Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


Hoo boy.  No fiction this morning. If we were playing a word association game, and you said nerve, my immediate response?  PAIN.  

I have a couple of herniated lumbar discs.  I had pain treatment not quite a year ago that  relieved the pain almost completely.  A little achiness now and then, but nothing an over-the-counter medication couldn’t deal with.

Three weeks ago, is started kicking up again.

I also have stenosis and degenerative disc disease.  That’s quite a cocktail of misery.

Stenosis comes from a Greek word meaning to choke.  There are little holes in the bones for the nerves to pass through.  When the bone around those holes begins to crumble, the nerves are pinched.  And they react.  They don’t like being pinched, so they pinch right back.

Yesterday I was going to go to work, but as I was getting into the car, my hip/leg/lower back all said, “No, you’re not!”  So appropriate calls were made to cancel my clients, get an appointment with the pain doctor, get a script for the medications to get me through until I can get the shots that will relieve the pain long-term.

Getting old does have its downside.

So when I saw this morning’s prompt, Nerve, this post pretty much wrote itself.  I’m well aware of my nerves right now!




Sink or Swim

Tell us about a time when you were left on your own, to fend for yourself in an overwhelming situation — on the job, at home, at school. What was the outcome?


It was 1973, late August.  We were moving from northern Michigan (Terry is a Yooper)  to southeastern Pennsylvania.  We had two little boys, aged 4 and 2.

Terry was driving the big U-Haul, and he led the way.  I was in the car, a fairly new and inexperienced driver, with the little boys in the back seat. This was years before our nanny government made us strap little ones into seats that kept them immobile.  I can’t imagine how they would have survived the trip back then.  We had build up the back seat with suitcases and put a mattress over that, covered with blankets and pillows.  They slept, played, and kept themselves pretty well occupied.

In the front seat, I white-knuckled it all the way. I was terrified.  I’d never driven in heavy traffic, or used cloverleaf interchanges.  I’d certainly never been tasked with keeping the vehicle in front of me in plain view while I coped with all the other things I had to deal with.  One child was still in diapers.  The older one was fully  potty-trained, but needed to stop every now and then.  We didn’t have cell phones back then, so communicating was pretty tricky.  I’d do my best to get in front of Terry, letting him know we needed to pull over.  Sometimes there was a handy rest stop.  Other times it was just make do with whatever shelter we could find.

I’d never had to do anything like that before, and I still don’t like to drive in heavy city traffic.  By the time we finally arrived, I was a wreck.  My nerves were shot, and I was barely holding on to my temper.  When I’m stressed, I don’t cry and whimper.  I get mad.  Poor Terry.  He didn’t have a clue how terrified I’d been.



Just Shut Up!

Break the Silence

When was the last time you really wanted (or needed) to say something, but kept quiet? Write a post about what you should’ve said.


It would be easier to write a post about the things I’m glad I didn’t say. As a person who finds it fairly easy to have foot-in-mouth disease, I’ve had to learn to just shut up.It’s an ongoing process. And it doesn’t come easy.  I have pretty good radar, and I usually can spot a phony, or just a plain old-fashioned creep, pretty quickly.  That’s when it’s a good idea for me to button the lip.

When I was in college, way back in the Dark Ages, there was an individual of the male species who felt that because he had testosterone, he was automatically entitled to the respect and awe of anyone from the female species. 

This person was bloviating, in a psych class, about the superiority of the male race. I was unimpressed. I finally couldn’t stand it any more, and I raised my hand, got the professor’s nod, and said, “Does he get to have the floor for the entire class period?”

Mr. Bloviator got all up on his dignity and informed me that the Bible says that women are to respect men, and I’d better watch my step.

Yikes. Complete perversion of what the Bible says. Complete misapplication. I really couldn’t stand this dude, and I said, “You show me a real man, and I’ll respect him. In the meantime, you need to sit down and listen to the Professor. We’re not in this class to be ‘educated’ by you!”

