Monday, December 27, 2010

Past, Present, Future

Holy cow, a new year is fast approaching and 2011 is almost here already. I know a lot of you will be busy making New Year's Resolutions. I've always done that, too. Right at the outset of each new year, I wrote down all of the things I wanted to improve upon. I guess I figured it's at least good to have a plan.

This year, I'm not going to make any New Year's Resolutions. It's not that I think it's wrong, but I'm just different now. I've decided that I've reached an age where, instead of always looking forward and worrying about it, I'm going to live more and more in the here and now. There's just no sense in wishing and hoping my life away by living in the future -- the future will be whatever it's supposed to be. God knows, time moves way too fast, and I've never found the time to address New Year's Resolutions anyway.

As to the past, the past is just that, past. We sure can't do anything to change it. We can only learn from it. So this New Year's Day, I feel it's much more important that I look back over the past year, but only briefly. I'm on a journey of self discovery now and I need to keep an eye on what I've learned, and what I have yet to learn, from the past year.

As a new year dawns, may we all be happy with who we are. If we must have a future plan, let it be to find our our inner peace and to share more love with those who matter most.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010


I was just thinking how remarkable it is how some people can understand who you really are, without meeting you, just by reading between the lines and verses of words you've strung together with common threads of humor, loneliness, delight, grief, desire, playfulness and, by adding a little fuel of their own -- some heart and soul and just a touch of magic -- they clearly 'see' you as if they've read your personal autobiography.

I got the nicest email from a friend like that in Indiana. Rusty is an upbeat, honest, and witty kind of guy that I've known for years and years, and yet I've never met him in person. His real name is Russell Daily, a thoughtful and devoted family man, and a gifted writer and poet.

Our paths first crossed in an online writing community where we soon realized we shared the same zany sense of humor, especially when it came to writing poetry for children. Over the years, we've co-written many poems together and formed a wonderful friendship. Here is what he wrote:

(Rusty and his lovely wife, Kathleen)

Just using my imagination of you sitting at your computer. Hope you enjoy.

My Mentor
by Rusty Daily

The scene:
A small wisp of
hot morning coffee.
Puffs, their proximity close,
prepared to negate
the effects of sorrow
or unmitigated laughter.
The magnetic keyboard
pulls magic from
the heart and soul.
A small knowing smile
and far away look,
into hearts

The moods,
a roller coaster of:
The playful child.
The adult-adult.
The Lost Love.
The Consoler.
The Healer.

The Effect:
A virtual crossroads
of those looking for ...

I love it, thank you. It does sound like me.  It's uncanny, how you know the real me, you know, the one I wear just under my skin and choose to show to very few. So intuitive, insightful, and grand you are, Russell Daily, and I'm proud you are my friend. ~CJ

** It is my hope that someday, I will meet Rusty in person. See, I have a hug I've been carrying around for years.  It has his name on it and I want to pass along.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book: "Rudolph": by Bob May

A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.

His 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob's wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" 

Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob.

Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. 

Bob did complete college, married his wife and was grateful to get a job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. 

Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography, but in fable form. 

The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn't end there.

The general manager of 
Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. 

By 1946, Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.

In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn't end there either. 

Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and 
Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.  

"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas."

The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different can be a 

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When You're Sick

I'm sick and I'm not happy about it. I guess I'm not a very good patient and maybe it's because my patience with being sick is also sick. I'm sure it has a lot to do with having so much to do and not having the energy to do anything at all, except lay around sucking down juice, blowing disgusting stuff into tissues, gargling salt water, and feeling sorry for myself ... know what I mean?

I always miss my mother, but this is when I really miss her love the most. It's the many caring things she did, especially when any of us were sick. We knew whatever we were sick with really just had to run its course, but it was so soothing, knowing she was there with us. We had the feeling that she could heal anything with her love. She would sit and hold us and whisper that we would get better, or maybe surprise us with a cherry popsicle, knowing it would help our sore throats. If we had the flu, she would steady us as we stood over the toilet to be sick, and run a cool washcloth over our foreheads after we had thrown up, yet again. Mama was just there, and that always made everything feel better.

