Tuesday, December 27, 2005


A poem to finish off the Holiday:


Tiny footprints
Snow-covered world, early morning
scratches in the white, mark little chickadee steps
at the holy time when the world sleeps and life is but a whisper
while birds scurry.

Friday, December 23, 2005

My Last Blog Before the Holiday...
I think Christmas cooking 
is making me punchy...

*     *     *

My Favorite Foods...and Then Some

Turkey and stuffing, potatoes and peas
Love eating each and every one of these!
Christmas cookies from Mom's kitchen oven!
I feel like I died and went straight to heaven!
But one thing I wish that no one would make
Is that petrified, dry, lousy fruit cake!

*     *     *

Someone on the Rooftop

Santa on the rooftop! HO! HO! HO!
Gifts for everybody! Head to toe!
He'll slide down the chimney, 1, 2, 3
Bringing presents for you and for me!
Sure hope he doesn't get stuck up there,
Between the rooftop and who knows where.
Poor jolly Santa, chubby as can be
Stuck in the chimney for all to see!
We'll push his head down and pull below.
We'll wiggle him and jiggle him just so.
We want our goodies! He's gotta drop
Down with our presents! PLOP! PLOP! PLOP!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Following the Star...
A Christmas Story...

I wrote this a couple of years ago.
It has been one of my favorites.

 David yawned and stretched at exactly the same time as a white fire exploded in the sky. A dazzling trail of sparkling dust bled down from the inferno. Next the core of the burst slowly twirled around and around, with sparks jumping off and rearranging into points around a circle to form a glistening star. It blinked once before pirouetting across the expanse of inky black. The young shepherd stumbled in surprise but grasped harder on his staff to keep upright. The white pulsating light danced across the horizon, beckoning the lad with every blink.
 David's heart pounded with such force it was a wonder it didn't burst into a million particles. The star was alive with fire. It telegraphed a message, a familiar one of love...love in its purest, simplest form. The apparition glided across the expanse of black like a sailboat skimming across the water. 
 "I've got to follow," the young shepherd murmured. The sheep had settled for the night. He would slip away. Gathering a blanket, the boy glanced at his animals. A lamb slept separately from the rest. Enamored from the start by the tiny creature, he'd given it a nickname, Gentle. He gathered Gentle in his arms and gazed at the sky. The star continued to travel on its glistening path. 
 David rushed after it in what turned out to be a half night's journey up and over fragrant grassy hills, until finally he arrived on the dry, dusty road leading to Bethlehem. Moving quickly to keep up, his heart sang on the exhilarating journey. His lungs filled with cool air while the spicy aromas of the countryside tickled his nose. He loved the land in all its aspects.
 Father would not be pleased he had abandoned the flock, but an emotion like white fire had overtaken his heart as the starry light led him onward.
 Bethlehem proved to be a busy town, as multitudes of travelers wandered in for the census. The Inns were full, and many camped along the road. Children played together as their weary parents prepared makeshift bedding and scoured their supplies for a bit of bread or water. They stared at the intense young man as he passed by. Oblivious to their gazes, David's pounding heart pushed him farther into the tiny city. 
 He imagined his father would be exasperated at dawn to find the sheep unattended. David sighed. What kind of life is a shepherd's anyway. Samuel, his friend, made a good living stealing at the marketplace in Bethlehem. With hands like a magician, he could grab up an item and hide it in his cloak before anyone was the wiser. Bringing the items home to the village, the town's people were eager to buy cheaper than they would pay in Bethlehem. Samuel would no doubt someday be a rich man. He had offered to teach young David all his tricks.
 "That's what I should do," the boy said out loud, as though speaking the words would make them true. Satisfied with the thought, David barely noticed the star had stopped moving. It pulsated in the sky over a ramshackle stable standing behind a nearby Inn.
 His heart's fierce pounding sounded in his ears again. A yearning in his soul pushed him toward the stable. He needed whatever was there, but what was it?
 A man, a woman, and a baby, who was nestled in a manger of straw, met his gaze. A cow and two horses lingered in the back, the only sound being the gentle swish of the cow's tail, back and forth, back and forth. What were these people doing in a stable with animals?
 The baby opened his eyes and caught David's glance. The little one's gaze burnt with the fiery magic of the star. The baby was the star. 
 Cascading emotions rushed David, dropping him to his knees. His heart was in a cacophonous turmoil of love, reverence, and confusion woven together in a pattern of gaudy mismatched hues. His weakened hand lost its grasp of Gentle and the lamb ambled forward to the babe.
 The infant's eyes paralyzed David in their light. Who was this child? The boy's heart crashed to the ground as the infant's eyes, with a waver, read his heart and desire to be a thief, like Samuel. The orbs shot to David a message like a whisper. He had a decision to make, to follow the righteous path and be a proper shepherd, or follow the way of dishonesty to acquire material riches. 
 Visions of David's flock floated through his mind, and a rush of its sublime and simple beauty wrapped around him like a satin ribbon. He knew he wanted the life of an honest and simple shepherd. All honest work had dignity on God's good earth. On the hillside with the sky and grasses and sheep, he would be close to God. He glanced to the child, and a glint in the tiny eyes reassured him.
 David averted his eyes as his soul filled to brimming. Looking up, he nodded to the man and woman. 
 "The lamb," he said, nodding toward Gentle. "It is a gift...for the baby. For surely this infant is the lamb of God." 
 The woman's smile could light up the entire night sky. David bowed to them and turned to go. The time had arrived for a new beginning, one full of purpose and self-knowledge, and the right path to God. 
*    *    *
Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Picture and a Poem


A snowy day in Pittsburgh. Just a view from my corner of the world. Taken this afternoon around 2:00 p.m. Temperature outside: 21 degrees.

Now a poem:


Gold foil wrapped red green ribbons of giggles
Cascades of broad smiles laced with egg nog
Frothy words drowning in red punch
Mysterious packages
Starry tree lights blinking
Kitchen aromas
Brown gravy dreams
No one wants
Fruit cake
 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Here I am again 
with more Christmas poetry...

Christmas Septet

Snowflakes twirl
Stream from ice castles
Announcing time so Divine.
Christmas Eve, a Night with its own Star,
Gleaming in the sky with Joy.
May it bring you Peace.
Holy Night.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Bashful Swan...

Another Children's Story
from Magic Music Forest

*    *    *

Deep in the forest, a little swan named Wanda lived at a place called Magic Pond. A baby swan with fuzzy, grayish down feathers, her mother and father told her how pretty she was all the time. Wanda never believed them because her feathers stuck out in an unsightly manner. When she got older, she would be prettier, but not now.  Alas, it made her feel bashful. She spent most of her time, all by herself, watching the other birds and animals play. Indeed, at the Magic Pond, fun was guaranteed. How Wanda wished she could have someone to play with, but she doubted anyone wanted to be her friend. 
Urging her to be with the other birds and animals, her mother nudged her, "Aren't you going to go and play, Wanda?" 
Wanda answered, "No." She preferred to nestle under some plants along the shore and watch the others. A silly goose named Belinda always brought a smile to Wanda's face.  The bird could not swim, but kept trying nonetheless.  The little goose constantly fell head first into the water.  "She is lucky she doesn't drown herself," Wanda thought out loud one day.  
"You're right." 
The voice startled Wanda, and she turned to see Oscar the Turtle beside her. 
"Hello," she said in a little voice. 
"You are Wanda, aren't you?" the turtle asked. 
"Belinda is sure having a hard time of it, trying to swim." 
"Yes. I guess it must be hard for her to do." 
"Yes," Oscar replied as he bobbed his head in thought. "It looks as though you have some free time. Maybe you could help her." 
"Yes." Oscar leaned closer. "Just between you and me, she told me she really needs help but is too shy to ask anyone." 
Belinda was shy! Wanda never considered the fact that anyone other than she might be bashful. Maybe she could help the little goose. Belinda was, after all, bashful just like her! 
"Well, what do you think?" Oscar asked. 
Wanda ruffled her feathers and prepared to swim over to Belinda. "I think I'll try," she told Oscar. Turning as she swam away, she added, "Thanks." 
The closer she came to the goose, the more she trembled. Upon arriving, she stammered, "D-d-do you need some help learning to swim?" 
Little Belinda, the goose, looked up in surprise at the swan. "Oh yes! I could sure use some help!" she said. "Errr... if you don't mind."    
Well, the two birds became fast friends. Happy she found the courage to offer help to Belinda, Wanda learned a lesson. From that day on, whenever someone made her afraid or bashful, she tried to think of a favor she might do for them. She had discovered a helping hand leads the way to friendship. 

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I wrote the following poem for a workshop. 
It is called a Septet 
and the topic was Angels.

*   *   *


Soft utterances
Words floating above real time
Disconnected and ethereal
Lifting me, welcoming me 
Love words consuming

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Monday, December 12, 2005

Are Burghers Too Principled?

Shucks, Rafe didn't win Survivor!

It happened with Ian last time. He found his integrity, trading the money for friendship with Tom. Bye, bye, million dollars! Now, Rafe decided to be a nice guy and release Danni from their previous pact to take the other to the final two if one of them won immunity at the end. "You don't have to pick me, Danni! That's okay!!" Argh!

Why, why Rafe!!! The burden wasn't upon you to release Danni from the agreement. It was her choice to make on her own. In fact, you made it easier by releasing her from all guilt whatsoever. What a gift!You ended up dumping crap in your own lap when she merely listened to you. Couldn't you be a little more devious, Rafe? If not for you, how 'bout the Burgh? We want our trifecta  of Survivor winners! 

