My shadow has enveloped me,
swallowed every particle that
once was identifiable.
If you wonder where I am…
I don’t know.
I don’t know, and I have
no voice to call out.
My senses are lost to me.
No one can touch me.
My eyes stare into empty spaces.
I have no physical sense of hunger.
I exist in a vacuum…

This is a desolate place and
I have overstayed my time.
Everything here is wrong, and
I am discomfited by my circumstance.
Once I was stronger and vigorous.
Now there is no one left,
but God himself, to save me.
But I am unconcerned.
He has done so before and
will again, and I am…

I flipped a chocolate chip cookie on the floor tonight.  Blew it off, but then caution or good sense guided me to the trash can where my cookie now lies in repose.  I would like to say my decision was made after careful deliberation for my health and not the fact that I had at least twelve dozen more readily available to me.  The outcome may have been different if it was ― you know what I’m going to tell you…my very last cookie.

A minute later I flipped an entire glob of my favorite, black cherry, jello on the floor – the same spot, I swear.  I said aloud and with more than a little solemnity, “Five second rule?”  Seriously?  For jello?  But, in my defense, the cookie was flat; the jello was globular, ergo a large portion of it was not really touching anything but air.  Is air near the floor dirtier than air at head level?  I’d never had a need to consider this question in all my years of inquisitiveness, and I really would like to know.  I may have to thank God tonight in my prayers for making us bipeds.

Back to the jello, my dilemma was figuring out a way to remove the good jello on top from the bad, germy jello on the bottom.  It is quite squiggly, as you are aware.  Where is an engineer when you need one.  I sighed and gave it up to the garbage disposal.  I had one more serving in the bowl so my ordeal was survivable, albeit much more dire than the cookie situation.

I don’t know about you, but when I get like this, I watch my food extremely closely for the next few hours.  I become obsessively nervous if I am moving about with food in my hands, and my eyes do not waiver from it.  I could trip over the cat or walk into furniture but the edibles will have my full attention.  Transporting soup really freaks me out.


Santa Claus

It’s time again for my annual reminder to check out http://www.northpole.com

This site is pure magic for little kids and everyone.  All kinds of activities, stories, and games to delight all ages.  Recipes from Mrs. Claus’s kitchen for moms and dads.  Toys and gift ideas, crafts, write to Santa, visit Santa’s reindeer, watch NORAD track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.  Your little ones will be entertained for hours.

To many of you, this is a lesson already learned.  The results can be volatile.  We had had our share of conflicts at the table in prior years, but then my mother unwittingly invited two additional liberals which shifted the delicate balance of power.

My aunt had barely finished a lovely grace when it began.  I don’t know who started it, but within five minutes it had escalated to a level of vitriol previously unseen at our holiday repast.  Surprisingly, I stayed out of it which is so unlike me.  I believe I was in awe of the other participants and their enthusiasm.

My mother gently chided everyone at first, which went completely ignored by the entire group.  It was free entertainment to me…like a staged production for which you pay money for dinner and a show.  I prefer musicals, but this was pretty good in its stead.

There was no distracting anyone.  They were heavily invested in their tirades and their completely accurate opinions.  Over the din, as she held the gravy hostage, my mother screamed, “Will you all just shut up and stop talking about politics?”  Finally, in deference to her, my uncle was the first to rise and leave the table, leaving his dinner half eaten.  The exodus quickly continued, lest he be seen as the only one with any bit of manners.  The Republicans departed for the front porch and the Dems to the deck out back.  A good deal of chain smoking was going on, as this was when smokes were still popular.

My mother’s lovely table was half empty…I continued eating.  My mother was an amazing cook.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My brother, Colin, returned to the house empty-handed.

“What have you been doing? Where’s the firewood?”

“There’s something in the woodpile.”

“What do you mean? What’s in the woodpile?”

“Well, if I knew, I would have said there’s a snake in the woodpile, or there’s a chipmunk in the woodpile, or there’s a vicious, snarling wolverine in the woodpile, or there’s…”

“Okay, stop!” He’s so annoying. Trying to shut him up is like plugging a bathtub with a straw.

“I only see I should have been more precise and said, there is an unidentified creature of indefinable size with a questionable temperament in the woodpile.”

“For the love of God, will you please shut up. We need wood. Do you want me to go back out with you?”

Clasping his hands together in solemn, mock prayer, he said, “Yes, plleeeaaaasssse. I need my little sister to protect me and eradicate this vile interloper.” He finally grew tired of his performance. “Seriously, I need you to come out and hold a light while I dig around in there.”

“Well, that sounds like a dumb idea. What if you get bitten? You’ve exceeded your quota of trips to the ER for the year.” This garnered me a look of incredulity I may have deserved.

“When I said dig around, I didn’t mean with my bare hands.”

I grabbed my coat and the biggest flashlight we had before following him out to the garage. There I found him eyeing garden tools. “Maybe we should wait until Mom and Dad get home?”

