Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Case of the Stalled Subaru


“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” ~Muhammad Ali

I truly believe in helping others, especially when I’m down, depressed, discouraged, or feeling sorry for myself.  The best thing I can do is reach out to others and think of their needs.  That’s not to say service is always appreciated or leaves you feeling good.  In fact, it can be downright frustrating.

Take for instance—The Case of the Stalled Subaru.

One windy afternoon, I got a call from a friend whose vehicle had stalled and then blown a tire on a major highway.  She had already arranged for a tow truck but needed someone to come haul her electric wheelchair home because it couldn’t remain on the lift on the back of her Subaru.

Although it was close to when I needed to pick up my kids from school, I rushed to help her.  While this wasn’t the freeway, people drove it at freeway speeds and trying to get off the side of the road and back on again was scary.  I pulled in behind her and felt my truck shake as cars whizzed by us.  Using her ramps, I managed to get the wheelchair loaded into the back of my truck. Not an easy feat.

The woman didn’t have much money so I started making calls to find an inexpensive used tire for her.  I located a shop some twenty miles away and told her I would be happy to pick it up for her and that I needed to go pick up my kids.

She insisted that I stay.  She expected me to wait until the tow truck came and follow her home.  I explained again that I needed to leave, and she got extremely irritated and said she didn’t want her wheelchair out of her sight.

What?  Like I’m going to steal it?

I was running out of time and despite her distress I finally left, promising to take her wheelchair to her house as soon as I could.  Anyway, I picked up the kids, drove to the tire shop, paid for the tire, and took it and the wheelchair to her house. She sent her son-in-law out to help me unload and didn’t even offer to pay me for the tire.

The next day she called me in distress, explaining that she needed a good, inexpensive mechanic to fix her Subaru because she absolutely couldn’t be without it.  I suggested my mechanic and made the arrangements.  She called me back after he had thoroughly checked it out.  She was crying and saying she didn’t have the money needed to fix it and have it inspected (it was overdue). I asked her what needed to be done, how much money it would cost, and told her I would see what I could do to help.

Maybe it was the fact that her voice kept cracking, she seemed flustered, and she couldn’t keep her story straight, but a knot formed in my stomach, and I kept hearing the catchphrase, “Danger, Will Robinson!” from the TV series Lost in Space.  I quickly called my mechanic and got a whole different breakdown of what was wrong and what the repair costs would be—a much smaller amount of money.

Well, many of you might figure my story ends right there and I never saw this “friend” again, but I’m either really kind or really stupid.  I just couldn’t leave her without a vehicle and figured she must have a very good reason for lying to me.  I called her back and told her to have the repairs done and that I would pay for it all.

After the work was done, I met her at the mechanics to pay.  She asked me for the cash, but I told her I would pay the mechanic directly.  She was livid!  Absolutely livid!  She has never spoken to me again, and she tried to cause trouble for my mechanic by saying he caused other damage to her vehicle, insisting that he fix it and pay for it.

There are those around me that believe it’s not worth sticking your neck out to help others, you just get burned.  Yes, I have had a number of negative experiences like this one and could go on all day with similar stories.  But, something in my heart tells me that helping others is what life is all about, and I wouldn’t want to give up the sweet taste of joy because of a few sour people. I’ve become more cautious, suspicious you might say, but still believe that the best way to help myself is to help others. 


Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:  http://www.dragonflyromance.com

Image credit: azalia / 123RF Stock Photo

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Are Your Brains Screwed in Backwards?



Don’t ask me why but this photo has been going around Facebook recently celebrating Left-handers day.


The blessed day is really August 13th.  But it got me to thinking about my life as a lefty.

At the age of two, I was already set to be left-handed.  When I fell off a horse and broke my left arm, my dad was thrilled!  No, not that I broke my arm exactly—just that he thought I might start using my right hand and my life would be easier.  Didn’t happen.  And, it caused my dad much frustration through the years. He was always complaining that I never could put a lock on a door correctly or twist the wire on a fence in the right direction.  My mother and I (Mom was a lefty too) were always hearing him say, “Left-handed people’s brains are screwed in backwards.”  Yeah, sometimes it felt like that too.

And although my mother taught me to hold my pencil in the same position as a right-handed person instead of like this:



In truth, I’ve always felt clumsy. (BTW, that's a photo of President Obama.)

If you are right-handed, you’re probably not aware of all the things that are designed for right-handed people and that make us lefties feel awkward. Here’s a few right off the top of my head:
  • Cutting with scissors (I’ve even wore blisters where the scissors hit me wrong)
  • Right-handed desks in school
  • Twisting and untwisting twisty-ties or wire
  • Putting locks on correctly
  • Using pens attached to cords
  • Writing with ball point pens
  • Smearing your writing with your hand
  • Flipping pages of a magazine (I always start from the back)
  • Trying to write in any kind of a binder (3-ring or spiral)
  • Keyboards (numbers are on right-hand side)
  • Bumping elbows with righties
  • TV, gaming station controls are designed for the right hand
  • Can openers
  • Trying to read measuring cups


Oh, how I could go on. I get worked up just thinking about it.

But there is a funny story I wanted to share with you about my dad…

One spring day, he and my brother were sitting out in front of the house resting after a nice lunch when two new home teachers came walking down the dirt road to our farm. 

If you’re stumped about home teachers and can’t concentrate on the rest of the story, then read this, otherwise skip to the next paragraph. Home teaching is part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) culture and is the responsibility of all Melchizedek Priesthood holders and of those who are teachers and priests in the Aaronic Priesthood. As part of their responsibility to watch over the members of the Church, home teachers visit their assigned families at least once each month to teach and strengthen them. Home teachers establish a relationship of trust with these families so that the families can call upon them in times of need. (https://www.lds.org/topics/home-teaching)

So, my dad elbowed my brother, grinned, and greeted the home teachers friendly-like when they approached.  Introductions were made.  You didn’t see too many farms nestled in the middle of subdivisions and these young men were in awe. They looked around our humble farm and started asking questions.

“Do you really live here?” one of them asked.

“Yep.”

“Do you have power?”

“Sometimes.”

“Where do you get your water?”

“Over yonder from the well.”

(Mind you, my father was an intelligent, licensed electrician with a job at Kennecott Copper Corporation, but he did one heck of a hillbilly impression when the opportunity arose.)

“Do you have a washing machine to wash your clothes?”

“Wife washes over yonder in the canal water.”

By then the home teachers were really baffled at our family’s primitive lifestyle right there in the middle of their fancy-smancy subdivisions. They continued with their questions and my brother tried desperately not to laugh, even biting the inside of his cheek.

“What about a dishwasher?” one of them finally asked.

My father sat up, all excited.  “We’ve got us a left-handed, belt-driven dishwasher.”  He cupped his hand to his mouth and yelled, “Come on out here, Ma.  The new home teachers wanna meet ya.”

Yeah, that was the last time those home teachers came to the farm.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:  http://www.dragonflyromance.com


P.S. Just a little FYI on my dad… He was in a car accident in his twenties and his right eye was knocked clear out of the socket.  He never saw well out of it and had to shoot his rifle left-handed.  He’d never admit it and you better not have asked him about it.  :)
             

Dog image credit: izakowski / 123RF Stock Photo

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recent Review: Worth the Wait

Worth the Wait
(A Merchant Street Mystery Prequel)
Free on Amazon 


"Loved it! 
This was so cute, and I only wish it had been longer, as I really enjoyed it very much and was looking for something else by the author."


 5/5 Stars, Honor A. McGaw

Saturday, March 1, 2014

In The Dog House With Me: Author Anna del C. Dye



CINDY:  Welcome to my blog, Anna.
ANNA:  Thank you so much for having me, Cindy. I would like to announce a Book Giveaway Feb 24 – Mar 8: You have a chance to win, The Roilden Stone of Elf Mountain. Leave a comment about this interview with your e-mail. One ebook will be given for each stop in this tour and the entries can be international.
CINDY:  Anna, please describe yourself in a few sentences. Who are you?
ANNA:  I'm an award winning author of YA High Fantasy and romance. I am a wife, a mother, a homemaker, a seamstress and have an awesome imagination. I love fantasy, ruins, castles and romantic music.

CINDY:  Just so everyone knows, Anna was the inspiration for a character in one of my books. Anna's such a vibrant, beautiful person. Now, what brought you to writing? When did the idea of writing your first book form?
ANNA:  When my husband said that my imagination would be the death of him. He ordered me to write—so he could live to an old age.
CINDY:  Funny. What most excites you about being a writer?
ANNA:  All the places I get to write about and the characters that will live in those places. The freedom to be a Fantasy God is exhilarating. 
CINDY:  So, please tell us about your book.

ANNA:  The Roilden Stone of Elf Mountain is the prequel to my elfs series. I just never felt that this book should be first…so now it will become the golden broach to my elf series.
It is the story of three Brown Elfs who want to reunite their kinsmen with their families of the Gold Elfs. Once they were one race, but changes in their government affairs separated them, and the Brown Elfs live in exile in the northern part of Andoriah.
When they arrive at the Gold Elfs kingdom, they find it in disarray because the queen and her only daughter have disappeared. The Gold Elfs fear kidnapping but know nothing about the affair nor do they do anything about it.
Meanwhile the land is drying for lack of rain and a permanent heat wave. This can only mean that The Roilden Stones of Elf Mountain have been removed from their bed. The land will die and so all the races within, if they are not found and brought back. The three elfs think that if they can save Andoriah the Gold Elfs will grant them their return to their lands and families. The story in this book is their quest to restore balance to the land and also to their race.
CINDY:  Sounds fascinating. Where did you get your inspiration for this series of elf books?
ANNA:  Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and my insatiable quest for information into the background of his characters, especially the Elfs. I wanted to know more and I have to invent my own answers and that is how my books came to life.
CINDY:  What was your favorite chapter to write in this book and why?
ANNA:  The last chapter of The Roilden Stones of Elf Mountain.
The main male character is so worried that the princess will never give up her powers that he pushes her away from his heart, breaking hers in the process. There are many tender feelings in this chapter as families and race heal their wounds in love and harmony. Also this chapter is the basis for all my elf beliefs, actions, and the core of what defines them as a race. Coupled with romance and tears…yes, it was awesome.
CINDY:  What is the most important value(s) you hope to demonstrate through your writing?
ANNA:  Try and try again, never give up. Also that no matter what, we need to love ourselves above all else. And in that respect, love and happiness are within the reach of all of us. Value yourself and nothing will stop you.
CINDY:  That's wonderful, Anna, something we all need to learn. Did you ever experience writer’s block when the writing process just wasn’t moving ahead?
ANNA:  Yes, and I avoided writing for three days. Then I forced myself to sit and type. In no more than twenty minutes I was on the road again and never looked back.
CINDY:  Thanks for stopping by, Anna. Tell us where we can find your book?
ANNA:  You can find The Roilden Stones of Elf Mountain here:
My website: www.annadelc.com
Amazon: http://j.mp/1dvqXP6

CINDY:  Thanks for joining me today, Anna. I wish you much success in your career.


Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:  http://www.dragonflyromance.com



Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Life Without Osmosis Learning and Which One is a Dog?


How many things have you learned through osmosis? Learning through osmosis is an ability to learn and understand things gradually without much effort or the gradual absorption of information without being taught.

For me that’s a majority of things. Every day I would come home from school and follow my mother around the kitchen while she cooked dinner, and I’d tell her about my day. Voila! I learned how to cook. I helped her wash clothes in an old ringer washer and hang them on the clothesline outside, but when I moved out into the big city, I had still learned how to sort, wash, dry and fold clothes even though I had to use a fansy-smansy washer and dryer.

Another way people learn is by hearing what happened to someone in a particular situation and then applying it their lives. For example watching TV, movies or the news. Ever listen to a situation where someone got into a dangerous situation by doing something stupid? Well, our brains can naturally take that information and apply it to situations in our own life even though they might not be identical.

I think Temple Grandin, Inspiring Autism Speaker, says it best in one of her videos when she tells about her struggles with identifying a dog. What makes a dog?  Hair, ears, tail, nose, four-legs… Right. Well, that also describes a cat, a horse, a cow… You get the picture. So she looks at a photo of a Golden Retriever and identifies that as a dog and then someone shows her a photo of a Chihuahua. It looks nothing like the Retriever. It’s small. It must be a cat.

Just stop for a moment and imagine what it would be like. The concept of not knowing what a dog is is mind-blowing. Wow, we take our learning for granted.

This kind of difficulty is the case for my oldest son, Sparky. It began with a diagnosis of ADHD and advanced to Autism and other comorbid conditions. When he entered kindergarten, his idea of greeting other children was to bump into them with his body. No, he was not trying to do the manly chest bump. (Yeah, not invented back then.) How many times had he seen mommy and daddy greet people with a friendly hello and handshake? Hadn’t picked up on that at all.

The idea of having to be taught these simple concepts and actions is mind blowing! Doesn’t it just make your head spin and your chest tingle?

To add to the complication of this monumental task is that Sparky is Oppositional Defiant which means he will contradict the simplest of statements. And unlike those that can learn from other people’s mistakes, every situation is completely unique. Let’s use cutting up an onion as an example.

Has Sparky watched me cut up onions in the kitchen? You bet. Has he been taught how to cut up an onion? Of course. But at the age of twenty, he was asked on the job to cut up an onion and he told them he didn’t know how. The reason is because the environment changed. Where was the knife, cutting board and kitchen that he used before? And of course, cutting up an onion does not apply to cutting up a tomato. Yeah, very overwhelming.

I also taught him how to do his laundry, but when he gets new clothes, we have to go over which pile it should go into. I taught him how to fold white socks and then found his black socks not folded. When I asked why he responded that I hadn’t taught him how to fold black socks. I should have known.

It is estimated that children with ADHD work three times harder in school than the average student. Can you imagine what it must be like for children like Sparky and Temple Grandin? If you are not familiar with the accomplishments of Temple, you should take a look. As a child, she sat on the floor pulling fiber strands out of the carpet. The professionals thought she should be placed in a mental institution. Now she is an American doctor of animal science, a professor at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, an autistic activist and speaker, a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and an engineer. Her website is: http://www.templegrandin.com.

I have high-hopes for my son, but more importantly, he must have hope for himself. Temple is a wonderful example, even if Sparky doesn’t understand how her story applies to him.

The key here is not what you can’t do, but what you can do if you have the desire and will. As Confucius said, “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” Might I add, “…for everyone.”

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:  http://www.dragonflyromance.com

Image credit: http://www.123rf.com