Sheesh, is there something in the water around here?

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A quick poem to suit the snowy day...

White snow princess all aglow
Pirouettes across the skies.
Snowflakes from her head to toe
White snow princess all aglow.
Didn't exist moments ago
Came to view in children's eyes
White snow princess all aglow
Pirouettes across the sky.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Clumsy Goose...
A story to read to the kids...

Little Belinda splashed in the water, flailing her wings while lifting her head as gracefully as she could manage. The sparkling water swished under her wings and droplets flew through the air like liquid diamonds, some landing on her head and running into her eye. Stumbling, she plunked head first into the water. The trail of water  had obscured her vision and knocked her off balance. Floundering her way to the surface, she honked in frustration. The poor little goose would never learn to dance for the Magic Pond Water Ballet. On the opposite bank, Sheba and Cleo, the black swans, were swimming side by side in graceful motion, elegant necks poised. The water rippled behind them as though the pretty waves were the finishing touch to their performance. Perfection! 

Belinda went to the shore and settled by her favorite rock. Sadly, the little goose didn't feel like preening, since she didn't feel pretty. 

"You look unhappy, Belinda!" Oscar, the turtle, had climbed up on the rock. 

"I'll never be good enough for the Magic Pond Water Ballet." 

"Why is that?" 

"I'm so clumsy! I don't have any grace or beauty." The little goose sighed. 

Oscar the turtle was a smart fella, and he crawled dismally into his shell to think about his friend's problem. Shortly, he emerged, with his little head poking out of the heavy shell. "You know, Belinda, just because you can't dance, that doesn't mean you don't have other talents." 

"What? I don't have any talents!" Belinda murmured. 

"Yes, you do! You have the most marvelous 'honk!' I bet you could be in the musical section, along with the little birds." 

Belinda pondered Oscar's remark. Yes, she had an expressive 'honk.' That was true. Smiling at Oscar, she replied, "Maybe you are right!"† 

Rushing to the center of the pond, she cleared her throat to begin. 


The most beautiful sound ever filled Magic Pond! The other birds gathered around Belinda, in awe of her talent. Sheba and Cleo, the black swans, eased into their most elegant number, dancing to Belinda's music. 

"Hurrah for Belinda! Her honk is the prettiest music of all!" the birds and animals all chanted. 

Thus, a clumsy little goose found her real beauty in an unexpected place, by being herself!

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I got this in a letter from someone... 
I don't know whom to credit it to...but it is beautiful....
The words speak for themselves...

*   *   *
The true meaning of Christmas

This is how it happened .. I just finished the household chores for the
night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front
of the house. I opened the door to the front room and to my surprise,
Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree.

 He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out. "What are
you doing?" I started to ask.  The words choked up in my throat,  and I
saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was
the eager, boisterous soul we all know.

He then answered me with a simple statement.

I was puzzled; what did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with
one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the
tree. As I stood bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children! Teach them
the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that now-a-days Christmas has

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it
before the mantle.  "Teach the children that the pure green color of the
stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting
hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of
man's thoughts turning toward heaven."

He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. "Teach
the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago.
God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of
fulfillment of His promise."

He then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDLE. "Teach the
children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of  the
world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who
displaces the darkness."Once again he reached into his bag and removed a
WREATH and placed it on the tree. "Teach the children that the wreath
symbolizes the real nature of  love. Real love never ceases.
Love is one continuous round of affection."

He then pulled from his bag an ornament of himself. "Teach the children
that I, Santa Claus symbolize the generosity and good will we feel
during the month of December."

He then brought out a HOLLY LEAF. "Teach the children that the holly
plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by
our Savior. The red holly represents the blood shed by Him."
Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT and said, "Teach the children that
God so loved the world that HE gave HIS only-
begotten SON .  Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift."

"Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the Holy BABE and
presented HIM with gold, frankincense and myrrh.
We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on
the tree. "Teach the children that the candy cane represents the
shepherds' crook. The crook on the staff helps
to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane is the symbol
that we are our brother's keeper."

He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. "Teach the children that it
was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth.
The angels sang 'Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good
will toward men."

Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out
a BELL. "Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the
sound of  the bell, it should ring mankind to the fold. The bell
symbolizes guidance and return."

Santa looked back and was pleased. He looked back at me and I saw that
the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, "Remember, teach the children
the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am
but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship HIM,
our LORD, our GOD."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Having fun in December!...
A little poem about snow...


