Plant a Tree

Martin Luther is credited with saying that if he knew the world would end tomorrow, he’d plant a tree. If we knew the same, parents would still change diapers, zookeepers would feed the critters, children would still want to be pushed higher on the swings.

And we have to hope that the brutality of man’s inhumanity to man would stop.
We’d spend earth’s final twenty-four hours looking to God for hope in the next world.
We’d look at everything we’ve been given in this world with new eyes. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, right?
We’d love on our fellow humans like crazy—the ones who are good to us, the nasty ones, the marginalized ones, the ugly-spirited ones.
When it was almost too late, we’d be astounded that just one morning and midday and evening of unremitting love and grace could make such a difference.

Bloggers like me who committed to blogging every week would still post…something. Anything.
That’s what today’s Tuesday Prude post is. Something.

As far as I know, the world isn’t ending tomorrow.
For a lot of people it ended yesterday, on Independence Day.
And for some reason all the violence and killing and anger and despair that happened in the USA on the 4th of July hit me especially hard, and posting a light and frothy little nugget isn’t sitting right.

Lord willing there will be lots of joy-filled and spirit-lifting things in the virtual world today. There will be laugh-out-loud memes created.
Folks in real world adventures will laugh at their crazy pets and three year olds will discover the pestiferous delights of knock-knock jokes.

And somewhere, someone is holding another human close—squeezing anger and hatred and destruction right out of them and sowing the seeds of unconditional love.

Someone is planting a tree.

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.

Increase Your Word Power Forthwith

Aren’t words wonderful? Anyone remember “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power” from Reader’s Digest? Logophiles like me turned to that section as soon as we finished “Laughter, the Best Medicine.”
Sadly, as new words get added (adulting, teraflop, whataboutism, lame stream and fo’shizzle) others like glabriety (baldness) are scuttled to the wayside.
Let’s skirr (go over rapidly) those ditches and byways for picturesque words that can hold their own with such 21st century delights as “bae” and “upvote.”

THE TUESDAY PRUDE WORD OF THE WEEK
GRABBLE
verb
Origin: Dutch, late 16th century (Dutch and German aren’t the most mellifluous of languages, but they are so dang fun)

  1. Feel or search with the hands; grope about.
  2. Sprawl or tumble on all fours.

CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK
Use grabble in a sentence. Demonstrate physically if you must but be aware that onlookers may assume you are fuzzled.

Lego and the Maniac

A bucket of Legos has been sitting dormant in our basement since the Clinton era. Not totally dormant. Since the bucket is now twice as full as when it got shoved under the basement steps, we assume the pieces get lively around Lego mating season.

Now that our youngest grandchild reached the Age of Reason, (no longer consuming every potential choking hazard), we excavated under the stairs and unearthed the red bin.
But before the grandsons are let loose on the toys their daddies played with, their grandma has work to do.

The sorting of the Legos has begun.

One grandson jump-started the process when he turned the bin upside down to find a particular Lego piece.
And I’ve now spent half an unabridged audiobook and two podcasts sorting the dross from the gold, tiny specialty pieces from the standard Lego bases and blocks, thumbtacks and screws from the $100 Star Wars set.

“Tacks and screws?” The alert reader may ask. Yes. If memory serves me correctly we didn’t give our children sharp objects to play with. Here’s what I think happened, in those long ago clean-this-mess-or-else days. They tended to sweep everything from floor and dressers into the Lego bin. Which accounts for the ancient candy wrappers, pennies, and Mancala stones. And K-nex pieces. Do they even make K-nex any more? I’m a little concerned about the counting bears. We used to have hundreds. Now down to two. Maybe Legos eat them as part of their mating rituals?

And what kind of high-falutin’ set did we buy that has chess pieces?

Also. I wouldn’t want to be alone in a room with the only fighting guy who has all his body parts.

These are the Lego accoutrements.

Tiny coins, chalices, leering heads and weapons.
Do you know that a 2 millimeter drinking stein is as painful to kneel on as a lumpy rock?

This sorting business is the kind of self-appointed task that leads me to reflect on the compulsive desire to do something stupid.

Like the child who throws a softball at a wasps’ nest. Mid-flight he ponders. Was this a good idea?

