Ten O’Clock Scholar – tree

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. Peggy soon learns what it’s like trying to complete homework assignments, draw plans, and take required home tours while maintaining a home and caring for two little ones – with no support and a lot of opposition from hubby. Will she survive and achieve her dreams? Or will the struggles and arguments undermine her and make her give up? Stay tuned and read along as we find out.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘tree’.

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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Peggy scrolled through the application, filling in the pertinent information. Name, age, birth date, social security number; it was all the same routine information most applications requested. The toughest part was when she got to the page where she needed to fill in what classes she wanted.

She looked down at the catalog page where she’d marked the possibilities. Her mind returned to the back and forth she struggled with earlier. Fortunately the two classes I took years ago, before the boys were born are still good – Introduction to Interior Design and Textiles. I’d love to take the Management class, but I don’t have all the prerequisites for that yet.

That narrowed the available classes down. Unfortunately it also presented another dilemma. Some of the classes were Tuesday and Thursday classes, and others were on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. After more contemplation, she punched in two numbers and continued to the payment page.

After pressing ‘submit’, she printed the confirmation page. As soon as the paper dropped into the tray, she picked it up and looked at the black and white results of her courageous act. In bold print in the middle of the page were two classes; History of Western Architecture and Interiors I and Introduction to Lighting.

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There it is. Done and sent. Now, to see if I’m accepted.

Hearing a noise behind her, she glanced over her shoulder and spied Jonathan stumbling down the hall, rubbing his eyes. She dropped the copy on the desk chair and turned to wrap the sleepy toddler in her arms. “C’mon, honey. Let’s go sit on the couch for a bit.”

The two sat and snuggled while Jonathan gradually got perkier and more attentive. When he started jabbering in the language of two-year-olds and eased off of her lap, Peggy stood and stretched. “You hungry? Let’s go get some dinner started.”

The rest of the evening was peaceful and quiet. With full stomachs, mother and son spent the next few hours watching movies on the sofa. Jonathan alternated between watching the screen, dragging toys from the bedroom, laying on the dog and trying to pull the cats tail.

The little tyke ran out of steam and finally collapsed on the sofa, lying beside his mother. Peggy thought about taking him to bed and tucking him in. But she sat, watching his angelic slumbering face instead.

It was close to ten o’clock before Derek came in, carrying a sleeping four-year old on his shoulder. He laid him on the couch next to his brother.

Peggy glanced up and bit back the retort that was on the tip of her tongue. As irritated as she was about the late hour, she also enjoyed having an evening of peace. She settled for a safe topic of conversation – Derek’s latest obsession. “The new plane fly okay?”

He grunted. “Yeah. ‘Til it hit a tree.”

“Ouch. It still flyable?”

“Nope. Totaled.”

“After all those weeks of work? And you only got one night of flight out of it?”

“Now don’t go giving me any grief over it. It’s not your time or money that smashed into smithereens.” He stared at her, as if challenging her to say anything further about it. “What’s for dinner?”

“Fish sticks. Mac and cheese. They’re in the microwave.”

“Of course. Fish sticks.” A sarcastic tone dripped from his words. “As if the night couldn’t get any shittier.”

He turned to head towards the kitchen. He glanced down at the chair by the desk and picked up the sheet of paper laying on it. “What’s this?”

 

Return to TUESDAY TALES to read more delicious story snippets.

Return to my WEB SITE here.

Ten O’Clock Scholar – air

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college for her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. Peggy soon learns what it’s like trying to complete homework assignments, draw plans, and take required home tours while maintaining a home and caring for two little ones – with no support and a lot of opposition from hubby. Will she survive and achieve her dreams? Or will the struggles and arguments undermine her and make her give up? Stay tuned and read along as we find out.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘air’.

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful tales from other talented authors.

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Peggy sighed as she perused the popular magazine that showcased the top-notch sophisticated interiors. She glanced around her own living room. The Taylor’s décor was not even in the same league as the ornate displays in front of her.

She looked at the room with an eagle eye. Frayed, worn carpets filled the small, boxy house. The Taylor’s home had three bedrooms and two baths, but being just over a thousand square feet, it felt more like a cube with walls in it. The dining area of the kitchen barely had enough room for a small round table and four chairs. When the boys were smaller and still in a high chair, it was shoved in a corner with barely any room around it.

The previous owners had painted and wallpapered before they’d purchased the home when Clifford was a baby. But now, several years later, the tones and design were already dated, showing that they belonged in the previous decade.

It will be different when I’m designing gorgeous interiors for clients. That will give me my ‘fancy fix’ and I won’t be so unhappy with my own surroundings.

Peggy hoped that that’s the way it would happen. She thought if she repeated the thought to herself often enough, it would make it true.

Her ringing cell phone interrupted her wandering thoughts. Looking at the display of Sami’s smiling face, Peggy grinned. “Hey stranger! Long time, no talk.”

“I know. Right? You in the middle of cooking fish sticks?”

“No. Derek and Cliff went out to the airfield. I’m sitting here being a lazy slug while Jonathan naps. We’ll eat later, when the urge hits us.”

“I just wanted to hear what happened when you told Derek the news.”

Peggy laughed in reply to her friends query. “About school? Haven’t told him yet. He barely stopped at home long enough to gather his gear and beat feet away from here. Besides…I may not tell him yet. I’ll send in my application first. Then he can’t argue. The application fee isn’t refundable, so I can’t waste the money and not go then.”

“You have the fee?”

“Not yet. I’ll have to juggle a few things. Maybe pay the electric bill on next week’s paycheck instead of this one. It’s either that or pluck it out of thin air.”

“Better than plucking it out of…you know…other places.” Samantha’s laughter echoed through the phonelap-top.

Not long afterwards, Peggy clicked ‘end’ on their conversation and picked the school catalog back up and leafed through to the application page. Yep. She was going to do it. Right now.

She stood and moved to the small desk tucked in the corner of the room. Opening up her lap top, she typed the schools website into the browser bar and spoke aloud to the silver beast. “Here we go. It’s now or never.”

 

Return to TUESDAY TALES to read more delicious story snippets.

Return to my WEB SITE here.

Ten O’Clock Scholar – picture prompt

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For the next few weeks, I’m stepping away from romance and working on something new, Ten O’Clock Scholar. In this story, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college and get her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. Peggy soon learns what it’s like trying to complete homework assignments, draw plans, and take required home tours while maintaining a home and caring for two little ones – with no support and a lot of opposition from hubby. Will she survive and achieve her dreams? Or will the struggles and arguments undermine her and make her give up? Stay tuned and read along as we find out.

This week we’re writing to a picture prompt. Picture prompt weeks are quick reading, as we’re only allowed a 300 word snippet.

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful reading.

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Textiles, History of Western Architecture, Space Planning, Lighting, Design Studio; the class requirements for an Interior Design major beckoned from the inky pages. Peggy ran her finger down the list, stopping at the classes that appealed to her. She couldn’t wait to get to some of the fun classes. But, she knew that she’d have to start with the preliminary classes first. “Introduction to Interior Design,” she read aloud and groaned. “I want to get to the good stuff.” She spoke aloud as if she weren’t sitting in the living room by herself.

A few of the classes were intimidating. Introduction to Lighting and CAD for Interior Design were two programs she’d love to skip. Unfortunately, they were both subjects she’d need to have knowledge of it she wanted to pursue this career field.

Could she do it? Could she complete the entire program while taking care of the house and her family? She wasn’t entirely sure. It was one thing to have a dream and the desire to follow it. Knowing whether or not she could achieve her dream was something else entirely.

She flipped to the pages tucked in the back of the catalog. One sheet outlined the courses she’d need – forty eight units if she took the required and the recommended classes. Another page had the general education requirements, another eighteen units. Did she want to go for the whole Associates Degree, or just tackle the classes for her certificate and get out of school quicker?

Unable to decide at that moment, she dropped the school catalog down beside her and reached for the Architectural Digest laying on the table next to the sofa. Leafing through the glossy pages, she browsed through the elegant rooms full of polished parquet floors, stunning stained glass windows and ornate stairways.

Ten O’Clock Scholar – love

Welcome to my Tuesday Tales post. For Tuesday Tales, a group of authors write to a word prompt. Once a month we spin a scene around a picture prompt.

In Ten O’Clock Scholar, Peggy, a mother of two young boys, decides to go back to college and get her Interior Design degree. The only problem with her plan is a reluctant husband. Peggy soon learns what it’s like trying to complete homework assignments, draw plans, and take required home tours while maintaining a home and caring for two little ones – with no support and a lot of opposition from hubby. Will she survive and achieve her dreams? Or will the struggles and arguments undermine her and make her give up? Stay tuned and read along as we find out.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘love.’

Enjoy this week’s story snippet, then return to Tuesday Tales for more delightful reading.

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Derek hopped out of the van, a perpetual cigarette dangling from his lips and headed towards the garage door.

Peggy readjusted a sleepy toddler on her shoulder. “You’re home early. You finish the last house today?”

“Naw. We’ll finish it up Monday. If it doesn’t rain.”

“I thought the boss wanted all the wiring done this week. Wasn’t that what his big rant was earlier in the week?”