White lacy sprinkles painting below
Glistening, twirling, angels twinkling
Graceful in slippers dancing on toes
Snowy flake angels hushing, sprinkling

Glistening, twirling, angels twinkling
More slipper steps, joining from afar
Snowy flake angels hushing, sprinkling
Angel chorus, sky white with stars

More slipper steps, joining from afar
Graceful in slippers dancing on toes
Angel chorus, sky white with stars
White lacy sprinkles painting below

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Monday, December 05, 2005

A little poem for the Holidays!...

It's Christmastime!...

It's Christmastime!
Oh! To be six again, wide-eyed and full of fun!
When Christmas was an explosive occasion for one!
The world revolved around me in glitter and stars
Dazzling gifts and goodies, stories from afar.
The morning was spent ripping at paper and bows
Amidst laughter and giggles and plenty of rows,
Fighting over toys, but it was all just in fun.
Quiet came at last, when the presents were done.
Then off to church on a snowy winter morn
To pay tribute to the holy child this day born.
The stable was there, draped in the aroma of pine.
Oh! That smell! So much a part of Christmastime!
The people were all gathered, heads bowed to pray
But the children all twinkled inside on this day.
Home soon to cinnamon and sugar, color and toys,
It's Christmastime! Magic time for girls and for boys.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Little Violin...
An Adventure in Magic Music Forest...        
Another Installment Celebrating December "Be a Kid Month"...

In the Magic Music Forest, there was a wonderful orchestra that played beautiful music. All the animals and birds gathered every Sunday afternoon for concerts. With the sun shining and the birds humming along, there was no better place to be on Sunday. What made the music magical was the fact that the instruments played themselves without any humans anywhere in sight.

Swaying back and forth, the horns lined up in mid air with their amazing toot-toots blaring.  The flutes and other woodwinds jumped and danced while they whistled and peeped their melodies. Sitting in a circle around the dancing flutes, the stringed instruments, with their bows gliding across their strings, made splendid music. The stringed instruments were considered the most important ones, and it was a great honor to be a cello or a violin. For this reason, only the most talented stringed instruments were allowed to play in Magic Music Forest Orchestra.

Many Sundays, Freddie, the littlest violin, listened to the orchestra and wished he was talented enough to play with them.  In truth he was, but alas, he was so shy, his nervousness ruined every audition he ever tried. Little Freddie got so tense around the other violins, he popped a string because he was so afraid.

One Sunday morning, Cassandra the violin, was playing with some birds in a tree. A strong wind startled her, and she fell to the ground and split her beautiful wood case. Charlie, the chief cello, came to see Freddie right away.

"Freddie, you are going to have to replace Cassie today in the concert."

"WHAT?" Freddie asked. His brown wood paled in fear and his strings started to shake. "I can't play.  I've failed every audition."

"You have to, Freddie!  There isn't anyone else!"

"Noooo! I can't!" 

"Yes, you can!" It was the voice of Harry the Harp, who dragged himself over to Freddie and strummed a little greeting on his shiny harp strings. The melody was heavenly and made Freddie feel better.

"Freddie, I know you love to play," the harp continued.  "I hear you alone by the lake every day playing.  Your music is amazing."

"Yes, but I'm so afraid around the other instruments," Freddie replied. He looked down, scratched his bow in the dirt thoughtfully and added, "I'm shy."

"Freddie, you love the music." The harp pulled himself closer to Freddie. "I'm going to tell you a secret. It is the best-kept secret in the Magic Music Forest." He leaned closer and whispered.  "The instruments don't play themselves.  The music does."


"The music plays itself.  All you have to do, Freddie, is surrender to the music and let it play. It will take care of itself, if you just get out of the way."

Freddie studied the old harp for a moment. He had to admit when he played alone by the lake, he became lost in the sounds and the bow moved all by itself.

"Freddie, you have to play today, but now you know the secret." Harry the Harp winked at Freddie.

"Well, I don't know.  I guess I'll try," the little violin said.

At concert time, the stringed instruments lined up, and Freddie took his place. He felt nervous about being with the orchestra. From across the way, Harry the Harp smiled at him and strummed a tune for Freddie.  It was a nice melody that tickled his fancy.  Freddie began to play it while he waited for the concert to begin.  He became so interested in the little song; he forgot to be nervous. When the concert began, Freddie jumped right in, blending with the others. To his surprise, the bow took off with an energy of its own as it moved across his strings and played the lovely music. 

The little violin learned an important lesson that day. He learned if you love doing something, that love is strong enough to push fear out of the way. All you have to do is surrender to your love.

© JO Janoski  All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Be a Kid!...
It's December!...

December--Snow, presents, carols! The Holidays are coming! Suddenly, people act nicer to one another. And all the while, December coaxes the little kid  in all of us to emerge again and smile, just for a while. I'm no exception. So I'm devoting December in my blog to poems about snow and having fun, children's stories, and pieces about Christmas. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, there will still be items for you. So let's all act like kids together! December is "Be a Kid Month."

