Share Your World 2016 – Week 36

Come on, you know you’d like to share some things about yourself. Just hop over to Cee’s place and get the details about how to participate in this project.

Question  # 1: List 2 things you have to be happy about.

1. Knowing Jesus Christ personally
2. Having the opportunity to write things that encourage, entertain, and help other people.

Question # 2: If you could take a photograph, paint a picture, or write a story of any place in the world, where would it be?

PIC FOR SM.MT. SERIES COVER - FB - smallerMy first choice would be the Great Smoky Mountains, and my second choice would be the coast of Maine. But, in fact, I have taken loads of pictures of the Great Smoky Mountains, and I have written a whole series of novels set in those mountains. So part of my dream has come true. (The following is an advertisement: If you’d like to read some or all of the stories in my Smoky Mountain Series, just follow this link to my Amazon author’s page and you’ll find the first four books in digital available at the Kindle Store. There’s also a free Kindle app available for any device in case you don’t have your own Kindle.)

Question # 3: Should children be seen and not heard?

Absolutely not!  Children are so full of life and so fresh (until we adults pressure them into the corrupted, dogmatic, politically correct molds we’ve made for ourselves). The freshness and zest for life make children a source of energy and revelation that we all need to take advantage of from time to time. I’ve learned so much from kids, and as a teacher, I was constantly amazed at the depth and creativity I found in young people.

Now, of course, I saw discipline problems as well. But in general, the truth is that if parents begin early to develop good discipline in their very small children, that discipline will carry through into adulthood. (The biggest problem I see is that most parents have no self-discipline themselves, and because of that they cannot discipline their children. Hence, the kids pick up the parents’ undisciplined life-style, and we have the problem multiplied over and over.)

The best answer to this question is that children should be disciplined, but not muzzled.

Question # 4: List at least 5 of your favorite first names.

Well, now, I’m going to have to list 6 in order to be fair to the girls and boys both.

Girls:  Hannah, Kate, Joy

Boys: Simon, Sebastian, Jonah

Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m very grateful that I’ve had my new car to drive for the past two weeks. It makes life sooooooooo much easier.

This coming week, I’m looking forward to preparing the materials for my next creative writing class, which begins September 8.

 

~~~

 

‘Beyond The Spider’s Web’ — in response to a photo by Tish Farrell

 Tish Farrell has offered this photo as a prompt for a story, so I took up her challenge.  My story is below the picture. Visit Tish’s site to find out how she came to take the picture.

TISH FERRELL'S SPIDER WEB

BEYOND THE SPIDER’S WEB

Nessa was starting to feel a little chilly. When she’d left the group of picnickers, after the argument, she had intended to walk just a little while, until her anger dissipated, and then turn back. But somewhere she had taken a wrong turn and ended up in this wooded area. Now she was good and lost. The afternoon had turned brisk, and she’d left her sweater at the picnic site. She was pretty sure she needed to be heading in the direction the sun’s rays were coming from in order to get back to the group. She wondered about why she didn’t hear anyone calling for her, but, of course, they didn’t know she was lost.

After one more turn to head directly toward the sun, she spotted an old barn in a small clearing. One side wall was leaning awkwardly, and part of the roof had obviously fallen in. But she decided she needed to sit down and catch her breath, and at least this offered a little shelter.

As she got to the window, she peered inside to make sure no ferocious animal was making his home there. A huge spider’s web covered most of the window opening, and she had to move her head from side to side to see through the silken threads. But she saw no living creatures inside — just a pile of old flower pot, a rusty pitchfork, and several pieces of rotting wood that had fallen from the roof.

Moving to the left, she finally spotted a door, and pushing against it with all her strength, she managed to get it open enough to walk inside the building. The musty smell was strong: rotting hay, dust, dead foliage, and lots of mouse droppings, if she wasn’t mistaken.

But the relief from the wind was welcome, and there was enough light to look for a dry board or two to make a seat to sit down on and stretch out her legs. She sat for several minutes, enjoying the change in position, but gradually, she realized that she was hearing something besides the silence she’d expected. It was like a tapping — rhythmic but with pauses now and then — followed by the same sounds repeated. It was a pattern that spoke to her musical soul, but it wasn’t music. It was . . . what exactly was it? It was almost like code of some kind, but she dismissed that idea as ridiculous.

But it kept repeating — light, but insistent — until she couldn’t ignore it any longer and had to get up and make her way toward the direction from which it came. Trying to tell herself that it was just a loose board being blown against the wall by the wind, she continued in that direction. But by now she knew the tapping was too light to be just a board — and too rhythmic to be the result of the erratic wind. Her first twinges of uneasiness at being lost were now growing into outright fear at what she might find when she reached the source of the sound.

She stopped. She argued with herself. “I don’t have to go on. I can get out of here and keep walking. Besides, I need to keep moving while I can still be guided by the sun.”

That line of thought sounded good, but then the tapping caught her attention again, and she couldn’t dismiss the idea that if there was someone else here who needed help, she’d never forgive herself for running away. So digging deeper for what courage she had left, she eased herself forward toward an inner door. As she pushed the squeaky door open, the tapping suddenly stopped. There was dead silence for long seconds, and then a tiny voice, choked with tears called out: “Is someone there?  Is someone there?”

Nessa’s heart almost stopped. She didn’t know whether to answer or not, but then thought how foolish to have come all this way to see if someone needed help and then refuse to offer it. Then the voice sounded again. “Please . . . is someone there? Please help me!”

Suddenly, Nessa’s heart took over from her terrified thoughts, and she answered, moving forward as she did. “Yes, I’m here. But where are you?”

“I’m up here!” the tearful voice called, and Nessa looked up for the first time. There, not ten feet from her, in the hay loft, a young boy was hanging out of a hole in the loft, with one leg still stuck up in the hole. He was holding onto a rope that hung from the loft as well, trying to keep himself balanced. With his other hand, he was tapping a piece of wood against the ladder leading to the loft. He couldn’t reach the ladder from where he hung, but he could hit it with the wooden stick.

“Oh, my goodness!” Nessa cried and ran toward him. “What happened?”

“I . . . I fell through a hole in the hay loft, but my leg got caught on something as I fell, and it won’t come loose . . . although I don’t want it to come loose if I can’t get a better hold on this rope because I would fall to the floor on my head. I called and called for help until my throat hurt too much to keep calling. Then I kept hitting this stick against the ladder, hoping someone would hear me.”

As she came closer, Nessa, realized the boy couldn’t be more than eight or nine years old. His tousledd blond hair hung down from his head as he hung almost upside down, and his face was dirty with smeared dirt and tears. “I’ll see what I can do to help you,” Nessa said, as she started to climb the ladder to the loft.

“Be careful,” the boy said. “That ladder has some rotten rungs.”

“Why on earth were you in here climbing it anyway?” she asked.

He sniffed. “I was running away from home.”

By that time Nessa was in the loft and had discovered that his leg was caught between two boards. She didn’t she any blood, but it was for sure he’d have a serious bruise on his leg when this was over.  She tested the rest of the floor around the hole, and finding it solid enough to support her weight, she went to work slowly reaching down for the boy’s shirt and gradually pulling him back in the direction of the loft.

When she had him close enough to have a secure grip on him, she worked at loosening the boards around his leg with her other hand. It was slow work, and he cried out in pain once, but she finally managed to get his leg loosened enough for him to use it to help lift his own weight back toward the opening in the loft.

After a great deal of tugging and huffing and puffing by both of them, the boy was able to reach back through the hole with his own left arm and help pull himself the rest of the way into the loft. They both just sat there, catching their breath for some minutes.

Finally, Nessa spoke. “My name’s Nessa, by the way. What’s  yours?”

“I’m Timmy Randall.”

“Do you live near here?”

“Yeah, just over that hill.” He hung his head and took a deep breath. “I didn’t get very far running away, I guess. I got tired, and I crawled up in the loft to take a nap. And that’s when I fell.”

“So why were you running away? Are your parents mean to you?”

“Well . . . they won’t let me have a horse.”

“What! Is that a good reason to run away from your family?”

“Well . . . they promised me a horse for my birthday, but when my birthday got here — yesterday — they said they didn’t have the money to get me a horse, and all they gave me was a new pair of shoes.” He started to cry again.

“But maybe something happened and your parents really don’t have the money to buy a horse,” Nessa argued.

“But you don’t understand. I bragged to all my friends that I was getting a horse for my birthday. They all  laughed at me and said I was lying — that my parents were too poor to buy me a horse — and that I was stupid to believe they would. Now I can’t go back to school with all those kids. They’ll just laugh at me even more.”

Nessa studied him, weighing her options. Deciding her best bet was to get him to feel more sorry for her than he did for himself, she said. “Well, I’ll tell you what, Timmy. I’d like to help you, but the truth is that I’m completely lost out here. I was on a picnic with my friends, and we had an argument, and I did something as dumb as you did. I just took off walking. But now it’s almost dark, and I don’t know how to get out of these woods, and I’m so scared I don’t think I can help you at all. I’ve got to try to find my way home all by myself.”

Timmy looked at her for several seconds, his eyes wide, and his mouth hanging open. Here was someone with a bigger problem than he had. At least he knew how to get home — to a warm meal and a soft bed and someone to be sure he was safe for the night. Suddenly his green eyes lit up, and a grin spread across his dirty face.”

“Hey, you know what? I can take you to my house, and my dad can drive you home!”

Nessa feigned surprise. “You’d do that for me?  But you’re running away.”

Tim thought about her words a couple more seconds. “Well, I figure it this way. You saved my life just now. If you hadn’t helped me, I would have hung there ’til all the blood ran to my head and I’d have had to let go of the rope I was hanging onto, and I would have fallen to the floor, hit my head, and died.

“But since you stopped to help me and now it’s too dark for you go get home, I’m going to take you home with me.”  The last words were punctuated by another big grin.  After all, there was no shame in changing his mind about running away in order to help a young lady in distress, now was there? He could go back home — where he’d really wanted to be all along — and save face at the same time.

“Well, Timmy,” Nessa said, as she stood up, “I’d be really, really grateful if you’d do that for me.”

Tim hopped up as well, wincing just a little as he put weight on his injured leg.  His grin widened. “It will be my pleasure, Miss Nessa,” he said, holding out his hand to grasp hers as they made their way carefully back to the ladder to start their journey home.

THE END

 

