Posts Categorized: Thoughts from Christy

Fowl Doctor

Late one Saturday night my husband showed me we had two ducks sleeping on our front lawn. We live in downtown Morristown and are nowhere near a body of water, so I was amazed to watch them.

I guess we disturbed them, as they got up and waddled across the street, then for some reason decided to waddle back. I watched in horror as a car came over the hill and struck them both. I grabbed a box and some towels and went to the rescue.

One was instantly killed and the other lay struggling in the middle of the street. I quickly removed them to our screened back porch for triage. There wasn’t much I could do at first, so I wrapped the deceased duck for removal and put the live duck in a covered box.

I was relieved to find it alive on Sunday morning. She had an injured wing, a bloody eye, and what looked like a broken foot.

Kevin built a screen to put between the duck and the straw and I got some feed and electrolytes for ducks to put in her water to help with hydration.

I also googled “how to wrap a duck’s broken wing and leg” and “how to clean a duck’s eye.”

Am I crazy?

I thought so, but my heart ached for God’s creation, and I couldn’t just let nature take its course. I checked for rescue agencies, but they are few and far away.

So for now, I am a fowl doctor to “Mallory,” a name my son gave to the duck.

No. I’m not keeping her. She is improving a lot and I plan to release her in a week or two. I have found a farm to take her, and hope she’ll be content there or move on when she’s ready.

On Being a Writer

I find it hard to believe we have already been residing in Tennessee for two years. Time seems irrelevant when one is retired. Although, I’m not really retired. My husband is. I always dreamed of this time when he could kick back and support my writing endeavors and I could write us off into the sunset on my success.

Well, as the saying goes, “the best laid plans” is true as I’ve found life does not always go the way we want it to. Even though I am writing novels, articles and stories for anthologies, I still don’t feel I am pulling my weight. In fact, to be honest, even though I am pursuing my second-grade dream, in the eyes of the world, I am not a success. I’m spending more than I have made.

As I press on, many would call what I do a hobby. But most people don’t realize how much work goes into being a writer.

Here’s a little insight:

Words don’t always come easy to a novelist. If I were to write 2,000 words a day, every day of a month, like I did during the November NaNoWriMo challenge, I could finish a novella. A regular novel is 85,000 to 100,000 or more words.

Every story takes time – a lot more time to write than it does to read. If the writer has a publisher, the finished manuscript goes to them next, and a whole process of editing takes place. The editing process often includes three steps: general edit, concept edit, and line edit.

There is also cover art to consider, but most of the time the writer has no say in this decision. Needless to say, it all takes time – a lot of time.

Before and after the book is published, there is marketing to do. Most marketing is the responsibility of the author. Here is where the readers can help the writer by leaving reviews on every website that sells books.

Marketing is a whole other blog topic, but necessary for the success of the author. And again, marketing takes time – time away from writing more, not to mention the cost of promoting your writing.

I’m sure most writers enjoy creating their stories for their awaiting fans. But for those of you who have other occupations, being an author is not a cushy position to be taken lightly. Writing is hard work and is a financial investment. But those of us who do it, love it and will keep writing until we go to Heaven.

But in the meantime, I hope to make a profit one day.

For the Love of Charlie Brown

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the Peanuts comic strip? Is it Snoopy or perhaps the Peanuts’ Christmas Special? For me, it will forever be Charlie Brown.

My daddy loved Peanuts.

I remember him laughing out loud as he read it every Sunday. Charles Schultz was a genius cartoonist, especially with the lead character. My daddy related to Charlie Brown in ways I will probably never know. He was a real-life Charlie Brown.

Dad always had a goofy grin on his face, like Charlie Brown, especially if he was pleased with something.

In the winter he wore the same kind of hat and took the same stance with his hands shoved in his pockets.

The funniest comparison, however, is of my parents. While shopping for a Father’s Day present, I found a figurine of Lucy preparing to pull the football out from Charlie Brown as he contemplates whether he should try to kick it again.

My mother behaved much like Lucy. It’s almost comedic thinking about it now, but also sad.

Even though Charlie Brown and my dad were often overlooked and given the short straw, both of them stayed strong and overcame.

Thanks to my sister, Cindy Thomas, for sharing this photo.

They both had good friends and family that loved them. They both tried their best to make a difference in a difficult world that sometimes worked against them. They persevered with great faith.

There are many more comparisons to be made; these few only scratch the surface. I will cherish that round-headed kid with the goofy grin because my daddy lives through him.

A Lesson in Obedience

My sister gave me a hilarious Christmas present this year. It sits on my desk and reminds me of a traumatic childhood experience I could have avoided.

It’s a Locket Doll made by Mattel in the early 1970s.

Once upon a time when I was in first grade, I got a Lucky Lois Locket Doll.

She was encased in a locket that hung on a chain around my neck. I could conveniently take her out and play with her. When I was finished, I’d tuck her safely away inside the locket.

I absolutely loved her and wanted to wear her everywhere I went, even to school. But that morning my mother told me to leave her at home. Like any kid who wants their way, I sneaked my Lucky Lois Locket Doll in my jacket pocket and put her on the minute I got to school.

When break for recess came, we were taken to the bathroom before going outside. In my little stall, I turned to push the flusher and found out my Lucky Lois wasn’t so lucky after all. She fell out of the locket and to my horror, got sucked down the toilet before I could reach in and rescue her.

In shock, I dashed out to find my teacher and tell her my woeful story. Her silly solution – I still laugh about to this day – was to contact the water treatment plant and see if the doll would come up in one of their filters. It was a possibility since I lived in a small town.

