Poem: The Three Magi

by Teri B. Clark

A shining split the darkness
A choir came to call
The shepherds heard the wondrous news...
A babe to save us all

A twinkling star in Heaven's sky
The Magi saw it there
They gathered all their treasured gifts
To give to baby fair

A rising sun, a setting moon
The days went always on
Till light was streaming gently down
On God's begotten son.

A bending knee at Jesus' feet
Though a mere child was he
The Magi knew he was the King
That came to set them free.

Copyright 2008 Teri B. Clark

Poem: Super Mom at Christmas

Super Mom at Christmas
By Teri B. Clark

“Have no fear!” said the mom.
”I can do it all, what’s the matter?
I will trim up this tree
As I stand on a ladder
With a star in one hand
And tinsel in the other.
But that is not ALL I can do,”
Said the mother.

Look at me!
”Look at me now!" said the mom to herself.
”I’m busy creating Christmas.
I’m just a jolly old elf.

While writing some cards
And wrapping some gifts
I can bake up some cookies
Get them done in a jiff.

“And light up the mantle
And sew up this dress.
Add glitter to these ornaments
Without making a mess.

“And look!
Despite all I’m doing
I can go to the mall.
But that is not all!
Oh, no. That is not all...”
And then the little children saw everything fall.

Down came the mom -
She fell into a heap
With garland in her hair
And twigs in her teeth
“Christmas is ruined,”
She said with a sigh.
“Santa’s not coming.”
And she started to cry

Beware all you mothers,
What I tell you is true -
Her fate can be your fate
It can happen to you!
You must learn this lesson -
Or end up on the floor.
Christmas is about giving,
Not doing more and more and more.

Copyright 2008 Teri B. Clark

A Tribute To My Grandpa, Archie Mohler

By Teri B. Clark
I will always think of my grandpa as a farmer. That is not all my grandpa did, but his strong-willed, loving attitude, and incredible faith kept him grounded in the blessings bestowed upon him and it was these traits that helped his gardens grow. He had the faith that if he tilled the earth, planted the seed, and tended his garden, that God would provide the rest and the garden would grow.

Grandpa was blessed to have many gardens in his life. Some were of the traditional sort with wax beans, cucumbers and tomatoes. I remember being out in those gardens with him. Feeling the cool, damp earth on my fingers as I pulled weeds, listening to him tell me stories of his youth, explain his faith in Jesus, or imparting words of wisdom based on his immense experience. Then there were the trees – plums and apples in Ohio and oranges and grapefruit in Florida. He taught me to pick the fruit and let me discover what would happen if I insisted on picking it too early. He always had faith that the garden would grow. That faith never wavered. He used his garden to teach. He was always teaching. And he was always sharing – spreading the wealth of his garden to those he loved. Grandpa loved everyone.

Grandpa had more than a traditional garden of fruits and vegetables. He also had the garden of music. He planted the seed in all of his children and grandchildren. He taught each of his children to play an instrument though he had no formal training himself. And they all sang and played together and made beautiful memories. This garden has continued on and on. In me, the seed produced a love for music so deep that I can’t imagine what life would be without it. He used his garden of music to spread happiness to those around him, just as he did his fruits and vegetables.

Then there was his garden of love. Love for Jesus, love for family, love for country. He loved those around him enough to teach them to work, to want to succeed, to never give up, to have pride in their accomplishments, and to learn whatever they needed to learn to succeed. I would have to say that his garden of love was his greatest garden of all.

Gardens came and went during his life, each within its own season. Sometimes the gardens didn’t produce as well as he had hoped, but he never declared them failures. He simply got on his knees and prayed, and then rolled up his sleeves and began again. As it says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” According to his fruits, my grandpa was a master farmer.

I had the privilege of loving Archie Wilson Mohler as Grandpa. And as my grandpa, he taught me many things. I often see, in me and in my children qualities that I know came from him. Through these qualities, my grandpa will live forever.

Copyright 2008 Teri B. Clark

A Tribute To My Grandpa, Archie Mohler is the Grand Prize winner for the Anita Bloom Ornoff Award for inspirational short story. Anita Bloom Ornoff was an inspirational woman, who like my grandpa, exemplified a positive outlook on life. You can buy Anita’s Book, Beyond Dancing, at Amazon.com.

Watermelon Eating Contest

(Writing prompt: Use descriptive words to write a story about watermelon.)

UPDATE: This short story won a Novel Writing Festival contest and has been "read" for a YouTube video. See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROh3OZp0GQI

By Teri B. Clark

Hot. That's how I would describe it. Hot, sticky, sweaty.

Perfect weather for a watermelon eating contest. Perfect.

Ice cold watermelon, still dripping with perspiration as the knife slices down, down, down to the table.

Ahhh, the redness. So juicy. So cold. So good.

The rules are easy. First one to finish the slice of watermelon wins. With just one hitch. Hands behind your back.

Simple, but only if you are willing to let that juice run everywhere - down your shirt, into your hair, even up your nose if you have to.

I look closely at my competition.

Mary Danner. What a looker. School teacher. Her "kids" are cheering her on. Sweet smile. Nice dress. Oh, she has the cheering section but her desire won't be strong enough to let that dress get sticky, drawing flies for the rest of the afternoon. So, I smile and say, "Pretty dress." She blushes. One down.

Ron "Bubba" Johnson. Big and burly. Mouth the size of California. He's got the drive, the desire. But not the finesse needed to eat that dainty slice of watermelon without dropping it in the dirt at his feet. So I give him a sideways glance, look down at the ground, shake my head, and grin. He watches me carefully and looks down when I do. His shoulders sag, just a bit, but enough that I know he knows. Two down.

George Alberts. The barber. Small, compact, and can move with the speed of lightning. No doubt he could win a race of any kind using his legs. But there is the issue of that gap. Missing tooth. Lost it last week. Still waiting for the dentist to fix it all up. Nope, not enough teeth up front to really dig in. "How's the tooth, George." He grimaces, realizing that he still has some pain. Three down.

Last, but not least, Robert Mills. Bobby. Born here. Same as his daddy and his daddy before him. Been the watermelon eating champ for the last 15 years when he finally took the title from his daddy who took it from his daddy who probably took it from his daddy. I think he must practice all year, at least all summer. All his teeth. Finesse. No worries about his shirt or even dirt if need be. I look over at him. I have nothing to say. No looks to give. He just smiles. I sigh. Four down.

Second place won't be so bad. I mean, how can you lose eating watermelon on a hot day.

Teri B. Clark © 2008

Glitz in Smalltown

© 2008 Teri B. Clark All Rights Reserved

Writer's Note: This story was written for a writing prompt at Jays Writers World. Check it out!

I've been tasting my way through hot spot restaurants in the Southeast for what seems like my whole life. And today? Well, today I'm stuck in some backwoods town of North Carolina. I think it may be the armpit of the state, but folks around here seem to like it just fine.

Why here? Why the armpit of NC? According to anybody that is anybody, La Glitterati is the best up and coming restaurant, and it just so happens to be here. Why would anyone put a such a fine restaurant in a town with only 2 chain hotels, both of which are the budget variety? Oh, I have a few other choices, but somehow a motel sign with one letter blinking and two missing just isn't my style.

My editor got the tip. He wants to scoop our competitor so he sent me down quick as a flash. He's heard the muttered words 'five stars." Well, no amount of stars will fool me. If it is good, I'll know it. If it isn't, I'll know it and no amount of stars will change the fact.

Luckily, the big guy, my boss, knows someone from around here. He'll be showing me the town. Last night was a trip to the theater to see Ain't Misbehavin'. I have to say I was impressed. Such a little town with such big theater. Gave me hope that I might find something to eat that suits my style. But, of course, I didn't let a good night of theater sway me one way or another about the restaurant. No, it was going to have to stand on its own.

So, tonight, around 7, my escort John arrived. Handsome man. He's trying to look a bit too 'hip.' Like maybe he saw someone dressed that way in a fashion magazine and is trying to impress me. I don't think he saw me smile into my hand. I must admit that he has a gorgeous car. Convertible. Red. A car to be seen in. A car to be seen in when there is somewhere to be seen. And I'm here in nowhere....but somehow, nowhere seems like somewhere the longer I stay.

La Glitterati. The name says it all when it comes to ambiance. Nothing subtle here. Almost tacky. Almost. But not quite. It is like a single thread is what stands between La Glitterati and a flashing neon flamingo. It's glitzy. It's bright. It's got flash. And it makes me forget that I'm in smallville.

We are seated and I take a long look around. You can learn a lot about a restaurant by what and who you see. Well dressed. That is how I would describe the customers. Well dressed, yet stunning, and somewhat over the top. The ambiance was rubbing off on everyone. It is as though we all have some la glitterati of our own.

There is a slight ripple and the heads are turning. I strain to see, though I don't know that I would know what I was seeing if I saw it. Tall man, petite woman. Flash of a white smile. Hands shaking. A casual wave. Murmuring all around. And then he steps forward and I realize that I recognize that face. No lie, it's Sam Neill. What in the world would Sam Neill be doing here?

