A LIttle Ditty About a Dog Named Ellie

Ellie

Ellie

The past couple of weeks have been busy with Mid-Terms, studying and presenting my paper at North Georgia Arts and Letters Conference.  Everything is running together in my head, so I decided that I would pull out a little story I wrote for my friend Carlene, featuring her little dog Ellie.  So for your enjoyment, here’s a little tale (ha punny – get it) about what our dogs do when we’re not home. 

Ellie

The door was wide open, not a good sign.  Carlene carefully tiptoed up the four steps leading into her small cabin.  Her breathing rapid, she was afraid of what she may find as she pushed the door further ajar.  Who broke in? Was her pet okay?

“Ellie?” she called for her beloved little friend, her voice shaky and fearful.  Vision of thieves and robbers filled her thoughts and she became anxious.

A jingle caught her attention.  It was the familiar sound of Ellie’s collar, as the tag chimed in happy unison with the metal on the clip.  Carlene rounded the corner and sighed with relief.  There in the kitchen sat Ellie, her head bowed, eyes shifting side to side as she hid beneath a birthday hat.  The strange sight caught Carlene off guard.

“What in heaven’s name are you wearing?”  she questioned her furry friend.

Ellie wagged her tail as she walked to the edge of the kitchen opening.  Carlene’s eyes darted around the modest home, noticing now the colorful balloons, pink paper streamers and cake crumbs which littered the floor by the trash can.

“What’s been going on here?”

Carlene dropped her briefcase on the nearest chair and turned to close the door.  Placing her hands on her hips, she eyed her pet in disbelief.  The house was in shambles.  She couldn’t image thieves breaking in, just to have a party, and including the dog.  There was something more to this, and she was going to find out what it was.

Her little dog pushed at the hat with a paw until it fell to the carpet.  Giving Carlene the best ‘puppy dog’ look any animal could have mustered, Ellie lay on the floor and scooted on her belly until she was at Carlene’s feet.  Rolling over, tongue hanging out, she smiled and panted in a happy fashion.  Carlene bent down to stroke Ellie on the head and then began to take the streamers off the chandalier.   A sudden movement out of the corner of her eye caused her to look outside.  Through the large bay window she saw a large group of canines making a bee line for the road.  Each possessed a similar party hat to that of Ellie’s.  Turning to regard her little friend, she was speechless.

Ellie sat up and tried to look innocent, but wasn’t fooling her owner.  Carlene thought back to other times she found things amiss at the house when she got home.  Trash cans overturned, things out of the refrigerator and the bathroom….yes, it now made perfect sense.

Looking at Ellie with a disapproving frown, Carlene shook her head.  “And to think…I thought it was just you drinking out of the toilet!”

You are what you are because of others: A self reflection on relationships

I don’t know why but I started this morning by thinking back to a moment in my past when a 14 year relationship was ending, but for some reason it just popped into mental thought.  The person who I was involved with then, stated to me “if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be who you are today,” as we concluded our affairs and went separate ways.  At first, I was a little angry about this statement.  I thought to myself “well you egocentric so-and-so, this has been my life and life has made me who I am.”  Those words have just stuck with me this past 12 years and I find myself reflecting over them from time to time.

Tis the case for the morning.

I wondered about what really makes us who we are.  Do people?  Events? Our parents? Our position in life? Poverty? Riches? Where we live? Who we know?  I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there.  In my opinion all of it matters.  The imprints of the vast melting of all of it makes us who we are.  We start out in this life a clean slate, a little tiny baby with no knowledge of what goes on here, in mother Earth.  Things around us put their mark on our clean little board (metaphorically speaking) and our minds take those marks and analysis them, throwing out what we disagree with and keeping those things that seem to work.

As we grow older, we find that re-evaluating those marks from time to time, gives us a fresh, new perspective about our life.  Today, I finally came to the realization that what this person said wasn’t so egocentric at all.  He was right, he did have a hand in making me who I am today.  For instance, I learned that being a doormat for him wasn’t very pleasant, and in coming to that realization, I developed a very independent nature and finally got a clue about standing up for myself.  I don’t take disrespect from anyone anymore.  His presence, while not always positive in my life, had a profound effect on me.  So, yes,  he did have a hand in making me who I am today and for that, I am grateful.

Life holds many lessons, and what or who crosses our paths will always leave some imprint on our lives.  They help make us who we are.  The greater challenge is discovering what impact they had.  Whether it is a person across the street, or individuals across the sea, we all have things we can learn from each other.  Remember you are who you are because of those around you.

Small bite of Horror from Upcoming book “Dead Lady Bugs”

Well I thought I would offer a bit of short horror after the day of love.   This little story won a Literary Award and was published in the Corn Creek Review.  Thought some might like to see what happens when love goes wrong.

Vengeance

         The figure was always a shadow, half hidden behind outdated drapery in the front window of the aged and weathered Victorian home on the end of the street.  Children often ran by, laughing, as they pushed each other into the overgrown yard, challenging the other to ring the doorbell and run away.  Everyone wanted to glimpse the object of many sordid tales and rumors of the town’s gossip chain, but the door never seemed to open for anyone, or anything.  It was sometime before those in the neighborhood noticed that the strange figure which once stood at the window didn’t stand there anymore, and the demise of the lonely old woman who lived there went undiscovered, until the smell of putrid decay penetrated the dainty nose of the self appointed neighborhood watchdog, Adalay Thompson.

“Sheriff, you need to get up to the old Ledford home.  I think Ms. Sarah finally kicked the bucket!” she demanded of Russell Garrett one afternoon.

“Adalay, what has gotten you up in a dander today?”

The sheriff’s voice suggested that he had already been down the road of Adalay’s nosiness before, and he didn’t want to be bothered with anything in the humid heat of the Georgia afternoon.

“There is a God awful smell coming from that old house, so you need to get up there and investigate!”

“Alright, alright.  Keep your skirt on.”

Sheriff Garrett sighed lazily as he hung up the phone.  Grabbing his cowboy hat off the rack by the door, Russell Garrett stepped into the sunlight. Squinting up to the sky before putting on the prerequisite shades most of the good old boys in Georgia wore, he shook his head in dismay as he climbed into the patrol car and headed up the road to the old Ledford house.

Adalay Thompson seemed to always stick her nose into other people’s business, he mused, and Ms. Sarah was just a kindly little old lady who never bothered much of nothing.  He hated to go up there and knock at her door just to satisfy Adalay, who snooped more than anyone else he knew.  He recalled the last time he visited Ms. Sarah.  It was a few years back in his younger days, when there was some disturbance reported by an out-of-towner who claimed she was the sister of a Mr. Nathanial Clemens.  This woman stated that Mr. Clemens was to wed Ms. Sarah and that he suddenly disappeared overnight, after breaking off his engagement with her.  Mr. Clemens’ sister had the whole town in an uproar saying Ms. Sarah had killed her brother and disposed of the body.  It was duty which made him call on her that day.

“Russell Garrett!”  Ms. Sarah’s soft spoken manner always captured the attention of whoever she addressed.  “I buried Mr. Ledford a long time ago and have been a widow for these long years.  I don’t believe that I’m the marrying kind anymore.”  She smiled slightly as she offered him a plate of cookies, from which he took three.

Biting into the soft chewy morsel, he replied nodding, “Yes Ma’am I know, but when someone makes any kind of accusation like that, you know its part of my job to follow up.”

“Yes, I understand.  If I see this Mr. Clemens, I’ll be sure to let him know to contact you.”

With that Ms. Sarah ushered him out the door, and closed it firmly behind him.  It was the last time he really saw anything of her.  She became more and more of a recluse, keeping watch at the window during the day, and at night burning a small light from the upstairs window into the wee hours of the morning.  He always wondered what she was doing up so late, behind her curtains.

Pulling into the circular drive of the old home, he saw Adalay already standing on the front porch holding her nose.  As he exited the vehicle he too noticed a rather pungent odor.

“Either she’s dead or she got something that crawled up into the basement and died, because I’ve never smelled anything like this before,” Adalay commented as Sheriff Garrett climbed the old wooden stairs leading up to the front door.

“Now Adalay, I want you to be kind and stay out of the way when I go knocking.  Do I make myself clear?”

“Whatever you say Sheriff,” she nodded taking a couple of steps back.

Sheriff Garrett tapped on the door with his knuckle, the sound soft so as not to disturb its occupant.  After he waited for several seconds, he knocked again, but this time louder, calling out Ms. Sarah’s name.  When no response came, he beat on the door with all his might.  Walking to the front window, he cupped his hands on the pane and peered inside, past the dusty curtains.

“What the…?”  The question came as a surprise, and intent on getting in quickly he suddenly rushed to the entrance and kicked the door down.

Adalay followed the Sheriff into the darkened home.  The scene before them resembled something from a horror movie.  Furniture lay strewn amidst the broken glass from pictures which had been knocked off the wall.  The house was in shambles.

“What happened here?”  Adalay inquired as she gazed around the small foyer into the adjoining room.

“Ms. Sarah?”  Sheriff Garrett hollered, his voice echoing strangely in the quiet house.

“Look over there!” Adalay pointed towards the back of the house.

Squinting into the dim hallway, the sheriff noticed the basement door.  The panel hung from its hinges, torn almost in two.  Deep gashes ran vertically along the grain, the wood splinting in two.

“Looks like an axe beat that to pieces,” he murmured.

“Do you suppose they got in that way, through the basement?”

Sheriff Garrett touched the wood, feeling the splinters.  “I don’t know.  Adalay, you need to wait outside,” he whispered as he drew his gun.

Being the stubborn woman she was, Adalay clung to the sheriff’s back as he followed the axe marks in the floor across the living room and then up the staircase.  The brutal slashes were seemingly cut into the wooden planks as the intruder chased someone through the house.

Carefully, and quietly, they made their way to the third story.  Standing at the top stair, the sheriff paused at the sight of another mangled door at the end of the hallway.

“The smell is worse up here!”  Adalay whined softly.

Sheriff Garrett furrowed his brow at her.  “Don’t you know what ‘wait outside means’ Adalay?” he retorted under his breath as he shook his head.

The two tiptoed, making their way towards the sight of the torn wooden frame. When they reached the last room, the sheriff threw his back against the wall and with his gun held high, eased himself into the darkened hole.

“Oh my God!”  Adalay exclaimed gagging, as she saw the scene in the dimness of the bedroom from over his shoulder.

Centered on the bed was the decomposing form of Ms. Sarah.  Draped over her bloody body was what appeared to be a man’s remains, shriveled and mummified. The drab brown suit was covered in dirt and skeletal hands clutched an axe which had been deeply embedded in the chest of the old woman.  Russell took out a handkerchief from his pocket and covered his nose.

Edging closer he pulled on the ragged material of the man’s jacket.  The body came up, ripping lose from the boney arms and falling to the carpet.  Adalay screamed as the decayed corpse fell at their feet.

“What in heavens?” she cried.

“It looks like a dead man, that’s been buried a long time,” the sheriff observed.

“Well who was he?”

Digging into the protruding back pocket of the fraying material of the trousers, Sheriff Garrett pulled out an aging black leather wallet.  Carefully unfolding it, he rubbed at the dirt covering the driver’s license.

“I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” the Sheriff whispered with a weird chuckle.

“Russell Garrett, who was he?” Adalay demanded for a second time.

“Nathaniel Clemens.”

The History of Valentine’s Day

As a Historian and Writer, I’m forever asking questions.  Today is no exception.  I was curious about this lover’s holiday and wanted to know just how it got its start.  Of course it didn’t surprise me that it’s roots go back to Late Antiquity.  (Dr. Matthew Byron, our expert professor on Roman and Late Antiquity history here at Young Harris College would be so proud of me for using knowledge I learned in his class).

Saint Valentine began his career as the Bishop of Terni, in a providence outside of Rome.  He lived during a time when the Christian religion was still very new and persecution of those practicing the religion was in its heyday, as the elites and government of Rome viewed them as rebellious to civil law.  Defiantly the Bishop married Christian couples when it was forbidden and aided Christians in any way possible.  The Emperor Claudius Gothicus, also known as Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius Augustus or Claudius II, had Valentinus arrested and imprisoned.  (Valens was a very popular name at that time and it means ‘worthy, strong, powerful’)  The emperor took a liking to the priest for a while, until Valentinus tried to convert him to Christianity.  This signed his death warrant and after being beaten and tortured, they finally behead the poor man.

Saint Valentinus became associated with lovers because he had stuck his neck out to marry people during a dangerous time in Roman history.  February 14th was the day first established by Pope Gelasius in 496AD after Constantine’s reign, to celebrate Valentinus as a martyr of the faith.  (It was deleted from the Roman Calendar of Saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.)

The theme was not really adopted until the middle ages when Geoffrey Chaucer began his writing career.  Best known for “The Canterbury Tales,” Chaucer was instrumental in sling-shoting the association of Saint Valentine with love and affection,.  Of course in today’s world it has the same marketing presence that Christmas and Easter carry, and we humans feel forced to spend lots of money on candy hearts and chocolate.  (I’m not totally against that! Especially if the box come with Flowers)

So, thanks for sitting through my brief history lesson on Valentine’s Day.  Hope everyone gets lots of flowers and chocolate.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

Like Our Facebook Page and be Entered to win a Free Ebook of “The Forgotten Spell”

Hope everyone is having a wonderful start to February!  I am in full gear with History, teacher certification and Legends of Green Isle Book Two “The Mirror Sliver”.  I have been playing around with page making on Facebook to get one up and running for the series.  Never thought about it until my good friend Phillis Benson got hers.  I guess there’s a catch to it though - you must have so many people to hit the “LIKE” button in order to grab your own special name behind the Facebook URL addy.  I guess I need help in reaching that number.

I’ve got some great reviews on Book One “The Forgotten Spell” and if you have a youngster living in your house, this would be a wonderful read for them.  It’s tailored with great adventure, dragons, leprechauns, fairies, wizards, bad guys, far-out imaginary characters, teenagers finding their way into a quest they didn’t want, and other worlds.  There is not any violent scenes, no overly sexed individuals and no foul langauge.  Yet there are things that may make them ask a question, in which Mom or Dad may say “Google It!”  (As a future teacher I am all about “Discovery”)

If you like to find out more about the series, please take a visit to Legends of Green Isle facebook page and hit the “LIKE” button.  For the next month, all new members will be in drawing for a ebook copy of Book One “The Forgotten Spell” in order to celebrate the upcoming release of “The Mirror Sliver.”  Thanks again for visiting!

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I’m Not in the Mood!

Luckers and his Sad Face

Luckers and his Sad Face

I want to write today but I’m not in the mood…really.  It’s been one of those weeks where I haven’t been in the mood for anything.   I’m not in the mood for homework, for talking, for social networking, for nothing.  It hit me today as I stared at the screen and the home page of my blog.  I kept asking myself “Why am I in such a funk?”

The answer was just one word…disappointment!

And the reason I’m disappointed, is because of things happening in my life at this moment that make me disappointed.  So today, I am doing a little ranting about what I’m not in mood for, and hopefully getting this off my chest will get rid of the funk.  I’m ready for fairer weather and of course, more writing.

1. I’m not in mood for excuses about why you did something.  YOU made a conscious choice to do it, no one twisted your arm.

2. I’m not in mood for acting like everything is back to normal, because it’s not.

3. I’m not in mood for pretending things don’t hurt, because they do.

4. I’m not in mood for people who take your parking space when they see you about to pull in.

5. I’m not in mood for spammy comments on my blog.

6. I’m not in mood for any more bank fees.  I’ve paid enough of someone’s salary.

7. I’m not in mood for higher gas prices.  It means I may have to buy a smaller car.

8. I’m not in the mood for you to tell me you don’t, when I just saw evidence that you did.

9. I’m not in the mood for people who can’t show real affection.

10. I’m not in mood for discouragement, I’ve spent a long time escaping it.

Well that was uplifting!  Since this is a day for ranting, I’d like to hear what you’re not in the mood for.  We all could use a little moment to vent.

 

Poetry Day – The Lonely Shore

The Lonely Shore

Weather has changed

Water cooler

Leaves fallen from glory

Lie beat, discarded

Tossed about by the careless wind

Rattling in discontent as they tumble and skip

It understands

This sense of emptiness

This lonely shore

 

Warmth is fleeting

Sand, once filled with summer light

Obscured now, by grayness

Covered by mist

Swirling and wailing

Lying low, the ghostly feet tiptoeing

Across the mirrored mountains

Crying for the lonely shore

 

Rain is coming

Winter has arrived

Sand shall see no more sun

The lonely shore

Accepts its course

Silent and undemanding

 

Are you one of those? Pro-active or Pro-crastinator?

Well the semester is in full swing, and my plate is overflowing with stuff and more stuff.  This week I have two response papers due for two separate history classes and a French test.  Plus I am interning in the History Department, and I am the History Tutor at the Academic Success Center.  I also decided that I would lend a hand to the college’s yearly student driven publication called the “Corn Creek Review,” and we met last week to get an agenda going for the next couple of weeks to look at students submissions. {take a deep breath} Then I am also getting the redesigned cover in place on the e-book and paper book of “The Forgotten Spell” and hoping to get book two “The Mirror Sliver” out this spring, and talking to my designer about its cover.  Plus I have several poems and shorts I am finishing up for submitting else where.  And let’s not forget, the hours I must spend in the local schools for my education courses.

I try to be one of those people who are extremely pro-active, and utilize every moment to get ahead of the game.  But lately I am finding that I’ve been the other kind, and adopting some pro-crastinating traits.  This is the next to last semester of full classes I will have, and I am taken back to my senior days of high school. Could it be I am getting a touch of that disease that hit most seniors as they approach the last leg of their education process?

I am wondering if it is because as an Indie Author, I am wrapped up into the social media network plug, self-marketing and self-promoting my series.  Some days I find that I spend over three hours just in the social network web, and then I just want to veg in front of a book or the TV, my brain spent already, and I haven’t even touched the books.

Well, which ever it may be, I need to get off this blog and start studying that French.

Or, maybe I’ll just watch the History Channel.