Friday, May 31, 2013

"Because I Liked You Better" by A.E. Housman and Story Round-Up

Because I liked You Better by A.E. Housman

Because I liked you better
Than suits a man to say,
It irked you, and I promised
To throw the thought away.

To put the world between us
We parted, stiff and dry; '
Good-bye', said you, 'forget me.' '
I will, no fear, said I.

If here, where clover whitens
The dead man's knoll, you pass,
And no tall flower to meet you
Starts in the trefoiled grass,

Halt by the headstone naming
The heart no longer stirred,
And say the lad that loved you
Was one that kept his word.

Here are links to the stories appearing in this week's Herald News

Woman never allowed illness to rule her life

Carol Berman experienced one malady after another, but that never affected her servant's heart...or the actions it inspired.

How to keep your dog safe, comfortable in warm weather

Spending time outdoors can always be great fun for you and your dog, if you're aware of the dangers lurking for him and take measures to address them.

Using art to help healing

As coordinator of a group that works with memory issues, Kathy Miller has helped countless caregivers and their loved ones find hope and meaning in their experiences. But when Miller scheduled a Courage in Art workshop, she had no idea she would become both overseer and participant.

Ready to run for a cause

To distract herself from a divorce, Sherylynn Johnson began running fundraiser races for charity. Last year, she ran one for her father, who was dying of prostate cancer. This year, she runs in his memory and invites you to help, too.

Mom says she can heal with energy

And she doesn't even need to be present to do so. Read on.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

So I'm a Vampire After All

I'm allergic to the sun, really and truly.

In addition to the usual seasonal allergies, some food allergies, and asthma, I have a condition called chronic urticaria. This means my body produces hives all the time, every single day, for which I take LOTS of antihistamines (yes, doctor prescribed) every single day.

The antihistamines do not, however, help my sun allergy. For years, fun in the sun meant hats, long sleeves, etc. or pay the price: intense itching, burning, welting. That really sucks (no vampire pun intended) because I also don't sweat much, so I very easily go from fine to heat exhaustion.

Then I learned that UVA rays (as opposed to UVB rays, the ones most people consider regarding sunscreen and skin cancer prevention) are the most common culprits in sun allergies. Suncreens containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are most effective at blocking UVA.

So now, before my daily, ninety minute power walk, I first lather up all exposed skin with this chalk-white stuff, giving me the complexion of a real vampire.

Then I drink a ton of water, stop back at the house halfway through the walk for more water (I don't carry water bottles; I carry hand weights), and finish the walk with more water.

In the winter, I build extra time into the walk to suit up in layers and take those layers off. In summer, I now need that extra time to wash off the white muck--and the bugs that fly into the stuff and die--before I'm head back upstairs to work.

It also means NOT throwing out all my old newspaper route T-shirts as I had planned, since I'm ruining my good tees with the sunscreen. However, I've had NO sun allergy symptoms since I started using the product and NO heat exhausion.

Do I look like a fool? Yes. Do I care? No.

Worth it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Three Good Quotes for Memorial Day

"In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

"Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened." - Billy Graham

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." - John F. Kennedy

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara, Reviews "Visage."

Dear MOMI:   

I never reported back about our Mother's Day book meeting. The discussion was among women, (I was the only man), half of which had just finished 50 Shades of Grey.

Most of the discussion bounced between the similarities between John Simons and Christian Grey (of 50 Shades). At the time, I hadn't read 50 Shades, but I've started to get a feel for what they were talking about.

I do think that 50 Shades is going to help you with the ByronySeries because the two men are very much alike, although John Simons is more complicated (or his situation.)

Yes, 50 Shades does have more sex in it than Visage, but while some of the women were shocked by kinky sex in the 50 Shades, I was shocked by the sex in your book. (Your former publisers would have had heart attacks; was that the plan?)

Visage got good reviews from my group; 50 Shades got mixed reviews. My interests in Visage differed from what I was hearing, though most found Simons the bastard that's easy to hate, hard not to love, but impossible to leave.

My favorite character is now John Peter (who'd better hang onto the leprechaun.) Did Ed Calkins recognized John Peter as a $%$$ (spoiler removed) BEFORE he became a vampire?

Anyway, we all want to know who Melissa's new husband is. Many fear it's Kellen Wechsler. I think I might know better because I used to work with the author.

Of course, being in character, I have to profess that the new husband must be the ruthless Ed Calkins (Now that would surprise me).

I haven't heard from you in a while, I hope that means everything is OK in your life as it surely means you're employed (as am I). Most of all, I hope you keep writing. God's love to you.

Ruthlessly yours,
Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara


Two Weeks of Story Links

Between graduation and the death of Charity, last week's story round up didn't happen.

Below are fourteen days (or so) of Herald News stories. Perhaps you will find something here to interest and/or inspire you.

Later tonight, I will publish Ed Calkins' comments on Visage.


Putting pen to paper

One writers group has lasted over four decades, but its members are still tackling new projects.

Sparks fly at welding competition

Teens pit their best skills against their peers.

Longtime Joliet planning commissioner was dedicated to city

Al Wilhelmi's love for roads began in childhood and ended with a street named for him.

Have a HART, help a shelter

Local rescue group hosts a fundraiser to help meet expenses.

A break from the norm

Some Christians think pastors shouldn't write steamy romance novels. This pastor doesn't care what they think.

Joining the cancer fight

A high school English teacher has watched both her parents battle cancer...and one of them lost. Under her guidance, students are now raising awareness and funds.

Young goats abandoned in Crest Hill

Two kids would never have survived the coyotes near that retention pond, but they now have a home at a local pumpkin farm.

Reflexology: Relievingh pain without meds

This alternative healing method is no ordinary foot rub. Learn how reflexology may benefit you.

Business helps families deal with transitions

Senior relocation is easy when one business does the sorting, packing, donating, cleaning, moving, and unpacking.

Woman's laugh and simplicity will remain

Joy Thompson was an artist and an educator. Both interests developed her mind.

Photography for the birds

It's not enough for Maureen Blevins to watch birds. She captures their likenesses for her and others to forever enjoy. Here's how you can do it, too.

Something to smile about

Dentists make adjustments to care for the needs of its most special clients.

Multi-faceted leaning

Robot competitions provide real-life opportunities for teens to learn and apply science, technology, electronics, and mathematics.

Easing the burden of home ownership

A new group takes the sting out of property management and replaces it with strong neighborhood ties.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Most Hated Meal from my Childhood Days

When you were a child, did you have any strong dislikes when it came to food?

For me, it was Pork Sausage Casserole. Whenever my mother served it for dinner, I always went hungry that night. I could never understand who would create a recipe for something so disgusting.

So when we began accepting submissions for the official BryonySeries cookbook--Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony," my mother, with an evil chuckle, submitted this culinary nemesis from my past.

While typing out the handwritten recipe, I realized I had never known what ingredients actually went into the thing. Ironically, with the exception of the canned soups, I do like all of them separately.

Yet, (SHUDDER), you can be sure, I will NOT be preparing this. The rest of you might feel differently. Soooooo, just in case, here it is!

Pork Sausage Casserole
By Virginia Schonbachler

1 pound pork sausage

1 medium onion, diced

1 can condensed cream of mushroom or celery soup

1 cup low-fat milk

1 cup rice, cooked

1 cup cornflake or bread crumbs

2 tablespoons melted butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

 Brown pork sausage and onion together. Drain off fat. Add soup mixed with milk. Add cooked rice. Put into covered 1 ½ quart casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Mix crumbs and butter together. Spread on top of casserole. Bake another 5 minutes. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Goodbye, Charity

So I fell off the planet for nearly a week, and it's all because of a five year old black and white cat named Charity.

A week ago, this male tuxedo of ours was prancing around the house, inside and out, and up and down the stairs, roof, trees, etc. Then, just as suddenly, he was critically ill. We fixed that problem and then a simple issue arose. We were treating that when he died suddenly on Sunday.

Charity--and his sisters Faith and Hope--were born to our tiny "eco" kitty, Midnight, our little "hospice care" cat that ran out and conceived these guys before she was well enough to be spayed. No one (except me) wanted to break up the family, so we kept them all.

Today, three of my children and I are eulogizing Charity by sharing a few memories. I figure Brian Marchellis would understand.

Me: Soft and floppy, with a face like Mufasa in The Lion King and a determined personality, one that added, on his own, a head butt to my cheek during prayer time at kitty meals (God is great, God is good--head butt--and we thank him for our food. Amen) and who broke through a living room screen during a church service at our house because he wanted to be a part of it (which is why we scooted him outside in the first place).

As a teen, Charity was afraid to climb down the first tree he ever scaled, and we had to call the fire department (which could do nothing for insurance reasons, and besides, they didn't have a ladder that tall...they said). For years afterward, whenever Charity climbed up on the roof, we had to help him down. When he finally figured out the whole climbing thing, he did so gingerly, while his sister Hope was claws dug into a tree with a fireman pole slide all the way down.

To his credit, Charity was the one that figured out the electric fence only rose eight feet in the air, and if he climbed to the far side of the north garage, he could leap to our neighbor's garage and to blessed freedom

BTW, no matter where Charity was hiding in the house, one could not cut into a cucumber without Charity knowing it. Cucumbers were his favorite treat. Any green vegetable--brocolli, green beans, kale, etc.-- was second.

Timothy: It's funny how fast time goes by. No time has gone by in my mind.

I remember as if it was yesterday. Charity was brand new to this world, but I knew even then that he was going to be a handful. Before his eyes were even open, he hissed at me. It was his way of showing me who was boss, and in the years that followed, it was clear that it wasn’t me. He was clever. He was first to figure out how get over the stack of VHS’s to get out of the closet (Midnight had birthed them behind a stack of videotapes in a basement closet). He made it up the stairs before his sisters did (Later, he would just jump across the staircase to avoid the steps altogether.)

Although, he had his moments, when he was a kitten, and I was trying to teach him to use the litter box, rather than use it, he continued to open up his little pink mouth and eat the litter. I had to fight him to spit the litter out of his mouth. He was a handful. From "sexing" him to chasing him around the neighborhood, he always kept me on my toes…up until the very end.
I’m sure he is up in heaven getting into God's toast. He was that kind of cat, and he will be greatly missed. I had more love for him than these words could possibly show.
Rebekah: It was when Charity was only a few months old that he ran into our oldest cat Frances. He then proceeded to stare her down, trying to intimidate her. Frances gave him no more attention then she would a cat toy. He continued to look at her till she got up and walked away. 
Another memory of Charity happened a few summers ago. We had a bad storm coming in, and we were working on rounding the cats up to bring inside, and Charity decided to run up a tree. We then tried to encourage him to come down. He refused and just inched father up the tree. A few us were still outside when a big gush of wind blew Charity out of the tree and into the yard. By then he decided he had enough and wanted to come inside
Daniel: I remember when Charity got stuck in a tree in our front yard. It was about a 22 foot tree and although Tim, Rebekah, and I tried to help him down, we finally gave up. A little while later, our Uncle Jerry stopped by and offered a couple tips, but none was helped, so we decided to call the fire department since Mom believed in the little books where firemen always got the pet down. The fire man said when he arrived that there was nothing except wait for Charity to get tired and fall down. Mom was disappointed cause it was nothing like the books. I tried one more time to climb the tree, got him, and he wanted to wonder around, but we brought him inside. What an idiot!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tired, Tired, Tired

Sick cat (third sick cat in six weeks, not counting the two that needed dental stuff done)

Lots of work (not complaining).

College graduation on Friday (Timothy).

Took half a day to celebrate Mother's Day with my mother. She likes lunch and shopping. We did both.

So why am I still in front of the computer instead of working my way to bed? (especially since I need to force feed one sick cat).

Good question.



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Guest Post by Sir Frederick Chook: "Pride and Prisoner"

Pride & Prisoner by Sir Frederick Chook
Penned upon the 12th of April, 2007  
First appeared in FrillyShirt (

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

"Welcome, sir!” said she, as he steadied his horse at a clump of delicious hedge.

“Where am I?”

“This is our village, sir, and we’re very happy to have you as a guest here. You’ll find that Pritherfield is vacant if you’re looking for a house. Otherwise The Red Crab has very fine rooms, though of course I should not expect you to need to lodge at a public house, sir.”

“What do you want?”

“Well, sir, we were all so hoping you might attend our local dance to-morrow night. Sir Grilliam Blacknell hosts it and it is a very fine way to meet everybody, particularly handsome young ladies. You won’t find any handsomer than my daughters, though there will be a very many ladies interested in meeting a gentleman such as yourself, earning seven thousand a year.”

“I am not a number — I am a free man!”

“Oh, you are a funny sort, Mr Six! Do promise you’ll come to-morrow night, and bring your featureless spherical sister.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sir Frederick Chook is a foppish, transcendentalistic historian who lives variously by his wits, hand to mouth, la vie bohème, and in Melbourne with his wife, Lady Tanah Merah.

When not reading Milton and eating Stilton, he writes, ponders, models, delves into dusty archives, and gads about town. He has dabbled in student radio and in national politics, and is presently studying the ways of the shirt-sleeved archivist. He is a longhair, aspiring to one day be a greybeard. He has, once or twice, been described as “as mad as a bicycle.”

FrillyShirt is a compilation of articles, essays, reviews, photographs, artworks, question-and-answers, promotions, travelogues, diatribes, spirit journeys, cartoons, ululations and celebrations by Sir Frederick, his friends and contributing readers. Irregularly regular features include Teacup in a Storm, an etiquette column, and How to be Lovely, advanced speculations on the aesthetics of the self.

Other topics that pop up include fun things in and around Melbourne, art, nature, history, politics and schnauzers. Sir Frederick’s favorite color is all of them. Enjoy his writing? Drop him a telegram at



























Monday, May 13, 2013

News Around Munsonville

We are (really and for sure) hard at work to release the official Visage and retire the Christmas edition to the way of collectors. We're shooting for a mid-June release date. We are cleaning up this version as a corrupted document from the previous one undid may of the typos. Technology, good grief!

Christopher Gleason, the cover artist for the Christmas edition, is working on a cover concept for Staked! I'm still stuck on chapter 17, so here's hoping his muse is more cooperative than mine, as we're still shooting for a Thanksgiving release date.

On June 21, Vicki Thompson, certified parent coach and lead editor for both Visage and Staked!, will appear with me on a local Joliet radio station to discuss writing and the relevance of the series for young adults of all ages. Stay tuned for details.

We are working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties for a cookbook signing. Remember, all proceeds from Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony," benefit this mentoring organization. If you haven't ordered yours, now is the time:

Friday, May 10, 2013

An Awesome Mother's Day Poem and Story Round Up.

Here's a link to a Victorian poem about mother's I added to the blog two years ago. It's still my favorite. Warning: grab a lace hankie before you begin reading.

Below are a list of stories that appeared in this week's Herald News.

A long medical journey

A young boy battling cystic fibrosis now wages war against liver disease and internal bleeding. Here's how you can help.

Kind-hearted physician 'never lost common touch'

Despite her brilliancy, Mickey Monroe was as down to earth as anyone and twice as generous.

Bat lovers enlighten the masses

A Frankfort couple travels with their fruit bats for live bat presentations and dispels the myths surrounding these mysterious creatures of the night.

Fresh paint, fresh start

A Minooka high school teacher, now in remission for bone cancer, receives a makeover for his bedroom, the place he spent most of his recovery.

Across the generations

An 88 year old grandmother and a 24 year old grandson seem an unlikely pair for a close relationship, but it's their humor and mutual respect that binds them, as the grandson chronicles in a book honoring their relationship.

Achieving their dreams

A university student involved in a college mentoring program for at-risk youth comes full circle with a positive message for the new group of teens.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pascha, Again (the bread, not the holy day)

My first attempts at breadmaking back in 1982 after my first son was born were pitiful indeed. I always maintained that if I had kept all those bricks (for I would only use one hundred percent whole wheat flour, not the best way to learn breadmaking), I could have constructed a small house.

The recipe below restored my confidence and set me on my way to baking acceptable bread for my family. (In my pre "working" days, the only bread in my household was homemade bread). To the scorn of my husband, I decided to create all of the items for the traditional Eastern Orthodox Easter basket, even though I married into the faith and had never seen--much less eaten--any of the creations I was attempting.

The advantage of not knowing how to cook, for I did not when I got married, is that all recipes, even the easy ones, are hard. Therefore, I tried them all, from packagaed macaroni and cheeese to homemade pierogies and poticas. No elation compares to finally seeing--after many months of failure--your first dough rise up, up, up, and over the bread bowl.

The recipe below is the family recipe from my very good friend Walter Bernadyn (deceased). After I'd given a loaf to my great-grandmother-in-law Eva Horkey (also deceased), to my great delight, she telephoned raving about the bread. No one, she declared, had ever made bread that good since her mother had baked it.

Oh, yeah, I was in!

PASCHA (Easter Bread)

Makes 4 round loaves

3 cups scalded, or enough scalded milk added to whey from hrutka to make 3 cups
 ½ tsp salt
6 beaten eggs
½ cup lukewarm water
½ cup sugar
1 cup melted butter
½ large cake of yeast, or 2 packages of dry yeast
 12 to 14 cups flour

 In a large bowl, combine milk, sugar, salt, butter and cool until lukewarm. Save 2 tablespoons of the eggs and add the rest to the milk mixture. In a separate bowl, crumble yeast in water and let stand for 10 minutes. Combine the two mixtures. Add flour, 2 cups at a time, until the dough can be handled.

 Knead on a floured board for 15 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, rise in a warm place for 1 ½ hours. Punch down; rise a second time for 45 minutes.

 Reserve some of the dough and then shape the rest into 4 balls and place into greased casserole pans. Use leftover dough to encircle the bread with braids and to top the bread with triple bar crosses and the letters IC XC NI KA (Jesus Christ conquerors). Let rise. Add a little milk to the 2 tablespoons of eggs and brush the tops of the balls. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Brush with melted butter.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Writerly-Ness is Contagious...a bit of Purple Prose from an Understudy

Timothy is finishing up his last week of school before finals and graduation. Tonight is his VERY long night of classes. His car is also in shop, so we text back and forth a bit about how he's getting to work and school in the a.m.

After the general festivities, I ask: "Having fun?"

The reply:

"Oh, a blast!" he said in a sarcastic voice. Timothy turned to the window with his hand on his chin , a breeze blowing his light brown hair.

....And then he woke up.

As part of Joliet Junior College's culinary arts team, Timothy just won a gold medal in the central regional competition last week in Little Rock, Arkansas. In August, he and the team will travel to Las Vegas for the national competition.

Read about JJC's fantastic accomplishment here:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thirty-Seven Years After I Read "Interview with the Vampire...."

....I finally watched the movie.

A friend, surprised I had never seen it, had suggested I watch it, saying it was, "So me."


Of course, I had to ask, "Was it any good?"

A pause, and then, "It was good."

So since the Bright Monday I schedule as "free" every year and always ending up working on it anyway stayed true to tradition, I, nevertheless, kept my promise to Rebekah that today we would watch a movie.

And Interview with the Vampire was it.

I remember feeling"so-so" about the book and not because I was only fiften when I had read it. I was already devouring Taylor Caldwell, Alexandre Dumas, Sheridan LeFanu, etc., etc, so that wasn't it. I think that, even for me, the book's pacing was far too slow, although perhaps, almost four decades later, I should give it another try, especially since several people said Bryony had some reminisces of Interview.

Hmmm, again.

First recantation: Tom Cruise.

I had strong negative feelings about watching any movie that casted Tom Cruise as a vampire, but surprise, surprise, he carried the role exceedingly, applaudingly well. Rebekah pronounced Cruise's Lestat the creepiest part of the movie, and, more than once, she huddled against me for "protection" as a well-enacted scene unfolded.

Second recantation: Brad Pitt.

Not a very convincing vampire, but definitely an attractive sorrowful one. Antonio Banderas plays a far a sexier vampire. Just sayin.'

The movie, unfortunately, picked up the book's dreadfully slow pacing. Now I'm won't go so far as to suggest adding a couple of "epic" battles or car chases, but when someone who likes a slow pace longs for something brisker, it really is too slow.

Yet the film version of Interview compensated in a way that the book, surprise again, could not and that was in visual mood. The sets, the costumes, the backdrops, all evoked a melancholic macabreness I could not easily shake off. In this instance, the movie just might be better than the book.

Now as to why the movie might be "so me?"

Perhaps it's because I, too, like a story with richly drawn characters driving the plot. Perhaps it's that glimpse into a shrouded world of a time past seen through the eyes of those past time. Perhaps it's the appealing rich colors and intense cinematography, the more of "art" and less of "blockbuster." Perhaps it's those brief moments of very strange humor. Perhaps because Interview, like Bryony, doesn't stoop to "vampire governments" and "vampire ethic codes," but deals more with the unfolding of the individual caught between that hazy unreality that isn't quite death and certainly is not life.

If those are the reasons, I accept them.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!

Christos Voskrese! Voistinu Voskrese!

Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I was Going to Post This Awesome Bat Video, but....

Timothy texted me from the awards banquet, and the night fell apart from there.

The Joliet Junior College culinary competition team won at regionals in Arkansas, so they'll be going to nationals--Las Vegas--in August. Tomorrow, I'll see if I can get Rebekah to post a picture of my son wearing his gold medal.

And, to keep it all BryonySeries, Timothy is standing next to a piano. Cool, or what?