The Whole Truth

Truth Serum

You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?


“We have ways of making you talk. . . .”

Aren’t those chilling words?  I mean, really, you picture some poor soul tied to a chair under a bright light while ugly men with weapons of torture stand around grinning in anticipation. 

I feel exactly the same way about administering truth serum to someone, with or without their permission.  I wouldn’t do it. If someone is lying to me, that makes me unhappy.  However,  I would worry that hearing the absolute truth would make me even more unhappy.

For instance, “Do these pants make my behind look fat?”

“Yes, because it IS fat, you silly cow.”

Or, “Do you like my grey hair, or does it makes me look too old?”

“No, I don’t like it. You look like Hagatha, and that’s because you ARE old, you silly twit.”

How about, “Do you still love me as much as when we first got married?”

“I can’t remember when we first got married. It was 89 years ago. You expect me to remember ANYTHING that happened 89 years ago?”

Okay, enough silliness.  No, I would not administer truth serum. What I don’t know won’t hurt me.




The Great Divide

When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?


For relaxation, it’s fiction every time.  Anything else, and I read a lot of non-fiction, is not for the purpose of relaxing. It’s work-related, or political, or just because I’m interested.  But fiction is my relaxer, my sleeping pill, my take-me-away treat, my stay-cation.

Picky? Not Me!

Mouths Wide Shut

Are you a picky eater? Share some of your favorite food quirks with us (the more exotic, the better!). Omnivores: what’s the one thing you won’t eat?


Let’s get the “what you won’t eat” question out of the way.  I wrote about that here and I don’t want to talk about it ever again, please.

Now. I am not a picky eater.  I wasn’t allowed to be. There are things I disliked as a child that I enjoy very much now. That’s what can happen when you are told “One bite.  You have to at least taste it.”  Apparently our taste buds change, grow, expand, or something as we’re growing up.  I didn’t like grave. Love it now.  Didn’t like the stuffing in the turkey, wasn’t really wild about turkey.  All good now.  Oh, wait. There is something else. My dad loved sauerkraut, and we had it every now and then, usually with boiled hot dogs.

Don’t boil hot dogs.  Makes them nasty.  And canned sauerkraut really ought to be banned.  If Michelle O really wants to regulate what we eat, then let her start with canned sauerkraut.

I really can’t think of anything else. I love food. So many tastes, textures, colors.  I love preparing a meal that will have contrasting colors on the plate to please the eye. Never serve white meat with white potatoes, white cauliflower, white bread. Very boring. Yams, green veggies, colorful salad. Much more appealing.

Quirks?  I don’t thing I have any of those.  My husband does, though, and I’ve probably mentioned them before. One is his favorite snack of peanut butter on his (gluten-free) homemade bread, decorated with rows of raisins. The other is his habit of putting his food always on the side of his plate. For instance, a three-course meal of meat, veggies, potatoes—it makes sense to put each item on one side or the other.  But I serve a lot of one-pot meals, like stirfry or spaghetti.  Only one thing to put on the plate.  My serving goes right smack in the middle of my plate.  His goes off to one side, no matter what. I don’t know why. And I figure, hey, it’s his plate, right?  So I happily eat from the middle and he happily eats from the side.

Oh, I almost forgot. He also eats the WHOLE apple, including the core. Yup. Go figure.

And I just now realized I wrote on yesterday’s prompt. Oh well. Maybe I’ll catch up later today.

Response to a Comment

This is my response to a comment on the post “Dear Mr. President.”  First, the comment:

You sound like an angry woman. This president didn’t get us into a war that cost American lives and billlions in taxpayer dollars. Define socialism, then look at the school system, postal service, National Parks, and the list goes on… It’s not all good, but it’s not all bad either.

Before I post my response, I want to make it very clear that I am not looking for ongoing debate. I particularly do not want nasty, profane, name-calling diatribes, and I won’t allow them. This person, however, brought up some things that I felt deserved an answer.  It got a little longer than I planned, but hey, it’s my blog, right? 🙂

So here’s my response:

Well, congratulations! Yours is the first not entirely positive comment I’ve received on this piece, and if this is as bad as it gets, then I’m happy.

Let me see if I can answer you, point by point.

Are you assuming that I’m an angry woman because I disagree with the present regime? Because I’ve been specific about some of the things that trouble me? Because I don’t like socialism, which I’m very well-qualified to define as a history teacher and student of all the “isms” that have influenced the 20th century? I’m not sure what it is upon which you’ve based your opinion, but I’d like to ask you to go back and read through some of the other things I’ve written and tell me whether you still think I’m an angry woman. Having strong convictions is not synonymous with being angry. It’s true that I’m angry ABOUT some of the things I’ve mentioned. I’m angry that my President took about a nanosecond out of his busy golf schedule to comment on the beheading of the first American journalist victim. And I’m angry about the multiple millions of taxpayer dollars he’s used, and will continue to use, on his “vacations” while he badmouths the wealthy (not his Hollywood wealthy friends, of course) and uses one of the most expensive means of transportation available. So yes, I guess that makes me angry. I own that, and I won’t apologize. There are things we NEED to be angry about.

You are correct that Obama didn’t get us into Desert Storm or Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. What bothers me about that kind of argument, though, is that if those wars had been allowed to come to the most effective conclusion, Mr. Obama wouldn’t have to be sending troops and planes back there to start all over again. Who or what stood in the way of finalizing those wars? The Democratic Congress. And contrary to Mr. Obama’s practice, the other Presidents did not abuse their power by signing multiples of Executive Orders in spite of Congress refusing to work with them.

Here’s a new one to throw into the pot of what I’m angry about: Mr. Holder’s resignation, hinged on getting a replacement, created enough of a firestorm that Mr. Obama was able to Executive Order the military to induct illegal aliens into our armed forces with very little reaction from the media.

Really? That doesn’t bother YOU? It should! While Mr. O has been busy downsizing services to soldiers and their families, and to veterans, he is now saying it’s ok to PAY illegals to be in our military? Where’s the logic? Seems to me he’s got tons of compassion for illegals and known terrorists, but not much for homegrown military people.

Yes, that makes me angry.

But I take issue with you that I am an angry woman. No one who knows me would agree with you. I also find it interesting that the first thing you chose to use as criticism was to attack my character. You need to think about that.

Did you know that rat poison is about 95% harmless? Only 5% is poison. It’s not all good, but it’s not all bad, either.

When our government school systems were first established, patriotism ran high and teachers were paid low. A sad thing for those dedicated, hardworking people, often single young women who were shunted around the district from one month to the next to board with families who had children in the school. But things went surprisingly well, and if you would look at what an 8th grade graduation exam was like back in, say, 1880, you’d be amazed at what those students could do. Our 8th-graders today would be hard-pressed to keep up with them. When school districts were run by the people in the district, things were pretty good. When the Federal government started to enter into the picture, we began to lose quality, and funding became a huge issue. I could go on about all this for a very long time, but I won’t. I would, however, like to encourage you to do some research into the history of education in America, and track how literate our high school seniors are today compared to 100 years ago. Government intervention almost always creates a deterioration in quality. That’s across the board, from business to manufacturing to education to child-rearing.

Please don’t use the postal service as an example of government success. They are constantly out of money, threatening to have to stop delivery on Saturdays, and demanding a great deal of unpaid overtime from their route people. The private sector would do a better job, no question about it.

You didn’t mention the health industry. I’m surprised. It’s Mr. Obama’s biggest “achievement” and it’s still not working very well. I work in the mental health field, and I can assure you that all of the regs that have come into play because of Obamacare have done nothing more than complicate our work. Doctors and nurses are retiring at a phenomenol rate because of Obamacare. It’s a mess.

So no, I’m sorry, socialism doesn’t answer these issues, never has, never will. For years, people around the world have come to America to get health care that is not available to them in their socialized-medicine countries. They won’t be doing that much longer.

I repeat: Having strong convictions is not synonymous with being an angry person. My disagreeing with you doesn’t mean I’m angry with you, or that I hate you, or that I want to lop off your head.

It means I disagree with you.

Dear Mr. President

Make It Count

You’ve been given the opportunity to send one message to one person you wouldn’t normally have access to (for example: the President. Kim Kardashian. A coffee grower in Ethiopia). Who’s the person you choose, and what’s the message?


(I suspect this one is going to get me some negative feedback.  Please just be polite. I will not publish anything with vile language or name-calling.  You are entitled to your opinion. So am I.)

Dear Mr. President,

Please quit imposing your socialist utopian dream on my beloved country. We don’t want it. It doesn’t work. You are destroying the fabric of America; you are corrupting the character that made this nation great.

Alexis de Tocqueville said that America is great because she is good; when she is no longer good she will no longer be great.  He was right, and Mr. President, it’s not ALL your fault.  We began to lose our way a long time ago, and it’s too long and complicated to explain here.  

But you, Sir, have tried to cash in on our floundering. You have promised rainbows and sunshine, hope and change, a better life for everyone. You planned to make that happen by creating more national debt in your six years in office than ALL other Presidents combined!  You have burdened several generations of Americans with your profligate spending, which you told Congress, when you were still a senator, was an unAmerican thing to do.  Have  you forgotten?

Basic economics teaches that you must not spend what you do not have. At this point, we are indebted to China and Saudi Arabia to the extent that they virtually own us. That should make you, Sir, very afraid. They don’t respect us, and they certainly don’t respect you. The world is laughing at you. You need to pay attention.

None of your policies has lived up to the glories you promised. You cannot legislate–or sign into law by fiat–happiness and prosperity for millions of people.  It doesn’t work that way, never has, never will. If you will take even the most cursory glance at history over the last 150 years, you will see that socialism has been instituted in, say, European countries at the initial cost of great bloodshed.  And the ongoing cost is that in some countries, people are required to hand over 80% of their earnings to people like you, who seem to think you know a lot better than people like me.

All dictators come to violent, unseemly ends. You need to pay attention. You are ignoring our Constitution when you ignore Congress, and you claim to be a constitutional expert.  You say that the Right simply won’t do anything, that they are the Party of NO. That is true only if you believe that you are the ONLY right one, and that any disagreement is wrong simply because it’s YOU they are disagreeing with.  There have been at least 80 attempts, the last I heard, that the House has made to modify Obamacare and make it somewhat workable. The Senate, under your “best friend” Mr. Ried, has killed each attempt. Who is refusing to work together?  Who is the Party of NO?  And that’s just one example.

You really should resign, if you have an ounce of honor. The only problem there is that then we’d be stuck with Joe Biden. And that is not acceptable at all. Not at all. Why should you resign?  Because you do NOT believe in the principles upon which this nation was founded.  You do NOT respect our Constitution, and you have said so. Your “hope and change” was more honestly stated when you admitted that your plan was to “fundamentally change America.”

It is beyond sad to me that so many people are willing to have Big Brother take care of them that you were elected not once, but twice.  Your promises were empty, though, and the polls are showing more and more clearly that people are waking up to the fact that freedom isn’t free.

A President you mock, Mr. Ronald Reagan, said that freedom must be fought for by every generation.  It must never be taken for granted, because there will always be people like you who find a way to rise to power so you can control the lives of people you’ll never meet, and that you don’t care about.

I pray that we average American citizens have not lost our will to stand up and fight.  I think we’re going to need to do just that.


Wife of one, mother of four, grandmother of nine, who wants to see all future generations still free to decide what to have for breakfast without any interference from the government.

Sweet Sleep

Ready, Set, Done

Our free-write is back by popular demand: today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less.


The uppermost thing on my mind this morning is sleep, and how I didn’t get much last night.

It was a trying day at work.  Sometimes the burdens people bring to my office just don’t seem to have any solutions.  I hate that.  I always want to be able to offer, at the very least, a different way for my clients to think about their problem(s) so that perhaps a different way of dealing with those problems can be found.

I dealt with a wide range of issues yesterday, ranging from rearing toddlers in a three-generation household to marital problems in the mid-40’s to end of life issues with a very sad older man who is alone, lonely, has Bipolar Disorder, and never learned to read.  Talk about diversity!

There was one person in particular who was just full of words.  They came pouring out like Niagara, with hardly a breath now and then to interrupt the flow. And she started off by telling me she already KNOWS everything I’ve offered her so far!  Oy.  What’s a therapist to do?

Anyway, when I got home, all I wanted to do was nothing.  So tired, couldn’t even think about food. I finally snacked on a handful of cashews and several olives.  Weird, right?   Watched a couple of mindless reruns of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.  At least Dick VanDyke and Mary Tyler Moore made me laugh 🙂

Finally went to bed around 9, and as always, settled down to read myself to sleep.

I finished the book, which I’d been only about 1/4 of the way into when I went to bed last night. It’s a 350-pager. It was around 2:30 this morning when I finally switched off my light and got maybe four hours of very restless sleep–you know, the kind where you toss, turn, wake up to look at the clock.

Ugh. Ughughugh. My head is spinning this morning, and I have five more people to see today. To top things off, our weather went from glorious to down-pourious overnight, and it’s grey and gloomy out there.

I really don’t know how I’m going to navigate the day, but I will.  We always do, don’t we?  No matter what, no matter how miserable we feel, we get through the 24 hours in the same amount of time it would take if things were just tiptop. It’s just not as much fun.

Tonight, I’m going to borrow one of my husband’s klonopin tablets. Well, I won’t borrow it, because he won’t want it back after I’ve used it, will he!

Ten minutes, done!

One Question?

Litmus, Litmus on the Wall

If you had to come up with one question, the answer to which would determine whether or not you could be friends with a person you’ve just met, what would it be? What would the right answer be?


“Hello, New Person!  I get to ask you one question that will determine whether or not we can become friends.  I don’t know  if you get the same privilege, but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t get the answer to my question right.  Let’s see,  what should I ask you?

“What?!  You don’t care to be my friend if this is the way it has to be done? Really?  You think that’s kind of arrogant and narrow-minded?  Huh.  Hadn’t thought of it that way, but I can see your point.

“Well, still, I have to ask you this question–

“I don’t get it?  You don’t want to be my friend AT ALL?  But–

“Well, okay then, be that way!  I’ll call you if I ever think of a question!

“Don’t call you?  EVER? Sheesh.  What a grouch!”

My Story

Flash Talk

You’re about to enter a room full of strangers, where you will have exactly four minutes to tell a story that would convey who you really are. What’s your story?


Once there was a short, round woman who had lots of grey hair, nine grandchildren, four children, and a husband who still loved her after 45 years.  She had been a stay-at-home wife and mom, an English and history teacher, and was now a therapist in a Christian counseling office.  She could be very serious, but she also loved to laugh. Sometimes funny things happened to her.

Once she was asked to sing a solo for Sunday morning church. She was younger then, still in her ’30’s. She was wearing slip-on shoes that were just a tad too big. As she climbed the three shallow steps to the platform, one of her shoes fell off. Startled, embarrassed, she quickly decided to retrieve it. She slipped it back on, made her way to the pulpit, and waited for the pianist to play the introduction. Everyone who had seen what happened was smiling. She knew the men behind her on the platform were also enjoying the situation.

On cue, she sang the first line, knowing it would be the icing on the cake:  “One by one He took them from me, all the things I valued most. . . .”

I Love Fall!

Autumn Leaves

Changing colors, dropping temperatures, pumpkin spice lattes: do these mainstays of Fall fill your heart with warmth — or with dread?


Warmth, absolutely.  There’s nothing about Fall that I dislike except that it doesn’t last all year 🙂

I wish I could wear fall colors, but I can’t.  Oranges, forest green, gold, pumpkin, cinnamon–they’re not for me.  I do much better in the cool, clear contrasts of winter’s palette.  But I love the colors of fall, and the textures of fall clothing.  I love the smell of fall, when people are burning leaves and harvesting the last of their crops, turning over the earth to rest for the winter. I love the cool, crisp air; the lack of humidity is so pleasant!  The bugs are gone. You can actually enjoy going outdoors without looking for the mosquito spray, and even the bees are buzzing a little more slowly.  The colors of the flowers from summer are so intense, it’s as if someone flipped a giant electrical switch to power up the hues. I love fall flowers. Chrysanthemums abound here in the fall.

I love the activities that fall brings.  There’s an Apple Butter Frolic nearby where you can watch costumed workers cooking apple butter in huge kettles.  There are other old-timey crafts to observe as well, and the kids enjoy hayrides and pony rides, and playing in the maze made of bales of hay. In October, we’ll go to the Bacon Fest and drool over all the different kinds of bacon, relishes, jams and jellies, artisan breads, raw local honey, and much more. There is music, and there are little piglets that race around a track.

It’s perfect walking weather.  The summer sun has lost its power to melt you the minute you step outside. The breeze is fresh and bracing. There are probably more runners, walkers, and bikers going by on our road right now than there were all summer.

The sounds of nature seem to ramp up in the fall, too.  There are always frogs, crickets, and busy birds.  Squirrels seem to go manic, racing around the yard, chasing each other for the sheer joy of play. You do have to be careful in the fall as the deer yard up and seem to lose whatever amount of sense a deer has. They tend to like to cross the roads just at dusk, when it’s hard to see.  If one deer crosses in front of you, there are almost surely two or three more.  Lots of roadkill. Time to thin down the herd.

One of the things I love most is being able to shut off the air conditioning and open up the doors and windows. All the funky summer air gets pushed out, and things just seem fresher.  And i love having my bedroom window open at night so I can start piling on the covers. In a couple of months I’ll get my down comforter out again, and there is nothing more cozy and sleep-inducing than a good bed with puffy covers in a cool room filled with fresh air. I fall asleep to the rhythmic chirp of crickets and frogs.

I love it.

Short and To the Point

Brevity Pulls

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” — Blaise Pascal


I was one of those kids whose English teacher would say, “You need to develop this more, Linda,”  when I turned in a writing assignment.  Aggravated the dickens out of me.  I figured there are only so many ways to say something, and I don’t believe in saying the same thing six different ways just to fill up space. 

It takes some thinking to be concise.  You need to plan what you’re going to say, whether it be written or verbal. If we don’t take the time to think it through, then we end up using fifty words where ten would have done the job.

We are not thoughtful conversationalists.  We interrupt ourselves (and others), backtrack, leave partial sentences hanging in mid-air. We think we need to tell the backstory before the listener will understand.  Usually, that isn’t true.

I think we may be better writers than we are talkers, because writing takes more effort.

When I taught high school English, we always did a unit on the research paper.  Groan for the kids, but many have told me years later how much it helped them in college.  I insisted that they outline their plan before they started writing; also, that they stay with the outline.  I helped them get the outline in good order, teaching them to think logically and carefully before they started writing.  What they learned was that if they had a good plan, the hard work was already done.  The writing tended to flow fairly easily because of the research, organization and detailed planning that had gone ahead of the writing.

I had a teacher years ago who first introduced me and the class to this acronym:  KISS.  Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Or, more kindly, Keep It Short and Sweet.  Either way, brevity, clarity, and simplicity are much more likely to be read than will long, rambling, verbose prose.