Monday, July 30, 2012

The Unusual

By Mary Vee

The unusual often adds comedy to a mundane day. 

I saw a college student hurrying across the diag on the University of Michigan campus wearing a burgundy skirt, burgundy blouse, burgundy stockings, burgundy shoes, and the best part, had her hair dyed burgundy. College campuses often provide great people watching opportunities.

I saw the famous Oscar Meyer Weiner car.

My favorite "unusual" for today's post is: the sign.

After driving several hours on the unknown back roads of Montana, hoping to land in some place on the map, we stopped in a little town called Drummond for lunch. 

The Wagon Wheel Cafe, which could easily be missed by travelers, boasted 96 variations of the hamburger. 

The waiter handed me a menu and said, "You'll need a few minutes, I reckon."

He was right. Half the fun of choosing what to eat was reading the menu. 

Let's see, there was the pizza hamburger. Choice beef topped with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and slid inside a sesame seed bun. 

And the breakfast hamburger. Choice beef topped with ham and a sunnyside up egg slid inside a bun.

The place was packed during our entire visit. The high school basketball team took up half the seating area to down their choice burger and regale game stories. When they left, a girls sport team took their place. 

Decorated in fifties motif, the Wagon Wheel served up a mighty fine meal.

When my husband and I left the restaurant, we noticed the business across the street.


What unusual sign or place has piqued your interest?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fabulous Feature Friday: Pepper Basham

Today on Fabulous Feature Friday: Pepper Basham

Come meet my dear friend, Pepper Basham.

She is an aspiring writer, native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mom of five, pastor’s wife, and university instructor in Communicative Disorders. When she’s not sleeping, she’s creating fictional worlds where good defeats evil, laughter reigns, and adventure thrives

Inspiration Settings

She also has a great sense of humor. (I've translated some interview answers for you...she speaks Appalachian:))

Pepper's mind works at a lightning speed. She always has a good plot with subplots floating i her mind. Recently, I asked her what genre she writes.  

 Gee whiz, Mary, I can only pick one?!? For now, I’m writing contemporary romance (with humor). I love using family humor and writing fairytale-ish stories in modern day. However, I enjoy writing historical, fantasy, and paranormal (in that order of interest). I’ve even plotted a suspense-adventure along the lines of National Treasure.

If she'd chosen one, I think I would have been shocked.

Maybe she can give a straight-faced, serious answer to my next question. Pepper, name one funny incident you witnessed and chose to include in a manuscript.

Hee, hee. Not only is my life full of incidences, but my family history is too. Phrases my kids say will appear in my fictional kids. Two of my real-life-to-fictional repeats involved rodents. (Mary Connealy will LOVE this). One was about a mouse jumping on my knee while I was driving down the highway – not sure how long it had been in my car. The other was about a friend who beat a mouse to death with a box of spaghetti.

Historically there are SO many I use. From my great, great, great grandpa who traded his wife for a hunting dog, to mule races, and getting a rattlesnake drunk. Real-life is truly stranger than fiction J

Take a walk with me into Pepper's world (a 26 seconds clip). 
She'll show you the setting for most of her books.
I've noticed this does not play on a mac - you will need a pc to view

Pepper, your home setting is lovely. 

Tell me, who inspired you the most on your writing journey?

Storytelling is a part of my Appalachian heritage, and I grew up learning of my family history through my granny’s stories. She could trace by 6 or more generations and tell of the times, places, and people. It was fascinating. I’ve always told fictional stories (grin). Just ask my mom J, but my granny sparked in me, all the more, the love of story. She is the first person who ever called me a ‘Writer” – when I was twelve years old and she presented me with my very first typewriter.

A typewriter? Those machines we threaded paper into and punched keys? Wow.
I'd really like readers to know something special about you. Tell me, what goals do you have for your writing career?

To glorify God, first and foremost, but my second is closely linked to the first. I really want to be a good writer. I want to weave stories that inspire, encourage, and entertain – and do it well.
And, if the Lord allows, I’d love to challenge my breadth of writing. I already try – but I truly to enjoy so many genres.

Could you give us a writing teaser. Something to plant in our memories until your first book hist the shelf?

Gladly! I’ve listed the first paragraph of two of my novels – two contemps,  I hope you enjoy.

 A Twist of Faith – a contemporary retelling of My Fair Lady with an Appalachian Twist.

            PhD was not supposed to smell like this. Adelina Roseland dropped a box of research articles onto the floor and stifled a deep breath as the strong aroma of damp grass and naturally fertilized farmland wafted in from the open window. The entire scene defied any prestige the little placard on her mahogany desk could have given:
Dr. Adelina N. Roseland, PhD - Department of Communicative Disorders, Blue Ridge University
Her dream job dangled like a carrot in front of her, so running away wasn’t an option.

MY FAVORITE novel I’ve written – Here To Stay. It has a definitely fairytale-ish feel with a lot of Lucille Ball thrown in J

One step into the massive, glass-walled waiting area was all it took.
In a cataclysmic chain of events, someone bumped into Eisley Barrett from behind sending her purse and all its contents skittering across Heathrow International Airport’s glossy floor. Just as she regained her balance, her heel caught on her purse strap, forcing her off kilter. She liked comedy, but this was ridiculous.
In horrific slow motion, forward momentum merged with gravity, the crowd parted like the Red Sea, and she landed face-first on the floor.
Well, not exactly on the floor. Somebody broke her fall.

What exciting stories. I think she's going to be published soon!

Look what she's accomplished: 
Pepper D. Basham
Inspirational Fiction Author
“Stories peppered with grace and a dash of humor.”
BRMCWC Award of Excellence - 2009
TARA Winner Inspirational Category -2010

ACFW Genesis Finalist - 2011

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dads, Kids, Airports

By Mary Vee

Have you watched the dads in an airport?

On one particular day, it seemed many dads travelled with their children. Like other travelers, some of the dads rushed their troops through the airport, no doubt attempting to catch a flight, and others sought to fill long, boring layover hours.

It was a day of great people watching. Here are my two favorites:

First, the rushed dad

A dad hurried through the terminal taking long strides. Trailing behind him, yet firmly in his grasp, was his roller bag. The bag was tipped low, at a thirty degree angle or so. 

Laying across the bag, like one would an inner tube being pulled through the snow, was a three or four year old boy. The little one's face sparkled and his child-like giggle could be heard through out the terminal. A breeze blew his hair adding to a kodak moment. 

The child had fun, and the dad moved them to their gate in time.

This man deserves the creativity award

Second, the long layover: 

A dad held his four or five-year-old daughter's hand. She wore a frilly ballerina-type purple dress with purple stockings and sparkly purple shoes. The purple ribbons in her hair completed her girly preference. Her high-pitched, youthful voice sounded musical, beautifying mundane airport announcements

This little one did not want to walk through the terminal. She broke into a skip and encouraged dad to participate. Down the crowded terminal, where passengers groused and grumbled about this and that, this father and daughter skipped from one end to the other. 

He smiled and looked at her as though she was the most special little girl in all the world. The only words I heard, "You like skippin', Daddy?"  He didn't have to answer. His actions spoke a million words.

This man deserves the best daddy award.

I love people watching, especially when noble acts are being done.

Have you witness wonderful dads in action?

photo courtesy of

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Tenacious Problem Solver

By Mary Vee

My husband and I drove around a few farming communities in Ohio last week. We stepped out of the car to take a picture.

Humidity soared that day leaving moisture to bead on a landscape of lush green.

We climbed back into the car, shut the door, and rolled away. This is the moment I want to share. 

Outside my door and attached to the mirror, a brown spider moved it's legs wildly, attempting to hold it's grip. 

Oh, I know what you're thinking. Spiders wouldn't struggle like that. 

They would if the car was in motion. As the car increased speed the spider fought harder to keep its grip. I fully expected the wind to whisk the creature away to some field.

Not this spider.

It released one thin strand of silk propelling itself to my door. This, I thought, would never work. Surely more wind blasted past the door than the mirror. The spider attached the silk to the door then maneuvered like a tight rope artist across the single strand to the center. 

Truly amazing. 

Now if I had to choose the mirror, the door frame, or hanging in the middle of the two to hide from the wind, I don't think I would have chosen the middle. Yet this spider did. 

The car increased to the allowable fifty-five miles per hour with the spider centered on one single thread of spider silk. The silk stretched only a little, fanning back with the wind and providing the safe haven for the spider for several miles.

Unfortunately, the wind eventually snatched the creature, and hopefully dropped it in a corn patch where life would be safer.

Yet another story of God's creatures showing mankind how to survive. Today's lesson: tenacity and problem solving. 

photo courtesy of

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fabulous Feature Friday- Hubby

By Mary Vee

This is my opportunity to dedicate a day to the many special people God has made. I don't think I will every run out of people to feature on Friday because everyone has at least one thing special to share.

My first guest:  My hubby.

My hubby is a diehard nonfiction - documentary - historical - news reader only kind of man.


He does not like fiction. (poor guy, I'm working on him)

Still, my hubby has supported me with kudos, working out family schedules to find time for me to write, he's done dishes, and has taken on extra hours at work to pay for writer conferences.

When I can't figure out the best word for a sentence, I go to him, explain the scenario, and wait for the perfect word to fall from his lips.

His boring non fiction arsenal of knowledge has come in handy many times for me to gleam accurate details for a scene. Vacations revolve around many of the places he wants to learn about which includes buying "just one book". While he absorbs boring details, facts, and trivia, God gives me something fun to do. 

