Wednesday, December 21, 2016


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Crisp and bitter cold
Snow makes everything seem pure
Have a blessed Yule.
© Teresa Kander 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016


At the time I was born, my parents had been married less than a year. They had met in April 1960 and married on July 30, 1960. (My maternal grandfather was very much against the marriage, which I didn’t learn until I was seventeen. By that time, I felt much the same way, but more on that later.) They were both working full time: Dad was an engineer’s assistant at Buckeye Rural Electric, and Mom was a beautician.
Since they were both working five days a week, I was cared for by a babysitter, a trusted family friend, Mae Roush, known to family and friends alike as Mamaw Mae. According to my mother, Mae treated me like one of her grandchildren, and I was very happy with her. A story that gets told often is of Mae getting frustrated with people asking her how old “he” was, even when I was wearing frilly dresses. She began taping bows to the top of my head, as I didn’t have much hair to speak of, and was even more disgusted when that didn’t seem to make any difference.  
When Mae had to leave us to care for a biological grandchild, Mom and Dad hired another babysitter. I don’t know her name, but I know she didn’t have the job for very long. She apparently took me downtown in my stroller as Mae had done, but she didn’t put nearly as much care into my appearance. When Mom started hearing stories of me being out with a dirty face and dirty clothes, she was upset with the sitter, but the last straw came on a day when I had a cold and it was raining outside. Mom specifically asked that I be kept inside that day for my health, but she learned from one of her customers that I was seen going down the street in my stroller less than an hour after Mom left for work. As soon as Mom heard that, she got on the phone with Dad, who got home before she did, and told him that when he got home that night, he should pay the sitter and fire her. For the next two weeks, I was cared for by my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother, and then Mom became a stay at home mother.

At the age of thirteen months, I got my first pair of glasses. I was born with crossed eyes, which did not correct themselves as my doctor had hoped. Wearing glasses was the next form of treatment, in the hopes that would resolve the issue. Since I was so young, and there was concern I would try to remove the glasses, Mom used rubber bands attached to the earpieces across the back of my head. I kept that first tiny pair of glasses for many years, but somewhere in all the many moves of adulthood, they were lost.
That same summer, it was time to wean me from the bottle. The day that the process was started, Mom and Dad were having a conversation in the hallway near my bedroom. Mom said something about not giving me a “b-o-t-t-l-e” at bedtime, presuming that I wouldn’t know what that meant. She was very surprised when she put me to bed that night without my bottle and walked out of the room.  I started to cry loudly, and through my tears I was screaming “I want my b-t!  I want my b-t now!”  I guess even then I was smarter than they gave me credit for being!
In the spring of 1963, the three of us moved to the first home that I can actually remember clearly. It was a three bedroom home with a full basement, located at 12 Evans Heights in Gallipolis. The third bedroom became my playroom, where I spent a large part of my days, at least until I was old enough to go outside and make friends with the other children who lived on the street.
Around that same time, I decided to display my artistic talents by drawing a magic marker picture for Dad, using the hardwood floor of the playroom as my canvas. When I showed it to Mom, I’m sure she must have been horrified, but I do have to give her credit for handling it well. She left the picture there until Dad got home from work to see it, and then the two of us worked together to clean it off the floor.
One of the stories my mother always tells about me at this age has to do with a day she sent me outside to play in the front yard while she washed dishes, as she could watch me through the window over the sink. She apparently stopped watching at one point, and then realized that as cars went by our house, they were slowing down, pointing toward the yard and laughing. Curious as to what I might be up to, she came outside, where she discovered a totally naked toddler, and found all my clothes neatly folded and stacked on the front steps. I guess you could say that I was a streaker long before it became a fad!

At three and a half years old, I had learned to read well enough to read several of my storybooks to myself, or to anyone else who cared to listen. My Uncle Bob didn’t believe I could actually read, and suspected I had just heard those stories so many times I had them memorized. In an attempt to prove his point,he bought me a new book which Mom assured him I had never seen before that day. When I took the book from his hands and began to read it to them, he had to admit he had been wrong about me.
By the age of four, I was guilty of murder….of a goldfish. My Uncle Bob played a part in this story as well. He came by the house for a visiting, and I was eating an apple. He joked that my goldfish looked hungry and that I should share my apple. Not knowing any better, I later tossed what remained of the apple into the fishbowl. The next morning,I discovered my poor fish had gone belly up.
After three years of wearing glasses, with the adults hoping they would improve my condition, my eyes were still crossed. The next course of action was for me to have surgery to correct the problem by shortening the muscles attached to my eyes, which occurred in the spring of 1965. I only have little snippets of memory from my recuperation period at home, but Mom likes to tell a story from the hospital which is more about the nurse caring for me than about me.
When Mom and Dad were allowed to see me right after the surgery, the nurse told them she knew I was awake, but I was refusing to respond to her. She walked over to my bed to demonstrate, and said “Terri, can you hear me? Are you awake?” and when I didn’t respond, she looked at Mom, apparently expecting her to do something about the situation.
Mom gave her a disgusted look and said “If you would call her by her name, I’m sure she would answer you. She has no idea who you are talking to.” (Both eyes were covered by bandages, making me temporarily blind.) To prove her point, she walked over to the bed and asked “Teresa, are you awake?”
Without hesitation, I responded “Yes, Mommy, but I can’t see you!”
When we got home, I had two metal patches on my eyes, as well as tongue depressors taped to my arms to keep me from bending them, so I couldn’t remove the patches. Mom and Dad put me to bed, and told me to let them know if I needed or wanted anything. A little later, I heard my maternal grandmother in the living room, and couldn’t help myself---I got out of bed and made my way out of my room, then felt along the wall of the hallway to make my way to where the adults were, at which point I surprised all of them when I spoke up and said “Hi Granny.”
The worst part of the experience that I can remember had to do with the stitches. As they began to dissolve, the ends would be in my eye. That meant Mom had to apply a very warm washcloth to each eye for several minutes each, at least twice a day. I hated having to sit still that long, and I wasn’t happy with the heated wash cloth, always felt TOO hot to me.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Flash Fiction:Rolf

This came from my writers group last weekend. Each person created two characters, then we passed them to the people on our left and right. The two characters I received were as follows:

1) An alcoholic firefighter who wants to open a home for kittens.
2) Rolf Koenig--a former warfighter who now smuggles drugs to the first moon colony. He is also raising a teenage son, trying to keep him away from the crime community.

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Rolf Koenig arrived at the moon colony right on schedule. He had brought his teenaged son, Leif, along for the ride this time, attempting to get some quality time with him. Leif was having behavioral issues at school, and Rolf had been hoping to get to the root of that problem.

The trip up to the colony had not been as productive as Rolf had hoped. Leif was engrossed in his virtual reality world and resisted all efforts at conversation. Now that they had arrived, Rolf had to concentrate on unloading his cargo and getting it delivered to his contacts without attracting the attention of the local authorities.

Being a newly-widowed single father was difficult enough, but coupling it with being a drug smuggler who was trying to keep his son unaware of his occupation was even worse. As far as Leif knew, his father was merely a delivery courier for a major corporation. 

Father and son carried the three large crates out of the cargo hold of the ship and placed them in the cargo vehicle. Checking the invoice, Rolf plotted the coordinates and they set off to make their first delivery.

Arriving at the colony's fire prevention station, they were greeted rather over-enthusiastically by Andy, one of Rolf's regular clients. Stumbling his way to the vehicle, Andy slurred "Good morning, gents," and mimed a tip of his hat.

Leif, who always treated the old alcoholic kindly, asked if he had any new kittens in the station or at home. Andy smiled widely as he answered. "Had another five dropped on my doorstep yesterday, which makes the current total thirty. The good news is, I've found a reasonably priced warehouse I can renovate into a cozy living space for them, and I'll still have room for plenty more."

As Rolf listened to the two of them continue to talk about the cats, he wondered if Leif's opinion of the firefighter would change if he knew Andy's money for the project came from selling the drugs they were delivering to him. And what would he think of his father for smuggling the drugs in the first place? Maybe it was time to stop bringing Leif along on these trips, and to find him a boarding school where he could be kept apart from this life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wednesday World Of Words: I Am

I Am
I am compassionate and loving
I wonder how the world really sees me
I hear the whispers in the wind
I see a rainbow in the sky
I want to be more courageous
I am compassionate and loving

I pretend that everything is fine
I feel the sand beneath my toes
I touch the hearts and minds of others
I worry about my children and my husband
I cry about the people that I miss
I am compassionate and loving

I understand that life is short
I say live every day to its fullest
I dream of what could have been
I try to make others happy
I hope that I'll be remembered fondly.
I am compassionate and loving
© 2012 Teresa Kander

Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday Morning Memories: Meeting a Cozy Mystery Author

On Tuesday, April 7, 2015, I was privileged to be able to attend a book-signing event for Tonya Kappes at Books & Company, at The Greene. Tonya is the author of several cozy mystery series, the most recent of which is the Ghostly Southern Mystery series. I've been a Facebook friend of Tonya for a while, but this was our first time to meet in person.

After greeting one another with hugs like long lost friends, we introduced each other to our respective husbands, and stood talking with another couple who had come to see Tonya that evening. Tonya joked about how "shy and private" she is, as she talked about her sons and her pets. Eventually, we had to break up our little group and move to the area which was set up for Tonya's talk.

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Tonya revealed herself to be a very good speaker. She told us a wonderful story about where she got the idea for this current series of mysteries--her very own ghost story. As with all of her series, this one is set in a fictional small town (in the South, of course), and there is always some tie to her real life.

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There was a brief question and answer period which enabled us to learn a little more about Tonya, and then she made herself available to sign books and talk to her readers (she prefers not to use the term "fan").  As you can see from the photo below, she and I were still laughing and joking as we took pictures together.

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Aside from the two books I brought with me to be signed, everything in the picture below was freebie stuff that Tonya gave out to everyone who attended this event.  It's quite an impressive haul!

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If you would like to learn more about Tonya and her books, be sure to visit You can also find her on Facebook at Tonya Kappes, Author:

Friday, December 9, 2016

Friday Flash Fiction: Francine

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 “What did you want to tell me?” Gary asked earnestly. “It must be special, considering the atmosphere of this place.”

Francine smiled sweetly. “Very special. Life-changing, in fact.” She took a deep breath and then continued. “I’m breaking up with you, Gary.”

“What? WHAT?” His voice rose, but then he clamped his mouth shut, remembering they were in public.

“I know your secret, Gary, and I’m not going to keep being complicit in it. I won’t blow your cover, but that’s all I’ll offer.”

With that, she stood, blew out the candle and walked away without a single backward glance.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wednesday World Of Words: Where I'm From

I am from plastic pools in the yard in the summer, wooden sleds down the hill in winter; from RC and Fresca, Chef Boyardee and Lucky Charms; from Barbie dolls and transistor radios.

I am from the house with the big yard and the deck I helped my father build; from the pool table in the basement and the beautiful white bedroom suite. I am from the soft spring breezes and the colorful autumn leaves; from the majestic Ohio River and the gently rolling hills.

I am from the tobacco crops and the fields of green beans; from the potatoes and the tomatoes; from the corn and the cucumbers. I am from the trees I climbed fearlessly, and the swing set where I practiced my acrobatics; from the "hole" where we played with Matchbox cars and the futures we created in our imaginations.

I am from family reunions every year and Sunday afternoons at Granny's; from cousins who were my best friends and playmates, and scary movie marathons on New Year's Eve. I am from Danners and Johnsons, from Wards and Lamberts.

I am from hard workers who gardened and canned, from frugal people who haggled and bargained shopped. I am from patriots who served their country proudly, from moral, ethical people who held to their standards in the face of every temptation.

I am from Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, from the Tooth Fairy and the bogey man. I am from trick or treating for hours, and getting popcorn balls, apples, and even apple cider and donuts from the neighbors. I am from bedtime stories and weekly trips to the library, from valuing education and all types of learning.

I am from church every Sunday, whether you wanted to go or not, from Vacation Bible School and children's choir. I am from youth group and play practice, from confirmation and church camp, from doubt to faith and back again.

I am from Gallipolis, Ohio, but I'm also from Germany, England, Ireland and Scotland. I am from George Washington's brother, and from Queen Elizabeth I's aunt. I am from meatloaf and mashed potatoes, from apple butter and from bread and butter pickles. I am from country gravy and biscuits, from sweet tea that's nearly syrup.

I am from the River Recreation Festival and the Gallia County Fair. I am from the home of Bob Evans and O.O. McIntire. I am from the town of the French Five Hundred, where Lafayette once stayed at the Our House Tavern.. I am from watching the Delta Queen move peacefully down the river, from barges heaped with coal.

I am from two people who married just two months after their first meeting. I am from hard-working country folks who married as teens. I am from equally hard-working "city" folk who married in their early twenties.

I am from pictures in a photo album, from black and white and from color. I am from Christmases and birthdays, from graduations and vacations. I am from putting on my new dress just to have my picture taken on the front porch. I am from slumber parties and birthday cakes, from football games and band contests.

I am from six years as an only child, and from being a big sister to my younger brother. I am from a happy family of four, and from a "broken home." I am from stepparents and stepsiblings, and ever changing family relationships.

I am from failed marriages and finding true love, from a son, two daughters and a young grandson. I am from teaching and writing, from trying to figure out just who I am.

I am from everything that has ever existed.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday Morning Memories: Hey Rocky, Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat!

 It was over 17 years ago when this incident happened, and I can still remember it very vividly. My older two children had been living with their father for about six months when I learned that was not where they were staying any longer. Their father and stepmother had separated, and the children were not staying with either of them, but with their paternal grandfather. Since he had no custody rights to them, I wanted to go pick them up and bring them back home with me. Unfortunately, my then husband and I did not have a vehicle, nor did we have access to one, which was frustrating me beyond belief.

I was online discussing the situation with my friend Dave, who lived in Texas (we were in Ohio), and was stunned beyond belief when he offered to drive to our home, pick us up and take us to pick up the children. (As a little background, Dave and I were strictly online friends at this point, who had never talked on the phone or met in person, but who had discovered a lot of parallels to our lives, and had become very close in a short time) I felt a little "strange" about accepting his offer, but at the same time there was this sense of it being the right thing to do, so I told him I would discuss it with my husband and get back to him. About half an hour later, Dave called and we worked out a few details, and he said he'd be getting on the road ASAP, and would see us the following evening.

The next day, we heard from Dave several times, giving us an update on his current location. When he finally arrived, bearing gifts on top of giving us his time, it was just as easy to talk to him in person as it had been online. We sat around talking and laughing for a while, then called it a night so we could get an early start the next morning.

Sunday morning, we had a four hour drive to get to the home of my former father-in-law. We had decided not to call and let them know we were coming, as we weren't sure they would be there when we arrived if we gave them any warning.

My husband and I went to the door when we got there, and the kids let us in, full of excitement. When I told them I was there to take them home, they were even MORE excited. My former father-in-law was less thrilled...he said that since my former husband wasn't there, he would have to discuss all of this with him before he could do anything. I understood him wanting to let his son know what was going on, but I reminded him that physical custody of the children was mine alone, by law, and that I had the papers with me to prove it, so there was nothing he could do to stop me from taking them.

In the end, we decided to take the kids out for a few hours, to a nearby museum, and give him time to contact his son without us all hovering around. We had a good time that day, as Dave and the kids got to know each other...and all of them ganged up on me, since teasing me was something they had in common. During that time out, Brian let us know that he wanted to stay a little longer with his grandfather, as the upcoming week was final exam week for him...but Samantha was finished with school for all intents and purposes.

Back at the house, we were greeted with a strange sight....the house was dark, and we got no response to ringing the doorbell. Brian went around the house, looking to see if he could see anyone home, knocking on windows and on the back door. After a few minutes, "The Colonel" came out onto the front porch, closing the door firmly behind him.

That's when it got even stranger....he informed us that he had contacted the local police department and that they would be arriving momentarily. He had contacted my former husband who had given his permission for the children to leave (as if I needed that!), but "The Colonel" wanted to make sure that it was all legally done (as if I was going to believe that a LAWYER didn't know what my custody papers meant!). So we stood there waiting patiently for the police officers to arrive.

Once the police got there and read the papers, they told "The Colonel" that there was really nothing for them to do, as long as we were going to be respectful and peaceful. He asked if they would stay and supervise the packing, adding that he didn't want the children to take anything he had bought for them. The police officer said they could take anything that was their personal clothing or belongings, no matter who bought it for them. He said "We're talking clothes and toys here, not microwaves or televisions. What are you going to do, wear their clothes and play with their toys?"

Unfortunately, "The Colonel" wasn't finished trying to stymie our plans. Turns out the front door had "somehow" gotten locked when he came out...and he didn't have his keys on him. He started talking about us going home, while he and the kids stayed somewhere overnight and got a locksmith to come out the next day, and then we could come back the following weekend to get the kids and their things. I just smiled and told my husband to go ask Dave, who was waiting in his van, if he had his tools with him. As he walked away, I informed the police officers and "The Colonel" that Dave was a licensed locksmith, and that I was fairly sure he kept his tools with him at all times. The look on the face of "The Colonel" was simply priceless....I knew there wouldn't be any other roadblocks that day.

It took Dave just a matter of seconds to unlock the front door for us, at which time one police officer took Samantha upstairs to help her pack up her things. His partner stayed downstairs to talk to Dave, as he said he had never seen a "legal" set of lockpicking tools.

And since that day, any time either Dave or I say "Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" the other knows exactly what that means....LOL.

So, that's the story of how a virtual stranger became my "bestest" friend in the course of one weekend, and why he'll always have a special place in my heart...and always be "Uncle Dave" to Samantha. We love you, Dave...always have, always will!!!