Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Word Search: First Christmas

Holy Family WSDecrease the stress and focus on the importance of the Christmas season.

Here are two Word Search Puzzles–one for adults, one for children, based on the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2:1-21 (KJV).  The words used in both puzzles are highlighted in red.

Click on link for Word Search Adult Puzzle (30 words): WS First Christmas Adult 

Click on link for Word Search Puzzle for Children (12 words): WS First Christmas Children

Mary onn Donkey“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 

“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the LordAnd this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Apparition-to-the-Shepherds“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

“And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” ~ Luke 2:1-21 (KJV)

Click on link for Solution to Adult Puzzle: WS First Christmas Adult Solution

Click on link for Solution to Children’s Puzzle: WS First Christmas Children Solution

 

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Chances Are I Didn’t Do It

My Christmas Letter: I’m amazed at all the things I DIDN’T do last year.
Winter:

snowvids1I DIDN’T shovel an ounce of the 105 inches of snow we got in the Northeast. It’s hard to shovel snow when you’re in Cancun. Not that I was in Cancun, mind you. But I do live in a condo community with stand-alone homes and low HOA fees–snow removal included. Close enough for me, by golly.

I DIDN’T finish the portrait of my husband I never started. “Why not?” you ask. The answer is simple. We don’t have a fireplace, so where would I hang it? And then there’s this: I can’t draw, not even a short straw.

I DIDN’T dance the cha-cha-cha. Unless you count the mornings I had too much coffee.

Spring:

I DIDN’T quite finish my Fall cleaning.

Not by bicycle.

This is not my bicycle.

I DIDN’T let the strong crosswinds affect me on a 30-mile cycle trip on the Kancamagus Highway. I DIDN’T have one sore muscle. That’s a lie. I did have a few sore muscles, but that was from sleeping on our old mattress. Never been on the Kancamagus myself. Don’t even own a bicycle, and slow speed is too fast for me.

I DIDN’T spit out the car window–not one time. Mainly, because both times the window was closed. [Note to my friend Kellie Parham. You know I’d never do this, so relax.]

Summer:

I DIDN’T go camping. At all. What a shame. (Again, lying here. No shame at all.)

I DIDN’T have the problem of critters spoiling my organic garden. I chose to pay the whole price at Whole Foods and save myself a whole lot of grief.

Prize HogI DIDN’T win a blue ribbon at the fair for my prize hog, Ham. I DIDN’T even go to the fair. Ham and I lounged by the pool that day.

Fall:

I DIDN’T do a scrapbooking page for each of the things I DIDN’T do.

I DIDN’T smack a single person upside the head. (Of course, the year’s not over yet.)

I DIDN’T win the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. I felt kinda bad about that for a while. The feeling passed when I realized people might expect me to do exciting stuff with all my money. Like sit and sweat in Cancun. Ride or, worse, hike the Kancamagus. Go camping. Or show off my hog, Ham, at the county fair.

More things I’m thankful I DIDN’T do: 

I DIDN’T give up on getting my first book published–and it happened.

I DIDN’T get sick.

I DIDN’T stop being thankful for my family.

I DIDN’T stop loving and appreciating my husband.

I DIDN’T lose a loved one.

I DIDN’T stop praying.

I DIDN’T stop believing that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of the world.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” ~ Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

CJ 02056


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It Was All Over Once We Measured Our Heads

My husband has teased me for over ten years about the canned message I used to introduce myself to him online.

Yahoo PersonnalsOn 06/23/2005 04:06 pm EDT, I sent: “I like your profile. Tell me more.”

It was the only time I had ever sent anyone a canned message. After seven years of being widowed, I didn’t feel like putting any more effort into this whole finding-a-perfect-mate thing.

On 06/24/2005 06:03 am EDT, he replied with his own canned message: “I’d like to know more about you. Maybe you could take the Personality & Love Style Test?”

A test? Who does this guy think he is? A test? Oh, I don’t think so. My plan was to play hard to get.

On 06/24/2005 05:21 pm EDT, I wrote: “I found the test and downloaded the Flash Player they said I needed to take the test. I’ve downloaded it 6 times, yet no go. Does this mean I flunked? If you have any hints as to how I can access this test, please send them along. Thanks. Clarice.”flash-player

If he wanted me to take his stupid test, I wasn’t going to make it easy on him.

On 06/24/2005 09:56 pm EDT, he wrote: “Not to ask a really dumb question, but after downloading Flash Player, did you install it?  I know, that’s a lot like asking if your TV’s not working because it’s not plugged in, but it’s all I could think of. David.”

Did I install the Flash Player? I downloaded it, wasn’t that good enough? What more did this moustached man from New Hampshire want from me? Well, I wasn’t so desperate that I needed to put up with this nonsense!

On 06/25/2005 08:57 am EDT, I wrote: “You must think my e-IQ is below average, but I’ve tried, really I have. I’ve clicked on the Personality Test and downloaded and installed the Flash 7, oh, probably 15 times by now. I have also re-booted more than once. Anyway, until I figure this out, here are a few facts about me:

  1. I’m much shorter than you.
  2. I don’t have a moustache. I’ve been told I’m attractive (even without the moustache).
    profile square

    [Ralph] David James 2005

  3. The symphony puts me to sleep, but I don’t think that’s a sin.
  4. I want to lose 10 lbs.
  5. I am honest [Correction: Make that 20 lbs.] and dependable and able to adapt to most situations in quick and positive manner. [I’d just put that on my resume and thought it sounded pretty good, so included it.]  Have I scared you away for good? Clarice

There. No harm in sending him a few bits of  information about me. Actually, there were 20 other things on the list, but does that make me a bad person? It’s not like I asked him to write a “What Marriage Means To Me Essay” or anything. (Well, maybe I did, but not until a month later.)

On 06/25/2005 11:20 pm EDT, he wrote: “Ack! I didn’t mean to act like you were e-IQ challenged! I was just admitting my own inability to come up with a solution to your problem. I’ve always thought ladies should be able to walk under my outstretched arm without mussing their hair. So 5′-2+3/8″ is a nice height. Moustaches on ladies have a very limited following, so your lack of one is no disadvantage.”

Ten more paragraphs followed. He gave as much as he got.

Our daily writing continued through July and August—without one phone call or date (despite all the hints I threw at him). We wrote about everyday stuff: faith, family, food, church, music, work. After a while, I decided there would be much less pressure if we took our time getting to know each other by writing. (Besides, he really never gave me a choice.)

In early August, our relationship took an unexpected turn toward intimacy when he told me he had a big head (literally). I’d seen his picture on his profile so I bet him that he was wrong. To settle the argument, such as it was, we both simultaneously measured our heads and reported the results.

It was all over after that. I knew this guy was for me. Who else would use a 25’ Stanley measuring tape to measure his head for a woman who didn’t know the difference between “download” and “install,” one who would try to use a 12″ ruler to measure the circumference of hers?

Big Head CapsThe first time we spoke and met in person was on September 21, 2005. Since I was looking at his head from a good 12+” below him, it seemed a normal size to me. Even so that Christmas I got him a hat from BigHeadCaps.com. It fit.

My husband needs a big head if he’s going to live with me. Where else would he store the knowledge base he uses to help get me through my days? (See this blog for more on that.)

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.'” ~ Genesis 2:18 (KJV)


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Why I Stalked a Shopper in Hannaford

old-womanwigIt’s near impossible for a writer to go out in public without imagining characters for their next novels.

Once, while waiting at a bank’s drive-up window, I wondered about my teller’s hair–which was really a bad wig. Why would she pick a style from the ’60s? Was she threatened by the aging process? Or had she spurned the whims of fashion?

The drawer slid open with my receipt. I reached over my half-opened, stuck-off-its track window to retrieve it. My arm wasn’t long enough. While I tried not to stare at the woman, character names for her ran through my head: Paula? Nancy? Frances? 

I soon realized I’d have to open my door and half-step out to get my hand inside the drawer. I had one foot in and one foot out. Unfortunately the car was in drive, and the foot that was in was not on the brake.

I grabbed the receipt and hopped alongside my rolling car to the end of building. It came to a stop after it withdrew the bank’s downspout.

 All because of that woman’s hair.

Recently, I was developing a female character. It was important for this character to be recognized by her perfume, which meant researching fragrances. I tested a multitude of brands in department stores. All I came away with was a bunch of stinky samples and a whopping headache.

None of them were right for my character. I needed to simplify my method. I would sniff it out in a more natural habitat.

It worked. I was standing at the deli counter in Hannaford when I smelled the perfect scent: Clementine and cactus flower, bergamot, Hawaiian tuberose, spring honeysuckle, frangipani, musk, exotic woods, and nectarine. [Research, people research!]

I looked around and tried to figure out which woman owned it. The one in the Nike jogging suit? The lady with the kerchief and polyester pants? The one in the beige top and funky straw hat who looked a lot like Minnie Driver?

Minnie DriverI wove my cart in and around them, sniffing as subtly as I could, pretending to check out cheese. I quickly eliminated the kerchiefed woman, who smelled more like salami than the salami she was buying. I tucked her away for another day.

I tailed the other two women until I reached a fork between two aisles. It called for a quick decision. I chose the Minnie lookalike. I tried to get as near to her as I could without drawing attention to myself. I dropped a few items in my cart to throw her off. Each time I got close, I sniffed, surer than ever I was on the right scent.

Even when she skipped aisles and pushed her cart faster, I kept up. I had to have the name of that perfume!

At one point, she gave me a weird look. I wasn’t sure if I’d blown my cover or if she’d looked in my cart. I’d been in the store for forty-five minutes and all I had to show for it was a jar of Gerber strained peas, a box of matches, and a toilet plunger.

Before she called security, I gave up the hunt. I retraced my steps and found the makings for dinner. Rather despondent, I checked out.  All my research had been for nought.

Pushing my cart through the lot, I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Loading groceries into the car parked right next to mine was my perfumed lady!

I sprinted toward her, then slowed to a stroll, blocking her only way of escape. I said, “Excuse me, you may have noticed me in the grocery store?”

“Ye-es.” She quickened her pace and scanned the area.

Before I could finish my explanation, she gave up the name of her perfume and took off faster than I could say Tommy Bahama.

Nice woman. Haven’t seen her since.

TB Perfume

 

Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. ~ 2 Corinthians 2:15 (MSG)