It wasn't until I had children of my own that I understood. You can't help but be soothing when your child is sick. Your heart is filled with such love for them anyway, and when they're sick, you intuitively feel they need you even more -- and you need them to feel even more than usual just how much you love them.

A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter, nearly a thousand miles away, called. She told me she and the kids were down with strep throat. She had given the boys their antibiotic and cherry popsicles and then tucked them into bed with a couple of bedtime stories and kisses. Then she added, "I'm feeling really awful and I just needed my mom. I called to be with you, and to hear your voice."

I've come full circle now. I understand. I truly understand, and tonight I'm going to have a cherry popsicle ...

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Saturday, December 4, 2010


I remember one Saturday morning when I was young and Daddy was outside mowing the lawn. I was oldest of six children, and about seventeen at the time. We were all watching TV when he came into the house carrying something in his hand and he was smiling. When he opened his hand, we could see four tiny, furless bunnies.  Their eyes hadn't even opened yet.

Daddy told us he found them in a hole in the backyard while he was mowing. He thought maybe the mother was the rabbit in the street a block away, hit by a car.  They were orphans! We immediately jumped into action.

My youngest sister, four, had baby bottles for her dolls -- the good kind with rubber nipples -- and she excitedly donated them for feeding bunnies. Daddy said we should feed them on a two-hour, round-the-clock feeding schedule ... did he say TWO-HOURS? As in EVERY TWO HOURS? Oh man, we were glad it was summer and we had no school! Mama and Daddy each took a turn, too, so it wasn't actually as bad as we thought it would be.

After the first week, we had only two bunnies left. Muffy and Fluffy had died. We carefully put each bunny into a shoe box and buried it in our backyard. My brother, Tim, acting as minister, said a few words and we each in turn said "Amen" at the end.

After the second week, we had lost another bunny, Brownie, leaving only one. The last one, Thumper, was beginning to look more and more like a bunny. He/she was growing fur and its ears were longer. I don't have to tell you, I'm sure, this little bunny was catered to by the whole family. Daddy called the local feed store to ask when Thumper might be ready for real food. The manager told him when the bunny had teeth, he could have rabbit pellets. Until that time, though, only milk.

Back then, our family was big on tent camping. We had a huge circus-type tent because there were so many of us. We usually went to Chippawa Lake, Tappan, Seneca Lake, or Lake Hope once or twice during each summer. That year, the camping trip was to be in late August at Lake Hope. Daddy and Mama thought it would be the ideal place and time to set Thumper free -- "After all, he would be a grown rabbit by then and it wouldn't be fair to him not to be free." We would hate to see him go, but we all loved him and agreed it would be the best thing for him.

Summer passed way too fast. The camping trip loomed just ahead. Then the day arrived and all packed and car loaded, we drove to Lake Hope and what was to be a sad farewell. We knew our routine -- each of us had age-appropriate jobs to do -- and after we had set up camp, we took turns holding Thumper and saying our good-byes. There were even a few unashamed tears. Then we walked him into the woods and watched him scamper off into the trees.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, the first morning when we woke up, Thumper was sleeping in the tent with us. We were all so happy to see him! But after a second round of goodbyes and tears, we took him even deeper into the woods and that was truly the last we ever saw of him. That was our Thumper-Summer, a very special memory from childhood, one none of us has ever forgotten.

I hope your weekend is grand!

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Santa Claus: Through a Child's Eyes

I got a phone call the other day from one of my grandsons. He's five. He told me he can't wait for Christmas and wondered what I thought Santa Claus was doing now -- right NOW.

I turned it around and asked him what he thought Santa was up to right now.

Without a second's hesitation, here's what he told me:

"Well Gram, Santa is prob’ly practicing HO-HO-HO-ing, and polishing his sleigh, and feeding all the reindeer.

I think Rudolph is ready to lead and his nose is already shining.

The elves are prob’ly putting toys in Santa’s red bag, and even if they get up early every morning, it will still take them all the way to Christmas Eve to get all the toys in the sleigh!

The elves are prob’ly cleaning up the workshop now, 'cause pretty soon, they have to start making toys for next year.

I bet elves are still finding wish lists from kids all over the place, and they prob'ly should tell Santa if the kids were naughty -- but maybe they won‘t, ‘cause tattling isn‘t nice.

Mrs. Claus is prob'ly cooking a lot, 'cause it wouldn’t be good to have a skinny Santa -- [just in case somebody peeks when he comes down the chimney]. She's even baking stuff for Santa’s trip and getting carrots for the reindeer in case they get hungry.  But Santa gets cookies and milk from kids at the houses where he goes, so that will keep him fat, too.

By the time Christmas Eve Day is here, the only things Mrs. Claus has to do is make sure his red suit is clean, his boots are shiny, and that Santa takes a nap, ‘cause he can't be cranky on Christmas Eve!"

I asked him, "Do you know why we give and get presents at Christmas?"

He said, “Sure, Grammy. It’s ‘cause God let His little boy, Jesus, be born. See we can’t give Him birthday presents ‘cause now He lives up in heaven, so they invented Santa Claus to give Jesus’ presents to kids.

Then -- I don’t know zactly when -- but then Santa Claus got real.  Gram, did you know we go to church to thank God for giving us Jesus and for giving us His presents?”

“I sure do.  How do you know Santa Clause is real?” I asked him.

“Grammy, if he isn’t real, how can we write letters to him? How can we sit on his lap and talk to him? [a loud sigh on the phone]  It’s just something all kids know.

After we hung up, I let my thoughts drift. Who could argue the innocent wisdom of a five-year-old?

As warm and fuzzy as it all is, I can’t help but get just a little melancholy at Christmas time.  It's all over in such a short time -- about as long as it takes all the little ones to unwrap what it took us weeks and months to buy.

When we look at Christmas through a child‘s eyes, believing in Santa Claus isn’t really all that bad, is it?  He is pretend, yes, but as long as children understand the truth about Christmas, then the belief in Santa is harmless -- and it brings such joy to children.

Santa and the whole mystique of Christmas is something we never forget. Let them pretend and believe ... it's such a huge part of childhood and, in the blink of an eye it's over, like a brilliant flash of light.

I'll always remember my Christmases.  I had the most fun with things that sparked creativity and imagination -- the box a huge present came in so easily became a castle or a pirate ship. The smaller boxes we taped together, making all sorts of ‘necessary’ additions to our cardboard wonders.

As I sit here this morning, wrapping a doll cradle for my granddaughter, I'm thinking about what my grandson said. It was all true. The cradle is a birthday gift I wish I could give to Baby Jesus.

Oh gee. Wait a second. Look at this ... I just finished a roll of wrapping paper and this long empty tube would make a superfantabulistic telephone! Hey, ya wanna play?

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Feeling Alive

I think I told you, Robert and I headed northeast to New Hampshire last weekend for Thanksgiving with two of my daughters and their families. Since we all live so far apart, we always hold it on the Saturday after, to give everyone time to get there and no one has to leave because of work the next day. My family is used to it, having done it this way for nearly forty years -- we decided long ago, it wasn't the actual day Thanksgiving was on that was important. It's what we're thankful FOR that's important, that and of course, getting as many of us together in one place as we can, so we can all be thankful together.

We had such a good time (big sigh) and many precious memories were saved. By being there, it meant I had been with all three of my daughters within a two-week period of time. I had also enjoyed the warm and wonderful fuzzies of having been with all nine of my grandchildren, too -- not an easy task when they're spread out in three different states, from North Carolina all the way up the coast to Connecticut and New Hampshire. Maybe next year, it will even be all three girls and their families ... I have so much to be thankful for.

