Daily Prompt: Unexpected Guests

(You walk into your living room to find a couple you don’t know eating a slice of cake. Tell us what happens next.)

I was minding my own business, thinking of the chores I needed to finish that day.  I had just come home from a grocery store run, and was dreading the trips back and forth with bags full of food that would need to be put away properly.  I’d baked a luscious chocolate cake before my grocery trip.  It should be cool enough to frost.  After that, laundry and some housecleaning.  I sure was looking forward to the cake; maybe that’s all I would have for lunch, with a big glass of ice-cold milk. As Bill Cosby would say, the cake is full of nutrition.  It has wheat, eggs, milk, and chocolate–all four of the primary food groups!

I shuffled one of my grocery bags to the rocking chair on my porch.  Digging for my keys, I promised myself never to buy another purse with “organizer compartments” in it. I could never remember which compartment held what!  Finally, I found my keys and inserted my housekey into the lock, only to find that it was already open.

“That’s odd,” I thought. “I always lock my doors.  I must have forgotten, but I’m positive. . . .well, I guess it doesn’t matter.”

I pushed the door open with my hip, leaned over to grab the bag off the rocker, and turned to step into my living room.

I dropped both my bags with a thud  and scrambled madly for my pepper spray.  There, as comfortably as if they owned the place, sat a couple on my couch. Even more surprising, they each had a plate with a big hunk of my chocolate cake, and they were making really good headway with it.

I was terrified, angry, confused. “What do you think you’re doing? How did you get in here?  That’s my CAKE!”

The man looked up at me, grinned, and nudged his wife. She had a hard time getting her focus off the cake, but she managed it long enough to grin back at him. They winked at each other, and of all the weird things, they started to sing:

“We thought you knew we were comin’ so you baked a cake. . . . .”


Daily Prompt: A Form of Flattery

(Write a post about any topic you want, but in the style of an author or a blogger you admire.)

Sunday at Church

It is curious indeed to observe the parishioners as they proceed to their own pews. The more humble, of course, are relegated to the back of the church; or even, if they are servants, to the balcony.  No matter where one sits, one is conscious of every attempt to look one’s best.

The working men have cleaned their boots and wet-combed their hair. Their wives or mothers have forced them, against vociferous complaints, into starched shirts and collars that push up their chins and redden their cheeks. Some are in shirt-sleeves. Others have somehow found jackets of wool  whose aroma tends to remind one of the fires burning in each kitchen, and perhaps of the sweat the man worked up last time he donned his formal attire.

childrensclothing1890Their wives have a hard time of it, with what seems like multitudes of young ones.  Babes in arms, bundled into long dresses and bonnets; toddlers in leading strings, with hair that won’t stay combed; older brothers and sisters itching and writhing in their woolens, with tight sleeves and collars that will be pulled out the moment the service ends.

The women themselves have done their best, with freshly washed and ironed frocks, clean embroidered handkercheifs, and their best hats perched atop their heads. Their expressions are stern as they shepherd their men and children into pews, warning each child to behave or “You KNOW what will happen   . . . “

The lords and ladies are the last ones in. This, of course, is deliberate.  ImageThe common folks enjoy the opportunity to see the finery of their resplendent betters.  Many an admiring female eye lands on the clothing of the ladies, taking in every new flounce, sleeve, tuck and gore. The gentlemen get almost as much attention,  sweeping  off their hats as they pause to bow to the local gentry populating the boxed pews, where each family owns as many pews as necessary to accommodate them all.

ImageAs the ladies reach their pews, parasols are furled, demitrains are secured, and each fold of the rich silk or satin  is carefully placed to avoid wrinkling. There is considerably more space around each aristoctatic lady than there is around the village women and the servants in the balcony.

When the weather is quite warm, elaborate fans will begin to swish as if to an inner beat that only the ladies know.  Upswept hairdos begin to wilt or crinkle, depending on whether the hair is naturally straight or curly.  Faces being to glow, since ladies don’t sweat, and a bead or two of “glow”  may  inch its way to the tip of milady’s nose or chin. Such an event, of course, fascinates the children who can see the progress of the bead while they wonder if the lady will use her lacy handkerchief to absorb the moisture, or if she’ll pretend to be unaware and allow it to drip onto her corsage.

And now everyone is settled for the sermon.  All, that is, except for those who look forward to the Sunday service as one of the rare opportunities to flirt with whatever young lady or gentlemen has caught one’s fancy. A young lady could use her fan, handkerchief and hatbrim to great effect when a young gentleman tried to catch her eye.

