Phoebe – Colossus in a Tom Thumb body

She was a rescue. She took her second chance very seriously. She grabbed ahold of life and shook everything she could from it. She was determined to make the most of her escape from premature death. Phoebe had been found in the desert by hikers. Only a few days old, she was bare without fur in the hot sun, covered in ringworm, and abandoned. Someone had decided she was a lost cause and not worthy of care. The hikers covered her gently and took her to a no-kill shelter where loving hands restored her. Within a few weeks, a thick luxurious coat of black and white revealed her tuxedo style. She became the rabble-rouser of the cat shelter with energy that rivaled a free proton released in a small nucleus. She could not remain in the “kitten room” having terrorized the kittens with her high-octane behavior, so she resided with the adult cat population; free to roam through the big old house that was dedicated to the comfort and safety of all felines, large and small, old or young. They had special rooms and accommodations for sick cats.

When my husband and I went to the shelter to find a cat companion, I was intent on an older adult feline who needed a forever home, preferably male; someone calm, content and grateful to be loved.  A tiny black and white energy ball flew from room to room, bouncing off walls and scattering sedentary cats that tried to avoid her relentless path of destruction. Knocking into and overturning toys and small cat furniture, she was a blur of activity.

“What is that? I asked.

“Oh, that is Phoebe. She’s not what you’re looking for at all. She is a kitten and very unmanageable,” the shelter volunteer sighed. “We don’t think we’ll ever find a home for her. She is a lot to handle.”

“But she is so small,” I said.

“Yes, only about five pounds but she thinks she’s a tiger. She never stops and we are always on alert because she can be under your feet in seconds even when you just saw her in another room.”

The volunteer filled us in on her history saying it was a miracle she survived and was cured so quickly from ringworm. They guessed her age at four or five months.

“I’d like to see her closer,” said I, always up for a challenge. The volunteer corralled Phoebe and handed her to me. Phoebe squirmed then looked me directly in the eye as if to say, you can’t hold me for long.

I released her and off she zoomed. We continued looking through the rooms at adult cats, petting, holding, and trying to find a connection with one. Then it was dinner time and the attendants set out large dishes of food. Cats scurried in from all over to find a dish they preferred. In the kitchen, an extra-large pizza pan filled with kibble was set in the center of the floor. Cats of all sizes and colors arranged themselves around the perimeter of the pan and began eating in orderly fashion. In came the little black and white demon. She muscled between two larger cats and started eating. The cat to her left was the biggest cat in the house. His name was Liberty, he was pure white, close to twenty pounds, and definitely a dominant male. He looked down at the brash intruder and took a swipe at her with his large paw. She looked up, giving him an insulant stare then continued to eat. Again, he knocked her sending her back from the dish. She retreated, walked to the opposite side of the dish, and pushed between two other cats. But she did not stop. She walked into the center of the pizza pan, directly in front of Liberty, and started eating. Liberty’s head jerked up. In complete disgust, he turned and walked away from the pan and stood by the doorway. His annoyance was evident and every cat that passed by him as they left the kitchen was given a swipe of his paw.

My husband looked at me and in a sorrowful tone said, “You’ve found your cat, haven’t you?”

“Are you sure? queried the volunteer in charge of adoptions. “She is really wild. We’ve had an awful time with her in the few weeks she’s been out of quarantine. “

“Yes,” I said, “she is my soul sister. I understand her and we will be just fine.”

“If you change your mind, we’ll understand, and please bring her back. We don’t want any other abandoned cats, even Phoebe.”

We had Phoebe for thirteen years, an indoor/outdoor cat; something that is discouraged in the predator-filled southern Arizona environment. Her character was too big to be contained in the house. She was very desert-wise. She was unpredictable. She had confrontations with rattlers, bigger cats, and assorted potential destroyers that she bested and lived to brag about.  She provided a plethora of mice, geckos, and birds as gifts to us. She would bring them through the cat window and release them into the house fully alive for our enjoyment.

I have so many Phoebe tales, they could fill volumes. She once called 911 on our landline. I answered a ring at the door to find two handsome policemen asking if I was all right.  It took some time before I pieced together what she did – a phone receiver off the hook upstairs told the story.

She hosted a mouse for weeks, catching and releasing it in our house until we finally caught and freed it to its desert home. She would race through the upstairs and people downstairs would say, “Do you have an elephant up there?” “No,” we replied, “just Phoebe.”  Although she never grew to be more than seven pounds, her thudding footfalls as she raced around sounded like something much much larger was roaming the hallways. She bullied and intimidated human guests, fiercely defending her territory. My friends named her the cat from hell, but she was always the sweetest, most cuddly little girl to us. Her antics made us laugh.

After a mighty struggle with an incurable blood illness, Phoebe finally gave up. She is buried in our backyard and visited daily. After more than a decade I still miss her giant presence. Several treasured cats later (we now have three), none have filled that space.

Aion, the Greek god of Time

Aion, Greek god of Time

I believe in second chances. I believe that even in seemingly impossible cases, I can offer a broken soul reprieve. Sometimes a person must be stripped to their lowest point to find what is truly important. I watched Nathan and his brother go through tough times and I think they deserve another chance. This is Nathan’s story. A story of redemption. A story I, Time, healed.

After leaving the plains behind, the terrain became hilly. Hills and hollers, Nathan thought as the train wound through a narrow valley between steep rises on both sides of the tracks. He was on his way home for the last time. He tried to stop thinking, forecasting, what it would be like to see his mother again. He imagined the furrows of worry etched in her face were even deeper than three years ago when she visited him in jail.

Her frail body would be held together by a thick wrap of sadness. Her youngest son was dead. Not just dead but executed by the state of Colorado. The only execution since 1976. What she didn’t know was that her remaining son would be dead in a matter of days. Nathan couldn’t live with the guilt he carried over Jamie. It had been Nathan who pulled the trigger, not Jamie. Nathan’s plan, Nathan’s mistake. But he didn’t find the stones to step up and admit it and Jamie kept his silence throughout the trial, never giving his brother up to the authorities. He could no longer carry that burden.

He had to see his mother and clear her mind about Jamie’s innocence. Nathan knew her love was unconditional, and she would never in her heart believe that either of her sons could be so evil. But there she was wrong. Nathan planned the robbery and carried the gun. Jamie did not even know about the gun until Nathan pulled it from his jacket pocket. The store owner rushed Nathan and the gun went off. It became a distorted nightmare. Jamie grabbed the gun from Nathan and, as they ran from the store, he dumped it into a trash can in the alleyway. Of course, the police found it and Jamie’s prints were on it, so he was charged with the murder. Nathan had gone to jail for ten years as an accessory, and he was now on parole for ten more years. Jaimie had been executed just a few days ago, after two appeals.

The train entered a tunnel, the darkest longest tunnel. Lights on the train flickered and went out. It felt like a steep downward trek. As deep and dark as Nathan imagined the trip to hell would be. There was a mumbling from other passengers, but no one left their seat. It is my turn to step in.

I am Aion, the god of Time. You might be more familiar with my twin Chronos but he is only the god of measured time, the one that is marked off by clocks, hourglasses and other man-made instruments. He fulfills the human need to track time, quantify and qualify it. I, on the other hand, am the god of the continuum. I never stop. I am neither forward nor backward. I am always. I am forever. Occasionally I find it necessary to meddle in the affairs of humans when I see an example such as the one presented by Nathan and Jamie, two truly good-hearted young men who went astray for what they believed was a good cause. Their sister suffered from a rare cancer and the expense of her treatment decimated family resources. In what they considered a desperate moment they made a poor decision with deadly consequences.

Steena died without any remedy and the brothers went to jail. Their mother was thrice impacted in sorrow, losing her daughter, a son to the system and now Nathan considers suicide. When the train leaves the tunnel the poor decision to rob a store will be voided. I took Nathan back to the crucible of decision and gave him a second chance. He is indeed on his way to see his mother, but it is to manage his sister’s funeral. He is meeting his brother and as a family they will mourn but be united. The intervening ten years were spent in productive ways. He met his wife and they collaborated with doctors to start a charity to raise awareness and research grants for others who suffered as Steena did.

The train exited the tunnel. Nathan squinted at the sudden brightness and glanced out the window as the train sped past an open area of farmland.  It all looked familiar, but not. He thought only of seeing his mom, comforting her in her grief and being once again with his brother after ten year’s separation. It would be a happy/sad occasion. At least they would all be together.

I, Aion, can change the moments of an event but I cannot completely erase some of the impressions. My little brother Kairos oversees the significance of an experience. Impressions may be imprinted in a person and come as flashbacks or deja-vu moments. People often believe they have been somewhere or seen someone before. Actually, I have rearranged a period in their life so the connections are blurred, but Kairos has stamped it with a sense of meaning that is irretrievable.

