Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday's Lists: 33/9 & 34/10 of 52

I'm playing catch-up this Monday and participating this year with the Moorea Seal 52 Lists Project

33/9: List the ways you are a leader.

1. I'm not a leader. I'd rather do than lead. I'd rather take the initiative than wait to be told, or wait for someone else to realize it needs to be done.  That doesn't always make me popular at work ... or at home ... but it is what it is.  Sometimes common sense has to prevail, and so when I see a task that needs to be done and no one stepping up ... I'm usually the one who does. Not because I'm a leader, though.  Because I'm a doer.

34/10: List the things that make you excited.

1. Anything (!) to do with nature, animals, flowers.  Especially something I've never seen before.

2. Pugs. Puppies. Kittens. Baby animal anything.

3.  Cheese.cake. Not always in that order.

4.  Crafts. Upcycling antiques. Creativity.  Writing.

5.  Germany. Especially traveling to it. Gummi bears. Castles. River cruises. Weinerschnitzel. Jagerschnitzel. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Words on a Friday ...

I'm sneaking in late to join the amazingly creative bloggers at Drifting Through Life for this week's words.

He sat in the dark, listening closely to every sound. He knew she must be sitting just on the other side of the door as well, waiting to see if he made any noise.

He had seen the open trap door to what must have once been a root cellar and as he turned to tell her to be careful, she had tripped on a chair and fell against him. Thrown off balance, he had almost fallen down the stairs but had been able to grab the edge of the floor to keep from going all the way down.  When the trap door had fallen shut on his hand, he had cursed at her as he jerked his smashed hand away and landed heavily on his back.

The fall had knocked the wind out of him at first, and for a moment he wasn't sure if he was even still alive. As he lay on the dirt floor, huffing and puffing to try to get into a normal breathing rhythm, he was confused about what had actually happened.  Had she really tripped, or had she deliberately pushed him into the cellar?

As breathing became easier, he slowly moved up the stairs until he was just under the door.  He couldn't see any light in the room above through the cracks in the door.  He felt a panic rising in him and started counting backwards from one hundred as he had done as a child when his anxiety made him a target for bullies.  As he mouthed the number eight, he heard her move in the room above and suddenly threw himself at the door, screaming and shouting her name.

He heard her laughing at him, then suddenly stifle herself and run from the cabin.  His anger reached such a supreme intensity at that moment, he could scarcely contain himself.  Screaming obscenities at her, pounding on the door, he continued until he could feel the blood pouring from his splintered and shattered fists, and his throat was so sore he could only manage a whisper.  How long had he been at it? He didn't know.  All he knew now was that he desperately wanted something to drink and to wrap his hands around her throat to watch her slowly die.

He sat back on the floor and felt something underneath him.  Shifting his weight, he realized that his cell phone had fallen out of his pocket somehow and quickly turned it on.  Zero bars. No signal at all.  But there was still enough battery for him to use it to see what was in the cellar that he could use to his advantage.

In a corner, he found a candle and a handmade fishing pole.  There weren't any hooks, and the line was just a piece of twine that crumbled under his touch.  Frowning, he turned to look at the rest of the cellar as the cell phone began to dim.  Swiping his finger across the screen, he noticed for the first time along the bottom of the phone which read "emergency calls only." Quickly tapping out 911 on the keypad, he listened to see if the call would be answered. Static, then a voice that was broken and indecipherable.

"Hello?!? Hello?!?! Can you hear me? I need help! I'm trapped!!"

The phone suddenly went black as the battery finally died. Angrily he threw it against the wall, hearing it smash and fall into pieces on the floor. He felt his way back to the stairs and trap door, beating and screaming until he slumped exhausted to the ground.


She had gotten into the shower as soon as she got home, turning the water as hot as she could stand it as if she could wash the despicable names he had called her off her skin. Seeing his brand new razor on the edge of the sink, she had used it to shave her legs and underarms, the second act of defiance she'd done in the last ten years.

Later, she had stood in front of the bathroom mirror, and wiped a circle in the steam to look at herself. He had always made her keep her hair long, even when the summer temperatures exceeded 100°.  It gave him something to grab and pull when he wanted to punish her.  Now she cut it off until it was just at her chin. She took his razor again and shaved uneven layers in her hair to give it texture.  It was her third act of defiance.

A week later, when no one had knocked on her door, she had filed a missing person report on him.  No, she didn't know where he could have gone.  He didn't have many friends. She thought he had gone on a business trip, but didn't know for sure since he seldom told her his plans.  Interviews with his clients confirmed that none had even known he was married.

A month later, when the police were still without any clues or anyone who had confessed to even missing him, she stood in front of his closet and took all of his tailor made white silk shirts off the hangers.  He spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on each shirt, yet couldn't spend $4 on a bar of soap or bottle of shampoo to wash his body or hair on a daily basis. He bathed or shaved only when it would financially benefit him ~ when he had a business meeting with one of his investors.  For them, he would look and smell his best, but for her, he wouldn't even brush his teeth.

She carefully slid a piece of cardboard covered in plastic wrap inside the first shirt and began to work.  Taking a lit candle, she dripped wax across the silk making flowers that would impress even Monet. Next, she took an eyedropper and carefully colored in her flowers using fabric dyes. As the silk dried, she began working on another shirt until there were thirty completed shirts, one for every season of flowers she could imagine. In the corner of each collar, she had carefully dipped a toothpick into the wax and signed them "DBH."

It was her fourth act of defiance.

After she had carefully ironed the wax out of the fabric, she had tried each of them on, some worn as dresses with a solid colored silk tie as a belt, others as shirts.  A few she had made with her sisters and old girlfriends in mind, and so she sat down to write them each a long overdue letter before wrapping their shirt in tissue paper and addressing the labels for the shipping envelopes. He had cut her off from everyone he knew within the first two years of their marriage.  Now it was time to reconnect.

It was her fifth act of defiance.

A year later, when she had forgotten what his voice sounded like, what he looked and smelled like; when the police had misplaced their few slips of paper notes about the man no one missed, she had stood in front of the small gallery with the "DBH Gallery Grand Opening" banner and smiled.  In the window, she saw her latest silk shirt creations, along with artwork some of her new friends had made for the occasion.

Defiance Becomes Her.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Words for Wednesday ...

Let the word games continue ... I'm joining the wonderfully creative bloggers at Drifting Through Life and Elephant's Child for this week's words. 

When you live in an abusive relationship, it can sometimes seem like having multiple dynamic personalities.  Who you are alone in public, or your demeanor at work can be dramatically different from who you are at home. What may seem like an easy solution to the problem ~ leaving ~ isn't always that simple. The longer you stay, the harder it can be to leave because you often don't have many ~ or any ~ friends or family that know your situation. It is not something that is easy to talk about or explain why you have stayed.

To someone who has never lived that life of fear and uncertainty, they don't understand that you didn't choose that life, or that person because of how they would treat you. Abusers lure you in with all the right words and actions.  Even when you start to suspect that something isn't quite right in your relationship, they know exactly what to say to make you question yourself and not them. By the time you realize that you are in trouble, usually, after the ring is on your finger, it is often too difficult to easily walk away.

Choosing to leave requires thought and planning.  Oh, you can certainly drop everything and run. But chances are that your abuser has so completely controlled you, so completely manipulated you, that you may have little or no financial resources to fall back on if you choose to run. So when you make that decision, you need to make sure you can stick to it because going back shouldn't be an option.  Going back may not mean smoothly going back to a familiar situation. It could mean going back to something much worse because now there is retaliation for having the audacity to leave.

She knew all these things when she made the decision that enough was enough and that she wouldn't be able to pull off any Jennifer Lopez moves. She also knew that she never wanted him to be able to treat another woman the way he had treated her. She wanted out and she wanted to be able to sleep at night.

The cabin was deep in the woods.  So deep that when the real estate agent took her out to show her the property, they had to walk a mile off the dirt road that required four-wheelers to get even that close.  There was no mobile phone service, and without electricity, there were also no lights in the cabin. For a hunter, it was the perfect property.  For the hunted, it was the perfect property.

It had taken her ten years of putting aside loose change and spare dollars. She'd had to save them at the office where she worked, hidden in a locked box, in the back of a locked desk drawer.  As soon as she'd saved enough she would exchange her smaller coins and bills for a larger denomination bill to save space in the box.  Eventually, she'd been forced to buy three other lock boxes.  But she finally had saved and hidden enough. Buying the cabin for $6000 had made a dent in her savings, but she knew it was perfect for what she had in mind. 

The real estate agent was surprised that she wanted to pay cash, but he didn't complain.  The cabin had been on the market for ten years, and there weren't even any living heirs anymore to transfer the deed.  In fact, there wouldn't be any transfer.  The terms of the sale were that the cabin would need to be moved or burned within the next year when the land lease with the national forest was up. The cabin would be hers, but there would be no way to prove it if anyone ever asked.  The cash she paid for the property already filled his pockets, and the deed to the property would line the bottom of his bird's cage in the morning.  He didn't dare risk depositing any of the cash.  No reason for the IRS to be alerted. It wasn't as if it was a huge sum anyway. If he was careful, he could probably not need another commission for three months.

She told her husband that a friend had offered her their cabin for the weekend. She said it in an offhand way as if she really didn't want to go, or even wanted to mention it to him. She knew that if she acted disinterested it would pique his interest and curiosity to the point of obsession. He asked where it was, and she said she wasn't positive, only that it was quite far and difficult to get to. He said they should go that weekend.

From the dirt road where they left the side-by-side four-wheeler, it should have been a straight mile west to the cabin, taking them less than 30 minutes to reach. But she didn't want him to know she had been there several times already to prepare. Instead, she went southeast, then east before turning north and making a gradual southwesterly turn, taking two hours to get to the cabin.

Sunset was in an hour by the time they reached the cabin, but they were deep enough into the forest that it seemed as if the sun had already set. Holding her cell phone as a flashlight, she followed him into the cabin and making sure that the trap door to the tiny root cellar under the cabin was still open. She waited until he was close to the open door, then acted as if she tripped on a chair leg and threw her weight against him.  As he went flying down the stairs, she quickly slammed the door closed and put a lock on it.

There had been an audible thud when he had landed on the bare sand floor, then nothing. She waited in the darkness and silence.  She thought once she heard him curse her name but then realized that it might have just been her conscious making her feel guilty.  Looking at her watch, she suddenly realized that she had been sitting there for almost an hour.  There hadn't been any sound from the root cellar in all that time.

She slowly stood, the floor creaking as she moved. Suddenly it was if he had been waiting at the top of the stairs the entire time, just listening for her to move.  He pounded angrily on the trap door and screamed profanities at her, demanding that she let him out immediately so that he could deal with her face to face.

The irony of his demand and the sudden shock and fear she felt of what he would do to her if the lock or door didn't hold made her burst into hysterical laughter. She quickly put her hand over mouth, shaking so hard she almost fell to the floor.  He screamed at her and began pounding on the trap door again even harder.

Turning quickly, she ran from the cabin and into the darkness.  She had made the hike through the woods several times to learn landmarks that she would have to feel in the darkness when she didn't want to use a flashlight. But she still stumbled and cried out with fear when she thought she had taken a wrong turn.

It took her an hour to get back to the side-by-side, walking with her hands in front of her to feel for the next landmark tree, counting her steps along the way. Every sound, every snap of a branch, or rustle of leaves made her freeze and listen, holding her breath until she couldn't hold it any longer. When she finally got back to the truck and trailer they had rented, she drove the side-by-side up the ranps onto the trailer and quickly drove back to the rental yard.  She dropped the keys in the rental box and drove her car straight home.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday's List 32 of 52 or 8 ...
If I'd made my Sunday list on Saturday, and read it on Friday, I'd have been on time with Monday's list.  I'm participating this year with the Moorea Seal 52 Lists Project

32/8: List the ways you get energized.

1. Coffee
2. Anger
3. Pain
4. Repeat

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wednesday's Words ...

What?!? Wednesday already?!? Where has this week gone??? I'm picking up where I left off last week and joining the wonderfully creative bloggers at Drifting Through Life and Elephant's Child for this week's words. 

     It had been their anniversary the weekend prior. As he had regularly for the past 11 years, her husband had forgotten about it until he came home from work and saw the candlelit dinner she had prepared for them. He stood in the doorway of the dining room for a moment with a confused look on his face.
     "I guess today is some kind of an occasion or something?"
     She looked up at him and hesitated before answering. She had to carefully process her response. If he was just testing her, a sarcastic response could be dangerous. But if he had truly forgotten, then reminding him could also be dangerous.
     "Every day with you is special, dear."
     He studied her face, moving closer until his height towered over her. She knew instantly that he had been testing her and that her cautious answer had been too close to being sarcasm.  She mentally kicked herself. He leaned down, whispering to her.
     "Perhaps we should celebrate with a matinee movie.  Not this crap you made that they wouldn't even serve in the concessions stand."
     She held her breath, waiting until he stepped back before she inhaled again. Something had obviously died inside of him.  The stench of his breath and the blackness of his teeth had almost made her vomit.
     "That sounds nice.  There is an indie film festival this weekend. Maybe we could see something? I heard there was a movie showing called Suburbia. Or maybe it was called The Safety of Objects? I can't remember which.  But it has Glenn Close in it, and I know you like her work."  

     They had gone to the movie and later had dinner in one of the nicer, more expensive restaurants in town.  She had been surprised at his willingness to see an indie movie, and even more surprised when he had suggested the restaurant.
     The next morning she had woken up early, thinking of something Glenn Close's character had said in the movie.

"How did I get here? Somewhere along the way, things have gotten out of hand. I don't know how. I tried to do things right, but... maybe that's the problem. Maybe there is no right or wrong. We're ruled by chaos. That would make more sense. That there are no rewards, no punishments. Life isn't a series of results of things done right or wrong. It's all just random. Those are the rules. There are no rules."
      The movie had given her the courage to take the next step. She knew that what she had planned for him would almost be considered overkill but she knew she couldn't do another year with him.  It was time to end it.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday's List ... 31 of 52 or 7

Without a list, I'm wandering lost all week.  Fortunately,  I'm participating this year with Patti Miinch and the Moorea Seal 52 Lists Project.  I should have saved last Monday's picture for today, so I've swapped them out.

31/7: List the words that define your personality [words: plural = not just a singular word]

1. Courageous in confronting my fears
2. Creative
3. Fiercely protective
4. Stronger than I thought
5. Able to laugh over tall buildings and faster than a speeding train
6. Loving & compassionate
7. Giving & forgiving (can't forgive without being able to give it)
8. Patient (a difficult virtue of learning, but without it, nothing ever happens)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday's Words

It is Wednesday and we are getting ready to go out of town to see Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame in concert.  I'm rushing to get my words in with Elephant's Child and Mumblings before we have to leave.

She picked the suitcase up off the carpet and as she set it on the bed with determination to unzip it, she shook her head. It wasn't just that he was filthy and disgusting that was making her want to leave him. It was everything else. He had become a maniacal megalomaniac, with his finicky quirks about cleaning. Just that morning he had hit her repeatedly with the duster as she was trying to reach the tops of the ceiling fans. He had found a speck of dust on the magazine that she had been reading in the bathroom, the only room of the house where she felt like she had some privacy away from his dominant display of arrogance and hypocrisy.

For a man who was a freak about cleaning the house, from the baseboards to the ceiling fans, his personal hygienic habits were completely opposite.  She couldn't remember the last time he had bathed, used deodorant, or brushed his teeth.  The stench that emanated from him was overpowering and reminded her of a dead deer they had once stumbled upon when they were hiking shortly after they married.

She paused in her packing, thinking back to that day. They had literally stumbled upon the dead deer, rounding a corner in the path they had tripped over one of the deer's hind legs and he had fallen elbow deep into the decaying abdomen of the pregnant doe.  She had managed to catch herself on a tree limb to keep from falling, but he had not moved for several minutes before she had finally called out his name.  He had jumped up at that moment and kicked the carcass with his boots, but still hadn't made a sound. Turning towards her, she saw his hand reach for his carbine strapped to his waist and for a moment she was afraid.

He had always been dominant over her. Setting out the clothes he expected her to wear each day, reading her email and mail, checking her cell phone for calls made or received and questioning her on numbers he hadn't already saved into her contacts list. When they first met he hadn't been so controlling, only slightly jealous and possessive in a way that made her feel wanted and desired. After they married, however, she realized that he was becoming more controlling, more possessive, and more jealous in ways that no longer made her feel special. Instead, she felt like just a thing to be owned, as if she was no longer a person but a cheap material thing he had bought at a flea market.  She became afraid of him as he subtly eliminated all of her friends and family from her life. Her self-esteem diminished to the point of suicidal depression, and she felt trapped and hopeless.

Each day was like waking up to a new nightmare, where she would never know what was coming next. His mood swings increased, often set off by something that had nothing to do with her or him, yet she took the brunt of his anger. Perhaps a customer had made a comment about his weight gain, or he had seen a commercial on television for deodorant. It never made any sense and she had stopped trying to make sense of it at all.

After 12 years of marriage though, he had made one tactical mistake....

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday's List ... 30 of 52 or 6

Life gets hectic at times, and list making has kept me "straight." I'm participating this year with Patti Miinch and the Moorea Seal 52 Lists Project.

30/6:  List the qualities you admire most in others.

1. The ability to laugh at themselves and not others.
2. Compassion & kindness for all living things.
3. Being honest with others and with self.
4. High work ethics, but the wisdom that family comes first.
5. Creativity.

Friday, July 21, 2017

collect ... in 5

I'm collecting my thoughts here with the wonderfully talented writers at Five Minute Friday again this week ...

I collect rocks almost as much as I collect words, although currently, my rock collection is probably larger than my book collection.

They come with tangible memories attached to them of places we've been, and in some cases, the people we have been with.

Last night I reached out to a nephew to ask if he wanted a rock I had kept from Carpinteria Beach in California. It was the last time I had seen him.  In 1999.  For me, the rock was a reminder of time spent with him and his brother.  For him, it will be a reminder of a vacation spent with his uncle who recently passed away.

deceptively innocent looking, isn't she?
I also collect bird nests, fragments of varied and colorful wild bird eggshells, feathers, paper wasp nests, butterfly wings, beach shells, sand, driftwood, and birch bark.  Recently I found a double decker paper wasp nest.  I used to keep my "treasures" in a bowl on my writing desk for inspiration.

However, with the addition of one curious kitten named Lucy Magillicutty to our family, I've had to start keeping things in closed jars. She also likes to collect things.  Stray pennies to drop into my husband's work boots. His gently used foam ear plugs from work. Cough drops. Sponge stencil brushes. Guitar picks. Empty toilet paper rolls.

I collect things of nature because of the beauty in all that He creates.

Your adornment must not be merely external—with interweaving and elaborate knotting of the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or [being superficially preoccupied with] dressing in expensive clothes; but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not over anxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God. 
~ 1 Peter 3:3-4 [AMP] ~

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Words on Wednesday ...

Some weeks it seems like I just blink and it is Wednesday again. I'm joining the creativity, better late than never, over at Mumblings ...

It was a quiet evening on the water.  The sun was beginning to set, and there was a mist moving in from Lake Superior over Chequamegon Bay that gave it a mystical glow.

Just barely in her peripheral vision, Rose saw the Ashland Breakwater Light. She wondered if she would be able to swim to it before the cold water made it impossible for her to move her arms and legs.

Focusing on the beacon of light, she began to swim with determination. With each stroke, she thought of the events that had put her in the water that afternoon.

Rose and Andrew had taken an old sailboat named Misty Mountain Melody out for a test run on the bay. Their lives had finally reached a point where money was no object, and they were thinking of buying the boat to restore and live on during the summer months.  As the sails filled with the wind off the lake, they had tacked back and forth in the bay.  The fish finder radar showed plentiful fish beneath them, but they hadn't brought anything to bait their hooks with.

When the sun began to set, they drew in the sails and dropped anchor for the night. Rose went below to set out the splendid antique china that would come with the boat and opened the cooler she had brought with their evening meal, bacon, and eggs for breakfast carefully packed in it.  The small gas stove in the galley crackled as she lit it.

Hearing a noise behind her in the bow where the hammock that they would sleep in was hung, she turned to see the wispy image of a young woman in a long dress that would have been more appropriate at a debutante ball than in the cabin of a sailboat.

Startled to realize that she could see the hammock through the young woman, Rose backed up to the ladder leading up to the deck of the sailboat. The girl began to move towards her, whispering of long dormant jealousy, and the slanderous lies that had trapped her there in the boat. She had been in love with a sailor, the man who had built the boat by hand over two hundred years before. She thought he had been in love with her as well.

But one day she had surprised him by bringing his midday meal and had found him in the arms of her sister. They had denied their feelings for each other and instead had publically accused her of having an affair with another young man in the city who had recently been caught stealing from the market. Shamed and humiliated, she cursed both of them and vowed the destruction of the boat before she hung herself from the top mast of the sailboat.

The ancient gas stove hisses and popped as the young woman pointed an accusing finger towards her.  "You stole him from me!  How could you do that to me, sister?"

Rose started to respond as she backed up the stairs to the deck, but knew that the ghost of the young woman wasn't seeing her, but was seeing what had happened to her long ago.  The gas stove hissed again and the young woman turned. With a wave of her hand, the flames died as the gas continued to hiss.

Backing faster now, Rose burst up onto the deck and grabbed her husband, throwing both of them into the water just as the sailboat exploded into complete destruction.

Exhaustion now began to creep into her arms in the cold, and she began to doubt for the first time that she would reach the lighthouse.  Suddenly, a fishing boat appeared and pulled both of them out of the water.  

Weeks later, filled with gratitude for the men who had rescued them, she had gone to the local historical society to ask about the boat and the man who had built it.  

The boat had been built in the early 1800's and named for a young woman that the man was engaged to be married to. But tragedy had struck before he had been able to put the boat in the water for her first sail.  For reasons that no one remembered, his fiancée had hung herself from the mast of the sailboat one night.   A year later, when the man and his late fiancée's sister had taken the boat out for her inaugural sail, the man had slipped on the deck, falling overboard and drowning.  When his late fiancée's sister had tried to rescue him, she had been tangled in the rigging of the main sail and had hung to death. Since then, every owner of the sailboat had met with some tragedy.

As Rose looked at the microfiche news articles showing the original obituary of the young woman, she gasped when she read that Melody had been born in a small Tennessee community called Misty Mountain and had been survived by her sister, Rosemary, and her fiancé, Andrew.

Reaching to turn off the microfiche machine, Rose hesitate when she heard a whisper behind her.

