Time Traveling with Bookshops

Are you traveling this summer? Do you love to visit new-to-you bookstores or old favorites?

“…A bell jingled overhead. The mild, spicy smell of old books hit him, and the smell was somehow like coming home.” ~ Stephen King, The Wastelands.

What is it about one-of-a-kind bookshops?

“I take a breath, indulging in that distinct book smell. There’s only one thing I love more than the smell of fresh-baked bread and that’s the smell of books. ~ Sarah Echavarre Smith, The Boy With the Bookstore.

A store can paint their entry door any shade of color they choose, can stack books, lean them on their sides, sit glass figurines in front of a cover, display books randomly, or to denote a curious whim. A cushioned armchair may be positioned by a sunny paned window, an iron bench with beaded pillows, enough space to plop down on the edge. To the side, a polished round table with a lamp and fringed shade, all where you can survey corners and niches with books.

Formerly Tortuga Books in Tubac, AZ

“I have gone to [this bookshop] for years, always finding the one book I wanted – and then three more I hadn’t known I wanted.” ~ Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Shelves with beautiful lettering and spines, a telling tale, of someone’s time and love. The entry to a bookstore is as close to the feel of a first winter’s snow that quiets the mind, the wood, and the air. Such a hush, you tingle with discovery.  

Jackie browsing inside Tortuga

“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.” ~ George Carlin

Less and less, they exist. How I miss those, the old haunts of quaint freedom.

A trip to the former Singing Wind Bookshop outside of Benson, AZ

“Even an ice cream parlor – a definite advantage – does not alleviate the sorrow I feel for a town lacking a bookstore. ~Natalie Goldberg

How I miss our trips to search out bookstores, how I miss the ones no longer there.

All us gals in Steamboat Springs, CO

Our writers group adored exploring and delving into bookshops. Wherever we traveled together or stayed in town. One such trip to the Singing Wind bookshop and its history is written in Chapter One of our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets. We captured much of our joy of writing and inspiration into this book. Like a one-of-a-kind bookstore, so was our writers’ group.

Morning Coffee Uninterrupted

Measuring grounds accurately in the carafe basket. I know my limitation on the amount of time I have to enjoy. Not too much, not too little. I keep coffee of various flavors in the freezer, flavors that will make or break a mood.  One-half cup at a time. I do not like coffee to lose its wake-up texture of heat, the dark heat on my tongue, the heat that stays in my palm. A glorious steaming hot half cup at a time.

I was not a coffee drinker until the age of thirty. I had tried coffees in all forms with cream, without, weak, and strong, every flavor imaginable and nothing worked although I inhaled its beautiful rich aromas. One evening while at a cousin’s after a fabulous wok shrimp stir-fry and sticky rice wrapped in seaweed served in bamboo thingy-ma-jiggers, and a dessert of a marbled raspberry cheesecake, I said sure, give me a cup. Black. Bingo.

My parents loved their morning coffees. My mother made a theatrical event of making sure she had the exact amount of cream in her coffee, the clang of the spoon, always a napkin to sit the cup on, and a newspaper unfolded beside. This could take several minutes. It needed to cool just a bit before the first slurp, after that, the coffee was ignored until a stiff ring had formed around the inside edge of the cup. A smooth dusty color now looking like gravel in the rain. 

Throughout the years between kids off to school, grandkids, visitors from other states, cats in and out, and my job at the University, a morning rush was on. I eventually had a third small corner shelf added to the shower where I  carried a half cup of coffee with me each morning—so tired of lukewarm coffee. Since retirement, I can enjoy my coffee on the porch most mornings in the wicker rocker. Coffees taste so much better in leisure.

Life can and is difficult at times. Starting the day needs care. I look forward to that time with coffee, not to be interrupted, an aromatic roast from the steep hillsides in Columbia, the roughness of Arabia, or the lush plantations of Hawaii, all in my control in a cup, under my nose, a smile on my face. There is much to be said about this little dark bean. For now, I am about to pour my first cup and move to the porch, after all, it is nearly six-thirty a.m. and time to ease into my day.

