He Cheated!


“the exclusive right to make and sell copies of an intellectual production,” 1729, from copy (v.) + right (n.). As a verb, “to secure a copyright of,” from 1806 (implied in past-participle adjective copyrighted).


Image result for copyright

This is a familiar symbol  to  anyone who reads, writes, does art,  anything that can be considered intellectual property.  What is really surprising is how much copyright law has been developed since someone first had the idea to protect intellectual property from being plagiarized, copied,  wrongly claimed or attributed.

I’ve never applied for a copyright on anything, but from what little I know it’s a lengthy process–one of the many examples of the red tape and bureaucracy  that has grown with time in our country.

There are two sad aspects of all this.  I am not a lawyer, and I don’t have any  specialized legal  knowledge.  But I do understand the human heart quite well, and am rarely surprised at what contrivances people are capable of  in order to steal something from someone else.  Art, for example.  There are people who are truly gifted, but they make their living by copying the old masters and selling them at  quite outrageously high prices. If they would spend as much time and effort creating their own work, they probably wouldn’t become millionaires overnight, so they choose the  dark side instead.

On a lighter note, I taught English and history for high schoolers for several years. Because I taught both subjects, I assigned a paper that would draw from both  subjects, and the students were given a grade in history for content, and in English for mechanics, spelling, grammar, and appropriate form. There was a young man who thought the whole assignment was stupid, and I guess he thought I was stupid, too.  He wrote the first couple of pages on his computer, and then he stuck in several pages that were copied out of an encyclopedia. A couple more pages of his own were at the end.  I don’t know for sure, but my best guess is that he didn’t think I would really read all those pages, and that as long as the required number of pages was met, he’d get a good grade.

He was furious when I handed it back to him with a big, fat red zero   on the cover.  Did you get that?  HE was furious with ME!  He came storming up to my desk after class demanding to know why I’d given him a zero.

“Well, Stanley, (not his real name, of course)  that would be because most of it wasn’t your own work.  You cheated.  You tried to pass of an encyclopedia as your own writing, which you and I both know is nothing like your own writing. You didn’t complete the assignment, and you cheated. That’s a zero.”

“You can’t do this!  I’m going to tell my dad what you did to me!”  And he went charging out of the room in a temper

What I did to HIM?  Good grief.  As it turned out, I had a short chat with his dad,  and Stanley turned in a second paper a week later.  It met all the requirements of the assignment,  but it was a week late and it was full of grammatical errors.  Gave him a C-.  Again, he was furious, but this time he had the sense not to confront me.  His dad was on my side, glory be!  Parents aren’t always willing to back up the teacher in these situations, which I find very sad.  What the kid learns is that the teacher doesn’t matter, has no authority, and that he doesn’t need to waste any effort on any assignment.

I used to laugh when some kid came up to me wanting to know why I “gave” him such a low grade on his report card.  My stock answer?  “I don’t GIVE you a grade, my friend. You EARN that grade, and here is your line in my grade book which, if you look, you will see there are many assignments you didn’t turn in. That’s what the zeros are for. Then, take a look at your major test grades.  They hover between C and F.   You earned that grade.  And I will also remind you that I sent regular notes home, alerting your parents that you were not doing well.  I’ve done my job.  You didn’t do yours.”

That kid would usually walk away muttering “no fair” under his breath.

And isn’t it amazing where one little word can take a person?

RDP: Copyright

What Are You Waiting For?


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


“We’re always waiting for someone or something, aren’t we? ” Miss Grady looked at her students’ faces,  which showed her a variety of reaction.  Dread, nerves,  a little fear, expectation, hope, acceptance.  They knew there was going to be a writing assignment. Most of them would do a half-hearted job.  They disliked writing, except to text their friends. There were a few, though, who always turned in papers that were original, thoughtful, funny, serious–depending on the assignment.

“So here’s what I want you to do.  On a blank sheet of paper, no name, please,  write the words I am waiting for  and then leave the page blank. Send your papers to the front, where I will collect them and redistribute them randomly around the room. You will not know whose paper you have.

“There are some things that are forbidden. Once you have a paper in front of you,  write a short sentence that explains something you are waiting for.  The things that are disallowed are Christmas, your birthday, Thanksgiving, and the last day of school.  Also, you may not write anything that has already been written, and you may not write the same thing over and over on all ten papers.  Stretch your mind. Be creative.

“When you have written your sentence, exchange  your paper with someone else who has finished. Number your own response so that it is easy to tell when you get to ten.  When you have reached ten, raise your hand and I will collect the papers.


