A Night to Remember Always


Stan wanted this night to be very special; no ordinary arrangements would do.  He was finally going to propose to the woman he'd been in love with since they first met in sixth grade. Twenty years had passed since then, and life had taken them down different paths for awhile, Stan enlisting in the military and Renae moving to New York and enrolling in a school for the performing arts; yet for all that time they had continued to exchange letters and phone calls, and to meet up whenever Stan came home from another tour of duty.

Stan had been assigned to several overseas tours and was ready to settle down now.  He turned down the Army's offer of reenlistment and took a job with the Dept. of Defense which would have him working at the Pentagon in Washington DC where Renae lived and danced as a member of the American Ballet Company.  Finally they were going to be together!

Stan knew that Renae hated to draw attention to herself off-stage, and would be totally embarrassed by a showy public proposal, yet he wanted their families to be a part of it and he knew he'd have to come up with something creative to make the night one they would never forget.

On Saturday evening, Renae walked into the elegant Sichuan Pavilion on Stan's arm, expecting an intimate dinner together. She was amazed and delighted when they were escorted to a private dining room and she entered to find more than a dozen members of both their families waiting for them.  Renae's eyes began to sparkle, suspecting that something wonderful was about to happen, yet if anyone knew what the plan was, no one was offering any clues.

Everyone enjoyed the lavish meal which included platter after platter heaped with the signature offerings of the head chef; Stan had spared no expense. When they could hold no more food without bursting, and feared that drinking any more sake would render them unable to walk, their waiter reappeared with tiny woven baskets, each containing a fortune cookie, and carefully placed one in front of each guest. 

As Stan had pre-arranged, each guest in turn opened up their cookie and read their fortune aloud, beginning with the person seated on his right. Everyone laughed at their humorous and often somewhat vague fortunes, until finally it was Renae's turn. All eyes were on her as she broke open her cookie to reveal not only the usual tiny slip of paper, but a narrow gold band sparkling with with a large brilliant diamond surrounded by a ring of smaller ones. Renae read her her fortune which said, "I will love you always and forever, will you marry me?"  Stan noted that Renae's eyes were shining more brightly than the diamonds. 

In the excitement that followed, with Renae of course accepting Stan's proposal, and everyone applauding wildly and then offering congratulations, Stan's fortune cookie remaining unopened and was completely forgotten.  An hour or so later, as the party broke up, Stan noticed the cookie and tossed into the pocket of his suit jacket, thinking he would save it as a keepsake of this most perfect night.

Arriving back at his apartment, he reached into his jacket pockets to empty them on the dresser. Retrieving the cookie, he saw that the corner had been broken in transit, leaving the slip of paper bearing his fortune visible. Curious now to see what wonderful proclamation might seal the joy  he was feeling from the events of night, he carefully slid out the piece of paper,  unfolded it and began to read.  Stunned, the paper fell from his shaking hands, but too late - the words had already seared themselves into his mind... "You will soon experience a great tragedy in which you will lose the one you love most of all."
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I'm linking up with Sunday Scribblings
 where today the writing prompt is "creative".

If I Had Just One Day

Photo of Sica Hollow by Kelly Ladner

This week Brenda at Pondering With A Purpose asked, "If you had 24 hours to be anywhere... and had no other obligations or responsibilities... where would you like to wander?

I thought about it for a bit, then my heart provided the answer... I would go home. 

It has been almost three years now since last I set foot in South Dakota, the place where my heart calls home.  That was at the beginning of a bitter cold January, and it was anything but fun, as I was there for my father's funeral.  Other than that trip, I have travelled to South Dakota only sporadically in the thirty-five years since I last lived there.

I made it home to visit a few times when my Mom was still alive, on the rare occasions when money permitted, and I spent a few treasured weeks with the  kids I love at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  But it feels like it's been forever since I went home just to be home.  A strange thing happens when I cross the invisible border into South Dakota,  I always find myself crying... clearly, my heart knows it's home.  Perhaps we are all connected in someway to the place of our birth or where we spent our growing-up years.

If I had just twenty-four hours to wander in South Dakota, I would walk the streets of the town where I was raised, to see what familiar buildings still remain there and what has changed. I would go to the park and see if by any chance the big tree that offered me shelter and comfort still stands.  I would drive by the house where we lived and remember the stories that took place within those walls.

Then I would travel to the nearby lakes where my Dad and I spent many peaceful hours fishing, and where we later had a small cabin that was a wonderful summer retreat for my sisters and I.  I would stand on the shore, get my feet wet at the edge, and remember the times I paddled those waters in my red canoe.

Since it is now Autumn, a trip to Sica Hollow just thirty-five miles to the North would be imperative - a beautiful small hollow carved out by nature, abundant with flora and fauna, streams waterfalls and walking trails, trees ablaze with the colors of Fall, a place shrouded in mystery, replete with tales of spirits from the native Sioux who proclaimed it "sica"  (pronounced she-cha) meaning evil or bad.

No trip home would be complete without a drive down country roads past fields now harvested of their crops, and surely my father, watching from above, would cause a pheasant or two to fly upward from among the stalks, reminding me of the times he and I traveled those backroads during hunting season, him in pursuit of delicious fowl dinners, me eager for the beautiful colored feathers that would be my prize.

Those days are gone now, and at times I wonder if I will ever find myself in Dakota again, until it one day becomes the final resting place for my ashes.  Still, on an Autumn morning such as this one, I can close my eyes, sniff the cool damp air, and visit home in my memories, remembering the places and faces of long, long ago.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Linking up with Brenda at Pondering With A Purpose.


Remember to Dance


The weekend is upon us and it's time for Six Word Saturday...

Remember to Dance in the Rain!

We have had two amazing days of steady rainfall here, a very unusual occurrence in West Texas. We've received several inches of rain, and they are forecasting more for today; a glance at the gray skies above says it will come.  The downpour has left us saturated, and a city ill-equipped for such a deluge has had water running over the streets and flooded out intersections, with cars floating everywhere.  A section of one highway had to be closed until the rain stopped.  Here's a photo of Hwy 80...