Scrutinizing our collection and ignoring me, he asked, “What implement do you recommend?”

I thought a few seconds. “Maybe a crowbar?”

“Excellent idea, Chloe…strong ― perfect for flipping logs and beating things.”

“I would prefer not to see any bloodletting if you can restrain yourself.”

With a significant amount of trepidation, I followed him to the woodpile in our backyard. “What exactly happened when you were out here before?”

“Howling. Shrieking. Rustling noises. Loud!” he added for emphasis.

I whispered, “I don’t hear anything now. Maybe whatever it was is gone.” I didn’t want to see anything that was capable of howling.

Colin began using the crowbar to pull logs from the top of the front section. The wood was double stacked and the entire pile rested alongside our small barn. It was early in the season and we had about two cords. On a cold or rainy night, it was a perfect spot for small critters to take refuge. We’d had our share of mice, small snakes and occasional opossums on a regular basis. None of these visitors had the vocal chords to howl or shriek. Colin had rolled about seven or eight logs on the ground and I was focusing the light on the area he was working. I had begun to relax and stop worrying.

“Waaw. Hoo hoo to hoo oo, hoo hoo to wha-aaa waww ooooow!” This sudden, hideous screeching and hellish sounds of movement sent us scrambling backward in unison in a mad attempt to escape whatever was possibly about to throw itself upon us. We both fell over the logs on the ground as they rolled beneath our feet, sending us helter-skelter and finally landing, bruised, in a heap among them. The flashlight fell from my hand. Unfortunately Colin had a terrified iron grip on the crowbar and, in the melee, he had managed to conk me on the head with it.

He was yelling. “Grab the light. Get it up there.”

When I did, we caught our breath. Above us were two enormous, round eyes reflecting a fiery, black-as-the-Devil, shine. The thing had risen from between the stacks like Vesuvius exploding over Pompeii.

Colin said, “Don’t move.”

“I’m not even breathing.”

While it swayed slowly from side to side and appraised us, we sat there, motionless, attempting to look nonthreatening. I was aware of the sound of the talons scraping over the logs. I wondered how long they were.

Five minutes passed as we watched him rotate his head like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. The only other noticeable movement was me shivering. “I’m cold,” I whispered.

“Yeah, we seem to be at an impasse here. On the bright side, I think he’s scouting around the yard for smaller prey.”

“What kind is it?”

“A barred owl.”

“He’s really big and doesn’t seem interested in leaving. You still have the crowbar. You could whack him.”

“Now you’re okay with bloodshed? I’m going to report you to the Audubon Society.” A minute later, he said, “I think we need to make a break for it.”

“I’m not excited about your idea. But, I don’t have a better one.”

“On the count of three we get up and run for the back porch. Deal?”

I uttered a squeaky little ‘yes’ that brought the bird’s focus sharply back to us.

Colin said, “Could you try a little harder not to sound like a mouse?”


“Now we’re going to have to wait until he looks the other way again.”

When he renewed his demonic head twists, Colin whispered, “One… two… three.” Then we discovered our legs had stiffened into inflexible appendages. In those seconds we couldn’t spare, I watched, stunned, as the wings unfurled in a shocking display of dreadful, predatory intent. It was a four foot killing machine, eight feet from my face.

Colin pulled me up as it lifted into flight. We limped, stumbled and ran hard. There was no need to look back. I could hear the muffled wing sounds, then felt displaced air hitting me. I could feel it coming. My brother yelled, “Dive,” and pulled me to the ground, as it swooped two feet over our heads. We lay there, breathing fast, assuring ourselves it wasn’t going to return.

Patting my back, Colin smiled. “This might be a good time to get that wood.”

“Yeah, that’s a brilliant idea. Go do it. My work here is done.”

“Don’t spray that crap on me again. It stinks, and I’m tired of licking it off.”

“Are you awake? I’m awake. Are you getting up soon? I’m starving and I want to eat three little pieces of food.”

“Watch out. Someone vomited in the dining room. It wasn’t me.”

“Why can’t I lay on you? You let the other girls lay on you. What? I weigh seventeen pounds? Well, whose fault is that?”

“I’m very bored. Play with me.”

“I told you I liked Quaker Cheddar Rice Cakes. Why can’t you ever believe me when I tell you things?”

“I have a headache and need a nap. Don’t try to find me.”

“You’re going out again? You just came home!”

“Turn on the shower for me. And warm it up please.”

“We want to look out the big front window, and you have filled it up with plants. What is wrong with you?”

“Remember that time a bird flew into the house?”

“The neighbor’s cat visited again today. She ate one of your little voles in the backyard. I don’t like her.”

“I know I liked these treats yesterday, but now I don’t.”

“When did I ever tell you I wanted another cat?”

“I stare at unseen objects because I have special vision, and, no, I’m not telling you what is up there.”

“If you try to trim my claws, I will twist myself up like a pretzel. You know I can do it.”

“I would not have run if you hadn’t chased me.”



I’ve been here before

and will be again.

You may think you know me.

Perhaps we were friends?

Perhaps we were lovers,

or brothers in arms?

Siblings who quarreled,

or seers with their charms?

I’m the newest version,

and far from the last.

Deep in my eyes

you may see our pasts.

If we connect

there’s a reason why.

For on an astral plane

we held hands in the sky.

If I loved you once,

and you loved me,

then consciousness exists

so this thing can be.


The destruction is wholly vulgar.

Mega mechanical monsters,

chewing, digging, snapping,

freshly gnawed and mutilated

conifers in their wicked wake.

Minutes earlier tall and sheltering,

deemed no longer desirable,

their death sentence unprotested,

mile upon mile expediently delivered.

I smell the sweet fragrance of pine…

strong. -The sweet smell of death.

Pen Shell on the beach at Sanibel – a beautiful heart for you.


When friends suggested I follow them to Florida in April, I accepted without hesitation.  We were driving to Jacksonville, where we would separate and each go in different directions.  They were attending a wedding in Orlando and I had many friends to visit.  It was an excellent plan.

Preferring night driving, we left at midnight.  At 2:00 am, we made a stop for gas.  I left my car and found myself facing a gas hose that was twisted like some demonically coiled snake – a pet peeve of mine.  After returning the hose to its proper and usable condition and beginning to fill my tank, I then fell over said hose and landed on a concrete curb.  Although I drove the next hour sitting on an ice pack, the result was a 8″x5″ black and blue mark on my sensitive derriere.  I wondered if my bathing suit was going to cover it.

My friends then took some unfathomable remote short-cut? and I wondered if we were about to relive some sort of Deliverance scenario.  Grabbing my cell to inquire if they really meant to take us into some deep, dark netherworld of menacing forested mountains with a plethora of nocturnal wildlife:  Surprise – no cell service.  We crawled along for the next hour to avoid ten (that I counted) herds of deer, and swerved to avoid two skunks locked in a romantic interlude in the middle of the road. The only other thing I remember passing were small cemeteries, which seemed ominous. Upon our return to civilization, I was relieved to learn this was not the way they usually drove to Florida.  It was the only time I have ever made myself carsick while driving.

Things I Learned:

~ In the south, there are businesses that specialize in fire ant control, which momentarily made me question my destination.

~ People hitchhike…with their pitbulls.

~ There are armadillos who rejoice in their ability to rut and destroy manicured lawns.  I am aware of one who met his demise via a golf club by a fellow who preferred his lawn the way he paid for it.

~ You should never put sea shells in your swim suit unless you are positive the original occupant has vacated.  My shell bag was full when I began doing this.  Soon after, I felt and saw something that was black and looked like a giant leech attempting to extricate itself and its shell from my bra.  This is not a creature you want to see traversing your boob.  It was a Fighting Atlantic Conch, and I expeditiously returned him to his underwater world where he belonged.

~ There is an east-west route across Florida called the Florida Cracker Trail.  I was driving late one night, looked at my GPS and discovered my route identified as such.  Being a Yankee, I was slightly disturbed by this and researched it.  After the Civil War, northerners called the people who inhabited this land Florida Crackers and the route was commonly used for horses and livestock.  There is actually a Florida Cracker Trail Association that vows to keep history alive and sponsors an annual horseback ride across this very old trail.

~ The south still has the best grits in the world.  I love them with butter, but I learned many southerners prefer them with gravy. Why can’t my local Perkins serve me grits???

~ White egrets will become extremely tame and daily visitors if you hand feed them raw shrimp from the grocery store…if you have nothing else to do with your cash.


My friends’ friend, Penny, who has a voracious appetite for shrimp.

~ I learned you should never feed these guys…


Short Stories

I have two short stories on Amazon.  They are quite different from one another, but I, of course, like them both.  I am including the direct links to these…each is $.99.  If you read one or both, an honest review would be greatly appreciated by me and other potential readers.  You don’t have to post reviews under your real name, in case you are wondering.  I won’t be able to hunt you down and accost you if you write anything negative.  I really do want honest opinions.  Strangers in the Woods is also on Smashwords in case you don’t have the free Kindle app, and I hope to add The Man on the Corner to Smashwords soon.  Just FYI, on every Amazon page, there is a link for the free Kindle app which you can put on any electronic device you have.

When you open the links, you can read a preview of each story for free.

Strangers in the Woods:   http://www.amazon.com/Strangers-Woods-Suddenly-youre-alone-ebook/dp/B00RPXWM74/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1424149900&sr=8-2&keywords=strangers+in+the+woods

The Man on the Cornerhttp://www.amazon.com/Man-Corner-Does-anyone-remember-ebook/dp/B00TOULRCM/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1424320938&sr=8-4&keywords=the+man+on+the+corner

Elan Mudrow



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