Prompt 18: Hone Your Point of View: The Eviction

Wow. Police cars – two of ’em. Wonder what they’re doing? Hey, they’re stopping at Mrs. Pauley’s house!  Two police guys and that other guy are going up to the door. Wonder who he is? Never saw him before. Now he’s knocking on the door, really loud and yelling Mrs. Pauley’s name. Those two police officers are standing right behind him. There’s Mrs. Pauley. She looks real scared. She’s crying, but the guy just looks at her and says something that makes her cry even more. Then he hands her a yellow paper. She doesn’t want to take it. She’s shaking her head back and forth.

The guy steps back and the police step up to Mrs. Pauley. She cries some more, then one of the police guys takes her arm and they walk toward the car. The police guy is talking to her, not loud, and she is listening. The police guy opens the back door of one of the care and she sits down with her legs hanging out the side. The police guy gives her some water and she shakes her head yes as he talks. He gives her some tissue and she blows her nose. Then the police guy takes out a phone and hands it to Mrs. Pauley and she makes a call.

The other guy has gone into Mrs. Pauley’s house. A few minutes later a guy in a yellow van comes. He talks to the other guy, then he gets some tools out of his van and takes the doorknob off Mrs. Pauley’s front door.

Mrs. Pauley gives the phone back to the police guy. A green car with a kind of circle sign on the door pulls up and a lady gets out. The lady walks over to Mrs. Pauley and shows her something. Mrs. Pauley nods, the she stands up and they go back to the car and drive away.

The police leave and the guy fixing the door leaves. The other guy goes into Mrs. Pauley’s house.

Nothing happens for a while, then a junky old truck drives up into Mrs. Pauley’s driveway. Two real big guys get out and go up to the house. The other guy comes out, then they all go into Mrs. Pauley’s house.

After while, the big guys come out carrying some of Mrs. Pauley’s stuff and they throw it into the junky truck and go back to the house. They’re taking her stuff!

I’m scared. I don’t know what Mrs. Pauley did. Does this mean they’ll come throw our stuff out and take us away? My mom comes out on the porch.

“Alan. Come inside.”

“Mom, what’s happening?”

Prompt 17: Your Personality on the Page: Fear; It’s an Age Thing

This assignment was troublesome for me. I have spent too much time in the last seven months dealing with fears, both real and imagined, and I needed a break, so this one is not my best, and it’s a little light on the development. But, since one of my fears is the failure to complete a task, here is the post.

Fear is an age thing – different fears for different stages of life:

Six years old – What lurks behind that door? Is that a monster under my bed? If I go outside in the dark will I get lost?

Ten years old – Will anyone like me? When my family moves, will I make new friends?

Fourteen – I don’t want to be dorky, but I need an A in math. What happens if I fail? What happens if the other kids call me a dork?

Twenty-four – I need this job. I know I can do it. Why are there so many people interviewing? What will happen if they don’t hire me?

Thirty-four – My kids are sick. I can’t send them to school. If I stay home, my boss might be angry and I could lose my job. What can I do?

Forty-four – I love my job, but I am so tired! I need time off. I need a life!

Fifty-five – Ten years until retirement. Will I make it?

They say we have nothing to fear, but fear itself. I disagree. There’s plenty out there to fear, and it will find you!

Prompt 16: Third Time’s the Charm: Gram’s Gift

Addie Peterson hadn’t been to Gram’s house since she was ten years old. She used to spend most of each summer there, while Mom worked. But, when she was ten, Mom remarried and the new family moved too far away for summer visits.

Addie sat in the beige rental car parked in front of the small gray-white clapboard house. It looks run-down, she thought. The house needed paint, and the once-lush landscape looked as if it had been cooked in the summer heat.

She was more than surprised when she received the letter from the attorney. ‘In Re: The Estate of Adelaid Goutcher. You are the sole beneficiary of Adelaid Goutcher. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.’ It wasn’t convenient. Addie lived three time-zones away from Gram and Gram’s attorney, but it was her duty.

Mom had been furious with Gram that last summer. Gram did not approve of her daughters ‘new beau’ as Gram put it. Mom and Gram didn’t know Addie had heard them arguing. They had sent her outside to the chicken coup so they could talk, but Mom’s raised voice and Gram’s murmuring reply made it clear even to ten-year old Addie, this was no usual conversation.

After that encounter, the marriage and the move, Mom told Addie she couldn’t visit Gram because the trip was too expensive. Addie didn’t believe it for a moment.

She had arranged to have a company conduct an estate sale at the house in a few days. The had already gone through and set up the rooms for the sale. “Everything must go,” Addie told them. “I want it over quickly. There’s nothing  in the house I want..”

When Alice, the estate sale manager, called last week, she told Addie they had found a sealed cardboard box with a note taped to the box. It read ‘Please give this box to Addie Peterson.’

“I know you said you wanted to sell everything, but this is obviously personal and we don’t feel comfortable opening it.”

“All right. I’ll be in town by Wednesday. Put the box on the dining room table and I’ll pick it up Thursday.”

She put her head down on the steering wheel for a moment, the pickup up her purse, slung the strap over her shoulder as she existed the car, then walked briskly to the front door.

The once brightly painted red door looked dry and dusty. She put the key in the lock and entered. Almost without thought, she moved down the hall, then turned right into the dining room. There on the old oak table was a cardboard box with the printed note Alice had described. She looked at it briefly, then pulled off the tape and opened the box.

Inside was a yellowed envelope. Her name, written in Gram’s elegant handwriting, was on the outside. She carefully opened the envelope and took out the note.

Dear Addie,

I know your Mom and her new husband love you very much and will do all they can to give you a happy home. I do miss you. I wanted you to have this. When we worked on it during your summer visits, it brought me such joy. I hope the memory of those times together brings you joy as well.



Addie pulled the folded quilt from the box. It wasn’t a large quilt, doll-sized really, but each square was lovingly sewn by hand, some with the neat, even stitches of Gram and some with Addie’s ten-year old fingers.

She looked at each square, gently outlining each one with her finger. The materials had come from a box of old clothing she found in Gram’s attic. Cotton prints and solids and even a few squares of dark-green velvet. Each square was embroidered, some with a small pictures, or a date or a name.

“Thank you, Gram,” she whispered. She gently folded the quilt and placed it and Gram’s note back in the box, then picked up the box and left the house.

Prompt 15: Your Voice Will Find You: The Fall of the Alhambra

It was magnificent. It was situated at the end of a street. When you approached the theater at night, spotlights shined on a facade that appeared to be sculpted from sandstone. It was in fact concrete artfully designed to appear like sandstone. Arches soared, suggesting a much more exotic location than suburban Sacrament; Spain perhaps, or somewhere in North Africa.

The lobby was appropriately lush, especially since its main purpose was to sell quantities of popcorn and candy. It almost felt unethical to take a soft drink into the theater. One didn’t want to spill anything in the beautiful interior.

Heavy red velvet curtains covered the screen. Maybe they weren’t actual velvet, but they passed. In addition to the plush seats on the floor of the theater, two-seat balconies , which contained actual seats, lined the sides of the theater. The sound system was state-of-the-art for the time.

It was the ultimate destination for date night, and every Saturday evening it was filled with couples of all ages. It was the place to go in Sacramento, the Alhambra Theatre. (One has to spell it in the British manner. It fits the style!)

All of this changed suddenly. One afternoon we drove by the theater and noticed a sign announcing the sale of the property. They’re selling the theater to new owners, we thought. We were wrong. Soon after the posting of the sign, the theater was torn down, and a new building, far less imposing and interesting architecturally, appeared.

It was a Safeway grocery store. Not beautiful, not imposing in size, and surrounded by a large parking lot, I disliked it immediately. I vowed to avoid shopping at that store, no matter what.

We moved away from the city, but returned several years later. The Safeway store still stands. I still don’t shop at that particular Safeway. Since we moved back to Sacramento, at least two other of our favorite theaters have closed and been taken down. The land is more profitably used for other corporate ventures.

I was sad to see the Alhambra go, but railing against one corporate interest in favor of another corporate interest seems counter productive. After all, it is corporation vs corporation.

