Category Archives: Stories

The Building of a Legend

The Building of a Legend

When there’s an event that attracts attention
worthy of notice and worthy of mention,
no matter how silly or boring or gory,
it’s a regional custom to concoct a story
that exceeds pure fact and creates a tale
with additional details added without fail
that with the recital of each new re-teller
becomes much more luminous, sadder or sweller
than at the last telling and so to the credit
of the last person who heard and resaid it,
it reflects the memory and education,
the sense of humor and imagination
of each one who passes the story along
as anecdote, joke or novel or song.
Thus are legends made of the simplest act
by using our fancy to swell out pure fact.



Today’s prompt words are credit, regional, luminous, exceed and story.Image by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash.

Memoirs of a Frequent Flier: Story Starter 16

Above the clouds.

Memoirs of a Frequent Flier

It was in the spring of 2000 when I first realized that I could fly. It had been coming on by degrees—first in dreams, where I would hold my arms straight out, crucifixion style, and then pump them straight up and down until I rose from the ground to float through the air, feet hanging straight down below me, swimming through the air propelled by those pumping arms.

In the dreams, no one ever noticed me.  Not the other kids playing “New Orleans” in my yard below me, not my dad out mowing the grass or my mom hanging clothes on the line. Birds flew by in their usual manner without changing their course, whizzing by so close to my ears that I became convinced that I was invisible to all nature–man and beast.

I was never stung by mosquitos when I was in flying mode, and for some reason, even during that long summer when I was ten years old and flying every day, it never rained when I was flying. A few times the first raindrop fell just as my feet came into contact with the ground and I had to shift my mind to remember how to move my legs to propel myself and avoid getting soaked to the skin by one of those July rainstorms so dreaded by farmers trying to get their  summer wheat crop combined before the heavy rain, or even worse, hail.

Hail! What would happen if it were to hail while I was flying? Would I be able to soar above the hail—to watch it fall to the earth below me–a wall of white water stones creating themselves just inches below my toes and falling straight down away from me? Could I see them forming? Turning to ice where seconds before there had been nothing, each one of millions a little miracle in itself?

I don’t remember how old I was when I stopped flying. All I can remember is one day remembering that I used to fly, long before, and wondering if the whole experience of that long summer when I was ten was just memories stitched together from dreams. Like so many other things, I can remember clearly when they began but have no memory of when they stopped. Perhaps they haven’t. Perhaps only the memory of this talent unique to me has faded, daily, as soon as my feet touch earth.

But I wonder, in these days of drones so easily and cheaply purchased on the internet, if flight such as mine has become an impossibility. With more people looking up at the sky, what is my likelihood of avoiding being noticed and if I were noticed, what effect would it have on my life? All the news agencies would call. Then Oprah and perhaps even the president. Perhaps Donald Trump would call wanting to make me into a reality show. Perhaps I’d be encouraged to launch a blog penned from above. How high up does wifi go, I wonder, and would I have to attach a wifi antenna to a beanie on my head and post the blog orally as both hands would be necessary for my flight, to prevent my plummeting to earth?

No, better that this miracle of flight be left behind with other marks of my adolescence: pimples and wet dreams and all those insecurities of coming of age. Perhaps they were what prompted my need to raise myself above it all. Now that I am well past being fully matured and in fact have embarked on that course that will eventually result in my sinking back into that earth I once rose above, I can make do with pleasures of that earth—chocolate and fresh ripe figs and a 5 o’clock Martini enough to raise me above the norm. And that truth that once I was unique is enough to assure that I still am—here in my Barclay Lounger with my New Yorker Magazine, my feet up on the step stool and commands that I can give through air simply by a push of the finger via remote control. Checking into Oprah to see who she has found to fill my place this week. Keeping my secret. Knowing how thrilled she would have been. Rating my potential story against theirs. And in my own mind, I know that I would rise above them all.


