Another Storm Coming!


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On this first day of spring, 2018, after enduring a rather blustery and lion-like month, we are facing another snowstorm.  It’s supposed to start around six tonight, and keep right on snowing through early Thursday morning.

I sigh.  I have to admit, I’m going to be glad to say goodbye to this month.  It reminds me of southern Minnesota, 1965, March.  We had a huge blizzard every weekend that month, and by the time it finally stopped, you could actually walk from housetop to housetop because of the drifts from the wind.

This is some serious snow.

Which takes me to today’s prompt, identical. They say that no two snowflakes are ever identical.  No one, to my knowledge has ever disputed this claim. I remember looking at snowflakes under a microscope in chemistry class, marveling at the intricate patterns, lacy and fragile, and yes, never identical.

I remember trying to create beautiful snowflakes with paper and scissors, but somehow mine never quite came up to God’s results 🙂  Mine never made it to this level, either!


You’ll never convince me that this amazing lack of repetition in snowflake patterns is just an accident of nature, of evolution.  No, it is something I like to think God does, because He can.  He is infinite, and His creativity is infinite.  I believe He takes delight in creating each snowflake, enjoying the  treasuries of the snow (Job 38:22).  The symmetry, the variety, the crystalline sparkle of each tiny flake is a result of the endless creative ability of God.

So I will enjoy what I hope is the last snowstorm of this month, probably having a day off tomorrow,  and I will be thankful for all the guys out there on plows and salt trucks, and the power and light guys who are always on call during a storm like this; also the EMTs, the ambulance drivers, the tow trucks, and all the many other services that require sleepless nights during a big storm.

See, if you look for it, there is always something for which we can be thankful.




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I’ve always been thankful that I don’t have that complexion that blushes easily and frequently.  Not that I never blush, but at least it’s not every day and in every situation 🙂

There have been times, though, that still make me blush when I think about them. Some I would never tell anyone, because something I said or did still makes me ashamed of myself.  Others are just embarrassing or very funny, and I could laugh even while I blushed.


I remember checking into the motel  where we spent our wedding night.  It was a different time,  when people weren’t as crude and blatant as they are today. I was not prepared for the guy who checked us in to smirk at us and tell us to have a good time.  I mean, how did he know?  Yeah, I blushed. Hot and red.  Actually, HE should have been the one blushing.

Years later, teaching high school English and history,  I had my own kids in my classes.  One day, one of my sons kept signaling me and pointing to his chest.  I had no idea what he was trying to say until I happened to glance down and realized that three of my buttons had come undone.  Oh yes, that was a blushing moment.

Probably, though, the biggest blush came while I was directing the elementary Christmas program at our school.  We were rehearsing, and there was a study hall of junior high boys in the back pews of the auditorium. They were supposed to be working, but they weren’t.  Of course they weren’t.

It was very cold outside, probably 40 degrees below zero.   The air was dry, and static cling was a problem.  While the first grade students were singing, I sat down  to enjoy their performance.  They had worked hard, and they were really cute.  I was sitting in front of their teacher, a good friend of mine.

When the kids finished, I stood to direct them down from the platform when my friend behind me hissed, “Linda, sit down!  Sit! Right now!”  Well, I sat.  I turned to look at her, and she was bursting with laughter. “Your skirt is all the way up to your waist! ”

Oh, great.  Blushing furiously, thinking of those junior high boys in the back rows, I tugged at my skirt until I was sure I was decent.  Just about then, the bell rang and, of course, my next class was with–you guessed it–those same boys.

Oh, dear.

Well, when you get handed lemons, you make lemonade.

I stood at the door to my classroom, stony-faced and quiet. The guys filed in, not looking at me, not sure how to act with my stern behavior.

When they all were seated, I walked to the front of the room, looked each one in the eyes, unsmiling and sober.  Then I said, “I see London. . . . .”

I couldn’t have finished if I’d wanted to. They were laughing so hard, some of them had their heads down on their desks practically in tears.  I think it was the relief they felt knowing that it was okay for them to laugh, that they weren’t going to be afraid to look at me.

If you don’t know the significance of “I see London” you’re going to have to look it up to understand the joke.  The boys all got it right away.  I imagine some of them still remember.

Wrinkles in Time


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The good old days had their wrinkles, didn’t they?  Do you remember ironing?  After the laundry was dried, either on an outdoor clothesline or some sort of jerry rig indoors, it was taken down and sprinkled. Remember sprinkling?

Image result for clothes sprinkler made from a pop bottle

The idea was to dampen the clothes just enough to make ironing them a bit easier.  No steam irons back in those days.

Once the clothes were sprinkled, they were rolled up and neatly stowed in a plastic laundry bag that zipped shut.  Later that day, or early the next morning, each piece was removed from the bag, unrolled, placed on the ironing board, and lost all its wrinkles to the heat of the iron.

Image result for 1950's iron and ironing board

Don’t let the picture fool you.  I don’t remember seeing anyone smiling with joy while doing the ironing. It was just another chore that needed to be done.  When steam irons came along, sprinkling tended not to happen so often.  And then they added a spray feature to steam irons that allowed you to throw out your sprinkling bottle and eliminate that step of the process.

Of course, all this time some geniuses had been working on creating fabric that did not wrinkle.  Oh, the joy!  And spray starch?  Wonderful stuff.  Men’s dress shirts no longer needed to be put into a blue starch solution  after they were washed.  They could simply be steam ironed after being sprayed with the goop in the can, eliminating yet another step in the laundering process.

Related image

I don’t remember heating irons on the wood stove, but my grandmothers did that.  You had to have at least two irons:  One was heating while you used the other until it cooled off, and then you switched.

Well, times have changed.  I don’t have clotheslines any more. I miss that, though–the wonderful smell of clean clothes dried outside is truly delightful.  But I hope I never have to give up my drier. If you grab certain things out of there the minute the drier stops, and hang them up right away, you don’t need to even touch them up with the iron.

I remember my mother-in-law telling me how she ironed underwear.  Yes, ALL underwear. And sheets, before the fabric blends came along that eliminated wrinkled sheets.  Also dishtowels, pillowcases, and assorted other items that I vaguely remember ironing when I was first learning how to do it.  Used to iron my dad’s handkerchiefs. I did the same for Terry at first, until he wondered out loud why I bothered since no one ever saw them anyway, and after he’d used one, who really cared?  Once I realized that he neither wanted nor expected his handkerchiefs to be ironed, I gladly gave up that chore.

I caught his mom ironing them once, though, when we were there for a visit 🙂

It’s an Interesting Word!


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The original meanings were to call forth, to challenge, to invoke or summon.  Somehow, the word has developed a negative connotation over the years.  We tend to think of being provoking as being irritating and annoying.  That’s not all it is.

In the Bible, the word is used both ways–negative and positive. The negative is in Ephesians 6:4, where Paul enjoins fathers not to provoke their children to wrath.  How is it possible to do that?  Oh, it’s actually not difficult. Be sarcastic. Humiliate them.  Criticize them without ever complimenting them.  Slap them around if they don’t shape up to your expectations.  Treat them as if they are a nuisance to you. They will become provoked.  They will be full of anger.  That doesn’t have to be the end result of rearing children, and it ought NOT to be.  I’m not saying here that every kid who goes wrong can put the blame on his father. We all make our own choices.  Still, we parents are not to irritate and aggravate our kids to the point of no return.


The positive sense of provoke is in Hebrews 10:23-25:

23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Part of the responsibility of the church family is to encourage, call forth,  challenge each other to love one another, and to be engaged in good and helpful ways of reaching out to others in the church who need some sort of assistance, as well as to people outside the church.  That kind of provoking is a good and necessary thing.

Since not all who read this post are interested in biblical nuances,  it is easy to make application  to all relationships:  Family, community, work.  We can provoke our neighbors to want us to put our homes up for sale,  or we can encourage them by our example to reach out to each other in friendship and community.  Either way,  we’re being provoking.



Good and Bad


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I wonder why the word noise  usually has a negative connotation.  After all, there is euphony–good noise; and there is cacaphony,  unpleasant noise.   A gang of crows makes cacaphony, but an exaltation of larks creates euphony.  Both are noises.

Psalm 100:1 says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.” Our singing and praying to God should be joyous, not mournful.

So I got to thinking about different kinds of noise:

A baby laughing is good noise.  A baby crying continuously is a bad noise.

The honking of geese far overhead is a good noise.  The honking of even one goose right under your bedroom window?  Not so good.

The song of a lark is a good noise.  The screech of a peacock?  Nope.  Not so good.

The human voice raised in song can be, but isn’t always, a good noise.  The human voice raised in anger is a bad noise.

The busy hum of a classroom full of kids working together on a project is a good noise.  The angry shouting of a bunch of kids in a fight is a bad noise.

The smooth running of a car’s engine is a good noise.  The clunk of a rim hitting pavement because the tire came off—well, that was a very bad noise last night.

It’s an interesting word.  But then, I find most words to be quite interesting.  Even the noisy ones 🙂



“Zing, this is very strange.  Look, the part with the red ring is aimed upward, toward the sky.  I wonder why?”

“If you really paid attention, Zang, you’d see that it is pointed directly at our planet!   We must destroy it.”

As Zing and Zang, protected by the darkness and their ability to be invisible, crept toward the  contraption,  they were startled and terrified when a disembodied voice said,  “Stop! Don’t touch it!”

Reaching for their weapons, they stood back to back and searched the darkness.

“Do not fear. I am here to help you. Relax.”


(I am amazed at how perfectly the last three or four prompts have contributed to my Zing and Zang stories.  I never know what I’m going to write, and I don’t know what’s going to happen next.  I do know that my characters have become a great deal of fun for me as their stories unfold!)


The Golden Rule


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Not too long ago, the prompt for the day was compromise.  I wrote an post about the importance of compromise in government, and how compromise helped America to develop the bicameral legislature and the Electoral College.   I think I said something along the lines of “Compromise isn’t necessarily a negative thing.”  And I stand by that.


Big however  coming up here, though.  There are some things for which we should take an uncompromising stand. Thinking through some of my recent sessions in my counseling office, I’ll give you a short list.


  1. Tell the truth. One lie leads to many other lies.  “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
  2. Have some standards–boundaries, if you like that word better–on which you will not compromise.  Say no to illegal drugs.  Say no to alcohol if you are a minor.  And even if you are of age, if there is alcoholism in your family tree, just don’t take that first drink.  You’ll save yourself and your loved ones years of misery.   Say no to sex when you know in your gut that it’s a mistake.  My own standard here is that sex is for marriage. I know that’s not true for many people today, but I’m here to tell you that after nearly 50 years of marriage, I do not regret for one moment that my husband and I were both virgins when we married.
  3. Don’t cheat.  That means in school, at work, in relationships,  or any other place where cheating may be a temptation.  If you never cheat, you never have to lie to cover it up.
  4. Don’t steal.  If it’s not yours, you have no  right to it.  Earn  it, don’t steal it.
  5. Respect the law.  Respect law enforcement.  There may come a time when you will be desperate for help from law enforcement.

I could go on at length, but I won’t.  Bottom line:  If you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to anyone else.

Just Give me the FACTS!


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Often, my clients come to me with huge bags full of feelings,  and huge burdens of guilt because they believe that how they feel must be the truth.

I’ve never said it yet, but sometimes I think, “Just give me the facts, Ma’am.”

Feelings change, sometimes moment by moment. You can’t base your attitudes and behaviors on your feelings. They’re not reliable. You have to consider the facts–what is true?  Not how do you feel, but what is the truth. 


(In my search for Joe Friday saying “Just the facts, Ma’am.”  I discovered that he never actually said those words in any program.  They were created by someone who was doing a parody of him on a different show.)

This is the most difficult hurdle for a lot of people, because they have lived for years trying to please everyone around them; or, worse, they assume that they are not heard, not respected, and that no one likes, loves, or appreciates them because that’s how they feel.

When I ask these folks to give me some facts about their relationships, it always takes them by surprise. They invariably try to respond with, “Well, I just feel like. . . . . .”

No.  Don’t tell me how you feel. Tell me the facts.  Example:  Has your spouse been faithful and supportive for the 30+ years you’ve been married?  Yes?  Then you can’t judge him by how you feel when he doesn’t bring you flowers.  He’s not a flower kind of guy.  He’s an acts of service kind of guy, who shows you that he loves you every single day that he goes to work, fixes a dripping faucet, or  folds the laundry because you’re busy with one of the kids. I agree that flowers are nice, but if I have to choose, I’ll take the guy who is reliable, dependable, and who takes care of me when I’m sick.  The rare occasions when he does bring me a gift mean all the more because I know  it’s not his primary love language. Last night he brought me a bag of Dove Dark Chocolates.  They’ll last me a long time, and they’re just as good, if not better, than flowers.

And yes, I got a gooey feeling in my tummy when I spotted the bag of candy by my chair. Feelings are okay, but they are not barometers by which we should guide our behavior.

Recently I talked with a client who feels that she has no special skills.  Sure of my facts, I asked her to talk about her two adult children. They’re wonderful adults, responsible, hardworking, thoughtful, and they love her.  As she talked, her face brightened and she even smiled. When she stopped, I said, “So–whoever reared those two must have had some great parenting skills.”

She had never considered that being a successful mom is a skill, a gift, a trait that not everyone has.  Fact:  She feels better about herself today because she realized that she had indeed done a great job as a parent. Facts, not feelings.

And that’s all we have time for today.  You can pay my secretary downstairs before you leave, and don’t forget to schedule your next appointment.

Peony Again

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Peony sat on the wall near the canal,  watching Zing and Zang as they made their invisible way down the path. They kept her busy, these two, always transporting themselves in the blink of an eye.

Her orders were to watch, but no interference unless they were in danger. So far, they’d been safe.  Peony smiled at their conversations. She’d been on the job much longer than they, and when she chose to appear, she looked like any little girl, maybe six or seven years old.

Soon, she would reveal herself. They would be SO surprised!

Winter Tales


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We had a winter storm last Friday.  Lots of high winds and heavy, wet snow.  What was so amazing was to watch all the little critters in our back yard during and after the storm. You would have thought they were little kids having a romp in the white stuff before it had time to melt.

Birds flitted from branch to branch, all puffed out like fat little dust balls. They seemed to be able to cling even in the highest winds.  Now and then we could see two or three of a kind huddled together, but they were actually singing!  Yes, really.  We could hear the chirp when two of them landed on the ledge of our bathroom window.  I don’t know, maybe they were asking to come inside.

The squirrels were having a party, too.  It never surprises me to see them racing each other, running up a tree and then down the other side, in hot pursuit of whatever they pursue.  They, too, were all fluffed out.  They really were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Cute as can be, and manic in their pursuit of each other across the snow and up and down the trees.  One perched on a branch and hung on for dear life, letting go only when he got dive-bombed by a territorial blue jay. When that happened, he spread out his four legs and his tail and just sort of sailed with the wind.  I lost track of him in the heavy snow falling and blowing, but I sure hope he found a safe haven.

Image result for cardinal on a snowy branch

Of particular beauty are the cardinals.  The males really strut their stuff.  I think they know how attractive they are to the females with their bright red feathers against the glittery white snow.  Vain little creatures, but it must work for them.  We have two or three families every year.

There are big branches and small ones all over the yard that need to be picked up, but we’re supposed to get more of the white stuff tomorrow.  We’ll wait and see.  In the meantime, my narcissus are braving the future in the present warmth of an early March sun.  I hope they survive.