Posts By: Christy Hoss

Thumbs Up!

Closing my eyes, I can see where I was like it was yesterday.

My fourth-grade class lined up on the staircase, waiting for our teacher’s instructions. The girl next to me pulled up my hand and thrust it under my first-crush’s nose, saying, “Chad, look how fat Christy’s fingers are.”

I’d never paid attention to my fingers before, but sure enough, when I examined them, my thumb was stubby and huge with four matching fingers.

I pulled my hand back in humiliation. Ever since that day I tucked my thumb under my fingers, hoping no one would notice my oddly shaped digits.

They are called “hammer” thumbs, a genetic defect that even my high school biology teacher pointed out. I’m the only female in my family to have inherited them. When asked if I could change anything about my body, I knew the answer instantly.

After moving to California in 1987, I discovered a life-changing miracle: acrylic nails. This discovery transformed my life. I no longer hid my thumbs but became confident enough to untuck them.

Getting my nails done on a regular basis is now an important part of my survival. For example: typing this story goes much faster with longer nails.

On the last day of the Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat, a sweet young lady politely showed me she had thumbs like mine. I immediately embraced her, laughed and cried as we shared stories of dealing with people’s opinions.

Zariah and I are now ‘thumb’ sisters forever.

So, I inherited a genetic defect, passed down from my daddy. He went to Heaven on Christmas Day of 2020. I miss him terribly but think of him often, especially when I look at my thumbs. He gave me a gift that keeps on giving.

These hammer thumbs will keep typing stories and inspiring others no matter what. For that reason alone, I’ll give a thumbs up.

It’s an Obsession!

Confession time. I am drawn to these things. They seem to find me everywhere I go. The latest is called ‘portable’ because it comes with a lid to enclose and carry it.

I must refrain from purchasing them as I am running out of room to display them.

Sadly, I find them in disarray, broken up for their parts; their old keys recycled into jewelry.

But sometimes I receive them in perfect condition, like this one my sister won at an auction in Minnesota.

Another one added to my collection is housed in a special case. It was a Christmas gift from my sister that had to wait until we were moved before its construction and took three of us over several days to put together.

Perhaps my obsession with these is how the smell of dried-up ink ribbon brings me back to my Daddy’s typewriter that looked much like this one.

It was stored in the entryway closet, and he let me play on it from time to time. Could it be that Daddy’s old college term-paper-typing, no correctional tape machine, inspired a young girl to become a writer?

I’ll save that for a future story.

What about you?

Do you collect typewriters, or have one (or more) from “the olden days” on display or stored in closets? Do you actually use a manual typewriter? Share your favorite typewriter memory in the comments.

 

Dumpster Diving Diva

Growing up in a small Northern Minnesota town, we would often travel 50 miles west to the closest large city to see doctors, an orthodontist and other specialists. My parents loved shopping at K-Mart, having great fun hoping for a good ‘Blue Light Special.’

On the other hand, my young self was more interested in getting an Icee to drink if it was in the budget.

One trip, I picked up a flyer describing what one can acquire with Icee points that are diamond shapes on the sides of the cups. I set my eyes on the giant stuffed Icee Bear. But the cups we could afford only had one point.

My Icee Bear required 1,000 points! Impossible to a young elementary school girl. But I remember literally feeling a large light bulb turn on above my head as I walked past a public ashtray. Sitting in its sand was a discarded large Icee cup with three diamond-shaped points calling my name.

While my parents shopped, I ran through the store raiding every ashtray and trashcan I could find. I could have been labeled an environmentalist as I walked the entire parking lot salvaging every cup I found (yes, even the tire-marked squished ones).

It took a few trips but before I knew it I had enough Icee points to fill ten sheets of one hundred and send off for my bear.

When he arrived in the mail, my sister decided she wanted one. Just when I thought my dumpster diving days were over, I started all over again for the next 1,000 points.

By the way, I never actually dove into a dumpster, but I did dig around in a few public trash cans. Let’s just say that when I really want something, I dive right in!

TSA, Panic and a Diabetic Alert Dog

I love adventure, especially traveling. Sad to say, my thirst for adventure has been dampened by the ominous ritual of removing my shoes during TSA screening.

Everyone knows that when flying anywhere, protocol demands adherence to strict rules.

For a diabetic with a service dog, going through security takes forever.

Besides taking off shoes and jackets and placing laptops, purses and carry-ons in separate bins, I must also take off a treat pouch, gather all my insulin bottles to be hand-inspected (since they can’t be x-rayed), and prepare to be patted down since I wear an insulin pump.

I was trained the way my dog goes through security, and TSA also has specific procedures for service animal security screening. But every experience, they tell me to do something different. Usually, what they ask me to do goes against the training my dog and I have received.

For example, they’ve asked me to:

…Have my traveling companion take my dog while I get patted down.

…Leave my dog with a security agent.

And, weirder yet, they’ve told me to have the dog go through the metal detector first and then I follow. What’s up with that?

Note the line on the TSA web page:

“TSA will not separate you from your service animal.”

Two years ago, I had a very bad experience that involved high blood sugar, a health issue that required me to use a walker. I was also traveling with my 89-year-old, wheelchair-ridden mom (handled by my sister).

The large security man accused me of insulting and trying to attack an agent while my brain was fuzzy. I experienced my first panic attack because he threatened to arrest me as they rummaged through my carry-on.

Within inches of my accuser, I tried to breathe while collecting my belongings. I gave in to my weak knees and sat on my walker-chair, a blubbering mess.

Fortunately, I calmed down, but not until after some retail therapy in the gift shops, a large chai latte, and some snuggle time with my service dog.

Whenever I go through security, I face serious anxiety and pray to get myself through those gates.

I recently learned about an organization that can help people like me get through the process. Although I have a diabetic alert dog who also keeps me calm, he can’t do what this organization can – assist me with all my special needs through security.


Aiden’s thoughts about service dog relief stations in airports: Where a Dog Does His Business

The Author Reads ‘Sylvia’s Mother,’ by Jennifer Lynn Cary

About the book

Sylvia’s Mother

Forget about Women’s Lib. Return to 1972 Kokomo, Indiana for the second installment of The Weather Girls Wedding Shoppe and Venue series—Sylvia’s Mother—and the fight for personal independence.

Join Sylvia, her mother, Eileen, and the kooky mix-ups that all point to romance in this small-town romp.

Young Sylvia deals with what would be determined today as a helicopter mom. But she’s in need of freedom, though she’s not going to join a commune or become a hippie, she might be in love.

Seth Matthews, a former FBI agent, returns to Kokomo and realizes there was more than coincidence at play dealing with family memories. Will he agree to a farce to help out his nephew’s involvement with a love interest? Will his heart be guarded as well?

My thoughts

I enjoyed reading The Weather Girls series by Cary. Miss Cary draws her readers in from page one and this is no exception. It’s one of those series the reader can relate to, especially if they grew up in the late sixties and seventies. Miss Cary always weaves nostalgia into her stories, pleasing her audience.

If you enjoyed the Weather Girls and Judy in Disguise, then Sylvia’s Mother is a must-read.

The book is inspired by the pop 1960s song by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, because everyone dreams of a second chance with a first love.

More reviews of books by Jennifer Lynn Cary

Sunny: The Weather Girls Series, Book 1

Stormy: The Weather Girls Series, Book 2

More about the book, from the publisher

She’s an overprotective single mother…

…He’s a former protector who can’t give up the role.

But who will guard their hearts from scheming high school matchmakers?

Eileen Avery is determined her daughter Sylvia won’t experience the heartaches she did. Even if it means taking parenting lessons from her mother, the dragon lady. But she is not like her mother. Not even remotely.

If only Sylvia could see that.

However, the girl wants independence. How much is a good thing? And how much is too risky?

Besides, Sylvia is in love and needs a little freedom. It’s not like she’s about to run away to a commune and become a hippy. However, she is willing to try about anything to get her mom to loosen up, even play matchmaker. Maybe if her mother had her own love life, she’d quit trying to put Sylvia’s under a microscope.

But will it all blow up in her face?

Seth Matthews thought he’d said goodbye to Kokomo until an on-the-job injury with the FBI changed his plans. This town holds more than his family, and those memories had better stay buried for all concerned. But how was he to put his honed instincts on the back burner and stop safeguarding the ones closest to him?

He was willing to help his family with almost anything. But pretending interest in some woman to help with his nephew’s romantic endeavors? That was one thing he couldn’t see himself doing.

Until he realizes there was more than coincidence at play.

About the author

Historical Christian romance author Jennifer Lynn Cary likes to say you can take the girl out of Indiana, but you can’t take the Hoosier out of the girl.

She is also a direct descendant of Davy Crockett, which, along with her Indy upbringing, adds fodder to her sweet/clean books.

She and her husband make their home in Arizona where she shares her tales of heritage and small-town life memories with her grandchildren.

Contact Jennifer at jenniferlynncary.com.

What’s Your Word?

Every year, I hear it is popular to choose a word to live by for the entire year. I’ve only done this once and because I liked the word so much, I kept it as my word for years. The word was ‘inspire’ and I still like it.

But after a year of major changes with our move to Tennessee bringing me to my knees and causing many tears, I have chosen a new one. It has to do with a personal battle I struggle with.

Like many people, I often scroll through Facebook and see others’ successes. I begin to feel insignificant, like nothing I do matters because I am not a New York Times best-selling author, don’t have gold seal awards on my book covers or have impressive reviews on Amazon.

I confess. I long to be validated and have all those accolades for an impressive writer’s resume.

But are those the reasons for me to write?

In my daily Bible reading, I came across this passage:

Many people say, ‘who will show us better times?’ Let your face smile on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” (Psalm 4:6-8, NLT)

I have to remind myself I write because God has called me to do it. No matter what happens with my writing, I have chosen my word based on my confession and I pray I will always adhere to it.

My word: Humbleness.

Do you have a word for 2023?

If so, what is it? Please share your word in the Comments, and tell me why you chose it.

Tears of Joy for Lola the Rescue Dog

In last week’s blog post I introduced Lola, an approximately 1-year-old border collie/Australian shepherd mix dog I found.

Lola had a sad story, but for now she was happy to be in a warm home, out of the rain and off the street, away from the cars racing dangerously past her.

Unfortunately, my 15 year-old rescue dogs (pictured below) were extremely stressed by her attempts to play and herd them – an instinct found in the kind of dog Lola is.

Aiden, my diabetic alert service dog, just ignored her as a nuisance. Here he is, doing his best to  pretend she doesn’t exist:

When it comes to animals, I love them all, especially dogs. My dream home would be to have hundreds of acres where I could adopt and care for as many dogs as possible and, of course, adopt them to the right homes. There is such a place:

Though my home is big, we don’t have a large yard and it was unfair to keep Lola inside. She learned some skills but needed a better fit for her fur-ever home. We had Lola spayed and vaccinated to make her more adoptable. I asked for prayers and put my request in to God.

While talking about Lola at the chiropractor, a woman with a dog rescue connection overheard me and gave me a contact name. The rescue that took her in vets its prospective adopters rigidly. It all happened within 24 hours – than can only be God answering our prayers! The rescue told us she would be on their website with a different name (Amora) but would most likely be adopted this weekend.

As I hugged Lola and said goodbye, the tears would not stop. She had captured my heart. I’m glad I had her for the time I did. I needed her as much as she needed me.

My New Year’s resolution is fulfilled. Lola will be fit with the perfect home for the rest of her life.

Click here to visit the Sevier County Humane Society, where  Lola (aka, Amora) is currently awaiting adoption.

Finding a Home for a New Furry Friend

Happy 2023!

If you are like the majority of people who make resolutions every New Year, you have already broken at least one of them. This year I have a resolution I want to keep: to find a home for a furry friend.

I was driving home in the rain on a very busy-yet-rural Tennessee road. She was running on the side, ready to dart in front of me. It looked like a rescue video.

Her tail was tucked between her legs, and she was soaking wet and scared. I tossed bits of jerky until she was close enough to slip on a leash. A nearby neighbor filled me in on the dog’s history.

Her name is Lola, and her owner didn’t want her because she belonged to his girlfriend who had just passed away. Lola is approximately a year old, loves to play and is housetrained. I have been able to teach her some of the obedience skills Aiden knows.

My 15-year-old rescue dogs want nothing to do with her. Aiden tolerates her. She is an adorable, Australian shepherd mix, but not a good fit for my fur-family.

If I were in California, there would be dozens of rescue agencies to take her and people wanting to adopt her. But animals are treated differently here – left outside, not fixed and often, running around the neighborhood, making more furry creatures. Rescue agencies are overflowing.

Back to my resolution.

Lola has an appointment to get spayed and vaccinated and after that, hopefully she will find her forever home. But I will have much to say about who gets her.


Find out what happened with Lola in my next post.

The Author Reads – Book Review of ‘The Dog Snatcher,’ by Phyllis Wheeler

The Dog Snatcher

The Dog SnatcherAs a middle-grade book writer (for those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s the age group of third through eighth grade but is not limited to that age group), I tend to read books in my genre. I love books about dogs, and I love my age group.

That’s why I’m excited to review Phyllis Wheeler’s new book, The Dog Snatcher – book one in the Guardians of Time series (released November 1, 2022).

Doesn’t everyone dream of what it would be like to go back in time?

Children love this kind of story as it makes their imaginations run wild. As a former teacher who often served recess duty, I would hear the children using their creativity during playtime. Time travel was definitely part of it.

In The Dog Snatcher, a magic key found at the end of a driveway leads eleven-year-old Jake and his twin sister to a clock shop that helps them travel in time to help find their stolen dog. Many adventures and mishaps ensue for a page-turning read.

It’s a great read for new chapter-book readers, as the chapters are short and illustrated with delightful pictures to enhance the reader’s imagination. I highly recommend this book and look forward to its sequels.

Buy The Dog Snatcher on Amazon

About the Author

Phyllis Wheeler, a homeschooling veteran, loves time-travel stories with a bit of fantasy thrown in. She writes books for kids that feature strong families and a moral compass.

Phyllis is the author of The Long Shadow, a time-travel tale that won a Purple Dragonfly Award and a Moonbeam Award. She and her husband live in St. Louis, where she tends her milkweed garden and hopes for butterflies.

Visit Phyllis at phylliswheeler.com.

The Author Reads – Book Review of ‘Legacy of an Immigrant: Four Generations of Flying,’ by Maria Vezzetti Matson

Maria Vezzetti Matson

I have the privilege of reviewing a soon-to-be-published book. I hope it gets you curious enough to follow the author for more good reads and tracking its publishing date.

My Thoughts

Grieving the loss of a loved one is hard, especially when you are young and don’t know how to deal with your feelings. Maria Vezzetti Matson addresses this subject with grace in her upcoming novel, Legacy of an Immigrant: Four Generations of Flying.

Memories are often the best gift to help heal the burden of grief and Matson uses story to assist in the grieving process.

Maria Vezzetti Matson

Matson is a gifted historical fiction writer, using her family experiences and locations to make this story come to life. Middle grade readers, teachers and adults will enjoy getting to know the characters as they jump to life from the pages. Matson is an author to keep your eyes on for more exciting adventures in children’s fiction.

While I had planned to review this book before its publication, I did not plan for its author to be the grand prize winner in my email blast giveaway. There were 150 entries, and my non-biased person pulled Maria’s ticket out of the box. Maria had so much fun opening the box that she made a YouTube video.

About Maria V. Matson

Matson is an educator, a Yooper (a native inhabitant of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan), and the author of Alone to America and Journey into the Land of Hues: A Physics Fiction Tale of Colors and Discovery.

Contact her at mariavezzettimatsonauthor.com, [email protected] or visit her YouTube channel, The ZiaMia, or her Facebook Page, The Lucchesi Story.