Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Monday, October 31, 2011

Veteran's Day Tribute for 11/11/11

Half a dozen years ago when I began to write my memoirs in the form of narrative essays, I'd not realized how my early childhood experiences actually had shaped my eventual life's journey. In writing my story, "Daddy and Raggedy Ann," which appears in this new book about the home front, I became increasingly aware that even fleeting encounters...half an hour at a sick child's bedside, for example...can have everlasting repercussions.

This Veteran's Day I'll be thinking of my father, Albert George Burgess, and how he tap danced his way into my little girl's heart and across the South Pacific during World War II.

This book now is available from


When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle

GREENVILLE, South Carolina – November 11, 2011 – When soldiers go off to war, they leave behind family and friends who are fearful for their safety. Kurt Hartley, Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and now Baptist minister, says, “I can still remember the anxiety and fear that rushed through our family during my deployment.” Those left behind have their own battles to fight after those gut-wrenching goodbyes, but where do they go for help? Edie Melson’s newest book, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, addresses these concerns. This devotional is not just for military families, but also for anyone who knows a soldier or veteran. “As a combat veteran and now minister,” Hartley says, “I was captivated by the premise of this book.”

Author Edie Melson says, “I remember our son’s first deployment, especially what it was like to say goodbye to my oldest son as he left for Iraq. Throughout the last couple of days, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Was this the last time I’d eat supper with him? The last picture I’d have of him? The last time I’d ever see him smile?”

Melson has collected encouraging stories from people who have sent loved ones off to war, from WWII to the current Afghanistan conflict. They share their stories of how they’ve dealt with the fear. Interspersed are devotions written by Melson that strengthen and enlighten the reader. She begins by sharing what it was like watching her son get ready for his first deployment and compares that to putting on the full armor of God. Cecil Stokes, award winning producer says, “Sometimes I forgot if Melson was talking about the physical war we are fighting or the spiritual one. This book folds between the two effortlessly.” Jeff Strueker, a Black Hawk Down Veteran says, “Melson gives readers a rare glimpse into the raw, intense emotions that military families go through when warriors are away serving our nation.”

Hartley says, “Many days, I prayed that the Spirit would comfort my wife, children, mother, and friends, as I walked ‘through the valley of the shadow of death.’ I was confident in my training, but never found the right truth from God’s Word to comfort those who were praying for me...Until now. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home is just the kind of tool that the Spirit can use to comfort those who are batting to stay strong during their own time of adversity.”

Deborah Raney, author of the Hanover Falls novels and A Vow to Cherish, says, “This book...helped me understand the emotions my brother and sister-in-law were experiencing when my Marine nephew left for Iraq. What a great resource this book would have been for all of our extended family.”

As former missionary to Russia and award-winning writer Susan May Warren says, “The essential weapon of faith for the families of soldiers fighting the war at home. Edie Melson writes with the compassion, depth and poignancy to make this devotional a fixture on the bedside stand of anyone whose loved one is deployed. Deeply touching, empowering and healing, it guides readers to the Hand that will hold and strengthen them during this challenging season.”

Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home will be released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas on Veterans Day, Friday, November 11, 2011. It will be available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble online, as well as in local books stores.

Edie and her publisher are also excited to announce that a portion of the proceeds from every book sold will be donated to the troops, through Blue Star Mothers of America.

Edie Melson is a prolific writer, publishing over 700 articles in 2010, and the author of the bestselling eBook, Social Marketing for Writers. Her heart to help others define and reach their dreams has connected her with writers all over the country. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and Southwest Christian Writers Studio, in addition to serving as a popular faculty member at numerous others.

For more information visit:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Autumn Update

Me with son, Steve, Orange, CA, 10/23/11

When I'm stuck on a story, I bless my blog...I can always come here to exercise my fingers until my brain shifts back into its writing gear!

I've been so overwhelmed by medical issues this past week...mine with my disintegrating spinal discs and my canine companion Natty's with diabetes and an abscessed paw...that I haven't taken a deep breath and counted my blessings. So it's time to enumerate them right now!
  • My cultural immersion in Southern California replenished my spirits! Highlights included taking in a new staging of "The Trip to Bountiful" and the breathtaking show-stealing airborne pyrotechnics of the Bolshoi Ballet's Ivan Vasiliev in "The Kings of the Dance,"as well as sampling fried chicken at Mrs. Knott's 1934 restaurant and hiking around South Coast Botanical Gardens on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
  • My brother Joel and my friend Chris both are recovering well from cancer treatment!
  • My MRI, xray and ultra sounds didn't reveal any horrendous surprises, other than the $1000 that my insurance doesn't cover.
  • Most of the snags with the upcoming November 12 AAUW Coffeehouse musical extravaganza have been ironed out.
  • Tomorrow I'll lunch with friend Nancy and then see the classic British farce, "See How They Run," at Kettle Falls' Woodland Theater.
  • I've finished rereading The Great Gatsby for Chewelah book group, meeting at my house Thursday.
  • It's not snowing here yet, as it is in Colorado Springs where two of my stepsons and families live...and the other one is visiting with his.
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul's picked up three of my stories as finalists: "The Unforgotten" for Messages from Heaven, "Twist and Shout" for Say Goodbye to Back Pain, and "Running Like Sixty" for Say Hello to a Better Body.

Friday, October 21, 2011

California Dreaming

Good news from Chicken Soup for the Soul while I'm on vacation. Two of my stories, "Twist and Shout" and "Running Like Sixty" are finalists for two books in the new health and wellness series with Harvard Medical School. The first will appear in Say Goodbye to Back Pain and the second in Say Hello to a Better Body.

I also submitted stories to a couple of other titles, but haven't heard yet if they've been picked for Think Positive for Good Health or How to Build Your Brain Power.

When I return to my regular schedule next week, I have more tales in mind:
  • Tsunami's mischief in her puppyhood
  • Facebook and the joys of reconnecting
  • Keeping old friends while making new ones
  • More ruminations on Charles Dickens
  • The first time I saw a ghost
  • The hardest secret I had to keep
But this week I'm not writing. Instead I'm hanging out with old friends, revisited Knott's Berry Farm...after forty years, and walked the tram road at South Coast Botanical Gardens. This weekend I'll see a new version of A Trip to Bountiful and go to the Orange County Center for Performing Arts for The Kings of the Dance. It's always wonderful to play tourist in the area where I grew up.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Home Front, Patterns and Daffodils

World War II may seem shrouded in the mists of time to some these days, but I well remember its onset and its conclusion. At age four and a half I huddled with the rest of the family by the Philco to listen to FDR tell the nation of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Later I cheered as the bells of the Friends Church in Scotts Mills, OR, tolled victory on V-E Day, May 8, 1945.

My father, Albert George Burgess, served as the oldest enlisted man on the USS Foote during this period. I've written two stories about him and his service to our country. One, "Foote Notes from My Father," appears in the recently published Silver Boomer Book, The Harsh and The Heart. It's about my dad telling me why he chose to join the Navy at an age when he would have been overlooked by the draft.

The story that appears in Fighting the Fear, to be published on Veteran's Day, November 11, 2011, concerns my dad's visit to me at Children's Hospital in 1941, where I'd been hospitalized with double pneumonia, when penicillin was not available on the home front. It's also about hope. It's called "Daddy and Raggedy Ann."

I've been spared from the tragedy of losing a loved one to war. My dad survived his duty stint. So did my first and second husbands, who both served during the Korean conflict before I met them.

One of my favorite poets, Amy Lowell, wasn't so fortunate. I admired her poem, "Patterns," so much I once named a program for women recovering from dual addictions after it. This poem commemorated the death of her fiance in WWI...and it's worth reading to the end.


I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the plashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover,
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon --
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
"Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se'nnight."
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
"Any answer, Madam," said my footman.
"No," I told him.
"See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer."
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, "It shall be as you have said."
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down,
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

From Men, Women and Ghosts By Amy Lowell

I hope all my friends who have a loved one overseas find comfort from Fighting Fear. And from the hope that daffodils bring us each spring...for peace on earth.

Here's the link to the Fighting Fear website with more information: