Friday, October 13, 2017

Best-selling Author Tim McWhorter Releases New Novel

I met author Tim McWhorter a couple of months ago at a book signing sponsored by the Mid-Ohio Indie Author’s Book Festival. The two of us shared a table at the event, and between interactions with readers who approached us and purchased our books, Tim and I chatted. I was impressed with the overall look of his books—his book covers are eye-catching, done mainly in hues of black and white, appropriate for his usual genre, which is horror. His horror/thriller BONE WHITE is a best-seller.

I am so pleased to present to my readers Tim’s latest novel WINDING DOWN HOURS, his first book of general fiction, and a huge departure from his usual genre. Judging by the reviews it has received, it has hit the mark. It is notable, as well, that the cover of the book is also quite different—it is colorful, and again, eye-catching. Following is a description of the novel, as well as a couple of reviews posted on Amazon. Links to it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Kobo are also included below:
“The Taylors haven’t spent this much time together in years. But with their mother gone and the tendrils of dementia slowly entwining their father, the three siblings have one last chance to relive their idyllic youth while packing up the family home. Life isn’t as simple as when they were children, however, and missteps of the past have driven them irreconcilably apart. Only Mason, the middle Taylor, is determined to mend the fractures before the weekend ends and their time on the Cape is done.

A story of the common hopes, trials and disappointments of family life – and just how difficult acceptance can be.”

Customer reviews:

"What a lovely gentle read. Tim McWhorter really has a handle on family dynamics. I was intrigued by the premise of The Winding Down Hours, and I wasn't disappointed by the story. I think what I appreciated most was the complexity of the characters, even the Father suffering with dementia. I loved the beautiful detail of the setting, and the cover is exquisite. The secrets and memories of the family were uncovered layer by layer, and I found the novel enchanting. I would definitely read more from this author."

"McWhorter exhibits his multifaceted talent with this one. A heartwarming tale of complex family matters that are right for today's times. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this family and working through their complicated relationships. Life can be challenging, especially for families. Mr. McWhorter has great insight into family matters that we may all face, in some form or another, one day. I highly recommend this read!"


Best-selling author, award-winning artist, blogger, and interior designer Linda Lee Greene is on social media at the following:
Twitter: @LLGreeneAuthor

Also look for her at LinkedIn and Google+

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Review of Fran Lewis' A DAUGHTER'S PROMISE

October 4, 2017…Submitted by Linda Lee Greene, Author & Artist

5 Stars...Uplifting in its sincerity; illuminating in its wisdom; heartbreaking in its candor, A DAUGHTER’S PROMISE by prolific writer and book reviewer Fran Lewis is the story of her mother Ruth’s journey through Alzheimer’s Disease. Written from the points of view of both Ruth and Fran, the book gives readers insight into the mind and heart of the sufferer, as well as of the caregiver, dual perspectives not often available in other literary pieces of this kind.

“Something has overtaken my thoughts, mind, and thinking skills. But what? I have no idea. Slowly, methodically, and carefully, like a book with its chapters outlined and set in type to be published and printed, my world seems dimmer and my memory all fogged up as this entity takes hold within the recesses of my mind, ready to print out and publish my future…”

In words gleaned from Ruth’s journals she kept during much of her illness, Fran, her mother’s caregiver and chronicler, offers to the world in this outstanding book an intimate story readers will not soon forget. In addition to Ruth’s journal writings, it brims with Fran’s observations, expressions of her feelings, as well as helpful hints in the care of afflicted people of this disease, including valuable professional resources. In its essence, it is a grateful, loyal, and brave daughter’s tribute to her remarkable mother, and the extraordinary steps she takes to remain faithful to her promise to her mother not to place her in a nursing home or any other outside facility.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

My Talking Heart - Chapter Eight: A Past Life Experience at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