There was utter silence, during which I’m sure my face flamed bright red, but then someone started clapping, and soon the whole room was applauding. That was really embarrassing, too.

Mr. Bloviator sat down. Needless to say, he never deigned to notice my existence after that, which I’m sure you know absolutely broke my heart.

Am I sorry I spouted off?  No, not really, but I could have found a less offensive way to say what Blovy needed to hear. And that’s what I’ve worked on over the years.

Sometimes it’s better to say nothing. That’s hard for me, ’cause I always have something to say🙂


Featured greatest generation

So Different!

Long Exposure

Among the people you’ve known for a long time, who is the person who’s changed the most over the years? Was the change for the better?


Dad was born in 1923. A product of his era and environment,  he was a tough, get-it-done, suck-it-up kind of a guy.  When the market crashed in 1929, his dad lost just about everything. He moved them from California to the Arizona Strip, a place in the Utah desert where he built them a dugout to live in. Life was hard. The Great Depression was settling down over the country. People’s lives were changed, often overnight, from relative security to no security at all.

As is often the case with young kids, Dad really didn’t pay much attention to how poor they were. He loved the desert, and he loved the freedom he had to roam wherever the itch took him. He had a dog, a gun, and it seems I remember him talking about a pony, too. His mom made the dugout into a home, but he spent as much time as he could outdoors.

My grandfather was old-school German. He taught my dad to be racist, really, and it was a strongly ingrained belief in my dad’s mind and heart that there were flaws in every other race, but not in his own.  He wasn’t hateful about it, that I remember.  It was more just a matter of fact. He knew, and used, all the epithets that can be applied to those of a race not his own. It wasn’t unusual in his day.

He also grew up under the autocratic dominance of his father, whose word was law, and often enforced on his two oldest sons with what we would look at today as physical abuse.  My aunts don’t remember that. They and my youngest uncle were treated differently. It’s always fascinating to me how children reared in the same family often seem to have been reared by totally different parents.

In any case, Dad was indeed a man of his time, of his environment, of his background. And it wasn’t all bad. He was part of the Great Generation, the ones who endured and survived the Great Depression because of their strength of character, their determination, and often their faith in God.  They were the ones who went off to war and died by the hundreds and thousands for their love of country, family, home, and the American way of life.  I have infinite respect for them. Without their strength, we would have lost our freedoms sooner than we are now. I don’t think the Great Generation would have stood silently by while government exploded into what it has become today, although the seeds were sown back during the Depression and even before that.

Fast forward now. Dad had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior when he was a boy of 12 or 14, but he never grew in his faith. At age 19, only a month after he married my mom, he went off to do his part in World War II, having joined the Navy and been assigned as a torpedoman in a submarine.  He came home from the war filled with hatred for the Axis enemies. And then God began to work, and my dad’s world tilted to a different angle.

Fast forwarding again, Dad went to Bible college and became a pastor. It would never have been his prediction for his life, or even his choice. His real dream was to teach history on the college level, and he would have been good at it. He was a great teacher. But he knew that God was leading, and he couldn’t resist that call. And it changed him.

Keep up now. We’re moving ahead many, many years. Dad got a call from a little church in the South, where he pastored for about 25 years. Living in the South was a revelation for him, and yet another change was taking place. He was learning that people of color, whatever the shade, were no different than he was.

The last ten years of his life, his heart changed him physically. His first heart event was when he was only 60, and for the next ten years he was in and out of hospitals, in and out of surgeries that saved his life but weakened him physically.And with his physical debility came a dependence on the care and kindness of the Black doctors and nurses who took care of him time and time again. It changed his already altered belief in the inferiority of other races. DAD

I’ve read that people who undergo open-heart surgery are often emotionally affected by it. Dad was. He grew softer and gentler as he progressed through his illnesses.  I was especially touched by his tenderness toward my niece and nephew, my brother’s kids, who loved their Papa as much as he loved them.  They were the only grandkids who lived nearby, and he saw them nearly every day.

One day, to my great amazement, as I was talking with my dad on the phone he became clearly emotional, and ended the conversation with “I love you, Linda.”

