Clean Dirt


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. 


I spent all but five of my growing-up years in southern Minnesota. The other five were in western Oregon. In both those places, the soil was rich, dark, and fertile.

Even though several years were spent in Minneapolis, it wasn’t a very long drive to get out of the city and into farm country. Most of Minnesota is flat, which of course makes for easier plowing than hilly terrain does.  I have clear memories of the smell of the earth as it was freshly turned in preparation for planting.

It’s a good, clean smell.  Clean dirt?  Yes, for these purposes. The soil was rich and black. It supported wheat, soybeans, peas, beans, and corn that was definitely knee-high by the Fourth of July.  It was also wonderful soil for the many backyard gardens that were cultivated with lots of TLC.  There’s nothing quite like a juicy, fat beefsteak tomato fresh from the garden. Wonderful.

In Oregon, there were also many farms, as well as home gardens.  I think what I especially loved were the berries.  All kinds of berries. Blackberries, red raspberries, blueberries–lots more. They were huge.  Some grew wild; others were cultivated to sell.  Nothing tasted any better than a fat blackberry, still warm from the sun, picked off the bushes we passed on our way to and from the municipal swimming pool.  Sometimes we picked berries for pay. It never took very long to fill a bucket or a box.

My favorite thing in Oregon, though?  Roses!  Roses were everywhere, in every yard, in parks, along the median of some streets–just everywhere.  And then there were the Rose Gardens, where you could wander all day enjoying the sweet aroma, the vibrant colors, and the fat bumblebees that blimped from one blossom to another. They were too lazy to sting.  No need to be afraid.

If you love roses as much as I do, you could die happy wandering the acres of glorious blooms. They came in just about every color you can imagine, and I don’t think we ever  came to the end of these luscious gardens.  Seemed to me they had no end.

Well, I guess I’m finished for today.  It always surprises me just a bit when one word, like soil, can trigger so many happy memories.

It’s Geographical!


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


There was a lot of confusion for students from Pennsylvania who came to  Minnesota to go to college.  They thought a soda was a soft drink.  We knew, however, that pop was a soft drink.  A soda was a soft drink with ice cream in it. Preferably root beer with vanilla ice cream, also known as a root beer float or a black cow.

THIS is a float/ice cream soda/root beer float:

Refreshing Root Beer Float with Vanilla Ice Cream

And THIS is pop/soda pop/soft drink:


However, if you head anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line and order a Coke, the waitress is going to stand with her pen poised above her order pad and look at you with a question in her eyes.  Why?  Well, because she’s waiting for you to tell her what KIND of Coke. For Miss Southern Belle, Coke is a generic name for all the kinds of soft drinks that ever existed. So if you just want a Coke, you have to say, “I’ll have a Coca Cola, please.” If you don’t, the poor girl is going to feel called upon to recite the list of soft drinks available at that restaurant.

Now that I’ve lived in Pennsylvania for many years, I still think “pop,” but I’m learning to say “soda.” In Minnesota, if I order a soda the waitress is going to ask me what kind of ice cream I’d like in my soda.  See?

I could spend some time on all the other usages of the word float, but I don’t think I will.

Gotta love the English language.

A Normal Day


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


Hayley was moving like a mindless robot at she assembled the five sandwiches that would be lunch for her and the kids. Bread, mayo, lunchmeat, cheese, mustard on two, butter on the others. Slap, plop, spread,slap, bag, done.  Into the brown paper bags, along with some cheese sticks, fruit, and a coupe of cookies.

She moved to the oatmeal that was bubbling on the stove, giving it a stir to keep it from burning. She turned the burner down to low, poured juice, sliced bread for toast. Butter, honey, jelly on the table. Brown sugar for the oatmeal.  Bowls, knives, spoons.

Then on to the evening meal, which would be a hearty soup in the crockpot.  Slice, chop, open cans, dump, add water, throw in meat from the leftover Thanksgiving turkey. It would develop a wonderful aroma as it simmered all day, a thick and hearty meal to ward off the encroaching cold that blessed central Minnesota. She would add barley when she got home and let it cook for a while. It would be thick, like stew. Already the tongue-teasing smell of onions and garlic filled the kitchen.

All four of her kids were showered, dressed, and tending to their household chores when she called  out that breakfast was ready.  It was good to start the day with everyone eating breakfast together. They would share their schedules for the day. the ones who had jobs figuring out the carpool, all of them hoping Dad would be home before they went to bed that night.


It was all the stuff of a normal school day. Hayley had her lesson plans well under control, and looked forward to starting a literature unit in her high school classes. She loved teaching, and it was great to be able to teach in the school her kids attended. She had each of them in a class at some point during the day. Some of their friends had started calling her “Mom,” and that was okay with her. Small Christian school, where she had the freedom to talk about God and to open the Bible with kids who needed some counseling time.

Some days, she grew weary in the routine. Some days, she swore she’d never eat another sandwich as long as she lived. Some days, she was just too tired to be eager for the day to start.

Most days, though, especially as she sat talking with her kids like this in the morning, she was just thankful  that they had the food, the clothing, the roof over their heads, jobs that met their needs, and heat for the coming deep cold of winter.

Most days, she was even thankful for sandwiches.

We’re Moving

(Writing 101, Day Fifteen: Your Voice Will Find You
You’re told that an event that’s dear to your heart — an annual fair, festival, or conference — will be cancelled forever (or taken over by an evil organization). Write about it. For your twist, read your piece aloud, multiple times. Hone that voice of yours!)

I knew in my heart that it was coming, but hope was still alive that somehow that little church in southern Minnesota would vote not to call my dad to be their new pastor. I felt bad about hoping so, because I knew he wanted it. And Mom wanted nothing more than to go back to Minnesota where there were close friends and even some family members.

I had been only 10 when we moved from Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon.  We hadn’t lived in any one house long enough for me to become attached, and I was very excited to be living near both the mountains and the ocean. For this midwestern flatlander, that  was a dream come true.

Now I was fifteen. I’d nearly finished my freshman year of high school at one of the biggest schools in the city. I loved it there. I’d made friends and was looking forward to being a sophomore.  I dreamed of being in the choir, and in the drama program. I loved my Spanish class, and wasn’t sure at all that there would be such a class in the little farm town where my folks wanted to take us.

There were other things I loved.  Above all, I loved being near the ocean. It has still never lost its magical appeal for me.  I’ve never gotten over my wonder at the size of these immense bodies of water that circle and nourish our land masses. I loved the rare ocassions when we could watch a storm over the ocean from the safety of a high cliff.

I loved Mt. Hood. Every day, it stood sentinel over the city of Portland and treated us to the majestic view of its snowcapped shoulders and peak.

I loved the roses.  I’d never seen so many roses in one place.  Every spring, the city chose a Rose Princess from among its dozen or so high schools. The lovely winner in that contest got to ride on the official Rose Parade float, along with her court of princesses. It was a major event, and one I would never see again.

The Rose Gardens were wonderful. I never got bored with strolling through the vines, bushes, and trellises overflowing with roses of every imaginable color and size. Such an abundance of beauty and perfume. And I would very likely never see it again.

Jantzen Beach was an amusement park that we enjoyed in the summer.  In retrospect, it probably wasn’t as big as it is in my memory. It was a great place for a youth activity or a casual date.  I don’t even know if it’s still there.

The Columbia and Willamette Rivers meet in Portland. We had friends who had a boat, and they took us out on the river often enough that I became almost as entranced by the water there as I was by the ocean. Almost.  River water doesn’t always smell too good near the city.

And, of course, there was my boyfriend.  My first real crush.  I know, I know. I was only 15 (almost) and what did I know about real love?  I knew as much as any 15-year-old could know.  I loved him as much as my age, personality, and experience allowed me to love, and I was heartbroken over leaving him.  I can’t even tell you how awful it was to say goodbye. I was sure there would never be anyone else, and I was destined to be alone for the rest of my life.

So.  The packing up process, one I was very familiar with, began. Lots of stuff got thrown away or given away, and as we pared down our household I said goodbye to some things I knew I would never miss. Still, it was hard. Those years between 10 and 15 include the whole process of emerging from “little girl” to “young woman,”  There were mementos that I struggled with emotionally, things I wanted to keep but knew I would never even look at again, in reality.

And finally, the day came. The church my dad pastored had given us a farewell, lots of hugs and tears and “promise me you’ll write.” I’d said goodbye to my friends at school. We still had six weeks of the school year, and I was dreading having to do it in a new place where friendships were already established, and the other kids had known each other all their lives. But time goes on, and soon we were on the road, heading to a new life and leaving everything I loved behind us.

I thought I would never be happy again.

I was wrong.

Blogging 101, Day 7: Start Personalizing

Today’s assignment: create and upload a simple header, background, or both. Already done? Try a custom widget.

This is fun.  I’m learning so much!  I didn’t know what “header” meant, and now I do.  I didn’t know I could customize the theme I’ve selected from the many options Word Press offers. I learned how to use the customizing option, and that I can have severall pictures for my header than I can rotate through automatically.

One of the  new headers is a picture of Pose Lake, in the Boundary Waters area of northern Minnesota.  I’ve never been up that far, but people tell me it’s just gorgeous.

My years in Minnesota were in Minneapolis and a little farm town south of the Twin Cities, St. James.  So now I’m going to find some pictures of Lake Harriet, Lake Minnetonka, Lake Calhoun and St. James lake and include those in my header.  Going lake hunting 🙂