By Catherine Browning

Have you ever seen a tiny white-haired woman shuffling along with a cane or walker and thought, “I’ll never end up like that!”?

But what if you win the ‘little old lady’ lottery?

Yesterday was my annual physical exam to determine how far along the ‘little old lady’ road I have traveled. The first test is the height and weight test. We will gloss over the weight test and skip directly to the height part. My adult height was 5 feet 10 inches. A number of years ago I was in a tobogganing accident. The result was a compressed disc in my lower spine. Height: 5 feet 9.5 inches. Years of hiking and jogging along with regular living further eroded the height I had down to 5 feet 9 inches.

Shock doesn’t begin to describe my reaction to yesterday’s measurement: 5 feet 7 inches. And I now have to carry a cane when out of doors. People have started helping me out of chairs. Sleeping the night through is a thing of the past.

Never say never! But don’t give up either. My second novel is in the works and it doesn’t have a height requirement.

Hang in there, Baby! page: Catherine Browning Books@cbbooks76, or

Books Are Life, Books Are Soul


By Rose Ottosen

I thought I had decided to become a minimalist. I was delusional, apparently.

In this stage of my life, I crave order and simplicity. I want my house to look like the inside of a home decorating magazine—a place where I can move from room to room without distractions taking me on mental detours. I want a sanctuary with eye candy in every corner. No dust bunnies. No cobwebs. No disheveled shelves of books. However, recently, as I moved from room to room, boxes and bags in hand, scrutinizing my possessions with the hawk’s eye of a Ms. Sherlock Holmes, I encountered a personal Waterloo—my library.  Purging my overstuffed library of the books stacked six and seven deep on shelves and desktops, I discovered, is not the same thing as discarding long-held garments from an overflowing closet.

Getting rid of last year’s fashions is easy. I can buy more.  But, for example, I cannot part with my scruffy 1918 copy of Joyce Kilmer’s Poems, Essays and Letters, or my 1828 tome Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language. Surely, all writers understand this dilemma. Once books are gathered in our arms, held in our hands, carted home and placed on our shelves, they become like friends and family members. They are not disposable commodities, inanimate objects made of paper and ink. Books are life—books are soul.

Each early morning when I slip into my office library holding a cup of steaming coffee, I enter my home’s sacred place. Though the rest of the house is as silent as a tomb at this hour, as an avid reader, researcher and aspiring writer, I can almost hear the welcoming, whispering voices of my ever-burgeoning community of books. Each volume seems to have a greeting, calling me to insight or adventure.  I hardly know where to start, which one to choose! I walk from shelf to shelf, pen and clipboard in hand, moving quietly back and forth between my desks, savoring the opportunity to review what I know and to satisfy my curiosity for learning something new. A large library affords me a daily threshold to grow.

Though the shelves and desks in my current library, now groaning under the weight of  many thousands of books, are a continual source of inspiration, they have often been a source of embarrassment for me, as well. My embarrassment took root, decades ago, when my previous library of a few hundred books occupied a mere hole in the wall (my pantry). One afternoon, my mother-in-law startled me by asking a simple question, “Have you read all of those?”  Read them?  Until then, I didn’t think I had to have read them all—not yet. Many of them were encyclopedias, dictionaries, commentaries and how-to tomes, books that were not meant to be read, exactly, but only visited, now and then, with my usual cup of coffee in hand, as one would query an old friend over the back fence for a bit of advice, or listen to an acquaintance share an interesting story or two.

I would venture to say aspiring writers are all bibliophiles, to a certain extent. We love words on the printed page and savor even the sound of words. Further, we want to create word portraits that showcase  life as it is and as we hope it will be. We want to learn and to share what we learn. Writers are curious people, and as long as we have an inkling of unsatisfied curiosity, there is need for and room for one more book in our library. No matter that we have books that have been waiting for years to be read. No matter, either, that, at times, our libraries may look like proverbial rats’ nests.

As authors, our passions to read and to write are unstoppable. We want to join the conversation of writers across time and add our viable voices to their dialogue. We want to synthesize threads of thought throughout all the generations and present new possibilities. We want to write the books that bring insight, hope and joy to our generation—and beyond. And because we want to make that positive difference, each new book we add to our library, whether it is read right now—or not, represents potential for the birthing of our books.

The Writing Calendar

By Kathy Dunnehoff

I’m a cheater, and I bet you are too.

I hope you’re still reading after that. Let me explain… Humans, all of us, have a great capacity to fool ourselves into thinking that we’re doing better than we are. Did you eat enough vegetables yesterday? Uh, yeah, pretty sure I had a salad. Well, maybe that was last Tuesday.

You see where I’m going with this? As a person wanting health, this inaccurate recollection of how we’re doing can have some serious implications. If your goal is to exercise four times a week, you may think you came close with three times, but the reality may be that you worked out three times this month.

As a writer, this questionable ability to kid myself was not helping me at all, so I decided to hold myself accountable in a new way. I used one of those free calendars everyone gives you in January, and I made a writing calendar. It sits where I write, and at the end of a writing session, I record how long I wrote and what I accomplished. writing calendar

At a glance, it becomes very clear to me how I’m doing. Sometimes when I think I’ve only skipped one writing morning, I’m shocked to see that it’s been two or even three, and I get back at it.

I think a calendar, whether a lovely freebie from a local florist or an electronic version, can become a twelve-month accountability partner in whatever you want to accomplish. Try making one for a habit you’d like to nurture. Exercise? Playing your ukulele? (I need one of those), cooking more meals at home?

I think you’ll find, as I did, that you’re a cheater, but with a little accountability, you can be true to whatever goals are near and dear to you.



By Ann Minnett

I was driving down snow-covered Star Meadow Road Monday morning in a slight panic. I dug blindly in my bag for the list of Christmas gifts to buy and errands to complete in between yoga, a meeting at 11:30, dinner with a friend at 5:30 (we’re old), and finally another meeting at 6:30. Mustn’t forget to drop off my critique pages at Marie’s, I thought. Now where was that pen I stashed in the console…

I’m retired. We live near a resort town that currently looks like a tranquil Christmas card. How can I be this busy?

A huge bird—a golden eagle—flew over my car, filling the windshield and making me flinch. His flapping wings appeared jointed in five places each and nearly spanned the narrow road. He flew low and slowly in front of my moving car, hunting along Star

Star Meadow Road

Star Meadow Road – Photo courtesy of Mike Coleman

Meadow Road the way I’ve seen eagles follow rivers. We traveled at 30 mph, swooping downhill for a mile or more until he banked to the right, and I lost him in snow-laden pines. The busyness of my day fell away in the beat of his wings, towing me in the silence.

(Previously posted Dec 2014)