A Touching Winter Poem

Christmas is over, the lights are being taken down, the last drop of eggnog has been drained from the carton and the world is in a fine mode of blah. Realizing that, I thought you might like something to help you deal with the mid-winter jickers.

A friend sent this in an email, and it's a beautiful, well written winter poem that cheered me up. I thought it might be a comfort to you, as well.

by Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre

Dang, it's cold!
The End


Christmas Cats

Photos from Icanhascheezburger.com and posted by Cindy Beck

With my favorite holiday just a few days away, I'd like to thank all of my readers, family, and friends for their support. The attendance at book signings for Mormon Mishaps has been wonderful, as well as sales of the book. Plus, I couldn't ask for more loyal readers here at the blog. You all are awesome!

Meowy Christmas to everyone!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


LAST WEEK'S WINNER : Congrats to ALI CROSS on winning the Baskin Robbins gift certificates. Please contact me no later than midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 23 to claim your prize. Send me an email with your mailing address and phone number at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com. Or at any other address you might have for me.

If the prize isn't claimed by Wednesday, it will be re-offered in a future contest. All previous contestants for that particular prize will be entered into the new drawing, along with the new entries.

No giveaways for a week or two, because you'll all be getting so many Christmas gifts you won't need a giveaway. Right? :) But I'll start them up again in 2010. Watch for drawings for coupons for free cereal and other great prizes. (That's assuming, of course, the companies get a move on and get them to me! :)

My Brand New Do ... by C.L. Beck

Did you notice the new look to my blogsite? The talented and amazingly creative, Karlene Browning, at Desert Rose Designs set up it up for me.

Karlene will be launching her new site, Desert Rose Designs, in January and will offer a plethora of fun services for authors and bloggers.

Did I hear you ask, "Such as what?"

Well, I'm glad you brought that up (and without any prompting, too). Here, stolen swiped borrowed from her website, is the list of offerings:

* Book Design—cover and interior
* Marketing Materials for Authors—business cards, postcards, signing posters, and more
* Free Blogger backgrounds
* Custom Blog headers
* Custom Blog design
* Personal cards
* Mommy cards
* and More

Now for the disclaimer. The ATF FDIC DoYouSeeWhatISee ... well, one of those government agencies that is all initials ... requires that I tell you Karlene did this terrific job for me as a gift. I've been a fan of her blogging backgrounds for a long time and have told her so many times. The other day, when out of the kindness of her heart she offered to revamp my old, looked-like-it-was-built-by-a-third-grader site, I said, "Yes, yes, YES!"

And isn't it awesome?

So, thanks to Karlene, an amazing whiz of a woman, and a wonderful friend!

For those who are wondering how the Mormon Mishaps book launch went, it was fantastic. You'll be glad to know I showed up in more than just my underwear! (No, I'm not an exhibitionist, click here to read about my book launch nightmares last week.)

We sold out of the store's 40 copies in the first half hour and after that were into selling from our own stash. THANK YOU to all those who came to see us and purchased books. You're the best!

A little something to make you smile:

funny pictures of cats with captions
See more Lolcats and funny pictures.


LAST WEEK'S WINNER : Congrats to CONNIE HALL on winning the Greg Olsen calendar. Connie, please contact me no later than midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 16 to claim your prize. Send me an email with your mailing address and phone number at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com. Or at any other address you might have for me.

If the prize isn't claimed by Wednesday, it will be re-offered in a future contest. All previous contestants for that particular prize will be entered into the new drawing, along with the new entries.

$6 in Baskin Robbins Gift Certificate. (This prize is from a previous contest, was not claimed in time, and is being re-offered.)

THE PRODUCT: Yum! Ice cream! Need I say more?

MY OPINION: Woo-ha! Eggnog ice cream, or peanut butter and chocolate, or whatever flavor tickles your tummy is bound to be good.

Click here for disclaimer about my opinion.

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this article. If you're at a loss for thoughts, you might pop over to Desert Rose Designs and then tell me what you like most about Karlene's site.

Deadline to enter is by midnight Friday, December 18.

Winner will be announced no later than Monday, December 21.

Book Launch Nightmares ... by C.L. Beck

© C.L. Beck, 2009

Not to do self-promotion here, but … okay, so maybe just a little self-promotion … my co-author, Nichole Giles, and I have our very first book launch coming up on Wednesday, Dec 9, 6-9p at the Barnes and Noble, in Orem, UT. I’m calm about it. No nerves at all. Just nightmares all night long, and dry heaves during the day.

Recently, several of my author friends have held book launches. That's very exciting, and since I've heard horror stories about book launches gone awry, I’d like to offer my jealous envy sincere congratulations to friends who’ve managed to live through one.

Even though I’ve never done a launch before, I have a pretty good idea—due to warnings by friends and the nightmares I've been having—what the top ten worst fiascoes would be for me.

1. The bookstore orders my book, but instead receives seventy copies of "Tales of a Stripper."
2. The bookstore parking lot is closed off for resurfacing at one end and to accommodate the new In and Out Burger at the other.
3. Aaackk! I’ve shown up in nothing but my underwear.
4. I made it to the store in one piece, I remembered to bring a tablecloth and I'm signing books ... at a table in the restroom.
5. Aw, drat, I forgot a pen and all that’s on hand is a crayon.
6. Umm, I’m sure I knew it once upon a time, but I have no clue what my name is.
7. Cramp, cramp, I have a cramp in both hands.
8. Gas, gas, I have really bad gas. I should not have eaten that double bean burrito.
9. I’m signing two doors down from Sarah Palin.
10. The power has failed and it won’t be on again until morning.

So, wish me luck, dear friends, and if you get a chance, stop by to say hi on December 9 at the Orem Barnes and Noble. I promise I’ll be wearing something more than just my underwear.

What's playing in my head: The Restroom Door Said Gentleman by The Bob Rivers Comedy Corp.


LAST WEEK'S WINNER : Congrats to CATHY WITBECK on winning the Baskin Robbins gift certificates. Cathy, please contact me no later than midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 9 to claim your prize. Send me an email with your mailing address and phone number at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com. Or at any other address you might have for me.

If the prize isn't claimed by Wednesday, a new winner will be drawn.

A 2010 Greg Olsen calendar, autographed in gold ink by the artist himself—with his own hands—while I stood watching nearby.

THE PRODUCT: Greg is a fantastic artist and his paintings are filled with light and warmth. The calendar is beautiful.

MY OPINION: Ooo, somebody tell me again ... why did I ever tell Greg I'd give this calendar away, instead of keeping it for myself?

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this article. Any comment you want. I'll choose one, for whatever reason as determined by my little pea brain. Or possibly by Corky Porky Pie's little dog brain, which is significantly smaller than a pea.

Deadline to enter is by midnight Friday, December 11.

Winner will be announced no later than Monday, December 14.

Tis the Season ... by C.L. Beck

Received in an email, photographer unknown.

Thanksgiving is over. It's time to drag out those tangled Christmas lights, climb on the roof and then spend hours putting them up, so that at the very end you can accidentally slide off the garage and land in the hospital.

Or ... you could do it this way. (Look at the house to the left and then the one on the right.)

Really, you gotta admire the guy's ingenuity!

What's playing in my head: The Twelve Pains of Christmas by The Bob Rivers Comedy Corp.



LAST WEEK'S WINNER : Congrats to Nichole Giles on winning the Yoplait Kids insulated lunch bag. Nichole, please contact me no later than midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 2 to claim your prize. Send me an email with your mailing address and phone number at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

If the prize isn't claimed by Wednesday, a new winner will be drawn.

$6 Baskin Robbins gift certificate

THE PRODUCT: You'll seriously want to win this, because Baskin Robbins has the best eggnog ice cream in the universe!

Please note that is my personal opinion. Baskin Robbins did not give me any animals, minerals, or vegetables in exchange for my thoughts, and my words should not be construed as an endorsement, testimonial, or anything like unto it.

MY OPINION: What? I need to give it again? Okay, B&R has the best eggnog ice cream west of the Pecos. Where ever in the heck the Pecos is.

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this article . While you're at it, slip over to my sidebar, subscribe to my newsletter (it only goes out once a week and is short) and tell me about it in your comment. Or tell me if you're already subscribed, and it will give you an extra entry. Deadline to enter is by midnight Friday, December 4.

Winner will be announced no later than Monday, December 7.

Looking for Fun ... and a Contest!

© C.L. Beck, 2009

The whole social networking thing had me baffled for the longest time. Why would anyone want to spend their day announcing to the world that they just blew their nose, or they had broccoli stuck in their teeth?

However, when one of my publishers said, "It's a good idea for my authors to join Facebook and Twitter," in that soothing, do-it-or-die tone of voice, I decided all on my own to join.

Now, though, I'm worried. When I'm on line doing the social networking scene, does it mean I can catch an on line social disease? Something with a catchy (no pun intended) name like, Going-going-gone-orheeha?

I'm not sure. All I know is that the other day, I wanted to post a note about the Ephraim Co-op holiday craft fair. It seemed like a simple thing to do and I was pretty positive that despite my history of never being on the cutting edge of anything ... except maybe a steak knife ... I could accomplish it with class and decorum.

I typed in my note, which asked people if they were looking for something fun to do for the holiday weekend and then instructed them to go to Ephraim.

Whenever a note is posted on Facebook, the site always puts the postor postum Post Toasties postee's name first, so people know it's not from some impostor with broccoli in his teeth, pretending he belongs to Facebook.

When I finished entering my note it read, "Cindy Beck: Looking for fun for the Thanksgiving weekend? Then head down to the Ephraim Co-op for the holiday craft fair."

When I clicked the little button to post the information, I realized immediately that Facebook didn't love me. It split my entry so the first line read, "Cindy Beck: Looking for fun."

Then it put the remainder of the note further below.

How many people are on Facebook? Millions? Needless to say, all my years of Catholic high school kicked in and I was mortified, but there was no undoing the announcement.

For all of you who read that entry, may read it, or hope to read it, please take note. Most people think I'm fun, but despite what Facebook says, I most certainly am not the kind of girl who's looking for fun!

At least not the kind of fun that's followed by Going-going-gone-orheeha.

What's playing in my head: Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper.



LAST WEEK'S WINNER : Congrats to Carol L. on winning the Twilight-inspired fragrance. Carol, please contact me no later than midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 25 to claim your prize. Send me an email with your mailing address and phone number at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

If the prize isn't claimed by Wednesday, a new winner will be drawn.

A Yoplait kid's prize pack that includes a coupon for a free six pack of Yoplait Kid's yogurt, a kid's insulated lunch bag, place mat, and spoon. This is a really cute prize pack that your kids (or grandkids) will love.

(The coupon offer for a free six pack of Yoplait Kids yogurt is not valid in some states, including Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota and Tennessee.)

THE PRODUCT: Yoplait sent me a gift pack, along with a coupon for free yogurt so that I could test out their new YoPlait Trix yogurt.

Here's what they have to say about it:
Everybody knows that "Trix is for kids." That's why Trix yogurt is the most fun and colorful yogurt, with two colors in every cup and "kids-only" fruity flavors like Wildberry Blue and Strawberry Banana Bash!

While kids love the great taste and the double blast of color under every lid, Moms love the wholesome goodness of real Yoplait® yogurt.

Yoplait, the only leading yogurt with vitamin D in every cup!

I tried the Triple Cherry/Wild Blueberry flavor and loved it. Since I'm a person who uses kid's sparkle toothpaste, and still loves the flavor of bubblegum, it's a pretty safe bet that if I enjoyed the yogurt, kids will, too. The colors are bright, the flavor is great, and I just finished up my third cup of it a few minutes ago, so that tells you something.

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this article . While you're at it, slip over to my sidebar and click to become a follower ... or tell me if you're already a follower ... and it will give you an extra entry. Deadline to enter is by midnight Friday, November 27.

Winner will be announced no later than Monday, Nov 30, and will have until midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 2, to contact me or ... sorry ... another winner will be chosen. Email me at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

(This giveaway sponsored by Yoplait and MyBlogSparkTM .)


"Mormon Mishaps" is at the Printer ... and ... a Twilight-inspired Perfume Contest

Mormon Mishaps and Mischief
(my latest, co-authored book) has gone to the printers! To let you share in that excitement, plus to give you the weekly chuckle, here's an anecdote from the book.

From Mormon Mishaps and Mischief: "A Good Impression" by Cathy Witbeck

One lovely Easter Sunday when I was a little girl, my mother put me in the frilly new dress my grandmother had bought me, combed out my ringlets, and washed my face. We wanted to make a good impression. At church, we met Grandma, and I thanked her in my baby girl voice for my sweet new dress. I especially thanked her for my new matching purse. Then I showed her what I had found in the barn to put inside: a dead mouse. My dad laughed. My mom didn’t.

Can I just say how pleased my co-author, D.N. (Nichole) Giles, and I are about the book? We're doing the Snoopy dance! (For those who don't know what that is, it's the little dance Snoopy does whenever he's excited.)

You can pre-order Mormon Mishaps even as we speak ... er ... I mean write, at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com or Borders. It will officially be available in bookstores around December 8th.

But ... it will also definitely be at Barnes and Noble (Orem store) on December 9th. Yes, save that date because we're having a book launch party!

Everyone is invited. Yup, EVERYONE!

We're planning on including readings by our contributors, treats, prizes, and of course, plenty of copies of Mormon Mishaps and Mischief for signings. Come join the fun and get an autographed copy ... or two! They make great Christmas gifts!

When: Dec. 9, 2009, from 6-9PM
Where: The Orem Barnes and Noble, 330 E 1300 S (University Parkway), Orem, Utah

So, remember to mark your calendar for December 9th, and I'll see you there! If you live out of state, can't make it to the book launch and are interested in an autographed copy, email me at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com, and I'll see what I can do.

Okay, let me take a deep breath ... in comes the good air, out goes the bad air ... and move on to the next exciting item.

Custom Scents Online has created a line of fragrances inspired by the Twilight characters, and to celebrate the upcoming movie release, they’re giving away a sampler bottle of perfume. I jumped at the chance to participate because I know so many of you are Twilight fans. Plus, it gave me the chance to try out a free sample of my own. I chose "Bella" and love the scent of jasmine in it.

The fragrances are wonderful ... yes, really wonderful. There's one for each Twilight character, and so there's sure to be one you'll love! And that includes fragrances for guys, as well.

A number of blogs are holding the contest and my blog is the last one scheduled, but once all the contests have been run, one lucky commenter will also be randomly drawn to win the grand prize of a full bath and body set in the scent of choice. How great is that?

You'll find the specifics about entering below.


LAST WEEK'S WINNER : Congrats to Valerie Ipson on winning the Yoplait YoPlus prize pack! Valerie, please contact me no later than midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 18 to claim your prize. Send me an email with your mailing address at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

If the prize isn't claimed by Wednesday, a new winner will be drawn.

As mentioned above, I'm giving away a sampler bottle of choice of a Twilight-inspired perfume. However, you only have until midnight on THURSDAY, November 20, 2009, to enter.

How to Enter:
1. Visit www.customscentonline.com and select the fragrance you'd like if you win the contest.
2. Come back to my blog and leave the name of that fragrance in your comment. If you'd like, while you're here, slip over to my sidebar and sign up to become a follower of my blog. Mention that you're a follower, and it'll give you another entry in my contest.
3. You may also comment at all participating blogs to increase your chances of winning the Grand Prize. Click on the "Twilight Inspired Fragrances" button in the sidebar (to the right), for the list of blogs.
5. You may comment at any of the participating blogs up through November 20th, even if the contest is over at the other blogs, and still be entered to win the Grand Prize.
6. Prizes are only shipped to addresses within the U.S.

*Winner will be announced no later than Monday, Nov 23, and will have until midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 25, to contact me or ... sorry ... another winner will be chosen. Email me at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.*

(Disclaimer: Please note my family members are encouraged, enticed, and eligible to comment on my thoughts, but unfortunately, are ineligible to enter the contests.)

What's playing in my head: The Snoopy Theme by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

Serious Thoughts for Veteran's Day ... by Cindy Beck

A Tribute to Freedom: "As Long as My Heart Beats"

Despite the fact that I usually write humor, certain circumstances require deeper thoughts. Veteran’s Day is one of those occasions.

My dad served in the Air Force as a career military man, and he’s now retired. I have been, and always will be, proud of him and the way in which he served his country, and his willingness to go to war to defend our liberties.

It’s to him, and to all valiant veterans, that I dedicate the following thoughts on freedom.

As Long as My Heart Beats
© 2009 Cindy Beck

What can be written about freedom that hasn’t already been penned? The words of our American forefathers—far more articulate and expressive than anything I could ever compose—declare our right to freedom in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”1

All I can give then, are my simple thoughts ….

Freedom is what gives me the right to walk the hills at daybreak, watching the pink and gold clouds caress the mountaintops, with no worry that someone will demand a passport, papers, or even ask why I choose wandering instead of working at a government stipulated job.

The meadowlark’s tune in the canyon sings to me of those who came before—men and women of bravery and courage, who loved liberty more than life and willingly gave their all, making the supreme sacrifice so that I might listen, in peace and free from bondage, to that lark’s lilting song.

A stone’s throw away lies a brook that ripples and laughs on its way to the mighty sea. It speaks to me of freedom to worship a Heavenly Father, to gather with other believers on a bright Sabbath morn and express our love of God in songs, that like the babblings of the brook, rise to the heavens—a right granted with no restrictions by a government that would curtail beliefs in the Holy One of Israel.

And yet, that brook also gurgles of the rights of others to not worship any supreme being at all. Freedom has not always been, but ever should be, universal. All mankind, not just Americans, have been “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” And I, like the stream, must be willing to allow—no, not just to allow but to encourage—freedom to flow to others, even when their beliefs are different than mine.

The dark-eyed doe that browses on the tender grass reminds me of the right to bear arms, not only as a means to obtain food, but as a protection against an unrighteous government—perhaps foreign, perhaps not—that would choose to rob me of the precious freedoms that I hold dear.

The fawn that suckles near her side causes my heart to swell with gratitude for the liberty to not only choose to procreate but also to decide the number of little feet that might pitter-patter through my life. Freedom insures that the dark-haired, Down syndrome daughter holds as much worth as the blond-haired, highly intelligent son, and that no parent has to choose the life of one over the other.

It is freedom that allows me to attempt to convey in my own simple words the eloquent truths that Thomas Jefferson expressed so well. And as long as my heart beats and forever after, it is my hope that freedom will reign in this great country.


This article sponsored by YourLDSNeighborhood.com. Please show your appreciation by returning to and browsing through the Neighborhood!


CONTEST WINNERS: Nichole Giles, you're the winner of the Progresso soup mugs and spoons! Please contact me no later than midnight on Wednesday, Nov 11 to claim your prize. Send me an email with your mailing address at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

If the prize isn't claimed by Wednesday, a new winner will be drawn.

THIS WEEK'S GIVEAWAY: A really cool, “Get Healthy” prize pack that includes a stylish sports bag, sports towel, ear buds and two free coupons* for any flavor of the new YoPlus Light yogurt.
*Please note: Free coupons are not valid in Louisiana, Nevada and North Dakota.

THE PRODUCT: Yoplait was kind enough to send me a gift pack that included a coupon for their new YoPlus Light Yogurt. They had the following to say about their new product:

YoPlus Light yogurt is a quick, healthy snack that also helps regulate your digestive system without compromising calorie intake or taste!

With only 70 calories, YoPlus Light contains a special blend of probiotic cultures, 3 grams of natural dietary fiber and the same great taste you expect from Yoplait. Even better, YoPlus Light is now available in three new delicious flavors – Key Lime Pie, Honey Vanilla and Strawberry Banana – and is already available in supermarkets nationwide.

MY OPINION: I tried the Strawberry Banana and found it to be really tasty, with chunks of strawberry through out and a creamy texture that almost (almost) reminded me of ice cream. I'd love to try the Key Lime Pie and think that's what I'll use my second free coupon on.

Over the weekend, I picked up a stomach bug and nothing settled well. Last night, when my stomach was churning, I ate a cup of YoPlus yogurt. I'm not giving a medical endorsement here, nor claiming you'll have the same results, but I can tell you it was one of the few things that I could eat without discomfort.

Also, when my husband, Russ, saw the sports bag in my complimentary gift pack from Yoplait, he liked it so much he wanted to claim it as his own. Methinks I need to start hiding my gift packs.

HOT TIP: You can now download a $1.00 off coupon for YoPlus Light here.

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this blog entry telling what you do for digestive health (or any other comment you'd like). Contest ends Friday, Nov 13, 2009 at midnight.

*Winners will be announced no later than Monday, Nov 16, and will have until midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 18, to contact me at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com, or ... sorry ... another winner will be chosen.*

This giveaway sponsored by Yoplait and MyBlogSparkTM

COMING NEXT WEEK: Win a sampler bottle of Twilight-inspired custom scents! You won't want to miss out on this contest. Starts Nov. 16, here at my blog!

Please note that my family members are encouraged, enticed, and eligible to comment on my thoughts, but unfortunately, are ineligible to enter the contests.

Crash Landing ... and Progresso Soup Mug Giveaway

Posted by Cindy Beck

As he reviewed pilot crash reports, my Air Force military science professor stumbled upon this understated entry: "After catastrophic engine failure, I landed long. As I had no power, the landing gear failed to deploy and no braking was available. I bounced over the stone wall at the end of the runway, struck the trailer of a truck while crossing the perimeter road, crashed through the guardrail, grazed a large pine tree, ran over a tractor parked in the adjacent field, and hit another tree. Then I lost control."

From: The Good Clean Funnies.


CONTEST WINNERS: Taffy Lovell, you're the winner of the bottle of lavender oil! Please contact me no later than midnight on Wednesday, Nov 4 to claim your bottle of lavender oil. Send me an email with your mailing address at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

If the prize isn't claimed by Wednesday, a new winner will be drawn.

THIS WEEK'S GIVEAWAY: Prize pack that includes two Progresso soup mugs and spoons!

I recently received word from Progresso about four new Progresso soups that have 28% of the recommended Daily Value of fiber per serving (7 grams) and have no artificial flavors. The new varieties include Chicken Tuscany, Creamy Tomato Basil, Hearty Vegetable and Noodles and Homestyle Minestrone.

Progresso was kind enough to send me a gift pack that included a can of their new Chicken Tuscany soup to review. I'm not usually a big fan of the Italian-flavored soups, but I really enjoyed this one. It had wonderful flavor and I loved the white beans in it.

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this blog entry telling me which of the above Progresso, high fiber soups sound good to you (or, you can leave any other comment, as well). Contest ends Friday, Nov 6, 2009 at midnight.

*Winners will be announced no later than Monday, Nov 9, and will have until midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 11, to contact me at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com, or ... sorry ... another winner will be chosen.*

Disclaimer: Please note that my family members are encouraged, enticed, and eligible to comment on my thoughts, but unfortunately, are ineligible to enter the contests.)

(This giveaway sponsored by Progresso and MyBlogSparkTM)
What's playing in my head: Animal Crackers in My Soup.

Slippers and the Ghost ... by C.L. Beck

A Ghost Story that Makes You Wonder

© C.L. Beck, 2009

We've never been big believers in ghosts—at least, not the kind that floats in the treetops on Halloween night, giving the trick-or-treaters a chill. And when my husband, Russ, and I moved into our hundred-year-old home in Ephraim, UT, we didn't even give a moment's consideration to the fact that it might be haunted. That is, until we rescued a Siamese-mix cat from a Salt Lake City animal shelter.

We named her Slippers because she had little white markings on her paws that resembled … well … slippers. She’d sit looking into space, her sapphire eyes crossed, which made us wonder if she saw everything in double vision. Her unfocused gaze sometimes gave me the whim-whams and even Russ commented on it. (No, not on my whim-whams. On what Slippers was seeing.)

"What do you think she's doing, staring into the distance like that?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "I don’t know. Figuring out her taxes? That’s how I look when I’m doing them. Cross-eyed and spaced out.”

We usually closed the door to the TV room when we watched television and Slippers loved to sleep on the back of the couch. Or on Russ’s head. It wasn't long after we brought her home that we noticed an odd phenomenon. When we sat in the TV room with her, the door would slowly swing open.

The place had its share of creaks and groans, but what old house didn't? Creaks, groans, and a door that opens by itself aren't indicators that a house is haunted. Right?

Or … (scary organ music plays) … are they?

For a short while we dismissed the "haunted house with a ghost" idea, until one evening when the TV room door swung open by itself once again. Slippers had been sitting, cleaning her face, and when the door opened, she stopped and stared at it. Then, her eyes followed something as it moved slowly across the room.

The hairs on Russ’s head stood on end. All two of them. A chill ran down my back, and I gave a shiver. Russ jumped up from the couch, and walked over to see if there was a small moth or insect flying in the air where Slippers stared.

He waved his hands around as if directing traffic. Nothing. Not even so much as a gnat, waiting to make a left turn.

The scene repeated itself for the rest of Slippers' life. Some days the ghost would open the door and Slippers would watch the doorway for a second and then go back to sleep. Other times, the ghost would open the door and the cat would follow it with her eyes as it crossed the room.

Naturally, not wanting to believe in the “creepy haunted house” theory, we always attributed it to the “Slippers is just a weird-o cat” theory.

Slippers lived with us for fourteen years, and we grew accustomed to the ghost who came to visit. Even though we didn't believe in ghosts. And when we laid Slippers to rest in a little spot out on the back half-acre, it never dawned on us that the ghost would no longer haunt the house but would go with Slippers.

To our recollection, however, the TV room door hasn't opened on its own since Slippers passed away. It makes us wonder. Did a ghost come with Slippers when we rescued her from the animal shelter? Or had it lived in the home all along, became emotionally attached to Slippers, and then decided to go with her to the next life?

Then again, maybe a ghost never haunted us at all. Perhaps we simply lived in a creaky, old home with a door that didn't latch right, and owned a spaced-out cat that watched microscopic particles of dust as they floated through the room.

I'll let you decide.

(Scary organ music played by that masked guy in the furnace room comes to a crescendo.)

What's playing in my head (You're definitely gonna want to click on this link!): Theme from Ghostbusters.

Today's blog was sponsored by YourLDSNeighborhood.com. Please show your appreciation by returning to and browsing through the Neighborhood and subscribing to the Neighborhood Newsletter. Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox.


CONTEST WINNERS : Oz-Girl and Connie Hall! Congrats to Oz-Girl, who won In Good Taste, and Connie Hall, who won The A-MAZE-ing Book of Mormon! Please contact me no later than midnight on Wednesday to claim your prize. Send me an email with your mailing address at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

If the prizes aren't claimed by Wednesday, new winners will be drawn.

I'm giving away a 5 ml bottle of Young Living essential oil, lavender fragrance. This is quite a prize, as you can use essential oils in the bath and to freshen the house. In addition, lavender is considered a calming fragrance and is purported to have anti-bacterial properties. Plus, it smells soooooo good!

How to Enter: Leave a comment on this blog entry. Contest ends Friday, Oct 30, 2009 at midnight.

*Winners will be announced no later than Monday, Nov 2, and will have until midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 4, to contact me or ... sorry ... another winner will be chosen. Email me at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.*

(Disclaimer: Please note this contest is not an endorsement of Young Living Farms, and I have not received any compensation to mention their products in my blog. Also, my family members are encouraged, enticed, and eligible to comment on my thoughts, but unfortunately, are ineligible to enter the contests.)


Fingernails of Terror ... by C.L. Beck


© Cindy (C.L.)Beck

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

One Halloween morning, I decided to wear ghoulish fingernails to work. They had an imprinted skull and crossbones that looked awesome.

Life proceeded routinely on the job—until I needed to blow my nose. And then one of the falsies—you’ll remember we’re talking fingernails here—got in the way and I blew the nail right off.

A co-worker laughed so hard she choked on the pumpkin cookie she was eating and left the room. Probably to search for someone with shorter fingernails to give her the Heimlich.

I should have known I was cursed, but never having worn fake nails before, I had no clue. All I knew was I couldn’t blow my nose in public.

Off to the ladies’ room I went. Once inside, I unwrapped a wad of tissue paper, brought it quickly to my face … and stabbed one of the fingernails up my nose, causing a nosebleed.

Back to the office I went, head tilted backwards to stop the bleeding, hands pointed down to avoid poking anything. At my desk, an itch developed on my neck. Forgetting that I wore projectiles on my fingertips, I scratched. A nail flipped off and flew down the back of my shirt—a shirt I couldn’t pull out of my pants because it would pop off the remaining fingernails.

“Help,” I said.

One of the gals came over. She untucked my shirt and shook the bottom of it, trying to get the nail to fall out. I hopped and shimmied like a skeleton hanging from a tree on a windy night, but it refused to budge.

Laughing, she said, “You’d better go to the ladies’ room to get it out.”

Back to the powder room I trudged. In there, I realized I couldn’t take my shirt off without giving myself multiple body piercings. After twisting like a contortionist, and explaining to every woman who came in that I was not on drugs, the thing finally fell out. I’d have tucked my shirt back in, but was afraid another fingernail would fly off and go down my pants.

Back to the office I scuttled, hands pointed downward and shirt tail hanging to my knees. The gal who’d tried to help said, “Don’t you know how you do this?”

“What? Tuck in my shirt while wearing fake nails?”

She handed me a small tube. “No, how to put on false fingernails.”

Super Glue. That’s how you do it? Silly me, I thought you used the adhesive strips that came in the package.

I wasn’t certain if I was being conned and didn’t relish the thought of wearing super-glued orange and black fingernails until I was 90. I decided to glue only the two most troublesome ones. Not wanting to risk droplets on my desktop, I sat and held my hands over my legs. Sticky liquid dripped everywhere, and after almost gluing my knees together, I finally managed to get the two nails on straight.

Everyone went back to work and an hour later, a customer needed help at the counter. I walked over. We completed the transaction and he handed me the money. I reached for it—and stabbed him with my fingernails.

I apologized. I told him I would have removed them but two were super-glued. And they would probably only come loose by some means of mechanical separation that would include a tractor, heavy chains, and the loss of two of my real fingernails.

Thank goodness it was almost time to go home. I walked back to my desk and for the safety of the customers, stayed there until closing.

That night, I managed to get all the fake nails off except for the two that were held fast by glue. The same glue—I now remembered—that was advertised as able to hold a bowling ball to the ceiling.

However, the nails did glow nicely in the dark. Eventually I remembered that alcohol was a solvent and managed to remove them before Christmas.

I’ve learned my lesson. No more fake fingernails for me. This year as part of my costume, I’m going to try false eyelashes instead … nothing could possibly go wrong with them.

What's playing in my head: The Monster Mash by Bobby "Boris" Pickett.

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CONTEST WINNER (last week) : Danyelle Ferguson! Congrats, Danyelle, you've won an autographed copy of A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors! (Hope your friend is doing okay, too.)

I'm giving away two really fun, autographed books! I love both of them and wish I had my own copies, but maybe Santa will bring them for Christmas. (Are you reading this, Santa? :)

1. In Good Taste, by Nancy J. Miles is a family history cookbook with yummy recipes. And here's the really cool part ... Nancy gives suggestions for creating your own family history cookbook. What a great idea, huh? Thanks go to Nancy for donating the book.

If you don't win, you can always order In Good Taste at Amazon.com (click here). You can also visit Nancy at (click here) www.NancyMilesInGoodTaste.com.

2. The A-MAZE-ing Book of Mormon by Arie Van DeGraaf is a super fun children's activity book. The illustrations for the mazes correspond to short stories from the Book of Mormon. If it hadn't been for the fact that I told Arie I'd announce his book as a giveaway, I'd have given the book to my grandkids. I know they'd love it. Thanks go to Arie for donating the book.

If you don't win, you can always order The A-MAZE-ing Book of Mormon at DeseretBook.com (click here) . You can visit Arie at Mormon Cartoonist (click here).

How to Enter:
Leave a comment on this blog stating which book you'd like to win. Contest ends Friday, Oct 23, 2009 at midnight.

*Winners will be announced on my blog the upcoming Monday, Oct 26, and will have 48 hours to contact me or ... sorry ... but another winner will be chosen. Email me at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

(My family members are encouraged, enticed, and eligible to comment on my thoughts, but unfortunately, are ineligible to enter the contests.)


Over the Top Award ... presented to Cindy Beck by Karlene Browning

A big, big thank you to Karlene Browning at InkSplasher for presenting the "Over the Top" award to me. Karlene is a warm, witty woman and I love to visit her blog. You will, too, so stop over at InkSplasher and read what she has to say!

The award's rules state that I need to pass it along to five other bloggers and then answer a multitude of questions. So, here are the five bloggers to whom I'm passing the torch:

Shirley Bahlmann at Shirley Bahlmann Biz (fun blog)
Russ Beck at On the Couch(mental health blog)
Taffy at Taffy's Candy(fun blog)
Kim at Scribbled Scraps (scrapbooking and book reviews)
Nichole Giles at LDS Humor (humor blog)

And because I'm a little short on time today, I'll list the questions below, but will answer them in a future blog entry. (How's that for keeping you in suspense?:)

• Where is your cell phone?
• Your hair?
• Your mother?
• Your father?
• Your favorite food?
• Your dream last night?
• Your favorite drink?
• Your dream/goal?
• What room are you in?
• Your hobby?
• Your fear?
• Where do you want to be in 6 years?
• Where were you last night?
• Something you aren't?
• Muffins
• Wish list item?
• Where did you grow up?
• Last thing you did?
• What are you wearing?
• Your TV?
• Your pets?
• Your friends?
• Your life?
• Your mood?
• Missing someone?
• Vehicle?
• Something you're not wearing? Shoes.
• Your favorite store?
• Your favorite color?
• When was the last time you laughed?
• Last time you cried?
• Your best friend?
• One place that I go over and over?
• One person who emails me regularly?
• Favorite place to eat?

(If you're one of the bloggers that I nominated for this award, and you don't want to answer a multitude of questions, feel free to make adjustments and answer as many or as few as you like.)


The Bodies Are in the Basement

Posted by my alter ego—that more serious, but still sometimes slightly humorous writer—Cindy Beck.

Photo by Cesar Tort, Wikimedia Commons

Kat Nilsson wrote the words, “I was watching CSI Miami,” in big loopy letters on the legal pad in her lap. Then, since she had writer’s block, she doodled in the loops. After a few minutes of wasted time, Kat scratched her head with the point of her yellow pencil and sighed.

“No. That’s not right. I can’t start a novel out that way. I hate CSI. Can’t stand those women with whitened teeth, brightened faces, and over-tightened blouses.” Kat erased the words with a vengeance, as if erasing the facial features of the botoxed movie stars.

She started again. “Stacy heard a knock at the door, and just as she went to answer—”

As Kat wrote the words, a deep thump, thump, thump reverberated through the house. With a sigh big enough to sink a battleship, Kat threw the pencil into a mug of assorted pens and walked to the front room to see who was knocking.

The wind whistled as she opened the heavy, wooden door, and a chill ran between her shoulder blades. No one stood there. Not a living soul. Attached to the door by a feathered dart was an off-white sheet of paper, with dark, thick handwriting.

It read:
If you find the dog, call me.
P.S: The bodies are in the basement.

“The basement?” she whispered. Kat shuddered and tugged her bedraggled University of Utah sweatshirt tight around her body. There was a basement in her house. An old basement with a cold, concrete floor—a room she never, ever, ever went into because … well … anyone who writes murder mysteries knows that something horrifying always happens in the basement.

Scanning the bottom of the note and then turning the paper over, Kat looked for a clue as to who wrote it. No signature, not even a grimy thumbprint to give a hint.

That’s when she heard it—a thin, high-pitched, forlorn howl from under the house. For one illogical second her heart rocketed with fear and she thought about screaming and running to the neighbors. But then, her writer’s curiosity kicked in. Who left the note and why did they put a dog in the basement? How did they know about the basement? Who, what, when, where, how and why?

She counted friends on her fingers. Josi? No, she didn’t own a dog. Nichole? Yes, Nichole was a jokester all right, but also allergic to anything with fur, including.…

Like a good Catholic girl, Kat crossed herself for luck. She might be allergic to aspen and eucalyptus, but at least she wasn’t allergic to mink, like Nichole.

Bulldog, Rex, or Nipsey? Goodness knows their names were doggy enough, but no, they were all too tenderhearted to shove a dog in a basement in order to scare a writer wordless.

It had to be a practical joke, pulled by the neighbor-kid-from-hell, who was always throwing tomatoes at her car when he thought she wasn’t looking. Yup, that had to be it. When she got the dog out of there, she was going to have a long talk with that boy’s parents.

Hitching up her sweatpants, she closed the door behind her and walked around the redwood-sided house to the back yard. Dried leaves crunched under her Big Bird slippers and she realized that they might be a lucky charm when writing, but they wouldn’t do much to protect her against earwigs, black widow spiders, and uggg … stink bugs … that might be in the basement. But it was too late now; her feet took her down the concrete steps as if they had a mind of their own.

Ssshhh. What was that?

A rustling noise, like a lady’s crisp, crinoline underskirt, drifted to Kat's ears. And then, silence. Certain that she’d psyched herself out, Kat took a deep breath and with one hand on the rust-encrusted doorknob, listened again.

Not a sound.

No dog howling, no skirts rustling.


Feeling weak in the knees, and even weaker in the head, she turned the knob and pushed the door. Its hinges squeaked. Dang. She hadn’t done it hard enough, and now she’d have to step inside, in that dark, damp, hole-in-the-ground and push the door all the way open with her shoulder. Why hadn’t she thought to bring a flashlight?

Kat stepped over the doorjamb and shoved. The door slowly inched back, but it was almost as if light feared entering the room. Darkness reigned, and the tiny shaft of brightness that had the courage to shine against the door slowly dimmed as clouds obscured the sun.

That’s when she heard it—an otherworldly moan. And she could make out two bodies, lying on the floor, legs bent at sharp angles, tongues hanging out. A shriek caught in her throat. She wanted to whirl and run but her legs refused to obey.

The shapes unkinked their legs, rose up in front of her, and Kat screamed—a wordless, soundless scream.

"Surprise!" shouted the two bodies as they flicked on flashlights. Hoots of laughter and a chorus of happy birthdays erupted from around the room. They were all there, Josi, Nichole, Bulldog, Rex and Nipsey. And Kat wanted to kill every one of them.

If it wasn’t for Bulldog handing her a puppy that kissed her cheek and snuggled against her shoulder, she would have done it. But then, how mad could she really be, when they’d braved the basement in order to throw a surprise party?

“The puppy’s your present from all of us,” Bulldog said. “Any author who writes about murder needs a dog to curl up with and to protect her from the gaboogities at night.”

The puppy nuzzled Kat's neck, and her heart rate slowly returned to normal. Josi leaned over and stroked the dog’s sleek fur. “What are you going to call her?”

Kat’s eyes twinkled, “After the scare you've all given me, I'm going to name her Heart Attack."

And with that, the puppy pointed her nose in the air and gave a howl of agreement.

What's playing in my head (be sure to click on the link, 'cuz it's cute): The Puppy Song by Harry Nilsson (no relation to the character in this story).



Sande! Congrats, Sande, you've won an autographed copy of Aunt Rae's Remedies. Please send me your mailing address in an email: cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

CONTEST (this week) In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness

Prize: Autographed copy of Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors.

Description from Cup of Comfort Website: If stories are medicine, then this collection will help keep hopes up and spirits alive on the road to recovery. Readers will applaud the bravery of 50 exceptional survivors as they tell their unique experiences with breast cancer. Every breast cancer survivor has a different story, but they all have one thing in common: courage. From dealing with diagnosis to undergoing chemotherapy, facing hair loss and possibly the loss of a breast, these fearless women undergo more than anyone ever should. These stories pay tribute to these women and their battles, and celebrate their victories. In this stunning new collection, readers will find compelling, inspiring, and uplifting personal essays about the experiences and emotions of living with—and after—breast cancer. $.50 of every copy sold will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

Cindy's Note: Included in the book is "Dancing in the Moonlight." Written by me, it's the heartwarming story about me and my mom during her diagnosis and surgery for breast cancer.

How to Win: Leave a comment on this blog entry by midnight Friday, Oct 16, 2009. It's as simple as that! If you don't have anyone to give it to who is a breast cancer survivor (that's assuming you win), let me know that in your comments and I'll donate the book to a local library instead. And you'll have done your part for breast cancer!


Uncle Earl and Aunt Earline ... and Contest Info!

October is one of my favorite months. Why? Because it not only contains Halloween, but also my birthday. Wahoo, birthday cake and ice cream one minute, and Halloween candy the next.

In honor of that, I thought I'd post an original (as in, "written by me") story every Monday in October. And just for the fun of it, I'll leave it up to you to figure out which ones might have a grain of truth and which ones are spun from the cobwebby recesses of my mind.

So, here without further adieu (or is that spelled "a-doo"?) is the first story ...

Uncle Earl and Aunt Earline
© CL Beck, 2009

“This here porch is a solid as a hickory nut shell,” Pappy said as he leaned against the porch rail. It broke with a crack, flinging him into the mud. His jug of moonshine flew towards the ol’ pine tree and nestled into the deep, green branches. It startled Mammy so much that she squealed. It reminded me of what a pig might do what’s just heard her sister’s been turned into a hunderd pounds of breakfast sausage.

And then the Internal Revnoovers showed up.

Lucky for us, Pappy had shut the still down a couple days before, so there warn't no way for them to find it. And the only jug of white lightening on the place was up in that big Georgia pine. I suppose it could be that in lack of thet thar evidence, the Revnoovers decided not to follow through. Or it could be Mammy’s double-barreled shotgun staring ‘em in the face that persuaded ‘em.

Ya see, that’s why the front porch is my favo-rite-ist place in the whole wide world. Ever thing that’s interesting happens out on the thet front porch.

And ever thing that’s nice happens on thet porch, too. Like getting my first kiss, in the dark, from Dixie Lou.

She said, “I’ll give ya a kiss, if’n you promise not to tell.”

I answered, “Cross my heart, hope to die, may the Revnoovers stick a needle in my eye.” I puckered up and she gave me a kiss that kinda made my toes tingle. I didn’t tell a soul, and two days later my best friends, Beau and Billy, told me Dixie Lou had been kissing on ever boy in Soggy Hollow. It didn’t make no never mind to me. I knew she loved me best. After all, she is my cousin.

But I gotta say that the most excitin’ time was when we were sitting out thar at sunset, listening to Uncle Earl singing and playing the banjo. He stopped smack-dab in the middle of singing “Picking up paw-paws,” and said, “I don’t feel like a whole man, no how anymore, and never did, so I’m gonna start being a woman.”

Mammy choked and liked to swallered her corncob pipe. Uncle Earl was her favorite brother. I guessed if he went through with it, that would make him her favorite sister. And my Aunt Earline.

A feller’s just gotta love the front porch. Like I said, ever thing that’s interesting or exciting happens thar.

What's playing in my head: Dueling Banjos by Steve Martin and the Muppets.



