short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Fishing for Men

Mommy really did grow up on a farm. It was located in the mountains of Maine, not far from the ocean. In that part of Maine there are many good ponds and excellent fishing streams. Everyone there fishes for hornpout.

Once, a couple of boys who went to school with Mommy and her sister invited them to come fishing with them. They took their fishing rods and a sack lunch and went to their friends' house.

At their friends' house, they climbed into two canoes, my Mom's sister, Karen, with Danny and Mommy with Jimmy. They spent the morning casting for fish and paddling the river that ran through Danny and Jimmy's parents' property.

By noon, they had not caught anything yet, but they still had time. They pulled the canoes up on shore side by side and sat on the riverbank. They ate their sack lunches. (Grandma had made the lunches, so they were edible.)

After lunch, they had much better luck. Everyone, that is, except Mommy. Karen caught a couple hornpout, and so did Danny. Mommy thought that maybe their canoe was in a better place in the river, but Jimmy was catching fish, too.

Jimmy told Mommy that she was not very good at casting. So, he showed her how to do it better. Mommy thought that she understood. She took the fishing pole back and did what Jimmy had showed her. The reel spun, and the line, with the hook for the fish, went flying through the air. Mommy could not see where it went, but she immediately felt that she had caught something really big. She started to really it in.

Jimmy was excited, too. He was shouting. Mommy could not hear him very well because she was concentrating on reeling in her catch. Finally she heard him.

"Stop!" he yelled. "Stop. Stop now."

Mommy did not at first understand why he wanted her to stop. Then she saw what had happened, at the same time that Jimmy explained.

"Stop! It's not a fish! You caught me!"

Mommy's hook was twisted into his t-shirt. It took Jimmy's Mom twenty minutes to get
it out.

I have heard people say that sometimes women fish for men. I've also heard other people talking someone being a good catch. I did not understand what the expression really meant until my aunt told me about Mommy's fishing trip.

Conclusion: Catching a person is not the same as catching a fish.

This story is excerpted from a collection of vignettes that I helped Doah, my severely mentally challenged youngest son, to write and publish several years ago (copyright 2003). It was my attempt to help him understand literacy and the purpose of writing and reading.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Are You Really Selling?

Around a hundred years ago in the city of Damascus, all sugar arrived from India. The price of each kilogram was one majidi (an Ottoman currency). Merchants would add expenses and a margin of profit and sell a kilogram for two majidis.

One day a merchant by the name of Tarek began to sell each kilogram of sugar for only one majidi. The sugar merchants were very upset with Tarek, but they decided to ignore him.

"After all," they would comfort each other, "how long can he possibly keep up this ridiculous strategy?"

But months passed by, and Tarek continued to sell a kilogram of sugar for one majidi. The merchants met to discuss the “Tarek Affair.” “This has gone beyond any reasonable attempt to gain new customers,” they argued. “We simply have to put an end to this.”

The merchants decided to invite Tarek for dinner to discuss the matter with him. Tarek arrived and sat with his fellow sugar merchants. A very nice dinner was served and, later, over tea, the merchants proclaimed: "We have locked the door, and you shall not leave until you explain to us how you can possibly continue to sell sugar for no profit at all?"

Tarek smiled, took a sip of his tea, and said: "But I don’t sell sugar."

"This is not the time for humor," the merchants said firmly.

"But that is the truth. I really don’t sell sugar. Allow me to explain. You have been in my shop; it's just a big room. I have placed the sugar on a big cloth spread out on the floor. My customers come in, all attracted by the fact that they can buy a kilogram of sugar for only one majidi. So, it is only natural that they want to buy lots of sugar. Where are they going to place all the sugar they decide on buying? Naturally, they need bags. I stand ready to satisfy this need. I have all the bags they may ask for, but my bags are not free. I sell my bags for profit, for lots of profit. But who is going to stop and question the price of my bags when they are getting such a good deal with the price of my sugar? I don’t lose on sugar; I simply deliver it for the price for which I purchase it. But when it comes to bags," Tarek smiled again, "that's where I really make a profit. So you see, my friends, I really don’t sell sugar. My specialty is bags."

The above story is excerpted from a book, Metaphors of Islamic Humanism, by my dear friend, Dr. Omar Imady, copyright 2005.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Share with Others

Closely related to asking for help and revealing one's incompetence is helping others by sharing knowledge, time, or experience. So many times we walk away without sharing, and thus we miss out on many warm memories.

My husband, Donnie, and I have very pleasant memories from our days as outdoor counselors for a Girl Scout troop. Those memories are memorialized in the form of a handmade plaque given to us by the girls. On it, they painted the proverb attributed to the Chinese (but the Chinese tell me it is not theirs): "Give me a fish, and I eat for a day; teach me to fish, and I eat for a life time."

We certainly had taught them the basics of fishing. As a former forester, Donnie had also taught the girls much forest lore. We did the normal Girl Scouting activities: camping, hiking, and the like. In addition, we did some rather unusual outdoor activities, especially for elementary-school girls. They took backpacking trips of multiple days' duration. They spent part of a week canoeing the Allegheny River from start to finish, camping out along the way wherever they could. We ensured that they knew first aid and other survival skills and could cope with weather.

At one rainy day staff meeting at the Girl Scout lodge, one leader came in late and expressed surprise that she had gone past a lake on the way where there were girls paddling canoes and swimming around overturned canoes in the middle of the lake in the pouring rain. The ranger said to her, "Let me guess -- Troop 151." (Yes, it was Trooop 151, our troop. We were ensuring that the girls could handle canoe tippings before taking them on the river.

The elementary school teacher was a little concerned that the girls took a day off from school in order to complete a three-day outing. The concern was that the girls would not be prepared for their ecology test on Monday. What the teacher failed to realize was that the girls were living according to principles of ecology and experiencing ecology in real-life environments. Every one of those girls got an A on her ecology test.

Seeing those girls learn and succeed built unforgettable and warm memories for us. Although we were new to the neighborhood, we quickly became friends with the parents of many of the girls. Recently, the parents of two of the girls looked us up when they came to California for a visit.

There are few greater rewards than the gratitude of children. There are no greater memories than those that come from sharing oneself in some way with someone else. I think the girls learned that, too.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes, copyright 2003.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Starting Young

Mommy's problems with details and not quite getting things right started when she was a kid in the country. Not everything went right there, either.

Where Mommy grew up in Maine it snowed a lot. So, when it started to snow, people would head home. One day my grandpa noticed that it was going to snow, so he left work and headed home. On the way, he picked up Mommy at her school in a nearby town. He did not leave soon enough, however, and the snow started while they were still leaving town. Once they were in the country and the foothills to the White Mountains, the snowstorm turned into a blizzard. The road got very, very slippery. Grandpa drove very, very slowly, but he could not see the ice because it was underneath the snow. The road made a sharp turn, but Grandpa did not. The car slid off the road. Grandpa could not get it out of the ditch, so he told Mommy to wait in the car and he would fetch the nearest neighbor, Donald Gates, who lived a couple of miles down the road.

While Mommy was waiting, a man appeared outside her window. Mommy was afraid. She did not want to open the window. Grandma had always told her not to talk to strangers. The man was insistent, however, so Mommy rolled down the window just a crack.

"Do you need some help?" asked the man.

"No," said Mommy. "My Daddy went to get Donald Gates."

"Then I had better wait with you," said the man.

"Oh, no," said Mommy, who was now alarmed. "You don't have to do that. Donald Gates lives really, really close. He and Daddy will be here any minute."

The man insisted on waiting, no matter what Mommy said. Mommy rolled up the window really tight and tried to ignore him. Where was Grandpa?, she worried. When would he get back?

After a while, Grandpa finally appeared. Mommy was really relieved, even though he was alone. Now he would get rid of that man. Grandpa came close, and Mommy rolled down the window. Then, Grandpa did something unexpected. He held out his hand to the strange man.

"Hi, Donald," he said. "I was just looking for you."

"So your daughter told me," the strange man answered.

Conclusion: Sometimes help is closer than you think it is and looks different than you think it does.

This story is excerpted from a collection of vignettes that I helped Doah, my severely mentally challenged youngest son, to write and publish several years ago (copyright 2003). It was my attempt to help him understand literacy and the purpose of writing and reading.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Adam and Musk

It is said that when Adam and Eve first arrived on earth, a deer was very eager to meet them. When the deer approached Adam and Eve, they asked her, "Why have you come to meet us?"

"I have come only to be blessed by meeting you," answered the deer.

And so Adam placed his hand over the deer's back, and instantaneously the beautiful scent of musk permeated its fur.

On its way back home, the deer met many animals. They all exclaimed, "What a beautiful scent you carry! Where did you acquire it from?"

The deer would smile and answer, "Adam touched me, and the scent hasn’t left me since."

And so before the day was over, numerous animals had gathered around Adam, hoping that they, too, would be touched by his hand and acquire the scent of musk. Although Adam touched them all, they all returned with the same scents with which they had arrived. Only the deer, who wanted nothing else but to be blessed by seeing Adam and Eve, was forever blessed with the gift of musk.

The above story is excerpted from a book, Metaphors of Islamic Humanism, by my dear friend, Dr. Omar Imady, copyright 2005.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ask the Busiest Person

There is a saying that if you want to get something done, ask the busiest person around. That seems to be true. Moreover, it seems that busy people often do not have to be asked for help. They see the need and volunteer. Perhaps that is why they are so busy.

When my children were small, I was a graduate student and teaching fellow at Renboro University. Although it would have been nice to have a nanny for the children, as a graduate student I could not afford one. Nor could I afford a babysitter just for the "luxury" of using the library. There were a dozen reasons, other than teaching and attending class, for being at the university. My children were too small to leave alone, so I often took them and all their paraphernalia with me.

Finding parking on Fifth Avenue near the university was always difficult. All the parking spaces were set up for parallel parking, and I drove a 17-foot van. It was the smallest vehicle that could carry my children and their medical supplies.

One day I found a parking space, but I just could not get the angle right. I tried one way. I tried another way. I knew the van should just fit into the available space, but nothing seemed to work.

Then I heard a tapping on one of the passenger windows and a question "Do you need some help?" spoken in a clearly enunciated and deliberate tone.

To my children's delight, knocking at the window was Fred Rogers, who filmed his show, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, down the street from the Cathedral of Learning, where I taught. In a quiet, measured manner, reminiscent of his persona on the television show, he helped me park the car, saying "turn the wheel, like this," demonstrating with his hands.

After a few minutes, the car was in the slot. Mr. Rogers smiled, waved, and walked on, much like he did on his television show.

I am not the only person to have had this kind of experience with Fred Rogers. Others who know him have said that he is the persona in person that he is on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. Moreover, he has made films for Children's Hospital to help children feel more comfortable in a hospital environment and has found a myriad other ways to help his "neighborhood."

People like Fred Rogers are very special. Finding time to stop and help someone park is a small act of kindness, perhaps of little significance to the person offering the help but of great significance to the person needing the help.

Some time ago I needed to recruit an advisory group to answer questions for graduate students in a national newsletter column on a regular basis. I immediately went to the most senior and busiest people in the profession, knowing that they had little time to add yet another project to their schedule. Nonetheless, 90% of them said yes. Had I asked less busy people, that percentage would very likely have been much lower.

You can tell the busiest people right away. They are the ones who almost always stop to smell the roses -- and help out the gardener.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes, copyright 2003.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Meeting People in Boston

One of the things Mommy does to make an income is write books. This means that Mommy occasionally has to go somewhere to meet with a potential publisher. So, when Mommy was teaching that summer in Middlebury, Vermont, she made an appointment with Harry, a representative of a Boston-area publisher for a book she was working on.

Apparently, this was to be one of those memorable meetings—memorable because of all the things that went wrong. Part of it was Mommy's bad luck—that seems to happen a lot, and part of it was that Mommy failed to get all the details she needed about the trip—that seems to happen a lot, too.

The first detail that Mommy missed was the weather report for the day in question. It was a long walk to the bus station, but it was mostly downhill. It would have been okay, except that it rained very hard that day. Worst, Mommy overslept, so she ended up jogging to the bus station with a computer in her backpack in the pouring rain. That slowed her down a little and made her out of breath a lot.

The second detail that Mommy missed was the location of the bus station. Actually, she knew where the bus station was and went there—but it was the wrong bus station. She wondered how on earth there could be two bus stations in a town half the size of Podunk.

