Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Handy Helpers, Book Four–The End–At last

I have said so many times that I am almost finished with Book Four, I wanted to wait until that was actually true. Last Friday, the completed manuscript was emailed to my publisher for copy editing. So I think I can safely say that it is finished.

This is the story of Beth Anne’s quest to go to summer camp with her friends. Her parents want her to go to a camp for children with special needs. Thinking it is because they are worried for Beth Anne’s safety, she and her friends plead their case. Finally, Beth Anne’s parents admit that it is because they don’t have the money for the registration fee–the special camp is free.

That’s when the Handy Helpers devise a plan to raise the money. Registration check in hand, everything seems set for Beth Anne to go to camp. But Beth Anne shocks her family and her friends when she suddenly changes her mind and wants to go to the special camp after all. The reason for her change of heart is a story in itself.

Some other surprises in Book Four:

  • The outcome of the forest fire that took place in Book Three is revealed–the fire damage and what happened to the Cole children.
  • Logan’s dad–absent more than ever–shows up with someone he wants Logan to meet.
  • The history of the Clawson sisters is revealed, along with the history of Bluesky.
  • A big change is coming for Beth Anne’s family and she is excited about it.
  • In Book Three, Spike learned a lot about dealing with Bullies. At camp he encounters another bully and has to put his skills to the test.
  • At camp, Laura and Melissa’s friendship is stretched to the limits. Amber, who is put in the middle, must act as peacemaker.
  • Chris faces one of his fears and works to overcome it.

I hope you are excited about reading Book Four. I’m already at work on Book Five. Hopefully it won’t be so long before it is ready.

Check out my author page and order books on Amazon.

 

Red, White, and . . . Bloopers

Chris and Logan were already there when Spike arrived at the watermelon-eating contest. Gigantic watermelons had been cut up, and large slices were waiting for the contestants. “Last call for the watermelon-eating contest!” Mr. Howard, the president of the town council, shouted into the microphone. Contestants had already taken most of the seats at the table. Spike noticed Todd sitting on the far end and made his way there so he would be able to give Todd his slice of watermelon along with a big slice of revenge. Troy Fillmore was already in position, looking confident in his ability to win the contest for a second year.

            “Before we begin,” Mr. Howard said to the contestants, “I’m going to go over the rules. Your hands will remain behind your back during the entire contest. You must eat all of the red portion. Emmitt Dugan here will be the judge. He will determine when you’ve eaten all of the red portion. His judgment is final. We’re just about ready to begin. Go ahead and set the watermelon in front of the contestants.”

            While Mr. Howard was speaking, Spike had carefully removed the bottle of red dye from his pocket. Using the pointed applicator, he carved a groove in a watermelon slice and filled the groove with the contents of the dye bottle. Then he set the slice of watermelon in front of Todd. Spike recognized Mayor Goodwin standing nearby. He had removed his leather jacket but was still wearing the white T-shirt.

            “Okay, I think we’re all ready,” Mr. Howard spoke into the microphone again. “Wait a minute, there’s an empty chair. Hey, Mayor, don’t you want to get in on this?”

            “I think I’ll pass,” Mayor Goodwin said, patting his belly. “I just ate a big lunch.”

            “Oh, come on,” Mr. Howard urged. “You can’t let Troy win this thing again, at least not without a challenge.”

            The crowd started chanting “Go, Mayor, go! Go, Mayor, go!”

            At last, the mayor relented. “Okay, I guess I’ll do it.” The chair on the other side of Todd was vacant, but because the chairs were crowded together, the mayor asked Todd to move over so he could have the chair on the end. All the contestants had bibs tied around their necks to protect their clothing from watermelon stains. Because the mayor joined at the last minute, no one thought to give him a bib. Spike watched in horror as Mayor Goodwin took the seat in front of the sabotaged watermelon slice.

            Before Spike could switch watermelon slices, Mr. Howard yelled “Go!” into the microphone. Slices of watermelon were sliding around the table as the contestants plunged their faces into the red flesh of the melons. Chomping sounds could be heard as well as groans from the spectators as they saw Troy Fillmore’s watermelon slide away from him and fall under the table. Chris quickly replaced it with another slice, but Troy was now far behind the other contestants. Jennifer was jumping up and down, yelling Todd’s name. Todd was focused on eating the watermelon, but his mouth wasn’t as big as the mayor who was devouring every red speck in record time.

            Spike, who had been watching the excitement, looked down at his hands. They were stained with the red dye. The empty dye bottle lay at his feet. Spike quickly picked it up and walked as fast as he could without drawing attention in the direction of the restroom. As he left, he could hear the crowd cheering.