I don’t remember what my mother said when I told her. All I know is I felt sick because all I had to wear now was an empty locket.

The Bible says in Samuel 15:22:

“…to obey is better than sacrifice.”

I disobeyed my mother and ended up sacrificing (un)Lucky Lois to the sewer.

The next time my mother told me not to do something and I really wanted to do it, I thought of poor Lucky Lois and chose obedience.

What in the World is Lefse? (lef-suh)

An entire week into the new year and I am still enjoying the fruits of my holiday labors. I am feasting on a Scandinavian delicacy called lefse. It looks like a tortilla but is made from potatoes.

My Minnesotan grandmother used to make it all the time and I loved it. But when I moved to California, I could only dream of enjoying it.

Whenever I visited Minnesota or drove through Kingsburg (in the middle of Central California and known for its Scandinavian population), I’d stock up on the delicacy and keep it frozen.

I would have to explain what lefse is to my friends and family. We tried to make it once but didn’t have the proper tools.

A couple of years ago I got exactly what I wanted for Christmas: all the tools necessary to make lefse. You can’t just roll it out and fry it. One needs a special rolling pin covered in cloth, a flat surface covered in cloth, a turning tool, and an extremely hot griddle.

I was thrilled to open exactly what I’d asked for that year but since we were in the middle of a move to Tennessee, I didn’t use it until the following Christmas.

By that time, I made a friend who loves lefse as much as I do, and this year was our second year of making it together.

It’s a tedious project, but worth every minute, especially if you’re Swedish or Norwegian.

Traditionally, you spread butter and sprinkle sugar, then roll it up and enjoy it like a pastry. Some folks use cream cheese and jelly, but I’m a traditionalist.

If you visit me around the holidays, I’ll share some lefse with you!

Highlights of 2023

Whenever a new year rolls around, I reflect on what the last year brought and try my best to make plans for the upcoming months.

I used to make resolutions, but most of the time they were impossible to keep. I gave up making resolutions ago. Listing good things and events that happened reminds me to look forward to even better times ahead.

Here are a few of my good things from 2023:

My family grew. I gained a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law and a puppy!

I enjoyed visiting my writing friends I love and miss.

I also spent time with new writing friends.

I got to see my only sister and spend a week with her in Northern California.

We traveled across the upper United States with an extended stay in Utah (yes, it made the highlight reel).

Mom and Dad Hoss moved close by, only ten minutes away.

Those are just a few of the highlights. I’m looking forward to exciting new things for the coming year, including my daughter and husband moving to Tennessee! SQUEAL!

May you be blessed in 2024 with new beginnings.

The Cheer of Free Art

Life hasn’t exactly been what we hoped for the past couple of months. When we were stranded in Ogden, Utah, for two weeks in September while my father-in-law was in the hospital, I felt like I was traveling through a long dark tunnel where the light at the end was always out of my reach.

But once we were able to hit the road, things started to look up. We desperately wanted to get home, so, traveling in our gently used RV, we hit the road as the sun set and drove through the night over the mountain pass just to get out of Utah, finally, and into another state, Wyoming.

It really is true that travelers park at Walmart to sleep. At three in the morning, we pulled into the parking lot between another RV and a big rig for what was left of the night.

The entire experience drained me of energy, joy and hope. Even though I still trusted God, my emotions were harsh and unpredictable with the dark hole of depression threatening to swallow me. But God brought some cheer to my drear when we rolled into an RV park in Kearney, Nebraska.

I was drawn to the park’s little lending library. Maybe I could get lost in choosing a new book to read and if I took one, I’d send them one when I returned home. Instead of picking out a book, what I found was someone’s artwork, neatly packaged in a Ziplock baggie.

I thought it odd to have art mixed in with books until I turned it over to read the backside.

I’d never heard of such a thing as “free art,” but I like the thought behind it. Under normal circumstances, I would not take the art but leave it for someone else more needy. But I truly needed it. It brought me some joy in my darkness. A brighter light in my tunnel. When I look at the art, I am reminded that a stranger was thoughtful enough to bring me kindness when I needed it most.

By the way, there’s a public Facebook Community called Abandoned Art, if you’d like to see examples of free art that people create and find.

To finish the story and get some closure for me, I mailed copies of all my books to the RV hosts with a thank you. I may never meet the person who left the happy little hand-painted picture of birdhouses, but I will never forget how their kindness brought me hope. For that, I am forever grateful.

Writers Need Writers

There are Facebook groups for every cause, or, if you are old-school like me, there are in-person groups, also known as support groups.

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I quickly learned I need other diabetics and started a support and education group that met twice a month.

When I first expressed my desire to write, a friend invited me to a writing critique group, where I met my good friend, Michelle Ule.

The group inspired me to attend writing conferences where I learned the craft and met hundreds of writers and others in the business.

The same friend who invited me to the writer group, a few years later started another writing group.

When we moved to Tennessee, I wished I could have taken my writing friends with me.

They helped me make decisions concerning my middle-grade novel series, The Rubber Band, and were very encouraging, inspiring me to keep writing on a regular basis. I missed them terribly and felt I would never find another group.

But God has answered the desire of my heart. I am pleased to have hosted a writing critique group with my friends Sharon Schuller Kiser and Laurie Herlich. We spent nearly four hours talking shop and going over our red-lined submissions.

Sharon Schuller Kiser, Christy Hoss and Laurie Herlich

Every writing group is unique and I count all of my writing experiences as useful and educational, but mostly, I value the relationships that have come from them.

I need my writing friends to keep me going and am thankful for each and every one of them.

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.