricate and beautiful stitching which linked the irregularly shaped scraps together.    Each patch had been embellished with embroidered flowers, animals, hearts, paisley, or was itself a patterned velvet or velour.

Grandma framed the quilt with a sedate red gabardine, and it was folded very neatly; still, some of the scraps had begun to show signs of wear.  Dad left it lying on the kitchen table when he went out to the garage, and I unfolded the quilt, examining the rectangles, wedges, triangles, squares, circles, angles, strips, and heart and moon shaped pieces.  Any one of these scraps might be swept up and thrown away after an afternoon of sewing.  A basket of these scraps would look like junk.  But here they had been artfully trimmed, arranged, stitched, and embellished to tell an intricate story.  This random patchwork design spoke to me of the past and the intersection of practicality and beauty.

When my father came back in, I said, “It’s getting ruined, especially where it’s folded.”  My father didn’t seem to understand the value of this old cover, nor did my mother, who walked up the stairs with her laundry basket and said, “Yes, that’s nice.”  She arranged the quilt, folded on the back of our living room couch, where it lay for a year.

I thought I could see the scraps fading and began to badger my parents to save the quilt.  I suspect my father began to agree with me because eventually he took the quilt downtown and had it framed in a painted golden frame under non-glare glass.  He hung it on the wall over the couch.  In their will, the quilt will be coming to me, as my brother has never shown an interest in it.

When I started writing down my memories, they came to me in pieces, much like the irregular and fancy shapes of the velvet scraps.  The oldest were faded and threadbare.  Sometimes the more I wrote of a memory, the more details that came back to me.  Sometimes I would meet a dead end and not be able to find any more to the image or story.  These images act as the embroidery on the quilt pieces.

I’ve tried to arrest the aging process of my memories by recording them, just as my father had the quilt framed to preserve its condition.  As I began to write these fragments of memory, a book about my father and me began to take shape. In honor of my grandmother’s quilt and our linked family story, I’m calling the book Scrap.

***

Do you have any thoughts about Luanne’s post today?  Is there an old quilt in your background? What might the maker of the quilt have been thinking about during the many hours it took to sew it? Leave a comment and tell us what you feel?

Please visit Luanne’s blog link at http://writersite.org/

My Turkish Bath

My guest writer today is Darlene Jones. Yes, she’s the lady who rode a camel, who walks the beach in Mexico, who goes on safari in Africa, and who has written four fantastic novels.

As you read this funny anecdote of her time in Turkey, you’ll love her sense of humour and be thankful it wasn’t you in her place.IMG_4210

When in Rome, do as the Romans. When in Turkey, have a Turkish bath.

To get to the women’s bath, we traverse a huge marble hall filled with men enveloped in white towels. They’re reclining in lawn chairs, puffing languidly on fierce Turkish cigarettes. My eyes follow the spirals that drift upward and obscure the amazing marble domed ceiling high above us. Do the men even see it? I wonder.

My guide, Ziya, abandons me in the women’s section. The attendant shows me to the locker room, gives me a key, and with a series of gestures, encourages me to disrobe and proceed to the bathing chamber. In the locker, I find a dish towel. Yes, a dish towel. I wrap it around my body. It is barely wide enough to cover me from my breasts to my tush. Okay girl, you can do this, I tell myself.

My first shock comes in the antechamber. The women have the dishtowels wrapped around their waists. I look around the room. I look down at myself. I lower my dishtowel to my waist.

I ooh and ah over the marble half-circle sinks mounted on the walls. The attendant gestures and I understand I am to wash before soaking in the hot pools.

My second shock comes in the bathing room. The dishtowels have been abandoned. But, all the women are wearing panties. I’m not. My panties are tucked safely in the locker. I abandon my dishtowel to enter the marble hot pool. Naked! Now, I’ve been naked before, but never have I felt so naked as in that roomful of women wearing panties. I slide down the marble edge and sink into the water as fast as I can. I hope I’ve managed to maintain some decorum.

