Birdie Etchison was born in San Diego, California, raised in Portland, Oregon and now lives on the Long Beach Peninsula in the SW corner of Washington state. She has had a variety of books published, including juvenile, nonfiction and fiction. She has been included in several anthologies and also writes articles and short stories.
a writer’s journey. Yesterday all seemed lost. As I write this, it seems melodramatic. All puts this in a different category from saying, I just feel yucky today.
I cried out to God, to take away the feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, and that of not being needed anymore. Does this happen to other people as they face the aging process?
My children and grandchildren are managing nicely, or so it seems. Thank you notes are non-existent. Phone calls – only in emergencies. Well, I’m in an emergency right now and I need some help.
It came in an unexpected way – in an email from a writer friend. “Thank you for your encouragement; couldn’t have done it without you,” she wrote.
What had I said, I wondered.
Then it hit me. It’s not what I said, but what I did. Action speaks louder than words, someone once said. By working day after day on writing projects, I showed her this was how it’s done. You can’t give up. Not if 50 rejection notices are piled up in one corner of your desk. Don’t be a quitter. Hang in there. Get out of the negative mood and be positive.
I’ve done it before; guess I can do it again, I mumbled.
Back went the sign on the mirror.
“Only you can do what you do.
Don’t compare. Don’t despair.
Just be you.”
I’m listening to Alan Jackson singing How Great Thou Art, and as tears fill my eyes, I know God is with me. God is great. God will always be there. -Birdie L. Etchison
Life is full of many happenings. Some are joyful; some troublesome. From the Bird’s Nest is a collection of short romantic encounters. Perfect reads while at an appointment or stuck in traffic.
Read about romance from a variety of viewpoints.
One can always solve a problem if you think about it. Often we seek the
guidance of God. AMAZON
All of Harold’s life he has stuttered. His father mentions it every day.
When an oyster store is opened, Harold is put in charge. He has a pad and pencil ready to answer or to write questions, so he doesn’t have to speak. Then Julia, a new person to the peninsula, comes in with baked cookies to sell in the store. She won’t let Harold use the pad, but urges him to talk slowly. It will work, she claims, as she used to stutter too. Can these two find a love that frees them from self-imposed handicaps? AMAZON
When Priscilla is hired to teach at the North Beach Peninsula, a long ways from her Portland home, she doesn’t expect to fall in love with the father of one of her pupils. She sees him every day and as the year progresses, she discovers Jeb is not about to forget his wife who died.
Will she do something to reach his heart? AMAZON
Melissa had the clothes packed. Baby Pearl had more than she did. She was leaving the house. Couldn’t stay here longer with memories of Robbie.
When Audrye’s husband dies, leaving her with insurmountable debt, she flees to their cabin near Mount Hood in Oregon, the only place they own. She finds new friends and help from Josh, a true mountain man who has also fled to the mountain for reasons she discovers later. Can Audrye find a new life? Will Josh be part of it? AMAZON
Scroll to bottom of page to read chapter 1
After her husband, Robbie, dies in Afghanistan, Libby can’t sleep or relax.
But she has one-year-old baby Pearl and Grandpa who need her. When Libby receives money from Robbie’s insurance policy, she knows she must do something good, something for the community. She buys the old bakery in downtown Centreville that has been closed for two years. Soon it is up and running and she can thank Kyle, the painter for her new outlook. Things are looking up and she is happy, knowing she has contributed to her town, to the people she loves. AMAZON
Clifford’s widowed mother isn’t ready to celebrate Christmas until Uncle Daniel comes to visit in
Christmas is Every Day
Georgina needs to find the angel her grandmother used to decorate their Christmas tree every year Charles wants to help
and together they celebrate the holiday season in Christmas Memories
Annie needs to close her Christmas store to meet expenses. Then Jack comes in and has all sorts of ideas of how to expand,
giving Annie new hope and the blessings of Christmas, as she can now keep Annie’s Christmas Shop
Hester has not celebrated Christmas for years. Then one evening she hears Carolers at her door. She goes out to find them, but they are gone. How can that be? She sings Away in a Manger and slips away in Hester’s Christmas AMAZON
Janie Montgomery leaves Seattle to escape sad memories and spend Christmas with her aunt in Spokane.. On the way, she plunges headfirst into trouble. A truck zooms by, throwing snow on her windshield. Temporarily blinded, Janie fights to control the Camry—and loses. She ends up with her car stranded in a ditch, surrounded by a mountain of snow. EMT Greg Kincaid, who comes to Janie’s rescue, appears like a knight in snowy armor, not riding a white horse, but driving an SUV sturdy enough to get her back on the road. He gives her his card. Janie continues toward Aunt Lou’s, wishing the snow would stop. She glances at her cell phone. Mistake number one. She starts to slide. Slams on the brakes. Mistake number two. She holds her breath and prays for the car to stop, but it slams across the road and into the ditch. Now she is facing in the wrong direction and in danger of being hit by oncoming traffic. When Greg, who is patrolling the highway on his day off, arrives to rescue her for the second time, she thanks God. Janie calls Greg at his brother’s. It is the beginning of a love story as mystifying as a white-out, as soft as gently falling snow, as fraught with danger as the storms that swing down from Canada, as colorful as Christmas decorations, and as sweet as homemade cookies. Only by the grace of God can Janie and Greg weather the storms and find true love. KINDLE
There are lots of cute guys in the office, but I always like one who doesn’t like me.That’s fine. I’m used to it now.
Del – real name is Dovey – which she hates – works in a newspaper office and loves the job. George tries to capture her attention in the lunchroom. She ignores him; does not like nerdy men. Del has suffered one heartbreak and has sworn off men.
After writing an interview with Howard at his Buy Sell Trade business, he has flowers delivered to Del’s work with Dovey on the card and she realizes her secret is out. He signs the card from Howie. He comes on to her, but she doesn’t like him, or his beard.
Del is a klutz and steps in puddles, drops things and drops a plate of deviled eggs as she enters a party.
When her ex fiancé Mark returns to town and pursues her, she realizes how egotistical he is and refuses to date him again.
Then Del gets the assignment to cover the Junior High volleyball game, she finds she knows nothing about the game. She’s surprised to see George is the coach. Can he help her with the score and description of game? He does and also rescues her sweater that fell under the bleachers. The next day at work he rescues two raisins that fell into the keyboard between the letters g&f. How can she go wrong finding someone like that? Is the ready to go for a relationship again?
Can Hannah and Jerry find happiness with each, while caring and loving little Beth? AFTER Hannah’s sister dies, she decides to go to the Children’s Hospital once a week and read books to patients. She fills a need and it’s satisfying to her. While seeing Beth one Wednesday, THE LITTLE GIRL’S cousin comes to visit.
Jerry Matthews owns a book and curio store in town. He helps out at the local library and met Hannah. Imagine their surprise to run into each other at the hospital.
Hannah has given up on the idea of ever finding anyone to marry, and Jerry has had the same experiences. AMAZON
When Luke comes home, after being gone for a long time, the first place he heads for is the Boat Yard, and The Diner where Abigail cooks the best meals. It is so good to be back.
Luke sees Harry, the waitress, has grown up and teases her. Harry, who is really Faith Ann, likes Luke, but doesn’t care for his aggressive ways. Then Ab breaks an arm and the two decide to run the Diner. Some one has to do it.
Sometimes works things work out, even when you don’t think they will. AMAZON
Dreams, Hope, and Faith in one handy volume AMAZON
Winn Slater, abused by her husband, finally flees in the middle of the night. Unknowingly, she packs a framed picture with a valuable document inside.
After driving two days, she stops at a Truck Stop and is hired as a waitress. She likes the job and the truckers. It is good to be free. But, is she? One morning she wakens from a nightmare where she heard the familiar voice. A strange car is parked across the street and she realizes she must run again. Will she escape this time? AMAZON
Emma and baby Natalie are homeless and broke. They arrive on the Long Beach Peninsula and find a home at a local B&B. She becomes acquainted with Steve, a local police officer and friend of Colly, who owns the B&B. All is fine . . . until the morning Emma discovers someone has been in her bedroom and left a cryptic note . . . a note that destroys her new-found peace and fragile security. AMAZON
Sheila woke to sunshine dancing through the window. She also woke to find a boat parked on her front lawn.
After Sheila’s father drowns on the Columbia River, she vows she will never go on a boat again. Then she meets Mitch and his daughter, Olivia, who both like boating. Can she overlook her fears? A hiking accident helps her realize there are no completely safe places anywhere. AMAZON
ALL THREE WOMEN IN PERIL
CHAPTER ONE OF WIND IN THE PINES
“We regret to inform you that unless you come up with the balloon payment of $50,000, we will be forced to foreclose on your home at 7306 SE Lambert. Back taxes must also be paid within 30 days. First Fidelity Bank.”
Audrye felt as if someone had ripped her heart out, as she read the letter again. Carefully centered on fine creamy letterhead, it wasn’t a joke. Yet she and Wade paid off he mortgage five years ago. She remembered the papers coming in the mail.
“Free and clear,” Wade had said. “Let’s celebrate.”
It had to be a mistake. Wade took care of the finances. He wouldn’t let the taxes go unpaid. They remodeled the kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances and a new floor. He insisted on a landscaping job, new fence and the Cadillac Esplanade. Red with lots of chrome.
“Only the best,” Wade kept saying.
But it wasn’t a mistake. The person at the bank had a folder opened and showed Audrye her signature on the refinance papers and the tax statement. She had thirty days to pay the back taxes and the four payments.
Audrye stumbled to the car and let the tears come. What could she do? The life insurance showed Wade had borrowed from the policy. Why had he done that?
Of course he hadn’t planned on dying…
Today I’m embarking on a journey. It may be good; may be bad.
Will I ever adjust to Wade dying? It’s such a desolate feeling…
Then there’s the problem with lack of money.
Audrye had jotted the thoughts in her journal earlier that morning.
“Mom, this is crazy,” daughter Shelley protested when she stopped by with Jacob. “Dad wouldn’t have wanted you to traipse off to the cabin. It’s so – primitive.”
No, Audrye wanted to say. It isn’t right. But nothing is now, anyway. If only you knew…But she could not explain the reasons for moving. Shelley didn’t know about the extra house payments and the back taxes.
Audrye glanced at the beautiful, well-manicured lawn, the blooming chrysanthemums, the shrubs strategically placed. The house stood regal, the navy blue paint glimmering in the mid-afternoon sun; the shutters a royal blue that matched so well. How could she leave all this?
Audrye moved past her daughter. In ten minutes she’d be gone. Shelley hoisted the bag into the back of the Caddy and secured the tarp.
Jacob, already in his car seat, banged his fists. Audrye walked over and kissed her grandson goodbye, cupping his little face in her hands. “Come to the mountain to see Grandma,” Audrye said. “It’s not that far.”
Shelley groaned. “Whatever.”
Audrye pulled a white sweater cap over her long braid.
“Dad hated your hair braided,” Shelley said.
“I know.” Audrye didn’t need to be reminded of the things her father didn’t like. They were embedded in Audrye’s mind.
Audrye climbed into the truck and rolled the window down.
“You’ll be back,” Shelley said. “You can’t make it alone up there.”
Audrye fastened the seat belt. Give me six months. I’ll make it work She held back the tears, knowing she would replay this scene in her mind countless times in the days ahead.
Audrye drove toward Powell and Highway 26, but made the wrong turn and ended up in downtown Portland. She could sense Wade’s annoyance, hear him rant now.
“Aud – his favorite name for her – “the cabin is east, not west.”
Turning around, Audrye retraced her steps, driving back across the Ross Island Bridge and headed east. She would find it okay now. She set the radio dial to her favorite soft rock station and hummed with Fleetwood Mac. The day was perfect for the drive, and she soon settled back. The seats were comfortable. Maybe she’d grow to like the Cadillac; she’d kept it because it was paid for. Why, she didn’t know.
The traffic thinned out and Audrye enjoyed the solitude. Soon she would be at the mountain. Larkspur was one of the first small towns at the base of Hood.
The Larkspur sign loomed ahead, followed by the posted speed limit. She tapped the brakes, but it was too late, as a siren split the still air. Audrye pulled over as the flashing light announced to the world that the policeman had picked up a traffic violator.
Audrye waited while he stayed in the car. Probably looking up the license on his computer. The door opened finally and the uniformed officer strolled up to her window, motioning for her to roll it down.
“Morning, Ma’am. Do you know how fast you were going?” His eyes narrowed, reminding her of Wade.
She said nothing.
“It’s 25 as you approach town. You were doing 45.”
“I started to slow down.”
“Not soon enough.” His frowned. “Need to see your license and registration.”
Audrye reached for her handbag, unzipped the top, but the wallet wasn’t in the usual place. She fumbled in the depths of the macramé bag and looked back at the officer. “I know it’s here somewhere.”
She shivered and then spied the wallet on the floor of the passenger seat. She unbuckled the seat belt and reached for it. Riffling through the card compartment, she saw her voter’s registration, library card, ATM, grocery card, the VISA. The deputy
cleared his throat.
“Where you headed?” he asked then.
“Actually– ” Audrye looked up and smiled. “I’m turning at Snowy Lane. Just up the road a piece.”
“I know you don’t live here.”
“I do now.” She could have sworn that he rolled his eyes. “I’ll find my license. I know it’s here; I just renewed it.” Then she remembered sticking it in the glove compartment. She opened the door and maps tumbled out.
He shook his head. “ I’m just giving you a warning this time. But if I stop you again, it’s going to be a hefty fine.”
“No, wait!” She produced the license and handed it over. “Here. Finally. See?”
He studied the license and handed it back. “You’re Wade Winston’s wife.”
Audrye felt the hollow feeling spreading through her. “My husband passed, you know.”
His face showed the first trace of a smile. “I’m sorry to hear that, Mrs. Winston. You can go now. Just be careful. Don’t want to stop you again.”
Still shaken, Audrye sat and watched him climb into the patrol car, turn off the flashing lights as he drove on by.
Audrye eased out onto the road, trying to forget the tension that always started in the back of her neck. She shivered and realized the window was still down. Mountain air smelled of spruce and had a nip to it. She took a deep breath before closing it. She kept telling herself that there was no rush now. No deadlines. No appointments to make her hurry. This was home. Less traffic. A slower pace. Would she get used to it?
Snowy Lane, a narrow, rutted road, meandered as it climbed and curved. Soon she would be at the cottage. She needed to unpack, start a fire, and clean up the place.
Audrye went around another bend, liking the way the truck held to the road, bumps and all. She saw a vehicle ahead. Strange. She never remembered seeing anyone on the road before. The Winston cabin was the only one on Snowy Lane. Maybe this person had broken into her cabin. A sudden stab of fear gripped her. What would she do if she confronted a homeless person? The small Jeep – Audrye didn’t know much about cars, but knew a Jeep when she saw one – drove slowly. She tapped her brakes. Once, then twice.
Josh Blankenship, coming back from town, saw the Sheriff’s car stopped behind a fancy red pickup. Another tourist plowing through town, not caring about speed rules. He had been like that a year ago – on his way to who knew where? Then he hit a patch of ice and drove into a snow bank. A battered truck stopped and an older man in overalls helped him out of the ditch and suggested he not try to go up the mountain without chains. He stayed the night in a motel and looked around the next day. He never left. Here in Larkspur things had changed for him. He found value in living and grew to love the quietness of his mountain. He had also won over his addiction
Josh’s hair, once short and black, now hit the top of his shirt collar. His beard had streaks of gray, enough to make him look distinguished. He’d not worn a beard when he was vice-president of Aloha Plastics Corporation. Prestige and big bucks. All important to him once. But life can tumble down around you when you’re not looking. He shook the thoughts from his mind and turned on Snowy Lane. Josh glanced at the trees just starting to bud. It was late March and patches of snow covered the ground in hopscotch pattern. Not enough to build a snowman. He stopped when he saw a rabbit cross the road. He rarely went over 5-miles, as there were so many critters.
Josh heard the unmistakable sound of a vehicle approaching from the road below, and then saw the flash of red coming around the bend. It was the same truck he’d seen stopped on the highway. Why was the person driving up this hill? Nobody lived on the road except him. Ahead was the Winston cabin, but he’d never seen anyone there since he’d moved here. He heard it had been in the same family for two generations. Lots of people were like that in Larkspur.
Josh eased into low gear. The one-lane road was rugged and narrow. The Jeep
maneuvered just fine as he swerved to miss the deep ruts. The flash of red through the trees came closer – going way too fast for this rough road. If he stopped, would the driver stop? Well, they’d have to. There were no turnouts, nowhere to go. The truck roared around the next turn and suddenly honked. Josh watched while the driver tried to stop, but sashayed from the left to the right and back again. He braced himself for the crash.
It didn’t happen. Instead the truck careened sidewise and landed in the narrow ditch off to the side of the road. At a precarious position the horn blared, the truck’s nose pointing toward the sky.
Josh hopped out as a woman struggled to open the truck’s door.
“Are you okay?” He leaned over and pulled the door open.
Audrye shot him a withering look. “I’d be fine if you hadn’t stopped in the road!”
“I stop for wild life,” Josh said, meeting her gaze head-on.
“I didn’t think there’d be anyone on the road. It’s always been deserted before.”
“I live up a piece,” Josh said then. He examined the front of the truck, with its dangling bumper. The truck, an expensive Cadillac was heavy, but he knew his Jeep. “I can get you out. No problem.”
Audrye’s shoulders were hunched inside her coat as she climbed out of the truck. Still shaken by the near collision, she stared at this giant of a man – broad shouldered, with a beard and longish hair. He looked the part of a mountain man. “And how are you going to pull my truck out, pray tell?”
“Jeeps are strong. Sturdy.” Josh said.
“I know that, still …”
He ignored her answer. “You’d be surprised at what a Jeep can do. It’s perfect for mountain roads. Old, but serviceable.”
“I’ll call a tow truck,” Audrye said, unconvinced.
Her forehead creased into a question mark. “And why not?”
“Driver’s gone to Portland for the day.”
She sighed. “As usual, my timing is right on.”
“I’m Josh,” Josh said, holding his hand out.
Audrye took his hand briefly. “Audrye.”
He walked over and looked at the truck. “One dented bumper; could have been worse. How far are you going? Just out sightseeing?”
“I’m moving here,” Audrye said. “The cabin is just up a ways.”
He stood, towering over her five-foot-five frame. “You’re one of the Winston’s?”
“You knew my husband?”
“Nope,” Josh said. “I’m a newbie here.”
“Get in the truck and put it in neutral. That’s the big N.”
Audrye rolled her eyes. “N for neutral. I know.”
“When it’s out of the ditch, put on the brakes. Immediately.”
Audrye held her breath. Of course she knew that. If she didn’t it might run right over his Jeep. She was certain it wouldn’t work, but she got into the truck, putting it in neutral.
Josh backed his Jeep up, hopped out, hooked the chain to the front and jumped back into his vehicle. She watched while the truck rocked back and forth. Audrye held her breath, still doubting that he could get the truck out. Finally it moved and then eased out, back to the road, and Audrye braked.
The front bumper tilted at a weird angle, but other than that, the Caddy looked fine. Audrye smiled, as she got out. “It worked!”
“Never had a doubt,” Josh mumbled. He wanted to tell her to slow down, but knew she wouldn’t be receptive to his advice.
“Is it drivable?” Audrye asked, thinking all she needed right now was a huge repair bill.
Josh removed the chain and threw it in the back of the Jeep. He came back got into the truck put it in reverse and backed up. He drove forward. He checked the headlights, turn signals, and the brakes. He got back out and looked under the vehicle. “Frame seems fine. You can have the bumper fixed at the auto and body shop in town.”
Audrye stood beside this man who was her neighbor, and felt ashamed She never railed at people. She was, as Wade put it, “lax.” letting people run over her, while Wade griped about every little thing. They never ate in a restaurant without him finding fault with the food, the waitress, the chef, someone. Was she taking over for him now that he was no longer here? Was this part of her makeup now?
No. She grabbed her handbag and took a twenty out of her wallet. Would that be enough? She held out the bill. Josh recoiled as if she were a snake about to strike.
“What? You think I’m going to take your money for getting you out of the ditch? Hey, this is the mountain. That’s what we do here – help each other out.”
Audrye didn’t know what to say. Josh got in his Jeep and headed on up the road. “Sorry,” Audrye called out, but she knew he hadn’t heard her.
Audrye climbed into the truck and drove toward the cabin. Shaken from not only the near speeding ticket and now having the truck pulled out of the ditch, she felt tears of gratitude well in her eyes. Things could have been much, much worse.
Josh didn’t look back as he put the Jeep in gear and started the climb. Sometimes it didn’t matter what you did for a person, it was not appreciated. He did the best he could in most situations. Of course he’d pulled this – this Audrye’s truck out of the ditch. Not that it was his fault. He always drove the road slow. She should have seen his brake lights from around the first bend. Why hadn’t she slowed down? She seemed absentminded – no – make that empty-headed.
Farley was waiting at the door doing his little tap dance of welcome. What would he have done without his dog? Josh jumped out and hugged the golden retriever. “Hey, Farley, I haven’t been gone that long.” With dogs you could be gone five minutes and they acted as if it had been five hours.
“We have a new neighbor,” he said, ruffling the dog’s furry, golden coat. Josh always talked to his animals as if they understood, because in reality he thought they did.
“I’ll get you a dog treat.” The statement met with frantic tail wagging. Josh tossed a rawhide bone, and then made his coffee, using an extra scoop. He’d take his coffee and sit on the porch that looked out over his part of the mountain. This was only the mountain leading to the mountain. The one with all the snow that climbers came from miles around – Mt. Hood by name – was another 20 miles away.
He opened a can of peanuts and poured a mug of coffee. Funny how a person thinks their place is sacred, that nobody else will come for miles around. He had not invited anyone to what he lovingly called his Mountain Shack. He had cashed in bonds and his retirement fund from the company and left. Left the house on Mockingbird, left most of his clothes – the expensive suits and white shirts, plus a few favorite things like the Lionel Train set. He didn’t need it. Trappings, that’s all those things were. He needed nothing as he tried to find his soul again.
His view from the wide porch looked out over the tops of evergreens of every size and shade of green. Josh fought the impulse to go back and help his neighbor unload the truck. He wouldn’t do it. He couldn’t get involved. One minute she seemed almost fragile with a shy sort of smile, and the next she was ranting, as if it had been his fault. He had to get her out of the ditch, but he sure didn’t need to help with anything else.
Farley acted nervous as he looked down the hill, then back at Josh. What was wrong? He usually sat at his feet, chewing on the rawhide, content to have Josh home. Sometimes he’d notice something at the far corner of the surrounding woods – a deer usually – as he had chased off the smaller critters early on. Farley nudged his knee with his head.
“What is it Farley? Can’t I drink my coffee in peace?
Farley had that embarrassed look – if a dog could look embarrassed – as he sat back down on the floor.
Was Audrye in some kind of trouble? He realized she hadn’t received a rousing welcome – being stopped by the county deputy and then sliding into the ditch.
He stared in the direction of the cabin. If there w as a fire going, he’d be able to see a curl of smoke rising from the chimney. There was nothing. Farley whined again.
“Okay, boy. We’ll go check it out. Guess I could at least get a fire going.”