They Took My Truck – Memories

Last week my brother called and told me they stole my dad’s truck out of the hotel parking lot he was staying at.  Apparently, they brought in a tow truck because the alarms did not go off in the truck or on my brother’s phone.  You would think they would take the Camaro, Cadillac or Corvette parked there, but they took the truck.

My brother has owned the truck for over ten years, so it is not new. Even though my brother owned the truck, it will always be Dad’s.  We called it Dad’s on a regular basis.  When he told me, I was just heart sick.  It is a truck.  What am I so upset about?  It is a material object and can be replaced. Yes, it can, but not the memories that go with the truck.

When I was talking to a friend tonight, we discussed the truck.  My brother sent me a song idea, and I made the call to a songwriter friend. We talked about the truck and all the memories that go with the truck.  I remember dad having Minneapolis Moline parts in the back of the truck for one reason or another.  He had a farm truck, and he had the blue Dodge he used to take on vacation or tractor hunting expeditions.  Dad would head out west, driving down back roads looking for old tractors.  He would find an old tractor sitting three feet deep in weeds and would talk to the farmer about buying it.  Dad would then bring the tractor back to Ohio and would start the remodel on it.  I can still picture the truck sitting in the driveway with the trailer behind it.  An old tractor sitting there waiting to be put in the workshop to start a new life.

The blue Dodge was also the truck Dad would use when he was building the cabin at the pond.  I remember many days pulling up to the pond and seeing the truck sitting outside the cabin.  What we didn’t know at the time was Dad had cancer, and he was determined to finish that cabin.  Ever since he moved back from Colorado, he talked about building a pond and a cabin was in the conversation when the pond was dug.  Many days I would go back to the pond and his truck would be there, and he would be sleeping on the couch or sitting on the front porch enjoying the view.

If you talk to any farmer or person who has owned a truck, they will tell you stories about their favorite trucks.  I remember the first truck I owned was an old Chevy truck, stick shift.  The bed of the truck was wood, and it had a few rust holes in the body.  I was just married, and it was my first truck.  There were holes in the floor board when I bought a new truck, but it had served its time, and it went on to someone else to drive.  I remember hearing the story of Billy Currington and how he had kept his dad’s truck.   How much the Chevy truck means to him.

Memories fade, but when you own something that keeps the memories alive you tend to hang on to that item.  I have my Dad’s office chair, and I can’t image any other chair being behind my desk.  Dad’s truck is out there somewhere, and maybe one day we will get it back, but we are not convinced that will ever happen.  They targeted that truck and they had someone who wanted it so it is long gone.

Comment made:  “Bastard took my truck.  I miss my truck!”   Great title for a song and video lol

 

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Santa Donations for Gatlinburg

For the past week, there has been a lot of focus on Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  Many of us have visited Gatlinburg over the years and enjoyed the mountains and everything they offer.  This past summer I took my family to the Smoky Mountains to show them things my parents introduced me to and to enjoy the time together. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have so many memories for many people, it is as if it has this hold on you and makes you come back year after year.  The low clouds give the mountains the feeling of having smoke hanging over them.

Smoke was hanging over them the week of November  28th as several fires were started, and the 70 mile an hour winds pushed the embers over the Smoky Mountains.  Homes were lost, resorts were burned to the ground, and people were trapped in hotels at the top of the mountains.  There were over 2000 evacuated to safer places in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.  The news covered the fires and followed families who were looking for their loved ones for days, to later find out they didn’t make it out of their homes.

Dolly Parton grew up in Sevier County, and she took it upon herself to start several fundraising efforts to help those who lost their homes and their lively hood.  The town mayor not only lost his house, but he lost his business as well.  Hundreds of people are now unemployed due to resorts burning down, businesses lost and hotels were lost to the fire.  Dolly’s foundation has set up a fund to help the residents of Sevier County get back on their feet.

People and companies from all over the United States are sending in food, water, Gatorade, clothing, toys, pet food, and other miscellaneous items for those that need to replace their possessions.  One of the local news stations said they need canned meat and things they can make meals. There have been all kinds of protein bars, breakfast bars and such sent to the volunteer fire department, but they need things to make meals with.

