A Shady Conversation

photo by Jean L. Hays

“It makes me smile every time I see it,” said the shade of one old Navajo to the ghost of the other.

“Yes. White men got it wrong,” harumphed the ghost.

“Old Theroux would not be pleased. An Army paymaster being called by the same name as a nature poet and recluse. Amusing, yes?”

“Maybe, but I have no fondness for Theroux, either. He would have driven us all into the sea.”

The two shades wavered and disintegrated like smoke from a dying fire. “Our people hang on by a thread,” said the shade.

“Yes. But they do hang on.”

P.S.  I think this needs some clarification.  This little town had been an army out-post, and the paymaster’s name was Thoreoux, pronounced “through.”  

When the army eventually left,  the town was named for Mr. Theroux, but 

it misspelled his name to be the same as Henry David Thoreau of 

“Walden Pond” fame.  Thoreau was more than just a poet, though. 

He had some unusual philosophies for his day and time that probably 

would have been acceptable to the Navajo in some cases. So maybe the misspelling was no accident.  Who knows? 


A Multi-purpose Word


Usually I look up the history of the daily prompt, but I’m short on time today.

This word can mean so many things, from that which is deeply personal to matters of the nation and the world.

Safety, Protection. Something which is secure is safely moored, locked, resistant to breaching.

It is very important in my work that the clients I see know that their personal information is secure with me—that I will not reveal to anyone at all what they tell me without their signed consent; or unless I believe they are a threat to themselves or others. I know thousands of secrets. I try my best to forget them 🙂

We have a strongbox. It wouldn’t be hard for a knowledgeable thief to breach the lock, but we have a couple of fail-safes on it. Security for our important papers and other documents.

I think little kids, more than anyone else, need to feel this sense of safety and security. When one of my granddaughter was only three, I remember her confidently climbing up on her daddy’s lap and snuggling in. I love that. She knew where her security was.

I remember just the simple act of my dad telling me, “Hold my hand, Linda,” as we navigated a busy downtown street. You bet I held his hand. Didn’t ever want to let go.

Here in America, we are used to the security of two very big oceans on either coast. What we forget, sometimes, is that they aren’t as big as they were before digital technology shrunk our world. I think a whole lot of us lost that sense of security when the Twin Towers fell so many years ago. Long before that, there were both German and Japanese submarines lurking off our coasts, and most of us never knew it. Pearl Harbor certainly shook our sense of security. And long before that, the horror of our Civil War made us understand that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

Well. See how easy it is for me to go into teacher mode? I have to leave, though, so I’m done 🙂

RDP: Security

The Party

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Mrs. Snodgrass swept into the room, the susurrus of her silk gown proclaiming her the most important guest of them all.

As she took her place at the table, Mrs. Snodgrass noticed the roses. “Oh, what lovely—wait, are those artificial  roses?” Her regal brows rose to her hairline in disdain. “Rather gauche, don’t you think?”

The hostess smiled serenely at her critical guest. “I’m sorry you disapprove. Perhaps you will change your mind. I believe these lovely flowers will be making a great deal of money someday. And it’s all about the money, isn’t it?”

House Keys and Musical Keys

RDP Monday: KEY

Meaning: “instrument for opening locks,” Middle English keie, from Old English cæg “metal piece that works a lock, key” literal and… See more definitions.


My sister and I were latchkey kids long before that was a thing. We wore our house keys on strings around our necks, and used them to get into the house before Mom and Dad came home from work. We never felt anything was unusual about that. It’s just the way it was. This picture is very similar to the key I remember using:

Image result for key

There are so many different usages of the word key  that   it would take way too long to mention them all. But the first thing I think of when I see the word is musical keys. The key for a piece of music determines which scale is used to compose it; each key has its own number of sharps or flats; and you can compose it a major key or a minor key. What’s the difference? The easiest way to describe it is that a minor key has a somewhat sad feeling about it. That, of course, way over-simplified, but it will do for my purposes.

I used a couple of beginner piano books to teach myself to read music, and I was always fascinated by the difference one single note made in a scale if you played it, for instance, as E Flat instead of E.

I just took a quick cruise through You Tube, where you can learn to do almost anything you can think of. Sure enough, there are lessons on scales and chords and all sorts of other musical things.

Too bad no one had invented in the internet back when I was a kid. Where was Al Gore when I needed him? 🙂

RDP: Key

Mixing Colors


Meaning: “skin color, complexion,” from Anglo-French culur, coulour, Old French color “color, complexion, appearance” (Modern French… See more definitions.


Image result for many people, all different colors

Wonderopolis.org says: “There are no people who actually have true black, white, red, or yellow skin. These are commonly used color terms that do not reflect biological reality. Skin color is due primarily to the presence of a pigment called melanin , which is controlled by at least 6 genes.”

I remember, as a very young child, looking at the skin colors in my own family, and wondering why they were all different. The most noticeable difference was in my little brother, who had very pale skin, big blue eyes, white blond hair. Mom and Dad both had brown eyes, different shades; my sister has blue eyes. With two brown-eyed parents, I was the only one of the three of us children who got their brown eyes. My sister’s skin is quite fair; I tanned easily but still have what is classified as fair skin, just a little less pale than my sister’s.

All of this fascinated me, and I started paying more attention to other people. Siblings, their parents. People who were of different nationalities, but had skin, hair and eyes like mine. All the different hair- and eye-color combinations. As I grew older, I began to be curious about obvious combinations of so-called white traits with other nationality traits. White skin, dark curly hair, liquid brown eyes. Sometimes a slant of the eyes that was different from what I was accustomed to seeing. I loved the glossy, black hair a Chinese friend of mine had, way back in second or third grade.

How did all these differences happen?

And then, in high school, I took biology. We studied genes, and learned that their are dominant and recessive genes. Brown eyes, for instance, are dominant to blue eyes. So what happened in my family? Obviously, both my parents had a recessive blue eye gene, and they got together for my sister and brother. Since all my four of my children have brown eyes and Terry’s are blue/grey, I’m guessing that I got both my parents’ dominant brown eye genes. But apparently my four kids got a recessive blue, because only two of my nine grandchildren got brown eyes. Their moms all have shades of blue.

Isn’t all that interesting? I’m still fascinated by the whole topic.

The more international travel, jobs, general contact there is among different races, nationalities—the more genetic mixing there is, and the harder it will become to figure out origins.

The bottom line, though, is that we all bleed red.

RDP: Color

Lost and Scared!

RDP Saturday: LOST

Old English losian ‘perish, destroy’, also ‘become unable to find’, from los‘loss’.

The last time I remember being lost was about five or six years ago. I’d had to go to the courthouse in Doylestown in relation to a client who is now in prison, probably for life. The whole thing was horrifying, and then I got lost. On foot. In the winter.

I had been directed to a parking lot that was free, and was described as “close, convenient to the courthouse, easy to access.”

None of that was true. However, I was determined to follow through, so I found the parking lot, locked up my car, and started the uphill trek to the county courthouse. Several blocks later, I was finally there. I’d been keeping careful track of where I’d been, noting landmarks and street names to help me find my way back.

Image result for Doylestown County Courthouse

It was February or March, and it didn’t look this pretty. Bleak. Cold. But I was there.

After my interview was over, I bundled up again and started to walk back downhill to the parking lot. I recognized street names and felt fairly confident, but once I reached the bottom of the hill and looked around, there was no parking lot in sight.

Icy cold terror seeped under my coat. There was no one around. It was NOT a part of town a woman should be in, alone and lost. I did the thing that came most naturally. I prayed. “Lord, I’m in a mess here. Could you please send someone to help me, or point me in the right direction? It’s starting to get dark, and I’m lost and terrified. Thank you, Father.

I stood on a corner, assessing my location and trying to figure out where I went wrong. As I stood there, undecided, an older man walked up to me. He was dressed warmly and well, and I felt no fear.

“Are you looking for something?” His voice was rich, totally unexpected from a man his age.

“Yes. Can you point me to the parking lot that’s reserved for the County Courthouse? My car is there, and I missed my turn somewhere along the walk down from the courthouse.”

“Of course. You’re really not that far off track. Come with me.”

Even though he seemed perfectly harmless, my heart was hammering and I began to try to plan what to do if his intentions were not good.

I had nothing to worry about. Only two block—long, cold blocks—from where he had approached me, there was the parking lot. I turned to thank him, but he was already walking away, and acknowledged my “Thank you SO MUCH!” with a wave of his hand.

“And thank You, Lord, for sending one of Your angels to help me,” I said out loud. Was he an angel? Didn’t matter. I believe with all my heart that God sent him to me.

I’d never been so thankful to be in my car, warm, and on my way home.

RDP: Lost

Low Bridge


Image result for Erie Canal near Easton, PA

It’s been a long time ago, and my memory dims, but one excursion we made with some of our grandkids was to see some of the Erie Canal near Easton, PA. They have a wonderful museum, and they even have people dressed in period costume, leading mules on the towpath. The kids loved it, and of course they really loved getting on the canal boat for a float down the canal.

Image result for Erie Canal near Easton, PA

Along the way, I taught them this old song:

It was a fun and interesting day, to drift back into the past and visit the lockkeepers house, walk the trail, ride the boat, and enjoy the museum. If you live nearby and you’ve never visited, you really should.

RDP: Canal

The Hive

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

“Mrs. Peavy, don’t go into your room! “
“What? Why not?”

“HORNETS!” replied Ronnie. ‘Hundreds of ’em! All over!”

Ronnie was a known prankster, but he seemed genuinely upset.

Mrs. Peavy gathered her class and sent them to the gym. Then she contacted the janitor, who came with his hands full of various anti-hornet sprays.

He was the school hero for several days, especially to Mrs. Peavy. One sting could have sent her into shock, could even have killed her.

The hive was knocked down overnight, and everything settled back into its normal, boring routine.

Spread Out your Hair!


flare (v.) 1540s, “spread out” (hair), of unknown origin, perhaps from Scandinavian or from Dutch vlederen. Meaning “shine out with a sudden light” is from 1630s …

(It’s been a while since I was here. Things I had to tend to for work and at home, and for a class I teach at a homeschool co-op on the Constitution and Current Events. Beside all that, I’ve been fighting a sinus something or other, laryngitis, and of course my ever-present back issues. It hasn’t been a terribly happy break, but I’m glad to say I think things are slowly going back to normal.)

I thought about this shampoo commercial when I read the first definition of flare: 

Selena Gomez in Pantene commercial

Wouldn’t it be nice if just using some shampoo would give us all that kind of hair? Nope. Won’t happen. You’re born with it, or you’re not. You learn to make the best of what you have 🙂

RDP: Flare

Who was Guy Fawkes?

PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

“Da, why’s it called a bonfire?”

“Well, Liam, ’twas called a bone fire  back in the old days, when the Celts burned animal bones for good luck.”

“Well, but we don’t believe in that now, do we, Da?”

“No. Now we do it as a tradition, you see. And our cousins in England use it to celebrate the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot.”

“The wha?”

“Two fellas named Catesby and Fawkes, wanted to blow up King James I and Parliament, for persecuting Catholics. way back in 1605.”

Image result for execution of Guy Fawkes

“Were they executed?

“Oh, aye. Except Fawkes. He jumped. Broke his neck.”