Measuring by the Month

This is my 89th post. Since launching the blog in August, I’ve been on a pace of posting every couple of days. Most are in response to the Daily Post prompts with some other short stories added in.

There are days where I find the prompt less than inspiring (as do many of you) and I simply ignore it. Other days a response is triggered instantly and within 30 minutes a post takes shape.

Days where I have more free time are spent browsing the DP page to see what treasures you post. I eagerly anticipate discovering the multi-faceted answer to a common prompt. A simple idea receives a multitude of answers in several forms each day. Poetry, photography, short stories, snippets of sarcasm, literal response, and so on. Some of you have regular characters, themes, or consistent perspectives to offer. Others are markedly random in their writing. The variety astounds me.

Some of you have chosen to follow my blog and I am humbled by your attention. I look forward to reading your fresh offerings as well.

What’s the longest stretch you’ve ever pulled off of posting daily to your blog? What did you learn about blogging through that achievement, and what made you break the streak?

Fellow Bloggers, Help Me!

“Come on, Tim. Don’t give up.” I tell myself. “There are followers and new bloggers out there counting on you. Some even look forward to your next post.”

Because that is what you do in a crisis situation. Give hope to the hopeless. Extend a purpose for continuing to exist. Encourage them to stand firm and survive difficult situations.

The accusations and self-blaming stage had started at first. If only he hadn’t slammed the front door on the way out for the morning paper, the avalanche might not have triggered on him. A massive slide of wet, heavy material cascading down on his head and knocking him to the ground.

“My coffee maker is heating up. My oatmeal will be starting to get cold.” he thought uselessly.

Tim tested his limbs and discovered nothing broken. His left ankle seemed to be under the greatest pressure for now. He tried shifting it to relieve the strain and it moved easily. The noise accompanying the movement was a slick rustling sound. Wet leaves. He was under a pile of wet leaves. Once again, his wife was right. He should have cleaned the roof gutters after that last rainstorm.

“Good thing we live in mild Virginia instead of Buffalo, New York.” he thought. “This would be much worse if it were five feet of snow.”

You were caught in an avalanche. To be rescued, you need to make it through the night. What thought(s) would give you the strength to go through such a scary, dangerous situation?

Leftover Story

Jason read the letter again while Kayla looked over his shoulder. The bus travelling upstate wasn’t leaving for another twenty minutes which gave them some time to try deciphering the next clue. Jason and Kayla had never been to their uncle’s cabin. The only thing they knew was that it was somewhere out in the woods. This envelope contained a key to a bus terminal locker. The problem was that the twins didn’t know which bus terminal. There were twelve stops between here and their uncle’s small town. Their only clue:

“At the place named for the timepiece, use the key to receive your next set of instructions.”

Jason and Kayla were baffled. What timepiece? How would they find it?

Jason hoped he could figure out the clue before they missed it. Their father had told them to pack enough clothes to last them for a two-week trip. That meant they would be away from home for their sixteenth birthday. Jason was wondering how much of the two weeks would be spent travelling.

Kayla was even more concerned than her twin brother. This was the third obstacle. It seemed as if her uncle didn’t really want them to visit after all. He kept sending them in search of more clues. When would it end? Kayla’s habit of reading three books each week since first grade had been extremely helpful in decoding the puzzles. Her uncle seemed to know that her reading habit had filled her head with much trivia that his riddles included. The knowledge she held had enabled her to answer the first clue, solve the second riddle, and even now bubbling with ideas as she looked over Jason’s shoulder at the third one.

It was quite exciting to be on a journey like this. One never knew where they might end up or what would happen next. Uncle Dave had set “The Journey” as a family challenge years ago. Each of his nieces and nephews went through it. Some had brought a friend, some a relative, but each was responsible for figuring out the obstacles for themselves. The twins were a special case. They worked together to overcome the trip’s difficulties. Knowing this, Uncle Dave seemed to have made this journey clues harder than usual.

Jason didn’t seem very frustrated by all this. He always handled everything with ease while she struggled. He made friends easily, while she had only a few. He was good sports, but she didn’t even care to watch. Instead, she read books like a duck swimming; mysteries, science fiction, love stories, history, just about anything that caught her eye in the library. The best part was the remembering. She could spout facts and quotes like a walking information booth.

The bus stopped four times before Kayla spotted the sign outside the terminal in Watchville. She excitedly pointed it out to Jason as she pounded his arm. “We found it! This is the place.”

Jason opened the locker and removed two train tickets and another envelope. He handed the tickets to Kayla as he read the note. It told them to go to the train station two blocks east and get aboard the third passenger car on the four o’clock express. There they would get final instructions from the conductor named Stevens.

They were on the train only five minutes when Conductor Stevens came up to them. He handed a map to Kayla and told her that the rest of their trip was in her hands. She was supposed to make the choices of where to turn and when to stop for clues. They were still a team, but now Kayla was supposed to lead. The trip would take them at least one more day he told them. It would be best to spend the night in the place indicated on the map.

Today, publish a post based on unused material from a previous piece –a paragraph you nixed, a link you didn’t include, a photo you decided not to use. Let your leftovers shine!

Cutting Room Floor

I have mentioned a few times that my daughter raises furry critters in my house. We have a lionhead rabbit, guinea pigs, and chinchillas at this time. A few pictures to show these animals are provided.

3 Lions in a row.

Chinchillas love eating bark.

8 weeks.jpg
A lionhead resting in the lawn.

Today, publish a post based on unused material from a previous piece –a paragraph you nixed, a link you didn’t include, a photo you decided not to use. Let your leftovers shine!

No contest. I must thank my wife.

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. A time to gather with friends and family, eat a big meal and reflect upon the blessings in our lives. Many will consume too much in our land of plenty. Too much food. Too much alcohol. Too much football. Others will be more sparing in their consumption and take advantage of the time to talk, laugh, play, and reconnect or strengthen bonds.

For me, it’s a quiet day planned. We’re not cooking a big bird with an abundance of side dishes heavy on the carbs and sugars. We’ve got a modest boneless turkey breast and some reasonable side dishes planned. More along the lines of a regular family dinner than a national holiday event.

It’s just us five for today. Once #1 son gets home from his job at the city jail, we’ll serve up the food and talk. The rest of the family is sleeping in as I sip my morning coffee and compose this post. The quiet house allows me to reflect back over the years at all we’ve experienced and how much my wife has put up with me. Today, I must thank her.

I have been a man in our marriage. Note that I did not insert a single modifier before the word “man.” That was intentional. There are many that could apply at various times over the past 27 years.


  • You had a baby. I need a computer. We just got a new credit card. I’m buying a new machine this weekend.
  • We’ve got a baby sitter tonight. Let’s go used car shopping and buy something before we have to drive her home in a few hours. No, I haven’t done any research. We’ll find something good, I’m sure.


  • Sure, we’ll take your cat. He goes with the carpet and furniture. We’re new first-time home buyers about to start having children. What could go wrong?
  • Come on son, let’s go buy your first car without running a car history report on it. The nice guy living in the trailer park seems honest.


  • Yes. I realize we have three small children. Why do you think I work full-time?
  • You know I need to continue my college classes nights and weekends. That degree will pay off in the future.
  • The church needs me. That’s why I volunteer four nights a week between classes.


  • This business opportunity is going to help us get out of debt faster once it takes off. Sure, we’re spending money up front. That’s an investment. We’ll make it all back quickly and then the profits will start rolling in.
  • The roof is leaking? No problem. I’ll climb up there with the tar bucket as soon as it stops raining. Wait, it’s running down the boy’s bedroom walls? I’ll go up on the roof now.

Through the years, she has suffered through the consequences of my choices. She openly expressed her opinions at every turn but in the end, relented to my decisions. She knows my stubborn tendencies, chooses not to fight, and goes over my head to God. She prays for me. She prays for God to change my heart. She prays for God to grant me wisdom and insight when making choices.

She told me that one of her prayers was a simple, “You fix him, God. I can’t.”

Thanks for not giving up on me.

Is there a person you should’ve thanked, but never had the chance? Is there someone who helped you along the way without even realizing it? Here’s your chance to express your belated gratitude.

Timed Perfectly

A marathon weekend spent watching America’s Test Kitchen, The Food Network, and similar cooking shows inspired me to attempt an untested recipe. Like any good man getting ready to tackle a job, I knew I needed tools.

First step: Shop for a new pan. Not just any old pan would do. It had to be the exact one used on the show. One capable of going from the stove top to the oven. With a matching lid. Online shopping to do. Oh, while I’m there I think I’ll purchase the exact chef’s knife they used in the show also.

Next step: Wait two days for the pan and knife to arrive. While waiting, go shopping for the ingredients. Splurge on the best meat, spices, and other ingredients. Decide upon appropriate side dishes and purchase everything fresh.

Finally, set aside a four hour time slot to prepare, marinate, cook the main dish and several sides. Invite people for the meal thereby raising the stakes and pressure to succeed on this first time.

Cook. Cook. Cook. Refer to the printed recipes and online videos for refresher notes frequently during the process. Carefully coordinate the boiling, baking, simmering, and stir frying to present all elements at the table piping hot and at their peak aromas.


Big success. Friends praise the food. Praise the presentation. Express joy at being invited to participate in the inaugural meal. Inquire about plans for new recipes.

Realize I can’t afford to keep doing this. I need more frugal recipes.

What’s the most elaborate, complicated meal you’ve ever cooked? Was it a triumph for the ages, or a colossal fiasco? Give us the behind-the-scenes story.

I really shouldn’t

I really shouldn’t spend so much time with you. Other parts of my life suffer.

I really should exercise more. Or at least a little bit. Who am I kidding? My exercise routine consists of rolling out of bed and descending the one flight of stairs in my house on my way to you. Once there, I plant myself for hours with minimal movement.

Headphones make the experience better. They help block out the sounds of the house and allow greater immersion. The faintest background sounds can easily be drowned out by raising the volume in my ears. Chinchillas running in their cages, guinea pigs squeaking and scrabbling in their pen are blissfully ignored.

Family members come and go. Some pause long enough to shake their heads at me before moving on. They know I’ll be wrapped up in my pointless activity and will not be torn away without a struggle.

Hours spent gazing at the flickering screen can never be reclaimed.

My private murmurings form in response to simple stimuli like the Daily Post prompt.

I am a blogger.

Whether it’s a trashy TV show, extra-pulpy fiction, or nutrient-free candy, write a thank-you note to your guiltiest guilty pleasure.

What is Zero?

My wife is  a teacher’s assistant in the public school system. She works in a pre-kindergarten program that focuses on children with special needs. Her students are ages 2-5 and have varying special conditions ranging from physical, emotional, and developmental with some on the autism spectrum.

She was working with one child on his numbers. Counting from 0-5 and connecting the count to tangible values.

“There are three blocks here. 1, 2, 3. If we take one away, how many blocks do we have?”

When they got to zero, the boy always answered, “A little bit.”

“We had two blocks and took them away. 2, 1, 0. How many do we have?”

“Zero.” he said.

“And how much is zero?” she asked.

“A little bit,” he kept answering.

“Why?” she insisted.

“My mom tells me when we’re shopping and I want something, she has zero money for that. But she always has a little money for the things she wants.” he stated.

The Hum of my Life

Na, na, na, na, na. Na, na, na, na, na.

Comedian Bill Cosby once said that if you had your music, the monsters couldn’t get you.

The music of my life is a wide compilation. Country, western, classical, techno, top 40, and classic rock, are all in the mix.

My younger years were placed against the backdrop of the Superman theme (in my mind).

If you ask my wife, shed probably suggest it was the Benny Hill theme. Complete with fruitless running about and no real purpose or anything to show for it.

If your life were a movie, what would its soundtrack be like? What songs, instrumental pieces, and other sound effects would be featured on the official soundtrack album?