Tricky Traits

Last week I came across an interesting piece on Finding Yourself in Adulthood, it reads in part:

I don’t look much like my mother. But as the years pass, I’m struck by the ways in which I’ve come to embrace a variety of behaviors I once not only deplored in her but fled in horror. Surely, this must be yet another telltale sign you’re a grownup.

It started me to think, just what traits do I have of my mother I didn’t like? We were very different personalities every step of the way. I’d rather take the time to think of the traits I do like and have developed in a good manner. One’s she left behind that perhaps she wasn’t aware of, of leaving something good.

I have never written an obituary in my life until my dad passed away. Mom did not want to, my brother looked a tad traumatized (although in school he wrote terrific short stories). I ask them to write down things they wanted to say/share, aspects, and dates of things that would highlight Dad, I asked those questions and made notes. Once I collected those, I added all of ours into a journalist’s viewpoint/short story/memoir of my dad. Mom and my brother read the draft and made comments. And of course, my mother dug her heels in by not wanting Dad’s parents named. Really? Why would I, or anyone need to explain why a dead person’s parents would not be mentioned in an obituary? I will save the details, but I found a way around my mother with help from a very smart source. My dad’s parents’ names stayed.

Why am I writing about my dad’s obituary when my post is about traits that a person, me, might get from my mother? Gosh, that is just how writing takes you. Anywhere.  I decided by the end of the article I read I would focus on the good traits of my mother that I did not acquire.      

To get closer to my topic, when my mother passed away two and half years after my dad, guess who had to write the obituary? I reflected on the struggle she gave me for Dad’s obituary. Cripes Mom!  It was about Dad.

We butted heads often, and when we didn’t, it was due to sidestepping issues and finding pleasure in the things we liked to do as a mother and daughter. My point is, my mother did have fine traits, many of which she taught me via observation more than conversations. I wanted to capture the finer qualities she possessed and loved doing. These are traits I didn’t inherit, although an effort was put forth.

For instance, her greatest passion (and mine was to hear her hands on those ivory keys) was the piano and although she played by ear, she was self-taught by listening. She wrote sheet music in her head, wrote lyrics and melodies, and played songs she heard, using her composition. Her favorite was Dr. Zhivago, Lara’s Theme and Henry Mancini’s Moon River. She still played all those songs, and hers, at ninety-two not missing a note or lyric. 

I on the other hand took piano lessons for several years and got the basics, but both hands wanted to go exactly in the same direction. I blamed it on being a ‘lefty’. My mother also designed her clothes when in High School and was a terrific seamstress for many years.

My mom, a senior in high school or shortly there after.

 Again, I tried my best. The first and last dress I made, I laid and cut the material wrong side out on the yoke, sewed it in place and then refused to redo it and wore it much to her chagrin. One of her other pastimes was sketching the drawings of the Vargas girls, little notebooks full of those curvy women, and many profiles of movie stars, little self portraits, and persons she created. I would secretly flip through the pages as a young girl, and with a pencil and my tablet from school, try to copy. Mine were easily defined as Donald Duck with a bit of Snidely Whiplash. Oh well.

What I did inherit was the love for cooking, baking, decorating a home, and being pretty good at it as she was, taking it to a different level, but her foundations were placed. I see pieces of her colors, arrangements of threes, fabrics she wore often, certain flowers she grew that showcase in my garden, and how the oddest things made her laugh sideways. I cannot count how often we both noticed something at the same time and without saying a word, burst into an explosion of laughter. These are the traits, not the trials, I prefer to have.

A dress she designed.

Follow Along

The Way With Words became ‘live’ to the public last July. We are fast approaching our first anniversary. Wow, time flies when you have lots to share. And as months roll on, I will speak for myself, new doors open, others gently shut, and excitement when new ideas arise, some others may have collected dust, but the point is it is neverending and keeps me moving forward.

The three of us worked long and hard creating this website. Particularly Diana who took an online class and spent long hours figuring things out and talking with little helpers. Once we were ready to push the ‘Public’ button, we held our breath. Guess what? Not one of us disappeared from the face of this earth! This commitment keeps us writing together for ourselves and others.

In this past year, I have subscribed to new blogs that catch my attention in similar areas of my interests. The range consists of great books to read, reviews, food, travels, personal experiences, gathering readers’ opinions on topics, pets, children, parents, and so on, and it takes time! Gosh, I have a schedule to keep up with these emails.

As I filter through blogs, I do not always make a comment, or even hit the LIKE icon, but the content is duly noted, sometimes forwarded, or I take a note to possibly add to thoughts for my blog posting or other form of writing. There are so many that are inspirational and encouraging for readers and writers.

I do hope you dear readers have found interest and our posts have given you reflection, and most of all, taking the time to write your notes, or even a poem, a few paragraphs that have surfaced from deep within the well of your mind and heart.

Do you feel like you know us a bit? We hope so and would like to know you. There will be slight changes over the summer as we roll into our second year, and we want you included. We hope you will share our website link with others often.

As we gather ideas going forward, we encourage your viewpoints/opinions regarding The Way With Words, so please contact us via email noted on our About Us page. We would love to hear what you are thinking, what you might want more of or less of, and most importantly…have you written? If so, please attach this or put in the body of your email. Be brave, you won’t disappear either.

Thank you for being a part of this journey and let us hear from you!

Returning Home

In a recent post on Brevity Blog (BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog | Daily Discussions of craft and the writing life (wordpress.com)) Abigail Thomas briefly shares what she felt when she came across old work, the paper so old it was the color of ‘weak tea’. Thomas is an all-time favorite author of mine. The long-forgotten piece she had written brought up the term nostalgia and how a certain item or memory brings to the surface an emotional, and yes, even physical element. I love how she sums it up:

“The Indo-European root for nostalgia is ‘nes-,‘ and it meant “to return safely home.”  I don’t think we have a word for returning safely home—maybe life is more treacherous now. And somewhere along the way another element was added—the longing for home, something or somewhere that once did or maybe did not ever exist. I remember asking my friend Chuck if he got that kind of longing, a longing for something without knowing what it is, that physical feeling—”Of course,” he said. “So what is it we are longing for,” I asked because Chuck had answers to all my questions. “There isn’t any it,” he said, “there is only the longing.”  Well, the longing is everywhere now, filling the room, and I sit here breathing, breathing it in, breathing it all the way in.”

Many years ago, when my parents were alive and well, they had moved from southern Arizona back to the farm dad lived on as a teenager and before he left for the Navy. A little square ordinary house. As a little girl, I spent much time in this house, yards, and woods. It was another ‘home’ for me. A place I could roam, not be nagged at, and not feel the need to lean into certain expectations.

At night Grandma Olive always lay in bed with me in the snug little guest room, the tall security light behind the house, filtering through the curtains. Once I was asleep, she crept back to her bed where Grandpa slept soundlessly despite a ballgame crackling over the radio and snapping it off. A silence that held you safe.

There was a point in my home, things were not going too hot. I was in the middle of everything from husband, son, work, and all the changes those incurred and sucking me into. I needed to go ‘home’. My brother and dad picked me up at the airport in St. Louis. Once we drove into the long narrow gravel lane, I felt an instant ‘settling down’. Peaceful. On this visit, I didn’t go anywhere. Anyone that wanted to visit, came to the little house. I needed quiet walks in the woods alone and with my dad, nosing in and around the old barn, mom’s fresh blackberry cobbler, dozens of episodes of Gunsmoke with dad’s homegrown popped corn, a game of double solitaire, heads bent over picture albums, and my journal. It was the first time I had been in that house overnight since I was thirteen. I needed the sound of my parents sleeping, the old security light filtering across the bedspread, the purpose of an intimate country night.

The last night I was to be there, Dad came in and sat on the bed. “I’ve got it all figured out. ” “What Dad?” “I’m going to call Allen and tell him you are not coming.” We sat beneath an evening crushed with stars. “I’ll miss you, Sally.”


Hands Hold Their Own Stories

Recently I was at the hairdresser waiting on my husband. A thin, elderly lady came in with the help of her daughter. She steadied herself on a walker and slowly sat down. The daughter said she was going next door to the clock repair shop.  I looked over and this lady was frail, with a slight hump on her back close to her neck. She wore a bright azure shade of blue knit pants and a medium-checked pink button shirt. The sleeves came down past her elbows and her skin was purplish in places, with blue veins, and a bruise spot here and there. Perhaps from medications such as Plavix that I now have to take and can cause bruising at the slightest bump. She stared down at her hands and then slightly picked at a spot on her wrist, then gave an audible sigh. She looked over and I said hello, here to get your hair done, how nice.

I wanted to go sit by her and pat her hand, feel her paper skin and bone in mine. I wanted to say I know. Youth is gone, wouldn’t it be nice to have some of it back?

I have been reading through my ‘marriage journals’ and now in the year 1983. It is December 8, my birthday. Three lines from that entry read: ‘My folks called to say happy 32. 32!!!!!!. I see myself aging. I can’t take it.’ Readers, this is 2023 and I am still lamenting. Only to be part of 32 again! Just a wee tiny.

Several years ago, at another salon, I have my feet sunk in a bath for a pedicure. Once again an elderly lady is next to me with bright red drying toes. She leaned over and began to show me her hands with brown dots, then fingernails with the white spots she explains as “aging” and “nothing that can be done.”  I replied, “Well, a lot happens when you get older.”  And she snorts back, “A lot doesn’t happen when you get older and that is what I miss.” 

On a favorite Blog site I read, Sari Botton of Oldster Magazine, (34) Sari Botton | Substack put out a questionnaire to thoughts on aging. Thus far I have seen ages thirty-six to ninety-two respond with their views, ideals, realizations, accomplishments, and acceptances. And quite recently a riotous amount of banter regarding the latest Sports Illustrated with Martha Stewart stalwartly posed across the cover. I will leave it at that.

We girls in the writer’s group have taken this ‘aging’ as a prompt and tackled it from all angles through each decade we wrote together. I would love to collect those pieces and post them for discussion, but better not. In those moments as we wrote about our aging, our thoughts on this process shifted a bit, because we had more to add. At any rate, we did our best to make the most of it with humor and to embrace the inevitable with various commentary in our styles of writing.

Back to the other day, this seasoned elderly gal next to me quietly waits for her stylist who shortly bustles up, “Are you ready?” “Yes, I’m ready.” She rises with care and secures her hands on the walker and off she goes. She turns to the stylist behind her, “But the rest of me isn’t.”

This is from a writing prompt.

There is something about Valentine’s Day, a shade of red, a shade of fire. My heart beats under pearl buttons, my fingers press lightly for the shade of hope.
In a late autumn afternoon thirty years later, the hope lay softer, fallen under damp auburn and gold leaves, a blush in a cup, my beating heart more quiet.
Thirty years more, my hope needs reinvented. My blush molds between my fingers, now old, worn with experience. My fire spins beneath me, the shaping of myself, I have conquered.

A Hunting We Will Go

In Jackie’s blog on May 8, Beloved Books, I commented that I had never read Where the Red Fern Grows and would tackle it. I checked the book out at our library and began. The first copyright was in 1961. I was ten. I will say I was into Huckleberry Finn, pirate escapades, and such in those early years of reading.

I settle on the couch and stop at Chapter Two. Billy gets his first small steel traps. I put the book down. Later I inch back into it and skimmed along halfway through Chapter Seven. Okay, I have just about had it on using a log trick to catch a raccoon. A few days later I picked and poked through a paragraph here, there until the real raccoon hunt began with his two little new hound dogs. Chapter Eight through Nine was the agonizing effort of his first raccoon catch, and before Chapter Ten ended, I put the library receipt back in the book and laid it by the front door.

The point: Reading a book of its time, for its era, culture, and the deep wanting of a little boy to have hound dogs is a grand and deeply dutiful story. I would have received this story far better at the age of ten living in rural Midwest countryside, but not today at seventy-one far removed from country living. At around the same age of ten or eleven, I did go raccoon hunting once. Uncle Mel bought a Bluetick Coonhound at quite a price for that time. He had always had a dog, but not a true ‘hunting’ dog that was bred for this activity. Blue, yes, Blue, was quite the looker, but he was goofier often times and more lovable all the time than being on alert. Uncle Mel took his oldest son, Leslie, and daughter, Sandy, who was my age, and I out into the thick woods well after supper one night. We all hopped out of the truck and off we went through tall brush, grass, brambles, and trees. My uncle broke the path while Blue and us three were eager to follow. We lifted the dog over any fence we came across. Not long into this search, Blue treed a raccoon, high up, little black shiny eyes looking down.

I recall amidst the noise and excitement of the barking and baying I said something or other, like, you’re not going to hurt him, right? And probably made more of a fuss because I was beginning to get the picture. I know my uncle couldn’t see my face because of being so dark but perhaps heard something in my tone. He turned and we all followed. Blue stayed behind for a moment until he discovered we were all leaving and happily bounded after us.

A few years later in 1968 Leslie found a young orphaned baby male raccoon and brought him to the house to take care of him. He named him Rocky after the then-released Beetles song. Rocky Raccoon was a case. He grew strong, nosey, agile, and part of the big family. He was everywhere, anytime day or night. When I spent the night with my cousins, and it was often, I woke up in the middle of the night to a gentle head massage and miscellaneous rearrangements to my hair. He loved the scuffling in long hair, or his nose around my ears, and pawing to get between the blankets. He jauntily went from bed to bed to activate his many pranks.

The day came when Rocky grew into his instincts to leave home and find a mate. Rocky was getting restless, a bit less friendly, and not so content. Leslie and Rocky left one afternoon walking across the backfield toward the old one-room schoolhouse known as Dexter which was surrounded by thick woods. Leslie came back that evening, well after dark. It was a sad week at the house for all of us.

(My dad teasing Rocky with his coffee cup)

Oddly enough, about two years later, Leslie was out in the yard working on one of his dad’s tractors. He heard a type of chittering noise in the alfalfa field beyond the shed. He walked quietly toward the fence and the noise increased to a high-pitch squeal. A large raccoon reared up on its hind legs when he saw Leslie. He chittered, looked back, forward, and lowered himself. Leslie noticed another raccoon and two little ones behind, hiding. Leslie spoke to Rocky as if he never had been gone. After a few minutes, Rocky turned and led his family into the thickness of the alfalfa making their way back home toward the woods behind the old schoolhouse. I think Leslie stood at the fence for a long time.

Although this home has been empty for many years, falling in so to speak, it is still owned by some of the family. I would like to think that somewhere out back in those woods, Rocky’s relatives live on.

So back to our Where the Red Fern Grows and all others, my decree upon reading classics of choice varies from time to time, visiting extraordinary storytelling from an author’s imagination along with perhaps experience threaded within its pages. I respect each of these titles throughout our history that capture and hold in a capsule a place in time and to be carefully placed on our bookshelves. With absolutely no disrespect, Red Fern is back at the library safely tucked upon a shelf.   


Last Saturday afternoon my husband and I were with friends to kick back, enjoy some good banter and play Uno. Our discussion turned to the weather and since one of the guests is new from Massachusetts, had not yet experienced our summer monsoon season. Over the weekend Tucson was given a 30% chance of showers. Officially monsoon season begins June 15, but we can get early teasers. By mid-afternoon, a nice cloud ‘build up’ was climbing the horizon due to the forecast, and the sky darkened and lightened until right before dark. By the following morning, the sky was clear as a bluebell. But, by Sunday afternoon, the tops of whiteheads began to form and move forward, building and darkening. It did rain, but not on us…yet.

I shared how as kids, we spent many a day lying flat on our backs in yards scattered across our little township, one leg crossed over another, pointing, imagining, and pondering the creatures we saw and the stories we made up.

On the southeast wall of my studio is a big window overlooking our backyard. Inside, underneath the window is a cream wicker couch I found in Illinois at and antique shop along the Mississippi River. I’ve lined it with custom-made cushions and various throw pillows. I sit and do much reading, idea notetaking, journal, napping on a chilly winter afternoon, and cloud watch. Some time ago, one of our prompts at the writers’ group had to do with two rabbits. I immediately pulled out a card in my ‘stack’. (I am a notorious blank greeting card collector.) The card portrays one of my favorite past times as mentioned.  

“Pepper, get over here, quick. Shhhhhs, not a sound.”  Napier pulls his friend closer behind a tree, particularly where the grass is the highest. The two rabbits poke their pink noses through the blades and wiggle with glee. It is old man Waffle and his wife Wanda. Oh my. They don’t know it, but they truly give one a belly laugh.

  Waffle sat the straw basket down and first thing, tipped it on its side with his bottom as he bent toward the ground to pick up the first old apple. Wanda gave a long, very long rigid sigh and sat it upright. 

“Would you watch what you are doing? Where’s the stool? I don’t see it. Didn’t you bring it out here Waffle?” He grunted and looked up in the tree, his backside to Wanda. She peered up into the tree. “Oh, you think you put it up there, did you? Umph.” Wanda strode toward the garden shed.

  “Didn’t take long did it?” said Pepper to his furry companion.

“No, only four blades. Last time I ate six before Wanda got in a miff. I’ve only had time to nibble down on four. Only four!”

Waffle hummed as he found a few more old apples on the ground and placed them in the basket. One of the handles hung loosely. He moved the basket with his foot closer to the tree. No sign of Wanda. He pulled out a pipe and lit it up. Oh, the smell of good tobacco. Pepper’s eyes began to water, and his nose wiggled, and Napier placed his front foot over Pepper’s nose. 

“Don’t you dare, don’t you dare! We’ll be found out. You know we are not supposed to be in this orchard!”

“Ah chissssssssssssss!!” Waffle removed his pipe and turned around. ‘Mumm. What was that?’ Pepper and Napier buried their heads and bodies flat in the grass. Waffle tamped his pipe, relocated it in his pocket, and ambled past the tree to a small clearing. Napier quickly rolled Pepper over on his back and told him not to move and Napier flopped over on his back just as Waffle parted the tall bright green blades.

“What are you two doing here?” Waffle bent low over the two innocent rabbits who blinked with a fluttery scuffle.  

“Oh, cloud watching. This spot has the best view. See?” and pointed to the bundle of white and gray cotton balls floating overhead.

“Waffle, where are you? You better not be loafing again.” Wanda stuck her head around the apple tree. “Get back over here and fill this basket. I brought the stool, now get yourself on it and get those apples.” Waffle winked at the two little rabbits and shuffled toward his wife. “I smell tobacco. Is that what you were doing Waffle?”

Waffle took Wanda’s arm and moved her out from under the tree limbs loaded with apples to a big round clear spot.  “Look up. Take your time. What do you see Wanda?”

“Well, I’ll be.”

Take a few minutes next time your clouds roll in and let yourself go.



As I continue my quest to find a live chicken or plural for National Drink with Chicken Day on May 23, I began to mull over the value of a simple chicken and certain personal encounters. In rural Illinois where I grew up, chickens and outhouses seemed synonymous with one another, both of which were deemed a necessity. In our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets, I have a story, Outhouses of Pike County, which mentions chickens along with outhouses, not realizing a connection, or more likely a physicality in ‘location’.  

Chickens are absolutely a supplier of sustenance in many forms. Both of my great grandparents and grandparents had chickens which included their own little house, a ramp, and a secure sturdy fence for extra safety at night. I can still feel the flawless shell of a snug egg as I reach into one of the nests under the warm belly of a hen. A  docile little being who goes about her day minding her own business.

These feathery bundles also can make up to ten different vocalization sounds. My favorite is the Happy Murmuring…you know which one I mean. It is like a chicken purr, similar to a cat. They do this a lot when nibbling between blades of grass, a soft clucky lull. Once in Germany visiting a cousin, I took her two small children on a walk. Along the path was a large chicken yard. We were at the top of a hill and the path led down to another road. The three of us stopped and took in this soft hum. I began to mimic, and one by one the chickens came to the fence. We continued down the path, all the while, softly clucking with the chickens. They bunched up beside the fence the total distance down the hill and followed us to the bottom. The kids were delighted.

In the TV series, Recipe for Love and Murder, Tannie the main character has a pet hen named Morag. This hen has full reign of the yard and house and is happily carried around in the arms of Tannie. She feeds her watermelon and other delights from her garden and kitchen.

