Friday, October 31, 2014

Beyond Disgust

With loathing, Leah stared at Luke as he ate his lunch.  He did not just eat his lunch, he inhaled it.  He snarled and ground, plowing his face into the plate, laughing and talking all the while.

Luke appalled her beyond ordinary disgust.  Leah wondered if she could tolerate Luke much longer. Everything, ev-er-ry-thing, about him drove her to the edge of insanity.

Pig! she screamed, ripping her clothing to shreds. Being a twin is hell!

Leah threw her wet and sodden diaper, which landed on Luke's face.  She crawled away with all the fury she could muster.

Haven't we all been there with a sibling or two?  Or with a spouse?  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wednesday Words: Oscar

Oscar retrieved a torn box in the back of his closet.  I remember this!  Didn’t think it still existed….

His daughter Beverly called from somewhere in the house.  “Dad!  You be careful in there!!”  Her hopes of moving Oscar into a geriatric care facility had always seemed improbable. But here she was and didn't want to be detained one moment longer. “See you tomorrow, Dad!!”  Slamming the door with a sigh of finality, Beverly drove away.

Oscar pulled out the rags and eased them over his aged body, smiling at the memories…from his days as a transient.  The final touch was tucking his souvenir Luger from war days into the back of the belt.

After living a philanthropic life, Oscar stepped out the door eager to lead his former misanthropic existence.  Slamming the door behind him, Oscar ambled away with a broad smile...back into the memories of the past.***

***Arleen from Starting Over...expressed concern about the possibility of another lost elderly person.  Dementia and Alzheimer's are dangers for elderly.

Oscar will not go far, I assure you.  

Delores at Under the Porch Light has again tossed out six words as a challenge for any writer who would like to see what could be written using them.  Words this week are the underlined words in above story.  You can access what creative writers have done, but clicking on the Methodist Church in the right sidebar.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

3:25 Time Schedule

Okay, Harold.  We made it to the clock, and yes! I see the time.  It’s not my fault we’re late.

Oh, come on, Joyce!  You are always making us late.  How far have we traveled today…and how many times have we waited for you?

Harold, if you keep this up, I will not allow you to dive into that plate of crostino with garlic bread…

Hey, you two!  We have had enough of this!  If we had known how you bicker non-stop, we would not have invited you on this trip!

Sorry, Leticia!  Harold is so erratic; I can never follow him anywhere.  On the flight over, he made me drop my shrimp…

Okay, ladies!  Here we are!  See the 3:25 tour bus!  I get the fat bald guy; Joyce, you take out the big redhead.  Leticia, you hit the skinny guy with the comb-over. 

And, it’s bombs awaaaaaayyyyy!

This is a re-post of September 2012.  The prompt was the photo above.  Not a lot to work with, but then Photo Prompts are supposed to be challenging!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Garema Place blest.

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.

This was a photo prompt from May 2012.  Its story, told in few words, touched me deeply.

Here are some other art displays at Garema Place in Canberra, Australia:

Source: must visit this site.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The World outside my World

NGM Oct. 2013 print cover
So you remember this?
A neighbor gave our family a subscription to The National Geographic when I was ten years old. 

Well, I tell you what!

It exploded my small farm world and filled my mind with questions for which there no answers available to this farm girl. Each magazine was thumbed and read to pieces by the entire family.

“Class Artist” was my nickname then, because pencil and paper were always in my hands.  And now, the Nat’l Geo. was a powerful source from which images poured…flowers, towering trees, and exotic animals.

Then at age 17, a strange metamorphism happened.  The photos had always been my source; now the captions, stories, and the people hit me in their significance.  It was as if the faces and dark eyes leaped out at me, saying, “Look at me!  Understand me!”

Where my pencil had loved flowers and birds before, now my paper flew through fingers as I tried to capture the courage, sorrow, fear, grief and more of people far way.  Peering into their hollow pained eyes, I realized that glass-domed farm-world in which I lived was about to shatter.  At least for me, this would propel me out into other places.

Indian People
2014 NG photo contest winner

Villagers from Muslim communities affected by ethnic violence weep at a relief camp in Narayanguri village in Baksa district in the northeastern Indian state of Assam May 4, 2014. REUTERS Photo
Faces like these captured me.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wednesday Words: Utopia

That New Utopia Show Is a Dumb Dystopia But Obviously That's the Point
It is a TV Reality Show!
Utopia…Utopia… Just thinking that word sent chills through Sir Edward St. James, as the steam engine carried him to the place of his dreams: Utopia. He smiled smugly, straightening his necktie, recalling how he obtained funds for this great venture.  After all, a little plagiarism to boost sales on my latest book should not surprise anyone these days.

The ideal society where logic and elevated thought processes was Sir Edward’s expectation.  A gleaming white hall with pillars would be filled with men of his class and intelligence, sharing discourse with the great thinkers of the 19th century.
The Great Awakening

As the train nudged to a stop, whistle sounding, Sir Edward settled his silk top hat and valise, preparing to step out into the 1872 version of heaven.  Not only did an intellectual paradise wait for him, but a mail order bride as well.  Cynthia Brighten was a devout spinster who would fulfill his selfish needs and do laundry.

Stepping out onto the platform, Sir James was immediately seized and squeezed tightly by an obese homely woman who covered his face with sloppy kisses. Cynthia?  Oh God please noooo…

Before he could pull away from the passionate woman, Sir James gazed in horror at what was the real Utopia.  A white crude wooden barn-like structure dominated the center of the town, and was surrounded by muddy streets. Fellow Utopians stomped through the muddy streets in their elegant finery, struggling to discuss Descartes and anything else except the hellish Utopia and its damn mud.

New Harmony, Indiana, 1831
 Sir Edward’s automatic response to this horror was to ask, “I would like a ticket back to Philadelphia, one way, for one person.  Immediately.”

Many thanks go to Delores at Under the Porch Light for her dedication in stumping all participants in "Wednesday Words".  Delores provides six words for writers to shape into poetry, prose, story, flash fiction... You will find some excellent contributions at her site above.  If you would like to jump in, please click on the Methodist Church in the right site bar.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Time of Purple Penguins

Purple Penguin Create

Ms. Tyrone nervously brushed her new shirt supplied by PTA funds, and glanced around the classroom.  This was her 40th year teaching, her last year.  With 100 sick-day accumulation, Ms. Tyrone would be teaching only 84 days.  How can I make it to day 84?...

She opened the door to Trailer 34 with a big smile, and received a loud welcoming and clapping.  Her 32 students wore shirts matching hers which pleased some parents but most parents were clearly unhappy.
Bath and Body Works Purple Penguin
Bath and Body Works

“Here are your desk numbers…Can you find yours!?”  Ms. Tyrone threw on a chipper, oh-this-will-be-so-much fun smile.  Confusion covered the children’s faces.  The parents who clustered in the back of the room were equally confused.

Finally smart 32 # raised her hand, bold and brave.  

“Mrs. Tyrone…why do we all have just numbers?
And why are the numbers followed by #, % or *?
And, why are we all wearing these tee-shirts of “purple penguins”?  And why…”

Ms. Tyrone held up her hand.  “I am to be called ‘Ms. Tyrone’ since that will not indicate whether or not I am married…er… 32 # .  The Purple Penguins shows all that being a girl or boy or one who is not sure, we all are exactly the same.”

Oh those parents are not happy, not happy at all.

Some really cute shirts

Ms. Tyrone continued, sweat covering her face. “Having a number completely eliminates having your own name, which invariably would indicate that you are a girl or boy or one who is not sure.” 

Dear Lord, I hate this, I hate this…

"And then finally, 32 #, we have these symbols---  # or a * or %--- next to your number. These will help me call you up by groups, to work especially with you or to arrange the desks.” 

I wonder how long that will last…

Some parents snickered, some looked confused, and a good number looked angry.

“Well, then!  26 % , will you please read the rules on the board, and we’ll get down to all the wonderful new history we will be learning this year."

I think I am going to vomit…” which she did, on 32 #.

Purple Tin Bucket / Pail
partyplace: nice stuff
"Purple Penguins" is also a computer game in which children can play with other children in a protected site and monitored by the parent.  That is all I know.  I'll ask my gr-kids. 

For further information on this issue in education, please go to these sites:

This is a huge issue in education, and will increase.  If you want to know more, access Google where both sides will be presented.  The above sites are a mixture.
                                                    And, now....

# * %... These are entirely my idea, maybe my projection into a time where this will become reality.  A bit of 1984  thrown in, followed with Attica, The Giver, Hunger Games, and with Animal Farm on the side.

Now, "Common Core" is radically changing education.  Please research this and come to your own conclusions.  And the Purple Penguins say, "Hi!"

 Twenty years ago in a staff meeting, the Principal informed us that there were some big changes in education coming in 15-20 years.  The NEA (National Education Association, one of the most powerful unions in California, if not all of the USA), along with many lobbyist and special interest groups, were promoting changes in the curriculum that would drastically change education to reflect new approaches, all of which would require revisionist viewpoints.  

I asked what-if questions:  What if the changes conflict in the teacher's  beliefs?  What if the changes eliminate or rewrite important elements of education ?  He told me (all of us), "Those are good questions."

As a teacher and a parent, I believe that math should be taught as math, not with an agenda.  Reading and writing should promote improved reading and writing skills, not a chance to indoctrinate.  History should reflect the history of our nation and world, including every single person in those events.

I also believe that any student who bullies another student should receive severe consequences.  Anti-bullying should become part of instruction in the classroom and at home.  Every child should have a safe classroom.  

What is deemed to meet these standards should be approved by independent educators, not special interest groups.

Parents should be given back the power they once had, and teach standards at home.  They must make the decisions that were/should be theirs to make.  

Source: Very Interesting

So here we are, and he was right.  I am retired.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

How old are you, Tree?

The tree is very green, but my editing skills somehow added a yellow tinge.  Oh, well.

To call the tree "old" would be inadequate.  Seemingly, the pine had survived decades and had been old even when Jenny was of age to notice it.  Mama, is that tree old?...Yes, it is old….How old?...It has been here since I was your age.

Tree stood tall, as farm houses were new and when farm houses fell apart.  Roads were built, children played around Tree, horses gave way to cars.

Locals knew it had been struck by lightening, suffering fire, but the rain left it to sizzle. 

As she grew and gazed at the passing landscape on the school bus, Jenny looked for Tree, anticipating it. ...around this curve...across this Green's farm...up the rise..  From the top of that rise, the tree suddenly appeared and every time it took her breath away.

This tree was made for climbing, but sadly not for me at this stage.

Fifty-five years later, Jenny returned to the tree and finally climbed up the shallow drainage ditch to stand it the tree’s trunk, looking up into its branches reaching to the sun.

 How old are you, tree? She wondered.

Old, it answered.


County Hwy 7, Pike County, Nebo-Pittsfield road, Illinois
Lat. 39.41907
Not entirely accurate
I would not bet the family farm on
this .

***This is its Google Map 3D Location:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Do you remember....

Do you remember your first box of crayons?

Bern, Bern
Someone precious to me

How about a winter day?

December, 1995

Do you remember the Day after Christmas?

Day after Christmas, 1959

How about a forced posed picture?

My older brother at one year old

If you do, how blessed you are!

Homesick, so homesick.  I want to see my siblings and my aunt & uncle, laugh, and tell stories.  This is the closest I will get for a while.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wednesday Words: Dear Martha.....

16 October 2014

Dear Martha,

Your letter pulled me from a pit of despair.  If ever there were awards for "Surviving Multiple Plethora of Childhood Illnesses", I would be inducted into the Hall of Matriarchal Fame.

The triplets have developed a chain of cursed plagues:  Influenza, chicken pox (despite the vaccine), strep throat, ear infections, and worms (?).

Is this God's thunderbolt of retribution for swearing during Mass?  Loudly swearing at Clarisse-the-She-Devil, the mistress-of-insubordination?

As you know, my house was never a museum, but now a City Inspector would cover the house with "Condemned" yellow tape.

Must go. Alex-the-Spontaneous is vomiting on the cat. Christopher-the-Wild-Child is smearing the vomit on the bathroom mirror.

Your sister,


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Martha and Mary Magdalene - WGA04101.jpg
Source: Wikipedia
May thanks to Delores at Under the Porch Light for providing the six words (above, underlined) with which to wrestle and write.  Please click on the Methodist Church in the right sidebar, to access some fine writing.  AND please join this wildly-diverse writing group and put your own take on the crazy words.
Delores is awesome and such a joy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Black Cauldrons Brew

Nearly every fall someone in our farmland would decide to make apple butter "the old fashioned way". A few families would gather in someone's kitchen and prepare about ten bushels of apples (Golden and/or Red Delicious).

The weary teenage daughters would be given the job of peeling those damn apples, all done in one day.  The next day, their hands will show the tiny cuts, and the hands would be cramping.

Meanwhile, the experienced farm wives would be cooking down the apples into a lumpy applesauce.  Why not purchase the store-bought sauce?  It was NOT DONE back then, besides which not many stores carried it in the late 50s to mid-60s.

A large wood fired caldron boils sugar maple tree sap at the Dodge Nature Center in West Saint Paul, MN
Source: Minnesota maple syrup
The next day the husbands would have built up a fire of a slow-burning hardwood, some wood that I guess has magic powers.  The fire would get to the hot ember stage.  By then they would have set up a rented cauldron as shown below.

Why rented?  Those things were handed down from generation to generation, and were seldom produced anymore, as the kettles were darn expensive, especially since the interior was  copper.  It had to be copper, because copper did not impart any metallic taste.

Large Copper Cauldren Wrought Iron Handles ~ 19th Century Apple Butter Pot ~ Hammered
source: $300
This is a rather small cauldron--the actual size would be much larger.
Then the dishpans of the cooked-down apples were poured into the cauldron. This cauldron
would be stirred constantly with a paddle that reached
to the very bottom of the very large
The paddle was made of wood, although the handle may have been made of something else, 
that would not leach flavor into the apple butter as it cooked down.  The apples cooked slowly...All stinking day, from early sunrise to almost sunset.


Source: Bubble and boil

At some point the farm women would bring out the secret ingredients used to sweeten and flavor the apple mixture, without which would result in a fairly sour and miserable runny applesauce.  Each of the women would agree on the ingredients.  

My mother preferred "Red Hots", a candy that still exists.  It is dark red, with spicy cinnamon, almost hot, taste.  This gave the apples a great color and sweetness, which would be augmented by tons of white cane sugar.

Then, at another point during the cooking, my grandmother (a true matriarch) would retrieve old silver dollars, which were true silver from the 1800s. 

They were used by her family, from long ago.  They tossed these five or six silver dollars in the cauldron and stir the apple mixture with the paddle.

The silver dollars scraped the bottom of the cauldron, preventing the now-thick mixture from burning, and ruining the whole two days' worth of work.

I was never in on this ritual, although I observed it from the porch, as the Apple Butter Cooking was done at a nippy time of year. I wanted to go back into the kitchen.  But there was a lot of laughter and low talk.
The daughters often speculated
about this, even suspecting some sort
of magic spells were being
chanted.  Silly.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Weary, oh so weary

flat earth

 The age of surprises is not finished.  Medical discoveries, genetic research, and computers are constant leaping over hurdles. Innovative and amazing ideas flourish every day, every hour even.

One would surmise that with all this new information and communication there would be collaboration between cultures and the respective developed countries.

Heck, no!

The very issues that existed many millennia in the past still slither along the same threads of distrust, hate, anger, and ancient grudges.  Same as it always was?  Is that the correct phrase?

Well, I am tired of it.

When the World was so very big (when it was still flat), the people were hidden from view or discovery.  Evil and good were invisible.  Ironically, that time was called “The good ole days”.

The World has shrunk to where nothing is private.  Whatever occurs 125,000 miles away pops up on any electric screen in minutes.  Satellites hovering in space can zero in on a person unloading groceries or a license plate.  Computers are easy pickings by any tech with skills can almost tell me what I am thinking (which is not very nice at the moment).

As the world turns, the NASA–JAXA core-research satellite will be launched as part of the Global Precipitation Mission, orbiting Earth along with other internationally launched satellites to provide global rain and snow data at three-hour intervals.                               Courtesy NASA name just a few...

Yes, I am way tired of it.

No one will look back and call these days “the good ole days”. How can they?  

Be-headings and massacres just a day's flight away to the West?
Political prisoners held for decades another day's flight to the East? Racism rampant?

A young Marine locked in a Mexican prison for almost seven months without our own government intervening?

But then, with elbola virus and other assorted methods to wipe out entire populations, the ones who remain may not even remember this era of transparency.

Oh, yes, I am so very tired of it.

Please recognize this for the rant that it is.  I have been consulting with computer tech help all afternoon. I watch on-screen as he sorted through every programming, every hardware, every piece of information that might be damaging my dear computer.  It felt a little  like an annual physical.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wednesday Words: The Dreaded Blue Screen

Bob gasped, gaping at his computer and at the dreaded blue screen. What the heck?!

His second thoughts were, Oh no!  My dashboard, my blogs!

The previous re-bootings and warnings had seemed inconsequential at the time. Then, blue screen panic appeared to be more TV and its tendency toward sensationalism than truth.

All the bloggers' mayhem and panic about the hackers who called themselves “the Atomic Crashers” had finally hit his precious computer. Damn them!

Humbled, Bob considered the options.  Being non-denominational when it came to tech repair stores, he tossed a coin:  Heads—Best Buy.  Tails—Staples.

Every Wednesday, Delores at Under the Porch Light provides bloggers with six challenging words with which to create a short story, poem, prose, or whatever. The underlined words above are this week's challenge.  Let me just say, these were not easy.
Please click on the Methodist Church above to access her site and find the other participants.  AND read other participants who also tackled this week's words.

Monday, October 6, 2014

All I Want for Christmas Is...

Christmas is difficult when it comes to selecting gifts.  For other people, I am over-flowing with ideas, absolutely bursting with enthusiasm and anticipation.

I cannot say the same when someone asks what I would like for Christmas. This frustrates my dear adult off-spring.  My husband doesn’t care.  He will buy something that he knows that he likes, and therefore I will like.

Such happy little gnomes
Gnome make-over

Gary Pennick at Klahanie had a delightful gnome and fairy garden at his previous apartment.  He wrote about imaginary (?) events that transpired in this garden.  That began my own small collection of Gnomes.

But this year?  Oh, yes, I know what I would like!

I must re-think this Gnome thing.  So this is what I want for Christmas.

Source: ThinkGeek

We all go through stages and phases.

Friday, October 3, 2014

What day is this?

Some days whiz by, with sunrise almost meeting sunset in passing.  But then there are those days that stagger past: a slow unraveling of time.  Clocks tick louder and taunts with enjoyment of lingering seconds.

What day is this?  Fast or slow?  How to measure?

Is time measured in chores needed to be done?  Is it counted out by songbirds in citrus trees?

Is time meted step by step from start to destination?  Cars passing on their way to and from?

Such weariness is passing of time when it is slow and reluctant. 

Such exhilaration when whirling creativity stirs up wells of thinking.

What day is this?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wednesday Words: Rawhide

Source: Texas History
In early dawn hours, Gil stared at his coffee, close to campfire.  It was taking almost all he had to muster to face the day.  Three thousand head of cattle and twenty raw wild drovers…what was I thinking?

When Gil had signed the contract to bring the cattle up the Chisum Trail, subjugating animal and man was never a challenge.  How many trips to Kansas…with all this… he forced himself stop questioning decisions made long ago.

No ranch, no wife, and no progeny, nothing to call mine. This is all I got. Doubt and depression were ongoing companions along the trail.

Wishbone set another pot on the fire. “Those ghost cattle been spookin’ man and beast alike.  Jest plain spooky to scarify*** anyone.  Not sayin’ they getting’ to me, no siree…”

Rowdy dragged in by the fire.  “Boss, big black storm coming from the West.  Gotta get goin, ‘soon as Wishbone gets some decent food on these rusty old tin plates…”  He chuckled as the grizzled cook let out with some seasoned profanity.

Food done, drovers saddled and up, Gil shouted out as he did everyday:  “Head ‘em up. Move ‘em out….”

***scarify:  great liberties taken with this word.  Decided I didn't like its meaning.  To me, it made sense to mean to "scare the daylights out of one".

Brings back memories for me!  It ran from 1959 to 1965, with just about every A-actor, B-actor in Hollywood.  Eric Fleming as Gil Favor and Clint Eastwood as the ramrod Rowdy Yates made for strong leading men.  Eastwood began a great and long career. Eric Fleming drowned in a boating accident at age 41 or thereabouts. Frankie Laine sang the theme song.  Good times.  Good show.

Delores   provides six abstract unrelated words every Wednesday to challenge anyone who wants to throw a lasso around them.  Write anything: poem, prose, fast fiction, short story, etc.  Click on the lovely fall church scene up in the ride sidebar to access her site.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Timing...fingering..sit up tall

He could hear the music and feel it.  His grandmother’s touch, ringing pure and precise, echoed around this empty room.  Her words were there, reminding him “Fingering!  Tempo!  Correct…sit up tall…”

The music played in his mind, while the fingers moved, waiting for her older hand to join with his: Two generations performing music written centuries before. 

Apologies for the voice over in this Synchrony Financial commercial

"Any changes?...No, still the same...It was just a fall, a simple fall...I saw it happen, so quickly...What does the doctor say?...Time, just time...But his fingers, see how they move...

Timing, have to remember the timing.  Grandmother insists on perfect timing.
Oh, why are they talking during this recital?  Don't they know how rude that is?  One, two, three, and four...

"Will he come out of this...sleep...this coma?"  I don't know.  Like he said, it is a matter of timing and time...

Sometimes I've observed pianist at a recital sitting in the audience, playing the notes silently in the lap.