Beanery Online Literary Magazine

December 14, 2011

Christmas: A Time for Furnace Fires




Fran Welts

Intro by Carolyn Cornell H olland

 The following post provides a warning to every family at the beginning of the cold winter weather and the start of the heating season.

It is also a warning to all who decorate their homes for the holidays.

It’s 4:30 a. m.

After just a brief night’s sleep your two youngest children ages one and two, waken you from a deep sleep. For no particular reason that you can discern.

You feel somewhat irritated—after all, it’s the Christmas season. The double holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas have overwhelmed you. Money is short. Time is tight. There’s a long task list.

Your feelings of resentment over losing your sleep escalate…your stress level rises as the youngsters show no signs of abating their activities.

They can sleep in once they return to bed. You can’t. You have to work.

What’s a parent to do?



     These might have been Nick’s thoughts when his two youngest children, ages one- and two-years-old, woke him in the wee hours of the morning. His wife and five-year-old son remained sleeping.

Perhaps to soothe his escalating irritation, Nick stepped outside his family home in a small Missouri town to smoke a cigarette in the wee hours of the December 6, 2011, morning.



The holidays bring out the best in most of us.

What wonderful social gatherings, food flavors we never before tried, people we meet for the first time, gifts we give, gifts we receive.  It’s a joyful time when you can almost believe in peace on earth.

But there is a downside, a downside that is often preventable but that sometimes just happens.

Fire.     Tree fires, house fires, kitchen fires.



     Suddenly there was an explosion. Nick ran into the house to find that the explosion had wakened his wife Kelsie.

What was that? she asked.

I don’t know but it shot out of the house! Nick responded.

Seeing smoke and flames coming from their back room, Nick and Kelsie grabbed the three boys and ran to their car. They made it in the nick of time.

If Nick was resentful and irritated that his two youngest children had awakened him in the middle of the night, the feeling soon disappeared. He began expressing gratitude about his early morning awakefulness and alertness.

It allowed him to save his family from a sudden fire.



Christmastime fires are almost always caused by forgetting to water the tree, by overloading a circuit with too many strings of lights, or by plugging the lights into faulty wiring, which can cause a quick fire.

     Christmastime is also the start of the cold weather that winter brings. House fires often start with a faulty furnace.

My family had a rude awakening of this fact when, at six o’clock in the morning on December 6th my nephews Missouri home exploded, blowing out all the windows. He grabbed two of his sons, his wife grabbed the baby and they ran outside just before two more explosions occurred. The explosions, resulting in a fire that reduced the family home to ashes, appeared to be caused by a leak in the furnace. It allowed gas to surround the furnace. When the furnace kicked on it exploded.

They lost everything, then again they lost nothing since their family is unhurt and “things” are replaceable, people are not.



“It sounded like someone had threw a grenade in the house, and it blew everything out the window and everything, and I went running back into the house, and the wife was already up off the couch like, what was that? I go, I don’t know but it shot out of the house!” Nick says.

Nick and Kelsie then saw the smoke and flames coming from the back room and got the three boys out and into the car with little time to spare.  “I didn’t even have time to go in and get my mom’s urn or nothing,” Nick says.  His mother died just four months ago.

“I’d say my mom was on our side by having our two kids be up, because I’m a hard sleeper, and if I got woke up by that, the reaction time would have been a lot slower than what it was,” Nick says.*



     They lost everything, then again they lost nothing. Their family is unhurt. “Things” are replaceable, people are not.


The family has received emergency assistance from local agencies

They had no insurance on the home.  If you’d like to make a donation, Nick King can be reached at (417)259-4716.

Their boys wear sizes 5T, 2T and 24 months.*



August 1, 2011

What Makes a Fighter?

Filed under: WR/BW FRAN — beanerywriters @ 3:00 am
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Fran Welts

     She was small, only five feet tall, but she was stronger than the eye beheld.

Debra Lee King (Himes)

     She  always the first one to jump in to the fight, always the first one to come home with skinned knees and a black eye. She defended anyone she thought was being picked on. 

     But sometimes the biggest battles do not come from the small schoolyard brawls we have growing up. Sometimes things hit us before know how to fight back.

     Diagnosed with a rare form of tongue and throat cancer three years ago, she immediately said I (more…)

June 15, 2011

What Happened To Old-Fashioned Love?



Fran Welts

     I’m reminded of the song by that title when having a conversation with a woman I’ll call Jane. We met at a cancer center in Pittsburgh. Our situations made both of us tired, just going along, but still enjoying the good times wherever we find them.
     As we waited in a very crowded room, she asked me why I was there. She told me how she had remarried at age seventy-three years old, just six months ago, after a long forty-five year marriage to her first husband. Joe, her husband now, had also had a long first marriage. They believed in marriage so after a short courtship, they wed.
     At this point there were several heads turning in our direction, many of them young—or young to us!! They had laptops, I-phones, I-pads, and whatever else is new and modern, and were busy typing or texting. But they paused long enough to listen. Like all of us, it’s human nature to listen when someone is telling a story.
     Jane explained that sixty-three days after they married Joe was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw and throat. He underwent removal of his lower jaw, and needed a trachea to breathe and a feeding tube to eat. He cannot close his mouth and he cannot speak.


     Around the waiting room you could see (more…)

May 7, 2011

Lizzy in a Tizzy

Filed under: WR/BW FRAN — beanerywriters @ 11:47 am
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Fran Welts

The following limerick refers to how my grandmother handled her anger:

There once was a woman named Lizzie,
Who often got worked up in a tizzy,
About things of no matter,
She would beat up the batter,
For so long she would often get dizzy!



Read more of Fran’s writing:

January 20, 2011

Have I, a Caregiver, Failed??




I sit, watching him sleep,

watching his peaceful, even breaths

that include, every now and then, a long pause. 

I think I hold my breath too, when he gasps.

Then he breathes evenly once again.

     It’s been a difficult twenty-four hours. For a caregiver this is really not a surprise, but for this household, yes, this is a surprise. 

     Most days have moments to get through, things to ignore, things to do, and things to undo. But still, they are just moments.  And then………..
     Yesterday, in a split second, he bent over, got dizzy, hit the floor. I
moved, quickly, but not quick enough to catch him. On the bright side those of you who know us know that he is 225 pounds, and I am 96 pounds. Perhaps my moving quicker might have resulted in injury to myself. Still, instinct says try, and this I did.
     The damage is not too bad. He has a pulled abdominal muscle, two pulled muscles in his chest, whip lash of his neck, a bruised left hip, deep bone bruise of right wrist, and a two inch section of missing skin on his forearm. Movement of any kind is now painful to him, and the night was a very long one. Still, we are grateful nothing is broken. I must (more…)

January 9, 2011

Train Up a Child




Scripture: Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Reflection: It is 1980…

     “Dad, it’s Sunday. I need some sleep.”

     The voice of a young boy rang out loudly through the house in response to his father’s call to awaken, knowing what his father’s answer would be—it was always the same: get up, get dressed, and go to church.

     It is 2007…

     “Dad, it’s Sunday. I’m tired, let me sleep.”

     The man standing at the staircase bottom heard these words as he called to awaken his son. The memory of those same words he told his father in 1980 made him smile.

     The boy of 1980 had become a good father, faithful to his God and church, never failing to seek help through faith. Two hours after awakening his son, he watched the child don his robe and light the candles as acolyte at Sunday services. The young boy was proud, smiling. He told everyone (more…)

December 19, 2010

Christmas 1998—A Memory Embraced




Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.  Cicero


The following prompt was e-mailed to members and friends of the Beanery Writers Group, which meets in Latrobe, Pennsylvania:

 Recount your Yuletide memories, the sweet and yes, even the bitter. Laugh and cry as you reflect and think of the lessons learned from the good and not so good. Embrace those memories. Don’t run from them. For they all will serve you well.*


     What is wrong with me?  I, the one who is always early with the tree, the
lights, the Christmas cheer, cannot find any spirit this year. Strange, for it
is always me, who is first with the fun, and always the first person to say “hey, what’s wrong with you?  Get your tree up!”

     Always, by Thanksgiving, our family is well into the holiday season, for in truth, I was raised that it is a season, not just a day or week, to celebrate. 
     From my earliest childhood it was a season we celebrated, with dinners for
neighbors, walks in the snow, ice skating, and just spending time together. 
Somehow I think that has been lost upon the current generation of young people.
     It’s now December 13th. My mother is calling, again, to ask What is wrong
with me????  Why haven’t I put up the tree?
I promise her I will truly do it
today. Much to my surprise I actually do it. She is in Yuma, Arizona and I’m on Cape Cod, so she wouldn’t know it if I didn’t do it, but then—somehow she always knows everything!!
    The next morning I call her to tell her the tree is up and decorated. We
talk for about a half hour, general stuff, mostly about the holiday and what
her plans are. 

<— Fran’s Mom


     Later that evening I received a call that she had a gall bladder attack, and they were going to operate.  Not to worry: she had a longtime gall bladder surgeon, one of the best. He ran tests, told us she was fine to have the laproscopic surgery.  She came through it OK.

     But perhaps in hindsight, we should have had a (more…)

October 27, 2010

It’s a Pumpkin’s Life



 Fran Welts

The Beanery Writers Group in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, sends its members and submitters a writing prompt each Monday. The following post is a result of the October 4, 2010, prompt:

Pretend that you are a jack-o-lantern. Describe Halloween from a jack-o-lantern’s point of view.

If you would like to receive the weekly prompt, e-mail beanerywriters at with the words WRITING PROMPT REQUEST in the subject line.


     Morning. Such a wonderful, colorful, crisp fall morning. It’s peaceful here, just me and five acres of my friends.

      We all look forward to this time of year, arguing over who is the best, who is the ripest, who will get picked first. You see, it really does matter that we ALL get picked for that crazy day the two legged creatures celebrate with us every year by dressing up. At least, they call it that! 

     How can anyone who puts blood and goop all over themselves be considered dressed up????
     From where I am in the field I can see a sign on the road. I have no idea what it says, but whenever it’s out it means that the short creatures will soon be running through this field and grabbing us up. Unfortunately, they aren’t always careful, and some of us wind up smashed all over the ground. What a sad, sad time for some. 

     For those of us chosen it’s a marvelous time. We get to leave this field, the dirt, the cold, and go with the creatures to the places they stay.
     Oh look! Here they come! Big yellow things full of them, yelling and making noise. Big happy looks on their tops!! Running at full speed, yelling “I want this one, no I want that one!.” Oh here comes a sweet looking one. It (more…)

August 1, 2010

A Trip From Long Ago




     I must hurry and brush my hair, my teeth, get dressed and wake up my sister. Today we leave for a train trip to California!  I’m 7 so this seems much more exciting to me than to my parents. We pile into the Kaiser (it’s a wonderful green/yellow hard top), and get to Boston early in the morning.

     I have to have help to climb aboard the train, it seems very large to me at the time. The Porter, named Bill, explains to me that the ice cream vendor will (more…)

July 14, 2010

The Legacy of Hopedale, Massachusetts




    Throughout her life my grandmother often spoke about growing up “near Heaven, this wonderful Hopedale of ours.”

Elizabeth Noyes (rt) with her sister May (c 1898)

     Elizabeth Amanda Noyes was born in Hopedale, Massachusetts, in 1890. Her parents, William and Mary Cotton Noyes, had moved there to raise their children in a place where faith and family came first, where they knew a hard work ethic would prevail, and where they would feel secure. The self-contained town was religiously based. Sundays were always for faith and family. It remained that way during my grandmother’s entire life.
     Lizzie, as she was known, loved to speak of those first days swimming in the pond was allowed for girls. Apparently a somewhat scandalous event, she felt it was a big step forward for women. This always amazed me as she truly was old-fashioned: she cooked, cleaned, knew nothing about driving, or voting, and my grandfather made all decisions.


     Draper Mill, one of the oldest textile mills in the country, dominated (more…)

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