November 26, 2008

Soldiers Give Writer Reasons to be Thankful

I have newer Thanksgiving stories, but this is still my favorite. I posted it a couple of years ago, and have had a request to re-post it. It was originally published in the Ft. Lewis Guardian--hoo-ah!

Soldiers Give Writer Reasons to be Thankful
Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories
Janelle Meraz Hooper

When I was a kid, I was raised in a large military family in a small town next to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Half of my family was Catholic and the other half Baptists (don’t ask!), but once a year, we got together at a large table to make a turkey suffer. My uncle, the Head Baptist, had such a reputation for praying so long every year that my grandmother always brought a rosary to the table so she’d have something to do while he blessed everyone but the pope.
But, to be fair, he always had a lot to pray about. That year, I had three relatives overseas. One was in Korea, one in Japan, and one in Alaska. Well, I know Alaska isn’t technically a foreign country, but we worried about him just as much as the other two. So my uncle would pray and pray, then, when even his stomach started to growl, he’s say, “Amen!”
While he filled his plate, he’d start around the table, asking each person to share what they were thankful for that year. I usually said something dopey like, “I was thankful for my mother and my new poodle socks.” And I was. Truly. It was short and sweet, and he’d move on to my cousin, who always said something that his mom had helped him rehearse, like he was thankful for the farmers who worked so hard to provide the feast we were going to enjoy. I always kicked him under the table after he said something like that.
Well, I’ve grown, and at sixty, I have a whole list of things I’m thankful for. If he asked me now, we’d be there until a green scum floated on the cranberry sauce: I’m thankful for a loving, healthy family. I’m thankful for this beautiful planet. I’m thankful for this country. I’m thankful for those old geezers who wrote all that “We the People” stuff. And I’m thankful for the men and women who protect it everyday.
As I write this, it’s weeks until Thanksgiving, and well, with the world situation the way it is, some of you may not be sitting at your family’s table this year. Although I wish deployments weren’t necessary, I’m thankful for a strong fighting force that is able to keep the peace wherever it’s needed.
Most of all, I thank God for letting me be born in this great country, enabling me to see my child and grandchildren grow up safe and healthy. Oh, sure, I crab about the politicians and what’s going on with our government, doesn’t everybody? But usually about then, they have a story about Afghanistan or Iraq on TV. Then (too often it seems), I see an American soldier pushing through the sand, probably praying he or she doesn’t step on a landmine. I always think that if I’m watching, maybe their parents are too, and how stressful that must be for them.
So, to the men and women who are out on a limb sometimes and think nobody cares, I do. Lots of us do. And we’re thankful not only for you, but to your families who make such great sacrifices so that our children and grandchildren can play in our backyards without fear. Happy Holidays, dear brave men and women, from my heart to yours. Come home safely.
Quote du jour:
This story reminds me of one of my favorite movie quotes that I regret I have to paraphrase because of a misplaced dvd. Tom Cruise asks Demi Moore why she is so adament about representing two marines that have gotten themselves into trouble in A Few Good Men. She replies, "Because they stand the wall...when sometimes no one else will."
More Thanksgiving stories on my book website:

November 16, 2008

I'm on Kindle!

Now on Kindle!

Two of my novels, A Three-Turtle Summer and Custer and His Naked Ladies, are now in the Kindle catalog. If you have a Kindle, look me up!

On my bed table- If anyone wants to know the difference between men and women, they'll find it in Clive Cussler's book, Treasure of Khan. I snatched it off my husband's bed table because my books didn't come in. Before I gave up and ran screaming for my M&Ms, I'd read through 14 pages of a storm at sea during a Mongol invasion of Japan in 1281 with people dying and boats breaking up. And I still don't know what the treasure is. This is why women should rule the world. If there was a treasure, we'd tell you about it on page one.

On my TV- I was watching the old version of The Thomas Crown Affair on Friday, with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, and was fascinated by how much better the new version with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo is. One of the big changes in the script was that the old version's focus was on the theft of money, and the new version's focus is on the theft of art. Beautiful art. The change makes the newer film a lush, visual treat. Money, is nice, but it's boring to look at unless it's yours. The ending in the Pierce Brosnan film was also so much better. The ending in the first film was vague. There was more, but I've probably bored you too much already.

Politics- I like those Obamas. They have the same core values as I do. With me, it's all about the kids. I hear that the girls' grandmother may move into the White House to look after them. Those girls are in for a rough 8 years, and anything that can help them is a good idea.

Green writing-Even if you're not a writer, there's a lot to be said for freezing meals for later use. My husband cooks big batches of things like spaghetti, lasagna, chili con carne, soups, chowders, burritos, etc. and freezes them in individual serving sizes. All from scratch. Many are either partially or all organic. He usually does this on a rainy Sunday, but he's been know to whip up a huge pot of beef stew on a weekday evening. Think about it. Not only is it green, but it's a great time-saver. And no pots to clean up every night.

Quote du jour:

"Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." Gloria Steinem, courtesy of
Read sample chapters of my books on:
Thanksgiving fillers on homepage!

November 13, 2008

Sha-na-na-na, Goodbye!

Politics- Oh, no! Bush is still working (read: messing things up). Please, Mr. President, step away from your desk. Sit. Don't move or talk until the moving men arrive to carry your chair (and you) out the door.
Luckily, I heard on the news last night that they have a "fix" for all of the last minute mischief Bush may create.

I heard that when Obama won, an impromptu crowd of about a 1,000 gathered outside the fence around the White House and sang the hockey song (I don't know the name) that goes: "Sha-na-na-na, sha-na-na-na, hey, heeey! Goodbye!" How rude! But I'll bet it felt good!

Green writer- As an anthropology enthusiast, I've worked as a docent at two major history museums. I miss them, but I'm just beginning to learn about the museums that are beginning to put their treasures online. How great is that?! There are so many benefits to this online archiving that I don't know where to start.
Just one: of course, you know, that museums rotate their exhibits, so we never see everything they have in one visit. But now, theoretically, I could click on a museum and see everything they have in, say, quilts or baskets. All without leaving my house. I'm going to call it pajama research!

eBooks- I'm slower than most to warm up to the new rush to eBooks, but, recently, I needed some information that wasn't carried in the local bookstores. I ordered the eBooks and got them so fast I didn't have time to walk to the kitchen to get coffee. Amazing. If you haven't tried an eBook yet, you should know the price is a lot less too. Who knows? Maybe I'll break down and order one of those Amazon Kindles. I'm holding back because Bezos is so proud of them (they retail for around $359.00). However, since my books will be on Kindle and Sony soon, I guess I should get with the new technology. Maybe I could give up chocolate for a month...

Quote du jour:
I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. - Jorge Luis Borges (courtesy of Abe Books)
Visit my book site and read sample chapters of my books:
For Thanksgiving, I've posted some fillers on the homepage

November 09, 2008

I'm recycling my old nuclear warheads.

Clip art courtesy of Microsoft

As far I'm concerned, that marshmallow is just right. But the kid doesn't seem to agree. We're heading into tough times. Please help the food banks if you can.

I'm trying to get back to my regular blog format, but it would be impossible to go all the way back. Our world has changed since Wall Street took a dive, so I'm going to add a new topic on politics that is yet to be named. Here's an idea: why don't I just call it politics?

Politics-I'm passing around a sign-up sheet so we can keep track of red and blue politicians. I'm watching Nancy Pelosi every Monday from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM. Who's got her after that? I'm not picking on Nancy--I want us to watch all of them!

Last year, I wrote a few lines at different times about how a writer could be green. Whatever I do will be small. I won't be buying a new car as mine is paid for, and I rarely drive it anyway. It's a 1999 model, and it just turned over 50,000 miles. But everyone can do something, and maybe a small idea will trigger a bigger idea by someone who leaves a bigger footprint than I do.

Green writer- Water bottles have been on everyone's mind. I've never used many, but will try to use none at all going forward. By using reusable storage containers, I'm really slowing down my consumption of plastic bags. We're carrying reusable grocery bags. I know. Ho-hum. I'll recycle my old nuclear warheads too. How's that?

On my bed table- Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell. I love this book. It's set in Egypt after World War I. A light romance, the story is built around the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference. Characters include Winston Churchill and Lawrence of Arabia.

On my TV-The Food Network. I think these shows are mainly entertainment for me because I watch them like some people read cookbooks. I'm also watchng a lot of The History Channel. History is a lot more interesting now, with my perspective, than it was in the eighth grade. Who knew?

On Warrior (my laptop)- I've been rewriting Bears in Hibiscus and have spent over 18 hours writing a short story that no one will ever be interested in, I fear. But I love it. It's called Old Joe and His Yellow Cadillac. My readers have come to expect humor from me, and this tale is sad. I got the idea from when I saw an old man working on one of those old, Eldorado Cadillacs like Elvis used to drive. The rest of the story I made up.

quote du jour:

"Americans drink deeply from wells we did not dig." Cory Booker, mayor of Newark New Jersey (Bill Maher show), speaking about all the great patriots who have gone before us.

I've posted Thanksgiving shorts on my website:

You'll also find sample chapters of my books there!

No time to edit! get out your red pen!

November 06, 2008

My work here is done.

*And Beyond! courtesy of Walt Disney

I think my work here is done. Frankly, it didn't go as well as I'd hoped. My goal was to open logical, thoughtful conversation between our left and right. What I got from the right was far from what I'd hoped for. And the emails I got, most of them, were sent to my personal email box. I guess few were willing to express their thoughts worldwide. But it's time to move on and get back to my normal literary blog. I've missed it!

One last thought: Barack Obama has given us a great gift before he has served a day in office. No, I don't mean the history he's made by being our first black president. That too. But what I'm referring to is how he and his staff has shown us how to use the Internet for good. Our good. Do you feel empowered? I do. Do you feel stronger? We are!

I did community work for years because I felt I had some control in my neighborhood. National and world matters, I thought, were out of my control. Not anymore! Change has truly come!

With my little mouse, I can reach all the way over to D. C. and smack them if I want to.
And so can you. Never forget it. Thank you, Obama.

God bless and keep our new president and his family. God bless and keep The United States of America.

Read samples of my books!

November 04, 2008

Barack Obama

"Change has come to America." President-elect Barack Obama

Obama wins!

I am speechless.

The whos are back!

I voted by mail this year, but I went to the polls with my husband, and he only had a five minute wait. I feel for all of the people who are in long lines, but to be a part of history--whichever way the vote goes--makes the wait worth it. They must think so too, or they wouldn't be there.
I heard on MSNBC that Danny DeVito was running up and down the lines at a polling place in Florida, keeping the voters entertained so they wouldn't give up and go home. I'd like to see that!
There were a lot of reasons NOT to vote for McCain, but most Americans were too polite to vocalize the biggest: McCain's window of opportunity came and went years ago. He's too old, too sick, too addled to lead our nation, especially in this time of crisis.
When I say this, I'm standing behind one of his big Country First signs. We need young, intellectual, steady leadership, and we needed it yesterday. Don't send me any emails on this; if you disagree, start your own blog!
This election isn't in the bag; a lot can happen in the next few hours. Call your friends. Make sure they've voted. I sent out a slew of emails yesterday reminding people to vote, and got a zillion reminders myself in return.
We've been Whos too long. We are here! We are here! We are here! (Dr. Seuss)
Vote, America! Vote!

Quote du jour:

"Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." Rachel Maddow, The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC

November 03, 2008

McCain and his weird attachments

What is this fixation McCain has with losers? All day yesterday, all he talked about was Joe the Plumber and, today, he's been running negative ads on Reverend Wright over and over. Then, of course, there's the Alaskan Snow Dummy he picked up on that dating service on TV. Add Joe Lieberman, The First Dude, and The Ice Woman who stands behind him all he time. He's looking very strange.

And all day he's been saying, "The Mack is back!" What does that mean? has he taken a job at McDonald's?

And why do I get the feeling that things are going to get very nasty if Palin doesn't get her way?


11-03-08- Thank you, Toot. Good job!
Barack Obama's grandmother, whose nickname was Toot, passed away today at 86.

I used to toy with the idea of setting up a website titled, Go, Mom! where I'd recognize exemplary acts by moms to protect and support their children. But the idea outgrew its name when I began to add fathers, grandparents, and other heros and heroines to the list. I moved on to other ideas. But if I had such a website today, Barack's grandmother would be at the top of my list.

The extreme right has taken over the Republican Party

Vote, America, vote!
1 more day!

From a conversation over the weekend:
", I won't be voting Republican this time--for the first time ever, I'll be voting Democrat. The Republican party isn't the party I grew up with. Their focus is no longer business. Now, the extreme right has taken over. It is no longer the same party. It may never change back in my lifetime." DH (DH is in his middle sixties)



36 hours

Vote, ya'll!

McCain has been on TV this morning, repeating the same old stuff. He's a Maverick, Sarah Palin is a true reformer, yada-yada-yada. Nothing about unifying our country, just more division. I lost all tolerance for him when he came up with those Country First signs, and then preceded to lie his way from one side of our nation to another. He is NOT what this country needs, and he knows it, so who is he putting first? John McCain. It's all about John.

I've been so focused on Obama getting elected that I forgot all about Bush's Goodbye party. I hope someone is busy working on it. For locations, I suggest Iraq, The World Trade Building site in New York City, Guantamino Bay, Abu Graib, or New Orleans, Halliburton Corporate headquarters, Blackwater's home office...I hope he gets a trophy for the Worst President in American History. He's earned it; I'd gladly chip in.

Please forward this blog to your friends, and remind them to vote!

Janelle Meraz Hooper is an author. Read samples of her books on:

November 02, 2008

All of John McCain's horses are dead!

3 more days!

I've been looking over all of McCain's propaganda, and I've noticed that he's beating a lot of dead horses:
1. Abortion rights: Like it or not, this is an issue that will be decided in state and federal courts.
Abortion issues don't really have a place in this campaign. Even if the Republicans managed to install Supreme Court Justices who lean toward the Conservative Right, I've read that history shows they don't always vote the way they're expected to. Abortion is a problem we're going to have to work out step by step. there's no use spinning our wheels over a problem that won't be decided on November 4th.

2. The war in Iraq: John McCain has a lot of bravado about winning in Iraq. He'd better be quick. From what I've read, the Iraqis want us out of their country by January first.

3. Terrorists: The terrorists the McCain people keep yapping about have also been funded by John McCain on different projects to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In this case, there isn't even a dead horse. It's just Republican hysteria being broadcasted because they don't want to address the real issues.

If you're still undecided, I hope you'll ask yourself:
1. Which candidate has shown the best judgement? Even Republicans have questioned McCain's judgement for picking Palin (and more).
2. Which candidate has shown the best leadership? With McCain's total lack of leadership, this may be the dirtiest, most untruthful election in Republican history. This is not the man to bring us together.
3. Which candidate has shown the most intellect? McCain has been all over the place, like a chicken being chased by a space ship.
4. Which candidate has surrounded himself with the best, most qualified people?
McCain, like Bush, has consistently picked old croonies to advise him. The same good-ole-boys who got us into our mess in the first place!

These next 4 years are going to be critical for the survival of our country. We've got a lot of work to do. Let's start out with the best, strongest, most intelligent, and healthy team we can.

Obama/Biden in 2008!

Please forward this blog to your friends...

(Janelle Meraz Hooper is an author. Information about her books can be found on:

Sent by email: Alec Baldwin was talking about the Spice Girls (a musical group), and commented that Sarah Palin was Bible Spice. So, does that make McCain Old Spice, I asked?