O'Hare International Airport
One sultry August afternoon in 2002, my travel companion and I were annoyed passengers stuck at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. We were awaiting our delayed connecting flight back home from a vacation in New Orleans. While there were no pyrotechnics, gunshots, microphones or cameras associated with it, nor a naked man streaking up and down the aisles as I had witnessed at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport years before, this layover was different than any in my experience. In fact, then as now, it is a completely unique event in any setting in my life, and is one of my most indelible memories.
Among the sizeable group of my fellow irritated passengers, I sat with book in hand and tried to pass the time by losing myself in the story, normally a reliable escape for me under almost any circumstance. But there was something strange in the air that distracted me, a weird feeling, a sort of prickly awareness not unlike the sense that sweeps across my consciousness and skin when someone is staring at me. I looked up through my eyelashes and in the section across the aisle from ours, one for a different flight, a man and an adolescent girl sat, and indeed, both of them were looking at me intently. I recognized them instantly. I couldn’t have stated how, or why, or under what circumstances I knew them, nor did I know their names, but know them, I certainly did so. I noticed that not only were those two individuals staring at me, but all of the many people milling around or sitting near them also gazed at me relentlessly, with total recognition of me in their eyes. And as with the man and girl, I knew all of them in return—they were as familiar to me as members of my own family.
If I were Oprah Winfrey or Angelina Jolie, my outsized fame would account for the O’Hare crowd’s recognition of me, but I am “private citizen Linda Lee Greene,” even less known then than I am now, for I was yet to join the throng of Internet users. It was a decade down the road before I began to develop a serious social media presence, on the occasion of publishing my second book. However, even if I had been a celebrity, what is the explanation of my recognition of them?
Perplexed by then, I revisited every possible setting in my mind in which I might have met the O’Hare crowd before then. I thought perhaps they were a delegation of some sort, and since there were a few other children among them, maybe they were a church or sports group I had encountered somewhere in New Orleans, or in my home city of Columbus, Ohio. But their incoming flight was not New Orleans or Columbus, and the outgoing flight was to a city to which I had never visited. To this day, I have been unable to identify any prior situation in which I came in contact with those people.  
One of the other strange things about the incident is that there were no discernible responses on the faces or in the bodies of any of them once eye contact was accomplished among us. Not one of them smiled or nodded or made any physical gesture whatsoever in acknowledgement of me, not even a twitch of an eyelid, or a tiny flick of a finger. They merely held my eyes steadily, and I swear to goodness that I began to think they were communicating a message to me, telepathically, but not of a soothsaying nature. There seemed to be no warning of impending misfortune or fortune. It didn’t cause me to feel uncomfortable or creepy—it simply felt like a gentle affirmation of kinship with me. As a matter of fact, the exchange settled me somehow—my spirit relaxed, my irritation over the delay lost its edge, and I felt friendlier toward my companion, a royal pain in the rump during our trip together.
 Back in my college days, I wrote a paper about reincarnation, and I recall that one of its tenets is that we travel through time with a pack of spiritual soulmates appearing in dissimilar guises at different times. For instance, my mother in my current life might have been my brother or sister or husband in lives past. Both major and minor characters appear in the sequential acts of our spiritual journeys, like the headliners and bit players of a Broadway show. Both types are essential to the full performance and disclosure of the story, a conjoined cast of pliable energy stores materializing when needed and providing continuity through which to work out ones spiritual lessons over time.
In literature as well as in the historical, scientific, and religious records, accounts of past-life experiences abound. Across the board, or nearly so, researchers discount them as so much smoke and mirrors, labeling them as fantasies, delusions, playacting, or a type of confabulation, a fancy word for lying without knowing one is lying. Within their quiver of rationales, even alcoholism can trigger false past-life memories.
Whether or not reincarnation will ever be observational, and as a result accepted as chapters in the script of life, isn’t about to be settled any time soon, if ever, as far as I can see. But there was something about the chemistry of my O’Hare Airport encounter that has kept it vibrant in my memory. It has remained a curiosity to me. It seems to refuse to allow me any sense of closure pertaining to it. I admit that I can’t help but wonder if those people are members of my spiritual family. And when I do fess up to that possibility rattling around inside me, it feels right. It rests flawlessly in my spirit. It doesn’t rest quite as well in my brain, however.   
 In any event, reincarnation as a subject is titillating fodder for writers, me among them, as is the case in CRADLE OF THE SERPENT, my latest novel. The following is a synopsis of the story:

Fearful that her husband Jacob is embroiled in an extramarital affair, archaeologist Lily Light turns to psychotherapy, astounding consultations in which Lily often takes on the persona of a young maiden named White Flower, a member of the clan of long-ago American Indian builders of Ohio’s Great Serpent Mound.
When a gunman’s bullets leave Jacob permanently paralyzed from his shoulders down and a woman identified as Jacob’s mistress dead, Lily’s world is shattered. Through the example of her own life a thousand or more years before, White Flower reveals to Lily the unexpected path to her salvation.   
      Given 5 Stars by Readers’ Favorite, CRADLE OF THE SERPENT brims with “enthralling” journeys into the human psyche, romantic love, archaeology, American Indian history, spinal cord injury, its consequences, and its contemporary treatments, as well as “amazing” sequences of past-life regression, and unimaginable twists and turns in a long-term marriage. It is available in paperback and eBook at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Apple, Google, BooksaMillion, and other booksellers.- Linda Lee Greene

Best-selling author, award-winning artist, blogger, and interior designer Linda Lee Greene is on social media at the following:
Twitter: @LLGreeneAuthor

Also look for her at LinkedIn and Google+

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Review of Paulette Mahurin's THE SEVEN YEAR DRESS

September 23, 2017, Columbus, Ohio
Submitted by Linda Lee Greene

A Remarkable Literary Achievement

Paulette Mahurin
I have just added another name to my list of favorite writers of World War II stories. Her name is Paulette Mahurin, an award-winning and best-selling author of several superb books. Her recent novel “The Seven Year Dress” is a marvel. I am a student of World War II. I have a library of books and movies on the subject. This excellent work of historical fiction will hold a special place among them.

Under madman Adolf Hitler and his equally mad horde of followers, European Jews and other “undesirables” were persecuted, tortured, and far too many of them executed in ways unimaginable, often in gas chambers in concentration camps. This exceptional novel recounts the story of beautiful Jewish teenager Helen Stein, forced into hiding from the Nazi’s in a basement, but when discovered finally, is sent to Auschwitz. In that death camp, she endures unspeakable cruelty at the hands of the SS, but also compassion, kindness, and friendship among her fellow prisoners. Ultimately, in that darkness, the strength of the human spirit is a beacon in this remarkable literary achievement.

Best-selling author, award-winning artist, blogger, and interior designer Linda Lee Greene is on social media at the following:
Twitter: @LLGreeneAuthor
Also look for her at LinkedIn and Google+

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My Talking Heart - Chapter Seven: THE FACES IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS

Marlin Landon "Bob" Gaffin circa 1941

When I think back on the houses that have contained my life, including farmhouses, a log cabin, single-family homes, duplexes, condos, and apartments, located in diverse areas across Southern Ohio, Central Ohio, Queens and Long Island, New York, and the Atlantic Coast of Florida, one of the things all of them had in common was framed photographs of family members hanging on walls and ranging the tops of furniture—copious photographs that were, and are, storyboards of the lives of my ancestors and of me.
                My attachment to family photographs began when I was a toddler. The Second World War was raging, and Bob, my mother’s oldest brother, was in the very throat of it, serving as a half-track driver and sharpshooter in Patton’s Army in Europe. Bussy, my mother’s seventeen-year-old brother, had died seven months before I was born. My grandmother’s worries about Bob, and her grief over the loss of Bussy and of her own mother just weeks after Bussy’s passing were a serious threat to her emotional well-being. On the advice of our old country doctor, my parents agreed to let me stay with my grandparents, in the hope that my presence would be the balm my grandmother needed to regain her health.
The following is a scene evocative of the root of my love of family photographs. It is a dialogue between my grandmother and me when I was about two years of age. It is a fictionalized account of much less structured discussions we often shared about the family photographs that are the subject of the piece. I wrote it for GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS (, my novel that is a blend of fact and fiction, a book populated primarily by my great-grandparents, my grandparents, my parents and the people of their circles, as well as one main fictional character. Mommaw and Poppaw in the passage are my maternal grandparents; Uncle Dickie is their teenage son.


“…As, like Mommaw and Poppaw, the sun gave up working for the day in our corner of the world, and retired behind the lazy hills reclining all across the broad horizon, it was then that the gloom of death-revisited settled in upon the household once more. Our nightly ritual never varied. Riding Mommaw’s hip, she carried me to the room where I slept. While the bedtime stories of other children were of “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” mine were of Uncle Bussy and Uncle Bob. 
Bussy Gaffin 11 years old circa 1936
On the wall, within eyeshot of my bed, was a photograph of Uncle Bussy, a grainy black and white enlargement of his face and upper torso picked out of a family photograph taken when he was about eleven. Riding my grandmother’s hip, always she carried me to the photograph where it hung on the wall. He had been a good-looking, fair-haired, pale-skinned boy, and like my mother, his nose and cheeks were dusted with freckles, his station in life clearly evident in his bib overalls. It was like one of those portraits where the eyes follow you all around the room, and although some children might have been frightened by it, it called to me, instead. 
“Mommy says dat Uncle Bussy called me ‘Tadpole’ ‘cause I was in Mommy’s tummy when he knew me,” I reminded my grandmother, my pudgy index finger tracing the cheek of the young boy in the photograph. The man he would never become was unmistakable in the outline of the jaw, although not quite angular, was on the verge of being, like a flower halfway between budding and full bloom.
“My land, yes, Honey. He tried so hard ta hold on so he could see you. Poor Little Bussy,” my grandmother replied, her voice breaking, her great intake of breath tamping down the nagging voice of her great loss. 
“I wish Uncle Bussy could know me, Mommaw. He wooks so sad in da pichure. I could pway wiff him and make him feel bettuh.”
“He was just so sick, Honey.”
“Is Uncle Bussy in Heaven, Mommaw, wike Mommy says?”
“He surely is, Honey.”
“Can people come back home fwom Heaven, evew, Mommaw?”
“He surely would want to, if he could, ‘specially ta see you.”
“And, dis is Uncle Bobby,” I pointed to a photograph on another wall in my bedroom, a photograph of a young man in a military uniform, sporting a handsomeness so blond and well put together as to be the envy of any movie idol. Mommaw carried me over to the photograph, my brow wrinkling seriously. “Uncle Bobby is fighting dat bad man in…I can’t ‘member dat pwace, Mommaw.”
“Uncle Bobby is fightin’ a bad man named Hitler in a place called Germany. Hitler is the leader o’ them German people, an’ we ‘er fightin’ them ‘cause they do bad things,” Mommaw explained patiently, speaking to me as if I were an adult, as she always did.
“Uncle Dickie spanked Wex dis morning. Wex got in da henhouse. He ate some eggs after dat fox weave.”
“I know, Honey. Uncle Dickie had ta learn the dog that it’s bad ta eat them eggs. That’s kind o’ like what Uncle Bobby is doin’ over there in Germany, but not exactly.”
“Is Gewmany weawy, weawy fawr away, Mommaw, wike Heaven?”
“Germany is away over on the other side of the world, but not as far as Heaven.”
“Why did Uncle Bussy go to Heaven, Mommaw?”
“Because he sneaked out ta play when he was down with the measles.”
“You wet me go out to pway, and I don’t go to Heaven.”
“Uncle Bussy got real sick outside. When people git real sick sometimes they go ta Heaven.”
“You made bad wike Wex, Mommaw. You forgot to tell Uncle Bussy no when he went outside, wight?”
“No, not exactly, but I shoulda stayed right there in the room with him.”
“Did Uncle Dickie spank you for being bad wike he did Wex?”
“God spanked me, Honey.”
“Did it weawy weawy hurt when God spanked you, Mommaw?”
“Yes, Honey.  It really really hurt, an’ it still hurts mighty powerful.”
“But when I go out to pway, I won’t get sick ‘cause Uncle Dickie says I’m weawy weawy stwong. Uncle Dickie says dat Uncle Bobby is vewy big and stwong. And he wuns weal fast wike Old Smoky.”
“He runs pert near as fast as that old horse.”
“He can wun home to us, den, if dat bad man twies to hurt him.”
“The Good Lord awillin’, he will, Honey.”

 The nightly “visit” to the photographs of Uncle Bussy and Uncle Bob completed, Mommaw carried me to the living room, where the old rocking chair sat in wait. And Mommaw’s rocking and crying commenced anew. After I had fallen to sleep, she carried me to my bed in the downstairs room nearest to the bedroom she shared with Poppaw….”

Award-winning author and artist, blogger, and interior designer Linda Lee Greene is on social media at the following:
Twitter: @LLGreeneAuthor
Also look for her at LinkedIn and Google+
Twitter: @LLGreeneAuthor

Also look for her at LinkedIn and Google+

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Talking Heart - Chapter Six: I KNOW SOMETHING OF WAR

I know something of war. I’m convinced my awareness of it began in utero—in November, 1942 when my parents conceived me and America had been fighting in World War II for nearly one year. Bob, my mother’s beloved older brother was already in it—he was one of Patton’s warriors in Operation Torch, the November, 1942 British-United States invasion against Germany’s stronghold in French North Africa, my country’s first official military action in the European Theater of the war. By then, Bob had been in the Army for a year, stationed at various training facilities on the east coast of the United States. My father’s dear older brother Bill had enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. Although at the time I was conceived Bill was still stateside, in California, actually, among my parent’s other male friends and relations of draft age, most were in military training camps or fighting overseas, or expected to be at any moment. “War” was at the front of everyone’s mind then, in their conversations, their dreams; it defined every facet of their lives. It was as much a part of my mother as her blood type, and through our interdependence was transferred to me. I’m sure of it.  
November, 1942 was momentous for my parents in another way since it was the month Dad turned eighteen, and therefore, became eligible for the draft. My parents had been married for two months almost to the day. And if my calculations are correct, considering the 280-day gestation period for humans, Mom’s egg and Dad’s sperm that united and made me blossomed a mere six days before Dad’s eighteenth birthday and 57 days after they had tied the knot. Needless to say, Mom’s anxiety went through the roof, and to elevate her disquiet still further, her seventeen-year-old brother Bussy, seriously ill since the age of ten with a respiratory ailment, took a turn for the worse and died on January 5, 1943. A sad sidebar to his death is that more than likely, penicillin would have saved him, but it occurred before the drug was available to the general public. My grandmother, my mother, and Bob never got over losing Bussy.
For an achingly long period of time after Bob’s deployment to Africa, letters between American servicemen abroad and their families back home were few and far between. This was a family of prolific letter writers. (I know without question the source of my writing gene.) Having grown accustomed to receiving a letter, and sometimes two letters per day from Bob, my grandparents and all who knew and also corresponded with him grew frantic with fear for him during the lengthy communication blackout. The worst of it for my grandparents was that they had no reliable means of informing Bob either of his brother’s failing health, or of his passing. Following my grandmother’s death in 2001, among hundreds of old letters, cards, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other print material spanning the years of the Great Depression and World War II, found in an old chest tucked at the back of a closet of her house, was the following letter. At the time of her passing, Dean, her youngest, was her only living offspring. She was eight months shy of her 100th birthday and had outlived her husband and seven of her children, including Bob and my mother:

                                                                                                                          Peebles, Ohio   Jan. 10, 1943
Dear Son:
                It is with a sad and aching heart [but] I am going to write to you. I have studied and thought what is best to do. But this is the only way I can see. Son poor little Bussy left us on Jan. 5 at Cora’s house. [Cora was my grandmother’s sister who lived in town close to the doctor and hospital] I am so lonesome & nervous. I was constantly by his side for 3 weeks. He passed away just 3 weeks from the day he took bad. He & I was sitting at the table eating our dinner on Dec. 15, when I just happened to look at him & seen something was wrong with him. His face & head was jerking awful. I ran around to him & asked what was wrong. He coulden’t talk. It only lasted a short time. When he got over it he said, “Oh Mom. It is just this old disease getting the best of me.” We had the Dr. He [the doctor] said he could do nothing. He [Bussy] had 5 of those spells then took an awful headache. We took him to the hospital. They said there was a clot on his brain. It was on the right side but made his left arm & leg useless. He woulden’t stay in the hospital. I took him to Cora’s as they told me it would be allright since they could do nothing. Said all I could do was keep his head packed in Ice, rest & quiet. We were at Cora’s a week, and the last few days he seemed so much better. I thought he was going to get well, and could soon take him home [to their farm], as I wrote and told you. Don’t know if you ever got the letter or not. But the suffering I guess was to much for his heart & then you know what a condition he was in any way. Son he took it all so patient. Just prayed all the time almost. He wanted Herman [Tolle, the preacher]. He told him he was ready to go. Oh son how he prayed for all you boys. It would wring your heart. The last words I heard him say was,“Tell them all to meet me.” His mind was so on Sim [Workman, their friend who was also in the Army fighting in North Africa] somehow. Said “Mommy, I feel sorry for Sim. He diden’t have a Mother to tell him about Jesus like I have.” Although you know Sim has a good mother. He [Bussy] would put his arms around me and say “I love you Mommy.” I don’t know whether I can ever stand this or not, but Son put your trust in Jesus. Ask him every day to take care of you. Bussy would say “Mommy, don’t worry about Bob. He is coming back.” But the Lord can cut us all off any time. So don’t forget to pray if it is only to yourself. Poor little Bussy is in a better home but I miss him so. He was always here with me. I can never stay here alone anymore. Well Son I can’t write more but can only say put your trust in God and we will all be living on for happier days some where. Answer if you can. With so much love, Mother.
P.S.  This is Mon. morning. I forgot to say the rest of us is well. Son I hope you are well. Try and not to grieve to much only live to meet Bussy. I feel a little better this morn(ing). Some think I shoulden’t of let you know. But I coulden’t of lived a lie & write to you like everything was allright, and then probably some one else would of said something about it when they would write to you. All we can say is Gods will must be done. By by.  XOXOXO

Bussy’s heroic seventeen years of life is a centerpiece of GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS (, my novel that is a blend of fact and fiction, populated by my great-grandparents, my grandparents, my parents and the people of their circles, as well as one main fictional character. It is set primarily during the years of the First World War, the Great Depression, and the beginning of America’s involvement in World War II. An additional key feature of the novel is the transcription of dozens of my family’s old letters, of the tenor of the one above. The letters chronicle, in exceedingly intense intimacy, the hearts and minds of a community of deep country people far removed from mainstream life at the time. While they were poor and unsophisticated, eking out a living from the soil, they fell in love, got married, and raised children; they endured illness, death, and every conceivable loss, and yet they celebrated life so profoundly as to warm your heart or break it. It was these people and their counterparts across the nation first called upon to put the lives of their boys on the line and to save the world during World War II. I gave Bussy life once again in my novella for young readers titled ROOSTER TALE (
                My father was drafted into the Navy in mid-1943. He was given a medical discharge while still in boot camp, however, a consequence of a severe problem with his stomach. It was a condition that plagued him all the 89 years of his life. He didn’t make it home in time to witness my birth, but arrived soon thereafter. Following my mother’s death on June 29, 1992, Dad was the one remaining constant of love and strength for my sisters and me until his death on March 29, 2014. Had she lived, the day my father died would have been my mother’s 91st birthday.     
                From the instant of my conception to the present day, “War” has been my consistent reality, as it has been for everyone else, to one degree or another—far too many of us in the thick of it, and others like me, witnessing it via the media. Today it is quite possible we are in peril of yet another war—and if it comes to pass this time and under the present circumstances, it might be the final one for reasons too frightening to contemplate. If that is the case, where will future generations find reserves of old letters, CDs, computer hard drives, and flash drives among the carnage and charred remains of our planet to tell them about us? The elephant in the room is whether or not there would be future generations. GOD HELP US!

Best-selling author, blogger, award-winning artist and interior designer Linda Lee Greene is on social media at the following:
Twitter: @LLGreeneAuthor

Also look for her at LinkedIn and Google+

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Talking Heart - Chapter 5: MOMMAW'S OUTHOUSE GARDEN

Hollyhocks camouflaging outhouses is an old tradition that has evolved into a cliché in our culture, so much so that the botanical name (alcea rosea) is often advertised by seed companies and nurseries as “Outhouse Hollyhock.” This is the case with the Seed Savers Exchange ( This online retailer currently is SOLD OUT of its organic, self-seeding biennial that grows 6 to 9 feet tall, and shows in blossoms of white, pink, magenta, and burgundy. One of my favorite varieties blooms in flowers of purple, as well. The Seed Savers Exchange entices the consumer with a bit of charming history: (Alcea rosea) This classic variety has graced outbuildings on Iowa farmsteads for over a century. Years ago, refined ladies just looked for the hollyhocks and didn’t have to ask where the outhouse was….”

             Ohio farm wives, like my grandmother, as well as their counterparts far and wide, also planted hollyhocks and sunflowers, and other tall flowers around their “paths,” as the outhouse and its territory was called by my farmer ancestors. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood the multifaceted purpose of my grandmother’s magnificent back garden, that of blocking the view and smell of the outside toilet, as well as providing beauty to the space. Until then, I thought of it merely as a glorious plot of colors and textures and sweet scents replete with the “screening” flowers, but also with four o’clocks, foxgloves, zinnias, chrysanthemums, and more, a patch noisy with the buzzing of hardworking bees, and quivering in its reciprocal relationship with butterflies and hummingbirds, an idyllic respite that was an endless feast for the eye.

Many are the stories in my family linked to the outhouse, and one of them is a particular favorite of mine because it is about my mother. Roma was my mother’s name, and among the offspring of my grandparents (“Mommaw” and “Poppaw” to me and their other grandchildren) who survived birth, she was the second-born, and the eldest girl. Her place in the hierarchy of her family meant that she went toe-to-toe with her parents in terms of daily duties to her seven siblings, the farmhouse, and the farm in all its myriad aspects. The following excerpt of GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS (, my novel that is a blend of fact and fiction and populated by my great-grandparents, my grandparents, my parents and the people of their circles, as well as one main fictional character, highlights one of their humorous “outhouse” stories. The book is set in Southern Ohio, USA during the years of the First and Second World Wars and the Great Depression, world events that set the timber of their lives.

“One of the most enchanting features of the farm was its peach and apple orchard. Roma, who at the time was a teenager, completely disregarding the fact that green apples gave her the “runs,” and convincing herself that she would get away with it that time, I suppose, in a fit of gluttony, set about one hot summer morning to stuff her belly full of the sweet green teasers. Predictably, later in the day, she found herself in dire need of visiting the “path” as this family called their outhouse, whereupon she sat, for long intervals of time, for several visits in a row. This was back in the time before fluffy white “Charmin” or any other machine-perforated, roll-perfectly-into-your-hand toilet paper; these were the days of pages from magazines, newspapers; the Sears & Roebuck catalog was an especial favorite. And when paper products ran out, corncobs would do. This particular day, Sears & Roebuck were on duty, and Roma, having gone through a good portion of the catalog, pulled up her underwear, and confident her ordeal was finally behind her, pun intended, proceeded to walk to the back door of the house, the door opening onto the kitchen. She lighted into her piled-up kitchen chores, working away uninterrupted for an hour or more, enjoying that peculiar euphoria that comes to one with the release of all of the toxins in ones body, when she realized that the house was unusually quiet, a phenomenon never occurring in that filled-to-human-capacity household. Taking a mere glancing note of it, she continued to sweep away, when out of the distance she thought she heard what sounded like a snicker. She hesitated for a moment, listened, but when all was quiet again, she fell back into the rhythm of her swishing broom. But suddenly, there it was again – a snicker, then two, then three. She realized she had company in the room. She turned to look, and there they all were, all nine members of her family, snickering and pointing at her backside. Horrified, she realized what was the matter, and twisting her head to get a gander at her backside, like a dog chasing its own tail, Roma took off spinning around and around in the middle of the kitchen, howling like a dog, and flapping her hand at the offending article protruding from her underwear. In her haste to vacate the outhouse, the tail of her dress had caught in the waistband of her bloomers, and with it, the Sears & Roebuck page also had fastened itself there, the page waving like a flag flapping in the breeze, and ironically, hailing its colorful advertisement of a supply of women’s under panties.”
            Upsidedown hollyhock flowers with unopened buds and attached long stems punched through their bases made hollyhock dolls for my little brother, our young cousins, and me. And sunflowers became faces of imaginary friends. We played with them for hours in Mommaw’s Outhouse Garden when we were kids. If I close my eyes and recall that time, I see the fluttering of those butterfly wings, tuned, it seems to me, to the beat of my heart. And in that fabled distance, nearly imperceptible to my ear, I hear the whistle of a train—the lonely call to faraway places my mother disliked, but I adore.

Author and artist Linda Lee Greene is on social media at the following:
Twitter: @LLGreeneAuthor

Also look for her at LinkedIn and Google+