The Town That Disappeared

About a month ago Papa Bear and I were driving home from a long weekend spent in Texas Hill Country.  We were about eighteen miles north of Big Lake on State Highway 137 when we spotted this strange sight in the middle of nowhere. 


Curiosity getting the best of us, we turned left onto the narrow dirt road leading to the structure which had obviously been gutted by fire. Getting out of the truck, we walked around and through the ruins, amazed at the size of the building.  Its ornate design was clearly well-constructed and seemed oddly out of place on the windswept plains. 

Locating a nearby historical plaque and doing further research on the Internet, we learned that this building once stood in the center of a small ranching community named Stiles.  The town, originally settled in the 1890's along the Butterfield Trail, was named for Gordon Stiles, who donated land for the town site and whose store was the center of activity.


 Being the only town in Reagan County, Stiles was established as the county seat in 1903.  By 1910 the town had a population of 191 and a wood-frame courthouse.  The new courthouse, which also housed the county jail, was built in 1911 out of limestone that was quarried from a hillside near the town at a cost of $20,000 - which was a tremendous sum of money in those days. 

In 1911 the railroad came through, but ended up bypassing Stiles in favor of nearby Big Lake when one of the area ranchers refused to grant the railroad access to his land.  The population of Stiles began to decline after the discovery of oil near Big Lake in 1923.   The county seat was relocated to Big Lake shortly thereafter.  By 1925 the population of Stiles had fallen to seventy-five, and in 1939 the Stiles Post Office was officially closed.


As folks died or moved away the population of Stiles dwindled. Abandoned wooden buildings were gradually worn away by the relentless West Texas wind,  and eventually the town disappeared altogether, with the exception of the old courthouse and Stiles Cemetery a mile down the road. 

For several decades thereafter the courthouse was utilized for temporary classrooms, a voting place, square dance club meetings, and a storage facility, then boarded up and looking like this in its final years...


On Christmas Eve in 1999, an arsonist set fire to the courthouse.  Arrested and charged with the crime, he was known by police for two previous attempts to burn the building down, and for having set other buildings in the county on fire. 


All that now remains of this once beautiful building are its crumbling limestone walls. The land surrounding the courthouse has reverted to pasture, with only a small section of sidewalk remaining in front of the courthouse to remind us of the busy place it once was.   Even in the bright sunshine of a warm Texas afternoon, the building has an eerie feel to it.  It is not a place I would care to visit at night. 

Standing on the vacant ground in this desolate place, silent except for the wind, I could not help but think about the little town that once existed here... the people who carried out their daily lives, attended school and church, and held picnics on the courthouse lawn, some of whom lost their lives to sickness or injury long before old-age overtook them... the townsfolk who filled the second-story courtroom to capacity to observe trials as they took place... and the criminals who spent time within the stone walls of the county jail, including some who were surely hanged for their crimes.  Nothing is left now to tell us their story.  Yet I would not be surprised if on a dark night one might still encounter the spirits of some of those for whom Stiles, Texas was once a place called home.

The Black Dog


The prompt for Two Shoes Tuesday this week is "fear"...

Five-year-old Wendy waited eagerly for Fall, when at last she would be old enough to attend Kindergarten.   Finally the first week of school arrived.  Wendy's Mother drove her the first couple days to make sure she knew the way, then came the morning it was time to walk the six blocks on her own.  Wearing her new plaid dress and Buster Brown shoes, Wendy headed out the door at the appointed time, proudly waving goodbye to her Mom as she headed down the sidewalk to school.  

She had gone about half way when she heard a growl so frightening that it nearly stopped her heart.  There behind the wooden fence of a nearby house stood a huge black dog, teeth bared.  Suddenly the dog lunged at the fence, barking fiercely.  Leaping up on his back legs, his massive head rose above the fence, his eyes staring her down.  Wendy let out a scream and took off running for school, arriving out of breath and trembling with fear.

All day long she thought about that big black dog, knowing that she would have to cross his path again on the way home.  After school she moved quietly down the sidewalk, hoping maybe she could slip by the wooden fence undetected. But there he was, waiting for her.  Once again he raced to the fence, snarling and straining against the wooden pickets in an attempt to break free.  Wendy broke into a run.  Tripping on the curb as she crossed the street, she fell and skinned both knees badly, tearing her brand new dress.  Arriving at home, she burst into the house in tears.

Explaining what happened while her mother cleaned her scraped knees and applied band-aids, Wendy said she was certain the dog would at some point escape and tear her to pieces.  She didn't want to walk to school ever again, in fact even going to school didn't seem like fun now, not if she had to risk her life crossing that dog's path every day.