Nine Eleven O’One

Never Forget

Billowing palisades, pewter airfalls

            Cascade in slow motion

                        Overflowing the fountain of commerce

                                    Graceful to the eye, hideous to the heart

People, hundreds

            People, one by one

                        Living lives, forecasting futures

                                    Nine, eleven, o’one

Soft tarnished silver clouds

            Enfold those potentials

                        Tattered remnants of lives

                                    Spewed into the Manhattan morning

Elegant grotesque plumes

            Gently tumble one over another

                        Spirits ripped from bodies

                                    Turning the shells to ash

Is there a torture more absolute

            Moment by moment terror

                        Smelling the hot acrid breath of death

                                 As it approaches their prison in the sky?

Does hope flee quickly

            Or does it leak slowing

                        From the corners of their eyes

                                    As the dusk of life turns to night?

written on a plane to Seattle 9/21/01. 

On Reflection – My Birthday Quilt

A patchwork of life

I have good health, a comfortable life, great memories, and positive people around me. I would be an absolute fool to not be grateful and feel blessed for all I have been given. Reviewing my journals, in an attempt to organize them, and talking with friends who called with warm birthday wishes set me to thinking of my life – as a quilt. Every person I’ve known through time is a patch on my quilt; small patches for brief acquaintances, larger ones for enduring relationships, and others somewhere in between.

The idea of a quilt came to me as I thought of my friend, Mary, who is a premier quilter and teacher. She helped me begin a quilt many years ago that today resides in a plastic box at the top of my closet, still in pieces. I don’t have the patience to sew but I loved the idea of making a quilt. Mary offered to finish it for me, but I’d rather do it myself. Maybe. Someday. I will begin again. In the meantime, my imaginary quilt is easy to piece together using the threads of memory.

Each patch has its own texture to match the person it represents from cozy chenille to fluid silk or satin, smooth cotton to linen, sturdy denim to rough scratchy burlap. Each patch has a shape – round, square, animal, flower, star, or leaf. Each square or shape has a color – bright or dull, dark or light, some printed with polka-dots, flowers, stripes or plaids, even animal prints (you know who you are).

A bright yellow silk patch is for the woman I can call on at any hour of the day or night. I can tell her the most outrageous thoughts; she understands me and never takes offense. How blessed am I to have her in my life? One animal print square is for my amazing friend who has the grace of a jaguar, the energy of a box of kittens, and the bright smile of a Cheshire cat. She lights my day. Another friend gets a white canvas triangular piece because it reminds me of him and sailing. My imagination has fabricated a giant quilted panorama for the story of my life.

A blue denim horse shape is for an old boyfriend whose memory still makes me smile. A pink chenille star is for someone I always think of as a soft snuggly part of my life. A boldly patterned cotton chintz in cool green, shaped as a flower represents a woman who is sturdy, bright, and resilient. The center of my quilt is a deep blue wool piece shaped into a compass rose that always points due north. It is for the man who has shared my life for fifty-eight plus years.

There are patches for my parents (Mama’s is delicate purple polka dots, Daddy’s a deep cinnamon velvet) and grandparents, my brother, and cousins. There are patches for faith, love, and service. There is no thing in my life as important as the people in it and that includes many fur people throughout the years. Each of those furry friends has a shape or square that tells their part in my story too.

A scratchy grey burlap patch is for the boss who attempted to dismiss my contributions to the company we worked for. I told him I would not accept his summary of my annual work review. He balked so I told him I would take my case to his boss with my evidence of accomplishments. Grudgingly he changed the report to my satisfaction.

I know I have been the prickly burlap patch in a few quilts. I am content with that. Every one of us is the hero in our own story and every hero needs an adversary against whom to sharpen their character skills. I hope I’ve been the snuggly chenille or bright silk or smooth cotton for most. No matter – my quilt is bright and beautiful and makes me smile. Thank God!

The Town with Five Seasons

I live in Oro Valley Arizona, the high Sonoran desert. When you hear the word desert you, of course, think sand, sun, and relentless heat. Maybe even camels. Let’s keep it that way. We of Oro Valley like to keep our secret. We live in a paradise.  Oh, we have our share of prickly things like cactus and stingy things like Gila monsters. But we are also surrounded by the beauty of cactus flowers in a variety of delicate colors, Mexican bird of paradise, purple Texas rangers, hummingbirds by the thousands, and on and on – a never-ending panoply of nature’s color and texture. Our valley is bounded by the Tortolita Mountains to the north, the Catalinas to the east, and the Tucson Mountains to the west. Tucson lies south of us and has additional mountain ranges framing it.

