Category Archives: Essay

RAINBOWS AND DREAMS

0530132000

Is it a promise of a better tomorrow or pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? There’s two of them, so maybe it’s both!

My husband and I were driving home from Omaha a few weeks ago. It had been storming and the weather had been quite scary. Ever since the experience with the lightning strike, I get really nervous when it clouds up. On this particular day, we were driving on Interstate 680 and would soon be crossing the Missouri River and heading home into Iowa and traveling north on Interstate 29. We had another 30 miles to drive to get home.

It was raining, the wind was blowing, the tornado sirens in Omaha were sounding,  and then in the middle of all that, the sun suddenly came out. As soon as I realized why it had gotten so bright, I looked around for the the rainbow. I was surprised how close they seemed and how bright the colors, it was beautiful and I know this is silly, but it filled me with hope.

I brought out my new cell phone (the one I couldn’t remember how to use when I needed to call 911 after the lightning strike). I know how to use it now, well the camera anyway and I took the picture above through the car’s window. It turned out pretty good for an amateur, don’t you think?

A few minutes later and we were now on The Mormon Trail Bridge crossing the Missouri River driving East into Iowa when these rainbows appeared.

Rainbow in the southern sky over the Missouri River on May 30th, 2013.

Rainbows in the southern sky over the Missouri River on May 30th, 2013.

I took pictures of rainbows almost all the way home, but these two were by far the best. Each time I saw a rainbow that night, it reaffirmed my belief that rainbows are a promise that dreams come true. What isn’t promised is that it will happen tomorrow, or next week or even next year or even in our lifetime. Does that mean we’ve failed?

Many painters, authors, musicians and sculptors from the past are remembered today for their art, but many of them also died paupers and were never even recognized for their talents until after their deaths. Does that mean they failed?

Of course not, it means that they worked diligently to achieve a dream and in the end, they did! Nothing in this life is a guarantee except life and death and (according to my husband the cynic) paying taxes.

So what about us? Have we failed or are we working diligently to achieve a dream? What is your dream?

I think those artists of old had it easy compared to today’s crazy busy world. They didn’t have to promote their work. All they had to do was create it.

A mysterious "voice" warns Emily that she is in danger. She believes she's losing her mind!

A mysterious “voice” warns Emily that she is in danger. She believes she’s losing her mind!

Nightmares, my debut young adult, paranormal/mystery novel can be found on my publisher’s website, MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.

Check out my short story “Trapped”. It can be found in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 also on Amazon and published by Buddhapuss Ink Publishing.

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Heroes For When Lightning Strikes

Know the warning signs

Know the warning signs

Sometimes I think this world has gone completely mad. You can’t watch TV without seeing horrible atrocities committed by people against other humans. But then in the same newscast there will often be stories about people coming together and doing some wonderful and even sacrificial things to help others, which in turn, proves that this world isn’t all bad and there are heroes everywhere.

It’s similar to what happens when a personal disaster, one that affects only you and your immediate loved ones. In this case I’m not talking about man against man, but nature against human. That’s when you quickly learn who your heroes are.

I thought I was going to die!

I thought I was going to die! It was Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 7:17 am

I heard the rumbles of thunder while I was still in the shower and I hurried to finish, worried that the power might go out before I removed all the shampoo from my hair.  (We live in the country and have to depend on electricity to pump water into the house, no power, no water.) I managed to finish showering and drying my hair before it happened.

The whole place shook and the noise was sharp and deafening and I could smell something burning almost immediately. I had no idea what the lightning struck, but I thought it was the house. I put on a bathrobe, picked up my little dog, Annie, who was as terrified as me and looked out the front door. I could see my car beside the house and from the doorway, it looked like the car’s passenger side was on fire. My heart plummeted a my knees almost buckled.

I knew I had to do something, even if it was to just get out of the house, because if my car was burning, then it would explode and the house would go too. Shaking so bad I could hardly walk, wearing only a bathrobe and no shoes, carrying Annie and my cell phone, I ventured outside, feeling guilty because I was leaving my four cats in the house. 

The tree was split from the ground to almost the top!

The tree was split from the ground to almost the top!

