Monday, October 20, 2014

A True Halloween Tale

Halloween night found the sky as dark as a stack of black cats. My dad flipped on the yard light, illuminating the stock pens. What a night to be butchering hogs. But to my family, Halloween was just like any other night. We were way off the beaten track for city kids to be out trick-or-treating, and nothing stopped farm work from needing to be done.

The air felt as brisk as a honey crisp apple. I yanked my hood up and tied it snug. I pulled the hose from the well house and filled the huge metal barrel while other family members gathered wood to heat the water.

Soon the fire blazed, and steam rose off the boiling water like dancing witches. The tractor roared in the background. Dad checked his rifle and picked up the long knife. Time to shoot the first hog and then slit the throat to drain the blood.

Dad straddled the tractor seat and headed down into the stock yard. The rifle fired. The hog squealed. Into the beam of light, I watched as the carcass came swinging on a chain tied to its hoof from the bucket of the rambling tractor. The bucket went high into the air, carrying the hog with it. Dad moved the tractor forward until he reached the barrel of boiling water. The snot of the hog barely cleared the barrel, and then it went down, down, down into the water, scalding the stiff, bristle hair of the hog.  Water sloshed over the sides and sizzled in the fire.

A stench hung in the air like burning flesh from a branding iron. The tractor bucket rose up until the hog cleared the rim, and then Dad lowered the carcass so we could reach it. Each of us grabbing a special tool called a bell, we frantically scraped as much hair from the hide before it cooled from the frigid air. The dipping and scraping repeated until the shape resembled a naked zombie.

My dad picked up the knife used to cut down the belly of the hog and remove the innards. He plunged the knife in and cut down the soft belly. My brother reached for the bowels as they burst out of the carcass like an exploding pumpkin. The knife slipped and dropped to the ground. Blood spurted from my dad’s left hand. He’d severed his thumb almost off.

Three high-pitched screams came from the edge of the lighted yard. I turned to see three small kids dressed as a ghost, a witch and a princess, clutching their trick-or-treat sacks and running in place. They tripped over each other as they raced away down our dirt road.

“Get your mother,” Dad said, wincing.

I rushed to the house yelling for Mom, but she was already on her way with towels. She quickly wrapped his hand and pulled the car keys from her purse.

Dad picked up the knife and handed it to my brother. “Be careful, son,” he said, his eyes wild from the dancing fire. “It was like someone took the knife and cut me.”

We helped him into the old, blue Lincoln and Mom headed toward the hospital. Except for the crackle of the fire, the night had become eerily quiet. My brother’s wide-eyed gaze shifted slowly to each of us.

Then he smiled. “You think Dad was pulling our leg? Ya know, Halloween and all.”

Everyone let out a sigh of relief. That had to be the answer. My brother picked up the knife and slowly placed it where Dad had left off.

He gasped and dropped the knife.

Blood sprayed from a severed artery. I stared in horror as his thumb lay splayed away from the rest of his hand—identical to my dad’s cut.

Other family members must have rushed to the house for towels and keys, and then we all piled into the old pickup truck and headed into town. I’ll never forget my parents’ frightened expressions as we walked into the emergency room.

My brother, looking white as a ghost, stared straight at Dad. “It was like someone took the knife and cut me.” 

We never butchered hogs on Halloween night ever again. Spooky!

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
Fly into a good romance at:
Copyright: Cole123RF / 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Earth is Slowing Down: Why Aren't You?

I just love this time of year. 
The earth is slowing down to rest, and we should do the same.
Stop, take a deep breath, and enjoy life this weekend.
I've included a wonderful poem about doing just that and the most adorable video of a Chihuahua puppy playing with bubbles.
So sweet! Enjoy!

Slow Dance

By David L. Weatherford

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask "How are you?"
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed,
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time, to call and say "Hi"?
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

You can always curl up with a good book, too.  :)

Let your light shine through in all you do!

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:

Dog Photo Copyright: kazakphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Monday, October 13, 2014

Stick This!

Stick This!

I had tried so many things to get well.  I wanted to believe that acupuncture would cure me of all my chronic health issues.  A number of friends assured me this was definitely the solution.  After all, China has been practicing this treatment as far back as 2,500 years. The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health, and disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Western medicine hadn’t helped me yet.  Here was the solution. I felt empowered!

I entered the small Chinese shop in a shopping strip in downtown Sugar House and sat down, looking at all the Chinese paintings and knick-knacks.   My stomach quaked with nerves, but I knew I could do this because, this time, the treatment would work.

A small, older, oriental woman came from the back of the room.  “Come,” she said, bowing slightly.

I followed her into an examination room, except it wasn’t like any doctor’s exam room I had ever been in before.  It was dingy, smelled odd, and eerily dim.

“Why you here?” she asked.

I took a deep breath and dove into my lengthy medical history, trying to keep it as short and succinct as I could.  She continued to nod her small head, her hair dipping forward each time.  I finally finished and waited for her to say something.

She just stared at me.  “You fat,” she finally said.

“I know, but that’s not why I’m here,” I answered back.

“You fat,” she said again.

“I know.  The doctors have said my body isn’t well enough to lose weight. Can you help me?”

“I fix,” she said.  “It no hurt.”

She opened a drawer and pulled out a box, containing a set of long but thin, metal needles.  I have to admit, my heart skipped a beat.  Thoughts of fleeing entered my mind, but my determination to get well stopped me.

She inserted the first needle into my forehead.  I sighed.  It didn’t hurt.  She continued to place them in my face, hands, elbows and calves.   It wasn’t painful at all.  It would work, and I’d be cured.  I’d be pain-free!  I wouldn’t be sick all the time!  I wanted to jump for joy but knew I had to stay still.

“Now we start,” she said.

Start?  What did she mean—start?  

She manipulated one of the needles in my face. I felt a sting and spreading sensation.  She continued with each needle.

“It hurts,” I said.

“No.  It no hurt.” She vibrated another needle.

Yeah, I was pretty certain it hurt.  “Can you stop?”

“It no hurt,” she told me again.

A lump formed in my throat and heat rose behind my eyes.  If this wasn’t pain, what was it?

“I be back,” she said, darting from the room.

I couldn’t catch my breath, the pain was so excruciating. One or the other of us was in denial about whether this hurt or not.  As the pain intensified and spread in my legs like wildfire, I was certain it wasn’t me.  How could she possibly tell me it didn’t hurt when it did?  I wanted to pull every needle from my body but didn’t dare.  What if I did something wrong?  What if I made the pain worse? 

“Help!” I called out in agony.  “Help me!”

She didn’t come. Sweat beaded on my forehead. Tears pooled in the corners of my eyes and blurred my vision. I tipped my head so the tears spilled.  The Chinese woman stepped back in the room and gave the needle in my calf a spin before I could stop her.

“No!  Stop!” I called out in misery.  “It hurts.  Please stop.”

“It no hurt,” she said again.

I wanted to strangle her.  I wanted to rip out these needles and stab her to death with them.  I couldn’t take it any longer.

I’m pretty sure I swore at some point and didn’t feel at all bad about it.  “Take them out,” I demanded.

“You not done.”

“Take them out now!”

She scurried around, removing them.  I swung my legs over the table and tried to stand.  The pain radiated throughout me, especially my legs.  It felt like someone had drilled holes through my bones with a jackhammer.  Each step increased the pain.

“You come back and I treat you fat,” she said.

I glared at her and then hobbled out of the shop.  In fact, I hobbled for ages.  It took several months before the pain dissipated.  A round, red mark and swelling stayed on each calf the whole time. My chronic health problems didn’t improve, and, yeah, I was still fat.

I’ve told this story over the years with a funny accent and a good laugh.  It’s just another case of laugh about it or cry.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:
Copyright: markfgd / 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, October 10, 2014

Death Defying Dog

There must be some reason that in Ozark, Alabama, the amazing dog, Lazarus, was able to survive—not one but two—attempts at euthanasia.  If you haven’t heard his amazing story, go to this link: Lazarus.

I really hope he finds a forever home.  Dogs can bring so much love and joy into our homes.  All you have to do is watch the video below and you’ll be smiling.

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy all that you do.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:

Photo of Lazarus from article: Lazarus

Monday, October 6, 2014

Favorite Fall Family Recipes

This time of year is perfect for baking and cooking!

I've posted several pictures of items I've made on Facebook and everyone has been asking me for the recipes. So, I thought I'd post a few.  

Tomato Soup for Preserving and Bottling

14 quarts of tomatoes, blanched*, peeled and quartered
7 medium onions, chopped
1 bunch of celery, chopped (about 10-14 sticks)
1 bunch of parsley
3 Tbs salt
8 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs pepper
3 bay leaves
1 cup + 2 Tbs flour
14 Tbs butter, melted
2 Tbs lemon juice
Blend tomatoes, onions, celery and parsley in blender or food processor.
Cook until tender and thickened.
Add salt, sugar, pepper and bay leaves.
Make rue (paste mixture to thicken with):  Combine flour, melted butter, and some of the juice from cooked tomatoes until it can be poured.  Mix into tomato mixture.
Bring just to a boil.
Remove bay leaves.
Add lemon juice.
Boil lids and sterilize bottles.
Pour tomato soup into hot bottles.
Wipe rims, top with hot lids and rings.
Hot pack for 50 minutes or do in pressure cooker at 13 lbs for 20 minutes.  (Check times for your area.)
*Blanching:  45 seconds to 1 minute in boiling water.

(Of course, you can modify this recipe and just make a pot of soup for your family.)  We love it warmed with grilled sharp cheddar cheese sandwiches. 

 Pear Crumble Pie

6 medium pears, pared, cored and cut
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbs lemon juice
1 pie crust, 9 inch
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In medium bowl, mix pears, 1/2 cup sugar, and lemon juice.
Arrange in pie shell.
In medium bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and spices.
Cut in butter until crumbly.
Sprinkle over pears.

Bake 400 degrees for 40 minutes with foil-lined cookie sheet underneath to prevent drips.

Pumpkin Cheescake Bars

1 pkg pound cake
3 eggs
2 Tbs butter, melted
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 can sweet and condensed milk
1 can pumpkin, 15 oz.
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large bowl, on low speed, combine cake mix, 1 egg, butter, and 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice until crumbly.
Press into bottom of 15 x 10 jellyroll pan, set aside.  (I just use a cake pan because that's what I have.)
In another bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy.  
Gradually beat in sweet and condensed milk, remaining 2 eggs, pumpkin, remaining spice and salt.  Mix well.
Pour over crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until set.
Cool, chill and store in fridge.

What are some of your favorite fall recipes?

Wishing you a bountiful autumn!  May your light shine through in all you do!

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at: 

Dog Photo Copyright: damedeeso / 123RF Stock Photo