View from my desk
Winter in our backyard
Red waterfall – monsoon season

My favorite season is the fifth season. We have the regulation winter, spring, summer, and fall as most in the world but we also have monsoon season which interrupts the hot summer with thrilling drama. You can see monsoon clouds gather to the east over the Catalinas like towers of whipped cream, bright and white. Then, when the mood strikes, they climb above us, turn dark grey and let loose a torrent from the sky. I didn’t really understand the word torrent until I experienced my first monsoon. I was driving through town on a sunny August day when bam! Suddenly I could not see the front end of my car. An opaque sheet of water enveloped me making it impossible to move.  It was as if I had driven into a waterfall. Fortunately, the downpours only last seconds or a few minutes then rain continues to fall in a more civilized way – in drops. Monsoon rain is commonly ushered in by loud thunder and exciting lightning strikes but occasionally it creeps up and pounces like a bobcat without warning. In a recent downpour, we could not see the houses across the street. They disappeared behind a veil of water.

When we hear monsoon thunder begin, my husband and I open up the doors and sit either on the front patio or back covered-patio to watch the fireworks. The sound of angels bowling balls through the sky is accompanied by sheets of bright light illuminating the mountains with occasional zig-zag strikes. Monsoons are the greatest in the evening, at dusk or later when the light show can best be enjoyed. Then the rains begin. The fragrance of the desert unfolding to the rainfall is intoxicating.

As with any extreme of nature’s many facets, there is danger in monsoons. Flash floods occur regularly during these tremendous storms. Floods wash away cars and other property, even houses, and cause death. Too many times we read that people, unusually young men on a dare, go to the edge of the Santa Cruz river that runs through Tucson to challenge the waters. The Santa Cruz is dry most of the year and is a temptation when it flows. Flood waters descend from the mountains to claim property and lives in the foothills also. Nature is to be respected as well as admired.

To my amazement, summer is when the locals flee to cooler climes. They escape to summer homes in the north or to the nearby White Mountains. I would never choose this season to leave town. It is by far the most beautiful time of year and temperatures drop from the June 100s to the 90s during the day. At night, as soon as the sun retires over the western Tucson Mountains, temperatures fall twenty to thirty degrees. And during the spectacular storms, they fall into the low 70’s. The humidity climbs, however, and we no longer have dry heat. Our environment becomes tropical for ninety days or so. The desert blooms its finest colors. The mountains turn green. Glorious monsoons are nature’s gift to us.

I grew up in the northwest and skied in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. Now I live less than sixty miles from the southernmost ski resort in the continental U.S.  In Washington, at Snoqualmie Pass, the altitude is around 3,000 feet at the base and rises to 5,600 feet. Oro Valley, itself, is at an altitude of 2,600 feet.  In the Catalina Mountains, we have Mount Lemmon Ski Valley at 8,000 to nearly 9.000 feet. Granted you are only able to snow ski or snowboard during a short winter window, generally February and March. The rest of the year you can ride the ski lifts to see spectacular mountain and valley views.

Snow stays in the mountains where it belongs. No snow shovels required in Oro Valley. We can see it fall and enjoy a snowcapped mountain scene from our yard without having to drive on slippery icy roads or slush as it melts. We have actually had snow in our yard on a few occasions over the twenty-five years we lived here. Twice it fell on Easter morning (see photo above). Snow stays a few hours then becomes mere hydration for the plants. As soon as snow begins to fall, kids rush out to build snowmen in the yard or at the park. It is funny the next day to see a tall glob of snowman in the middle of a yard that is totally clear and dry. We look for hills with snow to slide down on makeshift sleds since no one owns a sled around here. It is brief fun – and no muss, no fuss, it’s gone. We don’t have earthquakes or tornados or hurricanes either. In short, we live in a five-season paradise. Shhh – but don’t tell anyone.

In our book Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets, we pay homage to nature in essay and poetry as our group explores various genres of writing.

Family Stories

I was very excited to have Nancy Turner as one of my writing teachers. She wrote a novel based on early twentieth-century journals of one of her family members called These is My Words. Two subsequent novels continued the story, Sarah’s Quilt, and The Star Garden. These is My Words has been one of my favorite books since I first read it. It introduced the spunky woman, Sarah Prine to me. Through the years I’ve collected family stories also.

Family lore, oral tradition, is a way of connecting generations and a treasure chest for writers to plunder for story ideas. One such legend is of my great grandmother, Nellie Mae, who as a child traveled with her nearly blind father from Nebraska to Washington D.C. in the 1880’s to obtain a civil war pension. Her father James A., had been in the Union Army during the Civil War and was injured when a shell exploded in his face. He was taken prisoner. He tried to escape and was shot again. When the war ended, he went back to his family in Nebraska. Disabled by war wounds, he earned a living by writing and selling songs and poems; and, he played music with a small crank box-type organ. When government pensions were offered to Union soldiers, James A. traveled with his young daughter Nellie by train to Washington DC to obtain his. She was nine or ten at the time. James found he was listed as a deserter because his status as a prisoner of war was never verified.  Pension denied, he played music and sang with Nellie at the train station to earn enough money to get back to their home in Nebraska. He tried until his death to straighten out the records but never succeed. James moved his family to Woods County, OK where they all did farm labor for local farmers. His wife died when Nellie was young. Nellie grew to be a very pretty Irish lass. She left school in the fifth grade to work to help support her family. She had several older brothers who worked the farms in the area too. One of Nellie’s jobs was to cook for the threshing crews in harvest season and keep house for her father and brothers. She met a skinny German man, named James K who worked at a nearby ranch. (He always emphasized to me that he was Prussian, not German.) James was twenty-two, Nellie was fourteen. James charmed her into leaving with him to start a new life. Late one night, they met in a peach orchard and fled the territory in his wagon. When their absence was discovered, Nellie’s brothers set out hot on their trail, not just because she was their sister but because she was their cook. The brothers chased them on horseback across Oklahoma into Kansas, then gave up. Nellie and James were married in 1888 in Hugoton Kansas and were together nearly 70 years until James’ death in 1956. They raised six children.

They were my great-grandparents and I remember them well. Great-grandpa had a big hooked nose and grew a fabulous garden that would feed an army. He rocked in his chair with grandkids on his lap. Smelled of tobacco chew and occasionally spit tobacco juice into the coffee can by his rocker. Great-grandma was the matriarch. She cooked meals for large family gatherings. She always had a fresh onion from the garden by her plate and ate it like an apple. Her hugs were magnanimous. She smelled like baking. Great-grandparents were fixtures in my life; old folks I saw for Sunday dinners, at birthday parties, and holidays. It never occurred to me they had a STORY beyond my knowing. I regret not having those conversations with them. I’m currently researching letters, family notes, photos, and history to piece together a narrative of their unique story.

Just like Nancy Turner and me, every family has legends and unique stories to tell. My co-author Jackie put several of her family stories in our book Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Publication

One of the most important elements in any relationship is the ability to laugh. What a dull tragedy life would be if we didn’t have humor as the mortar between bricks of sober reality. Humor has taken our writers’ group through times of inertia and disagreement. The three of us are blessed with the ability to find a ridiculous note when the symphony of writing rigor turns somber and Sibelius-ish. Maybe not all at the same time but whoever finds it first is quick to share it so that we all can take a fresh look to get back on track.

At one point in the editing process, we were so frustrated that we talked about futility and maybe our baby wouldn’t be birthed after all. A particular outside editing partner was giving us fits for several weeks. We were spinning our wheels trying to make sense of the snarls and tangles, the jumble of misdirection caused by the person we were relying on to help us to publication. Amazingly we were able to stay focused on our goal and keep each other’s spirits up with humor during that trying process. I don’t know how someone could go through those times as an author without the support of sympathetic compatriots.

Since Jackie now lives in Colorado and Sally and I are in Tucson, our weekly meetings are by necessity virtual. Zoom is our meeting room, our moaning room, our bitching room. We have certain phrases and code words that will send us into hysterics when things get too heavy. None of them would mean anything to others because they have developed throughout the years of writing together. Only a word or a look can send a misaligned partner into laughter or at least smiles. We can reference a silly scene that took place during one of our trips and it immediately changes the mood. Sometimes a meeting will be a happy hour when we each bring our favorite adult beverage(s) to the table and toast each other over something grand or ridiculous. And nobody needs to call an Uber. We’ve had crazy hat or crazy shoe meetings. We know each other’s foibles so well and we know how to tease each other without making anyone feel bad. Most of our meetings, even the really down-to-business ones, include gales of laughter. And we always end a meeting in good humor. My husband, who is in another room in the house when we meet, hears our voices and often comments on how much fun we are having even after I’ve warned him that we are going to be discussing really serious subjects. He says, “You guys are having too much fun for your size.” Some of those stories are in our book Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets as part of our goal to encourage other writers to explore the experience of a writers’ group.