Typical of human nature, we same folks who grumble of the persistent heat and drought now grumble a bit about slogging thru mud puddles, our dirty cars, and the chilly breeze that flips out umbrellas inside out as we cross the street to work.

Last night as I my husband and I were headed out to dinner, we saw something that made both of us laugh.  A couple of folks had taken advantage of the wet weather, and were out paddling their kayaks in a low-lying area that had filled with water, looking much like the kids in the photo below, oblivious to the rain and clearly having a blast.


 I couldn't help but reflect on what a great life lesson this was. We often find ourselves in situations where the only thing we can do is adjust our attitude and adapt. There will always be rainstorms in life, but we'll be just fine if we remember to dance!

Love and Devotion


John knew Shelia had cancer before he married her, but he didn't care because he loved her. She had a mastectomy and they shared five-and-a-half wonderful years of love and laughter, unlike anything Shelia had ever known before. Then the cancer returned with a vengeance and Shelia opted not to fight the inevitable, choosing instead to live what life she had remaining to the fullest.  Outlasting the doctor's predictions, she survived eight more months, never once complaining about the pain or indignity as her body shrank to nothing before John's anguished eyes.  Late one afternoon in November John held Shelia in his arms as she took her last breath and slipped away to the angels.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I'm linking up with Lillie McFerrin for Five Sentence Fiction
where the prompt this week is "Devotion".

Service With A Smile


When Papa Bear and I travel out of town, we try to avoid eating at chain restaurants, preferring to take a chance on local fare. While on our getaway to Texas Hill Country last weekend, we found the idea of ribeye steaks enticing and chose a local steak house for our anniversary dinner based on good customer reviews.  It turned out to be a family-owned business that had been in operation for over thirty years, with a western-themed atmosphere, good service, and excellent food - including carrot cake that was to die for!

While savoring our dinner, we were charmed by the appearance of an elderly lady, probably in her 70's, attired as if she was going to a party, with a pretty dress, a lovely fringed shawl, a small bag with a drawstring hanging from her wrist, and a deep burgundy silk rose fastened in her silver hair.  Looking as if she had just stepped out of a photograph that held a younger version of herself, it was apparent that she was one of the staff as she moved from table to table visiting briefly with customers, ensuring they had everything they needed, and removing wrappers and empty plates . 

Arriving at our table as we were finishing, she asked if we had enjoyed our food, and thanked us for coming.  Papa Bear prepared to hand her our credit card and the check for our meal.  With a twinkle in her eye she said, "Oh no, I can't take that; they don't trust me with the money!" Then, with a smile, she moved on to other guests.

This lovely lady was so captivating that when our waitress arrived to retrieve our payment, Papa Bear inquired about who she was.  The waitress grinned and said, "She's the owner." 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I'm linking up with Thom at Three Word Wednesday 
where today's writing prompts are chance, entice, and savor.

Family Secret


"Tino" was born into a poor Hispanic family.  He came home to five older brothers ranging in age from seven to seventeen.  His father struggled to provide for the needs of his family by farming the the few acres adjacent to the tiny two bedroom home which often housed ten or more members of their extended family. 

Tino, being the baby of the family was both adored and spoiled by his mother and her older sister who lived with them, but it was a hard life for a child who suffered from asthma and allergies associated with crops they grew, with a father who was prone to drinking and held little tolerance for "slackers".  Discipline was harsh, and always administered by Tino's oldest brother.

 Tino, for whom English was a second language, struggled thru school, and failed to graduate, walking out when he learned he lacked one required credit, refusing to return for another semester. When he reached adulthood and met a young woman he wanted to marry, Tino needed a copy of his birth certificate to obtain the marriage license.  He didn't know that this simple request was about to blow his world apart.

The task fell to an older brother to take Tino aside and explain that the names of the parents he would see on his birth certificate were not the people he grew up calling Mom and Dad.  In reality his birth parents were his oldest "brother" and a cousin that he had never met.

Tino learned that his birth mother was just fourteen when she got pregnant by her first-cousin, a shameful situation in this devout Catholic family.  She was kept at home and her pregnancy was concealed from the small community where they lived.  When the time came for her to deliver the baby she was taken to a hospital nearly 100 miles away, rather than to the local hospital.  Her parents gave her son an English first name on his birth certificate, with the plan being to put him for adoption.  However, Tino's paternal grandmother stepped in and insisted that she be allowed to raise the little boy, her first grandson, as her own, and so he came home to the tiny house and big "brothers". Tino's birth mother was never allowed to see or hold her baby, the family believing this was the better way to handle things.  She and her family soon moved away to another state.

Tino, had grown up believing that his grandparents were his parents, and that his uncles were his brothers.  He had no idea that his oldest "brother" was in reality his father. The secret had been well kept within the family, giving no thought to a day when he would have to be told the truth. If others knew, and surely there were some who did, no one had ever enlightened him.  Tino was shocked, and he was angry; his anger over that deception was to burn inside him for years to come, and he longed for the love of a mother he had never known.

Afterward: This is a true story. "Tino" is my previous husband. It was I who finally made the long-overdue connections and arrangements for him to meet his birth mother when he was well into his thirties.  The memory of that meeting will remain forever in my heart. 

Tino, ever "macho" in demeanor, was shaking like a leaf the day we walked hand-in-hand to the door behind which his mother and two of several half-sisters waited to meet him. When the door opened we gazed upon a face that so closely mirrored Tino's own, that there could be no doubt as to who she was. They share the same smile and the same bright green eyes, unseen in the rest of their family.  We also soon discovered that she shared Tino's "wild child" personality, never having quite grown up after giving up her adolescence so young.  