Mommy ran over to the other bus station—literally. She knew she had missed her bus, but she thought there might be another one that could get her to Boston on time.
As it turned out, her bus had not yet showed up. Mommy was happy. She should not have been. That was not a good sign. The bus finally came, and every town it came to on the way to Boston, it got later and later. Mommy's bus pulled into Boston very late.

The third mistake Mommy made was in not getting a telephone number where she could call Harry if problems developed. All she knew was the name and address of the hotel restaurant near the bus station where they planned to meet. She ran from the bus
station to the hotel, hoping that he would still be there.

When Mommy walked in the door, she realized her fourth mistake. She had forgotten to ask Harry what he looked like. There were lots of men in that hotel restaurant.

Mommy went from one to another, asking, "Are you Harry?"

One man she asked stood up and said, "I could be if you would like me to be." Mommy decided that she would not like him to be.

Mommy did find Harry eventually. She also met a lot of other people whom she had not planned to meet.

Conclusion: There are better ways to win friends and influence people than to ask people if they are Harry.

This story is excerpted from a collection of vignettes that I helped Doah, my severely mentally challenged youngest son, to write and publish several years ago (copyright 2003). It was my attempt to help him understand literacy and the purpose of writing and reading.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

When You Are Shoved from the Right, Look to the Left

A man once went on Hajj (pilgrimage). As he circled the Kaaba (the black cubic structure in Mecca that pilgrims circle seven times during Hajj in worship of the one God), he was suddenly shoved from the right. Wanting to stay focused on his spiritual experience, he ignored this and continued to walk around the cubic structure, like a planet circling a star. Only a few seconds passed before he was once again shoved from the right. This time he looked over his shoulder and politely asked the man standing next to him to stop pushing him, but no sooner had he resumed his walk around the Kaaba than he was once again shoved from the right. This time the man decided that he must put an end to this impolite behavior. He turned to his right and asked the man next to him why he was continuing to shove him, but the man refused to apologize or acknowledge that he had even approached him. Loud voices began to interrupt the serene atmosphere:

"You must stop pushing me!"

"You are deluded! I haven't even touched you!"

A few minutes later, the man felt guilty for allowing himself to be distracted from his spiritual experience.

"Let everyone shove me as much as they wish" he whispered to himself. "I just want to concentrate on emulating the cosmos, circling the Kabaa as the earth circles the sun."

However, as he moved away from the scene, he suddenly noticed that the small leather purse that had been fixed on the left side of his belt was no longer there. While he was obsessed with the man shoving him from the right, another man to his left had been cutting off his purse. How artistically do they divide their roles: one shoves, the other cuts!

The above story is excerpted from a book, Metaphors of Islamic Humanism, by my dear friend, Dr. Omar Imady, copyright 2005.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Look for Common Ground

I frequently travel with only a couple of dollars (literally) in my pocket, usually because I run out of time to get to the bank before departure and partly because I have been mugged three times (and don't want to give any mugger a small fortune). I have found that I can nearly always find an ATM or use a credit card for any needs that crop up -- or forego needs satisfaction temporarily.

One Saturday, however, I was a little more disorganized than usual and ended up in Reno with nearly no money and only a rarely used ATM card, the PIN for which I had forgotten. Oops! I called my bank's 800 number and reached a customer service representative named Beth.

I reacted with pleased surprise. "Oh, what wonderful news! My name is Beth, too. That must mean you are going to help me."

Most people will respond with assent to such a statement. Few, if any, will say, "No, I don't plan to help you."

So, my comment set up the explanation that she would do whatever it took to get me out of my predicament, and she did. Although she could not give out the PIN on the phone -- and I would not want her to do that -- with some creative thinking and several minutes of searching, she was able to track down a branch of my bank in nearby Sparks that was open all day Saturday. I thanked her profusely. My problem was solved, and she clearly felt good about having helped me.

When I took a cab to the bank, I got to know a very talkative, elderly man, a long-time resident of Sparks. From him, I learned much about the history of Sparks that I would not otherwise have known. I think the cab driver liked having an out-of-towner to tell his stories to because he waited for me at the bank at no charge.

The weatherman reported a chill in the air that day, but I didn't feel it. It seemed pretty warm to me.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes, copyright 2003.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Trouble with Travels

It is not just tickets that Mommy has trouble with. She also has trouble with planes and all kinds of travel. Maybe it is because of the kinds of places to which she travels. Sometimes, even ticket agents cannot find these places on a map.

Once Mommy was flying to Moldova, which is a country that used to belong to the Soviet Union but is now independent. It is to the east of Romania, and not very many airlines fly there. So, Mommy had to fly Moldovan Airlines. When she was about to get on a plane from Moscow to Moldova, part of the plane's propeller fell on the runway right near where she was standing. Some man emerged from inside the plane and told people that they were having a little trouble at the moment. Mommy very quickly figured out what the "little trouble" was.

Another time Mommy was consulting in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, which is on the boarder of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in Central Asia. Uzbekistan is another of those countries that people have trouble finding on the map and that were part of the former Soviet Union. Not very many Americans go there because you have to be able to speak either Uzbek or Russian, but Mommy goes there a lot. Usually she has few travel problems, but once it took her six days to get from Bukhara to Houston, Texas.

People told her not to take Bukhara Air, but she did not listen. She took the flight from Bukhara to Tashkent on Bukhara Air—and it was a perfect flight. She stayed overnight in Tashkent and got up in the morning to take another airlines from Tashkent to Moscow, en route to New York City and Houston. Unfortunately, that plane had fallen apart en route to Tashkent, so there was no plane to use to get people to Moscow. That is Mommy's kind of luck: planes falling apart.

Mommy stayed in Tashkent two more days. Then, when she did get a flight out, she had to talk her way past the border guards in Moscow because she no longer had a valid ticket from Moscow out of the country and no visa for Moscow. That is Mommy's kind of luck: no visa when it is needed.

After making it into Moscow, Mommy stayed a couple of days until she could get a flight to New York City. The flight, when she finally got it, was uneventful. Mommy was now feeling rather fortunate. She should not have been. In New York City, she got on the flight to Houston and relaxed. She should not have. Bam! The plane shook. Mommy knew what had happened because she had felt this sensation once in leaving Houston, when the baggage-loading vehicle ran into the side of the plane and damaged the baggage door. This time the food truck servicing the plane had run into it and put a hole into its side. Now it could not fly. Everyone had to get off and take a plane through Atlanta to Houston. That is Mommy's kind of luck: Planes getting damaged by loading vehicles running into them.

There was a man in the waiting area for the Atlanta flight. He overheard Mommy telling someone that this was her sixth day, trying to get to Houston from Uzbekistan. He listened to everything that had happened to Mommy. Then he got up and walked over to the gate agent.
"I would like a different flight," he told the agent.

"Yes, sir," she replied. "What flight would you like?"

"Any flight that she is not on," he said, pointing to Mommy.
The agent laughed, but the man did not. He made the agent put him on a different flight.

Mommy seems to have a bad influence on the travels of people around her. So, perhaps the man was right to get on a different plane. I can give you a couple of examples.

Mommy's sister, my Aunt Victoria, was traveling to see us when she was 15. At the time, she was living with my grandmother in Maine, and we were living in Washington, D.C. Grandma took Aunt Victoria to the airport and waved to her as she boarded the plane. However, she never showed up in Washington. Mommy looked and looked. The she had the airlines page Aunt Valerie. When the airlines learned that Aunt Victoria was only 15, they searched real hard for her. They found her, too — in Columbia, South Carolina. Since she was coming to the District of Columbia, she felt that it made sense to get on a plane headed for Columbia.

A different kind of travel problem happened to one of Mommy's students. A very nice but absent-minded lady once took a course that Mommy was teaching. She came all the way from Japan to take the course. Mommy tried to tell her that it is cold on the Central Coast of California in the summer time, but I guess she did not believe Mommy because she brought a lot of summer clothes with her. She could not wear the summer clothes because it really was too cold. So, she thought that she would make her travels easier by mailing the clothes to her home address in Japan. That did not make things easier for her, though, because she left her passport in the pocket of her shorts. Oops! Goodbye, passport! Mommy, of course, is used to passport troubles, so she helped her student get a replacement passport fast.

Conclusion: If you want an easy time traveling, avoid Mommy!

This story is excerpted from a collection of vignettes that I helped Doah, my severely mentally challenged youngest son, to write and publish several years ago (copyright 2003). It was my attempt to help him understand literacy and the purpose of writing and reading.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where in the World Is Elizabeth?

I just thought of an interesting little competition. While I am gone tripping, please leave a comment, guessing where you think I am and why. And since I will not have access to the Internet, no one will see anyone's answers until I return so there will be no influence one upon another!

I will send a surprise gift to everyone who guesses correctly.

This will be fun, no?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Make Amends with Your Boss

The hardest people to forgive are often one's bosses. After all, bosses can make or break the careers of employees. They hold the power of reward or punishment, promotions or firings. An uncomfortable word or act, even when not intended to be harsh or negative, can create instant and long-term hostility. A mistake in judgment can remain an irritant forever. But can we realistically hold bosses to a level of error-free performance? I think not. However, when bosses stumble, few employees will hold out a helping hand. Most will become angry and turn their backs on the boss -- to the detriment of both boss and employee.

I have forgiven friends, colleagues, employees, and bosses. The most difficult have been the bosses because somehow it meant admitting that I could err, too, and I didn't want to admit that. I have seen the same thing among my colleagues.

One instance will always remain a fragrant memory for a colleague of mine. He had an especially difficult boss who held up his promotion because the boss felt that my colleague had more to learn. At first, my colleague was very angry and refused even to look at the boss for several months. In fact, he would go to another elevator or cross the street to avoid having to greet her. He considered his performance outstanding and had little respect for the boss's "standards."

After some time, he did make amends with his boss. He just came in one day, stated that he wanted to have a positive relationship with her, and asked if that were possible, considering his recent behavior. She told him that it certainly was. (He should not have been concerned about her reaction. Most bosses do want to have a positive relationship with their employees.) In return, the boss went out of her way to help my colleague not only to match his performance to her standards and receive his promotion but also to receive other awards and accolades.

These two will probably never become close friends. However, the day that my colleague forgave his boss he got an immense psychic reward, and most days thereafter he continued to get small psychic rewards. The best reward was when his boss moved on to a better position -- and recommended my colleague for her position.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes, copyright 2003.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fun with Luggage

Mommy does not only have trouble with tickets and planes. She also has trouble with luggage. It does not always end up where she is, or she puts wrong things into it, or it disappears.

The first time that Mommy had trouble with luggage was on a trip from Los Angeles to Moscow via Helsinki on Finnair. When Mommy got to Moscow, her luggage was nowhere to be found. It never did show up. Mommy said it vanished into Finnair.

The next time Mommy lost luggage, it was only for a short period of time. Mommy flew from Prague to Monterey, but her luggage flew from Prague to Moscow. Mommy figured that out those M- cities must sound alike or look alike to baggage handlers.

Another time Mommy and Daddy went to Florida and took their kayak with them. They put the paddles into a golf bag and tied it with a tarp. When the bag did not show up, the customer service representative asked them to pick out the kind of bag that was missing from a book of pictures. There was nothing like their bag there!

Mommy also gets into trouble with luggage because of what she puts into it. Once she packed a bottle of wine in her bag, thinking to hand carry it. At the last minute, she forgot and checked the bag. The wine came through great.

However, some other guy must have done the same thing because when Mommy flew from the Ukraine (another one of those former Soviet Union countries) to Middlebury, Vermont, where she was teaching a summer semester course, her bag was underneath some man's bag who had packed a whole suitcase full of vodka. The vodka bottles had broken and leaked into Mommy's suitcase. All her clothes were soaked with vodka. When Mommy finally got to the college, after a series of delayed plane flights, the laundry room was locked. All she could do was dry out her clothes. She had to teach a class before the laundry room opened, so she went to class reeking of vodka. If she wanted to make an impression, she probably did!

The worst time was when Mommy brought back a jar of bryusnika, little red cranberries from Siberia. She forgot all about the jar being in her suitcase when she checked it. When the bag arrived home, everything was all red: clothes, books, and Mommy's presents for us. (The red did not wash out, either.) Mommy just washed everything off, and to this day we have some red reminders on our bookshelves and in Mommy's closet of that trip.

Conclusion: Just figure that with luggage what goes in is not necessarily what comes out.

This story is excerpted from a collection of vignettes that I helped Doah, my severely mentally challenged youngest son, to write and publish several years ago (copyright 2003). It was my attempt to help him understand literacy and the purpose of writing and reading.

About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.