Coming to Life

Quicken–today’s one-word prompt


It’s a good word for this last day of February.  Already, because we’ve had some unseasonably warm weather this month, there is a sense that things are beginning to quicken–to come back to life.  There is no green yet, no daffodils or tulips, no forsythia or crocus  brightening the landscape.

It’s more of a feeling than an actual fact.

We haven’t had a hard winter.  We could still get some snow in March, which is a most unpredictable month. It can still be cold.  But the promise of consistent warmth, and the burgeoning colors of spring, is right around the corner.  If we do get snow this month, it will melt fast.

Some of the biggest snows in my memory here in Pennsylvania have come just before spring. I suppose that’s because the temperature, humidity, cold and warm fronts, all work just right to create the  buckets of snow that can dump on us here. It’s all good, because it only lasts a day or two, and it softens the earth to prepare the soil for the spring rains that contribute to the fairyland of flowering trees that bring joy to my eyes every year.


That’s one of the best things about winter.  It ends. It’s replaced by such beauty that you know every cold and blustery day was worth it.


Don’t Worry!


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I’m not sure why, but today’s one-word prompt took me to target shooting.  Maybe it’s because I can never hit the center of a target.

My eyes are goofy. I have one near-sighted eye, one far-sighted. If I hold my finger with what looks like dead center, and close my right eye, it seems my finger shifts a good two or three inches to the right. If I close my left eye, my finger moves a little tiny bit to the left, but not significantly. So when I’m aiming at something, if I want to hit the target I have to remember to close my left eye, or try to keep both eyes open. Still, I’m almost always going to hit left of where I’m aiming. There’s also something that goes on with my right arm. If I throw a ball, or a bowling ball, I have to aim it way to the right if I want it to hit dead center.


So the good news for you is that if I’m aiming right at you, I’ll probably miss.

On the other hand, if I’m NOT aiming right at you, there’s an outside chance I’ll  hit you 🙂



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Yesterday I saw an article about a giraffe in a zoo who was pregnant, soon to have her baby. The zoo had set up a video cam so people all over the world could see the event. Then, suddenly, the video was gone. Why?  Well, because some animal rights group had objected to the video, shown on You Tube, on grounds of nudity and sexual content. It took a few hours, but the video was up and running again as of last night.

Animal nudity?  Horrible!  Outrageous!  Put some CLOTHES on that female!  Honestly, it’s embarrassing, the way she goes around having a baby in public!

Sexual content?  Well, if you’ve ever seen any animal–or even a human mom–in the process of giving birth, I can tell you it’s not a terribly sexy sight.  In fact, some fathers who have watched the birth of their first child  have been known to swear off sex  forever.  I doubt very much they kept that vow, but my point is, birth is not about getting off on raw sex.  It’s about birth. It’s about the amazing process that reproduces a human or an animal

Children who grow up on farms often witness birth long before they understand anything about sex. As far as I know, they don’t become sex maniacs after watching the birth of a calf or a litter of kittens.

 I have to wonder if these same people who were so outraged about the giraffe were similarly outraged by, for instance, the behavior of Miley Cyrus, whose purpose was unquestionably and overtly sexual.

Then, this morning, I read about the very early birth of twin girls in Scotland, born just a day or two before the abortion cut-off point at which it would be illegal in Scotland to abort them. They’re so tiny, they can be held together in one hand. Amazing that they survived, but so far, they’re doing well.

Reading the article, I was once again impressed with the “When does it become a baby” debate.Legally, here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, it’s not a baby until the mother decides to take it home.  If she walks away  from the hospital, it’s not a baby. It’s just junk, I guess.

The Not-Snow

Photo Prompt for Friday Fictioneers:

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

“It’s odd that we’re having snow so early in the season,” Brigitta commented. “Hans, don’t you think it’s odd?”

“Brigitta, you need to take care of your chores and get away from the window.” Hans was gruff in his response. He’d been up at the camp all day performing his duties as a guard.

“It’s very odd snow, Hans. I’ve never seen anything like it.And what’s that awful smell?  Phew! It seems to come in the door with you.”

