Category Archives: Introspective

Painting Flowers In The Field

“What are you doing, René?”

“Peinture des fleurs dans le domaine.” “Painting flowers in the field.”

“They are beautiful.  Such a beautiful canvas.  A bit colorful with happiness. Yes, happy flowers,” said André.

“Yes, they are.  I paint what I feel.  I feel like flowers.  Yes, I’m happy.  See?  It’s an expression of me, what I feel inside.  I take what I feel and apply it to canvas.  That’s what most artists do.  Their art speaks.  It speaks to you.  Can’t you hear it?  Not yet?  OK, it will speak to you later.”

“How do you come up with these ideas, René?  I didn’t know you could paint what you feel inside.  Never thought about painting flowers in the field, but if you do it, then maybe I can imagine it,” said André.  “Yes, you can imagine it.  I always try to paint what I feel.  So, if you feel happy,  maybe you can imagine it.  You see, flowers are there for a purpose.  They are there for many reasons. They are beautiful and colorful, but I don’t know what happened to these?” laughingly said René.

“René , I do know life in color, but when it comes to feelings, I know no color.”  “Well, you see it now.  For some people, they have to imagine color, even black and white because they can’t see it.  Some call it vision impairment.  A nice way to say blind.  But what is color anyway?  Is it for real or is it an illusion that we create inside our minds?  Who knows?  Good to see you, André.  You are a colorful character.  That means you have personality.  I’ll tell you more later.  Bye for now,  my friend, I must add color to these sad flowers in the field,” said René as he smiled at André.  “OK, I will go along, as you say, and try to imagine feelings with color, but I don’t think so.”

“Hello, René.  I see you are in the artistic frame of mind,” said Michelle.  “Always, Madame.” “Hmm.  Flowers in the field, I see.  Quite fanciful with so much color,” said Michelle.  “Yes, colorful as you, I mean, beautiful as you,” said René as he applied more paint to his canvas. “Oh, so you are feeling beautiful today, René.  You are a man of romance.  I can tell.  There’s  a blush of rose in your mind,” said flirtatiously by Michelle as she brushed her fingers through her hair.  “No, they are not roses, but wildflowers of all colors and assortment.  See, a touch of color?  A little red, some yellow, maybe a touch of green and a little brown,”said René as he placed his brush down on his palette.  “So, the painting is finished and ready for me to have it?  I know it’s for me, dear René,” said Michelle .  “No, it’s not finished.  I must stop for now.  Maybe paint some more another day.”

“André, you’re back.  Are you feeling color today?”  “No color yet, René.  I feel nothing.  How can you feel and see color when all you see is sand and surf?” said André a bit puzzled. “Even at the shore, I can feel color and paint flowers in the field. I know it doesn’t make sense, but in time you will know and see color anywhere,” said René as he paints with color on his canvas.   “Should I go again, René, as you said before, since I see and feel no color?” said André with a disappointing affect. “No, no, André.  You must stay and watch as I paint.   I know the feeling and color will come to you.  You must not be sad, you will see nothing but black and white.  Look at me.  I’m happy and I can paint color,” said René with a smile.

“Hello, Michelle, you’re back.  I do not feel rosy, but earthy.  Colors of green, yellow, brown and red.  Flowers in the field, I paint.  See?”  “René, I don’t understand you.  I never feel color.  Only black and white,” said Michelle a bit perplexed as she gazes at René in wonder. “You too, feel nothing, as sad as André.  I don’t understand neither of you,” said René as he turns his head away from Michelle. “Should I go, so you can feel color?”  “Yes, please go.       I can’t be inspired with you around.  Good bye, Michelle.”  “OK, I will go, but I will never come back.  I feel nothing.   You are colorful  but I am not, René,”said Michelle as she walks away looking back at René in dismay.”  “See ya, Michelle.”

René thinking to himself, I hope they never come back.  It’s sad that they feel nothing but black and white.  I must continue with my feeling of happiness.  I must paint color.

So René continues with his brush and pulls color from his palette.  He is happy and joyful because he likes what he is doing.  Maybe others can feel happiness, if they try.  Sometimes it’s a matter of attitude.  If you can’t pull yourself up from circumstances that bring you down, a change of mind is necessary.  A positive attitude can make a difference with how you feel.  It can motivate, if you try.  Really, no one needs to stay where they are.  Maybe this painting can inspire.  I certainly hope so.  Just try to paint happiness in your mind and maybe you can see it and eventually feel it.

“Peinture des fleurs dans le domaine.”  Painting flowers in the field can make a difference.   Just try it.  Think color and maybe happiness can come to you.

Fish Market Drifter

“If you don’t write your own story, somebody else will write it for you.”

“Just be yourself.  No need for pretense.  Write your own story.  If they write your story, will it be about them or you?  Be yourself and your story will be about you,” said the fish market  drifter. “Who are you?  You seem to be a very wise man.  How did you know that I wanted to write a story, one about me,” said the somewhat startled, surprised young man. “I know a lot about life.  Been there, done that.  I know a lot about writing, that’s what I do.  I’m a ghostwriter.” “Are you a ghost?  What is a ghostwriter?”

“A ghostwriter?  Let’s see.  Someone hidden, not visible, not known, writing a story for you. Why do you ask such a question young man?” “I have a draft of a story I have written and I think it isn’t very good.  I don’t write very well.  I need someone to polish it up.  Make it a worthwhile read.  It needs to be inviting.  Like the neon sign behind you,” said young Mark. “Your name, bright young man?” “I’m Mark.  Mark Twain.” “Mark Twain?  Do you know who you are?  Your style of writing was a new genre of literature.  A little rough around the edges, but your books were, and still are, some of the most read books to this day,” said the ghostwriter beneath the neon light.

“How do you know that about me?  I never knew it.  I want to write an engaging and provocative story.  One that makes people think.  Imaginative and adventurous.  A ghostwriter, I hear, can bring a story to life.  A ghost never reveals himself.  Remains anonymous.  One told me on the telephone that she could write me a story that will shine. As bright as that neon light behind you.  You see it?” “Yes, I see it.  It’s bright and sends a message that there is something of value in there. ‘We have crabs’ must be in demand here.  You know this is a fish market?  People come here for the best and select.  You already have that gift with your writing.  Thought you ought to know,” said the gravelly voiced old man. “I really do?  I already have what I need to write my story?” said young Mark, and said, “I’m only a diamond in the rough.” “That’s what makes your writing so special.”

“How do you know me?” “All ghostwriters know about you.  They try to copy your style, but have never been able to do it.”  “Who are you and where do you come from?” “Maybe  I’m someone from your past.  Maybe you.”

Silly Obsessions

The Leisure Guide.  Support Groups.                                                                                                           For Women Only.  Silly Obsessions.

“Welcome, ladies, to ‘Silly Obsessions.’  Thanks for responding to my ad.  I assume most of you found me listed under support groups.  I applaud you for having the courage to be here.”

“Let me take a count.  Eleven of you plus me makes twelve.  Perfect.  There are twelve chairs.  Choose a chair and have a seat.  Notice that each chair is numbered, one through twelve.  Once seated, that will be your assigned seat for every session.  There will be twelve sessions.  The cost of each session is twelve dollars.  Cash up front.”

“One rule.  What we share in here remains confidential.  It’s our secret.  We never use names, only numbers.  I’m seated in chair one, so I’m number one.  Number seven, you’re seated in chair seven.  That’s your number.  And so forth.  We are numbers and nothing else.  That way our identities are protected.  Perfect.”

“Now, let’s get started.  Just say your number, then your obsession.  Any volunteers?”    “I’m number seven.  I’m obsessed.”  Number one to number seven, “Obsessed with…?”   “That’s all I can say for now.” “Thank you for sharing.  You are courageous.”

“Anyone else?  Number four, you seem like you want to say something.  It’s okay to share.”  Number four shakes her head no while staring down at the floor. “Thank you for sharing.  You are courageous,” said number one.  Number four thinking to herself, I’ll talk when I’m ready to talk.  First, I’ve got to see what cards are placed on the table by the others, then I’ll know what to say about me.

“Go ahead, two.” “Dust bunnies are running wild in my house.” “So brave of you, number two.  Thank you for sharing.  You are courageous, said number one.  Dust bunnies seem to be one of the most common obsessions with women.  All having a need to keep a perfectly clean house.  I suspect there are others here with the same obsession.”

“Number ten, you seem to be delighted with what you’re doing.  Would you like to comment?” “See, I have ten of them.  Five on each hand.  I just love painting my nails.     That’s my obsession.” “If you like painting your nails, then why are you here?” “I always read the personals.  I was applying my new shade of color, missed a nail, and painted your ad red.  That’s glossy apple red.  Then I read, ‘Silly Obsessions.  For Women Only.’   I thought, ‘that’s me.’  So here I am, along with my glossy apple reds.  I know it’s a silly obsession, but it’s what I like to do. I have a sample for each of you.”

Number one thinking to herself, Why is she here?  So, she polishes her nails.  Nothing wrong with that.  But if she wants to be here, and wants to share, she is welcome. That’s twelve more dollars in my treasure chest.  She’s up to something.  It’s rumored that a cosmetics peddler has been making the rounds to the women support groups. Could it be her?  I do like the glossy apple red.

“Go ahead, number five.” “I’m obsessed with my refrigerator magnets.  All  one-hundred of them.  All kinds.  They know their place and I put them there.  I spend five hours each day arranging them.  Organized in sets of twenty five.  Five across and five down.  Five hours is way too long.  If I could just cut the time in half.  But, then, what would I do with the rest of my half-time obsessing?  I’m sure I can think of something else to do for the other two and one half hours.  A magnetic force just pulls me to the fridge.” “Thank you for sharing.  You are courageous.  High five to you, number five.”

“How about in the middle this time?  Number six, I have a sixth sense about you.  I sense you want to say it.  I can’t say it for you.  Go ahead.  You can do it.” “I’m into…” “Say it, number six,” said number one. “I’m into…” “I know it’s the unthinkable, a bit of madness. It’s time to say it.” “I have a fetish.”  Every woman is listening intently bracing to hear the confession of sin. “I’m into…nothing.  Nothing at all.  Okay, I really enjoy keeping people on the edge of their seats.  I just get a thrill from it. Such a rush.  See, I just did it.” All women sigh with relief.

“Let’s move to the top of the ladder.  Number twelve, tell us about your obsession.” “Well, I’m into cracking eggs.  A dozen each morning.  Must be fresh and Grade A Large.  It gives me such a release.  I perform this ritual every morning at the crack of dawn.  A great way to start my day, every day.” “What do you do with them, number twelve?” “Placed in the fridge until twelve noon.  Two scrambled for lunch.  Three added to my mixing bowls to bake three cakes.  Four boiled for no reason.  And three over lightly added to my man’s plate with a T-Bone steak.  Ready for him at noon every day, just as he likes it.  Always been told to always please my man and to always keep a clean house.” “Number twelve, you have told a tale of twelve.  How can any woman today believe that one?  No woman takes care of her man these days.  She takes care of herself and does the housework, too.  Thank you for sharing,” said number one.

“May I speak, please.  I have someone to sell, I mean something to share.” “Number eight, to sell or share or both?  Go ahead, this must be worth hearing,” laughingly said number one. “I’m obsessed with the yellow pages.  I turn each and every page.  If I miss one, then I start all over again.” “Oh my.  How many pages and what’s your interest?” Number eight pulls out from under her chair a large book.  She holds up the book, points to the cover and flips through it’s pages. “See, it’s him.  He’s on the cover, the back, and the spine of the book.  He is on every page.  A photo for all pages.” “Who is he, number eight?”  “He’s an attorney.  We all know him.  He is everywhere.  Notice his smile and his wink.  His line, ‘at your service.’  Now, what is that about?  I’ve got his number.  Always ready to help a woman in need.” “Thank you for sharing.  You really are obsessed with him, I mean the yellow pages.  Thank you for your courage.”

“What are you looking at, number nine?” “I see two, three, four of them rolling across the floor.  Just like tumbling tumbleweed rolling across a dusty street of a deserted ghost town.  The saloon doors are slamming back and forth, and the shutters are rattling in the howl of the wind.  The piano is playing, but no one is there…” “Number nine, number nine, are you there?  Please return.” “I’m back from the ‘Old West.’  That’s what dust bunnies do to me.” “Such an imagination.  Thank you for sharing.”

“Whew, I hope someone has something lighter to share.” “I do, light as a feather.  I have what they call a ‘feather fetish.’  I’m a bit superstitious.  My feather has some magical power.  See, this one, it’s a pheasant feather.  Long with colors of brown and red.  It can lighten a heavy load.  Need the laundry basket lifted?  One swipe of the feather can lift from floor to counter with ease.  Arranging furniture?  This one feather can move a trunk across a room with no effort at all.  I have many others, but this feather has power, magical power.” “Wishful thinking, don’t you think, number eleven?” “No, it works.  Worried about dust bunnies?  It can lift a bed to search for them.  One fan and it removes them.  All of them.” “Thank you for sharing, number eleven.  An obsession worth keeping for sure.”

“Okay, number three, then me. “You’re in a chuckle, number three.  Share the laugh.”  In the light lilt of a British tone of voice, “These preoccupations with dust bunnies, painting nails, organizing magnets, and a love affair with the yellow pages are utterly ridiculous. Rather silly, I think, really.” “Number three, you’ve made a good point.  Silly and ridiculous, but important to those that are obsessed.  Do you have a little, teensy-weensy, obsession to share?” “Yes, I do.  It’s…dust bunnies…really.” “I just knew it, number three. We’re all obsessed with them.  Thank you for sharing.  You are really courageous.  You had the nerve to say what most obsessions really are.  Silly and ridiculous.”

“Now, me.  My obsession is…with obsessions.  I just love them.  Nothing like being fixated on something.  I’ve enjoyed every one you’ve shared.  If you enjoy them, why not keep them?  If not, maybe change to something else.  I’m sure we, obsessives, can always come up with a new one.  Session over.  Remember next time-twelve, twelve, twelve.  Twelve noon.  Room Twelve.  Twelve dollars.  And that’s cash up front.”

“Silly me.  Silly you.  Silly obsessions.”


A Beggar’s Bounty

Why beg?  Because I am hungry.  Because I have no money.  Because I have no home. Because I have no friends.  Because I am hungry.  Because I’m hungry!

“Lady, can you help me?  I am hungry.”  “No time for you.  Find your own food.”

“Sir, I just need a few morsels of food.  Can you help me?  “Here.  Have a half of sandwich.  It’s salami, you will like it.”

“Lady, I need food.  I have nothing to eat.”  “If you took a bath, you could get a job.   Then you could buy your own food.”

“Boys, I like your skateboards.  I had one once.  Can you spare some chips and a burger?”  “Yeah man.  Have some chips and a burger.  We always get enough to eat.”

“Kind sir, could you buy me a meal at the diner?”  “That’s asking too  much.  You’re a beggar.  I don’t want to be seen with you.”

“Lady, may I have half of your pastrami on rye with everything on it?”  “Well, since you know a good sandwich, and for someone who has good taste, this one’s for you.”

“Nice looking men you are.  I see you are dressed in designer, tailored fit suits.  I particularly like the double breasted charcoal jacket and slacks, and the light               chalk blue pinstriped brown suit. You are wearing designer shoes.  Classic cotton shirts.  Silk ties are my favorites.  They denote a debonair man.  Your ties are quite dashing.  Wearing expensive timepieces and designer eyewear.  And you look happy and successful.”

“How do you know so much about us?  You have class and very good taste.”  “I was once like you.”  “I don’t understand, can you explain?”  “I was once like you.  I used to be a businessman at one time.  Actually, I operated a fine men’s clothing store.  I was a tailor.     I dressed men in the best of clothes and accessories. ”

“Where were you a tailor?”  “Here in town in the garden district.  I’m Herb Bergenstein.         I was once somebody and now I am nothing.  I was a noted tailor at one time.  Anyhow,        I fell on hard times.  I lost my business and I lost my self worth.  I was once like you.”

“Man.  Hey guys, this man needs help.  He was once like us.”  The other man, “This man has class.  He knows a lot about us.”  The third man, “Sir, you are the man!  How about joining us for lunch?  Like steak?  How about a New York strip sauteed with onions and mushrooms and covered with the finest of steak sauce?  The Gentlemen’s Club for you.” “All I need is a burger and fries.  Also, I’d like a thick malted shake.”

“Herb, buddy.  Are you hungry?” said Jake.  “Of course I am.  I wouldn’t be begging otherwise.”  “You like smorgasbord, a food buffet?  It’s all you can eat,” said Mel.  “I think the ‘Pig Out Place’ would be good for him,” said Zell.  “Yeah, the ‘Pig Out Place’ sounds good to me,” said Herb.  “Let’s go to the ‘Pig Out Place.’ Need to hurry before all the other hungry men get there,” said Jake.  All laugh.

“Before we go, Herb, we’re going to stop by our shop to get you cleaned up.  Here we are, ‘The Finely Dressed Man,’  this is our business.  Let’s go in, get you a shower and cleaned up.  You’re about my size, Herb, you can wear my tee and jeans,” said Mel.  “We’re ready, Mel.  You and Herb ready to go pig out?  We are all dressed in our pig out tee shirts,” said Jake.  “See Herb, the pig’s head is on the front of the shirt and the back is his rump and it’s curly pink tail.  Oink, oink!” said Zell.

“We have arrived, the ‘The Pig Out Place.’  The place to pig out.  Let’s get in before the herd.  It will be fresh and ready just for you, Herb,” said Zell.

“Wait til you see the spread of food.  If you’re hungry, this is the place.  I pig out on the baked chicken, and just about every vegetable.  My grand finale is the cherry cobbler.  Yum, yum.  And I have a frozen soda,” said Mel.

“What can I choose?  I don’t know where to start,” said Herb.  “You can choose anything you want.  This is the ‘Pig Out Place.’  Have at it and eat plenty.  We start right here with the vegetables,” said Zell.

Jake to Herb, “I could eat everything in here.  I worked out hard at the gym this morning,     I need to refuel.  I pig out on baked salmon, the broccoli casserole, and a teriyaki salad.        I can just taste it now.  And my dessert, apple pie a la mode.  I think I’ll move ahead.  See you guys at the table.”  “Oh no, you’re last in line.  Herb is first in line,” said Mel followed by Zell.

Zell, a southern boy.  “I’m southern grown.  I like everything out of the frying pan.  Fried chicken, fried catfish, fried and savory pork chops, and fried okra.  My favorite dessert is banana pudding with plenty of vanilla wafers.  And doused with vanilla.  Mmm, Mmm. Let me at it,” said Zell.

“They have everything.  Fresh vegetables.  I see eight of them.  Creamed corn, buttered corn, green limas, stewed tomatoes, asparagus spears, broccoli casserole, peas and carrots, and my favorite, artichoke hearts.  This is a bounty for a beggar, ” said Herb with an awesome expression.

“Go ahead, Herb, the meats are next.  Fried chicken,  sirloin tips, baked chicken, sizzling pork chops, honey glazed ham, and steak grilled kabobs of steak, onions, and tomatoes. That one is hard to pass up,” said Jake.

“I’ll have one of each.  Look so appetizing.  A beggar’s feast,” said Herb.  “I thought you were kosher,” said Mel. ” When you’re a hungry man like me, everything is kosher!”  said Herb.  All laugh.

“There’s every type of salad, Herb.  My favorite is the tossed salad of spinach and tomatoes with oil and vinegar,”  said Mel.  “My favorite is the Waldorf salad.  Diced red apples, chopped celery and walnuts with a thin coating of mayonnaise and served cold. There it is,” said Herb with glee.   “This is really a bounty for a beggar,” said Herb again.

“Herb, we’re near the end of the line.  Select the beverage of your choice, and they do have shakes.  You can make your own dream shake.  Plenty of natural ice cream and malt to add.  See you at table number seven,” said Jake.

“Fellas, awfully nice of you to recognize me on the street.  Most ignore me.  They think I’m  a bum.  Useless and worthless.  What was it that made you help me?” said Herb.

Jake to Herb, “You said, you were once like us.  It made me think.  This man has class and is a gentleman.  My kind of man.”  “Our type of man,” said Mel and followed by Zell.  “Did I say anything of interest?” said Herb inquiring more from these men of class and style.

Mel to Herb, “You said you were once like me and that you were a tailor.  That really made me take notice.”  Zell to Herb, “You said you once dressed men in the best of clothes.  Then you said that you were Herb Bergenstein.  I could not believe it.  I thought, what happened to Herb?  I knew then that we had to help you up and restore your dignity and self-worth,” said Zell in a very caring tone of voice.

“Mr. Bergenstein, I know my business and I know you knew your business. We are exactly alike.  You know the ups and downs about the business,  I’m a tailor, too.  Then I thought, he knows about the ups and downs about life.  That you are and it is a pleasure to meet you, sir,” said Mel in a warm and friendly manner.

“Herb, I’m a tailor, too.  It is my craft.  I really like fitting men in a well-fitted suit,” said Jake.  “I sell the clothes to our customers.  I pay close attention to what they want and make suggestions to what will  make them look their very best, said Zell.

“I’m the proprietor of the business.  I own the business,” said Mel.  “We all work there and have managed to get along all these years.    I don’t know how, but we like what we do,” said Zell laughing with a smile.  “Oh my, you really know about me.  What can I say?’ said Herb.

“Herb, I think you still have something to contribute to life.  I believe that tailor is still in you.  We could use a fashion consultant there.  Maybe I’ll even make you the ‘Master Tailor.’  What do you guys think?” said Mel.  “Well, since you are a tailor, you’re in.  You got my vote of confidence.  Just don’t show me up.  I like to think that I’m the best tailor in town,” said Jake with a smile and with a jeering smile at Mel.  “Well, Zell, do you think Herb knows how to sell clothes?” said Mel.  “If he is Herb Bergenstein, and I believe you are, you would be a perfect fit in our store.  A fine fashion consultant for ‘The Finely Dressed Man.'”

Jake, Zell, and Mel to Herb, “Will you join us?”  “You made me feel like a man again.  I do know the business, and yes I would enjoy coming aboard,” said Herb.

Mel to Herb, “Welcome home, Herb.  You’re just like us and we’re just like you.  And we like to eat, and so do you.”  All laugh including Herb.  “You will never be a beggar again,” said Mel.

“You mean we will pig out every day?” said Herb with a laugh and a smile.  “Only on Friday, Herb, only on ‘Pig Out Friday.’  We try to eat in moderation for the rest of the week,” said Jake.

“Sound like a good fit to me.  I was hungry, now I am fed.  I got purpose in my life again.  You gave me hope.  Good friends that care. Thank you for restoring my life,”  said Herb.

Mel to Herb, “You are a tailor of a man.  You will fit in well here.  Just our style.  See you on Monday.  By the way, we have a place for you.  It’s upstairs above our business.  We all live up there, but for you a store floor private suite.  Welcome home and welcome back to life.”

Chocolatier Mountain

Chocolatier Mountain, Tennessee                                                                                                           Elevation 6200 feet.

One morning at Eula’s Breakfast Stop.

“Fellas, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.  I’m away from home for nearly twelve hours a day,” said Jedd.  “Me too, Jedd, almost never home,” said Tom.  And Jerry Lee “Never see my kids.  Just a quick kiss on Rose’s cheek, then out the door I go.  That’s my day.  That’s my life!”

“Hello boys, what can I getcha?  Coffee, coffee, coffee???”  “No coffee this mornin’,             Eula.  Just a cup of your hot steamed chocolate, that’s all,” said Tom.  “Right back             with the coffee, chocolate and some complimentary hot buttered biscuits,” said Eula.

Jedd to Tom and Jerry “An eighty-four mile round trip to Baconton, every day, does               a lot of wear and tear on the body and soul.  There must be somethin’ else, closer to        home that we can do.  Gotta be,” said Jedd with his thumb supporting his chin.                     “Here ya go, fellas.  Hot brews and biscuits too.  Enjoy!” said Eula.

Huddled together around a table, wearing their torn flannel shirts, Jedd, Tom and Jerry discuss what their futures may hold for them.  Jedd said, “It’s been ten years since we closed the mine.  No more coal needed, now that we’re nuclear.  I just cannot take another ten year commute.”  “Not me and no more,” said Tom and Jerry.

“Anyone thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?” said Jedd.  “I think I know what you’re thinkin’, Jedd.  I’m thinkin’ it too,” said Tom.  Jerry to Jedd and Tom, “I think I’m thinkin’ the same thing, but thinkin’ about a refill right now.”  Jedd, “If I think we’re all thinkin’ the same thing, we may be on to somethin’.” Jedd said further, “Here comes Eula, let’s ask her what she thinks we’re thinkin’.  She will know, she’s got intuition.”

“Here we go, refill, refill, refill and biscuits too,” said Eula.  Jedd to Eula, “We’ve been thinkin’ about somethin’ and wonder if you know what we’re thinkin’.”  Eula to the three mountain men, “How am I suppose to know?  I don’t read minds, but I do sense somethin’. I think you guys want somethin’ closer to home.  Maybe thinkin’ about openin’ up the mine shaft again.  I may be wrong, but I sense it.  My intermission tells me.  I just know it.”