Here's a little something you may remember from your childhood...

Snowy Day

The air is as soft
as the snowflakes, flying.
They dance around me
in gentle turns and twists
like ballerinas in the sky.
I plop down on my sled.
The runners are red and hard
against the carpet of gentle snow.
I lie on my belly, head first
and push myself forward.
I'm off--to another world
of wet, swishy noises
and a shower of white stuff
on my giggling face.
Bumping over hard spots
and swooshing downward.
My body and the sled are one
on our raucous journey.
Zoom! The world soars by
in a glorious mist of whiteness.
Until Thud! I reach the end.
The fantasy has bumped into a snow bank.
The magic has splintered into a thousand pieces,
and I'm no longer possessed and flying.
I'm just another kid
with a long walk to the top.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a note, this weekend I will be at an arts and crafts show
at the Expo Mart in Monroeville
with our line of Pittsburgh Photographs. 
Looking for a special present for someone?
Stop by!
Booth G-1
The show runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Another snippet from my ongoing novel at NaNoWriMo...
Whew! Pass the coffee! 

He walked toward the closest house and I followed, surveying the older structure with interest. It was a typical inner city place, fading red brick with a spacious front porch, two stories, with an attic under the sloped roof. It was set back from the sidewalk by a succession of concrete steps, with a landing halfway up. The yard, although taken care of, was not professionally landscaped. Hedges bordered the property, and three scraggly bushes were planted in front of the porch. They looked like rose bushes, but I wasn't certain. This was the yard where that older fellow usually waved to us during our comings and goings. Strange he wasn't out today. I thought I'd seen him when we pulled up, but now he was nowhere to be found.

Tim knocked on the door. We waited. Nothing. He pounded harder a second time as I glanced in the picture window to see a shadowy figure hovering near the threshold. With a click, the door opened. The grisly faced man stared out at us in silence.

"Hi! Good to see you!" Tim said.

The fellow nodded but eyed us warily.

"We wanted to ask you a few questions." The man didn't respond, so Tim added, "about your neighbor, Rachel Fitzsimmons. I'm Inspector McNair." He flashed his badge.

An awkward silence stood between him and us, until he finally opened the door wider to let us in. In a gravelly voice, he invited us to sit on the living room sofa, settling across from us in a faded recliner. I glanced around the room with interest. The furnishings were aged and dull from years of use--a mismatched sofa and chair, ornate end tables like I'd seen in my grandmother's house with elegant legs and curlicue designs. The lamps had curved shades and flower designs on their bases, indicating at some point there was a feminine influence. Tiny Hummel figurines lined up on the mantel indicated a further womanly touch.

"What's your name, sir?" Tim asked.

"Barney...Barney Smith," came the reply. So far, so good.

"Did you know Rachel Fitzsimmons very well?" Tim asked.

I gazed at the fellow. I noticed when we walked in, he was short, only a couple inches taller than me. Several days growth of gray stubble decorated his chin and cheeks while his hair, scraggly being the kindest description, hung down to his back and shoulders. A flannel shirt and jeans with a hole in the knee completed his ensemble.

"Did you know her?" Tim repeated.

He darted his eyes away from our glances in a fearful fashion, tapping his foot while squirming in his seat. Next he looked back to us with a confounded expression. "Yeah," he answered.

"Good. What can you tell us about her?"

The hesitancy again. Finally, he stumbled out, "She was pretty."

"Yes, yes, she was pretty." Tim paused. "Did she have many people visit her?"

The foot tapping continued. "No, just neighbors."

"I see. No other people? Dates? Relatives? Anyone else?"

"I don't know."

"I see. Did you speak to her much?"


I shifted in my seat. The fellow's economy of words was getting to me, wearing on my patience. Was he evading our questions, or was he mentally challenged, I wondered.

"What can you tell me about her?"


Tim shot me a glance, closed his notebook, and rose to go. "Well, sir. I guess we are finished."

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Friday, November 11, 2005

Another snippet from my ongoing novel at NaNoWriMo...
Whew! NaNo is a real workout! 
I have 21,277 words so far...

I could see Jennifer studying him with interest, her eyes wide as she spoke. "I'm pleased to meet you, too," she said extending her hand in what I hoped was friendship. It was important to me the two of them come to know and understand one another. I feared that in bringing Jennifer here I may have blundered. After all, she could find him to be of a criminal disposition while that was the farthest thing from my  interpretation of him. Or he could not like her, and put me in an awkward position in the middle. So far, in my mind Joe and I existed as just the two of us, leaning on each other for our different needs--his to have a friend to trust and mine to have a patient who responded to my care. Now I was introducing a third party who could wreck the entire chemistry between Joe and me. I wondered if I would regret this move.

We settled in chairs and an uncomfortable silence filled the room. I felt a need to fill it. "Well, Joe, how are you doing today?"

"Okay. Really, okay, for a man with no life." He said the last phrase looking to Jennifer with an awkward grin. She nodded in understanding.

"It's been weeks since you lost your memory. I'm surprised it hasn't come back yet," she commented.

He shot her a fiery glance. "Well, there's not much I can do about that," he said.

Jennifer shifted in her seat as though uncomfortable. "Well, I mean. It seems like a long time. I suppose every case is different."

His eyes canvassed her. "Yes," he said, adding in a murmur, "Every case is different."

"So, how is Nurse Taylor treating you?" I asked, desperate to change the subject. I noticed Jennifer staring at the floor. 

"She'll do, I suppose. Although I like you as my nurse better."

"Thank you."

"Inspector McNair came by yesterday," Joe stated. "I wanted to remember to tell you. I have to say, I think that man is trouble."

"Well, he's just doing his job. What did you talk about?" 

Joe looked to me with eyes glowing with a haunted light. "He kept asking me about that woman and if I knew whether she had any wealth. How the heck would I know?"

"Hummph, that sounds like our 'dear Inspector.'"

"I mean, I can't even remember my name. What would I know about that woman?" The expression of outrage on Joe's face convinced me he knew nothing of Rachel Fitzsimmons.

"Maybe he was just trying to jog your memory," Jennifer commented. 

"Jog my memory? What the hell?" Joe's face flushed as his hands gripped the bars on his wheelchair until the knuckles turned white. "Are you telling me that cop is playing amateur psychiatrist or something? What right does he have to mess with my mind?" 

It was Jennifer's turn to go pale. Gasping, she looked toward me in confusion, next bolting up from the chair. Wringing her hands, she paced back and forth before stating, "I think I need to go." Murmuring the remark, she walked toward the door.

Horrified,  I whispered to Joe as I rose. "I'd better see to her." My worst nightmare had just come true.

"Don't bring her around here again!"

"No, I won't. I promise." I patted his knee and turned. Jennifer was already in the hallway. "I'll see you tomorrow, Joe." I paused. "Please, don't let what she said upset you. She meant no harm."

He didn't reply, so I left. Jennifer waited for me. "You didn't tell me he was a mad man!" she seethed.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A second snippet from my ongoing novel at NaNoWriMo...

Tim and I arrived on the second floor landing to spy two bedrooms. One was completely empty and the other, being Rachel's, looked as though she were still around. Her closet was open revealing a rainbow collection of blouses, dresses, and skirts. I walked in the room, resting my feet in the thick carpet, and ran my hand along the smooth wood of a vanity continuing next along the top of her hair brush. Golden strands were meshed in among the bristles. I shuddered. It was spooky, roaming around in a dead woman's house. Except for the open closet, the room was neat. No clothes or shoes scattered anywhere. Even items on the dresser were lined up in meticulous fashion. One had to conclude Rachel Fitzsimmons was an extremely tidy person. What irony that death left such carnage on her immaculate front porch. 

"The attic is up here," Tim said, grabbing a straight chair to stand on in order to push open a door in the ceiling. He pulled a ladder down and turned  to me. "You go first, and I'll catch you if you fall." He grinned.

"You want me to go up that ladder?" 

"It's pretty steady. Don't worry."

I shook my head in doubt, but proceeded anyway. His large hand felt warm on my waist as I made my way up the shaky steps, with relief arriving at the top. 

"There's a string to pull right there. Tug it and it will turn on the light." Tim's voice sounded far away once I stuck my head into the dark cavern. I reached, flailing my arm around, until I felt a cord. I yanked it and there was light. I gasped. A mountain of boxes came into view, stacked from floor to ceiling.

"You can see there is a lot of stuff to go through," Tim's voice chased after my gaze. "Pull yourself in so I can come up the ladder."

I crawled off on my hands and knees, then stood, brushing dust off my white uniform slacks. With the sloped ceiling, I had to be careful where I stood, keeping to the center of the room where the ceiling was high.

Tim arrived coughing. "I have a dust allergy, so you can imagine how much I like this job,"  he said, crawling over to the middle where I was, standing when the room would accept his total six feet. "We started to go through this stuff, but there is so much. I was hoping to spend some time here with you, maybe a week or so of evenings, going through some of these boxes. Maybe with all that you know about Joe, something will come up."

"Well, we have our limits. The man has amnesia. I don't know anything about his past."

"Yeah, but you know his personality. I have a hunch it can help. Are you with me?" His eyes appeared soft gray and mysterious in the dim light.

I gazed around the attic at the cobwebs, dust, and stacks of  boxes and sighed. It was the least I could do to help Joe. Maybe there would be something to send the police off on someone else's trail where they should be, so they left an innocent like Joe alone. "Okay," I said. "Let's get started."

