First, let’s talk about Clara Barton.

There are certain books we read as children that leave an indelible impression. For me, one of those books was Clara Barton, Girl Nurse. During this pandemic, as we have all become more aware than ever of how special and crucial nurses are, this very special woman’s story came back to me.

So who is Clara Barton, and why is she special?

Born Clarissa Harlowe Barton, the list of her accomplishments is long, but the most notable is as the founder of The American Red Cross.

Clara lived from 1821 to 1912. She attended boarding school where she extremely timid and shy and became so lonely and depressed she was brought back home. Always anxious to help, she found herself at a loss and didn’t want to burden her family. Hoping to help Clara overcome her timidity, her parents suggested she become a schoolteacher. She acquired her teaching certificate in 1839 at the age of seventeen. And from there, she began to blossom. Continuing her education, Clara soon became so well written that her body of work could instruct statesman of the time. She moved to Washington D.C. and in 1855 had a clerkship in the U.S. Patent Office making the same salary as men. This was unheard of at the time, and she suffered much abuse from her male counterparts for the three years she was there.

In 1861 the Baltimore Riot resulted in the first bloodshed of the Civil War. When forty wounded men from the Massachusetts regiment were brought to Washington D.C., Barton was there to meet and nurse them. That was the beginning of her dedication to army work as she dedicated herself to supplying food, clothing, and other supplies to the wounded soldiers. She also provided emotional support to lift their spirits by talking with and reading to them as well as writing letters to their families. Clara Barton became known as the Florence Nightingale of America as well as the “Angel of the Battlefield” since she spent time on the frontlines tending the wounded.  Probably what she is most remembered for though is founding the American Red Cross.


Next, let’s talk a little about Florence Nightingale.

A contemporary of Clara Barton’s, born in 1820, Florence Nightingale knew by eighteen how she wanted to spend her life as she felt called on by God to dedicate her life to the service of others. Her high-class British family was not at all happy about this, but despite their outrage, by 1844 she’d made up her mind to become a nurse.  She and the nurses she’d trained, tended wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. It was said in The Times that “When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.“ Nightingale became known as the lady with the lamp and an angel of mercy.


Lady with the Lamp

Perhaps the most important contribution Florence Nightingale made to society was to declare hospitals must not be a place where people get more sick. She knew they must be designed to provide safe conditions and filled with well trained nurses to care for the sick and injured.

Finally, let’s talk about Darleen Muhly.

What? You’ve never heard of her? Well, that’s probably because she is not one of the twenty-five most famous nurses nor is she known for some particular contribution to medicine. No, I’ve chosen Darleen Muhly to represent all the wonderful nurses who quietly go about healing and caring for their patients without any special recognition. This nurse, who also happens to be my wonderful sister, spent much of her nursing career in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) caring for the most vulnerable little humans born a little too soon. She may not be known to many, but I know without a doubt there are many, many parents of those once fragile little ones who are forever grateful to her and others like her.

Is there a special nurse in your family or one who holds a special place in your heart for the care they give? I’d love to hear about them.





Meet Simeon

JLMcatsgreypersian - Simeon

Who is this Persian beauty you ask?

Meet Simeon, one very affectionate Persian cat.

Mia Reed, the protagonist in my upcoming book, Watercolor Whispers, told me she wanted a pet, and with her busy schedule as an art therapist, it simply had to be a low maintenance pet. She decided this beautiful Persian cat was the solution. That is before Simeon told her, no demanded, that he be brushed daily. One must take care of long hair like his after all. But Mia has decided it’s totally worth the time and effort because brushing Simmie, as she calls him for short, is very relaxing. Especially with the calming sound of his purring. And so what if her wallet took a hit because of the special food she buys him to prevent hairballs.

Although Persian cats are often referred to as furniture with fur, and it’s true Simeon is not terribly active, Mia soon found out he is not to be ignored. He is definitely a lap cat, with Mia’s lap being his favorite spot. If that spot is not available, Simeon may be found in his second favorite place in the apartment, the solarium where Mia paints. There he enjoys soaking in the sun from the deep window sill and keeping an eye on the neighborhood. while Mia works on her watercolors.

cat-5031734_1280 pixabay

Simmie tells Mia how much he cares in several other ways. One of his favorites is kneading which he sometimes begins early in the morning. I think it may be his way of saying, “I love you and also it’s time to get up.”

Simmie will sometimes hold eye contact with Mia for a few moments, then blink slowly. These slow eye blinks–often accompanied by more purring–are another way he shows affection. Did I mention he’s a regular purring machine?

