Birthday Reflections

Jerry

Yesterday, as I turned “older,” I was gifted with all sorts of birthday greetings, from family and friends alike. A cousin sent me a picture of me as a child, of which I have no memory. My daughter sent me one of us–and it took me a moment to recognize myself in the picture. It got me to thinking. Time rushes by, filled with moments we really should remember but they just get crowded in with others, our brains having no discernible filing system, until they disappear into the chasm of our being. A wise doctor once told me, our brain has no filter. We just keep cramming more and more in and, sooner or later, our brain will need to make room, so it shoves things to the back, with no rhyme or reason what goes. She laughed and added, “Just be glad you remember your name.”

All this pondering took me back to all I don’t know about me. I know I was born at 7:05 am, December 30th. It was a Saturday. I was born in a Catholic Hospital not to far from a tiny house my parents lived in, called a Tom Thumb house. I know this because my father took me by there once, knocked on the door, and told them he had had it built and wanted me to see it. It was tiny. However, at the time, I was more impressed by the fact the the owners had a huge pipe organ installed on one wall.

The house was close enough to the hospital that when my dad arrived home (I have no idea from where, but I think he was still in the Navy), he found a note on the door saying they’d gone to the hospital. Apparently, he was so shook, he left the car and ran to the hospital on foot.

I don’t know if my mother had an easy labor or a difficult one. I was 5 pounds 4 ounces, but I wasn’t a preemie. Did she miss New Year’s, having to stay in the hospital the then required three days? Was I breast fed or bottle fed? Did I have colic? I don’t know. My mom died on a cold January day after I had just turned nine. She’d been ill with cancer for a while. Her mom followed her within three months. From then on I was shuffled around a lot, not really landing on any permanent ground until I was an adult.  Shuffled kids don’t generally ask questions about their memories, more worried about where they will be next and for how long.

Sometime after I’d had my own children and my father had died, my aunt sent me a letter. She wrote me that she had found my baby bracelet among some things in a box of my grandmother’s and thought I might like it. I pulled it out, took one look, and suddenly had a whole lot more questions. You see, the bracelet was made of little blue and white beads with the letters spelling out her name. Next to her name was a white bead, then a blue bead with a big “B” on it. I dropped into a chair and stared. I had been a single birth, or so I thought. And, having given birth myself to two children, I knew I wasn’t a boy. My mom had only  two children (and at a later age–me and, four years later, my sister). I called my aunt and asked point blank what this meant. It was the only time she ever hung up on me.

She finally returned one of my calls (this was before texting) and told me a story she’d heard but hadn’t put any credence to, until I called her. Way back when, the story goes, nuns performed all sorts of “charitable” acts, including if two women gave birth at the same time and one had a still-born and the other multiples, they would make sure both women had a baby. (I can hear you gasp. Don’t. This was almost 70 years ago in a hospital run by nuns.)

So, among all my questions about my past, the largest remains. Which mother had twins and where or who is my brother?

And this, my wonderful friends, is one of the reasons I have so much “fodder” for fiction. If nothing else, I’ve lived a complex, complicated, and interesting life.

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A Ruthorford Christmas Eve

20191218_202311Like every household with children, Ruthorford’s homes are no different at Christmas ~ with a few magical exceptions. With the power of the earth at their fingertips, the descendants make sure Christmas Eve is truly magical for all the children. Combining their talents, and with the help of Mother Nature, there hasn’t been a Christmas Eve that hasn’t seen snow in many a year. Meesha and other dogs pull the children up and down Main Street in the snow, stopping by the porch of the old sisters to warm up and have some hot chocolate with plenty of marshmallows.

In the evening, a Christmas Eve Buffet is served for all at the Abbott Bed and Breakfast, with emphasis on the children. For many years running, the spaghetti topped with oversized meatballs has been the favorite for children and adults alike. At some point, it was suggested to served just that, but Teresa was always concerned that might limit the choices for others. There is always a lot left over, to everyone’s delight, since the leftovers are promptly delivered to surrounding communities for distribution to those that aren’t as blessed as the residents in and around Ruthorford.

Following dinner, everyone congregates in the Chapel, for a Christmas Eve service orchestrated and presented by the young people of Ruthorford, the highlight being the living nativity performance.

The evening ends with Dorian reading The Night Before Christmas, while Eryk works his magic on the roof of the chapel, resulting in squeals of delight erupting from the children at the sounds of hooves and bells and the landing of a sleigh throwing snow from the roof and falling across the windows. Once Santa calls good night and the sleigh pulls away from the roof, the children are allowed to run outside. To this day, no one can quite explain how they can see Santa’s sleigh high in the sky, amid swirls of snow and the flutter of wings of the snowy owls accompanying Santa through the night, the glow of Rudolph’s nose lighting the way.

Almost immediately, the kids are distracted by the large sack of presents Santa has left on the Chapel steps. Each child’s name is called and every child departs with a present in hand.

Later, back at the Abbott Bed and Breakfast, Dorian and Eryk fix  bourbon laced hot toddies, warming them in their hands with a touch of magic before handing them out to a very tired but very happy group of Santa’s helpers.

From Ruthorford to all ~ MERRY CHRISTMAS!

(If you haven’t, stop by and see the Ruthorford Christmas village before you leave: https://shanongrey.wordpress.com/rutherford/ )

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Merry Solstice and a Blessed Yule

Tonight is the Winter Solstice, the shortest night of the year, and the beginning of Winter, when the wheel turns and the light lengthens, brightening our days a little more each day. May it shine its glory upon all, bringing joy, health, and happiness to each and every creature inhabiting this marvelous planet. Have a very Merry Solstice and a Blessed Yule.

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(I am unsure of the marvelous author of the above beautiful artwork but am pleased to share it with all as it embodies a true feeling of Yule.)

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Photos from Santa’s Moreland Visit

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I got to spend a fabulous afternoon with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and my sister, Becky, visiting with adults and children alike at the Moreland Museum.

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After hearing wishes for Christmas goodies and sharing wonderful treats, Santa led everyone in Christmas carols, after lighting Moreland’s official Christmas tree.

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And as Santa said as he and Mrs. Claus turned to leave, “And a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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Moreland Santa Visit and Tree Lighting

Moreland

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Veterans’ Day

It is my greatest privilege to come from a long line of Veterans, as well as being married to one. Over the years, I have witnessed the sacrifices made, not only by the Veterans, but by their families, as well. My father fought in WWII and Korea, my father-in-law was on a dock in Pearl Harbor when it exploded around him, my husband was in Vietnam, so I know first hand what their sacrifices can mean. To all Veterans and their families, thank you for your service and your sacrifices. It is appreciated more than you know.

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Authors Celebrating an Author

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Shanon Grey getting scary!

Saturday, the Moreland Cultural Arts Alliance held an authors’ celebration, A Toast to Lewis Grizzard. Readings were done about Lewis by people who knew him and, then, authors gave readings and/or talked about their own works. As many of you know, I don’t like to read aloud. Well, today I actually did–after scaring everyone with my own personal stories of the paranormal. Spellbound is not quite the word I’d use–probably, more frozen-in-place. It truly was a fun day, combining meeting new friends and eating celebration cake.

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A Toast to Lewis Grizzard Book Signing

If you’re out and about Saturday, Oct. 26, 10 am – 3 pm, come to A Toast to Lewis Grizzard at the Moreland Museum in Moreland, Georgia and hear the authors. I’ll be there talking paranormal.

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Author Update

Good evening everyone —

It has been a very busy month for my family. My husband, in getting ready to have an urgent procedure, had to have cardiac clearance. Sadly, he failed all the tests and ended up having urgent surgery on his heart, instead. Surgery went great, but there were complications and we spent the next two weeks in the hospital. Finally got him home only to have to call 911 four days later, having him admitted to our local hospital with blood clots. His recovery has been hindered by all the complications but the good news he is one determined guy and is making progress.

Needless to say, everything I do as Shanon Grey was put on hold. I did manage to get my newest novel to the editor before we got to the hospital and I have hopes of getting it back soon.

It is wonderful to see that you haven’t forgotten me and are continuing to enjoy Ruthorford and all the trials and tribulations found with the descendants. Trust me, I haven’t forgotten you, either, and promise to get Currents of Destiny out as soon as possible. This one is not Ruthorford, but I think you’ll enjoy it in its own right.

Again, thank you for your patience. I appreciate your support and your friendship.

Big Hugs!

Shanon Grey

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When a Cover is More Than a Cover

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All authors have a story. Boy, is that an understatement! However, I am referring to the authors themselves. This story is how this author is tied to this cover and how far back it goes. As they say, everything happens for a reason. This is no exception.

Twisted Fate is the fifth novel centered around Ruthorford, a fictional town in Georgia, where being paranormal is normal and nothing is as it seems. This particular novel started about a year ago and evolved into a long story about how things can go wrong or, at the very least, not go as they were planned or expected. As with all my other stories, I had planned to turn to my cover artist toward the end to design a great cover for my book. Except, when I reached out to her, she was nowhere to be found. No one had heard anything and, to this day, I have no idea what happened to her. I suddenly found myself with a very long novel approaching publication and no cover.

I tend to take pictures for my Facebook posts with my cell phone, almost daily. Even so, I am not a photographer. I take pix and upload them to folders, occasionally finding one I want to share. In the process of transferring some old files to a hard-drive, I transferred a bunch of files mistakenly into the wrong folder. When I went into the folder to straighten things out, there were two pictures next to one another—a picture of an amazing sunset I took off my front porch and a graphic I’d turned into a jpg years ago—the background and the hooded figure on my cover. I opened up Photoshop Elements and, as if by magic, I had a cover.

Now, let me tell you about the hooded figure. Many decades ago, my husband (before he became my husband) and I were offered a place to stay until we could get on our feet. Both of us had found ourselves between jobs and living in a place unworthy of our precious puppy. A friend told us she happened to have a townhouse without a tenant and offered to let us stay, rent free, until our circumstances improved. We packed up and, with the help of her and her sons, moved in, sight unseen. As we stepped into this gorgeous townhouse, I burst into tears because it was far prettier than anything I could have dreamed of.

I was in heaven—for a few months. At first, I noticed some cold spots and tended to avoid them. Then, I started hearing a mewling sound, but could find no cat. We had none, just Rufus, our chow, and he didn’t seem to hear anything. One day, I heard him upstairs, growling, in a lower pitch than I’d ever heard before. I went up the stairs to find him staring into one of the bedrooms, his hackles raised. I came up beside him and tried to look around him into the dark room. He kept moving, placing himself between me and the door, until I finally had to put my leg over him, straddling him, because he wasn’t budging. I leaned forward and looked into the room when a cold burst of air hit me in the face. On the window sill sat an animal the likes of which I’d never seen (and, honestly, hope to never see again). It was mostly an outline, except for the eyes, which glowed at us. I grabbed Rufus by the collar, pulled my leg back over him, and pulled him downstairs and outside with me. As soon as he was outside, Rufus returned to normal. Me, not so much. I was cold and shaking like a leaf. When my boyfriend came home, we searched the entire house, finding nothing. Never did see that thing again.

Luckily, we both soon found jobs. Mine was as an assistant editor for a regional magazine which provided long, but odd, hours, so I got to spend some time at home with Rufus. One day, as I was coming down the stairs, I felt a pair of hands shove me. Instantly, I was off my feet, flying down the stairs, head first, toward the wall at the bottom. Then, just as instantly, I was lifted by some energy over the half-wall railing and dropped, none too gently, on the floor on the other side of the stairs, stunned but safe. Rufus was on me in seconds, whining and licking the side of my face. I squinted and saw the edge of a billowing grey robe right as it disappeared. After that, several times a week, I would dream of this hooded figure. He seemed to be trying to teach me something, but it was in a language I couldn’t grasp as it was in my head, filling my mind. After I got over my fear (maybe because I was grateful to him for having saved my life) I came to think of him as Mr. Grey. I never saw his face and never felt any warmth from him. He was more mentor than friend. And, honestly, I don’t think I was a very good pupil. It was at that time that I decided to write my first novel, Capricorn’s Child, which would have been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, had my son not found it, dried out the musty papers, and bagged them for me. I still have dreams of publishing that one day.

For a while, several, mostly annoying, things happened. Just as I was getting comfortable, however, I came home to find the large window fan lying on the floor upstairs with its sides crushed in. Then, a week later, I found all of the living room furniture upstairs in the room where I’d seen the animal (while I was napping on the couch in the kitchen/office). We decided it was time to move.

On our last day in the townhouse, when I was cleaning off the tops of the kitchen cabinets where we’d kept some decorations, I found several piles of fresh wheat, dry and sweet smelling. I cleaned it up, thanked Mr. Grey, closed the door, and thought nothing more about it until my friend called. She told me her son didn’t last a month in the townhouse and, when he left, they found piles of maggots. I guess whatever it was liked us, after all.

That was close to thirty years ago. When I was publishing my first novel about Ruthorford, my publisher asked me to use a pseudonym. My son thought that was a great idea. I chose Shanon, since it had always been a favorite name. I told my son to choose my last name. He went to the bookstore and, after a couple of days, presented me with my new last name, saying it was in the middle of the alphabet, putting it in good spots on shelves, was short and easy to sign (it is). He knew nothing about the townhouse and, honestly, I didn’t think anything about it until I saw those two pictures together in that file folder, years after I’d been signing my pen name with a flourish.

Truly, that cover represents Twisted Fate, not only for the descendants of Ruthorford, but for their author, Shanon Grey.

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