Dec. 2011 ~ Volume 10 No. 5
December 1, 2011
Hurray! It's time for some holiday fun! I could use some fun because I've been working hard. I finished Old Enough To Know Better, and it's up for sale wherever ebooks are sold.
Here's the Amazon Kindle link where it's $.99.
Next week I'll publish Nobody's Cinderella, followed by Ebook Success: Joan Sells & Tells All. Then, I'm going to try to get my Christmas short story Santa! Baby? finished. That's the story featuring the Vernon Ladies Bridge Club where the blue-haired and white-haired ladies of the town meet every Wednesday to solve the problems of their small southern town and keep the grapevine fertilized. The Vernon Ladies Bridge Club, where no one knows exactly how to play bridge, was my creation in my romantic comedy JANE (I'm Still Single) JONES.
If I get all this published, I'll be sure and send everyone an email notice.
Now, here's a Net Floater to give you a laugh. This tickled my funny bone. I did not create this piece. As usual, my friend Frank in Oklahoma sent this to me.
* * * * * * * * * *
31 Funny Thoughts For 31 Days of December
1. Save the whales. Collect the whole set.
2. A day without sunshine is like...night.
3. On the other hand, you have...different fingers.
4. I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.
5. 42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
6. 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
7. I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
8. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted then used against you.
9. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
10. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
11. I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.
12. A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
13. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
14. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
15. No one is listening until you make a mistake.
16. Success always occurs in private and failure in full view.
17. The colder the x-ray table the more of your body is required on it.
18. The hardness of butter is directly proportional to the softness of the bread.
19. The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the ability to reach it.
20. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is
21. Two wrongs are only the beginning.
22. The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
23. The sooner you fall behind; the more time you'll have to catch up.
24. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
25. Change is inevitable except from vending machines.
26. Plan to be spontaneous -- tomorrow.
27. If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.
28. How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise my hand.
29. Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.
30. If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving isn't for you.
31. He who laughs last is the slowest thinker.
* * * * * * * * * *
Now for something a bit more profound.
A Little That Is Pure
by Joan Reeves©1990
(I wrote about this in 1990 for my column in the Houston Chronicle.)
Everyone has a story to tell if we are willing to listen. Sometimes, the stories stay with us through the years. Not a Christmas goes by that I don't think about a friend who has long since moved from my neighborhood.
Pat Mallery, my friend and former neighbor, was a very talented artist who worked in acrylic and oil. One day she shared her story with me, telling me an extraordinary tale of two men—one world famous, yet whose name is not as well known as the current Hollywood heartthrob, and, the other, a man relatively unknown in all ways. Now, I'd like to share her story with you.
It all began a long time ago, on the Christmas Eve of 1818, to be precise, in the small village of Oberndorf, Austria. Assistant pastor Joseph Mohr asked Franz Gruber, a teacher who had served as soloist and temporary organist at the Catholic Church for two years, to compose some music for a poem that Mohr had just written and wanted to present at the Christmas service that evening.
Young Franz Gruber read the poem and proceeded to pick the notes out on a violin. By the time evening services began, he had composed the simple melody for Mohr's poem, Silent Night, Holy Night. That young Austrian teacher who composed the music for the world's most recognized Christmas song was my friend Pat's great-great-great-grandfather. Pat Gruber Mallery recalls her father Mathias telling about his famous ancestor, invariably at Christmas time.
Mathias Alexander Gruber, Pat's father who was born in 1898, was the son of Adam Gruber of the Austrian Diplomatic Service. At the age of two, young Mathias was brought to America to live with relatives and attend school. Though his Austrian parents visited him as he grew up, Pat says that, for the most part, her father considered himself an American.
When Mathias was twelve years old, he returned to Austria for a funeral. While in Ottakring, one of Vienna's twenty-one districts, he visited a blind neighbor who played the accordion. Young Mathias, fascinated with the musical instrument, fingered the notes to Silent Night. Proud of his accomplishment, he ran home to show his family. His great-grandfather Ludwig, a retired blacksmith who lived with Mathias's parents, told Mathias about his own father Franz Gruber (who was Mathias's great-great grandfather) and the Christmas Eve so many years past. Two weeks later, Ludwig, at the advanced age of 102, passed away, but his story had made a deep impression on Mathias.
After his great-grandfather Ludwig's funeral, Mathias returned to Cincinnati to finish school while his parents remained in Vienna. Before Mathias celebrated his seventeenth birthday, World War I broke out. He was recalled to Austria and, to his shock, was drafted into the Austrian Army.
