Archive for the ‘Holidays & Celebrations’ Category

Halloween Reading Sale–Melinda’s Chillingly Fun Ghost Stories

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Just in time for Halloween, my two award-winning ghost story ebooks are on sale for the next three days at Amazon.com. Hurry and pick them both up for .99 each for the next 24 hours because the price will increase $1.00 each day until they reach the full price. It’s a special promotion on Kindle Countdown Deals. 

The Eyes-Closed Perspective and a Decent Chardonnay

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

On the way home from the Arizona Library Association’s YA Summit in Prescott, AZ last week, I was invited to my niece Jenna’s birthday party at Art Therapy in Phoenix. As you can see from the photo, they had a great . . . something. My niece and her mother, my sister, are super achievers and take their “doing” very seriously. I, however, do not so much. I tend to fall in love with the idea of making something interesting and so experiment with these kinds of crafty, arty and music-making experiences. I learned long ago that I’m good for maybe a series of classes worth of said experience, then I move along, move along. One reason being–what the heck do I do with the end product of that experience? How many poorly crocheted bikinis (yes, I actually did one of those back in the early 70s) or sloppily knitted potholders does one need?

 

Jenna and Rhonda  Find Birthday Joy at Art Therapy.

Jenna and Rhonda Find Birthday Joy at Art Therapy.

I love doing the painting BYOB (and snacks) events with fun people. So far I have “done” three such parties. I’d like to say that each painting I turn out is better than the last . . . but truth be told, NAW.  I’m not interested in getting better at painting these studies in standardized acrylics, but I’m all about going to hang out with artistic hopefuls who like to play, drink wine and graze on really good snacks–which ARE getting better each time I go.

The Process. There is a process to this artistic creating. In fact, it’s so standardized and easy everyone’s paintings look pretty much the same. About thirty minutes into the teaching and our putting paint to canvas, I begin to feel kinda bored. I know what the end product in front of me is going to look like. That observational power isn’t born of second sight or prescient ability. I’ve simply looked at the paintings-in-progress around me. And if I continue to follow directions my picture will look like that, too.

Enter snacks and Chardonnay, yay! I wander over to the goodie table where we’ve laid out our extensive display of tastiness and indulge as I consider my artistic options concerning the Old Door in a Wall project. Full glass in hand and a plate of yummy in the other, I return to my seat to sip and snack and think. Then it hits me–my individual artistic interpretation. I paint the door dark blue, paint in lighted windows at the top and on the plate beside the door the number eleven. Tah Dah! The TARDIS and my favorite Doctor, Number 11 just landed in my painting. It’s brilliant! And as is the way with such endeavors, no one gets it. No one! Except after the class, the instructor/shop owner came round and exclaimed, “It’s a TARDIS! We’ve never had anyone do a TARDIS.” Turns out her husband is British and began to tell me all about his watching very early Doctor Who back in the 1960s. Personally, I wasn’t a fan then, not until 2005 and Doctor #10, when the show was retooled.

As you can see from my photo on the right, my painting looks perfect in my closed-eyes perspective apres Chardonnay. But then what doesn’t?

Mmmmelinda Closes Her Eyes and Gains Perspective

Mmmmelinda Closes Her Eyes and Gains Perspective

Chasing Horny Toads–Christmas Magic

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

cht-xmasChristmas Magic

There were no bell-ringing Santas on downtown Kingman sidewalks and none in stores. Santa Claus didn’t show up until early evening on Christmas Eve at the Elks Club.

The guy in the red suit and white beard stood at one end of the hall by a huge tree with lots of lights and decorations. Kids and parents entered the front doors and formed a line to chat with Santa. My sister was too shy to talk to him and hung back with Mother and Dad. My conversation with Santa Claus was brief because I figured by this late date what was done was indeed done. Nothing I said at that moment would influence what showed up under the tree in the morning.

