Wednesday, May 30, 2012

..And then came Samuel: Jason

“Zach and Son” was a big dream for Zach, but not for “Son”. 

Zach Jensen had cashed in on the ‘bouncing castle’ craze that hit in the 1990s.  He bought one, then two, and finally three ‘bouncing castles’.

His son Jason was a baby when Zach was chasing birthday parties, Bar Mitzvahs, and street fairs with his bouncing castles.  Jason had gazed with awe and knew that someday, he would be bouncing with the castles and his dad.

Well, that day had come.  Jason had just graduated from high school, and it wasn’t a moment too soon for Zach. 

From three castles, Zach had one lonely and very tired, patched together bouncing castle left.

Zach had had to lay off the guys who had planned to expand on the business with ‘Son’.  Now, it was just an ailing Zach, whose back was crumbling with something called stenosis.

Jason, the ‘Son’ part of the formula, was Zach’s hope for a come-back.

“It’s just a birthday party for a bunch of three-year olds, kid.  Easy set-up, bunch of light weight kids.  This old castle can handle one more party…” Zach had promised as Jason loaded up to head over to the party.

Zach lay in the recliner with a back brace strapping the back bones together.  “And, then we can look at the new models…take a loan out…buy bigger…”

By then, Jason was already slamming the front door.  ‘One more party? I sure hope it is just one more…don’t think I can take anymore…’

Then came Samuel.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

PhotoPrompt #4

From Delores at "myfeatherednest"!

“Papa!  Oh, Papa!  Look
at that car!  Oh, it is a
lovely color!”
“Oh, Daddy!  See the horse
and the carriage!  Oh, I want one
for us, instead of this
ugly car.”
“Oh, dear girl!  We wouldn’t
want one of those!
Do you know how much
those cost?  And
the up-keep?”
“But, Papa!  Remember
when we took Oma to
the hospital in the
City far away?  How
quickly we moved?
We could use it for things like
But, Daddy!  Remember
how much fun we
had at the farm we
visited?  How happy
we were currying
the horse?”
“Listen!  The smell alone
would drive us crazy!
The cost of food/gas? 
Have you seen how much
a gallon/bale of hay
costs these days? 
And keeping it clean is
a messy job.
No.  We can’t buy one.
We don’t need it.”
“Yes, Papa…”
 “Okay, Daddy…”

Arleen at Starting Over, Accepting Changes  

Wind off the ocean caught the veil, pulling it away from Patti’s face.  Her smile lit up and Bill whispered, “Well, we knew we were stepping into a gale force wind when we got engaged….”

They both laughed, glancing back at the two families in their folding chairs.  Neither family was happy about this wedding; their anxious faces expressed their apprehensions.

You’re too young…You hardly know each other...Are you pregnant...He’s a Marine, he’ll always be deploying somewhere…and the arguments against the wedding were long.

As the wedding proceeded, the families watched the two young people gaze at each other.  Their faces glowed as the sun began to set.  The words could barely be heard over the ocean wind, but the love Patti and Bill shared was clear.

As the final vows were said and the pronouncement “Husband and Wife!” given, anxious faces had evolved into joyful ones. 

The wind blended the laughter and tears with the setting sun. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day of Remembrance
Covered by the Flag
Drums beaten, flowers laid. 
Words spoken, music played.
Choruses sung, veterans praised.

Fewer veterans, heroes all,
Some stood in place of fallen
Answer  "Here! Sir!" at roll call.

Like their comrades before
Fading into history and lore,
A grateful nation heartfelt calls
To the warriors, once strong and tall: 
Thank you, thank you, thank you

Susan Kane, 28 May 2012
A re-post


Friday, May 25, 2012

Small Stones: Holy Icons

Grandma’s bonnet
Hangs on a white wall under
Faded photos of long-dead sisters.

Tarnished silver forks

Recline in drawers
From Great-Grandma.

Plates from Great-Great-Grandma
Line mirrored hutch shelves.

Not all can be kept—
Card, ribbons, and remnants of their lives
Made holy
By hands that held them.

Will my own children,
Great grandchildren
Find my treasures



By memories
of my hands?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

PhotoPrompt: The Birth Plaque

From Elephant's Child
Billy Jim and Esther Sue had saved all their lives for this trip, and by golly, they would see as much of this street art place in Australia as they could.

The bus tour gave them 45 minutes to roam about this park in the middle of Canberra called “Garema” Place.

“Hell, Esther, if I’da wanted to look at weird metal sheep sitting on a bench, I’da made one at home,” Billy Jim stood with his big belly balanced by hands on hips.  “Mighty dumb, if ya ask me.”

‘Glad I didn’t ask.’  Esther Sue mentally responded.  She came to a lonely plaque on the sidewalk.  As she read it silently, a tear slid down her cheek.  ‘Well, at least you rejoiced when it came, Linette Bone.’

Billy Jim hollered, “Time to git back on the bus.  Git on over here, woman!”

Esther sighed, looking one last time at the plaque.  ‘Hope you were loved, ….’  Then she joined Billy on the bus.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

...Then he met Samuel: Cowboy Bob


When Robert Lewis Sherman was a child with wide-open eyes, he knew this: He would be a cowboy named “Cheyenne”, spit whenever he felt like it, and wear a Stetson low on his brow.  He would gnaw on a tooth-pick, kick doors open, and drink strong bitter coffee.

When he turned 21, his eyes were mere slits and he trusted no one, believed in no one, and growled at everyone.  Robert “Bad Man” graduated from Berkeley with great expectations.

Now Robert “Loner” Sherman worked at a Wal-Mart at the Optical department where he was an optometrist, a surprise to his family and especially to himself.  

The only connection he had now to his cowboy dream was a pony named “Shaggy” he had adopted and kept stabled at a nearby ranch.  

 His Saturdays were spent in two ways:  grooming Shaggy, and/or making extra cash at kids’ birthday parties as “Cowboy Bob” with his wily pony whose stage name was “Thunder”. 

Oddly, those were the happiest hours of his endlessly mind-numbing days.

Then came Samuel and his damned third birthday…

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

PhotoPrompt Monday: The Old Barn

The Old Barn Door
Old Barn Door
Silence reigns in silvered wood beams.
A speckled pigeon wings out between rotted planks.
Dust motes rise through shafts of sun.

Where are you?  Where did you go?

Tools lie unused, rusting on plank floors.
Leather harnesses with leads crack and fall.
Rats rustle in the musty hay loft,
Remnants of a summer long past.

Come back!  Come back to me!
I long to hear the cows’ lowing and the sound
Of fresh milk hitting the bucket!

The smell of fresh mowed clover stacked
For winter!

Where are the children who climbed to my rafters--
Leaping into the air with only a rope
Between the loft and the floor?

Silence rings as surely as a gong.
The old barn door stays closed,
Guarded by weeds and rusted hinges.

Time and the timeless

Our old barn was built with solid oak timber beams and wooden pegs.  Built in the 1860s, it lasted 120 years.  We kids spent hours climbing and exploring the barn, knew every stair, trestle, trap-doors, stalls, hayloft—I can feel it now.

PhotoPrompt Monday: The Stone Angel

From Delores at "myfeatherednest"

Every Sunday without fail, Catherine Henner drove twenty-five miles to Hatfield Cemetery.  With a jam jar of garden flowers, Catherine found the headstone marked “Butchart” and the stone carved angel. 

Placing the flowers at the base, Catherine would pause to pray for this nameless baby buried beneath.  Then Catherine would walk over the grassy graves back to her car.

Catherine did this for years.

One day, another lady introduced herself as “Eleanor” and asked about her weekly trips, as she herself made Sunday pilgrimages to her mother’s grave and had seen Catherine.  “Is this little one from your family?”

Catherine pondered the question.  “Yes, I guess she is.”  Seeing Eleanor’s perplexed expression, Catherine explained.

“When my grandmother was dying, she told me about this tiny grave here in Hatfield, of her first-born baby girl who lived only an hour.  She made me promise to visit this grave every Sunday.” 

“So sad when a baby dies.  Your Grandmother Butchart must have loved this little girl very much.”  Eleanor called after Catherine as she walked away.

Catherine stopped and turned around.  “Butchart was her maiden name.  We never knew about this baby she had when she was fourteen, after she was raped by a cousin.” Catherine sighed.  “Yes, it is sad.”

Sorry to take such a dark turn here.  This was something I told about long ago, about something that happened before I was born.  A mother never forgets her baby, no matter what.

Please check out  from where the above photo came.

Monday, May 21, 2012

PhotoPrompt Monday: Old Barn Door

Old Barn Door

Old houses, decrepit barns, stone buildings--they fascinate me.  Who lived there?  Why did they leave?  Who built that barn?  That brick building--how old is it? The careful stone arch over the door--that took a skillful mason.  Who was he?  So many stories, so many people were part of that place.  Now they are gone.

Write a quick fiction about this old door.  Let your mind think of the questions.  You can do it!

The following are part of this PhotoPrompt Monday:

Delores from
Julie from
Empty Nest Insider 
Amy from
  That Amy Saia 
Danielle from
  Sweet Tea Reads 
Elephants Child from
  Elephant's Child 
Susan from
and Arleen from
Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe  
and Laura from

Friday, May 18, 2012

Living in the Fast Lane

When we moved here to sunny San Diego County, we chose a city that was more rural than city.   With cows grazing in fields, orange groves, and huge gardens that sold produce in road-side stands, we loved it.  The hills around us were covered with rocky outcrops with patches of manzanita and sage. 

What a pleasure to be outside!  Wind from the west sent the smell of cows (and manure) our way. The north wind gave us eucalyptus.  From the south came the sweet citrus orange blossoms.  The eastern winds from San Jacinto Mountains and deserts gave me a migraine.

That was nearly 25 years ago, and life in California changes at a rapid pace.

On the hills we now see expensive homes with a superior view.  The rocks are still there, but for how long?  Until another housing developer blasts them away?

The cows grazed on mighty expensive land, it turned out.  Those lovely black and white cows were moved out and a new high school moved in with parking lots.

The brittle eucalyptus trees grow at an alarming rate.  We had four and had to remove them; they were a danger to houses around us.  Brought here by Spanish padres from Australia, those trees took over the state.  Not a source of lumber since the trees shattered and burned easily, the trees are being removed.  

Orange groves once covered large parts of southern California.  Once a heavenly-scented place to live, the groves are gone with houses in their place.  The grove to the south of us sat for years on a big corner lot.  Ignored, oranges dropped and rotted on the ground.  Without water, the trees were gnarled dwarfs.  

Yesterday, on a drive to the store in that area, I was shocked to see the trees bulldozed into a pile in the middle.  The lot was valuable and had been sold. 

So, the only thing that remains is the Santa Ana wind from the east.

That, unfortunately, will always blow through my head, giving me a migraine.

The photos comes from the following sites:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Samuel and the Play Date

What does eating a sandwich tell about you?

Anxiety vibrated in the air as Samuel’s mother knocked on a red door.  The door was opened by an equally anxious, smiling nervously mother.   Ah.  So this is the ‘play-date’.  Interesting…

Two more mothers called out, and Samuel was dragged into the tv room where three other bewildered children sat.  Legos and action figures lay scattered around them.  An offering of some sort, obviously.

“Now, let’s have lunch!”  Someone announced, and the four children were plopped down at a child’s table in their colorful chairs.  IKEA…

Plates of sandwiches and potato chips were slid in front of each, and juice boxes (straws inserted) were set down.

Silence, long and drawn out, echoed as each child sized the other up for reference.    

So much can be learned by the way one holds a juice box, how one sucks on the deadly straw.  How the sandwich is held speaks a world of information.  Blue iced cupcakes are not meant for just eating.

By lunch’s end, it was clear:  Samuel was the Alpha, Charlie the Omega.  Clarisse—sassy deceptive girl—was a she-devil.  Buddy was easily manipulated.  The game is afoot, friends.
When the front door closed amid tears and apologies after the play-date concluded, much had happened.  The leather sofa had been stabbed to death with the plastic juice box straws.  The blood red juice stained the carpet in big drops.  The dog cowered beneath the sofa, shivering in his blue icing stripes.

So much more could have been done.  Samuel waved to his new friends. Another day?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Flowing Colors

A talented mind: Elephant's Child

Georgia ran her hand along the quilt, feeling the seams and the stitches.  'Such tiny stitches!  How did she do this?' she wondered, amazed at what she felt.

Was it a river? A wave?  Flowing clouds?  "This is so incredible, Elena!" Georgia exclaimed.  "How did you manage such wonderful piecing?"

"The same way you do, the same way," Elena told her blind sister.  "The fabric folded in my hands, and I stitched.  Blindness is not a hindrance for us.  We can hear the fabric speak, and feel the pattern move.  Color to color, curve to curve."

Note:  This has been edited to include the video below, AND to make sure that Elephant's Child is credited for this PhotoPrompt.  This is her quilt, and it is amazing.  It makes my hands hurt just to think about the work that she put into this creation!  Wed., 5-16-12
See this YouTube site:

Yellow Airplane

Delores at myfeatherednest

Flying in this yellow box with wings and engine, Florence clutched her new Coach handbag.  It cost her $600, and dammit, she deserved it.

When her fiance, Winthrop, decided to take her up in his brother's plane, Florence hesitated.  James was an excellent pilot, she had been told.

After a spectacular loop and bank, Winthrop turned to her with a giant diamond ring in hand, "Will you marry me, Flo?"

Florence looked at him in a daze.  She opened her $600 Coach handbag.  "Blaaah!" and she threw up.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday: PhotoPrompt: The Stone Bridge


Rocks, stones, boulders--whatever--have always fascinated me.  How they are shaped, the composition, and how they are seemingly, almost randomly scattered on earth is absolutely incredible.

This photo is of a rickety bridges across some boulders along a mountain.  While I am not afraid of crossing bridges, this one gives me pause.

What about you?  What would you write as a quick-piece-of-fiction about this photo?  Do it now!  

While you are thinking about this, check out these other site participating in a PhotoPrompt Monday.  You will encounter some good writing, interesting people, and thought-provoking photos.

Delores from
Julie from
Empty Nest Insider 
Amy from
  That Amy Saia 
Danielle from
  Sweet Tea Reads 
Elephants Child from
  Elephant's Child 
Susan from
and Arleen from
Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe  
and Laura from

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reflections of the A-to-Z Challenge 2012

I love this badge!

Of all the thoughts and emotions garnered from this year’s Challenge, some strike me in their simplicity. 

It is about writing with fervor and belief.  If the writer does not really get behind what has been written, it turns into a pot of over-cooked goulash.

It is about sharing your passions with your audience.  Laying one’s talent out on a cutting board for all to see means the writer has to have an emotional bond with the writing and the topic.

It is about structure and discipline.  A writer who stares blankly at a blinking cursor and does nothing?  A writer will write no matter what spills out on the ‘page’.

It is about supporting other writers.  ‘The loneliness of the long-distance writer’ is what a writer lives with all the time.  BUT with this blogger community, support is one http://.... away.

It is about growth.  A writer must grow in the writing.  Ever read some of the old stuff packed away in a box or file or disc?  The writer evolves and improves.  Hopefully.

Well, there you have it.  It is impossible to say “Thank YOU!” in any other creative form to the founders, organizers, and supervisors of the A-to-Z 2012 Challenge.  I am certain that great sighs are heaved, champagne flutes clinked together, and well-deserved vacations are taken.  Thank you.

Now, is he talking about this year?  2013?  When?  Okay, I'll be there.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finding the Middle Ground

I tried to re-locate this source, failed.  Forgive me.

One can try to be organized, put things away, establish an orderly life, or one can utterly give up.  No, there is a middle ground, and I think I found it.  Today.

I have fluctuated between the two extremes forever. 

Either I will go into a red-faced cleaning frenzy where NOTHING is safe, and EVERYTHING is put into its proper place;


I will toss it all somewhere and make a vague promise to put it away, someday.

My mother-in-law was coming over after church, and the living room had that messy-Saturday-and-exploded-Sunday-Paper look.  So my husband and I did the frenzied cleaning of that room, and extended areas.

 Man.  We were moving fast and I was tolerating no half-way job.

So it was…that I was putting things away in a bedroom closet when the toe of my sandal caught on the silly frou-frou bed skirt.   I stumbled, pulling that foot free of the dang lacy linen.  In doing that simple movement, I kicked the dang cheap metal, sharp edged bed frame.  I kicked it good. 

I broke the big toe.  Not badly, just enough to put ice on it and tape it to the next toe.  I will hobble around for a while.

Today I found that there is a meeting ground between obsessive cleaning and casual disregard.  I found it with my toe.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mama's Blue Car

Delores from 'thefeatherednest' posted this PhotoPrompt for Monday!

My daddy got this old car back in ’45 after the War, and it was all black.  Black and rusted.  Mama stood on the front porch and tap-tap-tapped her foot.

“You ain’t gonna keep that thing, are you, Henry?”  She demanded.  When Mama talks like that, you know that Daddy don’t stand much of a chance.

Daddy, he could allus think quick, like a cat in mid-pounce.  He gave Mama the biggest ol’ smile and said, “Why, no, Peachy!” 

That’s what Daddy call Mama, when he in big ol’ trouble.  Peachy.  Don’t rightly know what that mean, but she softened a bit around the corners.

“Well, what you gonna do with it, then?”  Mama took a step down to the grass.  She looked over that grand black car like it was covered with burrs and stunk like skunk.

“I been thinkin’ about this, Peachy,” Daddy sauntered up to her, and wrapped his arms around her waist in a soft hug.  “I’m athinkin’ that this old black car needs to be painted.  Why, we gonna paint it blue like the sky.  And when we go drivin’ down the road, people gonna say, ‘Why there goes Miz Burrows in her blue car!  Ain’t that sumthin’!”

So that’s what we did.  We painted that rusty black car sky blue.  Daddy did that for Mama.  And she smiled.