Many hours of  conversation, laughter and tears followed. Tino learned that she had never come looking for him because she had been told that he wanted nothing to do with her (another family ploy to keep her out of the picture). 

That day, as mother and son embraced for the first time, a crack appeared in the steel armour that had surrounded Tino's heart. The first seeds of healing were planted, and the secret no longer held power over their lives. 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Our writing prompt for this week's edition of  Two Shoes Tuesday was "secret".

Two Shoes Tuesday #4 - Secret


Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday... a place to share what we enjoy doing most... writing!   Each week I'll provide a one-word writing prompt and ask you to share a short story, poem, essay, thought, or photo relating to that topic.  You can add a link to your post anytime between now and Friday.  

Today's writing prompt is "SECRET".

When you've finished your post, share it with us by adding a link in the Mr. Linkey below. Please link directly to your Two Shoes Tuesday post, rather than just to your blog.  Also, please provide a link on your post back to this one. 

The only other request is that you read and comment on some of the other entries, at minimum the one before and after yours on the list.  I've made it easy to locate this post and our archives by adding a tab for Two Shoes Tuesday at the top of my home page.

Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com with any questions, or to submit suggestions for future word prompts.

Now let's get down to business!  Tell us about something "secret"!

Healing Words


I'm joining Lillie McFerrin for Five Sentence Fiction where the prompt this week is "zombie", and the task is to write a compelling story in just five sentences...

In the weeks since Marco's death Eva had been moving thru life like a zombie, on autopilot without feeling or direction, dragging herself to the bus stop for work each morning, exhausted from being unable to sleep.

The old gentleman waiting for the same bus always smiled at her kindly as she sat down on the bench beside him, then returned to reading from his small pocket Testament.

One morning the sense of loss threatened to engulf her, and Eva bent over sobbing into her hands.

Slowly the old man rose from the bench and placed his gnarled hands gently on her shoulders, then bent over and whispered "Marco is in a good place now and he wants you to know that you are going to be ok."

Eva, feeling a sense of peace wash over her, looked up into the face of the old man, who smiled at her with a warmth that seemed to radiate love and then disappeared.

Four Amazing Years


It's time to play Six Word Saturday with Cate, but I'm not really here.  I'm away celebrating....
Four Amazing Years With Papa Bear!

~September 23, 2008~

Room Without A View


The building pictured above is where I work.  With thirteen floors, it's the tallest building in our city. (You folks from larger cities can stop laughing now :-)  The six offices that comprise our law firm are located on the ninth floor.  The view of the city is great from up there, and  I was enjoying it immensely until a week ago.  Then the powers that be decided to redesign our office area to reduce the walk-in traffic wandering in the hallways and make it a safer work environment.  (We deal with people who are experiencing a lot of emotional upheaval in their lives.)  So they blocked off one hallway with a new wall, and added a door to the other, which is locked and can only be used as an emergency exit.  Then they installed a new entrance in the center room, transforming it into the reception area.

When I started here nine months ago, my office was located in one of the five rooms that have a full wall of windows.  My windows faced North, which was perfect... no blasting hot sun from the West, and mini-blinds to control the glare on bright days.  It's the first time in over thirty years of working that I've had a room with natural lighting and an outside view, and I loved it!  Alas, it was not to be for long.

Since part of my job is to serve as receptionist for the office, it was necessary to relocate me to the newly created central reception area.  This came with benefits like a new desk and credenza and a new computer and laser printer.  I truly appreciate those things, but it's still your typical square box with florescent lighting and no windows, and it is no longer possible for me to close my door during my lunch hour for a bit of blogging time. SIGH  So, I did what I do best, I pouted and grumbled, and felt sorry for myself.  :-( 

I have to admit that the new layout makes more functional sense, and it stands to reason that the receptionist needs to be located in the reception area.  So, after wallowing in self-pity for a bit, I did what life requires of us.... I got over it and decided to embrace my new space as it is. We'll be doing a bit of decorating, perhaps some new chairs and paintings for the walls, and I will personalize my corner with photos of family and furkids. :-)  Right now I'm still getting settled into my new digs, and it will take a bit of time to feel like "home" but I'll be ok with it, because that's how I am.

Bottom line folks, often we can't change what happens in life, we can only change how we react to it.  I can pout about it for the next ten years and feel sorry for myself, or I can get over it and move on, which is what I chose to do. 

On the plus side, I've learned that I can use the conference room for my lunch hour, and last Saturday Papa Bear took me to ATT where I learned I could turn my iPhone into a wifi hotspot, so now I can take my new Eee Pad Tablet to work with me and continue blogging during lunch break... yay!   So often, if we put our minds to it, there's a way to work things out to where we can live with them. 

The room with the view was nice while it lasted, but I can still see outside when I walk down the hallway outside our office suite, so it's not like I won't know what the weather is today.  Maybe I'll bring in some music and "treat" the staff and clients that pass thru my area to my favorites... oldies but goodies.  Let the "kids" here listen to some good stuff for a change, hehehe! :-)

Life goes on.  In the big picture of things this is not a critical issue, and not worth letting it steal my joy. It's up to me to make my office feel welcoming regardless of walls or windows, and that's just what I'm going to do. After all, I spend more waking hours here than I do at home, so I will find a way to work it out, just as I have each bump in the road on my life's journey.  I am a survivor, and this one is no biggie at all! :-)

Troubled Waters


This week the writing prompt for Two Shoes Tuesday is "water". 
Here is my story...


Caddo Lake stretches across the border shared by Texas and Louisiana.  It is an eerie, surreal place, dense with cypress and overhung with moss, that makes you think you've been transported back to prehistoric times.  One could easily get lost in the many waterways, and folks often do. In fact there are actually direction signs and path markers sticking out of the deep water to help fishermen find their way. It is amazingly beautiful, and at the same time disturbing.  The 1972 horror movie "The Legend of Boggy Creek" was actually filmed there.  

