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Cindy L. Freeman Blog, Church of the Buzzards -1/31/19

Cindy Freeman

Did you know that buzzards are Presbyterian by denomination? No? I didn’t either, until my husband and I moved to a condo community near a Presbyterian church. That’s when we discovered buzzards are quite devout, attending services not only on Sundays but every day of the week. Each morning and evening hundreds of the black, ominous creatures line up across the church’s roof peak and fill the surrounding trees. When the morning service ends, they glide overhead, wings outstretched in search of their daily bread, or more accurately, their daily road-kill.

I admit it. I’ve been a little creeped out by the Church of the Buzzards. Since ours is a senior community, I wondered if the foreboding scavengers knew about the advanced ages of our residents. Could they be ambulance chasers of the most sinister kind? Surely, I wouldn’t feel threatened by a row of roosting doves. I’d think they were gathering simply to witness the wedding of a couple of lovebirds. What about a row of storks? Time for a baptism, perhaps? 

Something about buzzards makes me shudder. “It seems like they’re lying in wait for someone to expire,” I remarked one day as my husband and I were walking past the Church of the Buzzards. “Do Presbyterians participate in human sacrifices?”

“Don’t be silly,” he answered. “Buzzards eat dead animals, not live humans. Besides, Presbyterians are pretty much like Methodists in their rituals. I’m sure they don’t have blood sacrifices.”

“But what if I cut my finger and they confuse me for road-kill?”

“I’ll pray for you,” he countered. “You know, p-r-e-y.”

“Very funny! Suppose their roof-top gatherings are, in fact, committee meetings where they’re planning their attack on our neighborhood. We could all perish! Get it? P-a-r-i-s-h.”

“They’re just innocent birds who’ve found a high spot for congregating. Congregating, get it?”

“Ha, ha! Well, I wish they’d buzz off!”

All punning aside, I did some research on buzzards (also known as vultures). I discovered they’re social creatures who roost in large flocks in trees and on roofs to prepare for feeding or to rest from a busy day of ripping dead flesh into shreds. They seek out high spots in residential or industrial areas to soak up the morning sun.

So, it seems buzzards aren’t necessarily Presbyterian. They could even be Catholic depending upon the height of the Catholic church nearby. Finally, I can relax since I learned their talons aren’t strong enough to carry away a carcass. They must eat their road-kill where they find it. This carcass intends to remain strong, healthy, and undecayed for a long time.  

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available from amazon.com or hightidepublications.com

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Susan Williamson – Time of Chocolate

Susan Williamson

Everyone who knows me also knows that I love chocolate. But they may not know that I am a chocolate purist. I don’t want nuts, fruits, Rice Krispies, marshmallows or even caramel in my chocolate although caramel can be yummy. Creamy peanut butter is okay because the textures match. And mint is always a welcome addition.

For Christmas, our daughter gave us a box of hand crafted chocolates for an old and trusted company in Baltimore.  They were scrumptious. I left the nut chocolates for my husband and enjoyed chocolate truffles, mint chocolates and peanut butter filled ecstasy.

In my stocking I received a bag of dark chocolate mint M & M’s.  I actually managed to save it until the second week in January.

We both try to be healthy in our food choices. Ever since I found out that dark chocolate is full of antioxidants I have been so virtuous.

My husband gave me a box on mixed hot chocolate flavors. We have both enjoyed them. I have tried with limited success to ration my chocolate fixes. If I just don’t go into Trader Joes and see their ninety-nine cent dark chocolate covered peanut butter cups I might make it.

But hark, Valentine’s Day approaches on yon calendar. And the Chesapeake Bay Writers meal for February 13 features chocolate mousse. I could of course tell my husband that I don’t want any chocolate for Valentine’s Day. But lying is a sin.

Susan Williamson is a lifelong horseperson, former newspaper editor, extension agent and food coop manager. She is the author of three novels: Desert Tail, Tangled Tail, Dead on the Trail and a children’s book, The Riding Lesson, as well as How to Buy Your First Horse.

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Cindy L. Freeman Blog, Surviving Winter – 1/22/19

Cindy Freeman

I admit it. Icicles are pretty, sparkling in the sun with their varying shapes of elongated raindrops. We even use the plastic variety to decorate our houses for the holidays. Yes, icicles are pretty, but not hanging off the end of my nose.

I really tried to take my walk this morning. After bundling up in sweatpants, heavy knee socks, two shirts, vest, coat, hat, scarf, and leather gloves, I ventured out the front door only to be knocked backward by a vicious gust of wind. That gust had it in for me. I’m sure of it. But I pulled myself together and persevered, knowing the eighteen-degree temperature couldn’t possibly feel as frigid once I moved into the sunlight. Wrong!

As I rounded the corner, my eyes started to water, my bundled-up body was wracked with shivers, and my nose began to run. Quickly, the nasal drainage formed a snot-cicle and not a pretty one. With wind-burned face and frost-bitten toes, I did an about-face and headed back inside. Okay, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. Anyway, it had taken nearly twenty minutes to dress for the weather, and my walk lasted less than five minutes—not the aerobic event of champions.

The point is, I lived in the northeast for eighteen years, enduring its long, cold, dreary, snowy winters. When I moved to Virginia via North Carolina, I expected mild winters. And by “expected,” I mean ordered, decreed, demanded. Let’s just say it was a strong expectation.

During the thirty-four winters I’ve lived in Virginia, I’ve experienced some five major ice storms, hundreds of snow days, and enough freezing temperatures to store a year’s worth of whale blubber for an entire Inuit family. Oops! Am I exaggerating again? Don’t get me started on hurricanes, spring pollen, and sweltering summers.

The good thing about Virginia’s weather, though, is it only lasts a couple days. By Wednesday, the temperature might climb to the sixties. I’ll wait till then to take my walk. Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed,The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available from amazon.com or hightidepublications.com

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Larry Finkelstein – Age Discrimination

 Is there age discrimination when you look for a job. Definitely, yes. But,

·     For most jobs it kicks in later than in the past

·     It varies among occupations

·     It is somewhat determined by a person’s skill set

Because we presently have a labor shortage in many occupations and certain areas of the country it is a good time for the over 50 crowd to look for work.

It is important to keep up with technological change.

It is important to be able to deal with a diverse workforce (where many of your co workers may now be younger).

It is important to be flexible

You must use job search methods for today, not what worked when you first started to work.

And most important, you must maintain a positive attitude towards yourself. Don’t think you can’t get a job because of your age; think how valuable your experience is and prove that to employers.

kicks in later than in the past

·     It varies among occupations

·     It is somewhat determined by a person’s skill set

Because we presently have a labor shortage in many occupations and certain areas of the country it is a good time for the over 50 crowd to look for work.

It is important to keep up with technological change.

It is important to be able to deal with a diverse workforce (where many of your co workers may now be younger).

It is important to be flexible

You must use job search methods for today, not what worked when you first started to work.

And most important, you must maintain a positive attitude towards yourself. Don’t think you can’t get a job because of your age; think how valuable your experience is and prove that to employers.