This morning they announced they were in need of new books and toys for the children to have a Christmas.  The items are to be sent to the Sevier County Volunteer Rescue  Department, and they will have the parents come in and pick out what they need.  I called my publisher and asked if I could send 20 books, Galon the Northern Pintail Duck, down so the kids would have something more from Santa on Christmas morning.  The answer was yes.  I knew he had a big heart and I knew it was something I wanted to do.   I am also sending a hard copy of the book so they can donate it to the local library for the kids to read.

The hardest part of a disaster such as this is the kids.  They don’t understand why they don’t have their toys anymore, or why they have to sleep on a cot at the fire department instead of in their bed.  Kids are resilient, but in times like this your heart goes out to them, and you just want to tell them it is going to be okay.

Pam Egbert

 

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Pay It Forward

I was just on my Facebook page, and a friend posted a story telling of her trip to McDonalds today.  She was in line, and she decided to take a leap of faith and pay for the order behind her.  She had no idea what the total was going to be, just that she wanted to Pay It Forward for someone.  The total for the order was only $1.07, but she had no idea if that was the only money the person had or if they had already eaten breakfast and just made a drink stop.  She felt good because she knew it gave the person a smile.

This time of year we tend to reach out and touch people more than any other time of the year.  Christmas is about giving and seeing the excitement on a person’s face when they open the present or see the surprise.

I tend to get excited about purchasing special gifts for people at Christmas time.  The family is fun to shop for when you don’t worry about if it is on their Christmas list.  LOL   One year I did a pajama party for my kids.  Everyone received new slippers, pajamas or men’s jammy pants, and socks.  Most people get so caught up in their normal day life they don’t go out and purchase new pajamas for themselves.  The slippers were the nicer ones with the rubber soles on them.  I know many people slide their slippers on to go out to let the dogs out or get their mail.  The kids were excited because I made them open those gifts before anything else and they changed to be more comfortable during the day.

Pay It Forward has been given to me several times at McDonalds and other fast food restaurants.  I have surprised my friends when I snatched their bill out of their hand to pay for their meal, at lunch meetings.  They do it for me as well so we take turns Paying It Forward.

One day I was at Hobby Lobby with my mom, and there was a young girl behind me who was purchasing things for her wedding.  Her mom was trying to pay for some of it, and the girl told her mom she wanted to do it herself.  I could see they were on a limited income and I watched as she was counting everything she had in her cart to see if she had enough money.  I handed the cashier my phone and told her to use the 40 percent off coupon for this young lady’s order.  The cashier smiled and said she would be glad to.  The young girl smiled and said thank you, with tears in her eyes.   All the items were from the wedding section, and I guessed she would get 40 percent off the entire cart of goods.   My mom asked me what I did, and I told her, she didn’t get the smartphone concept and instant coupons lol.

Those few minutes in my life was a time I have never forgotten.  Each year I find one person I do something special for.  One year I sent McDonald’s coupons to a couple in Texas.   I knew they were on a fixed income and didn’t get to go out much.  She called me several weeks later and told me they went to McDonalds for a date night.  Lura and Arthur ordered two hamburgers, a large fries, and two glasses of water.  I knew she loved her Coke and I asked why they didn’t get their own fries and pop.  She told me if they watched what they spent with the coupons they could go out several times.  They are a proud couple and would never take money from anyone.  Several years later they were struggling with paying for his heart meds, and I sent them a Walmart card so they could purchase some ham, potatoes and the chocolate cake she kept telling me one day she would be able to afford, a treat for the both of them.  She called crying because I had given them enough to purchase their Christmas dinner.

We get so caught up in our own worlds sometimes we don’t listen to our friends and neighbors and miss the little things, like the fact they had not been out on a date night for many years or the cost of the heart medicine was going to keep them from purchasing a Christmas dinner. All these gifts didn’t cost me more than $25.  I was laid off at the time, but I had food on the table and I could afford to give something to them to make their Christmas happier.

Paying It Forward does not have to be monetary.  You can help someone sweep off their sidewalks, shovel their sidewalk, or take them to the store to do some shopping.  You can be a secret “Pay It Forward” and put a basket of fruit on their porch or send them a gift card and don’t put your name on the card.  If you are an artist, you could draw/paint a picture of their favorite pet or take pictures of their house/pet/children with your camera and give it to them for Christmas.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and Pay it Forward today.  Let that person waiting to get into traffic out, smile and wave at them.  🙂

 

Pam Egbert

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Samples We Receive in the Mail

How many of you receive random samples in the mail?  Lately, I have been finding samples of different things in my Amazon orders and other purchases I have made online.  I think this is a great way to get your product out to the masses and let them try something they may not purchase off a big box shelf.

You have not seen me make a recommendation on a sample until today.  I received a sample of the TRESemme’ Expert Step 1 and TRESemme’ Expert Step 2 hair shampoo and conditioner.  I was skeptical at the least when the directions said to put conditioner in first and then shampoo my hair, but I was willing to try it and see what happened.

When I read the back of the package I thought I was going to have to leave the conditioner in for 5 minutes or more to get the soft texture they were talking about, I have seen the commercials about the product as well.  🙂  It was only one minute I had to leave the conditioner in and then rinse out before I applied the shampoo.  The shampoo was thick and it did create a lot of lather for the amount I used.  I was surprised again because I thought the conditioner would affect how the shampoo worked.

After I towel dried my hair I applied my normal leave-in conditioner and I applied none of the products normally used.  My hair dried soft and it was not fuzzy as it normally is this time of the year.  The natural curls were soft and I didn’t even have to curl my hair to reduce the frizz.

Would I use this product again?  Yes, I would.  I loved the fact you didn’t have to use much product to get the results you want.  Which means I would save money. If you try it let me know how you like it.  It is a retraining process of not using shampoo and then conditioner.

Have a great week!

Pam

 

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Ohio State University Tragedy

This morning many Ohio State University students returned to classes after a long Thanksgiving weekend with their parents and family.  Last night they left home and traveled back to Columbus excited to be back in class and excited because their football team won against Michigan on Saturday, a big rivalry team for OSU. Most were still excited about the win against Michigan and were excited to see their friends returning to campus or the dorm rooms.  Then the unthinkable happened this morning, and someone decided to run their car into a building, pulled out a knife and started to stab students.  Nine people were injured, and the Columbus Police Department shot and killed the assailant.

The last thing you want to hear as a parent is a report that someone on the campus, where your child goes to college, welding a knife.  He is using the butcher knife to stab anyone in his path, and you don’t know which building your child is in at that time.  As a parent, I just can’t imagine seeing that on the news.  With social media being a right here and now news source most students did not have time to call home and let their family know what was going on while the news hit.   There was a page set up on Facebook for students and other people to sign in and let others know they are fine.  I have read posts from parents informing their family and friends their children have checked in and are fine.

No one knows what went through this person’s mind and why today is the day he decided to get up and try to murder students on the OSU campus.  We can only hope it is an isolated instance and there is not a group planning this attack. Ohio State University has set up a protocol for the students and everyone did as they were told, hiding and finding shelter. The campus faculty was prepared, in case something like this happened at Ohio State.   OSU police department was close by, which meant there was a very quick response to the call for help.  The Columbus Police Department showed up minutes later and took over the crime scene. Because of the Ohio State University’s forethought, more students were not hurt or killed. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those injured.  We hope they find out why the assailant decided to attack the students and this is an isolated incident.  We can only hope this comes to a stop and these attacks across the country become a thing of the past.

Pam

 

 

Holidays and Family

It has been a little while since I wrote my last blog.  I lost a dear friend this past week and the holidays are here in a few days.  I think about the family who not only lost their son and brother but their father the week before.   I read a post on Facebook one of the family members wanted to skip Christmas this year.

Holidays are a hard time for a lot of people every year.  I still remember the years we had Christmas at my parent’s house, and Dad would have the fireplace lit. As you walked into the house you could smell the ham baking in the oven, and you could hear mom mashing the potatoes in the pot she used every year.  The pies were laid out on the countertop by the bay window, with the other desserts sitting next to them.  Each had its own fork or spoon next to their container.  There were small Christmas napkins next to the desserts with decorative paper plates.

It took no time at all before the kids were in the living room, with the grandfather watching over them, sitting as close to the tree as they could.  They knew if they move too close they would hear the famous words, “Back up.  You’re too close.” Grandpa would be reading his newspaper, but somehow could see through the paper to what was going on.  They would look at him with hopes he would let them open just one present.  When asked he normally told them after we ate then the Christmas presents would be opened.

This year many families will not celebrate Christmas, making memories such as this.  This week children passed away in a bus crash in Tennessee, police officers have been attacked and killed, military personnel will be overseas, and loved ones have passed away leaving an empty chair at the dinner table.

I still miss my Dad and Mom, especially during the holidays.  When Dad passed away, we made sure we were all together for that first Christmas without him.  Yes, it was a sad time with that empty chair sitting there, but we knew he would want us to keep living our lives.  I think that was the last Christmas my entire family was together.  We have gone our separate ways and now live in multiple states.  My children come home every holiday.

It is my turn to spend hours making the turkey for Thanksgiving, homemade mashed potatoes, different vegetables for different tastes and we can’t have Thanksgiving without dressing and cranberry salad.  I tried making a frozen pumpkin pie one year.  That was the last year that happened. lol  Everyone quietly protested in their individual way.  The clue was when they didn’t fight over the leftover pie to take home lol.  I make an extra pie now, so they all have something to take home to snack on.

This year I will think about the families who lost someone and the people we have lost in our lives.  I am sure Dad and Uncle Larry are in heaven discussing the Presidential election. lol  Uncle Larry was a true southerner, so if they have Christmas dinner in heaven, there will be biscuits and gravy on his plate.  🙂 My dad will have his meat and potatoes.  I am sure there is a piece of homemade bread on his plate with some homemade jam on the bread.  Pumpkin pie with whipped cream will be next to his water glass.

What is my Thanksgiving wish this year?  I wish people would get along, stop all the name calling and being so rude.  Politically correctness goes both ways.  If you don’t like being called names and being persecuted, then you need to stop.  We are a divided nation and it is time to come back together.  Just as the Pilgrims and Indians came together for the first Thanksgiving, we can come together as a nation.

Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you. May your travels be safe and family time preciously filled with love.

 

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I Want To Write A Book. Where Do I Start?

This morning I was asked why I decided to write a book and how I got started on the project.  For me, I had a background in writing and communications, so it gave me a little more of a head start than some.  My major in college was Communications, and I went back to Ohio State University to take a class in creative writing, which helped me with my writing.  A friend asked me why I had not written a book; I was so good at writing the feature stories for the newspaper. So I sat down at the computer with no idea where I wanted to go, just started to write.

Writing a book: I believe you need to be an avid reader to write a book or have a great editor.  Reading gives you more information on the structure of a book, scene and chapter breaks, and helps with your inspiration for the subject matter.  My mom was an avid reader, and she passed her books down to me.  I don’t remember a day she didn’t have a book in her hand.  As a farmer’s wife, she would sit reading a book while she waited for the wagon or truck to be filled with grain.  My mom liked historical romances, and I found I loved the books with a story including a cowboy and horses or a modern day romance.  Even on a bad day or a cold weekend a heartwarming story with a happy ending made the day just that much better.

Inspiration:  You CAN NOT use other people’s work in your book.  That is called plagiarism, and that can cause you many headaches and legal problems.  To write a book, you need to have a sense of creativity.  I used several things from my life in my book.  The oak tree by the creek was a place I went all the time to sit and think.  The root system on the one side of the tree had been washed away by high waters, so I could sit on one large root and swing my legs over, leaned up against the tree.  It just came naturally to write the oak tree into the story.  Especially when the main character went home and needed a place to think.  Songwriters will tell you this:  Don’t be afraid to use parts of your story in your piece.  Taylor Swift was known for doing that all the time.

Outline the book:  The Silver Heart book is an oddity for a writer.  I sat down at the computer and just started to type.  I had no outline, and I had no idea where it was going. The Silver Heart grew on its own and had its story to tell.  My next book already has a three ring notebook started with the character names and research into why a 16 years old young girl would be shipped to America by her family.  Even though I am writing a fictional story, I want some form of reality so I can feel the story.  Feel the character through her travel to America and the feeling she gets being shipped off to America by her family.  Her feeling of fear with a touch of adventure.  Creating her character in the book, who she is and bring out all the feelings being felt by the main character.  You will have to read the book when it is released to learn more. lol

Tip:  The best thing I found on the internet is a program called Grammarly.  It has been a God send for me.  I used it for everything I type, including social media posts.  It corrects spelling errors, grammar errors, structure problems, etc.  I am in love with this program and purchased the upgrade to catch more errors.  It is a free program to start.

Edit, Edit, Edit:  Once you write the book put it away.  Walk away for a little while and separate yourself from the book and the characters.  Then read the book again.  Print it out and use a red pen, or pink as my editor did, and make changes.  Make notes in the margin.  What do you want to know more about as the reader?  Don’t read the book as the author, read it as someone who just picked it up off the bookshelf to read.  Do you have questions about why something happened or what did the room look like?  Make notes in the margin.  Then go back and change the story.

Your Editor: No author succeeds without a good editor.  I met my editor, Ann Westlake, on LinkedIn.  I believe in fate and signs.  Ann lives in, Delta, B.C., and I lived in Delta, Colorado.  As we talked, we found many things in common, and I just felt a connection with her.  Ann is honest with me, even when I don’t want her to be, and she understands me.  When I explain why I wrote it a certain way she listens and then helps me through the storyline.  I love my editor, and she has taught me so much over the past two years,

Final Manuscript:  When I wrote The Silver Heart I sent it to a publisher with only my editing.  WRONG!! You can’t be your own editor and never post any book on eBooks or anywhere else until you have it edited.  Even the best writers in the world have editors.  Someone who can look at the manuscript with a different set of eyes.  They catch typos you missed because you wrote it and read it with your mind on the story,  This is something that will be out in the world for all to see.  Do you want the best out there or just so-so with errors?

Critiques:  I had several friends read my book long before I sent it to an editor.  I wanted their opinion on the book.  Was it something they would recommend to their friends or would they purchase it on the bookshelf?  After you release the book, do not take a bad critique personally.  Everyone has and opinion and although some reviews hurt stand by your work.  If you have followed a plan and your editor is happy with the final product be proud of your work.

Writing a book:  Do not expect to write a book in a couple of days or a few weeks.  Even my children’s book took me months to write.  There were edits, and I had to find an illustrator for the book, then work with her on each picture.  I thought being there were fewer words it would be an easy book. When you go for a smaller book, you have to put more details into the storyline, with less time to bring the reader into the character’s world. My tip for writing a book is this:  as you write the book stop and close your eyes.  Look around the room you are in and pick out the details of the room.  Colors, textures, pictures, people, and anything else that gives the reader an idea why you chose that room to include in your story.  If it is a scene with your characters, close your eyes and feel what they are feeling.  Does her heart feel butterflies, does he feel terrified with the man running towards him with a sharp knife, with the black handle.  Yes, look at that knife through the character. What do you see about the knife that you would remember if you had to describe to the police?  Pull your readers into your story.

Some of my happiest moments with The Silver Heart are when my readers come back and tell me they hate me, love me, and I made them cry.  I pulled them into the story with the characters, and I brought out their emotions.  One person said she read it until 4 a.m. because she couldn’t put it down, she wanted to know what happened.

Happy writing no matter if you write a book or a story for Readers Digest.  Enjoy your writing.  It is a time you can escape from the present day world and travel to somewhere else in time.