Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What Should I Do? I Heard Them Gossiping About Me

    Yesterday I was so happy.  Mike had to tie a string around my feet, worried I might float away from pure joy.  Okay, not really, BUT close.
    Anyway, The Hippie had just made some fried potatoes--which are about the best thing ever--and we sat talking about how A STRANGER'S KINDNESS just came out.  I told her if she really wants to write a book, she should go for it!  That's when my phone buzzed, with a voicemail.
    "That's weird," I said.  "I didn't even hear it ring."
    I hit zero, and smiled, listening to the beginning of the message.  "This is Veronica...and Chester."  I hope those are good cover names.  I don't want to out anyone with this post.  "We are so proud of you.  You're an inspiration.  We saw you on TV--and oh my gosh you're amazing!  Love you, girl."  
    Then apparently Veronica and Chester had thought they hung up. But. They. Hadn't.
    "She is so NOT amazing," Veronica practically spat, still on the voicemail.  "She thinks she's so neat.  Talk about conceited.  Anyone can write a book." She breathed hard.  "Anyone can go tell other people that they should look on thebright side.  Anyone can--"  I deleted the message after that, and wanted to cry into my potatoes.  
    "What's wrong?" The Hippie asked.
    And after I told her, all she said was, "Woah. What a jerk."
    The thing is that I ALWAYS assume the best of people.  So, when I've assumed someone can be taken at face value, it really sucks to find out they can't.
    After listening to that message, I'm in a dilema.
The way I see it, I have three options.

#1--I can cry, making an Alice in Wonderland river that is SO big, SO wide, we will never have a drought again.

#2--I can never talk to Veronica again.  She'll call, and I won't answer.  I'll see her in the grocery store, and practically dive into the next aisle, just to avoid, seeing her judgmental eyes.

#3--I'll call her and tell her everything.  (Unfortunately, THIS is my style.)  But whenever I've done this before people have denied it with: You misunderstood me.  That wasn't about you. Or...extremely nervous giggling.

What would  YOU do?  I'm at a loss here.  This couple wants to be friends with me and Mike.  I just don't think we should be anymore.  It's unfortunate that Veronica doesn't really know me. I'm as down to earth as they come.  And unless someone does something unforgivable, I have my friend's backs for life.

I keep replaying her words in my head. Seriously, I hope I'm nothing like she thinks.  If I am, please throw some cold water in my face, or something!  Thank you.


Today is the last day to download Bible Girl and/or The Golden Sky for FREE

 Today is also the last day to enter to win the Kindle Fire. For that giveaway, please click here:  

Monday, February 27, 2017

A STRANGER'S KINDNESS by EC Stilson Has Been Released

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This book can be purchased in paperback: HERE
Or as an eBook: HERE

    Last night, I prayed to God, thanking Him for the good fortune I've had with my writing.  I was suddenly so overwhelmed with gratitude for God's kindness,and for the generosity of so many people along the way.
    From the first store that let me book a signing....  I didn't have much of a following, and the kind store-owner of The Read Cat, let me sign and play my violin there.

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     Because I got that initial signing, I began gaining more followers.  I ended up getting a signing at Barnes and Noble.
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Some elementary schools took interest in what I had to say, encouraging young writers to chase their dreams.  During that time, I spoke at dozens of elementary schools, using the violin to teach kids the elements of music AND writing a strong story.
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After that, I was able to go to Eastern Utah, be interviewed on the radio and have my most successful signing--all because of family, friend, and many kind readers who kept encouraging me.
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After my success in Eastern Utah, with more signing and several more radio interviews, I was able to go on TV twice in the last 4 years.  (Man, that sounds like a long time--just writing that!)

"The Golden Sky" TV Interview here: Dealing With Loss
My Latest Interview here: Life's Biggest Challenge  

I've been writing for fifteen years--pursuing this for eight years. And, through all of this, I still have moments where I want to give up.  Some people haven't been as nice as others (is that a good way to put it? lol), maybe trying to take me down a notch, but, most people have been so kind it's astounding! I'm still gaining speed, even if it's hard work the whole way.  
    You know, writing hasn't paid off financially, but the memories I've made are worth more than anything I could ever buy.  And the books are being read.  My heart always warms knowing that my book about Zeke is still out there, and his memory will never truly fade.

All of this to say thank you: for your support, your kindness, your encouragement...  Without that encouragement, I wouldn't have the strength to keep pursuing my dreams.  I wish you that very same thing today--the strength you need to pursue YOUR dreams :)  If I can do it--anyone can!

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Don't forget about the awesome books that are either featured, or still FREE today, 2/27/17. 

  If you're visiting my site for the Kindle Fire Giveaway, please click here: Kindle Fire Entry

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I Was On TV: Studio 5 A Stranger's Kindness

What an amazing experience!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Stranger's Kindness by E.C. Stilson

A Stranger's Kindness

by E.C. Stilson

Giveaway ends March 10, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I Have a Big Book Signing Today in Salt Lake City

This is gonna be busy! The kids and I are loading into the truck at 6am for a book signing that's a few hours away. I'm so excited though. 
    THE GOLDEN SKY has started selling again. I don't make very much per copy, but it feels amazing knowing that Zeke's memory is living on with even more people. What an amazing gift THAT is.   
    Just look, yesterday it made it to #1 for women's memoir.

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    So, the signing is at:

Anyway, the signing today (2/25/17) will be at:
The Salt Lake Roasting Company
320 E. 400 S. 
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
from 10am - noon 
If you're in the area, I'll be ready to visit,
 while enjoying some good coffee! :) 
Don't forget about the awesome books that are either featured, or FREE until Monday. 

  If you're visiting my site for the Kindle Fire Giveaway, please click here: Kindle Fire Entry

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Strange Coincidence and the Fantastic Fox

Don't forget about the awesome books that are either featured, or FREE until Monday. 

  If you're visiting my site for the Kindle Fire Giveaway, please click here: Kindle Fire Entry

Now, onto the story of the day: 
A Strange Coincidence and the Fantastic Fox
One of the stories fom A STRANGER'S KINDNESS that really happened, and is still relevant today.

    "Baby, what's wrong? Talk to me," I said to The Scribe.
    "You'd never understand."
    We drove in our dilapidated van, up a dusty road on Antelope Island.  The kids were having a hard time with the divorce, and this was my way of trying to make things better.
    "This place sucks. It's dead!" The Scribe practically spat the words at me.
    The Zombie, my son, rallied to my side. "Don't be mean to Mama! You know they had to get divorced. They weren't happy when they were together. It was bad for everybody, and you know it. Mama is trying to have fun with us right now."
    "I know this is hard," I said. "But you never know what great surprises are waiting in the future for us.  Even in a place like this.  Just open your heart to accept the good in things."
    The Scribe refused to concede or look at any of us for that matter. Instead, she remained glued to the passenger-side window, and none of my four kids said another word for a while. 
    I curved to the right, following the bumpy road, moving quite slowly despite my eagerness to reach the salty beach. "Look hard, kids. You might see some deer, antelope, maybe a buffalo."
    "We won't!" The Scribe said. "We won't see any—"
    Then the van was screeching to a halt, and my hands tightened against the wheel. A blur of brown had jumped high in front of my van. My heart raced, my teeth gritted, and I involuntarily threw my right hand out and pushed The Scribe hard into the front passenger seat.
    "Oh. My. Gosh!" The Scribe whispered, breathlessly looking ahead.
    Dust swirled around the van, as if the five of us had been taken up with Dorothy in her Kansas cyclone. The Zombie and Dr. Jones quickly unbuckled themselves, stood, and stared out the front windows, waiting for the dust to clear.  The Hippie smiled with pure wonder.
    When the dirt dissipated, all three of us gasped. In front of the van—right in the middle of the road—stood the largest brown and orange fox I'd ever imagined. Its ears eternally perked; he eyed us at an angle and then studied us straight-on. He stayed there, breathing deeply, and it wasn't until moments had passed that I realized he wasn't looking at me or my three youngest kids; he was staring directly at The Scribe. I glanced at her and tears had brimmed her eyes. "Wow," she said. "Who would have thought we'd see him, in a crappy place like this."
    I couldn't help but smile. The fox whipped his tail high, turned his head, and jumped into the brush, leaving our sight forever.
Almost two years passed from this moment, 
until we shared this story 
with anyone else....
    "You two better not make me cry," Kara, my best friend said to my kids as we got ready the morning of my wedding. Then she followed-up with another thought. "Do you really think we'll see some wildlife while we're out there?"
    "Of course, we will," The Zombie said. "The last time we went to Antelope Island, we saw a fox!"
    "A fox! You lucky kid." Kara winked at him.
    "Why did you decide to get married at Antelope Island anyway?" she asked, pinning a stray hair back into Dr. Jones' half-bun.

    The Scribe cleared her throat and turned to Kara. "One of the last times we were there, it was just me, the other kids, and Mom. I'd had a bad day, and I didn't want to be at Antelope Island—everything seemed dead there. But Mom kept talking about how amazing things can happen when we least expect them. That's when we saw a fox." She paused and smiled out the front window.  "The fox is like Mike. When we were going through a hard time, he just sort of showed up.  We needed him...  That's why when Mom asked us to help her pick a place, we all picked Antelope Island."

 And now present day,
the fox story has come up again....

    The book about how I fell in love with Mike is complete, and ready for the release date on Monday 2/27.  I'd just written a press release that ended up being shared on the very front page of an eNews site.  I'd also heard back from a TV station, saying they would like to interview me on Studio 5 in Utah!
    As I drove home from work, I tapped the wheel to some music, and just thought about how strange life is.  I have worked so hard in the past to promote my writing; working, but never going anywhere.  Yet now, all of these things are falling into place.
    I sang loud, took a sip of my coffee, and turned right on a connector that takes me from the nice side of town to the country part that we live in.  I was just about to reach for my coffee again, when a blur of brown jumped high in front of the truck. 
    I swerved to a stop, watching as a majestic fox ran to the side of the road, then turned, sat down, and just stared regally at me.  It stayed forever, until I was actually the one to leave.  The whole time, it had looked at me like it knew me--to the very deepest part of my soul.  An overwelming feeling of gratitude flooded my heart.  Not only have I been very fortunate, but to see a wild fox again...that was amazing! 
    I know we all have special moments like this. But, for me, life is sort of magical right now.  I'm not totally sure why so many miracles seem to be happening all of the sudden, more easily than before.  I'm just going to embrace this while it lasts.  I'm so happy--I just want to share this feeling with everyone :)
    Some people would say the fox doesn't mean anything.  What do you think? 

    The TV interview will be aired in Utah at 11am today.  I'll post a link if they send me the video afterward.  Wish me luck! I hope the advice I shared will hope someone--and I also hope it'll interest people in the book!

How We Fell In Love...Or Not

Mike and I decided to talk about how we fell in love--and it took a turn for the worse. 
    This was to celebrate the release of my newest book, A STRANGER'S KINDNESS, which is the fictional story based on how we met.