And so we must leave our congregation to their own devices while we travel over the hills to a little cottage isolated in a thick copse of alders.


Daily Prompt: First Sight

(Whether a person, a pet, an object, or a place, write about something or someone you connected with from the very first second.)


The ocean.  I loved it from my first shimmery glimpse from the car window as we came through the Tillamook range and caught the sparkle through the thinning trees. 

I’d always thought of the ocean as a mystical place.  I’ve been a voracious reader since I was able to string together my first few letters, so I’d read a lot about the ocean by the time I was ten.  

We had moved from the flat midwestern city of Minneapolis, where there were plenty of pretty lakes.  I loved the lakes, too.  Water has always beena magnet for me. I loved to swim, loved to just sit and watch the waves of those usually tame lakes lapping up against the sand.

My dad was in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  He was in submarines, so he spent a lot of time at sea. He used to talk about it, and sometimes he would get emotional.  For him, that meant the corner of his upper lip would twitch for a moment while he forced down any sentiment, just like he did the day he married Terry and me 🙂

What do I love about the ocean?  I’m really not sure because I’ve never really analyzed it.  Let’s see if I can put this into words.

The vastness. It’s so BIG, and deep, and it circles the world relentlessly.  It’s almost as if all the continents and island are just bobbing like corks on this immense bosomy sea, tolerated but easily overwhelmed if that sea ever decides to rise up and swallow them.

Its color.  I’ve seen ocean water that is submarine grey, clear blue, frothy white. I love the sunsparkle, and the moonpath. I love to watch rain drops splash onto the surface only to be sucked down into the undertow.

Its power. 

Its beauty




And the sounds of the sea.


Daily Prompt: Worldly Encounters

(The friendly, English-speaking extra-terrestrial you run into outside your house is asking you to recommend the one book, movie or song that explains what humans are all about.  What do you pick?)

Oy. I have only ONE answer to give him?

“Okay, Mr. E.T.  Do you want a serious answer?  Funny?  Political? Religious? Historical?  Hysterical? Philosophical? Sociological? What aspect of humanity are you interested in?”

“Say what?”

“Well, I mean, do you want a book about humankind from the beginning of the history of the world? Or about how human civilzation developed? Or do you want maybe a movie about how we relate to each other?  A romance? A comedy?  How about something by one of our most famous playwrights, William Shakespeare?  Or a history of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, or maybe of the Third Reich?”


“Come on, you have to help me out here!  We humans are not just one-dimensional, you know.  We have a lot more to us than you think.  I need to know exactly what kind of information you want.  How about a medical book?  Grey’s Anatomy? Or would you rather know about our art, music, literature, inventions–”

“STOP! Stop it right now!  You’re driving me crazy!”

“Hey, man, you’re the one who asked.  Look, this is really hard! Don’t you understand we’ve been around for a long time, and there are zillions of books,movies, and songs that would tell you all about us. How can I pick just one?  Do YOU have just ONE book, song or movie that would explain YOU to US?”

“Well, of course!”



What is a Sociopath: Final

Linda's Bible Study

The final roundup of classic traits of a sociopath include failing to accept responsibility for his own actions; many short-term romantic/marital relationships; possible juvenile deliquency; breaking parole or just not showing up for court appointments;  and criminal versatility.

Mengele78 Joseph Mengele

Since some of these traits are self-explanatory, I won’t dwell on all of them

Possilbe juvenile delinquency?  Yes, but not all sociopaths are actually caught up in the court system. Many between the ages of 13-18 may participate in activities that could land them in jail, but often don’t. Don’t forget, they’re exceptionally gifted liars and are often able to talk themselves out of trouble.

They walk away from such an encounter laughing at how easy it is to fool the authorities.

Since a true sociopath has very little sense of conscience, it doesn’t trouble him in the slightest to ignore hearings, appointments with a parole officer or other legal…

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Happy Birthday, Mom

Today, my mom would have been 89.  She went to heaven two years ago in July.  It still seems strange for me not to call her on Mother’s Day, her birthday, or just because. ImageHere she is, a year or so before she died, with three of her great-grandchildren–three of my favorite kids 🙂

Mom was part of the Great Generation.  She grew up hard, although I don’t think she thought about it much.  It’s just the way things were.  I do remember her talking about longing for a glass of cold milk.  She loved milk, and never got enough. I also remember her talking about never having had a pair of store-bought panties until after she was married, at the ripe old age of 16.  She wore underwear made of flour sacking, something  our children today  think of pretty much in the same way they think about Cinderella and Snow White.  Fairy tales.

She and her sisters also had dresses made from flour sacks.  Back then, the sacks were woven fabric, not paper. The manufacturers often printed floral designs or geometric patterns on the sacking, and mothers all across the country turned them into dresses, shorts, skirts, pants and blouses for their children. Some collected certain patterns and made drapes and bedspreads, too. You can find lots of other pictures here.floursack dress

Mom was the oldest of four girls. He mom was not terribly healthy, but she worked hard to make ends meet.  Her dad was a jack-of-all-trades, specializing in carpentry. He was also a world-class gardener, a gift that kept the family in vegetables during several years of hard-scrabble living.

Mom adored her own mother. I don’t remember my grandmother She died when I was only a year old; my mom would have  been about 22.  It was one of the most heartbreaking experiences she ever had, I think.  It is thought that my grandmother died as a result of drinking polluted water, something almost unheard of in the States today.

My mom didn’t have a doll to play with when she was little.  She played with theImageir chickens instead.

She used to tell me how she’d squat down and walk around with the chickens, talking to them and  just enjoying their company.

When she was only 16, she married my dad, who was 19.  A month later, he went off to war in a submarine, and Mom finished two years of high school as Mrs. Fullmer.  She endured the years he was away, as did all the wives and girlfriends who dreaded the terrible yellow telegram or the official visit informing the family of his death.  My dad got by pretty well, no real war wounds except from a drunken brawl he enjoyed with some of his buddies.

Mom was not a person who liked to take charge. She was a homebody, although she stepped up when she had to. She was a pastor’s wife, after all, and that came with certain job responsibilities.  She did love people, and she loved to talk. She loved her family, and especially doted on my brother’s kids because they were the ones closest to her while they were growing up.

My mom loved the men in her life. She lived with my dad as her center until he died when he was only 70. Then she  focused on my brother and his family.  When my nephew was killed in a drunk-driving accident when he was only 23, it made a change in my mom’s physical health.  When my brother died only 19 months later, it really cut her off at the knees.  She never lost interest in the rest of us, but she just seemed to lose her starch.  She was tough, though, and her little old heart just kept on beating until she finally left us quietly to go and finally see her Savior and her beloved husband, her son and her grandson.

You know, the Bible does say that there won’t be marriage in heaven.  It’s hard for me to imagine that, although I believe it. But I don’t think that even death can kill the kind of love that binds us so tightly to each other here on earth. There may not be marriage, in the earthly sense; I believe, however, that the precious relationships we had on earth will survive in some way when we take our final breath here and wake up over there.

And so I’m happy for my mom today, and all those that she loved during the course of her long life. I hope they’re having a party in heaven.

Daily Prompt: Modern Families

(If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking?)

It didn’t take me long at all to think about how either one of my parents would react to the way Terry and I operate these days.

First, understand that my dad would be 91, my mom 89, if they were both still lving.  They were a part of the Great Generation that trudged their way through the Great Depression and then slugged their way through World War II. As Edith and Archie would sing, “Those Were the Days”—-girls were girls and men were men. What that meant then was that each gender knew his/her job, and there were no crossing of the lines.

My dad didn’t even know where Mom kept her cleaning rags.  I’m not sure he knew where the toilet paper was. Don’t feel sorry for her or disgusted with him, though.  They were both happy that way. Image

And no, my parents were not Archie and Edith 🙂

The differences were not things that we ever fought about or even discussed.  They just happened naturally.  Terry was never afraid to change a diaper, even the worst ones.  He’s always been willing to help out around the house.  When our kids were little, I was a stay-at-home mom and pretty much took care of all the traditional “women’s work” all the time. Things began to change when I went to work teaching full time. There were gradual changes, and they worked well for our family.

Now that he’s retired, he has informed me that he will do the dishes.  I didn’t understand, at first, that he meant ALL the dishes ALL the time!  He has also taken over most of the grocery shopping, and he cooks on Wednsday and Thursday every week.  I don’t get home until close to 5:30, so not having to head right to the kitchen is absolutely wonderful. Image

What would really shock my folks is that HE serves ME!  On the nights he cooks, he wants me to  let him dish it up, bring it to the table, clean it up.  I admit, it was hard for me at first.  Such a turn-around from our normal pattern.

Yes, my ancestors would be shocked.  So would his, as a matter of fact 🙂



Blogging 101, Day 30: Pat Yourselves on the Back!

(Today’s assignment:  Visit and congratulate five other Zero to Hero bloggers, and set a goal for the next 30 days.)

