If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Giving Back Through Mobile Meals

It's hard to see by Mobile Meals is on the back window

            She leans on her cane,
            a mountain of flaccid white flesh
            sagging downward under a worn housecoat
            her feet encased in old blue slippers.
            She smiles and greets me by name.
            I’m one of those who come
            on different days for a few brief moments
            most days we’re her only visitors.
            “Here’s your meal,” I say. “Nice and hot.”
            My cheerful voice tries to erase
            the pain, the loneliness I see on her face today.

Above is the beginning of a poem I wrote about one of my first clients while delivering Mobile Meals. It was from the last time I saw her. No pictures I post with this blog are of any of those I deliver Mobile Meals to. Nelda was a very lonely person in poor health, and rarely did any of her family visitor her. Mostly her only visitors were those who delivered her meals Monday through Friday. She went into a nursing home where I’m sure she was happier with other people around her.

I’ve been a volunteer in one way or another most of my life; a Girl Scout leader for ten years, a den mother for three years, a teacher of CCD at my church off and on through the years, a room mother for my children and a volunteer helper for Head Start briefly. Most of my volunteering came to an end when I started teaching full time, but I always planned on getting back to it when I retired, and I did in the fall of 2006 when I volunteered to deliver Mobile Meals every other Thursday.

Nellie was another one of my first clients, and I had her a long time. We both loved gardening, and she was a bird lover, too. So I spent a little extra time talking with her. In the late summers, she always gave me tomatoes from her garden. I loved Nellie and was so saddened when she was no longer on my route.

Nellie’s Four O’ Clocks
                           I open Nellie’s kitchen door and walk in.
                                  The tiny white haired woman smiles at me.
                                  “I see your Four O’ Clocks are coming up.”
                                  Nellie smiles and says, “It’s about time.
                                  Everything’s late this year.”
                                  I place a hot meal on the table with a
                                  small bagged lunch for later.
                                  “Are you planting a vegetable garden?”
                                  I ask the woman of ninety-three years.
                                  “It’s been too wet to get it plowed.
                                  I’ll probably only plant tomatoes
                                  and beans this year,” she tells me.
                                  “No zinnias? You always have such nice ones.”
                                  She laughs and nods.  “Maybe zinnias.”
                                  “I’m not sure when it’ll ever dry up enough
                                  for me to plant my garden,” I lament.
                                  I leave to continue on my route, smiling
                                  because I’ve grown to love Nellie,
                                  a gardening friend who grows the
                                  Four o’ clocks my mother once grew.
                                  Nellie saves and shares the seeds with me.
                                  The next time I came, she said her son
                                  took over planting her vegetable garden.
                                  She told me he wouldn’t let her advise him
                                  on how to plant tomatoes or beans although
                                  he’d never planted a garden before.
                                  “I guess I’m getting too old and useless.
                                  I don’t know why I’m hanging on,” she said.
                                  I saw her gradually diminish that summer
                                  in size and spirit as her garden filled with weeds
                                  and tomatoes rotted on the vines.
                                  One day she was no longer on my route
                                  I wondered if she’d gone to live with family
                                  or to a nursing home somewhere.
                                  Then the day came when I saw a “For Sale” sign
                                  in her yard just as her Four O’ Clocks bloomed.

Another delightful client was Freda, also in her nineties. A widow, she was quite independent and had a great sense of humor. I was sad when she sunk into dementia and went to a nursing home somewhere. The following poem is about one of my visits to her about five or six months before she was gone.

                       “I see your flowers are still blooming.
                                         I love them,” I said
                                          that November day.
                             Freda looked at me, eyes wide, mouth open
                                         then burst out laughing
                                         and quickly asked
                             “Would you like some cuttings of them?”
                                         She cast an impish look
                                         at the plastic flowers,
                             pink, purple, yellow and red by her porch.
                                         We laughed together
                                          enjoying our joke
                             before I handed her the meals I’d brought
                                         for her and a brother
                                         now sharing a home.
                             Freda, a widow in her mid-nineties,
                                          a small spry woman
                                         with a cheerful smile
                             is one of my favorites on the route.
                                         As I leave I smile
                                         about the flowers,
                             and wonder if Freda, once a farmer’s wife,
                                         misses her gardens
                                         filled with living plants.

Another client I enjoyed immensely was Robert, another client in his nineties, and we shared a love of our small farms, and he was still out cutting wood for his wood stove. One day he took me through his home. It was immaculately clean. He showed me pictures of his lovely wife and his five children’s graduation pictures.  He went into a nursing home, too, but this time I was told where it was, and I visited him there, but I could see it took him a while to remember who I was. His dementia had gotten worse.

        A Visit with Robert
He was waiting for me on his porch when I arrived
You were late yesterday, I couldn’t wait for you.
I had a doctor’s appointment, he said.
I don’t deliver meals on Wednesday. I told him.
He looked a little confused.
I only deliver every other Thursday.
Knowing from past conversations how
he enjoys morning walks in his woods,
I asked if he’d been out walking that morning.
He smiled and said only as far as the burn pile.
I told him I’d walked that morning with my collie.
He asked where I lived, and I told him,
although I’d told him before about my small farm.
He told me again about this house he lived in,
the seventy-two acres he’d bought after WWII
where he and his wife had raised their five children.
how he’d fixed the house, the animals they’d had,
and the vegetable gardens over the years.
Then he told me again about how he’d tried to join
the Navy in World War II and been rejected three times
because of his false front teeth from playing football.
The third time he sneaked into the accepted line
and served in the Navy for three years.
All these stories he’s told me before, but I listened,
nodded and smiled as if each story were new.
Robert is ninety-three years old and lives alone.
He’s told me he gets lonely; rarely sees his children.
I have four more stops to make on my route,
but I figure they won’t starve if I spend a little time
listening to Robert tell me his stories again.
Someday I may be the one telling my stories over and over.
I hope someone will be kind enough to listen to me.

For quite some time now I’ve only had four clients. I had five, but I think she’s in rehabilitation or somewhere. Joyce is in a Do Not Deliver status, so I assume she will be coming back.  She’s a very active woman who almost came running to my car when I arrived.

Maryanne has a black pug that is happy to see me.

Maryanne, was thrilled to find out I was a writer because she wants to write her memoir. She’s been on my route for close to a year now, and hasn’t yet started that memoir although she mentions it now and then. She was thrilled when I gave her a copy of my first book. She has health problems and does a lot of complaining about her kids, is not happy that they talked her into leaving the senior citizen apartment complex where she lived to a trailer home next to her daughter, who apparently rarely visits unless it’s to take her to a doctor’s appointment, or maybe out for groceries. She would love to have me stay and visit for much longer, but I have other meals to deliver. She always says, “God Bless You,” to me when I leave.

My next stop is Patsy. She lives in a trailer park and is even lonelier than Maryanne, because she only has one brother and sister-in-law who live about ten miles away and are busy with their own lives with their grown children and grandchildren. She doesn’t see them often. Patsy has COPD and is connected to an oxygen tank with long tubes snaking throughout her very nice home. She also has a smaller oxygen tank she can carry when she drives someplace. She doesn’t know her neighbors, so when I come, she always asks me to sit down and talk for a while, which I do. We have the same political leanings so she delights in talking about that.

The next one is Audra in her nineties, but still getting around with a walker or cane. Audra has family and friends who visit her. She’s always pleasant, but doesn’t seem to need me to come in and stay awhile.

David is the last one on my route, and one who I’ve had for a long time. He’s so much fun to talk and joke with. He’s three months younger than I am, and lives beneath his son and daughter-in-law’s home in a nice little apartment they’ve made for him. It’s at ground level, and their house is above it. He is mostly in his wheelchair or lying down on his bed/couch in the darkened room where he has his desk and his TV. He spends most of his day watching westerns and other old movies. It was Zorro the last time I was there.  I always deliver the newspaper to him, too, that is delivered to the Mobile Meals site. His parting words are always, “Drive Carefully,” and I always promise I will.

This past week I had a new client which makes five again. She lives in the same trailer park as Patsy does. They’ve never met each other, but both seemed interested in meeting. Donna is only sixty-seven, with diabetes and eye problems. She can’t drive anymore, but can still see to read. Her younger sister was there when I visited, and I guess Donna has other sisters as well as grown children who check on her. She’s short and quite plump, and when I gave her the meal, she immediately took it to the table and started going through it and eating while her sister and I talked. Her sister said she pesters her sister (Donna) to get out and walk, but she won’t walk more than a very short distance before she complains she’s tired.  Both women were friendly.

Years and years ago when one of my sisters was taking a philosophy course, she said there was no such thing as true altruism. When we do good deeds for others, it’s for the positive boost to our own ego. Although I argued with her at the time, maybe she’s right. Not so much as to boost my own ego by impressing others, but by the fact I enjoy these people I meet. I’m pleased that no matter how small my role is, I bring a smile to their faces, and I always leave smiling, too.
And I enjoy visiting with the other volunteers while we wait for our meals to be ready and put in our carriers. There is not one grumpy person among them which says a lot, doesn’t it.

Do you do any volunteer work?
And if you don’t now, have you in the past?


E. B. Davis said...

I have a pan of lasagna to bake for a Lent lunch at our church for next Wednesday, Gloria. I volunteered so much when our children were small due to the fact that most women worked outside of the home, leaving the few of us who worked in our homes to serve at the football snack bar, lead the GS, be homeroom mother, etc., that I don't volunteer as much as I used to do. My feeling is that those women who worked and are now retiring, can have that pleasure now. Back then, volunteering so much was a full time job!

Grace Topping said...

Gloria, you never cease to amaze me how much you get done. Thank you for all you do for your community. I volunteer on several committees at my church. Now that I'm retired I'm able to devote time to activities that I couldn't support when I worked full time. It is especially important to belong to volunteer groups after your retire in order to stay connected with people. Retired people can become a little too isolated and the volunteer work helps us become less so.

Margaret Turkevich said...

Gloria, you are an inspiration! I interview young women for college scholarships and write their letters of recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gloria, Although I have heard the stories and poems you share at writers group it was wonderful to be able to read them again. So warm and poignant. I used to volunteer for Reading for the Blind until their budget was cut so they could only be open restricted hours when I couldn't attend. I still miss it. I always say that you are the busiest retired person I know! -- Laura

Gloria Alden said...

E.B. I donate pies for our annual Lenten Fish Dinners at my church, too, but unlike you, I buy the pies. I'm so done with baking after so many years of doing it. Like you I didn't work outside the home except to take care of the paperwork for my husbands part time business so I was able to be room mother, go on the class field trips, etc.

Grace, if you could see the piles of papers on top of my library/dining room/office table you wouldn't think I'm getting much done. :-) I think part of it is watch very little TV preferring to listen to music as I read, but that's only after 8:00. You're right about being with other volunteers once you retire is good for the mind and the spirit.

Margaret, I think that's a wonderful thing you do.

Laura, I remember visiting one of your blind friends and thinking what a wonderful thing to do reading for the blind. In fact, I think I considered volunteering for that, but if I remember correctly, it was when I was still teaching.

Warren Bull said...

Gloria, The little old lady I lived next to in Kansas City used to talk about the meals on wheels organization that she ran. When it was too icy for drivers to take meals, she would deliver the meals herself. She also visited people she called "little old ladies"who were shut ins. Of course she was older than many of those she would visit. Like you she was an inspiration. I volunteer at the library and with writing organizations.

Gloria Alden said...

Warren, there was once when I was called and said no meals would be delivered that day. Another time when a river overflowed, I went through all the roads in that area to try to get to the couple I delivered to, but all were blocked off by barriers. The next time I went, they said they had left the evening before to stay at a motel. Almost all those I deliver to don't drive any longer. The one who does has to carry a portable oxygen tank which is heavy.

I think volunteering at a library is a perfect fit for you as well as with writing organizations. Good for you.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Gloria,
Oh, I remember all the years of being room mom, Girl Scouts, library mom, soccer mom when my girls were little and I worked freelance. Now I volunteer at the local library by maintaining one of their Book Nooks. There are several Book Nooks in the community; mine's at a busy family restaurant. They're like little free libraries but the library stocks them with very nice books. I love taking care of my mini library!
And your poems are just wonderful - highlight of my day!

Gloria Alden said...

Thanks, Shari. I loved being a Girl Scout leader and a den mother. I think the idea of maintaining a Book Nook is a wonderful idea. I don't think there are any around here.

KM Rockwood said...

Volunteers are an important part of our society. I belong to a number of organizations and volunteer for some activities, but no regular assignments.

Some of my interests arise from my background, but are not part of an organization. I am currently putting together a "release kit" for a man who will be released from prison after over twenty years, and has no family or friends left. He will probably go to a half-way house, but they will not supply clothes, toiletries, bedding, etc. So I got a duffle bag at a thrift store & am gradually filling it with things he'll need. I also collect & deliver books to the inmate library at the prison where I used to work.

Gloria Alden said...

What a beautiful thing for you to do, KM. I know from all the talks we had while sharing a room at Malice over the last few years, what an inspiration you are and how helpful you are to those men coming out of prison starting a new life. You do so much more than I do delivering meals. People feel much sorrier for the elderly than they do for ex-cons.

Gin Mackey said...

Gloria, what a beautiful and inspiring post!