    This video was actually pretty fun to make though--we might have to try it more often!
     Anyway, "A Stranger's Kindness" will be out on Monday; you can read a press release about that here: E-News -- EC Stilson, Previously Known For Her Memoirs, Has Now Written a Fictional Romance.

Don't forget about the awesome books that are either featured, or FREE until Monday.   

Lastly, if you're visiting my site for the Kindle Fire Giveaway, please click here: Kindle Fire Entry

Have an AMAZING day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How to Keep Your Romance Alive

    Meet Mike:
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Mike is a goofball.
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And When I met him, he was the ultimate bachelor. I mean seriously.... He owned not just one--but TWO kegs.  
He flaunted a pool table.  
Women would leave THEIR WALLETS at his house, 
just so they'd have an excuse to see him the next day.
He would throw parties, and by the end of the night, 
end up looking like this:
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 But for some reason, when Mike met me and my army of children, he went from this:
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To This:
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From This (yes, those are barrels of rum!):
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To This:
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Meet Me:
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I am also a goofball:
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And even though, I was happy being a single mom, 
and I thought I'd never find romantic love again... 
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I did.
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Through all of this, I truly believe the key to keeping your romance alive is to really appreciate 
every moment you have with each other--
and to have fun. 
Whether you're working on the yard:
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Or on an adventure:
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Just remember, life is short--enjoy the time you have together.
And if you haven't met the right person yet, don't lose hope.
I never thought I would....
BUT I did.
What keeps your romance alive?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Discount eBooks and Giveaway: February 24th - 28th

Since my latest book, A STRANGER'S KINDNESS, will be released on 2/27/17, I'm celebrating this event by hosting a giveaway.   
      From February 24th - 28th, The Golden Sky as well as Bible Girl and the Bad Boy will be available for FREE download.
    Lastly, since all of these exciting things are going on--and I just found out that I have over 300 reviews on Goodreads...
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I'll be giving away a Fire Tablet.
Check it out and enter below:
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    Beautiful 7" display, 7-hour battery life. Available in four colors.   
    Great to watch movies, TV shows, listen to songs, and read Kindle e-books.
    8 GB of internal storage and a microSD slot for up to 200 GB of expandable storage

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for all of your support and kindness over the years,
Elisa (EC Stilson) 

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Ultimate One-Upper

    I remember this like it was yesterday.  Some memories we can't forget, even if we want to! 
    "We're in town at my mother-in-law's," one of my best friends from highschool said after calling me.  He had gotten married out of state and had a baby.  "Can you come see us?  I'd love for you to meet my wife."
    "Of course!"  
    I put The Scribe in her car seat, and followed the directions to meet my friend.  Too bad I had no clue how badly the visit would go.
    After ringing the doorbell, I peered through the elaborate windows.  A huge chandelier hung in the entryway.  A majestic staircase rested at the end of the hall.  The vaulted ceiling practically touched the floor of Heaven....
    The door opened after a moment, and a man and woman were there to greet me.  "Well, hello," the fifty-something man said, his grey hair sparkling like the chandelier above him.  He wore a maroon robe and fuzzy slippers, even though it was the afternoon.  
    "Hi." I held the carseat in only one hand and waved.  "Is Dan here?" 
    "Dan--that character--why yes he is."
    So, this felt weird, like the beginning of either a horror movie or a too-good-to-be-true Disney episode.
    The greying couple led me around the staircase, through a hallway, and down to an enormous living room with a fireplace, grand piano, and a mini bar.
     Dan sat on the ground next to a gorgeous woman, and beside them was a little baby boy on a blanket.
     "Oh, he's darling!" I ran over to the baby and set The Scribe near him in her car seat.
     "It's so good to see you," Dan said.  "And this is Jessica, and my in-laws."  He motioned to everyone, and I shook their hands.  "But most importantly, THIS is Aiden." He pointed to the baby.
     The visit started off quite well, but after only a few minutes, I noticed something very strange.  They kept talking about Aiden--their baby--but no one had said anything about my baby.
    I studied Aiden.  So, my baby was pretty fresh out of the womb; Aiden looked like he'd been out for a while.  Rolls cascaded over his arms and legs.  His smile was a mere manipulation of fat.
    "Oh goo goo!  You so cute, baby.  You so cute!"  Jessica chirped like a repetitive, high-pitched parrot.
    "He is darling," I said.
    "Yes, he is.  Aren't you.  Aren't you. Aren't you."  Jessica's voice had ascended even higher--and if she were a man, I'd have thought someone was squeezing her....
    Anyway, I could not believe they hadn't said anything about my baby--let's face it--she was cuter.  So I took The Scribe from her car seat and let her rest on her back next to Aiden.
    At this point, Dan's in-laws came to stand near the babies.  I thought they'd say something--anything--about The Scribe.  BUT, they didn't!
    "Aiden.  Aiden.  Look over here. Good, baby.  Good boy!"
    What was he--a flippin' dog?
     That's when it happened, Aiden became so happy, he began flailing his arms.  He smacked my baby in the face, and used the leverage to roll over.
     "He rolled!  He rolled!"  Jessica stood and started jumping.  You would've thought he'd won the damn olympics!
     And didn't they see he'd only rolled because my baby had helped him?
     I looked down at The Scribe who had baby tears in her eyes, from getting smacked, but she wouldn't cry.  Her little face even smiled a little when she saw me gazing down tenderly at her.  My baby was cute AND brave.
     "He did roll!"  the in-laws both chimed.
     "Has he rolled before?" I asked.
     "Oh, yes! Lots of times.  Has YOUR baby rolled?"
     "Are you kidding?!  MY baby can roll!" I said. The point was, my baby had never rolled.  She'd recently escaped from another person's body for crying out loud!  Wasn't that enough for anyone these days?!
     So they started, for the first time, staring at my baby.  And I'm still not sure what came over me, but I began using telepathy.  
     ROLL.  I sent the word with my mind.  ROLL.  But my baby didn't know how to read minds--she got that from her father!
     And before I knew it, my hand was sneaking ever so gently, underneath the blanket.  I didn't look at the blanket, though, or my baby.  Instead I looked around the room.  "What a nice place you have here," I said.
    But no one else looked around.  And then faster than anything, I tugged on the blanket.  "My gosh!  SHE rolled.  My baby rolled too!" I squealed and clapped.  
    Apparently those people only liked it when Jessica clapped. All four of them just stared at me, then blinked.  I held The Scribe up-- "Oh sweetheart!  You rolled.  You rolled.  Who's the good baby?  You're the good baby!"
     The Scribe looked at me with her tiny little eyes, judging me like I was an idiot.
     And in that small moment, it had taken Dan, his wife, and his in-laws no time at all to be enamored with Aiden again.
    He was on his back now, on the blanket, where I ended up putting The Scribe again.  Right after I set The Scribe back down, Aiden had apparently won another olympic feat.
   "He smiled!  He smiled, Mom and Dad.  MY baby smiled."  Jessica stood and clapped her hands twice--then glared at me.  
     "My baby can smile!" I said.  And I got right in The Scribe's face and with my arms spread wide and my eyes big, I began gooing louder than anyhing you've ever heard.
    My baby did not smile.  My baby didn't even look remotely happy.  No...my baby looked like she thought I was going to eat her.  And then she started wailing.
    Mountains shook!  The waves, they rolled.  And I wondered if that's how Pangaea first cracked--from the wail of a truly terrified baby....
    We left after that, and Dan said he didn't want to be my friend any more.
    I know I shouldn't have tried to compete with them--but would it have killed them to say my baby was cute too?!

