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More personal details regarding my family activities or events.

An Alien’s View of #Christmas #scifi

Santa with Dog

Santa with Dog

A few years ago I saw a comment about the oddness of Christmas that has stuck with me. It said, “At what other time of year do you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks?”

Too true. We see Christmas cards of cute guys wearing Santa outfits while holding puppies. There are cards with our kids on them, or our grandkids. Pictures of decorated trees. Snow-scenes. Snowmen, in fact — snow families. St. Nicholas, aka the Jolly Fat Man. We spend money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. Christmas is a bit odd in that way.

Now, imagine if you were an alien and had never experienced a twenty-first century Christmas before. You arrive on Earth on December 24, 2013 in North America. Your arrival was purposely quiet. Your mission is to observe and report back without being noticed. What would you say in your report?

Population: extremely heavy in rural and shopping areas, while places of apparent business seem abandoned by comparison

Advertisements: Profusion of advertising featuring a fat, graying man in a red suit trimmed with white fur, oddly mixed with what appears to be ads for exercise equipment for a “fit new year”. Same man appears on street corners ringing bells, and on thrones in places of business. People bring children to him. Cannot determine if this is a deity or a patron of sales. Suggest second trip in different season to observe.

Candy Cane Reindeer

Candy Cane Reindeer

Security: Armed and unarmed uniformed police everywhere. Extreme attention at places of commerce, and on items which appear to be small plastic cards. These are often shown before leaving with purchases, although no currency seems to change hands. Perhaps the items being removed from places of business can be recalled by the “cashier”, and the cards are merely ID.

Food: Lavish meals are being planned, with images of huge cooked birds on platters. High attention is paid to crooked red and white “canes” often decorated with attached items. Pastries in the form of small biscuit-shapes are seen everywhere. Most are decorated or festooned with icing and sprinkles. Perhaps these are the reason such attention is paid to “fitness equipment.”

Space travel: Confusingly, there are multiple images of outer space travel displaying advanced ships and alien contact, yet these all seem to be works of fiction.

Weaponry: Debates ongoing over “gun control” while civil wars are taking place throughout the world. Pockets of war interspersed with areas of peace. Most weaponry is primitive compared to ours.

First Contact: So-called UFOs are discussed everywhere. Population seems open to first contact, while government is apparently opposed to same.

Potential for Colonization: Wait another century

What do you think? What types of items did I miss that the alien would have reported?

Happy Holidays to you and yours, no matter what planet you call home.

How to Offer Help at Christmas #holidays #pets #hunger

People and pets will go hungry this Christmas. It’s sad that in the midst of all our plenty, there are still some who won’t get enough to eat. Why not be a blessing this Christmas? If you want to offer help and make a difference, here are some concrete things you can do.

Offer help for People

You can offer help in a concrete way. Instead of stocking up on cranberry sauce and stuffing, here are some items people need every day of the year. Donate these and you help people long after the holidays are over. Once you determine a place to donate, consider offering some of these items.

1) For people on food stamps and other assistance, a food allowance is provided, but it doesn’t cover diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, or cleaning supplies. When it’s on sale, stock up and donate some of the extra.

2) Personal hygiene products are vital. Consider picking up small travel sizes (handy for those who are homeless).

3) One of the biggest needs is for baby food and formula. Getting the dry powder to mix is great, and less expensive. If you get coupons for these items, stock up when they go on sale. Offer help personally if you know someone with a baby by bringing coupons, offering to drive them to the store, shop for them, or even to just sit down and talk. New parents are often exhausted. Having someone offer help might make a big difference.

4) Healthy snacks for children to pack in lunches, such as granola bars, milk boxes, juice boxes, and fresh fruit like apples and oranges. These keep well.

5) Salt, pepper (especially the type in small shakers), mayo, ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, sriracha, salsa, and other condiments such as salad dressing.

6) Donate non-perishable proteins. Pick up cans of tuna, chicken, ham, beans, jars of peanut butter, or almond butter.

A site in the Atlanta area for helping families is Papa’s Pantry. They let families come in and shop at no cost for what they need in a small store of donated items. The site is always in need of donations. They also teach workshops such as budgeting, job-finding skills, resume creation, and how to coupon. Knowledge and skill help break the cycle of need.

Offer help for Pets

How to Offer Help at Christmas #holidays #pets #hunger

Help Rob’s Rescues feed hungry pets

When people are in tough financial straits, they sometimes have to surrender their animals to a shelter because they can’t take care of them anymore. That’s so sad! Do you have a pet? When you shop for your own, grab a few extra cans of dog and cat food. Even one can of food will make a difference to a hungry animal. Local shelters love getting extra food. They can use old blankets and towels too. Call your local shelter and ask what they need most. After a natural disaster such as a wildfire, flood, or earthquake, consider contacting one of the service agencies that help homeless pets. One in the Atlanta area is the Homeless Pets Foundation.

I want to give a shout out to Rob’s Rescues near Atlanta, GA. Rob writes a column every month for four magazines in the Cherokee and Cobb county areas north of Atlanta. He profiles one dog and one cat each month from both the Cobb County Animal Shelter and Cherokee the County Animal Shelter and tries to get them adopted. He does pet food drives in local businesses and animal hospitals, and gives pet food to people who can’t afford to feed their pets. He has done interviews with people like the Gwinnett County Sheriff about the Jail Dogs Program. He’s been doing this since May 2015. The unusual thing about Rob is that he is still in elementary school! Just goes to show that to help others, you only have to be willing.

I urge you to click the Rob’s Rescues link, visit his site, and help him accomplish his mission of feeding pets.

A story about the spirit of giving

When I wrote A Romance for Christmas, I wanted to show the spirit of giving. This story of a young widow with a child at Christmas will leave you in happy tears. Here’s a peek.

The peephole showed a policeman in a crisp black uniform, wearing one of those Smokey Bear hats. It took Dara back to the night Jack had died. She unlatched the door and opened it an inch, dread tightening her chest.

“Oh, my God. Is something wrong, Officer?”

“No, ma’am.” He removed his hat. His smile showed sparkling white teeth and a shock of bright blond hair that fell over his brow. “I’m Scott Gregori. My daughter Susan and your Christine are in the same preschool class. I don’t suppose you remember me. I was at your husband’s funeral last year.”

In a flash, she remembered him.

Their daughters’ preschool was part of a small church. The school had sent a notice that the mother of one of their students had passed away, along with suggested ways to discuss the death of a loved one with children. Dara had attended his wife’s funeral to pay her respects. When Jack died, only about a month later, Officer Gregori had come to pay his.

“Oh, yes. I remember. Please, won’t you come in?” She opened the door wider.

“I brought you and Christine something.” He bent down and picked up an oversized box before stepping inside. “This morning, I heard about your accident, and I thought– Well, maybe you could use some help with Christmas presents for your daughter.” He added, “If you wouldn’t mind.”

Dara shut the door behind him. “It’ll make Christine happy, and that’s what counts. You’re kind to do this.”

He waved off her thanks with a quick gesture and set down the box. “All of us at the station chipped in and I went shopping. We figured money was tight so we wanted you to have this.” He handed her a fat envelope.

How to Offer Help at Christmas #holidays #pets #hunger

A Romance for Christmas

She opened it, gasped and covered her mouth. A stack of paper money filled it. “Oh. Oh, my– my goodness.”

He was smiling. “We all have families, and we help each other when things–” He swallowed. “Anyway, you know how it is in a town this size. We watch out for each other. The crew at the station and I wanted you to have that. And don’t try to refuse.” He set a hand over hers. “All of us have been there. Use it however you need.”

Shaking, she refolded the envelope with extreme care. Words wouldn’t come. She slid it into her pocket. “Thank you,” she whispered, tears blurring her vision.

It’s what happens next that begins a Christmas Dara will never forget.

Read A Romance for Christmas

Genre Sweet contemporary romance, holiday romance
Book heat level: PG
This sweet feel-good holiday romance reaffirms all you love about Christmas. It’s Christmas Eve, and the end of a year in which everything Dara loves was lost. Everything but her little girl and a fierce determination to survive. When a cop brings Christmas to her door, he brings another gift she never expected to get.
Publisher: Romance Lives Forever Books
This book is $1.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited
4.2 stars on Amazon wih 33 ratings
Special offer: buy the Amazon print version as a gift, and you get the Kindle version free to keep.
Amazon print

Saint Patrick’s Day Yumminess – Pistachio Cookies!