As we were driving home on Monday, Robert paid me one of the nicest compliments I've ever received. "Honey, you're a wonderful lady, and I've always thought you have such a great personality ... but, Cath', when you're with your grandchildren ... that's when you really come ALIVE. Now I've seen the REAL you." (Thank you, sweet Robert)

I couldn't close this blog today without sharing a little happening ... Saturday, I found my three-year-old grandson with his finger up his nose to the second knuckle. I asked, "Would you like a tissue, sweetheart?"

My grandson: "No sanks, Grammy, I got it ..."

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pockets Full of Happy

Relaxation and Peace

Our weekend down in North Carolina was short, but so relaxing and memorable.

This was to be the first time my daughter and her family met Robert, and he them, and it was a good fit all the way around.

It was a short visit, but I've come to the conclusion that sometimes, without ever meaning to, we actually get more from having less ... how can that be?

For one thing, my son-in-law was there the entire weekend, something I've missed on other visits to their home. He's had umpteen deployments, numerous floats, and the innumerable training missions.

I guess I've always tried to time my visits during those absences so my daughter would have me, at least for a little while, and not feel so alone when he was away. I've learned he's facing another deployment after the first of the year, so I know I'll be planning another visit during that time, too.

It had been over a year. I loved getting reacquainted with my three grandchildren and collecting and distributing the long-saved hugs and kisses.

I again enjoyed the comical, sometimes puzzling, language of "toddler-speak" with Halloran, having the recent visit from my two Connecticut toddler grandsons still fresh in my mind. (She is the spitting image of her mother at that age, both in looks and in actions).

I loved the amazing pre-teen conversations with Will Jr., and I adored playing a special indoor version of frisbee with Matty -- for those of you who don't know, indoor frisbee must be played with a plastic dinner plate from Halloran's little kitchen set ... necessity really is the mother of invention ...

Saturday, we watched football and talked non-stop and Sunday, we went to the beach on base at Camp LeJeune. It was perfect -- white sand, shells everywhere, and plenty of what I had hoped to find: sharks' teeth. They're there, if you know how to look for them. Then Sunday night, everyone pitched in to cook a meal designed for royalty.

I was amazed at the amount of love we packed into our two and a half days together, without actually being packed in -- it all just happened, just like it was meant to.

While I would love to have spent another few days gathering even more memories, I have to say, I left with my pockets full of happy ...

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write."~CJ Heck

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jacksonville, NC

Before I get too busy and forget, I wanted to tell you I'll be gone over the weekend, so I won't be posting on my blogs until after my return. Robert and I are heading south to Jacksonville, North Carolina, to visit my youngest daughter and her family. It's been fourteen long months and I'm so homesick for them I can't stand it.

I've written about this little gal on here before. Her husband is a Marine forced recon sniper, and he's now on the downhill side of having 20-years in. He's routinely away, three tours already in both Iraq and Afghanistan, training missions, floats, etc., and out of necessity, she's become quite adept at raising three children, paying the bills and running the household in his absence. Her two oldest, both boys, are autistic, which makes things even harder for her.

If ever there was such a thing as 'the perfect military wife', my daughter is one. She's a petite, outgoing, witty, take-charge (even pushy, if she has to be) sort of lady, who swears like a longshoreman, which at times makes me cringe, but hey, she spends her time shopping at Camp LeJeune, is married to a Marine, and she's continually battling with the military for whatever help she can get for her two autistic sons, so I cut her some slack in that department.

Funny thing is, she's always been that way, inwardly driven, even as a child. I remember one summer when we lived in Indiana and our yard butted up to the 8th hole of a golf course. We had made plans to take the three girls to Disneyland for a week during summer vacation. My ex, a banker, told them they had to work and save up to have spending money to take with them. The two older girls babysat and did various yard jobs around the neighborhood to earn money.

Not quite old enough to babysit yet, my youngest daughter decided to go the entrepreneur route and sell cans of soda from her red wagon right at the 8th hole on the golf course. Keep in mind, this was almost thirty years ago, during safer times. Anyway, she withdrew some money from her savings and we headed to the grocery store. She bought two cases of soda at a cost of twenty cents a can and then sold them for fifty cents each to grateful golfers as they arrived at the 8th hole. (Of course, I watched her like a hawk from my picture window). When she ran out of soda, we repeated our trip to the grocery. She made over $200 that summer, selling soda to the golfers.

I remember we had a great time at Disneyworld, and all three girls learned something valuable that summer. The value of hard work has followed them through their lives -- and my youngest still has a good head for business, except what the military pays doesn't really give her much chance to put those skills to good use ... I know I can't wait to get there. I'll be sure and give them all a big hug from you, too.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Going Forward

A very dear friend contacted me a few years ago to tell me about the untimely death of someone very close to her.  It had been years since we'd talked, but I listened as she told me all about him, that's what friends do, even when it felt uncomfortable.  Sadly, I would be unable to attend the funeral, several states away, due to a prior commitment, and I regretted that I couldn't be there to support my friend in her grief. 

She and I went back a lot of years as friends.  She was the outgoing, zany one of our little duo.  She could make any situation seem like the most hysterical adventure in the world.  She could also be philosophical, though, and I remember long walks, and even longer talks, about anything and everything.  I miss her.

The other day while I was browsing the internet, I came across this wonderful poem by David Harkins.  I immediately thought of my friend and that phone call about her friend, years ago.  How appropriate for anyone who has lost someone very dear to them.  I want to reprint this today for you, for my friend, for everyone ...  

"You can shed tears that he is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all he's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see him,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live in yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow, because of yesterday.
You can remember him only that he is gone,
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what he would want:
smile, open your eyes and your heart,
love, and go on.”
~David Harkins

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Children's Poem: "The Blue Bird"

Blue Bird
When I was a little girl, we had a huge old apple tree in the side yard. It's long branches came within inches of my bedroom window.

The tree was well past its prime and I can't remember it ever bearing more than one or two apples in a season -- and those weren't very good. That didn't matter, though, because it was a great climbing tree.

 My siblings and I would climb way up and then out onto the massive branches to look down on those who were playing on the ground.

I remember sitting up there for hours just listening to the sounds of summer, or getting lost between the pages of a favorite book.

In the mornings, the most amazing little blue bird would visit me. He sat on the closest branch to my bedroom window in the old apple tree. It always fascinated me, the way he just sat there staring at me while I stared at him. I pretended to have conversations with him, wondering what it would be like to be a bird.

Then one day, during the summer I turned eleven, we had a huge thunderstorm. I always loved storms, still do, but I remember the wind howled and the lightning and thunder put on an epic show. 

Suddenly, there was a loud C-R-A-C-K. A bolt of lightning had hit the old apple tree and split it right down the middle. Both halves lay across from each other in the yard.  To this day, I still don't know how either of the halves missed hitting our house.

Anyway, this poem for children came from those summers with the little blue bird and the old apple tree ...

The Blue Bird

by CJ Heck

If I could be an animal
I think I’d like to be
just like the little blue bird
that’s sitting in my tree.

I look at him and wonder
what it’s like when you can fly.
I’ll bet the world looks beautiful
from up there in the sky.

There would be no traffic jams
or stop signs in the air.
No bumpy roads with potholes
would ever be up there.

Each night I wish upon the stars
that I could be a bird
but it never ever happened,
so I don't think they heard.

But I’d miss my mom and dad
and who’d be there at night
to help me brush my teeth
and tuck me in real tight?

He looks at me each morning
from the same branch in my tree.
While I sit wishing I was him,
is he wishing he was me?

(from the book, "Barking Spiders 2", by CJ Heck

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"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Letter to My Grandchildren ...

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids and, looking back, I'm afraid we actually made things worse for them.

For my grandchildren, I would like so much more. I would really like for them to know about hand-me-down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches ...

Playing in the Mud and Loving it

To my Precious Grandchildren:

[Edited by CJ Heck]

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated.

I hope you learn to make your own bed, rake the leaves, mow the lawn and wash the car. And I'm sorry, but I really hope no one gives you a brand new car when you turn sixteen.

It would be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you honestly believe in.

I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother or sister. And it's all right, if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when they want to crawl under the covers with you because they are scared, I hope you will let them.

When you want to see a movie and your little brother or sister wants to tag along, I hope you'll allow them to come along.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.

On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don't ask your driver to drop you two blocks away, so you won't be seen riding with someone as uncool as Mom or Dad.

I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and, after a hard rain, make mud pies and splash in the puddles.

I hope you can watch a thunderstorm from your front porch and lie in the grass at night counting stars and making hundreds of wishes.

I hope you'll climb a tree and build a tree house, and if you fall out, get back up and climb it all over again.

I hope you'll always find time to get lost in a book and if it's sad, that you'll cry out loud.

I want you to learn to use computers, but I hope you will also learn to add and subtract in your head ...

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush, and when you talk back to your mother, you'll learn what ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain.

May you burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole just one time, so you'll learn to never do either again.

I don't care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don't like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is NOT your friend.

I hope you make time to sit on a porch swing with Grandma, go fishing with Grandpa, and ice skating on a pond with your Uncle.

May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays.

I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor's window and that she hugs and kisses you at Hannukah, or Christmas, when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you -- tough times, disappointment, hard work, but most of all, happiness. To me, it's the only way to truly learn about and appreciate life.

Written with a pen.
Sealed with a kiss.
I'm always here for you.
... and if I die before you do, I'll go to heaven and watch over you.

[Original Author Unknown]

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose -- and you know that you're in love when the hardest thing to do is say good-bye.

This is for all you lovers out there who have ever loved and lost ...

I Remember Then
by CJ Heck

I remember
many things
about those
days, and you.
I remember
staring into
brown eyes
as though
I couldn't get
enough of them,
then burning
the love
I saw there
into a memory
to keep
for all time.
I remember
how with you,
total silence
could be so
and how it
was the only
time in my life
I ever felt
that to be so.
I remember
how safe I
felt with you.
Even the way
you said my name
was different
from how others
said it
and I remember
thinking then
that even my name
was safe
in your mouth.
I remember
how sometimes
we made love
all night
and stayed
in bed all day,
then skinny
to cool down
the places
the lovemaking
heated up.
I remember
lying in your
arms in the
and thinking
how profound
it was,
the way
the brain
hitched a ride
when the body
did all the work.
You were
my miracle
in our own
short season.
And it makes
me remember
the last time
I saw you
I will never
forget the pain
of my loss.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

A Poet for a Lover

Okay, folks, I'm going out on a limb with this one.  Since I'm predominantly a children's author, I don't usually post things like this, but today I'm feeling bold and courageous ... and after all, I am a woman first. You'll have to let me know what you think ...

A Poet For a Lover
by CJ Heck

Oh Lord,
give me a poet
for a lover
whose words
stroke me
like velvet hands.
caresses more
reaching than
the caress of a
mere mortal man.
A poet's
light touch
is so gentle.
probe deep
every time,
arousing me,
haunting me,
wetting me,
seducing me,
body and mind.
Oh Lord,
give me a poet
for a lover!
Lust and fire
burn in
his heart.
A silver-tongued
devil whose
words make
me ache
to be on
my knees
in the dark.
making me
want him,
only mind-loved,
I want to be free
to feel
just one time
my poet inside,
where only
up to now
has loved me.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

At The Cemetery

When Love is Gone
by CJ Heck

I watched 
in guilty silence
feeling like
an uninvited
voyeur as an 
elderly woman 
slowly tucked 
a folded missive 
under the vase
on a flat 
As our eyes 
met, I felt 
her thoughts.
The wheels 
of time 
keep churning,
turning days 
and months 
to years
till the days 
become a lifetime
and still 
we miss 
the ones
who are gone.
Like a bucket 

with a hole
the sands 
of love sift 
through, yet 
the cold granite 
at our feet
belies the warmth 
yet in our hearts
and the words 
etched there below,
like dry ice, 
burn the soul.
After the old 
woman left,
I felt compelled 
to read 
her words:
"I’ll always 
love you.
I hope you like 
the roses"

and I cried.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Fiction

In the spirit of what today is, here's a little flash fiction for you.  Now, if I could only do a scary witches cackle, this would be the appropriate time for it ...

Happy Halloween ...

Terror On Hilltop Drive

 by CJ Heck

She was home alone. The sound of breaking glass had wrenched her from sleep. Fear in icy tendrils prickled at the nape of her neck, yanking the wisps of hair and standing them on end. Perspiration beaded her forehead, little runnels slipping down between her breasts and soaking the front of her nightgown.

A shot rang out in the darkness.  It was a bold flash, all at once blinding! Her ears were stunned to sudden silence. A scream tore from her throat, as she waited in the hushed gloom that reclaimed the dark, her eyes again adjusting to the night.

She crept through the doorway and into the hall. The smell of burnt gunpowder and blood was nauseating. Smoke clung to her like a shroud, its gray wisps still rising from the trembling.38. 

Afraid of the dark, but even more afraid of turning on a light, she dialed the number ...

“Nine-One-One ... go ahead, what is your emergency?”

“Help me ... I’ve just shot an intruder."

"Ma'am?  Could you repeat that, please?" 

 Please HURRY ...”

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

An Announcement

I have some good news, everyone! My website for children, Barking Spiders Poetry, recently won two awards for it's design.  I may have written the content inside the website, but the credit goes entirely to CJ Design, a company located in Germany, for their gifted creativity in developing the website.  I couldn't have chosen a better website designer.

To see the awards, please visit:

Easy Design.Org - Page 3

Easy Design.Org - Page 6

To see the entire website:
Barking Spiders Poetry

Thank you, Cedrik, for your friendship and for your patience over the last year.
Your friend always,

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Monster in My House

In a child's imagination, monsters do exist. According to my brothers and sisters, years ago, monsters came from many places ... the streetlight shining through the curtains let them dance around on the ceiling; they whispered and chittered through the heating vent in the floor from the furnace room in the basement; or they tapped and clawed at the window, wanting to get in, from outside in the big apple tree that stood nearby. My own imagination convinced me that monsters lived in the crawl space under my bed and, if I wanted to get to the bathroom, I had to hit the floor in a dead run. On my return, I had to leap back into bed so they wouldn't grab my ankles and drag me under.

Of course, all of our monsters disappeared when Mama and Daddy came in to kiss us good night and tell the monsters to go away. Here is a little children's poem dedicated to my youngest sister, whose monster was of a different sort ... Happy Halloween!

Monster in My House
by CJ Heck

(Shhhh) there's a monster in my house.
It came in a great big box.
Mommy says it isn't so,
but something eats my socks.

I used to have a full sock drawer,
with red socks and some blue.
I even had some white ones,
'cause I wear white socks, too.

There's a monster in my house.
It came in a great big box
and I must make it angry
or it wouldn't eat my socks.

It lives around here, somewhere.
(Shhhh) I hope it's not around
'cause every time I wake it up,
it makes such awful sounds.

Most times, it says, 'Yum-Yum---Yum-Yum'
sometimes, it just goes 'SWISH-H-H'
and then it eats my socks up
without a spoon or dish.

Mom says they're underneath my bed
or spread around the floor
(the monster musta' burped 'em there
when she opened up the door).

(Shhhh) there's a monster in my house
and it came in a great big box.
Mom says it's just the washer ...
but it's a monster that just eats socks!

Note: Personally, I could never see it as being a monster. I always thought the washer was saying, "This is awful, this is awful, this is awful, this is awful" so I always kinda-sorta thought it just didn't like it's job ...

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Thursday, October 28, 2010


I'm going shopping today -- I want to have plenty of candy on hand for the ghosts and goblins who ring my doorbell this weekend.  Last year, I was new in town and not around for "Trick or Treat".  I was in Ohio visiting family.