Hemingway and Me

I have always enjoyed writing. My first novel, written when I was seven, was called The Girlfriends. It was a mystery printed on ten wide-lined pages in pencil. I cannot remember the plot details because, alas, it was lost sometime in the last seventy years. These things happen in life. I know how Hemingway felt when his first unpublished masterpiece was lost in 1922 by his wife on a train in Europe. Did I just compare myself to Hemingway? Yes. Not that our significance to literary posterity is similar but because we both are scribblers, people who love words and live in them. That’s what this blog and our book, Telling Lies and Sharing Secrets, is all about – sharing our enchantment with words and the worlds they conjure.

Being a lover of words I have, at hand, books about words and grammar. My new favorite is Dreyer’s English, An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer. Does that sound boring? I dare you to read more than a few pages without chuckling and eventually belly-rocking. Toss away your Strunk and White. Dreyer’s book is vastly more entertaining and equally edifying. It is a laugh-out-loud book of passion for the English language. I do not exaggerate. I read passages to several friends, non-literary types, and elicited the same response. Who knew a comma or an apostrophe, not to mention a preposition, could be so much fun? Just as Mary Poppins sang, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way.”

Happy writing everyone. We hope you find your journey in writing is loaded with ah-ha moments you can share with a group of similarly minded friends, just as we have.

My Happiness Engineer

high angle photo of robot
Happiness Engineer aka HE

We wrote a book Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets. Now we need to tell the world. I volunteered to create a website. It sounded so easy. Sometimes you just have to jump into the deep end. Fortunately, I found a lifeguard to guide me safely through the turbulence.

This is my Happiness Engineer, whom I will call HE. HE was introduced in my first plea for help and stayed with me through days of online chatting. An employee of WordPress, HE was assigned to assist in building our website. HE could be a human but HE’s total availability and knowledge, not to mention patience, seemed superhuman as I chatted with him/her/it on a regular basis to set up this site. We have entered the universe of gender neutrality. In case I may have a bias regarding the male or female sex, HE maintained a non-committal, non-binary facade. In my quest to build this website, HE was my go-to first thing each morning when my mind was clear (?) and I had three or four (more or less) hours of sleep. HE became the one I said good night to when my bleary eyes could no longer focus on the screen. HE is available 24/7. I tested it all hours of day and night and on holidays. HE was patient and calm when my webby world went wobbly. HE answered every question without fail. What HE didn’t do was perceive the depth of my ignorance and the reason for my questions. HE could not advise me about things I may not know I do not know. I’m sure many of my queries like, “what is an IOS, SEO or CSS?”, created titters among the other Happiness Engineers in the office. (Imagine a whole room of Happiness Engineers – Wow). My being a total novice about internet design, led us down some frustratingly blind alleys. It generated several complete template changes for our website, trying to find the perfect fit for our needs. The learning curve was steep.

I know I can get snippy when confronted with Everest-type obstacles to overcome. I occasionally suggested we have a glass of wine together to smooth out the craters in our relationship. HE responded gently with “It might do you good.” I pondered the idea of suggesting we move in together since, over the period of a few weeks, I spent more time with HE than with my dear husband. Again, that could lead to another universe of problems. How would my Happiness Engineer respond to being a co-respondent in a divorce proceeding?

I had a feeling every time my name appeared on the call list, there was a collective “oh no, her again” as they flipped a coin to decide who would respond to the nitwit. Not sure how the coin flipping thing would happen but I’m sure they have a Happiness way to do it. I totally believed my HE claimed me every time and I was not shunted from HE to HE. If I missed a day working on the project (for mental health reasons), I received an email asking if everything had been resolved. Ahhh, HE really cared. I began to wonder if I created unnecessary issues with the website just so I could keep chatting with HE. Did I go over to the dark side? But all is well. The website is successfully launched for better or worse. The book is about to be published. My husband still speaks to me. I want to commend HE for HE’s total commitment to helping me navigate the unknown world of tech to get our site live. Many thanks, Happiness Engineer!

This week’s prompt

Write a “How to” from the second person point of view. Instead of first person “I”, talk to the reader and use “you”. Bring the reader into the story. It can be an essay, a story, or a poem. Give an explanation of something as if the reader was part of the conversation. An example of second person point of view is in Jay McInerney’s novel Bright Lights, Big City about a young man struggling with reality.

On a lighter note read page 65 of Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets to see how I wrote a humorous short short story of How to Bake Bread. Please feel free to share your creation with us. We would love to be part of your writers’ group.