Lessons of Hope and Light

A Collection of Inspirational Short Stories by Marlo Berliner

Lately I’ve been preparing a second book of poems and short stories myself so, with the thought of checking out what sort of books are already out there, I borrowed this one through Kindle Unlimited and enjoyed it enough that I want to recommend it to you.

Lessons of Hope and Light has only three stories, all short and easy to read — took me about twenty  minutes. The first is about finding the silver lining in life’s clouds; the next is a religious parable of sorts, the third tells of an intriguing second chance. Practical, upbeat endings such as I like.

Of Internet and E-mail Issues

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband has switched internet providers. This involved a change of e-mail addresses, which has now been effected. While everything was in upheaval I decided that I’d set up another g-mail account, so as to have one for personal and one for WordPress mail.

Once we had our new service hooked up, I set up an e-mail through that provider, too. And our Xplornet account hasn’t been cancelled yet — so I now have FOUR e-mail addresses. 🙂

I’ve opted to use one g-mail for various sale ads and FREE BOOK stuff: Book Bub, Book Sweeps; Book Cave; Book Gobbler, InstaFreebie, Reading Deals.com. You may wonder why on earth I’m subscribed to so many, but if and when I have more books to promote, I hope to use one or two of these author services. Some are obviously better than others for my kind of writing. So I’ll call it Research, but it gives lots of e-mail I don’t need filling my personal In-box.

I really do like the “everything in its own section” idea. WordPress and other blogging-related stuff, with the many notifications, are coming to the other g-mail account, which frees up my new e-mail In-box for personal mail. I’m getting a handle on managing this three-way split and hope I haven’t missed anything really important in the last few days.

Otherwise, we’re enjoying our beautiful summer days. For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you are, too. Have a great day — or evening, if you’re in Europe. 🙂

Flowers & Rainbows

Early Morning Rainbow Spotted

“What is so rare as a day in June…” and all that.

This isn’t a sunny day at all, but the rain clouds that rolled over yesterday afternoon were and are welcome. They’re still hovering, but when I looked out first thing this morning I saw the tail end of a rainbow hanging just under the cloud bank in the south.

Yesterday was the “Year-End Picnic” at our private (parochial) school. Activities started about 1:30; we went over at 3pm to watch and partake of the fried chicken and salads supper provided at 5:30. We were all thankful that the clouds didn’t come over until after all the fun and games. And supper was well timed weather-wise; we were called to partake at 5:30pm and the rain didn’t start until after most of us had eaten. But then it definitely DID start.

The timing of this rain is great for crops and such. Even my little excavation. I have begun digging up a long-neglected flower bed I’d made years ago in our lawn. While I was dealing with my leukemia I let it go; now it’s choked with mats of quack grass roots. I’m trying to get those out and not kill the peonies planted there and the soil has been powder-dry.

I’m thankful that I finally have the energy to work at this project. I’ll have to be diligent with this task all summer, too, seeing as quack grass roots go deeper than I can with my spade and will be popping up whenever they get the chance.

Speaking of pests, I saw oodles of tiny grasshoppers yesterday. We’ve had a number of cool, wet springs and the hopper population has been decimated from what it was when we moved here ten years ago. But it looks like we’re heading into a dry cycle again, so we’ll likely have to contend with them this summer.

Heads Up re: Important Change in Communications

We’ve been having a fair number of problems with the internet service cutting out and/or being very slow. Yesterday Bob decided to sign us up with SaskTel as our new provider; they’re coming this morning to install a tower on our roof and get us set up. Hopefully SaskTel will provide more reliable service than what we have now — which sometimes cuts out for hours when we have thick cloud cover.

So as of this afternoon I’ll have a new e-mail address or two! I’ll probably send a note to folks in my current address book to let everyone know.

I don’t know if this will mean a temporary disruption in my blogging, as all my present communications are coming and going via Xplornet. But any of you who wish to contact me can do so through christinevanceg @ gmail.com. Maybe once I’m settled at my new address I’ll install one of those ‘Contact Me’ widgets.

Daily One-Word Writing Prompts

Since WordPress has ceased sending out their daily writing prompt, several sites have sprung up to supply what folks are missing. Judy Dykstra-Brown has posted links to a half-dozen and is interested in hearing if there are more. Click here to see her list.

Lost Ideas

ideas trickle
through my mind and shatter
a tap’s steady drip

Good morning everyone.

I’m happy to say that since Wed evening my back pain has lessened and I’m able to walk upright now. Something, usually taken for granted, for which I am really thankful this morning! I’ve found the exercise sheets from past physio-therapy and intend to develop a new habit: taking proper care of the muscles that hold me up.

We’ve also had a nice rain over our land lately, needed and appreciated by all. It does look like summer in our yard. Bob put up a block of wood, hammered in a nail and impaled an orange, so we now have a proper oriole feeder. We can watch them from our dining room window. A flicker has discovered that our internet “dish” makes a satisfying rat-tat-tat and is working on his timing as I write this.

Last weekend, a long weekend here in Canada, I saw folks hauling boats to Diefenbaker Lake, not so far away. I imagine with today being warm and sunny, folks will be out boating, fishing barbecuing. 🙂

The haiku above describes the general state of the human mind, with many thoughts slipping through but few caught and used. My mind seems very much that way, but who can actually compare?

I’m dismayed this morning because I can’t find my cell phone. I’m sure I had it here at my desk yesterday, doing some “housecleaning” in my g-mail, but now can’t find it anywhere. So if you’ve been trying to call or text and I haven’t replied, sorry about that.

I tried phoning myself but by now the battery has come to the end of its oomph — and so far no one has put a locator buzzer on a cell phone. Some technological whiz should get on that! Granted, it won’t do much good when you’re out and about, but for situations like this, and people like me… Or would it not work if the phone battery is dead?

Thinking of haiku, and ideas slipping away, I was scheduling a verse this morning Tree Top Haiku, to be posted tomorrow — then forgot and hit Publish. Now there are two posts back to back.  Here’s the second verse I composed while thinking back to my own mud-pie-baking childhood:
sidewalk baker
stirs in pine cones and pebbles
fresh mud pies for sale

However you’re spending this weekend, I wish you all health and safety. Thanks everyone, for dropping in and reading this post.

I want to say a special thank-you to poet Judy Dykstra-Brown, who’s kindly agreed to critique some stories for my upcoming e-book of flash fiction. I’ve been compiling it this week, seeing as a lot sitting was in the daily programme. Once I have it registered and get an ISBN, I’ll post a picture of the front cover.

PS:
Oh, JOY! Cell phone found.
It seems to have slipped down between the seats in the car on the way home after I visited a friend yesterday.

“You Have Won A Free Trip”

This is an old news item, but hope it gives you a smile this morning:

An Iowa farmer received a suspicious phone call one morning—from his own cell phone.

A few hours earlier he’d been sorting hogs to take to market that day. During the process he took a few minutes to call the house and check if there were any messages for him on his answering machine. After getting the message, he stuck his cell phone back in the top pocket of his bib overalls and went back into the pig pen to continue his task.

The phone must have fallen out of his pocket and into the pen as he climbed over one of the fences. Later, when he was back in the house his phone rang. He said, “Hello?” and voices at the other end said, “Grunt, grunt, squeal, squeal, snort!”

Evidently his hogs had found the cell phone and managed to hit REDIAL. They say pigs are really quite intelligent creatures. Maybe they were complaining about the conditions in their pen, squealing on on unruly pals, or ordering in more chow?

But the farmer interpreted the message as:
“You have won a free trip to the barn, followed by a lively treasure hunt.”

The Missing Girl

I wrote this story a couple of weeks ago with another prompt in mind but decided to adapt it a bit and post it in response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. (Thanks again, Joshua for the prompt image.) This is one of those “leaves you hanging” stories.

I trust my Fellow Fiction writers and our long-suffering moderator, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, will bear with a second response. Mille mercis to Rochelle for taking much time and effort in her kind replies to all our stories. Check out her blog, Addicted to Purple, for more info about the group.

I’m going to be “away” for awhile. Last night I went through my DropBox trying to line up the chapters of my next book — and feeling overwhelmed. I need to established some kind of proper filing system for all my writings; with my memory, saving by title alone gives chaos! So I’m going to spend some time sorting out files, merging blogs, and working on my next book.

THE MISSING GIRL

Genre: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
………………………………………………………………………………………

RCMP Detective Wahl studied the photo. “How old?”

“Twelve. Hanging out with friends; headed home alone. She never made it.”

“No suspicious friends, family blowup, school bullying, boyfriend breakup?”

“No evidence of. House-to-house check in the area turned up no clues. Third day already, so we’re asking for your involvement. We’re thinking abduction now.”

Wahl frowned. “A twelve year old would fight back. In broad daylight someone should have seen or heard something.”

“What’s this?” Sgt Merriott turned to his flashing monitor. “Some teens messing around the old Millworths factory found a girl’s body.”

“No winners now. Let’s go.”

The Right Route

“Where exactly did you send your information?” asked the voice at the other end of the line. “You have to follow the instructions exactly and route the upload through the URL given you on your sheet.”

“But I followed the instructions,” I whimpered. “I downloaded pages of instructions and followed them carefully. I sent the data right to my site. I didn’t see any other URL or how to route the data through it.”

“But you have to send the data through a certain channel or it won’t upload to your website,” the woman at MyHosting Customer support explained. She paused, likely to consult her computer screen. “And it isn’t here.”

“But I did upload it. My computer spent almost TWO HOURS uploading it to my site; it has to be there somewhere!”

I sighed. Most of my morning gone, pages from three different sources explaining in detail “How to Install WordPress” lying here and there. When the upload was complete I’d patted myself on the back. I did it! I figured it out and installed this program on my new website – by myself. Now I couldn’t access it.

“How be I get one of our technicians to install WordPress on your website tomorrow? He’ll e-mail you more instructions when it’s in place.”

Easy-peasy. So why didn’t I do that right off? Why did I get so frustrated trying so hard to do what I simply don’t have the ability to do? ☹ Well, I guess it took this for me to learn that there’s a certain way and no other will work.

I can sympathize with the scribes & pharisees of Jesus’ day. They’d uploaded pages – whole books – of instructions on how to satisfy a Divine Being. In fact they’d not only uploaded the initial instructions, but added to them various explicit interpretations, memorized them and followed them to the letter.

Along comes Jesus, talking of another Way – the Only Way.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

He claimed there was route they must follow, a door they must enter.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” John 10:1-2:

Whether they tried scrambling over the wall, used a fancy ladder, or squeezed through some crack, the fact remained: if they hadn’t been installed via the right route, they had to be reinstalled.

The Jewish leaders didn’t like that. After all, they were THE LEADERS here. Furthermore, they had already uploaded tons of good deeds to their celestial sites. It must all be there somewhere! And it was the right data, too, the Law of Moses, written by the hand of God. Who was this person to come along and claim they hadn’t used the right routing code? That their valuable data wasn’t sitting up there in heavenly files winning them A+ scores in Heaven?

But Jesus told them the truth: there’s nothing there. You haven’t sent it through the channels of grace and mercy. And He is the channel of grace and mercy.

He is the Way. However much good a person may do in this world, if it isn’t routed through Him we’ll get to the other side someday and find our data’s not been installed: our name is not written in the Book of Life. All the credits we have “legally earned” will have evaporated and we will face the awful truth: we’ve not entered the right Door.

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9

Overheard

Friday Fiction chimes again in Promptland and dings in my InBox, aided by the sweet purple Tinklebell, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Many thanks to her for presiding over this notorious party-line and to J Hardy Carroll for contributing the picture that nudges our creativity this week.

It took some doing to squeeze my contribution into 100 words but I made it. The seed for this tale was planted when I worked with a fellow who peddled drugs on the side. Being on the opposite side of the spectrum from me, he was hostile and would have been delighted to see me quit, but thankfully no plotting like the type in my story.

Photo © J Hardy Carroll

“Yeah, he hates me, but I never thought he’d go this far. And he’ll have planted enough so I’m nailed for trafficking, not just possession. You saved my life, pal!”

“I’m blown away! Sure, I recognized your coworker, but hearing your name, then ‘One call to the RCMP and she’ll be in for years.’ What’s chances I’d be right there to catch that?”

“I’ll head for the nearest police station, tell them what you overheard and ask them to search my car — before they come looking for me.”

“I’d call this one amazing happenstance!”

“I’d call it a miracle.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve been away from writing for awhile, wandering through the DropBox Thousand file-lands to gather material for my upcoming book of poems and short stories. I need a better filing system! I’ve made ten sections in my book and putting each item in the right section has involved a lot of shuffling since some stories would work in several sections.

Once the manuscript was ready to be formatted, I converted it from Word Perfect to MS Word — and the fun began! My first plan (four years ago) was for a print book so I (misguidedly) purchased a number of graphics. Now I added them to my e-book file and the switch from WP to Word has thrown things out of sync big time. I don’t have Word myself, so I must take my file to our son-in-law’s computer when I want to open and read it. Which I did and was rather dismayed…

I’ve decided to do an e-book format only — but you rarely see e-books with graphics. So I’ve a question for you seasoned writers: Would you add small box graphics to illustrate an e-book of poems and (mostly) short tales?

I’ve also been beta-reading a book for Florida Pastor JS Park, who’s writing about depression with an aim to helping both those who suffer and those who want to empathize. He hopes to help readers find a better understanding and ability to cope. The book is live on Amazon.com now; you can find it here: How Bad It Really Is: A Short, Honest Book About Depression.