It was apparent right away that lightning had struck the large cottonwood tree on the other side of our driveway. The tree was badly split and still smoldering  in spite of the rain. I made my way behind the car and that’s when I saw the flames coming from the driveway. The ground was on fire. The only source it could be coming from was the propane line that ran from the tank,  in front of the tree and into the house.

My first thought was to move my car away from the fire and I started to go back inside to get my keys. I realized there wasn’t time…I had to shut the propane tank off now.

Only one problem, I had no idea how to do it. My husband always did that sort of thing, but I’ve seen enough explosions on TV to know that if I didn’t, it would probably explode either the furnace or the tank or maybe both and I wouldn’t be able to outrun it. Besides, I would be sentencing the four cats inside to a sure death. I had to do something, even if it was wrong.

I opened the lid on the top of the tank and chose the knob that looked like a shut off valve and twisted. The flame made a sucking noise and went out. I held my breath for a few seconds, praying it hadn’t sucked the flame inside the tank or sent it into the furnace. When nothing happened, this gave me hope that I had done the right thing.

I went inside the house and I could still smell something hot. The smell was stronger now. I had to call 911 in case there was a fire inside the walls.

But there was another problem.

In my own defense, I was home alone, my husband had already left for for his job. I was shaking so badly I could hardly stand and my mind would not focus. I still had enough wits about me to know in an emergency seconds count, so I grabbed my cell phone again, but…

I have to explain that I had just gotten a new smart phone about a month or so before. It was the first of it’s type I had ever owned and I had been slowly learning how to use it.

Well, and I know this is going to make it sound like I’m really just nuts, but I couldn’t remember how to make an outgoing call. I’d only done it once before. Everyone I call are in my contacts and I did remember how to get to them, so I pushed contacts, then favorites and hit the first one at the top.

Again, in my own defense, seconds count in an emergency. I still wasn’t sure the house wasn’t on fire because the smell of something burning had grown stronger. I had read of peoples houses smoldering inside the walls before igniting. I couldn’t take the time to explain what was wrong. So when my daughter, who lives forty-five minutes away, answered the phone, I said, “Jamie, call 911 for me”, and I hung up.

I then called my husband, Pat, he’s programmed too and I told him what had happened and that I had called Jamie to call 911.  He works more than 50 miles away and I was worried he’d drive too fast coming home, but he had to know and I needed him at home.

By now I had calmed enough to remember how to use my cell and I called the power company and they said they would be right out.

Because I didn’t tell Jamie why I needed her to call 911, they sent a deputy sheriff who showed up about ten minutes later. As soon as I saw him, I felt better, I was no longer alone, but then I had to confess why I didn’t make the call myself. He was very nice and understanding. He asked me if I wanted him to look around or he said he could send the fire department. I told him about the fire in the driveway and that I had already put the fire out and he laughed. I really wasn’t trying to be funny, but I do see the irony in it now.

It wasn’t long after the deputy arrived that our long time neighbors and friends (they are both retired) drove in. I hadn’t even thought about calling them, but Pat had. The deputy was just about ready to leave by then and that’s when, Jamie and her husband David arrived and of course Jamie chewed me out about how I called her and then hung up. According to her husband, she was almost in as bad a shape as her mother.

Our son-in-law, David brought us a generator to use until we could get the power back on. It worked great.

We had to replace the breaker box inside the house and many of the outlets, which meant we needed an electrification to replace the box. We contacted several, but they were all to busy and then our son-in-law David said he knew someone and he called him. The guy couldn’t come that day, but promised he would be there the next day and he was. By the end of Thursday, one day after the lightning strike, we had electricity again.

We needed to have the furnace checked out and because of the circumstances of a lightning strike, the guy made a special effort to come out right away. The temps were only in the forties during the day.

He had bad new for us. The furnace was completely ruined. He told us if we wanted to get a second opinion, he didn’t mind and when we declined, he said he could be there the next day with a new one.

Our New Furnace

Our New Furnace

How often do contractors actually show up when they say they’re going to? He was a man of his word! He brought everything needed for the repairs. He even brought a trencher, something he doesn’t normally do, to put in the new propane gas line and regulator to the house. By the end of that day, Thursday, only one day after the strike, we had a new working furnace.

The telephone box outside on the opposite end of the house from the lightning strike.

The telephone box outside on the opposite end of the house from the lightning strike. Pieces of it were found in the middle of the yard.

The phone lines throughout most of the house were also melted, which explains what I had smelled burning. The main line from the basement was melted into the carpet in the living room.

The phone company sent someone that day and the guy went out of his way to fix what he could, even doing a few replacements he wasn’t supposed to do, but by the time he left, we again had a land line that worked, only one day after the lightning strike.

The phone line that was melted to the carpet.

The phone line that was melted to the carpet.

In the basement, besides the furnace, the lightning split the water pipes and Pat replaced the pipes Thursday morning.

Our TV in the living room and the DirecTV receiver, were ruined. The satellite on the roof was fine. We had just gotten a new box about a month before, because our old one had quit working. When I called, I explained to the girl what had happened to the new one and she said we were covered under an act of nature clause, which meant it was replaced for free. We didn’t even have to pay the technician that came and installed it on Friday, two days after the lightning strike.

The lightning also destroyed my computer in my office. I’m posting this from my work computer. The good news…my files were backed up.

The cottonwood tree after the lightning strike, was split almost to the top. It creaked and twisted in the wind. It was another disaster waiting for a strong wind to make it happen. The thing had to come down and soon.

Pat, two of his brothers and a brother-in-law spent the weekend taking it down. Not an easy task with a tree that size, while it loomed over the top of our house, but they managed it.

The offending tree is now gone.

The offending tree is now gone.

It has been almost a month since that day and we are almost completely back to normal. Although I will never hear another rumble of thunder and not think about that day and what might have happened if I had still been in the shower when it struck, I am happy to be alive today.

Someone was watching over me that morning and I feel blessed that so many people went out of their way to help us, going above and beyond of what they had to do. They didn’t risk their lives doing it, but they saved ours and for that they are my heroes.

What kind of personal disasters have you faced? Were there heroes who came to your rescue? Tell me about it.

My Young Adult debut novel is now on Amazon: Amazon.com: Donna Jean McDunn Nightmares: Kindle Store

MuseItUp Publishing’s website Nightmares

 

Merry Christmas & All Other Holiday Greetings-My Wish For You

Bah Hum Bug

Bah! Hum Bug!

I’m very sorry I haven’t posted recently, but I didn’t want tomorrow to pass by without some kind of greeting, which is why I’m doing it now.

I know many people don’t celebrate Christmas for a lot of different reasons, some are even Christians, but no matter who you are or why you don’t celebrate, my wish for you is to have a safe and happy life, not just on this one day or month or year, but for your life!

There has been so many terrible things happening in the world recently, at least it seems like this year has had tragedy strike more often than normal and on a much larger scale and there is nothing any one of us can do about that.

Yet there are things we can do to make others lives richer and in so doing, make our own richer. Everyday we wake in the morning, we have been given another day that we can make a difference in someone else’s life.

A smile, a kind word or a helping hand, can change peoples hearts to be more tolerant of others and to pass the kindness on to someone else and in doing so, it makes a better world for all.

To many of us become wrapped up into our own little worlds, we forget that other people, whether rich or poor or where we live, we all have our demons to struggle with. Not everyone  may have to worry how they are going to pay their bills, but they still have the same frailties as any other human and bleed just like the rest of us.

I obviously don’t have the answers to the worlds problems, but my wish for everyone is that we all start with ourselves and spread kindness instead of disaster.

As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment.

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 and published by Buddhapuss Ink in New Jersey has been released for purchase on Amazon.

Coming soon to Page & Spine Publishing my short story The Ravine

My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013, but can be viewed on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 
LinkedIn

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter.

Other Places to view my short stories:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie 
Pack Leader 
The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure

Two Little Girls – An Essay

TWO LITTLE GIRLS – Another Essay

By Donna Jean McDunn Author

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Mine was great. All three of our daughters and their families came, so it was a busy four-day weekend. Our oldest grandson celebrated his 13th birthday on November 7th. (That gives us three teenage grandkids with five more to go.) He lives to far away so we weren’t able to celebrate with him on that day and while they were visiting, he enjoyed another birthday party with us.

We also attended a party for my husband’s brother’s 70th birthday and a surprise birthday party our son-in-law planned for our youngest daughter. By the time the weekend ended, I needed another four days to recuperate.

I’m sorry I haven’t posted since November. I’ve been busy editing my novel Nightmares. As soon as all the editing is done, I will share an excerpt of the story here. I just finished working with the content editor who suggested I consider turning the book into a series based on the characters in the book, so I have begun a new story I have tentatively named Visions. I’m still waiting to hear from the line editor and get her opinion of the idea.

I’m also working on another story I began for a writing course a few months ago. The course has ended, but the writing goes on and I really want to finish it. It is tentatively named The Rose Stalker. It is geared to a much older reader than my Nightmares books and is a romance/mystery about a stalker who leaves roses.

Now I would like to share with you an essay I wrote in 2008. It’s not very long, just under 650 words. It’s about something that happened in my childhood that has always bothered me. It still does whenever I think about it and that year, I thought about it a lot, just as I have during this one. Some of the words I used for descriptions may not be politically correct today and I don’t wish to offend anyone, but in the 1950’s these terms were accurate. It’s called:

TWO LITTLE GIRLS

I grew up in a small town in Iowa during the 1950’s. During those early years of my life, I remember seeing only two people of African American decent at my school. It happened when I was in the third grade.

The teacher had just let us outside for recess. It was early spring and I had on my blue winter coat I’d gotten for Christmas. The day had turned out so sunny and warm; I felt I no longer needed it. So, like several other kids, I took my coat off and threw it on top of a pile of coats already lying on the ground.

My friends and I ran to the jungle gym to play. When I happened to look in the direction of my coat, I saw two African American girls. I naturally assumed they were sisters and the older one was holding my blue coat.

“Hey, this can’t be mine,” I heard the girl say to the younger one as she slipped it on. She held her arms out in front of her. “Look, it’s to small.”

Concerned I was about to lose my coat to a stranger, I jumped off the jungle gym and ran to her. “I think that’s my coat.”

Looking down at the pile still on the ground, I could see the arm of a blue coat just like mine. I pulled it out and slipped it on. The sleeves hung down past my fingertips. “Maybe this one is yours.”

We exchanged coats, giggling about the mix up, until her younger sister poked her in the ribs. “Come on. We’re going to get into trouble.”

“Thanks,” the older one said to me and the two girls ran toward the school.

I wanted to talk to them and find out if they were sisters, where they came from and why I hadn’t I seen them before. I didn’t even know their names. Why did they leave in such a hurry?

I watched as they ran to a door, the rest of us weren’t supposed to use, but before going inside, the older girl turned and smiled in my direction.

I wondered where they were going. Recess had just started.

I rejoined my friends on the jungle gym. “Who are those girls,” I asked my friend, Mary. “I’ve never seen them before.”

“I don’t know their names,” she said. “I heard they go to school upstairs.”

I couldn’t believe it. “Upstairs? Why?”

She stared at me like I must be really dumb. “Because they’re Negro.”

I was eight years old at the time, but even I could see sending those two girls upstairs was wrong.  I knew about prejudice and the riots happening in other parts of the country. I just never expected to see it in my town.

Several years ago, the upstairs in the school had been condemned and considered unsafe for anyone. I had heard rumors that there were bats up there, too. If it was unsafe for us, how could anyone make two little girls use it as a classroom? Did they even have a teacher?

I never saw either of the girls after that day, not in the hallways or during recess or even after school. I asked about them everyday for a long time, but no one seemed to know if they moved away or what happened to them.

I’d like to think situations like that don’t happen in this country today, but I know I’d only be deceiving myself. Even so I still have hope for us and I pray the girls are still alive and well and see how things have changed. It only took forty-nine years! The sad part is we have only just begun to make real progress.

As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment.

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 will be released, according to the Amazon site, on December 7, 2012. The book went to press November 29th. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. The publisher, Buddhapuss Ink is located in New Jersey and there was a delay thanks to Hurricane Sandy.

My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013, but can be viewed on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 
LinkedIn

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter.

Other Places to view my short stories:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie

Pack Leader

The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure