Writer’s Showcase

Emerging writers are chosen for their skill, unique voice,

and the power of their message.

Featured Writer

October 2012

Ed Schmidt


Lady of the Fire


Prologue – In 1983 I purchased property in the mountains of north Georgia. At the time I lived in Peachtree City, Georgia.  The cabin on the property was new, but just a shell.  It took me one year and many weekends to finish off the inside.  I loved everything about the place, but especially the warmth, nurturing quaintness of the fireplace.


However, there was something strange about the formation of the flames as they burned.  Somehow there seemed to be an odd eeriness to the movement of the flames.  I never really quite understood what it was I was imagining. Over the years I totally forgot about it.  Now, after the absence of ten years, I am retired and in the cabin full-time.

The first time I noticed it, I didn’t pay much attention.  I was is my rocking chair, listening to my favorite Chopin CD, and watching the warm glow of the logs burning in the fireplace.  I felt that someone or something was trying to communicate with me, but I was too mellowed out to give it much thought.

Two nights later in the same situation, my attention was piqued.  On the right side of the burning logs, a distinct flame rose larger and higher than any other.  It was shaped as a caricature of a lady dancing, arms stretched upward, bobbing, weaving, at once bowing down, then again reaching for the  sky.  I was fascinated, almost frightened by what I was watching!  It was what I had seen two nights ago, in exactly the same place.  I shivered as I realized that this was the enigma I had puzzled over ten years earlier!

I ruled out coincidence since these were new, different logs I was burning.  Previous ashes had been taken out, and yet, there in the same spot was the dancing lady!  I was shaken, and began to think of this dancing lady as a poor lost soul, whose eternal task was to forever dance as a flame in fireplaces everywhere, or perhaps only always in my fireplace?  I cannot describe the fear I felt as I watched transfixed.  I would not have been overly shocked had this flame called out my name!

I did not sleep well for a week, nor did I use my fireplace.  At the end of the week I searched my woodpiles and carefully selected types of logs I hadn’t used the two previous times.  I wondered about many things I had heard and read about “life after death”, “reincarnation”, the “last time around”, and the “next time around”. Someone had once said that if a person comes back in a form that entices a living person, that the two will trade places magically!  As with so many other theories I considered this laughable.

I carefully arranged the logs I would light in a few hours.  I was almost afraid of what I would see again.  I sipped on a brandy and listened to Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony, movement III Allegro, which by the way, was to be played during my funeral!

God, what if she’s there again, I mused as I lit the kindling below the logs?  The lower flames licked up at the upper logs and slowly lit them.  Tonight it won’t happen, I thought to myself.  As if on cue, the lady of the fire sprang up, all aglow, arms stretched high, staring at me.  She made a hissing sound!  I knew it wasn’t the sound of wet wood, these logs had dried for over two years.

As I watched, unable to turn away, I felt as if my inner self, my very soul, began to move toward the fireplace, ever so slowly, always staring directly into the face of the lady of the fire.  When she stopped dancing, I starting dancing.  It seems I have taken her place now.  As I burn and dance on the logs I lit, I watch as she slowly smiles and rocks back and forth in my favorite chair.

Epilogue – No one knows where I have gone.

God in Music

The God that gives us life, and has created all things, comes to us in many ways, but really beautifully in music!  He has created music to fit our phases of life.  Early in life (especially for those that never knew their father) we were comforted by singing or hearing.

Jesus loves me,

This I know,

For the Bible,

Tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong,

They are weak, but He is strong.

During the second phase of our lives, we are comforted when we sing or hear,

My faith looks up to Thee,

Oh Lamb of Calvary,

Savior Devine,

Oh hear me while I pray,

Take all my guilt away,

Oh let me from this day, be wholly Thine.


In the last phase of our lives, we are comforted by singing, or hearing,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee,

Let the water and the blood,

From Thy riven side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure,

Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r

God has given us all so many ways to hear Him, with music being only one of them. How can anyone not hear His voice?


