Of Nieces, Nonsense, and Newspapers

p1190802The day was dull, dreary, and oh-so-ordinary! I had a hundred errands to run…shopping to do…and articles to write—but my grandnieces were raring for Adventure! To them, even ordinary days should be ‘Funtastic!’

“Auntie?” said little Katy as we headed into the Grocery Store together. “Can you be ‘Mary Poppins’ today?”

“Indeed!” I said, grabbing a shopping cart.  “I’m guess I’ll have to be ‘Auntie Poppins’ to get through this shopping trip!”

Resolutely, I pushed the shopping cart past the bins of gum, pop and candy—hurrying the girls along.  But then we passed a Newspaper rack, and I paused.  My brain was thinking fast.

“Look here,” I said to Katy and Avri as I handed them a Newspaper.  “If you’ll behave yourselves today, you might find yourself in the Newspaper, soon.”

Their mouths dropped open.  “How?” said the girls, looking intrigued and excited.  “How will it happen?

The little Darlings had no idea that their ‘Auntie Poppins’ wrote a column for the local newspaper….And they didn’t know that she was pushing a deadline.  Auntie didn’t enlighten them, either!

The girls spent the next half-hour chattering happily—pondering the mystery of the Newspaper in their hands.  They scarcely noticed all the goodies on display throughout the store.

We made quick work of our shopping trip with a minimum of distractions.  I was congratulating myself, when suddenly Katy tripped and fell down in the bakery aisle.  Her smiles turned to tears, and she started to cry loudly.

Heads swiveled as other shoppers turned to stare.

I cringed.  If ever there was a time for gum, pop, and candy it might be now!  But then I reconsidered.

“Be brave, Katy!” I said.  “You’ll want to look like a hero in the Newspaper…Right?”

Her tears dried up immediately, and she gave me a wondering smile. “This will be in the Newspaper?” Katy said.  “How I fell down in the Grocery Store?”

“Absolutely, my little Katydid!…because you are so brave!”

Katy beamed.  She got up from the floor and dusted herself off.             .

“But how is this going to happen, Auntie?”  Avri said.  “I don’t get it!”

“It’s a mystery for you to solve!” I said.  “Now, you stand right here and study the Newspaper while I go check on the fruit aisle.”

Minutes later, I returned to find the dimpled Darlings smiling triumphantly.  They were waving their copy of “Your Country Neighbor” in my face.  “We found you in the Newspaper, Auntie!”  Avri said. “You write articles!”
“Fancy that!” I said.  “And now we need to get out of here!  Time’s a wasting!…We’ve got more adventures awaiting us outside!”

We headed for the Cashier, and were about to check out when we saw a boy sitting on the floor throwing a tantrum.  He was giving his helpless Mom the ‘What-For!’  He wanted gum…pop…candy!  He wanted everything! .

We paused, gazing at the spoiled child and his frustrated Mother.  “Well,” I said.  “I hope this boy and his Mama will recognize themselves in the Newspaper next month!”

My nieces looked at me wide-eyed.  “Auntie!” they said. “Do you mean…?”

“Ah yes!  This bit of nonsense will be in the Newspaper, too,”  I said.  The girls giggled.

“If only he knew how silly he looks!” Avri said, brushing past the pouting child.
We paid for our groceries and sashayed out into the parking lot, leaving behind the pitiful pouter and his helpless Mama.

The sun had emerged and the day was glorious!   We felt exuberant in the sunshine.  We’d turned a dull shopping trip into an Adventure and we hadn’t wasted a penny on foolishness, either!

Little Katy and Avri would soon be ‘famous’ among their peers at school…And best of all, their ‘Auntie Poppins’ had a story for next month’s column!

We’d conquered our little world and had accomplished a great deal!   It was all in a day’s work!

The girls smiled, laughed and twirled in the sunshine while their Auntie unloaded the shopping cart with unmitigated satisfaction.  The day was no longer dull, dreary, or oh-so-ordinary!

It had turned out to be a wonderful afternoon….A splendid day, indeed!
So you see, my Country Neighbor—it’s not hard to turn an ordinary day into a magical one.

You just need a touch of drama and a whole lot of imagination.
It is all up to you!


From My Heart to Yours…!

13775415_10208810905103542_7708772936445270618_n[1]Valentines’ Day can make single gals very sad!  Just ask me.  I know all about it.  But sometimes, we can be pleasantly surprised and comforted in the most unusual ways!

Take the other day, for instance.  With a big sunhat on my head, I was walking along the water’s edge feeling sorry for myself.  It was a nice day, and I should have been enjoying the sunshine. Instead, I was mumbling and grumbling—feeling lonely and pitiful.

I searched the shoreline carefully, looking for ‘heart-shaped’ rocks—as is my custom—but there were none to be found.

“Lord,” I said.  “If You would give me a heart-rock, it would really make my day!”  I went on searching for some time without success.  I sighed and was ready to give up when suddenly I noticed someone approaching me from the side. Continue reading

The Full Story of “The Loon and the Lunatic”

During their lifetime, most folks get a chance at “15 minutes of Fame”–or perhaps “15 Minutes of Infamy”–as in my case! At one time or another, we all end up on local or National Television, and it is supposed to be the highlight of our existence here on the planet. Right?

Well, folks–my “shining moment” came and went last month, and it didn’t turn out to be as shiny as I expected. In fact, every time I think of it I am quite mortified.

I was in Northern California, beachcombing on my favorite stretch of sand near Eureka. I’d wandered far down the beach to an isolated area and was about to turn around when something caught my eye.

There in the sand was a big loon flopping about on the seashore. He was entangled in fishing line from his beak to his feet, and there was a large fish-hook embedded in his chest.

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What an Adventure it has Been!

DSCN0678_121Believe it or not, Country Neighbor, it’s been a whole decade since we first met!

We’ve shared many a cuppa on a cold winter morning… We’ve rejoiced over the first hint of springtime.  We’ve laughed over the pratfalls of Life, and have cried together as we bade farewell to old friends who have crossed over.  We’ve endured a lot of hardship and have learned to be open and honest with one another!

We first met as Neighbors in the Spring of 2006 and we’ve been friends ever since.  Ten years’ worth of words scribbled on the back of napkins and envelopes…Notes penned from the porch swing at the farm—the Old Home Place… Notes written from the Indian Cave… from the River Bluff of the Mighty MO…from the shadowy glens of the Barada Hills….

And of course—lots and lots of postcards sent from the Lost Coast of Northern California!  I’ve been your “Western Correspondent” for many years as I continue to crisscross the nation with my carload of stuffed monkeys.

What a journey it has been!  The good and the bad…the ugly and the sweet…Hope and sorrow. Laughter and tears, all cobbled together in this thing we call “Life”.

If we could remember the last ten years with clarity, we would be amazed at our own resilience—at what we’ve endured…What we’ve gained and lost, and where our dreams have taken us.

You see how quickly the last ten years have gone?  The next ten will go even faster, my Country Neighbor.

We are saddled to a runaway horse that we can’t rein in…galloping…galloping madly toward the Finish Line.  The pace is quickening.  Faster and faster we go… And at the end of that race, it will be determined if we’ve “won or lost”… Whether we’ve lived a profitable life or not!

Will we be surrounded by friends or foes at the end of Life’s Journey?  Will we be cherished…or will we be shunned—living like narcissistic Hermits on a “Mountain of Madness”… only concerned with Me, Myself, and I?

You know, folks…In my line of work as a Caregiver, I’ve seen a lot of people on their deathbeds.  They’ve lived nearly a century, and now they are facing their final moment.  It’s crunch time—a deadline like none they’ve ever seen!  Some people go into eternity peacefully, with joy on their faces…. Just tickled-to-death! But some of them go scared-to-death!—with gritted teeth and clenched fists.  Wishing for just one more day…one more hour…one more moment.  One more chance to make things right. Continue reading

Of Hicks and Hacks and Cyber Attacks


It was an ordinary day…or so I thought! I had no idea that my world was about to turn upside down.

I was working online—minding my own business, as usual—when suddenly an “Alert Notice” popped up on the screen of my laptop computer.

It said: “Warning… You have been blocked by Microsoft.”

A phone number appeared and I was instructed to call it. Worriedly, I did so and I got a helpful Microsoft Technician on the line immediately. She was a sweet sounding lady who ran a few online-tests on my computer, and soon gave me a diagnosis. It would cost $248 to fix my laptop. Otherwise, my computer was essentially worthless!

I panicked and did something really stupid. Thoroughly rattled, I gave her all the money I had on a prepaid debit card. She assured me that I could add the rest of money to the card later. Then she transferred me to her ‘Manager’ to complete the transaction.

At some point, it occurred to me that I should call my computer-whiz-of-a-daughter, Karissa, and consult her before I proceeded any further. I explained that to the Manager and he immediately turned ugly and hung up on me.

I was startled. I called my daughter and told her what had just happened.

“Mother!” she said. “Those people were HACKERS. They ransacked your computer and stole your money!” Continue reading

Your ‘Western Correspondent’ Is Headin’ East…


I’m getting nervous out here on the West Coast. The wildfires are simply out of control. I know it’s hard for Midwesterners to fathom—seeing how you’ve been drowning in rain this past summer—but out west, it’s a different story.

There are currently over 100 wildfires ablaze. By the time you read this article, the whole western hemisphere could be burning, at the rate it’s going.

A four-year drought has brought us to a heart-breaking, record-breaking conclusion. Not only is there enough dry tinder to light the world on fire—there’s also very little water with which to fight it. Smoke fills the air. The sun looks redder than usual. Blood red, at times. It’s not a good omen.

A big harvest moon is normally a thing of beauty this time of year, but not lately! It’s just plain bloody. I hate to be glum, folks—but I don’t know how else to say it. We’re facing something ugly, here, and no amount of glint and glimmer can polish it.

Oh….by the way. Things aren’t much better in the economic and geopolitical arenas!

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Of Muck, Manure, and May’s Merry Madness


I didn’t realize what a tenderfoot I’d become until today. You see—I’ve been living in town for the last few months and the grind of city-life has been gradually wearing away at my countrified veneer, but I didn’t know it.

I still had a Country-Girl heart—yearning to plant a garden—even if it were within city limits! With that in mind, I left early on my way to work, today, and drove out of town toward a new client’s home—while looking for some good garden soil along the way.

I decided to swing into a friend’s farm to see if she had a few shovelfuls of cow manure to bolster the dirt in my new garden. It would only take a couple of minutes, or so I thought—and I would soon be on my way to work again.

My friend, Jen, was just leaving on an errand as I pulled up to her farmhouse, but she was happy to share her cow poop with me. “Just be careful of the Bull!” she said. “He’s fairly docile, but you never know about a bull!”

I waved her words aside and said. “Say no more! I’m a country girl, you know!”

I soon found the shovel and some feed-bags and went into the cow pen with a frisky pup trailing at my heels. The day was gloriously warm and I felt like a million dollars. This is how life should be! Sunshine and country breezes and cow manure everywhere! Life simply doesn’t get any better than this—-!

Good Lord!

The grass beneath my feet had suddenly given way. My white, leather work-shoes disappeared into a sodden marsh of manure. Faster than you can say: JackBeNimble, I was stuck in poop up to my ankles.

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