October 26, 2014: Mother-In-Law Day


Mothers-in-laws are a favorite butt of jokes for stand-up comedians.  Rumble seats in the old coupes and roadsters were called mother-in-law seats because those who rode in them were out of the passenger compartment, and presumably out of the driver’s hair.  If you google “mother-in-law jokes” you will have page after page of sites listed.  A few of the less offensive ones are listed below:

Adam the happiest man who ever lived because he didn’t have a mother‑in‑law.

My mother‑in‑law’s second car is a broom.

A man in a bar says to his friend, “My mother-in-law is an angel.”  His friend replies, “You’re lucky.  Mine’s still alive.”

Q: What’s the difference between an outlaw and my mother-in‑law?   A: An outlaw is wanted!

The definition of mixed emotions is seeing your mother‑in‑law drive over the cliff in your new Porsche.

So is Mother-In-Law Day a joke, too?  Absolutely not.  Started in 1934 by a newspaper editor in Amaraillo, Texas, it is now observed on the fourth Sunday in October.  Or not.  Over the last eighty years it has not exactly caught fire.   But do mothers-in-law deserve the almost universal vilification and lack of recognition they have received?  Maybe some do, for there are both good ones and bad ones.  Yet, if anyone suggested ignoring Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because some mothers and fathers have not deserved to be honored, they would be booed and driven from the stage in a shower of rotten tomatoes.  In that spirit, some of us who had or have a great mother-in-law have written about them to honor them on Mother-In-Law Day.

From the moment we first met, my mother-in-law and I hit it off.  She was attractive, lively and had an incredible wit.  If she were angry with someone, that wit could have a razor edge.  However, in the 36 years I knew her, she never turned her quick mind against me.  In fact, my wife (an only child) used to say that she knew we had to work any disagreements out because she could never “run home to Mama.”  She said that Mama would have sent her back to me, her buddy.  After college, I ended up working in my in-laws’ family business.  I ran one of two locations and had pretty much total control of its day-to-day operation.  They also almost always had a house close to my wife and me.  For 16 years, they even had one on the same property as ours.  We went on a number of cruises as a family over the years.  Normally, that would be a recipe for disaster: working, living and playing in such close proximity with family often causes friction.  Such was not the case with my mother-in-law.  While there were a few occasions when my father-in-law and I had problems, my mother-in-law stood as Horatio on the bridge against his angry outbursts (which he did have).  Her rapier wit provided a great defense.

My mother-in-law thought that the term “in-law” was demeaning to me and seldom used it.  At a dance at a country club to which my in-laws (sorry) belonged, we danced together.  A woman who was also a member asked her who I was.  “My son, Ron,” she replied without hesitation.  The lady smiled.  “Oh, I can see the resemblance.”  We both had a hard time refraining from laughter until we were out of the woman’s earshot.

To say we were simpatico would be an understatement.  We both enjoyed a similar sense of humor, oft considered warped by those who did not think in the same way we did.  We both were avid readers, devouring books.  We both enjoyed crossword puzzles.  We both took Latin in high school, the “dead language.”

Sadly, she was stricken with Alzheimer’s.  Even as this horrendous disease attacked her, she kept her sense of humor.  “There’s one advantage,” she once told me.  “I can read the same book over and over again.”  As the disease progressed, she forgot my name, but she would look at me and say, “You’re a good man.”  After her passing, I wrote her eulogy, which was sent to all who knew and loved her.  It was a woeful duty and a great honor.  As her son, it was also my right.  So I now honor her memory on Mother-In-Law Day, although Altera Matris Diem, translated from Latin as “Other Mother’s Day,” would be much more appropriate and I am sure one she would prefer.

For about eight years, Ron Cherry has written a column about classic cars and street rods in The Union newspaper. His short stories have been in several online magazines, including The Dan O’Brien Project, Devilfish Review, Writing Raw, and Ineffective Ink.  He has two book on Amazon, Christmas Cracker and Foul Shot, with another due before the end of the year.


Mil- Ron's true friendMy Altera Matris Diem and true friend.

Determined—Yep, That Would Be the Word
By Kenneth Weene

We hadn’t expected that call, in the middle of the night, like in the movies.  I answered.  “What?”  It took a moment to register.  “How?”  Then the news hit.  “Oh, I’m so sorry!”

My father-in-law was on the phone. His words gurgled through tears. Isabel, his wife, my mother-in-law, was dead.  She had gone into the hospital for a hip replacement and was coming out with toe tags.  “An opportunistic fungal infection,” we were told.

After a few more hours of sleep—fitful at best—we packed and headed for Washington, where Sid, my father-in-law, awaited us.

While we packed, we talked about what we would need.  Funerals and sitting shiva meant clothes we didn’t usually wear.  My immediate reaction was to pack not a suit or sports jacket but sweaters,. Why? Because Isabel had knitted all my sweaters, and I had many.  Actually, I still have plenty of them, even after all these years and having given some away to charity.

Isabel knitted with the same determination she brought to every task.

Some years earlier, my wife and I had joined Sid and Isabel for a trip up the Pacific Coast.  While Sid drove nonstop, swinging into parking lots and right out again unless my wife or I demanded he let us jump out to actually see the sights, Isabel didn’t even glance out the window.  She was knitting.  A sweater for me, one for Jay, their son, perhaps one for Sid, on occasion one for my wife.  The needles never stopped clicking, and the results were always gorgeous, but not as gorgeous as the giant redwoods or the coastal views she was too busy to appreciate.  But, she was always determined to finish that sweater and get on to the next.

My wife Roz insisted I had to wear a suit, at least for the funeral. She was, of course, right.  After all, Isabel was also a lady, a very proper lady.  She would have been scandalized by me wearing a sweater, even one she had knitted.  We compromised;  a sweater would do for the house, when people came to offer their condolences.

After the service, we sat around and told stories about Isabel—yes, me in a sweater.  We talked of the dinner parties she threw and the work that went into them; each dish carefully made, with the table groaning under properly garnished plates, always including the chopped liver that she made especially for me.  We talked about the time she refused to leave work early even though there was a major snowstorm coming.  That evening, her car got stuck and she had to walk the last mile home in high heels through deep snow.  It never occurred to her to call a cab.  She just trudged on.  We talked about her reaction when Sid’s business had failed.  Isabel had insisted on going to work and helping pay off every creditor, leaving no one holding the bag of their bankruptcy.  Sid might have folded, but not Isabel.  Isabel never  folded.  She was a strong woman, a lady, and, above all, determined.

Life itches and torments Kenneth Weene like pesky flies. Annoyed, he picks up a pile of paper to slap at the buzzing and often whacks himself on the head. Each whack is another story. At least having half-blinded himself, he has learned to not wave the pencil about. Ken will, however, write on until the last gray cell has retreated and there are no longer these strange ideas demanding his feeble efforts. So many poems, stories, novels; and more to come. http://www.kennethweene.com

mil-keninsweaterYes, this is one of the sweaters.

“Mom-in-law”— My True Mother
Micki Peluso

Our first meeting was, shall we say, rather rocky.  Six months before, I had eloped with her son and the two of us were about to tell her and my father-in-law that we married outside the Church.  Not only that, I was three months pregnant.  She wept. Her husband muttered things in Italian whose meaning needed no translation. I was almost 18 and she was in her late 40s.  At first, her tears flowed because marrying outside of the Church was a mortal sin.  However, she rose to the occasion with dignity, compassion and an iron will.

Butch, my new husband, and I lived in his parents’ home but were placed in separate bedrooms until we were married “legally, in God’s eyes.” This lovely, persistent woman walked the hall nightly, making certain we never got together in the Biblical sense. Yet she liked me and I liked her. She was a health-food fanatic and I constantly slipped contraband like cookies, milk and the dreaded white bread into her home to compensate.  She served us good steak, which she broiled into beef jerky, with boiled escarole.