I can’t believe how fast that 30 days went zipping on by!  I feel a little let down!  I learned so many things, met so many other bloggers, got my writing motivation charged up–I’m going to miss the daily assignments.  I will definitely log on for 201!

So I’ve visited and congratulated some other 101 bloggers and read through some of their work. Amazing amount of talent out there.  I’ve loved meeting some of you up close and personal–well, as much as that can be true here in the blogosphere. I love your humor, your intelligence, and your wisdom. 


Daily Prompt: No Apologies!

(What’s the one guilty pleasure you have that’s so good, you no longer feel guilty about it?)

Hoo boy.  So many guilty pleasures! Reading. Coffee. Tea. Chocolate. Retro TV.  Music turned up LOUD!  My wonderful bed. Privacy. Quiet. Having the house all to myself.  Enjoying breakfast and my one cup of coffee per day with no interruptions.  Oh, wait, I know!

Hanging up the phone without responding to the person on the other end who is trying to persuade me of something, get something from me, or sell me something.

Seriously, I used to think I had to be polite to telemarketers.  After all, it has to be the world’s most miserable job.  I’ve talked to people who used to do that work, and  it’s easy to feel some sympathy for them.

BUT!  Big but here.  Telephone solicitations are annoying, aggravating, and intrusive.  I did not ask to be called.  I did not instigate the call. I especially resent being called during the supper hour.  I REALLY get annoyed when the calls come on Sundays. I’m dreading the fact that, as we draw closer to the November elections, the pre-taped political calls are going to start up again.

Some years ago, I foolishly agreed to a charitable donation to an organization that shall remain unnamed.  I sincerely wanted to help, and it’s still a cause I believe in. However, they wouldn’t leave me alone.  Constant phone calls, and as I continued to say no, the calls became true harrassment. They tracked us halfway across the continent when we moved 20 years ago. There could be a long period of silence, and then all of a sudden the calls would start up again. I decided just to hang up.  No more conversation. As soon as I recognized what the call was, I would hang up. And they were crafty.  They used different people, different approaches. I got pretty good at knowing what it was, though.

Finally one day I did speak. 

“If you don’t stop calling me, I’m going to inform the police and begin the process of bringing charges against you for harrassment. Do not call me again!”

The person laughed at me. I hung up and called our local police, who put me in touch with the proper authorities.  It took some time, but eventually the headquarters of this outfit was located. They were, as I said, crafty. They operated under several aliases and finding them was like trying to pick up a tomato seed. They just kept spurting out from under my thumb.

This was one instance in which the little person–me–actually won. The stalkers were informed legally that any more calls to my number would be actionable.  I got a copy of the letter.  It was pretty intimidating.  And I haven’t heard from them since.

So now I just hang up.  I feel no guilt whatsoever.  The first time I did it, I felt bad.  The next time, not quite so much. Now–not at all. It’s just a pleasure. No guilt.


Daily Prompt: Powerful Suggestion

(What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you a year ago. . or five or ten years ago?)

I’m not very good at taking advice.  Never have been.  I may hear it; I may even think it sounds like good advice.  But I’ll take my sweet time deciding whether or not I’m going to incorporate it into my life.

If someone had told me any specific piece of advice five, ten, or more years ago that I would have actually acted upon, it would have been to pay more attention to advice!  Also, to pay attention to where the advice comes from, and to  know your source.  Motives are not always  for your good or your improvement, but really just to make life easier for the person giving the advice.

I come from a long line of bull-headed people. 

Or mule-headed, whichever works.  All of us are always right.  All of us have a hard time understanding or being patient with others who don’t appreciate our position. We all think we know best.  Used to make for some interesting familial relationships. We were both stubborn AND verbally adept, so arguments were never won in our house. Nor were they ever lost.  Depending on the person you’re talking to, of course, the other person lost.

So now, all these years later, I sit in my counseling office and try to offer counsel, direction, a different way of thinking about whatever the issues may be.  I’m usually pretty tactful; I listen carefully; I try not to roll my eyes and sigh when someone is just not getting it. How can someone like me do the work I do?

It’s a God-thing. He has mellowed all of us in our family over the years, including me. I’ve learned a lot, probably from listening to good advice coming across a pulpit, or from the lips of someone I KNOW loves me and has my best interest at heart. I am grateful to those who have cared enough to speak up but who still want to be my friend and who love me anyway.

Kind of wandered on this one. Oh well. 🙂  To wrap it up, I’ve always liked this saying: