Day 7 Seven Days Off

June 7, 1982. Priscilla Presley opened Graceland to the public.

Many Elvis fans have taken vacations to Memphis just so they can tour Graceland.

Where would you like to visit on your next vacation? What would you do with seven days off? What is your idea of a perfect week-long vacation?

Alternatively, write about a vacation you took in the past.


I decided to do the June 7 challenge today because tomorrow is a full day at work, and I won’t have time to write as much as I’d like.

June 7 is special because it’s our anniversary.  This year marks 47 years for us. So hard to realize how much time has gone by since that walk down the aisle and the “I do” we promised each other.

It’s been a journey, for sure. I won’t try to wrap 47 years into one post, though. I thought I’d tell you, instead, about our honeymoon.

Our wet, cold, inside-almost-all-the-time honeymoon.

Terry grew up in northern Michigan.  Yes, he’s a Yooper. For those not in the know, that’s someone from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, someone from the UP, also known as a Yooper.

You didn’t know Michigan had an upper peninsula?  Neither did I until Terry came into my life.  It’s joined by land to Wisconsin. It’s attached to the rest of Michigan by the Mackinac Bridge, which is really quite breathtaking.


It’s the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world, crossing Lakes Michigan and Huron.  If you like bridges, you should look it up. It has an interesting history.

Anyway, loving the outdoors as he does, Terry thought his dad’s hunting camp would be the ideal place for our honeymoon. I’d been there, and it was in a delightful location. It wasn’t the Taj Mahal, mind you, but it wasn’t a lean-to with an outhouse, either. Well, there was an outhouse.  But it was fresh and clean and odorless because of the way it had been placed, and I wasn’t too concerned about it. I’d had to use an outhouse more than once in my life.

The cabin was tucked away off the  road, right beside a pretty little river in which the water was so clear  you could literally see every stone and grain of sand on the bottom.  It was fed by a bubbling spring from which we would get our water for cooking, drinking, and bathing.

Um.  Really?  Ok, I can do this.  City girl, but not helpless. The water for bathing would have to be heated on the stove, which if memory serves, was wood-fueled.  I could be wrong about that.  All I remember is that I didn’t know how to use it at first.  So where’s the bathtub?  WHERE??

Hanging on the side of the cabin–OUTSIDE of the cabin, mind you.  I couldn’t reach it.  It was a big tin washtub, round, with sides maybe a foot high.

Oh boy.  I’m beginning to be uneasy. Just a tad.

Well, we got there and Terry started up the heater because Upper Michigan has one warm day each year, and it wasn’t there yet. I don’t remember what we ate, or who cooked it.  Probably Terry did.

The cabin was spotlessly clean.  His parents had been up and opened it up from it’s long winter’s nap, cleaning and getting it ready for us. They even put up a banner that said “Welcome, Newlyweds” in his dad’s artistic script.  It was furnished with typical cabin-y furniture, comfortable and homey. Welcoming.  But cold. Really cold.

And we no sooner got moved in than it started to rain. I’m talking about biblical Flood-type rain. Rain that lasted for hours. . . . .and hours. . . . .and days. . . . .

At first, Terry would say, “Don’t you love the sound of the rain on the roof?”

After a while, it just wasn’t charming any more. The trips to the outhouse required  an ark. The trips to the spring to get water?  He used his dad’s hip waders. It did warm up in the cabin after a while, but it was just damp and icky outside. Not exactly a getaway to the South Pacific.

We talked. We cooked, ate, cleaned up, played a couple of board games.  We took a couple of long drives in the rain.  The UP is a really pretty place, and we enjoyed viewing the scenery through the rain.

Finally, it stopped and the sun came out. The day before we left, it was actually pretty nice–until I decided to slosh around the cabin to see what was what, and came up against about a dozen snakes stretched out on a rock, soaking in the sun.  I swear they had little bottles of suntan lotion and Coca Cola!

My scream must have echoed all the way to Niagara.  I HATE SNAKES!  There is NOTHING that terrifies me any more than a snake, and here was a whole nudist snake colony right outside the back window of our honeymoon cabin.

I had accepted the outhouse. I had adapted to the process of getting spring water and heating it up; of cooking on an unfamiliar stove; of being rained in, no phone, no TV,not even a radio, and taking a bath in a galvanized  bucket. Talk about the opportunity to get to know each other!

I drew the line, though, at snakes. Nope. Nope,nope,nope.

I was in complete meltdown.  Terry thought someone must have tried to murder me.  Poor guy came running, ready to take down the terrorists who had made his bride scream like a banshee.  “Where? What? Who?”  He hollered as he bounded over rocks as big as houses.


I will never, ever forget the look on his face. I’m laughing now, but I was so mad then that I might even have been willing to wring his neck with one of those scaly horrors. He was first astonished, then  amazed, and finally laughing his fool head off.

