Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Moonshine Marley Part 4

Starla Rose sat in the floral covered chair by the window. This was her favorite place to mull things over and she had a lot of mulling to do. The sunlight warmed her back and made her a little drowsy. The cup of tea in her hand was cooling down but she ignored it. Trying hard to make her thoughts remain in the corral she had created for them was giving her a headache. The thoughts wanted to jump the fence and run free.

The quiet was broken as Vinnie burst through the front door. The clump of his heavy feet sounded in the hall and with two large strides he managed to launch himself onto the couch across from Starla. He grinned as a large finger disappeared up his nose.

“Vincent, take your finger out of your nose. What are you, a child?” Starla rubbed her forehead and scowled at her cousin. “Actually, I’ll tell you what you are. You’re an uncouth oaf. You need to learn some manners and learn how to act like a gentleman.

“Come on Starla, who died and left you to be my etiq- etika – etiquick teacher?”

“It’s etiquette and if you had spent more energy on your studies than on beating up the little kids you would know that. Your mom is rolling over in her grave right now.”

Vinnie threw a pillow across the room and spilled Starla’s tea. “Now look what you have done. You’re such an idiot. This is my new dress.” Starla rose from her chair and headed for the door.

“I ain’t no idiot. I managed to get ol’ Marley all flustered because Joe wouldn’t buy his hooch. That oughta make Pop proud.”

“You think you managed that all on your own? Well, I have news for you. Joe may be scared of your size, but the real reason he refused to buy from Marley is because of Sophie. Haven’t you seen the way he looks at her? And, that’s not good enough. If he quits the shine Pops will lose his business also.”

“Yeah, you think you know so much? Just wait and see. Pop’s grooming me for the business and when he dies I’m gonna show you just how much you don’t know.”

Starla headed out of the parlor toward the stairs. “Stop it. Have you no feelings at all? Pop is not going to die. Now, I have to get out of this dress now that you’ve soaked it.”

As she disappeared up the stairs Vinnie grabbed another pillow and lobbed it at her back. He and Starla Rose had grown up in the same house ever since her parents had abandoned her when she was six to travel the world and never came back. She drove him nuts with her holier than thou attitude and her uppity manners. Once Pop was gone he was going to put her in her place.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Are You Called?

Are you called by God? I used to think I wasn’t. I mean, I knew I am chosen and all that, but called!?! Moses was called to build an ark, David was called to slay a giant, Mary was called to birth the Savior. I’m just an everyday girl, why would God call me?

Moses wasn’t a celebrity or even a sailor. David was just a little shepherd. Mary was just a young girl. God called them as He calls each of us. Granted, He called these three to great things, but for each person in the Bible who had a big role in God’s plan there were tons of people called to smaller things.

The truth is we are all called. The other night as I read in Isaiah I was suddenly aware of how many times the Bible tells us we are called in just the three chapters I read. Just because our purpose isn’t to slay giants or birth the Savior doesn’t mean our purpose isn’t important.

Have you seen the movie While You Were Sleeping? In the movie Lucy works in a subway toll booth and every day sees tall, handsome Peter come through the gates. When on Christmas Eve Peter is mugged and thrown onto the tracks Lucy jumps down and saves him. In a later scene the two are talking about heroes and Peter declares Lucy a hero for saving him. He says he has never done anything heroic in his life. Lucy replies that he gives up his seat for someone in the train each day. He says that’s not heroic to which Mary replies, “It is to the person who sits in the seat.” Even the little things are part of God’s plan.

God calls each of us in different ways. Each of us is given talents and opportunities to fulfill our call. Our dreams and purposes may seem small, but nothing is small in God’s economy.

How are you called by God?

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Kind of Did That Backwards

The standard advice for wanna-be freelance writers is to not quit your day job until you are making money as a writer. I kind of did that backwards.

It wasn’t intentional. I ended up in a place where I felt it was time to leave my job and I decided this would be a good time to pursue my dreams. If not now, when? So here I am six months later with a dream and a little extra writing experience under my belt, but not publishing regularly and not being paid for it. Am I a freelance writer or still a wanna-be? I’m certainly not a freelance writer who is supporting herself with her writing.

I've been doing some little projects like temp jobs here and there to bring in some money these past months. One of those projects has led me to the reality that I’m no longer content with just working to pay the bills. I no longer want to wander through life having to put my passion and joy on the back burner for 40 hours a week. I don’t think every writer has to give up a fulfilling day job to be the best writer they can. In fact, I know of many writers who worked all day and wrote all night. But, here I am at a crossroads in my life where I can pursue my dream or go back to my old life. That one project really instilled in me the desire to not go back to the old life just yet.

Once many years ago my pastor said, “If you have a God-given dream and you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. God will be there.” I wrote that quote in my journal all those years ago not knowing that the dream was writing for God for a living. I had buried that dream so deep it didn’t register on my radar back then. It wasn’t until 2006 that I began to unbury my hopes enough to reach my true pleasure in writing something that spoke to someone else. Now, I feel the drive to see where this will take me.

So, here as 2010 dwindles down to memories I am making a list and checking it twice. I’m making a plan, a business plan if you will. It won’t be easy. I’ve been tempted to think that if God gives me a dream it should be easy. But, I don’t really believe that. I think that God gives the dream and He gives the talent, but the elbow grease, that has to come from me. 2011 will be a year of elbow grease. I may end up doing the whole starving artist thing before I succeed, but I am willing to do that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Christmas

Hi Folks,

There won't be a new installment of Marley's story today. I am going to be taking a blogging break through the Christmas holiday. Marley, Vinnie and the rest of the gang you haven't met yet will be back.

In the meantime, I thought I might share some of the blogs I love to read.

Have you read Nat-the-Fat-Rat? I love Nat's blog. She takes her everyday life and presents in her very own, unique way that just captivates me. She recently had a baby; a much wanted and long awaited baby. Start with this post about holes and wholes and having and wanting and see if you don't fall in love with Nat as I have. But, don't stop there, make sure you read her previous posts to find out all about the Amazing Huck and how wonderful he is and of course, you don't want to miss out on hearing about the Holbshusband. So, go ahead; hop on over and check out Nat-the-Fat-Rat.

Until we meet again, happy reading and enjoy the season!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Everything I Need to Know about Life I Learned from a Tom Hanks Movie

It’s no secret that I am a Tom Hanks fan. I found this little list while cleaning my office and thought I would share it with you. It wasn't dated so I'm not sure when I wrote it, but I find its wisdom still applicable.

1. You can make a square peg fit in a round hole with plastic bags, duct tape and a gym sock.

2. Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

3. There’s magic in those three little words…“You’ve Got Mail.”

4. When you’re sleepless in Seattle try calling Dr. Marsha.

5. Don’t wait for a brain cloud to start living your life.

6. Wearing one red shoe isn’t a fashion statement and can get you mixed up with the wrong crowd.

7. You don’t have always have to act like a grown-up to be a grown-up.

8. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t get it.”

9. You can’t judge your neighbors by their looks.

10. You’re never too old to follow your dreams; you just have to have the courage to step out and possibly fail. You can’t succeed if you never risk failure.

There you have it. It’s true folks, we Tom fans are in a league of our own!

Can you name the movies these come from!?!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Moonshine Marley Part 3

Marley could feel his heart racing in time with the truck engine. He pushed the old jalopy as fast as it would go. “Come on baby, don’t fail me now. We can out run old Vinny.” Looking in the rear view mirror he saw Vinny’s Model T gaining on him. He yanked the wheel hard to the left to turn off the main road. Gravel spit from beneath the back tires. When Vinny’s car hit the back bumper the truck jumped. Marley’s hands slid from the wheel and the vehicle plummeted into a ditch. Marley pushed the door open and crawled out.

Vinny stopped his car, jumped into the ditch and pulled Marley to his feet. “You little weasel. Look what you did to my car. You’re gonna pay for that. You’re such a stupid idiot; you didn’t even have enough common sense to run somewhere’s I couldn’t find you. Headed straight home like a little pigeon. I knew right where to find ya. And now I’m gonna kill ya.”

“Yeah, well, not if I kill you first. Besides how you expect me to pay for your car if ya kill me?” Marley’s fist connected with Vinny’s chin.

“You ain’t got it in ya, ya little rat. When I’m done with you, you’ll wish you’d never been born. But you’ll pay for my car while you’re wishing it.” His knee connected with Marley’s stomach forcing his breath out in a large burst.

Marley fell to the ground where Vinny promptly kicked him. Vinny continued to kick until Marley’s body lay still. “There. That’ll teach you.” Vinny ran back to his car and drove away.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Badges of Life

Christmas is sneaking up on us with little pitter-patter feet. Before we know it we will be opening presents and then the New Year will come barging in. Another year is winding down while the new one waits in the wings.

Have you accomplished everything you wanted to when 2010 was just crossing the horizon? I put my goals out there in a post right after the first of the year. While I haven’t fully completed any of my goals, I have definitely moved in the right direction. And, I have accomplished things that weren’t on my list.

There is something about this time of year that gets me thinking about goals. I don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions because they seem so fleeting. I much prefer to think in terms of goals. So, I’ve been thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2011. The list is taking shape in my brain and I will share them with you soon.

One thing I have tried to do over the last few years was to force myself to step outside of my own little box. I have lived life much too safely and missed out on a lot of things because of my fears – fear of failure or looking stupid or being rejected. It hurts when these things happen. Unfortunately, hurt and pain are part of life as a human. I don’t think we can experience great joy and happiness if we haven’t also felt pain and sorrow.

Slowly I am coming to realize that if I really want to experience this world in a great way I have to take a chance. Sometimes taking those chances doesn’t lead to the things I planned, but I am always glad I have taken them. The failures and disappointments hurt, but they are symbols of my efforts. When I was a Girl Scout as a child I had a sash where my merit badges were sewn on to show my accomplishments. In life, each effort, whether successful or not, is figuratively sewn on the sash of my life; a reminder of a life fully lived.

I can’t imagine looking back and saying, “Dang, I was rejected; I wish I hadn’t tried that.” But, I can imagine (because I’ve done it) looking back and saying, “I really wish I had tried that.” It is the attempting that is important. So, in 2011 I will continue to step out and try new things; putting myself out there. I am sure there will be more failures and rejections, but who knows what great things will come as I pursue a life fully lived. When 2011 winds down my goal is to have filled my sash with many new badges.

What about you, what are your hopes and dreams for 2011? I would love to hear them.

And, don’t forget to check back in on Wednesday to see what happens to Marley next.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Moonshine Marley Part 2

Marley MacDougal can't catch a break. He's a small time moonshiner who finds himself on the wrong side of the law, the mob, and a woman.

Today starts the first in a serial story I am creating just for you my dear blog reader. Today I am posting the first part of the story that began on August 27, 2010 and after that is installment #2. Tune in each Wednesday to be the very first on your block to read the unfolding story.


Glancing first over his shoulder to make sure no one was around, Marley slipped into the cool darkness of the forest. The trees were thick along the road and Marley was grateful for their shade and shelter. Moving steadily deeper into the woods he went carefully making sure to leave no tracks. One could never be too safe in days like this. Finally after many minutes the dense undergrowth gave way to a small clearing. Marley dropped the burlap bag that contained the jugs and ingredients for a fresh batch from his shoulder.

“Good Evening Bella.” Marley stroked the copper still lovingly. He had worked hard to create this little retreat. It was something to bring in a little extra money. Filling his cup he sipped the liquid and sat on a log. “My goodness Bella, who would have thunk that I would end up running moonshine? It was never in my nature to go against the laws of this country, but what’s a fella to do when the country goes crazy with this prohibition? Humph, look at me out here in the woods talking to a chunk of copper like it was real.”

Getting up from the log he went over to empty the contents of the sill into two brown jugs. Plugging them with a cork he placed a flat rock on each to hold the cork in place. He filled the still and checked to make sure everything was running smoothly. Grabbing the jugs he headed back the way he came. With any luck he could make it into town and deliver the hooch tonight so he’d have some bucks in his pocket tomorrow.


An old black pickup pulled onto the dirt drive next to the house. Marley hopped out and grabbed a box from the bed of the truck. Walking to the door he saw Vinny sitting in his old Model T across the street. He quickly turned away hoping Vinny hadn’t seen him looking. He pounded on the door.

“For pete’s sake, knock the door down will you.” Joseph’s voice came loud and clear through the wood. As soon as the door opened Marley pushed past him into the living room.

“Hey, just calm your pants Marley. You act like a coyote’s chasing ya.”

“Let’s get this over with so I can get home. I ain’t got all night.” Seeing Vinny really got his nerves up and he didn’t like feeling this way. He set the box on a table and began pulling apples off the top, revealing 6 Mason jars filled with amber liquid. “I brought ya my best stuff. Same price as last time.”

“Well, now, Marley. I don’t think I can buy anymore.” Joseph twisted the edge of his shirt as he spoke.

Marley moved closer to Joseph and grabbed his shirt. “What do ya mean you can’t buy anymore? We had an agreement and I made this batch special for you. Don’t back out on me now. I counted on the money on account you said you was good for it.

Joseph pulled back so hard he hit a chair with the backs of knees. He thudded into the chair and rubbed his hand across his forehead. “I just can’t take anymore. I really shouldn’t drink the stuff.”

“Oh heck, Joseph, you been talking to that temperance lady again? Just cause she’s purty and makes goo-goo eyes at you ain’t no reason to swear off the hooch. You always did enjoy a good long sip of an evening. Anyways, you promised and I need the money.”

Joseph rose, picked up the box and forced it into Marley’s unwilling hands, which gave him no choice but to take it or watch it crash to the floor. He looked at Joseph with disbelief as he opened the door and pushed Marley out. Joseph leaned out the door for a quick look up and down the street. “You go on now and don’t come back with anymore. I ain’t gonna buy no more.”

Marley stomped to his truck, dropped the box heavily into the back. He climbed in the driver’s seat, slammed the door and throw the truck into reverse. Barreling out of the driveway he rammed into Vinny’s car across the street.

“Son of a monkey.” Marley glanced over his shoulder at Vinny, then jammed the gear shift into first gear and raced off down the street.