“Brigitta!  That’s enough! Mind your own business.Leave me alone. I’m tired.”

Onomatopoeia, Again


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Here’s another word that is a great example of onomatopoeia:  It sounds like what it means.

As a verb, it means to speak in an  unclear manner, mushing words so they can barely be understood. We tend to connect slurred speech with drunkenness, or as a symptom of a stroke or other illness.  Sometimes young people tend to be difficult to understand because they slur their words together.  I’m not sure why that is.  They do seem to move past it, a great relief to those of us whose ears don’t work as well as they used to.

As noun, a slur is an insult. We often think of it in terms of racial slurs; sometimes it is a slur on one’s character, or personality.

Image result for slurry definition

(A manure slurry is used to fertilize fields.  It works great, but it sure smells terrible!)

Another noun deriving from the same root is slurry.  A slurry is a semiliquid mixture, typically of fine particles of manure, cement, or coal suspended in water.

In any case, as I’ve said so many times before, words mean things. Racial slurs are not merely unkind, they are inflammatory.  Sadly, they’re being used these days as an indictment on anyone who isn’t on board with the agenda of the radical left.  Being conservative does NOT equal being racist.  Just saying.

Life is Rhythmic


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 So many things in our lives are based on rhythm.  Perhaps most important is the heartbeat. It is amazing how long and steadily our hearts are able to continue working. The heart is an involuntary muscle, one we don’t decide to use the way we decide to use our leg muscles to walk or run. It just beats. BOOMboomBOOMboom, over and over again. It speeds up when we’re fearful, or falling in love, or we’ve been exercising, but the rhythm is the same.
 Have you ever thought about how often children’s games are based on rhythm?  Think about jump-rope rhymes:
I Had a Little Puppy
I had a little puppy. His name was Tiny Tim. I put him in the bathtub, To see if he could swim. He drank up all the water. He ate a bar of soap. The next thing you know, He had a bubble in his throat. In came the doctor (person jumps in). In came the nurse ( person jumps in). In came the lady With the alligator purse (person jumps in). Out went the doctor (person jumps out). Out went the nurse (person jumps out). Out went the lady With the alligator purse (person jumps out).
There are hundreds of these, along with nursery rhymes, silly songs, counting games and more. Some kids are born with a sense of rhythm; others develop it by playing these rhythmic games. All good athletes have a well-developed sense of rhythm; so do all musicians.
Circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle of life that follows a pattern of some sort, different for plants, animals, weather, dark and light, and human. We humans are the ones who mess up our rhythms by sleeping too much or not enough, by working the graveyard shift when our bodies want to sleep, by eating too much just before bedtime, and by sleeping with lights on or some kind of noise in the background. When we mess up our circadian rhythms, our bodies and minds respond with stress and all its related ills. Modern life and technology have done a lot of damage to our normal life rhythms.
 Well. This is a vast topic, and obviously of some interest to me. So let’s end on a lighter note.  Years ago when I was teaching elementary music, this was a song my little kids loved to sing:

The Treehouse


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When I was ten, we moved to a little suburb of Portland, Oregon, called Milwaukee.  I loved it. There were fun kids in the neighborhood, and it wasn’t city. There was plenty of wooded area, and there were bushes growing along the side of the road that fairly burst with blackberries for our pleasure.

It was a growing area, with several building sites nestled among the wonderful, tall pine trees. Those areas were a treasure trove for a bunch of kids itching to build a treehouse, and in my memory, the guys on the work crews got a kick out of supplying us with lots of bent nails, scraps of tarpaper, and odds and ends of lumber.


(ours wasn’t this fancy–we didn’t have any adult help!)

We found a tree that was a fairly easy climb, and that had perfect branches for our project. We labored all day every day for what seems like maybe two weeks or more, putting down a floor, building up walls, creating windows, and it seems like we used something for a ceiling.  Maybe some of the bushy boughs from the trees.

Every day we went home with pine pitch on our clothes, in our hair, and our shoes. We were allowed to use only our oldest, raggedy jeans and shirts because the pitch just didn’t come out very well.

