Saving the World

Prompt: A Brand New You, Effective Tomorrow
Tomorrow you get to become anyone in the world that you wish. Who are you? You can choose to be anyone alive today, or someone gone long ago. If you decide to stay “you” share your rationale.

dappled grey horse painting

I awoke in the new year to the sound of a wood thrush trilling its morning greeting from the forest. A tray of hot tea and toast, with fresh butter and strawberry jam, awaited me on the bedside table.

When dressed, I took to the stables, where my horse, a dappled grey, his hot breath frosty in the cool winter air, awaited me, brushed and saddled. He nodded to me, and my gloved hand felt his soft snout, and he took the apple from my palm.

We rode as we usually did, athletically and passionately on the journey to the copse at the top of windy hill, where I dropped the reins and allowed him to nibble on frosted grasses, while I set up my easel and painted, for the hundredth time, the valley with the green river, now, today, bordered with dark leafless lime, oak, and birch.

Our journey back took the long route, leisurely skirting the green river, startling a young stag,

Gordon greeted me by the fireplace, a smile on his ruddy face, as usual, and as was right for a man so deeply content.

“The carriage is here,” he said.

“Time to go save the world?” I asked.

“Yes ma’am.”

“As long as I’m back for classes,” I said.

He bowed slightly, and in a few minutes he joined me in the carriage for my ride to town, in silence, as we preferred.


Prompt: Childhood Revisited
What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

suspension bridge

When I was nine years old, my teacher had the ill-conceived idea that a good speaking project would be to have each of us tell a funny story to the class.

Of course many of us had no clue what actually constituted a funny story, and even fewer understood how to tell a story so that it would make anyone laugh. The boys, for example, were at the stage of learning the finer points of underarm farting.

So poor Mrs. Ferguson suffered through two or three days of mostly unfunny stories, to a rather callous audience who refused to laugh politely, so she had to. I rode a pony, and I fell off! I got food colouring on my fingers! My brother did a belly flop! …I will never forget the sound of her lonely, fake laughter, echoing painfully in the classroom, after each story was told and the student took their seat again.

I did have a funny story, about the time I saw a bowl of sugar on the kitchen table, dipped my finger in and tasted it, and it turned out to be soap powder. Hilarious! It would have had my classmates in stitches. I chose to abandon that tale and substituted an obscure memory which not one person found amusing (including Mrs. Ferguson) and which might even have mildly traumatized some.

It was about a car trip with my family. I believe we went with my parents, three siblings, a cousin and an aunt to a suspension bridge, all crammed into one car, as you did in those days before seat belts, and there were a lot of kids to be transported. So we visited the bridge, enjoyment ensued, and then as I got distracted by an information poster at the site, my family all piled into the car and drove off. Without me.

Ha ha! I returned to my seat proudly after telling my story, convinced Mrs. Ferguson’s laughter was sincere in my case, even if the rest of the class sat in horrified silence.

Now my parents, stuffed into the car with everyone else, having abandoned a young child in a wooded and secluded area, soon realized they were one kid short and returned for me. I was completely unbothered by the incident, and they found me waiting patiently, not pissed off at all. In fact… ho ho ho! We all had a great chuckle.

The reason this struck me as strange was because I actually was traumatized as a very wee child. It is one of my earliest memories. My family used to rent a cabin near the beach for a couple of weeks every summer. There was an amusement park nearby, and I believe we did things like clam-digging and what not. I have vague memory of a giant pot of boiling water and sea creatures being dropped into it.

I was maybe two or three years old, spending a lazy afternoon at the beach with my mother. Everyone else was off somewhere, but we staked out a spot with a log to lean on, and I played with a plastic bucket in the sand while my mother sunned herself. Then I fell asleep, as tots are wont to do on a lazy summer afternoon. When I awoke, I was alone. The blanket was still there, and the imprint where mummy had been lying in the sand, but no mummy. There were only strange people all around. I stood up in a panic and started to wail.

A horrible menacing stranger tried to console me, until my mother reappeared, somewhat flustered, having dashed across the road to our cabin to use the toilet, and had only been gone half a minute. According to her. Or had she got tired of a small chubby girl with a powerful set of lungs, and planned to leave her alone on the beach among strangers, forever?

I still remember the sense of panic, possibly the first time I ever felt alone and out of the sphere of absolute protection and security that my parents offered. It’s not a pleasant memory. Perhaps it was the sense of absolute loss, followed by my mother scooping me up a minute later, that reinforced that even when I was out of sight, I was not unprotected or forgotten.

Because when I discovered my family had driven off without me, as I stood at the suspension bridge, I thought it was funny. I felt utterly unthreatened and imagined how amusing it would be to them all when they discovered I was missing. I knew my mother had just slipped away for a minute, and would be back to scoop me up.

On Top of Spaghetti

Prompt: Earworm
Write whatever you normally write about, and weave in a book quote, film quote, or song lyric that’s been sticking with you this week.

loren eating spaghetti

One year at Christmas, my aunt made the traditional Christmas Eve lasagna, but instead of browning a mixture of ground beef and pork and adding this to the layers, she made tiny little meatballs. They were smaller than a cat’s eye cob, and contained all the ingredients of a real meatball: the ground meat, onions, garlic, cheese, egg, bread, parsley, salt and pepper. I was just a child, but she let me roll some meatballs too, from a mush of meat in a giant ceramic mixing bowl. She, and the half-dozen or so other Italian ladies, kept a close watch on the quality of my meatball-rolling, but mostly, they talked and laughed among themselves as they rolled cat’s eye cob meatballs, in a patois of Italian, English, and who-knows-what, that I mostly understood.

I wondered, why go to all this trouble, when it tasted just fine the old way, and took a quarter of the time to prepare?

The reason was, of course, the talking and laughing. The shared moment among busy women with jobs to go to and families to feed and illnesses to tend and crises to weather. This was a sisterhood of the kitchen. This was a clan of bawdy story-tellers, sympathetic ears, belly-laughers, and skilled hands.

Maybe the next time I make lasagna for Christmas Eve, I will make tiny little meatballs. I will invite the ladies of my acquaintance to help, and we will spend several hours together, around a table, and tell each other surprising truths, and gossip, and gently diss the men who are drinking wine in the next room, just like at my aunt’s house so many years ago.


Prompt: Fearless Fantasies
How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?


I was stuck on this prompt about fear, so asked partner for ideas.

He said, if everyone lived without fear people would run around killing each other, not fearing the consequences.

I said, if everyone lived without fear then maybe it was a perfect world, where we had nothing to fear.



What does and doesn’t suck

Prompt: Young At Heart
What are your thoughts on aging? How will you stay young at heart as you get older?

follies girl

The consensus about aging among my acquaintances about growing older is: It sucks.

We are, of course, talking about the physical effects of aging. All the usual: wrinkles, grey strands, aches and pains, concerns like heart health, peeing, and sleeping; and serious illnesses become more likely, while our ability to withstand them diminishes. Yeah, it sucks.

As for staying “young at heart”, what does that mean? I really do not want to be a frivolous, callous, selfish, overly emotional young sprout again. That sucked too, being, if not stupid, then at least not as brilliant as I am now!

I try to stay physically and mentally active. It’s a challenge, but that is part of the fun of getting older. You pick your challenges. You decide if, how and why you do anything. Choices are virtually endless, and you are much better equipped to make pleasurable, productive, and exquisitely personal and quirky decisions, with some degree of perspective and yes, even wisdom. I don’t have to take up golf, or bridge, or learn square dancing, or fret about the younger generations. I can paint, write, snowshoe, form a band, feed the homeless, start a political party, read twenty trashy novels, or pretty well anything I want. That part doesn’t suck.

Good Lord

Prompt: Un/Faithful
Tell us about the role that faith plays in your life — or doesn’t.


The Unfaithful:

  • My god is better than your god.
  • You have to do what my god says.
  • I decide which parts of what my god says are true.
  • My god wants me to prosper.
  • I fight for my god.
  • Forgiveness means I can do whatever I want, and if I express regret, I can meet my god in heaven.
  • Only believers in my god should be my neighbours.
  • Unbelievers are less than I am.

The Faithful:

  • God is love, whatever her name or manifestation.
  • We are free to express our faith in ways we choose.
  • I know the word of my god preaches goodness, kindness and a tolerant heart.
  • God wants an end to global suffering.
  • I fight no one, and work towards peace, as my god would want.
  • God accepts the pure of heart, not the hypocrites.
  • God loves everyone, regardless of race or religion.
  • I am humble in the eyes of my god.

Thanks for Rubbing

Prompt: Generous Genies
Remember those lovely genies who grant wishes? Well, you’re one and you’ve just been emancipated from your restrictive lamp. You can give your three wishes to whomever you want. Who do you give your three wishes to, and why?

russels christmas magic

I like it in the lamp. It’s cosy, and I have Netflix. But I got a FitBit for Christmas so it was nice to add a few steps. Thanks for rubbing!

To Ken: Freedom from illness.
To Jim and Joanne: Peace in your hearts.
To my family: Prosperity and more moments spent together.

Merry Christmas to all!


Prompt: Ebb and Flow
Our blogs morph over time, as interests shift and life happens. Write a post for your blog — but three years in the future.


People ask us if we regret the big decision. I suppose it is productive to take a moment now and then, to reflect on the past, our successes and failures, our missteps and our kindnesses, the steadiness or transience of our relationships— the ebb and flow of life.

I am writing this from Berlin, a lovely campsite with the cleanest showers, possibly of any camp site in all of Europe. I had a shower on the flight, but still, the ride to our accommodations on a hot and dusty summer day necessitated another one, which was almost as luxurious.

We don’t mind camping— it has changed a lot since I used to go into the woods with my family, setting up a canvas tent that leaked if you touched it when it rained. Now there are places like this gloriously green oasis near Berlin, a city we have never visited and so feel a genuine sense of adventure and anticipation.

We often stay with friends now, as we’ve made many throughout the world in our travels. They are delighted to accommodate us, and if we have room on the jet, we are happy to accommodate them, as well.

We spend the summers in the Northern Hemisphere, and, unless we fancy a skiing holiday or a white Christmas, we seek out the tropical climates in the winter.

I used to hate travel, remember? Now, since we sold everything, cashed in everything, put our souls on the market, I love travel, in our beautiful Hawker 800XP, modest for a private jet, but suitable for our needs.

Sometimes I miss a home, neighbours, having a big dog (when Samson passed away, we downsized)— but mostly, I do not.

And camping. Who knew I would love it again?


Prompt: Exhale
Tell us about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong — and then, suddenly, you knew it would be alright.


Have you ever had a biopsy?

Cancer is probably one of the most dreaded words in the English language, despite the great advances that have been made, and the number of cancer survivors who live healthy and normal lives.

But the word still makes a body shudder.

So yes, I had a biopsy, and you have to wait for the results. I wasn’t working at the time and spent my days walking, cooking, reading… quiet pursuits, wherein I had time to think about my future, if I had one, if the test came back positive for malignant cancer.

Strangely, I wasn’t upset. I got double wrapped in my own feelings, watching my thoughts drift by, lingering over some and discarding others, and monitoring my reactions. I was completely immersed in myself, but oddly disconnected too.

I realized how highly personal death is.

The test came back negative. Exhale. It took a day or two for the fog to lift.

Poor Loser

Prompt: Fandom
Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.


I am very competitive. That’s why I don’t play sports any more; in fact I stopped competitive sports in elementary school, when I didn’t make the first string volleyball team, despite being the most consistent server and best spiker on the squad.

It hurt too much to fail. I would put my heart and soul into a sport, become frighteningly single-minded— which I didn’t like either— and become despondent if I made a mistake, or someone else made a mistake, that caused us to lose.

To hell with sportsmanship, the social value of teamwork, and the thrill of the play. I only want to win.

I know it’s just a game. I know that that fear of failure affects all competitors. But for me, that little ball of stress and dread of loss always casts a deep shadow.


P.S. Go Cubs.