Like the time he HAD to visit some Civil War battlefield in northern Georgia. The park ranger suggested we purchase the audio tour, which we did. We listened to some old guy narrate events at each stop on the map. 

A rolling thunderstorm blasted into the park about the same time we pulled into the battle scene. We turned up the volume to hear the old guy tell the story over pelting rain sandblasting our car. As he explained events, the background sound effects grew louder to illustrate the battle. The Confederates moved forward, then the Union. . .  and the snare drums played louder.

At the exact same moment canon blasts from the audio tape sounded, thunder blared from the skies above. The timing was amazing. If we had left five minutes sooner or later, the storm would not have matched the audio. Talk about effect!!!! 

To pay me back, my hubby went with me to the Empire State Building to see where Sleepless in Seattle was filmed, and Grand Central Park, for Home Alone II. We went to Ellis Island where my father-in-law first entered the United States and many other places as well.

All fodder for writing.

I am so blessed.

Thanks, to my sweet hubby.

Who has been your support for your career?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The New Cook

By Mary Vee

With the plethora of cooking shows, specialized cookbooks, and Internet recipes available, anyone could step into the kitchen and try their hand at making a delectable dish.

In the movie Julie/Julia, Julie blogged about her cooking through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The movie showed that not all dishes turn out tasty the first time and that cooking truly is an art.

I was given a cookbook as a wedding present. 

Great idea because I was a master hamburger helper/tuna fish sandwich cook. New husbands tend to want more variety in their meals.

Each day I flipped open the book to some random page, looked at the ingredients, and if I had them . . . I attempted to make the dish, following every step to the letter. To my surprise, the meals turned out pretty good.

After a while, I thought I understood the fine art of substituting ingredients. Saffron is very expensive. Other ingredients didn't last long enough to keep and didn't seem cost effective for the poor man budget we had. Only a few staple ingredients stayed on the shelf.

One day I found an intriguing banana bread recipe, complete with ingredients I happened to have in the kitchen. Sounded good. I followed the recipe, thought one ingredient a bit odd, but, eh the recipe called for it. 

I decided to make a triple batch and freeze some for a later time. What a great idea.

After the timer went off I pulled out the mouth watering, eat me now aroma, banana bread and set the loaves on a cooling rack. Then waited until after dinner to serve my husband.

He took the first, BIG bite. 

What a guy. He didn't wrinkle his nose or spit it out. The slow chew, please rescue me gave it away, he never savors his food. He's an inhale eater.  I took a much smaller taste and spit mine out a second later. He seemed relieved and spit his out, too. We threw the rest away. A difficult thing to do when you live on a small salary. 

Fortunately, we lived to tell the tale. And I managed to find a decent banana bread recipe. . . in a different cook book

Care to guess the offending ingredient? And dear hubby, if you read this . . .you can't tell.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Invasion of the Girl's Sports Team

By Mary Vee

Up since 5 am. Checking in a hotel at 7pm. The super softball team enters the lobby.

After a long day of traveling and competition, one would think the traveling high school girl's softball team would be ready to hang in the hotel located near the stadium.

Oh no. Not!

Invisible energy seeps into their bodies from some vast unknown source. 

With the strength of Rocky they heft their super-sized gym bags over their shoulders, take a stroll through the lobby to check out the fireplace or mounted TV, and gab, giggle, or guffaw while some weary chaperone or coach checks them into the hotel.

The presence of only fifteen to twenty bodies expands to fill every molecular space in the hotel lobby and atrium normally able to contain one hundred people. This was not a Days Inn they stayed at for the night.

I watched from a corner, the only space left, and soaked in the most interesting conversation between two of the girls.

Girl 1: Giggle . . . "and then when he" . . . giggle.

Girl 2: Giggle . . .  "I know . . . and I" . . .giggle bends over laughing

Girl 1: Giggle . . . snort . . . "I can't believe" . . . giggle bumps into the girl 2

Girl 2:Giggle . . . wipes laughing tear . . . "and then" . . . giggle

Girl 1: Giggle . . .giggle . . .snort . . . sigh

That was the entire conversation!

There were only two people in the world who had a clue what that conversation was about, I wasn't one.

But to the bystander, the meaning of the conversation didn't matter. Anyone listening would have laughed right along with them . . . I did.

The next morning at the breakfast bar not one girl spoke. Their eyes drooped and a few laid their heads on the table. Zombies had taken over their bodies!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Small Townisms

By Mary Vee

During family travels this last week, we stopped in a small town in the Midwest with time to kill. 

I simply had to check out the library. 

No disappointment there. 

This small town had computers lined up on tables against every walls, and other tables in the middle of the rooms with outlets for the laptop/other techno gadget use. Amazing and well designed. Rows of bookshelves filled in the space in between.

