Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Flat Tire Thanksgiving

Friends - Photo by Mary Vee
Island of Bolero, Venice, Italy

Thanksgiving week blessings.

Hubby walks out to his car dressed for work and lunch in hand. He happens to look down at the front tire, something I wouldn't do, and walks back to the house. The tire is flat.

This morning, he fills the tire with air and nurses it up to the tire store. Across the street is one of those hometown restaurants with basic food, servers with pads of paper and pencils, and unlimited gut rot coffee. "So, yah wanna get breakfast?" He asks me. How could I refuse?

Two hours later the car disappears into the shop.
Although Hubby devoured southern style biscuits and gravy et all the trimmings, he is nervous he won't have the car in time to leave for work.

We walk across the road, yes we paid the bill plus tip, and walk inside the tire store.

Before hubby can ask, the tire guy grabs keys off his counter walks them to my hubby and says, "Everything is taken care of."

Hubby was speechless. All that nervousness that had morphed into botheredness (I made that word up) had nowhere to go other than the man grunt. 

The tire guy reaches out to shake my hubby's hand, "There's no charge. Happy Thanksgiving."

Hubby shakes his hand but remains stunned.

This is what small towns are all about. Love it.

So from our house to yours,

Happy Thanksgiving

Here are some wonderful stories for you, all on sale for the Holiday. 
Great stories just for you!

One reviewer says, "A Hallmark contender." 

Finalist in 2018 contest. 5 STARS

RELEASED THIS YEAR, Patriotic Suspense Novel  5 STARS

This post has been brought to you by the one word: FlatTiresMakeGreatReadingTimes

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Community Closed A Shop After It Was Open Only 4 Hours

Photo by Mary Vee
Bakery in Germany

Amazing, but true. 

John Chhan opened his shop in California at 4:30 a.m. then had to close the doors at 8:30 a.m. because of the community.

What had the community done?

The story started when a woman brought her daughter into Chhan's bakery. His wife had been there all the years the woman stopped in the shop in the past, but she wasn't that day. The woman discovered John's wife had an aneurysm and was home recovering from surgery.

After the woman returned home, she thought about Mrs. Chhan. The couple came to the U.S. as refugees from Cambodia many years before and set up this bakery. Every day the couple arrived at the shop at 2 a.m. to make the donuts then opened the doors at 4:30 a.m. to sell the treats. When all the donuts were sold, the workday ended. They closed the doors and went home.

The woman told neighbors and wrote a blog post about the Chhan's saying, if everyone went to the bakery early and bought in the morning, Mr. Chhan could go home earlier. Neighbors asked if they could help by doing a fundraiser. Mr. Chhan humbly refused. But, he did have a request.

Photo by Mart Vee
Bakery in Germany

Mr. Chhan said he would like to be with his wife more while she recovers. The community project to buy each day's donut supply early in the morning began. People who didn't eat sweets even bought a dozen then gave the donuts away.

Mr. Chhan found himself closing the doors at 8:30 a.m. With a huge smile, he went home to his wife. 

At the end of NBC's article, Mr. Chhan reports his wife is doing better. He hopes she can help at the bakery soon.

What a lovely story. The husband took over doing double the work so his wife could recuperate. 

His request for the gift of time is so endearing. And the community, well, they are stellar.

So, I wonder, especially in this month of Thanksgiving, if we can think of someone who could use a gift. A moment of time. A young mom who needs a break from the kids. An elderly person who needs company. A friend who could just use a note saying Hi, Thinking of you. These are only three ideas. 

How about you?

If you'd like to read more about the Chhan's and their amazing community, here is the link: Chhan's Bakery

Happy November!

This post has been brought to you by the one word: TheGiftOfTime

                                                           * * * * * * * * * * * *
With the Christmas season approaching, I have two Christmas books available for you. Both on sale during the holiday season. Both fun reads. One will take you to Europe. The other will take you to the Rockies. Both are sure to entertain. 

ON SALE for the holidays
for more information

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

How A Human Chain Saved A Bookstore

Photo Courtesy: Pixabay.com
A bookstore in Southhampton, England, called October Books, could no longer afford to pay the rent for it's building.

No big deal, you might say. Most people buy online anyway.

But this is a different and unique, and basically a Never Give Up Story because the community formed a human chain to save this bookstore.

October Books is an independent bookstore that also offers organic foods and hosts events for the community. Their interest in the locals impacted the people, stirring men and women, boys and girls to come to their aid.  

After having been in their original location for 25 years and facing rising rent, the owners knew they had to leave. They searched for another building and found an abandoned bank.  Several problems rose for a timely move down the street. A stockroom filled with books had to be transported. Painting. Setting up the new store. Creative genus struck when the owner called for help from the community. 

So, when the call went out, the people came. In greater numbers than the owner imagined.

250 people, from young children to the elderly, arrived at the appointed time and formed a human chain from the original store to the new one. They passed one to two books at a time to the person standing next to them, delivering the entire stock to the new location in quick time. They laughed. They looked at the titles. They talked. And had a great time.

In these days of the Internet, where nearly everything can be purchased online or read online, or seen online, there seems to be a defusing of community. Yet, there still seems to be times when a community will band together to help.

Kudos to this Southhampton neighborhood. How about you? Has your neighborhood gathered for special times?

If you'd like to read more about this story, here is the Smithsonian link: A Human Chain Helped A U.K. bookstore move to it's new location

With the Christmas season approaching, I have two Christmas books available for you. Both on sale during the holiday season. Both fun reads. One will take you to Europe. The other will take you to the Rockies. Both are sure to entertain. 



This post has been brought to you by the one word: Community

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How Kenya Transformed A Baltimore Child-A Never Give Up Story

Photo Courtesy: pixaby.com
A school in Kenya saved the life of a Baltimore, Maryland boy.

Hard to believe, but it's true.

Here is the story:

Devon grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, as they say. The neighborhood was broken. Run down. Laden with drugs and violence. Survival required knowing where to hide when things turned ugly.

His mother was a drug addict and his father an alcoholic. 

This situation turned many children in the school district into angry persons. Devon's anger manifested itself in behavior issues at school. In sixth grade, he was suspended several times.

Here is where the amazing twist in his life story happened.

The principal of his school was told to find a way to move ten percent of the students, the ones who refused to learn or refused to behave, to alternative education. Once these students left the school, the overall student body had a hope to succeed.

A recruiter from a new school foundation came to Devon's school. They presented their program to the student body. The idea was to take the troubled students to a remote area, far away from their neighborhood, and give them a chance to start over. The foundation considered several locations in the United States and elsewhere. Unfortunately, many had issues that would only contribute to the student's problems. At last, an area in Kenya, Africa was chosen. The students who would be accepted for the program would fly to Kenya for the academic year.

The idea intrigued Devon.

Over the summer Devon filled out the application and forms, answered interview questions, and so much more. Just prior to the start of the school year, Devon and eleven other boys flew to Kenya then traveled 150 miles to a very remote area where a large hut served as their school.

The students had limited electricity, the food was drastically different, and they didn't have the electronics like video games, etc, and fast food restaurants they'd been accustomed to. Wild animals ventured near their school. Life was as opposite as it could be. And--it was not easy.

Devon and many other boys adapted. To earn their entertainment, students had to prove successful in their studies. Devon's outlook on life changed completely. He earned good grades and found a new reason to live during that seventh-grade year.

Devon hoped to return to Kenya for eighth grade. Unfortunately, the school had to be closed down due to a dangerous uprising in the country. He didn't throw that seventh-grade year away and return to his old lifestyle. Instead, he continued to reach for a rewarding life by continuing his studies.

Today Devon is a CEO of an ice cream company, has a great salary, is married and has a child. Isn't that a Never Give Up Story that makes you want to do something? 

If you'd like to read more about Devon, the Kenyan school, his photo, and more:  CLICK HERE

This post has been brought to you by the one word-TryAndSucceed

Four times a year I take readers on a virtual trip somewhere in the world. Earlier this month, my October newsletter took readers to the Netherlands, inside, and up three flights of one old style windmill. The tour included so much, including videos of the massive pumps moving water and the reason why they wear wooden shoes.

Would you like to join us for our next trip? 
No passport needed.
No suitcase to pack.
You are invited.

Sign up for my Never Give Up Stories newsletter and travel with us!
No spam--just a fun virtual trip to the Alps, on a pirate ship, a desert, Petra, whitewater rafting, and more!

Click this link to go on our next adventure: 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Feelings Like Scrooge At This Time Of Year

Some of us like the dawning of the holidays. Harvest bounty leading into Thanksgiving and on into Christmas with a New Year's finale.

Others feel like Scrooge. Humbug.

My new release only days old is perfect for both sides of the fence. 

With a paperback designed in the fashion of Dickens' Christmas Carol, this is the book for you.

Consider this:

What if Scrooge married, had children, and generations later they lived in the States. One family in Chicago full of city life, and the other in Montana where a view of the horizon is never obstructed by a building. Then suppose these families happened to end up at the same mountain lodge the week before Christmas.

There would be more peace in a meeting of the Montagues and the Capulets than the Chicago Windermeres and the Montana Tuckers that week.

This is the story. A Peace on Earth-Good Will to Man with a Twist of Romeo and Juliet Novel.

High in the Rocky Mountains, the front door to the Windermere lodge banged open with a burst of icy wind snapping at Sam’s face. She cowered back toward the sofa, staring at a six-foot intruder covered with snow.

For years she’d stayed away from this place. It wasn’t safe. Her high-rise apartment, complete with fake fireplace and located in downtown Chicago lacked the quiet, but she could at least scream and be heard if trouble struck there.

The mountain man called her Goldilocks and accused her of eating his stew before revealing he was a Tucker and asking her to leave. Just like that he'd throw her out in the blizzard. Like all Tuckers, he was as heartless as Scrooge.

Blizzard, Avalanche, Grizzly. 
All Terrifying.
But Worse...Much Much Worse
A Christmas with the Enemy

Christmas With The Enemy is on sale for the holidays:
and is also available in Dickens' style paperback.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Brilliant Beyond Brilliant Idea by the Dutch

Photo by Mary Vee, Kinderdijk near Amsterdam

This is an idea on steroids. Why am I especially excited about what I am about to share? 

In my newsletter, distributed earlier this week, I took readers on a virtual tour of an old style windmill. We climbed the interior floors, touched the sails, watched the water pumped from the land out to the river. The water was then pumped out to sea.

We had such fun. (You can get a copy of the newsletter and take the trip with me still by going to this link and signing up: Virtual Tour of Netherland's Windmills  )

Anyway, today's brilliant idea is the restoration of a famous painting. Rembrandt's Night Watch.

Ah, I hear you saying, BORING. 

Not so.

This is different. Way different.

The artist/s commissioned to do the work will begin July 2019 and work in full view of the public in the Rijksmuseum located in Amsterdam. Right on the main floor of the museum. Talk about ultimate pressure. BUT there is more! This restoration will be streamed so that anyone with internet, anywhere, can watch the process!

Click in, watch a bit. Leave. Come back another time.

The marketing is truly amazing. Thousands will plan trips to watch the process. I would.

Imagine witnessing the rebirth of a 1642 painting that spans 12.5 feet by 15 feet. This massive canvas weighs 743 pounds and is considered one of the most famous paintings in all the world. The director of this Amsterdam museum says it belongs to us all so everyone should have an opportunity to view the process.

Why is this painting so famous? Rembrandt broke the established rules of the time. Subjects in typical pieces of the day were posed, standing or sitting. Rembrandt painted his figures in action. Subjects pointed, discussed, played drums. 

Movement in the painting draws us in. We ask questions. Walk to the left. To the right. There is so much to see. 

Rembrandt's masterpiece will be protected in a glass chamber throughout the process.  I would imagine the artist/s will set up their studio, including palettes filled with paints, brushes, drop clothes right there for all to see. Perhaps it will be sound proof so when that finite stroke is started no one will startle the artist. 

How exciting to witness!

Even more than Disneyland.

Plan a trip sometime to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam sometime between July 2019 and, oh, I don't know, I'll guess 2022. The estimate is that the work will take years. Hopefully not as long as it took Michaelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, four years. 

For more information about this exciting event go to:

This post has been brought to you by the
one-word: Brilliant Idea

Speaking of brilliant ideas my new book is on sale for the holiday season. Hop on over to Amazon and pick up your copy. 

And this year my Christmas book is about Peace on Earth. Just released: “Christmas with the Enemy.” Grizzlies. The Rocky Mountains, and a family only Scrooge could have sent. Kindle version on sale for $0.99 or the Dickens’ classic look in paperback.

Click Here for ebook or classic Dickens' style paperback

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

All Things New- I Have Two!

This week I would like to tell you about two exciting "new." I leave the period there because I don't want to spoil what they are before you look below...

First, I found a new restaurant--the Old Christmas Station located in downtown Frankenmuth, Michigan.

I walked in the main door on the side of the building and found myself magically stepping into Europe. Music from France, Germany, and Italy, played with interludes from a German radio announcer. My German is a bit rusty, so I'm not exactly sure what was said, and I didn't care. This cozy restaurant transported me to one of many restaurants I'd visited in France, Switzerland, and Germany. 

A waiter came to our table. He was dressed in a white shirt, black pants as many waiters do in Europe. He didn't carry paper and pencil but slighly leaned forward as if fully engaged in the dining experience. We listened to his question and while we considered what we would order to drink, he stood with straight leg, patiently waiting our answer. European dining, even for lunch, is never rushed. Always appreciated.

We started with coffee served on a silver tray. Notice the small creamer. The plate including sugar, cream, spoon, napkin alongside the cup and saucer is typical fare even for a coffee shop along the Rhine River.

We chose a three course meal. 
I ordered a salad and was pleasantly surprised at the presentation. Notice how the ingredients are gracfully clumped over a bed of lettuce. Insodoing, dazzling red, orange and green colors woo diners to begin their meal. I gently drizzled dressing from the cup and tasted. Ooo. Such vibrant, balsamic flavor! Not too oily or vinegary like what is made in Italy.

For the second course, my hubby ordered a German dish, wiener schnitzel with house made spätzle. He lived in Germany for many years and his heritage is German, so his expectations were based on what his mother used to make. From his first bite, I could tell the gravy-coated breaded pork and delicate house made spätzle transported him even farther back to his grandmother's home. There was not one word of conversation after that point. He was far too enraptured with savoring authentic flavors from his youth. Needless to say, he will order wiener schnitzel here again.

I ordered Italian. Spaghetti Marinara. Thick, rich, tomatoe sauce with just the right amount of garlic, basil, onion, and other flavors matched what I'd eaten in Italy. Do you know the story behind spaghetti? An Italian told me spaghetti was considered the poor man's meal. In the old days, Italians took remnants of meat left over from the meal before, added it to tomatoe sauce, and poured over noodles. LOL! And now look. Spaghetti has been refined as a dish served in nice restaurants!!

The Old Christmas Station also serves handmade ravioli and, well, I'll inlcude a sample of their menu below rather than listing them. Keep in mind, any prices shown may not be current when you read this.

For dessert, hubby ordered traditional tiramisu. By the way, he is a connoisseur of this dessert. The unreachable bar set by this dessert once enjoyed in Venice. Did you know tiramisu was invented there? While the texture from The Old Christmas Station's dessert was smooth and creamy, and the favors comparable to the Venetian dish, he thought it needed a tad more coffee.

My third course was the apple strudel. Light. Warm. The gentle sweet apple melted in my mouth delightfully lingering as a memorable last note of a symphony. Absolutely perfection.

As is done in Europe, the menu is posted outside behind a glass.

If you have a chance to visit Frankenmuth, Michigan, I highly recommend this authentic European restaurant. Please note, the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.

Now for my Second "New"

My new book has just been released
is now available on Amazon!

The cover for Christmas With The Enemy was designed with the classic look of Charles Dickens' days, including the spine decoration. I wish I could have had a hard copy made to complete the look for my library. Maybe someday. For now, the book is available in paperback and ebook.

Christmas With The Enemy: 
If Ebenezer Scrooge had descendants, the Chicago Windermeres and Montana Tuckers would be them. As a result,Christmas doesn’t turn out as planned for either family. A glacier helping of Scrooge's spirit invades their festivities, leaving a wake of an impossible Romeo and Juliet story. Even the McCoys and the Hatfields would be surprised. The question remains: can there be Peace on Earth in this Rocky Mountain blizzard? This is a blizzard of a read.

Here are the links:

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: SomethingNew

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Fourth Castle Ghost Story Heard on the River Rhine

Today I will share yet another ghost story told on the River Rhine. When you think about it, most ghost stories technically are told like an Aesop Fable. They are short and have a lesson. The slight difference is: the fable's lesson is spelled out while the ghost story's lesson can be interpreted by the listener.

So, here is the fourth ghost story I heard on the River Rhine:

PHOTO by Mary Vee
Vineyards along the Rhine River

Once upon a time, seven beautiful virgins lived along the Rhine. Their beauty was known throughout the land. 

They tended their vineyards in the day and celebrated life at night singing and dancing, never once inviting anyone to join them.

Young men longed to see even one of these beautiful women and dance with her. None received the opportunity.

Photo by Mary Vee
Armor room in a castle on the Rhine River

One day, seven Knights known for their kindness and heroic acts heard the story. They rode their horses to where the seven beautiful virgins lived, seeking to win the favor of even one. 

For many days the Knights visited the vineyards and asked to speak with them. "Please," they said. "We only wish one dance." For they thought: if the women would agree to meet them, and see their sincerity and kindness, they'd win their favor. 