In doing research, surprisingly the egg-making process starts long before the egg is made. It begins with the birth of the hen. Like many other female species, hens carry a finite number of eggs in their bodies from the moment they are born. This means that they carry all the eggs in their body at birth. After birth, no new eggs are produced. I had no idea! Of course, there is much more to the process, but I am trying to make this short.

Now comes the most fascinating part of the egg’s journey. The membrane-enclosed egg enters the shell gland, where it spends the next twenty hours. It is plumped up with fluid until it achieves the approximate shape you would recognize as being an egg. Then it is sealed within the formation of calcium carbonate crystals which hardens due to a fast-drying protein solution called the bloom, or cuticle, that seals tiny pores occurring between the calcium crystals making up the shell. Whew! I must ask, is this by accident or was it designed?

This puts me in mind of famous Paris designers who brought and changed fashion around the world such as Chanel, Dior, Ricci, and dozens of other extraordinary artists. They would scream if someone thought their hours and months of sketching, alignment, color, stitch, choice of fabric, each curve and flow was by accident. No, it was designed.

And here is our little hen, minding her own, giving us protein in countless forms, feathers for costume accessories, and exquisite culinary chicken dishes one cannot count, alive or not. I can still hear their little selves settle in the early evening into nests of straw, rocking gently side to side, closing their gauzy thin membrane eyelids, and drifting off into featherland for the night. Who would not want to raise a glass of champagne or eggnog laced with rum with a chicken?


Who doesn’t remember a sleepover or a slumber party? A gaggle of girls full of excitement is a sight to behold. In rural Illinois where I grew up, most classmates lived far out into the country. Sleepovers were usually on a school night. Not sure why other than perhaps the big yellow bus would deliver this bunch to the destination and pick us up the following morning, saving many parents from many trips. In Jr High, one classmate always invited the entire group of girls in our class. Her mother taught and insisted on ‘fairness’. Not all could come of course for one reason or the other. Seven to eight could. At the time, our entire class totaled twenty-one, eleven of which were girls. This giddy event always took place at the end of October when the air had a snap of a crisp apple.  

It thrilled me to no end to plan, pack and head off with our heads together sitting on the stiff green seats on the school bus. Cathy’s mother farmed out all the younger brothers to leave room for extra bunk beds. We scattered ourselves between two bedrooms and the floor. Her mother prepared well, a hot easy supper, games, and roasted marshmallows over a fire. I have to applaud her patience and self-sacrifice the following morning as she made sure we had everything we brought back in our bags and shuffled us on the bus early, leaving the kitchen table covered in syrup and pancake crumbs.

In high school, none of us had to rely on buses that much, so we had the freedom to come and go during the week or on weekends. Sleepovers were , well, whoever and how many. We were still crammed into double beds, or a sofa or sleeping bags on the floor. I loved this time together, the giggles, the boy talk, the scary stories, acting out romance stories we were reading, telling secrets, bodies rolled up side by side, sharing pillows, elbowing each other out of the way, jerking covers up or off, no cutting the cheese, stop snoring, I’m freezing, turn on the light–turn it off, you go first, I’m thirsty, where’s the bathroom, be quiet!

As an adult, I had the absolute pleasure to relive those days. In our writers’ group, we had several grown-up gal sleepovers. Two times in Bisbee in a little house hanging on a side of a hill, once on a ranch in a rustic outbuilding, a trip to Santa Fe, another in Pagosa Springs, CO, and each other’s homes for several years. We planned our food, snacks, movies, notebooks, and prompts, Several sleepovers were dedicated to Downton Abby marathons at Linda’s. These nights lasted well past midnight, hour after hour. We all brought items for a delicious dinner, a gooey chocolate dessert, and late night snacks. We also had the bonus of Linda’s two cats from lap to lap. Sofas, and sleeping bags once again. Strong coffee and fresh pastries awaited the following morning, then the three of us, Jackie, Diana, and myself would gather up our mess, tidy up and go to our respective homes and waiting husbands.

Life continues its run of changes, openings, and closures. I confess, my memories and heart belong to those ‘good times’ of innocence and intimacy.