Weekly Writing Challenge: Just call me ears

Weekly Writing Challenge:  Eavesdropping

This prompt immediately brought me back to a story from my childhood.

It was the summer before 3rd grade and definitely some of the leaner years for my family, fiscally speaking.  My dad had been a fishing guide, a commercial fisherman and a stone crabber and was still doing the latter two.  Some of the locals from our Southwest FL community would often go to Louisiana and fish whenever things weren’t going as well here.  I’m not sure if it was the lack of product, the prices or just the need for a change that compelled my dad to try his luck in Louisiana, but I wasn’t very happy about it.

News travels fast in a small town and it wasn’t long until people were talking about our impending move and lamenting on what in the world my grandparents would do without those grand babies.  I overheard people wondering if my dad was doing the right thing and guessing as to why he might be going.  I didn’t repeat any of that, at least that I recall.  It is possible that I did though, because if I got in trouble it was usually because I said something I shouldn’t have said or repeated something that was not meant to leave the family dinner table.

My relatives would tell you I was infamous for pretending to read a book and listening to all sorts of juicy tidbits.  I remember sometimes one of them would clear their throat and motion my direction and mouth the word “ears”.  It really isn’t my fault that they chose to speak in front of me anyway.  If the information was classified, they should have known not to say it within earshot of me.  I feel like I need to clarify that my family was not the type that sat around gossiping about people, because they were far from it.  My dad was very strict about how we treated others and taught us to treat everyone with respect.  The things discussed were normally family business that just didn’t need to be shared.

We were sitting in our car, my mom and I and possibly my brother and sister, although it was much more likely that they had jumped out with my dad to check on his boat.  One of my great-aunts was walking up to my mom’s window to chat.  She had on her polyester pants and sunglasses; she always seemed to sport both.  She was smiling and talking to my mother and I and she looked at me and said, “Honey, now why is your daddy going to carry you off to Louisiana?”  I replied, “Because he said he is tired of nosy, busy body relatives knowing all of his business”.

The conversation ended shortly thereafter, for reasons I only understood in retrospect.  It took the talk and the spanking to drive it home.  The talk hurt worse than the spanking because I came to realize that I had hurt someone’s feelings and possibly marred my dad’s reputation as the nice young man that he was, who had great respect for his elders.

I am sure my eavesdropping got me into trouble other times as well, but eventually I learned.  I was taught that it was rude and nosy and shouldn’t be done. However, I believe there are times when it is appropriate.   For example, as a parent, I did profit a few times by eavesdropping whereby gaining information I would never have been privy to otherwise; information that aided in better parenting.   I don’t know any parents who haven’t  employed it with teenagers.

In our times of crowded subways, office cubicles and people who seem to want the world to hear their cell phone conversations, it is very difficult not to “listen in ” at times.  I think the rules of etiquette have changed on this one , but I still try to show good manners by moving away from something that I overhear, when it’s clear the conversation is private.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Pie

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Photo found at theartfulpie.com

The Weekly Writing Challenge was to write about Pie.

I have to admit that the closest I have ever come to making a pie was the scores of mud pies my sister, brother and I made, and let me tell you, we got pretty creative with them.  We tried different dirt, different consistencies and even used some of Mom’s kitchen items to prepare them.  They sported berries, leaves, grass and rocks and looked so tempting, we even tasted them a time or two.

Seriously, I never cared for pie much so I never learned to make them.   There were a couple of exceptions.  My late paternal grandmother, aka Granny, whom I have written about in many posts, made a chocolate pie with meringue piled high that was delicious.  Granny wasn’t the Suzy Homemaker type.  She fed her family, but she didn’t don an apron just for the fun of it most days.  She would to teach one of us how to cook something, because she would do anything we wanted to do as long as it wasn’t dangerous, but she didn’t have any aspirations about being Martha Stewart.   However, just the mere mention of her making a chocolate pie was enough to have me looking forward to dinner time and licking my lips at the thought of that comforting chocolaty classic.  The light-as-air, lightly toasted on top meringue was heavenly too.  I am not sure why I don’t possess this recipe and have never tried to make, but I will have to rectify that post haste.

Many of my relatives made the Florida favorite, key lime pie.  Although it is good, I always much preferred chocolate anything to the tart taste of this one.  We always had the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the fudge and red velvet cake won out for me!

My mother made a pie she referred to as green pie although that is all I recollect about it.   I remember when I was a teenager that one of my sister’s boyfriends loved the pie so much that he would beg her to make it.  She often did and made it for him on his birthday.  I don’t even recall what the ingredients were or how it tasted because back then, again, it just wasn’t my thing.

I am finding that the older I get, my taste for pie is increasing, so I guess I should be thankful for this prompt because I believe it has inspired me to try my hand at pie making.   Maybe this Thanksgiving my guests will get to taste a real homemade apple pie, with caramel drizzled on the top and sporting a perfectly browned buttery flavored crust.  At the very least, I will make the chocolate pie.

More posts featuring Granny – The Lost Laces, Peeling Trees and Dialogue

Weekly Writing Challenge: That’s Absurd

from Dreamstime.com

The Challenge:

  • Write a fictional piece that incorporates the everyday life we’re familiar with — work, family, errands — and add a surprise twist through an imaginary character, absurd turn of events, or Sci-Fi-esque setting.

As I told my husband about this little story this morning over coffee, he laughed.  I’m not sure what we will ever do about the snoring, but I am hoping I just learn to sleep through it 🙂

It was one of those nights where the tiny sliver of moon that existed, stayed nestled behind the clouds.  I sat up in bed, surrounded by a blanket of darkness, then stood and groped my way to the bathroom.

As I returned to bed I remember wondering if I should just continue on to the couch or the spare bedroom.  My husband’s snoring had awakened me multiple times already and there was no sign of that ceasing.  All the frustrated grunts, pillow punching and cover jerking had provided only temporary relief from the incessant noise.  My annoyance had reached colossal proportion.

I looked up as a flicker of light from the lampshade on my bedside table caught my attention.  We never see lightning bugs here, so what in the world was going on?  Did my phone go off?  Or worse, was there someone outside with a flashlight, intent on coming in?

Then I saw him.  Had he not been so tiny, I am sure fear would have gripped me.  He was about an inch tall, standing there as bold as you please on my alarm clock.  He was dressed like one of the seven dwarves and sporting a beard as long as his body.  He looked very old, but was also very spry.

As I sat down on the bed to have a closer look, he exclaimed in a high pitched voice, “Hello, my name is Snuffer!”

“Where did you come from and why are you here?” I asked in a whisper, trying not to disturb my husband’s sleep, for reasons unknown to me.

He said, “When someone like you reaches a certain level of frustration with a snoring spouse, I come to snuff their breath!”

“Excuse me?  Snuff their breath? Do you mean as in stopping their very breathing?”

“Aha, you are a quick study!  “Yes, exactly”, he said with a smile.

Now, I began to panic.  “Oh no, you can’t do that!”  Then we began a dance of sorts, as he tried to get around me to get to my husband.  He was much quicker than you would imagine and I finally screamed, “Stop, you horrid little man!”

With this, my husband snorted, sat up and bed and asked me who I was talking to.  I looked up from my horizontal position, my head lying on the pillow at the darkness all around me and quietly said, “No one.”

Weekly Writing Challenge: Power of Names

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This week’s challenge was to explore the power of names.  My offering is a silly poem about all of my names and who uses them.  Hope you enjoy!

My given name is Lisa which I’ve answered to since birth

My mom and dad selected whilst I still enlarged her girth

Although they thought it so unique, there are thousands with the same

But even though quite common, I rather like my name

The next name I remember, my sister gave to me

I guess Lisa was difficult so she settled on sissy

To this day she calls me sissy, and it always makes me grin

I guess it has the power to transport me way back when

My grandparents all called me sugar, which I thought was pretty sweet

My mom teased me with Liza Jane, I begged her, “don’t repeat!”

Granny Goff sometimes yelled Lee-Si-O when calling me inside

No one else used that name and for that I’m much obliged

The first time I heard mommy, my heart likely skipped a beat

Then there were days when mommy seemed to be stuck on repeat

My husband mostly calls me babe, or love, or just “my wife”

He’s careful, which is good because I am keeping him for life!

The only name that I’ve left out, I’ve struggled with til’ now

My youngest and her friends call me Moo.  Yes! Just like a cow.

Actually, the names I’ve shared with you, the ones in lines above

Are fine with me because I know they’re spoken with true love

Weekly Writing Challenge: The Golden Years

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 I am just now submitting last week’s Weekly Writing Challenge, which said, in summary, “to explore what age means to you”.

In a mere one year and seven months, I will be as old as the cassette tape.  How old is that you ask?  Well, that would be a half-century, fifty years old, and a milestone.  I have heard it called the youth of old age.  Currently, I am hanging out in the old age of youth.

When I was a mere youngster, I viewed the elderly with wonder.  I could often make them smile with my antics and as I have mentioned before, I coveted attention.  My wrinkly friends were interesting with their silver hair and glasses, and their candy producing pockets.  I remember shrieking with delight as they stole my nose, or tickled my tummy.

Although I was certainly raised to have the utmost respect for my elders and always have outwardly, my thoughts were not as kind as I approached my teen years.  I lost interest in what they had to say and misinterpreted their unsolicited advice as intrusive and somewhat provincial.  I misread love and concern for fault-finding, dismissing their opinions as I would an unwanted suitor.  After all, what could they possibly know about my situation?  I sometimes lacked patience with stories I had heard countless times and became frustrated by their slower gait or by having to repeat myself.

As I faced my own trials in life, I often failed to listen to and learn from those possessing that hard-earned wisdom.  I could have saved myself so much pain and I could have gleaned so much!  But, my story isn’t a new one and I have been on the other end of that kind of stubbornness and know-it-all mentality myself now.

I don’t recall exactly when fresh waves of realization began to hit me regarding the need to learn from those above me in age and wisdom, but it may have been around the time I lost my mother, before she ever reached the 50-year milestone.  Life as I had always known it was forever altered.  The old adage, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” resounded in my soul, no longer shrouded by unfamiliarity, but suddenly crystal clear to me.  Her death left me questioning everything and angry that she wouldn’t be here to continue being “Nana” to my 6 year old or the baby I was carrying.

Not too long after her death, I made my peace with God and found solace in His embrace.  As a result, I began to re-think a lot of things.  I noticed the elders of the church and realized their steadfastness, through trial and hardship.   Their examples were an inspiration to me and I began to feel a deep sense of gratitude for their prayers.  No longer were the “stories” taxing my nerves.  I began to appreciate the experience and knowledge their lives had rewarded them with.  My respect and love for them was once again freely given.

Now, as I ponder the approaching “golden years”, I already have a taste of what being older brings.  Some things, like achy joints and not so perfect vision, are annoying to say the least.  But some of the other things, like wisdom and experience and a new found freedom to be just who you are without fear, are priceless.

I am not afraid of death and what is on the other side of life, but if I am transparent, sometimes, I admit, it’s the aging that scares me.  I think I am more afraid of being alive when no “life” remains.  I know many people feel the same way.

My prayer is that for the remainder of my life on this earth, I will be a wise mentor; that I will share faith. hope and love and be a confidante and friend to those younger than I.  I am blessed to have known many wonderful “golden age” people and it’s my turn to press forward, bravely, on the path to being one of them.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes

This week the challenge at the Daily Post said; In this week’s writing challenge, you’ll write a post using three photographs for inspiration.  I choose three photographs by Sue Nash whose blog is Heavenly Raindrops.

I pulled my car into the parking lot and checked once more to make sure I had placed my new beach permit within clear view.  Just a few more moments and I would be walking on the beach, wind whipping my hair while the sea air cleared my head.

A beautiful peace ensued as soon as my bare toes met with the gritty sand and I breathed in a deep cleansing breath of salty air.

It was a quiet day on the beach, just the way I like it.  The only sounds were the boisterous kiss of the waves on the shore and a few hungry seagulls searching for a hand out.

As I walked, I found I wasn’t completely alone as I noticed a couple of others meandering along the shore.  I wondered for a moment if they came here to make decisions too.

Since I was a small child, there is something about the ocean that calms me.  I have found that in a pinch that other bodies of water will do, although the ocean along with the sound of the waves is my preference.

I feel so close to God when I stand in awe of His creation and I needed to feel that way now.  There was a lot riding on the choices I would soon make, and I desperately needed to hear from Him.

I stopped and flopped down in the still warm sand, just far enough away from the waves to stay dry.  I thought back on all the prayers uttered here and gave thanks for those answered and the ones God chose to answer in a different way than I could have imagined.

I knew as I squinted towards the sky that I would leave here knowing what to do and having a deep peace about it.  As I looked out across the ocean and began my prayer, the sun was beginning to sink a little lower.

Moments later, my heart full of peace, I got up, brushed off my jeans, dipped my toes in the water and felt a smile tug at the corners of my mouth.  As I walked past the fences, placed there to keep people out, I was glad nothing kept me from God.  Ever.

Refreshed, restored and replete with God’s goodness, I made my way to my car, ready to meet the challenges head on.

Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence

The Weekly Writing Challenge was to take the theme of silence and explore it in your own way.  I used a fictional story and I hope you enjoy!

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Mr. Rogers yelled, “Silence!”, and then in a more subdued voice said, “I don’t want to hear one noise out of you until everyone has completed this assignment.”

As I hear the sound of a pencil case unzip and watch a well-manicured hand plundering around for the right #2, I smirk at his choice of words.  The football player who had been leaning back in his chair picks that moment to let it slam to the floor so he can get busy.  The sound is magnified in the hushed room.  So much for silence.

Next, I hear pencils dragging across papers and tapping on desks and a student who suddenly reminds me of a beaver, is attempting to chew his in half.

More noise ensues as the instructor settles his large frame into his chair and rolls it under the opening in his desk.  He toys with his watch for a moment, and then he turns his attention to the stack of papers on his left and begins shuffling through them.  I’m still waiting for silence.

Someone is popping forbidden gum inside their mouth, a skill I have yet to master.  The round, black rimmed, school issued clock ticks away noisily reminding us that time is running out.  My own stomach growls loudly enough for me to try to quickly cover it up with a fake cough.

The instructor pulls open his squeaky right desk drawer and draws out the ever-present tin of altoids.  He opens it, selects two, pops them in his moustache rimmed mouth and immediately begins crunching them.  As I suspected, this action is indicative of his imminent stroll around the room to discourage would be cheaters.

Seemingly unaware of his approach, the girl in front of me begins humming and as he reaches her desk he raises his index finger to his nose, to dramatically shush her.  Spittle flies everywhere and I think I see the white flecks of undissolved altoids too.

He repeats the command to silence and I am more certain than ever, that his wish will never be granted.

Soon, papers start shuffling and chairs slide back against the floor as the first students to finish begin turning in their short stories.

I look down at my paper, pleased that I have satisfied the requirement to spend the last half hour of class writing about silence.  I title mine, “Silence is elusive” and turn it in.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiki #2

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Warm sand between toes

Ocean waves lull me to sleep

Ouch, more sunblock please

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