The messenger returned each time with their answer: no.

The days dragged on. Each day the Knights faithfully went to the vineyards and asked to meet the beautiful virgins. They left messages stating they only wanted one dance.

Each day the messenger returned with the reply: The seven virgins said no.

"Are they searching for a certain man?" the Knights asked.

"No." The messenger then said softly, "They choose to reject all."

And so the knights gave up. They rode away with sad hearts.

Photo by Mary Vee
Rhine River

Not long after, word had spread throughout the country that seven new islands appeared in the River. They were small and beautiful. 

The truth was then told that the cold hearts of the virgins had turned them to stone.

Ever since that day, boats weave around seven islands in the river.

And now for my news:

My Christmas Story is due to be released. October 8 is the date. The cover was designed with a classic look to match Dickens' story, A Christmas Carol because if there ever was a descendent of Scrooge, Cal and Gil would be the ones. This is what the cover looks like:

Paperback and ebook versions will be available from your bookseller

This post has been brought to you by the one word: RhineRiver

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The City Of Grand Rapids is Alive with Art Prize

Grand Rapids, Michigan is hosting Art Prize. It is a downtown event. Streets are lined with amazing art ranging in tens of categories. The exhibits are free to view. You only need a good pair of walking shoes.

This particular entry captured my eye because I could also capture city buildings in the photo. 

More than the interesting photo, the concept driving this piece amazed me. So creative. So inventive. So well executed.

The artist interviewed random individuals in Grand Rapids, recording unique snippets. She chose short clips then printed the phrase on a piece of clothing. What I liked was how the clothing items matched something about the quote, for example: one spoke of older days. The message was printed on an early 60's pleated skirt. You might be able to zoom in on the next photo to read some of the sayings. 

Hundreds of people walked through the clotheslines, reading messages, laughing for some, serious for others. This interactive piece, received my vote for their category.

This is another amazing piece. Hung in the convention center, it was a huge piece. Easily fifty people stood in front when I arrived, giving me only this odd angle to take the picture. They pointed to objects, showing and discussing with whomever was with them an intriguing portion. This was not a piece viewers glanced at and walked on. I'd say they stayed at least several minutes or more.

These two pieces seemed the most complex, intriguing, thought provoking to me. Although I truly enjoyed the Phoenix, and the immense carving/photo of Michigan.

There were many other amazing pieces as well. I understand some light up at night!

The artists who presented their work for this year's Grand Rapids Art Prize deserve kudos.

All three photos are by Mary Vee
Grand Rapids 2018 Art Prize

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: CheckOutYourLocalFestival

What festival is held in a town near you?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Western Hurricanes and Eastern Typhoon Bully the Land

As you know, hurricanes and typhoons are the same storm but are given different names based on the location. While I had about three different ideas for today's post, my mind refused to walk away from these storms. 

I've never lived or happened to visit an area during either of these storms, but I've lived through four tornadoes. Maybe you haven't experienced either of these but you've endured something else. It seems that every place on the earth has a unique issue either from earth, fire, or water. Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, Fire, Such a list.

Typhoon over the Philippines
Photo Courtesy: NASA
user rights: labeled for reuse

Hurricane Florence
Photo Courtesy: Department of Defense
user rights: labeled for reuse

At times such as these, we feel our dreams may not come true. Ever. Much is lost. Much feels like it can never be regained.

Doors slam in our face or collapse, seemingly impossible to go through again. And the windows, well they just seem too small.

Thankfully, we're truly never alone. Heroes come to the rescue. You know the ones. Those who not only provide for our basic needs, medical, food, water, housing, but the ones who do more than listen. They encourage us to keep trying. They stand by us. Walk with us. Cry with us. Hold our hand. They set goals above what we feel we can reach then help us meet them. They distract us from the sorrow and the I can'ts and watch us unknowingly reach the bar.

So let's talk about the heroes.

I'll start the list, then you add.

Food Banks
Blood Banks
Schools converted to temporary housing
Good Samaritan
Nationwide volunteers
Truckers who transport needed supplies
Loved ones who stayed back with those unable to evacuate. 
In the Philippines, I'll add the diggers who painstakingly work to uncover those trapped.
The food preparers for workers
Those who donate food, money, medical, and other supplies
Those who organization distributions
Businesses like Waffle House who fly in workers and provide food. 

Okay your turn. Help me talk about the unsung heroes who help us move past the bullies. 

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: UnsungHeroes

Daring to Live
Never Give Up Stories

Dedicated to the people from the Carolinas and the Philippines