Papa Bear spent about five years near Caddo Lake while he was growing up, and has many fond memories of  fishing there with his Granddaddy.  He's returned several times as an adult to fish those waters, and has chosen Caddo Lake to be the final resting place for his ashes someday.

On one such fishing trip long before my time with him, Papa Bear was out on the lake in his boat with his wife Sandy (now deceased).  Sandy loved to fish as much as Papa Bear, and the day found them trolling slowly along one of the dense, shadowy back channels of the lake. 

At one point, Papa Bear called back to Sandy from the front of the boat, pointing to something ahead in the water. "There's an alligator," he said.

"Yeah, right" said Sandy, rolling her eyes. Papa Bear is well known for his playful sense of humor. 

"Really, it's alligator," Papa Bear insisted, turning so she could see over his shoulder.

"Bull@#*&," responded Sandy.  But when she glanced up ahead in the murky water she did indeed see an alligator moving ahead of the boat about 50 feet in the distance.  She let out a scream. 

Papa Bear couldn't contain his excitement and moved in closer for a good look, following the huge beast as it skimmed along the water toward Diablo's Den, rumored to be it's home.  It's head measured about a foot and a half  from snout to eyes... a big gator, maybe twelve feet long.

Sighting confirmed, Sandy screamed bloody murder, insisting that she'd had enough of fishing and wanted to go back to shore!  But Papa Bear isn't afraid of anything; he convinced her that the alligator wasn't going to climb into the boat with them, and he managed to persuade her to continue fishing in another part of the lake. 

Papa Bear and I got married at a little Bed & Breakfast in Jefferson, Texas near Caddo Lake, and we spent a wonderful few days honeymooning there.  One evening just before sunset we took a boat ride on Caddo Lake, piloted by a guide who filled us in on the scenery and local lore as we glided thru the silent, spooky waters.  It was incredibly beautiful, something I can't even begin to describe, but having heard this tale of the alligator sighting, I was VERY careful not to dangle my hands over the side of the boat!

I'm not so sure I want to go fishing with Papa Bear at Caddo Lake.  When I tell him that the possibility of one of us falling out of the boat or it capsizing is terrifying, he just laughs.  He points out that he always has a gun in his possession for emergencies.  None the less, if I saw something with a big head and bulging eyes swimming alongside the boat, a change of clothing would definitely be required!

Two Shoes Tuesday #3 - Water


Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday... a place to share what we enjoy doing most... writing!   Each week I'll provide a one-word writing prompt and ask you to share a short story, poem, essay, thought, or photo relating to that topic.  You can add a link to your post anytime between now and Friday.  

Today's writing prompt is "WATER".

When you've finished your post, share it with us by adding a link in the Mr. Linkey below. Please link directly to your Two Shoes Tuesday post, rather than just to your blog.  Also, please provide a link on your post back to this one. 

The only other request is that you read and comment on some of the other entries, at minimum the one before and after yours on the list.  I've made it easy to locate this post and our archives by adding a tab for Two Shoes Tuesday at the top of my home page.

Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com with any questions, or to submit suggestions for future word prompts.

Now let's get down to business!  Tell us what you've got to say about "WATER"!

What I Believe


This week the writing prompt for Sunday Scribblings is "I understand"...


I understand that life is hard...
     But I believe we have been given the inner strength to overcome hardship;

I understand that true caring is uncommon...
    But I believe that the more we practice it, the more common it will become;

I understand that trust is fragile and often misplaced...
     But I believe there are still people in our lives who can be trusted;

I understand that love sometimes hurts...
    But I believe that unconditional love exists if we know how to find it; 

I understand that life can be very lonely...
     But I believe that if we reach out to others we will find companionship;

I understand that depression and despair can overtake us...
    But I believe we can find our way if we are willing to ask for help;

I understand that faith can be hard to comprehend....
    But I  believe that faith dwells within each of us, it is a matter of the heart;

I understand that hope can be hard to hold onto...
    But I believe that hope can be renewed and is essential to life;

 I understand that life is not fair....
     But I believe that there is still good to be found in the world,
          and that life is an amazing experience we are privileged to share.

Blue Sweater Blues


Today, for the first time, I'm joining Lillie McFerrin for Five Sentence Fiction where the prompt this week is "awkward", and the task is to write a compelling story in just five sentences.  Here is mine....


Brenda was thoroughly enjoying her new friendship with her coworker Pam, exchanging tidbits of their lives and slowly getting to know one another.  

Home from an exciting Friday night encounter with a new guy she'd met at the local tavern, she rushed to her computer to share all the details in an email to Pam. 

"He is sooo handsome", Brenda wrote, "he was wearing this blue sweater that matched his eyes perfectly, and before long we were kissing and cuddling in a dark corner of the bar."  

"Then we came back to my apartment for a nightcap, and well... one thing led to another and the sex was amazing, I can't get the scent of his Black Forrest cologne off my mind."

Pam, weary from yet another night of staying up waiting for her husband to return home from working late, read Brenda's email early the next morning, shortly after picking up Frank's blue sweater from the bedroom floor where he'd left it in a heap with the rest of his clothes, all smelling like a mixture of his favorite Black Forrest and something else she couldn't quite put her finger on.

Just Five More Days


It's time to join Cate for Six Word Saturday, and even more important than counting my words, I'm counting down days...

Five More Days Until We Go!


Papa Bear and I have a four-day weekend coming up!  We're leaving early next Thursday  morning for Kerrville, a small town on the Guadalupe River about a five hour drive from here.   Since I just started new job in January I haven't accrued vacation time yet, and we don't have funds for a big trip, so we decided to take a few days just to get away and explore someplace new.  Hopefully the weather will be nice.. not too hot, not too cold.  Regardless, it will be wonderful... relaxing and fun... time spent hand-in-hand, making memories together!

No!


I'm joining Brenda at Pondering With A Purpose where the writing prompt for today is "new".  Brenda asked us if there was a new talent that we picked up later in life... 
   
I'm not saying "no" in response to Brenda's question.  In fact there are quite a few things I've learned later in life after pounding my head on the wall repeatedly for most of my younger adult years. :-)  One of the most important is when to say NO! 

I knew the word well when I was two years old, I could make "bad eyes" and stomp my foot in stubborn refusal with the best of the bunch!  But as I grew up I learned that we weren't supposed to say no.  "Good people" were expected to say "yes" to everything and everyone... do what was asked, be what you were told to be, and put up with what was expected of you.  If you could, you should,  It didn't matter if you wanted to or if it was right for you.  You just said "ok" and didn't complain... much... at least not within ear shot.  Play by the rules and do whatever was asked; be a people-pleaser, whatever that took. 

I remembered my mom getting called many times by people asking her to do major baking for some church, school,  or social function.  She never said no, even when she was tired, even when it was too much, even when it was on very short notice. I'm not saying that helping out was wrong.  What was wrong was that she was on that invisible list of folks who could always be counted on, thus making them easy targets while everyone else found ways to avoid helping out at all.  It would have been unthinkable for her to say no. 

For many years I followed the same path in my jobs and in my marriages.  Never stand up for yourself, never draw the line, never say no.  I think that I must have had "doormat" tattooed on my forehead!  There are many people in the world who will take advantage of folks who are unwilling or unable to say no. They will use you until you are all used up!

I finally realized at some point that I had  that if I didn't stand up for myself no one else would either.  I began to fight back.  I began to set limits for what was expected of me and what I would tolerate.  The final end of living my life in "doormat"  mode came when I stood up to my ex and basically said "I've had enough", and I left.  It took me nearly ten years to get to the point where I was angry enough to finally say no more.  It comes much easier to me now days. :-)

What I've learned is that there is a time for saying no.  It goes hand in hand with self-love and self-respect.  It is responding from the inner awareness that says "I am of value... I am worth more than this... I deserve better... I insist on being treated with dignity and respect!"   

Transitioned


I'm joining a new blog hop this week... Succintly Yours at Grandma's Goulash, where the rules are to use the photo and/or word she provides as inspiration for a story of 140 characters or 140 words.  This week's photo is above. The word of the week is transition.  Here is my story...

The mighty King of Beasts surveys his domain from atop an auto transitioned to throne, the former occupants having been transitioned to cat food.

A Time To Plant


This week, the writing prompt for Two Shoes Tuesday is "danger".  This is my story...

Something just didn't feel right to Marsha.  She couldn't put her finger on it, but lately Paul had been acting strange... distracted, like he had something weighing on his mind.  He'd plowed up their back acres for the first time in years, and more than once when she glanced out the kitchen window she saw him standing there at the fence line staring at the plowed open ground like he was trying to will a crop to spontaneously grow. 

One night when he came in for supper Marsha asked "What are you planning to do with that plowed up field, Paul?" 

"I think I'm going to plant a crop of winter rye grass," he answered.  A few days later he headed off to buy some seed and came home driving a big backhoe that he'd rented in town. 

"Now what?" Marsha wondered to herself.  When she asked about it, he said he was going to dig a trash pit. "Time to get rid of some of the clutter and junk around here" he said, "burn what will burn, and bury the rest."  She knew he'd get mad if she questioned more, he didn't like her in his business.  In fact it felt like he like her much at all; it seemed he was yelling at her more than he was talking these days. Marsha decided it was better to just keep quiet.  She watched thru the window as Paul dug a long, deep pit at the end of the new field he'd plowed up.  It was back near the trees, out of sight from the road.

The following Monday the boss at Marsha's workplace got an early morning phone call from Paul.  "Marsha's dad in Iowa took sick" he said, "She had to go down there to take care of him. I'm not sure when she'll be back." 

"Ok," the boss said, "Tell her we're thinking of her when you talk to her, and ask her to let us know how her dad's doing." 

"I will," Paul replied, as he hung up the phone.

That week Paul kept busy with planting the rye grass in his field.  He was never was one for socializing with the neighbors, and he kept to himself even more now.  A quiet, brooding man, they all thought.  They knew he had a bad temper though, more than one had heard him yelling at his wife from clear across the yard.  Not wanting to meddle in their problems, everybody pretty much left him alone.
The following Monday Paul's phone rang early. It was Marsha's boss calling to ask when he thought she'd be home.  "We haven't heard from her, and we're pretty short-handed", he told Paul, "Do you think she'll be staying in Iowa much longer?" 

The abruptness of Paul's answer took him totally by surprise.  "Marsha called this past weekend and said she's needed there and she ain't ever comin' home.  Guess you'd better find somebody else for her job."

No one was surprised that Marsha left Paul; she hadn't seemed happy for a really long time.  Strangely, one of her coworkers was certain she once heard Marsha say her Dad had been killed in a car accident a long time ago. 

Paul's field of rye grass came in thick and strong, with the corner back by the trees being the greenest of all. 

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Why don't you join us at Two Shoes Tuesday this week... write something about "danger" and link it up here to share! 

Two Shoes Tuesday #2 - Danger


Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday... a place to share what we enjoy doing most... writing!   Each week I'll provide a one-word writing prompt and ask you to share a short story, poem, essay, thought, or photo relating to that topic.  You can add a link to your post anytime between now and Friday.  

Today's writing prompt is "DANGER".

When you've finished your post, share it with us by adding a link in the Mr. Linkey below. Please link directly to your Two Shoes Tuesday post, rather than just to your blog.  Also, please provide a link on your post back to this one. 

The only other request is that you read and comment on some of the other entries, at minimum the one before and after yours on the list.  I've made it easy to locate this post and our archives by adding a tab for Two Shoes Tuesday at the top of my home page.

Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com with any questions, or to submit suggestions for future word prompts.

Now let's get down to business!  Tell us what you've got to say about "DANGER"!

Spinning Round


This is my offering for Sunday Scribblings, where the writing prompt today is "revolution".

The rusty old merry-go-round isn't there anymore, nor is the school where I spent my elementary years.  They've long since been replaced by more modern facilities, but in my mind's eye I can still see the playground when I drive down that familiar street.

Many the lunch hour, recess, and warm summer afternoon we spent spinning round on that big metal disk... sitting, standing, and sometimes lying flat on our backs watching clouds sailing by, imagining we were travelling the world on some great adventure.

Life was simple then, and so were our playgrounds - no fancy equipment or brightly colored paint... just a tall set of swings, a row of monkey bars to hang from, a couple long wooden teeter-totters that could support two or three on each end, a long polished slide that grew hot in the sun, and an old merry-go-round like the one pictured above, that creaked and groaned as it turned.  Sometimes, dizzy with rapid revolution, we feared it might break loose and send us all flying free!

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Note: If you enjoy writing prompts such as these, join us here for Two Shoes Tuesday!

Needed... Time Off!


I'm joining Cate for Six Word Saturday today....


Everyone Needs A Little Time Off

My husband is fifty-nine years old, and has been working for the same family-owned business for over thirty years.  He works six days a week, spending over eight hours a day on his feet helping customers. That gives him just one day to rest, relax, and try to get some projects done around the house.  He gets one Saturday off a month.  He is getting older (we both are), and by the time the weekend comes he is tired, really tired.

When he first started working at his job, his boss was the same age as him.  They built the business up together and became very close.  He has always been treated like family. As the years passed and the business grew his boss was able to retire, putting his son in charge of day to day operations.  His son was three years old when John started working there, now he's the boss.  :-)  That wouldn't work well in most cases, but he has always looked up to and respected John, and they get along great.  It has been a good place to work all these years.  For his thirtieth work anniversary they gave us an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas... with spending money. They treat him very well... or they have... up until now.

A few months ago John's boss was getting ready to head off on a two week vacation with his family.  He has pledged to spend more time with his boys than his dad was able to do with him.  This meant that John, as General Manager, was left in charge of the store as he often is for a week or more at a time.  This year business has been great, extremely busy, and John was dreading the two weeks of taking care of everything. 

John's boss approached him and said that they realize he is getting older, and that he and his father had talked and decided that John would begin to have Saturdays off, without decreasing his salary (which is essential to us).  They felt that he had earned it, (and he has). The boss told him this would begin after summer was over, because he was going to be gone a lot doing things with his family this summer, and other employees would be wanting to take vacations too. 

John came home so excited, and we began eagerly waiting for Fall, thinking of how nice it was going to be to finally have a full weekend like most folks and to be able to spend that time together. Even more importantly, he would have time to rest.  Knowing this was coming made those two weeks of running the store so much easier. Better times were coming!

The summer is over now, Labor Day has passed, and the kids are back in school.  John's boss is coaching one of the kid's football teams, leaving early most days,  and John waited to see what would happen (he isn't one to push).  Finally he approached his boss yesterday to ask when having Saturdays off would begin.  He was told that another of the young employees who helps work the sales counter on Saturdays was also going to coach a team and would be off every Saturday thru November (without pay of course).  This meant that John would have to be there. 

John came home down last night after receiving this news, but he far more accepting than I am.  He's been working since he was sixteen,  and has a strong sense of responsibility.  If he's needed he will be there.  He has never been one to cause problems or make waves.  I, on the other hand am angry and crushed.  He needs his time off too, and he has earned it!  There is no one else there even close to him in years of service, and there likely never will be. Staying with a job that long is uncommon in today's world.

I can see the handwriting on the wall.  After November they will move into the mad rush of Christmas season sales, and it will be "after the Holiday are over".  It's looking much like a dangling carrot was presented back in early Summer, and I wonder when and if it will ever happen now.  There is little he can do about it,  he can't offer to take it off without pay so they could hire someone else to fill in, we need the income he brings in to make ends meet.  So he's stuck with it.  I was so angry last night I was in tears. I am sad for him. 

I understand both young men wanting to spend time with their families.  We did when we had children too, though back in those days there was no such thing as getting off early to coach or taking a day off to attend a game or any other function.  Businesses are much more family-friendly now, and that's a good thing.  Family is important.  My complaint is that John has put in his time, and no one seems to be noticing or caring how tired he is.  I fear that one day he is gonna drop over at that job, and they'll all stand around wondering why.

Granted that young people with children need to spend as much time with them as possible.  Hands-on parenting is something I encourage and talk about often.  But for those of us who no longer have children at home, that doesn't mean we don't need and don't deserve our time off too!

Yes, we are going to have to just "suck it up".  Hopefully the issue will be revisited at the end of the year.  I'm trying really hard not to be resentful.  I realize that life is not fair, but that doesn't keep me from wishing that it was, especially when it comes to such a good and hard-working man, an employee that any company would be blessed to have.

Ok, I'm done venting now. Ending on a brighter note... it is an amazingly cool sixty-four degrees here  at eleven o'clock this morning after a good rain shower last night.  Doors are open to catch the breeze... heavenly!

An Encouraging Word


Encouragement... we can never give or receive too much of it! 

For this week's Five on Friday I give you five things we need to tell each other more often...

1. You are such an awesome person; having you in my life makes me happy! 

2. You did such a great job on ____________________ .  I knew you could do it!

3. I really like the way you handled ____________________. I am proud of you!

4. I love knowing that I can depend on you, that you are always there for me!

5. Thank you for _________________________. It really means a lot to me!

Now, shut your eyes and think for a moment... what would you most like to hear someone tell you today, what kind of encouragment do you need?  Then, find someone to share that very bit of encouragement with... I guarantee that it will mean just as much to them!

Encouraging words... they only take a minute of your time, but can make all the difference! 

Have you said anything encouraging today?  Have you made anyone smile?
 