A quick and easy low sugar recipe for cookies you can use any day of the year, but they’re great for Saint Patrick’s Day.
Pistachio Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups baking mix
1 (3 oz.) package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 egg
1 Tbsp sugar
Grease cookie sheet.
Preheat oven (350 F)
To Make
Stir the butter into the pudding mix, and add the baking mix a bit at a time.
Beat the egg slightly, and add.
Stir in the sugar.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface. A shamrock-shaped cookie cutter is great for this holiday, if you have one.
Bake 9 minutes, or until lightly golden.
– – –
Cream Cheese Frosting
5 oz pkg cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
1 T vanilla
1 T honey
Mix ingredients. If desired, add 1-2 drops green food coloring. Spread on cooled cookies.
Kayelle Allen is an award-winning, multi-published author. Her heroes and heroines include badass immortals, warriors who purr, and agents who find the unfindable–or hide it forever. She is known for unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion.

How Did it Feel Aboard the Titanic – 100 Yrs Ago

The Titanic
HMS Titanic

As a child, I was fascinated to learn that a huge ship called the Titanic had sunk and cost 1503 people their lives. The idea of it sailing without enough lifeboats, and possibly with some of the people locked in the hold and not permitted to escape shocked me. I could not imagine how anyone could be so cruel to another person.

When research helped reveal the truth, that the ship’s gates had indeed been locked, dooming poor passengers to their death, it haunted me. Less than 32% of the total passengers and crew survived. How many might have, if they’d been given a chance to fight for their lives? How did it feel, being behind locked bars, while the ship sank with no way to escape?

My father had been born a few days after the Titanic sank, the same year, so I had his birthdate as a reminder, but I had been too moved by details of the tragic event to ever forget.

Now, one hundred years later, the media coverage is probably more intense than it was back then, when the disaster actually happened. So much attention has been focused on the event, that I think we tend to forget the human aspect of the sinking.

What was it like? One can barely imagine the terror of being in the midst of the sea and having your safety snatched away in the dark. Fill your tub with water as cold as you can make it, and dump in ice. The seas that night were home to icebergs. Climb into the tub, fully clothed, and see how long it takes before you begin to shiver. Then think about the fact that out there in the ocean, there is no bottom to touch — if you want to live. You can’t climb out when you’re tired. You have to stay there, keeping yourself afloat on whatever you can find in the water. Sharks did not swim that far north – it was too cold for them. Most people died within minutes of entering the water, and most, but not all, sank to the bottom. Some floated in the sea, and were later pulled out and taken ashore for burial. One hundred-fifty were buried in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

As a result of this ship’s sad tale, maritime law changed. Safety regulations sharpened, and the event made people swear to never let such a tragedy happen again. There have been sinkings since, and deaths, but Titanic still ranks among the top ten disasters at sea, in regards to lives lost.

For more on disasters at sea, you may want to read these articles:
Was the Sinking of the Titanic the Worst Sea Disaster
Worst Cruise Ship Disasters

image credit (HMS Titanic): public domain / Wikipedia

Kayelle Allen is an award-winning, multi-published author. Her heroes and heroines include badass immortals, warriors who purr, and agents who find the unfindable–or hide it forever. She is known for unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion.

Sexual Diversity in the Military

Diversity Pays.

Today, May 17th, is International Homophobia Awareness Day. I’m taking part in a series of blogs designed to bring attention to the subject.

I decided to focus on diversity in the military, because I’m a veteran. I served in the US Navy for four of the longest years of my life. ^_^ Everyone should have the right to work unimpeded by harrassment. As a woman, I experienced harrassment from shipmates who thought it their right to “Join the Navy and ride the WAVES.” WAVES = Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service. By the time I joined, the “emergency” aspect was over, and the name had changed to WINS (Women in Naval Service). However, the phrase only changed to “Join the Navy and jam the WINS” (a play on jamming the winds on a sailing ship), so the attitude was the same. Women were not viewed as coworkers, but as sex objects. Two items we were required to wear were a girdle, and lipstick. I managed the lipstick (at least in the morning), but figured out about day two of boot camp that no one was going to feel me up for a girdle. I kept one on hand for uniform inspection (we had to occasionally show we had the proper “kit” on hand), but never wore one.

Pay for a Navy WAVE (1940s)

When I reported to my first duty station, there were two heads (bathrooms). One was for men, the other for officers. Women had to walk to the next building, which housed offices. Fortunately, that changed not long after. Pay wasn’t bad. In the 40s, women were paid different amounts from men. By the time I came along, we were paid the same as men. But there were still things that kept women and men apart when it came to service. Our uniforms were different from men’s. Women were permitted to wear male fatigues (a type of dungaree and chambray shirt) when working in areas such as a flight line, rather than the more restrictive and detailed female pants and blouses with darts. I recall being told if I didn’t like a rule to “get back in your own uniform.” As if what I wore had something to do with my attitude.

I also thought it was disgraceful that women were referred to as “civilians under naval training” as if we didn’t really “cut it” to be true members of the military. It wasn’t until I was writing up a complaint about being called this that I noticed what the acronym would be: CUNT. It was a good thing no one had called me that within earshot. Back then, I had a tendency to speak before thinking. I’m amazed I got into as little trouble as I did. Before I submitted the report, we got a notice from the captain of the base that he had heard about this very term, and stated in strong terms that it was never to be used on the base again. If it wouldn’t have risked making me look like a girly girl (or being put on report for conduct unbecoming) I’d have hugged the man. :)

The very next day, one of the women in my squadron brought in a Chippendales poster to put in her locker, since the walls in her work area were plastered with naked women. Her male coworkers tore it down. Next morning, she and I went to the chief to complain about the double standard, and were told the captain had already taken care of that problem, too. It seems he had decided to give his new bride a tour of the facilities and did a walk-through prior to bringing her on base. The guys muttered for days, but the walls were plain green after that.

Pay for all service members (2012)
(from USNavy)

It was wrong of my coworkers to treat women the way they did when we first arrived. Because the captain of the base took steps to ensure we women had a chance to prove ourselves, we were able to overcome the prejudices against us. I ended up making lifelong friends on that base, most of them with men. My husband and I still have good memories of them. We women were willing to stand up for ourselves, but having someone in leadership who took steps to do the right thing made all the difference for us. I hope you will do the right thing for gay, lesbian, and transgendered workers around you.

Are you in a position to speak up where you work? You might not be in a leadership position, but can you step in and prevent harrassment? Are you willing to allow people a chance to prove they are good workers, and see past their outside appearance? Are you willing to speak up when others are treated with less courtesy or respect? Would you want someone to stand up for your kid sister or brother if they were harrassed? What will you do when you see a gay, lesbian, or transgendered person spoken to in a less than courteous manner, or treated unfairly where you work? For some help about what to do and how to handle it, click this link. 2012 Diversity Pays
To visit other blogs in this hop, click HERE.

Kayelle Allen is an award-winning, multi-published author. Her heroes and heroines include badass immortals, warriors who purr, and agents who find the unfindable–or hide it forever. She is known for unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion.

Today My Husband Won’t #poetry

My husband and me, 2011.

Today My Husband Won’t
By Kayelle Allen
Today, my husband won’t leave his socks on the floor, or miss the hamper.
He won’t pull out a towel and mess up the way the others are folded.
He’s not going to run over the newspaper as he comes down the driveway.
He won’t leave the garage door open, or back the car into the grass on that tight corner.
My husband won’t watch the early news instead of talking to me.
He won’t ignore the family for a ball game.
He’s not going to fall asleep watching the late news.
There won’t be a magazine or book open in his lap.
He won’t complain about traffic on the freeway tonight.
He won’t sing off key in the shower.
He’s not going to putter around in the garage.
He won’t work overtime and end up being late for dinner.
It won’t be because he’s a perfect husband.
Nor because he’s turned over a new leaf.
Today, my husband won’t do any of these things…
Because my husband is now in Heaven.
I miss him.
Hug your husband today.
My husband is alive and well. I wrote this because I try to keep in mind every day that my spouse, like me, has a finite number of days on the earth. I want to enjoy every single one of them with him, while he’s here. Never take your loved ones for granted. We have only this moment, right now, right here. Hug your husband. Think twice about complaining about what he says or does. You have so few moments together. Make each of them count.
Kayelle Allen is an award-winning, multi-published author. Her heroes and heroines include badass immortals, warriors who purr, and agents who find the unfindable–or hide it forever. She is known for unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion.
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