Books Make the Perfect Valentines Day Gift for Children

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When the Water Beckons You

If you grew-up near the water, it doesn’t matter where you are – when you see it again, it beckons you closer, daring you to its rocky edge, tempting you to take off your shoes and test its temperature with the tips of your french manicured, but otherwise bare toes. It’s all you can do not to stay and frolic there awhile, where you can conjure up your days of youth, and make architectural plans in your head. In that setting your mind becomes a drafting table. What would it look like if you could build a home in that very same spot?

T.A. Gould
writer, author, poet, photographer and dreamer.


Everything Happens in Threes: An Ode to an Olive Tree

I wouldn’t say I’m a superstitious person, necessarily, but sometimes things in my life – ultra-important, good or bad – seem to happen (to me) in threes. One of my favorite relatives from my childhood, my Aunt Grace, died recently (rest her soul) from a heart condition. A week later, my beloved dog, Bogie, my sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, also died from a heart condition.

Two. When the second coincidence strikes, two-in-a row like that – I earnestly wait, fearful that proverbial “other shoe” will eventually drop, and something tragic will happen once more. I knew that day soon would find me, and it did. The bad news finally arrived today in the form of the sound of a loud crack from the fall.

Forty-five MPH, howling winds appearing from out of nowhere, shook it’s thick branches, rattled its frail heart, sending it soaring to a perilous demise – killing my precious olive tree. The same tree that was freshly planted right before we bought the house. The same tree that grew- up alongside my children. The tree that over-shadowed the pool where the kids splashed around while I sat beneath it, stretched out on the chaise, reading a book with my dear Bogie splayed out by my feet.

The olive tree was tall and luscious – a handsome, winding, fruit-bearing, full-of-life kind of tree, but it was growing too fast and I knew it. It was too big for its living quarters set on its small, sloping bed of Lantana and variegated Bougainvillea. After all, it had already lost a major limb a couple of years ago. I knew then my tree was in trouble, that perfect tree near where we spent impossibly perfect summer’s days – but I didn’t work to save it. And, while I loved that olive tree, today I am almost thankful and glad we didn’t try and save it, because after all – it’s just a tree and not another person or pet we could have lost and loved more. During this time when life begins speaking to me in threes, I always stop and take the time to listen, and today it rings of three. Death. And I am, in this case, thankful this is, perchance, the number three.

So, dare I say goodbye to your rustling branches on sweet summer’s days. So long to your dark fruit squished beneath our flip flops. Farewell, oh sweet olive tree…may you truly be the third in this series of threes. But, not to worry as you lie there, lifeless and snapped in two; I suspect your roots are strong and you’ll wind your way back to me.

If a tree falls in the middle of your yard, would you hear it?


Madam: Milk Does Not Swing from a Tree

Note to My Most Stubborn Self

Madam Persnickety-Pants: You are in Europe. Henceforth into perpetuity, when ordering a latte while visiting here – you must come to understand there is only one kind of milk – it’s called MILK. It’s not 2%, fat free, almond, coconut or soy – just plain old, whole milk from the mature female of a brown-eyed bovine animal, not unlike what was served in Frankfurt, Madrid and Rome, and to you when you were an unassuming, snot-nosed kid after playing in the dirt of Northern Indiana. So, stop asking for something new in your froth, because the subsequent disappointed pout is not becoming to a lady of your stature. Madam, here in Italy, MILK most certainly does not swing from a tree!

P.S. Milk Does Not Swing from a Tree, is a very good title for a picture book.


A Writer’s Dream from Venice, Italy

December 19th, 2014

I’m just waking up on Giudecca Island -Venice, Italy – to a volley of sights and sounds – a deliverance from the cathartic, but brooding ancient history of Rome, from where we just came. Here, I imagine, I’m in a living painting, and an artist, with his paintbrush and palette in hand – captures me and my robe-covered torso, thrust outside my unscreened window – just now at the Hilton Molino Stucky, from his own studio window across the Grand Canal.

Outside, I hear the reverberating serenade of tolling church bells, which I can pinpoint with my own eyes, to various steeples, speckled with pigeons and seagulls. Each tower stands guard of her parcel of Venezia, soaring high above, looming and majestic, and traipsing along the Canal.

Splashing waves steadily rise and fall onto the foamy, green and blue algae and barnacle-covered docks and seawalls, swept up by power boats which dot the landscape like steed on an aqua-colored, rolling field. Each ship is captained by proud, generational seamen, who glide their ships in various directions, transporting trusting townspeople and holiday tourists about their elusive city. And, it’s through this foggy haze, I know I am graced with an inspiring, omnipotent view – and it occurs to me, I must be here, in Charles Dickens’ Modern Venice, the one he imagined long ago in his “Italian Dream.”




Two Truckers Lost Everything: Their Home Burned and Their Friend Died

A couple of years ago, when someone in my family was gravely ill, two dear friends from back home in Indiana, raced to pick me up in Chicago at the airport, and drive me several hours back to my hometown in Culver, IN – after working to get me to the hospital in the quickest way possible. They gave me their own car to drive that week (telling me there was no need to rent a car when they had one to spare), and later had me over for a special dinner – one they had clearly slaved over – on top of everything they already had done. Simple acts of kindness.

But this week, Anna and Donald Neher, two truckdrivers, got word that their home had burned while they were hauling a load in California. As if that devastating news wasn’t enough, they learned their dear friend, who was housesitting for them while they were away, had tragically died in the blaze. All I know is Anna and Don would give the shirts off their own backs, like any upstanding Midwesterner would, to anyone in need. This time – it’s Anna and Don who are in need, and I imagine I’m not the only beneficiary of their past kindness. The only real question is how can we help these, kind-hearted, and generous citizens, Anna and Don, get back on their feet while their hearts are so heavy-laden. This burden is too much to bear, both grappling with a death in their home, due to a fire, and during Christmastime.

Imagine everything they are going through. They’ve lost every material possession in the world. While they’ve lost so much, they still have friends like me who remember their past generosity, and they have their family and their community whom I know will want to rally around in support of them. At bare minimum, let’s get them funded so they can get some of the basic necessities they’ll need to start over again.

Watch news regarding the fire.

You can help by clicking here.


Tonia Allen Gould
Just a friend, trying to help some friends, in their time of need