More Places I Hang Out

Quid Pro Quills - A Group of 6 Writers... Writing!
Twin Willows Farm - My Farm and Fiber Arts Webpage
Great Lakes ACFW Chapter - My Local Chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers

Subscribe Via E-Mail

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.


Copyright by Pegg Thomas 2009-2015


free counter
Jul 28, 2010
Lord grant me the hope to unwrap this day as the precious gift that it is.
To embrace it with the wide-eyed wonder of a child.
As if it were my last.

Lord give me the wisdom to give this day to others.
To add a moment of warmth or some twist of loving fate.
And not need to be right, or the object of gratitude.
Or even be there when they smile.

Lord deliver strength to accept what is.
If today should be my time to bear the load,
Help me find a way to see burden as grace.
To make a lesson and therefore a blessing out of pain.

Lord grant me the will to walk with purpose.
And sway with neither storms nor winds of change.
To choose a path with mind wide open,
To make the most of every page.

Lord give me the peace that comes with knowing
That despite my frail anonymity You are here.
That if my heart can surrender and remain open,
Then today will hold no limits,
And no fear.

L. Brooks 1999
Jul 20, 2010

There are some combinations that go together like – well – a hand and glove. Things like popcorn and movies, baseball and peanuts, cowboys and Skoal rings are a part of life in these United States. In northern Michigan, some of our combinations are a little outside the norm.

Traveling home last Sunday, idly gazing out to the truck window, it occurred to me that we might have the world’s only combination taxidermy and ice cream shop. Happenstance, rather than entrepreneurship, likely created this situation. The chance of an incorporated chain of taxidermy/ice cream shops popping up across the country defies imagination. On the other hand, where else can you go to get both your head and your stomach stuffed?

This gives a whole new perspective on Moose Tracks ice cream. What sort of odd combination can you find in your area?
Jul 12, 2010
Clarence had never seen a dog door before and apparently neither had Singer. It had not occurred to him that the dog wouldn’t know how to use it. He knelt by the covered hole, situated under his picture window, and pushed his arm through a few times; Singer sat and watched. He pulled her toward the door, her toenails digging into the carpet in protest, and pushed her head against the cover, moving it away. She wiggled and fought, whimpering in protest. Clarence rocked back on his heels and pondered what to try next. He heard a noise out by the bird feeder. Rather than get up and look through the window, he pushed the dog door open again, leaning down to peek through. Singer’s head met his at the opening, her nose twitching, and body stiff.

“Get ‘em,” he whispered.

Singer shot through the door in a blur of brown and white. Her loud baying signaled when the squirrel was treed. Once again up Erma B.’s maple tree, it chattered at the dog reared against the new fence.

Clarence pushed the dog door open with his foot and called Singer. She trotted to him, tail arched up over her back. She slipped through the dog door like she’d done it all her life. Clarence gave her a biscuit. She licked up every crumb before jumping onto Lydia’s chair and sat with her tail curled around her, nose pointed out the window.

Clarence sat next to her, reaching over and fingering one soft ear. His head settled against the back of his chair and he grinned. He looked forward to the next squirrel.
Jul 11, 2010
“I see your dog is here again.” Earl said, settling on his stool.

“The workers wouldn’t want her underfoot.”

“What workers?” Betty asked, bringing over the coffeepot.

“The guys installing a chain link fence and a dog door.”

“You fencin’ in your backyard?” Charlie asked.

“Got to keep Singer home, you know.”

“Singer, is that her name?”

“Yup. You should have heard her when she ran that squirrel up a tree yesterday. It was sure music to me.”

“She did chase off a squirrel then? Good!” Betty sat the morning’s burnt offering in front of Clarence.

“Right up Erma B.'s tree.”

“You don’t say?” Charlie leaned closer. “Did the ol’ battleaxe call the cops again?”

“Yup. That’s why the guys are puttin’ in the fence today. I promised I’d get it done quick so I didn’t get a ticket.”

He finished his toast and wrapped the other piece in a napkin.

“That dog is going to have another good effect on you, Clarence.” Charlie said.

“What do you mean?”

“You’re going to lose weight!” He pointed to the napkin wrapped toast.

Clarence rubbed his chin and mumbled something about having to get back home before making his red-faced retreat to the truck.
Jul 10, 2010
“Come on.” Clarence climbed out of his truck. The dog jumped down and picked her way across the gravel drive. Clarence reached for the doorknob when the growl started. He glanced at the little dog, standing stiff beside him, focused on the backyard. A large squirrel perched on his ceramic birdbath. Erma B.’s window was empty. A slow smile spread across Clarence’s face. He whispered a hoarse, “Get ‘em.”

The beagle launched herself into the backyard. In an acrobatic leap, the squirrel twisted and landed six feet short of the maple tree in Erma B.’s yard, racing up the tree one stride in front of its attacker. The dog sang out a noise like nothing Clarence had heard before. Not a bark and not a howl, it wavered long and loud, while the squirrel retreated higher up the tree.

Clarence rubbed his ear and grinned. He walked over and picked up the dragging leash, ignoring Erma B. as she burst through her back door in a blur of fuzzy pink bathrobe and curlers. He gave a light tug on the leash and walked into his house, his new dog at his feet. He could almost feel Erma B.’s glower sink between his shoulder blades. He chuckled.

“Come on… Singer.” He smiled at the name. “You just earned yourself one of those fancy dog biscuits we bought.” After giving Singer her treat, Clarence dropped into his chair. He noticed the half empty bird feeder.

“Singer, do you think you can keep those squirrels away from that?” He asked, pointing out the window.

Before he could stop her, Singer jumped up onto Lydia’s chair. He opened his mouth to scold her, but stopped. She sat perfectly still with her nose pointed at the bird feeder. A small house finch came into the feeder and he watched as Singer’s ears rose and her head cocked to one side. Another finch joined the first and her nose tipped up, as if trying to catch their scent. Clarence spent the rest of the morning with Singer, watching the birds.
Jul 9, 2010
“You really got a dog?” Charlie’s jaw swung loose.

Clarence poked a thumb at his old truck outside the diner. Framed in the window was a brown and white face.

“What kind of dog?” Earl asked.


“Did she run off your squirrels?” Betty asked.

“Haven’t turned her loose yet.”

“Why not?”

“I had to bathe her and I couldn’t leave her outside wet. I can’t afford another one if this one gets sick and dies.”

“She slept in your house?” Charlie asked.

“I don’t have a dog house, you know.”

“Why didn’t you leave her in the backyard this morning?” Betty asked. “Those squirrels always come while you’re here having breakfast.” She slid his toast in front of him, black only on the edges this morning.

He took a bite of toast and mumbled, “She needs a decent collar and leash.”

“You’re taking her shopping with you?” Charlie’s eyes threatened to pop.

“How else would I know what size to get?” Clarence stuffed the last bite of toast in his mouth. He wrapped the second piece in a napkin and left.
Jul 8, 2010
“Can I help you?”

Clarence glanced around and mumbled. “I’m here to look at dogs.”

“What?” The girl behind the counter asked.

Clarence sighed and leaned closer, “I want to look at the dogs.”

“Oh! You want a dog.” Clarence winced at her volume.

“Come with me.” She grabbed a set of keys reminiscent of those from a 1950’s jail movie. He followed her swinging ponytail into the next room.

The stench, a noxious combination of dog urine, bleach and unwashed dogs, hit him a beat behind the noise. Barking, whining, and yapping assaulted him from both sides. Hands over his ears, he plunged ahead with grim determination. Something in one of those cages should strike fear in the hearts of the squirrels.

“Sorry for the noise, they’re just happy to see us.” The girl shouted above the din. “We’ll take whichever dogs you like outside.”

Whatever dogs he liked? He didn’t any like dogs. He’d managed to reach the age of seventy-two without owning one.

“Do any of them hunt squirrels?” He yelled.

“We have three beagles. Beagles are hunting dogs.” She grabbed three leashes off a hook and gathered up as many dogs. They stepped outside, cutting off the noise when the metal door shut behind him.

“I’ll let them run.” The girl unsnapped the dogs’ collars and handed him one leash. “Bring back whichever one you like and I’ll take care of the rest.”

He watched her disappear through the same door, hoping she hadn’t locked him out here with the dogs. He looked around the fenced area; half expecting to see it topped with rolled barbed wire and cornered with block surveillance towers.

He didn’t know what to do and thought about making his escape when a cold, wet nose pushed into his hand. He jerked his hand up and looked down. Soft brown eyes stared up at him; one dainty paw rested against his knee. Unsure what to do, Clarence touched its ear. The dog’s tail started clocking back and forth.

“I guess you’re the one, eh?” He clicked the leash on and walked to the door, the little dog trotting at his heels.
Jul 7, 2010
“Did you get ‘em Clarence?” Betty called as she slapped together the makings for a fresh pot of coffee.

“Nope.” He hunched his shoulders and slid onto his customary stool. “They wrecked it.”

“Who wrecked what?” Charlie asked.

“Clarence put out a new trap yesterday.” Betty said.

“Another one?” Charlie’s eyebrows rose along with his rusty voice.

“Yup.” Clarence grumbled.

“I told you,” Charlie took the stool next to Clarence, “you need a good dog.”

“I don’t want a dog.”

“You should listen to Charlie.” Betty nodded and poured their coffee. “Beside, a dog would be good company for you.”

Earl sat down on the other side of Clarence. “You’ve tried everything else.”

“I’m not out of ideas yet.”

“It doesn’t matter how many ideas you have,” Charlie poked Clarence in the ribs, “because none of ‘em work anyhow!”

“The BB gun would have worked,” Clarence said, “if nosy old Erma B. hadn’t called the cops.”

“My favorite was greasing the pole with lard.” Earl wheezed out a laugh. “Every cat in the neighborhood loved that one!”

“Remember the time he chucked the stink bomb out the window at ‘em?” Charlie laughed. “Erma B. had just hung out her sheets. She couldn’t get to the phone fast enough!”

Clarence slouched another inch lower. He hated to admit it but he was starting to think the boys were right. Maybe he did need a dog.
Jul 6, 2010
Clarence slunk along the side of his house, each foot placed carefully. Balancing himself with palms against the wall, he paused and looked over his shoulder. Erma B. Krantz stood at her dining room window, nose inches from the glass. That old busybody probably had one hand on the phone already. He inched closer to the corner of his house, belly pressed against the aluminum siding. Holding his breath, he leaned over and peered into the backyard, hoping to find it strewn with dead bodies.

Nothing. He flung a disgusted look back at Erma B. and ignored her smile of smug satisfaction. Clarence examined his latest fool-proof trap. How had they managed to get around it this time? The bird feeder clung to its post at a drunken angle. He ran a hand across the grass below. Not a hair or a drop of blood. Stomping into the house, he slammed the back door.

The entire morning was a bust. Charlie didn’t show up for breakfast. Earl did, complaining about his bursitis the whole time. And Betty burned his toast again today. He sank into his thread bare chair and scratched the three day stubble on his gray chin. He shouldn’t have told them about this new trap. Dagnabbit. For sure tomorrow they’d ask him about it.

Clarence’s chair sat facing the picture window with a clear view of the mangled bird feeder. Lydia’s empty chair sat next to him. Many hours of enjoyment they had shared, seated here, watching the birds. He still thought of them as Lydia’s birds. Those last months the birds had been her sanctuary, her resting place away from the needles and the chemicals.

The squirrels moved in a month after Lydia died. At first it was just one, occasionally a pair, but soon they began to overrun the place. Clarence suspected Erma B. of enticing them into the neighborhood. It would be just like her, contrary old woman. Clarence tapped his cold pipe against the ashtray and reached for his tobacco pouch. His hands worked preparing his pipe while his mind chewed on the issue of the squirrels and the remnants of his trap swayed in the breeze under the lopsided feeder.