“Linda, they’re garter snakes. They don’t hurt anyone. You don’t need to be afraid.” By this time the poor man was bent over, hands on his knees, laughing so hard he was crying. When I started pounding his arm with my fists, he laughed even harder.

I finally stalked off in utter disgust and humiliation.

“I will not come back outside. There had better not be any of those horrible things inside. You’d better quit laughing at me or this marriage is going to be very, very short.”

Well, since then he’s come to know a lot more about me and snakes, and although he doesn’t understand it, he’s learned to laugh somewhere else.

And that was my honeymoon. I hope those snakes got fried to crispy critters.


Embrace the Ick

Think of something that truly repulses you. Hold that thought until your skin squirms. Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits.


I cannot and will not think about snakes on purpose, and to write a glowing puff piece about them would give me nightmares for the rest of my life. So that’s out.

Mammograms?  Nah.  It’s been done.  So have colonoscopies. Besided, they don’t make my skin crawl.

Centipedes do. A puff piece on the amazing merits of centipedes? Hmmmm. They eat spiders. That’s all I can think of.

I’m stuck.  There are very few things that actually make my skin crawl that are fit topics for this post. Pedophiles make my skin crawl, and I seriously can’t think of anything good to say about their amazing merits.

See, the stuff that makes my skin crawl? Those things are just evil and ugly and wrong! I can’t wrap my mind around finding even something fictionally good to say about them.

The only thing I truly dreaded having to clean up when my kids were small was vomit. I had to hold my breath and just DO IT. So maybe I can think of something glowing to say about the amazing merits of hurling. 

It cleans the gunk out of your belly.

It makes you feel better once it’s over.

It tells you there may be something more going on.

It  shows you how much your mommy really cares about you, because she doesn’t set you outside until your insides settle down.  She takes your temperature, feels your forehead (I used to wonder why my mom felt my forehead when I threw up when it was clearly my tummy that was under siege) and lets you have gingerale and crackers.

You get to stay in your jammies if you’re really and truly sick, and you get to sleep all day and you don’t have to eat anything you don’t like.

Of course, the downside to all this is nausea, pain, and the wretched act of throwing up.

And now that I’ve improved your day, I hope you all have a lovely one.  The humungous blizzard we were supposed to get mostly swept out to sea.  Some of the New England states got more of it than we did.  The decision to close our office today was made yesterday when it looked as if we were right in the path of the storm, but we got only a couple of inches. The street in front of our house is already clear. So I have a lovely day off.

And that’s all.


Fearless Fantasies

Fearless Fantasies
How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?


I googled “fearless,” looking for a good illustration, and I came up with dozens of shots of Taylor Swift with her hair blowing all over her head. I guess she sings a song by the name of Fearless. Shows you how out-of-the-loop I am when it comes to pop culture.  The only reason I even know who she is?  She’s a native of a city near where I live. That’s it.

Anyway.  I saw this prompt two hours ago. Had an appointment, needed to do a couple of other things, so I’ve had some time to think it over, and I’m still not sure what I want to say. So pardon me for thinking out loud. This could be a bit of a ramble.

I would love to be fearless about a lot of things.  I’m terrified of snakes. It would be nice not to have such a visceral reaction if one of the scaly creatures shows up in a TV program or photograph. I would love to be fearless about hiking through a snaky place like the Appalachian trail, or maybe the desert where diamondbacks and sidewinders sun themselves.

I have a fear of high places that drop straight down from where I’m standing, with no guardrails to stop my fall.  When we were in Sioux Falls with my son and his family, we went to a theater like an IMax. We entered at the very top level. I got a feeling of vertigo, and it’s terrifying.  I had to grab rails and turn my back, facing the chairs until I could sit down. It’s horrible.  I’d love for that to go away.

There’s really not much else that gives me such a  ghastly sense of fear and helplessness. Wait!  Aha moment!  Helplessness!  Yes!  Okay, enough exclamation points already, but I do think I’ve stumbled onto something.  It’s the helplessness, isn’t it?  I mean, I don’t like centipedes, but I’m not helpless with them. I can smack’em. Gone. Same with spiders. I hate the way the skitter, but I can always catch them and send them to spiderly heaven. Gross.  But snakes and steep drops?  Helpless.  I’d be a great subject for one of those big dudes that hypnotize their prey.  Here I am, just look into my eyes and hiss, and I’m done for. Kaput.

Well, I’m generally of a pretty practical frame of mind, so I’ve been thinking about  how fear can be, and often is, a very helpful thing.  The fear of sudden and painful death keeps me from playing in the traffic. The fear of extremely painful death keeps me from tasting bleach or inhaling a combination of ammonia and bleach. The fear of losing a limb keeps this granny off the ski slopes. That doesn’t seem like a negative thing to me; it’s just good sense. If I weren’t afraid of ending up in prison, there may be a trail of seriously maimed or comatose people in my backtrail. It is often fear of consequences that keeps of from doing something foolish, harmful to ourselves or others.

Other side of the coin?  I love the way the kid in the picture is just standing there calmly facing down the wolf that’s about to make lunch out of him. That kind of fearlessness I admire. Standing up to bullies, standing up to difficult things we can’t avoid, standing up to fear itself.

I have a client I’ve been working with for over a year. She was having serious PTSD symptoms due to an accident she had witnessed. I can’t go into detail, obviously, but this poor woman hadn’t slept well in three years, and is still struggling with some fears that have changed her life.  One of her problems is the inability to speak up in her own defense. I’ve helped her find her voice, and grow a backbone. She was afraid she didn’t have the right to speak up. Now she knows she does. Not only is it a right, it’s an obligation to stand up to the bullies, to back them down, to let them know you are NOT afraid.

I love my work.

And I’m not afraid to do it.


I’ll Tell You Everything!

( 101, Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page
What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. If you’re up for a twist, write this post in a style that’s different from your own.)

When I opened my eyes, and the cloud of drugs had dissipated, I saw something suspended directly over my head. It was semi-dark in the room, and I couldn’t make it out at first.  Then, slowly, the reality became clear.

A huge net was indeed suspended from the ceiling. It bulged out in some place, was concave in others. Those places changed every few seconds, and I began to realize that there was something alive in the net. Something alive and trying to find a way out.

As I watched in growing horror and fascination,  I realized other things as well.  I was bound hand and foot, my arms and legs spread out in opposite directions.  My head was also restrained, clamped by some evil tool that kept me from moving anything save my eyes.  I had a raging thirst. My throat was on fire, and I was desperate to work up just a little saliva to moisten my lips and throat.  I was cold; I wondered how my throat could be so hot and dry while the rest of my body was bathed in clammy sweat. I was covered with goose bumps, and shivering hard against the restraints. I realized that I was naked. Completely.

My concern, though, was that net above my head. It was the size of a small sofa, as far as I could see. What terrified me was that I thought I knew what was contained in the mesh, and the horror of it was making my misery excruciating.

Training my eyes and ears on the net, I was sure I could see separate bodies.  Writhing, wriggling, sinuous, slithering bodies. Sibilant sounds came now and then, causing the cold sweat to run freely off my body.  And then, suddenly and clearly, I saw the unmistakable reddish glare of eyes that were staring staight into my own terrified eyes!  Those eyes seemed to emit hatred toward me, and a determination to do me harm. I was mesmerized. I was horrified. I almost fainted with fear.

And then I heard the voice.  Calm, soothing and reasonable, the voice spoke my name. “Well, Mr.  Blakesly.  It seems you’re in something of a predicament.  You know, my friend, I’d be glad to help you out of your situation. Of course, you know that means you would owe me something in return. Do you care to bargain with me?  If not, all I have to do is release the cord, and you will be smothered in poisonous, angry serpents. You won’t last long. Ten minutes at most, but what an enjoyable ten minutes–for me–it will be.”

I could hear the the insinuating sneer in his voice, almost see the satisfied smugness on his face.  Finally, after chasing each other across oceans and continents, my archenemy had me completely in his power.  Little fragments of the events of the previous day began to flash through my mind, but I couldn’t hope to follow those flashes.  At the moment, all I could think of was finding some way out.

“What do you want?”  I croaked.

“Come, come. You know exactly what I want. I want everything that resides in that magnificent brain of yours. Every contact, every password, every code, every plot. And I believe I will have them, won’t I?”

A small noise above my head had me straining to see. I realized that the net was closer by maybe an inch.  A stench issued from the net. Snakes have a foul odor.

“Let me go, and I’ll give you what you’re asking.”

“Oh, no.  Oh, my, no.  That would be most foolish of me, wouldn’t it?  You’ll empty your head to me right where you are, and THEN I will consider setting you free.”

“I can’t think straight with that horror hanging above me!”

“Well, then, let’s bring it a little closer so you can see exactly what you’re looking forward to.”

And the net came down again, hanging barely six inches above my head and chest.  Individual snakes were clear now, huge ones and smaller ones, all of them ugly and evil.  My worst nightmare.  How did he know?  How could he possibly know?

“All right. All right, I’ll tell you everything. But I have to have some water. Whatever you used to put me out is making me thirsty. Please, water, and then I’ll talk.”

“Oh, Mr. B., you disappoint me.  I thought you’d hold out a little longer, so I could toy with you just a little more. Well, if you’re ready to talk, then of course you may have some water. After that, we’ll chat–just you and I and our slithery friends. If I doubt any word that comes out of your mouth–well, I think you know what will happen.”

I heard a metallic click, and the screech of an unoiled hinge. A little more light  came into my dungeon, enough to show me the true horror of what hung so close above me. As the man who entered helped me drink from a bottle, through a straw, I watched my nightmare.

“Thanks,” I said to the guard. “Don’t go away.  I’m going to need lots more water.  There’s a lot to tell.”