I wonder, do kids still prank if no one answers the door and they can see lights on inside the house?  I remember years ago, we pranked houses that ignored trick or treaters. We didn't do really bad things, although I heard stories about kids who did. Our pranks were mild compared to some. Did you prank as a kid? Feel free to send me your stories and I'll post them here:   CJ's Email

Again in the spirit of Halloween, here's another little Halloween poem for children:

by CJ Heck

Bats can hit a baseball.
Girls can bat their eyes.
But the bats I want to talk about
fly with radar in the skies.

Bats are cute and furry.
I think bats are cool,
(if I could only catch one
I’d bring it in to school).

I’m sure YOU think they’re creepy.
They might even make you scream.
But bats will always be a part
of scary Halloween.

It's not so hard to like them,
well, it's not exactly automatic,
but mom and dad don’t mind them
IF they don’t live in our attic.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grandmothering Toddlers

Tyler, Jack  and Pogo the dog

As you know, I spent all last week in Connecticut babysitting two of my grandsons -- I have seven grandsons, actually, and two granddaughters -- and these are the two youngest grandsons, 1-1/2 years and 3 years old, that I babysat. Before I go any further, I have to ask. Why is it they call it babysitting? No one actually sat during a twenty-four hour period, them or me, that is, until I put "Dora The Explorer" on TV or had them safely strapped in their chairs for meals. Oh, and they also sat in the bathtub for a few minutes while they were being bathed, although that's actually not true, either ... did you ever try and wash a fish?  And I'm convinced that toddlers don't have feet ... they have invisible wheels.

Funny, when I was a young mother of three daughters, I actually got pretty good at it by the time my youngest was a toddler. I could juggle every task that needed to be done, do it, and still have plenty of play time with them. As a matter of fact, it was probably the time of my life I most enjoyed ... and raising my daughters is still the one achievement I am proudest of.

Ahhh, but I digress ... now don't get me wrong, I had the time of my life last week. I love those little boys with all my heart -- but I have to admit that I've never felt so totally short on brain cells. I woke up the first morning to calls of "Graaammy, I'm uuuup ..." and it was suddenly like I had never had a child before -- ever. Before my first cup of coffee, I honestly had no idea, whatsoever, what I was supposed to do. Thank God, my daughter wrote everything down ... sheets and sheets and sheets of blessed instructions, just in case.

I also didn't realize going in, that grandmothers have far less energy than young mothers do ... and muscles hidden on and around their bodies that working out at the gym and the treadmill, for some reason, didn't quite touch. At the end of each day, it was a monumental decision whether to soak in a tub with a glass of wine, or just fall into bed sore and exhausted.  Most nights, the bed won ...

I am happy to report that by the end of the week, things had begun to fall into place. I learned to get up a half hour before they did and have my coffee, which allowed my brain cells to multiply and my organizational skills to reconnect, (as did my patience) -- even my sore muscles ceased their screaming, after coffee ...

Someday, I want to write about the new language I've learned,  "Toddler-Speak" ...

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Children's Halloween Poem: Mr. Bones

Mr. Bones

Mr. Bones

by CJ Heck

I was looking up some haunted stuff
because it’s Halloween.
I saw black cats, ghosts and witches,
and all of them looked mean.

Then I saw your picture.
You’re an awesome skeleton!
I read that we are just like you,
deep down beneath our skin.

Before you got turned inside out,
did you really look like me?
I think I'll call you Mr. Bones
since bones are all I see.

Two more questions, Mr. Bones ...
through your bones, I just see air.
When you walk do you make noise?
Are you cold because you’re bare?

Mr. Bones, oh Mr. Bones,
you have a scary mouth
and there’s nothing where your eyes should be.
You're so spooky wrong-side out!

Poor, poor Mr. Bones,
it’s sad you have no skin ...
I guess that I'd look frightening, too,
with my inside out, my outside in.

[From the book,  "Barking Spiders 2" (the sequel), by CJ Heck]

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck