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Head down, collar up, feet moving, thumbs texting. Distracted. Absently reaching for the handle, I pulled a door open and entered.

“Please, silence your cell phone.” I looked up, startled. “Turn it off.” Smiling, her face was transformed into love in a hundred soft creases.

I complied. She gestured toward another set of doors and bowed her head slightly. My feet moved forward before my mind caught up. I pushed through the heavy, silent doors and as they closed behind me, I exhaled slowly. Here, hidden in this noisy, busy city, was a haven of peace. The Japanese garden.


photo prompt courtesy of C.E. Ayr

Friday Fictioneers: The rules: 100 words, no more, inspired by the weekly photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for the weekly prompt and to C.E. Ayr for the photo.

An InLinkz Link-up

The Caretaker


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The Caretaker

Stored, sometimes forgotten, memories. Stuff. People squirreling away the overflow of abundant lives, enduring the expense for months or years, to hold onto the past or in anticipation of the future.

A child stores an elderly parents effects to deal with later. A couple marries and duplicate belongings end up in a five by ten unit. The downtrodden cache their meager treasures ‘for just a few months,’ fruitlessly hoping to eventually recover their collections.

I watch over all these items. I am here to ensure that your possessions are as you left them. In case you return to reclaim them.


Photo courtesy of Amy Reese

Friday Fictioneers: The rules: 100 words, no more, inspired by the weekly photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for the weekly prompt and to Amy Reese for the photo.

Disney Memories: Haunted Mansion 1970


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Disney Memories: Haunted Mansion – March 1970

Here’s how I remember it: For my fifth birthday, my parents took me and my three year old brother to Disneyland. (This was my first trip to the Magic Kingdom). My memories of that day are bookmarked in my head by two glossy black and white photographs with crinkly edges adhered to a black construction paper page in a long lost photo album that had a deep red cover. In one photo, taken on the Dumbo the Flying Elephant Ride, is my mother and my little brother in the elephant directly behind me and my dad. In the other photo, taken by my mother, is me and my dad in our elephant.

Another memory returned to me the other night while I was remembering being on Tom Sawyer Island: my first trip through the Haunted Mansion.

This is what the front of the Haunted Mansion looked like, circa 1970. A huge thank you to Dave (“Major Pepperidge”), author of Gorillas Don’t Blog, who graciously allowed me to use his personal Haunted Mansion photo.


Haunted Mansion, Disneyland, circa 1970 – photo courtesy of Dave, Gorillas Don’t Blog

Imagine if you will, a five year old girl entering a large, dark foyer, holding her father’s hand. A wall in the foyer opens and a very solemn host ushers a large group of people from the dark foyer into a even darker octagonal-shaped room with four portraits hanging way up high. Keep in mind that the little girl stands about buttocks high to many of the other guests in the tightly packed room. (I think my dad might have picked me up – I had my hands over my eyes for most of this ride.) Then the wall closes again and that deep, resonating voice tells it’s tale while the walls stretch to reveal some unusual portraits: “And consider this dismaying observation: this chamber has no windows and no doors. Which offers you this chilling challenge: to find a way out! [laughter] Of course, there’s always my way.” And with that, lighting cracks, thunder rumbles, and the ceiling reveals a body hanging from a noose.

That was IT for me – I was completely terrified. And we hadn’t even gotten out of the elevator yet. Then we walked down that long, dark hall leading us to our fate, me taking in the paintings that changed with the lightening. The busts at the end of that hall following us with their eyes as we walked by. We climbed into the aptly named Doom Buggy and rode the ride, me and my dad, and I held my hands over my eyes, with my head against my dad’s chest, for most of it. (I do remembering peeking a FEW times. Once down the hall of doors, but a glimpse of the breathing door stopped that nonsense. But curiosity got the best of me a few more times:  Another peek while passing through Madame Leota’s seance. I’m also pretty sure I peeked during the dining room scene – Hamilton and Burr in a duel, I remember that. And once during the graveyard scene: a ghoul popped up from behind a headstone and that was the end of peeking for me!)

I’ve ridden that ride at least a hundred or so times since that first time, and I love it every time. It’s never the same – I see things I missed during the last ride, and I really enjoy the holiday overlays for Halloween and Christmas. But that first time, whew! Still surprised we got out alive.

That’s all for now. Until later, remember to look for the magic!




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photo courtesy of Roger Bultot

When I was an adolescent, I could sense extraterrestrials visiting Earth. I would hear a high-pitched tone in my right ear – always the right ear. The first time I heard it, I felt compelled to look to the skies and saw, far off, a shining, oblong shape. It occurred during recess, while playing with my classmates. I believed it was a spacecraft. I shared this information with my playmates. After that, I kept that information to myself. The visits continued to occur for a few years, eventually stopped. I grew up, out grew, forgot. Yesterday, I heard the ringing again.


I hope you enjoyed reading this, as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks to Rochelle for posting the photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers. Special thanks to Roger Bultot for his thought provoking photograph.

Education: Test Anxiety


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Education: Test Anxiety

Depression. Irritability. Sadness. Stomach pain. Headache.

I am getting better at identifying my symptoms of test anxiety. Knowing why I’m feeling these symptoms helps a little.

The most difficult part of taking college classes -for me – is the tests. I fear failure. Because good enough isn’t. It’s a core value I was taught – “That’s pretty good. I think you can do better.” (This lesson is most likely based in good, encouraging intention; personal interpretation is subjective though) And, really, who wants to bring home less than an A?

I imagine some of the people who suffer from this get over test anxiety as they mature – after all, it’s only a test. And I have become a very good student. My gpa is a consistent 4.0. I pass all my quizzes and exams with high marks. I study and I do well.

Still, those symptoms returned over the weekend – I have two quizzes scheduled this week. American Government and Liberal Math.

Recognizing that I still have fear of failure and knowing I do well on quizzes, doesn’t eliminate the somewhat Pavlovian response to these necessary academic measuring sticks.

And maybe my fear lies in knowing these are the last two classes I need to finish my AA degree in Liberal Arts. Not passing – which, based on my track record, is highly unlikely – means I’ll need to take these classes again in the Spring. Not a big deal (unless you think the symptoms indicate otherwise) but also not part of the plan. My plan. To put this type of education in the rear view for now.

Time may be the only answer – keep taking tests until this response is almost nil. If you’d like to respond, I’m open to anything you’ve actually tried that helped you.

The Squash Garden Patio Project


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The Squash Garden Patio Project


June 21, 2016: Future Patio cordoned off

I had this grand plan over the summer – I wanted a patio area, so we could entertain. We live in a small house of maybe 900 square feet on a large lot of around 6,000 square feet – all the comforts without any extra interior space. Literally, the office, the living room, the dining room and the den are all in one room – about 16 feet by 18 feet. Having folks over for dinner or a visit is a bit of a challenge. So, the Grand Plan: cordon off some outside space, have a patio installed, build a cover and voila – Space to entertain!


June 21, 2016: Facing North. The Grand Patio Plan (15 feet by 17 feet)

But time was against it – another project held higher priority – and it didn’t get done. And because I had watered the area in anticipation of obtaining bids and going forward with that installation, some kind of squash volunteered to take up space.


August 7, 2016: Volunteers and Recruits

Seeing an alternative opportunity, my husband decided to supplement the volunteers with some recruits – having started seedlings without borders – and planted some corn, some pumpkins, some butternut squash, some acorn squash, some spaghetti squash, some zucchini and some yellow squash, and some watermelon. A seemingly innocent plan for some winter vegetables…


August 19, 2016: Volunteers are the larger plants, Recruits are smaller but catching up, Corn rises in the North.


September 9, 2016: Baby Pumpkin, one of many

Then we went out of town for 10 days during which time my son came by to water the plants so they wouldn’t die off. We came home to a small field of green leaves.

The garden just keeps growing…


September 13, 2o16: There are many immature fruit under all that leaf cover: butternut, acorn, spaghetti and pumpkin. Watermelon volunteer sports leaves in the foreground. (Can you spot the baby watermelon?)

This is the squash garden, with corn accompaniment, today:


September 18, 2016: Around 9:00 am this morning… and still it grows.

I’m not clear on how we are going to get the squash out of the garden – I picked two zucchini last night, found after a ten-minute search. Horticulture Professor Husband says that the winter squash plants die off when the fruit is ready, so that will make those easier to find, if the plants don’t cover the entire property first. We can walk behind. The watermelon and the zucchini squash … that’s a different story.

I am truly grateful that we have a place to grow such an abundance of food, that the soil is happy and healthy, and that the plants seem bountiful. I hope you enjoyed this snapshot of the fall garden. Patio project on hold until next Spring.

Disneyland Memories: Tom Sawyer Island


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Disneyland Memories: Tom Sawyer’s Island

Last night, as I was falling asleep a memory returned. My mind was going over things I’d been thinking about for a couple of days now as my mind does right before I drop off. Thoughts like trying to remember my first trip to Disneyland, and any subsequent visits during my childhood. Earlier this month I even asked each of my offspring about their memories of their first times at Disneyland (more on that in another post). And as I started to drift into sleep a very distinct memory popped into my head.

Tom Sawyer Island (until now I thought it was Tom Sawyer’s Island, but the photo of the brochure below cleared that up), when I was maybe 11 or 12. In 1975 my dad married a woman who had a couple of sons. I have a brother of my own. That gave my dad and his new wife four children. Have you ever taken four children to Disneyland for the day? I have. It’s pricey.


Anyway, the memory is of me and my three brothers on Tom Sawyer Island. I remember going through Injun Joe’s Cave, bouncing across the barrel bridge, climbing up and down the inside and outside of Castle Rick, walking and running around the entire island pretending we were on our very own island. And my favorite part of that adventure, besides cruising over to the island on the raft, was Fort Wilderness (see a link below for visual reference and history).

Fort Wilderness history courtesy of Yesterland.

Fort Wilderness was practically a working fort with turrets and pretend guns and telescopes for spotting the enemy. There were diorama rooms of life back in the 1800s in a Fort. It was the coolest place I’d ever been, playing on Tom Sawyer Island. At home, my brother’s and I played a lot of pretend – they were all younger than me by a little – but we never had this much ‘playground’ to fuel the imagination.

That’s what I love the most about Disneyland – the inspiration and the stirring of the imagination. Imagining life in a small town while walking down Main Street, racing cars in Autopia like an adult, shrinking to the size of an atom, and taking a rocket to Mars or a shuttle out into space with a droid. Imagining. Walt did such a great job of bringing out the kid in a kid, and reminding adults of what it was like to have an imagination. I am grateful to him for creating a park where an adult can be a kid.

I also recall (I was around 11 tears old, so keep that in mind) that my dad was not too happy that he’d brought us to Disneyland (at some expense) and all we wanted to do was play on that island until the Park closed. I think we played on that island for two hours and left reluctantly to visit the other exciting attractions Walt and the Imagineers had come up with for our enjoyment and further inspiration.

I also wish I had photos from this trip and others like it from my youth. Alas, I do not. I will make sure I always take photos of my visits, of the surrounding landscape that exists until it does not, for history – mine and yours.

That’s all for now. Until later, remember to look for the magic!

Self-sustaining, mostly


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Self-sustaining, mostly


From left to right: Zucchini and Cube of Butter squash, beefsteak tomatoes, and red and yellow onions.

Gardening. More specifically, vegetable gardening. This is one of my passions:

preparing a plot of earth, pulling weeds, amending soil with compost and fertilizer, planting vegetable seeds, watering the bare earth, waiting for small green shoots to appear, watching those little spouts grow and flower and bear fruit, harvesting the bounty for consumption and doing this over and over again.

I haven’t gotten tired of doing this for over 25 years.

There is a peace that I find when I’m in the garden, tending to the plants, removing the plants I didn’t plant (weeds, we call those), watching a small flower bloom, waiting for the small fruit to become what it becomes.

I do love to garden, to dig in the warm, rich soil, to check on the progress of my efforts.

I enjoy the sense of control when I enter a garden overgrown with weeds, and the satisfaction of removing the weeds, leaving only the plants I wish to nurture. From chaos to harmony, just pulling the plants I didn’t want there in the first place. I also enjoy the quiet time spent pulling those weeds, achieving a semi-meditative state. Methodical, ordered, control.

Gardening brings me closer to nature, to my inner self.