The Quickening

Detail from a 1606 etching by 
Antonio Tempesta (Italian, Florence 1555–1630 Rome)

expectant clouds swell

gravid with winter's chill seed

 Chione labors

* Chione is a minor Greek goddess of snow.


They Walk Among Us

The Scream by Edvard Munch
(Source: Wikipedia)

They walk among us.

They are our friends and neighbors, and even members of our family. They look just like the rest of us. They smile and laugh with us, and chat with us about inconsequential things. And they can be delightfully charming. Unless you knew, you might never know, not from just from looking at them, anyway. Most of them hide it very well.

You all know some of them. You may even be one of them. They are the bigots, the haters. They hate those who are unlike themselves. Whether the difference be that of color, race, religion, nationality, sexual preference, political party, or economic status, anyone who wear that difference so that it shows will be at risk of suffering their bigotry.

They breed and they raise their children to see the world as they do, to hate as they do.

They vote for people who share their hatred.

It terrifies me.

When people I once respected open their mouths and vitriol spews forth, I feel loss.

When my country's elected officials legislate based on hate, I feel shame.

When I see the result of all this hate every day in the newspaper, on the television, and on the streets, I feel fear.

As Goethe said, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

Be afraid. Be very afraid.



The Other Shoe

(Photo by Nick Wiebe
Source: WikiMediaCommons)

You know that old saw that goes "bad things come in threes"? Yeah.

I am generally not a superstitious person. I've broken more mirrors than I can count with no ill effect. I might avoid walking beneath a ladder, but it'd be because I know how hard it is to get paint out of your hair. Not only do I not fear that black cat walking across my path, I'm likely to call him over so I can pet him.  I'm smart enough to know that the fourteenth floor on the hotel is really the thirteenth, but it doesn't bother me. And Friday the Thirteenth? Not only is it not a bad thing; evidence shows that it's my lucky day. I was promoted three times during my working career on Friday the Thirteenth. So, no, I'm not superstitious.


I admit it. The whole "bad-things-come-in-threes" thing creeps me out. Think about it. It seems that too often, when you hear about a disaster, within hours, you hear about two more. Plane crashes, celebrity deaths, your friends' divorces. The list goes on. I'm sure you have your own list of threes in your life. It happens often enough that when Bad Thing Number One occurs, I find myself waiting for Bad Thing Numbers Two and Three to follow. It's kind of like waiting for the other shoe to drop, and the shoe after that.

Example: Since 1996 when an airline safety website started paying attention, there have been three (and sometimes more) plane crashes occurring within a few days of each other every year but one. Given the infrequency of plane crashes, this seems notable.

Example:  Within the last month, The Sopranos bad guy James Gandolfini, Glee singer Corey Montieth, and just this morning, long-time White House correspondent Helen Thomas all died. Yes, people die all the time, but the only one of these three whose death might be expected was 92-year-old Thomas.

I tell myself that this phenomenon is coincidence. I see disasters in threes because I look for them. OK, that makes sense, right?


A couple of days ago, another of those "bad-things-come-in-threes" hit, and I definitely wasn't looking for it. If you are a Facebook junkie like me, you know the sorts of things you see on your wall are as varied as your Facebook friends who post them. You see everything from cartoons, photos, rants (political and otherwise), and cute kitten videos to "I burned my toast this morning."  So, when in less than 24 hours, I read heartbreaking posts from three of my good Facebook friends (and folks, I don't have all that many Facebook friends) that his or her beloved dog was horribly ill, was dying, or had already died, I took notice.

I'm not superstitious, but some people believe these things.

At least all three shoes have dropped.


Native Americans believe the number is four, and the Chinese five.

Hug your pup.



The Road

Bruno. C. / Art Photos / CC BY 

Skinny legs pumping, Amelia

Rode up covered in dust

I worry ‘bout this child. 

I’s her mama. That’s what we do.

Her eyes gentled me. "Mama,

This just the beginnin' of the road."

Written for Trifextra: Week Fifty-One at Trifectra. The challenge: write exactly 33 words using one of the three pictures provided. I chose this haunting portrait.


Idle Hands


The story below is my first entry to the Trifecta Writing Challenge.

The challenge is to write a 33-to-333 word response to a prompt using the third definition of the prompt word. This week's prompt is "idle."

1: lacking worth or basis : vain
2: not occupied or employed: as
    a : having no employment : inactive
    b : not turned to normal or appropriate use
    c : not scheduled to compete
3: a : shiftless, lazy
    b : having no evident lawful means of support

Idle Hands

 Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.

That was Mam’s favorite, the one she kept right in the front of her over-stuffed mental filing cabinet of Life Lessons where it was handy when needed.

I’ve fought Mam’s homilies all my life, and won the battle with most of them. I no longer worry if my underwear is clean enough – should I be hit by a bus, don’t you know – or feel like I’m at death’s door if I miss my daily apple.

 But idle hands thing? I just can’t seem to silence Mam’s ominous-sounding warning, and it scares the daylights out of me. I guess it must be the Devil’s personal vested interest in any pause my hands may take that makes it so terrifying. I picture him there, hovering, just waiting to swoop in and seize my tarnished soul the minute my hands stop doing, doing, doing.

And, oh, the things I’ve done to keep him at bay. I raised children and kept house. I cooked and baked. I gardened. I painted and threw very lop-sided pots. I crocheted and macraméd. And as I grew older and my hands less dexterous, I knitted. And knitted.

I knitted Christmas and birthday gifts and presented them to my family and friends. I knitted baby blankets and caps, and donated them to hospitals. I knitted scarves and hats, and took them to homeless shelters. And I knitted mittens, endless pairs of mittens. I knitted so many mittens that I can no longer find anyone who will take them. I have the grandest wardrobe of mittens any old lady could want.

My hands are gnarled with age now, unable to wield the knitting needles anymore. I know the Devil is just there, a step behind me, preparing to claim his prize.

At least my idle hands will be warm while I wait.



The Man in the Wood

Are you real?

I glance your way

And catch you

Staring back

With an intensity

That scares me,

And makes me want

To beg your pardon.