~~~

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star?????

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
No – wait – that isn’t what you are.
My first-grade teacher set me wise:
That stars are really angel’s  eyes
Peeking through holes in pie-crust skies.

So many years have come and gone
Since that odd day when it was done.
When teacher stood before our class
And told that lie. I wanted to ask,
But never would I my teacher sass.

So I kept quiet, but wondered long
About how teachers can be wrong.
Not that she didn’t know the truth;
She did, but relied on our youth
To carry out her unkind spoof.

Thank God that I did not believe;
I’m not so easy to deceive.
For though so young, I had insight:
God’s truth had shed in me its light,
And to that truth I did hold tight.

Now, older, I still ask myself
Why grownups have for ages felt
That, for some reason undefined,
We must plant lies in children’s minds.
When truth would be so much more kind.

We mean no harm, but still it’s lies.
And I have known some children cry
When truth was finally revealed,
And hurt at such betrayal sealed
In little hearts where trust was killed.

Dear grownups, let us stop and think:
These young minds tremble on the brink
Of glorious wonders to be learned.
Their eager minds to us are turned –
In trust – and by truth, trust is earned.

~~~

(First line borrowed from Jane Taylor’s poem “The Star,” published in 1806.)

 

Wordle Writing Challenge 220 – ‘The Letters’

This post is my second foray into the Wordle Writing Challenge, where we are encouraged to write a short story or poem that includes all of the words in a specific box. Each Sunday we receive a new box — the work of Brenda Warren over at “The Sunday Whirl.” So if you’re interested in taking part, hop over there and get started. My story’s below the box.

WORDLE 220

 

THE LETTERS

He stuffed the letters back into the manila envelope he kept them in. Since they’d arrived last week, he’d read  every one of them at least a dozen times. He wasn’t sure why, except that he hoped reading them would help give him the courage he needed to make the trip.

He laid the envelope on top of his desk and sat down with a weary sigh. Thrumming his fingers on the desktop, he let his mind drift back to those days nine years ago. The minutes turned into hours as he sat there, but it didn’t matter. He was caught once again in that heavy flow of traffic, the chill of the icy winter weather soaking into him as he waited for his 20-year old Buick’s heater to kick in.

He’d put off making that trip to the store that night, but he was completely out of milk and bread both, and since he hated cooking, the lack of those two essentials left him hungry. Even the ham and peanut butter that he often existed on couldn’t do him much good without the bread, and he certainly couldn’t face his cereal in the morning with no milk. So bundling up as well as possible against the 10° weather, he’d risked the icy side roads and made it to the main highway.

He’d spotted her blue car pulled off on the shoulder while he was still almost a mile away. Ordinarily, he never stopped for strangers, but that day he felt such a unique urge to pull over and offer help. He pulled in behind her car as carefully as possible, and by the time he had walked to her door, she had powered down her window. The first thing that struck him was how cold she looked, but that thought was immediately replaced by the warmth in her beautiful green eyes when she smiled at him.

•  •  •

He stirred himself in his desk chair, sighing deeply, and pulling himself out of his reverie. Another heavy sigh escaped him, and he looked around the room, trying to make the final transition from nine years ago back to the present moment. They’d been together — happily, he thought — for seventeen months, and, then suddenly, she had packed her bags and walked out the door.   Her only explanation was that she just couldn’t handle being tied down in one place. That’s why she’d never agreed to a legal marriage between them. She’d insisted she had to feel free.

He picked up the envelope of letters again. Everyone of them had been dated on the same day of the year, beginning the year after they had separated, but they’d arrived at his door packed together in a small box — each letter in an envelope — each envelope stamped — but not one of them postmarked.

He pulled out the cover letter that had come with the others: “I know you’ll be surprised at this package,” she had written. “But by the time you read this note, I’ll be gone from this earth, and I felt it was right to let you know the truth. I wrote each one of these letters, fully intending to mail them the day they were written, but then I lost my courage to do so. Now, however, I have no choice, and I think it’s important that you know you have a son. You’ll find all the details in these unmailed letters. The only thing I can add is that I’m sorry I couldn’t become what you wanted me to be.”

He picked up the last of the individual letters from the stack. She had included her parents’ home address and their phone number. She and the boy had been living with them during the past year. She had written that letter on his birthday — as she had all the others — and on the date of the last letter, the child had turned eight years old.

A kind of rage surged through him, and he crushed the letter in his hand. How could she!  How could she do such a thing to him — and to the child? But the rage soon gave place to tears. He’d run through that gamut of emotions several times since first opening that package of letters. Part of him wanted to burn them and forget it all so that he didn’t have any more hurt and pain. But the other part of him handled them with trembling fingers, treasuring them because they were his only link to his son.

Suddenly, he rose from his chair, stuffing the letters back into the manila envelope once again. He walked to his bedroom, took his suitcase out of the closet, and started to pack. He made a quick job of it, then tossed the envelope of letters on top of his clothes and  snapped the case shut.  Taking a deep breath, he carried the case to the front door, where he picked up his coat, stepped outside, and locked the door behind him. Once outside, with his suitcase in hand, he felt his courage getting stronger. He had made the first step now, and the momentum would carry him through.

He was a father. And it was worth risking everything to be able to know and love his son. ~

 

~~~

Tickle Me Tuesday – Week 8 — ‘Me and My TV’

CARTOON MAN LYING DOWN LAUGHING 2Join the fun. Make us laugh — or chuckle — or at least snicker. Give us your idea of what turns over the ‘tickle-box.’  It can be a picture, a story, a poem, a joke, a song, anything you’re in the mood for — as long as it’s fit for general audiences.

Just post on your own site and come over here and paste the link into the “Comments” box below.

Here’s mine:BOY & TVMom says I watch too much TV.
And if I do not change,
My body will quite chubby be,
And I’ll have sluggish brains.

She tells me that I need to read,
Study science and math,
And that I need to exercise,
Run up and down the path.

I’d like to make her smile at me
To please her I don’t mind.
But day and night my programs air;
I just have no free time!

But I have promised I will do
My best – some day – she’ll see.
As soon as I have finished with
My programs on TV.