Rachelle Christensen (won Writing the Great American Romance Novel)
Carol L (won It's Just My Nature)

CONTEST (this week)
Prize: Autographed copy of Aunt Rae's Remedies.
Description: This is a fun book of home remedies and here's a blurb from the book: "Meet Aunt Rae--a modern combination of Granny Clampett and Martha Stewart. In this collection of home remedies and household hints, Aunt Rae will keep you laughing as you learn new ways to keep a cleaner house, become self-sufficient and be a healthier person ... Filled with true-life happenings and humorous stories, Aunt Rae's Remedies is a fun and useful book that will make your life easier."
How to Win: Leave a comment on this blog entry by midnight Friday, Oct 9, 2009. It's as simple as pie! (By the way, I get a laugh out of this book every time I read it, and it really does have some helpful home remedies.)


Just Having Fun ... A Halloween PhotoCard

By C.L. Beck

It's rainy and dreary out. What's a body to do? I could always go eat cookies, but since that's not good for the waistline (yes, believe it or not, I once had a waistline), I decided to go play at my Zazzle store.

My husband, Russ, took this shot of a black cat with a pumpkin body and it made a dang cute Halloween photocard! (In my opinion :)

I thought I'd share it with you because ... well ... Halloween is coming. And I'm tickled with the card because it's so cute. Even Corky Porky Pie, the dog, thinks so.

Not to turn this into an advertisement, but if you want to order a few, they're a really good buy at 10 for $10.00, with envelopes included. That's a dollar apiece and you can't beat that price in a recession, huh?

I'm going back out now to make matching postage. How cool is that?


A Quick Smile ... And BOOK GIVEAWAYS!

Posted by Cindy Beck
Funny anecdote received from the Good Clean Funnies

The Old Ford

When my husband, Mark, took his beat-up pickup truck to our
insurance agent for a pre-insurance inspection, the teen-age
receptionist was sent to look over the truck. Armed with a
checklist and a few simple questions, she breezed through
the chore. She asked, "What are the age and make of the

Mark replied, "It's a '65 Ford." Apologetic about its
desperate condition, he added, "It's an old fossil."

Inside, the office assistant entered the data into her
computer and frowned. "Is there a problem?" asked Mark.

"Mr. Evans, our computers have a lot of automotive data,"
she explained, "but it's never heard of a Ford Fossil."


To enter, leave a comment no later than Friday at midnight on this blog and tell me which of the two books below you'd like to win. If you'd like a chance to win both books, become a follower (click on the follower link in the sidebar), and leave a comment telling me you did it and that you'd like a chance to win both books. It's that simple. Winners will be drawn by random and announced the following week.


It's Just My Nature
by Carol Tuttle
A Guide to Knowing and Living Your True Nature

From the Back Cover:
Why do we use the term "human nature?" What do we mean by "nature?" What does it mean when we say someone has a natural gift? Where does this gift come from? Best-selling author, Carol Tuttle, provides compelling and life changing answers to these simple questions in her newest book, It’s Just My Nature!

It’s Just My Nature! reveals a startlingly accurate method for assessing your personality and behavioral tendencies with a new system called Energy Profiling.

Note: If you don't win, you can always order Carol Tuttle's book at Amazon.com (click here). You can also visit Carol at: www.thecarolblog.com.

(Catharine Lanigan is a charming, articulate woman that I met at a Cedar Fort Writer's Conference in May of this year. She was more than willing to share tips and tricks to help anyone who wanted to break into the romance market. Thank you, Catherine, for your kindness to those coming up behind you! )

Writing the Great American Romance Novel by Catherine Lanigan

From the Back Cover:
If you love writing love stories, this comprehensive guide shows how to break into the romance genre, which accounts for more than half of all mass-market paperback sales. Bestselling romance author, Catherine Lanigan, offers every writing tool you need as well as insight into the writer's relationship with agents, editors, and publicists.

Note: If you don't win, you can always order Catherine Lanigan's book at Allworth Press (click here).

Pocket Taser

Posted by Cindy Beck
Author unknown, received in an email.

I didn't write this, although it's so funny I wish I had. A friend sent it in an email, and I could actually envision a number of my guys trying what the man said he did in this story. I laughed until I cried while I read it. Hope you enjoy it.

Photo by Junglecat/Wikimedia Commons

Pocket Taser: Only a Man Would Try This

(Author unknown)

Last weekend I saw something at Larry's Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest. The occasion was our 15th anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife, Julie. What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized taser. The effects of the tazer were supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse affect on your assailant, allowing the victim adequate time to retreat to safety....


Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home. I loaded two AAA batteries in the darn thing and pushed the button. Nothing! I was disappointed. I learned, however, that if I pushed the button and pressed it against a metal surface at the same time, I'd get a blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs.


Unfortunately, I have yet to explain to Julie what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn't be all that bad with only two triple-A batteries, right? There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently (trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh & blood moving target. I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie (for a fraction of a second) and thought better of it. She is such a sweet cat. But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect her against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised.

So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, and taser in another. The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a major loss of bodily control; a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of water. Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting the batteries.

All the while I'm looking at this little device measuring about 5" long, less than 3/4 inch in circumference; pretty cute really and (loaded with two itsy, bitsy triple-A batteries) thinking to myself, "No possible way!" What happened next is almost beyond description, but I'll do my best.

I'm sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side as to say, "Don't do it." I figured that a one second burst from such a tiny little ole thing couldn't hurt all that bad. I decided to give myself a one second burst just for heck of it. I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and ....


I'm pretty sure Jessie Ventura ran in through the side door, picked me up in the recliner, then body slammed us both on the carpet, over and over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, my chest burning, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs. The cat was making meowing sounds I had never heard before, clinging to a picture frame hanging above the fireplace, obviously in an attempt to avoid getting slammed by my body flopping all over the living room.

Note: If you ever feel compelled to "mug" yourself with a taser, one note of caution: there is no such thing as a one second burst when you zap yourself! You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor. A three second burst would be considered conservative.


A minute or so later (I can't be sure, as time was a relative thing at that point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape. My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace. The recliner was upside down and about 8 feet or so from where it originally was. My triceps, right thigh and chest were still twitching. My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs. I had no control over the drooling.

And I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head which I believe came from my hair.

P.S. My wife can't stop laughing about my experience, loved the gift, and now regularly threatens me with it.

If you think education is difficult, try being stupid!

What's playing in my head: Nothing, I'm laughing too much to have a song in my head.


Of Cats and Birds ... by Cindy Beck

© 2009, Cindy Beck

Everyone … well, almost everyone … had a pet as a kid. In fact, I still have one. I call him, “Russ.”

Oh wait, that’s my husband. My pet is a dog named Corky Porky Pie and the Porky part fits well (the dog, not Russ). But I digress ....

When I was a teenager, I owned a parakeet named George. He wasn’t very bright. He once bit my uncle, who was trying to teach him to whistle. George subsequently picked up a few other names from my uncle that couldn't be repeated in polite company. When it finally dawned on us that “George” was a misnomer, we nicknamed him something more accurate—“That Stupid Bird.”

I also owned a cat. I should’ve named him, “That Stupid Cat,” but instead I called him Oedipus Rex. It was a dignified, grand name for a cat that we later realized liked to leave his calling card on every bush in the yard. Therefore, we shortened it (his name, not his calling card) to Eddie.

Eddie would sit in front of the birdcage every day, admiring George-That-Stupid-Bird and watching him for hours. Being a teenager with dreamy notions of romance, I thought Eddie was in love with his feathered friend, and that his attraction knew no bounds.

I had at least part of it right.

One day while doing homework in my bedroom, I heard George-That-Stupid-Bird kicking up a fuss, squawking and slapping his wings against the bars of the cage. Rushing into the room, I was greeted by feathers flying everywhere. Eddie was on top of the cage with a mouthful of tail feathers, tugging and pulling on the upside down George-That-Stupid-Bird in an effort to get him through the half-inch slats. It resembled something from the Saturday morning Looney Tunes.

I grabbed Eddie and bounced him up and down. Well, at least as much as possible without jerking the bird in his mouth through the cage’s bars. Finally, the cat let go of the bird.

End of story. So much for romance.

And there should be a moral to this tale, but I’ll be danged if I know what it is … unless it’s that a bird in the cage is more enticing than two in the bush.

What's playing in my head: The Looney Tunes Theme.


Cindy's Brain Joins the Circus

By Cindy Beck

Why is it that when I open a blog composition box, my brain runs away and joins the circus?

Really, it's not that hard to write a blog, is it? Nowadays, almost everyone does it ... including Bo-Bo, the Chimp. I'm proud to say that even my seventy-three-year-old mother, who's definitely smarter than Bo-Bo, writes a blog.

Wait. Look at that last sentence. Is "seventy-three-year-old" really supposed to have that many hyphens? It looks like someone took a knife and stabbed it in multiple places.

I'm thinking it's questions like "What hyphens go where?" that cause my knees to shake and my insides to feel like they're filled with live gummy worms when writing something for the Internet. After all, what if I hyphenate something wrong? Or my spellcheck runs a mock and lets all kinds of pore lee spelled words through?

For many years, I chugged along in ignorant bliss believing that if I made errors on a web page and posted it, I could delete the page seconds later. Poof ... with one keystroke, all my grammar sins would be forgiven.

But, nope.

Some time ago, in a heart wrenching moment of discovery, I learned that in a galaxy far, far away there is actually an archive that's been keeping track of posted web pages—you know, the www.SomethingOrOther.com type pages—since the Dark Ages of 1996.

Alas and alack, yes.

I'd list the address of the archives, in case there are some who want to check the accuracy of my facts, but I intend to delete this entry right after I post it, in case it contains errors and is being archived.

Besides that, I can't remember the address. Along with being a talented, fat-fingered typist who can fool spellcheck with sound-alike words (also known as homophones), I have a memory that's like cheesecloth tied in a knot. Or not. See? Another homophone.

It's lucky for me that I have such a sieved memory, because otherwise I'd be out there moaning over my misspelled words, poorly placed images, and text that looks like it was written in China.

Still, despite the dangers of making a bloggy mistake that makes me look like I'm related to Bo-Bo the Chimp, I'm here today, posting more words to grieve over in the future.

Why? Because after a vast amount of research (ten seconds just now on the 'Net), I'm thinking the robots that do the archiving can't access this blog. I'm not sure what that means for Bo-Bo the Chimp, but for me it means I'm safe as long as I'm here.

And that makes me feel a lot better. Therefore ... let the miss steaks beguine and the chips fall wear they Mae!

(Author's note: This blog entry was all in fun, but the archives are real and if you're interested in accessing them, you can find them here: http://www.archive.org/web/web.php


Winner of last week's contest:

The winner of the book, "The Sunflower Club" is Shirley Bahlmann! Wahoo, Shirley, way to go!


What's playing in my head: Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, by the Beatles.


The Plant Killer, "Sunflower Club" & a Contest

By Cindy Beck
© 2009

The Plant Killer

I should have known better than to plant several small sumac in the yard, because I live with ... (menacing organ music) ... the Plant Killer! Otherwise known by its scientific name as F. Russell Beck.

It seems like only yesterday, in the crowning achievement of my life, that I actually grew a softball-sized watermelon in my garden. That is, until my husband came along with the Mega-Tiller of Death and ran the melon over, splitting it in half like a ... well, like a ripe watermelon ... and leaving it to die in the hot sun. (Click here to read about it in "The Parable of the Watermelon.")

Russ claims it was an accident. Knowing him, I'm sure that's true. He would never intentionally do something like that. However, his subconscious must lie awake at night, planning the demise of my yard and garden. Otherwise, how could it be that a man who can walk a straight line with his eyes closed, mows in a zigzag that takes out every plant on the entire block?

Well, okay maybe not the entire block, but only because we have a big vinyl fence that goes around the yard. If not for that, he'd mow right past the property line and over the neighbor's eight-foot plum tree. If the neighbors are wise, they'll put their above ground swimming pool on the other side of their yard next year, because I've seen Russ and his wild mower crash into our vinyl fence several times this summer.

On Sunday, I walked out to look at my lovely little sumac grove. The lawn chairs, chicken wire, and old satellite dish that I'd placed around them as protection had been for knot. Yup, my cleverly designed protective devices were heaped off to the side in a tangled knot.

Using my excellent sleuthing abilities, I recognized the tracks that circled around the yard and serpentined back to the sumac. Lawnmower!

I hurried over to my grove, knelt on the ground and ran my hand over the closely clipped grass. Nubbins were all that remained of my little trees. The heart-rending cry that followed caused passersby to cover their hearts in sympathy. Who knew Russ could cry that loud?

I'm continuing to water, fertilize, and pray over the murdered sumac, in hopes they'll come back from the roots. I'm so desperate that I might even try a voodoo spell. The kind that involves sharp pins and a little doll made in Russ's image.

In the meantime, I've devised a plan. One that will work far better than piling junk around my plants to protect them. The next time the Plant Killer's subconscious starts plotting to mow over my trees, I'm going to pull his plug.

What? No, not that plug. His lawnmower's plug.


Last week's contest winner: Only one person guessed correctly that statement #4, "My favorite position to play in softball is outfield" was false.

My favorite position was not outfielder, but CATCHER!

Rachelle Christensen wins one of the two prizes, a mini first aid kit. And since that still leaves another first aid kit, I've put the remaining names into the random generator, and it pulled Ronda Hinrichsen.

Congratulations to you both. I already have Rachelle's address, but Ronda, would you please email me yours? Thanks!


"The Sunflower Club" and a Contest

In conjunction with my planting tale of woe, I'd like to mention a book that I recently received from Gretchen Holland, while at the LDS Bookseller's Convention a couple of weeks ago. Gretchen wrote a cute book for children called, "The Sunflower Club."

Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

Jenny and Jacob look forward to summer vacation every year, but this summer will be different. As the twins prepare to turn eight and be baptized, their Grandfather introduces them to a club. They begin to understand that they can join the club too, IF they learn some important lessons. As small sunflower seeds arrive in the mail, Jenny and Jacob's special adventure begins. With the help of their Mom and Dad, their older brother Alex, and, of course Grandpa, this summer will teach them important lessons about faith, trust, love, work, and sharing their feelings with others as they get ready to join "The Sunflower Club."

Gretchen was so sweet and gave me an autographed copy of the book to use as a prize in a contest.

So ... here's how to enter to win:

1. For one entry, leave a comment on this blog post.

2. For two entries, leave a comment here telling me you plan to leave a second comment about the contest, along with the link to my blog, out at Facebook. And then remember to actually go out and post that at FB. (You're on the honor system here.)

I'll pull a winner at random, next Monday. Good luck!

(And thanks to Gretchen, for donating the book. You can purchase Gretchen's book at Amazon.com.)