Wait, it’s Halloween already?

Another month nears its end. The weather is getting colder. Leaves are turning color. The seasonal time change for daylight savings is near. Must be…wait. It’s Halloween already? Today? Uh oh.

There’s no candy in my house. I don’t count the minor amount my daughter keeps on hand. It’s not even chocolate.

Our neighborhood is friendly enough. Perhaps no hooligans bent on pranks will come by. Maybe the neighbors will set up their table near the entrance to the cul-de-sac and play gatekeeper for our homes. “Nothing to see here folks. We pooled our resources at the table. No need to walk the length of each driveway.”

Yeah! That would be great. Let the neighbors run interference for us and we’ll ignore another holiday. It’s hardly worth observing anyway, right? I mean, what’s the point? Dress up as someone else. Go door-to-door and beg for treats? I’ll pass.

If I want a treat, I’ll go shopping tomorrow when they are all marked down to half price. I could stock up for next year that way. I can see it now. “Here you go, kids. Take all the chocolate you want. There’s plenty.”

“Hey mister. This candy tastes bad. How old is it?”

Wait! I just remembered where we hid last year’s leftovers. I’m safe!

It’s Halloween, and you just ran out of candy. If the neighborhood kids (or anyone else, really) were to truly scare you, what trick would they have to subject you to?

Big things come in threes

At birth, he was pink and perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes, all parts of him so tiny, so beautiful. The tears shed by my wife after her all-night labor expressed her joy in a way no words ever could. He was our first child. The first grandson on both sides of the family. The future unfolded into eternal potential as we looked at him.

Three weeks later we thought we were going to lose him. He was projectile vomiting after every feeding and losing weight fast. A note in his medical file stated “failure to thrive” and we shed different tears now. We frantically changed doctors almost as fast as we changed diapers. Each one shook their head in puzzled concern as they listened to us describe everything we did, saw, and thought.

They repeatedly asked us the same questions with no better result or diagnosis. “Does his poop stink?”
What kind of question is that? We were first time parents. What did we know? Sure, baby poop stinks. What does that tell you, doctor? What they didn’t do was provide any frame of reference. Say, compared to sauerkraut left out of the fridge overnight that has warmed in the morning sun at the breakfast table alongside leftover sardines in mustard, does his poop stink?

His pitiful crying pained us terribly through each dark night. We rocked him, held him, tried to feed him again and again. He always threw up. Nothing stayed down long. The exhaustion and worry drained our strength. We kept trying new doctors.

We finally encountered a gentle older doctor who patiently listened to us like all the others. Unlike them, he didn’t ask us to describe poop potency. He nodded at appropriate times and ordered an obscure test. “Just to rule out this one possibility.”

Two days later, we had a diagnosis, cystic fibrosis. We had never heard of it. We were completely unprepared. We needed to learn. The journey of our lives had just taken a major turn.

Today you can write about anything, in whatever genre or form, but your post must mention a dark night, your fridge, and tears (of joy or sadness; your call).

First Birth Part 1

First Birth Part 2

#1 Son’s New Job – Jail

I’ve said it before on this blog. All three of my grown children are still at home. Ages 23, 21, and 18.
We’re in no hurry to push them out. We all get along nicely.

#1 son recently sent me a text, “I’m quitting my job. I’m going to jail.”

As his parents, we were stunned. We’ve led careful lives. No arrests. No illegal drugs. His only encounter with police was a speeding ticket in our neighborhood after he picked up his high school diploma. Yes, he was a little excited and distracted.

I quickly responded for clarification. Turns out he was taking a job at a local jail as a cafeteria food service supervisor.

A former boss at his current job recently left to work at the jail. She needs more workers and came back to specifically invite him to apply to work for her again. He applied, interviewed (with her and others) and got hired.

He started last week and is enjoying it so far. He works for a company that has the food service contract for the jail. The inmates cook, clean, and serve. He supervises their work and controls utensils and supplies. The hours are more. They pay is higher. He’s enjoying the interaction with new people (inmates and fellow workers).

He began sharing work stories with us last night between episodes of “Prison Break.”
“It’s not like that, Mom. I’m not in the cell blocks.” he said.

An inmate asked for a meat thermometer. My son hesitated because it’s a sharp object and he just wasn’t sure if it was allowed. After checking with a supervisor, he handed it over.

As the inmate verified the hot dog temperature, he said, “Hey. It’s cool. I know you had to ask about this sharp thing. But you know, if I was going to kill you, I’d probably use that three-foot spatula over there. It’s a lot like a shovel.”

My son says it was a joke. As a parent, my prayer life just intensified.

Cut the Red Wire

He hated his job.Ever since the asteroid and comet hit the planet and slowed the earth’s rotation to a 25 hour day, the colors had shifted. Gone were the vibrant shades of the rainbow. The only one Steve could see was red. Everything else was boring shades of gray. Blue or brown? Looked like gray now. Yellow or green? Nope. It’s gray.

The only one that stood out for him was red. He’d been a bomb squad technician for 11 years when the colors vanished. Since then, he’d lost three fingers and hearing in one ear when he cut the wrong wire.

Stupid amateur bomb makers. Didn’t they watch television or movies? They were always supposed to use red or blue wires for the trigger circuit. It must have been in a book somewhere to do that. At least then he’d had a 50/50 chance of getting it right. Now with all the colors gone but red, they were making bombs with unknown wiring colors. All gray.

Cut the gray wire. Not that one! The other gray one. Careful now, if you make a mistake, there goes your whole hand. Occasionally, he’d come across a bomb made before the color loss. He clearly recognized the red wire and presumed the dark gray one next to it to be blue. 50/50 chance today. He could do this.




Imagine we lived in a world that’s all of a sudden devoid of color, but where you’re given the option to have just one object keep its original hue. Which object (and which color) would that be?

I am an Evil Clown

My family roots are in puns, wit, and sarcasm. Contrary to my younger self’s belief, sarcasm is not the highest form of humor. In it’s purest sense it can be quite damaging and hurtful. It has taken many years of patience and the love of a great woman to blunt the edge of my humor for the good of all around me.

Snippets of snark leak out at times. You can see it in my blog writings. Inflammatory statements upset some of my readers. Written with a smile in my mind, they do not always land that way.

I dressed as a clown for church kids in the past. Several times a year I put on full face makeup and a homemade costume. My wife and I used balloon animals to tell Bible stories to entertain and teach. It was always a big hit.

I noticed a personality shift when behind the makeup. I was freer to be flippant. In the church setting, it always remained well within proper boundaries but I wondered what it would be like in an unfettered situation. My thoughts troubled me as they explored this path. I could see the dark side of me yearning with anticipation to be set loose. I knew children’s birthday parties were not an appropriate venue for me. I retired the clown persona for the good of the world.

We’re less than a week away from Halloween! If you had to design a costume that channeled your true, innermost self, what would that costume look like? Would you dare to wear it?

Why am I running all the errands?

The pharmacy called. My daughter’s prescription is ready for pick up. She’s an adult, lives at home, has a car, no set work schedule, and we live less than two miles from the pharmacy. Think she could pick up her own medications? No way.

Going to a friend’s home for dinner tonight. We’re supposed to bring a few items from the store. Think anyone can stop by the grocery store on the way home from their work? They’re off by 3 p.m. I’m at work until 5. No way. Dinner is 30 minutes away and starts at 6.

I leave work a few minutes early to allow sufficient time for the two errands. I pull out of the office park onto the main road and traffic is all backed up. I can see emergency vehicles ahead with their flashing lights. An accident has occurred in the center of three lanes ahead and blocks the intersection. I’ve got no way around at this point, must plod through it past the policeman waving traffic around the crumpled vehicles.

Traffic is light after the choke point, but of course I hit every light down the boulevard as red. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Five times before I can get on the highway.

No further incidents until I’m inside the pharmacy. There’s a line. Not long, but still slow. I get processed and leave. Off to the grocery store. Lines again. I grab my few items and use the self-checkout thinking it will be quicker. The machine can’t make change. I have to wait for the attendant to do it from their nearby register.

Load the items in the car and head home. Bring everything inside by myself.


Just enough time for me to write this brief rant and it’s time to leave. Whew!

We all seem to insist on how busy, busy, busy we constantly are. Let’s put things in perspective: tell us about the craziest, busiest, most hectic day you’ve had in the past decade.

Cats are Disposable (10 minute free-write)

I apologize in advance to all those cat lovers out there.

Today’s old standby prompt is to write for 10 minutes. Anything goes. “Give us your most unfiltered self.” Okay.

Cats are disposable. I realize the internet is teeming with almost as many photos and videos of cats as there are strays in this world. Who knew those prolific creatures would replicate in cyberspace as well? My delete button cannot keep up.

I grew up on a dairy farm. Cats were plentiful. If we didn’t have enough, some nice people from town would drop off their excess kittens near us (when nobody was looking). With so many around, and there being four pre-teen/teenage boys in the mix, sensitivity towards cats was lacking.

Sure, we had our favorites. They were granted house access where they could trip us, claw furniture, pee on the Christmas tree, chew power cords and speaker wires, and generally make a mess of things. Still, we loved some and tolerated more.

Part of having so many cats became the creativity in naming them all. We were a verbal bunch and had a tendency to make obvious naming choices. We would select a physical attribute and tie a name to the animal. Such as:

  • Bigfoot – A large male with extra toes on his front paws
  • Fish – A female stray (dropped off by some nice city folks we think) with stripes that looked a bit like fish scales
  • Goldfish – A son of Fish. Yellow tabby.
  • Stubby – An all black kitten who had the misfortune to get his tail stepped on by the horse. It broke about one inch from the base. The tail hung on for a few days looking like a broken antenna until it finally dropped away.
  • Pancake – Noticed when one of the dairy cows got up. Kitty hadn’t been quick enough when the cow went down. Nothing left to do but get a shovel… 🙁
  • Caterpillar – A long haired calico that did not remotely look like any caterpillar ever seen.
  • Speedy – Not truly a fast mover. A female very popular with the tomcats. She would stop for any of them. We lost count of how many litters she had.

I could go on but the timer is about to run out. Overall, I believe I restrained myself well in the time allotted.


Our ten-minute free-write is back! Have no mercy on your keyboard as you give us your most unfiltered self (feel free to edit later, or just publish as-is).

Long time no see, my invisible friend

“Hi, Tim.”

“Who said that?” Tim asked.

“It’s me, your childhood friend. All grown up now.”

“You look old, friend.” Tim said.

“I’m the same age as you.” the voice replied.

“And fat, and bald, and gray where you aren’t bald. Boy, you didn’t age well at all. What happened to you?” Tim said.

“That’s no way to greet a long-lost friend. Those statements are hurtful.”

“But honest. Seriously, what happened to you. The last time we spoke, I was getting married.” Tim said.

“You didn’t need me anymore. You replaced me with someone new.”

“I suppose I did. It’s been more than 27 years now. We are still very happy. The children are adults now. We may someday have one or more of them moving out.” Tim replied. “What about you?”

“I wandered the earth seeking another friend but never found one like you or like you did.” the voice answered. “Look at you. You still have your hair and it’s not gray. How did you manage that?”

“I married my best friend. She made me a better person and the benefits carry on for many years.” Tim responded.


Many of us had imaginary friends as young children. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today?

Kitchen – Home’s Heart

The storm pushed against the farmhouse making it creak. The hand-hewn pegged beams held firm as they had for more than 150 years. The five giant maple trees at the road bore the storm as they had for almost 200 years. Their thick trunks barely moved as the top-most branches bent in the wind. The family sat at the kitchen table listening to the storm as they played cards.

“I’ve got the two of clubs.”

“Let’s see who has the queen of spades. Hunt that rabbit!”

“I’m going to run them.”

“No more points for me. I can’t afford any. I’m close to going over.”

The banter was light. It helped pass the time as the storm intensified outside. Winds gusted erratically causing the house to shudder a moment. The family heard a loud “CRACK”  outside and the lights went out.

“Sounds like a limb broke and took the power lines down with it.” Dad said.

Mom got up and lit two hurricane lamps and set them on the table. The kids continued to play cards in the glowing light. Mom then moved to stoke the fire in the wood cook stove. It was more than 80 years old and had a large flat surface and an oven they had once used to roast a holiday turkey. She added some small diameter birch sticks with a few larger maple pieces. The fire responded quickly and the room warmed comfortably.

Mom took a large cooking pot and thumped a chunk of homemade butter into it. She added what sounded like little pellets next and put the cover on. Applying a gentle rocking motion she used to soothe countless babies to sleep, she gently moved the pot to prevent the kernels from sticking and burning.

After a few moments, they began to burst inside the pot, launching others around inside like bullets that pinged off the steel. The cacophony grew for less than a minute before settling under the muffling caused by the popped corn. When the activity slowed to sporadic bursts, she slid the pot off the hottest area of the cooking surface and carefully lifted the top allowing a plume of steam and aroma to escape.

She poured the popcorn into a few other bowls and placed them around the table. Card playing slowed for several minutes as the family grabbed handfuls of the buttery and crunchy treat.

“Still hunting the queen. I wonder who is getting stuck with it.”

“Not me. I’m not taking any more tricks this hand.”

“You hope.”

“Let’s find out. Play.”

The storm continued outside. The family never worried about it as they sat in the kitchen.

Safe. Warm. Together.