Lucy’s Wish

My great-niece, Lucy, is 3 years old. She has two older brothers, but she has been wishing, this whole past year, for a little sister. When I was with the family recently, her mother told me how serious she is and how fervent is her wishing.
After I returned home, I was still thinking about little Lucy and her wish — and about how happy my sister and I were to have each other. We got along admirably together from the time we were mere toddlers, and have shared each others joys and sorrows all of our adult lives. I am so blessed to have her and cannot imagine my life without a sister.
So as my heart went out to Lucy, I began to write this poem. I gave her a copy, of course, but I thought I’d share it here as — well — just as a way of celebrating sisterhood.

FRILLY VINE - FLIPPED

LUCY IN CROWN - ARCH

Photo by Brenda Calvert

 

LUCY’S WISH

I wish I had a sister who could play with me.
But all I have are brothers; there are two.
A sister, though, would understand me perfectly,
And want to do the things I like to do.

We’d surely play with dollies and have them to tea,
And make believe we’re mommies, she and I.
We’d clean our house and cook our food so pleasantly,
And after working sit down with a sigh.

We’d both pretend that we were princesses so fair,
And dress up in high heels and crowns we’d wear,
And dream that someday we’d each meet a darling prince,
And, with them, happiness forever share.

I love my two big brothers; I’m so proud of them,
And to them with my love I’ll always cling.
But, oh, to have a sister of my very own —
Why, that would be an almost perfect thing!

FRILLY VINE - FLIPPED

~~~

Anticipation Is For Grownups

 

GIFT_3I recently visited one of my great-nephews to help celebrate his birthday. He turned 7 this week, with all the excitement and expectation that involves. I knew before going that I would barely get into the room before he eagerly grabbed the bag with his gift and started digging into it. And I certainly didn’t mind. His excitement and pleasure was my reason for giving the gift. But the experience caused me to do some deeper thinking and even some soul searching.

There were three items in the gift bag, and he didn’t stop to look at that fact or to take a few seconds wondering at what could be inside the wrapping. There was no sense of anticipation as he drew the items out. He simply grabbed each one and whipped the paper off with one movement. I was heartily glad he enjoyed the experience, but I found myself thinking, “Now, if that had been me, I would have stopped and looked at the packaging and considered the shapes. I would have taken my time handling each one and carefully taking off the paper. I would not have done those things because I really cared about the paper, but because all of that prelude activity was part of my anticipation – and my enjoyment of the anticipation itself.

I have a great friend who, every time I give him a wrapped or otherwise enclosed gift, holds it for a few moments, seeming to weigh it in his hands, turning it over and looking carefully at its shape. Almost always, he smells it – especially if it comes in a sack. He closes his eyes, opens the sack, and sniffs. In fact, it is so much his habit to do so that I accuse him of receiving a gift more like a dog does than a human. Dogs always sniff something new before they connect with it completely, do they not? Of course, in my friend’s defense, I have to say that he often receives food gifts, and that action is not quite so unusual in those instances. However, he generally goes through that procedure with virtually any gift. He savors the anticipation of the gift almost as much as the item itself.

So what’s my point here? Well, as I was sitting there watching my nephew, I thought, “What a shame there is no time devoted to the anticipation, which would heighten the enjoyment.” But then the thought hit me: “He doesn’t need anticipation in order to enjoy this gift to its fullest. For him, life is so present, so immediate, that he focuses all of his enjoyment on that split-second experience of grabbing hold of the gift and whipping off the paper to reveal the prize.”

And that’s when the full realization hit home: Anticipation is for grownups. It’s only after we have lived a great number of years that we start to focus on the anticipation of good things to come. Sometimes, we even drag out the receiving of them for as long as possible, talking about how lovely the wrapping is or how heavy the item feels, peeling away the wrapping so slowly that the giver even complains that we are taking too long. I have a few friends who do this to point that I get completely frustrated with them.

But as that realization grew in my mind, I then began to ask myself why it is that we grownups seem to enjoy the anticipation so much. Is it because we’ve learned that it expands and extends and multiplies our pleasure? Or is it because, subconsciously, we have become aware that time seems to go past more quickly now, and good things just don’t seem to last as long. So we do our best to extend the time of enjoyment as much as possible – before we have to return to just ordinary life again.

I didn’t come up with an answer that day. Nor have I settled on one even now. Perhaps both of those reasons play a part in the answer. But as I think back over the way I see children enjoying almost any kind of fun, compared to the way we adults do so, I have to admit that anticipation really does seem to be a grownup thing. And that has led me to think about something else as well. I’m thinking that the next time I receive a gift or have the opportunity for a special fun experience, I may try – very hard – to grab hold of it and whip off the wrapping, without any prelude or consideration of trying to make it last longer. I just might find that I’ll enjoy it even more if I receive it as a little child.

~

 

 

~~~

 

Story Challenge: A Cow, A Barber, & a Child

 

Okay, blogging buddies, I’m in the mood for another story challenge this week. Write me a story (or a poem if you prefer) that includes the following:

 

 

COW & MILK

A COW

 

BARBER CARTOON - BLUE

A BARBER

`

BOY FOR RESCUE - SHORTER YELLOW
A CHILD OR CHILDREN
(Boys or girls, any age)

 

Word limit: 500 words or less.

Remember that my blog is “G” Rated.

Post your story on your own blog and hop over here and put the link to it in the “Comments” section of this post. Also make any comments you like as well.

Time limit: Challenge will run through next Saturday, May 10, 2014, and will close at 12:00 midnight that night (U.S. Central Daylight Time). But, of course, if you want to post a story any time after the 10th, that’s fine.

Feel free to use any of these pictures with your own story if you’d like to do so.

Happy Writing!

 

 

~

 

~

Friday Fictioneers – 5/17/13 — ‘Albert’s Wife’

aqueduct-sarah-ann-hallPhoto by Sarah Hall

 

Albert’s Wife

The estate still boasted its artistic iron fence and stone posts, although the grasses were encroaching. Trevor smiled. How the old lady would chastise that gardener.

Feisty, courageous old girl! Living alone in the home Albert had built her. Married here on a Sunday, by Tuesday, she’d kissed her soldier husband goodbye.

Next year, a scruffy teen hired to paint the fence, Trevor had won her heart – and she’d won his. He’d been there (the son she’d never have) to hold her hand as she’d read the black-edged telegram and cried. She’d refused to live in mourning, but seventy years she never loved but one man.

Today, at last, she was with Albert.

~~~

To join in and write your own 100-word story inspired by this picture, visit Rochelle’s site for the ‘how-to’ details.

 

Friday Fictioneers – 4/19/13 — ‘The Gift’

Friday Fictioneers, that 100-word story challenge, has rolled around again. This week the prompt comes from a lovely photo by Janet Webb. To join the fun visit Rochelle Wiseoff-Fields’ site here:
http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/

Wasp nest

The Gift

Each morning 8-year-old Aran, his mahogany skin warmed by the sun, trekked to the shore to play with his stash of sea-polished rocks. Eagerly, he collected new ones, always anticipating some special treasure deposited on this tiny island by his best friend, the ocean.

Today he’d found that gift. Coral? It didn’t feel like coral. Scores of tiny hollows inside formed a pattern and offered a mystery.

“What is it, Poppy?” he’d asked Grandfather, who’d traveled to distant lands.

“A wasps’ nest,” was the reply, and then, because the island had no wasps, Grandfather explained.

Aran held the delicate structure close. Here it was! His anticipated treasure from another world! His connection with people and adventures that were beyond his ocean! He would treasure this gift … keep it safe … and some day ….

~

Mom Memories

Well, here we are: Mommy and Me (age 2) at my first cooking lesson.

I’m joking, of course, but on Mother’s Day I like to enjoy the blessing of having had a mom who was such a precious and unique woman. My mother taught me much more than cooking. (Although she was certainly one of the world’s best — most probably because everything she cooked was conceived by and chocked full of LOVE.)  But, more importantly, she taught me how to be kind, loving, gracious, generous, and hospitable — to all people.  I hope I learned those lessons well enough to make her as proud of me as I have always been of her.  In my adult years, she was my closest and most trusted friend, and although she has been gone many years, I still miss her very much indeed.