Can We Go Outside?


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Light flooded the living room, a bright sunny day worthy of playing outside.

“Mama? Can we go outside?”

The answer was always the same. No. Not today. Not yesterday. Not the day before yesterday. Not tomorrow, though maybe in a few days.

Janice didn’t know what that meant. Days were wrapped with light mixed with dark, but she rarely saw the dark. She lived for the light. She lived to go out into the light, to feel the warmth on her skin, to breath in the leaves and trees, tilt her head in the direction of bird song and search through the branches for a glimpse of blue or red feathers.

She knew better to argue, so she turned around and looked for the cat. The cat always found the warmest spot in the 5th floor flat. If even a sliver of sun came through, the cat found it with her heat-seeking radar. Yes, there he was, a silver tabby, curled in a ball in the largest swath of sun. She laid down on the floor next to the cat, pulling him in close for a snug, then stared up into the ceiling.

Did mama ever have to spend weeks on end locked in the house waiting for illness to pass by their door? She’d asked and was told about war and hiding under desks to protect themselves from bombs falling out of the sky, but never hiding from something no one could see that was killing people.

What would she remember from this time when she was mama’s age, she wondered? What would she tell her child?

The first few days, she’d worried about invisible monsters breaking down the door and hurting the family. Now, she understood better and now worried about other things, school, friends, other family members, and her teachers. She didn’t worry much as they stayed connected all the time on the net, but she missed the hugs and arm punches, the teasing that she and her friends would do, but now they could only tease each other on the vid and not see or touch each other.

She understood. It’s just the way it was.



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A friend is there whether you need them or not
To see you through the good and bad,
Hold hands, offer hugs, lend kindness,
Or flood your soul with cheer and goodness.

Friends tell you the good things about yourself
and the bad, whether or not you want to hear it.
They share your sorrow and your laughter
And ask the hard questions you’d rather avoid.

I need a friend who makes me be me all the time,
Seeing through my many masks, excuses, and hyperbole
to the warts and all, and still likes what they see
even after days, months, or even years of silence.

A true friend makes people feel good about who they are
and what they are, regardless of ever-changing definitions.
To share the joys and challenges of an entangled life,
footsteps woven on the path shared.

I’ve Reached the Age


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I guess I’ve reached THAT age.

“I just HAVE to introduce you to my mother. The two of you would have so much in common.”

I never thought I’d live long enough to hear those words. Let’s be honest. I never thought I’d hear those words, ever. Yet, there they are, laying between us. Clumps of sounds that tell the story of two life times, two women who’ve reached an age of commonality, at least according to one of their children, accompanied by the death knell of a bell.

When I was 12, people thought I was twenty. When I was twenty, people thought I was forty. When I was forty, most people thought I was thirty. At fifty, they think I’m forty. I was living older than myself, now I’m younger than my self. I’m messing around with the space time continuum, but hearing someone tell me I have so much in common with their mother, I wonder how old the mother is, and when did I reach an age when I would have something in common with them?

I guess it’s today.

Today I am old enough to be friends with someone’s mother. What the hell does that mean?

Does it mean I’m old? Old is often defined by the individual’s age perspective. If the person is 12 and their mother is in her twenties, I should feel complemented. If the person is sixty, and their mother is eighty, I feel insulted.

Or should I? Maybe it isn’t about age. Maybe it’s about knowledge, a shared experience and expertise?

Nah. I’ve reached the age that others consider me mother material. I’ve reached a number that connects me with the mothers around the world, a uniting bond. Mother’s unite!

Let’s hope I don’t hear the words, “I’d really like to introduce you to my great-grandmother. You’d have so much in common.”

Not sure my ego could handle that one.

Then again, at that age, I probably wouldn’t care.

Inspired by Man on Mountain Top

He ignored the pain in his fingers and toes. Even through shoes, his feet were bruised, battered, and aching. He kept his eyes on the long sought and hard won view before him, avoiding the bloody fingers, nails torn and broken, dirt filling every crevice.

He held his knees close to his body, another body part to avoid looking at. He could feel the skin worn, tender bruises, and the chill of the mountain air teasing the gashes left behind by the rough basalt he’d scaled.

Was the view worth it? The wide wilderness of rock and pine before him reaching out and down for kilometers? Was the view of the sun glancing through the last of the late morning clouds to scatter shadows across the mountains enough to justify the body-battering?

Is it the view that made me climb up here, torturing bone and muscle? Or the journey itself, he wondered? Was it the goal or the journey to the goal? Why do mountain climbers climb? Adventure stories from childhood focused on the attempt, the struggle to attain, the courage to keep going, the self-discipline to see it through to the top. Few stories told much of the beauty after the attainment of the peak.

So it isn’t the goal that matters. He pulled his knees closer as he sat on the top of the rock he’d just scaled. It’s the climbing, the testing of the body, mind, and spirit to endure. It was the courage to face the pain as well as the view.

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve scaled the peak.

He stood up and pulled the camera from his pocket. Two quick snaps of the digital camera, flash going off automatically, would preseve the moment.

“John, get down from there.” He turned from the spectacular view. “We’re going to be late for the plane.”

Six feet below him stood his mother, a worn and wiry woman determined to spend her retirement years dragging him from one dream vacation experience to another, spending her inheritance and the pension money she’d saved up for years as a telephone company employee.

He sat down and slid, fell, his way down the rock, tearing a back pocket of his shorts.

“Oh, no. Look at you! We’ll have to clean you up before you get in the car. It’s a rental, you know.” She opened the blue Camry and fetched some wet wipes she always carried “in case of emergencies” in her purse.

“Looks like you had quite an adventure. Was it worth it?”

He didn’t say anything, just bit his lip as she attacked the scrapped knees with the stinging cloth.

It was worth it.

Out Spot Out


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I rolled the vacuum over the spot on the carpet. It didn’t go away

“That sucks,” I punned to myself, rolling the machine back over the spot.

I’ve always had problems with expectations, especially when it comes to machines, the tools developed to make our lives easier. I swear they don’t make life easier, they make life harder. We have to work harder to make them work better.

When I make a shopping list, I head to my computer and it takes 10 minutes to make a note to myself, a note that updates to the cell phone. Unfortunately, I often head to the store, then realize I left my phone at home. If I’d justĀ  picked up a pen and paper, the note would be written in seconds, stuffed it into my wallet, ready to go. But no. Instead I waste my time trying to make my life easier to use by putting my to do list on my phone. I should have made a note to remember my cell phone.

The thing on the carpet was still there.

How many times have I given someone or something an extra chance, a chance to change? Too many. I give everything a second chance. I learned the adage years ago to try everything twice. I might like it the second time. If not, I’ll know exactly why.

Sure, I’ve gotten burned, taken advantage of, and abused for such generosity. I think of it as my Starfleet training infused with Anne Frank philosophy. Give everyone a chance to do good as there is good in everyone, no matter how evil. Draw a line in the sand, but reinforce it with cement. Leniency only goes so far, then stand your ground hovering over your laurels.

Gees, I hate cliches and platitudes.

I shove the vacuum forward and back with no luck. It’s time to stand my ground over this spot. I really don’t want to get on my knees. I don’t have time for this. I’m getting angrier by the second, pissed off at this damn spot

I have so little patience for people and things. In spite of my lack of patience, my whole life has been a lesson in patience.

I used to joke that by 30, with all of my life experiences, good and bad, I’d learned patience. Then I fell in love and got married. I learned more patience. Patience was my new best friend. Then we hit the road full-time in an RV. I learned that patience meant more than dealing with people. It meant dealing with weather, mechanical problems, and other uncooperative people on the road. After two years of non-stop travel, dealing with every challenge to the best of my ability. I was done learning patience. I’d learned patience. I’d completed my degree in patience.

Then we settled for a short time in the southeastern United States to earn an advanced degree in patience, dealing with people who think that “don’t know about that” is the answer to everything whether or not they have the answer. All questions must be answered on the second or third try while they scope you out and get a feel for who and what you are, and what you really want from them. “An answer!” would be my mental scream to no avail.

Then we moved to Israel.

Israelis, Hebrew, religious mythology, suicide bombers, terrorism, Iraq, screwed up US Presidents, politics, war, peace, negotiations, third-world mentality in a first-world country, I earned a PhD in patience. “I’m done! I’m baked! I got patience. Universe, can we move onto something new? I’m bored with patience. I’m ready for a new lesson.”

The universe laughed.

We moved back to the deep south of the United States, back to slow moving minds with their own rules and regulations about social life, honoring a practice filled with rituals of exclusion more than inclusion. We arrived in time for an unusually early hurricane season and did the whole alphabet, starting with B and ending with W. Trust me, K wasn’t much fun in the middle. Mother nature became our terrorist, destroying all recognizable landmarks and lifestyles by grinding and soaking everything to a pulp. “Hey, Universe! I got this patience gig! Really? I’m good on patience. Done. Really done. Well done. Burnt. Can I stop learning patience in this lifetime?”