One of his friends in the 61st Infantry had relatives in Oberndorf so Mathias went to the small village with his friend in an effort to research his famous relative. The only thing he found there was a small marker mentioning Gruber's contribution. Local authorities were uncooperative in Mathias's quest for information. In fact, they acted as if he were treading on the memory of Franz Gruber.
Mathias served with gallantry and was wounded four times. While still in his teens, he was decorated for bravery by old Emperor Franz Josef. After the war, he drifted through Europe, even getting shanghaied into the French Foreign Legion at one point! But home—his beloved adopted country of America—called him. In 1921, he finally returned to the United States.
Though he loved America, he never forgot the small marker in Oberndorf that honored his great-great-grandfather Franz. In 1938, he wrote the Mayor of Oberndorf, identifying himself as the heir of Franz Gruber. Mathias told his daughter, in the best of American-ese: “He gave me the real brush-off.”
Tragically, World War II brought an end to Mathias's quest for his legacy. He lost both his parents, his last link to his famous ancestor, in the concentration camps. After the war ended, the iron curtain fell on Oberndorf.
Mathias may not have been able to prove legal claim to any manuscripts or papers that Gruber may have left, but he inherited something far more precious than penned notes on vellum, if one believes that the artistic soul, that special creativity that exists in some people, can be inherited. Where Franz Gruber revealed his artistic talent with music, Mathias expressed his in poetry. His daughter Pat celebrates hers in drawing and painting.
When Mathias died in 1973, the essence of his personality and his artistry was revealed by the collection of yellowing pages that was bequeathed to Pat. Her legacy was his writings that covered a lifetime, and they meant more to her than a treasure in gold. Each page, covered with his elegant penmanship, revealed his talent and proclaimed him as the exceptional person she had always known him to be.
Mathias Alexander Gruber built his life and his writing upon the foundation of honesty. He wrote: “Help me to deal very honestly with words and with people because they are both alive.” Many times through the years, Pat said, her father would read a story written about Franz Gruber, usually filled with inaccuracies. Mathias would call the writer, not to castigate, but to educate, and always very politely.
Mathias also wrote: “ A little that is pure is worth more than much that is mixed.” Perhaps that is the reason why Silent Night, Holy Night has endured year after year. It's a pure little melody with simple, easy words. Yet, the purity of that little tune composed by a temporary organist, and the simple words penned by the assistant pastor produced an ageless song recognized the world over.
This holiday season as you hear the familiar strains of Silent Night, Holy Night, regardless of your faith, perhaps you'll do as I, and think about these two men. Visualize them if you will. Franz Gruber, whose contribution to our world still touches our hearts, shivering in that chilly provincial church in Oberndorf so many years ago as he picked out the notes on a violin, and his descendant, Mathias Gruber, whose name isn’t even a footnote in any history book, filling page after page, year after year, writing, practicing the art that he loved so dearly.
Mathias Gruber never succeeded in gaining recognition as Franz Gruber's legal heir, nor was he ever published. However, his quest was not in vain. His writings were not wasted. His talent was not scorned. His fight for his heritage, recorded on paper of course, and his writings, were carefully stored in a cardboard box for his daughter who cherishes it just as she cherishes the memory of her father.
All this was revealed to me one cold December afternoon. Now, this Christmas, I share it with you.
* * * * * * * * * *
Brought to you By:
OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER
Every woman makes mistakes. Meet Stormy Clarkson, haunted by the three whoppers she made that changed her life forever. Stormy is on the brink of turning fifty, and she's crushing on a younger man--totally gorgeous, sexy Sean Butler, owner of Sierra Verde Winery. Sean's been after her for six months, but she's resisted every advance. She can't risk another mistake, and Sean scares her because of the way he makes her feel.
Then, one night he kisses her. She can't forget his kiss.
Stormy learned some hard lessons from the men who wanted her for her face and her body, but not for herself. Armed with iron self-control and the desire never to risk her heart, she's determined to deny what she feels for Sean.
Sean Butler was once an interrogator for the U.S. Army. He knows a lie when he hears one, and that's all he hears in Stormy's icy refusals. Sean's smart enough to know that the only way to deal with a control freak is to make her lose control. He has a plan to do just that. The beautiful blonde had better be on her guard because he's coming for her like the U.S. Marines. To win her heart, he's prepared to: Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.
Available wherever ebooks are sold. Thank you!
* * * * * * * * * *
"That's all there is, there isn't any more."
Ethel Barrymore, curtain call in 1904.