            “Here’s the winner!” Mr. Howard shouted into the microphone, holding up Mayor Goodwin’s hand. “It looks like we have a new champion this year!” he continued as the contestants were given towels to wipe their faces. “Our mayor has pulled it off for the good old red, white, and . . . red, white, and . . . bloopers! Holy moly, Mayor, what happened to your face?”

            Spike quickened his pace toward the restroom. Everyone stared at the mayor, who was holding the towel in his hands. On his face was a red smile that went from ear to ear. It wasn’t a happy-clown smile but an evil, scary smile. It looked like he had been drinking blood and the blood had splattered onto his white shirt. Women nearby shrieked in terror. Toddlers in strollers and babies in their parents’ arms began to cry. People came running from every direction to see what had happened.

            “Better go clean up,” Troy whispered to the mayor.

            “You!” Mayor Goodwin called out as he entered the restroom. “It was you!”

            Spike looked up from the basin where he was scrubbing his red hands and peered into the stained face of Mayor Goodwin. Their eyes locked for a moment, and then Spike broke away and ran for the door.

From The Handy Helpers Book 3: Red, White, and . . . Bloopers!  The Handy Helpers series is available on amazon

 

No good deed goes unpunished.

broken-eggs

When the girls rang the doorbell, they heard Mrs. Henry shout, “Go Away.”

“Mrs. Henry,” Amber yelled through the door. “It’s Laura and Amber. We came to see if you need any help.”

“Come on in,” She yelled back. As the girls opened the door, they heard her say, “Might as well. You already woke me up.” The wrinkled condition of Mrs. Henry’s house dress told Amber and Laura that she really had been sleeping.  Her thin white hair was piled up on her head so that it looked like a giant spider had woven its web there.

“How are you feeling?” Laura asked, trying not to react to her appearance.

“I have a broken hip. How do you think I feel?”

“We were very sorry to hear about your accident.” Amber hoped she sounded sincere. “How did it happen?”

“It’s a long story,” Mrs. Henry sighed. Amber and Laura were sure it would be.

“I was late for my Bridge game and I had my arms full of old clothes I was taking to the thrift store. The gravel in my driveway was loose. I wish I had a cement driveway, but Mr. Henry said we couldn’t afford cement so we had to have gravel. Anyway, the gravel was loose and my feet started slipping. I tried to grab a hold of my car door, but I kept slipping. The next thing I knew, I was down on the gravel. I probably would have lain there until I died, but Doris Duncan came by to check on me when I didn’t show up at the Bridge game. At least I have one person who cares a little about what happens to me. She called for an ambulance and they took me to the hospital. The doctor ordered an x-ray and said I have a broken hip. The next day, I had surgery. They put me in rehab for three weeks, and now I’m supposed to take care of myself. I can get around some in my wheelchair, but no one cares if I starve to death.”

“We care, “Laura assured her. “What can we do for you?”

“You can go to the store and buy me some things that I can cook myself from the wheelchair.”

“We’d be happy to do that,” Amber managed a smile. “Do you have a list?”

“I just need eggs, bread, milk and coffee. Can’t you remember that without a list?”

            “Of course we can,” Laura smiled. “We’ll go to the store right now and be back before you know it.”

            “Sure you will,” Mrs. Henry sounded doubtful. “Here’s some money. Don’t lose it.”

            Laura and Amber jumped on their bikes and raced down the street toward the market. Laura had tucked Mrs. Henry’s money safely in her pocket. After they located all of the items in the store, they went to the checkout counter where Margaret, the clerk, rang up their purchases.

Amber put the milk and bread in the basket of her bike. Laura took the eggs and coffee. They rode back as fast as they could, knowing that Mrs. Henry would be annoyed if they took too long. Just as they were turning the corner onto Hope Street, a large yellow dog ran out in front of them. Amber managed to miss the dog, but when Laura tried to swerve around him, she lost control of her bike. With a loud crash, she landed on the pavement, the back wheel of her bike still spinning around. Amber ran to help her up. That’s when she saw the raw egg spilled on the pavement.

“Are there any unbroken ones?” Laura asked as Amber opened the carton.

“Only two,” Amber said. “Are you all right?”

“I’ll be fine,” Laura sighed, “But what are we going to do about the eggs?”

Just then Amber realized they were on Betty Jenkins’ street. Amber and Laura knocked forcefully on Betty’s door.

            “What’s wrong?” Betty asked when she saw the panic on their faces.

            “We were shopping for Mrs. Henry, and we broke the eggs,” Laura explained.

            “It wasn’t our fault,” Amber added. “A dog ran out in front of us.”

            “Don’t worry,” Betty said, calmly. “It was just an accident. We’ll think of something. Let me see if I have a dozen eggs in my refrigerator.”

            “We just need ten,” Laura said. “Two of them didn’t break.”

            “I’ve only got six,” Betty told them after checking her refrigerator. “Let’s go across the street to Doris’s house and see if she can spare four eggs.”

            “What took you so long? Did you have to milk a cow?” Mrs. Henry fumed as the girls came through the door with her groceries.

            After they had put away Mrs. Henry’s groceries, Laura asked if there was anything else they could do for her.

            “Not today,” she said, “but come back on Wednesday. I’m going to need you then.”

            “You’re welcome,” Amber said when they got outside.

            “You didn’t expect her to thank us, did you?” Laura asked.

            “Of course not.” Amber laughed “Those words aren’t in her vocabulary.” 

From The Handy Helpers: Seven is a Perfect Number, available from Amazon

Be happy this Christmas.

christmas-tree-man-happyThis has been called “The most wonderful time of the year.” While many would dispute that–especially parents trying to make the budget stretch–it is a time ripe with anticipation.

It is a busy time as we go in search of the perfect gift for everyone on our lists,  wrap and bake and decorate. When it is all said and done on December 25, will we be able to say “Merry Christmas” and truly mean it?

Since I can’t shop for all of you, I offer this as my gift to you.  I tore it from a devotional I read everyday, and now it serves as a bookmark in my Bible. I read it often, as a much-needed reminder:

Jesus said, “Stop allowing yourself to be . . . unsettled” (Jn 14:27) .  You’re doing it to yourself! Learn to “let go” and work on developing the fruits of the spirit in your own life. Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care. It just means allowing others to learn in their own way and through their own experiences. It calls for focusing on Jesus rather than obsessing on the other person’s behavior. “You will keep in perfect peace. . . all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (Isa 27:3). Fix your thoughts on God, not others. Letting go means caring about instead of care-giving. It means stepping out of the middle and not trying to influence the outcome by fixing, judging, nagging, scolding, arguing, criticizing, and regulating. It’s about facing each day with God’s help and cherishing each moment. It’s about realizing the only person you can “change” is yourself. It’s about fearing less and trusting more. And it’s the only way to be happy.

Have a very merry and blessed Christmas.

I LOVE SPINACH

vegetable-garden-ideas2When the grasshoppers ate her mother’s vegetable garden, Amber was secretly happy about it–especially when they ate up all the spinach. Amber couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to eat that slimy green stuff. But when Amber tasted Betty Jenkin’s spinach salad made with fresh spinach, she totally changed her opinion. In fact, when Betty showed up to lend her green thumb in helping the Snyder’s plant a successful garden, Amber insisted that the garden include spinach.

Once the spinach was ready to harvest, Amber wanted to invite Betty to dinner as a way to say thank you. Here is how it went:

Amber was so excited about their special Memorial Day dinner, that she practically dragged her family to the car. “Don’t you want to stay and visit with your friends?” John asked. “It will be hours before Betty comes to dinner.”

“I have to make my special spinach salad,” Amber insisted. “Laura gave me a recipe that she said will be delicious. It’s called Strawberry Spinach Salad. I want to have plenty of time to get things ready.”

Betty Jenkins arrived at the Snyders’ promptly at four o’clock. She brought a jug of homemade lemonade and a cucumber from her garden. “I thought you might like to use this in your salad.” Betty handed the cucumber to Amber.

“That’s exactly what I need,” Amber said, somewhat surprised. “The recipe is supposed to have a cucumber, but I forgot to buy one.”

While her dad got the grill ready for hamburgers, Amber spread the recipe out on the kitchen counter. She took three strips of bacon from the refrigerator and chopped them. Then she cooked the bacon in a small skillet. While the cooked bacon was draining on paper towels, she prepared the dressing using rice vinegar, honey, olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper. In a large salad bowl, Amber tossed the spinach leaves with slices of oranges and strawberries. Next she added Betty’s cucumber which she had thinly sliced along with some sliced red onion. Just before she was ready to serve the salad, she poured on the dressing, tossing to mix it in well. She divided the salad into individual salad bowls. Then she topped each salad with chopped walnuts and bacon.

As Amber carried her salad out to the patio, she saw her dad taking the hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob off the grill. “Dinner is ready,” he announced. Everyone took a seat around the picnic table in the back yard and John gave the blessing.

“Amber,” Betty said, “your salad is lovely. I’m sure it tastes delicious. Strawberries go so well with spinach.”

“I hope you like it,” Amber said. “I know you make really good spinach salad.”