I turn to John and ask if he knows the new guest. He doesn't. So I tell him it is Sam Neill - the actor. He played in Dead Calm with Nicole Kidman. Way back. In 88 or 89. I ask him what he thinks Sam Neill is doing here. He hasn't been on screen much recently. But I know he owns a production company now and has an incredible winery in New Zealand. Yeah, ok. You guessed it. I really like the guy. I thought he was good....and good looking.

John reminds me that in another sleepy NC town not far away, a movie studio or two exists. And of course, NC is becoming known for its wineries. I guess Sam could be here for either reason. Or, maybe like me, he'd heard the food was good. I watched him a few more minutes. It seems that he knew everyone. I think he must be a regular.

No matter. Anyone can eat and anyone can eat at a bad restaurant. I will not let the flashy smile of Sam Neill keep me from my mission - a rating for La Glitterati.

It is time for the menu. I'm pleasantly surprised. With a name like La Glitterati, you might expect exotic dishes with names you can't pronounce and prices you can't afford - eventually finding food you don't want to eat. But not here. The menu has classics but with flare. Baked onion soup, but with Gruyere rather than mozzarella cheese. La Glitterati grilled chicken salad but with fire-roasted corn vinaigrette and asiago cheese crisps. You get the picture.

You'd think that as a restaurant columnist, I would take an appetizer. But I don't. I never do. I want to keep my eye on the prize. The main courses. Anyone can throw together a good appetizer and fill you up so you don't care as much about the main dish. So, for me, I go straight to the main course and see what they have to offer. I asked John to order something different so that I could sample his as well. He ordered the blackened catfish with sautéed spinach. I decided on tomato basil chicken with garlic mashed potatoes.

The waitress is good. Very efficient and hardly noticeable. Not a lot of small talk but friendly - very friendly. I've always felt it was a gift to appear friendly without injecting yourself into someone's meal. This was definitely a 5 star waitress. I watched the others weave in and out of the tables and was impressed as well. Smiling. Friendly. Available. Invisible unless needed.

I glanced over my shoulder. It seemed that even Sam Neill was able to get a meal without much ado. After the first ripple of awareness wore off, he and his date, wife?, were quietly talking and their waitress was as impressive as ours.

By now, John was watching me. I wondered if this is how the others here felt as I watched them - as if they were under a glass? Now it was my turn to make small talk and I'm not much good at it. I'm too blunt. Too forward. Definitely one explanation as to my marital status, but others could give you far better reasons.Thankfully the food arrived just before I placed my beautiful jeweled foot into my size 10 mouth! <

Presentation. Excellent. Beautiful. La Glitterati.

And then the first taste. Not too fast. Not too much. And I have to stop my mouth from dropping open. It is beyond delicious. I've eaten in the finest restaurants in the Southeast. I've even eaten in a few of the finest in the world. And this was beyond the best.

Incredible food. Exquisite ambiance. Fun people. La Glitterati has it all.

I just have two problems. Nowhere NC is growing on me and I only have 5 stars to give a 7 star restaurant.

© 2008 Teri B. Clark All Rights Reserved

Clouds and Costume Jewelry

© 2008 Teri B. Clark All Rights Reserved

The whole family was ready to watch the lunar eclipse last night, but alas, the clouds rolled in. Even the local news station suggested that lunar watchers simply go on indoors. But, no, not the girls and me. We were convinced that the moon could be seen between the cracks in the clouds.
And we were right! Of course, we never had a view that lasted for more than 30 seconds, but it was enough to see the moon turning redder and darker and then getting lighter once again.

During times of darkness we shivered, but more importantly we laughed! Somehow, everything is funnier when you are lying on the ground, shivering under blankets, and looking up at a cloudy sky. I'm not sure why, but it is absolutely true.Teri B. Clark, author of fiction and nonfiction

One source of laughter was my camera. I brought it outside with all intentions of capturing some great scientific lunar eclipse photos - the kind of gems that I'd be proud to display and would garner many ooohs and ahhhs from all who saw. But alas, my cheap little camera, aided by the clouds, couldn't even find enough light to let the moon show up in the viewfinder! I had come to get photos, however, so I didn’t let a little thing like a missing moon stop me! I just aimed in the right direction and hoped. For what, I'm not sure.

Today, I got brave and downloaded my jewels. Believe it or not, there were a few specks right in the middle of the screen that were actually pictures of the eclipse. Yes, they were too far away and too dim to really see, but I was undaunted. I got out my handy dandy photo editor and tried a few tricks in hopes of creating the perfect image. Once again, I gathered the girls around andTeri B. Clark, author of fiction and nonfiction we laughed. I guess editing pictures of a cloudy lunar eclipse can be as funny as watching it the first time.

My photos are not what I had hoped they would be, but as a twist on the old saying goes, "When life gives you plastic baubles instead of gems, make costume jewelry!"
© 2008 Teri B. Clark All Rights Reserved