Winter doldrums

Two weeks ago, I was sitting in my favorite recliner, the one I am rooted to, depressed.  Too little physical activity was playing havoc with my mood.  I continued to dwell in my self-comforting for the rest of my lazy day, knowing full well nothing changes unless something changes.  Sounds easy, but how?

The next morning, a thought niggled into mind.  Go take an exercise class with the elderly ladies at the local athletic club in the warm therapy pool.  I dug out a swimming suit, lucky to have one that covers a lot and still fits.  Stretchy fabric is a marvelous thing.  Pumped up with my new positive attitude, I entered the pool, thinking this will be a piece of cake.

One hour later and after the in-pretty-good-shape elderly ladies climbed out of the pool, I struggled up the steps, hanging on tightly to the handrail – another marvelous invention.  I grabbed my terry robe and made it to the women’s locker room.  Donning under clothes over a damp body is no easy feat.

Later, I was dressed and walking out of the large cement building when a bubble of pleasure lifted and grew.  I stepped lighter, did chores after I arrived home, and played in the snow with canine Katy Lou.  I went back to the pool and will continue to do so until the tulips are blooming.

So why did I write this silly little blog posting?  Because it is nice to relearn positive thinking, and I also found renewed pleasure in reworking the Pinkum Creekers.

therapy pool stuff

I hung out all the stuff necessary to exercise in a hot pool, snapped a quick pic, so you can see it is not an easy job just getting ready on a snowy day.

This is my version of chicken pot pie.  Nice to eat after a morning spent in water.        Chicken pot pie

Book news.  Maternal Harbor will be offered free for Kindle download Dec. 31-Jan. 2  Harbored Secrets will be offered on Amazon’s countdown promotion Dec 26- 28.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Marie F Martin_edited-1 (2)Marie F Martin

Come Peacefully to Your Senses




As most people know, the timing of our Judeo/Christian holidays is rooted in pagan celebration of the winter solstice. Whatever our spiritual observances, we also crave sensual comforts to carry us through the year’s darkest days.

Regardless of the time of year, certain authors have encouraged us to, as Kathleen Tessaro, author of The Perfume Collector puts it, “Come to our senses.” Probably the most original and prolific of these writers was Marcel Proust, who has a whole syndrome named after him, “The Proustian Effect.” According to ScentAir MENA, “It’s what happens in your brain when a smell unleashes a flood of memories, taking you back to a particular time and place.” Proust may have been the first to link smell to memory, but Tessaro adds to this in her book. She tells us that scent brings us back to the very emotion we felt on the occasion that led to the memory itself. We don’t just remember the experience. We relive the exact emotion.

The holidays for me include the scent of pine from a freshly cut Christmas tree, and of the hot wax from candles we held in our hands at Christmas Eve Church services. Then the rich aroma of wassail we used to make and serve hot on New Year’s Eve. It’s also the fresh flannel smell of the new Lanz nightgown Mom and Dad brought me every Christmas. These are the fragrant reminders of security and fun. They bring me back to family traditions. And to a time when we didn’t have to wish for peace on earth.

It was in the air around us. All we had to do was breathe it in.

Oh, Christmas Tree

Ann Minnett MWW photoBy Ann Minnett

One of the romantic notions we had about moving to NW Montana involved cutting a fresh Christmas tree from our property or nearby national forests (for a minimal fee). Here’s what happened the first December. We hiked through record snowfall in search of the perfect tree, not quite getting the concept of transporting the tree back to the truck parked at the trail head. We quickly learned that the best candidates were twenty feet up—the top few feet of magnificent sub-alpines, the kind depicted on Christmas cards. We had no intention of cutting down a huge tree to scalp it. So we kept looking for the perfect tree that we could reach fairly easily in four feet of snow. After a couple of hours and increasingly lower standards, we cut down a tree… and this is where the argument started.

Any woman who has moved a couch with a man on one end and you on the other knows that you just “pick up your end” and go. I suppose we were only half a mile from the truck. I cried. We were not speaking by the time we reached the truck, let alone arrived home. We did have a tree stand waiting, and the unseen crooked trunk needed shortening just a foot to prop it up. (We once tied a tree to the curtain rod to keep it upright, so this detail presented no problem.) Neither of us verbalized how bare it was, the huge gaps between snow-laden boughs. Our unheated garage stays at 20 degrees throughout the winter. Therefore, we set the tree on the south side of the house, hoping that sunshine would melt the snow before bringing it inside.

I backed over it with my Subaru.

We put it up anyway.Christmas 2010 019

If you stuck with me through this story (don’t we all have similar experiences that lead to the purchase of a perfect fake tree?), then know that we don’t have a tree up yet. Last Friday night it hit -30 degrees in our backyard. Today should hit double-digit positive temperatures, but it also snowed about a foot in the past 24 hours.

The fake tree in our attic, the one we brought from Texas years ago, is looking pretty good right now.

Happy Holidays to All!

Burden of Breath Cover - MinnettBy the way, my novel, Burden of Breath, takes place in December, in a fictionalized Colorado mountain town. It is decidedly not a warm-hearted Christmas tale, but I’m offering it as a free download Dec. 25-27. Check it out!

Stop and Pet the Puppy…

By Kathy Dunnehoff

I’m happy to say that a topic like “the best gift ever” is a tough one for me because over the course of my life, I’ve been given many wonderful things. Some were as small as my favorite tea from my daughters to an engagement ring one Christmas Eve from the man I’ve now been happily married to for 20 years.

But in choosing, I’m going to have to go with a present that wasn’t entirely intended for me…Tally on couch

Yes, this Christmas my husband and I bought a puppy for our daughters, Ava and Grace. They’d been begging for a dog throughout their childhoods, and since they’re both in high school, we knew it was now or never.

We brought home a six-week-old Yorkie named Tally. It was November and right in the middle of National Novel Writing Month, so I don’t know how I managed to finish the first 50,000 words of my new novel, The Rocker’s Mrs., but I did!

I knew the girls would be crazy about the dog, and they are, but what I failed to appreciate is that I would fall head over heels in love with her!

Evidence that this is the best gift ever (and that I have completely lost my mind):

1. On my phone’s homescreen I’ve replaced my beautiful daughters with the dog.
2. I show complete strangers the photo.
3. I’m entirely convinced she’s the cutest, smartest puppy in the world. (Even though she’s chewed my leather chair and still wakes up in the night to be taken out into the freezing cold)
4. I buy her toys every time I go to the store.
5. And, yes, I picked up a reindeer costume as well…

Tally reindeer

6. But the main reason she’s the best gift ever… while it’s difficult in the everyday whir of life to stop and smell the roses, it’s easy to stop and play with the puppy.

Tally attacking 2

Thank you for that, Tally!

And if you’re an ebook reader, Plan On It, is on sale 99cents today for the Kindle Daily Countdown. Just click on the cover…


The Greatest Gifts

Author: Betty Kuffel

Wag Park (Small)My greatest gift is Jenna. I must backtrack a little because had I not survived a plane crash I wouldn’t have had the thrill of meeting my granddaughter. I couldn’t have one without the other, so I have two best gifts. But then, I have to add my son and his wife to the list, and my loving husband, my sisters, family and friends. Material things take on little importance when I consider the good fortune and joy in my life come from the people I know.

Having a good start with loving parents and family, then finding Tom, all add to the mix. During difficult times recovering from crash injuries, my friends and family provided amazing support. They even found my wonderful dog lost in the mountains after surviving the crash. She is my constant companion and another treasure. At Kennedy-Shaw Winery cropped

Years later when diagnosed with breast cancer, I felt like a bolt of lightening struck — a lot like the plane crash. Unable to leave home and isolated because of immune suppression from chemotherapy, one day I answered the door bell. I found the street lined with cars and my front yard filled with people. A dear neighbor had organized a large party of friends from work and the neighborhood to visit me. It was like Christmas carolers in September. Jenna came to visit, too. She brought me strength and had words of encouragement, “Gramma, be brave. I love you.”