No luck. Now in the Pacific Northwest, I’m back in the land of cooler temperatures, calmer minds, peaceful green walks, no terrorism, save for the occasional earthquake, flood, and daily traffic jams. This is a land of peace, where patience is a part of daily life. A different kind of patience. An enjoyable patience. People are easy here, few agendas, going with the flow, whatever happens happens, and they are all understanding, kind, patience in their own right.

You would think I would be more relaxed.

Cursing whatever stained my carpet, my knees hurt as I kneel down and run my hand along the carpet to find an edge to the yellow thing stuck to the carpet – and find nothing.

I look down at my hand, moving closer. Aging brings with it a new form of patience, the patience of the body slowing down, muscles tightening up, joints not cooperating fully, and eyes seeing less than they did even five years ago

What? I stop my sweeping hand over the spot and the spot is now on the back of my hand. As my eyes focus on this new level through trifocal glasses, I see that the spot I’ve been scrubbing off my carpet is sunlight.

I follow the glowing trail of light to a small hole in the curtain through which the pull cord weaves. I didn’t even know there was sunshine outside. It was foggy when I woke up and my head had been down in house-cleaning mode.

I turned my hand over. The sunlight danced in the palm of my hand. I rocked it back and forth, watching the light flicker around, imagining its warmth, radiance, a tiny spot of radiation tingling my skin.

How far did this light travel before it reached my hand? The sun is about 150km (93M miles) from me. Astronomers call this an astronomical unit, the distance light travels between the sun and planet earth, at a speed that brings the light here in eight and a half minutes, literally at the speed of light.

Little spot, what did you see as you traveled here? Did you see the stars? Is that why you sparkle in my hand? Did you bring some star dust with you to greet me? Did you meet any interesting creatures along the way? Do you have some fun stories to tell about your journey?

What does patience mean to particles of light that travel from their home to my hand in less than ten minutes? Do they have a different perspective on time passing? Do those ten minutes feel like a year, or the same as ten minutes feels to me as I sit on the floor holding sunlight in my hand?

I blink and my hand is just my hand again. The sun has shifted around the planet. The spot is now hiding under the chair.

My knees creak as I stand up and switch on the vacuum, but there is now a smile on my face. I’ve learned something new.

I’ve sucked sunshine today.

Husband Writes


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With our writer’s group meeting on a holiday, I was able to bring my husband, Brent, to the meeting. The following are his poetic works based upon the prompt. The prompt was to write in the style of the provided examples by William Carlos Williams, specifically the poem called “The Red Wheelbarrow”, emphasis put upon the description of the item to tell its story.

Here are Brent VanFossen’s examples.

So much depends

a woman’s
soft touch,

shared passions,
and love

on a warm
September evening.

So much depends

a late
summer rain

falling gently

on white
thistle down.

So much depends

a bull elk’s

Antler rattling

next year’s



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The following is another prompt from my writers group. The prompt was bullies. Please remember that unless otherwise clarified, all these stories are fiction.

I was raised by bullies.

One sliced you to shreds with the barbed blade of her tongue.

Another used charisma to convert violence into a forgivable action.

Another used kindness to stab you in the back even when your back was not turned.

Another came out of the hatch evil determined to bring misery to all in his path.

What do you do when you are surrounded by those determined that their way is the highway, determined to prove they are right no matter how wrong their righteousness.

Stay out of their way.

Stay safe.

Stay alive.

Sit back and watch the show.

The Story of How a Blog Was Born


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The following was based upon a prompt in my writers group. The prompt was to write out a step-by-step instructions as if you were spelling it out for a complete novice or someone who did not speak your native language. Then take those instructions and tell a story with them. Mine, of course, was on how to create a blog on

Her fingers trembled on the keys. I can do this, she thought, chewing her lip.

Site name. Name of site.

The pain of the moment struck her chest, pressing the air out with a wheeze. Curling around the pain, each click of the keyboard a Morse code of dread, she typed the name.

The “Get a Blog” blue button pulsed a beat then drifted across the screen. She smeared her left hand across her watering eyes and stabbed the button with the mouse in her right.

“An email is flying across the web to your email inbox. Please check it to verify your site registration.”

The gentle, lighthearted tone helped her breathe a little easier, An unexpected kindness. She switched to the email tab in her web browser and reloaded the page, her new-found patience serving her well.

There is was. Confirmation of the moment.

A couple more clicks and the Settings Screen filled the dark room with brilliant white light.

It asked her to commit. To make this real.

She wasn’t ready. It wasn’t time. Too soon. Too late.

It had to be done.

It was done.

With courage she never knew before, strength she never thought possible, energy that rose from depths impossible to comprehend six months ago, six months in the past when she could wake up, heart filled with the joy at the fresh start of a new day, eager to plunge into new tasks, embrace new ideas, meet old friends and new strangers, hugs, laughter, meals shared, events toasted…six months later every moment is dark, filled with agony. A shared suffering but suffering all the same…

Fingers like sausages stuffed with lead she typed:

“Alexander Smith, educator, husband, father, kind heart. 1948 – 2013”

and clicked Enter.

David Tennant Regenerates into Matt Smith on Doctor Who

I’m a Doctor Who fan. I’ve watched all the episodes from number one with Hartley in the very beginning of the Doctor Who run, through to the reboot currently with Matt Smith taking on the role of the Doctor quite well.

Therefore, I’m in a good position to decide which Doctor is my favorite Doctor so far among all of them having not grown up with a particular Doctor like so many. For me, David Tennant is my personal favorite. He brought to the role all the comedy, wit, wisdom, and angst that defines all of the Doctors. He combined all of them and none of them beautifully. His passion for every role he takes on is a work of art, but his Doctor Who portrayal was truly brilliant.

The most difficult to watch and beautifully acted moment for me was during his last scene as the Doctor, saying his famous words that echoed what we were all thinking, “I don’t want to go.” Perfect passing on to the next Doctor.

We all have television shows and movies that we never want to end. While sequels fuel us, rarely are sequels as good as the original, but we want the characters and their stories to go on and on in spite of quality.

Doctor Who continues to get better, a rare thing in television and modern entertainment. This year is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who’s beginning, even though there was a good gap in the series. Fans, truly passionate fans of all types, even those in the movie and television industry, kept the spirit and demand for Doctor Who alive.

There are books, audio books, podcasts, radio shows, comics, all types of Doctor Who productions feeding the fandom of Whovians around the world in multiple languages.

I’m just one of the crowd loving the story of a mad doctor wandering the universe in a time machine shaped like a London police box of old.


Going Home


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This is a story based upon my writers group prompt to write about going home. The story is a form of fictionalized truth.

“Life happens while you are making other plans.”

Sometimes that old cliche nags at me, especially when it comes to the holidays.

Holidays sneak up on me. I don’t know why. They happen the same time every year. You’d think the habit of the holidays would somehow incorporate itself into my schedule better. Alas, it’s three weeks before Christmas and I’ve not done a thing in preparation. There won’t be any going home for the holidays this year.

Home. That mystical word. Home and family. A mixed metaphor in my life. Home is a word that has haunted me from my earliest memories.

As a child, holidays were spent with relatives and friends, homes where I felt special and included, a part of something, a feeling I never had in my own home. Home was a place of divisiveness, arguments, unjust accusations, punishments that drove us into our various corners. Alone time was cherished, sought, welcomed. Togetherness brought frustration, anxiety, and the desire to flee.

As an adult, having two homes is a sign of wealth. In childhood, it is a sign of divorce, separation of state and state, each one with their own rules. Divorcing as began my trip through puberty, home meant confusion, uncertainty, mines, and theirs. There was the place where I spent my school days and a second place where I spent my weekends and summers. Step parents with children enlarged the family. I became theirs and ours rather than mine.

Feeling as if I had no home, no roots, I turned to travel, moving easily from place to place. It was just a bed. A temporary roof. Keep the suitcase packed, just in case.

Newly married, new husband and I took the art of living on the road to a new level, traversing North America and the world for years on end. We’d rest for a day or two, maybe a month, occasionally longer. Then on to the next job, next adventure.

The question of home arose on a daily basis.

“Where are you from?” is a common question in the traveling world.

For me, it became a question of “where did you grow up,” “where did you spent the majority of your life,” “where did you just come from,” and other between-the-lines answers sought. What was the answer they really wanted. What did they really want to know about us and our “home” that would help them define us in their community and world.

When falling in love together, my husband had a hard time first saying the words “I love you.” Understanding deeply my sense of lost self, he would hold me close and say “Home is where Lorelle is.”

Over the years his words sank in. Home is where Lorelle is. HOME is where Lorelle is. Home is WHERE Lorelle IS.

He taught me that home is where you make it, so I’m going home to me now.