One more way he shows he cares is by twitching the tip of his tail. But look out if he swiftly lashes it back and forth–that most certainly means he’s annoyed. Simeon, aka Simmie, it turns out is also a good judge of character. He can tell the good guys from the bad guys. Honest, he can!

In this tale, you may want to watch Simmie’s tail.

Where did Simeon get his name?


Stained Glass courtesy of Pixabay

Simeon, described as a just and devout man, appears in the New Testament of the Bible one time in the gospel of Luke. Forty days after the birth of Christ, Jesus was presented at the temple (as was required by the laws of Moses). There Mary and Joseph met Simeon who had been visited by the Holy Spirit and told he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Upon taking Jesus in his arms he uttered a prayer which is still used in some Christian churches, the Nunc dimittis, also known as the Song of Simeon.

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

So what does any of that have to do with the name Mia chose for her little Persian Prince? On February 2nd the Lutheran Church celebrates the Presentation of the Lord. Mia was brought up in the Lutheran Church, and her birthday falls on St. Simeon’s feast day. Perhaps she chose this name because of that coincidence, or perhaps it was because she knows she has also been visited by the Holy Spirit through her “special” drawings. Those of you who read Premonition Bridge, Book 3 of The Bridge Club Series, will remember Mia has a gift through her art and her faith that resulted in her surviving a perilous situation. In Watercolor Whispers, Book 1 of a new mystery series, she has grown up and become a professional art therapist whose gift will be an integral part of solving mysteries.

I’m curious, are you a dog or a cat person? Or neither? What do you think is the best pet?





You’ve Got This!

Have you ever felt stuck? Is there something major challenging you now?

Well I’m here to say, You’ve Got This!



As some of you know, when I decided to write my new book in a different genre, I soon discovered the move from writing romance to writing mystery was quite a challenge.

Readers of my Bridge Club Series have asked,

When is your next book coming out?

How’s the new book coming?

And for a very long time, with some embarrassment, I mumbled, “I’m stuck.” 

Yes, I wrote the first few chapters, then BAM!

I hit a brick wall


Months went by, and I stared at the blank page to begin chapter four.

It remained blank.


No matter how long or how hard I stared at it, nothing… until two things happened.

First, I met with my editor/publisher/coach and friend Demi StevensShe inspires me to GSD–Get Stuff Done! (Yes, you can substitute another word for stuff.) 

And Second, I stopped focusing on the whole book and started taking it one chapter–or one brick–at a time.

focus on one brick

So after meeting with my coach in March, I decided to tackle this task bit by bit, chapter by chapter, and guess what…

Yesterday I completed the first draft of my new book — Coming Soon —


(Working Title)

Now soon is a relative term, so I’m not promising an exact date of release yet. This is the first draft after all. Now the fun begins. It’s time to rewrite!

But I am sharing this bit of news to encourage you to focus on one brick, and–no matter what wall is blocking your progress–you will tear that wall down!

(Images thanks to Pixabay)

One last thing: I am close enough to completion to be getting excited about a cover. Here are three images I’m considering for part of the cover. I’d love it if you’d help with this big decision and tell me which one you like best. (The protagonist, Mia–who was growing up in the Bridge Series–is grown and an art therapist.)


Until next time…






A Poem by G. K. Bostic

(I was given a challenge a few years ago to write a one-sentence 40 line poem. As I sat out on my deck, I was inspired by listening and looking at my surroundings.)

One spring day
As I meandered
Through my greening world,
And listened to
The sounds of birth
Surrounding me,

I observed a song,
A symphony of life
Springing from
The dormant fields
In colors of
A new season

Filled with violets
And hues of yellow and pink
As an artist’s brush
Lavished his canvas
With impressionistic

And the waking earth
Held murmurings
Of awakening life
As birds sang,
Dogs barked,
And children played

Like all the players
In the symphony
To create a spring

And the music
Rang through the trees
Dancing with the breeze,
A waltz
Circling round
And round

While a single bird
On the rooftop high
Sat wrapped
In feathers and sky.

Why are we all so obsessed with ice cream?

Because it’s good!


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Right? Okay, well maybe there are some people in the world who don’t like it, but I do believe they would be hard to find. And perhaps they are aliens from another planet in a galaxy far, far away.


But let’s admit it, most of us average humans love this creamy frozen delight. Did you know the origins of ice cream can be traced back to about the 4th century BC? Persians combined ice with flavors to produce treats, and it is said that Nero ordered ice to be brought back from the mountains to be mixed with fruit.

Ice cream probably came to Europe from Shang, China where King Tang used a method of making ice and milk concoctions. Later, in Europe and then in the United States, these concoctions evolved into recipes with which people experimented developing more and more sinful, delicious dessert temptations. 


Ice cream was so popular here in the USA that the first ice cream parlor was opened way back in 1776 in New York City where the colonists started calling the concoction ice cream for the first time, coming from the phrase iced cream. And the idea of the ice cream parlor went over so well, it would be almost impossible to find a town without one now.

But what’s your favorite? You don’t have to settle for a simple bowl of ice cream. Thanks to some of the following people, here are some other choices.

  • Ice cream sundaes – May be attributed to Ed Berners of Two Rivers, Wisconsin in 1881 when a customer requested his ice cream be served with some syrup normally used for sodas. Berner charged a nickel for it. George Giffy, a competitor in another Wisconsin town, decided to serve the same thing but charged a dime and only served it on Sundays calling it an Ice Cream Sunday. It was so popular, he decided to change it to Ice Cream Sundae so he could serve it every day.ice-cream-sundae-382767_960_720
  • The Ice Cream Cone was introduced in 1904 at the World’s Fair in St. Louisice-1432274_960_720
  • We can thank British chemists for discovering a way to double the amount of air in ice cream and giving us soft ice cream.ice-1581501_960_720
  • The Good Humor Ice Cream Bar was invented by Harry Burt in 1920. And soon  ice cream trucks covered the land.


So if and when you need a little comfort–and who doesn’t these days–maybe you can pick your favorite and cozy up with a little ice cream.  Oh, and if you’re watching your weight and don’t want all those calories, there’s a yummy alternative I’ve discovered. It comes in lots of flavors, but here’s my favorite. Enjoy!


Hey, and I’d love it if you’d leave a comment, and tell me your favorite! 


Feeling down? Need a dose of something to make you feel better? Don’t pop a Valium. Have a dose of the best medicine you can find–MUSIC!

Research has proven that music can be healing. It’s used in hospitals across the country to heal patients or alleviate their symptoms. And though the research and current practices may be new, music has been used as therapy through the ages.

Al Farabi who lived from c.872-c.950, wrote about music’s cosmic qualities and discussed the therapeutic effects of music on man’s soul.

And it can help people of all ages,

  • An hour of music a day helps premature babies to sleep and eat more and gain more weight. Music is soothing and softens their environment.
  • Students–no matter what their age–can study better with peaceful, harmonious background music (especially classical such as Mozart) which helps them focus and can reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Dementia patients who may not recognize family members or remember what you just said, will respond to an old familiar song such as Amazing Grace and be able to sing every note and every word. (In a recent news story you may have seen a man singing this through the window with his elderly mother–made me cry.) 

A 17th century scholar, Robert Burton, argued in “The Anatomy of Melancholy” that music is critical in treating mental illness.  We know today it can help with pain management, reduce blood pressure, improve concentration and enhance learning.

masks-833421_1280 pixabay

So today, as we face fear evoked by the Corona Virus, worry over loved ones beyond our reach, and the boredom and depression of being home-bound is getting to us, perhaps we should put on some headphones and escape with a musical interlude. Maybe we can change that helpless, restless, lonely, and confused mindset shown on the left to the peaceful, relaxed, thankful, and happy one shown on the right.









No matter how much you may love your home,

right now is this how you’re feeling?


You are not alone. Though most of us can remember whining things like,

“Tomorrow is Monday… but I don’t want to go to work.”

“My calendar is so full, I have no time for myself.”

“Oh, if I just had more time.” 


Suddenly–for most of us–Monday is the same as every other day. No, you don’t have to go to work. No, you don’t have to set the alarm and get up to go to school.  Our calendars are unnaturally empty. You wake up with that familiar, fleeting question, “What do I have to do today?” At least you do if you’re anything like I am. But it doesn’t take long–mere seconds or milliseconds perhaps–before it hits you. Nothing! 


It is so easy to see the downside of what we are all forced to cope with during this critical time–the fear, the isolation, our own boredom, and bored children–


So is this what they meant when they said be careful what you wish for? 

Regardless, this is what we have for now, but we will get through this, and there are things we can do to chase away the blues. As someone very wise told me, we need to take it one day at a time. I can do this–just for today–I can do this.

Just like eating an elephant…


So instead of putting our focus on the negative–I know, easier said than done–let’s look at the many ways we can lift our moods and stay positive. 

  • Play your favorite music – play something lively and get up and dance (nobody’s watching)
  • Send an email to someone special telling them why they’re special to you – lift their mood too.
  • Meditate – Or find your quiet, peaceful place (your garden, the beach, the bathroom with the door locked) to just be mindful
  • Take a nap
  • Delight your senses – Lift your mood with aromatherapy
  • Get outside and enjoy the sunshine when you can
  • Laugh, laugh, laugh – Tell a funny joke or story, follow someone funny on Twitter
  • Bake something


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all those who are not locked down at home but rather are out doing their jobs to help us all stay safe and well. God bless them and keep them safe.

