A Toxic Trip


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Actually an abbreviation of Zoological Gardens  in London, this is really a prefix for having to do with animals/animal life.  It’s just easier to say, “Let’s go to the zoo,” instead of, “Perhaps we could observe the specimens in the Zoological Gardens, my dear.”

Our kids always enjoyed the zoo, wherever we found one. The Philadelphia Zoo is pretty amazing. They could never get me to enter the reptile house, but other than that it was a fun outing. There was also a very respectable zoo in Norristown.  Not sure if it still exists.

We went to a petting zoo in upper Michigan many years ago. The kids enjoyed being so close to the animals, including local wildlife. The deer were so pretty.


Image result for petting zoo with deer

And so toxic. Our second-oldest son, who was maybe five at the time,  complained that his neck was itchy.  I looked, and sure enough the back of his neck was erupting in hives. We put ice on it, and didn’t think much more about it.

Later that night, his big brother brought him to our bedroom.  He was laboring for breath, and we realized that he was having a severe allergic reaction. Rushed him to the ER, where they got him fixed up pretty quickly.  Apparently it’s pretty common up there to be allergic to deer dander. It was a frightening experience for me, having had no experience up to that point with allergic reactions to anything. If I’d recognized sooner what was happening, we would have saved the poor kid some pretty scary minutes.

You know, it’s amazing to me how one little word can trigger so many memories.  Maybe it’s because I’m old.  Lots of years of memories tucked away in my grey matter 🙂




A Little Bit


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There’s not a lot of info on the origins of this fun little word.  First known use:  1664.  No explanation that I could find in a quick scan.  It just means a little bit. A snippet of news from home, a snippet of accurate information in the news, a snippet of truth in a lot of lies.

And that’s all I have time for this morning–just a snippet of information.  On my way to work shortly. Here’s something I didn’t know, though:  The computer world uses a lot of snippets.

Image result for snippet



PHOTO PROMPT © What’s His Name

“What is it?” asked Zing.

“Dunno,” said Zang.

“Think we should check it out?  Looks like a trigger at the top.  Could be a weapon.”

“Okay, but be careful.   Find a stick or something to open it;  it could be a trap.”

Zing found a sturdy branch. He waited for Zang to pick his way through the cluttered old barn.

“Okay, ready?” Zang nodded, and Zing carefully nudged the oval lid upward. revealing the ringed piece underneath.

“Empty.  Okay, take the lid off the back piece. Careful.”


They didn’t know how lucky they were.

The Towers


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20+ years ago, we were visiting New York City with some close friends. He was driving, which he loves to do. He was a trucker, and was familiar with the city.  We were having a great time together, enjoying all the sights.  I loved visiting, but knew I’d never want to live there.  I grew up in cities–Minneapolis and Portland, OR–but over the years I’ve become more comfortable in the country.

Anyway, we’d decided to visit the Twin Towers, so we headed to the financial district.  First time I’d ever seen Wall Street, and what impressed me was that it wasn’t all that long, but the buildings all towered over the scurrying people and vehicles of all sorts.

Image result for Wall Street, New York

This is a very quiet moment on Wall Street.  When we were there, the traffic was thick.  There was one thing, though, that we–and our driver–did NOT see:

Image result for one-way sign on Wall Street

So our driver pulled his car around the corner, going the wrong way, and set off a cacophony of blaring horns and gesturing people.  Realizing his error, he laughed, tipped his hat to the other drivers, and quickly scooted around another corner that set him in the right direction.

No harm, no foul.  Just a fun, memorable moment before we finally reached the Towers, where we went only as far as the 8th floor.  Money was tight for us back then, and it would have cost more than we wanted to spend to go up to the top. Still, I’m glad we were there.  Glad we  had the opportunity to see what they were like before the enemy took them down.

Image result for Twin Towers


A Warm Pastime


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I learned to knit when I was about 10.  I was fascinated then, but there was no money for yarn and other equipment, so I didn’t go any farther with it then.  Later, though, after I was married, I picked up the craft and  indulged in lovely yarns, needles, and several other helpful tools.

Knit and crochet are ancient, time-honored crafts that bring me a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure.  I love the feel of the yarn in my fingers.  I enjoy the rhythm of the stitching.  I love seeing a pattern take shape and something beautiful begin to grow from the simple needles and a skein of yarn. It’s amazing, really.

My hands and fingers aren’t as nimble as they used to be.  My eyes are also not as keen and I find it more difficult these days to follow pattern directions.  I’ve never been one of those talented people who can create something as they go, not needing a pattern to follow.

Still, lately, I’ve been getting the knitting itch.  Maybe it’s because the winter weather looms, and knitting is such a warm  thing to do in the winter. I have some other projects to tend to, though, and I probably won’t do much knitting this winter.

I have a couple of warm, bulky sweaters that I like to wear when it’s really cold. Trouble is, they’re so warm that I get too hot, so they spend most of the winter in my drawer.  They would have been more useful when we lived in Michigan or Minnesota, where it gets down to sub-zero temps and stays there for weeks at a time.

Well, I’m rambling.  I’ll close with this:  If you’ve ever thought you’d like to learn to knit, You Tube is a great resource. You can learn everything from the most basic to the most complicated aspects of knitting.

Try it.  You may like it 🙂


Mercy Trumps Justice


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Justice is when you get what you deserve.

Grace is when you get what you don’t deserve.

Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve.

I’m teaching a group of high school homeschoolers Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.  One of the important themes is mercy.  Portia’s speech is perhaps the most well-known speech in the play. Shylock had demanded a pound of flesh instead of monetary interest if his loan to Antonio could not be repaid. Portia’s pleas was to let mercy prevail over justice.

Indeed, we could all benefit by showing a bit more mercy in these troubled times.


The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, 
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

Fibber McGee’s Closet


PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Judy and Uncle Bill  opened the door to  Aunt Reenie’s storage closet. They both stood speechless, taking in the  years of accumulated  miscellany.

“It’s Fibber McGee’s closet!” said Uncle Bill.

“Who?  What?” asked Judy.

“It’s an old radio program. Look it up.  Well, let’s get it done.”

Aunt Reenie was Uncle Bill’s aunt, nearly 100 years old when she decided to die.

“What useless junk!”  Judy  declared.

“Maybe. But Aunt Reenie was thankful for everything she had. There are some good stories in this closet.”

“Really?  Like what?”  The time flew as they cleared it out.




Leaving It


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Image result for cozy nest

This isn’t mine, but doesn’t it look cozy?  It’s the way I feel about my house–safe, comfortable, a retreat, a nest.

I have to leave it for most of today, to go work in my cozy nest of an office.  I have nine people to see today, and I have admit it makes me weary just to think about it.  I won’t be home until after 9 p.m. and I’ll go to bed just as soon after that as I can.

I was sick over the weekend with some kind of bug that still hasn’t completely gone away, so my energy level isn’t tip-top. Yesterday I tackled some laundry and dusted all the furniture in preparation for Thanksgiving here on Thursday.

My wonderful husband has volunteered to do floors and bathrooms today, so all I’ll have to do tomorrow is begin prepping for the feast. Others are bringing some sides and desserts, so there really isn’t that much for me to do. Turkey/stuffing, our family favorite jello salad, potatoes, dinner rolls. My menu is written down, the food shopping is done. The bird is thawing slowly in the fridge. Things are under way.

I’m thankful this year that I’m able to do Thanksgiving here. For years, our tradition has been that I do Thanksgiving and my daughter does Christmas. For the last couple of year my back pain has made it necessary for her to do both, but this year I’m doing better. So glad to be able to move freely, sleep well–all without benefit of pain medication.

So.  As the seven dwarfs sang, “Hi Ho! Hi Ho!  It’s off to work I go!”



Writer’s Block


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Linda sat in front of her computer, contemplating the blinking cursor on the empty document.  Frustrated, she picked up her coffee mug.  Without looking, she tipped it up to drink and was rewarded with a mouthful of grainy sludge.  Bitter, it filled her mouth with an acrid flavor, even sticking between her teeth.



She rushed across the hall to the bathroom where she  spit out the mouthful of coffee grounds, brushed her teeth vigorously, rinsed with mouthwash.  Better, but she figured she’d be picking tiny bits of ground coffee  from her teeth for the rest of the day.

Okay.  Back to the computer.  Drat.  The document was still empty, the cursor still blinking at her maliciously.

Time to go make some more coffee.



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From Greek atmos, meaning vapor; and sphaira, meaning globe, hence “the vapor around the globe.”

Today, we think of atmosphere  as having to do with the weather; also we recognize that there are distinct layers of atmosphere surrounding our earth and other planets.  One of the jobs of the atmosphere is to absorb some of the harmful parts of the sun’s intense heat, protecting us from becoming crispy critters.

Atmosphere  has a couple of distinct meanings today:

the envelope of gases surrounding the earth or another planet.

  1. “part of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere”
    synonyms: airaerospaceMore

  2. 2.
    the pervading tone or mood of a place, situation, or work of art.
    “the hotel is famous for its friendly, welcoming atmosphere”
    synonyms: ambienceairmoodfeelfeelingcharactertonetenorauraqualityundercurrentflavor;

    “the hotel has a relaxed atmosphere”

    Most of us recognize when we’re in an uncomfortable atmosphere.  Have you ever walked into a party you were invited to, and found the hostess to be as cold as ice when she greeted you?  Makes you wonder why she asked you to come, when she so clearly doesn’t want you there.

    I’ve had couples come to my office, and the strain between them was almost visible. This is particularly true if they’ve waited for years and years before trying to find any help. Often, they come too late. It’s very sad. They’ve also taught their children that this strained, angry atmosphere is normal, and so the problems perpetuate themselves.

    Then, there is the opposite atmosphere; one of warmth, welcome, and acceptance. Like a cool breeze on a very hot day.

    The earth’s atmosphere helps keep us alive. The atmosphere of our homes  can help keep us content.