“Well, Eula Mae, you have kinda’ read my mind,” said Jedd and  “Maybe there is somethin’ else in there we could mine, even more precious than gold.  This may be our big find.  First, we found coal, then we found gold, then we found coal again.  Then the mine closed.  That’s been ten years and nothin’ since then.  A closed mine shaft forever.  Well, I think it’s time for a grand re-opening.  Let’s just see what’s in there.  Are you guys game?”  “I’m in, Jedd.  Me too,” said Tom and Jerry.  “Me three!” said Eula Mae.  Jedd to all, “Let’s break her open this Saturday morn.  Meet here at Eula’s at seven a.m.  We will go from here.”

Saturday morning at Eula’s Breakfast Stop.

“Mornin, guys.”  “Mornin’, Jedd” said Tom.  “Mornin fellas,” said Jerry Lee.  “Come on in, boys, breakfast is awaitin’.”  “Mornin, Eula Mae” all three say together.  “Have I got a breakfast for you.  Bacon and eggs, red-eye gravy on hot buttered biscuits, grits is creamy and waffles on the griddle.  All made especially for you on this day of discovery.  Now, have a seat, coffee is on it’s way and biscuits too.”  “Eula, you shouldn’t have,” said Jedd.  “Eula, you shouldn’t have,” said Tom.  “Eula, you shouldn’t have,” said Jerry.  “Now, fellas, I know you all know I should have and I have done it just for you.  All you can eat and all you can drink.  Just relax and enjoy.  Here’s your coffee and here’s your biscuits.  The rest is on it’s way.”

“Mmm, this is good.  Great coffee and these biscuits are heaven sent and already buttered.  Made just for us by Eula Mae.  She’s a mighty fine lady,” said Jedd.  “Yup, she is,” said Tom and Jerry.  “Let’s toast our toast to Eula Mae.”  Toast are toasted and Jerry loses his jelly.   “Where did my jelly go?”  “Who knows, Jerry?  Here, I even buttered and jellied your toast for you.  Now, try again.”  “Jedd, I can butter my own toast.”  “But, Jerry, you need help with the jelly, bud.  With the jelly!”  Jedd and Tom laughed out loud and applied more butter and jelly to the conversation.  “Jerry, do you need someone to spoon feed your grits?  I’ll yell for help, if you need it,” said Jedd waving his spoon.  Tom to Jerry, “Do you need a bib?  It will keep your jelly, your grits, your eggs from staining that nice raggedy shirt of yours.  I’ll yell for a bib from Eula.”  “Okay guys, you’ve had your fun on me.  Just let me be.”

“Anybody heard of the Legend of the Chocolatier?” said Jedd with an engaging tone of voice.  “Never, Jedd, never,” said Tom.  “What’s the legend, Jedd?  Sounds like chocolate, but maybe not,” said Jerry.  “Well, at one time, this valley was an Indian settlement.  They called themselves the ‘Chocolatiers’ named for a legend about the mountain. They were an agricultural tribe.  They farmed this land and grew all types of fruit trees and even coffee trees.  This rich mountain soil produced the best apples, the best pears, the best figs, the best plums and the best coffee beans found nowhere else.  All natural.  Organic, as they would say today.  We could restore these orchards and make part of our living off of them.  Just thinkin’.  You guys thinkin’?”  “We’re thinkin’ too, Jedd,” said Tom and Jerry.

“Back to the legend,” said Jedd.  “It is believed that the cocoa trees up along the mountain side were planted in rows by the Chocolatiers.  We can still see that pattern today.  They chanted, in their Indian language, of course, about the legend of the mountain.  Here’s the chant as I know it.  ‘Sweet, sweet chocolate, within the mountain.  Smell the chocolate, taste sweet life.’  That’s it. This chant was said every year at harvest time.  They believed that the cocoa tree was eternal.  They believed that chocolate was food for the soul and nourished the body for a long healthy life.”

Jedd goes on to say, “One interesting thing about these cocoa trees is that they are out of place, out of their climate.  Most of these trees are usually grown in a warmer tropical terrain and not along a mountainside at a 6200 hundred feet elevation.  Just unheard of and as far as we know, these trees have been here for hundreds of years.  The tree reaches maturity at fifty years and needs to be replanted.  But nature does the work.  Every twenty five years, the trees begin to drop seedlings and the next generation of trees begin to grow.  This cycle has been observed for years and it is always on time.  A cycle of life, as they believed.  An eternal cycle of life.”

“Okay, fellas come out of the trance.  You’ve been here for two hours and it’s half past ten.  Still gonna’ open her up?”  “You bet, Eula, let’s go guys.  But before we leave the lot, we want to check our gear.  We want to make sure we have everything we need to safely enter the mine, be safe while we’re there and safely get out of there.  We can’t leave anything to chance.  We all know and remember the hazards and the losses at the mine.  Let’s never forget the fate of our fellow miners.  I believe their spirits are still there.  I hope they’re there to guide us through.  Just a comforting thought.  But, if we want to know what’s there, we need to get there.  So, let’s go.  Thanks, Eula Mae, it’s been great and you fellas?”  “Thank you, Eula, it has been great,” said Tom.  “We are well fed and in great spirits all because of you.  Thank you, Eula Mae,” said Jerry as they left out from the door. “Be safe and bring back your find.  Show me first, then tell the world!” said Eula Mae.

In Eula’s parking lot.  “Fellas, let’s check our gear.  Flashlights, headlights, batteries, goggles, plenty of face masks, jackets, tools, air supply, food supply, radios, first aid kit and any other gear, guys.  Remember, safety first and we all stay together.  It’s been ten years and we don’t know what it’s like in there.  We must use caution at all time.  We all want to go in there together and we all want to come out together.”  A quick prayer by Tom, “dear Lord, guide our way and protect us all.”  All three say “Amen!”

Jerry Lee to Jedd and Tom “Here’s the mountain, but where’s the shaft?”  “See all that underbrush and the overgrowth of brush and vines?  I think the shaft entrance is under there,” said Jedd and he went on to say  “Let’s take a look guys.  Again, safety first. It’s all boarded up and who knows the condition of the wood.  Don’t need it on top of anyone of us.”  Tom said, “here’s some tools to remove the vine and brush.”  “Tom, start your cutting,” said Jedd.  “Jerry, remove the cut vines and I will remove any other brush,” said Jedd.

Two hours later.  “Tom, do you see anything yet?” said Jedd.  “I do see somethin’.  Yes, it is the shaft door and it is gray, rotten and covered with dirt.  The boards are separated and it looks like it’s about to collapse due to the weight upon it.”  “Boys, this is going to be slow going, but we don’t want anything on top of us.  Get your iron tools guys and let’s remove one board at a time,” Jedd said in a cautious tone of voice.  “Tom and Jerry, pull the first board off.”  “It’s off, Jedd,” said Jerry.  Jedd to Tom and Jerry, “I see there are three boards left, the others have caved in.”  “Ready, Tom?  You and I will get this one.  Pull slowly and we got it,”  Jedd said with relief.  “Now one more board.  It’s very loose, guys. Let’s all pull it off.  Carefully, pull, pull, pull and there it goes down into the shaft.  Done!”

“I feel a cold draft from inside.  It’s not damp, but very dry,” said Tom.  Jedd said “We must be even more careful, one accidental move could move that coal like an avalanche on top of us.  Not ready to be buried alive.”  “Let’s check out gear,” said Jedd.  “I’m set, Jedd,” said Tom and “me too with hard hat, lights, air supply and tools,” said Jerry.

Tom enters the mine first.  He is carrying a large light and is very alert looking for any possible hazards.  “I see the first supports and they appear secure,”  said Tom.  “Good,”     said Jedd.  Let move in farther.  Jerry, stay right behind me and we all need to beam our lights.  As we used to say, “it’s coal dark in here.”  Tom to Jedd and Jerry, I see the second support.  Let me check it.  It’s secure.  We can move ahead.  But, I need you guys right behind me.  This is like stepping into a black hole.”  “We’re with you, Tom,” said Jerry and Jedd in reassuring tones of voice.  All three are scared but can’t let their fear control them.  Only thinking about the next move.  One step at a time.  One careful step at a time.

Jedd said “Only two more supports and we will be at the back of the mine.  Careful, guys, careful.”  Tom said in apprehensive voice “I see the third support and it looks great. Almost to it.  I’m here.  It’s secure.  Come ahead, fellas, carefully.  Shine your lights all around and straight this way.

It is very chilly in here and I even see ice formations on these supports.  I wonder what’s ahead.”  Jedd said “I think I know, but I won’t say, I’ve had a hunch about it all along.”  Jerry, I think I know what you’re thinkin’, Jedd and I’m thinkin’ it, too.  Are you thinkin’ it too, Tom?”  “Think so, come along guys, we’re almost there.  We’re at the third support, see the ice?” said Tom.  “Icicles and they are large. There is something in here that needs very cold air and I really think I know what it is, but won’t say, just have a hunch,” said Jedd laughingly,” but then turned his voice to a serious tone, saying “but this is no time to laugh.  Just be cautious.”

“Guys, I’m at the fourth support.  It’s so cold that I could hardly pull my glove off of it.  Shine your lights this way.  I think I see the back wall.  We need all the light we can get.  I see it.  I see coal, but smell’s like coffee.  It has a very sweet scent.  Almost like sugar, but all I see is coal.  “Tom, I know what it is.  It has somethin’ to do with the Indian legend,” said Jedd.  Jedd to Jerry, “bring your small shovel and I want you to gently dig into the coal wall.  Tom, you do it too.  I think we are about to find somethin’ extraordinary.”

“Hey, Jedd, shine your light right here.  I’ve made it through to somethin’ else and it ain’t coal.  It’s brown and it sparkles.  It is very hard and is very cold, but it smells so sweet.  “Sweet, sweet chocolate.  Could it be?” said Tom.  Jedd moves in closer and said “Looks like, smells like, taste like and sweet as sugar.”

Jedd to Tom and Jerry, “Are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?”  “I know for sure what you’re thinkin’, Jedd,” said Tom.  “I think I’m thinkin’ the same thing too,” said Jerry.  Jedd with an excited voice said “If we’re all thinkin’ the same thing, I think we should say it.  On the    count of three let’s say what we’ve been thinkin’.  One, two, chocolate!”

Jedd starts the Chocolatier chant–“Sweet, sweet chocolate, within the mountain.  Smell the chocolate, taste sweet life.”  “What a find.  More precious than gold.  A natural wonder and a legend solved.  One that is real to life.  Now, what happens to the legend if the truth  is known?” said Tom.  Jedd said to both of his friends “The legend is no longer a legend.  There really is value to a legend.  It allows us to wonder, to ponder, to speculate, to imagine, to question and to seek the truth.  Now that the truth is known, what do we do?”

“Eula Mae said to tell her first, then tell the world,” said Jerry.  Tom to Jedd and Jerry,  “Can you imagine what would happen to our lives, what would happen to our town and what would happen to our way of life, if the world knows?”  “The world would come to town and our lives would be changed forever.  Do we want that here?  I say no and don’t tell anyone about out find.”  Jedd said, “It just wouldn’t be right.  If I have to spend the next ten years doing an eighty-four mile round trip to Baconton for work, I will do it.”  “I feel the same way.  I will find a way to spend more time with my kids and have more than a kiss with Rose,” said Jerry.

Jedd to his friends “Fellas, what do we want to do?  Tell the world or keep the legend?”   “Keep the legend,” said Tom.  Jerry said, “We can’t do this to our people, to our town.     Let’s keep the legend.”  “That makes three of us.  Keep the legend” said Jedd and he went on to say  “I know Eula Mae is expecting us to tell her about our big find.  We’ll  just say Nothing there of value. We closed the mine for good.  The value is in the legend and let’s keep it that way.”

Jedd to Tom and Jerry, “Are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?”  “I’m thinkin’ what you’re thinkin’, Jedd,” said Tom.  “Me too, Jedd, I’m thinkin’ the same thing.” Jedd says to Tom and Jerry. ” Let’s do it.  We know it.  In memory of and honor to the Chocolatiers.”

“Sweet, sweet chocolate within the mountain.  Smell the chocolate, taste sweet life.”

Far More Than Less

In the night, many think about a lot of things.  Things from the day.                                                  Interactions with people of all sorts of personalities.  People that make                               them glad and those that make them mad.  Work undone and work to be                           done.  The responsibilities of living.  Food, shelter, clothing and more.                                   Stretching a dollar from paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. You are                                 about to meet a couple trying to live on less.  Let’s see what they can do.

“Marge, we have a lot of bills to pay.  There are extra unexpected expenses.                                 What are we going to do?  We can’t live without food.  We can’t live without                               a roof over our heads.  We must have clothes to wear or can we do without them?”       “Stan, we need clothes.  We can go to the thrift store and spend less money for brand names.  Even the well to do shop there.  They’re trying to save a dollar or two, as well.  Now, what else can we do?”

“We could live in a tent or a cardboard efficiency,” said Stan laughingly.  “Stan we have a family, you know.  We need space. That won’t work, but it’s worth consideration.  Oh, we could refinance with the mortgage company to get our payment down.”  “Marge, we can’t do that, we rent!  I wonder if tents are on sale at the discount store.  We could look behind shopping centers for boxes.  Many of them are high quality corrugated cardboard.  We could get extra large boxes and attach a couple of them together to make it a duplex and rent out the other side.  What do you think?” said Stan about to roll on the floor laughing.  “We really are feeling desperate, but there is a solution.  You got one, Stan?”  “Yes, it’s called a budget which we have never done.  I will devise one, but you must agree to it.”  “Only if I’m part of the plan,” said Marge.  “So, let’s do it,” said Stan.

“Marge, grab a pencil and a pad of paper.  Let’s get down to business and think seriously about what we must have to live.  I’ll start.  I must have my easy chair and sports channel.” “You mean you must keep your wide screen TV and sports channel and cable! I think that’s asking too much.  You could just watch the regular channels with rabbit ears.  There’s sports on there, but not the sports channel.”  “Who uses rabbit ears anymore and where are we going to find them?” said Stan in an irritated sounding voice.  “Mom has them and has used them for many years.  I’m sure your Uncle Joe uses them and has an extra set of them just for you,” said Marge in a counter solution which Stan won’t consider at all.

Marge to Stan, “Joey must have his video games.  He enjoys playing his two favorites, ‘Cave Enchantment’ and ‘Cage Fighters.’  Lisa must have her smart phone so she can text with her friends.  So, those are a given, must haves.”  “Another option, Marge dear, we could negotiate with the landlord a rent payment twice per month.  That will give us more money for other things that we really need,” said Stan, in a positive tone of voice, as a solution to their shortage of money.

“Well, Stan, what do you absolutely need to meet your basic needs?” said Marge with pencil in hand about to note what Stan says he really needs. “I do need my easy chair       and my massage twice per week with the chiropractor to treat my rheumatism.”  Marge thinking to herself…Stan doesn’t need the chiropractor.  It’s too expensive.  We could save one-hundred dollars per week if I do the massage for him.  I’ll say it in a pampering voice to have him reconsider.  

“Stan, you know, I could do the massages for you.  Even better than the chiropractor.  I’ll give you a deep massage and you will feel like a new man.”  “Can you relieve my pressure points to relieve my stress?”  “Yes I can and do more.  You will feel ecstasy.” “Tell me more, my sweetheart,” said Stan with excitement in his eyes and a grin of delight.  “I can’t tell you, but you will feel the difference,” said Marge in a flirtatious manner with a wink.

Marge to Stan, “I need something for me.” “Really, why would you need anything?  You got all of your pots n’ pans and all the latest kitchen gadgets to perform your art of cooking . And you have your used romance novels that you can read again to capture your fantasy of romance in your life. I just can’t imagine you needing anything more,” said Stan while twirling the egg beaters with his hand and his fascination with their utility.  “Okay, Marge, what do you really need?”  “This is what you want me to say.  I want, I need a new vacuum cleaner and a new dust rag to wipe down everything, including you.  What else would a woman need?” said Marge with a sarcastic smirk at Stan for minimizing her importance.

“Margie, sounds like we’re doing collective bargaining, rather than simply considering our personal needs and the needs of the family.  This is harder to do than I thought.  Let’s take a break and come back to it later, actually tomorrow.  At least we have started a dialogue.” “Let’s stop for now.  We need a break from each other.  I’ll escape into one of my used romance novels.  My lover awaits me,” said Margie with a trance like expression and a smile. “My easy chair awaits me.  There’s always something on the sports channel to capture my interest.  I really don’t want rabbit ears.  I better enjoy cable while I got it,” said Stan with a sigh.  Kiss, kiss.  Hug, hug.  Marge to Stan, “See you later, alligator.”  Stan to Marge, “Afterwhile, crocodile.”

One week later.

“Good morning, Stan.  Fresh coffee and pastry?”  “Mornin’, Marge.  Yes, indeed.  I need coffee so I can awaken my senses!” said Stan with a grin.  “What sense do you have, Stan?” said Marge with a light chuckle.  “Well, I had sense enough to marry you, dear heart.  You have taken good care of me.  What man, in his right mind, would want to give up the life of leisure?”  said Stan in a delightful voice.  “What woman, in her right mind, would make such an error in judgement.  But I guess I’m stuck with you.  I did vow to stay with you for better or worse.  Most of the time it’s better, but sometimes I wonder,”  said Marge in a playful mood and a roll of her eyes.

“Marge, are you ready to look at what we can live without?” said Stan in a soft and gentle voice.  “Stan, I know the Prospero’s do have more than us.  You know, they were just like us ten years ago. I don’t know what happened to them.  They live a life in recluse, now. They live directly across the street from us, but since their open house ten years ago, which they charged us and the neighbors ten dollars each to attend, we’ve had no contact with them at all since then.”

“Marge, we’ve found out who they really are, nothing like us in any way.  We don’t need them and it’s obvious they don’t need us,” said Stan in a matter of fact way.  “Well, Stan,  I will forget about keeping up with them.  They have all the worldly goods, but we have love,” said Marge with a smile and a hug to Stan. “Yes, we have love.  Let’s go to the dining room table and talk in a civil manner to each other about what we can do to live on less,” said Stan as he rises from his kitchen chair.

“Stan, I’ve been thinking, I don’t want to give up anything.  I do not want a budget to control me,” said Marge honestly to Stan.  “It’s not to control you, but we have to live             on less.  I don’t want to give up anything, either.”  “Let’s brainstorm to see what we can do to generate some more income so we can maintain the lifestyle we enjoy.  I have a great idea that may be feasible for us and we won’t have to do extra work,” said Marge. “Let’s hear your idea.  I never thought about generating income and not having to labor for it.”

“Let’s see, you know Mom lives alone.  She needs company.  She needs family.  She needs us.  We could help her out and she could help us out,” said Marge with a little excitement.   “What do you mean about Mom?  I hope it’s not what I’m thinking.  That would be a nightmare.”  “Well, I mean, we could take on boarders.  Mom could come live with us.  Isn’t that a great idea?”  “Just what I feared.  There is no way I will have her board with us.  She will control everything, even us, even me.”  “Let me finish, Stan.  Mom could pay a little rent for a room with us.” “We don’t need her rent money, but maybe we could use her,         I mean her money.  As long as I have space from her.  She could bunk with you. I could  bunk with my TV clicker in my easy chair and enjoy the sports channel in the den.”

“I have one more thing that will put a plus in her column, she gets a monthly pension check which is guaranteed.  That would help us a lot.  She gets a hefty check and I’m       sure she would share it with us.”  “We’ll need half of it.  That may break her.  All I need from her is three-hundred dollars, if you could work it out with her, that would be great.  Before she moves in, we’ll need a deposit on her room of three-hundred dollars.” “I can work that out with her, Stan.  If you agree, I will phone her today about the benefits of living with us.” “I agree.  She’s in.  Let me write it down on our budget, I mean supplemental income sheet.  Let’s see.  Mom–three-hundred dollars.  I like it.  Great idea.”

“Stan, who might you suggest to board with us?”  “I don’t know of anyone in the family who could help us out.”  “Stan, there is someone else who would pay to live with us, your   Uncle Joe.  He is retired from the military and he gets a guaranteed monthly pension.     One plus in his column, he knows how to cook. He was a chef while he was in the Navy.     He could prepare some great meals for us.  After the service, he got trained to be a gourmet chef.  He does fondue, can sizzle the best steaks, and grill fresh fish.  His specialty are desserts.  If I remember, he makes a delicious butter pound cake with rich cream cheese frosting.  Since he will be the cook, we must give him a discount on living with us.  He could pay us two-hundred dollars a month to board and he will purchase all the groceries out of his pocket.  We pay twice per month nearly five-hundred dollars for food. He will save us one-thousand dollars per month on groceries.  I could call him this afternoon, if that’s okay with you.”  “Yes, please call him.  I’m his favorite nephew.  Let’s see.  Uncle Joe–twelve-hundred dollars.  I’m liking your idea even more.  That is a total supplemental income of fifteen-hundred dollars per month.  That’s five-hundred dollars more than we need to maintain our standard of living.   Yee-haw, we’re in the money!”

“If we could make room for one more boarder, we could possibly add five-hundred dollars to our surplus of five-hundred dollars, what do you think, Stan?”  “Who Marge would be willing to pay us that sum of money just for a small room?”  “Well, I know a very nice couple that I met at the market.  They would be the perfect fit.  Both are students and are gone most of the time.”  “What are their names, Marge?  “Jake and Molly.  They could rent the small guest room on the other side of the house and have kitchen privileges.  There is one more boarder with them.  They have a young toddler named Teddy.  A really cute kid.” “Well, that may be too many boarders.  We need our space, but we need their money. They’re in, as long as they stay on their side of the house and contain Teddy within their living quarters.”  “I have their number, I will call them today after Mom and Uncle Joe.”

Joe to Margie, “how, I mean, where will we house all of them here?  Let me make that decision.  Jake and Molly in the guest room.  Uncle Joe in the renovated attic and Mom in the basement.  That’ll work.  Everybody will have their own space.”  “Stan, we can’t put Mom in the basement.  It’s too damp and isolated for her.  Let’s put Jake and Molly and their Teddy in the basement.  It has a small kitchenette and a small storage area which they could use as a place to bunk.  Also an outside door, so we would never see them.  Uncle Joe in the attic will work out fine.”

“We have done well creating a workable plan to supplement our income.  The extra thousand dollars, we could bank it.”  “Why bank it, Stan,  we could live far more than less.   I would like to have a coiffure and a manicure every two weeks.”  “I would like to have a haircut and join the football game pool at work.  It’s all for leisure, but I do need to ante up fifty dollars for upcoming games each week.  That’s only two-hundred dollars per month.” “I could join the women’s bowling league which meets twice a week.  That’ll cost only fifty dollars a week.”  “We’re still within budget, I mean our money management plan.”

“Stan, you know Joey really needs to join some team with his friends.  Let’s sign him up  for the boy’s soccer league. That’ll be one hundred dollars.  We could enroll Lisa in a dance class.  Many of her friends are already in class.  Maybe she will become a prima ballerina one day. Dance classes can be expensive, but this will help build her self esteem.”

“Marge, it sounds like we’re focusing on what we like again, rather than what we really need.  It will defeat our plan and we could sink back into debt.”  “Stan, we can afford to live a little better since we have more money.”  Stan to Marge, “we don’t have the money yet, but I’m willing to take a risk to live a little better, we do deserve it.”  “We forgot about someone in the family who has some real needs.  Milky Way needs a flea dip and grooming at least once a month and he likes his filet mignon.”  “No more, Margie.  Milky Way doesn’t need a filet mignon anymore. Only gravy nuggets from now on.  We can’t spend anymore to stay within our means.”  “Let’s stick to our plan,” said Stan. “The plan, yes, but we just need a little more to live.  That’s not asking too much. A little far more than less, but not less than more.”

Oasis on the Prairie

Flint Hills of Kansas

“Hey, little fella, what’s your name?”  “I’m Peyote, what’s your name?”                                       “My name is Sam, Sam Swindle.  You look like a squirrel, are you?”                                              “Oh no,  I’m a prairie dog.  A different type of dog, but I am a dog.”

Mr. Swindle to Peyote “What makes you think you’re a dog?”  “A man                                    named Lewis discovered us years ago.  He heard our chirp type of bark                                     and thought ‘these are prairie dogs.’  And there you have it.”

“What are you out here for, Mr. Swindle?”  “I’m a writer looking for a story.                         Maybe a story about you.” “A story about me?” “Yes, Peyote, a story about you.                  Actually, I work for a Hollywood producer.  He sent me here.”

“Why would you come out here?  There’s nothing here but us prairie dogs.”                         “But Peyote, look at the panorama.  Grassy green fields, wild flowers of every color,                rolling hills and valleys.  This place is an oasis.  An oasis on the prairie.”

“Mister Swindle, let me introduce you to my cousin.  Chirper is his name.                                     He chirps like a bark.”  “Nice to meet you, Chirper.”  “Bark for us Chirper, bark.”                   “Oh Peyote, I don’t care to, I’m so bashful.  The last time I barked was for a ranger.                 He laughed at me and I haven’t done it since.”  “Come on, Chirpie, bark a little for us.         It’s just me and you and this guy writing a story about us.”

“Okay, chirp, chirp, chirp.”  “More” said Peyote.  Chirper barks again.  “Chirp, chirp,            chirp.”  “You know, I am looking for new talent.  A dog that chirps like a bird would               be an interesting story.  It could be titled ‘Chirper Dog.’  A dog of a different kind on              the prairie.”  “Mr. Writer, I mean, Mr. Swindle, could this get us a Hollywood contract?”

Mr. Swindle to Peyote “I don’t think so, but maybe a promotional ad for the planned       new hotel and casino to be built right here on this spot.  Heard that a real estate magnate    in the east is looking for land and he will buy it, if the price is right.”  “Mister, don’t you   think Chirper’s got talent?”  “He’s got talent, but you got land and lots of it.”

“Peyote, how much can I offer you for a few acres?”  “What’s an acre, Mr. Swindle?” said Peyote  “An acre?  Let’s see, from this bush to that bush, over to that fence post and back to your hole right here is about an acre.”  “That’s a lot of land, Mister.”  Mr. Swindle to Peyote “Yes it is, Peyote.  Who owns this land?”  Peyote to Mr. Swindle “Nobody, that I know of, it’s just us prairie dogs out here and no one else.”

“Well, Peyote, someone was here at one time, the fence post over there with the rusted barbed wire wrapped in a circle and hung on the post.  You know anything about it?”             Peyote said, “I heard that there was a cattle rancher here at one time, but that was long ago.  He couldn’t make a go of it, so he left and this is the remnant of what is left of it.” “Do you know if he ever owned the property?”  “I don’t think so, others were here too and were not able to do anything with this barren land.  Since then it’s been us and no one else”said Peyote.

“Okay, Peyote, I need a deed for this property.”  “What’s a deed, Mister Swindle?”                  “A deed indicates who owns the property.  Since we don’t know of one, I’ll create one.       So, with the deed, we can transfer ownership over to Mr. Real Estate Developer, that is,         if you both strike a deal.”  “Who is this Mr. Developer?” said Peyote.  “He is a big time real estate developer in the east.  He owns just about every casino on the east coast.  He’s got    the bucks to buy this land.”  Mr. Swindle goes on to say “This could be big money for you, Peyote.  You will never be without.  His success could be your win and the land deal, a plum in his pocket.”

Peyote to Mr. Swindle “This sounds too good to be true.”  “It is true, Peyote.  It will change your lives forever.  You will never have to hunt for food ever again.”  “Chirper, what do you think?” said Peyote.  Chirper says “I think we should go for it.  Our lives changed forever.”

“Peyote and Chirper, Mr. Developer will need one thousand acres.  Can you do?” “Why not?” said Peyote.  “We have plenty of land to share.  A thousand acres will work for me,       I mean for us, me and Chirper.”  “How about two hundred fifty thousand dollars for it?  A lot of cash.  This is my one and only offer.  Just think ‘lives changed forever.’  Deal?”  “What do you think, Chirpie?”  Chirper nods his head.  “Okay, Mister Swindle, let’s make a deal” said Peyote.

“Okay, fellas, I knew you would fall, I mean go, for it.  I’ve already prepared the documents.  Need both of your signatures.”  “But, Mister Swindle, I don’t know how to write.  Can you help me?”  “I’ve already taken care of it.  I have you name printed below the line.  All you have to do is sign above the line next to the X.”  “Okay, Mister Swindle.”  “Peyote, just press your paw on this ink pad and then press your paw on the line next to the X.  Done.  Very good.”  “Now, Chirper, it’s your turn.  You do the same.  Next to the X please.  Great, deal is half way done.  Your offer is now ready to be presented to Mr. Developer.  He will be quite pleased and eager to sign it.”

“Meet us at the fence post tomorrow morning at ten a.m.  Mr. Developer and Mr. Banker will both be there to seal the deal.  Remember ‘our lives changed forever.’  See ya then.”

“Mornin’, fellas.  Meet Mr. Developer and Mr. Banker.”  Peyote and Chirper shyly say    “Hello, sirs, nice to meet you.”  “No need to be so formal, guys.  Just call me R.E.  I like to     be on a first name basis with all of my friends.  My full name is Real Estate Developer, but   just call me R.E.  Heard my money made you sign.  It works every time.  This is a deal, guys, what a deal!  Just what I was looking for, cheap, I mean prime real estate.  And you got it.”

Mr. Swindle to Peyote and Chirper “Meet Mr. Banker.”  “Mornin, boys.  I’m the man with the dough.  You will get a lot of it.  You won’t regret it.  Your lives will be changed forever.”  Mr Banker says to Mr. Developer “I like the name.  ‘Oasis on the Prairie.’  Well, is it a deal,  fellas?”  Peyote and Chirper nervously say “It’s a deal.”  “Great!” said Mr. Swindle.

“Here are the documents.  Mr. Developer you sign here and Mr. Banker, sign right under his name.  One last thing, transfer of title to the property.  Peyote and Chirper sign here.  Both sign paper.  Congratulations everyone, the deal is done.”

“Mister Swindle, haven’t you forgotten something, our check?”  “Of course not, here is a certified check in the amount of two hundred fifty thousand dollars.  All you need do is cash it and the money is yours to keep.”  “How do I cash it?  There’s no bank around here.  The name of the bank on the check, Bank of Fools.  Is that a good bank, Mister Swindle?” “Trust me, it’s a good bank in the east.  Over one thousand miles from here.  I’ll take it with me and cash it for you.”

“Here, both of you sign on the back to endorse the check.  Peyote you first, then Chirper  you sign right under him.  Then I will sign it last.  It gives me permission to cash your check for you.  It may take a month before you get your cash.  It will be delivered by a trustworthy man.  He will be on horseback with a leather satchel strapped across his shoulder.  He may be wearing a black mask, but maybe not.  Just look for a man on a horse.  See you guys,  your lives will be change forever.”

One month later at the fence post.  “Well, Peyote, it’s been one month and no money yet.”   “I know Chirper, but Mister Swindle said he promised and I believe the money is on it’s way.  I bet, any day now.”  Chirper to Peyote “You know, something told me we shouldn’t have signed over our check to him.”  “I know Chirpie, but Mister Swindle gave us his word. But I have never heard of the ‘Bank of Fools,’  but he said it was a good bank.  I’m sure we’ll get our money soon.  Mr Swindle promised.”

Lives changed forever, what do you think?

Acts of Kindness

Woo’s Laundry and Dry Cleaning.

“Mrs. Woo, I have three shirts for dry cleaning.  Also, I have these three pairs of slacks that need to be cleaned and altered.  The bottom of the trousers need to be hemmed to prevent them from fraying.  Can you do?” said Geoffrey.  “Yes, we can hem your slacks.                  I charge eight dollars per pair.  Let me take a look at them.  Two are fine, but the third we cannot do.  Did you try to do it yourself?  Look, the pants legs are ragged and frayed. There’s not enough material to do them.  You can pick them up on Monday.”  “I need a pair by tomorrow, Saturday afternoon.  Can you please help me?  One pair of slacks and one shirt will do to wear to work on early morn, Monday.  I can pick up the others on Tuesday,” said Geoffrey with a panic in the sound of his voice.  “Sorry, I cannot do them.  My pressers have left for the day and will be back on Monday to do them for you.  We do not do dry cleaning on weekends.  Certainly not altering.  It’s just not possible.  Tell you what, I will do one shirt and one pair of slacks.  I will wash them by hand and press at no extra charge,” said Mrs. Woo in a kind motherly tone of voice.  “Thank you so much, Mrs. Woo.  I will pay you extra,” said Geoffrey in relief.  “No need, I will do them so you can keep your job.  You need to take better care of your clothes.  What would your mother think?” said Mrs. Woo with a smile.  “My mom used to do all my laundry for me and altered all my clothes. I really miss her,” said Geoffrey.  “Do you miss her or do you miss her laundry work?  You can pick them up tomorrow morning by noon.”

Quality shows and bank the dough.

“Hey, Mr. Barnes.  How goes it?  Your lawn could really use a haircut.  I will do it for free,” said Charlie at ten with purpose in his life.  Hoping, this time, that he will get some referrals from Mr. Barnes.  Thinking to himself, Mr. Barnes reflects…Oh I do remember the haircut he gave my perfectly manicured St. Augustine.  He butchered my lawn with a mower of only two wheels.  One on the left front and the other on the right back.  A perfectly unbalanced cut that had the neighbor next door, Mrs. Busybody, looking in horror and threatened to report me to the Homeowners Association.  She needs to mind her own business.  He’s a good kid, maybe I should give Charlie another whack at it.  I will let him try again with a new new lawn mower perfectly balanced by all four wheels.  He could use my mower instead.  I do not want him to use his weed whacker ever again. Only mow the lawn. Let’s see what he can do for nothing.

“Hey, Charlie, let’s talk lawn mowing.  Have you improved your lawn mowing skills?” “Oh, yes sir, my mower has four wheels now.  Two small wheels in the front and two large wheels on the back end.  A much better cut this time.   You’ll see.  I cut three lawns a week.  I have references,” said Charlie proudly and thinking to himself…I wonder why Mrs. Bates, Mr.Smith, and Mrs. Logan won’t let me mow their lawns again.  One said, well it was Mr. Smith, go cut Mrs. Busybody’s lawn, but she talked ugly to me and said to get on down the road.  I wonder why?  I did mow three lawns, but I don’t have any references.  He’s such a nice man, I doubt he will ask.

“Charlie, I’m going to give you a chance to redeem yourself.  You can use my mower to cut the lawn.  My lawn in the front is an easy do, but the backyard will require a lot of work.  It is overgrown.  About three feet in height.  Also, there are oranges on the ground that dropped recently from the trees.  You must be careful,” said Mr. Barnes. “I got just the thing to  lower the height of the grass, so the lawn is mowable.  I have a new weed whacker and it can cut through anything,” said Charlie.  “Oh no, I will do the weed whacking and you can pick up the oranges before you cut it, said Mr. Barnes with insistence.”Okay, Mr Barnes, it’s your lawn, I will mow it as you like it, you’ll see.”  “What do you charge now for your lawn service?” said Mr. Barnes hoping that Charlie will agree to his terms.  Five dollars for the front and ten dollars for the back.  A fair deal he thinks.

“I said I would do it for free, but it is a lot of work, I have to charge.  Next time, when the lawn is in manageable shape,   I will cut it for free. I’ll charge you five dollars for the front and ten dollars for the back.  But it is a lot of work and will require more fuel to do it. That will be an extra five dollars,” said Charlie playing hard ball for an agreement on his terms. “But, Charlie, you’re using my mower and it’s free for you to use.  It’s fifteen dollars, plus I have a bonus for you, if the lawn is mowed to my liking,”  said Mr. Barnes countering back to Charlie’s offer. “That’s not fair, I can’t continue my service for that amount.  I’m in business, you know,”  said Charlie with a smug attitude. “As I said, Charlie, you will get a bonus that is worth your while. You’ll see.  Agree?” said Mr. Barnes. “Okay, it better be a good bonus,” said Charlie with hesitation. “It is something special to me, I want to pass it along to you.  I need for you to be here early Saturday morning.  I’ll feed you a nice breakfast, then we’ll get started. See you then?” “See you then, Mr. Barnes.  Remember, the bonus better be worthwhile.”  “We have struck a deal, Charlie.  It’s Saturday, remember. Now, go cut your other lawns.”

“Good Saturday morn, Charlie. You’re extra early.  I wonder what motivated you,” said Mr. Barnes with a grin.  “Well, I never, ever, miss breakfast.  Now, what’s on the menu?  It better be to my liking,” said Charlie. “Here it is to your liking, bossman.  I think you like mush. Just kidding.  A delightful breakfast of fresh fruit and a granola bar to give us both the energy to do a great job. Well, it looks like you’re done. Let’s do it!” “Let’s do it, Mr. Barnes. The bonus better be good,” said Charlie pressing his luck. “You’ll see.  It will be something worth passing on to you,” said Bill Barnes.

“Here we are, Charlie.  I’ll start clearing the brush back here.  If you please, go mow the front lawn nicely.  Remember, you are a professional and in business for yourself.  Keep the customer satisfied.  That be me.”  One hour later.  “Mr. Barnes, I’m done. Ready for you to inspect.”  “It looks great, Charlie.  You have earned your first five dollars.  Let’s go to the back.  Oh, hello, Mrs. Busybody.  Does everything meet your approval?” said Mr. Barnes sarcastically.  “Yes, it meets my approval. When I saw him mowing your lawn again, I got concerned.  Charlie, you did a great job. I might consider your services, but I think not.” “Let’s go to the back, Charlie.”  “Let’s go to the back, we don’t need her minding our business.  You know I have a reputation to keep.”

Three hours later.  “Well, Charlie, we’re just about done.  Just pick up the good oranges        I missed, then we will be ready to go.  Okay, here’s your ten dollars that you earned. You now have your fifteen dollars. Let’s get cleaned up and have some fresh juice before we go.” “Where are we going, Mr. Barnes?  I can’t wait to get my bonus,” said Charlie with anticipation. “We’re just about there. I can’t wait to pass something special on to you.”  “Mr. Barnes.  why are we at the bank?” said Charlie a bit puzzled.  “Let’s go inside. Something special is about to be passed on to you.  You’ll see,” said Mr. Barnes in a very happy voice with a smile on his face. “Well, Mr. Barnes, what is it and where is it?”  “Are you ready for something special? It’s special to me and I’m passing it on to you. Now, close your eyes and open when I say so. Open your eyes, Charlie.  This is for you.  You see it is quite worn.  Brown leather cover, but what’s special is inside.  Open it up, Charlie.”  While browsing the passbook, Charlie said “The pages are yellow with dates stamped on each line of the page. I see a deposit for fifty cents from long ago.  Nineteen fifty four. Is that a year?  There are lots of dates stamped on each page.  Lots for fifty cents, then there are one dollars stamped for every week.  Then the amount has gone up to five dollars.  The whole book is just about filled with dates stamps and amounts of money.  It shows a balance of fifty dollars.  Why that amount?” said Charlie with interest. ” Yes, there is a balance of fifty dollars and this passbook is for you.  It’s a savings passbook.  It was my first savings account.  You’ll notice that there are extra amounts added to my account.  Ten cents, twenty-five cents, and one dollar.  That’s called interest paid to me by the bank for the use of my money.  Yes, I made money on my money.  So can you.”  “Never heard of a savings passbook, and the money earned really caught my interest.  I’ll make money on my money because I keep it in the bank.  That’s really cool.  I like that idea.”

“Well, Charlie, are you ready to make your first deposit, I mean, put money into your account to save?  There’s already fifty-dollars in your account. It’s good to always save a part of your earnings.  You’ve earned fifteen dollars today.  I suggest that you save five dollars and use the ten dollars on yourself or invest it back into your business.  Try to save twenty-five percent on all your earnings.  Here, this is for you.  It’s that extra five dollars you wanted for your lawn service.  Now you have twenty dollars. Twenty-five percent on twenty dollars is five dollars.  So, save the five dollars.”  “I want to save ten dollars to build up my money fast to make more money till I’m rich.”  “No, be consistent with twenty-five percent.  Don’t rush to be rich.  If you save fifty-percent you will most likely take money out.  You don’t want to do that.  Most banks today don’t have passbooks, your savings are electronically added to your account.  They will give you a receipt for your deposit and on the receipt it will show your balance.  Nowadays, most banking activity is recorded in your online account on the bank’s website.  Just enter your secret security code and it will open up your account.  The easy way to do banking today.  Right at your fingertips at home on your computer.”

“Mr. Barnes, I don’t know what to say, but thank you.  I will always keep this passbook as a reminder of you that got me started with saving money.  Hmm, making money on my money?  I like that.  I’m a businessman, you know.”  “Yes, I do know it.”

Acts of kindness are random and done to benefit someone else without expecting anything in return.  A good deed for the day.  They are quite powerful in that they can inspire others to perform acts of kindness.

Lions Once

We’re not  just housecats.  We were lions once!

“Here comes Rex.  He thinks he’s king of the hill, but he is no king.  A regal name, but the title doesn’t fit him,” said Pete, the cat.  Pete goes on to say to Repeat, the other cat, “A lot more of us, cats, here than dogs.  So cats should rule.”  “Yeah, cats rule!” said Repeat.

Pete and Repeat have been part of the household for a very long time.  They are two chubby black cats with yellow marbled eyes.  They look exactly alike.  Thus, their names, Pete and Repeat.

Rex, a stately and sturdy golden retriever.  He is a very regal looking dog with a golden coat that  just glistens in the sun.  Rex sets the standard of pedigree and most dogs look up to him.  He is a leader, for his proud stature defines him as such.  A proud and stately dog.

One thing about dogs and cats, most of them don’t get along.  Dogs don’t like cats and cats could care less about dogs.  Dogs tend to be more sociable because they like to run with the pack.  Cats are a bit more independent and can live alone, if necessary. But cats can be social, but usually only with other cats.  Will Pete and Repeat allow Rex to share their space?  Can Rex give up some of his dominant behavior to get along with Pete and Repeat?  Let’s just watch how all this plays out.  There will be rivalry, no doubt about it.

Rex is new to the household and is claiming his throne.  Rex to Pete and Repeat “I’m king of this house.  I rule this place.  I’m top dog.  I am the boss and don’t you forget it.”  Pete to Rex “You’re not the boss and you are not over us.  We were here first.  We are the favored pets and don’t you forget that, too.”

“I know it’s hard for you lazy housecats to submit to my reign, but you must, otherwise you will be deported.  Not abroad, but to the local pound which is only a phone call away,” said Rex in a delightful yet threatening tone of voice.  “It’s either shape up or ship out.”

Rex to Pete and Repeat “The reason I am king is because I have purpose.  I’m the watch dog.  That makes me the top dog.  I do somethin’, but you lazy cats do nothin’.  Well this is exactly how I see you two cats…”  Pete said quietly to Repeat “Here come the insults and the put downs.  Don’t say anything.  I’ll handle this first round.”

“Hey, lazy housecats, anything going on?  Probably not, all you do is laze around all day long doing nothin’.”  Pete to Rex “We do have somethin’ to do.  Nothin’!  That’s what us housecats do is nothin’.  Our purpose is to be lazy, do nothin’ house cats.  Nothin’ more.”

Rex to Pete “I am of the highest breed.  We, retrievers, are smarter than most other dogs.  Certainly smarter than any cat.  I’m one smart dog and you’re two dumb cats.  Look at you two.  Dumb and Dumber.  Maybe too dumb to learn anything, but I’ll give you a chance to prove yourselves, if you can.”  Rex shaking his head and laughs out loud.

Pete to Rex “We are smart, too.  We know how to hunt.  It’s just our nature.  We can survive alone if we need to.  I have never seen you dogs do much alone.  Always running with the pack.  There are two of us and we are twice as smart as you.  We were fierce cats at one time.  We were lions once!”

Rex laughingly said “You two, lions once?  Ha, ha , ha, ha, ha.  I don’t think so.  You’re fat and what happened to your roar?  All I hear is meow, but no roar.  Come on, roar for me lions once.  Pete let’s here it from you first.  Pete attempts “meow, roar, meow.”  “So that’s your roar, what a fierce sounding cat.  I bet all the mice are laughing too.  They’re all running in fear from that ferocious roar.  Come on, Pete, bellow it out.  I’m waiting.  Pete opens his mouth and “roar, roar, Roar, Roar!” ” Now, that sounds like a lion,” said Rex.

“Repeat, you’re up next.  Come on, show me the lion in you.”  Bashfully, Repeat sitting roars a roar like no other roar.  Repeat loudly and fiercely bellows “Roar, Roar, ROAAAR!” “Now that’s a lion’s roar for sure.  Repeat, you may be more lion than Pete.  Sorry, Pete.”

“Just maybe you were lions once, but anybody can roar, even me.  Just listen, this is my first time and no rehearsal.  Ruff, Ruff, Roar, Ruff!”  Now, Pete and Repeat are rolling on their backs and meowing a laugh or two.  Pete to Rex “You are no king of the jungle.  Only king of this house and nothin’ more.”  “Yes, I am king here and don’t you two forget it.”

“Since I am king of the hill and now top dog, it’s my business to know everything going on around here.  I’m the boss and things are gonna change around here.  Both of you need to find somethin’ to do that is productive.  Do you understand Peter?”  “Yes, your highness.” “And you, Repeat?”  “Yes, your almighty dog in the highest.”  “You can laze the rest of the day, but tomorrow your lazy days will be over,” said with authority by Rex.

“Here’s a note pad.  List four things that you can do around here.  Two for each of you.  Pete, since you’re the lead, Repeat will follow your instruction.  A quick to do list will do.  Have it in hand tomorrow.  Pete said “Tomorrow, yes sir.”  Repeat meekly said “Tomorrow, sir.”  “See you then.  I will be expecting an action plan that will change you two for the better.  I know how comfortable you are doing nothin’, but I really think you both would be happier doing somethin’.  Be at the kitchen table at eight a.m. sharp.”

“Rex, for sure, will be back tomorrow.  He will continue with his insults.  He likes to berate before praise, if there is any at all.  Be ready for the insults and put downs.  Just remember to repeat after me.  Don’t say anything on your own, follow the script,” said Pete to Repeat.

“Repeat, this time we’re gonna try something new.  It’s called ‘reverse psychology.’  We will affirm all of his insults, then pay him a compliment.  Got it, Repeat?”  “Yeah, but I don’t know if I can pay him a compliment after he puts us down.”  Pete to Repeat “Agree to give it a try?  “Okay, I’ll try,” said reluctantly by Repeat.

Here’s a probable dialogue.  “Hey, lazy cats, doin’ anything today?  Probably not, you’re just lazy, do nothin’ cats.  You have no motivation.  Just lazy housecats,” said Rex in a sarcastic manner of speaking.  I will say,  “You’re right.  We are so lazy.  Just do nothin’ housecats.  We don’t know much, but I betcha you can teach us a thing or two about somethin’, for you are one wise dog.’  Somethin’ like that, Repeat.  It strokes his ego.”

“Repeat, the strategy is this, he puts us down, we raise him up.  For every negative, we respond with a positive statement about him.”  “Pete, I really don’t understand the purpose of this approach.”  “The purpose is to raise his self-esteem so high that he feels so important and caught up in his greatness, he will forget about us and leave us alone.  That’s the plan.  For the first few insults, we will agree with him with no compliments.  But when I nod my head, our next response will be followed by a compliment.”

“Mornin, lazy cats.  Got anything for me?  Probably not.  Dumber than dumb.”  Pete tells Rex “We may be dumb, but we do have somethin’ to do.”  “Well, what is it?” asks Rex.    Pete said “We do nothin’.  That’s our purpose. ”  Repeat agrees and said “Our purpose, do nothin’.”

“You two should really be deported.  Taken to the pound.  Maybe some fool will come along and find you exotic.  That you ain’t.  You’re nothin’ but lazy housecats.  Before I call the pound I’m gonna tell you both how I see you…”  Pete whispers to Repeat “these will be the worst insults.  Only repeat after me.  It’s important not to react, but to stay calm.  Got it, Repeat?”  “Got it, Pete.”

“First of all, you’re just housecats.”  “Rex, you are so right, just housecats,” said Pete.   Repeat said “Yeah, only housecats.”

“You’re lazy housecats.”  Pete says to Rex “Right you are, we’re lazy housecats.”  Repeat to Rex “Lazy housecats.”

“Nothin’ but lazy, do nothin’ housecats.”  “Right, again.  We are lazy, do nothin’ housecats,” said Pete.  Repeat agrees “We’re lazy, do nothin’ housecats.”

Here comes the worst insult.  Pete nods his head at Repeat on how to respond with a compliment.

“Most of all, you’re lazy, do nothin’, free loadin’ housecats.  You don’t earn your keep.  Free lodging, free gourmet meals each day with a breakfast feast of fresh bowls of milk and Eggs Benedict.  What more could a free-loadin’ cat get for free?”  Repeat blurts out “Cat naps too and twice each day.”  Rex says to the lazy cats “That tops it off.  Nothin’ but free loadin’ housecats.  You should be ashamed.”

Pete tells Rex ,”We are free-loadin’ housecats.  We are ashamed.  Maybe we can teach you how to become a free loadin’ housedog.  Nothin’ to it.  Do nothin’ and show up for the meals.  But we are the ones that must change.  Rex, noble and wise one, teach us lazy cats a lesson on how to be productive.  We don’t know much, so teach us somethin’,” said Pete.  Repeat echoes, “Teach us Rex, teach us.”

“You two are just worthless and useless.  You have no value because you have nothin’ to give.  Just maybe we can come up with somethin’ for you to do that will give you real purpose to your lives.  Any ideas, my feline friends?”  “Friends?” exclaimed Pete and Repeat.  “Yes, friends, but I ain’t doing nothin’ for you once you learn how to do somethin’ worthwhile.  You’ll feel better about yourselves.  And I will be proud to know that you have changed your lives for the better, forever.”

Now your action plan.  Rex to Pete, ” I’m gonna assign Max to you.  He is one smart cat.  He used to be minimal, but now he’s maximum.  With his help, you will change for the better.”

“Repeat, you are too dependent on  Pete.  You repeat everything he says.  You got a mind of your own.  I have a very skilled trainer for you.  Frieda is her name.  Yes, a female cat.   She specializes in building self-esteem.  You need confidence.  She will set you free from self- doubt.  You will become self-assured and confident. I think that’s what you really want.  She can help you to change.  Just follow her instructions and you will do well.”

“I apologize for being so hard on you.  I hate to see anyone with so much potential not doing anything to bring out the best in him.  I believe you two have what it takes to change for the better.”

“I have something for each of you, a book.  It’s a book written by me.  Titled  Changing for the Better.  It’s only four chapters with one sentence on each page.  Chapter One, ‘I want to change.’  Chapter Two, ‘I can change.’  Chapter Three, ‘I am changing.’ and Chapter Four, I have changed by life for the better.'”

“Lastly, I do believe you were lions once.  One virtue most lions possess is courage.  You both have it.  You are intelligent.  You are steadfast, and you are motivated.  Yes, you were lions once.  Even more, you are lion-hearted.  Now that is something worthwhile with a purpose.”

“One last request, Pete.  You think you can arrange  an extra bowl for me at breakfast?   I like cream.  And most of all, I prefer a biscuit with red eye gravy.  Can do?”  “Will do,” said Pete.  Repeat agrees “We’ll do it for you, our housedog friend.”

Paintings You Write

From the Palette of Life.

You know, we all paint stories every day.  We write our days in what we say.                          Every day we tell a story about our day.  We talk about our days every day.

Days of our lives…

“Donnie, Marie, out of bed.  Oatmeal on table.  Eat it fast and don’t complain.                      Let’s go, time can’t wait.  We’re late.  No time to waste.  Hurry along!” “Yes, Mom.”

“Ben, have a great day.  Please don’t forget to pick up the pizzas, as I told you.                      One for you and one for me.  One for the kids and one for the dog.  Need a note?                 I’m not cooking.  My night off.  And don’t be late.  Love you dear” said Lorraine.

“Mornin, Joe.  I’ll have two loaves of French bread buttered across the top.”                          “Yes ma’am, Joyce.  Just as you like.”  “Also a half gallon of the seafood gumbo.”            “Good taste, lady.  Anything else?”  “Just hurry, Joe, gotta go.”  “Have a good day.”

“We have a new sales goal to meet.  See, on the chart, we’re down for the month.               Sales better be up next month, if you know what I mean.  Get with it, said Bill, sales manager of Brooms n’ Mops.”

“I thought I left early enough for work.  Never expected this.  Why are the Shriners taking up collection during rush hour?  This is just unbelievable.  There’s another bunch  across the way collecting, so they say, for their worthy causes.  Such cons!  Lou is not having a good day.

You know, these days don’t paint a perfect picture.  Just think what our days could be? Maybe, just maybe, we can write a better picture of our days.  Let’s see.  Let’s try.

“Wonderful, children.  Thanks for being up and ready for a new day.”  “Yes, mom, we are so excited.”  “Wonderful, kids.  Did you eat?  Oatmeal always warms your heart.”  “Mom, you’re wonderful, too.  There’s no mom like our mom.”  “Its’ going to be a delightful day” said mother with a smile.

“Thanks, Ben, you really are a sweetheart for doing dinner for me.  Now, remember, four pizzas.  One for you and one for me.  One for the kids and one for the dog.  I can tell you won’t forget.  Mmm, the supreme pizzas smell like Italy.  I am delighted.  Here come the  kids and here comes Hugo.”

Joyce to Mr. Drew  “It’s a great day to be alive.  Let’s savor every moment. You agree?”           “I agree.  Now, how may I help you?”  “I’ll have the New Orleans gumbo and two hot and buttered fresh loaves of bread.”  “Okay, there you go, ma’am.”  “Joe, you are so polite and   such a gentleman.  It’s a wonderful day, wouldn’t you agree?”  “I agree.  Be on your way, Joyce.  I mean, have a great day.”  “Next?”

“Team, in advance, let me thank you for going over the top.  Our sales are up and we have  our jobs for one more month.  I couldn’t be more pleased.”  Bill said in a warm and friendly voice.

“I’m so glad I left an hour early.  It really makes a difference.  I have a new attitude.  I really admire the Shriners for doing it for the kids.  Don’t mind the delay at all.   Lou, a happy man today.

Which painting do you prefer?  A broken frame or a perfect portrait?  A broken frame makes a miserable day with rattled nerves throughout the day.  But a portrait can make a delightful day, although it’s not a perfect day.  It depends on the painting you write.

Remember, we write our days in what we say.  We paint it all in what we write.

A Daily Plate of Crazy

We live in a crazy world.  The demands of daily life can become too much to handle, at times.  Meeting the needs of family and home, managing an increased work load, and doing more for less in less time.  So, what do you do?  Fight? Deal with it and become more time efficient.  Accept it as a challenge and become turbo-charged with energy to handle it. Flight?  Just ignore it and pretend it will go away, which it won’t do.  Go run and hide.  Flee the scene.  So, if you don’t fight, you don’t flee, and the pressure is on, what else is there to do?  Go Bonkers.  Yes, go crazy.  That way you won’t have to accept responsibility for anything in your life.  We all get served a daily plate of crazy every once in awhile.  There are better ways to handle it.  There are options.  Thus the creation of a new game show,   “A Daily Plate of Crazy.”

Studio C at Television Central.  Commotion is stirring, the chatter of the audience, movement of cameras and crew on the set, contestants are set in place and the host is checked for appearance and is instructed by the director to follow his cues and to speak from the script as it rolls through the teleprompter.  One last sound check.  Director turns to producer with thumbs up.  Ten seconds to live, five, three, one.  Live.  The set becomes flooded with light.  The music begins with a lively dixieland sound of brass and clarinet, along with a rousing rendition in song of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” sung as “Crazy Days Are Here Again.”

The studio audience joins in song with clapping and shouts of “crazy” and “bonkers.”  Then continue with “fight, flight, go bonkers!” “Fight, flight, go bonkers!”  Enters onto stage, our most bonkerous host, Crazy McSane.  Short and rotund, his face covered with a wash of white paint with large arched brows.  His lips are large and red.  An accentuated red bulbous nose.  Two bolts of hair each side his head.  He’s dressed in red checkered baggy pants with a purple jacket adorned with shimmering orange sequined petals. A glittering silver bow tie around his neck.  Yes, Crazy is a clown.  He knows a lot about life and has been served many daily plates of crazy.  Crazy knows crazy and handles it well.  Ready to play?  No?  Well, then sit back, relax and enjoy the show.  Maybe you’ll be the next contestant on “A Daily Plate of Crazy.”

Crazy McSane walks out to the audience waves and takes bows, he walks back to the set and greets his contestants with a hand shake.  Balloons drop and confetti falls, the show is on and now it’s time to play the game.  Crazy steps up to his podium and speaks out with joy to the studio audience and directly into the camera to viewers at home. “Welcome, interrupted by applause, welcome to the debut of ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy.’  It is such an honor, and I am thrilled to be a part of something that I hold so dear to my heart.  This show is about me. It’s about you.  We all have challenges we face every day in our lives. Some are simple and easy to handle, but others, not so easy. ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy,’ is a game about fight or flight.  This is a simple game.  Three choices for each challenge.  Fight, flight, or go bonkers.  I added bonkers for comic relief and to give us an out just in case we feel that we are unable to handle the challenge.  And that’s okay.  We’re here to learn.  Not in competition, but to help and support one another.  So that’s the basics of the game.  We’ll start right after this break. Stay tuned, we’ll be right back.”

“Welcome back to ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy.’  Now, let’s meet our contestants.  Number one, your name, I see, is Zeenee.  Tell us about yourself.” “Yes, I’m Zeenee.  I’m from Barbados. I’m here to learn bravery.” “Number two, about you, sir.” “I’m John Rosenthal. Retired! Well, from the metal works business.  Ornamental iron was my specialty.  New Orleans is my home.  My wife sent me here.  She said I needed to be here.” “Okay, number two, you can learn to be brave, too.” “And number three, tell us about yourself, young lad.” “My name is Randy Lee.  I’ve been wanting to get on a game show for a long time.  Some of these big time shows you have to audition, I never got the chance.  Too many others smarter than me, I guess.  But, I’m here now.” “Well, it’s about time, Randy Lee.  You already have something that many people lack, you have persistence.  You’ve heard the expression, ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’  I can tell, already, that you have fight and certainly not flight.  Welcome all and good luck to each of you.  Almost forgot, yes this is a game and you do play to win.  We play to learn, but you do win a prize.  Each of you have already won a tin of cookies and can win an additional tin for each challenge you are able to handle.  Right after this short break, we will begin to play ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy.'”

“Okay, folks, this is the moment.  Contestants, there are three rounds of play.  Each round has one plate of crazy.  Each plate has one challenge.  Each player has three choices to the challenge.  Fight, accept the challenge and play.  Flight, refuse the challenge and not play. Lastly, may choose to go bonkers.  The purpose of this game is to try to fight and handle the challenge.  Try to avoid going bonkers for this removes you from the round of play.  If the pressure becomes too much, then press the bonkers button.  In front of each of you are three colored buttons.  Green for fight.  Yellow for flight.  Red for bonkers.  Also, each of you have a mouse to use as a pointer to make a selection to answer the challenge question. Let’s go through a trial play.  Number one, let’s give it a try, okay?  This will certainly be your time to be brave. You will do well.  Okay, in front of you, Zeenee, you see a blue plate marked ‘plate of crazy.’  I will ask you, do you want to be served?  You must say, yes, I want to be served.  Then I will open the plate and it will reveal the challenge.  Then you will make your choice to fight, flight, or go bonkers.  Got it?” “I got it,” said Zeenee.

“Let’s play ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy.’  Number one, do you want to be served?” “Yes, I want to be served.” “The plate is now opened.  Read your challenge, you have ten seconds to respond.”  Which must you do now?  Change the baby’s diaper.  Wipe up spilled milk.  Take the dog for a walk.  You have five seconds, make a choice.  Zeenee pressed green button to fight and to accept the challenge. “Now, use your pointer to select what you think you must do now.”  Zeenee points and clicks on change the baby’s diaper.  Smiley face appears. “You are correct.  You just handled a daily plate of crazy.  Congratulations,” said Crazy with a smile as he hands Zeenee another tin of cookies.

“Way down yonder in New Orleens…ready to play ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy?'” “I think I am crazy.  Oh, I mean, I think I am ready, Crazy.” “Don’t worry about it , metal man.  Let’s do a trial play.” “Number two, do you want to be served?” “Yes, I want to be served.” “The plate is now opened.  Read your challenge, you have ten seconds to respond.”  You’re late for work.  It will take you thirty minutes to get there.  The client will be there in forty five minutes.  This will be a big sale for you.  You can’t find your reading glasses. What must you do?  Look for them.  Go directly to work.  Walk the dog.  You have fifteen minutes to spare.  You have five seconds, make a choice.  John pressed the green button to fight and to accept the challenge. “Now, use your pointer to select what you must do.”  John quickly clicks on go directly to work.  Smiley face appears. “You are correct, iron man.  You just handled a daily plate of crazy,” said Crazy with a smile and with an iron grip of a hand shake and John gets another tin of cookies.

“One last trial and that’ll be you, Randy Lee.  Ready to play ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy?”         “You bet I am, Mr. Crazy.” “Number three, do you want to be served?” “Yes, I want to be served.” “The plate is now opened.  Read your challenge, you have ten seconds to respond.”  There has been a change in the school bus schedule for the new year.  Due to a reduction in personnel, one bus driver must handle two routes.  A pick up at seven a.m. to arrive at school at eight a.m.  A second pick up at eight thirty a.m. with arrival at school at nine a.m.   Mom is not able to pick you up after school today.  Your first class starts at nine a.m. today, what do you do?  Have Mom drop me off at school.  Take the second bus to school.  Walk the dog.  You have five seconds, make a choice.  Randy Lee slams the green button to fight and to accept the challenge.  “Now, use your pointer to select what you must do.”  Randy Lee thinking to himself, Maybe Mom could drop me off and I’ll ride the bus home.  I’m not going to walk the dog.  I much rather ride the bus than walk two miles to school.  My first class is science and I can’t wait to discover new things.  Randy Lee points, then clicks take the second bus to school.  Smiley face appears. “Randy Lee, you are correct, you made the right choice.  Congratulations,” said Mr. Crazy as Randy Lee reaches for his tin of cookies.

“I want to say thanks and congratulations to each of our players.  All three chose to fight and to accept the challenge of a daily plate of crazy.  And none of them have gone bonkers!   I would also like to thank everyone involved in the production of this new game show.  A lot of thought, time and energy were spent on it’s development from an idea into a game format that is easy to follow and enjoyable to play.  Studio audience, you are the greatest. And viewers at home, thank you for watching and hope to seen you soon on the next ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy.’  Til then, bonkers!”

Nickel & Dime

A Nickel and a Dime.

I found a nickel on the ground.  Tarnished and covered with dirt and grime.                                 I know not where it came, but it was found by me.  Finders, keepers.

A little blonde haired, blue eyed girl approaches a wrinkle-faced man. “Mister, did you   find my nickel?  It was there, over there.  I need it back for me to keep.  Finders, keepers.”

“Little girl, here’s your nickel, but you can’t keep it.  You must pass it on.                                    It’s meant to travel.  Leave it somewhere for someone else to find.”

“But, it’s my nickel. I do not want to give it away.  It goes with two others and that makes three.  Fifteen cents.  I need one dime more, then I will  spend it for an ice cream cone.”  The wrinkle-faced man said, “So, it’s for an ice cream cone.  What’s your flavor?”  “Fudge Ripple.  A ribbon of chocolate all throughout.  Just what a little girl needs.”

Wrinkle-faced man says, “Little girl, ribbons of chocolate for you to eat? I thought ribbons were for little girl curls.  Once nickels are spent, you have no more.”  “Okay with me.  It’s just what I wanted.  The delight of chocolate within my soul.  Mmm, the taste of it all.  Now, give me a dime for ribbons of swirl.”

The wrinkle-faced man said, “Again, little girl, it’s not for you to keep.  You must pass it along for someone else to keep.”  “Someone else to keep and not me?”  “Yes, that’s where it must go.  It’s not meant for you to keep.”  “That’s not fair, I won’t let it go.  It’s mine.  Finders, keepers.”

“You may not know this, little blue eyed girl, but it has been said, once you find a nickel and pass it on , another may come your way.  Maybe two.”  The little girl said, “Really?              I need a dime then.  That will make it two nickels plus three nickels, enough for my ice cream cone.”

“Well, here’s a dime.  I found it, too.  But you can’t keep it.  It always travels with the nickel.”  Little girl said, “But it can’t go, I need it for me.  I want it now, please.”

The wrinkle-faced man said, “It seems hard for you to let things go.  You want  to hold on to the nickel and dime as if your life depended on them.”  “Please, no, I can’t let it go.  What will I do without my nickel and dime?”  “Well, what can you do without the nickel and the dime?”  “Nothing at all.  No ice cream cone, for sure.”

The smiling wrinkle-faced man said, “You know, an ice cream cone can come to you.”     “Really, how?”  “All you need do is ask for it.  No nickel or dime needed.”  The little blonde haired, blue eyed girl smiles and says, “May I have my ice cream cone, please.”    The wrinkle-faced man said, “Yes, here it is for you.  Double scooped with swirls and ribbons of chocolate just as you like.  Enjoy your ice cream cone, just for the asking.”

Moral of story:  sometimes you have to ask for what you need.  No need to hang on to a nickel and a dime.  All you need do is ask.  Now, how about an ice cream cone?


Savor the Flavor

Pause for a moment and just enjoy. Savor the moment.  Savor the flavor of life.  Enjoy the flavor of something as much as you can by eating or drinking it slowly.  I sipped my coffee, savoring every mouthful.  Tasted so good.

Jason in his tee, shorts and slippers eases back in his chair to enjoy the moment of a new day. “I enjoy my time on the deck savoring the sunrise.  The birds begin to chirp.  I hear them, do you hear?  There’s a lark that sings every morning for me. The sparrows  jump from limb to limb, then they perch on the fence to begin a new day, you see them?  A blue jay, with feathers of blue and white, just dropped down to the ground.  He is already attacking the cat.  He does this every day.  A mockingbird is rustling through the leaves and brush on the ground, do you see it?  Take a look, John.  Here’s my binoculars.  Look up there.  A bluebird, another one, sings a song to me.  I’m a bird watcher.  This is my morning delight.”

John replied, “I hear them.  I see them.  Never noticed before.  I’m out the door in a rush. Never take the time to slow down.  Marie is good to me, but she gets in the way.  I don’t have time for her.  She wants me to embrace her for a moment.  I’ve done it.  She gets so emotional.  I don’t have time for her nonsense.”

Jason thinking to himself,  He’s married to his work.  That’s all he does, work.  I’m sure she has thought about…well I won’t say it.  A woman needs tender loving care.  

“Well, I’ve got to go, Jase.  The bird show was interesting.  You’re retired.  The way things are going, I’ll never retire.  I hope you and Edith have time to savor the moment,” said John with a wink as he left out the door.

“Here darling, fresh cinnamon twirls right out of the oven.  Iced and buttered just for my man.  Enjoy, savor the flavor,” said Edith. “Maybe later to have and to hold?” said Jason. “Maybe later,” said Edith with a smile.

Rap, rap, rap. “Well, what a surprise.  How are you today, Marie?” “I just made this peppered omelet,  It’s still hot.  Would you like it?  It was for John.  As you know, he’s always in a hurry going somewhere, but really nowhere with us.  No appreciation whatsoever.  He doesn’t savor the moment,” said Marie.

“Have a seat, my friend.  You and I can enjoy the omelet.  I’ll cut it in half.  Coffee?  It’s hazelnut.  Love the taste.  I savor every sip.  Here you go, dear.  And fresh fruit, chilled from the fridge.  Apples and oranges.  Like? “Indeed, I do.” “How about one of each? Have your pick.  Fresh from the market,” said Edith holding the bowl for Marie to choose.

“Let’s see, a Washington State, and a sunshine orange from the groves of Florida.  Nothing like them,” said Marie. “Yes, indeed.  Only the best for you.  You said Washington, then you’ll have Washington.  Florida citrus is the best.  Have a little sunshine.”  Edith thinking to herself,  Actually, these are from Pennsylvania and California.  Amish country and Pleasant Valley Ranch.  Both organic.  The very best.  Glad I noticed and removed the small oval labels.  One with Amish on the apple, and the orange labeled California.  She won’t know the difference.  But she will taste the difference.    

“Marie, just thinking, there is a solution.  It worked with Jason after he retired.  He was so grumpy and restless.  All of a sudden he was doing nothing, where he was doing something. He worked all the time, just like John.  But I found a way to soften him up.  See on this sheet, chocolate chips.  One hard, the other soft.  How did I turn a hard cookie into a soft cookie?  It has to do with the ingredients.  For a hard cookie, add extra flour.  It stiffens the dough.  A double dose of brown sugar will make a soft and chewy cookie.  It depends on which you prefer.”

“Hmm, you think I can make John into a soft cookie?” “Yes you can. Add extra sugar and he will melt in your hand. Here’a what you do, simply pamper him. If he comes home stressed, draw a pleasant warm shower for him.  Give him time and let him savor his shower.  When he steps out, be there for him. Have a soft towel for him.  Next ingredient, pat him dry.  We may be moving a little fast with this recipe.  Just hand him the towel. Later, you can pat him dry.  Savor the moment with him.  He will begin to like it.”

“Edie, you are so inventive.  Thank you for the recipe.” “You will notice the difference in him and he will feel the difference.  Give him time to soften up.  Don’t want to rush, let him enjoy the moment with himself.  We all need that time.  That’s what I did and Jason is a new man.  One last thing that is universal about men, feed them well.  The way to their hearts is how much sugar you add to the dough.  Sweeten him up for a flavor to savor.     He will savor the flavor with you.”

Clear the Air

Unresolved Issues.

“You owe me an apology.”  “For what?”  “Edgar, this morning at my kitchen table, you had the nerve to say that my biscuits were dry.  They’re never dry.”  “They were, Mildred.” “Well, you always show up when I take them out hot from the oven.  You’d always say ‘flaky and tasty.'”  “I do, but not this morning, hon.”

“Well, Edgar, where’s my apology?”  “I ain’t apologizing.  Just telling you the truth.  Maybe they’ll be better tomorrow.  By the way, to soften them up, add a pat of butter to each or some red eye gravy.  Then, maybe, someone will be fool enough to eat them.  But not me.”  “Edgar, please leave, I don’t need anymore insults.  I have my rolling pin on the counter, just to the left of the oven.”  “I’ll see you tomorrow ‘Betty Crocker'”  “See you then and I’ll expect an apology before I serve you anything.”

Edgar thinking to himself  Mildred is not herself.  Her biscuits are never dry.  She’s been so touchy latelyIf she wants an apology, I’ll give it to her tomorrow.  Maybe she’s going through the change.  Women are not in their right minds when this happens.  Elsa hasn’t been the same since.  Edgar passes through the hedge over to his porch.  He will rock the morning away.

“Your son owes my daughter an apology.”  “Oh really, for what?”  “He called Ginnie Mae a spoiled brat.”  “Well, is she?  I’ve heard she gets everything she wants.”  “Marge, she is  not.  Now, ask him.”  “Freddie, did you?”  “Yes, mom, I did.  She brags all the time about money.  She’ll say ‘I’m worth five dollars and you are only a quarter’s worth.’  Now, that hurts.  She makes me and the other twenty five cent kids feel worthless, but we are not.”

“Come on, Marge, make him apologize.”  “Joann, I will not follow your command.  Freddie  owes no apology to Ginnie Mae.  Just stating the truth about her.”  “Well, Ginnie Mae, let’s go.  We don’t need an apology from these undesirables.  They’re low class.  Beneath us.”

“You owe me an apology.”  “For what?”  Jeb to Connor “you made a fool out of me on the court this morning.  I don’t know what happened, I just couldn’t return your serves.”  “It’s not like you, Jeb, to net every ball.  I need some real competition.  Someone who can at least volley the ball.”  “Oh, I’m just feeling sorry for myself.  I’ll get over it.”  “Hey, Jeb, I know someone who can help you get your serve back.  My ten year old daughter, Tina, will work one on one with you.  She’s really good.  How about it?”  “No, thank you, Connor.”  “You seem a little upset” said Connor.  “I am, but I’ll be okay.  Tomorrow is another day.”

“You’re my buddy, Jeb.  I was just playing with you.  Your friendship means more to me than a tennis ball.  Forgive me?”  “You’re forgiven, you jerk!”  Both laugh and leave the court.

“Oh Harry.  I need to talk with you.”  “Mornin, Miss Abilene.”  “Mornin, Harry.”  “I think you owe me an apology.”  “For what?”  ” Harry, you mowed over my day lilies.  They were so lovely and yellow bright.  Every day, new ones open up and just make my day grand.”  “Well, their blooming season is about over.  I do it for you every year and you approve.”

“This time something is not right about it.  I must tell you, I had a dream about you last night.  In the dream, you were in a crazed state of mind mowing over my lillies in the middle of the night.  I heard you say, and you were laughing about it, ‘no more lilies, gone forever, yee ha ha.'”  “But it wasn’t me, Miss Abilene.  Only a dream.”

“Oh it was you all right.  For sure.  I heard your mower and saw your tractor lamps.  You kept yelling out ‘yee ha ha, yee ha ha.'”  “Sounds like a nightmare to me, said Harry.  But it was only a dream, not for real.  Look out your window, see your day lillies?, bright as the day.”  “Oh Harry, you don’t owe me an apology.  I should apologize to you.  I judged you.”  “Miss Abilene, are you okay, now?”  “Yes, I am Harry.  Would you like some fresh coffee and biscuits on my front porch?  There we can both enjoy my lillies.”   “Yes ma’am!”

“You owe me an apology.”  “For what?”  “You called my Zsa Zsa a stinking little poodle.   Zsa Zsa does not stink.  I perfume her every day of the week.  When you insult Zsa Zsa, you insult me, too.  James, now your apology, please.”  “I ain’t apologizing.  Next time give her a bath, too.  Here.  This is a coupon from the ‘Bow Wow’ boutique.  They’re giving free baths this week.  The bath is on me.  That’s my apology.”  “Zsa Zsa, you’re too cute to stink.”  Zsa Zsa says “yap, yap.”

“You owe me an apology.”  “For what?”  “Brother, well, fifteen years ago, you said something to me in front of my girl friends that really embarrassed me.”  “So this happened fifteen years ago?”  “Yes it did, I was so upset that I held it inside of me all  these years.  I’m now in anger management and my therapist suggested that I resolve some of these long held grudges.”

“So, you’re at the top of my list.”  “What did I say, sister?”  “That dress you’re wearing looks like a rag you got at the discount thrift shop.  That really hurt.  I haven’t been in the thrift store for years because of it.  A bad memory.”  “Well, I’m sorry, sis.  I really mean it.  Just don’t hold on to hurt for years, the bitterness can really eat you up inside.  Anything else you want to confront me about from fifteen years ago?  Let me take you out to breakfast.  Okay with you?  No more hate?”  “Only love now, brother.  Only love for you.”


Tampa, Florida Author..New Book. “Frank Clark Short Stories.”

Frank Clark is proud to announce that his new book, “Frank Clark Short Stories” is now available.  Humor, Imagination and Introspective.  Creative writing style. Book is available in 3 formats, hardback, paperback, and e-book.  Kindle and Nook are included.  Available at these on-line book sellers., my publisher.  Barnes & Noble,, and  Perfect gift for any occasion.