Lifting the heavy, unautomated garage door, Derek shrugged. “That’s what he wanted. But I’m done for the day. I’m meeting Kirk the airfield. I want to try out the Mustang that I finished last night. See how it’s gonna fly.”

“You and your damn toys. If it’s not the planes, its guns or motorcycles.” Peggy muttered under her breath as she turned her back and stomped towards the front door.

“I’m going with Daddy,” Cliff hollered. He followed his father into the garage, set in his plan to go with his dad and hang out with the big guys.

Peggy stopped and called out over her shoulder. “Is he going with you?”

tt-mustangDerek reappeared from the depths of the garage, carrying a black and silver radio controlled plane in one hand, RC control in the other. “Yeah. Grab a jacket for him though. We’re gonna be out there till dark.”

Biting her lip to keep her retort unspoken, Peggy went inside to lay Jonathan down and look for the leather bomber jacket they’d gotten Clifford, dad’s little mini-me, for Christmas.

Luckily for Peggy, the little one closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep as soon as she laid him down. Retrieving the garment from the closet, surprised it was even hanging up where it belonged, Peggy took it outside. She knew that Derek wouldn’t take the time to come in for it himself.

She stepped outside in time to see another plane added to the back of the van, with the empty ice chest going in last. She knew that they’d stop at the QT on the way out of town to fill the cooler with ice and beer. Lots of beer. Then they’d be off to the mock airstrip where the men gathered in the evenings and on the weekends.

Derek grabbed the jacket from her and headed towards the driver’s door without a backward glance, nor a goodbye. At least Clifford came running back for a hug and kiss before he rushed to the passenger side to join his dad.

Peggy headed back inside with her emotions torn. This left her Friday afternoon husband-free and quiet, which was a good thing. But, yet, she fumed about Derek spending every Friday night, Saturday and Sunday in his recreational pursuits.

Thoughts rolled through in a turmoil – While the grass grows knee high, the house paint is peeling, and there’s still a hole in the wall that need patched from the latest angry punch. God forbid he’d have to spend the evening here in family time – let alone any special time for just the two of us. Whatever did I see in the man?

A slideshow of snapshots drifted through her mind, memories of happier times. As she remembered specific events – motorcycle rides to Big Bear, four wheel driving in the desert, shooting rifles at the local range – it dawned on her that the time they spent together revolved around Derek’s favorite activities. Always.

“There was a time I was in love with him. I know there was.” She spoke aloud to the silence surrounding her, as if trying to convince herself of the fact.

Looking around, she contemplated which task to tackle first – a sink full of crusted dishes, a mound of soiled clothing begging to be washed, a pile of mail needing sorted, or a stack of letters and cards needing answered.

Choosing to do none of the above, she grabbed a cold soda from the refrigerator, plucked the college catalog out of her purse and sat down on the sofa to browse through the interior design classes that were scheduled for the upcoming quarter.

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Peonies and Peppermint

It’s November, time of the frantic NANO 30 day sprint. If you can call it a sprint. By the end of the 30-days, trying to write 50,000 words during the month, it hardly feels like a sprint. More like a long distance endurance challenge.

But for many writers, including this procrastinator, sometimes a challenge of this nature is what pushes us forward, urging us to hit a huge goal. And since the past two months I barely completed writing 10,000 each month, I’m looking forward to hitting some larger marks this month.

Because it’s NANO, I’m taking a break from the story I’ve been (slowly) working on the past few months, Manifesting Love Club. This month is a new tale, a historical fiction called Peonies and Peppermint. It’s set in northwest Arkansas in the late 1800’s.

Jennie Lee Barnes, her husband David, grown daughter Eliza Jane and her husband Luke, moved to this part of Arkansas three years prior, following the Civil War. Being ‘Northerners’, from Missouri, the neighbors are slow to accept these newcomers. Molly, a young girl from a neighboring farm comes to fetch Jennie’s help in birthing a baby for her mother. When Mr. Rider arrives home, he’s not so pleased to see the women there, despite his wife needing assistance.

Join us as we take a step back in time and peek in on the life of these families from the past. Then return to TUESDAY TALES to read more story snippets. Each week Tuesday Tales authors write to a word prompt, except for one week a month when we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘island.’

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“We don’t need you Northerner’s here meddling in our business.”

Jennie hesitated before answering, trying to remain polite, despite the man’s rudeness. “Molly came to fetch me. Your wife needed assistance.”

“Oh, fiddle-cock she did. Now…skedaddle. Git on out a’ here.”

Eliza looked on anxiously as she gathered her mother’s supplies and tucked them back in the basket.