We headed to the table where the Elks handed out Christmas stockings made of red netting to each child and took ours. The disappointment began on the way to the car when I opened the top of my stocking. The unshelled nuts were okay, especially the walnuts, but the orange and the ribbon hard candy were heartbreaking. What I would have given for one of our chocolates or a piece of fruitcake, but those goodies were all gone.

Bedtime was 8 o’clock for the little kids. I was five years older, so mine was at 8:30, giving me alone time with the gifts under the tree. But Mother announced she and Dad were going to bed and that I should, too. I felt cheated, even a little mad. I’d show them. When they went to bed, I’d sneak into the living room and hide behind the overstuffed chair. Then I could play with the presents all I wanted and maybe catch a glimpse of Santa making his deliveries. I’d discover how he really got in the house, probably through our front door because it wasn’t locked. We didn’t have a fireplace, just a single 220 space heater.

I waited a couple of minutes and tucked in behind the chair. When I woke up it was too dark in the room to see anything, not even the tree. Had Santa come and gone? I was too sleepy to investigate and dragged myself back to bed.

Gift previewing began before sunup. I crept into the living room and began to feel my way around. Couldn’t really see, but my fingers interpreted most soft lumps and hard things as probably mine. I went back to bed and waited for dawn, or for the little kids to wake up so I could direct their explorations and blame them for waking Mother and Dad. After several more single and accompanied trips to the tree, I called out, “Mother, come see what Santa brought us.”

Mother wandered out in her robe, turning on lights and bringing order to Christmas chaos. Then Dad appeared barefoot in Levis and a white t-shirt, wielding his new movie camera with a light bar as bright as the sun. All Dad’s Christmas movies featured smiling, red-faced, squinting children and his wife making silent joyful noises and go-away-don’t-film-me gestures.

Paper and ribbon heaped high, opened gifts spilling out of boxes, as laughter and happy chatter filled our little house. Then it was time to get dressed and arrange our gifts on our beds, while Mother started the turkey baking in the electric roaster oven.

We grabbed our gifts and hurried to the bedroom to get dressed, make our beds and lay our gifts out for all to admire. We had to make it fast because Dad was in the living room un-decorating the tree. That meant he would soon be gathering the mountain of paper, boxes and any presents left on the floor to haul out to the trash with the tree. We absolutely knew we lost great gifts in Dad’s Christmas Day decorations purge but couldn’t prove it.

Mother prepared Christmas dinner pretty much singlehandedly, and it made her a bit cranky. As I got older I was allowed to stuff celery with pimento cheese from a jar, slide jelled cranberry sauce onto a plate, put black olives on a relish tray and set the table.

There were seldom guests or other relatives invited, except for my grandmother who breezed in fifteen minutes before dinner was served at 2:00, dress to impress. She always looked and acted so regal, which encouraged our best table manners, such as they were. Granny probably thought she’d dined with coyote pups, as she breezed out the door shortly after pie.

Leftovers put away for later feasting, we girls would wash the dishes afterward, which I thought terribly unfair because Mother used every pan in the kitchen. After the kitchen was cleaned, we’d show off our gifts to Mom and Dad and play with each other’s new toys.

Another Rucker Christmas would slip into memory as we climbed into bed to dream of sand wash sledding, perfect Christmas trees and six Hershey bars.

Chasing Horny Toads Christmas Tale–Sandwash Sledding

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

cht-xmasSand Wash Sledding

 The Sunday two weeks before Christmas, Dad hooked up his hunting buggy, Sputnik, to the back of the pickup. Mother packed a lunch of tuna salad sandwiches made with lots of mayonnaise and chopped onion, Fig Newton cookies, fruit and a jug of instant iced tea or lemonade. She didn’t buy soda pop.