We were finally finished, and I remember spending the better part of the next week tucked away in our hideout. We played games, read,  loafed around, chatted with the builders who were pretty complimentary about our efforts.

Then, one morning, the reality of the existence of rotten people hit us right between the eyes. Someone had trashed our hideout. Completely destroyed, it lay in pieces on the ground all around the tree.

We asked the work crews, and they were sympathetic, but hadn’t been there when the damage was done.

Well. We went on to other projects, and we got over it. But the memory of the fun of building, and the sick feeling of helplessness when someone wrecked our fun, stays in the crevices of my memory.

Glisters and Shakespeare


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“All that glisters is not gold,” is the way Shakespeare wrote it in The Merchant of Venice. Portia  says the famous line, and shows a great deal of wisdom in her speech: ‘

All that glisters is not gold—
Often have you heard that told.
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold.
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscrolled
Fare you well. Your suit is cold—
Cold, indeed, and labor lost.

I was just reading about the multiple expensive houses and properties that have been, and are being, purchased by the Obamas, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton. I’m saying this not to stir up controversy. There’s way more than enough of that.  I just find it interesting that these people, who have all berated the super-rich for their wastefulness, arrogance, separating themselves from “the small people,” are themselves super-rich, doing exactly what they criticize.

Image result for portia in the merchant of venice

It is not wrong to be rich.

It is not wrong to buy expensive homes–or two or three.

It is not immoral to live where you want to live.

But I have to wonder if these folks are going to find whatever happiness it is that they seek in all their buying.  Just because it glitters, so to speak, on the outside, that doesn’t mean it will fulfill whatever desires are on the inside.

Portia was extraordinarily beautiful and wealthy.  Many men, she says, have given all they possess just to look at her (in hopes of winning her hand, if you read the entire play). Then she says that golden tombs are really just filled with death and worms, and if those men had been as wise as they were bold in their advances toward her, they may not have been so quick to waste their money and their youth.

Wise woman.

More than Language


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The ability to translate one language into another is a wonderful  thing.  I can speak and read just enough German to get me confused, but I wish I had kept up my study of the language after college.  Same with Spanish. I had only one year, as a high school freshman, but many  things stay in my memory.

I have learned, however, that  there are more things than words that need to be translated. Body language is endlessly fascinating to me, partly because I’ve just always been a people watcher and partly because of the work I do.

So many little clues. In marital counseling, if a couple comes in and sit as far apart as possible on the sofa in my office, I know my work is going to be difficult. If they angle their bodies away from each other, there is much anger and distrust, and a whole lot of unforgiveness.

When the counseling is one-on-one, my first clue is how the person sits. If a person perches on the very edge of the sofa, legs clamped tightly together, keeping a tight grip on a handbag or wallet, there is high anxiety and possibly a strong feeling of guilt and fear.


If the person has a hard time raising her eyes to meet mine, she almost always thinks very poorly of herself. This observation leads me to wonder about possible abuse, either past or present, or both.

If the hands are trembling, there is a lot of nervous energy, possibly fear.  Breaking point is close, and I need to spend some time helping the person relax and trust me.

If someone sits down, eyes on the ground, shoulders slumped, body inert, hands clasped between the knees, I almost certainly have a case of depression to work with.

However–big however–I cannot assume that my translation of body language is 100% accurate. There can be so much more going on under the surface, and I have been surprised more than once about the real reason behind any particular posture or physical attitude.

It’s a fascinating job.



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The first thing that comes to mind is the ripe peach my Uncle Lyman handed me  oh, so many years ago, picked right off a tree in his orchard. It wasn’t like the picture-perfect peaches you see in your produce department. It was an old-fashioned peach. Biting into it was pure pleasure. The juices ran down my chin and onto my blouse. Each bite was like fireworks going off on my tongue.  I have never tasted any other peach so heavenly, juicy, bursting with flavor.  A wonderful memory. Uncle Lyman’s son is running the orchards now.  If you ever get a chance, try a fresh-picked Colorado peach!