Around the corner from the main room, I found the reason for this post.

The children's section filled one third of the library. Bright, inviting, easy to find anything.

Lots of kid high bookshelves stuffed with books.

A banquet length table filled with computers and little people chairs had been placed next to the aisle. In the last seat, a little boy with glasses pointed to a computer screen and giggled. I'm not sure what game he played, but he sure liked it. 

He didn't sit there alone. Next to him a man, presumably his father, kneeled with one leg resting on the floor, the other propped close to the boy's chair. He wrapped his left arm around the top of the boy's chair and held a cell phone with his right. 

The man wore a friendly smile as he spoke on his cell. He looked from the boy's computer screen to the boy's face all the while continuing his conversation. Fully engaged in the phone conversation, yet fully engaged with his son.

I wondered who he was speaking to. Was it Mom? A business call?

To me this struck a modern Norman Rockwell pose. Or a modern Andy of Mayberry setting. And while some may think the cell phone was an intrusion or distraction, I say, in this case, the man was by his son's side...and that counted for a lot.

What do you think?

photo courtesy of

Monday, July 9, 2012

Curiosity in a Remote Village in Honduras

By Mary Vee

Walk with me on this summer day as we step into Someone else's world.

Location: A Remote village in the Mountains of Honduras
                 An abandoned Wycliffe Compound

There he sat.

An unnamed boy about eight years old.

At the top of the hill overlooking a Wycliffe compound.

Watching doctors, nurses, child ministry workers, and teen translators on a one week missions trip. According to officials, medical workers rarely came to his village.

He probably couldn't discipher the cacophony of Honduran, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, American, and Canadian languages spoken by the blended medical team sent to help his village. 

But he watched and appeared to listen.

Early each morning, the team sat on benches and chairs arranged in a rectangle on a veranda made of broken cement. My chair leaned against the building affording me the view of a mountain to my right, the hospital center, and the hill where this boy sat to my left.

Our leaders presented devotions translated into the three needed languages by two teen translators. While intrigued with the message, I watched the boy progressively scooted down the hill, across the yard, and land at the edge of the veranda.

He ran his hands through the blades of grass plucking a few blades to fray.

The medical team then sang praises to God, each member prayed in his/her own language, and listened to the Honduran team presentation of the week's mission: break into teams of three, go to villages tucked in the mountains far away from the road, open a day clinic, and minister to the needs of the people.

The American closed the meeting.

What intrigued the boy to move from the top of the hill toward our group? We didn't have games, movies, toys, gifts, or impressive acts. What curiosity drove him to sit only a foot away from the group and listen to the worship meeting?

I opened my eyes after the closing prayer and found the boy gone.

And wondered, did we step into his world, or did he step into ours?

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Birth of a Nation

We celebrate many births.


Animal offspring

Nations, and etc.

Let's step into the world of those who were here during the birth of the United States.

What prompted men and women to come to a new, unsettled land?

I can't think of many men or women who would have an opportunity to do that today. The closet example to me would be the missionary who leaves an established home, familiar language, and culture to go to a new land. 

Using the missionary example, I can imagine what men and women felt like when they came here. 

For employment: men and women had to live off the land, barter services with others who came for help, grow their own food. Survival happened only if they worked. Even then, many died from weather related issues, starvation, diseases. The good side: men and women learned to work with each other, help and ask, share and borrow, laugh and cry. 

For conveniences: Only what was brought, grown, or made could be used. Wal-Mart did not exist. Main source of transportation: two legs, perhaps a canoe carved from a tree. The good side: men and women didn't mind walking miles to visit a friend or waiting weeks to receive word their sister was married. Time had time.

For food: Men and women hunted and learned which berries to eat, some mistakes were made, though. Native Americans taught gardening principles. So much to learn to survive. The good side: men and women learned how to get food without McDonalds.

For entertainment: Men, women, and lets include those kiddos here, played with stick and stones without breaking bones. They played games from their homeland, teaching each other new games without Monopoly, Wii, and Internet solitaire.

Still, we have many hardships despite developments. The American culture has changed considerably. The good side: when fires rage, floods waters rise, hurricanes and tornadoes rip, men and women come together to help.

Friends have helped me by babysitting my children, bringing meals when we were sick, helping pump our basement when it flooded, my list could go on for pages.

How has someone helped you?

Don't forget to become a follower! 

The first photo is courtesy of
All other photos are mine.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Launch Day! Stepping Into Someone Else's World

Welcome to my website. 

To launch my site I've created a vlog. 

Put on your climbing shoes, we're headed for the Beartooth Pass in the Rocky Mountains.

Do you have a real life situation or fictional setting/situation/character you would like us to discuss?
I look forward to your comments.
Oh, and take a moment to become a follower.

Wednesday is the next post. Lets have a blast on 4th of July!