Could have knocked me over with a feather. He just didn’t say things like that. I knew he loved me, although there was more than one time when I was almost sure he didn’t, but I can’t remember ever hearing him say it before. The closest I can remember being keenly aware of his strictly hidden emotion was the day he walked me down the aisle, and then switched places with a pastor friend who helped with the wedding. As he turned to face Terry and me, I saw the twitch of his eyebrow and the tightening of his lips and jaw that was a dead giveaway of his effort to control his emotions.

God knew that the work He gave my dad to do was going to be hard, and that it would take a strong man to do it. He also knew that Dad’s heart needed to be softened and changed. And it was. People still talk about how Preacher said or did this or that; how something he taught them changed their lives. The changes he experienced made him better. The little boy who loved being alone in the desert became a man who was loved by the people he pastored.  He was loved by his family.  He’s been gone 21 years now, and I still miss him.


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Fearless Fantasies

Fearless Fantasies
How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?


I googled “fearless,” looking for a good illustration, and I came up with dozens of shots of Taylor Swift with her hair blowing all over her head. I guess she sings a song by the name of Fearless. Shows you how out-of-the-loop I am when it comes to pop culture.  The only reason I even know who she is?  She’s a native of a city near where I live. That’s it.

Anyway.  I saw this prompt two hours ago. Had an appointment, needed to do a couple of other things, so I’ve had some time to think it over, and I’m still not sure what I want to say. So pardon me for thinking out loud. This could be a bit of a ramble.

I would love to be fearless about a lot of things.  I’m terrified of snakes. It would be nice not to have such a visceral reaction if one of the scaly creatures shows up in a TV program or photograph. I would love to be fearless about hiking through a snaky place like the Appalachian trail, or maybe the desert where diamondbacks and sidewinders sun themselves.

I have a fear of high places that drop straight down from where I’m standing, with no guardrails to stop my fall.  When we were in Sioux Falls with my son and his family, we went to a theater like an IMax. We entered at the very top level. I got a feeling of vertigo, and it’s terrifying.  I had to grab rails and turn my back, facing the chairs until I could sit down. It’s horrible.  I’d love for that to go away.

There’s really not much else that gives me such a  ghastly sense of fear and helplessness. Wait!  Aha moment!  Helplessness!  Yes!  Okay, enough exclamation points already, but I do think I’ve stumbled onto something.  It’s the helplessness, isn’t it?  I mean, I don’t like centipedes, but I’m not helpless with them. I can smack’em. Gone. Same with spiders. I hate the way the skitter, but I can always catch them and send them to spiderly heaven. Gross.  But snakes and steep drops?  Helpless.  I’d be a great subject for one of those big dudes that hypnotize their prey.  Here I am, just look into my eyes and hiss, and I’m done for. Kaput.

Well, I’m generally of a pretty practical frame of mind, so I’ve been thinking about  how fear can be, and often is, a very helpful thing.  The fear of sudden and painful death keeps me from playing in the traffic. The fear of extremely painful death keeps me from tasting bleach or inhaling a combination of ammonia and bleach. The fear of losing a limb keeps this granny off the ski slopes. That doesn’t seem like a negative thing to me; it’s just good sense. If I weren’t afraid of ending up in prison, there may be a trail of seriously maimed or comatose people in my backtrail. It is often fear of consequences that keeps of from doing something foolish, harmful to ourselves or others.

Other side of the coin?  I love the way the kid in the picture is just standing there calmly facing down the wolf that’s about to make lunch out of him. That kind of fearlessness I admire. Standing up to bullies, standing up to difficult things we can’t avoid, standing up to fear itself.

I have a client I’ve been working with for over a year. She was having serious PTSD symptoms due to an accident she had witnessed. I can’t go into detail, obviously, but this poor woman hadn’t slept well in three years, and is still struggling with some fears that have changed her life.  One of her problems is the inability to speak up in her own defense. I’ve helped her find her voice, and grow a backbone. She was afraid she didn’t have the right to speak up. Now she knows she does. Not only is it a right, it’s an obligation to stand up to the bullies, to back them down, to let them know you are NOT afraid.

I love my work.

And I’m not afraid to do it.




Can’t Stand Me
What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?


I watched the video in absolute disbelief.  See, over the years I’ve trained my eyes to see me as I wish I were, not as I am.  The video playing so heartlessly before me was bringing all my years of denial crashing around my feet.

No denying what is on the screen. No denying what is on the scale. No denying the size tags on the clothes in my closet.  Well, on the clothes I can presently wear, at least.  I have several wardrobes that I’m going to get back into. Someday.

I hate seeing pictures of myself.  I’m always twice as wide as I should be, and cameras add ten pound. So they say, whoever “they” is.

Making jokes about my size is one of the ways I deal with it, but don’t ever believe  that old “fat and happy” nonsense. No one is happy about being fat.  I’m happy about a lot of things in my life, but fat is not one of them.

The good news is, I’m making just a little progress right now.  I’ve learned, over the years, not to talk about it if I’m making a serious effort to lose weight.  Seems as if I no sooner say it, than it comes to a screeching halt. So I’m really taking a chance here today, folks.

The thing is, my numbers were ALL too high on my last doctor visit a couple of months ago, including my A1C, which got me started on taking Metformin, Diabetes is a really nasty way to die. I don’t want to go there, and I don’t want to take pills, so I HAVE to get back on track with eating and exercise, and I am. For now.



Featured northernlights

Frame of Mind

(If you could paint your current mood onto a canvas, what would that painting look like? What would it depict?)


Mansion Over the Hilltop

(Reviving Bricks
You just inherited a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside. Assuming money is no issue, what do you do with it?)


I’ve always loved that old house, and I can’t believe it’s mine! I’m old enough to remember how it looked 50 years ago, but not too old to enjoy restoring it. My aunt knew I loved it, and no one else in the family would want to be saddled with it. They would just sell it off to the highest bidder.

Not me. Aunt Roberta was eccentric, but she wasn’t dumb. She took good care of her fortune, and I’m shocked at how much money there is. This is like the dream of a lifetime for me, and I’m going to enjoy every minute. I don’t have to work now. I can spend all day, every day, re-dreaming my childhood pleasures.


First, I need an architect. It has to be someone who loves old houses the way I do, because  I won’t have the place torn apart and changed. I want it restored to the same floor plan, the same materials, as much as possible.  Of course, we’ll modernize the kitchen and the bathrooms and whatever else can be brought up to date without losing the enchantment of the old place.

I used to imagine I was Rapunzel, way up high in the turret, letting down my long, long hair so my handsome prince could climb and to visit me.

Or I’d dream that I was Sleeping Beauty, dozing my life away because of the spell of the wicked witch. One day I’d be Cinderella, banished to the top of the house where the mice and birds watched over me; the next I’d be Snow White,  looking for a way to escape from my Wicked Stepmother.

Hours and hours I’d spend roaming the house, poking into the attics, going through trunks of fabulous old clothes. Boxes of books, pictures, toys, keepsakes were all my playthings. Aunt Roberta didn’t forbid me anything, and I was like a shopaholic on Black Friday. No child ever had a more interesting place to play than I did. Sometimes I would take my treasures down to show Aunt Roberta, and she would spin stories of the past that circled around me like the warm arms of a lover.

I’m going to recreate all that, except of course for Aunt Roberta. But I have nieces, nephews, and grandchildren of my own now who are full of questions.  I can’t wait to turn them loose to discover all the things that are still preserved in that old house.

Work first, though. Everything has to be moved out, cleaned up, and stored while the renovations are done.  It’s going to be a labor of love. I can’t wait!



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Laugh Until You Cry

Roaring Laughter
What was the last thing that gave you a real, authentic, tearful, hearty belly laugh? Why was it so funny?)

My dad was a very serious man. He enjoyed a good laugh, but he was not funny, and he could never figure out the art of telling a good joke.  When I think back at some of the things he did that made us all laugh, it was never because he did it on purpose, poor man.

There was the time we were having our family devotions, reading a passage from the Bible together. He suddenly roared out a sneeze, and his upper plate went flying out of his mouth and skidded all the way across the livingroom floor.  Very funny.achoo!

Then there was the rocking chair. We had an easy chair that he loved. It was a swivel rocker, very popular in the 1950’s. He could turn it to look out the window, or to watch TV, or however he wanted it.  He had a habit of leaning back in his chair. He was a big man. Yup. Over it went one day, and all we could see was the bottom of the chair with Dad’s feet waving at us over the edge of the seat. Roared with laughter. Took us a few minutes to get ourselves together to help him up.tipping chair

My favorite, though, is one I didn’t get to see.  Dad was having some back problems, and finally agreed to see a chiropractor. The good doctor needed an x-ray, and directed Dad to stand against the wall with his back to the screen. “Now, Preacher, take a good deep breath,” the doctor said.  Dad took a good deep breath, and his pants came tumbling down.  Right down around his ankles.  My mom nearly fainted, she laughed so hard.pants-downWish I had been there, glad I wasn’t. 

Why is it so funny when a serious person has these hilarious things happen?  I don’t know. I’m just glad they do.


Cassie’s Mistake


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


“Mommy, I think I made a mistake,” whispered five-year-old Cassie.

“Oh?  What mistake did you make, Sweetheart?”

“Well, I think I made the dog throw up.”  Cassie’s eyes were big round saucers, meltingly blue in an angelic face surrounded by golden ringlets.


“Really.”  Cassie could tell by Mommy’s voice that she wasn’t happy. “And how did you manage to do that?”

“Well, see, I finded–found–this poor dead birdie under the tree in the back yard, and I showed it to Pooch. I, um, picked up the bird by the wing and threw it, and I think I said ‘go fetch.”  And maybe that was a mistake, ’cause Pooch didn’t fetch. He ran and picked up the bird and he, um, ate it.  All up.”

“Where did Pooch throw up the bird, Cassie?”  Mommy’s eyes had that “you’re in trouble, young lady,” look in them. Cassie took a deep breath and said, “Um, I think–maybe in the living room?  On the couch?”

Mommy stood very still. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “Come with me.  You’re going to help clean this up. Then we’ll talk about what your punishment is going to be. You didn’t make a ‘mistake,’ Cassie, and you know it.  You deliberately disobeyed. You know you’re never to feed Pooch anything–“

“But Mommy, I didn’t feed it to him, I just threw it–“

“Don’t interrupt me.  That’s also disobedient.  You know very well that Pooch eats things out in the yard that will make him sick. You knew when you told him to fetch that nasty dead bird that he would probably eat it.  Didn’t you?”

By now, fat tears were leaking from those melting eyes down the angelic rosy cheeks. Cassie nodded her head. “Yes, I knew.  I just sort of forgot. Are you mad at me, Mommy?”

“Yes, Cassie.  I’m very mad at you.”  Mommy had taken a scrub brush, some rags and soapy water, and a can of disinfectant spray to the living room.  Cassie had been tasked with carrying and holding the trash bag, and she had to watch Mommy clean up the disgusting mess and scoop it into the bag. Then Mommy gave her the brush and told her, “You’ll scrub until I tell you to stop.”

So Cassie scrubbed. She had to scrub the whole cushion, and it seemed to take a very long time. Finally Mommy said she could stop. They put the bag in the trash, put away everything else, and Mommy told Cassie she was to stay in her room the rest of the afternoon until supper.

“Cassie, you know you didn’t just make a mistake. A mistake is something you do accidentally, like dropping your fork on the floor at supper. What you did was wrong, and it was disobedient and disrespectful.You made poor Pooch sick, and you created extra work for me. You need to think about that. You can’t make the excuse that you made a mistake when the truth is that you chose purposely to disobey. Do you understand me?”

“Yes.” Cassie was very subdued by this time, knowing her Mommy was right. Sometimes it was just so hard to be good!


It’s All in Your Perspective


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.



Here’s something I’m learning every day as I work in my counseling office:  If  you ask three people who witnessed the same event, you will get three different accounts. 

That’s why, in the Old Testament, it was required that a man could not be convicted by the testimony of just one person. It had to be two or more.Even then, if their account differed, it was highly questionable.

Why is that?  It’s because we see things from our own perspective.  A woman sees her marriage from one perspective; a man from his own perspective, which can be miles apart from hers.  The trick I have to perform is to help them see the truth in the middle.

Your perspective is your reality.  If you can’t or won’t allow for anyone else’s perspective, you’re going to be a very lonely person.


Don’t Emphasize the Obvious


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


I saw an attractive woman the other day. She was quite heavy, but she knew how to dress to not draw attention to the obvious.  I admire that. Since I’m quite heavy myself, I’ve had to learn to do the same. You don’t wear anything tight. You don’t wear sheer unless it has something solid underneath.  You don’t wear horizontal stripes around your heaviest part. You don’t wear skirts, dresses, or shorts that are way TOO short. You learn to conceal what you can; you learn to draw attention to your face instead of your waistline, or whatever your biggest body part may be.

I always dread summer a little, because people tend to just barely avoid public indecency. You see way too much flesh, most of it completely unattractive.  The other day there was a grossly  huge man in the produce department of our Walmart. He was wearing a wife-beater, ugly in and of itself, and his extremely hairy armpits were on full display.  Ugh.  I decided I didn’t need any produce.

 See, this is just icky:

But here’s a big woman who knows how to dress:

You can still have fun with your clothes, still wear something other than black, still take the time to emphasize your best features, without emphasizing your big belly.  I don’t wear sleeveless things any more, though, like the model above. Two reasons:  I’m old, so my arms are less than gorgeous and I have granny flaps; and I had bad acne as a teen, and there are scars on my arms, back, and shoulders. Better not to expose all that.  What people don’t know won’t hurt me🙂

I generally dress simply for the office, nothing tight, short or revealing, comfortable, and designed not to emphasize the obvious.  It’s a good rule of thumb for anyone, right?


This is a P.S.  I was going to mention the importance of knowing your color palette, and then I forgot.   You can learn all about this on a zillion web sites.  I first learned it when I read Color Me Beautiful, can’t remember the author.  Anyway, I’m a winter. Fair skin, very dark brown eyes, blue skin undertones, hair that was blonde when I was little but darkened to a very dark brown before it started going grey on me.  I wear true, pure white; black; navy blue,true red, lemon yellow, a range of pink ranging from hot pink to icy pink, several blue shades, emerald green, and so on.  Once you know your colors, shopping is a breeze. And wearing the colors that are right for you will also help you to camouflage the obvious🙂 The right colors will definitely draw more attention to your face.


I enlarged this, so it’s a little fuzzy, but I wanted you to see the variety of skin shades that fit into the winter palette.  The one most like mine is on the bottom.  I think that’s somebody famous, can’t remember who, and I’m just talking about color here, not facial features.

A Family Story


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


Our daughter, our youngest child, had three older brothers and a father who loved to torment her. Silly things, like telling her that deer tracks in the woods were actually buffalo.  She was only six when they told her that. She believed them.

There were other things, and gradually she grew to look at all of them with a very skeptical eye.  I don’t blame her.  Of course I was never guilty of any of that nonsense.

One day, when she was a very young teen, Terry and I were driving home from somewhere. Ahead of us was a pickup truck, and standing in the front seat beside the driver was a tiny little horse, about the size  of a big dog.  I couldn’t believe my eyes at first, but when I told Terry what I was seeing, he put the pedal down until we were close enough to be sure.  Yup.  There it was.  A miniature horse.  First one I’d ever seen, and you just don’t expect to find them riding along beside the driver of a pickup.

We followed the pickup until it turned off into what was clearly a little horse ranch.  Literally, a ranch for little horses.  We knew the kids would enjoy seeing the horses.