An Explanation ( of sorts)

I am participating in an on-line writing course through WordPress.  It has been challenging at times, sometimes fun, but always interesting. The course gives you a series of writing prompts, one each day for twenty days, except for weekends. When I started this post, I “password protected” the writing prompt posts. That meant that only my fellow bloggers participating in the same program, would see my posts. I have since realized that the password protection shuts out those who follow the posts, and that seems unfair. It would be very frustrating to get notice of a new post, go to that site and realize you can’t read the post, because you do not have access to the password. So, belatedly, I have tried to remedy the situation by removing the password protection from all but a few of the posts. Some of the posts are fictional, some are not. Given this stage of my life, the sad posts tend to be non-fiction. I apologize for any frustration this may have caused. Not only has this exercise helped my writing, but I have learned a little more about the mysteries of technology.

DSCF1908                                                                                                                       Peace

Prompt 14: To Whom it May Concern: A Farewell





Dear Information,

I must admit, when I first met you, I was intrigued. There was so much to you! You entertained me, you made me laugh and you educated me. I found you in libraries, books, newspapers and selected magazines. I even sought you out on television and radio, even though I blush to remember seeking you out on such relatively unreliable sources.

I don’t know exactly when I first began to tire of you, although it may have begun with the coming of the internet. I remember those early days of that horrible sound that accompanied my attempts to connect to the internet using dial-up. So often it failed, but I was in search of you and so I persisted. High speed internet, then WiFi appeared and still I searched for you. The search was faster, but I began to recognize that your quality had begun to diminish. I no longer looked forward to perusing the internet in search of you. Days went by when I avoided the computer entirely.

I could no longer believe that finding out about the latest Kardasian caper, or Justin Bieber escapade truly qualified as valuable Information.

I’m sorry, Information. It does sadden me that any further searches in which I participate will be more focused and purposeful. This means I may not see you as often, but I will never forget you. I hope we can remain friends.





Prompt 13: Serially Found: My Wallet, My Life, Part 2

The alarm went off. Much too early for Saturday. I reached over and hit the snooze button, then I remembered the Friday night disaster. I reviewed the telephone conversation I had had with my husband that night. He assured me he wouldn’t need to use the credit cards and he would be home Sunday instead of Monday. We agreed I would call and cancel the credit cards, and I did so.

Still in bed, I yawned and stretched. I picked up the book I had been reading last night, the latest Sue Grafton novel featuring Kinsey Millhone. Too bad Kinsey  isn’t real, I thought. I could use her help on my missing wallet case. Well, why not. I can still use the same techniques she uses. After all, I’ve read books A-P. I should know something about detecting by now.

I started by making a detailed list of all the places I had been in the hours before I discovered the wallet was missing. An hour later with a list of over thirty items, I moved to the second step of my plan; search for a pattern. The pattern that emerged was that in the hours before the wallet’s disappearance was discovered, it had been in my office, in a drawer, inside my purse. Great. Absolutely useless. No new information there. What would Kinsey do next?

I needed to go out to the school site, the scene of the crime, walk the area and look for additional clues. After all, every detective, including Kinsey, ultimately relied on field work, the hard “grunt” work, searching the scene for hidden clues. That’s why they used to call private investigators “gum shoes”. They get gum on their shoes from walking around detecting.

I got dressed, jumped into my car and tore off toward the school. I was in sight of the empty school parking lot when I heard the siren and saw the flashing lights of the squad car in my rear view mirror. It was Saturday and I was the only car on the road. No question who they wanted. I pulled over and rolled down the window.

“Hello officer. How can I help you?”

“You can help me by giving me your license, registration, and proof of insurance.”

“Yes, of course. Is there some problem?”

“You were speeding. Going 60 in a 45 mile zone.”

“Oh. I need to get those things out of the glove compartment.” As I reached into the glove compartment, it dawned on me there were only two of the requested items in the glove compartment. My license was still missing.

I handed the registration and proof of insurance to the officer.

“I need your driver’s license. Please remove it from your wallet.”

“About that, officer…”

I related the story of the lost wallet and my pathetic attempts to play detective. He didn’t seem particularly sympathetic to my plight.

“You can’t drive without a license. Can you call someone to come and get you and drive the car home?”

“Yes. An excellent suggestion officer. I’ll do that.”

” Yeah. Good idea.” He scowled at me. “No ticket this time. Paperwork wouldn’t be worth it to me.”

“Yes, officer. Thank you, officer.” He watched me leave the car and walk toward the school office. I unlocked the door, disabled the alarm, turned and waved to the officer and closed the office door. Crud. The neighbors I knew were out of town, my husband wouldn’t be back for a day and the rest of my family lived out-of-state. The insurance wouldn’t cover a tow because the car was not damaged. I couldn’t pay out-of-pocket for a tow because all my cash was in my wallet. My stomach growled. That’s it, I’m not going to starve as well. I’ll just have to take the back route home.

The back route wound through isolated country roads, all of them in poor repair. The recent rain would have left puddles and washed out areas, making the route even less inviting than usual. That beat starving and sleeping  in the school office. Forty-five minutes later I pulled into the garage at home. My usual commute was twenty-minutes, but at least I had avoided further contact with Officer Grouch or his friends.

I bent down to pick up the purse I had placed on the floor on the passenger side. In addition to the purse, I felt a leather rectangular object. I picked it up. Yes! My wallet!. I opened it and gazed at my driver’s license. Horrible picture, but a beautiful license! I looked lovingly at my credit cards, my checks, family pictures and cash. It was all there. Somehow, it must have fallen out of my purse and gotten wedged somewhere under the seat where I couldn’t see or feel it. The bumpy back route roads must have jarred it lose.

Now,  all I had to do was break the good news to my husband.







Prompt 12: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon : The Interview


When I graduated from high school, I decided I would save my parents some of the cost of a University education by completing my freshman year at a local Community College, then I would transfer to the University of my choice. I was a very good student with an excellent record and this was a pattern than many students followed at the time.

Halfway through my freshman year at the Community College, I arranged an interview with my Counselor to discuss my plans and make sure the courses I had taken and planned to take the second semester were fully transferable. I had already filled out my University application for the following fall, and my parents were supportive.

I walked down the dingy corridor lined with glass-windowed office doors. I found number 325, Mr. Peterson’s office, and knocked on the door.

“Yeah. Come in,” a voice called. As I opened the door, the man behind the desk, old-fashioned phone receiver pressed to his ear, glanced up at me, then pointed to a chair. I sat.

He swiveled his chair around, back to me and continued his conversation. “Yes. I’m sure. Go ahead and send me that information. Yes. Uh huh. I see. You’ll still need to send it to me.” For a few seconds he listened intently to the voice on the other end. “Yes. Yes. Just send it to me. O.K. Bye.”

He banged the receiver down so hard on the phone that it rang in protest.

He took off his heavy rimmed glasses, rubbed his eyes and yawned. His long brown comb-over lay flat across the top of his head, undisturbed.

“Sorry about that. I didn’t get much sleep last night. Frantic students. Now, what can I do for you Miss?”

“I’m planning on transferring to the University next fall and I want to be sure I’m doing all I can to make that go smoothly,” I said.

“You what? Why in the world would you want to transfer?” He pulled a file out of the stack on his desk, opened it and flipped through the papers inside. “Looks like you’re doing well. Your grades are good, so why leave now?”

“I want to be a historian and the University has the best program for that.”

“You’ll be taking the same courses here as you would at the University, but it won’t cost your parents so much. How can you do that to your parents?”

“My parents support the idea.”

He stared at me for a long moment.

“Huh. I know why you’re doing this. You’re looking for an Mrs. degree and you think you’ll attract a guy with better prospects at the University.

It was my turn to stare. “I can’t believe you said that.”

“Look. It’s my job to try to keep successful students here for the whole two-year program. It’s better for the students, their families , the school and the faculty. You’re a good student. We don’t want to lose you.”

“You’re not going to keep students if you insult them. After talking to you, I’m more determined than ever to transfer next fall.” I stood, stomped to the door, flung it open and stalked out.

I did transfer to the University that fall. When I signed up for classes, I found an announcement that Course Historiography 235 was cancelled. This was the course designed to teach the techniques of historical research and writing. I did get a degree in history, but I did not become a historian.

Oh, and I did get married, but not to anyone I met at the University.

Prompt 11: Size Matters (In Sentences) : The Family Homestead

When I was nine, my family moved into a house where I lived until I married and moved out. It was a brand new house in a forest of almost-identical homes. A track home. When we first moved in, it was still neighbor to several orange groves. The orange grower slowly sold the remaining groves to developers until the only trees remaining were the stick-thin saplings held up with stakes planted in suburban lawns.

It was a nice house for the time. Three bedrooms, two baths, a fireplace and a two car garage. It had a dishwasher and a washer/dryer in the kitchen. Not a washer and dryer, but a washer/dryer, a two function machine that did not catch on. Technical difficulties, I’m told.

I lived there with my parents and sister. Eventually we added a cat with many kittens and a small dog.

The back yard was substantial. We lived at the end of a cul de sac. The yard was fenced and included a cement patio. My dad built a lounge chair, and my mother put a thick floral-printed cushion on top. A wooden picnic table and benches completed the patio furnishing.

My sister and I each had our own bedrooms for the first time. Three years older, she was glad not to have a room decorated with such juvenile things as dolls and stuffed animals. Her room was sophisticated, in keeping with her status as the older sister, and it was off limits to me. For some reason, she rarely invaded my room.

In the hall-way was a large black telephone seated on a special telephone stand. Our neighbor worked for the phone company and generously installed an extra long cord on the phone. It was so long, it reached into my sister’s bedroom. For private conversations, she said.

We lived in the middle of fast developing Southern California suburbia. Little was within walking distance. To get to work, grocery shopping, shopping-shopping, or my sister’s high school you needed a car or a bus.

My school was one of the few destinations an easy walk away. Like the house, the school was new. I was in the first class to attend. I became a cheerleader. Yes, this is not metaphoric, but literal. As I got older, I learned that admitting that you had been a cheerleader in middle school was not necessarily something to be proud of.  But it was part of my twelfth year and I will admit it here.

My sister completed high school, went to work, married and left home. A few years later I left for college, then married and moved out. Our parents continued to live in the house for a few more years. With the death of my grandfather and my grandmother’s declining health, they sold the house and moved into her more spacious house to care for her.

The house and the neighborhood fell on hard times. A fire in the San Bernardino Mountains threatened it one summer, but it escaped. It was eventually brought down by the loss of hope. Suburbia was not always an easy place to live.

Prompt 10: Happy Sunday Dinner – Recipe for the Future


My family on both my mother’s side and my dad’s side, were farmers. I don’t mean that my parents grew up on a farm, although I have memories of my Great Grandmother on my father’s side raising chickens and growing asparagus in her semi-rural backyard. What I mean is, although they didn’t grow up on a farm, there were echoes of the mid western farmer from previous generations in their traditions and habits. This was particularly true when it came to matters of food.

Sunday dinner was a good example. On the farm, dinner was served early in the afternoon, usually no later than 3:00 p.m., more commonly at 1:00 p.m. and it was a production. After all, farmers still had many hours of work to do after dinner and they needed the energy and calories the meal provided.

On Sunday, we sat at the dinner table in our suburban house and ate chicken, ham or roast beef, mashed potatoes (not from a box), a cooked vegetable (usually carrots, peas or green beans), sliced cucumbers in vinegar, stringy, crisp celery sticks with salt, red radishes that burned your mouth, and hot rolls and butter. A feast fit for a hard-working farmer.

Since this was the official day of rest, and we had no farm chores to perform, the kids helped mom clear the dishes and clean up, then the grown-ups settled down for a rest, and the kids went out to play and burn off some energy.

Desert was always served, but usually one or even two hours after the Sunday feast. It was the deserts, and helping my mother make them, that made Sunday dinner memorable for me. Mom was a talented baker and a gentle teacher. Two of my favorite deserts were lemon meringue pie and apple crisp.

Although my style of cooking is quite different from my mother’s, I’ve always tried to bake one of the deserts she baked for holiday dinners. Several years ago, I realized I no longer had a copy of my mother’s recipe for apple crisp. I tried several substitutes, but none were as good as mom’s

Last Christmas, my sister found two copies of the apple crisp recipe written in my mother’s handwriting. I baked it for Christmas dinner when my son and daughter-in-law visited. My daughter-in-law asked for a copy of the recipe. I started to copy it when I realized that mom’s recipe was written with the presumption that the reader was an experienced baker, or at least had someone like my mom to stand-by and help. Some of the amounts of various ingredients were vague, and some of the steps I knew were left out of the written recipe.

I decided to “translate” the recipe for the novice baker. When I finished, mom’s recipe, which had been handwritten on a 3×5 card,  had morphed into a two-page, typed essay.  It’s moved on to another generation and it was good to have served as a bridge between generations.

Thanks, Mom!