Like the suburbanite who rakes leaves while autumn gales blow or snowplows the driveway during a blizzard. In the upper Midwest we commonly refer to these as ‘exercises in futility.’

Like the gambler who puts all his money on the long shot at the track because the horse reminded him of his mother and too late wonders if he should have thought this decision through.

I should realize the the grands probably won’t fully appreciate the effort that went into the Lego Sorting Project. They most certainly won’t maintain the separation of bits from pieces for long.

Shouldn’t the little voice in my head say, ”Don’t you have more productive and slightly less futile tasks to do? Pay the monthly bills, feed your husband, clean the floor around the toilet from the last time the little boys came before they come again?”

Likely, I’ll continue to suppress the voice.

I’ll imagine the excitement I hope to see on my grandson’s faces when they find just the right Lego figure for their current make-believe scenario.

And that possibility will make this lousy idea, exercise in futility, poorly thought-out scheme all worth while.

Flat squirrels

Extensive research on two websites this morning revealed interesting facts about squirrels.
One squirrel year is equal to five human years.
Squirrels in my neck of the woods live about 12 years if there is no outside interference.

The ones around here are mostly gray squirrels so it’s already hard to tell the elderly almost-60-year olds from the sprightly young adults.
But while I used to think roadkill squirrels must be the daredevil youngsters, my nephew introduced me to a saying a few years ago that changed my perspective.

“Auntie,” he said while I hesitated between two doors in a Chicago underground, “just pick one. The world is full of flat squirrels who couldn’t make up their minds.”

Much musing on this led to an understanding. Those dearly-departed rodents couldn’t make up their minds. True, but not because they were feeble-minded.
They didn’t know which was the RIGHT way to go.

It was my lightbulb, sea-change moment.
The behavior of squirrels gave me insight to my deepest self.

I’m not indecisive. Not in the way my nephew thought.
He couldn’t understand that it’s a matter of right or wrong.

Those of us raised on the Ten Commandments, playground rules, and a constant diet of morally upright books in which the heroine had to make the right choice OR ELSE have come to see the world in terms of a binary choice.
Black or white, yes or no, right or wrong.
For some of us, no decision is a small one, no choice unimportant. Which door in the underground? This one? Or that one? Run back to the left side of the road? Or dash to the right?
We hope the pedestrians behind us or the nephew in front of us will be patient while we wait for a revealing of the right door. We hope the oncoming vehicle will slow while we ponder the correct side of the road.

It ain’t easy being us absolute-type people. We spend too much time dithering, praying a neon arrow will point to the right choice, whether it’s a flat of annuals at the greenhouse or a lifetime spouse. One spouse, one flat of petunias, one door is right. Every other one is wrong.
So we vacillate, we waver, we dilly-dally. If we were squirrels, most of us wouldn’t have made it to our twenties.

You probably don’t realize how many of us roam the world. We don protective coloring. (Mostly because we know that it is wrong to inconvenience others with our hesitation.)
We have a modicum of intelligence and know how to function in a prescribed set of circumstances. We’ve established the right way to do things in most instances, weeded out the incorrect people, places and things, and learned to forgive ourselves for buying the absolute wrong color shoes when we were nineteen.

But present us with two unknown doors in a previously unexplored underground, force us to choose this side of the road or that without weighing the relative merits, and you may see us hesitate. Be patient.

Better yet, tell us which door is the right one.

Image by 995645 from Pixabay

Give Civility a Chance

(This is an edited reprint of a post from several years ago—back when I referred to myself in the third person. My youngest son is getting married this week and I’ve done everything in my power to make certain I volunteered for too much. This is a secret weapon for making my family think I’m indispensable. I’ll share more tips in this in a future post.)

Amen

I have a dream.
A dream in which thousands of people from all walks of life, sporting skin tones from freckly pink to glorious midnight, join for the next big March on Washington.
We won’t come together because we agree on everything. As a matter of fact, we agree on very little.
A bevy of priggish types who propound the glories of modesty meet up with the ‘America Gets Nekkid’ folks, who arrive clad only in sturdy walking shoes and an admirable set of goosebumps.
Grammar Anarchists trickle in. Known best by their slogan ‘For all intensive purposes; we could care less’ they champion for, among other linguistic improprieties, a participle’s right to dangle.

Various other assemblages join us, like a small, unnamed but vocal group who hold etiquette responsible for the world’s inequities.

What, in my dream, could bind such a disparate groups? What do they have in common?

A desire for civility.

So we come together, holding firmly to individual convictions, but demonstrating jointly for a fundamental cause.
This is the Civility Rights March.

It has its own platform.

CIVILITY STATEMENT OF RIGHTS
1) We will not mock, scorn, or call those with opposing viewpoints nasty names.
2) Interruptions, speaking out of turn and out-shouting others is not tolerated. We all have a chance to express opinions, but only while holding the Stick of Civility.
3) We do not make our opponent appear foolish, or take remarks out of context.
4) Under no circumstances, no matter how major our differences, do we engage in fisticuffs.
5) We vow to use the proper facilities for dealing with bodily functions, leave said facilities looking better than when we came in, and inform management if facilities require attention.
6) We will not litter.
7) We promise to guard the above rights of civility via the use of civility against any and all who might come and try to undermine the rights of civility.

Demonstrators will come together to actually demonstrate what civility looks like…Ahhhhh. What a dream!

A Grammar Anarchist says: “Ain’t nobody going to tell me apostrophes aren’t for plural nouns.” Instead of mocking the extensive overuse of negatives (“So someone IS going to tell you how to use apostrophes?”) we tell them we are charmed bytheir use of the vernacular ‘ain’t’ and any time the language subversive wants to discuss punctuation more fully we are ready and willing. They thank us and admit to occasional appreciation of subject/verb agreement.

The most rabid of full-body coverage zealots realizes that even anti-clothing extremists get cold. While looking the au natural directly in the eye (and only in the eye) the super-modest type won’t say, “Serves you right.” Instead she offers a blanket for the birthday-suit clad nonconformist to ward off the chill. (“No, I don’t need it back when the temps warm up. Really, you keep it.”) The person in the all-together, recognizing the prudish-types’ sensibilities, willingly covers public seating areas with newspapers or napkins before settling down.

And even though the throw-off-the-yoke-of-etiquette people believe salad greens stuck in the teeth or dangling dried nasal secretions are symbols of liberation, they know they haven’t won over the entire world to their perspective. Therefore, upon seeing a dab of marinara sauce on the chin of a dainty etiquette-lover, our napkin-hater refrains from outward rejoicing and tactfully points it out.

Protests seldom go well. The 60’s antiwar demonstrations always drew a crowd who defended America’s policies. Bitter recriminations erupted from both camps. Those who picket abortion clinics in turn are picketed by their polar opposites and the Occupy Anything people are met by vocally indignant Go Home Now and Get a Job groups.
They all employ their constitutional right to protest. Sadly, many assume this assures the right to scream and belittle and deface what isn’t theirs.

But at our Civility Rights March, any misguided prudes who come planning to humiliate our opposition will find themselves politely shushed. We won’t tolerate name calling, finger pointing, or twisted words.
Disagree with us, or disagree with those we disagree with.
Do so in an uncivil manner and we will inform you how we plan to defend the rights of civility. And then we will courteously point out the little piece of spinach in your teeth.

the stuff dreams are made of

Stuff and I get along well. I welcome stuff to my house, stuff enters, looks around, likes what it sees and stays. And stays and stays and stays and in the meantime I have some new stuff and the old stuff is wearing out its welcome.

Lately I’ve been trying my hand at de-stuffing. I feel moderately inhospitable getting rid of stuff that has made itself at home. But it doesn’t pay rent, doesn’t clean up after itself, and some of it is developing severe personality disorders that are making the possibility of eviction easier.

Take these dolls.

Please.

The first one belonged to my mother in law. (Both are pushing 90. My mother-in-law is by far the better looking of the two.) Look deep into the doll’s eyes.
I dare you.

I call her “Soulless Lou.”
Actually I call her Soulless Sal but some lovely people I know are named Sally so for purposes of preserving friendships she’ll be Lou. I believe she turned down an opportunity to appear on “The Walking Dead.”

Second is a little lady I refer to as “Scabbers” for obvious reasons.

She is probably about 110. She belonged to an elderly neighbor who had no children and thought I’d like the doll. Scabbers isn’t particularly horrifying until her eyes—which still function—start blinking, and don’t stop.

The last doll is mine. One of the few toys I have from my childhood. She is about 60. Her name used to be Judy but now it is “She-reminds-me-of-the-little-possesed-girl-from-the-Exorcist.”


My kindergarten-aged grandsons slept over last week and refused to go to bed till the doll formerly known as Judy was out of the room.

My de-stuffing has caught on a snag. A doll my parents bought me when I was a toddler. One from my beloved mother-in-law and one from a sweet neighbor who is now in heaven. How can I evict them?

I don’t have an answer yet.
But tell me.
Is it my imagination, or are they suddenly just a little closer to the edge of the sofa than when I first set them down?

Wednesday at the Tuesday Prude: Grandma Bodies

 

grandmother-4576437_1920I want to talk about the war on women. Women of a certain age. Women of a certain age’s bodies, to be specific.

The Super Bowl halftime show got me thinking about this socially-acceptable war. Incidentally, I’m not here to complain about the—um—energetic gyrations of the dancers. Or the mouthwatering sum of money the women performers must have paid for their wedgie-generating outfits that I could fold up and fit in an Altoids tin.

 
Here’s my main issue with that performance. One of the lead women performers is 50. FIFTY. She is old enough to qualify for an AARP card, people! Before she knows it she’ll be looking up directions to the Social Security office. She is half a century old.

 
Bully for her. My problem comes with the adulation thrown at her half-century feet, the cries of “Women of a certain age can look that good!” and “She’s in better shape than women in their teens!” and “Why can’t all AARP card-carrying women dance on a pole?”

 
Will it never end? How old do I have to be before I can say “I WANT TO LOOK MY AGE!”

 
The pressure to be buff and fit and fabulous and unwrinkled and alluring and slinky should be in my past, shouldn’t it? I look at photos of my grandmothers when they were in their fifties and sixties. Gray hair, support hose, Dr. Scholls footwear, work-reddened hands. They didn’t have time to worry about how their backside would look in high-cut garments. (Which existed in those days. They were undies whose elastic had given out.)

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It’s not that my grandmas didn’t care what they looked like. They wanted to look their best. Which, as their bodies aged and settled and became cushioned, meant being neat and clean. They had a few “good” dresses and necklaces and brooches for Sunday and weddings. Work dresses and aprons for almost everything else. Their primary attire was their labor and their love.

 
At what age do I get to decide what looks “good for my age?” How many fitness classes and wrinkle creams and plastic surgeries do I need so people admire my advanced state of preservation? When can I make peace with gravity? Stop insisting that the miles and years don’t exist and haven’t taken their toll?

 
I’m plenty vain. I don’t want to be dowdy. I wouldn’t mind if occasionally someone underestimated my age. But not to the extent that I want to be mistaken for my grandchildren’s mother.

 
It’s time to fight back against this war on grandma bodies. I’m going to look the best I can, take care of myself, and be at peace with my grandma shape. Wear the miles with pride. Clothe myself with labor and love. Which are guaranteed to never give me a wedgie.

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Theology Thursday with the Tuesday Prude

 

DSC01007 - Version 2Almost any post title with “theology” is almost guaranteed to NOT entice readers.
What’s the opposite of ‘clickbait?’

Personally, I like theology. The study of God?
Awesome.

This past week a minor health scare, the loss of dear ones and a newly-noticed line in an old favorite song culminated in some theological thoughts.

***
The 60’s are a dangerous age.
Not the 1960’s, (although it had its perils).
Being in one’s 60’s though, is tough.
On one hand we are grateful to have reached an age denied most people in the history of the world.
But it came up so fast! Our bodies are doing strange things.
Some of us fall gravely ill.
And too many of us die.

In the past 18 months I’ve lost a dear friend and a sweet cousin, both barely in their 60’s.
Facebook friends have passed into eternity even as I’ve been praying for their healing.

Almost all these were people of faith, who, the closer they got to the end of their earthly lives,
anticipated more and more their heavenly ones.