Wendy's mother tried to reassure her that the dog was safely fenced and would not be able to escape. She pointed out that no neighborhood children had been attacked or eaten, and said the dog was probably just trying to greet her and make friends.  Wendy wasn't buying that at all.  Wendy's mother told her that dogs can sense fear, that she needed to walk past him bravely and keep going on about her business without letting him know she was afraid.  Wendy wasn't so sure that was possible, but she agreed to give it another try.

The next morning the same scene repeated itself, the dog snarling and Wendy running, her mind filled with panic.  She didn't think she could face that big dog again, so she came up with an idea.  That afternoon Wendy took another route home, detouring around the block to avoid the house where the dog lived.  Her plan almost worked, but the new route took a little longer. 

When she didn't arrive home on time, Wendy's mother came looking for her.  Not finding her on the designated route, her mother grew worried, and when she spotted her a couple blocks away she was upset.  Wendy got a spanking for going off on her own without telling anyone.  She tried to explain, but her mom wasn't hearing any of it. "You walk the way I taught you" she ordered, "You can't just go wandering around town.  And stop worrying about that dog, he's not going to get you!"  Wendy felt very sad; it seemed that no one really understood. This was to become a common theme in her life in the years ahead.

For the next four months Wendy battled her inner fears to face that daily walk to and from school.  The dog never stopped racing to the fence, even when it grew cold and snowed, and she never grew less afraid of his eyes that seemed to glow with evil.  In her mind, and in her dreams at night, the black dog loomed larger and larger, and she just knew that one day he would tear down that fence and devour her.

It was to Wendy's great relief that her father one day announced they would be moving to a new town and a new school right after Christmas... goodbye big black dog.  Fifty some years later, Wendy can still picture that snarling face in her mind, and she has to admit that she still gives black dogs a wide berth when she walks.

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This post is linked up at Two Shoes Tuesday,
we'd love to have you join us!
 

Two Shoes Tuesday #9 - Fear


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, there is no deadline.

This week's writing prompt is "FEAR".

When you've finished your post, share it with us by adding a link in the Mr. Linky widget 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 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 fear!

Sister Josie Oblivious


This week brings us to Question #4 of Carrie's Get-Away Give-Away.  She asks, "Have you had a funny/embarrassing moment happen where you thought
to yourself, "If only someone caught that on camera, I'd win the $10,000 prize"?  What is your cash prize-worthy moment?  

I can't really think of any prize-worthy embarassing moments I've experienced, probably because I've succesfully managed to block these humiliating memories. However there was an event that occurred a couple years ago that left me plenty red-faced.  My friend Kenny Lee has for many years referred to me as "Sister Josie Oblivious" for my uncanny ability to dwell in my own little world and remain totally unaware of what is going on around me. This was once such incidence of that blissful state.

Papa Bear and I were out shopping in a local department store, a nice one as opposed to your typical "big-box" affair.  I went to use the restroom and found it in poor condition with trash and toilet paper scattered everywhere.  (Why do women do that anyway? Calling it a "Ladies" Room is truly stretching the truth!)  Obviously the maintenance crew had not made an appearance for some time. 

After using the facilities and washing my hands, I went to rejoin Papa Bear, noting a few people along the way looking at me rather strangely, but that's not an unusual experience for me, I think I give off "crazy lady" vibes or something, who knows. :-)

Arriving at Papa Bear's side in the linens aisle, he took one look at me, shook his head trying not to laugh, and pointed downward.  There, trailing for at least three feet from the bottom of my sandal was a lovely train of toilet tissue.  UGH! How embarrassing!  I quickly used my other foot to detach the offending toilet paper from my shoe, and beat a hasty retreat to the car, Papa Bear hustling to keep up with me and trying hard not to laugh out loud. I could almost hear the other customers telling their friends about the "pitiful old woman in the store who couldn't quite get out of the restroom in good form. :-/  Ah yes, Sister Wendy Oblivious, take a well-deserved bow!
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Stop by and visit Carrie at The Slow-Dripped Life, have a good time reading the embarrassing moments being shared there this week, then add one on a post of  your own for a chance to win the amazing trip she is giving away... for real!

Darcie's Longing


Darcie knew she was taking a big risk when she slipped unnoticed into her mother's room and removed the violin from its case on the shelf.  If her father caught her she would be punished severely.  Running from the city walls, she stopped on the stone bench near the grove of trees where her mother used to take her as a child.  Darcie's mother had disappeared one day; the townsfolk said she had run off with the horseman, a handsome young man who was known to charm the ladies. Darcie's father had forbidden her to ever play the violin again, since it was her mother who had taught her.  But music was the only connection she still had to her mother, and Darcie somehow believed that if she played the violin the music would draw her mother home.

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I'm linking up with Sunday Scribblings where the prompt this week is "risk".


Finding My Center


We're now on Question #3 of Carrie's Give-Away Get-Away!  This week she writes:
"There is a place for most everyone, that brings peace, calm and inspiration beyond reason. Where do you find yourself most centered, most connected to life and your most true self?"

Growing up in the Midwest, when I needed a quiet place away from the emotional stresses of family, friends, school, and small town life, I most often headed straight to the local park, where I would sit at the base of my favorite big old tree and try to sort things out. The tree spirit provided a sense of strength and protection, camouflage and calm.  I also found standing at the edge of the lapping waters of the nearby lake soothing, though I seldom had the opportunity to be there alone.

As I got older and a Gypsy lifestyle became my reality, there often wasn't a nearby place of beauty and peace I could escape to alone, it was hard to find refuge.  When children came into my life, opportunities to be off by myself became even less, and men in my life more often than not made home anything but a place of peace.  Late at night the moon overhead became my focus and connection that that which was greater than me. It was the one time I could by myself for a bit, a time to start breathing again.

My early thirties found us relocating to the desert Southwest, where trees and water are in short supply.  I learned to love the powerful beauty of a painted sunset, as well as the overwhelming sense of infinity that comes from gazing at the huge canopy of star-sprinkled night sky.  However the reality of mostly hot days and long work hours away from home means that not a lot of time gets spent outside in the daylight on a regular basis.  There is no cool shady place to retreat and write, read, pray or contemplate.

The most peaceful place I've ever experienced is a deserted stretch of ocean beach when my husband and I stayed a Port Aransas during off-season weather a couple years ago. I could happily have stayed there forever.  The sand, wind, and waves washed everything away, purified my soul. A moonlight walk on the beach is the ultimate experience as far as I'm concerned.  The reality is that I've only been to the ocean three times in my life. The nearest beach is 500 miles away, which doesn't make it practical to visit often. I long to go again!

So what does one do when life doesn't offer many beautiful places commune with nature? You learn to find that place inside your head.  For me, both early morning and late evening are the best times to reconnect with my soul, and with my writer's mind.  Working with multiple phone lines ringing and demanding attention day after day for years, silence is bliss for me. Absolute silence, no music, no background noise. The purring of cats is exempted. :-)  I can do this anywhere, because I don't look around me, I look inside me. I take my cues from what I sense there, seeking light, goodness and hope, and working to shut out negativity and darkness (most of the time). 

The prettiest part of my daily life is the twenty mile drive to work in the morning.  This time of year I catch the sunrise as I leaveve our little house in the country and travel the highway into the city.  It's a wonderful time to thank God for my blessings and pray for people and things on my mind.  Morning is a time of renewal and hope.  It's also a great time to think about things I I'd to share on my blog, and what I want to write about when I can find some free time.  

With the exception of Saturday and Sunday mornings, which are pure bliss for me in their absolute quiet and lack of duties demanding my attention, I most often find myself writing at night, as I am now, sitting in my rocking chair with my tablet or laptop on the little rolling table in front of me, while my husband sits near and watches his favorite programs on tv.  I watch too, somewhat passively, aware of what is transpiring but not following the dialog or acting, focused instead on what I am reading, writing as a comment, or trying to convey in a post. 

To sum it up, in answer to the question... where do I feel most connected these days... at home, in the companionship of my husband and furkids... safe, happy, peaceful, loved. It really doesn't get any better than that... though eventually a bunch of trees on our property would be nice, and I'd certainly love another trip to the ocean should I win this contest! :-)

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If you haven't entered Carrie's awesome contest yet, what are you waiting for? A free trip? It could happen! Go here and check it out now!  By the way, Carrie's pretty awesome too, in fact she's amazing and inspiring and incredibly caring!

Bluer Than Blue


Reading the entries for Two Shoes Tuesday this week, where the writing prompt is "BLUE", I started making a mental list of all the things we connect with the word blue, and decided to share it with you...
  1. Blue Angels
  2. blue balls
  3. blue bayou
  4. blue blood
  5. blue book
  6. blue cheese dressing
  7. blue coat
  8. blue corn
  9. blue crab
  10. blue eyes
  11. blue flies
  12. blue for boys
  13. blue haired old ladies
  14. blue ice
  15. blue jay
  16. blue jeans
  17. blue jokes
  18. blue lagoon
  19. blue laws
  20. Blue Light Special
  21. blue lips
  22. blue maize
  23. Blue Man Group
  24. blue marlin
  25. Blue Merle Sheltie
  26. blue mood
  27. blue moon
  28. Blue Oyster Cult
  29. blue ribbon
  30. Blue Ridge Mountains
  31. blue rose
  32. blue screen
  33. blue shark
  34. blue skies
  35. Blue Smoke Maine Coon
  36. blue spruce
  37. blue suede shoes
  38. blue swallowtails
  39. blue sweater
  40. blue tick hound
  41. blue velvet
  42. blue walls
  43. blue water
  44. blue whale
  45. Bluebeard
  46. bluebells
  47. blueberry
  48. bluebird
  49. bluebells
  50. blueberry
  51. bluebird
  52. bluegill
  53. bluegrass
  54. blue-nosed mule
  55. bluestreak
  56. Bluetooth
  57. Babe the Blue Ox
  58. baby blue
  59. black and blue
  60. Blue's Clues
  61. blues music
  62. feeling blue
  63. Delta Blues
  64. Devil with the blue dress on :-)
  65. Karner Blue Butterfly
  66. Kentucky bluegrass
  67. midnight blue
  68. Mission Blue Butterfly
  69. Moody Blues
  70. navy blue
  71. Pabst Blue Ribbon
  72. Rhythm & Blues
  73. royal blue
  74. Russian Blue 
  75. turning blue
I will no doubt think of more as the day goes on. Feel free to note more in the comments below and I'll add them to the list. Let's see what all there is to be blue about! :-)

Blueberry Pie


The prompt for Two Shoes Tuesday this week is "blue"...

Today was one of  "those" Mondays, the kind where you run full tilt from the time you walk in the door until you finally crawl back out at the end of the day.  The phones rang non-stop, two and three calls at a time.  Paperwork multiplied like the loaves and fishes, deadlines loomed.  As soon as I completed one task I grabbed the next.  Every now and then I had to remind myself to breathe.  Mondays are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. 

Not surprisingly, as I dragged myself across the parking lot to my car, tired and hungry, the first thought that came to mind was comfort food.  A wonderful memory popped into my head... blueberry pie. Grandma Ida's blueberry pie!  I realized at that moment how much I would give to show up at her door, sit down at her table, and see her beautiful eyes twinkle as she said with a smile, "I made blueberry pie." 

Grandma Ida, my father's mother, was tough as nails in her younger years, because she had to be.  Her husband died and left her with four boys to raise and a farm to run on her own. Times were tough and money was in short supply, but somehow she made it work.  All her sons grew up to be good men, successful farmers and businessmen, family men. Sons she could rightly be proud of.

By the time I was growing up my Grandmother was not so young anymore, and my memories of her are soft and warm.  How I loved her coming on the bus to visit us and snuggling in my bed as we chatted away into the night.  In the daytime we were treated to her cooking,  teased her about her "bun dough" arms, and learned about the padded bra she wore due to a mastectomy that saved her life in a time when breast cancer was often fatal. 

Each summer my sister and I, and a couple of our girl cousins would spend a week with Grandma, her serving us cinnamon toast and tea sweetened with honey, teaching us to sew doll clothes on her old Singer treadle sewing-machine, how to play card games like Rummy and Canasta, and a smattering of German slang words, toned down a bit for our young ears.

I dearly loved and admired my Grandma.  I saw her as strong where my mother was weak, and patient where my mother was nervous and stressed out.  She loved the flowers she had growing in coffee cans on her window sills, and the squirrel she hand-fed peanuts from her doorstep.  She had a wonderful sense of humor and often regaled us with tales of the pranks she and her sisters and brothers used to play on each other in childhood and even as adults.

Nothing made Grandma Ida happier than to serve up a big family dinner with all her sons and their families in attendance.  She had moved from the big farm where they had grown up to a small house in town, yet somehow the table was stretched out, with extra folding tables and chairs to accommodate the youngest, and we all managed to fit into that small space.  The room would be noisy with the clatter of china and conversation and warm with the love of family.  It is only now with my own children so far away that I realize how she must have cherished those times of having everyone gathered around her.

Blueberry pie was one of my father's favorites.  My Grandma was a wonderful cook and baker.  Every visit to her house meant being stuffed with good things to eat, and more being packed up and sent along home.  In her time good food was synonymous with love.  I can't remember a family gathering in her tiny house that didn't include wonderful desserts, and almost always a blueberry pie.  She knew my father loved it, and she knew I did as well.  If I shut my eyes now, I can still see her beautiful, gently-wrinkled, powdered face smiling at me and saying "I made a blueberry pie."  

My Grandma, of sturdy German stock, lived well into her 90's.  In her 70's she still grew a large vegetable garden in her back yard, was active in a bowling league, and hosted a weekly card game with her friends.  I couldn't manage those things now!  Grandma Ida was my role model of what a strong, competent woman could be, and I will always be grateful to her for that.  She was a true survivor! How I wish that I could sit down and to talk to her more about life, now that I am old enough to understand it better.  I know I will always long for just one more piece of her blueberry pie!

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This post is linked up at Two Shoes Tuesday,
we'd love to have you join us there!

Two Shoes Tuesday #8 - Blue


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.

This week's writing prompt is "BLUE".

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 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 blue!

Setting Stormy Free


April 21, 1996 ~ October 19, 2012

~Rest In Peace My Beloved Friend~

See you on the other side.




Thank you for sixteen years of love and devotion,
and thank you for being here to share the good years at the end.

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I'm linking up with Cate at Six Word Saturday...  join us there!

Whispers of Hope



The prompt for Two Shoes Tuesday this week is "Hope"...

Late on a Saturday night, the young woman sat curled in a corner of the bedroom floor,  telephone receiver pressed to her ear, tears sliding slowly down her face as she spoke with the kind, gentle soul at the other end of the connection.  She recounted the most recent woes and offenses of her crumbling marriage to a man who had never loved her to begin with, and who was spending more and more time out partying on weekends, leaving her home alone.  Although this made her sad, she was also in a way grateful, as it meant a brief reprieve from his anger and his stone cold heart. 

She and her friend talked on into the night, knowing her husband would come home in the early hours of the morning, intoxicated and antagonistic, and smelling of cheap perfume.  He frightened her at these times. One wrong word or glance could set him off and all hell would break loose. She usually tried to pretend she was fast asleep, hoping he would just pass out in bed and leave her alone.  Sometimes it worked, but sometimes it didn't, with him flipping on the light switch, hurling insults and complaints, and smashing whatever was within reach without regard to what it might mean to it's owner... figurines, lamps, framed pictures on the wall, anything was fair game.  She had swept up the shattered remnants of glass and of her life more times than she could count. Talking in low soft tones, she would try to soothe him,  praying the children wouldn't be awakened.  She hated what he was doing to her life and theirs.

The friend at the other end of the phone was a thousand miles away, yet as close to her as a whisper.  He was the only one she talked to about the devastation of her life ; there was no one else she trusted.  Always he would listen with a caring heart, and encourage her to stay strong and focus on taking care of the children.  He promised her that this wouldn't last forever, and he tried to suggest various ways out of the horrible relationship,  but she was far too beaten down to believe she had the power to change her life. 

Week after week the scenario repeated itself, her on the phone with him, desperate for some shred of hope to cling to, and him promising her that life would get better, that something would happen to bring about change.  She didn't really believe him, and didn't see how that could possibly happen. She'd been praying hard for so long and it hadn't helped a bit.  But she wanted to believe him, oh how she wanted to believe!  Her shattered heart clung to the words of hope he offered, the whispered promises of a better day to come.  Those late night phone calls, the candles of hope her friend lit in the darkness, were all that kept her alive. 

Years later, when she finally found a way to free herself from the man who had led her to believe she was nothing, and her life did indeed begin to change for the better, she looked back with profound gratitude on the friendship that had been her lifeline; she vowed to pay it forward, to preach the gospel of hope to others... and she has.
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We'd love to have you write something about "hope" and join us!

Two Shoes Tuesday # 7 - Hope


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.

This week's writing prompt is "HOPE".

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 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 hope!

Long, Long Ago

Today brings us to contest entry Question #2 of Carrie's most amazing trip give-away at The Slow-Dripped Life.  She asks "What was one of you most cherished travel memories/trips?"
 
Me enjoying bratwurst and beer in Germany

Way back in 1977, as a young woman just twenty three years old,  my two year old daughter and I flew to what was then West Germany, where I was to spend the next two and a half years of my life as a "military dependent", an Army wife, living in an all-German apartment building in the community of Ay just South Of Ulm, in the state of Bavaria in Southern Germany.  Living there was an education by immersion into the history, language and culture of my heritage.  My son was born in Augsburg and was strolled along the banks of the Danube River as an infant.  It goes without saying that living in Germany was an experience I will never forget.  Here are just a few of the places we visited while we were there...

 Neuschwanstein Castle


The Medieval City of Rothenburg

The Muenster Cathedral in Ulm
where I attended a beautiful midnight Christmas Eve Service


Dachau Concentration Camp:
The Crematorium

Have you stopped over at Carrie's place and entered her awesome contest yet?  If not, what are you waiting for? You just might win the memory of a lifetime!

It's A Zoo!


This week has been  a zoo!

Too few hours in the day.

Way too much work to do.

Today is Saturday, what to do?

I know...

We should go visit the zoo!


We are heading down the road to Abilene and a trip to the zoo :-)

I'm linking up with Cate at Six Word Saturday... join us there!


Banging My Head


This week Brenda at Ponderings of an Author asked, "Do you learn from your mistakes or do you keep doing the same behavioral patterns over and over again?"

Let me tell you straight off that I am the queen of bull-headed behavior, doing the same things over and over again "my way" (translate that to mean with little forethought)... and then getting to live with the disasterous consequences. 

Growing up in the "If it feels good do it" generation, I tend to act and react on impulse.  In my younger days I mistakenly believed I could control the outcome, or at least turn things around to make it work for me.  Ha! I was kidding myself, totally. 

Thirty years and three failed marriages later, I finally reached the point where I knew something had to give.  Obviously, my way of playing the game of life wasn't taking me where I wanted to be.  I had to look honestly at the choices I'd made in the past, especially in relationships, and I came to the realization that I was making the same mistake over and over... I was choosing bad boys - the misfits, the screwed-up ones.  I was thinking that different was cool, but I didn't realize that there is a fine line where different crosses into difficult and then down-right dangerous.  I spent many years of my life trying to make those relationships work, but no matter how hard I tried it couldn't be done, and I know now that it was never meant to be. 

So after a half-century of hard times and heartache I took stock of my life and looked at the common denominator in my choices of partners, and then decided I would make a radical change and seek someone who was the direct opposite... normal, responsible, respectful, trustworthy, romantic, helpful, giving, caring, believing, well thought of in the community, and above all real... a what you see is what you get person.  Then God brought him to my doorstep via the Internet... and the rest is history. 

It's been four amazingly wonderful years now, and I tell people that God saved the best for last, when I would understand and appreciate the value of the man Papa Bear is.

This same lesson has carried over into other aspects of my life.  I've learned to look at my mistakes and where my past choices have taken me, and then to be courageous and determined in making changes that will point me in the right direction.  I can well attest to the fact that pounding your head on the same old brick wall repeatedly leads only to bad headaches and broken bricks, never to enlightenment. 

If you want something different to happen in your life you have to do something different!  What steps are you willing to take to initiate change?
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Linking up with Brenda at Pondering With A Purpose 
where this week's prompt is "history"

Tears


"Tears are words from the heart that can't be spoken."

As she sat in church listening to the old familiar hymns she began to cry.

As she heard the Christmas carols of her childhood she began to cry.

As she played the classic rock and folk music of her youth she began to cry.

As she listened to the peace anthems at the concert last night she began to cry.

"Why do you always cry when you listen to music?" he had asked her once gently.

She knew no way to explain the connection, how music unlocked the doors to memories long since locked away in the attic... times, people, places, hopes and dreams long since gone.

She rarely listens to music these days because she cannot stop the tears.

She prefers to spend her time in the soft realm of silence, hearing only the purring of her cats and the ticking of the clock. 

Little Did They Know

(The prompt for Two Shoes Tuesday this week is "Illusions"... )

By day she blogged under the name of Penelope Perrin, listing her credentials as author and counselor, dispensing wisdom and wit and acquiring a large number of followers.

By night, better known as Sapphire to the men who dialed her 900 number for fantasy delivered with a sultry voice, she found her talent for role-playing quite lucrative.

In reality she was none other than Bob, the unbathed, unemployed, middle-aged man who lived with his grandmother in the big house around the corner.


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 We'd love to have you write something and join us!

Two Shoes Tuesday #6 - Illusions


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 "ILLUSIONS".

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 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 life's illusions!

Count Me In!


Wow! My awesome friend Carrie at The Slow-Dripped Life is doing an amazing Give-Away with the prize being a Get-Away for two!  Seriously!!  All you need to do to enter is to answer the question that she provides each week on your blog. The contest runs from now thru December 1st. Go and read all about it here, and join in the fun!

