Ready or Not?

Three…two…one. Happy New Year!

Are you ready? Will you party this evening? A small gathering in the neighborhood? A large hotel party? A very private celebration?

A new year is coming. The calendar is fresh and clean. No mistakes. No missed meetings or forgotten phone calls. Yet!

But wait…this year’s not over.

This might be the best time to pause, think for a moment or two, and make a plan to turn 2014 into a better year than 2013. Will I be kinder? More prompt? Keep my word? Smile more? Control my diet?

Best Wishes for a New Year that is filled with hope and happiness!!!


Starr Tree Farm  begins at a New Year’s Eve party. Join the adventure.

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Earned Rest

He worked a twenty-four hour shift and traveled to all portions of the globe. That’s after a smaller run earlier in the month for Northern Europe. Not bad for an old man.

I see him now. Returning to his home base, getting the animals into shelter and provided with food and water. Then he stumbles into his house and collapses on the bed.

“Let him sleep.” The other residents go about their daily routine, aware that no harm will come if he “sleeps the clock around”.

Finally he rouses. Tidies himself and even holds a rational conversation with those around him. Then, feeling refreshed he goes outside to enjoy the brief glimpse of sun offered beyond the arctic circle.

Waiting for Mrs Santa to join him with -- hot chocolate? coffee? hot buttered rum??????
Waiting for Mrs Santa to join him with —
hot chocolate? coffee? hot buttered rum??????

One of many.

Christmas decorations. They come in all sizes and materials — from larger than life inflatables to tiny carved or molded sheep. You find them outside, inside, in public, and private spaces.

People with a knack for selecting and combining the correct colors, shapes, and materials end up with displays that bring their neighbors. Children “oooh” and “ahhh” from the back seat as adults drive past lights that outline, flash, and keep time to music.

It’s simpler at my home. And it varies from year to year. This season my artificial tree sparkles with multicolored lights. A large white star catches the viewer’s attention at the top. A scattering of glass and wood ornaments dangle from a few of the branches. Across the room a candle stands guard beside the creche. While the shelf above the television proclaims “JOY” in large letters next to bright colored Santa figurines.

Three ornaments of similar style and material are scattered this year. One of my favorite materials for ornaments — clear glass with a touch of gold tell the Christmas story.

O Holy Night
O Holy Night

Magic Transport

Did you hear the Christmas story about…?

Stories in books, on television, and on social media are stuffed with magic at this time of year. They end in heartwarming scenes intended to bring tears of joy and sentimentality to faces that are stern fifty weeks of the year.

It has to be magic. A sleigh that flies through the air pulled by reindeer. And it neither tiny nor light — for it carries gifts for every “good” boy and girl on earth. That’s billions — with a B — and not every gift is a single, light, feather. It needs to be sturdy to survive multiple rooftop take-offs and landings. And all deliveries must be complete within twenty four hours.

The logistics would drive the executives at UPS, FedEx, and all the postal services of the world combined to crazy beyond belief. “We’d have to share.” “Start planning now.” “Take it zone by zone.” “It can’t be done.”

Magic. A miracle.

Magical Expandable Sleigh -- lighted edition
Magical Expandable Sleigh — lighted edition

Brrr… says the Burro

Strong. Sturdy. Tolerant of heat.

Those are the phrases and mental pictures that form when I hear “burro”.  I can easily see them pulling a cart or furnishing a ride across arid portions of  Mexico or the US Southwest.

It was a pleasant surprise to find one in my neighborhood, the day I walked around viewing the Christmas decorations.

This is precious. And doubly so as the poinsettias (these are nice artificial) are native to Mexico. Remember our friends South of the Border this season as you tend your poinsettia plants — indoors in the Midwest.

I'm taking these South!
I’m taking these South!

Looking for a winter story with snow and evergreens?

Starr Tree Farm has both. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobel.


Cool Shoes

Quick. Take a peek at your feet. What sort of shoes are you wearing?

Are you lounging around the house in socks or slippers? Taking a break at work in loafers, pumps or wingtips? Between classes in sneakers? At the coffee shop in winter boots – practical or fashion?

Me? This work-at-home author is not a shoe diva — sneakers are my default footwear. I own others and wear them when the occasion arises.  Peek in my closet and you’ll find a few basics: flip-flops, sandals, hiking boots, and dress flats fill my needs. But that doesn’t stop me from admiring some of the more colorful and fashionable footwear made.

Love the statement made by the assistant’s footwear below. They look warm and cozy for winter temperatures.

Warm Fashion Statement
Warm Fashion Statement

Flying without Reindeer

“No sneezing on the police tape.”
I turned with a laugh on my lips to the parent instructing the small boy. According to their “house rule” it was okay to cough but not sneeze on the yellow tape forming a large square in the parking lot.
We formed an orderly crowd. I think children outnumbered adults — but it was close. Strollers, pick-up trucks, and strong shoulders offered seating to the youngest. Bright “Santa hats” warmed a few festive waiters.
“What time is it? Last year he was early — we almost missed it.”
“There!” Arms point up into the sky.
He’s coming from the north. How appropriate. My heart reflects some of my excitement. I’ve always been fascinated by helicopters — even when they brought critical patients to the hospital.
No quick response team needed on standby today.
The pilot comes in for a perfect landing near the center of the square. And like a true gentleman, he exits first and goes around to assist his passengers to the ground.

Welcome Santa! Love the modern sleigh!

Not a Reindeer in Sight
Not a Reindeer in Sight

One spot of color

When I was creating characters to populate my small fictional town of Crystal Springs, I wanted to reflect this point of view in one of my characters.
He’s a bachelor — it’s easier that way. It also fits with his previous occupation (Secret Service) where hours are long and irregular and transfers frequent enough to make marriages more difficult than usual. When he returns to his home town and opens a private investigation business his habits are generally ignored. Does it matter that he dresses rather formal – always black dress pants and a white shirt? His is not the only black sedan in town. And when he refurbishes the exterior of the family home with white paint, black trim, and pale gray roof it compliments the neighborhood.
This is fiction. Make it bigger than life. Make it memorable. (According to the writing craft books.)
When his niece steps into his house for the first time she’s rendered breathless. White walls. Black or white furniture. Even his dishes when he serves her lunch are black and white. She finds and welcomes an exception in early January.

One spot of color
One spot of color

To read more about this character, his niece, and others read Starr Tree Farm.
Available as an ebook from Amazon or Barnes & Noble


Eyes Up; Tongue Out?

The title is the image that comes to mind on one of the early pages of my current read: South The Endurance Expedition by Ernest Shackleton.
A short into: This exploration of the Antarctic set off from England in August of 1914. Their ship, Endurance, was built for travel in ice. It was wooden and powered by both steam and sail. They took with them dozens of “Canadian sled dogs” for transport of goods during the planned crossing of the Antarctic continent.
Fast forward to December 5, 1914. They leave their last sign of civilization — a whaling station on the island of South Georgia. They had loaded extra coal for the engine and stored it on deck. They also had purchased a ton of whale meat for the dogs. This was stored in the rigging.
I can picture them now. Full grown sled dogs with thick fur penned on the deck between bins of coal.
They smell it. They look up and can see it.
Out of reach.
It sways with the movement of the ship.
If I watch it will it drop???