But it’s hard to imagine being eager to leave this world for the next.
I know this world.
So many people I love are here.
It is my current home.
I know this place.
One Christmas song you’ll seldom hear piped over the grocery store speakers is “Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendor.”
It continues
“…all for love’s sake becamest poor.
thrones for a manger didst surrender
sapphire-paved court for stable floor.”

Sunday at church we sang the heart-expanding, mind-blowing, breath-taking, love-infusing
“And Can it Be (That I Should Gain)”
I always cry at verse 4, when my chains fall off and my heart is free.

This week though, one line in verse 3 (that I’ve probably sung 200 times) jumped the gun, flagged me down, and demanded attention.

“He left his Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love…”

This astonishing truth—one I’ve skimmed over in anticipation of the prison pardon in the next verse— lilts out the same theme
in that underrated Christmas song.
The Savior’s experience was
the opposite of ours. He came down to where we are so we can go up to the Home He left.

Many of us down here, with one foot too firmly in the world we know, aren’t eager to leave it
any sooner than necessary.
Be it ever so humble (hate-torn, contentious, polluted, with devils filled…)
there’s still no place like the home we know.

And there is the Son, in the Home up There. The Home He knew, loved, created, where He lived in perfect harmony with the Father and Spirit, rich beyond all splendor.
And He left it willingly.
Knowing the humility He’d endure in a hate-torn, contentious, with-devils-filled world—
He came into it.
To a place opposite of His Home
and a human race opposite of Him.

All for love’s sake.

SONY DSC

Someday, unless Christ returns, we’ll all leave this home we know for the Home we don’t,
and it is probably natural to be apprehensive, to hold off that day by whatever means God gives us.

But the reason we can go to that new forever Home,
the one our Savior left so willingly,
is all because of
Love.

2021: The Year of Decluttering

That title up there? I like to call it “Double-click Bait”

Because you might have opened this post to figure out how I could possibly get the year so wrong,
or because you thought, “Ooooo, more hints on how to declutter!” Or both.

Decluttering, as everyone knows who watches TV, reads books, or keeps up with social media, is the new national religion.
It’s the current mania.
Our version of 1999’s biggest trend—stocking up on survival skills for when Y2K crashed the world.
It’s replaced determining our love language, and developing habits to be a Highly Effective Person.
It even nudged out learning to dance the Macarena.

Any time there’s a trend everyone is doing, and everyone is telling me I want to do it, my contrary nature and stubborn Dutchness exert themselves.
I dig in my heels and refuse.

So far I’ve bucked the infatuation with decluttering. But it’s so widespread that no matter how fast I scroll past ads and accolades for it, I at least know we are supposed to ask ourselves this:
Does my stuff bring me joy?

This is my answer.
You betcha.

For the sentimentalist, (of whom I am chief) every three-dimensional object has an invisible hook. Attached to the hook is the memory of a person, place or event. Ditch the item and the memory disappears with it.

But, here comes The Big But.
My son and highly organized, uncluttered daughter-in-law invited me to see their newly remodeled basement playroom. Along one wall, an army of plastic bins sat on rows of shelves and on each bin a label was plastered and on each label was written, in my daughter-in-law’s neat penmanship, the contents. It all looked neat. And clean, and spacious, and pleasant.

A strange desire kindled in my heart. A desire for less stuff and more space.
Before the tiny flame could die, I flew home to begin my journey to unclutter.

Where to begin? Start small, Anita.

With this Avon tin.

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This over-half-a-century old container that used to be filled with “Lady Skater” talc.
It has that invisible hook on the side.
Attached there is the memory of my little brother and sister, who’d saved their pennies and bought it for me as a Christmas gift.
THAT memory is linked via a long chain to the one wrapped around my entire childhood—we were only a few pebbles removed from dirt poor. My dad felt called to teach in small, struggling Christian schools. Mom worked every possible job to keep us from bankruptcy and there weren’t a whole lot of toys, trinkets, floo-floobers or tar-tinkers.

sld003

The two littles in our family

So when a gift from the two littles in our family showed up under the tree one Christmas, I was charmed and delighted and smelled like Sweet Honesty powder for a solid year.
About a decade ago I showed the tin to my sister, thinking she—also a sentimentalist—would be impressed I’d kept it. But she had no memory of giving it to me. Therefore she saw no hook, and was aghast I still had it.

Filled with zeal and a desire to be trendy, I hauled the tin out of the ‘miscellaneous” Christmas bin. That’s where I keep all the decorations I don’t set out but can’t throw away. They either have memories hooked to them, or show great potential for the hypothetical craft project of my dreams.
I held the tin before me and set my face like flint toward the garbage, trying to disentangle the joyful memory from the hook as I walked.

You know where this story is going, don’t you?

Whether by accident or subconscious intention, I took the path leading past my Dickens-style Christmas decorations.
Newton’s first law kicked in and the body in motion (me) was compelled to change her action (dumping a precious-memory holder) by an external force (the gladsome comprehension that Avon’s little Currier and Ives tin would look perfect tucked into a corner by the cricket on the hearth and the Christmas Carol carolers.)

IMG_4688

See my Dickens shelf? Carolers, the Cricket on the Hearth and the Goose getting fat? The shelf below has a Norman Rockwell Dicken’s print next to Samantha, who is only slightly anachronistic in the display.

The tin has moved from “miscellaneous” to the “Dickens” bin, waiting—Lord willing—to join Christmas festivities 2020. Come 2021 we’ll revisit the Avon Lady Skater and see if she still makes me happy.

An epic failure to be one of the cool, decluttered in-crowd. But I comfort myself with this:
By keeping those memories hooked on tangible objects, my brain stays more organized and less cluttered. What could possibly bring more joy?

Merry Monday with Penelope Marzec

Merry Monday! And in spite of the light-speed Christmas is galloping toward us, we still have time to put feet up and read some good, entertaining, and enriching Christmas novellas. Maybe have a cookie or two.
May I recommend “Clear as Ice?”
Won’t take you long.
Neither will reading my interview with the author, Penelope. Marzec. I’m so glad to have her visit the Prude today! (and isn’t this cover great???)

Here is the blurb: When Ethan’s prayers for his mother’s life go unanswered, he abandons his faith, tossing it out with his mother’s Christmas ornaments. The loss of his hope leaves him empty and he begins to shy away from relationships, but when his dog Rufus, a rescue from a shelter, develops a fondness for a woman skating on the frozen lake behind his house, he’s annoyed. Not only does he resent her using his pond, he doesn’t understand her fear of dogs.

Haylie, once an Olympic figure skater, is afraid of more than just Ethan’s dog. She lives in constant fear due to threats from a stalker, but one day Ethan’s dog chases the danger away, so Haylie decides to try to lose her fear of dogs…But then the stalker’s plans expand to include revenge toward Ethan as well. If they are to remain safe and live to see a happily-ever-after, Haylie and Ethan must put aside differences and learn to trust each other. This Christmas season promises to be the most challenging and the most meaningful of their lives.

ClearAsIce_prc5538_750

Penelope, welcome! Jumping right in to the intersection of reality and fiction: Do you know as much about ice skating as Haylie does?

I never took formal ice skating lessons so I don’t know as much about skating as my character in Clear as Ice. I watched the other kids on the ice and imitated their moves. The girl who lived across the street from me was considerably older, but she was the best in the neighborhood so I tried to do what she did. I fell all the time, but that’s one way to learn.

Do you have four seasons where you live?

Yes, New Jersey has four seasons. It gets bitterly cold here at times during the winter though in general it is not as prolonged since the ocean tends to moderate the temperature. Small lakes freeze over quickly. However, despite the fact that most of the rivers are tidal estuaries, they, too, will freeze solid if the temperature remains cold long enough. Then the ice boats come out of storage to race. If the freeze continues, the ferries to New York City stop running. Sometimes we get a lot of snow, and sometimes not too much. But we have a snowblower so we are prepared.

Rate the seasons in order of your preference.

Fall is my favorite season. Next is spring, Then winter and last comes summer. Summer is too hot and there are far too many mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are vicious.

Why is No. 1 on top? (Fall is my favorite here in the Midwest, too)

The temperatures in the fall are ideal in my opinion. Most often, autumn contains a wealth of sunny days—unless there’s a hurricane. But then we get nor’easters during the winter, which are just as bad as hurricanes. After spending my career teaching, I still think of fall as a time of new beginnings—new faces and new challenges, too.

As a writer looking for inspiration all the time, I wonder what gave you the idea for “Clear as Ice?”

The idea for Clear as Ice came to me from a convergence of events. One of my daughters went through a stalking experience, another daughter was an EMT for a time, my granddog needed a story, and seeing turtles underneath the ice in suspended animation is quite amazing. Also, I would love to go ice skating again, but with my wonky knees it’s not going to happen.
There is a lot of loss and heartache in “Clear as Ice” (although it also is filled with hope). Why did you choose to put these issues and the pain the cause in the story?

I wrote the story because everyone needs hope.

My brother died a few days before Christmas while he was in the Air Force. His plane, an F-111 crashed. He was only twenty-five. I was twenty-four. It was a difficult, sorrowful time, but no one in my family lost their faith. However, I have known others in similar situations who stopped believing due to the loss of their loved ones. When horrible things happen, some people decide there is no God because if there was, they assume such tragedies wouldn’t occur. This indicates to me that they don’t understand the Lord’s promises or they would not have lost their faith. The world is a very, very sad place without hope.

Oh Penelope. So sorry to hear about your brother. So glad you could stay leaning on the Lord.  And glad you have the dog, Rufus, in this story. He is pretty appealing! Are you a dog person? Cat? Both/neither?

I am a dog person. Cats are too aloof and independent to my way of thinking. When I was five years old, our family got a dog we named King—such an original name. He was part Husky and who knows what else. He lived outside—as most dogs did in those days—but we brought him inside the house during hurricanes and blizzards. In my early twenties, I bought a full-bred German shepherd who I named Orion. He was delightful and smart, but died at too young an age and broke my heart. My youngest daughter now has a dog—our granddog. Rufus is based on my daughter’s dog—at least in looks. I think Rufus is a bit more intelligent than my granddog, but not by much.

Describe your perfect Christmas for us.

For me a perfect Christmas is a family gathering on Christmas Eve with a nice dinner, followed by going to church. Afterwards, everyone opens gifts. It’s a simple schedule. It was different when our daughters were little. We still had our nice dinner along with attendance at church, but the gift opening happened early in the morning.

Nowadays, I like to stay in bed on Christmas morning.
I hope you get your Christmas wish! How about a favorite Christmas Carol?

There are a gazillion wonderful Christmas Carols. I really enjoy many of the ancient ones—like “Good King Wenceslas” and “The Holly and the Ivy.” After years teaching young children, I am fond of many of the secular songs, too, like “Up On the Housetop.”

Favorite Christmas movie and/or TV special?

Hubby plays the accordion so his favorite Christmas movie is It’s a Wonderful Life because there’s a scene at the end with an accordion. I have seen It’s a Wonderful Life just about every year. So I think it became my favorite Christmas movie by default. One of hubby’s accordion friends bought an accordion from him because it looked very much like the accordion in It’s a Wonderful Life. That man then donated the accordion to the museum in Seneca Falls, New York, which many believe was the inspiration for the town in the movie.
We watch It’s a Wonderful Life every year too! Thanks for the extra information on the movie. (And my dad played accordion, hearing accordion music makes me happy.)

One last thing before you go. If you could have any Christmas wish for your readers, what would it be?

I pray my readers will cling to a strong faith so they will continue to believe in the Lord’s promises and never lose hope.

Amen! Thank you for visiting. Readers, Penelope is also a musician, artist, a crocheter, and probably many more things that I don’t know. A delightful lady. I hope you get to know her through her books!

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Bio:

Penelope Marzec grew up along the Jersey shore. She started reading romances at a young age and fell hopelessly in love with happy endings. Two of her inspirational romances won EPIC’s eBook Award and another was a finalist in that contest. Her paranormal, Irons in the Fire, was a nominee for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award. Visit her website at penelopemarzec.com for more information.

Purchasing Information:

Pelican Book Group: https://pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=37_73&products_id=1344

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Clear-Ice-Christmas-Holiday-Extravaganza-ebook/dp/B07YSXW85Q

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/clear-as-ice-penelope-marzec/1133984962

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/clear-as-ice

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/clear-as-ice/id1482927078