When we got home, we described what we had seen.  Our daughter was unimpressed. She didn’t believe it, and she wasn’t going to fall for another wild story.  So we loaded up the whole crew and took them to the ranch, and they were all pretty interested in these little horses.  They clearly weren’t just babies.  They were adults, cute as can be, and we watched them for quite some time.

Sadly, our daughter still tends not to believe her dad. Funny thing is, she married a guy who tells his kids tall tales, and their little girl just looks at him out of the sides of her eyes, and shakes her head.


I Love to Teach


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I’m a teacher. Learning is precious to me.  I’m looking forward to teaching a class at our church’s home school co-op.  It will be all about the history and specific political meanings behind some of our most well-known nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Doing the research has been enlightening, to say the least.

The Grimm’s Brother’s Fairy Tales were grim, indeed.  Horrible, bloody, often tainted with sexual impropriety.  I won’t be sharing that with my students. They range from 7th-12th grades, and I don’t think they need to know that our Disney-fied  versions were much darker originally. Some of that I was already aware of. Other things, not so much.

For instance, did you know that in most of the stories we know, it wasn’t the step-mother who was evil, jealous, and murderous?  No, it was the mommy.  The dear, sweet, nurturing mommy. Huh.  Maybe Disney’s version has been responsible for a lot of unfair characterization of step-mothers, you think?

 The nursery rhymes are more fun, although most of them did have a dark side. There is a  belief out there, not shared by all, that “Ring Around the Rosie” has to do with the bubonic plague.   Maybe, maybe not.

ring-around-the-rosie-theredish-com    plague1

Anyway, this information has been most interesting to gather and to put into classroom form. My students, the ones who attend my church, are telling me they really can’t wait.  How cool is that?  There are several who don’t attend our church,but who made it clear at the end of our last class in April that they were already looking forward to the fall subjects.

There is nothing any more satisfying than to teach students who enjoy learning.  I love it.


A Whole New World


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Fifty.  Half a century.   Starting the downward slide into old age.


When I was fifty, I started working on my master’s degree.  I was not looking back; I was looking forward.  I have never regretted going back to school when I did, in spite of having to pay off my student loan for all the years since.  Sixteen years now, and if I can continue working I’ll have it paid in less than a year.  Early.  Saving some interest. I like that.

Fifty was a stepping-off point for me, not a decline into senility. I felt good, I was excited by what I was studying. I started working in my chosen field at 53, and now that I’m 69 I don’t see retirement in my immediate future.

I don’t feel quite as good as I did back then.  Age does take its toll on one’s body, some sooner than others.  I’m convinced that’s partly due to one’s gene pool, partly due to one’s lifestyle. This I know, though:  Having an aching back doesn’t have to stop the activity of the brain!

Would I ever wish to be young again?  Only if I didn’t have to be as dumb as I was then.

As the old Pennsylvania Dutch saying goes:  Too soon old, too late smart.


Don’t Look at Me Like That!


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Some time ago, I had a client in my office who would NOT look at me.  Even when I spoke his name, he would not make eye contact. We went through the entire first session with him looking off to the side, down at the floor, or even closing his eyes when he spoke.

Such behavior can say many things, and my job is to figure out exactly what that is.

Maybe he’s shy.

Maybe he’s a liar.

Maybe he’s fearful of revealing something shameful.

When I finally, very gently, asked him why he couldn’t or wouldn’t look at me, he turned so red that I regretted my question; however, I’ve learned to wait out such situations, because I really needed the answer if we were going to make any progress.

Finally, he looked up.  He was a nice-looking guy, middle-aged, normal in most ways that I could see. What he said  was this:

“I grew up being told not to look at my mother ‘that way,’ to keep my eyes off the girls, that looking someone in the eye was a man’s way of challenging authority. A lot of stuff like that. It was considered rude, and I still can’t do it  without feeling as if I’m being completely inappropriate. It’s one of the reasons I’m here. I work with people, and I need to be able to look at them.”

As he spoke, his eyes once again slanted off to the left, and his eyelids closed about halfway. He’d mastered the technique of looking without looking directly.

“What is it you do?”  I asked.

“I’m a teacher. I work with high school kids. I learned recently that behind my back they call me ‘Mr.Eyes’ because I rarely look at any of them  straight on.  I need to get this fixed. Can you help me? “

“Sure,” I said. But inside, I was wondering how. This was a new one for me. But I’ve read and researched, and he’s making great progress. The other, as we finished up, he shook my hand, looked me straight in the eyes, and thanked me for helping him learn to tell himself the truth about all the things he’d learned as a kid growing up.

After he left, I did a little victory dance.


Mr. Moon


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Why is the moon so magical and mystical?  It has inspired songs, poetry, prose and romance. We love the moon, and we watch its phases.  We’re amazed when the moon is full and at perigee, its closest point to the earth. It feels as if you could reach out and touch it.


The truth?  It’s an immense ball of rock and sand. But who wants to think of it that way? After all, it reflects the light of the sun when we can no longer see the sun. It controls the tides of the mighty oceans.

And it’s beautiful.

If the old Greeks are to be believed, the moon controls a woman’s emotions, too. The word  for moon is reflected in the word for our monthly cycle, menstruation. and the Latin language called it Luna, the root of the word lunatic. Hence all women become lunatics once a month. And by the way, anyone who wants to believe that also has to accept that we are not responsible for our actions at that time, so maybe it would be safer for you to go hide under the bed🙂

I worked in a nursing home as a practicum while I was working on my MSW degree. At first, I thought the nurses were just making jokes when they talked about getting ready for the full moon.

They weren’t.

There were more attempts at elopement (the word for trying to escape the facility) during the full moon. Patients who were known to do that were watched more closely, sometimes even having alarms set to alert the staff. If they already tended to  be a little manic, their meds were doubled during the full moon. There were more temper fits, more old men ‘accidentally’ crawling into some unsuspecting woman’s bed while she was asleep, scaring her half to death.

Interestingly, the families of our patients were also more likely to have complaints during the full moon.  I tracked it during the nine months I worked there.  Amazing. I worked in the social services end of things, so I got to see it first hand.

Well.  Enough of that.  The moon will remain romantic and mystical.  It will remain a subject of scientific research.  Mostly, it will remain a part of God’s amazing creation that we can simply enjoy.




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Are you old enough to remember watching this cartoon on TV?

Or how about this one?

Topper, the man who had ghosts living in his house. They’d been killed in a car accident, and needed to do more good deeds before being allowed into heaven. The theology was pretty weak, but it was a fun show.  Topper, of course, was the only one who could see and hear the ghosts. Many funny situations were created on that simple theme.

These were two of my earliest memories of ghosts.  Happy, helpful souls.  It wasn’t until  I saw A Christmas Carol on TV for the first time that I realized not all ghosts were benign. I was about eight, I think, and the movie was very old, black and white–probably the first movie ever made of Dickens’ classic tale.  I had weird dreams on that Christmas Eve night!

Do ghosts really exist? I don’t believe so. I’m too grounded in biblical truth to believe in such things. And even if I did, I don’t think I’d be afraid of them. It doesn’t seem to me that anything so ethereal that you can walk through it could really do much harm🙂


Singing in the Car


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A favorite story on my longsuffering Terry:

He can’t sing. He has a great ear for enjoying music other people make, but he just can’t carry a tune, and his voice is not musical.  At all.

When our oldest son was only three,  we were in the car going to somewhere.  I don’t remember where. As I often did, I started to sing something.  Mike joined in, already exhibiting the true pitch and really quite outstanding voice he would develop in his late teens.  He also was able to carry the melody when I dropped to the alto part. Great fun.

Then Terry started singing, and everything changed. After a few minutes, Mike piped up from the back seat:  “Don’t sing, Daddy.  Don’t sing.”

None of us were singing for a few minutes while I tried unsuccessfully to stifle my laughter.   Poor Terry.