Ed Schmidt was born in Cleveland Ohio in 1930 of Romanian immigrant parents. He attended Concordia Teachers College, River Forest, Ill. After 4 years of US Navy during the Korean War, he began a 30 year career with the FAA, as an air traffic controller, data systems specialist, Data Systems Officer, and Deputy Chief, serving in New York, Cleveland, Atlanta, Miami, and Puerto Rico. During his FAA career he authored several technical papers, and was responsible for five software innovations implemented FAA system-wide. In retirement, Ed enjoys writing short stories, and poetry. He has been published in several local papers, and his story, “Lady of the Fire” won second place in a short story contest in the national magazine Inside Circle, in 2008. Ed feels extremely blessed with Cheryl (a Lutheran Pastor), 5 daughters, 10 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren.



Writer’s Showcase

Emerging writers are chosen for their skill, unique voice,

and the power of their message.

Featured Writer

September 2012

Judi Nelson

“I get into a place of passion and writing is a pure joy as I get lost

in the wonder of it all. Life just keeps on getting better.”

Judi’s Motto is “Expect Joy.”


Judi has two blogs;

This remarkable writer also has a group counseling practice for people in transition, called Sophia Circle. Born in upstate NY, she also lived and worked with The Institute of Cultural Affairs in Chicago, Omaha, Australia, Kenya, and NYC. Judi loves to write and photograph life experience, paint, and dance. Her three sons and daughter are grown and have graced Judy’s life with four grandsons and three granddaughters. Judi lives in Crescent City, Florida and holds a B.A. in Psychology, M.S. Special Ed., and M.Ed. Counselor Education


In my heart lives my baby girl. She feels safe and loved. As she plays in the fenced in yard, I watch her pass the time away.  She dances around in circles, to the tunes the birds are chirping. The wind brushes through her white golden hair as she spreads her arms up to the sun. She bends over the sandbox, etching waves with a small rake as she sings, “White coral bells, upon a slender star…”

As I rest on my porch, the same birds are singing in the fruit trees, and it is the sun draping its rays across the deck. Cat sleeps on the other chair, sitting up as squirrel chatters, then stretching first, before he curls back up and returns to sleep.

Then a nearby buzz saw intrudes on the silent beauty of that moment and the day begins.

I finish my coffee quickly before leaving the porch for another gentle moment, at another time.

As I move into the day, I hold the promise in my heart of a soon to be born infant grand daughter.

There in my heart, she and my inner baby girl will play.


At this time of year, the window, which is just above the headboard, is always open.  I wake daily before sunrise, spending time still prone, meditating on how I will relate to the new day.

I meditate, but with an ear open in anticipation for the birds to sing.

Their music begins with one, usually a mockingbird, then others join in a few at a time until there is a full choir in concert.

The affect on a semi-awake consciousness is more powerful than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at its best. I am not sure how long this continues. Eventually the sounds soften and seem to be more in the distance.

When resting there is definitely over for me, mostly because I am beginning to think about what I will be doing soon, I get up, put something on depending on the weather, and head for the coffee pot.

A new day begins its unfolding journey.

I follow along willingly.


No sooner did the citrus blossoms’ aroma fade, then the jasmine began to bloom and fill the air around them.  Climbing the trellises, filling fences with green leaves and white flowers, creeping up guide wires, and spreading across walls all over the village, they make me wish this day, these few days, would never end.

Jasmine can become a nuisance when it grows too prolifically. I’ve had to perform serious surgery on vines which come up through the deck boards, to keep them from warping the wood’s positions and to keep ants from making it their marching ground to the porch and straight to the cats’ food.

A good trim and sculpting now and then is always a good thing for most vines, especially the elegant jasmine.  This is probably true for people as well.

The Bird

For awhile, I worked with children of autism. At the time, the spectrum was not defined. There were autistic children and children who had characteristics of autism.

One child I worked with was authentically autistic, defined as such by her characteristic behaviors and by the fact that she had a little hole in the back of her skull. She did a lot of screeching and head banging, I believe because she was so sensory sensitive that even the slightest disturbance in the environment was extremely uncomfortable for her. I imagined her experiencing a class of children entering the lunchroom as a herd of stampeding elephants coming straight at her, for instance.

The physical therapist worked with her to teach the girl  how to hit a NO or YES button to answer a question. I do imagine the feel of the buzzer was like being stabbed with a concrete drill. She was quiet if she could roam freely – kind of like a feral cat.

For almost two years, we worked with her on ways to communicate her needs – to replace the stimming and screeching and headbanging.  She appeared to making no functional progress.

One day, she took my hand, which she had learned would get my attention. She led me to the door and put my hand on the door knob. I opened it and she took my hand again and led me into the field. We walked to the edge of the field to the trees. She pulled my hand to sit down. We both sat down. Then she stared at the trees  until she saw a bird under one of them. She took my hand and pointed my arm toward the bird. We looked at the bird. Then she said, “Buhd,:” and looked at me for my response. I was so excited, I got up and danced around clapping with joy. She got up and danced – sort of – too. Then, we walked back to the school.

That event with a child of autism was a lesson well learned for me.  When attempting to communicate with others, don’t presume anything about what is transpiring. Don’t make assumptions about what’s happening within the other person. Have patience, and trust in the process of expressing thoughts and feelings.

This child of autism is but a metaphor of how difficult it can be to communicate thoughts and feelings. Most of us just screech and bang our heads against the wall in frustration when no connection can be made in the attempt to communicate.

All I can say, is from this child of autism, I learned that there are many ways to communicate. It was, for me, a learning process to listen deeply, observe deeply, and feel deeply. And yes, sometimes I forgot to do that.

Where in the world is this skill needed today? Yes, but, even more so, where in every day encounters

Solstice Full Moon Eclipse

There must be singing –

A choir, a chorus, a lone bird

Or an aria center stage,

Carrying the journey

To point of Return,

For a moment

Resting gently on the edge

Of a disappearing sun.

Full moon eclipsed by

Shadow of Earth passing by.

Dark and starry sky.

Then, a deep chanting

Sound of Sun

Beginning its return.

Celebration. Joy. Peace

And music – Singing in
Another incarnation
of new possibility.





Featured Writer

August 2012

Susan Austin Tidwell



Susan lives in Ellijay, Georgia with her husband Buddy, that is when they are not traveling.  She is a medical transcriptionist which allows her to trek across the country to places where Buddy supervises construction projects. Follow her blog and you will experience Susan’s observations on the unique qualities of people and places in America. Children, grandchildren, quilting, and writing are a major part of her life, all of which she shares on her blog.


where I’m from

I am from the glider
on my grandmother’s side porch,
Coca-Cola in six ounce green glass bottles,
cornbread and sweet tea.

I am from the mountains, flatlands,
from the land of cotton,
peaches and apples,
beans and taters.

I am from the dogwood trees along the driveway,
wild huckleberries and blackberries,
from the washboard chatter
and dust of a gravel road.

I am from patchwork quilts and crocheted afghans,
from the Hanies and the Austins,
Aunt Betty’s cinnamon rolls and Jessilee’s cakes.

I am from soldiers,
working folks, farmers, mechanics,
from Lava soap, sawdust,
and silver curlicues under the workbench.

From the city house
bought with farm butter and egg money,
from parachutes at Fort Benning,
and parades on Peachtree Street.

I am from Army housing,
foreign wars, motorpools, sea rations,
leaning tower of Pisa,
camping in the Alps.

I am from liberal Methodists,
dinner on the grounds, homecoming,
sprinkling instead of dunking,
family reunions and family funerals.

I am from fried chicken and apple pie,
from gathering eggs, making pickles, and churning butter.
I am a Daydream Believer
and Gone With the Wind.

I am from my grandfather’s shaving brush
in the ceramic cup on the bathroom sink,
from filling the coal scuttle,
gathering the firewood,
sewing my finger.

I am from Barbie dolls, Chatty Cathy,
the clickety-clack of playing cards on bike spokes,
jigsaw puzzles and rope swings.

I am from shelling pecans picked up off the ground,
fresh sweet milk with cream on top,
cookbooks, iron skillets,
and soup mix on the ceiling.

I am from handmade prom dresses and handmade houses,
chenille bedspreads, Braves on the radio,
picking plums on the creek bank,
outhouses, verandas.

I am from bellbottom blue jeans and crocheted vests,
sock hops, pep rallies, Tastee Freeze,
LPs and 45s,
Bonanza and Laugh-In.

I am from all of these moments
and places in time and more
rolled into one,
just a Southern country girl at heart.

~Susan Tidwell ~

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 October 2012 04:48