Posts Tagged ‘Autumn Equinox’

harvest_moonAnd so, we’re on our way now. Soon enough this post will be dated, but the relevance of all my guest’s posts will never fade. I don’t say that to be in any way self-aggrandizing.

It’s simply the truth.

Our heads fresh off the pillow in the morning, we begin the automatic task of mentally assessing what lies ahead for the day . . . next thing we know, Night has put its hand on Day’s shoulder and our eyes and bodies tell us it’s time for sleep. We hustle through the events of each day, week, month, and year, doing the same thing; living. At some point we all have that epiphany, that feeling that makes us stop and take stock of what all has transpired while we were busy living.

This past week has shown that clearly a good number of us are paying attention, and closely at that. Age doesn’t matter, as I can clearly see that even the youngest among us has closed our eyes and tenderly caressed our angel’s wings. We get why the sun rises and sets, how the moonglow is laced with magic, and where the true heart of a matter lies.

We’re all human, so we all innately have some degree of fear for when, but in the meantime we observe and capture the essence of those important times when when happens before our eyes. We store it for ourselves, and recount it for our posterity.

We are flesh and bone, you and I, but I wish for all you, and yours, that ole’ harvest moon will reside within the most peaceful and important of places . . . our ethereal hearts.

                 • • • • • •

I wish to, once again, thank my guest authors: Aunt Juicebox, Laurie Kendrick, April Pohren, Mckenzie Boltz, and Shoshana Ashley, for sharing their thoughts about love, hope, and their own memories of autumn. I’m also very thankful that so many folks dropped by to read and comment on the posts. It never ceases to amaze me how deeply we can be affected by simply stringing the right words together.

I would like to give all the commentors a copy of my book, but my pocketbook will shout many a foul thing at me if I were to do so. Having said that, I will give all the guest posts this entire week in full to provide for any late-comer commentors, and at the end of the week shall be selecting five folks who stopped by to read and comment to receive a signed copy of my book, The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between.

Thank you all for coming, and do please come back and visit my blog. It’s nice to have the company :^)

J.W. Nicklaus

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angel_holding_babyWe pick up again as the last couple days of my autumnal equinox “event” come around after the weekend. I hope yours was good! Last week was a lot of fun for me, and I think for the guest posters as well. I’d bet everyone reading this has heard, from someone they know, about how the internet/chatting/blogging isn’t real, about how everything is fake and people are not who or what they say they are.

Fact is, there is more than a shred of truth to that, but it is—in my opinion—overwhelmed by one simple fact that people rarely seems to overtly acknowledge: the human being on the other end of the connection/post/writing. Sure, people can be anonymous and hide behind a keyboard . . .

But we’re so far removed from that here as to be on another continent.

We’ve seen Aunt Juicebox, Laurie Kendrick, April Pohren, and Mckenzie Boltz each present offerings from the pages of their own memories, served warm from their hearts. My next guest does nothing to stray from that path.

I came to know Shoshanna Ashley via Bostick Communications. She was one of many folks who have read and reviewedThe Light, The Dark, and Ember Between. She has a lot of readers who visit her site for her scoop on all kinds of books. One of the cool things she does is kind of a catch-and-release sort of thing—she reads the books she gets, then sends them out to one of her commenters, thus the name of her site, This Book For Free.

She had asked me to write a guest post, and then for the giveaway of her review copy she asked me to write something that her readers could finish; a fun sort of writing contest. Since I had such a good time working with Shoshanna, I genuinely wanted to find some way to return the favor, and here she is.

Thank you Shoshanna for participating!

When I think of ‘love and hope’, there are many instances in my life that demonstrate how these two come together. It’s almost like you cannot have one without the other.

Thirty days after my second child was born, rashes sprouted all over his cheeks in a short period of time. My instincts told me to have it checked out. The first pediatrician said that it’s only eczema—something almost all babies get—and it will go away.

At three months he had a serious yeast infection on his arms and neck. Even today I can recall the potent odor of yeast. His doctor still said, “It’s natural; it will go away. Don’t give him anti-histamines, it will make the yeast infection worse.”

Life went on. I had to peel his clothes every time I changed him.

Then one day my husband just got up and took him to the emergency room. His one goal was to get the baby into the hands of a nurse. Paperwork or not, get the baby into the hands of a nurse. He met his goal, the waters parted; they stopped ignoring the problem and flew into action.

This baby was pathetic, skin sloughing, red welts all over, a very sad sight to behold. They wanted to give the baby an anti-histamine. My husband refused to permit it until they lined up three doctors and assured him that it was the right thing to do. After all, the previous doctor said it would make the yeast infection worse.
Once administered the baby got much better. The suffering of this child, for all intents and purposes, was reduced by orders of magnitude.

Around this time, I was still breast feeding. To reduce the problem further, I gave up entire food groups, one by one, to see if he had a food allergy. The more food groups I gave up, the better he seemed. He would still ooze on his arms and legs, but I could see the difference.

Love was a giant lump of fear lodged in my chest. I was afraid my baby wouldn’t grow up to live a normal, happy life—afraid he would die. Love meant holding him non-stop; to make sure I spent as much time as possible with him before he might be taken to heaven. Love meant doing anything and everything possible to make sure my baby would get better.

Love is forgiveness to grandparents who cannot, and do not, want to be around a sick child. Love means hoping that all the things I’m doing are enough to make my baby healthy again.

I’m glad to say that my second “baby” is now 10 years old. He’s still allergic to so many things, but we have learned to avoid those things and he now enjoys life. Love and hope go hand in hand. I believe you can’t have one without the other.

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pink_peoniesOur next guest post comes from a woman who, until recently, lived in my neck of the woods. For some reason I’d always thought she was an ASU student. Her blog posts were always entertaining and well written, so it only seemed logical to me. Soon enough Fate saw fit to allow me to actually meet this wonderful young talent.

She goes by the moniker of the little red writer, and you can find her blog of the same name here on WordPress. She’s unassuming, genuinely smart, and even though she may never outwardly admit it, also a hopeless romantic. Yes, Ms. McKenzie Boltz, it’s easy enough to spot one when you are one yourself!

I invited Kenzie to join our weekly East Valley Writers Group at a time when her life was suddenly turned upside down, and am pleased to report that she is every bit as charming as her blog entries imply. We have very much enjoyed having her join us as we share our writing efforts, and then of course for the social meet at Village Inn afterward.

When I asked her to write a guest post she had rather suddenly learned she would be moving back home, but readily agreed to write one anyway. I had every confidence she’d come up with something good, but also understood that she had a lot going on, so it might be short, or maybe (gasp!) not up to her usual quality . . . and I was okay with that, given her circumstances.

She sent it to me with the caveat that she wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted, and that she’d been very busy while writing it, what with packing, etc. She seemed almost apologetic.

I wrote her back later and expressed the following sentiment: “Kenzie, I think this may be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read that you have written.”

Read on . . . I’m sure you’ll feel much the same way.

I think differently of the seasons now that you’re gone. I never considered them much before – – the depth and beauty in each. You left mid-autumn, when the trees were ripe with red and orange leaves, burning against the evening sun. The deadened ground crunched beneath our Sunday shoes; the bitter breeze flushed our cheeks and hands.

I wiped my eyes, and held Grandpa’s hand. I missed you. I missed your brown curls and heavy sighs, your gold wrist watch and soft skin smelling faintly of Mary Kay. I missed you. My tears said so. But my heart felt at peace, for the words impressed upon me, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

You never wished for us to cry, only to be happy – – to embrace life together, and here was autumn, a time of harvest, of gathering. “It will be strange,” I told Shalyn, “not having her here this time of year.”

Shalyn smiled. “She’s here, just in spirit.”

“Too bad her spirit can’t make apple and pumpkin pie,” I marked, and we both began to laugh and cry, but mostly laugh. I could picture you, shaking your head, wagging your finger. I also pictured you in the kitchen, hands white with flour, the smell of warm cinnamon spice in the air. For a moment, I was a little girl at your side, watching your rail-thin arms flex as your hands pressed into a slab of dough. “What do you like most ‘bout Thanksgiving, Grandma?”

“Certainly not the baking, honey-bun, but you know what they say – – no rest for the wicked!” you teased, and paused to answer more seriously, “Family. I love my kids and grandkids and great-grand-babies. I love loving you, and I love knowing you all love me.”

Thanksgiving was different without you – – without poppy-seed cake, the pies, and homemade whipped cream; without the ho-hum of your voice, the laughter in your expression, as you began to clear away dishes, saying, “Time for the next holiday!”

Oh, but we celebrated you, not mourned! Together, like always, we named our blessings over the past year, you amongst them all. Over turkey and cranberry, we reminisced: pink mints in the bottom of your coat pocket, birthday cards and gypsy beads, volumes of old photos post-WWII, and your love of pink peonies.

And when Christmas came, I half-expected to find you busy about the tree: organizing presents, fixing a bulb, just admiring. But the tree stood alone. With its miniature colored lights, vintage ornaments, and tin star – – it stood alone, looked alone.

Grandpa slipped his arm around my waist. “You know, when she was a young thing like you, her hair was just as red.”

I smiled, thinking of the old black and white photo – – your hair in pin curls, your eyes aglow with laughter, a ball of snow in your hands. Grandpa knelt by your side, handsome and promising in his uniform, and baffled that you might actually clobber him!

You are gone, but so much of you lingers. Like the dark, shag carpet you never wanted to get rid of, because, “It’s just fine!” Or the turn-of-the-century wallpaper, a print of red flowers between faded lines. There are boxes of letters, all lavish with your bubble script, and a jacket – – your blue jacket – – lying over the arm of a chair. And here, on the tree, the old vintage ornaments passed down mother to child, mother to child.

Standing there, admiring the glass, oval bulbs and twinkling lights, I wanted to ask Grandpa if he remembered the blue-spotted bird’s egg, because I do. We found it one morning in the park, hiding in the long grass. He said not to touch it, because it was too fragile, and the egg had yet to hatch. So we just stared, admiring its simple beauty, wondering how something so small could hatch and fly free – – wings stretched against the sky.

That egg reminds me of you, now free and soaring.

And though I cannot see you, as the leaves turn from green to gold, and the cold air draws in loved ones for holiday warmth – – I think of you, I feel you, and I know you are a part of the gathering – – laughing and smiling with us in spirit.

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love_despite_pain-AprilThe month of April; what seems like ages ago was really only a few months. I had set upon my maiden Blog Tour in advance of my book’s release, and was having a pretty good time with it. One of my stops was at a blog called Cafe Of Dreams. I’d been asked to write a guest post for it as part of the tour, and the response I received was far beyond what I had expected. The comments—as they do on any blog—represented only those who took the time to respond. For everyone who leaves a comment I think it’s safe to say there may be at least ten to fifteen other readers who don’t.

April Pohren is one of two book reviewers/bloggers I have ‘guesting’ for me this week. Believe it or not, book bloggers are becoming increasingly influential to the publishing industry, as are Virtual Book Tours; can’t see it? Ask Jon Meacham. He’s the chief editor for Newsweek and author of American Lion – Andrew Jackson in the White House. His book won a Pulitzer Prize, and yet Random House set him out on a VBT. That’s something of a virtual ‘fasces’ (fah-shees); a series of rods bound together for strength. A single stick by itself can be broken, but bind them together and they become a column, exponentially stronger.

Such is the quiet but growing power of bloggers.

April’s reviews have always been fair and honest, and more importantly she exudes life. She’s a kind soul and most always upbeat. It is my honor to have her appear here in what I only recently learned is her first-ever guest post, which genuinely surprises me. There is much humanity, and humility, in what she has to say. Thank you for being here, April!

Life is such an amazingly precious gift. It is a gift to cherish dearly and to the fullest extent. I have learned over the years that nothing, and most importantly, no one should ever be taken for granted. When I look into my son’s brilliant blue eyes and my daughter’s hauntingly beautiful hazel eyes, I see love, and I see life’s truth and meaning. They bring to my life, as well as to the lives that they touch, an unending sense of hope, pride and love.

It is amazing how such tremendous innocence can be taken for granted at times. For me, my children are my love, my life and my hope of not only the future and the present, but also the past. How can someone be hope and love of the past, you may ask? Quite simply, if it had not been for the incidences and chain of events that took place in the past, both good and bad, I truly feel I would not be where I am today, with the precious gifts that have been bestowed upon me.

Many people wonder how I can possibly continue with a positive attitude, belief in God and look for the best in people and situations, after having so many “bumps” in the road throughout my life. My answer is quite simple: there is a reason for everything. I know that phrase drives many people crazy, however I truly and very deeply believe it. Perhaps that phrase can be considered my motto in life as well as my belief to live each day as though it were your last, you never know whether or not it just may be. Perhaps many would view this as a morbid thought, however after the loss of so many loved ones, this is one of the most important lessons that I have learned and hope to pass along to others.

When J.W. asked me to write a guest post on what love and hope mean to me, the first thing that popped into my mind was family. I’m not talking just biological family, but those close to you that you know will always be there no matter what. In many cases, that may be friends, in-laws, siblings, parents, those that you have had a chance meeting with and felt that there was an amazing connection to – turning into a closeness and a bond. This closeness and bond that you feel with others is a form of hope, like a candle that flickers and grows brighter withthe support of those you love and hold dear. Hope is the foundation of life. Without hope, there would be such suffocating darkness and bleakness, forcing love to live on the outside, trying with all of its might to fight its way inside. As a person who has fought depression their entire life and continues to do so to this day, I know how hard it can be to have hope, but it is truly harder to live a life without it. Life is so much like that of the seasons which Mother Nature provides for us. In the Winter, just when things seem to be taking a turn toward grayness and loss of hope, something beautiful occurs – the blooming and blossoming of new life. New hopes and a wonderful sense of
new beginnings take over. As Spring turns into Summer, we are blessed with the warmth of love, as the sun splits open the skies and enables family and friends to gather together for picnics, vacations and the joy of being
outdoors. With the coming of Fall, we rejoice in the colorful confetti ofcolored leaves and the knowledge that as the flowers, grass and nature around us seem to be dying off, they are truly making way for a glorious new
life to come. Also in Fall, we make the transition into a joyous time of celebrations and get-togethers, as we head into Winter and the many opportunities to come together to celebrate the abundance of holidays and the gifts of the lives that we have been blessed with.

As I gaze upon my children and see the glow of love and hope upon their faces, I am truly overcome with an all-fulfilling sense of hope and love, not only for myself, but for them. Sure, there are days that are not so
great and days I would like to run away and join the circus, but when it all comes down to it, I carry a deep and ever growing hope which fills my soul and allows it wings to grow and take flight for the future.


What follows is a poem April wrote which I have included because it gives substance to the subtext of her guest post. I’m not much of a poet, but I must say, this little piece’s beauty is wrapped in elegance.


Standing quietly
Darkness like a shroud around her
She glances up to the sky, where stars float like lit candles on a pond
She thinks of the past
Of loved ones lost
She thinks of dreams she let slip away

Gently, she feels a breeze tickle her ear
The chirping of crickets and cicadas playing a beautiful symphony
The rustle of leaves
A whisper
So soft
So gentle
“Let hope grow”
“Feel the power of love”

Where were these words coming from?
She did not know
It was as if the very wind was whispering secrets to her
“Where there is love, there is hope”
“Where there is hope, there is love”
“Never give up, it is never too late”
There it was again
That teasing tickle upon her ear
That soft and comforting voice
Glancing once again at the stars in the dark sky, their brightness like
nothing she had ever seen before
A sense of peace fills her heart
A lightness flows through her very being
Suddenly she doesn’t feel so alone, so scared and without hope

Standing quietly
A gentle smile spreads across her face
This time she sends her own message upon the breeze
“Thank you”

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Conversation_w_GodIf you’ve never read Ms. Laurie Kendrick‘s blog, What Fresh Hell Is This?, then you’re missing out on one of the most intelligently funny women since Ghenghis Khan. See, I know you’re thinking the Khan wasn’t a woman, but it just sounded so much better than Hillary Clinton.

Yeah Laurie . . . that guy.

She’s been in the broadcast industry for over a full quarter century, having done stints in television and radio, and having won a number of awards in the process. Her takes on life can run the gamut from twisted to ephemeral, but often honed to a fine edge with sarcasm and, dare I say, scholastic wit. Her readership is currently hurtling towards half a million hits, and she was recently named one of the top ten most influential humor blogs in the country by The Onion, a little fact she has yet to trumpet about.

When I had asked her to do a guest post she readily agreed, and I eagerly awaited something in the Kendrick vein. But she’d re-posted a piece she’d written some time ago and it was a perfect fit for this occasion, so she kindly allowed me to re-post it here. I think you’ll agree that it speaks succinctly about hope, and certainly about faith.

Be sure to leave her a comment for a chance to receive a copy of The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between.

It is my absolute pleasure to present you with her piece, A Conversation With God.

These are difficult times for so many people, for so many reasons. All things considered, this is one of those occasions that negate the old adage, “there’s safety in numbers”. We have so many things in common in our struggles, yet we have to deal with these difficulties all alone. Sometimes, for reasons we can’t fathom, that’s the only way to soldier through.

Why? I’m not sure. It’s another one of life’s mysteries, manipulated from Above, perhaps.

While I’m not an overtly spiritual woman, I grapple with my Catholic-imbued spirituality constantly. I was in the grips of this struggle in late April of 2007 when I originally wrote and published this post. It was conceived and written from my heart. And in all honesty, it helped me when I wrote it then; it has helped me to read it now.

3:46 PM Thursday April 26, 2007

SCENE: A cramped and messy apartment, somewhere in Southweast Texas. Laurie sits at her desk. The phone rings.

It is God calling


LK: Hello?

God: Hey LK. What’s shakin’? You had a birthday recently.

LK: I did God, thanks for remembering. Hey, this is a real surprise. You never call me.

God: I felt like talking.

LK: What are you up to?

God: Oh, you know. I’m like the McDonald’s of redemption. I answer six billion prayers a day. I wake up the next morning and there are six billion more.

LK: We mortals are a pesky, relentless bunch.

God: Yes, you are, but I love ya. Anything on your mind?

LK: Yeah, there is. God, there’s a lot of crap in the world now. Heavy stuff happening. I just don’t understand why things are the way they are.

God: I know. Most of it’s hard to wrap your head around. Like why Eddie Murphy didn’t win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Dreamgirls”. And of course, there’s the whole Sanjaya thing.

LK: What was that all about?

God: Sanjaya? Oh for that, you can thank all the girls in the fifth grade class of the The Palmer School in Winnetka, Illinois.

LK: Huh?

God: Prayer circle.

LK: Interesting. Why then was Sanjaya voted off “American Idol”?

God: For that, you can thank all the the boys in the fifth grade class of The Palmer School in Winnetka, Illinois.

LK: That’s pretty funny. Still, it seems odd that we’re praying for Sanjaya when there are so many other things that need your attention.

God: People pray for a lot of different things. What’s pressing to some, won’t be to others. I don’t rate prayers or prioritize them. If you need something, you ask me, I hear you.

LK: But do you always answer every prayer?

God: Always.

LK: Doesn’t seem like it.

God: I do. Take you for example. There was that little issue of penis envy in fourth grade? Remember that? You prayed to me, asking me to turn you into a boy. I answered your prayer by keeping you a girl.

LK: But you didn’t give me what I wanted. I really wanted to become a boy. And by the way, what was I thinking?

God: Please! You were eight years old at the time and no, I didn’t give you what you wanted, but I gave you what you needed. Don’t get me wrong, sure, I could’ve done it. I could’ve snapped my fingers and you’d have gone from Laurie to Larry in a flash. But that’s not what you needed. That’s not what Madolyn Welsh needed, either.

LK: Madolyn Welsh? My college roommate?

God: If you wouldn’t have been you, you wouldn’t have gone to college, moved into the dorm and you wouldn’t have roomed with Madolyn. When her mother was killed in that car crash that fall, you wouldn’t have been there to help her. That was a very difficult and trying time for Madolyn. She needed you and you needed to be there. And the fact that you were there made a difference. It saved her life. Saved yours too. Remember? You were having a very tough freshman year.

LK: I remember. What would the alternative have been for both of us?

God: You don’t want to know.

LK: Wow….

God: One life affects so many others in ways you aren’t even aware of. We’re talkin’ real “It’s A Wonderful Life” stuff.

LK: I’m glad I was there for Madolyn.

God: And be glad she was there for you. It wouldn’t have worked in any other way. Did you know she went on to become a doctor? A surgeon. She saves lives everyday and you helped make that possible.

LK: I had no idea. We lost track of each other our Senior year. I’m glad she’s doing well.

God: She is.

LK: You know God, there’s something I don’t understand. If you intervened with things all those years ago with Madolyn and me, please explain what happened at Virginia Tech? Where were you? And while we’re at it, let’s address the Challenger explosion and September 11th. Why didn’t you intervene then? A lot of people are asking that question.

God: I was on campus at Virginia Tech. I was on board the Challenger and I was also in New York; at the Pentagon and in that field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania five and a half years ago.

LK: But why did all of those…….

God: Those things happened because sometimes, bad things happen. For these people? It was their time.

LK: That seems so simplistic! Especially coming from you! As if I’m supposed to take that as an answer and be OK with it!

God: Exactly.

LK: Then why didn’t you prevent these things from happening?

God: I gave humans free will.

LK: That explains nothing.

God: That explains everything. For every action there is a reaction. That’s the way it is.

LK: That’s the way it is? I’m supposed to accept that? I suppose then, that Calvinism is correct? Our lives and how we live them, and end them, are predetermined?

God: Well, that’s over simplifying the point really, but there are some things that I want and need all of you to do.

LK: Now see? This is what I’m talking about!! I don’t get that! There are things you “need” us to do? What does that mean?

God: Everyone has a mission. Something they’re here to do. You’re here for a reason. Everyone is. The reasons are big and grandiose for some; quiet and unassuming for others. I changed that up for variety. You know, to add a little spice. But every life touches another. It’s part of my Divine Plan.

LK: But I don’t understand.

God: That’s why it’s “divine”. Look at it this way; do you know for a fact that when you go to sleep tonight, you’ll wake up tomorrow morning?

LK: Well, yeah unless you’ve got other plans.

God: Don’t be a smart ass. Answer me.

LK: Yes, I do.

God: Ok, that’s faith.

LK: What does that have to do with any of this? And what about Virginia Tech and 9/11? More than likely, the victims were operating on faith. They believed that they could go to class or work and be just fine . Not get shot to death or vaporized in their office after a hijacked jet crashes into their building. They believed! Maybe they felt covered by some kind of Divine Protection clause–part of that spiritual Deity/Follower privilege. What I think we should be getting when we sign up for our role as “Believers”. Where was your divine protection then, God? Those people had faith that their lives would go on just fine, yet they died horribly, tragic deaths!!

God: I told you, I was there.

LK: Then why didn’t you do anything?

God: Did it ever occur to you that I did? I was there. When and where they needed me the most.

LK: I still don’t understand why there are thousands of dead people as a result?

God: Look, faith is just that—believing that you’re covered, because you are, no matter what. Things always happen for a reason. Things are always taken care of. They always will be and so will you. You have to believe they’re always taken care of. That’s faith.

LK: Sometimes it’s really hard to do this blindly.

God: I know it is, but you’ve got to try. I gave you this ability to believe.

LK: Why?

God: Because hope keeps you alive.

LK: Hope?

God: Hope keeps you coming back for more. It makes you want to come back for one more chance to experience life. You do this for the off chance that maybe…just maybe one day, you’ll possibly get a guarantee that something just might happen.

LK: God, with all due respect, that makes no sense…

God: It makes perfect sense. It’s faith.

LK: OK fine, but this faith stuff is asking a lot of us sometimes. I’ve had faith before. Exercised it regularly. I prayed to you for things that I wanted and needed to happen. But I was let down when my prayers weren’t answered. I’ve never been married and only came close once. You know that I really loved Nick. When he left me, my heart was broken. What happened?

God: You’re prayers were answered. You just didn’t like the results. I gave you what you needed.

LK: But I loved him!

God: Trust me, I gave you what you needed.

LK: And what was that?

God: You needed a life without Nick.

LK: Why?

God: Nick was never the right guy for you. If you were with him, you’d never get the chance to meet the man you’re supposed to be with.

LK: So, where is my Mr. Man and why am I alone now and so miserable?

God: You’ll meet him when the time is right. You’re alone now because you need to be and you’re miserable I guess, because for some reason, you want to be.

LK: I want to be miserable?? What purpose would that serve?

God: Only you can answer that.

LK: Where are you in all of this?

God: I’m right here–where I have been; where I will be. Listen to me–I give you opportunities, Laurie. You make of them what you will. You decide how to react, how to feel. This is how it works. This is life.

LK: This is how life works? There’s pain and disappointment, God! It happens everyday. It’s happening everywhere. If this is the way it is, then with all due respect, this seems like a very flawed plan.

God: Once again, this is how life works…flaws and all!

LK: Then let me ask you this–why am I out of work and with no idea what I’m supposed to be doing?

God: I’m giving you this time to figure it out. And you will if you try. You’re accountable for some of this, too. You have some control, some say in how your life turns out. But make no mistake, I’m always in the background and will always give you what you need. It may not always be what you want, but it will always be what you need.

LK: God, you and your ways are like this huge conundrum!

God: Yes, I guess I am. I like that word, “conundrum”. It absolutely explains nothing, yet explains everything, don’t you think?

LK: You know that I get very frustrated with you and I get mad at you sometimes.

God: I know and that’s OK. I understand.

LK: Divine plan, right?

God: Sometimes getting angry and expressing it is exactly what you need.

LK: So, what we’re talking about here the difference between what we want and what we need and that we can’t always get what we want.

God: Yep and Mick and the Stones backed me up on that fact about 40 years ago.

LK: And beyond that, this is about probability and outcome. . The end result of these events in my life would have been far worse than just my experiencing the disappointment because they didn’t happen?

God: This is true.

LK: OK, you spared me, but why did you let me go through all that pain and disappointment in the first place?

God: Because you learned valuable lessons from each of the experiences.

LK: Like with Nick?

God: Especially with Nick.

LK: Then, you’ve always had my best interests at heart?

God: Always.

LK: I guess I never looked at it this way. You know, I feel close to you right now.

God: This is good.

LK: That reminds me…you knew my Aunt Sarah, didn’t you?

God: Yes.

LK: She always said she felt closer to her maker whenever she flew.

God: Your Aunt Sarah was a mean old broad. Not very nice at all. Believe me, she actually would’ve felt much closer to her real maker had she traveled by submarine!

LK: You’re funny. I love that you have a sense of humor.

God: That would explain the Geo Prism.

LK: I guess I better go now. Thanks for everything.

God: You’re welcome.

LK: We don’t do this enough, God. Let’s talk again….soon. Next time, I’ll call you.

God: You know, nothing would make me happier. Sometimes, you give me exactly what I need.

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Hopeful_turkeyA woman of reality who adores BBQ, has an incarcerated neighbor named Thumpy Bitch, and has little problem actually considering doing physical harm to people who talk in movie theaters. I forgot to mention, she has a real jones for bacon. Seriously.

I bring to my readers a woman whose blog I’ve smiled and laughed at in spite of its prolific sprinkling of the F-bomb. It’s real, and it can be really funny. I am honored to introduce Aunt Juicebox—and no, I don’t know the meaning behind the name, but I can surely guess! Her blog, which, if I may say so, is apparently widely read, is over on that other platform, Blogger: Bacon Is My Lover. She’s even blogged about her husband wearing his boxers backwards. I can say that’s genuinely funny because I’ve been guilty of doing it as well. Kind of embarrasing to basically re-dress yourself in a restroom because access hatches aren’t where they should be, ya know?

One of the things I really enjoy about reading the blogs I do is that they’re all distinctly different, as varied in their style and voice as the individuals who write them. Auntie’s is certainly indicative of that appraisal. I’m so very glad to agreed to write this guest post. Be sure to leave her a comment and you might end up with a copy of my book. And if you don’t want the book, that’s fine, but by all means comment!

In case you’re wondering, yes, I do eat turkey bacon on occasion ;^)

When J.W. approached me about writing a guest post, he instructed me to write it using my own “style”. I can only assume he meant that I should write it using as much profanity and sarcasm as possible, and to make fun of someone in my family. I thought instead, I might take this opportunity, while away from my own blog, to show a kinder, gentler side of myself. After all, there’s more to Aunt Juicebox than my proficiency at using the F-bomb. I also love bacon. That’s right folks, this post is about love. And not just any kind of love, but the undying love I have for good food.

Ever since I was little, autumn has been my favorite season. Not only did it mean school was starting soon, which the nerd in me loved, but my birthday was coming up as well. Usually, my birthday was celebrated at Thanksgiving dinner when all the relatives would be gathering at our home anyway. This joint celebration didn’t bother me at all, in fact, it meant more cards and presents and well wishes – more than I probably would have gotten otherwise. And as with most families, the epicenter of any gathering was the kitchen. I spent many hours helping my mother do the prep work for every day meals as well as the holiday dinners.

I would wake up in the morning, and I could already smell my mom cooking the turkey. I don’t know where the tradition of having the turkey done by lunch time came from, but it certainly meant spending the rest of the day nibbling on it—and on stuffing, and sweet potatoes . . . oh, and pie. Can’t forget the pie.

I’d sit at the table in the middle of the kitchen, scraping carrots or peeling boiled eggs, as family members started showing up. We’d greet them, hug them, smell the scent of the cool autumn air on their coats and jackets. We’d laugh, and watch television, and of course, we’d gather in the kitchen and eat food that had been prepared with loving hands in anticipation of a day well spent.

Obviously, we can’t forget Halloween, Christmas and the New Year, all of which are fantastic food feasts in their own right, but I’ve always had a special liking for Thanksgiving. It’s that bastard stepchild of the holidays, the one caught in the middle that doesn’t get as much attention. I think it was made more special by that feeling we all get as children when we realize we are a year older, a year taller, a year wiser. I got more attention myself on that day than any other day of the year.

As an adult, I take less joy in birthdays of my own than I used to, but I still love to feed people. As the weather turns cooler, and the leaves crunch underfoot, I start pulling out my pumpkin recipes, my holiday movies and cd’s, and think about what I’m going to make first. So tell me, which holiday food gives you the best memories?

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Autumn TreesEquinox; is that a cool looking word or what? I feel smarter just saying it.

