For Better or for Worse

You’ve probably all heard the common complaint: “All I did was reach into a bathroom cabinet when I felt a sudden pain slash through my back.”  Or, “I was just getting up out of my chair when a jolt of pain hit me.”
sneez

In my husband’s case, it was a hard sneeze that brought on the surge of pain in his lower back.  He went through numerous drug trials to no avail; the pain only worsened.  Before long we had to contact 911 and have him admitted to the hospital.

In case you’re wondering why I’ve been absent from this blog for the past couple months, it seemed only right to touch base with you, my faithful readers, and explain. The hospital trip referred to above was only the beginning of a multi-month-long ordeal. During that time, my spouse was kept flat on his back and allowed only a couple of short strolls accompanied by a new friend—a walker.  It was all he could do to stand at a sink and wash his hands or find a comfy spot in the hospital bed.  As a result, that meant a long visit to one of our local therapy “resorts” for assistance.

That also meant more running for yours truly.  I’m one of those people who must be there.  (I think it was implied in the “for better or for worse” portion of our nearly 60-year-old marriage contract.)  But being Johnny—or Mary—on The Spot paid off.  It actually allowed me to see for myself the types of therapy my spouse was receiving and the progress he was making.  In addition, I could stay on top of his medications, as he also has a heart condition and a pacemaker.

By the end of his “tour of duty,” he had gained a hard-shell back brace constructed of rigid plastic to help keep his backbone compressed.  As cumbersome as the brace was, it did ringshelp him walk better.  But then we learned that patients with pacemakers were not to wear such devices, so we switched to another type of brace that’s been more helpful.

Now that my spouse is back home and making a little progress, I can breathe a sigh of relief.  It’s been a long haul, but that’s what we do for someone we care about.  For better or for worse . . .


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The Trouble with Mattie by Mary A.Berger

Dear Readers,

I just wanted to share this awesome review of The Trouble with Mattie. Please feel free to share it, reblog it, or comment on it.

Thanks,

Mare

Valerie Penny's Book Reviews

the-trouble-with-mattieI first read a novel by Mary A. Berger, The Message, last year and reviewed it here https://bookreviewstoday.info/2015/11/30/the-message-by-mary-a-berger/ . When the most recent edition of her first novel came out, I was pleased to receive a copy. I enjoy Mary’s style of writing.

The Trouble with Mattie is actually the first book in her series, although each of the novels stands alone perfectly well. Set in the hills of western North Carolina, The Trouble with Mattie is the story of the youthful, dynamic, comical, and recently widowed Mattalie Morgan In this adventure, Mattie finds herself removed into roomimg house, Autumn Leaves, after a spell in hospital. Mattie has already suffered the death of her husband, so it is her step-daughter, Eva, who arranged this move with no concern for Mattie’s happiness.

Mattie has doubts about Autumn Leaves which she finds are shared by another resident, Clare. So Mattie decides to…

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I’m Hot—He’s Cold!

Ever notice how even the smallest irritation can make you crazy?  I’m talking about the differences we share with our significant other.  Often these quirks are minor and barely worth your time . . . except when they rob you of your sleep and make you feel like screaming.  Here’s where I’m going with this:
thermostatIt was the middle of the night, in the midst of an Arctic blast, but I awoke wringing wet. After rolling out of bed, I plodded down the hall to check the thermostat.  Eighty degrees!
“What kind of greenhouse is he turning this place into?” I muttered, referring to my other half’s chilly-itis condition.  Without a second thought, I turned the temperature down to a normal setting of fifty-five, and even considered turning on the air.  Lately, our internal thermostats had grown as far apart as the North Pole and the desert.  I even wondered if one of those NASA space suits would help.  One evening, I was feeling all warm and cozy, curled up with a new book.  Glancing at my other half, I noticed he was sitting wrapped in his winter coat.  I asked a dumb question. “Are you cold?”
“Vrrrrrr,” was his teeth-chattering reply.
“I’ll get the thermostat,” I said.  After jacking it up one degree, I figured that would do it.
Again, I heard another, “Vrrrrr,” from my spouse.
“I’ll turn it up higher,” said I, on my way back to the thermostat.
“Lots higher,” he called after me.
“Does he want me to melt?” I groused, making a detour at our closet and slipping into a tank top and Bermuda shorts.

I’ve even toyed with the idea of running around the house like Lady Godiva.  That would work, until someone unexpectedly dropped by.  Like our pastor. Or my in-laws.  I can see it now: “What’s going on here!” says mother-in-law, properly mortified. “Come along, Gordon, we’re leaving!”
“Not so fast, Helen.  I’m kinda’ liking it here,” says Gordy with a tricky smile directed at yours truly, who has grabbed sofa cushions to cover all the right spots before fleeing from the room.  Well, you get the picture.

A woman I once knew worked all day and hired Hilda, a housekeeper, tpenguino come in now and then. Over the summer, my friend noticed her electric bills had taken an odd surge.  When she came home early one day, she realized the cause: Hilda was ironing a batch of shirts—while standing in front of the refrigerator with the door wide open. My kind of woman.
Do they make a little portable air conditioner, one you could sling over your shoulder like a tote bag?  They should.  When you felt all hot and bothered, you’d push a button and bam—you’re as cool as a wrap-around ice pack. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to adjust.

Do you suppose NASA rents out those space suits?


If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to share it or reblog it on your own website.  If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page.  You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. And remember, I never share email addresses.
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Mattie Mitchell: That darn near perfect amateur sleuth

Hi, all you Mattie followers.  Hope you didn’t think I had just up and disappeared from the face of the planet.  I haven’t, I assure you.  I’ve been doing some serious thinking about the next situation my slave-driver creator, Mary Berger, has gotten me into.  (What will that woman think of next?)

front-cover-the-messageHere’s a little teaser: Mary has Clare and me working at a local thrift shop, of all places.  People drop in and people drop out—all bringing along items for our inventory, or buying things to take home.  That is, until one mysterious gal, mysterious as in ‘oddball,’ drops by the shop looking for a computer she dropped off. Now she wants the darned thing back.  Her suspicious actions are all it takes to send my curiosity off the Richter scale.  So, when I discover what the woman’s been up to with an online predator who knows where she lives, well . . . it’s too much for yours truly, and I have to poke my nose in—er—I mean get involved.  Actually, I’d better stop right now before I give away the entire plot.

Keep checking here for future updates of Clare’s and my antics. It’s all in the latest book, The Message. You may want to check out my Amazon author page for all my books at: www.amazon.com/author/maryberger

I’d like to leave you with this thought: Have a good laugh today.  They say every time you laugh, you add fifteen minutes to your life span.  If that’s true, Clare and I should easily make it to 100!

Cheers,

Mattie


P.S. The Message is available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.com, as well as in paperback and Nook editions through Barnes & Noble. Order your copy today! (Also a great gift idea for Christmas.)
If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to share it or reblog it on your own website. If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. And remember, I never share email addresses.
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The Message: Newest Mattie Caper

front-cover-the-messageI’m back! While my creator, Mary Berger, is pounding out further adventures about yours truly, I have to tell you about this latest caper she has me—and Clare—involved in.  In The Message, we’re volunteering at a local thrift shop. I’m minding my own business (don’t I always?) when I discover a laptop that someone has dropped off.  Well, when I tap a few keys, this oddball message flashes across the screen.  Not being the nosy type—cough, cough—I give in to my curiosity. Before long, my computer-whiz nephew Scotty is involved, and that’s when the fun begins.  Would you believe I actually want to contact this online creep myself?  Trouble is, I know very little about computers, or the Internet, or chat rooms. And Clare knows even less.

You’ll have to read for yourself how we go about making connections in this wild tale of wacky shenanigans and culprit-manipulation. There’s even a bit of a romantic surprise for Clare that her fans won’t want to miss. (Clare, stop fanning yourself; they get the picture.)

So curl up with The Message and let’s spend some time together.

Mattie


P.S. The Message is available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.com, as well as in paperback and Nook editions through Barnes & Noble.  Order your copy today!  (Also a great gift idea for Christmas.)

If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to share it or reblog it on your own website. If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. And remember, I never share email addresses.
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They mean well, but . . .

Psst . . . Mattie here.  I’ve been eavesdropping.  (No—Really?)   I thought I’d share with you a few, ahem, “observations” of well-meaning, non-writers, whose remarks I just happened to overhear while my creator, Mary A. Berger, was promoting her books.

People mean well, but . . .  Okay, maybe you’ll understand better if I give you a few examples:

mouth-3“Well, if you enjoy writing stories about a nosy amateur sleuth, that’s all that matters. I guess it does give you something to do.”

“How could someone like you write about those awful people? Ugh.”

“Why is this ‘Mattie’ woman always poking her nose in where it doesn’t belong? She should just sit back and let others run things.”    

“Why not write ten books and have them all published at once? It can’t cost that much.”

“You should use a smaller print style.”  mouth-4     

“You should use a larger print style.”

“You should use wingdings print style. That would add a comical touch for publishers to decipher, and they’d pick up on your sense of humor.”

mouth-1  “Where do you get your ideas for stories? From supermarket tabloids?”

And the most notorious remark of all:

“You actually sell these books?”     mouth-2

Mattie again (slumping). These are real comments I’ve heard while sitting in the back row at Mary’s book promos or hanging around her book shows. I might be back another day to share more gems with you.

Meanwhile, (whispering) someone discovered a body in Holy Redeemer’s baptizing tub. Think anyone would mind if I sneaked in and took a few notes? Oh wait. That’s the new story Mary’s working on. (Head slap). Of course I’ll be there! See you then.

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On Grandpa’s Knee

“Tell me a story, Grandpa Charley.”  Those words take me back to the sweltering days of summer vacation, when my sister and I were kids, and there was nothing to do.

Grandpa Charley to the rescue!

My grandfather, Charles Henry Hollow, was born in Cornwall, England. He possessed the awesome ability to recall his days as a young man seeking adventure. Grandpa could spin those tales with accuracy and imagination—captivating us one minute, then scaring the daylights out of us the next. Spontaneous hand gestures, body jerks, and popping eyes were all part of his endearing yarns, and we never knew which “special effects” would prevail.  

One experience Grandpa enjoyed sharing—with my sister and me each propped upon a knee—was when he worked with the famous inventor, Guglielmo Marconi. Grandpa was part of a work crew that helped Marconi span the Atlantic Ocean with his historic wireless message.

In 1901, my grandfather and the others assisted Marconi in erecting sixteen 250-foot poles, along with a weird assortment of wires, all part of the elaborate setup Marconi devised for his wireless. From an experimental station on the English Channel, the crew watched as a wild gale blew in. (For the benefit of his granddaughters, Grandpa provided impressive huffing and puffing sounds to accompany this tale.) The storm leveled all the poles but one. It is said, the inventor was undaunted by the damage, and, soon, according to some versions, went ahead, with what remained, to send the first wireless message across the ocean to Newfoundland.

“What else happened, Grandpa?” we would ask in anticipation.

 “Well, that storm nearly blew all of us into the sea. You should have seen those waves. They were high as a building!” With that, Grandpa Charley’s arms flew upward, nearly sending us giggling and tumbling to the floor.

Later in life, Grandpa Charley worked mainly as a cabinetmaker. His skills took him to the diamond mines in South Africa. There, he became a cabinetry specialist for one of the mining companies. In Grandpa’s work, he preferred using glue, not nails, for better adhesion. As a kid, I still remember that reeking pot of thick, black glue heating outdoors in preparation for one of his carpentry projects.

Along the way, Grandpa Charley became proficient at the game of checkers. Records of his championships are on file both in England and in Michigan. But Grandpa could be quite the trickster: I recall one time when he appeared to be stuck, eyes fixed on his checkerboard. Then he would cast a pitiful look my way and ask, “Honey, could you help me? I’m lost here.”

At first, I jumped at the chance to beat an “old man” at the game and eagerly plowed right in. Then, in expert checkers fashion, he made moves like the pro that he was, and I was trapped—while he enjoyed a good laugh at my expense. I soon learned not to fall for such trickery.

Sometimes, Grandpa would tell stories handed down from the African natives he befriended, often adding one of their rousing campfire songs. My sister and I had such fun learning them, then out doing each other while singing: Hi lo minny minny cocka oocha oocha . . . and other memorable tunes. Well, the songs might have been memorable, though I doubt our singing was.

A fun and interesting man was my Grandpa Charley. Today, as an adult, I have only one regret, and that is simply that I cannot climb upon his knee and beg, “Tell me a story, Grandpa—please?” If he were still around, I’m certain he would be more than happy to oblige . . . hand gestures, popping eyes and all.


If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to share it or reblog it on your own website. If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. And remember, I never share email addresses.
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