I Love Clouds

Clouds

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

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I love clouds. Always have. They’re beautiful.  They provide shade.  They provide life-giving rain. They provide entertainment for people who like to see pictures in the sky. They provide snow, which provides nitrogen to enrich the soil.

Sometimes clouds are scary.  Thunderheads can mean a rainstorm, or a tornado. They are accompanied, often, by high winds, thunder, and lightning.  It’s probably a good idea to stay near shelter when these guys come roaring through the neighborhood.

Growing up in Minnesota farm country, I had a fascination and a healthy respect for hail storms. The clouds would turn an ugly green/yellow, and you knew there was trouble.

Wizard of Oz, anyone?  Those funnels are nothing to play around with. The noise really is like an old-fashioned freight train bearing down on you. The winds are immense, and if you’re smart you go find a shelter until things settle down. I just want to emphasize here that this really is what it looks like.  Chilled a farmer’s heart, for sure, knowing he could lose all his crops in a matter of minutes.  The colors here are not exaggerated.  It’s eerie.

I remember one time when a couple of tornadoes traveling in tandem ripped through St. James lake, dividing it like Moses lifting his rod over the Red Sea.  Of course, the water flowed right back as the twisters danced through, but people who saw it were pretty amazed. I remember hearing that the funnels left what looked like plowed furrows in the ground as they made their approach.

Here’s an amazing picture:  A super cell storm cloud forming over Wyoming.

While my heart and soul respond to these storms with awe and excitement, I’m also keenly aware of the damage and heartbreak they can create.  People die.  There’s nothing exciting about that.

I think it’s just the amazing power they create that holds my attention and draws me to pictures and videos.  I have a grandson who loves storms, and he lives out in the Midwestern prairies where there’s plenty of storm activity during tornado season.  I get it, why he’s so interested.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clouds/

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Mona

Day 30 Thirty Books

June 30, 1936. Margaret Mitchell’s book, Gone with the Wind, was published. 

Your last Challenge!

Have you dreamed of writing a novel? Set a timer for thirty minutes and free write! Write whatever comes to mind, then take just a few moments to do some simple editing such as correcting grammar and spelling.

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Mona woke slowly, enjoying the breeze flirting with the sheer curtains at the west-facing window.  It was just barely light outside, but the birds were singing as if their little throats simply couldn’t contain their joy.  She loved the sweet smell of the lavender planted just outside the bedroom window.  It had been there for more years than she cared to remember. Lovely lavender.

Stretching slowly, as she had learned to do when her joints began to ache with arthritis, she reached her right arm across to Ned’s side of the bed and touched. . . .

Nothing.

“Oh, dear God, when will I stop that!”  She struggled with the lump in her throat, blinking back hot tears.  “I will NOT cry this morning,” she promised herself. “Will. Not. Cry.”

She rolled to her left side, dropping her legs over the edge of the bed and searching for her slippers.  Sitting up now, she stared down at the floor and thought about the coming day. She couldn’t sit there very long, though, because she was needing the bathroom.  These days, she obeyed that call right away.

As she rinsed her cleansing cream off her face, she did something she hadn’t done in some time. She stopped to examine her skin. Yes, all the wrinkles and creases, and the droopy turkey wattles under her chin were still there, at least to her critical eye. She creamed it all faithfully, and people told her she didn’t look her age.

She looked into her own eyes, wondering what other people saw when they looked at her. Did they see her aching loneliness?  Did they see the fear she often felt? Did they see how desperately she wished she could have had just one more morning with Ned?  Or did they see a woman who was confident, in control, dealing with life as it came?

It was hard to know.  She masked her true feelings quite well, a skill she’d learned so long ago as she grew up in a home where Dad was gone most of the time and Mom was just too worn out to want to listen to a young girl’s growing pains.  Meeting Ned had changed her life from loneliness to loveliness. She missed him with a deep wanting that no one knew, and she was unable to share it with anyone else.

Well.  Time to get ready for the day. Mona padded off to the kitchen, enjoying the aroma of the coffee she’d prepared the night before.  The timed coffee maker had been one of Ned’s last gifts.  He never liked coffee himself, but he knew she loved her morning brew. Using the machine was her daily tribute to Ned’s thoughtfulness.

She got a mini-bagel out of the freezer.  Half the carbs of a regular-sized bagel, she enjoyed one a couple of times each week with cream cheese and a little spoon of jelly.  Cherry jelly today. She looked forward to that pop of flavor.

She doctored her coffee with raw sugar and a dollop of half and half,  took her bagel out of the toaster and loaded it up, then carried everything to her chair in the living room. Her habit for more years than she could count, she set her breakfast down on the tray beside her chair, put a CD in the Bose to accompany her morning, and sat down to the strains of Vivaldi. Putting her feet up on the hassock, she leaned back and closed her eyes just for a few moments. And suddenly she could have sworn that Ned was right there, looking at her, smiling the way he did when her feet were bare and he was considering giving them a tickle.

Startled, she opened her eyes and. . . . well, of course, there was no one.  No one at all. She broke her vow not to cry, but she didn’t let it last very long.  Just a few seconds.  Wiping her eyes with the tissue in her pocket, she reached for the Bible that was always near her chair. She took great comfort just from the feel of the old Book, its worn leather cover, even the smell of the pages as she flipped over to the the place she’d stopped the day before.

Philippians had been her favorite book since she’d been in her 30’s and worked so hard to memorize the four chapters.  She was reading there now, and she smoothed the pages as she traveled back in time over 30 years ago.

There would have been four young people in their various rooms.  Ned would have been outdoors already on such a beautiful spring morning, checking the roses for Japanese beetles and making sure the  raspberries weren’t being all picked off by the birds.  The kids wouldn’t be up yet.  She treasured this early morning time when the house was quiet, before the bustle of getting up, showered, off to school turned her morning into  constant motion. If she closed her eyes again and listened carefully, she could hear them moving around in their rooms as they woke up, hit the shower, used the blow-dryer, and came out to do whatever their assigned duty was for that week.  One would set about making lunches; one would take care of the dog; one would check laundry and do whatever needed doing; and one would police the living area, kitchen, and bathrooms.

They’d been good kids.  Their cooperation made it possible for her to work full time, teaching history and English and some other things  as well.

Again, she snapped out of her reverie with tears trickling down her cheeks. Boy. She had to stop this.

She let her eyes drift over the pages until they rested on the passage she’d read yesterday.  Taking another sip of the coffee in her mug, she settled down to read  the next chapter.

June 30 Challenge

P.S.  I want to thank you, Kathleen Duncan, for the time and thought you put into this challenge for the month of June.  I can hardly believe we’re at the end of it!  I enjoyed it, enjoyed reading what others have done, enjoyed stretching myself a little more than usual. 

Today’s challenge  made me come face to face with  something I need to continue working on.  What I’ve written here is a complete revision of what I’d already started, and  I think it’s a little better than it was.  I’d love to take Mona through the next few months of her life, so thanks for getting me moving.  

Motel

Tourist

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

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We owned a little mom-and-pop motel for three years in central Minnesota, back in the ’80’s.  It was an enlightening experience (roll eyes,vast understatement). We had regulars–truckers, salespeople. We had entertainers for the local watering holes, of which there were plenty.

And we had tourists.  Tourists are usually in a pretty good frame of mind, and they rarely caused us trouble.  Usually, they were passing through to points north. Sometimes they were there for the Brainerd International Racetrack, at which even the great Paul Newman showed up now and then. Not that we ever saw him. He used the more upscale motels in the area, I’m sure.

Some of the tourists were just unbelievable.

There was the night we notice headlight pulling into the parking lot, long after we knew all our roomers were safely tucked into bed. Being of a suspicious turn of mind, Terry grabbed the shotgun he kept under the bed and  let himself out the side door into the back yard, which was surrounded with lots of shrubbery and trees. Stood very still. It was a moonless night, so he couldn’t see much, but he could hear rustling and–yup–giggling.  Hmmm. He crept out into the yard, staying in the shadows, found the car, and followed his ears to the bushes. As he was lifting the shotgun, several girls came running out of the bushes, pulling up shorts and pants and yelling, “Don’t shoot, mister!  We just needed a bathroom, and we couldn’t find one!  We’re leaving, honest!”  Doubled over in laughter, Terry  watched them peel out of the parking lot and disappear into the night.

We had become a motoilet.   Good grief.

There was a night when I had to be alone.  Our bedroom faced directly into the tiny hallway that was the entrance/office.  Suddenly, around 3 a.m., someone banged on the locked office door, over and over.  Groan.  I grabbed the trusty shotgun, donned robe and slippers, and fumbled my way to the door. I switched on the light, which of course revealed to the drunk outside the door that I was carrying a gun.  His eyes got as big as plates, and backed away shaking his head and waving his hands, and the next thing I heard was the squeal of tires as he peeled out. I had a little trouble getting back to sleep.

(A Brainerd tourist attraction)

One more.  Loved this one. Our sons were about 15, 13, and 11. All big boys,  looking older than they were.  It was the middle of the day when a single man came into the office and I went to do my duty.  He must have thought he was some punkins, because he actually started to flirt with me!  As the air froze around him from my frosty response, he smirked and made as if to come around the desk.

I hollered, “Mike! Ken! Dan!”  and three sets of feet came thundering down the stairs, three big teenagers poured into the very small office space, and Romeo looked as if he was about to faint.

My boys thought it was hilarious. They kind of grouped around him and ushered him back outside to his car, and I admit I had to sit down and unshake for a minute after that one. What if they hadn’t been there?  What if it had been just me and my 9-year-old daughter? It was a slow time of day, no one else was in the motel, and I wasn’t a pistol-packin’ mama at that moment. Never occurred to me  to keep my shotgun handy in the daytime hours.

All’s well that ends well, as they say.

It was an interesting life.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tourist/

Pennsylvania Train

Day 29 Track Twenty-nine

June 29, 1896. The St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad Company (predecessor of the St. Louis – San Francisco Railway) is incorporated.

In the old Glen Miller song “The Chattanooga Choo Choo” the train departs on Track 29.

Have you ever ridden a train? Write a post about a train. Tell us about train ride you have taken or one you’d like to take. Make up a story about a train or write a poem featuring a train. Share pictures of trains. Your choice!

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It’s been over 30 years since I took a train trip of any length. There’s a short jaunt from Colmar Station to Philly, but I’ve done that only once, to go to the Flower Show.

The longer trip was from Charlotte, NC to Philly.  I’d been visiting my mom and dad, had a whole glorious week on my own, no kids or any responsibility.  Spent a week in their little South Carolina town where my dad was  the pastor of a Baptist church.  It was a great visit, but I was missing my husband and kids, and was ready to go. We had arranged for me to go home on the train.

Dad drove me to the station, and he wasn’t a bit happy about leaving me there alone when we learned there was going to be a two-hour delay. So we found some seats and settled in to wait out the time. Actually, I’ve always been thankful for that delay.  It was unusual for me to be able to just talk with Dad, with no one else around. He was a smart man, and had learned a great deal about human nature.

As we sat there, I noticed a particularly distinguished black man dressed completely in white. He was handsome, and  had an athletic look about him. He was carrying a bag that obviously contained more than one tennis racket.

And suddenly I realized that I was looking at the famous Arthur Ashe, huge tennis star!  How cool was that! I’m not an autograph seeker, so I didn’t join those who swarmed around him.  He was gracious and patient with all of them.

ARTHUR ASHE BIOGRAPHY TO DEBUT ON TENNIS CHANNEL DURING US OPEN ...

Finally it was time to board, and to be bored. This train traveled up the countryside in the back end of most of the towns, and there really wasn’t much to see.  The countryside was pretty most of the way, but I became quite restless.  My seatmate snored throughout the trip, and I think I fell asleep too. Tried to read, but the motion of the bumpetybump tracks made me carsick.  On the train.  Trainsick?

Well, finally we pulled into the 30th Street Station, and I’ve never been more relieved to  be nearly home.

I was especially pleased to hear the stories my kids had to tell of life with Dad, without Mom. My daughter, a kindergartner, told about taking her lunch out of her Strawberry Shortcake lunch box and trying to remove the sandwich from the plastic baggie. It was difficult because, as she explained to her teacher, “My daddy puts the peanut butter on the outside of the sandwich!” She was quite proud that he’d been so ingenious, and happily enjoyed the mess.

The poor man tried to explain that he’d just forgotten to put the top slice on the sandwich but he forgot because he was in such a hurry. . . . .but I was laughing hysterically, so he gave up.  ROFLMAO animated emoticon

June 29 Challenge

Wonderful Water

Water

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

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Water of Life.  Living Water. Well water. Drinking water.  Salt water, fresh water. Sweet water. Polluted water. Mineral water. Bathing water.  Wash water. Water bucket. Waterfall. Water way. Lemon water.  Designer water. Water drops.  Rain water.  Flood waters. Watered down.  Sparkling water. River water. Spring water. Laughing Waters (Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis).  City of Water (Minneapolis). Shining Big Sea Waters (On the Shores of Gitchegoomee). Water dam. Water gates.  Water sluice. Water weir. Water wings. Amniotic water. Water pitcher, water glass. Water the flowers, water the fields, water the livestock, pray for rain, prepare for flood.  Water cycle. Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink. Water cistern.  Water closet. Waterworks.  Tears.

You know, I didn’t even have to consult a thesaurus, or a dictionary, and I’m just getting started.  Water is the most important substance  on earth. Without it, we would die. So would everything else.

No wonder Jesus Christ called Himself the Living Water, the Water of Life.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/water/

Games

Day 28 Twenty-eight Dominoes

June 28, 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo along with his wife, Duchess Sophie. This assassinated started a domino effect resulting in World War I.

There are 28 dominoes in a full set of dominoes. Do you like to play dominoes? Do you like to play games? Why or Why not? What are your favorite games? Tell us about a time you played a game with friends or family.

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I grew up playing MonopolyCootie, Sorry,  and others I’m sure I’m forgetting.  Checkers.  Chinese Checkers.  Password.  We also played charades, and Scrabble. 

35

Remember that funny-looking dude?  You rolled dice, I think, to earn the pieces.  Don’t remember for sure.

We also played Pick Up Stix. It’s amazing what comes back to mind that I haven’t thought about in years.

I thought the tradition would continue with my husband, but it didn’t take us long to realize that board games were not an area of high compatibility for us.  He’s really good at strategy.  I’m really good at words and trivia. I can’t beat him, he can’t beat me, at the things we’re good at.  It’s not much fun to play when you know can’t win.

But—along came the grandkids, and now I’ve learned to play Mexican Train, and Apples to Apples, and a different version of Charades, among others. It’s fun, and sometimes Terry even gets involved.  Very little strategy, and these games don’t run to my own expertise, either.  A lot of it is just the luck of the draw.  We have a good time.

I think family games are good on many levels.  First, they’re just fun. Second, they really are a bonding opportunity. Third, the kids learn things all the time.  Numbers, words, strategy, all sorts of things.  And they really love it when they manage to beat one or more of the grownups.

Win or lose, it’s a win-win 🙂

https://kathleenbduncan.com/2016/06/27/games/

Poverty of Spirit

Deprive

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

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I always try to go with the first thought that pops up in my little brain when I see the daily prompt.  Words are so elastic, and can mean so many things, that if I thought about it too much I wouldn’t have any idea which direction to take.

So. What prompted me to this little phrase, poverty of spirit?’

I’m really not sure.  Not even sure what I’m going to say next. How about a description?

A person who has a poverty of spirit is one who may be 1) broken by the circumstance of life or 2) broken by his own negative thinking and attitudes toward life.

Can you be broken by life’s circumstances?  Sure.  I’m working with some people right now who are enduring unimaginable pain, fear, and loss. One in particular is truly broken, in every sense of that word, as she struggles through a great grief than she ever, ever thought she would bear. Grief is painful, and only those who have endured it can truly understand what it is.

What I love about this woman is that even though she has been deprived of a relationship that was supposed to go on through the rest of her life, even though she is broken and hurting beyond understanding, still she is seeking to find a direction through her grief.

And the only way out is through.  You can’t go around it, or escape it. You have to go through it.  Sometimes she feels she is deprived of the air she needs for life and breath. She is deprived of sleep, of appetite, of her ability to see beyond her pain.  But she’s coming for help, and step by painful step, she’s finding some light at the end of her tunnel.

Though she is deprived, she does not have poverty of spirit. She will come through this period of grieving. She will always grieve her loss, but it won’t always be this painful.

Another client of mine has also suffered some losses.  They are grievous to bear, and I feel her pain. She, however, is not seeking to find relief from her grief. She is seeking someone who will tell her that she is right and everyone else is wrong.

She came to the wrong place.  That’s just not how I roll.  She’s made some dreadful choices in her life, against all counsel from people who know her and love her, and now she’s paying the piper.  I’m sorry for her pain, truly.  But I tell her nearly every time I see her, “Look, you know what I’m going to say here.  When you choose the behavior, you also choose the consequence.  You cannot avoid the consequence just because you don’t like it.  It’s not a matter of “fair” or “not fair.”  It’s a matter of the natural result of the choices  you made.”

She doesn’t like that.  She feels everyone is against her, even me. Yet she keeps coming back, and I’m praying that eventually the scriptures that I’ve offered her, and the down-home common sense, will erase her sense of being deprived of her happiness and help her get rid of her true poverty of spirit.

And that’s all.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/deprive/