Make yourself at home. Put your feet up. Grab your favorite beverage and prepare to enjoy the reads.



It's a Wrap!

Forgotten candy in pocket
slightly sticky with age.

The coat?
I haven't worn in months.
Car stalled,
highway dark,
waiting for triple A.


It nudges.
It worms it's way
into my thoughts.
Fingers fondle wrapper,
squishy, but firm.

Oh, what the hell!
Still tastes good.

Elizabeth Munroz



There are certain voices that, when you hear them, evoke a response deep in your psyche. They cannot be ignored. I had carelessly uploaded a mix of new music to my IPOD, and while taking my walk yesterday, Harry Belafonte  began singing Shenandoah. (Who's Harry Belafonte you may ask?)

Shenandoah plucks my heartstrings, a piece of music about a river valley,  brings up long lost thoughts and emotions for me. It wasn't that I remembered a bad time. No, it brought up a poignant memory. Childhood walked beside me singing her heart out to Shenandoah and Harry Belafonte. Nostalgia breathed it's way up my nose and tickled like dust. What a strange sensation! But, that is what brought the tears and I almost lost it right there on the sidewalk in my own neighborhood.

I stood there a moment to collect myself. My childhood instinct said to run! But, there is no way to run back home. My childhood home no longer exists.

Should I turn it off? Change it to another selection? Or suffer? With the flood of joy enveloping me while my legs melted into jelly, I decided to suffer. After all, there is healing in music. Belafonte's Mr. Bojangles, and Matilda soon gave me a more grounded and upbeat experience. I soon made it home uplifted in spirit.

I have a theory. Sometimes life gives you what you think is more than you can handle. But, try running away from it, and it just follows you. Hide from it and it will find you. What we are supposed to face, will face us off, unless we will ourselves to turn to it, embrace it and heal ourselves in the process.

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you,
Away, you rolling river
Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Away, I'm bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, I love your daughter,
Away, you rolling river
Oh, Shenandoah, I love your daughter
Away, I'm bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, I'm bound to leave you,
Away, you rolling river
Oh, Shenandoah, I'm bound to leave you
Away, I'm bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you,
Away, you rolling river
Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you
Away, I'm bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

On the Book Shelf

If I were a book, I'd be sitting pretty on the bookstore shelf. As people walked by, I'd wish they would stop long enough to get a glimpse of me. Out of all the other books competing for attention, once they see my intriguing title, they'll pull me off the shelf and judge me by my cover. It's a  fine cover, dazzling the eye and enchanting the mind. As they flip through my pages, I would feel all warm and fluttery. Take me! Buy me!

I would gasp in delight if I were taken home and placed in a prominent location. Yes, over there. Right on top of that stack of books by the bed. I'll be waiting in anticipation to be read.

If I were a book, I wouldn't want to be too heavy. I'd like to be lightweight. I'd be like one of those books the reader can't put down and continues reading while walking from bedroom to kitchen in the morning. I'd get to smell coffee while being propped up against the toaster with a sunbeam enhancing my font.

As a book, if I am a good one, a fast read, one of those books you can't put down, and read all night fighting off sleep, if I am one of those books, then, my life will be over soon, unless I am passed on to another delighted reader. Oh, how wonderful to be held in someone's hands, to have the reader's full attention, to make them laugh, to make them cry, think and ponder, just because I exist!

When the very last page is read and my cover is closed once and for all, I know the excitement of my life will be finished. I suspect I will end up on the third shelf on the right side, next to "The Life of Cleopatra". She might snub her nose at me. But, on the other side "The Zen of Nothingness" might be interesting if I can find the Roshi. I think, without an engaged reader, I would simply fall asleep from boredom, collect dust, perhaps go into a trance never to awaken, and pass into the beyond where all good books go.

I'd like to believe that books reincarnate. When I'm asleep on the shelf never to be touched again, I'd like to imagine I've been published and entered a book store once again, all shiny, with another great title, enticing cover, and pages inviting an eager reader to pick me up and take me home. Perhaps this time around I'll a fascinating historical novel.


Reading at the Bribery

Though I read to my daughter when she was a little girl, once she was in school and knew how to read on her own, I began a systematic method of bribery to get her to spend more time reading.

She was a social butterfly and liked to play with friends or watch TV more than read. I knew there must be a way to get her to explore the joy of books without forcing a resentful child to sit through bedtime with mother reading another boring story. Or so, that was my thought process at the time.

The bribery system worked so much better for both of us. No longer would she have a shortage of cash to expend on her heart's desires, and no longer would I worry that she'd never develop a love of reading.

I bought many books from thrift shops and yard sales. Investing in my child's future reading pleasure was worth it. The easy reads, the ones with the delightful pictures, I wrote "10 cents" on the inside of the cover. If she read the book, I gave her ten cents. The not-so-easy reads, with less pictures were 25 cents. Books without pictures, still within her reading level were 50 cents. And books beyond her reading level had a bribe price of one dollar.

Now, you may think this is a perfect system for my child to get money for doing nothing. But, as a part of our pact, my daughter gave me a synopsis of the story or book she read. In the beginning this habit was developed and not too long after, I realized it wasn't necessary. She did not have to prove to me that she had read any book she said I owed her money for.

One night I awoke to realize a light was on in her room and wondered why. I got up and discovered my little girl sound asleep, book still open in her hands reading the story in her dreams.

Once all the books with the bribe prices on them were gone, my plan succeeded. She became a voracious reader. It was no longer necessary to bribe my child to read. After all, she was choosing her own books. And now, decades later she gives me books and makes recommendations as to what I might find interesting. Now, if only I could get her to give me money for reading them!


Good Day! Sunshine?

Awakening into today

Does today have a label?
A designation selecting it out from any other day?

How does today,
This day,
Differ from any other?

Obviously not the same
Yet, it seems like just another piece of hell
Infusing itself into existence.

Doesn’t begin.
Doesn’t end.
Just another day.

Foggy, cold, empty, gray
Like my pain,
Medicated and Polluted
with poison smog-thoughts

Cyanide tetrachloride images
Twist their bizarre sneering faces.
Racing in fast-forward,
Everchanging clouds of human misery.

Compassionless, tortured souls
Caught there,    
continually escaping

By channeling themselves
Into dimensions
Beyond the realms of time.

Only to reappear again
More grotesque
And pathetically devoid
Of being worth salvaging.

The cat, in heat, yeowls,
and growls again.

Does she see them, too?

Elizabeth Munroz 
March 1991
Photos by E.M.


Terminal Healing

When we come into this world we act out as freely as we want to. As time goes by, we get messages from others that to freely express ourselves is not okay.

Whoever said one must be a "good" (insert name of disease here) patient? What the hell is that anyways? If we be "good" does that mean we get to stay on this planet longer?

I know that there is a LOT of rhetoric about not "being negative" and  "keeping a positive attitude" will help one to have good health and survival. Oh and don't forget organic vegan lifestyle. If you didn't eat it before how is it going to take over and heal you? If you ate it before then why did you get sick? Maybe you like that style of food. But, wouldn't a hot fudge sundae be nice?

If is true that not thinking positive, having a negative attitude, not eating certain food, then I would have been gone a long time ago, because I was a very "bad" cancer patient. My inner child was pissed off. I went against the rules every chance I got, kicking and screaming and swearing at nurses (well, some of them deserved it) and telling people out loud that I had the forbidden "C" word and I was going to die.

Whoa! But those doctors were wrong. Maybe I was close to dying (had two Near Death Experiences), but no one can predict your future, really. Not even a doctor.

I was obsessed and talked about the "D" word to whoever I could get to listen. Most would get out of it, but some were cornered and I probably scared them to death. Those were times when the C word or D word were not discussed. 

I wrote out my will, I don't know how many times. Well, that is, every time I had a recurrence. I really didn't have much to leave, some books, some artwork, some poems, some favorite things. I wrote it out with pencil and paper from a 3 ring notebook; one time leaving my art to my sis, next time to my brother. There was something cathartic in it for me.

Realizing I didn't want a "funeral", just a "wake", a party maybe, where people would play all my favorite music, (wrote that in the will, too) and I went around making people feel uncomfortable when I told them, "Don't buy flowers for me after I am dead, Give them to me now, so I can appreciate them." What a bad girl I was. I can laugh at it now, but I was pretty indignant back then. Why put hundreds, maybe thousands of flowers on a casket that is put into the ground the day they are arranged? It seemed so selfish to me. Love me now, not when I'm dead!

So, when we come into this world and we are cute little babies, we can get pissed off and scream our heads off and let everybody know just how unhappy we are. And we get away with it. We know what we want and when we want it, like, I want that milk, NOW! and yummy that is real good!! and then we are happy for a while, and  then later we are miserable again, or sleepy, or giggly, or sad.... yet free to express whatever we feel. And people love you and care for you and for your feelings.

All I am saying is, I hope you will give yourself the right to feel however you want to feel and don't let anyone else pass judgement on you, and most of all, don't pass judgement on yourself for not being a "good" patient. Be whoever you are!

If it is true that your time on this planet is coming to a close, then why not do what you want? Well, maybe, not use that bludgeon you were thinking of. But, maybe take a stick and beat up the sofa. Listen to the music you want, eat popsicles and pizza or cereal for dinner and pudding for breakfast, wear all mis-matched clothes or draw tattoos on your arm or get out your old Barbies and dress Ken in Drag or your old legos and build castles. And, yes, protect yourself from those who are still stuck in their old ways, if you need to. You have no obligation to keep them in your life. It's your life after all, whatever is left of it, even if it goes long term. Clear out all the things that do not matter to you. It's very freeing to let go.

Take care of that little baby you once were who expressed yourself so freely. And in the meantime grab up all the love you can get for that which is inside you feeling empty, and let it fill your heart until it is overflowing. You will be very surprised as the overflow floods those around you, and whether or not you healed of the disease which might kill you, your heart will be healed with the fullness of love as it grows like a jungle garden. Your love and others intertwined in the leaves healing each other.


Raindrops running down the windowpane

hurrying through pathways

to the thirsty earth.
Green lushness awaiting to grow.
Little grubs
and crawly things
swim to save their insignificant lives.
Who is to say the angels don’t guard them?
When the raindrops stop,
it’s time to breathe and relax again,
and to rebuild burroughs
washed away.

Poem and photos by Elizabeth Munroz


Run Away Toilet

Toilets don't run away from home, though perhaps they wish they could.

If I were a toilet, I certainly would want to be clean. I would face my career with pride.

But, when I got old, my pride would turn into embarrassment and shame. I'm no longer useful. In fact I am a drain on the planet. My invention was to keep the planet clean and safe from pollution. But now, look at all those new fangled toilets on the market, the ones with the water saving ability.

I'm now considered a water hogger, a waster of a precious resource. Soon, I will be replaced. The city where I live has a program, a free low flow toilet for every resident. All they have to do is ask and someone will come out to the house and remove me, and others like me.

Where will we go? Can they chop us up into new material and turn us into park benches? I doubt it. Will we end up in the toilet grieve yard? I understand the name for that is "the dump"! How is that any better for the environment than leaving me where I am?

Oh, I know I have my faults. I didn't flush properly last night. I mean I took care of my complete responsibilities. But, I do have that one leaky part, that if anyone would take the trouble to repair, wouldn't leak anymore.

So, last night I leaked for a good (bad) 12 hours before I was discovered. It's not like I do this on purpose. It' not my fault! If they cannot repair me, the least they can do is hang around until I'm finished refilling the bowl. Then, they would notice the leak. I certainly make enough noise when I leak. At least they could hear it if standing in the bathroom with me. It's their fault for not hanging around and checking up on me, and wiggling my handle to stop the leak!

My time is coming to an end soon. I wish there were some way to prevent it. I wish there would be a new life waiting for me after this. But, like old grandma use to say, "If wishes were fishes, we'd all live in the sea!"

After that long leak of last night, it was the last straw, and now the city has been called. The workers will come in with their brand new low flow toilet and replace me. I will be taken away, I know not where.


A Piddling Amount of Water.

Do you look forward to receiving your utility bills? This month I definitely wanted to see them. So, when my city utility bill arrived I was ecstatic. There it was! I had cut my water consumption in half!!!

Month of December I used 2992 gallons

Month of January I used 1496 gallons

A savings of $11.38

If I do the same for 12 months it will equal $136.56. But, I hope to keep decreasing my water usage further. If I continue to find more reasonable ways to conserve water, I will save more. And maybe, just maybe, make a drop in the bucket of my environmental footprint.

What got me on this track?

Last fall the pipes beneath my cement floor began leaking. Why in the world anyone would put plumbing underneath a cement floor is beyond me!

When walking barefoot, I noticed one part of the kitchen floor was hot compared to other parts. It took a while for anyone to believe me, until the water was seeping up through the edges between the tiles. I didn't know how long the seepage of water had been occurring. It had been at least a month or more that I had been aware of the extra hot floor. It was hot because it was the pipe connected to the hot water heater.

That month my water bill showed I'd used 673,200 gallons!!! That's 450 times the amount of water I used this month. What a waste of water! What a dip into my budget!

It is not only the repair of the leaking pipe that helped cut my water bill. Because of what happened I became very aware of how wasteful I had been regarding water, so I began washing dishes and clothing differently, which I will write about further.


Return to Roots

Swaying in the breeze, the willow cried.
Wind wanting to comfort her,
could not.

Of all the people on the earth,
she loved that child the most.
The one who sat beneath her daily
her back leaning against the bark.

Willow's roots embracing her
like a babe in arms.
Willow's branches swayed,
touching her hair as she played
happily, with her dolls
and now she was going away,
far, far, away to another place.

Ever wonder why willows weep?
Ever wonder why girls cry?

Poem and photograph by Elizabeth Munroz


Poem - Yellow

like the feathers of a Canary.

YELLOW flies high
to the sky
and soars on the dancing winds,
landing in the branches
of sweet smelling trees.

YELLOW sings a song
of joy so beautiful,
you cry with the pleasure of it.

so happy to open my heart,
and let my YELLOW sunbeams
warm the earth with love.

shiny and golden,
sparkly and shimmery,
lemony and tangy,
juicy, luscious YELLOW.

Poem and Digital Art by Elizabeth Munroz


Valentine Gift Turnaround

My mother worked in the Jenss store at Pine Plaza in the lingerie department. She had special training how to measure for brassieres, corsets and girdles.

It was complicated back then.

One Valentine's week, a man came in and bought a beautiful black negligee for his wife. Mom thought that was so romantic. A week later, the woman returned it, saying she wanted the money instead. The store was obliged to accept her return.

I recall how angry Mom was about the return. She felt sorry for the man who cared so much as to embarrass himself by showing up there to ask for help to buy it. Seldom would a man be seen in this private section of the store in those days. She thought the woman was ungrateful and selfish.

Luckily for her that Mom (or Dad?) was able to purchase it for a very reduced amount. She had it for many years. The last time I saw it was about 1983. I think.

It wasn't some sleazy thing. It was more like what you would see Doris Day wearing in a movie. what comes to mind is "Pillow Talk" with Rock Hudson.

A respectable but pretty lacy nightgown underneath and a peignoir over it. It completely went from neck to wrist and floor. I don't think it was made of silk, but some other silky material. Chiffon, maybe. It had a zillion thin pleats. Parts of it had black lace that was backed by another kind of silky fabric to keep the lady wearing it looking demure, but alluring.

I don't think they make such beautiful things like that anymore. Probably because women like me, being practical and wanting to stay warm, would rather wear sweats to bed.

Oh, I know there are still romantics out there with a penchant for Victoria's Secret and maybe something a lot more racy. But I would be surprised if they would find the class and quality this peignor set had.

I found this pic on the internet, but this is way more revealing than the one Mom had. You will notice that under the nightgown part is another layer of fabric to keep you from actually seeing the body. Perhaps a man had to use his imagination rather than leaving nothing to imagination as it is today.

This might do.


It's Mom's Birthday

Today is my mother's birthday. She would have been 89. She led a good life, a hard life. She had such a lovely name, Genevieve.

Her early memories were of living in the lumber camps, where Papa's work was still necessary, a blacksmith when it was a dying art. Her mother worked as cook and washerwoman for the lumber company. Their home, less a home than we can imagine, with a shed-porch where she and her brother slept and woke up to snow on the bed, because of the open slats holding up the roof.

She didn't think it was a hard life then. She just thought that was the way life was.

In a way, she worked for the lumber camp herself, setting the long tables with plates and eating utensils. Putting syrup, molasses, salt and home made jams in the center for the pancakes while her mother cooked up the big pans of bacon and eggs fried in their grease.

Once the lumbering dried out, no more trees to cut, you see. They went to live in the house of a relative who took them in. Papa tried to run his smithy there on that Crooked Creeak Road out "in the sticks", as she called it. Papa died when she was nine, at the beginning of the fall of the stock market and the Depression. It made no difference in their lives. They were already poor.

So she could find work as a housekeeper, mother sent her off to live with her older, married sister.

A year later she was brought home to live with Mother and her new Step-Dad.  Suddenly, the poverty was not so oppressive as her mother continued to work in a diner as a cook. Her pies the prize of the county.

Those are just some facts about my Mom's childhood, shared for no particular reason except today is my mother's birthday and these things have come to mind.

The first photo is my mother as an infant with her mother and aunt, and work horse.

Second photo was taken the year Papa died.

The third photo was taken when Genevieve was 14, when times were better.


Creating a Character

Virginia sat in the car staring out over the cliff, seagulls dipping back and forth on the breeze. She took the rest of her sandwich, broke it into pieces, and began throwing them out the window one piece at a time.

Soon gulls squawked and dive bombed her car. Virginia quickly threw out the rest, and when the fighting started, she raised the window and numbly watched, not able to look away. Her intent to do a kindness, to feed some hungry birds had turned into a violent free-for-all as the bigger birds pecked at the smaller ones taking the food right out of their beaks.

Virginia was sorry she came out here. Sorry to see the gray waves sloppily sloshing the shore. It reminded her so much of herself, gray waves. Not even waves, just gray. Grey like the dreams that didn't make sense. Virginia didn't just feel gray, she was the essence of gray, like the heavy fog beginning to creep toward the cliff. She felt like she could dissipate and seep right into it, like dust swept into air. Except she didn't have the energy to move. Just sit and stare and be nowhere.

Virginia knew she was depressed. She had been here many times before. Despondency her old friend/old foe never went too far away, always lurking in the background of her life somewhere. "That's the way it is when you've got brain chemicals out of whack." she said to the last departing seagull.

The oddest things triggered her mood swings. It wasn't anything that Paul said. He could say the same exact thing ten days ago and it wouldn't pierce her heart, draining all the blood of her self-esteem away. No. It wasn't what Paul said. It was the brain chemicals.


Change Your Name to Avoid Dying

When I originally changed my name to Elizabeth, I chose it because when I looked up the meaning it said Elisheba meant a covenant between God and humanity, I thought that was appropriate because I often felt that I survived chondrosarcoma because of what I believed was a promise from God with me.

I met a woman from Israel when I was facing my seventh bone cancer surgery. I was so discouraged. I had serious concerns about whether I would live or die, which I shared in a counseling group. The woman came up to me after the meeting, and told me that where she comes from there is a belief that if you change your name, the "Angel of Death" cannot find you.

So, after surviving the surgery, that was when I took her words to heart and made the decision to change my name.

I knew what name I wanted. Every time I was pregnant, I always wanted to name my girl babies, Elizabeth. But my husband always said no. Those were the days when women had to do what their husbands said. Back then, I didn't know the underlying meaning of the name, but as years went by, I learned. And so, I became Elizabeth.

So, who knows? What's in a name. Huh?

Psychic Reading, Psychic Writer

One time I visited a Psychic on the request of a friend who thought he was wonderful and I could benefit from a reading.

Since I had recently lost a lot of weight, trying to gain back my self esteem and new thinner identity, I was dressed very nicely in pink, wearing dangly earrings and low heels.

He stared ominously into his crystal ball. I suppose it was to help give him authenticity. But, He totally judged me on appearance. Said I'd had a life of getting whatever I wanted, causing my parents much heartache, had too many desires for nice things. He said I needed to give them all up if I wanted true happiness.

He couldn't have been further from the truth considering all the travails and suffering I had been through in the last ten years before meeting him. I just nodded and smiled politely and wondered why I was going to pay him a large amount of money for this. I couldn't walk out. I didn't have the courage. He went on to tell me some general things, of which didn't come true and now, I don't recall.

He said I had undeveloped psychic powers of my own and he could offer me his classes on a discount rate because of my inborn talents.

"Our time is up! Any questions before you leave?"

I decided to give him one more chance. I tested him, asking if I would ever publish my writing, insinuating a book. I really wasn't working on any book though I wished I was. Keeping a journal was my daily task. He answered, "not for a long long time." So, maybe he was right about that, as I haven't published except in a few newsletters, zines and online. But, no book.


What's in a good book?

Get a good book in my hands and I don't want to be bothered except to make a cup of tea, and a sandwich. You probably already know how to do that with a book in your hands, your eyes feasting on the page, if you enjoy reading as much as I do.

Reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, was an exercise in suspending reality. Not in the sense that it was not factual. Well written fiction can be based on fact, but does not have to be boring. Well written fiction stretches fact into fascination enough to get one's attention and be enchanted.

Bel Canto was enchanting in the same way as the main female character was enchanting. So much so, that every man in the book was in love with her, and there were more than 58 of them from my reckoning. Not counting the terrorists. I was never really sure how many terrorists there were. Though not as many as there were captives. I'm sure. One could say this is a love story of immense proportions, though quite one sided. But, this is not chick lit. There are bad guy revolutionaries with guns in this book too.

You will wonder over and over again, as I did, when the captives will overthrow their captors. But I got to the point where I didn't bother to wonder anymore with the interesting twists and turns this story held. I was captivated myself, and not willing to put the book down and walk away until .

There have been many terrorist plots over the centuries, their stories receded into history. Who doesn't like reading history? Dry history? Dates to memorize? Unpronouncable names of famous dignitaries who changed the course of history? Raise your hand. I didn't think so. Only some guy, with thick glasses, pasty skin and spends all his time in the library? I like history and I don't fit that profile, and I'm sure many others don't, too.
This story plays back in a gentler form, a part of history I've already lived, remembering the early 70's news reports from Central and South America.

Politics and intrigue often go hand in hand with well written history. And history written softly into fiction with Ann Patchett's prose is very easy to swallow, even for those looking for a good story to read who don't care about history.

Do you like Opera? No, not Oprah, the daytime TV show hostess. I mean, Opera, where "it ain't over til the fat lady sings". I don't think in today's culture many people understand Opera, like opera, or even want to hear it. Author, Ann Patchett, didn't know diddly squat about opera. so, why would she plan out a book with a main character who was a world renown opera singer?

Writer's, unless they really know their background information, must do research in order to create a believable story. That is exactly what Ann Patchett did. According to her, she fell in love with opera after her research. You don't have to like opera at all to enjoy this book. It would be the same with any incredible star, whoever that might be. Mick Jagger? Madonna? You name it. The love of the fans is what weaves all the parts of this book together, explaining the characters strengths and weakness for them. It also explains to me, why all the male characters in the book are in love with the opera singer. Did I mention that already?

The one thing I had a problem with in reading Bel Canto was the redundancy. Though she wrote with fresh words, it was still the same old fascination with the opera singer, who isn't, incidentally, the most fascinating character in the book. I found the supporting cast of characters, so to speak, much more interesting. Ann Patchett can write a well rounded character and slip it into the story like a popcycle into a child's mouth, cool, tasty, dripping with sweet and begging for more.

The thread of mystery and suspense is what kept me hooked on Ann Patchett's, Bel Canto. I read this book in a day and a half. It would have been a day, if I hadn't been interrupted. Don't ya hate when that happens?

Reading this book until 2 A.M. was totally enjoyable. I have thanked Bel Canto for the good read. Though she now sits snuggly on my shelf, she wont be there for long. I know soon, I will kiss that book good bye.

It will stay there until it magnetizes itself to someone who simply must read it. The eyes will lightly scan my book shelves. The hand will reach out, being pulled without force. The question will be asked. "What's this one about?" Before I can go into my speil, the book will be clutched and carried out the door.

Will I ever see it again? Probably not. I don't lend books. I give them away. I think we all have to let go sometime. To keep a book on a shelf for 20 years and never having it opened and read but once is my idea of a sin. That's like locking the Vintage Chrysler in the garage and never taking it out into the sunlight so others can feast their eyes. Or keeping the "good" china high up in the cupboard for a "special" occasion that never happens.

Books are published for one purpose only and that is to be read. All the energy and work it takes for an author to produce and give birth to a book, the nicest thing for us to do is to appreciate it. Unlike a movie, we get to imagine the scenes, the tone of voice, the fragrance of the wisteria on the vine, and in this case, the smell and sound of gun casings when they hit the floor.


Shark Boy

Once there was a little boy who watched the movie, "Jaws".  The next summer, his Mommy and Daddy took him to the beach by the ocean. The little boy loved the beach. He collected rocks and seashells. He chased seagulls. Mommy said he could have one if he could catch one. When he got tired of chasing seagulls. He dug in the in the sand, and before you knew it, he was making incredible sand castles. He was very good at it! Others walking along would stop and stare. "Wow!" The boy was very happy.

Then, Daddy rented a small boat. You know? Those yellow ones that you blow up with air. Some people call them life rafts. It was big enough for all three of them. When Daddy put the boat on the shore Mom led the little boy to the boat.

The little boy took one look at the yellow blown up boat, and started to back up. Mom could feel him tugging her hand fiercely. She did not understand. By that time Daddy came and picked him up to carry him to the boat. The little boy screamed and kicked his feet so hard that Daddy had to put him down on the sand. The little boy ran as fast as he could as far away as he could to be away from the boat and the shore.

When Mommy caught up to him, he was sitting on their beach blanket under their beach umbrella. "Don't you want to go for a boat ride?"


"Why not?"

"It's too scarey!"

"But, the water is very smooth and peaceful"

By this time Daddy had pulled the boat to where they were sitting. "What's the matter son?"

The little boy pointed out to sea and said in his biggest voice:


Years later when the little boy was a big boy he and his friends all went to a park with a big pond where everyone enjoyed swimming. The big boy had already learned to swim. He knew there were no sharks in a swimming pool. But, when his friends all began to go into the big pond, he began to feel the same way he did years ago. Even though he knew there probably weren't any sharks in the pond, and he was sure there
weren't any, he had to face his fears. If he told his friends they might laugh at him. So, he very carefully got into the pond and had a wonderful time with his friends, especially when he was peacefully floating and he could feel the little fish swimming around him.

Now, that's not the end of the story, yet.

Years later when the boy had become a man, another little boy watched the movie, "Jaws". This little boy liked the movie so much that he wanted to watch it again and again. Good thing his Mommy and Daddy could buy the DVD.

This little boy collected shark toys, and shark books and drew pictures of sharks. When his Mommy and Daddy took him to the beach he stood on the shore gazing out to sea.

"Are there any sharks out there?"

"No, but they will migrate in a few months. Then they will be out there."

"Then, can we to go out in a boat and see them?"

Tomorrow is the little boy's birthday and the first Mommy is his Grandmother. She made a blog for him with all shark pictures. You can see them here

This is all a true story


Writing with Author, Laura Davis

I stopped by Gateways,  the largest metaphysical bookshop in the country, says the sign outside the door. Really? I didn't know that. Another sign said Writing workshop tonight at seven.

Local author, Laura Davis, was presenting it. How could I possibly NOT attend? I was there on the spot. How could I turn around and go home? I had only dropped by the store to pick up an item for my son. I wont mention what it is here, because he might be reading and it is a surprise gift. So, both of us now have a gift. I have the writing class! I went into the back of the store where chairs had been arranged, and chose my seat. I was early. Laura was there in the front, waiting for her eager participants. We chatted a bit. Laura is well known in the Santa Cruz area. She has written seven books. I forgot to ask her if she has another one on the way.

It was a little rough on my body to sit there for an hour and a half scribbling in my notebook sprawled on my lap, having to change pens because they felt unfamiliar in my hand, and yes, one of them went dry! I am so used to the computer now, I don't even recognize my handwriting. I think I need to buy one of those books for second graders so I can form readable letters again. However, I did not let that deter me. Onward and upward and all that.

Laura uses some of the same techniques as the author of Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg. In this case Laura gave us some rules for writing. I like to think of them as guidelines, but really, if one wants to write there must be something solid to guide us, therefore, rules.

Since the class was focused on short practice writings the main thing is to keep the pen moving no matter what you write, no matter what comes up, if you don't know what to write, just write, "I don't know what to write" or whatever comes out of your pen. Don't judge it. Don't stop and think about what you are writing. Ignore the inner critic. Just write, don't cross out, don't worry about spelling or grammar, just keep the pen moving.

The one thing Laura said that I just loved was: "You are free to write the worst crap in America!" (For my readers in other parts of the world, substitute America for your country.)

If it were me, I also would have added, "Kill the inner critic!" It is our worst enemy. Since there is no way to kill the inner critic, all we can do is ignore it. And if it sits over your shoulder nagging, "This isn't right. This isn't good enough. Whatever made you think you could write?" It is very hard to ignore. But, as one practices writing, one can practice ignoring the inner critic at the same time. I think I have pretty much learned how to ignore I.C. as one might be able to determine by my writing style. Grammar, in particular. Style is lacking. Oops, there it is... no self judging! It is what it is.

The practice writing sessions lasted five minutes each and Laura gave us prompts, something to write about. For example: Write about a time when your life was in limbo. That was a hard one for me at first. I wanted to think about it. I wanted to go back over the years and figure it all out. It was so tempting.

With her standing there in front of us all, I could do nothing but put pen to paper and write... "My mind is blank. Limbo is blank." and suddenly it came to me. I recalled a specific time when my brain felt numb, and that was truly limbo for me. The words came tumbling one after another. Looking at it now, I can see the mistakes, and the lack on continuity, and the twisting of the facts, and yet, I will leave it alone as it is. After all, it was just a writing practice. Practice.. not the final exam.

All in all it was a wonderful evening. Challenging to sit there with my notebook askew on my lap, and painful for my body to hold that position, but well worth the pleasure of writing with others, both beginners and old pros. There were a couple of other authors present, which I thought was cool. But, I don't know their names. We were all there to practice with Laura Davis, the author.

She's teaching a more in depth workshop on Sunday morning. I have decided to attend. I hope I can sleep well the night before. I hope I will not be in pain. I hope I can sit in a chair for a long time with my notebook not sliding off my lap. And for God's sake, I hope I will have a pen that will magically make my handwriting legible.

The photo of the Buddha was taken by me, and the artwork representing Limbo I did with photoshop.

What is happiness?

"Happiness. You deserve it. You have earned it. You get to have it and be present in this life, in this place, here and now."

This I found on the blog site of Dot Hearn  called The Writing Vein. In her writing she suggested in focusing on writing about happiness.

I think happiness is a personal thing. You and I might not experience happiness from the same source. So, here is my viewpoint on what happiness is for me.

Happiness is remembering childhood experiences, writing about them and discovering nuances I had not previously recalled.

Happiness is reading old letters from family and friends that were sent to my parents from 1937 to just a few years ago when they both left this world.

Happiness is thinking fondly of my parents in new ways, looking at them from the perceptions of others in ways I wasn't open to. It's like discovering and loving them with a door open into their lives which I never passed through. It's a treasure I never knew existed.

Happiness is seeing my adult children being successful in ways I could never foresee, learning to like them for who they are now. Yes, I would happily include them in my circle of friends if they were strangers, I recently met them and got acquainted.

Happiness is seeing the most incredible thing come true, that I never thought could possibly take place in my lifetime. I have grandchildren, some who are adults and have found their place in the world. Some who are still getting their education and well focused on their goals for their future place in the world.

Happiness is a miracle that never even occurred to me would happen. Not only do I have children and grandchildren, I have great grandchildren. They are all beautiful souls who have come into live to make our hearts break with loving them. They are the future to carry us forward. How long I will live to see where they go? I don't know. It gives me happiness just to know how they grow, how their personalities are developing, and yes, even their grumpiness, when it manifests.

Happiness is embracing the suffering and survival of my past, and welcoming the knowledge and compassion which it has brought me. It turned me unto a path I never would have taken. Happiness is knowing that I actually have strength and courage I didn't think. I can be thankful, in some ways, for the torment I endured.

Happiness is having a day without pain, a day I can walk naturally, a day where I feel emotionally as close to what one might consider "normal".

Happiness is realizing I have a smile on my face just from looking at LOL cheezburger cats, or experiencing something on YouTube I never would have consider worth watching until that moment, thanks to friends and family for sending me the links.

Happiness is going through sixty years of old photographs, having my Grandparents histories, wondering about old timey things about which I haven't a clue.

Happiness is knowing who my ancestors were, learning about their culture, geography and history of where they lived. Knowing where I came from made me feel connected to the past for many generations. It made me feel more than I am, more than one person, alone on this planet, more than just one set of DNA.

Happiness is having a digital camera so I can take as many pictures as I want without having to worry about the cost of having them printed, deleting all the unacceptable ones, and finding that one perfect picture I didn't realize I had managed to catch with my camera. Those are the kinds of pictures I want printed and framed.

Happiness is being aware I've got a smile on my face that was not there before, a smile I have when I'm by myself and not triggered by someone else, a smile that is my very own. Those smiles are so important to me, especially because of a lifetime of not smiling, of living with depression. Smiles are like little dancing sparkles bursting from my heart and warming me inside and out, even if they only last a minute.

Happiness is my 20 year old cat looking eye to eye with me while the universe and we became one during her last moments. Naturally, there was grief and sadness involved, but that experience is etched in my soul forever in a kind of deep "knowing" that truly is indescribable.

I think I would be bored if I was happy all the time. I would have nothing to compare it to, nothing to make me cherish it all the more because it is so rare and precious.

Present in the group photo above are: from left to right starting at the top row; Clint Mountain, David J. Deane, Bill Reuter Sr., James Deane, xxxxxx?, xxxxxx?

Bottom Row, Clint's son or nephew, Suzan Deane,  Bill Reuter Jr., Genevieve Borden Deane, Roger Deane, and last but not least our dog, Tammy


The picture of the young man on a Youtube page is my adult son, Xavier who works in the video game industry.

From the old time picture from 1911 My Grandmother's sister, Anna Evans in Thompson car in front of Ned O. Tarbox's store. Cattaraugus County, New York


The picture of the calico cat is Keli as described above