Trace the Path


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I can’t draw a straight line, but I used to like to trace pictures and then color them. There used to be coloring books meant just for that purpose.  Don’t know if there are still such things available.

Of course, one can use tracing paper for copying quilt block patterns, and that’s something I’d like to take up again someday. Maybe when I retire. If I retire.

Also, one can be lost without a trace, which is a terrible tragedy.

You can go here to find out a whole lot of other definitions of the word trace.  It’s amazing, really, how many different ways the word can be used.

And then, of course, there is Dick Tracy, which may be too old for younger people to remember. He was a Sunday Comics detective who wore a two-way wristwatch that he could talk to, and messages would go back and forth between him and whoever was on the other end. That was science fiction back then 🙂

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And yes, of course there was a movie.  I think this actor is Warren Beatty, but I could be wrong.  Feel free to correct me.

Image result for Dick Tracy

And now see if you can trace my path from the first sentence to the last.

Be a Dick Tracy, Detective 🙂




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Someone in our neighborhood just loves fireworks.  I was reading last night when suddenly it sounded as if hail was coming down on the roof.  I couldn’t imagine, so I listened more carefully and sure enough, this neighbor was getting a head start on detonating his supply of noisy fireworks. It lasted for quite some time.  I went to bed to the pop-pop-pop of the celebration, but it didn’t keep me awake.
 We can expect the same scenario every time there’s any sort of holiday, even including Easter, Christmas, New Year’s Day.  Sometimes we have to try to figure out what this neighbor is celebrating, because there’s nothing on the calendar to help us out. Maybe his birthday, or anniversary. Maybe he’s just feeling good 🙂
It’s not really a problem. He doesn’t keep it up all night long. It’s just kind of a curiosity. In my childhood, the only time anyone ever set off fireworks was on the Fourth of July. We’ve lived in this neighborhood for nearly 23 years now, and it still takes me by surprise when whoever it is starts his noisy party.

Infusing Tea


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First thought:  Tea!  Wonderful, aromatic, soothing, relaxing.  So many flavors, so many different areas of the world where tea is grown, and each has a unique flavor from all the rest.

I first learned to like tea when Mom would brew  a cup when I had a sore throat. If we had honey, she would put some in the tea.  It smelled so good, and the sweet warmth truly was soothing.

But I learned to love tea many years later when I went to England with my son. That post will give you the details, if you’re interested. The aroma of the tea our hostess made was wonderful. Infusing tea the British way gives a much more refined flavor, with none of the bitterness that can show up when you just pop a tea bag into a cup of water you’ve heated in the microwave.


A true British  tea is a delight. Delicious, savory sandwiches, little cakes and other small pastries, all done in a nearly ritualistic manner,  is a unique and wonderful experience.  Of all the things we did and all the places we saw, having tea in our guide’s home was one of the biggest highlights for me.

We Need a Reprieve


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You know, I think we need a reprieve in this old world.  I searched Google images for something to use here today, but even the jokes were too grim. There has been so much ugliness this week–no, not just this week. Months and years of horrible headlines about killing, bombing, maiming, shooting. I just wanted something light and funny that would give every one of my readers a reprieve from the sadness that has settled over everyone except, perhaps, those who believe that the Manchester bomber was doing God’s work.

I need to  say that I could never love and serve a god who requires the murder of children.

And that’s it for today. It’s enough.

Buy Now, Pay Now


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My mind often goes to the Great Depression era with words like today’s prompt. The people who endured that era, unless they were among the very wealthy, struggled to survive. And there were those among the very wealthy who lost it all in the stock market, and they often chose not to survive, but took their own lives, leaving their families to cope however they could.

One of the contributors to the Depression, and of course there were many layers of cause, was the popularity of buying on credit.  The great discovery of being able to have nice things without paying right away swept the country.  Of course, that house of cards came tumbling down when creditors would no longer wait for small monthly payments because they, too, were finding it hard to make ends meet.

Buy now pay later label

The thing that amazes me is that people are still going into huge credit card debt, spending money they don’t have and won’t earn in a lifetime. Not only have they fallen prey to one credit card; most people have several, and they pay each one off with another card.  That’s just craziness.

Yes, we have credit cards. However, we pay them off every month.  We know what our income is, and we don’t spend money we know we don’t have.  When you pay it off every month, you don’t have all the late fees and interest to pay.

Sometimes, people come to my counseling office with multiple issues.  One of them is almost always money.  One is a spender, the other a saver.  Or they’re both spenders, and their credit card debt is sky high. They’re finally beginning to realize that paying the minimum payment every month puts them in credit jail for a lifetime. I’m not a financial advisor, and I don’t try to be.  I refer them elsewhere for that kind of help.  What I can do is try to figure out what’s behind the uncontrolled spending. There’s usually something there, an emptiness they’re trying to fill with expensive clothes, cars and so on.

We tried to teach our kids the 10-10-80 system.  Ten percent of your pay is for spending; ten is for the Lord, and 80 goes into the bank. It took with some of them better than others 🙂

I guess, if I have a point this morning, that it would be a good thing for all of us to tighten our belts a bit.  I believe America is in for some very hard times not too long from now. I had parents who taught me how to live on a shoestring. Many others don’t know how to do that. Now would be a good time to learn.  What are some resources to help with that?

Old people like me. We’re all over the place. Those of us who were in the first wave of the Baby Boom had parents who grew up during the hardscrabble years after 1929, and our parents taught us well.

Friday Fictioneers: Consumed


PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

The insatiable flames  grew, devouring the building. The stench of charred beams clogged  throats and  burned eyes.

The owner stood, shoulders stooped, hands in pockets, shaking his head endlessly. Everything he owned, damaged beyond repair.  Sure, there was insurance, but he didn’t know if he had the energy to start over again.

It wasn’t just his own loss.  Jobs that had helped keep his village alive and thriving had burned right along with the building.  Countless families would be added to the welfare rolls; there was nowhere else to turn.

Such evil.  Such incredible evil.

How we Dress


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I have always been interested in the way society changes its values and habits over time. I’m talking just about America here.  I’ve never lived anywhere else, so I can’t speak with any authority about other places.

I’ve lived in America for nearly 70 years, and I’ve seen a huge change since I was a little girl.  Some would seem to be small things, not worth noticing. For example, it was always impressed upon us, growing up, that the impression one makes on people is lasting; therefore, you need to always be presentable.  For parents of the 1950’s, that meant clean clothes, polished shoes, socks pulled up and neatly folded at the ankle, and clean fingernails.

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Cute kids, right?  Notice:  The boy is wearing hard-soled shoes.  Sneakers were for gym class. The girl is wearing a dress. No girls ever wore pants to school unless it was very cold, and then you put them on under your skirt and took them off when you got to school. Hair is conservative and neatly combed. The kids are as neat as a pin. Now let’s see how different a girl looks in 2017:

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Ripped jeans, skin tight; long and often messy hair, sneakers, belly shirt.  I couldn’t find a picture of a boy, but they often look about the same as this girl. Or, they wear baggy shorts and tees, great big sneakers with laces left undone, and a backwards ball cap.

No one in my generation would have been caught dead looking like this in public. I’m still amazed that kids WANT to look like their parents can’t afford to buy them new jeans 🙂

So what happened?  Well, to begin with, the Hippie generation back in the 60’s and 70’s, when everyone wanted to be different, but all in the same way.   Long, messy hair, lots of facial hair for the guys, sunglasses, beadsbeadsbeads, tatty old hip-hugging  jeans (bell bottoms, remember?) and either sandals or bare feet.  It was the uniform of those who were rebelling against the Establishment.

Then, comfort became the mantra for what people wore. It still is, but I don’t see as much prejudice against suits for men, office apparel for women that doesn’t look like something out of the dumpster behind the Good Will store. Making a good impression has become important again, and our outward appearance reflects that.  Major changes still exist, though. It is now appropriate for women to wear pants to work, for instance, although I understand some offices frown on it.  There doesn’t seem to be nearly as much emphasis on dress codes as there used to be.

I think we’ve kind of come back to center.  The 50’s were neat and tidy, the 60’s and 70’s ushered in the grunge look.  The 80’s were all about BIG hair, HUGE glasses, shoulder pads for women.  The 90’s tamed that down, and this century, so far,  has been pretty conservative for the most part but gentler around the edges than the 50’s were.

Unless you’re a Hollywood entertainer, where the look for women seems to be as bare and/or revealing as possible while the men still wear tuxedos to walk the red carpet to awards events.

The fact is, we’re always making some kind of impression on someone.  I don’t really worry about that too much.  I dress to please myself, to be appropriate, and not to call attention to myself when I’m working.  I wouldn’t be able to help people if they were so bedazzled by my outfit that they couldn’t think straight.

And heavy women–please, if you’re going to wear the ubiquitous yoga pants, do us all a favor and wear a long top that covers your backside. You apparently don’t know how bad you look.

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Weapons of War


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These rather clumsy constructions could do a great deal of damage.  The bucket was loaded with any number of different projectiles, and could help take down a strong castle wall.
Once, long ago, I read a story in which an enemy prisoner was forced into the bucket, tied hand and foot so that he could not escape. Imagine his terror, and the power of intimidation when the defenders of the keep saw his body hurtling toward them.
We still use the principle of the catapult today in launching fighter planes from massive ships.
So I got to thinking about how we use words, these days, as the ammunition for our verbal catapults. We load up the bucket and then sling words all over the place:  Newspapers, magazines, and especially into cyberspace.
Every day, if I want to waste a lot of time, I could read hundreds of posts about how horrible Trump is, or how evil Hillary is. I never look at them, because I’m just plain fed up with all the ranting and raving. And please don’t read the comments.  I did for a while, until I just couldn’t stomach it any more.  Have we really devolved so far  into ignorance that we can’t think of any word but the F-bomb?
It just never stops, and the computer world has given everyone a place to vent. Journalists are among the worst offenders, putting out lies, guesses, and suppositions in place of truth.  Shame on them for sullying what used to be a respected part of our society.  The mainstream is nothing more than a vehicle to shut down anyone who disagrees with their own agenda.
We’ve become a nation whose fighting among ourselves is making us a ripe plum, just about ready to fall off the tree and into the hands of our enemies.  We use catapults of hateful, ugly lies to try to press the point. It’s a shame. We need to be, once again, the UNITED States of America.  Divided, we fall.

Not Romantic at All


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I remember reading  Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe when I was a kid. It seemed so adventurous, and tested the ability of those involved to survive in precarious situations.  Even Mutiny on the Bounty had a rather romantic ending, and being cast adrift seemed to be not such a bad thing.

Then I read a true story of some people whose boat was wrecked in a storm.  I don’t remember the name of the book, but I do remember that their experience was anything but romantic and adventurous.  It was a nightmare.  Once the rations that were stored ahead in the lifeboat were used up, it became nothing more than slow torture as they drifted to nowhere.

Hot sun, no wind, very little potable water; no clothing to keep their skin from burning, nothing to protect them from whatever weather they encountered.  A couple of them died, and there was even talk among the survivors about cannabalism.  They ended up voting against it, and simply dumped the bodies over the side.

When they were finally rescued, they were all hospitalized for a variety of ills. Some of them suffered terrible nightmares, and what we would recognize today as Post-Traumatic Stress.  None of them looked back fondly on their days together in an inflatable lifeboat.


I love the ocean, but not the idea of being adrift at sea.

Not My Thing


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I have the common sense to stay away from these climbing walls.  I don’t have the strength to climb the basement stairs, never mind a wall like this.

Besides, even if I could ascend, I would be stuck there for the rest of my life because, to me, it is more terrifying to descend than to ascend.  I don’t like heights.  Never have. Heights make me feel as if I’m going to fall off the edge, even if there’s a stout fence between me and the chasm.  It’s as if the pull of gravity multiplies rapidly with every step upward.

No thanks.  I admire those  who consider this exercise to be fun, and more power to them. It’s just not for me.