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(Not sure what to write about today?   Make your own "Five on Friday" list about anything. I'd love to have you join me!)

Integrity


Integrity... it's not a word we often hear in everyday conversation.  Having integrity means following moral or ethical principles, or in short, doing what's right.  What is considered to be right or wrong might vary a bit from person to person, be most of us share these common fundamental beliefs... stealing is wrong... lying is wrong... cheating is wrong.  Unfortunately, in today's world, people often seem to be more concerned with not gettung caught than with not doing something wrong to begin with!  Oprah said it well... "Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did or not."

When my son was in grade school, his sister began her first summer job working at a fast-food restaurant.  She kept the change she received as tip money in a clear jar on her dresser.  My son is in his thirties now.  A few years ago at a family gathering he confessed that the lure of that spending money had proven too much for him, and he would from time to time "borrow" a little change from the jar, taking care to arrange quarters along the sides of the jar to make it appear there were more inside than actually were.  We all had a good laugh over it.  The point is, although no one knew it, he wasn't acting with integrity.  Guilt eventually caught up with him, so he confessed his crime. :-)

Translate that to the working world.  How often have you worked with employees who didn't just bend the rules a bit, but smashed them into pieces with no regard to right or wrong, and yet they were seldom caught or reprimanded?  I was raised "old school" - meaning that I was taught to do the right thing regardless.  I've never outgrown that (though I have to admit I've struggled with it a few times in life).  It's hard for me to see company policies blatantly ignored, assets pilfered, and time wasted. Is stealing time, stealing a company's money?  To my way of thinking it is.  This leaves one in the difficult position of  minding their own business or become known among their coworkers as an informer.  Is it ethical to remain quiet when you know something unethical is happening?

Taking this concept one step further, what about the business owners and managers themselves. My husband and I once found ourselves waiting over two hours for a delayed air flight in Denver on New Year's Day, going home for my father's funeral.  We learned later that the flight was not delayed for weather or mechanical reasons, but because the flight crew had been out partying on New Year's Eve, and didn't get up and in to work on schedule.  Had I known our plane was being piloted by folks with hangovers I would have been concerned.  Were they acting with integrity?  Were they considering the safety and wellbeing of their passengers, as well as doing what was right by their employers? 

What about things that go wrong in hospitals (and they do), that staff are aware of but the patient never finds out?  What about being kept waiting at an office appointment for nearly an hour, because the person you have an appointment with is busy chatting with her coworkers and is in no big hurry to get back to work?  What about promising someone you will address an issue promptly, and then putting said issue to the side for days or weeks, knowing full well this could postpone the resolution of legal issues they are involved in?  While it's true that the client will probably never find out you've been slacking while accepting their payment for services, is it acting with integrity?  Is it the kind of person you would want to be? You tell me!  

Have you ever worked anywhere that everything ran absolutely above board, honestly, fairly, and respectfully regarding management, employees and customers?  I would like to believe that it can be done, but in my experience, it's pretty hard to find.  Certainly no one is perfect, and every place has it's minor glitches and flaws, but what kind of a world are we creating if we turn our heads and ignore the issue of right and wrong?

Behind?


Running behind?  It's not too late!  You can still write your post for "Two Shoes Tuesday" and link it up anytime thru Friday!  The writing prompt this week is "shoes".  Click here to see what's been done so far!

Magic Boots



This story was such a good match for this week's writing prompt "getting away" at Brenda's Pondering With A Purpose that I decided to share it there too!



 

Today marks the beginning of Two Shoes Tuesday.  I hope it proves to be a fun writing exercise that we all can share and enjoy.  Our first writing prompt is appropriately "shoes",   and this is my story...

Eleven year old Tara was spending the summer with her grandparents at their farm.  Today found her and Grandma Jo up in the attic sorting thru trunks and boxes, looking for the diaries Grandma Jo kept when she was Tara's age. 

Looking in an old tarnished mirror, Tara tried on a big hat with flowers that she'd found in a hatbox on a shelf.  "I wore that when I married your Grandpa", Grandma Jo said smiling. 

Tara wrapped herself in a fringed lace shawl from the trunk and swirled gracefully across the floor, scanning the room for other prized possessions. "Grandma," Tara said, "Why is there a pair of dirty ol' boots hanging up there on a nail?" 

"Those are mine," Grandma Jo replied.

"Ewwww," Tara said, in the manner of pre-teens nowadays, "They're kind of funny looking, why did you wear them?"

"Ahhh, Miss Tara," Grandma Jo said with a sparkle in her eyes, "Those are magic boots!"

"Magic boots?" inquired Tara.  "I thought magic shoes were supposed to be something fantastic like the ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz!"

At that Grandma Jo chucked and replied... "Not all magic is visible to the eye, Tara, some of it has to be seen with the heart.  Let me tell you about those shoes..."

"Long ago when I was a young woman about seven years older than you are now, I couldn't wait to leave the small town where I grew up, to go out and experience the big world.  As soon as I graduated from high school, I took some of the money I'd been given for gifts and bought those hiking boots you see.  They were pretty back then, nice and warm, and felt so good on my feet!  I need them because I was planning an adventure, I was going to hitchhike across clear across the country from one ocean to the other!"

"Grandma!" exclaimed Tara, her eyes open wide, "That's dangerous! Mom says my friend and I are never to accept rides from strangers!  Didn't your Mom and Dad tell you that?"

"Well, yes they did, Tara," Grandma Jo said, as she settled back against the attic wall, "Mom and Dad got pretty upset about my plan and said there was no way I was going to go hitchhiking anywhere! But I wasn't listening to my parents too good back then.  I thought I was all grown up and a whole lot smarter about things than they were, and I was determined to take that trip whether they liked it or not!"

At that Tara's face registered a look of total surprise.  She couldn't imagine her Grandma being anything but a nice old lady who was kind and gentle and never did anything wrong.  "So what happened?" Tara asked, "What's the magic part?"

