April 23, 2016

Ah, Spring and all her glory.

I'm enjoying the spring weather that has finally arrived in Ohio bringing blooming pear trees, red buds and tulip trees. How about you? Do you love spring as much as I do?
I spent a day on the patio, putting out the table, chairs, umbrella. I painted a white wicker plant table and have decided it's too good for the patio. I plan to use it in the bathroom instead.
Just when I thought winter would last forever, spring arrived with temperatures in the 70's. I noted buds covering my rose bush and a robin building a nest in the crevice of my chimney. I wanted to let them stay but they managed to leave so much debris at my front door that I had no choice but to shoo them away. Hopefully they've moved on to one of the many trees and bushes in my community, a more cozy place for raising babies.
When I was a kid growing up in Putnam County, WV, I was outside at the first glimpse of the sun coming through my bedroom window. I ran through our yard, down through the orchard where we had six or eight apple trees in a row, picking up green apples to eat on the way. I'd play in the creek, which mother said was too dirty to touch, but I didn't agree. The water was clear as glass. It ran quickly over my feet standing on the rocks under the water. I'd check on Nellie my black and white pig in her pen nearby. I remember one time straddling her for a photo. She was quite large and I looked small on her back. 
I'd sometimes walk up the steep hill behind our house to the cemetery where I'd read the names on nearby stones and wonder what happened to cause the demise of  Harriet Bailey or Baby Allison or Pop Asbury. I daydreamed sitting on the ground among the tombstones with the scent of honeysuckle drifting around me.
I miss the days of helping mother spring clean. Mostly I complained at having to wash the baseboards because I'd encounter a spider or two and lots of dust - from months without doors or windows open.
Mother took spring cleaning to heart. She took beds apart and we had to clean the bed frames and slats. A senseless chore, it seemed to me, and one I never do.
I miss those leisure days of summer that stretched out before me as unfettered and carefree as the butterflies that pass through my flower garden. 
As I ponder the days ahead, I plan to spend more time in the great outdoors, soaking up sunshine - it's the best medicine in the world. 
Perhaps I'll even venture back to that little creek and the hillside cemetery and visit my old friends.

What do you like best about spring and summer?
Or do you live in a climate that is warm year round? I welcome your comments. 
Have a great spring whatever weather you are experiencing. We can always find something to like about each season.

March 25, 2016

She brought Jesus more than an Alabaster Box

This piece has been revised from an earlier version. Apologies.

What was an alabaster box or jar?
Alabaster jars were often made from a precious stone found in Israel. This stone resembles marble, and were extremely expensive. These jars contained ointments, oils and perfume. The thick stone prevented the aroma from escaping and kept the perfume from spoiling. The shape of the jar often had a long neck and a sealed top. The top had to be broken to open, which allowed it to be used only once.  Some believe that women who owned these jars were usually prostitutes who used the smell to lure in men, or to cover up their own odor. However, several women owned many different types of perfumes. Sources for water were limited, so they used these oils and ointments for daily hygiene. 

The story from Luke 2:27 is one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible. Jesus was having dinner with a pharisee (Simon) and a lowly woman came to him with her alabaster box of expensive perfume. (It seems that poor people from the street could gather around and beg for scraps of food from these dinners) This woman, who is unnamed,  washed his feet with her tears, dried them with her long hair. Then poured out upon him, perhaps the only worthy item she possessed, her perfume from the alabaster box. Her heart cried out, he forgave her sins without a word passing between them. Heartfelt emotion from her and an all knowing God forgave her her sins. 

My prayer for you is that you might consider reading this awesome story below and can be found in the KJV of the Holy Bible.

Luke 7:37  And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,

7:38  And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

7:39  Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

7:40  And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.

7:41  There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.

7:42  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

7:43  Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

7:44  And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

7:45  Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.

7:46  My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.

7:47  Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

7:48  And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.

7:49  And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?

7:50  And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

He gave his life for our sins that we may have everlasting life.
JOHN 3:16
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish but have everlasting life."

Happy Easter and May God bless you on your life's journey.

Update on my current novel. I'm in what I hope is my final edit of Missing: Sweet Baby James. Set in my beloved WV. My target date for finishing is mid to end of summer. Prayers and good thoughts, please. Thanks. 

Comments always welcome!

February 24, 2016

"The waste paper basket is the writer's best friend." - Isaac B. Singer

Barbara signing books at Tamarack, WV with an avid reader.

On Rewriting & Quotes On Writing
Sometimes beginning writers say they don't believe in rewriting. They're afraid they'll somehow lose the excitement of the first draft. This is far from the truth. Rewriting is making the work better. You add, delete, and revise. What worked well in the first draft stays. Most professional writers know there is a sense of control that comes with revision. It's where one knows one has mastery of the writing craft. Not easy! Just remember - anything worth having is never easy. So if you'd like to start writing, or if  you're in the middle of a project, get busy. Time is wasting!

"It is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is common in all writing and among the best of writers."
- E. B. White

"I don't write easily or rapidly. My first draft usually has only a few elements worth keeping. I have to find what those are and build from them and throw out what doesn't work, or what simply is not alive."
- Susan Sontag

"Half my life is an act of revision; more than half the act is performed with small changes."
- John Irving

"I revise the manuscript till I can't read it any longer, then I get somebody to type it. Then I revise the typing. Then it's retyped again. Then there's a third typing, which is the final one. Nothing should then remain that offends the eye."
- Robert Graves

"I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times before I was satisfied."
- Ernest Hemingway

"I do a lot of revising. Certain chapters six or seven times. Occasionally you can hit it right the first time. Most often, you don't."
- John Dos Passos

"I can't write five words but that I change seven."
- Dorothy Parker

"I have rewritten--often several times--every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers."
- Vladmir Nabokov

"First drafts are learning what your novel or story is about. Revision is working with that knowledge to enlarge or enhance an idea, or reform it."
- Thomas Wolfe

"A thing may in itself be the finest piece of writing one has ever done, and yet have absolutely no place in the manuscript one hopes to publish."
- Carolyn Forche

"Read over your compositions and, when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out."
- Samuel Johnson

"There are days when the result is so bad that no fewer than five revisions are required. In contrast, when I'm greatly inspired, only four revisions are needed."
- John Galbreath

"I rewrite everything, almost idiotically. I rewrite and work and work, and rewrite and rewrite some more."
- Laura Z. Hobson

"I retype everything four, five, and six times--critical passages more--and everything, say three times."
- James Michener

"Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped."
- Lillian Hellman

"Only amateurs don't rewrite. It's in the rewriting that writers bring ALL their knowledge--basic craft, technique, style, organization, attitude, creative inspiration --to the work."
- Gloria T. Delamar

"Writing a first draft is like groping one's way into a dark room, or overhearing a faint conversation, or telling a joke whose punchline you've forgotten. As someone said, one writes mainly to rewrite, for rewriting and revising are how one's mind comes to inhabit the material fully."
- Ted Solotaroff

Good luck with your own writing. I'd love to have an update on your stories, poems, or whatever you're writing. Comments welcome!

February 1, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day...

What does Valentine's Day mean to you?  

We each have our own unique story of love and how we met "the one." 
Some have funny stories, strange stories, or simply humdrum stories that are special.

Here's how I met mine.

My cousin, Sue, married the guy's best friend, Bill. Sue and Bill had set me up on several dates that fizzled. I wasn't sure about this third one. However, I went along with it.
AND fifty some years later, I can report that it was a success. He was exciting, tall, dark, and handsome. A world traveler who'd been in the Navy (a Seabee), traveled aboard ships, vacationed in Hong Kong, stationed in the Phillipines, visited Hawaii and lived on Midway Island as a swabbie. He was, in other words, exactly what I was looking for. Someone who would take me away from my childhood home where I thought my life was the pits. (How is it we learn after we mature that our lives were pretty darned good growing up! In fact, real good!)

We started our lives in our home state of West Virginia. Then went on to jobs in Ohio and Michigan. Finally, we bought a retirement home in FL which we renovated and then moved back to Ohio.

Over the years, we kept busy with three daughters, three son in laws, eight grandchildren, and one pug named Sam.

Living, planning, moving, growing. Though my guy is gone now, I'm still a romantic. I'd love to hear your stories about your romance or romances and about where you are today. Some of you may have brand new loves, old loves, loves that left you heartbroken or loves that you found late in life. You can even add loves that never panned out. Like I said we all have our stories and I'd like to hear yours. All of them. And someday I'll tell you all of mine! 

Sue, Barbara, Bill, Raymond at Der Dutchman - their 50th anniversary dinner


If you're looking for a love story to read this month click on the link below and read Anne and Rob's story. Told in letter form, it's a soldier's letters home to his bride while he served in Vietnam. While war is never easy, this story is about having hope. And how true love can pull us through in times of trouble.


December 30, 2015

Holiday Clean-up: A Poem

with apologies to Dr. Seuss

Cleaning up after the holiday
Isn’t quite as much fun,
As on the day
When the decorations were strung. 

There was my family, all spruced, in the den,
With an eggnog toast, and a cheer, “Let’s begin.”
We set about bedecking every pillar and post,
Window and mantle - 
With ribbon, wreath, Santa, and candle.

By the end of the evening
The tree was aglitter.
The windows were glowing
WIth the candlesticks flicker.

The children were happy 
Mom and Pop, too.
To think we did all this.
You! You! and you!

But, then, the week after
Rolled quickly ‘round.
No time to un-trim.
We headed to town.

To return all our presents.
To see a quick show.
What? It’s the first of January
The trimming must go.

Undo each ribbon. Undo each bow.
Untie the wreaths
Get that tree in tow.
It’s out to the trash bin
Arms loaded, we go.

Away go the boxes.
The cards and the letters.
Out comes our list of “Things to do better.”
Resolutions. Affirmations.
Declarations. Proclamations.

Where’s that old diet?
By jiminy, we’ll try it!
It’s a New Year we’re facing. And face it we will.
Without eggnog. Or fudge. Or even a pill.
We’ll face it together -
Oh, taste buds be still!
Until, oh no, here comes the BILL.
Or, as in our case, it’s many - 
Giving the post man exercise aplenty.

At my house we’re still undoing the fun
Dusting and washing and rising and wiping
Trinkets and dishes and goblets, and griping,
“Next year, it’s a vacation we’ll take.

By Amtrak. Or horseback. Or roller skate!”
Who cares how we do it, we plan and we plot.
Next year it’s to the tropics.
Anywhere that's HOT.

But whatever we do, one thing is clear.
We’re wishing you and yours a VERY HAPPY

God bless!

December 17, 2015

Christmas photos and newsletter Dec. 2015

Merry Christmas!

My tree - 2015

The is the newsletter I sent to family and friends this year. Hope you enjoy reading what's going on with my life as I consider all who read my blog friends!
God bless you this holiday season.

Christmas Cookies
With decorating help from the kiddies

Hello Folks:

It’s been a few years since I’ve written. I hope everyone is well. It’s hard to believe 2016 is around the corner. I’m excited our family will be coming here for Christmas. I’m ready - just last minute cards to do and some presents to wrap.

Ray’s been gone for two years and I’ve experienced many adjustments and changes. I miss him terribly but realized after he was gone how very ill he was the last two years. My own health has improved greatly in the last year. Caregiving isn’t an easy job.
I moved to a condo in last year. I’ve reunited with friends and my church. I’m in a women’s Bible study group and a writing group. I still attend Hocking Hills writer’s group monthly, my forever buddies.

A few of our Hocking Hills 
team: Barb, Jill, Tina.

I do book signings and workshops occasionally. Love going to Tamarack in Beckley, WV. My novel Vada Faith, Ezra and Other Stories, a book of short stories, and Dear Anne: Love Letters from Nam, a short story, are available on Amazon.com. I'm hard at work on Missing: Sweet Baby James, sequel to Vada Faith, after taking time off in the last two years to regroup.

Book signing at Tamarack
Always a good time.

The big news is our youngest grandchild - Jill and Jason’s son - Austin, is ten years old. 

Tanner, Chase and Mackenzie, the triplets, are 14, growing up way too fast. Jill and Jason moved to Ft. Knox, KY in July. I love having them closer. I’ve gone to watch Tanner and Chase play basketball. They’re really good at it! And, they tower over me! Time flies.
Lisa and Jon are still in Hillsboro. Their son Daniel is living in Nashville. He works full time for Apple computer and does photography for special events. Their daughter Jillian is a student at the University of Cincinnati and does some modeling. 
Susan and Gary bought a new home and sold their farm. Samantha graduated from the police academy, from boot camp Army reserves, and from AIT school (military police). She’s a deputy in the sheriff’s department for Pickaway County. Steven is in his second year at Ohio University at Athens. I’m proud of all of them! 
My brother in law, Brownie, and his daughter, Deb, and I took a train trip thru WV to the mountains in the fall. The train cars were from the 50’s. A really fun trip.

All I miss about our home in the country is living near Susan and her family and the friends we made while there. Especially our neighbors, the Clarks.

Please know while I haven’t kept in touch, I’ve thought of you often. I’ll never forget our long distance family and friends, who’ve been there for both Raymond and I over the years. I wish you all the best. Love and Blessings!

Lighting a candle for Raymond at
La Salette Festival of Lights

Attleboro, MA
What an incredible experience

The Celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior

December 7, 2015

Pearl Harbor: My Visit

Memorial at Pearl Harbor

Dec. 7, 1941: The memories sear, the blame washes away

"War! Oahu Bombed By Japanese Planes." A few summers ago at Pearl Harbor, I read the shocking headlines from a copy of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, dated Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941. I was waiting in line to board a tour boat to go to the USS Arizona Memorial. Finally, moving toward an empty boat, I noted that most of the people on the crowded platform were Japanese.
On the short ride across the harbor, I listened to a guide describe the events of that fateful day. As the small boat approached the white concrete building, the guide concluded, "The battleship Arizona still rests at the bottom of the harbor in 38 feet of water just eight feet below the water's surface. The memorial is an enclosed bridge that spans the sunken hull, but touches no part of the ship itself. Oil will continue to seep from the battleship for many more years."
When I stepped off the tour boat, I saw the American flag flying over a small part of the ship that is visible above the water.
Inside the memorial, I was swept back to the day of the disastrous bombing. From the walls, pictures of the battleship in flames and sinking, looked down at me and seared themselves on my mind. I couldn't appreciate the mementos salvaged from the ship when I knew that 1,177 men were entombed below in the battleship's blasted hulk.
A loudspeaker was effectively re-creating the day with the sound of bombs exploding and chaotic outcries.
As I stared out an opening in the wall at the calm blue water, I was lost in thought for a few minutes. Then black oil gurgled to the water's surface. Though the temperature was 85, I turned away, chilled.
From the middle of the memorial, I could see the ship through a large opening in the floor. I thought of the many men and all the ambitions and dreams that had gone down with the ship. I thought of the mothers, fathers, wives and children who had been left behind with the burden of unanswerable questions.
I wondered how the men would feel if they knew the memorial was filled with Japanese men and women. Silently, I suffered their indignation.
In the shrine room, where the names of the dead men are engraved on a marble wall, I stood in reverence, trying to wish away the horrors of the war.
Nearby, a Japanese gentleman, left his group and gravely studied the wall. Over the speaker, the names of the men were slowly being read. Almost ceremoniously, the Japanese man removed an orchid lei from his neck and placed it next to several wreaths on a marble platform. He backed away and was lost in the crowd.
Aboard the tour boat for the return trip, I tried to sort out my emotions. Before my visit, I'd thought of the memorial at Pearl Harbor as another historic place to visit. Yet, I'd been tremendously touched by the harsh realities of war and by the wasted lives and destruction.
Why, then, did I feel the need to condemn? Could I blame the Japanese man who had humbly offered the lei? Or the Japanese couple who sat on the boat in front of me? Or the somber young Japanese woman on my right?

With tears in my eyes, I realized I couldn't blame anyone. I remembered Hiroshima.

@copyright Barbara A. Whittington

Beautiful Hawaii

This was written years ago after my visit to Pearl Harbor. My thoughts on war haven't changed.  Too many lives lost and not enough gained. I pray for our military today and for our veterans for all that they have lost. I pray for world peace. And may God bless us all, no matter who we are or where we are.