I’d love it if you’d leave me a comment with your ideas for how to stay positive.

Why it’s a hungry, hungry river horse of course. Doesn’t sound right? Ah, well perhaps hungry, hungry hippo sounds a little more familiar. We call this third largest mammal a hippopotamus (which comes from the Ancient Greek for river horse), and you will find him in or by the water. He can walk under water on the river bed and sleeps in or beside the water.

The cow gives birth in shallow water (the calves are able to swim before they can walk), and hides her baby in the reeds. After a few days, they both rejoin the rest of the herd.

Have you ever heard the myth that the hippopotamus sweats blood? If you look closely at their pictures you may see some of the oily red substance they secrete that was the root of that myth. This substance acts as a moisturizer and sunblock all in one. And under the African sun, we need both!

three hippos (2)

We were lucky enough to watch these fellows basking in the African sun, but we did it safely from a blind. You don’t want to get too close to these guys. They are the most dangerous mammal in Africa and responsible for the most human fatalities in the wild.

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The increase in attacks on humans is primarily attributed to people’s arrogance and disrespect while in the wild. I wouldn’t dream of disrespecting this animal who is capable of chomping a wooden canoe in half. How can a puny human weighing a couple hundred pounds have the audacity to mess with a three-ton animal with a mouth like this? 


Google Image

So if you’re ever cruising along a river in Mpumalanga or Limpopo and you’re lucky enough to see these eyes, get your pictures, but do it from a safe distance. If you’re doing that kind of touring, you probably have a zoom lens. Use it!

DSC09058 (2)

This will be my last article on the animals of South Africa–for now–unless someone asks for a particular animal we may have seen in our visits there.  I’d love to hear your comments or opinions on this series, and I look forward to starting a whole new series on an entirely different topic next week.


Let’s look at just a few more of the many antelope that roam in South Africa.

DSC06432 (2)

The Impala is one of the most slender and graceful of the antelopes. The female, as you can see in the first picture, does not have horns. The ram, standing tall in the second picture has the recognizable lyre-shaped horns. 


Because of the arch-like structure of their horns, they can interlock and throw their opponents.


But their greatest defense against their predators is their speed and amazing ability to leap up to nine feet and cover distances of thirty yards. Here is a link to the image of such a leap.

And then there is the klipspringer–Afrikaans for ‘rock jumper’. The reddish-brown coloring of this small antelope is excellent camouflage for the rocky area which it inhabits. They only stand up to two feet tall and only the males have short horns. Without the zoom lens of the camera, I could barely see these two. I think they’re little beauties.


The final antelope I’ll share is the magnificent sable.

DSC06343 (2)

Both the male and female of this large black and white antelope species have horns. When attacked by their predators–even lions–the sable will confront them with these scimitar-shaped horns. They often kill the big cats.  This powerful animal is a real beauty.

We’ve been privileged to see these and so many more antelope on our visits to South Africa. Let me know if there are any other species you’d like to see or learn more about.

I’m looking forward to sharing lots of pictures and information on one hungry, hungry animal next time. Guess what it is.




What is a Kudu?

The Greater Kudu is one of the most majestic antelopes in Africa.


The male kudu weighs up to a quarter of a ton and is easily recognized by its long, spiral horns–the longest of any antelope–and the thin white stripes on its tawny to gray-brown coat.  In a mature male, if those horns with their double twists were straightened, they would average a whopping four feet long. 


Kudu can be caught munching on various trees and shrubs, with their favorites being fruit, pods, forbs and creepers.  However catching them at anything is quite lucky. The kudu is a timid and wary antelope, and I didn’t see nearly as many of them as I did the impala which seemed to be everywhere. But that’s a story for another day.


My husband, Lee, was fortunate (and skilled) enough to get this wonderful shot of a female kudu. She doesn’t have the magnificent horns, but she certainly has the same big ears.  (Lee won best of show at the York Fair with this picture, and I have to thank him for sharing it with me for this post.)  The female isn’t as large as the male but has the same markings and mane. Isn’t she gorgeous?



Though kudu are distributed widely in South Africa, we found them (with the help of our guides of Van Wijk Safaris)  in dense brush and wooded foothill areas of Kruger National Park and the Province of Mpumalanga. (Final two pictures also courtesy of Lee Bostic, Photography)


Seeing this magnificent animal in its natural habitat in beautiful South Africa made my heart beat a little faster. Such sightings were such an awesome privilege. It makes the heart long for another chance, another sighting, another breathtaking experience.





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