"Well", Grandma Jo began, "One evening I met up with a new friend I'd made that summer. He was from Minnesota and he was staying at the lake where my family had a little cabin.  His name was Rick and he was headed to Delaware to meet up with some friends and spend a few weeks at the beach.  He invited me to go with him.  It sounded like such fun that I couldn't resist.  So I smuggled some clothing and things out to our garage when no one was looking, and stuffed them into the new backpack  I'd hidden out there.  I told my mom I was headed over to my friend's house for the night. Mom was busy washing supper dishes and said "ok" over her shoulder as I headed out the door.

"You lied to your mother?" Tara said, flabbergasted.

"Well, yes I did, Tara, and it turned out to be something I was ashamed about later.  It's never a good idea to lie to the people you love, or to anyone for that matter.  It just makes a big mess of things and damages their trust in you."

"So what happened then?" Tara asked, growing serious.

"Well, Rick and I stood along side the highway just as the sun was going down, and before long we caught a right with guy in a pickup truck who was heading in the same direction.  After that we caught, another ride, and another, late into the night and all the next day.  By the time we finally made it two the East Coast two days later, I was tired and badly wanting a shower and a good meal.

We met up with Rick's friends who were renting a room at a run-down motel there, and I discovered we'd be staying with about ten other people our age.  At first it was pretty fun, like a big party all the time.  I felt pretty guilty about not telling my family where I was and I knew they'd be worried sick.  Back then we didn't have cellphone to carry around with us, so they didn't have any way of calling me to find out where I was.  I'm sure it didn't take them long to discover my backpack and hiking boots were gone, along with jeans and shirts and jacket. I thought about calling, but then decided not to because I knew Dad was going to be very angry and would tell me to come right home.

After a few weeks the fun began to wear off.  I was tired of everyone drinking beer and being drunk most of the time, and never having much money for food.  I was tired of sleeping crowded together in that small room, and I was worried about the drugs I'd seen people using, that was something I didn't want any part of, and I hoped it wasn't going to get us into trouble.

Then Rick started hanging out more with another girl who was there, and I could see that he wasn't as interested in me anymore.  He liked using drugs. I didn't know that when I went with him or I'd never have gone. I guess I didn't really know him as well as I thought. One night he got mad and snapped at me, "You're such a stick in the mud" he said loud enough for everyone to hear, "why don't you just go back home to your mommy, little girl." 

That hurt my feelings really bad, so I loaded up my backpack, put my socks and boots on, and walked out that door without ever looking back.  I wasn't about to let him to see that I was crying, that's for sure. 

I didn't have any money or a place to stay, and my adventure in the big world wasn't feeling very good anymore.  The truth is it was late at night and I was pretty scared.  All I knew is that I wanted to be home again,  far away from Rick and his friends.

I headed out to the highway and stuck my thumb out, hoping for a ride.  Pretty quick a big semi-truck pulled over and the driver tooted his horn.  He pushed open the door and said, "Where you headed little lady?"  He was a big burly guy and I was nervous about getting in that truck with him, but I knew I had to get home somehow.  I climbed up in the truck, and soon we were on our way West.  I told him about my plans for an adventure and how wrong it had all turned out.  I was so tired, and before long I was fast asleep as he drove on thru the night. 

The next morning he pulled into a truck stop and made a phone call, and before long a lady showed up in a shiny blue car.  "Tammy, this here is my friend Jo" he said pointing to me, "she needs to get back home to her family in Dakota safe and sound." 

He handed her some money and a credit card, gave me a hug and said, "Jo, a lot of bad things could have happened to you out there on the road, and if the wrong driver would have stopped last night you could have been dead by now.  If it wasn't for those lucky hiking boots you are wearing, I'd hate to think what might have been your fate." 

"Now you go home to your parents" he continued, "and say your sorry for scaring them so bad. I know they'll be happy to see you, even if they have plenty of lecturing to do.  And the next time you start thinking about sneaking off on an adventure, you just remember those lucky boots there, and how they saved your life this one time... and you leave 'em hanging on the wall where they belong."

"Tammy and I talked all the way back to home to South Dakota," Grandma Jo went on "and I realized that there were better ways to explore the world, starting with attending college like I'd originally planned.  When we pulled into the driveway of my parent's house, I couldn't hold back the tears anymore.  Mom came running out the door and folded her arms around me.  Pretty soon we all were crying that I was home safe at last."

"I've kept those lucky hiking boots all these years", Grandma Jo told Tara, "hanging them up on the wall to remind me never to lie to the people who care about me, and that no matter how good things might sound elsewhere, the very best place in the whole world is right here at home."

Tara looked up at the old muddy boots with a new sense of awe.  She had a new understanding of her Grandmother too.  Just like her Grandma Jo, she sometimes wanted to run away from life and find someplace much better, but maybe Grandma was right and home wasn't so bad after all.

Two Shoes Tuesday #1 - Shoes


Here it is... our first official round of Two Shoes Tuesday... a place to share what we enjoy doing most... writing!   Each week I'll provide a one-word writing prompt and ask you to share a short story, poem, essay, thought, or photo relating to that topic.  (I'll post the writing prompt for the coming week on Fridays to give you time to work on your post.) 

Today's writing prompt is "SHOES".

When you've finished your post, share it with us by adding a link in the Mr. Linkey below. Please link directly to your Two Shoes Tuesday post, rather than just to your blog.  Also, please provide a link on your post back to this one.  The only other request is that you read and comment on some of the other entries, at minimum the one before and after yours on the list.

Life trumps blogging, and things don't always go as planned.  If you are unable to get your post done in time to share it Tuesday, that's ok, you can add it anytime thru Friday. 

Any questions? Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com.  You are also welcome to submit suggestions for future word prompts.

That being said, let the fun begin!!! Tell us what you've got to say about "SHOES"!


Thank you for participating in Two Shoes Tuesday! Please invite your friends to join us here!