To earn this week's entry for the drawing she's asking us to "name the top five places that you would like to visit but have never been." 

Here's my wish list:
1. The California Redwoods
2. A Mississippi Riverboat Cruise
3. A warm secluded beach anywhere
4. Alaska
5. Ireland/Scotland

If we ask Carrie a question in return, we receive an additional entry in the prize-drawing, and you know how much I love to ask questions, so here's my question for her this week...

If you had the opportunity to go anywhere in the world for one year by yourself, but you wouldn't have telephone or Internet access, would you go?  (If no, why not? If yes, where, and why there?)

I Have the Right


I Have The Right to Choose

because...


That's what's on my mind for today for  Six Word Saturday


Slipping Into Silence

Susan ended her shift at the hospital in the valley, exhausted after a busy night of caring for the sick and injured in the ER, and headed slowly up the winding mountain road toward the cabin she shared with Kenneth and their two children.  As she rounded a curve her tires hit a patch of ice and the car slid off the edge of the road and landed in a deep snow drift several feet down the mountainside. Since very few people travelled this road at night, she knew her chances of being found were slim, and even more slim if she got out and started walking.  As the snow piled deep on top of Susan's car rendering it barely visible, she cursed the absence of cellphone towers, and decided it was best to wait it out until morning.  Hours later, no longer able to endure the bitter cold, she started  the car's engine and ran the heater for a bit of warmth, thinking sadly about the shouting match she and Kenneth had engaged in that morning, and longing for the sound of his voice as she drifted slowly into slumber in the silence of night.

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I'm linking up with Lillie McFerrin for Five Sentence Fiction where this week, 
in celebration of FSF turning one year old, we were permitted to choose
any prompt from the past year.  I chose to write about "silence".

I Have Questions


I've got a few questions for you today, and I'm really hoping you'll answer!  I'm eager to know your opinions.

My friend and I have been discussing commenting on blogs. It's important, after all that's one of the reasons we share our writing in the blogsphere... for feedback! 

Question 1: Do you post responses to the comments people leave on your blog? Why or why not?

Question 2: Do you return to previous posts on other blogs to see if the author responded to your comment?

Question 3:  Are responses to your comments important to you... if the author doesn't respond, does that affect your future commenting?

For the most part, I've been responding to comments on  my blog posts, but it is very time consuming and I've been told that most folks don't go back to read your responses anyway. If this is true, then I'm wasting precious time doing it, and I have so little time.  Some awesome bloggers I read do  not reply to comments, is that ok with most of you? Would you be offended if I didn't respond?

While on the topic of commenting, I have a couple mini-rants...

I STILL detest those blasted verification codes required to post a comment on  many blogs.  If they are easy to read/interpret it's not so bad, but if I get it wrong twice I've very likely to say "to heck with it" and to leave the post without commenting. Blogger seems to have gotten much better at screening out the few that spammers attempt to post to mine, but then I don't have huge readership, so that may make a difference.

Question 4:  Do you folks that use word verification truly experience a lot of problems with spam that make this step necessary?

Another issue I'm encountering is the "fill in all the required blanks" comment form. This seems to be primarily associated with WordPress.  I don't mind if I hit one where the blanks asking for my ID, email address, and blog address are automatically filled in but often I have to stop and provide all that info just to leave a comment, and I find myself getting aggravated.  I've even hit a couple that won't allow me to  comment with  my current Windows browser... what the heck?  I am not going to jump thru hoops!

Question 5:  Why is all that info needed/required in order for me to respond to what you wrote?  Is it because I am not a WordPress member?  Is there a way to simplify it?

And here's a curiosity question just for fun...

Question 6:  When you are participating in a meme, blog hop or writing prompt, do you read contributions by other bloggers before your write yours, or do you write and post first, and then read what the others have had to say?

Ok, that's it, I'm done questioning now!  Your input will be much appreciated! :-)

Practical's Place


This week Brenda at Ponderings of an Author asked, "Are you surrounded by practical things and have left no room in your life for whimsy?"

Practical was a word I abhorred as a child. It was one my mother used frequently when it came to shopping for things like school clothes and shoes.  A brightly colored dress with fancy features would catch my eye and mom would shake her head.  "It' isn't practical", she'd say. "It won't wash well/wear well/etc."  So I'd end up with the plain hunter green school jumper or a plaid dress like the one above, not the pretty one I wanted.  "Practical," I remember fuming, "Why does everything have to be practical?" 