You’ve heard the word before, but haven’t ever quite understood what it meant, right? For those of you in more seasonal climes, I envy you. Really. Where I live—three feet from Hell—we don’t get to see the slow brush of God’s hand across the landscape. Some dumbass, way back whenever, decided it might be nice to settle in the middle of a friggin’ desert, you know, just for fun, maybe have a few laughs and make a couple bucks by providing w waypoint between the West coast and the continental interior.

You know why this resevoir of dust and cactus is called Phoenix, don’t you . . . that’s right, it has to do with the legend of the Phoenix, the same one that rises from the ashes. How do you get ashes? By burning something, that’s how. If you’ve never felt that kind of heat envelope you, then go stand under a magnifying glass at about noonish, then you’ll kind of understand.

If you’ve never been here, don’t believe the hype. Stay where it’s green and you can actually feel what ‘autumn’ means. Now hold on . . . Lest you think it’s all sour grapes, you should know that Arizona entails much more than just Phoenix; the north country is actually quite beautiful and does heed natures call during this time of year—during the aforementioned equinox.

The equinox, put simply, is one of two times a year when the sun crosses the equator, and the day and night are of approximately equal length. Today, September 22nd, is that very day. As the days get shorter I won’t be joining the rest of you in breaking out the sweaters and jackets, but I will be in awe, as I am every year, of nature’s color palette.

The beginning of autumn is also the beginning of one of the best stretches of the year. The mere cooling of the weather is enough to make us think of the approaching holidays and, if nothing else, the lighter tone which separates this last quarter of the year so very distinctly from the rest. For many it means a time to either go to or welcome family and friends, to share gatherings and meals together. To remember fondly, and conversely, create fond remembrances. Speaking for myself, frankly, I’m not a huge ‘holiday’ person; I more thoroughly appreciate the essence of the holiday season, and of autumn itself. The greater number of us can’t help but be in a somewhat more pleasant frame of mind during this time of year.

In Arizona, we’re just happy that summer is damn near over.

Autumn, more familiarly known as ‘Fall’, has it’s own unique spell it casts. Everything in nature begins the process of gearing up for onset of Old Man Winter, including us. From baseball’s “Fall Classic” to the march to the Superbowl (or one of any number of college bowls) during football season, even sports fans brave cold temperatures to follow their teams—something else we associate with both fall and winter.

• We carve pumpkins and then turn them into pies.
• We endure the seemingly endless onslaught of ads for those • seeking public office.
• Some begin planning very early for the annual Thanksgiving feast.
• Some of us make the yearly pilgrimage to a Christmas tree lot, or maybe even pick one of our own while traipsing through the snow.

People speak of arising in the early hours of Thanksgiving to the scent of cooking turkey. The mere mention of the smell causes some to instantly recall the heady aroma, which itself triggers other memories. You could argue that any other time during the year may do that, but I’d wager the memories of autumn are far stronger.

These recollections, in some manner, center upon those things we individually find special or even endearing. More to the point, they bridge the precipice between our hearts and logical selves. Our better natures warmly bask in the results. We fervently hope for better things during this season, and we track them with the amazing mechanism of capturing and recall of memories. If I may so boldly make the reference, autumn is—perhaps more than any other time of year—the time for us all to warm ourselves over the ember between.

The Light, The Dark, and Ember BetweenThis year in particular also is something of a personal watershed for me. As of October my book, The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between, will have been in public release for six months; the timing was not planned, yet it seems almost auspiciously serendipitous. The spirit of the stories within favorably reflect the very essence of what I’ve tried to impart here about fall.

To that end, I’ve asked several folks to write a guest post for me about what defines love or hope for them—again, in the spirit of the season.

Over the next six days you’ll be hearing from these people whose blogs I’ve read for a while. Some have traveled with me during my previous book tour, four have read the book, one has recently ordered it, two have reviewed it; they all have my book in common, but that’s not why I asked them to guest post for me—I asked all of them because I hold each one in high regard, and have been genuinely blessed to have been put in their path. Some make me laugh, some make me think, but all are just honestly good people. I wanted to ask a whole slew of people, but time considerations (theirs and mine) meant I had to whittle the list down to single digits. I will also be giving away some copies of my book to those who may come from these other blogs and leave comments on each of the posts.

As for my own definition, I can safely say that it’s documented within my short stories. In short, hope and love are many different things to each of us, but it is how we distill them that resonates within like a ripple upon still water.

May this season bring many better things, and continued blessings for each of us. Please join us all this week as we celebrate the human need to balance the light and dark, the gossamer bond we share with nature as our own autumnal equinox.

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