“Now…John…” Martha protested weakly from the bed where she lay nursing the baby. “Mrs. Barnes only…”

“Hush, woman,” the angry husband commanded. He tightened his shoulders and banged his fist on the table shaking the pail of water remaining from birthing the baby. Water sloshed over the sides and ran down the crude hewn legs, leaving a damp circle of wetness in the packed dirt floor. “They did enough damaged here during the war. She needs to just git on home. Better still…” His face turned a bright shade of scarlet as he continued his rant. “Git on back to Missouri. We don’t need you and yore likes here.”

Mr. Rider took a step closer to the bedside and Eliza scurried to her mother’s side, clutching her mom’s basket tightly in her hands, as if the woven basket could protect them from the wrath of an angry, six foot tall man.

Jennie started to open her mouth – then thought better and clamped it shut. Grabbing her daughter’s hand, the two fled the tiny abode, unsure how far Mr. Rider’s temper would flare.

The two women hurried back to their own property, arm in arm, not saying a word until they were clear of the Rider’s rickety cabin. Their stride was harried and purposeful, making the return journey almost as quickly as when they’d rushed to their neighbor’s aide.

Jennie was the first to break their silence. “Doesn’t he know the old saying about ‘no man is an island’?” she muttered, more to herself than to her daughter.

“Probably not, since I don’t know what you mean by that. I’ve heard you say those words before though. Just never gave it no mind to what you meant by it.”

“Simple enough. Merely that no one is self-sufficient. Everyone relies on others. Even if its neighbors you don’t like ‘cuz they’re from the north.”

“You make them fancy words up yourself?”

“Not a chance.” Jenny laughed and the stress lines around her mouth eased a little. “My granddaddy used to say it quite a bit. Came from one of his treasured devotion books. The one he read most often, after his Bible. Think it was an English author. Way back before his time even.”

log-cabin-inside“Surprised you even remember the saying. You must have been a small tyke.”

“Indeed I was. Barely knee-high to a grasshopper. I loved that old man to pieces.” A gentle smile appeared as Jennie seemed to step back in time, fondly recalling memories of her younger years. “Used to sit on the floor by Granddad while he read scriptures and devotions to us in the evening.”

The women didn’t tarry and kept on walking. Each seemed lost in their own thoughts. As they rounded the final bend before their property, Jennie burst out suddenly. “I remember! ‘No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.’ It came back to me…just as if Granddad were reading aloud to me.”

“And that is what being neighborly is all about,” Eliza replied.

“It surely is, daughter.”

David stood in the open doorway of their log structure, watching his wife and daughter return. “I was worried. You’ve been gone quite a while since Eliza fetched your remedy basket. He stepped back and let the women enter. “Everything alright at the Rider’s?”

“That hard headed, obstinate man!” Jenny spit out. “You’d think we gone done and killed his favorite hog, the way he was going on. Why, just remembering what all he said has me all worked up like a wet hen again.” She moved to the wash basin sitting on the table and started scrubbing her hands as if she could wash the angry words from her mind. “Wantin’ us to go on back to where we came from. And with us just there to help his wife,” she sputtered.

—Thanks for stopping by! Join us next week for another excerpt from Peonies & Peppermint. For more reading pleasure, return to Tuesday Tales here.

Peonies and Peppermint – bread

It’s November, time of the frantic NANO 30 day sprint. If you can call it a sprint. By the end of the 30-days, trying to write 50,000 words during the month, it hardly feels like a sprint. More like a long distance endurance challenge.

But for many writers, including this procrastinator, sometimes a challenge of this nature is what pushes us forward, urging us to hit a huge goal. And since the past two months I barely completed writing 10,000 each month, I’m looking forward to hitting some larger marks this month.

Because it’s NANO, I’m taking a break from the story I’ve been (slowly) working on the past few months, Manifesting Love Club. This month is a new tale, a historical fiction called Peonies and Peppermint. It’s set in northwest Arkansas in the late 1800’s.

Jennie Lee Barnes, her husband David, grown daughter Eliza Jane and her husband Luke, moved to this part of Arkansas three years prior, following the Civil War. Being ‘Northerners’, from Missouri, the neighbors are slow to accept these newcomers. But Jennie Lee finds that her herbal remedies and midwifery skills go a long ways towards gaining their acceptance.

Join us as we take a step back in time and peek in on the life of these families from the past. Then return to TUESDAY TALES to read more story snippets. Each week Tuesday Tales authors write to a word prompt, except for one week a month when we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘bread.’

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“Over here!” Eliza called out first. “Coltsfoot. A huge patch coming up.”

Jennie stepped over to Eliza’s side of the hollow and kneeled next to Eliza who was already plucking the fresh greenery sprouting from the earth. The women spent several minutes, tugging the emerald stalks that poked their way through the mulch of oak and sassafras leaves. Jennie added a handful to Eliza’s basket. “Better to keep it all together and not have to sort it out later.”

When they’d cleared a good portion of the patch, leaving some to grow and propagate, Jenny stood and wiped her brow. Looking over at her daughter, she squinted, as if sizing her up to see how she was holding up. Not even a bead of sweat glistened on Eliza’s brow. Jennie decided that they were good to keep going a bit longer.

They hadn’t wandered far from their first treasure trove when Jennie found the next. “Over here. There’s some nettles on this side.”

tt-picking-herbsThe women plucked gingerly on this crop. Even so, Eliza still muttered an occasional, “Ouch!”

Jennie laughed softly under her breath. “I see you don’t have as much experience at picking nettles.”

“No, I don’t, Mother. Honestly. I don’t know how you’ve done this for all these years.”

“It’s not so bad really. Look for the youngest ones. They’re not as prickly.”

“My fingers are starting to burn.” Eliza stuck a finger in her mouth and sucked on it to try to ease the sting.

“I’d say rub it with parsley when we get back, so you don’t get a nettle rash. But, I don’t think the parsley has come up yet. I’ll put a salve on it instead.”

“You and your herbs. Leave it to my mother to know what to do.” She stopped and looked at her mother with a quizzical expression on her face. “How’d you learn all of this?”

“Why, from my mother, of course. And her mother, too. Mostly from Granny, I suppose. She kept all the knowledge in her head. Walking through the woods with her was like having a talking book with you.” She smiled and paused, reflecting on her memories before she continued. “She knew more about plant medicine than anyone around. I don’t know but a small piece of what all she knew.”

Eliza sat on a large rock and let her mother finish pulling what she wanted.

Jennie glanced up and saw that her daughter looked paler than when they’d set out. Moving slowly and carefully up the hill towards where Eliza sat, Jennie plucked a folded dishtowel from her apron pocket. She unfolded the towel to reveal two slices of bread nestled inside the towel. “Here, dear. Have a bite to eat. I brought us each a slice. Then, let’s head back. We’ve got enough. Once your father digs the sassafras for me, I’ll be set for a good bit.”

About half way back to their cabins, Eliza looked up by a rock over cropping. She squinted and held her hand up over her eyes. “Look at all the brambles up there. It looks like berry vines. Maybe blackberries. Don’t you use blackberry leaves for something?”

“I make a tea with the dried leaves. They’re probably not leafed out enough yet. I usually harvest those around May or June.”

“You’re right. They’re not very green yet. Looks like they’re just budding. We’ll come back later to get some.”

“That would be nice, dear. I always appreciate your help. I’m surely pleased with what we did find today.”

They neared the spring and sat their baskets and walking sticks down to wash their hands and rest for a moment.

The peace was broken by the frantic calls of a young girl. “Mrs. Barnes! Mrs. Barnes!”

Jennie looked confused. She stood and surveyed the landscape, looking for the source of the cries. She finally spotted the youngster, their neighbor’s daughter, running down from the back side of the house. “Molly?”

 

—Thanks for stopping by! Join us next week for another excerpt from Peonies & Peppermint. For more reading pleasure, return to Tuesday Tales here.

Peonies and Peppermint –

It’s November, time of the frantic NANO 30 day sprint. If you can call it a sprint. By the end of the 30-days, trying to write 50,000 words during the month, it hardly feels like a sprint. More like a long distance endurance challenge.

But for many writers, including this procrastinator, sometimes a challenge of this nature is what pushes us forward, urging us to hit a huge goal. And since the past two months I barely completed writing 10,000 each month, I’m looking forward to hitting some larger marks this month.

Because it’s NANO, I’m taking a break from the story I’ve been (slowly) working on the past few months, Manifesting Love Club. This month is a new tale, a historical fiction called Peonies and Peppermint. It’s set in northwest Arkansas in the late 1800’s.

Jennie Lee Barnes, her husband David, grown daughter Eliza Jane and her husband Luke, moved to this part of Arkansas three years prior, following the Civil War. Being ‘Northerners’, from Missouri, the neighbors are slow to accept these newcomers. But Jennie Lee finds that her herbal remedies and midwifery skills go a long ways towards gaining their acceptance.

Join us as we take a step back in time and peek in on the life of these families from the past. Then return to TUESDAY TALES to read more story snippets. Each week Tuesday Tales authors write to a word prompt, except for one week a month when we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘town.’

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Sleep was a long time coming for Jennie. Not so for her husband, who was snoring loudly a good while before she extinguished the lantern and headed to bed. When feeble early sunlight began peeking in through the chinks around the window, Jennie was already laying there with her eyes wide open. A hoarse, groggy rooster crowed from the yard, sounding far from energetic himself.

Jenny eased out of bed, the husks in the mattress rustling with her movement. David stirred in his slumber, but she knew that he would be up not far behind her. She slipped out the door, headed towards the privy in back. Pausing, she basked in the beauty of the still, early morning. The sun barely shone over the ridge to the east. The soft call of owls followed their otherwise silent flight as they completed their final runs for the night before heading back to their nests to doze. A full moon hung in the west, soon to dip below the horizon.

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A crunch of dried leaves warned her of company approaching. She looked up to find her husband headed in her direction.

He wiped sleep from his eyes before he combed his fingers through locks of tousled hair. “Enjoying your solitude?”

“Aye. ‘Tis peaceful out here at daybreak.” She pointed to the western sky. “It’s the Peony Moon this month. I was so worried about Eliza last night that I nigh on didn’t notice.”

David glanced around the homestead, squinting his eyes as he peered at the small clumps of green foliage beginning to sprout around the sides of the tiny, handcrafted cabin. A puzzled look crossed his face. “There’s lots of plants and flowers that you tend to through the year. Don’t remember seeing any peonies here.”

“No. Not here.” A sad look replaced the peacefulness that had filled her face just moments before.

“You always had lots of peonies. They were your favorite bloom.”

“I lost the seeds on the move here. Remember, we lost a crate when it fell off the wagon and tumbled down the ravine?”

“I recollect that incident. I thanked the Good Lord that we didn’t lose the whole wagon on that nasty turn just outside of that small town we stopped at in southern Missouri.”

“Or our lives. The whole wagon could have gone down. Along with us. A packet full of seeds wrapped in a piece of muslin is insignificant compared to what could have happened.”

He stood and wrapped his arms around his wife. “My best hammer was in that box we lost. But it doesn’t compare to the thought of losing you. You are more precious to me than any of our possessions.”

A pleased smile replaced the earlier frown that had briefly settled on Jennie’s countenance when she’d thought of losing her beloved flower seeds. “Yes. We all four made the journey safely. Being here together as a family is more important than where we lay our heads at night. We’re still together and all healthy. Mostly. Except for Eliza right now.”

“Want to go check on her?”

Jennie fought an impulse to run towards the cabin that housed her daughter and son-in-law. “No. Most likely she’ll still be sleeping. I’ll fix our breakfast first. Then I’ll dash over and check on her.” She pointed towards the weather-beaten outhouse sheltered by a towering oak and giggled. “After I stop in here first.”

“Hurry up woman, before I beat you to it.” David patted her retreating rear as she turned and moved towards the outbuilding.

 

Peonies and Peppermint – band

It’s November, time of the frantic NANO 30 day sprint. If you can call it a sprint. By the end of the 30-days, trying to write 50,000 words during the month, it hardly feels like a sprint. More like a long distance endurance challenge.

But for many writers, including this procrastinator, sometimes a challenge of this nature is what pushes us forward, urging us to hit a huge goal. And since the past two months I barely completed writing 10,000 each month, I’m looking forward to hitting some larger marks this month.

Because it’s NANO, I’m taking a break from the story I’ve been (slowly) working on the past few months, Manifesting Love Club. This month is a new tale, a historical fiction called Peonies and Peppermint. It’s set in northwest Arkansas in the late 1800’s.

Jennie Lee Barnes, her husband David, grown daughter Eliza Jane and her husband Luke, moved to this part of Arkansas three years prior, following the Civil War. Being ‘Northerners’, from Missouri, the neighbors are slow to accept these newcomers. But Jennie Lee finds that her herbal remedies and midwifery skills go a long ways towards gaining their acceptance.

Join us as we take a step back in time and peek in on the life of these families from the past. Then return to TUESDAY TALES to read more story snippets. Each week Tuesday Tales authors write to a word prompt, except for one week a month when we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘band.’

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1881, Rogers, Arkansas

Wadding her apron into a bundle, Jennie carefully eased the cast iron skillet off the cook stove. She settled it on the sturdy metal trivet on the counter and plucked two steaming biscuits out. She dropped them on a plate that was already filled with several pieces of fried chicken and mound of mushy green beans. She handed the plate to her husband, who sat at the oilcloth covered table with knife and fork in hand as if a king waiting for his royal due.

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My inspiration for Jennie Lee and her daughter

She wiped her hands on the white cotton apron around her waist. “I’m going to run over to Eliza’s while you’re eating and check on her.”

“Something wrong with the girl?”

“No. Not that I know of. Just haven’t seen her today yet. She’s usually over her in the afternoon when she gets done with her chorin’.”

“Probably got busy. She’s a married woman now. Not a little girl tied to yore apron strings anymore.”

A soft sigh escaped Jennie’s lips. “I know. But she’s so good about stopping by every day that I worry if she doesn’t.” She wrung her hands absently, not even realizing what she was doing.

“Could have fooled me. You two…yore thick as thieves. Why, I’d almost claim you were attached at the hip. Good thing their house is on our land, nice and close. Why…Jennie Lee…whatever would you do if you had to make the trip clear into town to see your daughter? Or, heaven help us…what if they’d decided not to move south with us?” Her husband took a bite of beans and swallowed before continuing. “What if they’d stayed up in Missouri? You’d be in a mess o’ trouble then.”

“Why David Carl Barnes! How can you even utter that thought?” Color flooded her cheeks as the possibility of what could have happened flitted through her mind. “Of course she and her Luke would move with us. She is my only daughter.”

“I know that, dear.” His face softened and his eyes clouded slightly. He spoke a little softer with his next words. “I know it’s harder. Since the other losses. I’m just a’ sayin’ that you might want to give the girl a little room. She does have her own husband and house to tend to now.”

Jennie settled down in the vacant chair, her empty plate staring up at her. She spoke in a whisper. “It’s only that I worry so.”

Her husband shook his head and picked up a chicken leg. “I know you do. I’d almost think your name was ‘Jennie Worry’ instead of ‘Jenny Lee.’ Run along. Go check on the girl. Make sure everything’s all right.”

Before he finished speaking, Jennie leaped from the table and was lifting her apron over her head. She barely hung it on the hook on the wall before the door was slamming behind her as she rushed down the path towards her daughter’s abode.

The sun set long before Jennie returned home. The kerosene lamp sitting in the middle of the kitchen table cast a band of light around the one room cabin. David sat reading his Bible and held his finger on the verse to keep his place. Jennie gathered her sewing basket from beside the bed and joined him at the table.

He licked his thumb and turned a page before questioning after Eliza’s welfare. “You were gone a long while. Is the girl ill?”

—Thanks for stopping by! Join us next week for another excerpt from Peonies & Peppermint. For more reading pleasure, return to Tuesday Tales here.

My Wildest Dream – TT picture prompt

TT_bannerIt’s November, which means National Novel Writing Month, so for Tuesday Tales this month I’m jumping to another WIP, My Wildest Dreams. This tale follows the prequel, A Second Chance, where Jenny survived Sudden Cardiac Arrest and desired to honor her second chance by living an authentic life. She decided she wanted to own her own herb and garden store. Join us as we catch glimpse of her here as she follows her wildest dream, with the help of her best friend Carla.

This week we’re writing to a picture prompt, one of two selections: a country barn scene, or a roaring fireplace. I chose the barn as Jenny and Carla are on their way to a llama ranch. Return to Tuesday Tales here, to read the other snippets from talented writers.

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TT_December 2015 picture prompt

Carla rushed into the shop, her long, still wet hair streaming behind her. “Sorry, I’m running late.” She halted halfway to the counter. “You ready to go?”

“I’m ready. But Dillon’s not here yet.”

“Call him,” Carla suggested.

“I did. Twice. I’ll try again.” I pulled my phone from my back pocket and pressed his name on my screen. When the call went to voice mail – again – I tapped end call and dropped the phone on the counter in disgust. “I should have known not to trust leaving him here on a Saturday by himself,” I muttered.

Dillon came bursting through the side door like a cyclone, with words flowing out in a flurry. “I’m sorry I’m late…flat tire…left my phone at home…couldn’t call…”

“It is what it is,” I told him. “You’re here now.”

“As long as the ladies don’t ask me how to make anything. I can’t help them with girly requests.”

I smiled, thinking about how slow business had been since I opened. “If anything comes up, call me.”

We headed out for the llama ranch, leaving Dillon in charge of the herb store for the day.

The directions weren’t complicated. There were turns here and there as we traveled the farm to market roads the back way to Ponder. The rural scenery was green and lush as the intense summer heat settled into north Texas yet. I enjoyed seeing the verdant farmland.

Traveling down what I thought was the correct road, the asphalt ended and a dirt drive pointed the way to a red barn setting in the midst of towering post oaks. But…no cars. No signage. No obvious pasture land.

I eased to a stop and turned to Carla. “You see any llamas around? Did I miss a turn somewhere?”

 

My Wildest Dream – Tuesday Tales ‘nasty’

It’s November, which means National Novel Writing Month, so for Tuesday Tales this month I’m jumping to another WIP, My Wildest Dreams. This tale follows the prequel, A Second Chance, where Jenny survived Sudden Cardiac Arrest and desired to honor her second chance by living an authentic life. She decided she wanted to own her own herb and garden store. Join us as we catch glimpse of her here as she follows her wildest dream, with the help of her best friend Carla.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘nasty’. Return to Tuesday Tales here, to read the other snippets from talented writers.

TT_banner

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Carla called Thursday night. “Have you seen the weather reports?”

“You know me. Do I watch the news? My TV hasn’t been turned on for weeks.”

“There’s a big storm heading in. It should be here late tomorrow night.”

ice storm“How big of a storm? Enough to keep us from moving furniture this weekend?”

“Oh yeah. If it happens like they say. Of course, half the time they’re wrong anyway. The reporters are predicting temps in the high teens and possible ice.”

Just when I thought we were going to make it through this winter without any nastiness. I stood in the kitchen opening cupboard doors, scanning the pantry contents. I checked the refrigerator to double check if there was anything I needed, in case the reporters were right.

Usually I was set fairly well and could eat of my cupboards for a good month or two, except for a few perishable items. This time though, trying to keep my expenditures notched down in readiness for my new business venture, I hadn’t been purchasing as much in the grocery store as I typically did.

Out came the list and I jotted down a few necessities to run out and pick up the next day.

By the time I got to the store the next morning, it seems that multitudes of others had the same idea. Except that they’d gone earlier than I did. The loaf of bread I’d written on the list? That wasn’t going to happen. The bread shelves were bare. I tossed a pack of hamburger buns in my cart and considered myself lucky. The milk racks were in about the same condition. There wasn’t very much left. I found a small container of chocolate milk and added it to my meager collection. I made it to the eggs before they were wiped out and picked up two dozen. Water bottles also were in scarce supply. I found a gallon jug of a pricier brand and scooped it off the shelf. The soup cans were just as picked over, but there were a few selections still waiting for the late vultures.

I hoped the forecasters were wrong.

They weren’t.

The television was turned on that evening, to stay abreast of the news. I watched the storm progress, up from the gulf and north through this huge state. The house got colder with each advancing hour. To avoid the heater running so hard trying to keep the house warm, I dropped the thermostat a few degrees and added a sweatshirt.

After a while, I opened the front door and peered out, shutting it quickly when I saw the white tempest outside. February weather. It was not my friend.

I called Carla. “Well…guess we won’t be moving furniture this weekend.”

“Nope. But look at the bright side. I’m off work. Not that I’d drive there in this anyway. And you don’t have to try to get to Crafty Hands in bad weather anymore. So we both can stay home and be warm. And safe.”

icy viewWhen I peeked out the windows the next morning, I was glad to see the storm had past. I also had to admit that the pristine, icy world it left in its wake was beautiful. As long as I could view it through the window of my warm house and didn’t have to be out in it.

Not a single vehicle had gone down the street. The landscape in front of me was almost like one of the gorgeous snowy scenes on a Christmas card. But instead of white fluff surrounding us, it was a white layer over top of a nasty, icy crust.

icy roadTexas shuts down during an ice storm. The Midwest and the East laugh at us, as they keep on with life in their winter wonderland. But ice…nope, this California girl does not drive in ice. I was glad I’d gone ahead and picked up a few groceries.

For four days I couldn’t get out of my driveway. Not that I tried the first few days. The temperature never rose over twenty-four degrees. It was cloudy and dull, not a speck of sunshine to brighten our world – nor warm the icy layer cast over us.

By the second day, one or two vehicles made tracks down the street. I could hear one crunching along early one morning, making its way down the street very slowly. It sounded like a diesel, so it was probably four wheel drive. I didn’t care enough to get up and watch. I stay snuggled under my warm covers.

By the fifth day, the sun finally broke through and the temperature rose to a high of thirty three.

The down time gave me a chance to catch up on crafty projects for the store. I took advantage of that and worked up everything I could, until I was down to projects that needed one more piece, one more bottle of paint, one more item before it was complete. And I wasn’t going to go slide around on ice for a small bottle of acrylic paint, that’s for sure.

I pulled out the calendar to review the schedule I’d penciled in. There was no way I could open in one week. Without being able to move the large pieces in, and losing four days of making it to the shop, I’d lost too much critical time. It was going to be close anyway. But the ice storm had set me back too far.

Maybe I could move the opening to mid-March?

From past experience, I also knew that after a storm of this magnitude it would take a week or two before the world returned to normal. Not only had we cleared the grocery store shelves of produce and goods, trucks bringing new merchandise couldn’t get in to deliver their goods either.

I decided to push the opening back to April first. April in north Texas is nicer weather. People are excited to get out and about after a cold winter. And gardeners are starting to put in their first crops.

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