Saturday, September 26, 2009

What's Good for the Goose (Us!) is Good for the Gander (Congress)

A few weeks ago, I heard that Representative John Fleming had proposed, in the House, that whatever Health Care plan congress came up with, they would also have to accept and use the same plan for themselves. I thought, why not? If they love their plan enough to foist it on the public, why shouldn't they also have to use the same plan?

I tried to go to his web site right then, but the response from the public was so overwhelming, I couldn't even get on his web site!

My friend, Verna, just sent me the link today, and I went to Rep. Fleming's web site right away and signed his petition. Yay!

If you'd like to sign this petition, here's the link:

The Fleming Petition

Let's let Congress know that we don't want to be the government's Health Care guinea pigs. If they're so sure they have the answers, then why not use the plans themselves?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The First Draft is Finished!

I was so happy and excited to write the final word of the 94,704 words in the book last night (well, it was really at 2:30 AM)! How wonderful to feel that the story of Leah Raber is finished.

Now the extra hard work begins: revisions, editing, and rewrites! But even knowing that all lies ahead, I'm still happy to have the entire story out of my head and on paper, so-to-speak.

I appreciate your many words of encouragement! Keep watching this space as I plan to continue to post excerpts from time to time as the story gets it's second round of polishing.

Onward to revisions!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Day at the Park

The days are flying by quickly, and summer is passing into history. It sometimes seems that my family and I have little time for anything outside of the ordinary schedule. But we always have a choice of what to do with our time, and yesterday, we made a good choice.

My family and I went to the park to have an informal devotional time together. The sun was shining and a light breeze was blowing. It was beautiful outside. We took along the NIV and The Message Bibles. It was lovely to read both versions, and to talk the topics and themes over with each other. I love that kind of interaction. My teen son often has insights that surprise me. It's good to hear how his spiritual mind is working!

Here's one of the passages we read together:

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV): You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

Same verses; The Message: Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

As you can see, both versions say essentially the same thing, but one is wordier than the other. As a writer, I love the flow and poetry-like sound of The Message. My husband, does, too, but to a lesser extent. He likes the succinct and trim version of the NIV. My son was intrigued by how the two versions compared. These two versions led us to discuss how we're salt to those in our world.

Sometimes, I confess that I don't think I'm as "salty" as I should be...kind of bland. But I realize that I can't make MYSELF saltier; that's a power beyond me. Going to the Source is my only recourse, and He is faithful to restore me in body, spirit, and soul.

At the end of our discussion, we walked to the edge of the woods nearby and played around with the touch-me-nots growing wild there. Their seed pods were full and fragile, and one bump or brush of our fingers caused the pods to explode the seeds out into the air and grass. The wind picked up a few of the thin, light-weight seeds and blew them far from the mother plant. What a spiritual analogy!

I'm grateful that we have family days like yesterday. It takes just a few minutes to plan, and getting outside, where God's touch is evident everywhere, added a dimension to our discussions that couldn't be duplicated at home.

As we transition to autumn, I hope we have more days like yesterday. It's really a matter of choice.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ninety Percent: A Good Number to See!

My word count is at ninety percent! That means that I'm nearly finished with the first draft of this novel. It felt sometimes like I would never see the end, but now, I can count the number of scenes in the last chapter, and know that I'll be writing those soon.

Ahhh. It feels good, and though I know I have a lot of revisions and rewrites to deal with, the satisfaction of having that first draft completed is very nice. I'd like to post a few more excerpts along the way, and I hope to get some feedback, too. But for now, it's great to look at my outline and know that typing "THE END" is definitely in sight!

Thanks for your encouragement! It helps to spur me along.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Fiction: Lab Rats of All Species

Thanks for stopping by to read Friday Fiction. Be sure to go to Karlene's place at Homespun Expressions for more great fiction or to add a link to your own fiction with McLinky at the bottom of Karlene's post.

My contribution today is based on my work as a research technician. You get used to rats in that job, and sometimes, you wonder just who IS the rat!

Lab Rats of All Species
©By Dee Yoder

Through the thick glass in the top of the study room door, I can see Mike holding up one rat after another. He has his back to the door, but I rap on the glass sharply to get his attention. He looks unhappy when his face turns my way.

“Let me in,” I mouth.

He ignores me. I knock again. I’m literally starting to get steamed in my full-face respirator, jumpsuit, bootees, and gloves. He saunters slowly to the door and bows at the waist as he lets me in. I smack the top of his head with my pen.

“Nutcase! Why did you leave me out there? And why are you still in here?” I grouch. I put my pen away and head to the computer to log in.

“Who sent you in here?” he asks.

“Paul. He says no males are allowed anymore. You’re supposed to be wearing full gear, y’know.”

He shrugs. “Too late. I figure I’m sterile by now. Been in here for two weeks already with no gear.”

“Paul’s heading this way to see if you’re gone,” I warn. I take a printed sign out of my pocket, unfold it, and step over to the window to stick it to the glass with duct tape. NO MALE ADMITTANCE, it reads in red and black hazardous-looking letters.

Mike reads the sign and shakes his head with a laugh. “Now they tell me.”

I check the computer to see where he left off on his obs. “You weigh this guy yet?” I ask as I take a limp, fat, and complacent male Charles River rat from a metal condo. His beady eyes regard me calmly and his limp toes strike me as funny. I giggle. “What did you put in his food block? Pot?” I laugh as I tickle the chubby white tummy of number 78314. The rat scrunches his toes but makes no further gesture. At least, he isn’t baring his big teeth at me; he could easily eat half my hand.

“That seems to be the effect of the stuff,” replies Mike. “Makes them very laid back. Too bad it made them all sterile, too.”

I observe the placid rat and gently place him back in his home, then tap his data into the computer. “They know what the trouble with this junk is yet?”

“Other than the fact that it makes boys not be boys anymore? Nope.”

I watch Mike and realize he’s not his jolly self. “What’s wrong with you?”

“This.” He waves his hand around at the study room. “I’m only 26 years old…newly married…and this stuff might have done me in for life. No kids. That stinks.” He slams his book shut.

“What’re you doin’ in here then? Get out of here. I already told you Paul’s on his way and NO men are supposed to be in here. And look at you! No protection at all. Didn’t they put that hazard sticker on the door yesterday for a reason, Mike?”

Again he shrugs languidly. “Too late now. I’ve breathed this air and handled these animals every day for two weeks since they started dosing. I figure I might as well go down with the ship. Gonna have to tell the wife that it’s a no-go on the kiddie-roos.”

I smile. Mike’s drama is part of why I like working with him, but his goofy antics can sometimes frustrate me, too. “You don’t know that anything’s wrong with you. Go out there and get your blood test from Dr. Frankenstein and wait for the results before you jump to conclusions.”

Mike takes one last look at his used-to-be study. “This was my first study assigned to me on my own.” He hunches his shoulders and slits his eyes, Brando style. “I coulda been somebody…I coulda been a contenda,” he mimics, badly.

I laugh. “Hey, I firmly believe that if God doesn’t plan for this to be the end of your papa or career dreams, it won’t be, Buddy-boy.”

He gives me a serious look. “Other than the fact that you sound like Darth Vader talking through that respirator, I can almost believe you.”

“Trust God, Mike. Science is often wrong as you’ve found out, but God…He knows it all.”

He shrugs me off and heads for the door. Just before he goes out into the safe air of the corridor, he turns and gives me the thumbs up. “Maybe I’ll take Him up on it this time, Kiddo.”

Note: This is a true story and God did intervene for my co-worker. “Mike” had two children a few years later.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Geocaching Weekends

My family has been trying on a new hobby the last two weekends: geocaching. We take the GPS unit, log on to an area we'd like to search, and print out the co-ordinates to find the "treasure" located at those points. So far, we've chosen easy finds with easy terrain, but the fun has been in hunting down the stash!

We found our first treasure in the Loudonville Cemetery. Cemeteries are our favorite locations right now since they are public property and usually quite easy to access and the caches are somewhat easy to find. Coming out of the Loudonville Cemetery, we discovered this sign: thanks!

We then drove to the Millersburg airport and tried to find the stash there. We followed the clues and searched for several minutes. The skies had clouded over and the wind was blowing cold by the time we finally thought we were licked. In desperation, my husband asked the employee who was manning the terminal for help. He came out, and gave us hints on where to look. Turns out it was a very tiny magnetic key case--stuck under a roof edge on a metal shed. Now that was sneaky.

This past Sunday, we decided to look for stashes closer to home. Again, we went with the cemeteries, but the "easy" finds were not ours on two locations. At a cemetery quite near our home, we found the right tree (the cache had a name of "Medusa" and the tree in our sites had those long, snake-like pods hanging down from it, so we KNEW it was the right place), but after MUCH looking and searching and trying to get the GPS to just TELL us where the cache was (no, not really!), we finally had to concede defeat. Our first loss. Sigh.

Next, we headed northwest to a country church that had its cemetery across the road. The clue said, "This cache is not near any markers." But our GPS took us right to a tree that had TWO old, very large markers under it. Could this be it? The clue didn't fit!

We went to every corner of that cemetery and kept coming back to the tree. My husband took the GPS and walked entirely around the little cemetery. No luck. The sun was starting to get hot and one of us (me) was beginning to get cranky. Finally, just as we were ready to give up (another defeat!), my son spied the tiny little camouflaged container deep in a hole of the tree. Yay! One for two. Not bad.

Our next location was at a very sad and depressing little "Potter's Field-like" cemetery connected to the old County Home. Those who were destitute were evidently buried in this barren field with only a pipe or little blue plastic button in the ground as a marker. It made me sad to be there. Again, we searched the place over and never did find the cache. There was NOTHING in the field--but in spite of the lack of hidey-holes, we could NOT find that treasure. All we did find was a rubber bottle stopper in the cleft of one of the trees...hmmm. Maybe something got that cache! Another loss. Sigh.

Finally, we stopped at the last location on our list. It was at a small cemetery near a busy shopping area. The GPS kept taking us to a stand of trees at the edge of the cemetery, but though we looked and looked, we could not find the stash. And this one was supposed to be a good sized one, too. Oh man.

Finally, I took the GPS and started sleuthing the ground. I noticed a trail that led a short way into the woods. Ick. I DIDN'T really want to go INTO the woods! But I spied a large and hollow fallen tree---my eyes followed the length of the it! The stash was a tool-boxed sized metal container. It had lots of goodies in it and we were happy to end our day with a final success!

We spent several hours outside on both plenty of fresh air...and actually did some walking. Geocaching accomplished the goals of why we decided to start this hobby in the first place: we left the TV and laptop behind, and spent quality and fun time with each other--outside! We think geocaching is a fun and healthy way to be together as a family. We can't wait to go find the next treasure!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Fiction: Naive Treason

Welcome to Friday Fiction! Thanks for stopping by to read my story. For more great fiction, be sure to stop by Vonnie's at My Back Door. And why not add your own fiction to McLinkey at the bottom of her post? Have fun!

Naive Treason
©By Dee Yoder

“Rachel, I’ve news that Harman is meeting with Mr. Burr again tomorrow morning.”

“Is that so? Here at the house?” I asked carefully.


I watched my cousin trail her fingers along the mantle. The fire was reflected in her worried eyes as she gazed at the portrait of Harman hanging over the fireplace.

It still made me uncomfortable to think of their marriage. The Church could not sanction their union, and, truthfully, no one in decent society understood what she was thinking when she married her own uncle. As children of Harman’s brothers, Margaret and I grew up together in Ireland. I was her confidant during those years after her marriage, so I didn’t hesitate to come with her to America as she and Uncle-I mean- Harman, tried to escape the gossip at home.

But now, gossip had again reared its ugly head. People were whispering about Harman in connection to the ambitious politician, Aaron Burr.

“I’ve no hope of convincing Harman that Burr is a menace, not to mention what a leech he is on our finances.” Her bitter tone seemed to stem more from Burr’s never-ending outstretched hand than from his rebellious political views.

“Margaret, surely Harman will take counsel from his wife.”

“He is hopelessly na├»ve, I’m afraid. He has total belief in what Mr. Burr wants to do, but Burr only tells Harman what he wants him to hear.”

Margaret stood and walked to the fireplace. Her pinched expression showed her inner turmoil, but she squared her shoulders and turned to me with a smile. “Never mind. We have a party to plan, Rachel. I’ve already spoken to cook about the menu-“

She was interrupted by the sound of pounding footsteps in the marble entry. The doors to the library burst open, and Harman stood in the doorway, his face pale and his eyes filled with terror.

“Margaret! Burr has sent word that the Virginia Militia is advancing on the island! They plan an arrest. An arrest, Margaret, for treason!” He collapsed into a chair and covered his face with his hands. Then, springing up again, he ran to the west windows and scanned the lawn to the river. Over his shoulder, I could see dusk settling along the tree line at the river’s edge.

Margaret slumped briefly against the mantle and then held her hands out to Harman.

“Harman! They cannot arrest you! You have to get away…Harman! Listen to me!”

She hurried to his side and pulled his face to hers. “Listen! Take the boat over to Parkersburg. Make your escape now before they reach us!” The two exchanged a look of defeat.

It broke my heart to see Margaret in such a state, but truthfully, I knew the day would come when her union with Harman would bring her pain. She’d lived the life of the privileged few. She’d entertained the best poets, essayists, and the cream of society, but Harman and his ways were due for a downfall. The piper would be paid.

An hour later, Margaret stood at the doors and watched Harman flee to the river. In her eyes she beheld an escaping hero, but to me…well…I recognized cowardice when I saw it.

Margaret, the children, and I spent the night huddled alone together in the library. The servants had fled when their master fled, so as Margaret whispered prayers through the black night for her husband’s safe escape, I remained silent.

When the morning rays began to filter through the covered windows, and we heard the marching of feet and the shouting of orders as the Virginia Militia surrounded Blennerhassett mansion, my thoughts shifted to our dire position. No one would know that Harman was not here; we were in for a siege and I couldn’t think of what the soldiers might do when they discovered two women and three children left behind in this house.

“Margaret…let’s pray the Lord’s Prayer, shall we?” I whispered.

Her large eyes studied mine and then she quietly reached out and grabbed my hands.

“Our Father, Who art in Heaven…” I began.

Fierce pounding at the front door drowned out my words, but we held tightly to each other and let the pounding continue while we finished the ancient prayer together.

The crashing breech of the doors coincided with our shared “Amens.”

Margaret stood, walked to her frightened children and kissed them each softly, then turned and faced the soldiers who clattered into the library. It was over.

Author’s Note: Harman Blennerhassett was caught, along with Aaron Burr, and charged with treason. He was held in a Virginia prison for five months before being released when no evidence could be presented against him. The Blennerhassetts lost everything, including their mansion on Blennerhassett Island when the surrounding populace angrily ransacked the house. The island and the re-built mansion are now a National park.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Two Petitions--Two Votes!

I'm like many Christians in America today: worried over the growing trend toward limiting "hate" speech (just exactly what does that entail?), and concerned that my tax dollars would be used to help fund abortions in the coming years if the Health Care Reform package passes into legislation.

I'm convinced that at least one of the senators who represent my area (Democrat Sherrod Brown) will GLADLY sign his name to whatever Pres. Obama puts in front of him, and especially will eagerly support both of these "causes" if the opportunity arises. To that end, I have signed two petitions to at least make my preferences known on both of these issues. It may make little difference to Sen. Brown, but at least I know I did SOMETHING to express my beliefs.

If you'd like to do the same, here are links to petitions addressing both of these issues (Petition to Keep Our Tax Dollars from Supporting Abortion AND Petition: Hate Crimes): Petitions

It never hurts to contact legislators either! Here are links to the Senators Members List and the House of Representatives Members List.

If you live in Ohio, here are the links to Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown, and to Republican Sen. George Voinovich.

And finally, here's the link to the Congressman of the Ohio 4th District, Jim Jordan

Never on a Sunday

Every once in while, a set of circumstances combine to create freaky coincidences. A few months ago, my family and I experienced what we called "The Never on a Sunday" month of weird events.

It started on the first Sunday of this particular month after church. We'd gone to one of our favorite restaurants for lunch and were on our way home to the Sunday comics and lazy afternoon naps. As we followed a little compact car up a hill, I suddenly noticed that the car ahead was slowing down, and not only that, the driver seemed to be trying to navigate around another car that was pulling in front of it at a crazy angle. Soon the compact car was boxed in by the second car and had to come to a halt.

My radar went off and I told my husband to not get too close...something was wrong. We watched from a safe distance as a man jumped out of the second car and ran to the driver's side door of the little car. There ensued an argument, and a brief struggle, before the lady driving the smaller auto sped up and went around the blocking car. The man immediately ran back to his car and pursued the girl. Their cars disappeared over the crest of the hilly road. Uh oh.

My heart was pounding as we slowly came to the top of the hill and saw both cars screeching around a corner to the left. I said to hubby, "I think I'd better call 911--that doesn't look good." While I was engaged with the dispatcher on the phone, my husband turned and followed the path the two cars had taken.

As we approached a stop sign, there was the little car...sitting at a standstill...empty. I was so frightened at what I might see as my husband pulled even with the car, that I thought I might faint. The windows were down and, inside, the young woman's purse and sweater were lying in the passenger seat. Where was the driver? Not good.

We waited for the police to arrive, but before they came, the second driver returned--with the woman! He let her out of his car, but she was obviously upset. They both drove off separately. We waited for the police and told the officer what we'd seen. I'd gotten her license plate number and he wrote it down, but we didn't know until the next day what had happened. We read in the paper that the officer had gone to the woman's apartment where she admitted her ex-boyfriend had abducted her and beat her up. She pressed charges. I was just happy it wasn't a far worse turn of events.

The second Sunday, we decided to take a nice, relaxing country drive. We meandered down wooded lanes and sunny roads, enjoying the wonderful scenery and warm day. We came upon a car ahead of us, that, as the driver passed under a shady stretch of trees, suddenly slammed on his brakes and stopped his car--right in front of us. Not again!

My husband immediately slowed and kept his distance. What was the guy ahead of us up to? We watched as the driver opened his door, peeled a patch of roadkill off the center line and threw it into the back floor of his car! Then he accelerated and drove out of sight. We were dumbfounded!

We could only imagine what he wanted that mess for. ICK. EWWWW. And then we started laughing. What were the odds that we would come across two Sundays with such weird events?

The third Sunday, we decided to do some grocery shopping. We finished, and as we waited at a large intersection just off the parking lot of the mega-store, we noticed that several Ohio Highway patrol cars were approaching the scene. Suddenly, they all whipped their cars around a sedan that was waiting at the light to our left. The officers jumped out of their cars, GUNS drawn, and ran toward the boxed in car! At least two officers were running from behind the vehicle, their guns pointed in our general direction as they maneuvered to get in front of the "suspect's" car.

I told my husband--"Don't wait for the light! Turn right! Turn right! We don't want to be in the middle of a shoot out!" We never did find out what that little episode was all about, but whatever it was, it scared us to death. How strange that all these odd events were plagueing us!

The fourth Sunday, we went to church, as usual. But this time, when we discussed what we'd do that day, we looked at each other and said, "Let's just go home!"