An hour and a half later, after closing yet another box, I felt as though we'd accomplished nothing. We went through dozens of cartons and not a single clue as to who would want Rachel Fitzsimmons dead. 

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My first paragraphs...

Okay, National Novel Writing Month has begun, and I have submitted my first 2,555 words. I found if I get up an hour earlier in the morning, I can get a good start on it, then work at the end of the day when I finish my day job. Today I had extra time, so my word count is good. Here is an excerpt from the beginning:


I remember the first time I saw him, with bandages wrapped around his skull and sitting in front of a window, stooped in a wheel chair, face blank, looking out. Dr. Johnson took me in to make introductions in a private room. There was no name to offer. An amnesia victim. The poor man knew nothing of his past and even less about his future. Not to mention the fact he used to be alive, fully functional. Now a wheelchair controlled his life. What a lost, sorry soul!

"He was found with head trauma, CVA," Dr. Johnson said. "Next to a woman's murdered body on her screened front porch, of all places--no ID on him, no witnesses. We're not sure if he knew the woman or not."

I startled back in alarm. "Next to what?"

"A dead woman, shot in the chest, and this gentlemen was knocked unconscious, lying on the porch. The police haven't pieced together the crime yet. He, of course, has no memory of the event."

I looked to Dr. Johnson, expressing horror in my gaze and asking with my eyes the question--who killed the woman?

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A short story for a workshop...
Part 2 of 2


The receptionist looked up lazily at the sound of the door squeaking, and upon spying Elmer sprang up at attention, trembling. Her eyes reflected pools of admiration, and puzzlement as well, as though she were seeing Elmer for the first time and yet wondering how she had missed so much before.

"Elmer, hon, how are you today?" she asked, fluttering her lashes.

He stopped short, glaring at her. Being a social reject normally, his first impulse was to assume she mocked him. But the obvious expression of love on her face, complete with blushed cheeks and a shy smile, made Elmer think again. Oh my gosh! The spell was working!

"I couldn't be better, my dear!" he replied, heading for the main office with a dance in his step. As he passed the secretarial pool, the women rushed to the glass to press their noses against it and swoon at him like a chorus of bewildered angels. Elmer felt better by the minute. Those magic chocolates were good stuff!

Finally, he arrived at Angie's office, and that girl pounded away at her keyboard before stopping short. She looked up to meet Elmer's eyes. Entranced, her blue ones did the tango with his brown eyes in a passion tryst known only to their hearts. Then, the secretary rose and walked into his waiting arms. Yes, those chocolates were the best ever!

"Oh, no!" The cry echoed up and down the hallways. Elmer and Angie, startled from their embrace gazed out to see all of the women in the company lined up and down the hallways, watching them, tissues in hands, crying in dismay.

"Elmer!" they chanted, down to each lady. "We love you!" 

Elmer, upon seeing this felt pretty good about himself. His heart swelled with pride and danced on top of the world. Pushing Angie aside, he walked to the closest female, kissing her on the cheek, moving to the next and whispering in her ear. Grabbing another, he dipped her while smooching the lady on the mouth--it was wonderful. Creeping along the line, he had love for each and every lady. It was a homely man's dream come true! 


He turned to see Angie standing next to him, her arms folded across her chest and her eyes blazing. "Elmer, I don't think I like you anymore."


"Look at you! Flirting with every girl in sight. You're disgusting! I thought I saw something special in you. But obviously I was wrong."

"Angie!" Elmer whined. 

"You loser!" she replied, slapping him across the cheek. With a humph, she stormed off.

"Yeah, what an idiot!" one girl from the crowd piped in, as she turned and walked away.

"Yeah, heck on you, Romeo!" another one declared as several more women marched away with hard angry steps.

"Angie's right! What a loser!" Soon a raucous mob grew from their ranks and one girl slapped him as she left, then another, and another until finally Elmer ran for the door before they injured him. The receptionist ran behind and locked him out, shaking her fist at the bewildered man.

Despondent Elmer walked to the park and returned to the bench under an oak tree to ponder his plight. He had it all, but then the spell had quit working. He wished he could talk to that elf.

"Hiya, Elmer! Looks like things didn't work out, eh?" It was the elf, suddenly appearing on the bench beside him.

"Yeah, well, smarty! That spell didn't work. They turned on me. They turned on me bad."

"Hey now, sonny! We gave you the power to attract women. Keeping them is another affair entirely. Might I suggest you try a self-help book or something to learn yourself some sensitivity and manners."


"Yeah, laddie! We gave you all we could, but you blew it yourself by being boorish and selfish and such!"

"Oh Gawd!" Elmer replied. "What was I thinking? Poor Angie! I didn't treat her very well, did I?"

"No.  You certainly did not."

"Well, I guess I'd better go and learn some manners at that," Elmer stated, rising to go. "See ya, elf!"

"Bye, laddie!" the elf replied. He watched as the forlorn figure walked down the street and into the public library. 

When Elmer arrived at the information window, the librarian turned and upon seeing him blushed, as a shy smile danced between her reddened cheeks.

"Well, what can I get for a handsome fellow like you today?"

"A book on manners...and a chance to have dinner and a movie with you."

"Certainly," she said.

From behind the closed stacks, the elf watched, grinning. "He never really needed those magic chocolates," he murmured. "Good luck, laddie! he whispered. "And mind your manners!"

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

Friday, October 28, 2005

A short story for a workshop...
Part 1 of 2


Elmer Wiggins sat on the cold ground, covered from head to toe with thick slimy mud, his face an unrecognizable blob with moveable chunks of dirt where he blinked his eyes and a gap where he opened his mouth. The accident happened so fast, he still wasn't certain of the sequence of events. All he remembered was slipping on mud and losing his balance. 

He had been walking along Shady Avenue, rushing to make it to the insurance office where his dream girl worked as a secretary. What a vision of beauty she was--long blond hair reaching all the way to her waist that swished from side to side while she swung her hips walking  with high heels clicking on linoleum. Such lips, red like strawberries and eyes as blue as an autumn sky! Yes, Elmer was in love. But Angie had shown no interest in him whatsoever. 

He dragged himself to his feet, wiped his face clean, and took an accounting of the damages. The flowers were splattered far and wide in the mud, looking like a crazed funeral spread. Most of the posies were covered in sludge leaving the bouquet in a hopeless array of filthy fragments. One clean flower caught his eye, and he reached down and picked it up, a single red rose that somehow missed the carnage. He sniffed its fragrance and sighed, next spying the heart-shaped box of chocolates several feet away. Apparently it had fallen from his grasp and glided the distance like on ice. Elmer wiped a tear from his eye as he walked to fetch the chocolates.

Picking up the red box, he slumped to the ground with tears running down his cheeks in rivulets of despair. He had spent the last of his money on the expensive gifts, and now he had nothing with which to impress his lady. 

"Hey, fella, what are you crying about?" The little voice seemed to spring out of nowhere.

Glancing about, Elmer spied the tiny man sitting on the curb behind him.

"My flowers and candy...all ruined," he murmured, settling himself next to the elfin figure. "Now I have no way to impress Angie."

The tiny man smiled with a toothy grin, wrinkling up his cheeks in mischief. "Sure, you do! You have the chocolates. The box is dirty and dented, but the sweets are still good."

"Yeah, like I'm going to give her that muddy box of candy." Elmer's cheek still shone from the moisture of tears washing down them.

"No, silly. Those are magic chocolates. Don't you see the little silver "M" logo on the bottom of the box."

Startled, Elmer searched the carton and there, sure enough, was a silver "M" on the bottom of the box. "Wow!" he said. "I didn't know that meant they were magic."

"Sure! You get one wish per box. That's all you get though, one wish with your first bite of chocolate, no matter how many chocolates you eat. So you must make that one wish a good one."

"Hmmph," Elmer murmured, reaching in and pulling out a piece of candy. He was careful to choose a chocolate-covered cherry, his favorite. Turning it around and around in his fingers, he surveyed the sweet from every side before plopping it in his mouth.

"Okay, Dude! Now what's your wish?" the elf asked.

Elmer looked at the little fellow, color rushing to his face in excitement. He swallowed the chocolate as fast as he could, not even taking the time to enjoy the plump sweet cherry, gulping it down whole. "I want to be handsome, hunky, and attractive as all heck," he said. A smug look passed over his face as he spoke, as though he were about to exact revenge on the world who had cruelly punished him for being ugly. "Oh, boy! I can't wait to see!" he said, dashing to a store window to study his reflection. "Hey, I still look the same!" he said.

"Of course, you do, poor boy! The magic is a spell! Your looks haven't changed, but the ladies will see you as being hunky and handsome all the same." The elf grinned further. "It's like a magic spell on all who gaze at you--they'll see other than what is there."

"Hmmph, well, okay," Elmer replied. "I guess I'll head over to the insurance office and see how it goes.  You coming?"

"Oh no, my good man! I'm a busy elf with a million magic matters to see to. Good luck to you, sir!" The little fellow extended his hand and Elmer grasped and shook it in appreciation.

"Thank you for telling me about the magic chocolates," Elmer said. 

"Good luck to you, laddie!" the elf replied. In the next instant, poof! He disappeared.

"Gee, maybe I should have asked if this spell comes with a guarantee," Elmer murmured as he started off for the office.

When he arrived, there was no doubt the spell worked.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski