A Ruthorford Valentine

 Finding Your Valentine

by Shanon Grey

     It’s February and, as is the case everywhere, love is in the air. Even more so in thValentine dancee quaint southern town of Ruthorford, with one exception. In Ruthorford, descendants are hoping for a match-mate connection that will result in a “blended” offspring. To encourage this, the townsfolk of Ruthorford have created an event perfect for their purpose–a Valentine Day’s Dance. Everyone who is a descendant of the original Native Americans, whose farms surround and protect Ruthorford, or the descendants of the Scots, who settled and formed the core of the town, is invited. Not everyone will “match,” but generally one or two will find their mate and, hopefully, that union will produce a blend, who in turn will match with another blend and that couple will be trained as Gatekeepers, whose powers, when combined….

     This is the story of one such Valentine’s Day Dance and how things are not always as they seem.heart     “Okay,” Brenda, the town’s long-lived post-mistress, said, as she pulled the large box of invitations through the open grill, “is that everyone?”

   “Of course it is,” Miss Alice intoned, sniffing indignantly. “I’ve been doing this for…forever,” she stated, careful never to give away her age.

      Brenda let the smile broaden as she flipped through the invitations, not looking up. She lifted one. “The Hamiltons? They never come.”

      “I won’t be leaving anyone out. Just because they don’t come doesn’t mean they don’t deserve an invitation.” Alice’s narrowed her eyes.

      No one knew for sure why, but the Hamiltons had broken away from the town, moving the farthest out. They married outside as well. It wouldn’t be long before they were all but gone. Nevertheless, as one of the first Scottish families chosen by the Native Americans to settle in Ruthorford, they deserved the respect as such and an invitation went out.

      The same with the Merciers. They came from a Canadian tribe and had settled with the tribe surrounding the town. They also didn’t attend, which was just as well, since their longstanding feud with the Hamiltons generally erupted into a brawl whenever they attended the same functions.

      Brenda shook her head and stamped the envelopes. She gave a little smile. Miss Alice might be sending out the invitations but Brenda had managed to get on the decorating committee and she’d seen the huge Davis barn transformed into a red, pink, white and silver fantasy. Of course, Abbott Bed and Breakfast was catering the affair and Brenda had managed to “taste test” several of Teresa’s creations. No one would go hungry, that’s for sure. They’d nixed the idea of a live band this year since so many of the young men where away at college. Even if they made it home for the party, they’d arrive late with little time to practice. Rowe Davis and Kateri Chance (now Davis) were in charge of music. They were young enough to make sure everyone got something they liked.

    Across town, Alice’s sister, Grace, was not making much headway with her visiting god-daughter.

      “Tante Gracie,” Alexanne, moaned, her voice pleading, her French accent heavy for effect. “But, I really don’t want to go to that dance.” She threw in a pout for good measure.

      “Now, Lexi,” Miss Grace said, using her nickname, “it would mean so much to Miss Alice. She’s worked so hard on the invitations. Grace reached over and gave a loving tug to the sable brown hair that flowed about Lexi’s shoulders. She hadn’t seen her since she was eleven and now, at nineteen, she was stunning. “Besides, Teresa sure could use the help.”

     Lexi’s light green eyes sparkled as she turned to her godmother. “For Tante Alice and Teresa, though I would rather stay with you,” she acquiesced. “I’m still not sure what the emergency was—that it was all so important that I come now. I’ve never been before. It’s a good thing I’m on winter break, because you know maman and papa would not have agreed.”

       Miss Grace just smiled.hearts and ribbon

     The crowd overflowed out from the open barn doors of the transformed barn. The heavy rhythm poured from perfectly placed speakers, letting the music flood into the night. Almost everyone was dancing. If they weren’t dancing, they were eating. Laughter drifted outside along with the music.

      Grant Hamilton made his way through the throng. He’d just arrived from Scotland that afternoon, his graduation present after finishing med school. It had been a wonderful break before starting his residency. He’d fallen in love with the land and the people, his family’s people. Now he was back and thrust into the thick of a Ruthorford gathering. Even though he’d never attended one of Ruthorford’s functions–his family making a point of avoiding them–tonight he found himself delivering the Scottish pastries he’d brought for Teresa Abbott, his god-mother and the owner of the Abbott Bed and Breakfast, per her request, to the Davis’ barn. He figured he could drop them off and be gone before he ran into a Mercier and they ruined the party.

    He headed straight to the table, keeping his blue eyes forward, trying not to draw attention. Teresa saw him, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, and ruffled his windswept blond hair, moving before he could hand her the box. “Take that on down to the end of the table for me, will you?” She turned him and gave him a gentle push toward the end of the long table, already laden with every type of food, leaving little room to place his box. He moved a couple of plates around and lowered the box.

      “Don’t you dare set that box down!” A heavily accented female voice came at him from the side.

      He jerked the box back up and turned toward the voice, only to find himself staring into the green eyes of a goddess. Thick brown hair swept her shoulders, a fringe of bangs offsetting the pale green of her eyes. His response to her beauty was so visceral he nearly dropped the box. Perfect white teeth worried her full lower lip as she reached to catch the box.

       Her hands closed over his as the both clasped the box. A current coursed back and forth between them. Their eyes locked.

     “Hey, Lexi!” A young man came up and put his arm around her waist, breaking the spell. “You haven’t danced with me yet.”

        She gave Grant a quiet smile, let go of the box, and turned to the young man holding her, “I would love to dance with you, Jimmy.”

        Her French accent washed over Grant like warm cognac, setting fire to his nerves. Still holding the box, he watched her disappear into the crowd.

      Out of nowhere, Miss Grace appeared at his elbow. “Let’s put that right here,” she said, taking the box from his hands and setting it in the exact same spot he’d aimed for in the first place. “Now, would you offer an old lady a dance?”

       “I’ll love to,” he flashed his blue eyes at her and followed her to the floor.

     She let his arm slip around her as she hit him with a flurry of questions–about his family, school, and Scotland–barely giving him a chance to breathe in between his answers. She was also leading, or rather pushing, him around the floor. He stumbled slightly and bumped into a warm body.

       “Mon dieu.”

      The contact sent a spark through his back. An apology was on the tip of his tongue, when Grace stepped around him. “Jimmy,” she exclaimed, taking hold of the young man’s arm. “Just the man I was looking for. Will you excuse us a moment, Lexi? Grant, this is Lexi. Lexi this is Grant.” They stood, staring at one another. “Well…dance with her,” she said and pushed the two together.

      His hands slid around her as though they were meant to encircle her small waist. The curves of her body melted into him as if welcoming him home after a long absence. The current ran from one to the other and back, pulsing—until their two hearts began to beat as one.

     Grace directed Jimmy, ignoring his whimpered complaints, out to the parking lot on some trumped-up errand and stopped next to Teresa. She turned and watched as the two young people swayed to the music, oblivious to the world around them.

      “There’s going to be some upset families tonight.” Teresa nodded toward the couple and let a smile play across her lips. “What were you thinking, putting a Mercier with a Hamilton?”

      Grace let her old green eyes close in a slow blink, opening them to see the blended aura surrounding the young couple. She smiled at Teresa. “We do what we must.”

enveloping heart

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A Ruthorford Mardi Gras

      It’s time for Mardi Gras. For many of you (and me, until a few years ago), Mardi Gras holds little meaning. When I moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, not only was I thrust into the warmest, most absorbing lifestyle, I was also thrust into Mardi Gras. Folks on the Coast take Mardi Gras very seriously. So, I thought I would tell you a little about it and share some of the fun!

Mardi Gras begins on January 6th and runs until Ash Wednesday. I mean ~ it ends at midnight on Ash Wednesday. The day before is Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday—the literal translation. And, let me tell you the season is something to behold. It is parties, parades, and every kind of festivity until midnight—when the streets are deserted and swept clean and there is no evidence of it—until the next year. This year Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, is February 9th, putting Valentine’s Day in the full swing of things. Trust me, celebrating has been in full swing since January 6th.

I thought you might enjoy having me share some fun facts about Mardi Gras:

PARADES:  Contrary to popular belief, the first Mardi Gras parade did not take place in New Orleans. It occurred in Mobile, Alabama in the 1700’s. And it still goes on today allparade along the Gulf Coast. The traditional colors for Mardi Gras are: Purple for justice, Green for faith, and Gold for power. Cities, homes, shops, and people drip with color. You will find every sort of Mardi Gras adornment available everywhere. And if you can’t, you can go to one of the many warehouse size stores that specialize totally in Mardi Gras goodies. The most famous—or infamous—parades are in New Orleans. But the parades, in many ways are just the culmination of all the fun that takes place getting ready them. Krewes, or parade organizations, will host Balls as well as create fabulous floats. From atop these incredible floats, beads and other goodies are thrown into the crowds. You’ll hear shouts, “Throw something at me, mister!” (which generally is not accompanied by exposing one’s chest—but you never know) from hordes of people lining the parade route to get the attention of the passing floats. People become weighed down with beads and doubloons, colored coins, and keep these mementos in their homes for years for good luck, displaying more and more each year.

BALLS:  The Kings and Queens preside over the Balls, where food, fun, drink, beads and trinkets abound. Each Ball will have its own theme and its own King and Queen. Themes can run from the sublime to the ridiculous and anywhere in between. Everyone brings food and King Cakes adorn the tables.

Drinks have been made famous by Mardi Gras. Dishes have been created for Mardi Gras. Costumes can be simple or elaborate.

Most costumes are usually designed  to reflect the theme of the ball, be it an 80’s theme, a Redneck Ball, or one dedicated to the Roaring Twenties. Don’t worry, you are welcome at the ball, no matter what you wear. It’s the fun, food, and friendship that counts.

KING CAKES:  These are traditional fare of Mardi Gras and are generally shaped in an oval with the traditional colors of purple, green, and gold stripping it. Inside is a little plastic baby and whoever finds the baby is anointed King or Queen of the party (not so for the bigger balls, where much tradition goes into choosing the presiding King and Queen each year). But, the lucky person finding the baby is responsible for providing the King Cake  the next year.

New Orleans has become famous for its Mardi Gras parades and celebrations. Don’t be fooled—there’s one everywhere you turn along the Gulf Coast. Even Hurricane Katrina couldn’t stop the festivities. So, if you can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, just stop along the way and as they say—let the good times roll!


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~ Ruthorford’s Holiday Greeting ~

Ruthorford’s Holiday Traditions

by Shanon Grey

Welcome to the small town of Ruthorford, Georgia, where the residents take the winter holiday season very seriously.

      It’s December and Ruthorford is already dressed for the holidays. Wreaths of red and green,frontdoor silver and gold adorn the doors. Garland, dripping with berries and bows, outline windows and swag from post to post. Trees, encircled with shimmering lights, grace the median as cars slowly cruise by to enjoy the sparkling displays. Poinsettia decorate steps with broad leaves of red and white. Every manner of adornment has covered every coverable surface in town. There is now as much glitter for the adults as there is fantasy for the kids. The Post Office, trimmed in candy canes and gingerbread, awaits customers. Shop windows beckon with displays to entice browsers. This year Chapters is particularly inviting with candlelight flickering from boughs of green, sending soft light across the faces of holiday books. As if by command, the temperatures have dropped and flurries of white have replaced the rain that’s normal for this time of year in the south, dusting the small town in powdery magic.

     The season gets off to a lavish start with the annual production of The Legend of the Snowy Owl, IMG_1587-1honoring the beautiful bird that warned the early people of danger, allowing them to traverse the sacred ground in search of healing herbs. The play is written, produced, and performed by Ruthorford’s children. Costumes, designed by the children, are furnished by Abbott House and have become more elaborate each year. Each summer, a drawing selects the lucky boy or girl who receives the honor of playing the magnificent owl—and who gets to fly in warning and drop the basket of herbs at a maiden’s feet. This year, Bonnie’s little brother, Trevor, won that honor. The audience waited with bated breath as he swept across the stage on invisible wires, laden with what had to be fifty pounds of feathers. The basket landed a bitSnowy Owl harder than expected, as Trevor realized he couldn’t slow his momentum and he took aim in the general direction of Julie’s feet. Fortunately, Julie jumped right over the careening basket, reached back and caught it with one long sweep of her hand. The audience leapt to their feet in collective applause.

     The second celebration is a two-day affair. On the day of the Winter Abbott Bed and BreakfastSolstice, the people all gather on the lawn behind the Abbott Bed and Breakfast to tell stories to the sun, giving it reasons to remain with the earth and not leave. The Legend tells of ancient people watching the days shorten, as the sun remained gone from the sky for longer and longer periods of time. They became afraid it would eventually go away completely. The whole town will sing songs and tell stories, trying to entice the sun to stay. The stories vary from year to year and take on individual interpretation. Children favor stories about the plants and animals. hamster1One year, someone’s hamster took center stage, literally. Luckily, they caught him before he escaped completely. Musical accompaniment is encouraged. Ruthorford boasts quite a fine assortment of handmade drums and flutes. Everyone’s invited to attend and perform. Over the years, however, it has become prudent to organize the event slightly so it doesn’t run all the way into the Celebration of the Sun’s Return on the next day.

     The Celebration of the Sun’s Return is a feast celebrating the sun’s decision to stay, offering a variety of foods grown under the sun. Grains, vegetables and fruits are the bounty of the feast. What started as simple offerings has evolved over the years into culinary masterpieces. Visitors have repeatedly asked AA022337for the cookbook. The Misses Alice and Grace have offered to coordinate the compilation of the many recipes. Of course, they are particularly fond of this idea since they have mastered quite a variety of pies produced specifically for the celebration, and have suggested a cookbook themselves.

   During the week before Christmas, the Abbott Bed and Breakfast holdswrapbear free gift-wrapping services in the front parlor, sponsored by Abbott House.

It has been necessary to close the doors and the drapes to the parlor, as kids have been known to go to extreme lengths to find out what is being wrapped. Actually, it’s not just AA023922the kids. Teresa has developed a system of drop-off and retrieval, using claim stubs, to ensure anonymity. The children are kept busy making gingerbread houses. The houses are proudly displayed about town for everyone to enjoy. Of course, a few are missing a shingle or two. For those not8ÃÀ interested in culinary architecture, the is always Santa’s helpers available to help the little ones with a letter to Santa or treats for the big night.

     On Christmas Eve, residents gather for caroling on the median of Main Street, later congregating at the Abbott Bed and Breakfast. Hot chocolate and cider fill the cups and tasty treats fill the tummies as the children receive presents Abbott Bed & Breakfasttreefrom beneath the tree. Usually, families from the surrounding farms don’t venture into town for long periods. However, since this time of year is low on “portal” activity, downtown is the favorite gathering place for all.

     On Christmas Day, the residents return to Abbott Bed and Breakfast for dinner. This is the one time of the year that Teresa and Bill are forbidden to do anything.buffet Throughout the rest of the year, the beloved owners of the bed and breakfast are innkeepers extraordinaire, making the Abbott B & B the recipient of ten five-star ratings in as many years. However, on this special day, the staff takes over the operation of the B & B for the day. Townsfolk bring dishes, everything from appetizers to desserts, sweet tea to wassail, and all manner of sumptuous offerings, to complete a grand buffet. On this day, Teresa and Bill become the guests of honor, with their only tasks to visit and dine. Of course, getting these two people to do this has proven to be more than a little difficult over the years. Throughout the rest of the year, Bill is a virtual recluse of the kitchen and it generally takes a bit of early imbibing to ensure his participation. As it is Teresa’s nature to attend to others’ well-being, there have been times it has taken subtle threats to tie her to the chair to keep her from serving.

    The last week of the year the town of Ruthorford celebrates quietly, with families visiting one shoppinganother and sharing stories of the year. On January 1st, the residents come to town and make a very small token purchase at each store to ensure a profitable ensuing year. Of course, this being a tradition, each store has set aside special items available for a pittance to ensure the tradition continues. The final stop is to the Abbott Bed and Breakfast to drop off a story or writing for the Abbott House repository of family history. Kristoffdiary Bask, CEO of the Abbott House Foundation, is in attendance to meet and greet each family and offer good wishes for the New Year.

       So, if you find yourself in Ruthorford for the holidays, stop by, say hello, and enjoy a bit of tradition. If, by chance, The Shoppe of Spells sign is glowing, you might consider continuing on your way and come back some other time.

     From our families to yours, Ruthorford sends greetings and wishes for a joyful and memorable holiday season.

The fun doesn’t end here. Don’t miss A Christmas Village on the bar above. Then, for a some holiday suspense, enjoy Pennyroyal Christmas:

Pennyroyal Christmasad

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A Cup & Author Afternoon

The Moreland Cultural Arts Alliance is hosting a tea tasting, author reading and book signing, and shopping this Sunday, Dec. 6, from 2 – 5 pm, at the Historic Moreland Mill, 7 Main Street, Moreland, GA 30259. What a great way to start the holidays! Come by and join me as we herald in the season!!! I’ll have my books, ornaments, and bookmarks!

Moreland poster2

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Thanksgiving Feast

 Ruthorford Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in Ruthorford is a very special time. It is a time for the blending of cultures and the sharing of traditions. From the earliest times, when the surrounding tribes allowed a chosen few to settle the sacred area, these families have looked after one another, protected one another, respected one another and enjoyed the fruits of their friendship.

In remembrance, it is at this time that the Tribes and the Townfold come together at the Abbott Bed and Breakfast for the traditional Groaning Board Feast. The foods are a blend of Native American, Scottish, and what they like to call the traditional/transitional fare of the South.

It is a “By Invitation Only” affair, so consider yourselves lucky to have a peek at what’s on the menu.

Come One, Come All!

It’s Time for the Ruthorford Thanksgiving!

The Abbott Bed and Breakfast, its Groaning Board laden with sumptuous fare, will begin serving at noon, Thursday, November 26, 2015. Munchies and beverages will be available starting at 11.

If you are planning a contribution to the Groaning Board, please contact Teresa so she can ensure the proper setting is available.

The Back Room will have the big screen on for all you football fans.

Of course, the back lawn will see its fill of games as well.

We have so much to be thankful for this year, please come and share in the festivities.

Don’t forget the Ruthorford Black Friday extravaganza: Snacks and beverages will be available all day at the Abbott Bed and Breakfast, as well as free gift wrapping. Start the day off with a light breakfast fare available from 6 am til 9.


What’s on the Groaning Board at the Abbott Bed and Breakfast:

Of course, the traditional turkey, prepared by the new chef on site, Sandra, who is also doing the giblet gravy.

Dressing and herb rolls by none other than Teresa Abbott Ruthorford.

Roasted Pork with Gooseberry Sauce by Rowe Davis, as well as his famous stuffed trout.

Roasted root vegetables, Baked Acorn Squash, and Three Sisters Soup by Brenda Garrett.

There will also be Clapshot, Haggis, Black Pudding, and Apple Butterscotch Pie, provided by the Caldwells.

And of course there will be the traditional butternut squash soup, black cherry gelatin salad, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, and many more delicacies.

Relishes and raw veggies abound for munching.

Don’t forget the beverages are flowing in the parlor manned by none other than Sassy.

Pumpkin, apple, sweet potato, buttermilk, pecan, chocolate coconut, peanut butter, cranberry/raisin, and lemon pies by Misses Alice and Grace.

~ From Ruthorford to you ~

May your blessings be as bountiful as your table!

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Trick or Treating in Ruthorford

Teresa took one last look around. The bed and breakfast was, by far, the hauntingest AbbottVictorian around, and that was saying a lot, given the Abbott Bed and Breakfast sat in the middle of Ruthorford. With help from “the boys,” Dorian and Eryk, though they were far from being boys, the bed and breakfast had been transformed into quite the haunt. Of course, Eryk had contributed all sorts of special effects from his Magic Shop, which was now in Merlyn’s Roost, not far from Ruthorford. She’d had no idea how much technology went into an illusionist’s performance, even when that illusionist had magic of his own.

She stepped forward and looked out the double doors, getting ready to flip a switch, which would turn on a light show across the front of the old painted lady. Main Street was dressed all in her Halloween finest, from the tiny Victorian Cottage post office across from the bed and breakfast all the way down the fountain1street. The median burst forth with vapor rising from the fountain, which had been scrubbed and filled with fresh crisp apples bobbing in the frothing water. Jasmine was manning the median, with her cousins, Bonnie and Claire, in charge of the boutique and the goodies they were handing out. All the shops were outfitted for the night, for kids and adults alike.

Chapters, the bookstore, had gone all out in their window decor and was showing continuous runs of the old scary movies from the set-up they’d had Dorian and Eryk fix from the second story over the shop. Chairs dotted the median so people could stop and watch, taking a themed break as they made their way down Main Street.

The art gallery wasn’t quite up to opening its doors to sticky fingers, so they were serving treats and apple cider out front and had decorated their windows with some of the scariest art she’d ever seen, the lighting casting just the right amount of eerie light across the masters’ works.

Elements, the Native American shop, had the perfect contribution, fashioning treat bags, masks, and noisemakers so fine that they would be saved to hand down for another generation of trick or treaters.

The old sisters, Alice and Grace, were as enthusiastic as anyone, dressing in witches’ costumes, with grand hats, adorned with purple and green veils and feathers. Capessisters billowed out around them as they stirred the giant cauldron in front of their decorated Victorian. Thanks to Eryk, eerie music floated from speakers on the porch. For the kids, they had bags of candy, candy apples, and trinkets. For the adults, they offered fresh fruit tarts and homemade fudge, along with their own special witches’ brew.

However, the greatest treat of all, for young and old alike, was The Shoppe of Spells. The downstairs had been transformed into stations of eerie meesharactivities, from talking heads to a fierce beast from beyond, safely restrained by a golden chain. Everyone wondered how Dorian had trained Meesha, the sweetest of border collies, to play the role. But, for Halloween, she was all in—as long as you didn’t see the wagging tail. If the guests didn’t flee in fright, they made their way through a very dark corridor of uneven floors and spooky moans and groans, out the back, and along hand sparka path where zombies popped up and giant spiders leaped, until they reached the cottage, where the Dutch door stood half-open in invitation. Who else was there to give out treats but the beautiful witch with the glowing green eyes, Morgana. Of course, having received their reward, the visitors would turn only to be surprised by Dorian and spiderhalloweenEryk, displaying their magic at its finest—green and purple lightning shooting over the visitors’ heads. Squeals, screams, and laughter erupted as they ran around the side of the old mansion, right into spider webs and fog.

By the time they reached the bed and breakfast, they were ready for a respite and something wholesome to eat, unaware of what Teresa had in store for them. I’d tell, but that would spoil the fun ~

From all of Ruthorford to all of you ~ HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Happy Halloween

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~ Haunted ~

Even with the fan running, it was stifling upstairs, especially for the end of October. I stepped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around me, letting the droplets of water offer what cooling they could. That’s when I heard it. A scratching sound, then a scraping, a loud crunch, and squeals and scrapes of metal on metal, followed by a door slamming. Ifan2 ran into the large upstairs hallway of the townhouse. All three bedrooms and the one bath opened onto it. One bedroom door was closed. It was the bedroom where I’d put the big window fan because it was so noisy. It wedged into the lower half of the double-hung window perfectly, except for a little space on either side. I opened the door and stared at the open, empty window. The fan was in the middle of the floor, crushed in on either side, the blades bent, as though giant hands had squeezed it like an accordion.

I backed out of the bedroom and ran to the steps, which turned 90 degrees on a landing halfway down. As I reached the landing and turned to go down the long run of steps, I felt pressure hit my back pushing me and down I went, headfirst. As I watched the wall at the legsbottom coming at me, I knew I was dead. Suddenly, a force was under me, like a pillow of dense air, lifting my body up and over the half-wall railing beside me. I wish I could say it set me gently down, but it didn’t. As soon as I was over the railing, it dropped me like a stone on the other side, knocking the wind out of me.

Somewhere between the second floor landing and my ungraceful deposit on the floor, I lost the towel and my modesty. Dizzy and nauseous, I crawled to the laundry room and got some clothes, dressed, and called my best friend, the owner of the townhouse. It took several tried before I could cough out what had just happened to me. I told her I’d be waiting outside.

As she got out of the car, she said, with more nonchalance than I wanted, “It’s haunted.”

“Haunted,” I squeaked.


I grabbed her hand and dragged her up the stairs to show her the crumpled window fan.

She studied it for a moment. “This is worse than I thought.”

“And the stove? That wasn’t faulty wiring, was it?” I’d had issues with the stove from the beginning. I’d come into the kitchen to find the coils glowing red when all the knobs were in the off position. I finally resorted to cutting off the stove at the circuit breaker to fix the problem.

“Honestly, I don’t know. Could be a wiring issue,” she said with a look that told me she didn’t believe that herself.

She hung around until I felt better, even offering to let me stay at her place. Being out of work and out of funds thanks to an aggressive, abusive boss, I was already taking advantage of her good graces, so I declined her offer and shut my mouth.

I took to sleeping during the day and writing at night. When nothing happened for a month and a new writing assignment began putting money in my pocket, I started to feel comfortable once more, putting the phenomena in the past and convincing myself that nothing out of the normal had occurred at all. Cognitive dissonance at its best.

One morning, after a particularly hard, all-night assignment, I curled up on the couch in the sitting area I’d created in the oversized kitchen and went to sleep. A thud woke me up. “Oh God, no” came out of my mouth as I sat up. I walked through the living room to go upstairs and stopped. I turned and looked at my now empty living room. Every piece of furniture I owned was gone. My eyes immediately went to the front door. It was locked and chained, just as I’d left it.

I fled and ran to the neighbors. After a frantic call to my friend, she arrived shortly after, bringing along the police. We went in together.

They looked at the living room and I told them what was missing.

“Anything else?”

“I don’t know. I ran out.”

One of the officers checked the back door and found it locked.

“Stay here.” They went upstairs.

“Miss. Can you come up?” an officer called from the landing.

My friend and I joined them in the upstairs hallway. He was looking in one of the rooms.

I looked in. All of my furniture was stacked haphazardly in the middle of the room.

“Miss, this isn’t funny.”

“Officer, I swear to you, it’s not a joke. I didn’t move it.”

“Maybe some friends are playing a practical joke on you.” His eyes landed on my friend.

She held up her hands. “I was at work.”

“Does it look like something I could move?” I asked, looking at the heap in front of me.

The officer walked into the room, among and around the two seven-foot bookcases, love furnseat, tables, wing-back chairs, and hutch before returning, pushing his hat back and scratching his head. The books, lamps, and nick-knacks were strewn about the room. “Well, lady, I don’t know what’s going on, but, if you want my advice, I’d leave it right where it is. Whoever or whatever moved it apparently wanted it this way.”

I found a new place and moved within a week.

Turns out, I had it pretty mild. I understand the people after me came downstairs one morning to find maggots covering all of the surfaces in the kitchen.

To this day, I have no idea what any of it meant. I can say one thing, when I hear other people tell stories of hauntings, I listen with a very sympathetic ear.

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Lunchtime Meet & Greet and Book Signing

Magicwbks1It’s a lunchtime Meet & Greet and Book Signing at Newnan Healthmart Pharmacy, 15 Baker Road, Newnan, Georgia! Come by and meet the authors, Shanon Grey and Sid Brown. Start your fall with some good stories!

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Happy Labor Day!

As I sit here sipping my coffee….wait, where’d I put my coffee…. That’s better! I am Happy Fallreflecting on all the jobs I’ve had, all the careers, on all levels and am truly grateful to have this day. For many, it comes hard earned. For some, not at all. On many jobs, I’ve worked so others could enjoy their day. (And truth be told, probably the only reason I’m not working today is because I’m between the end of one job and the beginning of another.) So, everyone, thank you for working all those hours, leaving your families, and providing all those goods and services I take for granted! You labor is appreciated! Have a fun and safe Labor Day!

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July 4th in Ruthorford!

A Ruthorford 4th!


“No, no, no!” Teresa waved the hand-tatted handkerchief at the boys toting a picnic tablepicnic table across the slopping lawn of the bed and breakfast. “Not too close to the creek. We want plenty of room for the quilts to be set up for everyone to pierchildsee the fireworks.” She used the dainty handkerchief to dab at the light sheen of sweat on her neck, then tucked it back into the waistband of her khakis. That handkerchief or one similarly pretty, had become a symbol. It bespoke more to her inner feminine side hidden beneath her customary attire of a crisp shirt tucked into a pair of khaki pants. As owner of Abbott Bed & Breakfast, it wasn’t often that she donned more than a serviceable costume—one fit for helping strip and remake a room in a hurry, or shoulder a tray of food from the kitchen.

She felt the arm around her shoulder before Morgan’s soft voice touched her ears. “Why ice teadon’t you slow down for a second? It looks fabulous.” Morgan squeezed her friend’s shoulder and placed a tall glass of sweet tea in her hand, the outside of the glass already wet with cold beads of water.

“Thanks,” Teresa smiled at the sun-kissed face of the redhead standing next to her. She never stopped being awed by the natural beauty of the young woman still considered new to their town, even after becoming such a part of it.

Looking almost identical to her deceased birth mother, Morgan’s emerald green eyes sparkled in merriment as she twisted the mass of red curls atop her head, fastening it with a clasp. “Have you seen Dorian?”

Distracted, Teresa’s gaze moved over the lawn and the bevy of people setting it up for the 4th of Julypicnic crowd get together. “I haven’t seen him since this morning. He got a call from Miss Alice and Miss Grace. Maybe he’s still at their place.” She raised the glass and took a sip before resting the cold glass against her forehead. picnic table family“That really helped.” She pulled out the handkerchief once more to wipe the beads of moisture from her forehead.

“That’s right,” Morgan said. When Dorian had told her about the ceremony involving Ruthorford’s legendary birds carrying sparkling streamers, she knew she’d see something few outsiders ever saw. At her flurry of questions, Dorian merely shrugged, adding, “The owl2owls and falcons are the purview of the sisters. I remember sneaking over there as a kid, having heard stories. I’d just managed to step into the barn when a huge owl swooped past me, knocking me to the ground. Miss Alice appeared out of nowhere, lecturing me about trespassing and then feeding me so much pie that I completely forgot why I was there. Some things are meant to remain a mystery, I guess.” Morgan figured with him working with them, he knew more than he was telling, but she let him distract her with a kiss. She now smiled at that memory.

“No,” Teresa called to several girls, her voice bringing Morgan back to the present. “Spread those quilts further apart and closer to the bank. Has anyone seen Rowe?”

“He’s down by the creek giving last-minute instructions to his cousins,” a young voice called from the side of the building, where wisps of smoke carried the aroma of the roastinggrilled meats pork, beef, and chicken drifted across the lawn, promising another bountiful BBQ, this time by Eryk, a last-minute replacement for Teresa’s recently deceased husband.

“Good,” Teresa called back. “Make sure Eryk gets some tea.”

Morgan noticed the frown etching Teresa’s brow. “You okay?” she asked.

Teresa patted Morgan’s hand. “I will be.”

Teresa burst out with a laugh as she turned and watched Mike Yancy stop a tray from slipping off the shoulder of Sandra, who’d been helping run the Abbott Bed & Breakfast since Bill became ill. For all his juggling, Dr. Yancy still managed to get a glass of ice water down the front of him and, almost a second one, when Sandra spun around to apologize. Still smiling, he walked over and handed Teresa a flower. “Good thing I brought a change of clothes,” he laughed heading up to the bed and breakfast to change.

Teresa glanced down at the flower and called to Mike’s retreating back, “You didsingle flowern’t get this out of my side garden, Mike Yancy, now did you?” But the smile on her face told Morgan she wasn’t all that upset if he had.

Sandra smiled sheepishly and shrugged her shoulders, almost upsetting the tray once more. Others carted trays of plates, napkins, knives and forks to the buffet line near the building. Over the years, the arrangement had changed little, the bed and breakfast having perfected the best way to serve large amounts of food to the horde of residents that would soon descend upon the annual cookout and fireworks celebration.

“I almost forgot,” Morgan said, pulling a picture out of her pocket, “I found this in myold sisters mother’s things. Do you think it’s Miss Alice and Miss Grace?” She handed Teresa the picture.

Teresa studied it. “I wouldn’t be surprised. I heard they were quite the athletes in their day.” She laughed, looking at the picture. “What would this make them, a hundred and something?” She glanced over at the two women directing traffic around they buffet. They looked to be in their seventies, maybe. But, hadn’t they always, she thought to herself and looked once more at the picture before handing it back. “You can ask them if it’s them. I’m sure not going to.”

Morgan pocketed the picture. “I don’t think so.” She laughed.

lakeTeresa took another sip of tea. “You know, I can’t remember when it’s been this hot in Ruthorford. Or dry.” She looked across the wide creek that had narrowed from lack of rain.

“Bask made sure the new fire engine was delivered this morning. We have two already in position,” Morgan reassured Teresa, knowing Teresa would find it in herself to worry about things easily left to others.

Teresa nodded, reassured. After all, Bask was Ruthorford. He single handedly ran the Abbott House, the foundation that owned Ruthorford, and ensured that what went on in Ruthorford, stayed in Ruthorford.

“Why don’t you take a break and cool off,” Morgan suggested, lightly touching her arm and giving a low-level push. “I’ve got things covered here. I think I saw Mike come back out couple under treeand head over to the buffet table,” she added. “People are starting to find their spots.” It was one of her greatest hopes that Mike and Teresa would one day resume the friendship they’d had before Bill had returned to Ruthorford and become match-mated to Teresa.

Teresa looked around once more before answering, “I think I will,” she said and smiled at Morgan, “after I check on Eryk.” As she turned and headed across the lawn toward the side of the old Victorian, she called over her shoulder, “…and not because of any push you did.”

She heard Morgan’s laugh as she rounded the corner and saw Eryk taking a long swig of tea. “I’m glad to see you’re hydrating.”

He turned and looked at Teresa, his eyes crinkling. “If my magic was any good, I’d make it a Long Island Iced Tea.”

She rose on tiptoe and planted a kiss on his cheek, still awed by Dorian’s twin. “Hmm. I’ve heard of water into wine, but never tea into liquor.”

“Have you seen Jasmine?” he asked, laughing and eying his glass.hawkj

“I think she’s with Dorian. She is keeping an eye on Brinn,” Teresa supplied. Brinn was the hawk that had attached herself to Jasmine and followed her back to Ruthorford.

Teresa strolled down the backside of the buffet, taking inventory as she moved. “We’ll fried chickenneed more potato salad in about ten minutes. Make room for Miss Grace’s pies. And bring more napkins,” she called after the young woman who took off to do her bidding.

Teresa let her gaze travel from the chatting residents heaping potato salad onto their already food-laden plates, across the lawn, to the table where Becky and Talbot Briscoe sat with Morgan, their adopted daughter, and the twins. Dorian now sat next to Morgan, his arm slung possessively across the back of her chair. Miss Alice stepped up, planted a loud kiss on Dorian’s cheek and offered the pie she was serving. Teresa smiled as she watched Miss Alice serve, not one, but two hefty pieslices of pie onto Dorian’s raised plate. She was glad he was taking the opportunity to share a bite with his family before he and Eryk manned the fireworks station across the water. They were the obvious choice to set off the impressive fireworks display, since they could do it from a distance. With their natural abilities, they could probably set them eveningwaitoff from this side of the creek. However, Bask insisted they be set up and managed from the other side of the water. As if thinking up the devil, she saw the tall, lean man making his way to Dorian, stopping to say hello as he went. He caught her eye and waved.

jasAt the table near the old willow tree, Brenda Garrett had joined Kateri Chance and Rowe Davis. Kat’s latest showing had been awoman and cat huge success at the Gallery in town. Rowe scooted down to make room for Dink, who’d better not be discussing business today. She managed Elements, the Native American store, and was a pit bull when it came to merchandising. Not to worry, Teresa saw Brenna and David McKenzie join the group and knew the young owners of Chapters, Ruthorford’s bookstore, would keep the table lively and steered away from shop talk.

The sound of children running drew her attention and she allowed herself one moment ofchildrenrunning concern as she watched them race under the willow toward the water. As if materializing from thin air, Rowe’s cousins stopped the youngsters before they could fall into the rock-strewn creek.

Yes, from what she could see, most of Ruthorford was here. And water melonthey all were enjoying themselves, in spite of the heat. With the large fans positioned in the ancient trees, the warm air kept moving, so no one seemed bothered by the temperature.

She watched Dorian give Morgan a quick kiss before heading off to set up the fireworks show. Most everyone had filled their plates and found a spot, either at a table or on one ofpicnic couple2the quilts. The heat sensitive foods were already being moved inside and desserts were taking their place. She reached over and grabbed a cold kabob of strawberries, melons, and peaches, plucking a ripe Georgia peach from the end and popping it into her mouth. She smiled at the cold sweetness.

She felt Mike Yancy’s hand on her back as he managed two loaded plates with the other.

“Think you got enough food?” she teased.

“One’s for you. I know you won’t eat and I can’t have you wasting away,” he teased bapicnic in the treesck.

“Stop that,” she chuckled and swatted at him, letting him lead her to their table, set aways off to the side but with a clear view. Tradition had it that for the next few moments, the staff watched the buffet, letting Teresa enjoy a few moments of “down time.” While she and Mike were munching on the final bits of BBQ and discussing the success of the day’s sparklersevents, the lights, strung throughout the trees to illuminate nighttime dining, blinked out, the only light from the sparklers children waved in the air. Within moments, the night sky burst into an explosion of red, blues, and yellows, to gasps and squeals of appreciation . Pinwheels, star-bursts, giant red fireworkchrysanthemums, purple comets, willows, and serpents filled the sky. Oooh’s and aaah’s rose from the crowd as display after display filled the night.

When the sky finally darkened, no one moved. Everyone waited in anticipation. In the owldistance, the silence was broken by owls screeching, and hawks screaming. The sound of beating wings grew louder. From the bend in the river, above the trees, streamers of sparkling light appeared, moving like long serpents, following the course of the river. Astreamers collective ahh rose from the crowd, as the large birds flew over the lawn, carrying streamers of shimmering iridescent colors. As they passed the creek, they released their burdens. The ribbons of light dropped downward, caught in the breeze, twisting and undulated, at last coming to rest on the water, setting it afire with sparkling colors, created from energy infused crushed gems painted on woven sheaths purple nightof grass. As the ribbons absorbed the water and sank, the lights floated downward, given the moving water a multidimensional quality. All of the birds slipped off into the distance, except one lone hawk, who circled until she found Jasmine and lightly landed on the woman’s gloved arm.  Jasmine turned and lifted her arm so Brinn could stretch her wings and, with a flourish, thpuppyey bowed. The crowd offered light applause, not wanting to frighten Brinn. As the light from the gems winked out, the trees, once again sparkled from hidden lights. Quietly, the Ruthorford descendants rose and bade their farewells, feeling the connection, the unity, and the magic they shared.


MK FINALlrgkEnjoyShoppeOfSpells DigitalCover112311NNversion the stories of Ruthorford’s descendants. Meet Morgan and Dorian in THE SHOPPE OF SPELLS and Jasmine and Eryk in MEADOW’S KEEP. Don’t forget Kat and Rowe in PENNYROYAL CHRISTMAS. All are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. GLYNDA’S DARE is coming soon!

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