Everyone was loading their hamburgers with big slices of tomato, onions and lettuce, and unwrapping the corn-on-the-cob. Kyle was the first to taste Amber’s spinach salad. “There’s something different about this salad,” he said. “It’s kind of crunchy.”

“That must be the bacon,” Mary suggested, “or maybe the walnuts.”

“Betty’s cucumber is so fresh,” Amber said. “Maybe that’s what’s crunchy.”

“I see what you mean,” John said to Kyle after taking a bite of salad. “It’s a different kind of crunchy, kind of gritty.”

Mary lifted some of the spinach leaves and examined her salad closely. “Amber, did you wash the spinach before you made the salad?”

“Wash the spinach?” Amber sounded confused. “It didn’t say anything about washing the spinach in the recipe Laura gave me.”

Kyle who had just taken a large bite of salad spit it back into the bowl.

“I should have told you that you have to wash spinach well, especially when it comes from the garden. I’m sorry I didn’t think of that,” Mary said, sympathetically.

“Oh,” Amber said, “I messed up again.”

Mary collected the bowls of salad and carried them into the kitchen.

“I should leave cooking to Laura,” Amber said with a sigh. “I’ll never be a good cook like you, Betty.”

“Well.” Betty laughed. “I wasn’t always a good cook. When Paul and I were first married, I was a horrible cook. I remember the first time I tried boiling eggs. I didn’t know how long to cook them, so I boiled them for half an hour. They were so rubbery you could bounce them off the wall.”

“What did Paul do?” Amber asked. “Did he get mad at you?”

“Not Paul.” Betty laughed again. “He was always a very kind, patient man. He sat right down at the table and ate those eggs—every one. It took him a long time to chew them. It must have been like eating a sponge. I’m sure his jaws hurt for weeks afterwards.”

“That’s a really funny story,” John said. “I think I could tell a few stories like that about when we were first married.”

“But I bet you know better than to tell those stories, don’t you?” Betty said with a wink.

“You have that right.” John laughed.

From The Handy Helpers: Seven is a Perfect Number available on Amazon

 

A Rocky Start: Chapter Sixteen

Image1-17_edited-1

Monday afternoon, the girls found Gus sitting in a chair in the lobby of the senior center. “Why did the elephant paint his toenails red?” he asked when he saw them come in.

“I don’t know,” Laura said, taking the bait. “Why did the elephant paint his toenails red?”

“So he could hide in the strawberry patch.” Gus laughed.

“That’s a good one, Gus,” Amber said, smiling.

“Yeah.” Melissa laughed. “Very funny.”

“What are you girls up to today?” Gus wanted to know.

“We’re here to check the schedule just like we do every Monday,” Laura explained.

“What are you doing hanging around here?” Amber asked Gus.

“Watching for pretty girls,” was Gus’s answer.

“Have you seen any?” Amber asked.

“Yeah.” Gus smiled. “Three beautiful girls just walked through the door.”

“Where?” Amber looked around.

“He means us, silly,” Melissa said, fluffing out her hair. “You’re sweet, Gus.”

“See you later,” Amber said, and then added, “alligator.”

“After ’while, crocodile,” Gus answered back.

 

Walt was just putting the schedule up on the bulletin board when the girls walked up. “We’re giving you a week off,” Walt announced. “You worked pretty hard last week. We think you deserve a break.”

“That’s really nice,” Laura said. “But we like working here.”

“There’s more,” Walt continued. “On Saturday, we’re having an appreciation lunch for you and the boys. Where are they, by the way?”

“Oh, they’ll be a little late,” Amber said. “They stayed after school for something.”

“Could you let them know about the luncheon? It’ll be at noon on Saturday.”

“Sure, we’ll let them know,” Laura assured him.

“Okay, spill the beans,” Laura turned to Amber after Walt left. “Why are the boys staying after school?”

“They’re probably waiting for Spike. He had to serve detention,” Amber said with a grin. “Ms. McGuire asked me to see her after school. When I walked in the room, I saw Spike sitting at his desk with his head down.”

“Why, what did he do?” Laura wanted to know more.

“What I heard was that he was pretending to be Ms. McGuire. You know that act he does,” Melissa chimed in.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him do that,” Laura said. “That’s why he got detention?”

“He was clapping his hands and saying, ‘Now class, settle down. Settle down. I have some great news. You’re going to get to do fifty pages of homework tonight. Isn’t that exciting?’ He didn’t see Ms. McGuire come in with two other teachers. She probably would have laughed it off, but I guess she didn’t want the other teachers to think she was a pushover, so she gave him detention.”

“What about Chris and Logan?” Laura asked. “Why aren’t they here?”

“They probably waited for Spike,” Amber said. “They’ll all show up together. They’re like the three musketeers.”

“Don’t you mean the three stooges?” Melissa laughed.

Even though they knew their names were not on the schedule, the girls walked over to the bulletin board and looked at it anyway. “I’ve got a great idea,” Melissa said excitedly as she looked down the list of jobs. “Watch this.” Melissa pulled a pencil out of her book bag and wrote something on one of the empty lines on the schedule. When she was finished, Amber and Laura saw that she had written “Three Handy Guys” next to the assignment to clean the restrooms, and then she had checked the box for Tuesday.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Laura said. “We’re going to get in trouble.”

“It’s just a joke, right?” Amber asked. “You’re going to erase it, aren’t you?”

“I am going to erase it after the guys see it,” Melissa said. “Don’t be chicken. This is going to be fun. Just wait and see what happens tomorrow.” Melissa pulled her two friends into a doorway where they wouldn’t be seen. “We’ll wait here until the boys come.”

A few minutes later, they watched from their hiding place as the Three Handy Guys came through the front door and headed for the bulletin board.

“Clean the restrooms?” Chris said with surprise. “We’ve never had that job before.”

“How hard could it be?” Spike reassured him. “We can handle that with no problem. I know where all the cleaning supplies are.”

Just then, Walt came out of his office. “Did the girls tell you about Saturday?” he asked.

“No, we haven’t seen them,” Logan said. “What’s happening Saturday?”

“We’re having an appreciation lunch for all of you,” Walt told them. “Be here at noon and enjoy a feast.”

“Thanks,” they all said. “We will.”

The girls watched as the boys left. Then Melissa took her pencil from her book bag again and carefully erased “Three Handy Guys” from the schedule.

 

“Ask me what happened in school today,” Amber said with excitement that night at the dinner table. “Go ahead, ask me. You aren’t going to believe it!”

“Okay, Fred, tell us what happened in school today,” John said with a chuckle. “You look like you’re about to explode.”

“You remember that big math assignment we had to do?” Amber asked her family.

“The one I helped you with?” Kyle said smugly. “Let me guess, you got a passing grade on it.”

“Well, I did,” Amber went on, “But that’s not it. In math today, Ms. McGuire told us what happened to that assignment. She took it home on Friday so she could grade the papers. On Sunday morning, she was looking out in her backyard. There was a lot of white stuff all over her yard. When she went to see what it was, she found our math papers in shreds. Her dog had dragged them out through his doggy door. He was in the backyard with some of our papers in his front paws. He was chewing on them like they were a T-bone steak. Ms. McGuire said that she never believed students who said their dog ate their homework, but now she does. After school, she told me she was giving me credit for the homework Domino ate.”

“Do you have to do the big assignment over again?” Mary asked with concern.

“No, I don’t.” Amber smiled proudly. “Fortunately, Ms. McGuire had already graded the papers and recorded the scores. She said that anyone who had at least 75 percent on the homework would not have to do it again. Anyone who had less than that was going to have to do it again anyway. I got an 88, so I’m fine.”

“Good going, sis.” Kyle patted her on the back.

“That’s quite a story,” John said. “I wonder if her dog is Domino’s brother.”

 

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

Celebrating forty-five years together

me and you looking goodForty-five years ago on this day, August 1, 1970, Craig and I were married. In honor of our time together, I am posting this poem I wrote several years ago.

 

 

Of All the Men in My Life

by Rosemary Heddens

I think of him often—

That young man I married so many years ago.

Quiet, a little awkward,

But so certain he knew where he was going,

And so determined to get there,

A man with enough dreams to last a lifetime.

 

From time to time, I see him—

In a shy smile,

In a crinkled brow when he is deep in thought.

 

Now an older man has taken his place—

Strong and tender,

Rugged and soft.

He has made his place in the world,

Confident, contented with his life,

He does not mourn for unattained goals,

But holds fast to those dreams that still remain.

 

I wonder at the thrill I still feel

From the touch of this man

With whom I have spent

More than half of my life.

 

Little by little, I see another man emerge—

A man with less urgency in his step,

Wanting to be at home with his family,

More salt than pepper in his hair now,

Wearing glasses as he reads the evening paper.

 

I must confess a certain excitement

When I consider getting to know

The man who will share my remaining years.

He will be like the others in so many ways,

And yet different and new.

 

A younger friend asks me

Whether I have ever found my life dull

Married to the same man for so many years.

I smile and shrug, unsure what to say,

Unable to tell her of all the men in my life,

And how I’ve loved each one.