The Scribe several years after this even.
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I might not be the best person in the world, but at least I'm honest unless it's about my baby rolling.  

Have a great day,

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Doctor and a Player Piano

    My seven-year-old, Dr. Jones, wanted to see where I work.  So the other day I brought her to the hospital.  We each got a strawberry frappuccino, sat by a beautiful wall fountain in the arched lobby, and watched the player piano, playing itself.
    She suddenly snuggled into me, and looked up, petrified.
    "Mama, this is a hospital?"
    "A lot of sick people come here?"
    "Yes," I replied.
    "A lot of people die here?"
    "Ummm, yeah, I guess so," I said.
    She slowly turned to the player piano, still playing by itself.  "Do they always come back to play the piano?"
    I nearly spit out my frappuccino, laughing so hard.
    Kids are darling.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What Makes a Real Man -- A Valentine's Dedication

What Makes a Real Man?

    A real man is someone who's willing to do something other men might not even dream of--he's courageous, seeing a challenge and, while other men are busy getting scared, he's already coming up with solutions.  He's the kind of guy who dates a single mom with four kids, and instead of running away like a pansy, he simply says, "I've got this." He's amazing really--and I like his freakin' style.
I met a man like that once....

    A real man is selfless. He thinks about the needs of others.  He might even work a grave shift, getting home at five, but for some reason he's still willing to get up at seven to help the kids get ready for school--even though no one expects him to, or asks him to. 

    He's thoughtful....  On holidays like today, his kids wake up to see Valentine's bags prepared especially for each one of them.  And as he watches them open their gifts, his eyes light with amusement even though he hasn't slept all night, and he's no longer living for his needs alone.

    A real man is kind.  Even if their woman is sad, or having a really hard day about the same thing--for the millionth time in a row--that man will hold her in his arms, rock her, and tell her he loves her and everything will be okay.

    When I met Mike, I had no idea how much he would change my life.  I just remember joking around about the most inappropriate things, laughing so hard.  I thought, "Now there's a funny guy.  He's gotta be the happiest person I've ever met."  He was silly, and young, and fun.  I still can't believe we went from that, to this. 
    That jokester has taught me how strong someone can be, and how empowered they can make you feel--especially when they're your best friend.  He's taught me how fighting can actually be fun, after we finally find something to agree on.  And that although life can be exceptionally hard, our family is strong enough to make the hardships easier. 
    And lastly, he's helped me see that even if I didn't always feel like it, I am worth somethin'.  And that I would do nearly anything to make him feel the same.
    I know things aren't perfect, and sometimes I freak out when the dog sleeps in our bedroom.  And I can be completely irrational about the weirdest things--and I was more of a hindrance, than a help, that one time I "helped" you fix my car.  *still smiling*  But you have completely changed my life, and the lives of the children. 
    Thank you for being so wonderful to us.  I hope that every day you feel how much all of us love and appreciate you.
                 Happy Valentine's Day to a real man.
                                                                          Love you,

Monday, February 13, 2017

What will you be when you grow up?

The Scribe stood, arguing with me--like she enjoyed it.  Finally, I'd had enough--people told me the teen years can be difficult; they didn't tell me it could be about this!
    "I think you actually like arguing with me."
    "Well, I've decided I want to be a lawyer," the Scribe said, her fifteen-year-old eyes sparkling with mirth.
    Oh, boy, this was gonna be crazy.  The Hippie, her little sister who sat on a couch, suddenly turned off the TV.  "Is that why you've been asking me weird things?!  Mom, the other day The Scribe kept asking if I thought violent riots are wrong.  I didn't want to talk about it, but she kept asking...and asking!"
    "And what did you say?" I asked.
    "I said people shouldn't hurt each other.  Then she picked the other side and said some riots have changed our world for the best, even when they have been violent."  The Hippie walked over to us and kept talking.  "She made such a good point, that I actually changed my mind.  But then she started arguing AGAINST me again!  Said there's never, ever a place for violence.  Both points were so good; I just ended up walking away."  She put her hands on her hips and stared at The Scribe.  "A lawyer, huh?"
    "That's right." The Scribe smirked.  "And I'd probably make a pretty good one if I could get you to change your mind like that!  Hippie, what do you want to be?"
    The Hippie blushed for just a minute and looked down.
    "You're being so shy," I said, worrying.  Why was she nervous to tell us?  Did she want to be a Mickey at Disneyland or something?  I took a drink of my coke and nodded at her, to please go on.
    "Well, my boyfriend wants to be a nurse," The Hippie said.  "And I thought it would be great to work with him.  So, I guess I'll just--have to be a neurosurgeon."
    "A what?" I almost spit my drink out, so taken off guard.  Talk about flippin' random.
    "Well, I want to work with him, but if I'm gonna do that, I might as well be his boss."
    That's my girl.
    So my oldest daughters have been to the counseling office to get more information about attaining college credits in high school and then moving on after that.  They are so darling.  I have no idea what they'll actually end up being, but lawyer, surgeon, or Mickey at Disneyland, I just hope they'll be happy and always know I'm proud of them. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Strange Conversation About Life... and Death

This post is a continuation from yesterday.  You can read that here if you'd like:

    I'm not sure if you've ever had tea with a crocodile, but I can tell you, it's the strangest thing ever.
    "Tell me again, why did you want to meet me, child?" he asks, still holding the flowered teacup in his huge, reptilian fore-feet.
    "Because everyone is scared of you, and I'm sick of being scared."
    "What scares you about me?" He sets his teacup on the table, leans close to me and breathes in my face.
    My voice comes out a bit shakily this time.  "The unknown. You might hurt me. You might even kill me."
    "And you're scared to die?"
    "Yes. I'm sure I'll be fine with it after it happens, but I don't think anyone wants to know what it feels like to actually die."
    He nods, and his serpent-like pupils study me further.  "I've lived hundreds of times. And I've realized, from the day we're born, we begin dying.  Dying isn't so bad though, it's simply change--like the butterfly."
    "I'd hate being a caterpillar--doesn't a cocoon sound terribly claustrophobic?!"
    Sarco laughs so hard; when he's done I think he might inhale the room, just trying to catch his breath.  "All I'm saying is, you can be scared of everything.  You can be so scared of death, that you end up being scared of life.  None of us make it out of life alive.  But that's not bad--that means we have a chance to grow...to change."
    "But what happens after this?  I think I know, but I wish I knew absolutely."
    "Do you think the caterpillar is certain it will turn into a butterfly?  They've all just heard stories too.  But they go off instinct.  What does your heart tell you?"
    "To stop worrying.  Embrace change.  Not be so scared anymore." And for some reason instead of staying in my seat, or even taking a sip of my tea, I get up and hug Sarco.  He's so big only a small part of me can even hug him, but he understands.  "No matter the surroundings, I'm the only one who can control my own fear...or my own peace.  Thank you, Sarco.  I'm not so sacred anymore."
    After tea, we jump in the hole at the base of his underwater, air-filled cottage, then swim back to the surface.
    As I wring out my clothes, Sarcos eyes pop above the water's surface.  "Thanks again, Sarco.  Can I ever come visit you again?"
    "You can," he says.  "But I might be tempted to keep you down there forever."
    "I'm not scared," I say.  And then, I simply walk away.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Do you have an irrational fear? My fear was of fire.

   I don't know whether to call this a rational or an irrational fear, but when I was a kid, fire terrified me.
    At the age of nine, I would wake up at night, having dreams of deathly flames licking my toes and legs.  The ever-changing streaks of orange, yellow, and reds would climb my walls, and barricade my door.  I couldn't breathe, not even to scream.
    And when I'd wake up, the dream would still cling to my consciousness; I could feel the heat, taste the smoke, and smell the stench of burning wood.  I'd cough into my garbage can, half expecting black spit to come out.
    "It's okay, Elisa," my mom told me one night.  "Why are you so scared about this?  We have smoke detectors.  We're okay."
    "I'm scared of burning to death. And even if I don't die in a fire here, maybe I'll be stuck in one after I die. I'm just scared that I'm not going to Heaven."
    She hugged me.  "Of course you'll go to Heaven."
     The point was, I've been up to the altar about fifty-million times asking God to save my fire-hating soul.  And I'm sure He might, but my own family gets sick of me--does God really want me in the "Land of the Good," for eternity?!  We'll see....

    So, the next night, I had the same dream.  Fire scorched everything, and blocked my door....  The ceiling hung low, beating with heat-pulsing flames, and flecks of ash floated down toward my face-- 
    When I woke up, I didn't call for my mom this time because I already knew her best lines.  This wasn't her battle to fight--I needed to work through this on my own.  That's when I discovered something amazing.

    I bit my little lip and closed my eyes, not wanting to picture fire again, but I needed to picture something I could conquer.  The only other really scary thing my nine-year-old brain could imagine was crocodiles.  And, it's embarrassing to say, but when I've been scared as an adult, this story STILL makes me feel better.

The Crocodile and His Lake of Tears
Disclaimer: As I've gotten older this story has evolved...and will probably continue evolving until the day I die.

    I'm walking barefoot.  The jagged sand cuts at my arched feet. I long to wade in the murky lake at my side, but stories of death and heartache surround those waters.  The old women of the village say, we should never go near the shore.  I can't help it though, I'm curious. And now that I'm there, my skin is hot and dry.  My body aches for the rest only water can offer.  My soul longs for adventure.  After a time, I'm closer to the water. The lake eats at my toes, then my feet. My legs descend ever so gently, and I wonder momentarily what may be swimming inconspicuously beneath the surface.
    I'm standing there, minding my own business, when a crocodile the size of a dragon bobs to the surface.  Water rolls from his ancient, scaly back, and his side-winding eyes blink sardonically.     
    "Oh, child."  His black tail flicks derisively, a weapon humans wish they could still hone for war.  "You aren't very smart.  Didn't those old hags in the village tell you to never come to this lake?"
    My mind whirrs like a clock being wound backwards.  "Maybe they did tell me. But...maybe they didn't.  It wouldn't change the fact that I wanted to meet you."
    He's as big as a sarcosuchus, yet his body moves faster than seconds split in half.  He studies me, his reptilian pupils, chilling my soul.  "You're a strange little girl," he says.
    "And you're an odd crocodile. You're the biggest thing I've ever seen."
    He laughs, this gravely sound like he was a smoker in a past life, and his mouth is so big the noise echoes inside before finally escaping--probably the only thing to ever escape THAT mouth.  "Why did you want to meet me, child?"
   "Because everyone is afraid of you, even me.  But I don't want to be scared anymore."
    "Wish granted."  Then his gaping maw widens like the entrance to Hell. He lunges, and my legs are suddenly trapped by his jaws.  Pulled down to a drop-off, mere feet into the lake, he spins me down into the water, throws me sideways, then clamps me around the waist.
    Water fully envelopes us as we descend deep to the bottom of the lake. I almost scream, but know that losing any breath at all, would cause my doom. 
    I push at his face, to no avail.  And as we move farther down, I realize he's holding me almost gently, and the way we're spinning forces my soaking hair to drift past my face as if I'm a mermaid.  Although I'm deathly scared, for a split moment, I feel free.
     My heart continues racing, especially when I realize we're descending toward a massive cottage at the bottom of the lake.  
    How did a cottage sink down there?  My thoughts are panicked, sporadic, wondering how I'll breathe, and if he'll eat me in one bite, or two? But then we swim through a rocky tunnel before crawling underneath the house.  When we pop up through a hole in the floor, I gasp, because the cottage is perfectly sealed, filled with air, instead of water.
    "Sarco" (as I've called him when telling this story to my children) sets me down on a rock floor.  My hip hurts from the impact, and I shake like fallen prey.  He lumbers through the hole in the floor and every time he steps, the cottage shakes, making lake-water drip from my clothes and hair, and china on the nearby shelves, clatter in the aftermath.
    Peering around, different ideas flood my mind: Would he have me "over" for lunch or just "have" me for lunch? Did he prefer live meals, or dead ones?  Was he truly as terrible as he looked, or is primal instinct ever really evil?
    Then Sarco crawls across the floor, and sits at a huge mahogany table. His tail slides a tiny chair next to him.  "Over here, child!  It's time for tea."
    So I do the first thing I think of--I wring out my hair, flatten my sopping clothes, and sit beside the monstrosity. He pours me tea, his clawed, gnarled fore-foot, daintily holding the gorgeous China teakettle, and that's when things really got interesting.

To be continued tomorrow....

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The violin *trying*: Doom Strings, Death Folk... Some Strange Fiddlin'

    After reading this post: Playing Fiddle for a Dying Soul  
-- to read that, click HERE --
  photo ecsing_zps9vttuiv4.jpg 
a couple of people asked if I could 
show a clip of me playing the violin.
    This is not the style I played for that woman, but I had to post it anyway.  When I have free time, which isn't often, this is what I like to do.
The fiddle trying to play metal....

EC Stilson 2016 :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

He is Cantankerous and THAT'S a Challenge

Mike and I are currently down to one vehicle.  People keep asking how we're handling this, and honestly, I love it! 
    Let me back up...Mike and I have been married just over a year.  And only having one vehicle means that he's either my chauffeur, or I'm his.  It's a pretty great gig actually.  I zip around, pretending I'm getting paid.  And Mike is the best client ever: he's not rude, or demanding, sometimes I even get food for driving him! AND he's cute.
    "Why are you so happy?" he asked yesterday.
    I just smiled because I've never gotten to be a chauffeur before!  If you can't make the best of things, you've got nothin'.
    So, it's my turn to drive every night, when I pick up my swing-shift husband for lunch. 
    This is one of my favorite parts of the day because the most cantankerous man is a security guard at Mike's work.  I drive up to a looming prison-like gate, and that man is supposed to let me in.
    He's super-old (almost one-thousand), and he does NOT like me.  I like him all right, though--he smells like black licorice and I can tell we'd have a lot in common if he'd quit grimacing so much.
    Every flippin' day I see this man.  He walks around to the left side of the truck and asks me my name.
    "Elisa," I spout, every time.  "But the real question is, how the hell are you?"
    He just stares at me and blinks.  The other day it was raining and he stood, getting rained on.  I couldn't figure for the life of me, why he doesn't just wave me through like the other security guards do.  Nope, this man has a badge AND a will.
     "Fine, Ma'am.  Move along. You're cleared to come in."  He kinda hobbles when he walks. And as he totters back to his booth, I keep telling myself, someday he'll smile when I get there...someday.
     Someone once told me that I want to be everything to everyone.  I wouldn't go that far, but I do want to brighten people's days.  Heck, when I was a kid, my favorite character on TV was Oscar the Grouch.  
 photo oscarthegrouch_zps6kglap7d.jpg
    I wished so bad that I could live next to him.  His attitude cracked me up, and I wondered, what had made him that cranky?  Had one of his family members died in a tragic accident?  Did he never feel loved as a child?  Did he wish he'd been born with cuter fur/hair whatever the heck that is?  Did someone once dress him as a Christmas tree?  Did he wish he owned tweezers for that unabrow?  The list goes on.
      Back to the story.  Yesterday, Methuselah, walked over to the driver's side of my truck.  He stared at me, not saying a word.  So, I broke the awkwardness.
    "The sun's been shining.  The snow is melting!  It's been a beautiful day."
     His left eyebrow raised, and he looked around us.  His hunchback was pretty prevalent and when he looked around, his whole body turned with his head.  "Beautiful, huh?"
    And, at the moment, it really wasn't.  The sky hung low with pregnant clouds ready to give birth to--the biggest storm the world has ever seen!
    "How are you today, anyway?" I asked.
    He leaned closer to me, studying me with those ageless eyes.  "I'm...all right.  Now move along!"  Then a slight smile crept onto his face.  
    I sped into the parking lot and couldn't control the happiness in my heart.  That man had made my day, just with a smile.  It's amazing what a little kindness can do.

Monday, February 6, 2017

How to Find Buried Treasure

A memory...from 3 years ago :)

    "I realized I'll never save enough to get a laptop, but at least I can buy a kindle," the Scribe said.  "My friend will sell me hers.  I just need eighty dollars."
    Her friend--that sounded like a recipe for disaster.  "And where are you going to get eighty dollars?" I asked.  My four kids gathered around.  For some reason even Doctor Jones (my toddler) wanted to hear what the Scribe would say.
    "I just need a shovel," the Scribe said.
    "What? Why?" It made no sense to me, but the other kids seemed to understand.
    "Mom, I know what she's talking about," the Hippie said.  "Buried treasure!  Your buried treasure!"
    "Exactly." The Scribe nodded, winking.  She sat on the couch before her three siblings joined her.  "Mom, can you tell us the story again?  Come on, you know we love it.  Plus, I need the dough."
    I snorted--those kids kill me.
    "Fine."  I sat on the coffee table, suddenly understanding what they had referred to.  "Once upon a time, there was a little girl.  Her name was . . . Elisa!"  The kids giggled as I went on.  "She worked, harder and harder, earning every penny, dime, nickle and quarter she could . . .  She sold lemonade.  She picked asparagus! She even scrounged change from her brother's room--when he wasn't looking."
    It was true.  I must have been about seven by the time I'd saved more than Bill Gates is worth.  I toiled--feeling the joy that comes from a hard day's work.  I hid all the money under my bed.  Sure that sounds miserly, but I wasn't trying to be an angel.  I stole a bunch of my brother's best socks after that--just the left ones.  I filled those suckers with change.  At dinner, I laughed into my soup when my brother asked where his socks kept going.
    My mom smiled sweetly--so innocent--and said, "That's the mystery with socks.  No one knows where they go."
    Except me!  I had them--dang it--I knew more than most grown-ups did.
    Anyway, days crept into months and summer finally came.  My mom knelt gardening, and when I snatched the hand shovel--she had no idea it was me.  I tiptoed to the backyard and that's when I started digging.
    The backyard was massive, stretching halfway with grass until it became dirt and went all the way back to a creepy alley that had my name written all over it.
    I dug the biggest hole the world's ever seen--and I must have done it quick, 'cause my mom didn't even see me!  I was a ninja, a rich ninja and nothin' could stop me--not even taxes.
    I grabbed all my change that was still in my brother's best dress socks, then I threw them in the hole and covered 'em up.  It was just a random spot in the yard--a place that needed some kind of marker.  I didn't want to be obvious, so I took a rock and made a huge "X" in the ground.
   It felt really great.  My family didn't know how rich I was, and that was all right.  I bet my mom would have let me out of chores and everything IF she knew I was a billionaire.  But I didn't want them loving me just for my money--that would've been terrible.  I smiled thinking about all of it.  That night my dreams were wonderful about affording chocolate fountains and hosting big parties.    
   It wasn't until the rains came, that my hopes crashed to the ground.  I stared out my window.  The "X" was gone!  All my hard work--was hidden.
    My mom insisted on dressing me for school.  I wore some pansy dress and bows that made me look like a kitten.  When my mom wasn't looking, that's when I ran outside and dug into the mud.  I made hole after hole, but I couldn't find my funds in the rain.  That's the trouble with being good at hiding things--I even hid it from myself.  I went inside and that's when I got in trouble.  "What . . .  Your dress! What have you been doing in the mud?" my mom asked.  But I wouldn't talk--pirates NEVER reveal the location of their buried treasure.  As I took a bath, my brother asked again about his missing socks and I did chuckle a bit--he'd never know.  But it did bother me--maybe that's why God sent the rain.  I'd hidden money in stolen socks--that made it sinful, practically.

   I looked at each of my kids and finished the story. 
"It wasn't until we moved to the big city that I cried.  I waved to the house.  My family all thought it was because I loved the place.  That wasn't it at all though.  I was just sad to be leaving my fortune behind."
    "Wow," the Hippie said.
    "How much dough did you bury?" the Scribe asked.
    "I don't know.  It might have been five bucks for all I know.  But when I was little it seemed like a hundred."
   "I knew it," she said.  "How far away is that place--does someone still live there?"
    "It's too far away.  Plus, someone does live there.  We just can't sneak in and dig up their yard."
    The Scribe nodded.  "I guess I'll have to find another way.  But it was a good idea . . . and a good story.  After all, how many kids have mothers who used to bury treasure, just for fun."
    "Not many." The Hippie laughed before continuing. "Maybe just us."
    They all got up and left.  I gazed through the window to our backyard.  Rain splattered the dirt and for some reason I couldn't quit smiling.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Picnic on a Grave: Romance Gone Wrong

A memory, from two years ago--before Mike and I were married:

    I peered out the window, admiring my favorite mint-green tree.     Once, that tree had meant nothing to me; in fact I'd thought it was ugly and twiggy. But my cat had loved the tree, basking in its shade, always rolling or stretching contentedly in the grass at its base. So, after she died, I buried her in the tree's shade, knowing there's no other place she'd rather be.
    It was almost time to drive the kids to the sitter as I stood looking out the window.  "Do you still miss our cat?" The Hippie suddenly asked me. "Because I do."
    I hugged her. "Yes, I do. I know she didn't pass long ago, but look," I pointed, "the grass is growing back around her grave. You wouldn't even know we buried her there. And at least we can go say 'hi' to her whenever we want to."
    The Hippie nodded.
    After dropping the kids off, I got a call from Mike. "Can you stay out for another half-hour?" he asked. "I have a surprise at the house for you, but it isn't ready yet."
    "Okay?" I said, not even hiding the excitement in my voice.
When I finally arrived home, the sky had darkened fully and candlelight flickered through my front windows.
    But once in the kitchen, instead of seeing Mike there, only a bunch of white candles sat on the counter.
    "Mike?" I whispered.
    A trail of candles led down the stairs, so I followed them to the backyard. My breath caught in my throat as I opened the backdoor—that's when I saw it...
    Mike sat so masculine and handsome, surrounded by a ring of candles at the base of my favorite tree—ON TOP OF MY CAT'S GRAVE.
    My hand instantly covered my mouth. Why was he having a séance on her grave!
    "Elisa," Mike motioned me over, completely oblivious to my freak-out. He pointed at two steak meals resting next to him in the ring of flickering candles. But all I could stare at was the very rare steak on our plates.
    "Oh!" I choked out the word, taking a seat next to Mike, disrespectfully sitting over my dead cat all because of love. As Mike talked, I wondered if I was sitting on her entire body, or just one part, like her head or butt. Did it still look like it always had? Had it decayed already? Oh my gosh--she wasn't even that far down because I'd done a crappy job burying her!
    "Take a bite," Mike chirped, so freakin' happy!
    The meat on his fork oozed blood.
    My throat remained tight, as I tried to stay calm, but every time I took a bite of steak, I thought of how the cow was dead...and so was my damn cat. And what would SHE think of us having a party on her grave anyway—how sacrilegious was that?! She'd haunt me forever.
    "Are you okay?" Mike finally asked, getting a clue.
    "Everything is..." I turned pale like a vamp.
    "Okay?" he pro-offered. "I've tried to make this night special. What's bothering you?!"
    "It's just that..." I didn't know how to tell him. He'd tried so hard. "It's just that...," I repeated. "Don't hate me for telling you this instead of just enjoying the moment. But there's something you should know... There's a dead body buried...right underneath us."
    "You're kidding?" he asked, and I noticed he'd stopped chewing the food in his mouth.
    "No," I said.
    Mike paled, then swallowed that huge piece of steak as his rabbit-scared eyes studied me.
    "Who," he cleared his throat several times, "is buried underneath us?"
    "Simkhaw." Tears filled my eyes. "You've heard me talk about her..... Maybe a foot under—okay maybe six inches!"
     Well, wasn't he inquisitive, Mister Ring-of-Fire himself! Then he scooted slightly away from me.
"She loved this tree" I balked. "You're judging me for burying my cat in my yard? Sure, it's probably illegal, but she LOVED this tree. And I'm not the one who made a picnic on her grave!" He didn't respond. "I would've buried her deeper, but the ground is hard out here! I couldn't dig farther than that!"
    "Your...cat," he mouthed.
    "Yeah, my cat. I've told you about Simkhaw before?"

 photo scary-eyes-in-the-dark-hi_zps9ieuh9fr.png     
    He shook his head. "Simkhaw...Why, no you haven't.  Holy crap, Elisa--at first I thought you were talking about a person!" And he was seriously so shook up!
   I suddenly forgot that I sat on my dead cat's grave. I forgot that Mike had created the biggest fire-hazard known to man. I also forgot that I'd probably just scared the shit-balls out of the man I loved.
    "Oh my gosh--I am so sorry." Then seeing his still horror-stricken face, I found the misunderstanding so amusing I laughed until I nearly had a six-pack. I snorted and giggled, completely red in the face.
    Then instead of being angry, Mike actually laughed too.
"Of all the romantic things I could have done," he finally said, "I made a picnic on your cat's grave and then I surrounded it with candles."
    "It does kinda look like a freaky ritual," I confessed.
    He agreed. So, we moved the entire shebang, candles and all, to the other side of the yard. And after that, we actually had a wonderful time.
    "This is a night we'll never forget," Mike said.
     I looked up into the night sky, wondering if my cat was somewhere up there, laughing her furry butt off. "You've got that right!" I said, then I blew out the candles and snuggled into Mike's arms.