Of course I knew the answer, my parents had grown up as poor farm kids during the Great Depression, when there wasn't enough money for essentials, much less luxuries.  Although my father had become a successful businessman and we lived in a nice house in our small town, and had all we needed and more, my parents were still sensible and practical when it came to spending money.  There was no splurging on purely frivolous purchases, things that didn't appear durable, or and things that we wanted "just because".  I vowed as a child that I would not always stick with what was practical and sensible, sometimes I would throw caution to the wind and choose something just to make my heart smile.

Then I grew up and found myself in marriages that were less financially stable than what I knew as a child. Once again being "practical" had to be the rule of the day. Money was spent for essentials, and there wasn't much left over for extras.  When I became a single mom things were even harder; it was a struggle just to make ends meet. Practical won out over whimsy by necessity, but I am happy to say that I remembered my childhood experiences well enough to ensure that sometimes my children got to choose something special to wear or for their rooms that wasn't purely utilitarian and practical.  An easing of the rules now and then makes for special memories.

As an empty-nester adult, I've had more freedom to choose what feels both right and fun, and though I have retained the practical nature of my upbringing and our house is not loaded down with fancy do-dads and such. I don't walk the mall or super-center aisles on the lookout for new things to buy. However, I do indulge myself in fun things like the occasional brightly printed satin kaftan for housewear, and bold purple acrylic fingernails and toes; and my wonderfully romantic husband has been known to purchase special treasures for me like the lovely china tea set we found on a trip we took last fall.  Neither of us are materialistic, and we budget our finances carefully, but we agree that while practical clearly has it's place, there also needs to a few surprises and bright spots in life, and room for a bit of frivolity and fun!
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Linking up with Brenda at Pondering With A Purpose 
where this week's prompt is "practicality"

A Courting Gone Wrong


When Rupert came to court Elizabeth, the girl he dreamed of making his own, he dressed in his finest attire and arrived in his shiny new carriage, hoping to impress not only her but her father, Mr. Murdoch, who ran the largest bank in their fair city.

Seated in the parlor sipping his cup of tea, Rupert struggled to retain a sense of dignity while Elizabeth's two kittens wrapped themselves around his legs. He wasn't the least bit fond of cats, but this was clearly not the time to show his disdain for the annoying creatures.

He sat stoic on the loveseat next to Elizabeth, making small talk and attempting to exhibit a bit of charm that might sway her emotions. Judging by her smile and the slight flush of her cheeks, this seemed to be working well until the kittens decided to up the ante in their efforts to draw Rupert's attention, and initiated a game of tag. As they raced across the furniture after each other, leaping from piece to piece with claws extended, one had the misfortune to accidentally lacerate Rupert's leg, tearing his fine wool trousers and causing him to yelp in pain.

Acting on reflex, Rupert snatched up the offending kitten, grasping it tightly enough to make it squeal, causing a distraught Elizabeth to burst into tears.  Rupert was summarily dismissed and escorted to the door, his dreams of betrothal dashed.  The kittens, however, continued to bask in Elizabeth's affection, and both cats lived to a ripe old age along with their spinster mistress.
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I'm linking up with Thom at Three Word Wednesday
where today's writing prompts are dignity, lacerate, and ripe.



The Decision


Mercy Adams had a decision to make, and it wasn't going to be easy.  She had been living with the pain for far too long now, and she knew if she didn't do something about it things were only going to get worse.  Still, she dreaded dealing with the whole situation. Even contemplating the possibility filled her with terror.  How could she subject herself to that,  and where would she go?  Still, she knew that, as an adult, there are times when you have to make hard choices, and ignoring it wasn't going to make this problem go away. 

Finally, Mercy could take the agony no more, and she made a phone call.  She awoke the next morning with a sick feeling in her stomach.  Could she actually go thru with it?  She knew she had to, but oh Lord, how she wished there was another way!  Dressing quickly, she walked out and quickly locked the door behind her so there could be no turning back.

As she drove toward her destination, Mercy stared hard at the road in front of her and tried to avoid thinking about what was to come.  Arriving at the appointed time, she swallowed hard as she walked toward the door.  Her hands shook as she pushed it open.  The moment was at hand.   

The woman in front of her looked up from her desk.  "Good Morning Miss Adams," she said cheerfully, "Are you ready to get started on that root canal?"
 
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 The prompt for Two Shoes Tuesday this week is "Door"...
We'd love to have you write something and join us here!