Dad always maintained a sort of chuck box in his vehicle that held survival essentials for a picnic or stranding. The rectangular metal box usually contained a loaf of Rainbow bread, a bottle of French’s yellow mustard, an onion, a couple of cans of Spam and Hershey bars. And a pint of Canadian Club whiskey for warming emergencies. He also threw in a machete, a length of heavy tow chain with hooks on the ends and the giant jack. We would need them all at some point on our Christmas tree hunting party.

The weather was usually sunny, windy and the temperature in the fifties.

The five of us piled into the pickup’s cab and drove up to the Hualapai Mountains foothills. Dad turned off on a rutted dirt road and drove about a mile through the scruffy junipers, cactus, and scrub oak. He parked off the road and unhitched Sputnik. We loaded the gear in Sputnik’s small bed. My sister Rhonda and I rode on top of the spare tire. Dad and Mother sat on the front seat with my little brother because he got carsick in the back.

Maybe it was my praying that saved me from that miserable mal de auto my sister and brother suffered on these thrill rides. More likely I didn’t get sick because I didn’t like running behind the car. Which was my dad’s cure for car sickness. My brother could have been a marathon star for all the training miles he put in behind various vehicles during his childhood.

Dad loved driving Sputnik off road, over boulder fields and side-hilling in steep terrain, taking us where no wheeled vehicle had gone before. I preferred easing down sand washes that flowed through rock-walled canyons. The smooth ride over the sand was what I imagined riding in a horse-drawn sleigh over snow was like. I asked Dad if that were so because he knew pretty much everything.

“I don’t know. Haven’t been sledding in the snow. But I have an idea.” He stopped beside a big clump of cat’s claw bushes and ordered everyone out. Dad pulled the tow chain from the back, hooked one end to Sputnik’s spring shackle and dragged the other end to the bushes. “Stand back,” he yelled and climbed in the driver’s seat. The engine revved, wheels spun sand, the chain snapped taut and Sputnik leaped forward. A rusty boat-looking thing popped out of the cat’s claw on the chain’s hook.

“Hop on, kids,” Dad called, grinning. “Let’s go sand wash sledding.”

“No, Raymond,” Mother cried, spreading her arms to hold us back. “What is that thing? It looks dangerous!”

“It’s a 1939 DeSoto car hood,” he said proudly. “A great car.” His smile faded at her worried expression and he added, “Perfectly safe. I’ll go slow.”

And away we went on our first desert sleigh ride to the tune of Jingle Bells . . .

Big sister

Little sister,

Baby brother, too

Dashing through a desert sand wash

On an upside down car hood

Behind a 65 horse V-8 open sleigh

On an Arizona December day.

Chasing Horny Toads Christmas Story–Christmas Goodies

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

cht-xmasChristmas Goodies

In my family, the term goodies has always referred to tasty treats, usually sweet and often chocolatey. My mother was not a baker. She bought cookies in bags and made cakes from boxed mixes, which were usually off because I developed a taste for dry cake mix that I sneaked out of the bottom of the box.

Mother knew how to order the best goodies for Christmas. I found where she stashed them in the hall linen cabinet. Individually wrapped caramels were the only candy left. Not my favorite but I was starving for goodies and glommed down half the box. And instantly felt like I was about to explode. So I shared the rest with my little sister and brother.

“Melinda Kay!” Mother yelled a few minutes later. “Come here!”

Another in a long chain of UH-OH moments ensued and would have launched me out the front door and down the street if I’d felt well enough. I sluggishly pulled myself to the hall.

Mother stood at the open cabinet, holding two handfuls of empty caramel wrappers. “What in heaven’s name is the meaning of this?”

Ahhh, there it was, Mother’s eternal question—of imponderables such as President Eisenhower’s continual golfing, the popularity of Sack dresses, what my little brother had done in his training pants, and my ever flawed behavioral choices.

“Ummm.” It was too close to Christmas for truth. Maybe if I could throw up, that would change the outcome of this impending clash. I shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“These aren’t candy. They’re my diet Aides caramels to help me lose weight.”

I leveled an appraising gaze on my always round little mother. “Do they work?”