….Graciously, “Mom” looked the other way on my junk-food smuggling.  After all, she’d achieved her goal by coercing me into being tutored to raise my children Catholic in order to marry her son.  That was difficult for a feisty Baptist, raised on “fire and brimstone.”  After instructing me, the young priest was sent to a home for distressed clerics.  I felt vindicated.  Mom and I had a draw on this one

After the marriage in the Church rectory (at which time Butch fainted), Mom threw a huge reception with dozens of relatives, all Italian, all looking alike, all loving me unconditionally. After our first child was born, we moved to three hours away, where jobs were better.  I remember Mom driving up to see our two room apartment over roach-infested dry-cleaners. She once more wept and begged us to come back to her home.  We didn’t.

Over the next 10 years we had five more children and Mom babysat them whenever we were away.  The kids worshipped her — I often thought more than me.  Whenever I needed her, she drove to wherever we lived to help.  My own mother was always “too busy.”  The only time in my life that my mother-in-law couldn’t be there for me was when my 14-year-old Noelle was killed by a DWI.  Her intense grief paralyzed her and, like my own family, she suffered alone for a long time.  She had spent each night for ten days praying outside the ICU, hoping for a miracle for her granddaughter.

As my other children grew, married and gave her great-grandchildren, holiday celebrations were held at her home where she prepared delectable feasts, a far cry from her earlier disasters.  She was the Matriarch, loving, patient, yet stern in her beliefs which she expounded upon whenever she felt that a family member had strayed off the path of righteousness.

After my father-in-law passed away at the age of 79, Mom devoted her life to the Church and helping others. She maintained her wonderful, 150-year-old house into her 90s and had the strength of ten women.  Now, at 98, her blood tests are that of a 20-year-old.  She’s often tired and doesn’t do much, but is still able to live in her beloved home.

I call her every day and together we reminisce the wonderful past days and years — the good and the bad.  She has outlived her entire immediate family, older friends and a few doctors.  I treasure our calls as I try to prod her memory which is failing; dreading the day when this woman, who’s been mother and friend for most of my life, passes on to another Realm — to meet her Creator whom she’s served devotedly all her life.  She will leave a void within my heart that cannot be filled.

Micki Peluso is a journalist, book reviewer, editor and author of . And the Whippoorwill Sang. Her short stories are in several anthologies and her next book, Don’t Pluck the Duck, a collection of published essays, slice of life and short fiction will be released by December of 2014.

 MIL- Pelosi clanMom-in-law with the Peluso family


By Sal Buttaci

 My mother-in-law Virgie Bateman poked along the winding roads of War Mountain in West Virginia on her way to do some food shopping at Jones & Spry. Her 1980 Chevette, once upon a time vibrant candy-apple red, now an almost dull orange, chugged its mechanical best to keep itself from stalling. When her husband  died in August 1989, Virgie  started driving again. Except for Sunday church, shopping, and an occasional visit to friends in the next holler, Virgie’s eyesore sat resting on the gravel outside her house.

Sharon and I shared the dream of one day cruising to Hawaii or lacing up and down the boot of Italy or buying first editions of bestsellers by one or more of our favorite 19th Century authors. With pleasure we could take that plunge and hopefully dive into one of those dreams. But then what about Virgie?

How would we feel dancing the night away in a Roman nightclub or lounging on the beach of Waikiki or walking out victors in an auction deal that net us an original Dickens, if Sharon’s mom had to tackle War Mountain in that old Chevette, shaky on its last wheels? Where would the joy be in that?

The grandest dream of my life has always been to realize the grandest dream of someone else. No way could Virgie Bateman’s dream come true unless Sharon and I won the Big Lottery, that in itself a dream, but if it had come to pass we would have laid aside our own wishes, and attended to hers.

Often we’d delight ourselves imagining the look on Virgie’s face when her blue eyes alighted on her sparkling white Toyota Corolla CE automatic sedan sitting like a miracle on the gravel her old Chevette no longer occupied. Could there be three happier people in all of West Virginia or anywhere else in the world?

Well, it never happened. We did not win the lottery. Virgie drove her old Chevette until it puttered its last, then, instead of returning to its graveled spot in front of Virgie’s house, it bummed a ride with a tow truck on its way to the county junkyard.

On January 14, 2013, brain cancer took Sharon’s mother away from us. She was eighty-three and we could hardly believe within days Virgie would be gone. She digressed from her usual cheery self to a hospital deathbed in Morgantown. How surreal it seemed!

Sometimes we hear comics cast aspersions on mothers-in-law. They label them meddlesome, demanding, opinionated, possessive, and a list of other negative name-calling. Virgie Bateman was none of these. I loved her as I loved my own mother. She was kind, affectionate, God-fearing, just, and everything good about a woman who had lived her life according to God’s Word and who loved her daughters and the spouses they chose with all her heart.

My dream for us now is to one day win for our souls life’s greatest fortune –– Heaven, where Sharon and I will meet Virgie again and stand with her in God’s glorious Light.


Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, both published by All Things That Matter Press and available athttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Salvatore%20Buttaci

His book A Family of Sicilians… which critics called “the best book written about Sicilians” is available at www.lulu.com/spotlight/ButtaciPublishing2008
He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.


Mil-Virgie Bateman,Sharon's mom in 2006Virgie Bateman, Sharon’s mom in 2006

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Can Even The Dead See This and Forget to Weep? by James L. Secor

noh grief

She came into the room, the scars on her arm too numerous to count. She had her old polishing rag in one hand. The polish was in the other. The room was an unimportant room. It was too ordinary. Everything in its place. Clean, tidy, a room to be proud of. Pristine clean.

Along the east wall was a window. Below the window was a large buffet. Atop the buffet were overlapped doilies, on each a gold-framed picture. She stood at the buffet. She sprayed her wax on the open top already high-glossed, high-lighting the wood grain of blacks and browns, ground for the gold frame. Wiping it down took some time. Her swirls shone in the sunlight from the window until they disappeared into the wood so the buffet top sparkled.

Out of a drawer she withdrew a feather whisk.

Reverenced, she raised the frame, dusting the memento. Then she set it down. Raising some trinkets before the first photograph, she fingered them daintily. Army regalia. With each piece, great care was taken shining them to reflect the day light their wearers no longer appreciated.

And she said, “You were my husband. I loved you. You were mine. I cooked for you. I cleaned for you. I made babies for you. I loved you. But that was taken from me. They killed you and gave me these. That I might better remember you, they said. I should be proud and I should have something great to live for. Your honor,” they said. “Your honor to look upon forever, they said.”

She put them back before the picture.

She dusted off the next picture. She set the duster down. She picked up the medals in front of this frame. They slipped through her fingers into her other hand. She did this over and again.

She said, “You were my first born. The apple of my eye. Such a tiger you were. I loved you with every ounce of my soul. I helped you grow up. All by myself. I watched you excel in sports. And school. Here, take this, they said. I have lived with these remains. My memory.”

And she put the memorabilia down before the picture, gently.

She took up the duster and dusted the last picture. She put it down and reached for the mementos before it. She held them tightly in her hands.

She said, “You were my baby. I spoiled you so. I raised you well. Remember when you would go down to the road and throw yourself against the cars? You bounced off. You bounded away, running and laughing. I would scold you. But when you grew to manhood, your luck did not hold out. You came home stretchered. Then they gave me these. Take these, they said. In remembrance of him. My heart.”

She put the keepsakes down.

She squatted down and began polishing Army boots. There were five of them lined up below the buffet, awaiting wearers. She made each shiny black, two by two by one.

She picked up her rag and her spray can, moving to the end table. It did not receive any sunlight at all. She sprayed the surface. She was careful not to get the doilie wet. There was a picture on it. With care she dusted it with the feathers. She held it up. She looked at it for some time. Then she kissed it, set it back down.

She moved to the drop-leaf table against the west wall. There was a large doilie on the table with two pictures on it. She polished the table. She dusted the pictures. She picked them up and looked at them awhile. She hugged them to her breasts. She squeezed them to her. She put them back in their places.

