Published Anthology: SLICES of LIFE


My FIRST official publication!  And I owe it to the heart of my granddaughter, Nadia Jane Krenn, who inspired me to write it!

I also want to express my gratitude to Sheri de Grom, who suggested that I send a story to Russell Towne. I never would have been included had it not been for her encouragement and persistence urging me to submit a story.  Thank you, Sheri!

Sheri has her own very wonderful, informative blog: I know some of you are already familiar with her superb writing!

Any royalties I receive from the sale of the book, I am going to put into a college fund for Nadia and her brother, Ayden.  So far I have earned the sum of  $4.83 in royalties for our story. :).  However, since I wrote this sentence several days ago, I will no longer receive any royalties. Fame is so fleeting! This weekend, the gentleman who put the did the compilation of stories and grunt work, no longer sees it as a lucrative book, and requested that we free him from the responsibility of sending us any future royalties.

However, I had to pay a $35 to have it considered for publication and then I bought 10 copies from Amazon after it was published for $ 84.50….so I have personally spent $119.50 to have one and a half page story published.  LOL  🙂   SO perhaps I should have invested the $119.50 in stock?

Now I have to ask myself. was it worth it?

I will respond with a enthusiastic, “Yes!”   “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!”  🙂  I now have a clear understanding of Vanity Press. 🙂



I submitted six stories, and ONE story was selected for inclusion in the book, SLICES of LIFE, an anthology complied by Russell Towne (Author, Compiler) and Sandy Lardinois (Editor, Contributor).   It can be purchased on for $8.96, if you feel so inclined. Thank you!

The authors of the stories in this anthology are:   Russ Towne; Sandy Lardinois; Gail M. Nelson, Sheri de Grom; Mimi Krumholz; Pozanghera, Marie; Yvonne Deane; Koji D. Kanemoto; Teresa Karlinski; Pamela Read; Marie Lukaski Wallace; Bill Webb;               Jane Johann; Kimberly Laettner; E.H. Landell; Sherri Matthews; Diane Rawn.


“From heart-warming memories of childhood, to humorous perspectives on aging, inspiring stories of survival against nearly insurmountable challenges, to hilariously disastrous social encounters, this non-fiction anthology has it all! Features thirty-two stories exploring the challenges, triumphs, and humor of life as seen through the eyes and experienced in the hearts of fifteen writers.”

Part I: Lives Lost to Myotonic Dystrophy

Myotonic dystrophy is not a widely known or acknowledged disease.

In the medical history of our family, it seems likely that my grandmother’s brother carried the gene. He died around the age of 28; however, he did not marry and did not have children. Nevertheless, it appears his sister carried the recessive gene. It skipped his sister’s children (one of whom was my Dad) but did manifest itself in five of my eleven siblings, varying in degrees of severity. It also appears to manifest itself in greater severity with each successive offspring that carry the gene. Two of my nephews manifested the disease. Jimmy has already passed away from the disease at age 39. As it has become better understood, and after a personal survey of my own, I have come to discover that there are 16 people among my siblings and first cousins on my father’s side that have the disease. There is NO cure for this disease.

Our family learned of it about thirty years ago, even though my brother and sister each had symptoms of the disease manifested in their early days as children. The disease seems to accelerate around the late twenties of individuals who carry the gene, and it became more obvious in the health condition of my brother, Bill, at the age of 28, and my sister, Barbara, in her 30’s. Bill died at the age of 61 and Barbara died at the age of 63. Considering the advance of the disease in their bodies, it is amazing that they survived as long as they did. Both had strong, independent spirits, which I think gave them an advantage in sustaining their respective lives.

1arobin21My brother and sister did not receive much understanding regarding their disease when they were young children, because no one knew they had it. Their symptoms, unfortunately, were looked upon as being lazy and only interested in staying up late at night. Allow me to clarify.

Both of my siblings, in a family of eleven children, tended to slur their speech and were constantly admonished by my parents, my teachers, my siblings, and myself (regretfully so) to please make the effort to speak more clearly and this was not always communicated in the most kind way. Neither would wake up in time for school, and though we lived one block away, were late almost daily in getting their little feet to carry them up the street. Neither could fall asleep at night and would be awake all hours! Both ate very slowly, and were the recipients of frustration and anger that their eating slowly was just a means of avoiding helping with the dishes! (No automatic dishwasher in our home, though my Dad sold them in his plumbing and heating business.) Both of my parents were industrious people and work was a natural to them. We were of German heritage and to work showed character. Neither Bill nor Barbara could maintain a job for very long, not because they were lazy, as they were often admonished for, but because they lacked the physical strength, which at the time, no one seemed to understand.

Life went on and both suffered needless misunderstandings about their lack of energy and inability to articulate clearly.

My brother, Bill, was about 28 years old when he received an honorable discharge from the Army, and it was indicated he had a muscle disorder, after being in the paratrooper division. They attributed his muscle fatigue to the parachute drops. However, as he continued his medical visits at the VA, it came to light that the muscle weakness was of another origin–myotonic dystrophy. Meanwhile, my sister, Barbara, who was five years older than Bill, also learned that she had the same disease.

When I think of the hurtful remarks both received from so many over a health condition neither could control, it is a guilt not easily removed and a regret I feel badly about. It is has made me more careful about the judgments I lay upon others. Many people suffer from “invisible diseases,” such as depression, chronic fatigue, psychological difficulties as the result of assaults, etc. I think how often we misjudge others…and how it is important “not to judge” but to be compassionate and understanding, for as the saying goes, everyone is suffering from some type of battle, so be compassionate.

This disease is called myotonic, because it attacks the autonomic systems of the body—the nervous system that controls the muscle contractions, the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the digestive system.  For example, my brother and sister had difficulty swallowing their food, hence, they ate more slowly than the rest of us and they had to have a glass of water or milk handy to help the swallowing. The swallowing mechanism did not function optimally for them. The muscles that control the movement of the vocal cords also were affected, hence their difficulty in speaking clearly.

As their disease progressed, they could not swallow their food, and each had to be tube-fed to maintain their lives. Eventually, the muscles in the diaphragm no long functioned, and they each had to be placed on a respirator. So in their final years, speaking was extremely difficult for both my brother and my sister.  Eventually, when my sister accepted the ventilator, she  could not speak at all.  My brother used a machine that would suction out the mucus so he could breathe and say a few words.


My sister, Barbara, lingered in the nursing home for two years, on a ventilator and tube-fed. She was on a great deal of pain medication. She weighed about 60 pounds when she died. I was working full time and caring for my Mom in the evenings, who suffered from a stroke and was living with me. During the day, I had home health help for a year and then eventually, my two daughters took turns during the week days to help care for my Mom.  As a result, I could only visit my sister once a week. It was painful and difficult to see her suffer as she did. I did what I could to help her but I have never felt it was enough. I think that is partly why I am writing this piece. So that if there are other people out there in the world whose family members are suffering from this disease, that more understanding and patience is given to those who need it.  I tried bringing her a word processor, but she could not bend her fingers to type. We spent much of the visit time guessing what was being said. I must have caused her great frustration for all the repetition of what she was trying to communicate to me.  I left a notebook for visitors to write in, NOT to check up on who visited or who did not—as I was accused of that very thing—–but so that it would aid in Barbara’s memory and give us a topic to speak about and enhance her memory and that I would have a more clear idea of what she was trying to communicate with me.  Unfortunately, I was not there the day she slipped away. I had visited her two days previous to that, and though she asked me to come that Saturday, I didn’t. I felt much guilt about that for some time now. I did go to her immediately that Sunday morning, when I was phoned and told her condition had worsened, but by the time I had arrived, I felt she was already somewhere else. Her body was cold. I went to the nurse’s station, and they said the doctor couldn’t be called until the evening because it was Sunday. This did NOT give me much comfort.  I returned to her room, and sat with her for another hour and said my goodbye…though I think she was already with God.

I will continue the saga of my brother’s struggle with the disease in another segment.  I am now feeling very overwhelmed.


SYMPTOMS of Mytonic Dystrophy:


REFERENCE MATERIAL concerning Myotonic Dystrophy:

Click to access myotonic.pdf

my younger brother…Bill

Laughing daffodils blow in the wind

Peaceful birds chirping the delights of Spring

And with them thoughts of you they bring

Sharing measles in the darkened bedroom at four and five

Climbing the fifty foot cedar trees

Seeing who could out do the other

Reaching the top …winging our way into the breeze

Feeling the freedom of our youth

Reenacting the adults and you played the priest

Giving out Stark candy wafers for communion

The Ghost Town in the neighbor’s woods was filled

With a bank, and saloon, and all the wild imaginings of our youth

Until the owner chased us out

And we laughed and laughed and returned as soon as he was out of sight!


Playing tag in the clover fields and again chased out

Onward we moved and out of the town

You into the service and me into college

Yet touched bases now and then

And I pleading with you to vacation with me

And you agreed and off we drove

Through the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where I thought my life would end

Bolstered by stone walls on either side, with the semi on our tail

The downward descent though the Appalachian mountain range

To the warm shores of the Atlantic shouldering Myrtle Beach

Eventually we returned to tiny St. Michaels

And again we parted company

You on to marriage, and me on to the convent

After my absence for five years, you opened your apartment to me

And again we struck up the conversation where we left off several years previous

Brother and sister always we will be

Your kind and generous heart will carry me

Now you have left this Earth, giving what you could of yourself

Now you have left this Earth, but not my heart



It is sad and painful to read…but we cannot bury our heads in the sand and act like it does not exist. Despite the horrific story, may we have the courage to live on, like the young woman, Valerie. We have to be willing to speak up and use our limited power to vote so that racism, injustice, and murder of people, comes to a stop. As individuals, we must lift up our courage and we have to live in HOPE and PROMISE. Hope that the violence will stop. Promise for life for others and the children of the future.

Please direct your comments to the author of this piece,  Clarie O’Brien. Her blog is:

Thank you.

Eléctrica in the Desert


____EXCLUSIVE  BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN___________________

First published by

  At my school, the students created a gigantic number 43, each candle symbolizing a missing student, so that anybody from the sky — the UFOs, the airplanes, God, perhaps? —  could see and understand the sorrow that the Mexican students are dwelling with. Maybe now the people  will understand why it rains: even the sky is crying .”

Valerie Rodarte,  Mexican university student



A street of small adobe houses runs through a middle class neighborhood on the outskirts of a Mexican city. It looks peaceful enough at first glance.

But those who live there know better.

To residents who have gazed at the street over time, the signs of a neighborhood transformed by seven years of horrific violence are clear. A big iron gate blocks off the entrance, and curtains are drawn across every locked window. People walk directly from their…

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reality finally dropped kicked me

raindrop petals whispered from within

“I am not as strong as I thought I was…”

time will follow you through your shadows

walk beyond


walk in hope


not so much anticipation

much more

a thought of trust…

a desire to reach beyond

knowing that the GOOD will sustain us

with the belief that the goal can be reached

walk beyond


walk in hope


"Hope-filled Easter Beginnings" April 5, 2015 Photo Credit: Jane H. Johann

“Hope-filled Easter Beginnings” April 5, 2015
Photo Credit: Jane H. Johann


the Resurrection~

walking in the belief

that we are not walking alone

that the truth of the God-man-son/sun Jesus

lives in the LIGHT of LOVE

lives and walks in HOPE

as we accept the invitation to be with

walking  beyond


walking  in hope

with each other



We are all ONE

Lara Johann-Reichart LIFE in TOGO Update

809px-Flag_of_Togo.svg     Lara is close to completing her second year in Togo. Late last November, she began a project to add three classrooms to an overcrowded school building in the village of Mango.  She met her goal!  With equal contributions from the village people, from friends back in the States, from people on WordPress and from an African organization, the money was raised and the goal came to fruition!  Here are some photos of the new CLASSROOMS!  Thank YOU to all who contributed to this great project. It is beautiful that so many hands from so many different parts of the world came together to make this happen!

T  H  A  N  K     Y  O  U

We built a school! Thank you to everyone for your support – Sagbiebou is so excited to have 3 new classrooms & an improved school for our students! This month we are going to be doing student-centered teaching training with the teachers to help them transition from classes of over 100 to only 50. My village would like to tell you a big and hearty, FALA FALA! Or in English, Thank you so much!









New Classrooms in Togo


If anyone wants to send books or school supplies, please do so!  They need chalk, chalkboards, pencils, pens, paper, erasers, paints and books!  You can send them to:   PCV Lara Johann-Reichart or Matthew, Mentor Teacher.  US Peace Corps. — Corps de la Paix,   B.P. 89. , MANGO,  TOGO

Easter Joy

Jellybean colored LIFE

the Sun-SON is risen

Spring green giggle delights

feast on freshness



Grandchildren, Ayden &  Nadia, Easter Egg Hunt, 2013

Grandchildren, Ayden & Nadia, Easter Egg Hunt, 2013


See the LIGHT in you

See the LIGHT in others


Be the LIGHT




Wishing YOU all a joyous Easter! and Beautiful Spring!

Light Hearted Easter Egg Moments

Happy Spring and Resurrection! And may LIFE find YOU ALIVE and HAPPY…may dancing jelly beans fill your basket of joy! Below you will read Robin’s take on this wonderful time of the year! ENJOY! and Please direct your likes and comments to her blog:


If you don’t celebrate Easter but enjoy learning about other families’

customs this post may still be a good one to read. If you follow a

different religion or you don’t practice any at all, you still could add

something new to this post. Help make it multicultural and allow

us to “cross borders” into friendship together.  Although Easter eggs

were once considered part of pagan Spring festivals, they have

become Christian symbols of new life in recent times.

A cracked open eggshell could represent

and symbolize Jesus’ empty

tomb on Easter morning.

Coloring eggs can be elaborate projects, I have always enjoyed looking

at Ukrainian eggs with their pen and ink display of designs.  Our family

usually just used crayons to make designs on our hard boiled eggs

for Easter. Then, with the pungent smell of vinegar and the Paas egg

coloring dyes, we would put our eggs on…

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Resilient Woman…With Gratitude to Bette

Photo Credit: c. Jane H. Johann, Indian Ocean, 1975.

Photo Credit: c. Jane H. Johann, Indian Ocean, taken from the shore of Mombasa, Kenya, E.A., 1975.

dedicated to my friend,


~ a young girl on the Eastern seaboard

carried by the ocean waves

a seashell washed upon the shore

and gratefully found itself

resting in the sun soaked floor…

 a young girl was walking near

her tiny toes spinning wisps of powdered sand

she came upon the seashell,

knelt down and gently cupped it in her hand…

and together they sat

beside the ocean dream

opening their thoughts to the world’s room

vibrant waves of blues and greens

~a dedicated teacher of the young

the day arrived when life’s distance

carried her away from the shore and sea

but the wisdom of the seashell 

accompanied her like a comforting breeze

the children sat at her feet

listening with respect

knowingly she taught them

with presence and with no regrets

sensing the promise in their eyes

helped them to see the strength held inside

supportive and caring

urging them on

lovely as the bluebird

singing its song

her colleagues were affirmed …

encouraged as well

lifting others to their call

 as the waves lift the seashell to the swell

~ a friend

the seashell is a friend to the tiny creature

it holds inside

and so by this truth,

the little girl did abide

self-respect and honor 

honesty and truth

virtues held and shared 

to the young and long-in-tooth

listening to the secret quiet of the waves

forward the seashell travels

and so did this woman too

through all the bright moments and turbulent battles

she goes forward with courage

and tells YOU,  you will win!

never a complaint or self-pity you hear

regardless of how life may spin

~A lover of nature

Mother Earth is her friend

and the squirrels and birds she does feed

she tends to the wondrous gardens

of friends and of seed

a long way from the ocean is she

but this truth tale of a seashell and girl

invites us to the  balance gracing us

promising a pearl