For Fandango’s Story Starter 16 prompt. This week’s Story Starter teaser from Fandango is: “It was in the spring of 2010 when I first realized that I could…” We are to start our story with that line. Sorry, Fandango, but I had to change the year to 2000 as my narrator has to be a bit older. 

Beach Rendezvous

Beach Rendezvous

Your andante whistle matches your advance—measured and slow, as though you know where you are going, but are in no hurry to get there. You’ve grown weird and amphibious—spending equal time in water and on land, a surfboard your new mount, your cowboy hat metamorphosed into a billed cap worn backwards.

You have achieved some notoriety due to that prowess in water that you never found on dry land. You, who crashed cars into traffic cones and bicycles into fences, weave effortlessly from wave to wave, then ride their crests. You nosh on kale and granola, leaving McDonald’s in the past. Who would ever guess that this cowboy farmer would start surfing from scratch at the age of thirty, thereby achieving a fame he’d never earned in the rodeo?

You scratch your forehead, freeing a long blond lock from its imprisonment, pull off your cap and take a playful swap at my shoulder as we draw close enough to share a hug, a kiss.  Classmates our whole lives from elementary school through college, we have somehow slipped into different generations—you the proverbial beach boy surfer, me the middle-aged mommy herding kids away from sand crabs and beached stingrays, you gliding between them on water, already a fixture in this cool beach town–your whole life composed of what for me is an occasional weekend visit lugging picnic basket, beach towels, blanket, umbrella and three children aged four to ten.

“Daddy!” the kids scream, running toward us streaming seawater from their heels. One by one, you grab them under their arms, spinning them in wild circles, then, with the smallest one on your shoulders and grasping the hands of the others on either side, you make off for the water to reacquaint them with their aquatic side. The picture I took that day shows four kids playing in the water. I had given birth to three of them. You gave birth to the fourth.

Prompt words today are andante,amphibious, scratch, achieving, nosh and weird.



Water swirled around the old tree, oozing into the spaces between its trunk and loose bark  with borborygmous sucking sounds, ripping it bare. She clung to a giant limb just inches above the current. It was an old limb of the type they used to call a widowmaker back when they were an actual pair, lying in the shade on an old blanket pulled from the trunk of his car. She had been lithe and slim. He had been handsome and as wily as a fox. “Zorro,” she had called him, that first long afternoon when he had led her off into the forest for the first time.

Now, for what would probably be her last visit, she had a different companion—the hurricane named Esmerelda, raising the skirt of her water inch by inch as she came to join her. She could hear the cracking of the limb, bit by bit, as it registered the effect of her weight. Where was he? In some snug hotel room, storeys above the swirling water, with a less lethal female companion, no doubt. Only she was here, caught in the memory of them, clinging to that limb that was one syllable short of being appropriately named.

Prompt words today are widowmaker, wily, borborygmous, actual and pair.

New Intruder

This is a piece i wrote 19 years ago that I found when I was sorting through old files. A few months after Lulu’s arrival, Annie decided to join us as well, and although both of the kittens   have now joined Bear in that great scratching post in the sky, I enjoyed reading this story after so many years, so perhaps you will, too.

Click on photos to enlarge and read captions.

New Intruder

My closet rattles. One door is slightly ajar. Something is being batted about on the floor inside. A paw is visible now and then when it comes close to the bottom edge of the door. Once a nose with white whiskers peeks out, then shoots back in like a jack-in-the-box.

My tiny new kitten was a street waif. She arrived complete with sticky streaks on her underside and chin. She arrived with fleas and one sore eye–– the green one. The other eye is blue. There is a perfect fish outlined in white on a charcoal colored patch on her back. Her very long ears are a pale peach color and her head is big on an extremely thin body. Already after 4 days, she is starting to acquire a small pot belly from regular meals. The vet says she is four weeks old, but her body is so tiny and weightless that she seems more like a large mouse than a cat. I fear stepping on her and in fact have, but when I did, she made not a peep and her bones seemed to spring back like a sponge.

Her long eye whiskers were singed back almost to hair level in an unfortunate encounter with the gas burners on my stove. She is so fast that she leaped up on the counter before I could stop her. In similar fashion, she had walked across the bubble wrap jacuzzi cover that floated on the top of the water, so light that she made it from one side to the other without sinking. Another time, she leaped from the back of a chair to the top of the high metal display case, where her claws made little ingress into the metal and where for a few seconds she clung from the edge like a mountain climber before falling to the tile floor five feet below. Five minutes later, her head peeked up from the opening at the top of the lampshade of the lamp on the telephone table. This house is her new world, and she is the Magellan of cats.

Two weeks before, I had found Bear, my cat of 15 years, floating lifeless in my pool. It was horrible. I had seen the cat born and his burial seemed a reversal of the birth process. We buried him in the garden wrapped in his favorite silk sari from the end of my bed, and with the mouse-shaped doorstop he loved to bat around the house. I buried with him my intention not to have any more pets for a while. None could replace him.

Then, two weeks later, a mouse had streaked across the street in front of me and entered the store I was about to enter. Upon closer examination, the streak had been a tiny kitten that had leaped into a huge display basket of scarves, and it hadn’t taken too much encouragement by the shop owner to get me to promise to stop back by before we left that night to see if the kitten had been claimed by an owner or adopted by someone more determined to have a cat than I was.

Every animal I’d ever had in my life had come to me by accident or by its own volition, so when this placeless cat appeared, I had by habit accepted the karma and now she sleeps each night on my chest or on the pillow by my right ear. I am slightly allergic to her, and although she doesn’t flinch when I cough and sneeze, when I get up for a drink of water, she miaows. This word perfectly describes the sound she makes. She is loud. The sound of her echoes through my high-ceilinged brick and stucco house. “ Miaow, miaow, miaow, miaow,” but somehow it seems to belong here––to fill out the silence that might otherwise only be filled by the sounds of the television or the computer or the stereo––sounds that do not breathe or jump up to the arm of my chair or respond to a reassuring pat or the sound of the can opener. With the appearance of this newest little intruder, once again, my house has become a home.

Broken Hill and Other Adventures

This is a square from a memory box that I published photos of in June of this year. I promised to tell the story of any square people asked me about, and then welched on my promise, so here I am atoning, albeit a few months too late. If you want to see the entire memory box, go HERE, then return to this page to hear the story of this box.

The tin of quinine pills were in the box when my sister gave it to me, but she may have foreseen my trip through the Panama Canal forty–some years later, as quinine is a medication for malaria, which we had to be inoculated against–or perhaps she intuited all the times I would have to drink quinine water to rid myself of the arm and leg cramps that have frequently attacked me at night for my entire life. Come to think of it, I haven’t had so many attacks in the past year after I stopped drinking Diet Coke and using aspartame. If I drink even one Coke, however, I am plagued by cramps again—sometimes as many as four times a night and sometimes both arms and both legs at once. The water I drink instead of the Coke probably helps, as well.

As for the pins, the “Peace on Earth” pin was my grandma’s–one of the “prizes” she gave me whenever I went to visit her. Above it is my pledge pin for XO, my college sorority and below it is my Tasbureau pin from a trip to Tasmania. My friend and I left the bus tour part way through and rented a car and saw the rest of the country alone. All of the other members of the tour group were much older and although they were nice, they cramped our style a bit. They didn’t seem to hold it against us, though, for one of the men later came to visit my parents in Arizona! By then I was traveling through Southeast Asia or living in Africa. After a slow start growing up in a tiny town in South Dakota, I had an exciting life in my twenties and thirties.

When I lived in Australia in the early seventies, three friends and I drove from Sydney to Broken Hill to Adelaide in my tiny Morris mini car. In Australia, there were very strict rules about no women being allowed in the men’s bar of the Leagues Clubs. There was a lounge area women could go into, but when my friends and I went there for a meal, we were spied by the guys in the bar who invited us into the men’s bar and made us honorary members of the Broken Hill Leagues Cub. I still have the pin to prove it right here in my memory box in this square.

The material in the back was a large tablecloth I purchased in India and gave to my sister to make a robe for me. Instead, she made something for herself out of it and used a few pieces of the remnants to back up a few squares in this box. Sisters! I have to forgive her, though, because if it hadn’t been for her, we would have had no photos of our early life–including a number of the photos in this memory box.

Again, if you want to see the entire memory box, go HERE.

Memories Decoded

IMG_9013This square actually contains two stories, both of which have been requested. I’ll tell the story of the other one tomorrow.

When I published the photo of my memory box, I promised to tell the story of any square in it that someone requested I tell. Two people have requested I tell the story of this one, so I’ll tell it first. If you’ve requested other stories, they will be coming up in the near future, one a day.

The year was 1966 and Christmas was fast approaching. That year, my sophomore year at the University of Wyoming, my folks had let me bring to college the little red Ford Galaxie that my dad traded a combine, two horses and a bit of cash for my junior year in high school. The way my sister and I learned my dad was buying us a car was that he told us to get in his pickup, we were going to White River. What for? A surprise. When we got almost to White River, 23 miles away, he pulled off the road into a lot filled with a number of machines, cars and farm equipment and pulled up to a little red Galaxie, told us to get out of the car and tossed us the keys. My sister and I soon got the message that this was our car. I was 16 and had just gotten my driver’s license. My sister Patti was 20. We got in the car, stared at the stick shift and revealed to my dad that neither of us knew how to drive a stick shift. Well, he guessed we’d learn on the way home, he said, and took off in his pickup. He was right, we learned on the way home.

The thing about stories is that every story has so many stories attached to it and so it is with this one. At any rate, with no further digressions. Since I was one of the few girls in the sorority house who had a car and since I was always up for adventure, shortly before Thanksgiving, I decided I would take friends up to the Snowy Mountains to cut a Christmas tree for the Chi Omega house where I lived. With a bit of squeezing, the back seat could accommodate four; the front seat, with its gear stick on the floor, could accommodate two. So, six of us piled into my car in the early afternoon, sure that we could get to the Snowy Range, cut a tree and be back by our ten-o’clock curfew that night. Included in the group were three of my best friends since my freshman year and two new pledges, both from California.

Our troubles didn’t actually start until we had arrived in the mountains. Because the dirt road was very narrow and steep, there was really no place to pull off, so all I could do was to pull as far over to the side as possible and hope no traffic came along. We knew the chances were remote, as it was a timbering road meant for the trucks that went back and forth to the lumber camp at the top of the mountain, the road being too small and rough for regular traffic. We set off scouting out a tree and soon found one the right size and proceeded to chop it down, not too skillfully, I might add. It had started to snow as we set out from the car but we were so intent on finding and chopping down the tree that we didn’t pay much attention to the fact that the snow was falling more and more heavily.

It was as we were dragging the tree back to the car that we heard the loud beeping of a horn, which in the muffled air of what was now a snow storm sounded more like a fog horn than a car horn. As the other 5 dealt with the tree, I ran out to the road to discover a huge lumber truck pulled up behind the car. My friends wrestled the tree into the trunk and I tied the lid down with the top few feet of the tree sticking out behind the trunk. We piled into the car and since I could not get past the truck to head back down the mountain, I was forced to drive further up the mountain—up the deep ruts of the frozen dirt road that were quickly filling up with snow, the lumber truck close on my heels, now and then sounding its horn if I slowed down too much.

As the snowfall got heavier and heavier, I found it harder and harder to see, the windshield wipers barely keeping up with the accumulating slush at their corners as well as the newly fallen snow. It seemed like an eternity as we drove farther and farther up the mountain. On one side was a sheer drop-off. On the other side, a steep mountain bank and trees. The mood was tense in the car as we searched each side for a possible place where we could turn around to go back down the mountain. As I type this, I can again feel the tension—a feeling of fullness in my chest—a panicked sensation of something gathering and swelling in my throat. It was panic, a growing fear that there was no way we were going to get back down that road, even if we were able to reach the lumber camp.

“I think we’re going to be spending the night at the lumber camp,” I remember thinking—and perhaps saying. The one good thing about our situation was that truck behind us, which could help us if we got stuck and which could also lead us to shelter in the lumber camp. But when we finally did get to the top of the mountain and a dirt space large enough to turn the car around, whoever was driving the lumber truck just parked the rig, jumped out and headed down through the trees. Not knowing where he was going or how to find the camp, we turned the car around and headed back down the mountain.

By then it was so dark and snowing so hard that the only way we could see to stay on the road was to open all the windows and hang our heads out, shining flashlights out of each window to see where the edge of the road was. We drove slowly for what seemed like hours, the tires sliding on the icy road until finally, the car went into a skid and started to go over the side of road. Knowing that it was a sheer drop off on the side we were skidding toward, I pumped the brakes, then as it seemed sure we were going to plunge off the side, I jammed down on the brakes and pulled the emergency brake as well. As the car went over the edge, however, the banked snow and frozen dirt stopped us. With the two passenger-side wheels hanging out into the air and the rear driver’s side wheel barely making contact, the only thing keeping us from going down the side of the cliff was the wheel and undercarriage under me. I knew it was necessary to get as much weight as possible out of the other side of the car, and yelled at the passengers in the back seat to slide as far over to my side as possible and to jump out of the back window–the side nearest the road. Then I told the person in front with me to climb into the back seat and to exit by the same means. As she did, I opened the glove box and emptied its contents into my purse. A package of chewing gum, five packets of ketchup, an extra flashlight, matches, a lighter–I don’t remember what else–but I knew we might have to survive for awhile on whatever was there. When all of my friends were out of the car, I opened my door and jumped out into the snow, fearing that without my weight the car would go on over the side.

It didn’t, but we knew it was not safe to stay in the car as it could go over at any minute. But what to do? We were all dressed warmly except for one girl from California, who had no socks and no gloves. I had earlier taken off mine and given them to her when they had gotten out of the car to push at one point. We were not equipped to survive in a mountain snowstorm, however, and I knew we needed to find shelter. In spite of the fact that we had noticed no cabins on our way up the mountain, finding one would be our only hope of survival. We had, as I recall, four flashlights, and since it seemed important to stay in contact with the car, I devised a system whereby I would stand as far from the car as I could so I could still see the car and shine a flashlight in front of me. The others would walk together shining one of the three remaining flashlights in front of them, fanning the area around them looking for shelter. They would walk as far as they could so long as they could still see my flashlight. When they had walked the furthest possible still seeing my light, one person would stand and turn on her flashlight, fanning the surroundings as they had before. If they saw nothing, that person would again shine the flashlight in a forward direction into the woods parallel to the road and the other three would walk forward together, fanning their flashlights to look for a cabin for so long as they could see the light being held by the second person. When they got to the furthest spot that they could see her light, one more would stop and shine her light for the remaining two. In this way, it would always be possible to find their way back to the car. And luckily, when they were almost to the furthest place where they could still make out the third light, they discovered a cabin, tightly boarded up for the winter. They blinked their flashlight twice, the girl above them turned and blinked her light at the one closest to me, who turned and blinked her flashlight at me and I blinked my light twice to let them know I had seen them, then grabbed the axe, thinking we might need to chop some firewood, and headed down the mountain toward lights number two, three and four!

Little did I know that I’d be using the ax to chop down the door to the cabin, which was nailed tightly shut, as were all the window shutters—a precaution against bears! Luckily we hadn’t considered the possibility of bears. The cabin was as cold as the outside air, however, and we knew we needed to get a fire started as soon as possible. The prospect of cutting down a tree and getting wet wood to burn did not appeal to us. Luckily, there were wooden chairs which we chopped up—but what to use to start the fire? Finally, we stripped insulation from the walls to stuff under the pieces of the chair and lit a fire in the cookstove. What we had not taken into account, however, was that the owners had put a coffee can over the smokestack before closing up for the winter to keep it free of critters and snow, so the cabin quickly filled with smoke.

As a result, we could just spend a few minutes in the cabin before going outside to breathe the clear air, and this was how we spent our time for I know not how many hours, taking turns standing outside to watch for any possible light coming up the road. Could there possibly be another lumber truck? Who else would be out on a night like this in such a remote spot? It was past midnight when one of the girls came running into the cabin to say she had seen a light. We all ran out, waving our flashlights as a pair of headlights made its way up the mountain. As the rangers’ four wheel drive vehicle pulled up on the road above us, we all went running up the hill, screaming, waving our arms as three men piled out of their vehicle.

Long story short, they were park rangers, who winched our car out from its precarious position, put out the fire in the cabin and wedged the door shut, then loaded three of us into the park rangers’ vehicle and the other four into my car, insisting that one of them would drive my car. We made our way down the mountain to the entrance of the park, at which point we were met by highway patrol cars. Those of us in the park rangers’ vehicle were transferred to a highway patrol car. “I can drive my car, now,” I protested, but a highway patrolman slid into the driver’s seat and we proceeded to the Laramie city limits.

At that point, we were transferred to a city police car for a brief ride to the University of Wyoming campus, where the campus cops assumed responsibility for us, driving us up to our sorority house where every light in the house was blazing and every girl in the house was waiting inside the entrance to the house, along with our house mother. By then it was 3 in the morning and they had been waiting up for us all night. When we hadn’t shown up for curfew, friends had admitted that we’d gone up to the Snowies to cut down a Christmas tree. Our house mother had called the dean, who had called the police who had called park rangers. Search parties had been sent out both from the University of Wyoming and the park headquarters. It had been 1 in the morning when they had received word we’d been found, but by then the story had been picked up by A.P. and U.P.I. and broadcast nationwide.

The next morning, we did not go to class, but slept in. We’d be seeing the Dean of Women in the early afternoon to face the music. When I woke up the next morning, the phones had already starting ringing—the press, wanting to hear the story first hand. Unfortunately, the person who answered the phone calls was Kathy Mulcare, the California girl who was the one I’d loaned my gloves and socks and boots to. Were we warmly dressed? The reported asked, “Yes, everyone but Judy Dykstra from Murdo, South Dakota. She was in low-cut shoes with no gloves!” And that was how the story went out nationwide.

When I called my parents the next morning, wondering how I was going to break the news, I said, “Hi, Mom. Guess what?” She said, “You mean how you were stranded in the mountains while cutting a Christmas tree last night?” My heart sank. It turns out that they had been up all night listening to the radio, knowing only that six girls from the U. of Wyoming were missing in the mountains after going up to cut a Christmas tree. No names had been given, but my mother said, “Ben, I just know one of them is Judy!” My dad said “Don’t be ridiculous. There are thousands of girls in the University–what are the odds that one would be Judy?” But he, too, waited up until they learned they had been found. No names, though, until I had been the one to tell them that alas, it was their daughter.

Yes, we were campused for the next semester. In addition, once the names had been announced, my dad came in for a lot of ribbing from his coffee buddies in Mack’s Cafe. “Can’t you afford to buy that daughter of yours boots and socks and gloves, Ben?” they teased. My mother advised that I not come home for Thanksgiving that year. “If you do, your Dad is going to take your car away.” And that is how I came to spend Thanksgiving in Thermopolis, Wyoming, with two of my friends who had shared the great Christmas Tree Adventure, and yes, there was another big adventure awaiting us in Thermopolis. But that is a story for another time and place and this is the story for that particular square in my memory box. Why the elephant and dog? That, too, is another story entirely.

Postscript: The strange thing was, no one ever asked us to pay for the damage to the cabin, and, although the news story ended with the quote “the little Christmas tree they had risked so much to get was left behind in the mountain blizzard,” in fact, they didn’t confiscate it. Nor did they ask if we had a permit to cut it, which we didn’t.

Although the original post was made in June, and I started this post then, I evidently got distracted. Forgottenman just found it in my drafts. So here it is, three months late. You can see the entire memory box HERE.


Family trip to Idaho, 1950


I’m putting the prompt words first today as they include two obscure words and giving definitions to save you the problem of looking them up if, like me, you don’t already know the meanings. Prompt words today are fernweh (a German word that means the opposite of homesickness–a craving for travel or longing for distant places you have not yet visited), facetious, blanket, vellicate (to pluck, twitch, nip, pinch or cause to twitch), and complex.


I miss it, that feeling of fernweh–a craving for travel or a longing for distant places not yet visited that is one of my very earliest memories. I remember standing by the highway that passed through our town just two blocks south of the house I grew up in and longing to be that child with her nose pressed against the window looking back at me as the car she was in whizzed past. Who were they, these people in the cars that passed in strings through our little town each summer? “They are tourists” my mother told me, and I imagined tourists to be perpetual travelers with no homes of their own. What did I want to be when I grew up? “A tourist,” I would reply. Everyone laughed at what they considered to be a facetious reply. They had no idea that I meant exactly that.

Although I had been on short trips before–at the age of three, to visit relatives in Idaho, at the age of 8, to accompany my parents when they drove my sister to college in Iowa, other one-day trips to drive my sisters to summer camp, when I was 12, my family finally took the long vacation I always begged them to take. They left it up to me to decide where we were going, and I declared that I wanted us to start out and then take turns deciding which way to go. When we came to the first crossroads, I said “Left!” At the next crossroads it was my sister’s turn, then my mother’s and finally my father’s for two glorious weeks. We all agreed that it was a wonderful vacation. Because he never knew where we were going, my father couldn’t press us more quickly toward our destination than we may have chosen to go and so we stopped numerous times along the way and spent as long in each spot as we wished to. We saw cousins we had heard about but never met and visited old neighbors in Minnesota, just “dropping in,” but always being urged to spend the night, and doing so.

We wound up on the shores of Lake Superior–which to me looked like one of the oceans I had always dreamed of visiting. I remember sneaking out at night to collect water and sand from the lake in an empty prescription container—the rush of the waves dashing against the rocks, the blanket of stars overhead, that smell of freedom I had been longing to experience my entire life. It would be eight years more before I actually saw an ocean and at that time I would spend four months on it, sailing around the world. My parents thought it would solve my fernweh, but little did they know. The minute I graduated from college, I was off again.. to Australia, and then to parts more wild for four long years before finally returning home.

Life is complex and I have found that I am rarely able to predict what will happen next. That lust for change that has driven me my whole life to leave friends behind to explore foreign countries, to leave houses and careers I’ve spent years building to take off for the great unknown—that need to be the stranger and to face situations I have been in no way prepared for—has taken me to all but one of the seven continents. It is as though those yearnings for strangeness and change were errant hairs that needed to be vellicated and travel was the only way in which to pluck them.

So how does a person like me deal with the forced isolation that the coronavirus has foisted upon us all? Strangely enough, it has alleviated a guilt that has been creeping up on me for the past few years—a strange feeling of contentment regarding where I am and what I am doing. I am taking an intense pleasure in my own back yard, instigating changes in my house and garden that I’ve been too busy to attend to in my past years of going here and there. I am sorting through pictures of past travel, reading disks from long-dead computers that chronicle the adventures of long ago. I am starting to dread trips away from home, to enjoy days where I see no one, go nowhere. In taking off for longer trips inwards, I am perhaps growing into myself, seeking satisfaction there, perhaps because it is a richer place to be because of a lifetime of venturing out.

Heading out into the Timor Sea on a WWII tank barge, 1973

The Awakening

The Awakening

She woke to a whiff of Darjeeling—that gentle caress to her nostrils that told her that Lorenzo had awakened early today. She could feel the press of his body on his side of the bed as he lay the tray there, ready for her when she was ready for it. He would not disrupt her, knowing all too well how she loved her Saturday mornings away from the press of the paparazzi and the demands of the fashion world.

On any other day, it wouldn’t be feasible to sleep in, but in addition to being a weekend, this was her birthday. She fell again into a sleep where there was no good reason for fantasy.  Her own life was fabulous enough to be replicated in dreams. Both children grown and off to their own fairytale lives: Francesca in Crete with her minor royalty husband, Sebastian a skillful artist flying from one country to the next to fulfill the long list of commissions that stretched out to infinity.

All-in-all, she herself had lived out all her childhood fantasies and only now had it become feasible to start to delegate tasks—grooming some of her most talented protégés to take over the designing and running of her couturier salon. Time to lie back and take it easy and let Lorenzo pamper her in all the ways he knew so well.

She stretched luxuriously, reaching her arm up to hit against the silk of her padded headboard, but strangely, hit instead against wood. Curious.  She opened her eyes. Light leaked into the room from between bent venetian blinds. Where was she? On the edge of the bed, a slightly paunchy old man with a day’s stubble on his cheeks sat studying the center foldout of a magazine he held at arm’s length. As she stirred, he looked up from it, his eyes widening in surprise. “Essie?”

She looked down at her own wrinkled hands, extending from the sleeve of a cheap pair of pajamas. She stroked her cheeks, dry and wrinkled , and wiped a small line of drool from the corner of her mouth. “Where am I?” Her voice felt as flaky and dry as her skin, her throat almost choking with the words.

“Yer here in Elm Gap,” he said, “where we’ve always been. Essie, do you remember what happened, yer slipping on the ice and falling sideways against the water tank?  Do you remember anythin’, Essie, of the twenty years since then?”

“Twenty years? I’ve been asleep for twenty years? What of Lorenzo and Francesca and Sebastian? Where are they?”

“They’re right here, Ma, waiting for you as usual,” a straw-haired woman said from the corner of the room. She, like her father, was rounded and nondescript—a thirtyish childlike frumpy creature much like the girl Essie had been. She was patting a tall pile of romance novels. “I been reading them to you for twenty years, Ma. You woke up just in time, cuz Ladonna LaRue, their author, just died and there won’t be any more.  But now you won’t be needing her life any more, because you’ve returned to your own. We always knew you’d return to us, Ma. This is your lucky day. And ours.


The prompt words today were skill, disrupt, whiff and feasible. Matt’s prompt was to create a simulated world.  Here are the links:
For Daily Inkling’s Simulation Theory.

First Offense


First Offense

He took a cursory look at the damage. Just a paint scratch, really—one that could probably be removed from his back bumper with a little turpentine. Taking a look at the vehicle that had rear-ended him at the street light, he doubted that it had insurance, so it was a good thing that he’d already decided that there was no need to file a claim or to persecute the offender. It would make a good yarn once he got to the office and a perfect excuse for his being late. 

“Better stay on the sidewalk after this,” he yelled at the back of the toddler pedaling his toy car quickly away from the scene of the crime, his little friend in the toy patrol car pedaling down the sidewalk after him in pursuit, red light blinking, siren wailing as they rounded the corner.


The prompts for today are yarn, being, cursory, and persecute. persecute