She returned to the kitchen. She came back with a bucket. She set it down before the centre table. She took one of the long objects from the pile on the table. Kneeling down on the floor, between her knees she placed the bucket. She held the Army-green object before her. And the bayonet unsheathed. She quickly sliced her arm open, blood coursing down her arm, collecting in her hand at the bottom of the pail between her spread legs.

She said, “Take and drink this. I want you to remember me. I died for you. I died for you. Ooo-wuwu!” Like a dog with no master she whined.

She howled, “There is nothing but this for me. There is only my blood. Take and drink of this.” And she spat, “May you choke on it! May you be accursed till I die–and I will never die. Cannot die. Always to suffer. My loss, my blood, all that is left me! Tell me the reason you have cut off my legs and arms, cut out my heart! Tell me the reason!” she cried out. “Tell me why! I would know why you snuffed out the joy of my life thoughtless. I want the spear out of my side!” Like a dog she yelped. “Ah-ooo-wawoo!”

She rent herself again to watch the blood well up and spill over the eviscerated flesh, unsalved.

She snarled, “I tell you the wound will not heal. It suppurates while you give me trinkets to staunch it. I do not want your pieces of the true flame. Your medals. I want my men. When will you hear me? There are no heroes. There are only carried burdens. I carry the burden of mankind in my soul. Can you not see? I am called Earth and you do nothing but rape me! Woo-wowo-wooo!” A beaten dog’s yelping.

killed mother mask

She came into the room, the scars on her arm too numerous to count. She had her old polishing rag in one hand. The polish was in the other. The room was an unimportant room…



Jimsecor thought he would advance his career by giving up 11 years of live theatre production to get a PhD. Little did he know! He worked with the Lifers at KS State Penn and did summer vaudeville and somehow got the doctorate, publication in a volume devoted to Japanese ghosts and demons and wrote a ground-breaking, though not academically enchanting, dissertation on women and morals in theatre. Then he studied at the National Puppet Theatre of Japan while writing award winning tanka. Illness forced a return to the States where he worked in disability. Seven years in China followed with multiple productions, including an all-female Lysistrata, TV commercials, a documentary and the publication of poems in Chinese in a major journal. He was also commissioned for a film and a play: the play was not liked and the film was deemed unable to pass the censors, so they never saw the light of day. Via Liverpool, he returned to the US and publication in The Speed of Dark and his own book of mysteries, Det. Lupée: The Impossible Cases. He can be found on Linkedin and at http://labelleotero.wordpress.com along with Minna vander Pfaltz, while his essays are sprinkled all over the internet. Jimsecor’s email is hellecchino@eclipso.eu. Lord, lord, lord–what does Helleccino mean?

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Just as Antaeus drew his strength from his mother Gaia -–one of the many names the Ancient Greeks gave the earth–-I draw mine from the sun. On bright mornings you’ll find me at the café round the corner, sipping the thick, black beverage my waiter brings to my sidewalk table. That’s right. After years of patronage, I feel I own them.

Next to the water jug there’s a book, my note pad, and a packet of slim cigarettes. I smoke and read, smoke and jot down ideas that may or may not develop into stories, or just smoke, letting my mind wander freely into the memory of things past. Between drags at my cig, I feed my eyes on the luscious vegetation of the park across the road. A dangerous place, they say. A shelter for the dispossessed, I know.

One Monday last year, a tall, staggering figure emerged from the clustered trees and nearly got run over by the heavy city-bound traffic as it headed straight toward me. With my glasses off, I only realized it was a very young man, almost a child, when he stopped abruptly by my side. The odors reeking from his body offended my nostrils, yet behind the grime that covered his face like a painted mask his beautiful, delicate features softened my heart. His emerald green eyes, glazed by who knows what excesses, sought mine in a mute plead. I thought I understood.

“Would you like me to buy you something to eat?” I offered

He shook his head angrily, his long, lank, mousy-colored hair piercing the mild October breeze. Grabbing the extra chair, he plonked himself down onto it and pointed a bony finger at my book. “What are you reading?” he asked in a commanding tone. He didn’t have a place to hide his head, so where did such airs come from? Pride, of course. “The infinitely small have a pride infinitely great.” Merci, monsieur Voltaire.

“A novel,” I replied curtly.

“Is it good?”

“I think so. Here. Take a look at the back cover.”

“I can’t read. Never went to school.” Pride turned into a humble apology. He didn’t owe me one, but perhaps it was addressed to himself, for he had stepped into murky waters of his own accord. I bit my tongue to hold back the questions that stumbled upon one another in their need for explicit formulation. Useless questions, I figured. His story couldn’t be very different from those of his brothers in misfortune who populated every corner of this doggone country.

We know-it-alls decide, judge, discard. What came next shook me to my core.

“Will you kiss me? I don’t have a mother. I need a mother’s kiss.” He leaned forward, bringing his cheek close to my lips.

I complied. His skin felt oddly smooth.

He caressed the spot, smiled, and stood up.

“Wait! Tell me your name. I have to call you something when we meet again. I come here every day…can teach you to read…can help you…”

“No. You helped me already. God bless you, mother.” And in a few, quick strides he disappeared among the trees.

My waiter chose to peep out of the door right at that moment. “I was watching,” he said. “Ready to rescue you, but you didn’t seem upset.”

I gave him a succinct account of the incident. He, a family man in his early thirties, shrugged and grinned. “Next time a bum comes up, just give him money. No use wasting time and breath on their kind.”

We know-it-alls.

Marta Merajver-Kurlat writes fiction and non-fiction. Check out her website and Amazon page to take a look at her vast production. Learn more at http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/

Find her books at


Follow her on Twitter at @merajver and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/martamerajverkurlat

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Way Back When by Sharla Lee Shults


Stepping back in time is so interesting . . . in fact, it is often just plain, simple fun! Whether you are a teenager wanting to learn about the eras in which your parents grew up or the adult who wants to relive the memories, the nostalgia is an alluring invitation for a trip down memory lane.

More than likely at one time or another you have said, or heard someone else say the phrase way back when. Its context could be in reference to good times or bad times but in either case reflects upon events of the distant past—a different year, decade or even a different era. Some folks refer to it as back in the day. But, whose day? Before indoor plumbing? Before electricity? Before the phonograph? Before the automobile? Before radio? Before television? Before the cellphone, iPhone, iPad?

Regardless of how you say it, distinctive spans of time become identifiers for each individual. There are countless, precious moments held dear to the heart before time erases all memory. Each footnote has its own unique melody playing out the music of life. Looking back provides reflections into who we are, how we have evolved and in some instances, where we are going [again]. Making comparisons of how things were ‘back in the day’ to present day is often hilarious. The changes in fashion, cars, appliances, entertainment and sayings about the future (which is now the present) can have one doubling over with laughter or simply smiling in amazement.

Conversations can quickly turn to making comparisons of the amenities that are commonplace today but totally void in the past. Such things as living in houses with dirt floors, having to complete private business in outhouses, boiling clothes to get them clean, bathing once a month with or without soap, etc. are considered primitive by today’s standards. Of course, we don’t have to step that far back in time. Simply disregard the cellphone, TV and Internet. Without those three, some people would not know how to survive.

Many comparisons to way back when or back in the day are derived from the changes in the state of the economy. For instance, think about the cost of gasoline. Today excitement abounds if to fill the car, truck, lawn mower or farm equipment with gas costs under $4.00 a gallon. Also, if a trip to the doctor’s office or a prescription is under $100, shouts of jubilation can be heard! It has not always been that way. Can you date either of these scenarios? Do you remember when…

Who would have thought gas would ever cost 25 cents a gallon? I hear it will soon go up to 26 cents. Up a penny now, another penny later. The rate it is going gasoline will reach a dollar a gallon before we know it. What’s the world coming to?

At $15.00 a day in the hospital, no one can afford to be sick anymore. All those doctors want to do is make their lives easier at our expense! Maw, what’s that home remedy for sore throat?

These are only a random sampling of conversations today that ultimately begin with I remember when or back in the day. These examples would place one’s when in the 50s.

Another inevitable change through the decades is the use of catch phrases. These are expressions used repeatedly until at some point in time they are replaced or simply have worn themselves out. See if you can date any of the following:

Look at that cat’s ‘zoot’ suit. It’s crazy, man.

You are ‘lighting up the tilt sign!’

‘Are we having fun yet?’

Can you dig it?

Say what?



If you recognize the ‘zoot’ suit, your memories have dated back to men’s fashion of the 40s, which consisted of a long jacket with wide shoulders and pants that were wide at the top but narrow at the bottom. ‘Lighting up the tilt sign’ was slang of the 50s when someone was not telling the truth. ‘Are we having fun yet?’ is the most famous quote by bizarre, non-sequitur-spouting comic strip character Zippy the Pinhead. This caught on quite rapidly with the general public in the 60s. The phrase ‘Can you dig it?’ was first used in the awesome cult classic “The Warriors.” It became synonymous with ‘groovy’ in the 70s. The wild and funky decade, the 80s, spawned ‘Say What’ and ‘Mikey Likes It,’ both of which ran the gamut. ‘Whatever!’ was made popular in the 90s and is the one that has been dubbed the most irritating in the English language. Then, there is ‘Wassup!’ stemming from a Budweiser commercial that definitely bludgeoned itself to death in the beginning of the new millennium. It thankfully died!

Movies are a great source of entertainment with certain movie lines sticking in our heads, much like the catch phrases, to be repeated just at the right place and time in real life. Here are but a few. See if you remember using them upon occasion, perhaps even recently.

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Gone with the Wind (1939)

“Well, nobody’s perfect.” Some Like it Hot (1959)

“Bond. James Bond.” Dr. No (1962)

“May the force be with you.” Star Wars (1977)

“I’ll be back.” The Terminator (1984)

“Houston, we have a problem.” Apollo 13 (1995)

The memory triggers during a visit to the past vary greatly. Hopefully those shared here are ones that have brought on smiles, adding a bit of humor to the day. To end our trip down memory lane, do you recall who said…

“Love is being stupid together.”

“Ever notice how “what the hell” is always the right answer?”

Both are still very apropos in the 21st century. The first is credited to Paul Valéry but made popular by Lucille Ball in the I Love Lucy show. The second is said to be attributed to none other than Marilyn Monroe but not credited to her as an original.

And life goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times…

Way Back When


Way back when could be days gone by

When leisure reigned and time didn’t fly

Back in the day brought a blissful vision

Summer nights with no television


We’d play hide-n-seek way passed dark

When shadows played tricks as we embarked

Wearing socks emitted soundless steps

Muffled strides which slowly crept


Good ol’ days forged many a fable

When conversation ruled the dinner table

Freshly cooked chow incited a snicker

“Peas, please, and the pot liquor”


Way back when could be days gone by

When things remembered made you cry

Reminiscing brought an unwelcomed vision

Summer nights with no television


We’d play inside after Jack Frost

When darkness reigned and time was lost

Sounds of the night repeated all week

Rocking chairs that steadily creaked


Now the days pass much too fast

Memories still linger holding on to the past

Remembrances prompt the slyest grin

“A way of life, way back when!”


©2009 Remembering Sharla Lee Shults

“Let each day begin with happy thoughts that return to remember when.” ~SLS


Poem excepted from Remembering (http://goo.gl/C5PZcP) by Sharla Lee Shults. Sharla’s passion for writing is poetry: Historical and inspirational. Become acquainted with her writing by visiting http://sharlashults.com/ where links are accessible to her books, blogs and social networks. Sharla previously shared here at The Write Room:  A Woodsy Morning http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1060, A Day That Will Live in Infamy: December 7, 1941 http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1538, Why do you celebrate Memorial Day? http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2082 and joined Linda Hales in Turning Winter into Summer http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1695.

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October is National Apple Month
And I’m Sharing One of My Favorite Apple Recipes from the B&B


National Apple Month; National Caramel Month; National Cookbook Month; National Cookie Month; and, National Dessert Month…Are you seeing a delicious pattern here?

Perhaps this is why fall was my favorite time of the year at the inn. I ran the Hudson House Bed & Breakfast Inn out of a 1906 Victorian farmhouse—the same Victorian I used as a setting in my first two novels. The orchard on the property boasted “golden russet” apples and oh boy! they spoiled us rotten.

Hudson House B








The matriarch of the Hudson family, Anna, had stable trees shipped around Cape Horn to bring those perfect eating and baking apples to the Hudson property. They were amazing; one bite would find a sweet spot, while the next might find it a little sour. Baked inside my flaky cream cheese dumpling dough and topped with my Hot Imperial Cinnamon sauce, they were simply magic.

The B&B has changed hands three times since I was at the helm. During one of those changes in ownership and management, the vintage orchard was chopped down in favor of more parking spots–God only knows why. It made me sad, but I had to find a suitable substitute or forever say goodbye to my Cinnamon Apple Dumpling recipe. Trial-and-error succeeded in finding the ‘Gala’ apple to be a wonderful substitute for those golden russets of yore. And so that nobody ever has to say goodbye to this tasty recipe again, I am sharing it with all of you. Enjoy!




8 ounces cream cheese, 2 c. all-purpose flour,
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, 5 large Gala apples,
1/2 c. granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon


2 c. sugar, 4 c. water
3 Tb “Red Hots” cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cinnamon candies

– Preheat oven to 425
– Combine cream cheese, butter & flour to make dough (it is sticky)
– Divide into 10 equal balls, and roll out each one to about 8” round, or large enough to cover 1/2 apple
– Peel, core & cut in half each apple
– Place 1 apple half, cut side up, on each dough circle;Blend sugar & cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over all 10 apple halves, wrap the dumpling dough up around the halves, pinching at the tops, and place in an  ungreased, 9×13, glass baking dish
– For topping, bring remaining ingredients to a boil in large saucepan for 3 minutes, stirring constantly
– Pour topping over dumplings and bake for 45 minutes at 425 degrees

If you agree with Anne (and Anatole France) that history books that contain no lies are extremely dull, visit her blog, read her free excerpts, original stories and fun perversions of the past…and prepare to be sharply entertained: www.Historical-Horse-Feathers.com/


ANNE SWEAZY KULJU is the daughter of a history teacher-slash-football coach, so small wonder she brings the “go big or go home” mantra to her historical fiction adventures.  Kulju’s first novel, “the thing with feathers,” (Sept 2012), which debuted via Tate Publishing, is an Amazon darling. Anne’s novel,“BODIE,” (Sept 2013), took Finalist for The 2014 WILLA Literary Award for Original Softcover Fiction. Soon-to-release “Grog Wars”, anticipated to release in 2014, was named International First-Place Winner by WritersType (March 2013).

Anne lives near Pacific City, Oregon, with her overworked husband, two-and-one-half rescued Pitbulls and one incontinent, deaf, blind Pomeranian–Bless his heart. Anne divides her free time between the beach and Mount Bachelor. Readers may learn more about Anne and correspond with her on her website blog @ www.Historical-Horse-Feathers.com

Find her books on Amazon.com!


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PUMPKIN By Eduardo Cervino

pumpkin-writers group copy


I KNEW that a family from a nearby city had converted a double-camber roof barn on the property next to us into a large, comfortable, open-plan home. As the conversion had progressed, I had sneaked inside several times after the carpenters ended the day’s work.
They built a large bedroom in the former hayloft, and added a terrace outside the rolling door once used to stow bales of hay into the loft.

THE rumble of the construction crane broke the silence. I went out to watch. The crane lifted the massive blob of a young man’s body from the bed of a red pickup and hoisted him up in the air. Neighbors from the adjacent farm gathered to watch the surreal spectacle.
A bird flew by the crane and escorted the boy through his short trip.

The operator deposited him on a bed on wheels waiting on the terrace. Afterwards, I walked back inside my house.

“I guess I will never have direct contact with that young man,” I said to my mother that afternoon.

That’s how he entered my life.

The local TV station had gotten a whiff of the situation and dispatched a film crew. They transformed a moment of privacy into bizarre entertainment news.

Now I knew who would occupy the bedroom under the heavy rafters of the remodeled barn. On subsequent mornings, the boy’s parents rolled him out to the open terrace where he basked in the sunrise.

Curiosity molded my behavior. My bird-watching binoculars allowed me to spy from my house window.

His pale face reddened the first day. His large blue eyes and pleasant expression kept me watching.

“Gee, what could make a guy like him smile all the time?”

I made up my mind to visit him.

FOOD was an inappropriate housewarming present. Flowers? A plenitude of them carpeted the fields following a bee-filled spring.

He could use my softball cap during his terrace escapades. It didn’t cross my mind that the pink color could be objectionable to him.

To go, I chose the short way through the field where my father grew pumpkins for Halloween. One stood out above all others. Destined for the annual competition, we touched, hosed, and admired it every day.

My father estimated its weight at six hundred pounds or more. On my way to the neighbor’s, its waxy orange skin attracted my hand as a magnet draws a nail.

I noticed the young man on his distant outside perch. I’d learned his name from the news program, Mario Hidalgo. I was sure he was observing me.

A hummingbird buzzed my ear and hovered midair, inches from my face. The iridescence of his feathers and vibration of his wings froze me in place. The bird took off as fast as he had come. My eyes followed the trajectory of his flight until he landed on Mario’s terrace.

“I’m Samantha Jones, from the next farm over. Welcome to you and your family.”

“How sweet. Thank you. How old are you?”

“Seventeen. Why?”

“No reason. Please come inside. I’m Anna, Mario’s mother.”

I thought she acted with the guarded courtesy of a protective parent, but she guided me upstairs and out onto the terrace.

“Mario, you have a visitor. May we join you?”

“Of course, Mom.”

“Hi, Mario. I’m Samantha. I live over there.” I pointed.

“I’ve watched you come and go to see that pumpkin. Want to hear something funny?”

“I guess so.”

“Tell her, Mom. Tell her my nickname.”

Anna hesitated, turned to me, and said, “Pumpkin.”

Mario let out a genuine, ponderous laugh. It shook the bed. His flesh rippled like Jell-O, and we laughed with him.

“Please sit if you want,” he said.

His mother offered me a chair, and I accepted after a quick look around the terrace. From his high-up nest, Mario could enjoy the expanded horizon like a child in a tree house.

Anna measured me. “What can I offer you, Samantha?”

A cup rested by Mario’s side, close to his hand.

“Whatever he’s having would be fine.”

“Coffee, black, no sugar?”

I nodded.

“I’ll be back. Make yourself at home, please. ” She took two steps backward before turning and leaving.

“How old are you, Mario?’

“A very old twenty.”

If something is not done soon, you will not reach thirty.

He smiled at me and waited. I had nothing to say.

With his eyes on my face, he extended his arm in the air. The gesture distracted me.

A hummingbird appeared, another one flew in, and both landed on Mario’s arm.

His mother returned. The birds flew away, leaving me speechless. She looked at me as if she understood my amazement.

“Hope I’m not disturbing. I just wanted to welcome you. Being our new neighbors and all.”

“Don’t mention it, please. We love visitors,” Anna said.

Mario interrupted. “Maybe the Universal Spirit preordained our encounter as he chose the paths for both our lives.”

Wow, what kind of talk is that?

Mario and I started talking about school, and his mother put down the tray with coffee and looked at me. She relaxed.

I hope she knew I wasn’t motivated by insensitive curiosity.

Mario talked nonstop, and I learned of his interest about school, which he could not attend. Anna and various tutors had home-schooled him. He was eloquent, his prose lyrical at times.

“Do you like poetry?” I asked.

He pointed to still-unpacked boxes strewn around the room. “My books: novels, poetry, and history.” He pulled a book from under the pillows and handed it over. “Tales of the Alhambra, by Washington Irving, 1851 Edition. Have you read it?”

I began to feel inadequate in his presence.

“No. Tell me about it.”

He explained the content and its connection to a poem written by Alexander Pushkin and an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov. This conversation challenged me, but I liked hearing it. It differed from the kind of talks I had with my friends in town.

“Take it with you. I just finished it for a third time. Reading is my way to travel. I do not get around much, as you might imagine.”

Mario’s constrained body couldn’t tether his vivid imagination.

He gave me a short rundown of his family, city dwellers not enthusiastic about rural communities.

Mario’s health had declined in the city. In their suburban home, the patio door in Mario’s room looked onto a barren, fenced yard.

His father purchased the small farm to let his son enjoy the outdoors, the stars, or the sun whenever he wanted.

When fall breezes undressed the trees, golden leaves carpeted Mario’s terrace.

“Don’t clean them, Ma.”

“It’s a mess out here.”


“But I like the crackle of leaves under your feet. I imagine I’m walking on them. They and the birds are my visitors.”

In fact, flocks of birds flew away from the terrace every time I visited him.

Mario’s magical relation with birds puzzled me.

He hardly moved, and they flew all day. But we never talked about it.

We read and discussed books together. By mid-fall, we were the best of friends, and I was in love—but not with him.

MY high school’s Halloween Parade Committee met in the library. We took charge of the school float design. We developed a concept, selected music for the school band, and chose costumes for the float riders.

Mario’s friendship had increased my confidence and improved my vocabulary. Now my opinions turned heads.

“We need lots of your father’s pumpkins for the float,” Francis, our treasurer, said. “I hope he gives us a decent price and we don’t have to buy them at the supermarket parking lot.”

I would have to stand on my toes to kiss him, I thought. He looks gorgeous in his football uniform.

Francis’ olive complexion, black eyes, mane of hair, and square jaw excited me.

“Would you talk to your father?”

“Talk about what?”

“Did you hear a word I said, Samantha?”

“Yes. The pumpkins.”

He neither encouraged nor discouraged my infatuation. However, he glanced and smiled at me more often than he did the other girls, except for Roselyn. With her long legs and resemblance to a movie star, she made me jealous.

One afternoon we got a tip about the competing school’s float. It was similar to ours, but already under construction.

“Everybody will say we copied them. You have to come up with a different idea,” the drama coach said and sent our brains into a spin.

THE same afternoon, I visited Mario. He commented about the big pumpkin in my father’s garden patch. “It’s bigger than me,” he said and laughed. “I’ve given it a name: from now on, she is Cinderella.” We grinned.

“Okay. Cinderella does look a lot bigger.” As soon as I said it, an idea popped into my mind.

“Mario, would you like to go to the parade?”

His laughter faded.

“Are you kidding me?”

“Not at all. Would you like to go?”

No answer, only a questioning stare into my eyes.

“I’m sorry I asked. I did not think it through.”

An awkward minute later, Mario spoke.

“I would. I would like to go to the parade.”

THE committee loved my extreme concept. Ideas flowed like chocolate syrup, and the next day I called Mario’s house to ask permission for the group to visit him.

Anna remained silent for a moment.

“Let me put you on speaker. Tell it to his father.”

“WHAT? Do you want to parade my son as a circus freak?” Mario’s father yelled when I explained. “The cheerleaders’ boobs are not enough excitement?”

“Calm down, please,” Anna said. “Mario can hear you.”

Mario’s voice came loudly over the phone, “Daaad! It’s about time.”

“About time for what, son?” yelled his father.

“To stop hiding me. Despite what you see, Dad, I’m a human being. I’m willing to go if they take me. Descartes once said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’”

“What does that have to do with this?”

“Oh shit, Dad, you should read a book once in a while. I’m sorry to shame you. Let them come here and talk.”

Anna came back on the line. “Samantha, you are welcome anytime.”

THE project moved quickly. Every day, I kept Mario in the loop. Sometimes others came with me. We laughed and planned every detail.

“We need insurance for me,” Mario said, “in case the crane splatters me on the ground. Like an egg falling from the nest.”

One day I came too early. Anna asked me to come back later.

“We are giving him a bath,” she said.

I had never thought about it. The images that flooded my mind sort of revolted me.

“I’m sorry about that,” I said. “I mean, I’ll be back.”

I left, walking faster than usual. I looked back at the house and caught Anna’s sad expression.

God, help me be a better person.

MARIO turned anxious as the day approached. He obsessed over the move to the float.

“When alone, I watch Cinderella from up here. That pumpkin is growing like a sumo wrestler. Just like me.”

I ignored the remark, but the pumpkin’s girth had increased. Mario, too, had added pounds.

“Can’t explain it, but I feel connected to Cinderella,” he said.

Halloween morning, we moved the float below Mario’s terrace. The float depicted a vine and carved pumpkins crawling up a hill amid girls in rabbit and bird costumes. Atop the hill was Mario’s place. The crane flew him from his bed to the float. He sat inside a customized orange sphere as big as Cinderella. His voluminous arms dangled over the curved sides. A microphone would allow him to engage the crowd.

We drove away from the farm. Mario looked at the pumpkin. “Bye, my friend. I know how it feels to be stuck. I will tell you all about it when I return.”

The parade route through our small town overflowed with spectators. Happiness permeated the afternoon.

The school band marched in front. The girls on the float exchanged quips with Mario. His cleverness gave them a harder time than they expected. People applauded. We heard no pity, no cruel remarks from the crowd. Francis and others from the football team rode on the float.

“Get on the team, Mario,” a man shouted. “They need help. They are playing like sissies this year.”

Mario was a town celebrity.

BACK at the farm, the crane carried Cinderella onto a trailer truck to move her to the fairgrounds the next day. The truck driver parked beside the house and near Mario’s terrace.
When we returned, the sun had declined over the evening’s edge. The crane operator lifted Mario up.

“Would you raise me as high as you can before taking me to my bed, please? Then shut off the engine and let me rest a few minutes in silence,” Mario said.

The operator complied. He leaned back in his seat, lit a cigarette, and grinned, watching Mario floating in mid-air.

In the early darkness, I thought a bird landed on Mario’s knee.

“How did you feel up there?” I asked later.

“Like a hummingbird with lead wings. I had an out-of- body experience. My mind connected with Cinderella on the trailer. She wanted to know what I did today.”

Almost everyone had gone home. I was alone with Mario on the terrace, releasing the lingering euphoria. We heard voices and I went to see. Francis and Roselyn were looking at the giant pumpkin. Then they sat at the end of the trailer, their backs toward Cinderella.

“It was nice to win first place, and we did not spend the entire budget,” Roselyn said, unaware their voices carried up to us.

“We were lucky that Samantha convinced that freak to go along for the ride. We couldn’t lose,” Francis said. Rosalyn leaned on his shoulder.

“She is so naive. She thinks you are in love with her.”

“It saved us almost three hundred dollars on the cost of the pumpkins.”

“Poor thing. She should look in the mirror,” Roselyn said. “My gosh, Samantha is at least thirty pounds overweight.”

“I know, love. The two of them could compete with this huge pumpkin.”

My eyes got glossy. I turned my face towards Mario. His eyes flamed with anger. His clenched fists yellowed, and his bed shook as he attempted to stand up.

I heard a snapping sound and looked down. The cinch holding Cinderella had broken, and she was rolling along the trailer’s bed. Francis and Roselyn turned around, looked at the pumpkin, and saw me.

Surprised, they did not move. Cinderella barreled down on them. They jumped to the ground, but it was too late. Cinderella vaulted from her bed and landed on top of them. I gasped, and looked away.

“OH my God, Mario. My father said Cinderella weighed fourteen hundred pounds.”


About the Author

Eduardo Cervino, AKA E. C. Brierfield, was born in Havana, Cuba, and has resided in the US since 1968. He has traveled extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Latin America working as an architectural designer.

He is also a painter and his oil canvasses have been exhibited in the US and abroad.
He has written and published several novels and numerous short stories. He resides in Arizona with his wife and writing collaborator, L. S. Brierfield.



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Football Suspension Musings…



Of late, I’ve been reading (and listening) to the many varied viewpoints about the recent decision by the NFL to suspend anyone within the organization who has been charged and/or convicted of domestic violence. Being a survivor of childhood abuse (plus relationship domestic violence as a younger adult) this is one headline that I’ve definitely been paying attention to.
I must admit though, I’ve found some of the public’s reactions to be shocking; not to mention offensive. However, I choose to believe that this is mainly due to ignorance versus a mean-spirited attitude. This is why I’ve also chosen to provide some insights regarding abuse.
In watching as this NFL story further unfolds, the first thing I noticed is an immense irritation from quite a few football fans with regard to the indefinite suspension of Ray Rice. I certainly acknowledge the frustration these individuals feel over the two game suspension ruling; which later turned into an indefinite suspension while Rice’s case pends further review by the league. And of course, let’s not forget the deactivation of Adrian Peterson (with pay) until his “legal proceedings are resolved.”
Yet I cannot understand the reasoning behind other of the public’s complaints.  In certain cases it seems that an individual is only upset because his/her favorite football team is now not doing well, or because his/her Fantasy Football team just took the equivalent of a huge nosedive off the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
In all honesty, I, too, am a huge football fan – a fan of the game itself. And that, right there, is the thing that throws me for a loop…
Football is a game. Abuse is a life.
I completely understand that to the suspended player, football is a game – as well as the way in which he makes the money for his life. However, it is also the abuser’s decision to be an abuser and not the victim’s.
No girl-friend, fiancée, spouse or ‘significant other’ ever starts her day out by saying:
“Honey, it’s that time of the month, so if I get moody and bitchy would you just knock me out?”
No child ever says to the parent(s), or guardian(s):
“My bruises are all gone, but I quite liked the purplish-green color of them. Would you mind getting upset and beating the crap out of me today?”
Ludicrous statements aren’t they? And yet when I read some of the ignorant commentary, that’s exactly what I think. I’m certain that other abuse survivors must have similar thoughts.
So, let’s talk for a moment about why women stay with abusive men. From the outside looking in, one can speculate a myriad of reasons. I wonder though how many actually hit upon any of the ‘real’ reasons…
(Please note: there are relationships where women abuse men. While I’m certain that their reasons for staying are similar, or the same, for ease of typing/reading, I will discuss the female victim/male abuser dynamic versus using a steady stream of him/her, her/him and him or her, etc. combined references).
Robert Plutchik theorizes that there are eight ‘basic’ human emotions: joy, sadness, trust, disgust, fear, anger, surprise and anticipation. Much like a primary color wheel, these eight emotions can be spun around and mixed together to form additional, and more complex, emotions such as: love or contempt.
I liken most abusive relationships to being a trifecta of the following powerful emotions/motivators: joy + trust which equals: love, either anger or disgust, and anticipation + joy which equals: optimism (aka hope).
Continuing on to my point, most people are certainly aware that there are those who pretend to be someone, or something, they’re not in the start of a relationship; in order to win the other person’s love or affections.
And what is one of the most common statements made by the neighbors, friends and/or family members of serial killers?
“Oh, but he was such a nice person!”
In other words we, the chosen ‘romantic interest,’ can have no inkling because he (the abuser) has learned how to hide this personality aspect from view. When the monster (that is domestic violence) finally does arise from the depths, we are floored. We are hurt; both physically and mentally and we don’t understand.
But the kicker of it – is that we now love this person. It also doesn’t help matters when the abuser comes to us crying and ashamed over his actions.
“I’m so sorry!” we are told.
“It will never happen again!” we are vehemently promised.
And so the powerful emotions of joy, trust and anticipation combine within our minds and we choose to believe… (Or, we have been continuously threatened and now fear for our lives).
The other thing that I don’t think the general, non-abusive public realizes – is just how charming and believable an abuser is. (“Oh, but he was such a nice person!” is also the same comment made by neighbors, friends and family members when the hidden horrors of abuse have been revealed).
Yes, we the victims will generally (eventually) leave this bad-for-us-situation (after all, self-preservation is an ingrained survival instinct), but remember that people can only leave these situations at their own pace (or the pace that is allowed by society).
As a child I ran away for the first time at age twelve; again several months later. Society can never knowingly allow a minor that young to live in a world unattended; consequently I was always returned to my parents. Finally, upon seeing physical signs of abuse, Child Protective Services was contacted; yet my parents still had the ability to disappear into the woods – effectively falling off the ‘grid.’
At age fifteen, I again reached out to law enforcement for help; seeking to escape from a life of almost daily abuse. Sadly, even with the eyewitness account of an incident that involved my father hitting me with a professional grade cordless Makita drill, l was still returned to my parents. And again, we picked up and disappeared…
Is it any wonder that my love relationship life began with abusive men? How many other women have become involved in an abusive relationship for the very same reason?
Once, while still embroiled in an abusive love relationship, I was asked why I stayed when the guy would physically hurt me. Didn’t I see it was wrong of him? The combination of this woman’s questions made it click for me.
Coming from a household of abuse as a child, the subconscious ‘warning’ signs meant to alert me to the wrongness of abuse/domestic violence were damaged to the point of being non-existent. Furthermore, how could something be ‘wrong’ when it was the accepted mainstay of the first sixteen-and-a-half years of my life?
Do not prejudge the woman living with the abuser – she may be just as horrified as you. Instead, try to offer her hope (and the knowledge) that there can be a better life for her; one without the tribulations of abuse.
Do not feel sorry for the abuser – when he, or she, is an abuser by choice. Do not ‘justify’ their actions. Instead, embrace them with whatever support they need/require to seek help. Be there for them while they work out (and overcome) whatever demons and/or life choices put them on this hurtful and oft destructive path.
Finally, never fault the many individuals who come together and put their collective feet down in order to declare:
“Enough is enough!”
“There will be repercussions for the inhumane actions/treatment of others!”
And, since I’m being honest with you, the young child in me (the one who had no one to protect her) was ever so grateful to learn of the NFL’s new ‘no tolerance for domestic violence’ stance.
Our world continues to move forward into more ‘enlightened’ times. As we do, one of the tenets of this ‘new’ world is the need to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
We should also remember that these abusive actions are found within many different fields; in some instances, right down to the law enforcement officials we entrust to protect us.
Religious teachings aside, each of us knows ‘deep down’ that domestic abuse/violence against others is wrong.
When exactly did we begin to revert to the more prehistoric time of the caveman – where physical strength and intimidation were the tools for survival and leadership? We would do well to remember that it takes much more than just opposable thumbs and the ‘ability’ to reason for humanity to evolve.
And … for those of you who still can’t, or won’t, understand the detriment of domestic violence? Let’s look at this in a different light. Put yourself forty years into the future – imagine if the woman knocked unconscious and then dragged from an elevator was your daughter. Mommy or daddy’s ‘little girl’ and the light of your life… How about your granddaughter?
Mayhap then (with this vision) we can stop the sometimes cavalier attitude about the epidemic that is domestic violence; not to mention the actual injustice of the crime.
And perhaps then, obviously ignorant and callous statements such as: “Obviously it’s not that bad because she’s still with him” will be a thing of the past.


Charline Ratcliff is a writer, reviewer, and interviewer. Some of her interests include: travel, learning about other cultures (past and present), and enjoying the beauty of nature. She also strives to help others by sharing her personal experiences; seeking to raise awareness, and to provide hope to those who feel there is none.



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Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha by Yves Johnson








This is a unique time of year since two major religious celebrations converge around the same time. Some purport they’re worshipping the same God and believe the same things. However, if   we peel the onion back some, we can learn a little about three religions and how they are similarly dissimilar.

Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Adha. This Islamic festival commemorates Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) willingness to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Jews will celebrate Yom Kippur, known as the Day of Atonement. It’s a day God forgave His people for their disobedience. You’ve probably identified the difference in these celebrations. One festival celebrates man’s action while the other celebrates God’s action. Although two of the three major religions will be in a time of celebration, Christians will not. Ironically, these two festivals affect Christians. Well, somewhat.

Eid al-Adha is also called the Feast of the Sacrifice and lasts four-days.   It honors Abraham’s submission to Allah because he was willing to sacrifice his first-born son Ishmael (Ismail).   Allah stops Abraham and provides him with a lamb to sacrifice instead. The events are strikingly similar to the Jewish and Christian version.   Remarkably the thread of sacrifice and God providing a “ram or lamb in the bush” is a distinctive event in all three religions. Despite the parallels, Islam’s account differs diametrically from the Jewish and Christian account. In particular, Judaism and Christianity indicate Abraham was going to sacrifice his son to God, not Allah. Also, their Holy Scripture indicates Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac, second son but was provided a ram not a lamb. Further, they believe in God, not Allah and vice versa. This point alone separates the religions. In fact, this fundamental theological divide prevents the three faiths from uniting as one faith.   Curiously, Abraham’s willingness to do the unthinkable solidified him in the annals of faith in these three religions.

Unlike Yom Kippur, Eid al-Adha differs somewhat depending on the Islamic country. It seems Muslims make an effort to pray and attend a worship service at a mosque. They also conduct a qurbani (symbolically sacrificing an animal). The act is a reenactment of Abraham preparing to sacrifice Ishmael.

Yom Kippur commemorates the day when God forgave the Jews for sinning. The day was commanded to be celebrated forever and was named the Day of Atonement.   It’s a day, roughly 25 hours, for them to atone for their sin. This is perhaps the most important festival Jews observe. It shows the Jews’ special relationship with God despite many personal failings. This is a Holy Sabbath and as such Jews celebrate through repentance and prayer.

Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac are chief characters in these religions. In fact Ishmael and Isaac are half-brothers. Ishmael is more important to Muslims while Isaac is more important to Jews and Christians. To a degree, Abraham ties the three religions together. The differences, as we have seen, quickly emerge after this.

Armed with this little bit of information, you now have a little more information about your friends with differing religious beliefs. While these three religions have some similar background and history, they are clearly miles apart from one another. Yet each is devoted to their beliefs as the other ones are.


Yves Johnson is currently working on his third and fourth books. One is on applying Jesus’ leadership lessons in our daily life and the other is a leadership book. You can find his books at http://ow.ly/B4aGp. You can obtain signed copies from http://ow.ly/B4aKo. You can follow him on Twitter @YvesJohnson1. Follow him on Facebook at http://ow.ly/B4aWO. Join him on Goodreads at http://ow.ly/B4aPP. Lets do some business together! Contact me at http://ow.ly/B4aZl Yves also welcomes visitors at his blog: http://ow.ly/B4b3l

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Do Words Change Our Responses to Violence and Injustice?   By Joyce F. Elferdink

Doublespeak_From a book cover on Doublespeak by Matthew Feldman                                      cover

Scene 1; Take I

 Awakened by my alarm set for WHYD 89.9 FM, the station that usually bore me gently back to the living, instead shocked me into a fully awake state today with this news flash:

A bomb exploded last night in Our Savior Catholic Church, killing at least 220 persons. Most of the dead are high school students who were practicing for a fundraising concert to continue Mother Teresa’s work in Calcutta. No group has yet taken credit for this heinous act, although evidence points to an anti-gay group. Our Savior’s priest who allowed the church to sponsor meetings of Until Love is Equal is among the dead. Most of the families of the dead teens were already reeling from the announcement last week by Heinz Distillers NA that positions for 700 of the 1476 currently employed locally will be abolished by month end and the lines moved overseas. With unemployment in the area already at a twenty hear high, the surviving family members will become poor overnight. The company’s CEO, Nicholas Nastii, defended the firings as necessary to remain competitive. He was quoted as saying, “Our wage expenses were too high, especially when the jobs required a level of expertise unavailable. We’ve contracted with Employment Services to help those being downsized find more suitable jobs.”


Scene 1; Take II

Awakened by my alarm set for WHYD 89.9 FM, I brushed my teeth as I half listened to the announcer discuss last night’s news. Something about an incident that occurred somewhere in the area…

Student workers—as many as 220–have been reclassified as collateral damage. The youth were practicing for a concert in a faith-based facility when the mishap occurred. This comes at a very bad time for most of the families. Many of the teens and their parents were employed by Heinz Distillers NA. The company, the region’s major employer, just last week announced plans to outsource fifty percent of its bottling unit to the U.S., a very large end user and said to have cheaper immigrant labor. Surveys of families affected by the mishap and downsizing indicate the majority will be forced  into the ranks of the economically disadvantaged.  Heinz CEO says that is not so. “These people only need to revise their employment expectations. Those who are willing to work will be able to afford all necessities.”

How differently did your mind and heart respond when the news reporter used the following terms instead of plain English: Collateral damage  instead of  death and property destruction; downsizing instead firing; economically disadvantaged instead of poor; mishap instead of catastrophe. There’s also outsourced and faith-based, which some would label doublespeak.

This is my attempt at doublespeak, a term that combines George Orwell’s ‘doublethink’ and ‘newspeak’ that he originated for his political novel 1984.” As he saw it: “Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” (George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946)

In 1974, the National Council of Teachers of English established a Doublespeak Award, given annually to “public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered.” Recipients have included the CIA, Exxon Corporation, the U.S. Department of Defense (three times), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Glenn Beck.
[Retrieved from http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/Doublespeak-Soft_Language-Gobbledygook.htm]

What person or organization would you nominate for the Doublespeak Award, whether public speakers, writers, or  other “taxpayers”—oops, are all citizens taxpayers? And please explain the criteria for your selection.


Joyce Elferdink’s Bio:

This author thinks of herself as a teacher, apprentice, traveler and activist. Her inspiration comes from life experiences and an overactive imagination (nothing new to authors) and by the diverse novels she reads (but primarily science fiction). This summer she was stunned to receive an Excellence in Teaching award from her employer, Davenport University. Now if she could only get one of those equally prestigious awards for her novel, Pieces of You or the one just begun, The Battle of Jericho, 2035. Actually, her primary purpose for writing is to make readers think about questions we all may be asking.





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For TR Sept 24 banshee-public-domain

  My great uncle had just celebrated his eighty-second birthday but he was dressed in his old police uniform, resting in the kitchen of his house on Chicago’s south side.  Until my sister lifted me, all I could see was a fair allowance of flowers and his nose sticking up past the rim of his coffin.  I recall thinking that old people sure had a lot of hair in their noses. It was that night, at his wake, after the grown-ups offered fifty-thee “Hail Mary’s” and more than a few toasts from some bottles of Jameson’s, that I first heard the word “banshee”.   The deceased was from the Walsh side of the family, a common surname indicating that some ancestor had once emigrated from Wales to Ireland.

The Walsh brothers, and one sister, my grandmother, traveled one by one from Ballylongford in County Kerry to Chicago, the lads each joining the Windy City’s constabulary soon after stepping off the train from New York.  The last to arrive, in 1889, was little Mary Ellen.  Twenty-three years later, that girl with the black pin curls and Irish brogue became my mother’s mother after marrying Edward Conners, an Episcopalian member of the Ó Conchobhair clan. She liked to say that she had rescued him from several generations of Orangemen who had so “miserably butchered” the family name.  According to my aunts, Catholicism was Grandma’s gift to Edward and the O’Conchobhair (O’Connor) banshee was his gift to her. Grandpa could be forgiven for saying there was too much superstition among the Catholics.  Too often, that was true. Being devout was not the same as being well instructed. On the other hand, it was his family that claimed to have a banshee.

Given the times and the Troubles, my grandparents seem to have done a remarkable job of removing bigotry, resentment, and prejudice from their lives.  Edward, a bridge tender for the railroad, admired the dedication that his wife’s Catholic brothers put into keeping the peace.  When Prohibition arrived, they all had enough rank to make sure you could still even have a drink in peace. They may have been guilty of accepting some “gratuities” but they weren’t afraid to put their lives on the line. One of them died in the line of duty trying to rescue a young girl who was being attacked in an alley.  Grandma shared her husband’s religious tolerance.  She admired the pioneering spirit of Grandpa’s family and would at least allow that the outhouses in England probably didn’t smell any worse than the ones in Ireland.

Grandma was not altogether unfamiliar with Protestants even in a Catholic village as small as Ballylongford.  She grew up only a few doors away from the childhood home of Horatio Herbert Kitchener, First Earl of Khartoum, and Great Britain’s Secretary of State for War. While city folk might dismiss Ballylongford as merely a wide spot on a road that followed the estuary of the River Shannon, our family knew it was home to Earl Kitchener, home to the former Jesuit writer Malachi Martin, and home to Grandmother Mary Ellen Walsh Conners.   It was also the first village in Ireland to have a refrigerator for their pub.  Nobody from Cork or Dublin or Derry could claim any of that!

Some of this might have been part of the conversation the night of my great uncle’s wake.  I only remember bits and pieces, scenes frozen forever in my mind, snippets of conversation.  I was a child, and had the scene not seemed so very peculiar to me, I might have forgotten it entirely.  Perhaps the only reason I remember any of it was that I was quite sure we never ever kept a dead guy in the kitchen at our house.

“Did he hear the banshee?” my mother asked.  No doubt, some of the retired cops in the room smiled, perhaps even smirked at the question.  I don’t recall.  What I do remember is my Aunt Harriet saying, “She means was he prepared.”   At the time I couldn’t begin to imagine how one prepares to recline and remain motionless in a wooden box while dozens of folks cry, laugh, pray and talk about you.

The Walsh brothers may have scoffed at the notion, but to my mother, the banshee was very real, a family spirit that came to help you prepare for death.  Apparently there is no Walsh family banshee, but the tradition of the O’Conchobhair Banshee has been passed on for centuries.  The O’Briens, the O’Neills and the O’Gradys each had their family banshee.  The Fitzgeralds, I was told, were not allowed to have one.  I don’t know if that was a blessing or a curse. Often in literature and film, a banshee is a terrifying creature. To some Irish families, a banshee is a fairy-like being. To others it is a frightful female spirit that sounds like the mournful keeners at an Irish funeral.  Our family banshee was always portrayed as an angelic spirit who came with a beautiful song to remind you to repent, to forgive, and to let go of earthly attachments.  My grandmother claimed to hear the banshee shortly before she died.

The tradition of the banshee goes well past the shores of Ireland.  It can be found in Scotland and Wales and some Vikings even carried tales of the banshees back to Norway.  Once out of Ireland, banshees appear to no longer tie themselves to clans or families.

According to my mother, Grandma Conners attended Mass every Sunday before praying the rosary.  After that, it was her tradition to sing as she prepared Sunday brunch for her husband, son, and five daughters.  The song she sang was always the same, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”.  “I never heard that song in Ireland,” she would say, “but I think it’s so beautiful.  If ever I hear the banshee, I pray she will sing something beautiful like that.”

I don’t know if Grandma really heard a banshee.  I don’t know if they are the stuff of fairy tales or actual manifestations of heavenly spirits.  What I suspect is that in a society where we tend to avoid thinking or discussing preparation for death, the song of the O’Conchobhair banshee might just be worth hearing.  The simple fact is that sooner or later we all die. I suspect that no matter what we believe, or even if we believe in nothing at all, we would probably have a better death if first we forgive others and let go of our resentments and earthly attachments.  Like it or not, the day of the banshee is seldom as distant as we want to believe.  My own hope is that some spirit will remind me of all that before I get stuffed into a wooden box, be it in a Chicago kitchen or elsewhere.

T.R. Heinan is the author of L’immortalité: Madam Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen, a reflection on justice and compassion set in the historical context of a haunting 19th century New Orleans legend.http://www.amazon.com/LImmortalite-Madame-Lalaurie-Voodoo-Queen/dp/0615634710

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