Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Dec 24, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 30: A Pet Quiz

1. A dark science room                                                   ____Chow Chow
2. Teutonic minder of ewes                                             ____Black Lab
3. Colorful insect chaser                                                 ____Papillon
4. Pugilist                                                                        ____Mexican Hairless
5. Food-food                                                                   ____West Highland Doxie
6. French butterfly                                                          ____Husky
7. Scots mountain girlfriend                                           ____Bluetick Hound
8. Bald southern neighbor                                                                          ____German Shepherd
9. Not fat, just over-sized                                                                            ____Saint Bernarnd
10. Beatified author Cornwell                                                                   ____Boxer









Here endeth our 30 Days of Christmas! Have the Happiest of Holidays,

whatever you celebrate!





Dec 23, 2015

Dec 22, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 28: A Christmas Quiz


By this time in December you've heard all of these songs a thousand times, so match the Christmas song lyric with its title.

1. ...and folks dressed up like Eskimos.
2. You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear...
3. With the angels we will sing, "Hallelujah to the King!"
4. What can I bring Him, poor as I am?
5. "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep."
6. But the very next day, you gave it away.
7. Give him a hammer with lots of tacks...
8. I put a tack on Teacher's chair...
9. For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
10. Let's hope it's a good one/without any fear



____ "So This Is Christmas"
____"I'm Gettin' Nothin' for Christmas"
____"Last Christmas"
____"The Christmas Song"
____"The Hallelujah Chorus"
____"In the Bleak Midwinter"
____"Up on the Rooftop"
____"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
____"Silent Night"
____"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"

Dec 21, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 27: Simon's Reply to the Queen



Your Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth (and, by your grace, 'Highness' between us two),


I was honored to receive your missive at this Christmastide, and humbled by your care for a mere subject of your great and prosperous realm. That you take interest in my life here on the outskirts of London is a source of pride to me, and I recall each single time we have met over these many year with great joy.

You speak of growing old, but if I may respectfully disagree, Gloriana cannot age. You are our nation's shining light, and when light fades, the world grows dark.
You spoke of holiday preparations at Greenwich, and though I have not been there, I think I can picture the stonework hung with greenery and the many candles lit for evening festivities.
Things are simpler here, but since you asked, I will tell you of our preparations.

My son Henry cut some holly to put over the doors, and my wife tied it with red ribbon. Its bright green leaves and red berries add a festive air to our simple home. For our Christmas dinner, Hannah is planning brawn with mustard from some pork I received in barter from a local farmer. She will roast it all day in the fireplace, and my old nose can almost smell it cooking now.
It is our custom to invite as many guests as we can manage on Christmas. There will be family, of course, my sister and your old soldier Calkin among them, but we ask the poor into our home as well, to follow as best we can the example of our Lord in feeding His sheep.

Susan is married now, but she and her family will help with the meal. Along with the roast I know we shall see souse, cheese, apples and nuts, and of course plum pudding.

After dinner we will have music. If it is too cold outside, Henry will push the tables in my shop into the corners so there can be dancing as well. Though I am too old and brittle to dance, I love to see the young ones whirling and twirling and hear the pipe and tabor.

It is my sincerest wish that your Christmastide will bring joy to you, for I know it is a burden on you to care for your subjects as much as you do. Know that we love you, and that your old subject (dare I say friend) Simon Maldon prays for your good health and great contentment, always.

Dec 19, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 25: Her Royal Highness' Christmastide

An Elizabethan Christmas
My old friend Simon,
I have thought of you often in recent days. It has been some years since we last met and I sent you off to Scotland. I am certain you have grown ancient, for I myself am old. It came to my mind to write to you of my days in Christmastide. Perhaps you will in turn tell me of yours.

We are keeping Christmas now, since it is December 24th. The next twelve days will be busy ones, with parties each day until the last and largest one on Twelfth Night. Much of it is silliness, with men dressing as women and women as men. There is also gambling, which some abhor, but I believe life must offer good times to balance the bad ones we cannot avoid.

I have ordered the cooks to spare no expense in feeding the household, so we shall dine on meats of all kinds, marchpanes, pies, custards, frumenty, plum porridge, and much else. I look forward to the Christmas pie of neat's tongue, eggs, sugar, lemon, orange peel, and spices. As I told you when last we met, sugar is a wonderful food, and very healthful, too, I'm told.

Several pageants are planned for the holidays, and I believe tonight's is the tale of St. George and the Dragon. I am at Greenwich Palace, which, though small, is my favorite place for the celebration. It is decorated with holly, ivy, box, yew, bay, laurel, holm, and oak branches, any that can be found that are still green. The Yule log has been chosen, and tonight the men will go forth, cut it, and drag it to the hall fireplace. A bit of last year's log has been preserved to light this year's version, and if it burns all night long, that will signal prosperity for our land in the coming year.

HollyIt was suggested to me that this year we might set an image of the Christ child on the chapel altar. I see nothing wrong with that, for we must be reminded that despite all the banquets and dancing, this is a time for reflecting on God's gifts to us all.

Write me if you can, Old Friend, and tell me news of your family and your activities at Christmastide.

Signature of Queen Elizabeth I
Her Royal Highness Elizabeth
 (though you, of course, may call me "Highness")


So now is come our joyful'st feast,
Let every man be jolly.
Each room with ivy leaves is drest,
And every post with holly.
       Though some churls at our mirth repine,
        Round your foreheads garlands twine,
        Drown sorrow in a cup of wine,
And let us all be merry.
            George Wither (1588-1667)

Dec 16, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 22: Random Questions

1. Why are some words so hard to type? I invariably type Crhistmas and have to fix it. Also Goerge.
2. Why do we make stupid people famous?
3. Who decided that Christmas (or any holiday, for that matter) means going broke buying presents?
4. Who's Making Love to Your Old Lady (While You Are Out Making Love)?-- Sorry, it just came into my head.
5. What was I thinking when I planned a 30-day blog event?
6. What happened to being able to eat whatever I want and never gaining weight?
7. Where did I set my phone down this time?
8. Where can I find out if the 1998 Lincoln Continental had an escape button inside the trunk? (This is the kind of research question that drives authors crazy.)
9. When will I release my next book? (Only editors & cover artists know the answer!)
10. When will we learn that Peace on Earth is the only gift that matters?

Dec 15, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 21: IndieBrag Blog-Hop & Giveaway



Santa & Maggie Pill

Santa was trying to get ready for Christmas, but things weren’t going well, and his droll little mouth pursed in frustration. He couldn’t find the fur-trimmed hat that went with his red suit. He needed a clean hanky to wipe away the ashes and soot after each trip through a chimney. And one of his boots had gone missing. Those were things his wife usually took care of, but she was nowhere to be found.
Rubbing his little round belly, he looked in the kitchen to see if she was baking. Visions of sugar-plums danced in his head, but no. She wasn’t there.
Was she in the laundry room, washing tiny elf socks and underwear? Scratching his snow-white beard, the jolly old elf peered into the small room at the back of the house. Nope.
She wasn’t in the den taking a long winter’s nap, nor in the pantry sorting canned goods.
When he finally found her, Mrs. Claus was in the den, curled up on the couch, reading a book on her Kindle. “What’s so interesting, dear?”
“It’s called The Sleuth Sisters,” she replied. “It reminds me of me and my sisters when we were younger.” She sighed. “We were something else in our fifties, just like the women in the story.”
Santa didn’t want to bother his wife when she was having such a good time, so he spoke not a word and tiptoed off. Mrs. Claus hardly noticed.
“Instead of getting my clothes ready, I guess I could go straight to my work on the sleigh,” Santa muttered. That meant finding Elwin, the chief transportation elf. St. Nicholas went to the workshop, but it was empty.
“Hmmm,” St. Nick murmured. Elwin wasn’t in the sleigh-port. The sleigh was there, but its runners needed cleaning before he could spring into it and drive out of sight. The bundle of toys sat off to one side, not yet loaded. He noticed a small box with Amazon printed on its side sat apart from the others, apparently not part of his scheduled deliveries. “I’ll have to ask Elwin about that before I leave,” he murmured. "Wouldn't want to leave anyone out."
The corners of the workshop were dark and quiet, and Santa rubbed his broad face in puzzlement. “Elwin? El?”
No answer. Dimples appeared as Santa twisted his head in puzzlement.
Next Santa explored the front yard in his lively and quick manner. It was empty. He tried the side yard. Empty, too. That left the back yard.
It was chilly outside (not that denizens of the North Pole mind that), and Santa’s cheeks grew rosy. His nose looked like a cherry in the middle of his round face.
At the back of the workshop he found Elwin Elf, curled up on a snow-bank with a book in his hands.
“Shouldn’t you be polishing up the sleigh?” Santa asked.
Elwin looked slightly ashamed. “I promise the sleigh will be ready in time for Christmas, Santa, but this book has a couple of really cute dogs in it. One’s a Newfoundland like mine, and the other is a rescue dog. It’s also set in my favorite season, winter.”
“My favorite season too,” Santa said. “What’s it called?”
3 Sleuths, 2 Dogs, 1 Murder. The dogs even got mentioned in the title!”
Santa knew Elwin was as good as his word, and besides, he could see how close he was to the last pages. It wouldn’t be long before he was back to work.
Santa gave a wink of his eye. “No worries, El. I’ll check on Rudolph and the crew.”
When he got to the barn, however, it was completely silent--no prancing and pawing of any little hoof. Back outside he turned 180 degrees but saw neither reindeer hide nor reindeer hair. After a few seconds, Santa heard the tiniest sound above him and turned with a jerk. Nine reindeer were on the roof of his house, lying in a rough circle around the chimney with their legs curled up under them.
Santa gave his team a whistle. “Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen! What are you doing up there?” (Santa had learned over the years that it doesn’t do to single out one reindeer. If you spoke to one, you had to speak to the whole herd.)
“Comet’s reading a book we downloaded to your phone,” Vixen replied.
“It’s a mystery,” Blitzen added.
“About reindeer!” Dancer was clearly excited about that. “We take turns reading. It’s jolly.”
“Got it from the library,” Cupid said.
“It’s called Murder in the Boonies.”
“Did we say it has reindeer?” Dasher asked.
Santa chuckled, and his belly shook like---well, you know. “You did say that.”
“We’ll be down in a little while,” Rudolph called. “Just one more chapter.”
Prancer nodded agreement. “We’d never be late for Christmas.”
“I know you won’t,” Santa said, his eyes twinkling. “You’ve been completely dependable for centuries.”
“And this year, Santa, we have a gift for you.” Donner looked smug. “Actually it’s three gifts, kind of the same but kind of different.”
“We all got together to pick it out,” Rudolph said. “Mrs. Claus, Elwin Elf, and us.” The other reindeer grinned as he added, “You’re never going to guess what it is.”
Santa was pretty sure he could have, but he laid a finger at the side of his nose, gave a nod, and kept quiet. Being the Spirit of Giving, he knew that the feeling of having the perfect gift for someone you love is the best feeling in the world. He didn’t want to spoil their surprise.
“I can't guess,” he told his friends, but as he turned away he said under his breath, “but I hope it’s the audio version. That way I can listen to Maggie Pill all the way around the world. Ho, Ho, Ho!”

To continue on the IndieBRAG Blog-Hop and meet other great indie writers, follow this link: http://www.bragmedallion.com/

Don't forget, you can get a FREE copy of A Lethal Time & Place at InstaFreebie until Dec. 18th. Also, anyone who comments on this blog will be put in a drawing for an Advance Review Copy of my next book!

Dec 12, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 18: The Cat's Christmas

They've started again with the cruel season. They put toys all over the house and then freak out when I play with them.
There's a tree full of shinies and danglies in the corner of the living room, but "NO! Don't touch!" happens when I get anywhere near it. I managed to get in a few minutes of exercise with several of the things they hung on it while everyone was somewhere else. First I had to un-stick the nice things from the tree, which was hard. Then I had fun chasing them around on the floor--at least until Dad came in and bellowed like an angry bull, "Mary! Come see what your cat did!"

They put pretty things on end tables and shelves too, but again, I'm just supposed to look at them. A grouping of half a dozen figurines in a little wooden shed sits on the coffee table. I knocked them onto the floor to see if they'd roll nicely on the carpet. Only one of them did, but that one was fun to bat around until it went under the piano too far for me to reach. Mom had to get the broom and use the handle to retrieve it, and she wasn't happy.

Yesterday Oldest Girl put some things under the tree wrapped in paper and decorated with bits of ribbon. The ribbon is fun to chew on, and the paper is easy to shred when you've got claws as nice as mine, but when she saw what I was doing, she swatted me! I had to escape up the tree, which set it to swaying back and forth, and then EVERYbody was upset.
Now I'm shut in the upstairs bedroom with just a window blind cord to play with.
I don't get this Christmas thing.






Dec 7, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 13: What Do You Watch?

Christmas is a time for stories, and the TV people are certainly aware of that. They show old favorites, knowing people will tune in no matter how many times they've seen the show, special, or movie.

We don't seem to care if the animation is jerky or if Santa's belt and boots look like cardboard. We watch. If we do mind the zillions of commercials inserted, we watch anyway, because--Christmas!

We watch with family when possible. I just read of a woman whose family is spread all over the country, so they plan a time and each family gets the show in whatever format they need to watch it at that time. That's dedication.

What's your favorite Christmas show tradition? If you can't stick with one, we'll take your top 3.


Dec 5, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 11: Faye Remembers Christmas



Faye
I remember Christmas. I’d start thinking in late September about what each person in my family would like for a gift. Barb was always the easiest to buy for, because…books. She didn’t much care what kind as long as it was something she could learn from. And she could learn from mystery novels about motives and justice, from classics about life and integrity, or from Bill Bryson about just about anything. She honestly didn’t care what she was reading, as long as she was reading.
Retta wasn’t hard to buy for either, but for a different reason. She told you what she wanted, in detail, with directions and a price range. Sometimes it was written down, just to be sure.
That left Mom and Dad, who always said they didn’t want anything. That’s such an unsatisfactory answer to “What would you like for Christmas?” but it’s what we always got. Dad was funny because for some strange reason, the man who never shopped would go out late in November and buy himself new underwear, socks, and undershirts. He wore the same suit to church every Sunday and had a farmer’s disgust for things like bathrobes and bedroom slippers. Apparently real men get completely dressed before they leave their bedrooms in the morning and stay that way until bedtime. For Dad then, there wasn’t much to buy except new, bright-white handkerchiefs.
And Mom? What do you buy for the woman who spends her life making everyone else’s life easier? It seemed unfair to buy household goods or aprons. Mom shared any gift that could be shared, so chocolates or fancy teas was, if not wasted, at least not personal enough in my view. My favorite gift to her was a pair of earrings that thrilled her with their beauty. I was so pleased to see her wear them that first time that I didn’t notice until years later that she never wore them a second time. When she died, I found them tucked in a corner of her jewelry box, and as an adult, I saw how cheap and gaudy they were. I understood then that Mom would never have chosen them, but she'd kept them anyway. They mattered because I’d bought them for her and her alone, and she knew they were given with love.

Dec 3, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 9: A Pet Question



If you know the Sleuth Sisters, you've met Buddy, Faye's mongrel, and Styx, Retta's Newfoundland. You know Barb has formed a tenuous relationship with a stray cat. Book #2 had some horses join the family, and Book #3 took us to the family farm, where there are reindeer and peafowl.
In the 4th Sleuth Sisters book, chickens are an inciting factor--Bet you never heard that in a mystery before!


All this brought to mind a question for today's post: If money, space, and other possible drawbacks were somehow taken care of, what animal would you choose to get for a Christmas gift? (to add to the ones you already share space with, of course)


Nov 30, 2015

30 Days of Christmas--Day 6*-The Perfect Gift


Many of us start looking for the perfect gift around this time. (If you're one of those people who's had your shopping done since July 12th, I still love you.) There are lots of ways to go about finding things to make those around us happy, but I've been thinking of something you might not have considered.

Why not give people the right to be different from you?

Consider if you will how much stress--family, community, national, and international--would disappear if we didn't insist on being right.

Football fans call rival teams terrible names, and their fans must be stupid if they cheer for them.

Men and women make nasty jokes about the other gender's supposed weaknesses.

Kids take note of the differences between them and conclude Not Like Me means bad. I don't think they come to that belief on their own.

Internet philosophers speculate on the oddness--and therefore the wrongness--of this person or that group.

People of different cultures are lumped into one category and labeled as wrong without the slightest attempt to understand that their system works for them, and besides, individuals within the culture aren't exactly alike any more than we are. (I never go commando when I go clubbing--oh, wait--I never go clubbing. Still, that's the view some around the world have of Americans.)

And politicians? Their view has to be correct because, well, it's us against them. So vote for me and I'll put all those wrong people in their place.

What if for Christmas we gave everyone the right to think and act differently from what we as individuals call normal, as long as they aren't harming others?

What if for Christmas we didn't judge? I think I read somewhere God's supposed to take care of that.


BONUS: Because you made it this far into my philosophical rant, I'm posting a recipe to try:



Pecan Bark



1 cup unsalted butter (I used salted and it worked fine)

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar




1 cup chopped pecans




24 graham cracker squares




 




Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Line a 10x15 inch cookie sheet with foil and lightly grease the foil.




Place crackers on the sheet in one layer.  Sprinkle pecans evenly over the top and set aside.




Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add brown sugar and stir until mixture boils.  Boil for one minute.




Pour mixture evenly over crackers & pecans.  Bake for ten minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately place hot cookie sheet in the freezer.  After 1 hour, remove and break back into pieces.  Needs no refrigeration.  
 






*In case you're wondering, I'm taking Sundays off, so there's no Day 5




Are You in Panic Mode Yet?

 It's two days until Christmas. You have someone to buy for. Maybe you forgot. Maybe that person is difficult to buy for. Maybe you feel...