“Remember, you are to write only one sentence. The second person  to get each paper does the same, until each of you has completed  10 papers. Lucky for you, this is a small class! When you are all finished, we’re going to compile all your answers and see how many of you wrote the same things. Does everyone understand?  Okay, then let’s get started. “

Miss Grady watched as the students began to write,  She could almost hear some of them thinking, “Finally, a short assignment we can finish in a hurry.”

As the papers traveled,  Miss Grady saw smiles, raised eyebrows,  surprise, puzzlement. She was looking forward to seeing these papers herself, wondering if any of them would reflect her own “waiting for.”   At the end of this exercise, each student would have written ten complete sentences.  As the papers filled up, it was going to become harder to think up something new.



In non-response to the daily prompt, which held no interest for me today, here’s a story I’ve been thinking about developing.


“Write about what you know,” came the sage wisdom of experienced writers.

Well, good grief.  What did Ellie know?  Growing up in a preacher’s family wasn’t all that unique.  Being poor wasn’t, either.  Having parents who learned how to scratch and scrimp was pretty common for the baby-boomer generation. Some of those boomers, like Ellie herself, had applied a lot of what she learned from her Depression-era parents, and she and Trevor had managed to make a pretty good life for their family without ever becoming well-to-do.

There were lots of nevers in Ellie’s life.  Never been divorced.  Never had an affair. Never even been unfaithful in her thoughts. Never lost a child to illness or accident.  Never had a miscarriage. Never touched alcohol, never smoked a cigarette. Never watched porn, even after the computer era brought it right to her fingertips. Never ran away from home, never touched illegal drugs or got addicted to legal ones. Never had sex before marriage.

So what  was there about her life, and her experiences, that would make an interesting read for people who were used to watching the most horrifying violence in movies and on TV?  What could she write about love and romance that would appeal to people  who treated sex like  a casual event, and indoor sport?  What could she write about childrearing when her own kids had all turned out to be  normal, law-abiding citizens rearing their own families the same way she and Trev had done it?

Who wanted to read about people she knew?  People who went to church, believed in God, loved their country, and lived their lives the old-fashioned way—God, home, and country?

Wouldn’t they rather read about horrific murders, the evil minds of sociopaths who had no conscience, the sexual escapades of men and women who were physically beautiful but had no moral compass?  Look at the popularity of those Fifty Shades books!  Why, even some of her own friends claimed to enjoy the books and get all hot and bothered by the sexual violence they portrayed.

As Ellie sat quietly in her living room, hands busy with the afghan she was knitting, quiet music filling the room, she wondered why she had this strong urge to write when it seemed to her that she really had nothing to write about.   Nothing new, nothing sensational, nothing that hadn’t already been written to death by hundreds of other wannabe authors.

Write about what you know.  Hmph. “I know about being a normal girl, with hopes and dreams; making dumb choices, making embarrassing mistakes, floundering through the process of falling in and out of love; learning to curb my impulses, tame my tart tongue, train my temper.  I knew abour rearing normal kids.  Well, they’d all been amazingly smart. I never had the homework struggle that a lot of my friends did, because my own brood just didn’t need much help.  That had been a blessing, especially during the years I’d been a teacher in their school. “

She knew about hard work. Plenty about that. She was grateful for these senior years of relative peace, calm, and quiet. These years weren’t nearly as labor-intensive as her forties and even fifties had been.

She knew about going back to school at the advanced age of 50, competing with students half her age.  She knew about being a psychotherapist, and she knew about being thankful for how normal her own life had been compared to that of a lot of her clients.

She knew about pain, both physical and emotional. She understood suffering.  She was glad she’d started the counseling career after she’d been around the block a few times.

Still, was there really an interesting story in all of that?  In any of it?

Ellie’s eyelids slid cosed, her head nodding off to one side and her hands going still.  Her thoughts had opened lots of windows on memories long past, and her afternoon dream took her through one of those windows. Transported back in time, she found herself riding in the back seat of her dad’s 1955 Chevy, legs and feet pushing and shoving against her sister’s to keep a few inches of leg room as they drove through what seemed like endless miles of nothing.

Oh, yes, now there was a story.




Who Knows?

Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other

Write a six-word story about what you think the future holds for you, and then expand on it in a post.


I don’t know, but God does!

Of course I have plans and hopes.  When we stop having those, we stop living. I plan to continue to walk with the Lord, to serve Him wherever the opportunity arises.

I plan to continue my journey to better health.  Progress is slow, but it’s there.

I plan to continue writing, with the hope of being published someday.

I plan to enjoy my family as I watch the grands grow up.  Amazing how fast that’s happening!

I plan to continue working as long as I’m physically and mentally able, and don’t start drooling and falling out of my chair.

I plan to enjoy my marriage for as long as God gives us.  It’s been 46 years.  I’m hoping for many more, but you just never know.

In my immediate future, I’m looking forward to the holidays: Family coming home, bustle and noise and lots of good food.

Life is good, most of the time.  I am content.


Blog Because You Can

Million-Dollar Question

Why do you blog?


At first, I blogged here because I had–still have–a mission.  I love teaching the Bible. The internet is a great place to do that, and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people  in the process.

Then, I opened this blog as a place to write about anything at all.

 I had discovered the Daily Prompts, which I always try to look at as an opportunity to stretch my brain and write something interesting even if the prompt is a dud–or a much-derided repeat.

I like to write. Always have, from the time I was learning to read.  Always thought it would be wonderful to write books all day every day.  I have infinite respect for those who do it.  I could never get those blocks of uninterrupted time while I was rearing little kids, then teaching, now counseling.  Maybe I just don’t try hard enough. Anyway, I’m hoping this journey into the blogosphere will lead to a more extended effort.

I blog because I’m addicted.

I blog because I would miss all the interesting, warm, supportive and gifted people I’ve met here.  That’s a benefit I didn’t understand or know about when I started.

I blog because I can. Land of the free, home of the brave.  I won’t be thrown into prison or beaten because of what I write. Not yet, anyway.

Which brings me to another topic.  Please, go vote in your local elections today. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.  Locals don’t have the flash and glam of nationals, but they are the pillars of our communities, and they have a lot to say about the direction our nation takes.

Vote. Because you can.


Dear Older Me

From You to You

Write a letter to your 14-year-old self. Tomorrow, write a letter to yourself in 20 years.


Yesterday, we wrote to our 14-year-old-selves. Today, we’re looking ahead. That’s harder. We really don’t know if we’ll be here in 20 years, or even in 20 minutes!  But I’m going to assume I will be. I’ve chosen to follow through with this prompt rather than the one that is posted for today about looking out a window and then describing what you see. I like this idea better.

I was pleased when this picture showed up on my Facebook feed yesterday, because it really is worth 1000 words:


Dear 88-year-old Linda,

It really is still me in there, behind the wrinkles and the grey and the moustache and beard I have to deal with every day! Sometimes I’m shocked when I look in the mirror because I don’t recognize that strange old lady looking back at me.

Then I do. It’s me. Believe it or not, I’ve reached this grand old age, and I look every minute of it. By the way, I know I should be saying “It is I,” not “It is me.” Just so you know I know 🙂

I’m a widow. Terry’s body gave in faster than mine, what with all the pain from his injury to his foot all those years ago.  I miss him every day, and I look forward to seeing him in heaven.

My kids are all grandparents, some of them great-grandparents. I have many descendants, which is a delight to me, and something I wish I could share with Terry.  He would have loved seeing them all together.

I finally started writing seriously after Terry died.  I had more time, and even though I still worked for a while at my counseling office, I got busy doing some writing for publication. The rejections were hard to take. Still are. I’m not done yet.  But I’ve had a few things published, including a couple of books. My mom would be delighted.  She always encouraged me to write.

I live in a nice, adequate assisted living apartment. Because of the books, I can afford a good place.  I’ve made some good friends here, and we joke with each other about the lines of people waiting for one of us to die so they can have the apartment.  You don’t take death quite so seriously when you get to be our age.  It’s coming, no avoiding it. For some, it will be a release. Pain and old age come in a package.

I’m a year older than my mom was when she died.  I think she would have lived longer if she hadn’t had such awful back pain. I have the same condition she did, but there’s better treatment these days, and I’m grateful for that.

My mind is still pretty good. I forget silly, day-to-day stuff like where I put my glasses, but I still know who I am, and who my family is.  I try not to bore people silly with stories of when I was young. After all, we all used to be young, we all have our own stories. Some of the people here are wonderful to listen to. Others, not so much. Just a litany of their pains, disappointments in life, nobody comes to see them, blah blah blah. Doesn’t surprise me no one comes to see them.  They’re no fun.

I still love my God.  I still wear out my Bible, and the older I grow the more time I spend in prayer. The closer I get to heaven, the more real it all becomes.

I’ve had a wonderful, blessed life.  I’ve had the love of a good man, the pleasure of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even one great-great-granchild. One of those five generation pictures everyone enjoys so much.  A lot has changed on the political front, Things are very different now than when I was young. I know it won’t be long until the Lord comes to take His people home to heaven. Maybe I’ll live long enough for that, and maybe I won’t.

Either way, that’s my final destination.



Tell us about something you would attempt if you were guaranteed not to fail (and tell us why you haven’t tried it yet).


Last time we did this one, I wrote about writing a book.

This time I’ll make it easier.

I would go skydiving.

And I haven’t done it yet because I’m terrified.

An update to yesterday’s post:  My doc says I have a sinus infection and an ear infection. She gave me humongous pills to take, and two doses later the ear feels better and the sinuses aren’t throbbing so the whole world could see and maybe do a break dance to the rhythm. 


Only Two Goals

What’s your next, most pressing deadline? Are you excited, stressed, or ambivalent about it? What’s the first thing you’d like to do once you’re done with it?


One of the best things about being 67 is that there aren’t very many deadlines unless I set them for myself. I really don’t have a pressing deadline right now.

However.  Big however. Time is passing faster and faster. There are still some things I want/need to try to do before I die. One of them, of course, is to write a book. It may be the only one. I may be just a one-book writer. I have a couple of ideas, both intriguing to me, and I feel a sense of urgency about one in particular.

I also want to get my “stuff” in better order.  I had a client some time ago whose father had died and left her to clean up over 50 years of his hoarding. It was overwhelming to her, causing great stress and anxiety in her marriage and with her children. She was the only child, so the whole responsibility rested on her shoulders. I will never forget her tears as she angrily told me, “I’m just so angry with him for leaving me this horrible mess to clean up!”  She couldn’t just toss everything willy nilly into a dumpster because her parents had tucked money, stock certificates and other important papers haphazardly into all sorts of nooks and crannies including books and record albums. It took her over two years to get the job done.

I WILL not do that to my children. I’ve already started the sifting process. I think they’re going to be surprised.  Now if only I could get DH on board, but that’s a whole different story.

And really, that’s about it.  One of the rewards of being older is that under “normal” circumstances, life really is a little less hectic.  I know that’s not true for everyone, but it is for me.  And I’m thankful.


Not So Risky

When was the last time you took a risk (big or small), and pushed your own boundaries — socially, professionally, or otherwise? Were you satisfied with the outcome?


I’m not really much of a risk-taker, although some may think differently.  I suppose a huge risk for me was to go back to school at age 50 to earn a master’s degree so I could do private practice counseling.  I wasn’t afraid of the academic pressure, knew I was up to that.  My fear was that I would go through all that work, get my degree, get my license, and then not have any business.

That process started  17 years ago, and believe me, I have all the business I want or need.  Yes, I am very satisfied with the outcome.  I’ll be even more satisfied when that pesky student loan is paid off.

On another risk, about two-and-a-half years ago I opened my first blog. Since it is narrowly focused, I knew my readership would grow slowly.  It has. However, it grows consistently, and I’m very happy with the way it’s being received. Then, this past April, I decided I needed another blog that would give me more scope for creative writing, writing just for the fun of it. And I found the daily prompts, which has introduced me to a community of encouraging, helpful friends in cyberspace. This one is growing much faster.  I am so amazed and gratified at the response.

So yes, these “risks” have turned out quite well.  Who knows what’s around the next corner!


Short and To the Point

Brevity Pulls

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” — Blaise Pascal


I was one of those kids whose English teacher would say, “You need to develop this more, Linda,”  when I turned in a writing assignment.  Aggravated the dickens out of me.  I figured there are only so many ways to say something, and I don’t believe in saying the same thing six different ways just to fill up space. 

It takes some thinking to be concise.  You need to plan what you’re going to say, whether it be written or verbal. If we don’t take the time to think it through, then we end up using fifty words where ten would have done the job.

We are not thoughtful conversationalists.  We interrupt ourselves (and others), backtrack, leave partial sentences hanging in mid-air. We think we need to tell the backstory before the listener will understand.  Usually, that isn’t true.

I think we may be better writers than we are talkers, because writing takes more effort.

When I taught high school English, we always did a unit on the research paper.  Groan for the kids, but many have told me years later how much it helped them in college.  I insisted that they outline their plan before they started writing; also, that they stay with the outline.  I helped them get the outline in good order, teaching them to think logically and carefully before they started writing.  What they learned was that if they had a good plan, the hard work was already done.  The writing tended to flow fairly easily because of the research, organization and detailed planning that had gone ahead of the writing.

I had a teacher years ago who first introduced me and the class to this acronym:  KISS.  Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Or, more kindly, Keep It Short and Sweet.  Either way, brevity, clarity, and simplicity are much more likely to be read than will long, rambling, verbose prose.