The women are friendly and one invites me, with gestures that are amazingly easy to understand, into the smaller hotter pool which is good for sore joints. I let her know that my arthritic knee is enjoying the heat. Then I make what will later prove to be a mistake. I tell them I’m from Canada. Ah, Canada, one says, and they erupt in a conversation about my country that I don’t understand. But I’m pleased to note the tone and mood seem positive.

Now, the massage. I lie on a slab—marble of course. The masseuse is a genial sort who proceeds to sandpaper me from head to toe with fluffy oversized mitts—marbleized instruments of torture. But why am I surprised? Everything in Turkey is made of marble.

This loofah treatment is followed with a washing. The lovely scent of the soap envelops me. The masseuse whacks me on the back with the flat of her hand, the signal to turn over. I do so. I move too fast. I’m lying on a marble slab. No, I’m not. I’m sliding off like a wet fish. The masseuse grabs me by the ankle and pulls me back. The women erupt in laughter. I hear the word Canada mentioned several times between the guffaws. If only I had said I was from the U.S.

As the laughter dies down, I surrender to the bliss of the full body massage that follows the soaping.

Released at last by the masseuse, I tip her generously and escape to the locker room. I feel like a rag doll, loose and boneless, beautifully scented and more feminine than I ever thought possible. I dress, wave a languorous goodbye to the desk attendant, and glide across the marble floor between the rows of smoking men to find Ziya in the lobby.

***

Darlene’s books are available through amazon.com and smashwords.com.

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Real Winter – A Muck and Finn Adventure

You may recognize these two hellions who always tried hard, though unsuccessfully, to keep out of “trouble.”

Muck

This is Muck, good buddy of Finn.

Finn

This is Finn, good buddy of Muck.

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Here is another episode of The Adventures of Muck and Finn, by guest writer, Lorne Finlayson.

Real Winter

Winters were colder when Muck and Finn were kids. Colder than they are now. I mean the Real Winter, the part that started after New Year’s, when kids had to go back to school. That was when smoke from wood stoves went straight up into the air. That was when it seemed like the sun came up, only to go right back down again. Houses had poor insulation and some had none at all. In the Real Winter it was often possible to see frost on the nails inside of the house. Finn’s cousin, Bob, had a room on the cold north side of his house. Sometimes, during the dregs of January or early February, not only could one see frost on the nails that held the drywall but there would be frost on the wall itself. On super cold days Bob’s blankets would be frozen to the wall. Now, that’s cold. And Bob lived in one of the better houses in the whole district. That was Real Winter for you.

Real Winter was the time of year when little boys got their tongues stuck to things like steel flagpoles and skate runners. One time Finn was playing outside and was really thirsty so he licked some ice frozen to a shovel. The first lick was great, but on the second he licked right up onto the bare steel. His tongue was caught and just would not come loose. Finn was trapped and started to cry. He didn’t want his tongue to be ripped to pieces on the frozen shovel.

Holding up the shovel, stuck tongue and all, he ran into the house. Finn’s Dad saw what had happened and poured warm water on the shovel beside his tongue until the steel warmed and the tongue popped free. He didn’t even get into trouble. His dad must have figured he had been in enough trouble already, glued to the frozen shovel and all.

Up until Christmas holidays, winter was lots of fun for kids. The first cold weather would freeze the little creek that ran below town. Kids could skate for miles on its glassy coat, all the way from the bottom of the hill beside the road leading out of town, around all the corners and straight stretches to the Second Beaver Dam. That was a very long way away, in kid measure. At first, the ice would crack and they would have to skate really fast so as not to fall in. Often they could see the crack as it shot ahead, zig-zagging way faster than they could skate. Flounder might be a better word because their hand-me-down skates always needed sharpening and were usually too big or too small.

Some years the lake outside of town would freeze over before the snow fell. The big kids would skate for miles on it. At night they would build bonfires on shore and then skate off into the darkness. If a person stood really still the sound of their skates would ring Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching, as they powered across the mirror smooth surface.

Real Winter could be very busy. Late November or early December would usually bring a nice snowfall, maybe a foot or so deep. That would put an end to skating on the river and the lake but the snowfall meant it was time for the men to go out into the bush and cut firewood. In those days firewood was really important. All the houses were heated by wood. In Real Winter the sap would hide in the roots of the trees, so there would be less of it in the trunks to gum up the chimneys. This soot could build up and then catch on fire right in the chimney. A chimney fire could get so hot that it would catch the roof or ceiling on fire and burn the house down. It happened every year. Wood cut during Real Winter would sit over the summer to dry and be burned the following winter. Most of the firewood came from poplar trees, for there were lots of them and they grew quickly. Good thing, too, because they did not give much heat so it took a big pile of poplar wood to keep a house warm.

 Finn’s dad and mom burned wood in the cookstove all day to cook and keep warm. At bedtime his dad would put coal in atop the wood, for it burned slowly and gave good heat to save them from getting cold before morning. Finn’s dad only used Drumheller coal, from Drumheller, Alberta. He said it was the best and it left very few ashes and “clinkers.” Finn wasn’t sure what clinkers were, but he knew they weren’t good.

Before anyone knew about gas-powered chainsaws the men would go out and cut down the poplars with axes. Then they put the logs into neat piles. When enough had been cut they would head out with a team of horses and a sleigh, load the logs and bring them home. The logs had to be sawn up into blocks, about 18 inches long. If the block was too big around to make good stove wood it would later be split in half, or more, until it would go into the stove to keep folks warm.

Sawing up those poplar logs was quite an operation. Farmers would mount a big, round saw onto the front of a tractor where it could be driven by a wide belt attached to a pulley near the engine. Usually a crew of three or four men would do the sawing. If there were four, three of them would work together to lift the log and put it onto a ledge in front of the saw blade. The fourth man would be on the other side of the saw. He and the man nearest to the saw would slide the log into the saw. When the block was sawn free the fourth man would pitch it into a pile. Then the men holding the log would move ahead so that another block could be sawn off. When the log had been all sawn up they would go back, get another log, and start over again. It was pleasant work, not very difficult and if the crew worked together they could cut a lot of wood in a day.

For little kids, like Muck and Finn , it was the time of year to go sliding. There was a nice hill behind Muck’s house where all the town kids got together, bringing sleds, toboggans, sheets of tin, skis or anything that would slide down that hill. It wasn’t a really big hill so it took only a smidgeon of time for the kids to shoot down, hearts in their throats, then climb back up to go again.

In that happy year before Muck had to start school Muck and Finn had the hill to themselves while the other kids were in class. Muck had a really fast sleigh, with steel runners and just enough room for two little boys to sit as they whizzed down the slope.

One sunny but cold day Finn’s mom dressed him up in his warm winter snow clothes and away he went, over to Muck’s house. Muck was all ready to go. Before they got out the door, Muck’s mom said , “You boys be careful, now. Daddy and the men are going to be sawing wood close to the house at the bottom of the hill. I don’t want you to slide into that saw. Did you hear what I said?”

“Yes, we’ll be careful,” they said, nodding like a pair of bobble heads. They could already hear the noise of the tractor and the whine of the saw as it cut through the poplar logs. When they got outside and went around the house they could see the men at work. Muck’s dad had a John Deere tractor that huffed and puffed as it worked away. He was throwing the blocks as the screaming saw chopped them off. They watched for a few minutes until the lure of the hill overtook them, then they raced up to the top to get ready for that first run.

Oh, it was such fun, shooting off, almost out of control, just a little bit scared at how fast they were going. Down the hill, then up again as fast as their little legs could carry them. Sometimes Muck would sit in front and steer, sometimes it would be Finn’s turn. As the morning went on and the sun got warmer the snow was more and more slippery. Each run took them nearer to the house, nearer to the men sawing wood. They were so excited and so happy that they just didn’t notice.

Near noon they figured out that if they held onto the sleigh, ran really hard and then jumped aboard they could go even farther and faster. It took some practice. At first they couldn’t do it together and fell all over the place, rolling down the hill, then getting up and chasing after the runaway sleigh. Soon they got it right, and Muck held onto the front part of the sleigh and Finn leapt on behind.

Down, down, down the hill they went, the wind cutting into their eyes, making them water so much they could hardly see. They had never gone so fast. At the bottom of the hill was a little bump that threw them into the air, screaming for joy. But, they kept on going, faster and faster.

The boys were so excited that they didn’t hear the chugging tractor and screaming saw as they got closer and closer. When they opened their eyes that shining, whining saw was right dead ahead. Its hungry teeth were just about the same level as their little toqued heads.

Muck yelled, “Duck!” and they did, shooting under the saw past the startled faces of the sawing crew.

They came to a stop by bumping into the house and falling off the sleigh. Muck’s dad was there about the same time, and he was not pleased. He said, “You boys! You could have cut your heads off! Leave that sleigh right where it is and get into the house. You’re finished sliding until I say so.”

He was more scared than angry. And, he was right. Heads down, Muck and Finn went into the house and sat down at the kitchen table. Muck’s mom asked, “What have you boys done now?”

Muck stuttered, “Um…we were sliding and we went under the saw and Daddy said for us to go into the house because we can’t go sliding any more.”

Her face went a bit pale at those words. She spoke slowly and softly. “ Oh, my goodness. Finn, you go home and tell your parents what happened and you, Muck, you go up to your bedroom and stay there. You boys can’t play together anymore today.”

Clearly, she was really upset because she didn’t give the boys any milk and cookies like she usually did. When Finn got home and told his mom and dad they were not pleased, either. It was the first time Muck and Finn were ever in “trouble,” that word that terrifies all little kids.

The next day the wood was all sawed, the tractor and crew were off somewhere else and they were allowed to slide down the hill once more.

But never again was it as exciting as that time when they went under the saw!

Why Does the Wind Weep?

Anneli Purchase

Hi! I’m Anneli. I’d like to talk to you about my novel The Wind Weeps, which is set on the west coast of British Columbia. The scenarios are all very real, and the story that I relate, although it is fiction and a bit bizarre, is one that has taken place  with variations, on this coast. If you’re wanting adventure and suspense, along with a good love story, maybe this is the book for you or for a friend.

Have you ever heard high winds roaring through the trees in a windstorm? On the coast of British Columbia what isn’t rock is trees. When the southeast winds scream across the water and then, making landfall, get hung up in the tall firs and cedars, the whooshing of the wind alternates between howling and whining. Unsettling sounds,  even when you have your life in order, but when you wish you were elsewhere and have absolutely no escape, the wind almost begs you to join it in its weeping.

Andrea is a happy young woman who leaves her boring city job back east and comes out west for a life of adventure. She is determined to learn to get by on her own in a world that is much more raw than the artificial city life she left behind.

She turns heads when she walks by, but remains unaware and humble about her good looks. Men are attracted to her, but she is apparently oblivious to the effect she has on them.

When she finds a job on the wharf in a small west coast town, she has her choice of men, but naively, she gets caught up in too much of a good thing. There’s a song by Glenn Frey that was made  just for her.

“Are you gonna stay with the one who loves you
Or are you goin’ back to the one you love?
Someone’s gonna cry when they know they’ve lost you
Someone’s gonna thank the stars above”

Poor Andrea makes the wrong choice and pays the price. When she ends up in a desperate situation, she often hears the wind and wants to weep with it.

But wait, she’s made of stronger stuff than that. She is determined to find a way out. As we follow Andrea in her dilemma, we travel the coast and experience it as if we were in the boat with her, in the forest with her, in the remote towns with her, in a life of hell with her, hanging onto a sliver of hope.

The Wind Weeps

You can order this book as a paperback or as an e-book at smashwords.com and all amazon outlets. Click on the links for more information.

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

amazon.de

smashwords.com

Please visit my webpage at anneli-purchase.com or my blog at http://wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com

The perfect Christmas gift idea! Choose from three of my novels: The Wind Weeps, Orion’s Gift, or Julia’s Violinist.