"I told you I would destroy her."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday's List ... 29 of 52 or 5

Dreaming with Patti Miinch today and Moorea Seal's 52 Lists Project.
List your childhood and current dream jobs:
1.  When I was in the 9th grade (1976-77), I was on the school newspaper staff. The Space Shuttle Columbia (which flew in 1981) was still being built and there was a great deal of excitement about it. I wrote a letter to NASA expressing my interest in being the first student journalism reporter in space. I'd still go in a heartbeat.

2.  In the first two years of high school, I had dreams of being an interior decorator and still love decorating, turning a house into a home that is comfortable and welcoming. I also thought about becoming an architect and drew up elaborate floor plans of my dream homes (and still do). 

3.  My senior year of high school, I turned my interest to physical therapy, with a brief thought of becoming a veterinarian. However, I quickly realized that I would become too emotionally attached to be able to be an objective care provider. Becoming a physical therapist remained a dream job for many years, encouraged by working at a United Way Cerebral Palsy Child Development Center, and at a practice where I was a PT aide. Unfortunately, I found out that before a student studied human cadavers, they worked on dog or cat cadavers and that was something I couldn't imagine doing without breaking into horrifyingly loud sobs.

4.  Now my dream job is to be a full-time writer. Books, blogs, web articles, radio ad copy, magazine articles, or as an ongoing newspaper columnist. I'd love to see Trooper's Run turned into a made-for-television movie by the Lifetime Channel.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

comfort ... in 5

Joining tonight a day late with the amazing and encouraging writers at Five Minute Friday ...

what was it about you? 

was it the fact that you shadowed me whenever I was in pain and did everything you could to comfort me?

was it the fact that you seemed to know and understand everything I said to you, even when I didn't fully understand myself?

do you know it still comforts me to talk to you late at night? 

you've been gone over a year now, and there are still moments and days when the loss grips my heart in a vice and I struggle to breathe.

they say there is a reason that dog spelled backward is God. 

could it be that the unconditional love shown to us by our dogs is a reflection of God's love for us? or that when we whisper our hurts into your floppy ears, that you whisper them to God for us? perhaps it is that the comfort we feel when you lean into us, is sent from God above?

when I still talk to you, I know that God hears me too.
when I feel comforted, I know that it is from God.
when I think of seeing you again, it comforts me more to know that you wait in God's presence too.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Words on Wednesday ...

Time flies when you are having fun, and I'm joining again with Elephant's Child and Mumblings for Words on Wednesday ...

The scent of jasmine and honeysuckle was heavy in the air. Drawing him in. Enticing. Intoxicating.

A large hornet hovered by him, nearly knocking him over as he tried to avoid it. Something was going on. He could see it now. They were gathering in crowds. He hurried closer.

Oblivious to their proximity, a woman with a purple hairnet over her curlers, hung sheets on the clothesline. Her hair was drenched in a horrifying chemical smell that nearly overtook the flowers' perfume, and for a moment he was afraid his senses would be permanently damaged.

There was a large bumblebee that appeared to be dancing in the air. After a moment, it settled down onto a nearby sunflower. He watched to see what the response would be from the others. Seeing movement, he turned to follow the crowd as they began to congregate closer to the woman.

Chilling screams began to fill the air as they moved in to strike.

Another worker from his hive broke away from the swarm to dance in front of the bumblebee resting on the sunflower. The message was simple but clear:


Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday's List ... 28 of 52 or 4

Tagging along with Patti Miinch today and Moorea Seal's 52 Lists Project.

List the wildest things you want to try:

1. Hang gliding or skydiving ... I've been up in a hot air balloon and went on an aerobatic glider ride.
2. Snorkeling over a reef. I snorkeled in the Bahamas once, but not for long and not over a reef. It was so relaxing. I'd love to take our honeymoon (seven years late) on an island and enjoy the warmth of the sun and the sand between my toes ... and especially fresh seafood!
3.  Design and build our "forever" home, a totally self-sufficient and off-the-grid home and farm.
4.  Open a dog rescue and rehab center, specifically for beagles and hunting dogs that are discarded when the season is over.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Words on Wednesday ...

It is that time of the week again, and I'm joining with Elephant's Child and Mumblings for Words on Wednesday ...

From the moment she watched the Radio City Rockettes perform for a television Christmas special when she was five years old, she talked of almost nothing else. Dancing. Acting. Broadway. She knew she was destined to be an actress, to be in the spotlight. It was her dream. She even practiced kicks when she was supposed to be milking, often crashing over cans much to her father's frustration.

Her four older brothers would tease her in a spastic imitation of her dancing, and their laughter would resonate and amplify on the rock walls of the old barn. When she ran crying from the barn to her mother for sympathy, she was hurt by her mother's blasé response. 

"It isn't worth having dreams, honey. You know you'll never go anywhere or be anything other than a farmer's wife. It's what all the women in our family do. It's expected."

She left her family's small organic dairy farm when she was 18. She hadn't even said goodbye to any of her friends or family and had hitchhiked to the nearest town with a Greyhound bus stop, buying a ticket to New York City. She refused to give up on her dreams, she wanted something different. Something more.
He rose in the early morning hours and walked through the frosty field to the barn. He could hear the cows restless for their morning feed.  He stopped to look at the bull they had recently bought for a bargain price to help increase the herd and ran his hand over where it had been branded, shaking his head.  It was a cruel practice he refused to do to his own cows.

He turned the water valve to full blast and let it run down the trough to clean it from the night before.  He thought of her, as he often did in the quiet mornings when he milked the cows and wondered where she was and how she was doing. He wished they'd been able to talk more, but he hadn't known what to say to a young girl with such lofty dreams.

The farm had been in the family for almost 100 years. Dairy farming was in their blood. It was all they knew. That and acres of corn designated to feed the cows. When he had been a boy, he went to an air show once, and for a little while had dreamed of being an airplane pilot. But his father had told him to forget his dream. They were farmers, it was what they had always been.
She put the tickets in an envelope and added extra postage to make sure it got there. Six bus tickets and six front row seats to the Broadway opening night of Lavender Lies in which she had the starring role.  It had taken her almost ten years to finally make her dream come true, and she wanted to share it with the ones she loved most.
The envelope sat on the kitchen table waiting for him to come in from the fields. She looked at it out of the corner of her eye as she prepared dinner for him and their sons. She had recognized the handwriting and a small sob escaped when she took it from the mailbox. Postcards had arrived occasionally over the years, letting her know that all was well. That she was happy and was making her dream come true. She had slipped them into her apron pocket and not showed them to him, although she didn't know why. She supposed it was because she wanted to believe that dreams could come true and that if he knew where she was, he might make her give up and come back.

She'd had a dream once herself. Before she became a farmer's wife. Before she became a mother. Once she had gone to a museum and seen the most beautiful painting of a beach on a wall.  The sign beneath it said that it was by Claude Monet and an example of Impressionism Art. She had stood before the painting for almost an hour before being pulled away by her friends. Later that night she had dreamed of standing on a beach, feeling the water wash around her feet. 

One afternoon when she should have been doing homework she had sketched a beach scene, shading it with her pencil until it looked almost as if it was a photograph. She dreamed of seeing her sketches one day on a museum wall.
The envelope sat in the middle of the dining table, but none of them touched it or spoke of it.  Finally, when there were six empty plates around the table he reached for it. They waited to see what he would do. The silence after she had left nearly destroyed him, and he realized he should have said more to her. He carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the contents. There was no letter, no note. Just the tickets and a theater card. He looked up at his wife across the table from him. There were tears in his eyes, and a smile on his lips.

"We're going to need to pack. Our girl is an actress."

Monday, July 3, 2017

Monday's List ... 27 of 52 or 3

an abstract photo of the bow of the boat while on the river
did not realize I had taken it, but I liked it
If you follow Moorea Seal's 52 Lists Project, I'm a little behind schedule. I decided to start where I was. Because I could.

List the things that make you feel healthy: mind, body, and soul.

1. Sleep. Solid, deep REM, restful sleep.
2. Letting go of negatives: thoughts, people, things.
3. Being in the boat with David, listening to the wind and birds in the trees, feeling the rocking from the water. Totally disconnected from all electronic and social media.
4. Writing. Blogging. Prayer journaling.

1. Sleep. Solid, un-restless, deep REM, complete relaxation sleep.
2. Yoga. I haven't done it in a while like I should, but I plan on starting again this month because it just helps with everything.
3. Fresh fruit and veggies to snack on or with a meal. I've stopped drinking sugary or carbonated drinks, and am trying to stop eating candy (oh, but Haribo gummi bears ... they are a challenge)
4. Walking. Like yoga, I need to do more. But now that the weather is nice for a few months, and we are less than a mile from the office, walking to work is on my list of things to start doing in July.

1. Prayer journaling. Reading my daily Bible and devotional reading.
2. Upbeat, contemporary Christian music on the radio at home, work, and in the car. Occasionally classical Brahms, Rachmaninoff, or Mozart; Gregorian chants; classical guitar; rain; or beach surf.
3. Letting go of negatives. Forgiveness ~ giving and receiving. Letting go of worry and anger.
4. Sleep.

It's interesting how most of those repeat and are tied together to make a complete package of being healthy.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

What's in a name?

It seems like it wasn't that long ago, when a family name was something to cherish and honor.  It was your mark in the world, your heritage. It was uniquely yours, and even if you were a 2nd, 3rd or Junior, it was something to be proud of.

Your name is still something to honor and cherish, to pass along and be proud of.  However, even the most unique names these days aren't as unique as they once were.

In my day job of doing quality assurance on background checks, I make sure an applicant or volunteer is who they say they are, and all kinds of stuff an employer or non-profit might want to know.

I've seen at least a dozen times now where two people will share the same first name, middle initial, last name AND birthday. On occasion they have even shared the same middle name. Both will have criminal records of some sort or another, usually one worse than the other. The only way I've been able to exclude one of them has been by asking for their race, or looking deeper into their address history.

These aren't just common name matches as one might think for a Smith, Jones, or Williams. Some of these have been unique names that have stunned me when I've realized that they really were two different people.

I myself have 28 different name "doppelgangers" across the country, with criminal records, who share the first and last of my various names at times ~ from maiden to married.  When I was in high school ~ in two different schools on opposite sides of Florida ~ there were even two girls with my same name. When the intercom would call my name to come to the office, I was usually the "wrong" one.

So what does that mean?  How can you set yourself apart from others if not by your name?  How can you make a lasting impact on the world to pass on?

Actions. Actions speak louder than words, and stronger than names.  Make your difference by making a difference. Be the change.  Let your legacy be actions to live by, morals, values, standards, beliefs, and positive impacts. Don't look for the name recognition in your life. Look for the life.  Live a life that makes people aspire to be more like you than just in name only.

Life a life that makes people aspire to be more like you than just in name only. Click to Tweet

What I learned in June...

 Next spring, I will start with already established plants and not seeds I start for my garden.
June 29th was "technically" the last day of any possible frost, freezing, or snow for this area. Yes, really. I didn't even believe it when I first heard it on the news. Gardners who don't have plants in the ground by now should just wait until next year because frost, freezing, or snow could happen as early as September.  It is highly doubtful I will get any tomatoes or peppers this year.
Nothing feels as good as a new fluffy bed or clean sheets.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Blessing ... in 5

Joining again today with the amazing and encouraging writers at Five Minute Friday ...

I lost everything in 2012. 
It was a blessing. 
I regained more than I lost by realizing what was really important. It was not material things.

My marriage hit a place between a rock and a hard spot in 2013. 
It was a blessing. 
We rebuilt it stronger than before by realizing what was really important. It was not anger and resentment.

My career has ridden a roller coaster over the past fifteen years, and I'm not where I once was. 
It has been a blessing. 
I was able to redefine myself and now have a job that intrigues me.

When I stopped looking at things in my life as negatives and counted them as blessings, that is what they became. Opportunities to re-do, re-make, re-define, and re-built.

Oh, I still have days when I forget to clean my glasses and see only the negatives. But that is a blessing too. It is on those days that I am reminded of the price that was paid for me to have second chances. I am comforted by His love, strengthened by His words, and encouraged by His promises.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday's Words

Rescue or Adopt ~ Don't shop!
Joining with Elephant's Child and friends and Words for Wednesday tonight...

She didn't often get visitors. She was trying not to show her excitement, but when the car pulled up in front of the door, she dropped her other shoe and was running down the hall. They had come to watch her perform in the private theatre, her passion for singing, her fluid sound unrivaled anywhere else in the world.

He watched on the CCTV as she ran down the hall. She was so young, so naïve, that she was still unaware of the prison she lived in. The managers had been dogmatic in their requirement that she was to never to know that the forest outside the windows only extended ten trees deep. They had found that it was the optimum depth for deception without being so thick that one couldn't see the forest for the trees.

The book on his lap drew his attention again, Forensic Veterinary Science. It was a new offering at the University and he needed to make an A in it if he was going to keep the scholarship.  Working security at the shelter was just to give him a quiet place to study away from the dorm. His head turned to the door as she began to sing, and smiled. Perhaps this will be the day she escapes.

Lifted up ...

I'm joining Holley Gerth this morning for some coffee and encouragement ...

Last weekend I rescued a robin fledgling whose first attempt at flying put it in harm's way.  The nest was in a cluttered storage shed on the back of a garage. A wooden fence on the end, with wire fencing on one side and the door.  The nest had been built on a shelf, protected by the elements and up high enough to keep stray cats from finding it.

The fledgling had managed to fall between two large barrels, too tall for it to climb its way out, and for its parents to bring it food.  It sat stuck and squawking for help, but all the parents could do was to call helplessly back to it.  Had I not realized what happened, it most likely would have starved to death.

Of course, in the process of finding and rescuing it, I scared it quite a bit. When I was finally able to hand it off to my husband because in moving things around to get to it I was momentarily trapped, it squawked loudly which made the parents dive-bomb David's head. He released the fledgling and the parents swooped in to feed and encourage it to fly to safety.

I like to think of God's love surrounding us like a shell. Protecting us from what might harm us. But sometimes our "free will" and stubbornness puts us in precarious situations. We flap our wings, fight and claw to do things our way. We turn up our heads and turn our backs on Him because we "know better" what is best for us.  We try to fight what we know He wants for our lives because sometimes, like Job, we don't want to do something. It may be difficult, or frightening, or different than what we are used to doing. He sometimes even asks us to give up everything we have ever known to be safe and comfortable, just to follow Him into the unknown.

God will let us get away with that rebellious behavior for as long as it takes for us to realize that we need Him.  He will let us squawk, yell, cry, threaten, and beg until we finally do what it is that He really wants from us. Until we finally say, "Yes, Lord, yes. Let Your will be done in my life. You are Adonai. You are my Lord. I know your plans for me are not to harm me but to lift me up. To rescue me from my mistakes, and from my own destructive, rebellious tendencies. You love me, just as I am, and I am yours."

And when we finally relinquish the hold on our lives and turn our lives over to Him, what does he do?

He teaches us how to fly.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday's list ... 26 of 52 or 2

If you follow Moorea Seal's 52 Lists Project, I'm a little behind the times since I only just started. Technically, this would be week 26, halfway through the year.  But for me, it is week two.

26/2: List the things you would change in your life right now if you could.

There is a 1990 movie called Mr. Destiny that starred Michael Caine and Jim Belushi. It is about how one small change in our lives can impact everything else. Sort of a modern take on It's a Wonderful Life. That being said, sometimes wanting to change something in our lives can come with unexpected (and usually unwanted) consequences.  Knowing that if I were to change certain life events in my past would alter my future, I would have to say that there is nothing I would change.

But if I were given the opportunity to change things in my current situation, these are the things I would change:

1. A home of our own, not a rented upstairs room and half bath.  I really long for someplace of our own to plant gardens, paint walls, decorate, and just have some space and privacy.

2. A reliable 4wd truck for my husband, and a reliable 4wd vehicle of some sort for myself. Not necessarily new, but just ones that won't require constant repairs and will be safe in the winters here.

3. A way to repay all of our debts, so we could focus on planning a future that will leave something for David's children.

4. Better relationships with both of our families.

Friday, June 23, 2017

in five ... steady

Joining the mix of talented, creative and beautiful writings for Five Minute Friday this evening ...

I'm tired. The past few weeks have been steadily busy at work, so much that more than once I realized it was time to go for the day and I hadn't even finished one full mug of coffee.


My husband was promoted to a shift supervisor - and so while I'm steadily working, he sleeps. While I sleep, he steadily works.


I get home from work, trying to tip-toe around as not to wake him, or get the dogs started barking. Yet with an arm's length list of do-do-to-do just for me to stay steadily on top of the meals, laundry, and chores.


We are steadily trying to rebuild our lives so that we can own a home of our own, yet every week there is something else that demands priority. This week it is brakes on what is now our only vehicle, which squeals and grinds steadily as I drive it. I grimace as people turn to look, and I want to get a bullhorn and yell at them, "Yes, I know! But we can only do so much in one pay period!"


I feel as if I am falling steadily farther and farther away from Adonai and I want to just be able to breathe in His word, His love, His comfort, and I know that something has to give soon.


I realize that nothing will change unless I change. I pull out my journal. Again. Delete all the mind-numbing games and apps that had been filling time better spent with Him. Steadily, making a difference, even a small difference in my day can be what I need to remain


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

If a picture could paint 1000 words ...

Joining again with Elephant's Child and Words for Wednesday. Only this week, no words, just images from which to feed our imagination.

The room was almost a silvery blue when she woke.  She couldn't tell if it was day or night since she knew they were due for a full moon that weekend.  Had she slept for that long?  Her face felt cold, so she knew the fire in the small wood stove in the bedroom had died at least a few hours ago. Long enough for the heat from the room to have dissipated.  Fortunately, the down bedding was still keeping all but her face warm. For the moment, at least. She knew she would have to get up and light a fire before going to light the larger one in the living room that would heat the rest of the house and kitchen.  She could see the pine trees outside the window heavy with snow, but they weren't moving at all. Perhaps the storm had ended.

She stayed in bed for a little longer, not wanting to brave the cold just yet.  She could see the silhouettes of the silk flowers and toy bear he had bought her when she got sick with the cancer. They had thought she would be the first to go, but instead, she had rallied, and it was him who had gone first.  He had taken ill after falling through the ice while fishing one morning. He shrugged off his cold until it had become pneumonia in both lungs that caught both of them by surprise.  That had been nearly five years ago. Why she didn't leave after that, she didn't know. Well, she knew. This had been their dream home, a little off the grid cabin in the woods with a lake and a two hundred acres to hunt on.  For almost twenty years they had been happy there. She didn't really have anywhere else to go. 

There had been an old school house in the middle of one of the acres. They probably would never have found it if he hadn't been tracking a buck through the woods to fill the freezer.  It sat in the middle of an open field surrounded by woods in all directions as if it and the field had dropped from the sky.  No roads or trails were leading to it; it was as if it had just been waiting for her to find it.  She had him clear a trail to it, and their weekends that fall were spent exploring the school house and field. He told her she wasn't to go there alone since they didn't know how old the building was or how sturdy.  They could see signs that various animals had inhabited it over the years, maybe even a century or more since it had been abandoned. 

It became her healing project, and together they had fortified the walls, roof, and floor from the elements.  After the first winter, they decided to add shutters to the upper windows that they could close in the winter, but they left the bell tower open for the birds and bats to come and go. They added covered porches to the front and rear of the schoolhouse help keep snow and rain from getting in and to give shelter to any animal not wanting to brave the inside. During the winters, they shuttered all but a front and rear door so that any animal finding shelter from the storms would never feel trapped.  Old wooden feed troughs found at a farm estate sale were put both inside and out and he would occasionally haul hay for the deer when the winters were expected to be especially harsh.

When he had died, it became her healing project again. Each season, she had planted perennials and bulbs for the spring, and apple and cherry trees until there was almost no longer a field but an orchard.  She had spent too many winter nights filling pine cones with peanut butter and rolling them in birdseed to take to the schoolhouse when the snow began to melt. She had watched countless fawns, fox kits, mice and chipmunks that had been born in the schoolhouse grow up and come back to raise their own young. Baby birds taking their first flying lessons and return again each spring to nest in the eaves. Gradually they had all gotten used to her presence and so when she sat in the shade of the porch, or in the doorway watching the rain, she would often feel a nudge at her side of someone looking for an apple or a treat.

She opened her eyes again. She must have fallen asleep in the silence. The room was much colder now, creeping under the covers with her. She should have gotten up the first time she woke and started the fire.  Now she would be sore as her arthritis wouldn't like leaving the warm comfort of the bed.  She sat with her woolen socked feet swinging off the edge of the bed, and pulled the robe she'd worn to bed closer around her.

She knew by the calendar that spring would be coming soon, and she felt in her bones that it would be her last. The thought made her both grateful and sad. She'd been dreaming about him more often lately, hearing his voice call to her, and she did miss him so much.  She just hoped that she could make it out to the schoolhouse one last time.

Listing to the powerful side ...

I'm tapping in and tagging along with Patti Miinch's List of Lists for her Moorea Seal's 52 Lists Project. For Patti, it is week 25, and for me... Week 2: List the Things that Make/Made Me Feel Powerful

The first day of that first cruise.
I was so freakin' excited!
1. In late 2004 I suffered a retinal tear and lost a big chunk of vision in one eye. The thing that made me realize it wasn't going to hold me back from anything I wanted to accomplish was when I took a Rhine River cruise *alone* for Christmas in 2007. More than anything I'd done before, or have done since, it was mastering the train schedule and station from Frankfort to Passau with far more luggage than I needed to bring that made me feel I could do anything.

2. Growing up a military brat, always being a newcomer * a.k.a. outsider * with red hair, and bifocals.  You kind of sort of have to have thick skin. Libraries became my safe havens, and books my armor. Written words have always made me feel strong, and to be totally transparent, not always in the best way. I've had to learn to bite my fingers just as much as I bite my tongue.  But it was the written words in my first books that helped me to face some fears and conquer some demons.

3. Between 2012 and 2014 my life changed drastically, and there were two significant things that happened in that time. The first was that I cut ties with 98% of the people I had known for most of my life, including family.  I did it because I needed to hear God in my life, and not those who would distract me for their own agendas or without having God's best interest at heart. It was at times terribly isolating, frightening, and lonely. I questioned myself constantly, and I questioned God. The second thing was that I moved away from everything familiar, everything that once signified "safe," and to a part of the country not known for being hospitable in the winters or welcoming to outsiders.

Knowing that God had my back and that I had His ear, and He heard every cry and prayer, that was powerful.  Today, my life is better than I ever imagined it could be when I left Texas and returned to Florida in 2012.  He has blessed us profoundly since our move from Florida in 2014 to the Michigan Upper Peninsula and then again to Wisconsin where we are now.  My life is still very different from what it was before 2012, but for all the right reasons.