Onto My Next 40 Years

My adventures in reading and writing



Share Your World – Week 7

Share Your World (Cee’s Photography)

Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?

We don’t use a top sheet. I don’t like the feeling of tucked in sheets. I feel trapped in my bed and I can’t sleep well. I used to always have a top sheet that I would tuck in when I made my bed in the morning and untuck at night, but I finally decided years ago, why go through the trouble and expense of buying and washing them when I didn’t really use them.

Have you stolen a street sign before?

Nope, though I have thought about it a time or two when I have seen fallen signs on the roadway.

Do you cut out coupons but then never use them?

I used to always cut coupons on Sundays and put them in an organizer and even take the organizer to the grocery store, but the majority of the time, I forgot to get them out or would find a better deal. I eventually stopped cutting coupons. I see all those shows and reports on those “couponing” women and how much they save and think about getting back to it, but I never do.

Do you have freckles?

Nope. Though I remember wishing I did when I was a kid. I had a friend who had them and she was always so happy and I thought her freckles had something to do with it for some reason.

Optional Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for that high you get from exercise. I completed my goal of 5 walks for the week and I got through 1 pilates workout. I am super tired starting this week, but I’m trying not to let it stop me.

I am looking forward to our road trip this weekend. My husband and I are going to attend the Cookie Convention this weekend in LA. I can’t wait to taste all the goodies, see all the creativity, and just have fun. Just get away for awhile. I’m also hoping to take lots of pictures for my scrapbook and to use for photo challenges.


Grief (a short story)

via Daily Prompt: Expectation

The young girl stood at the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge staring out into the thick gray fog.  She secured her long curly black hair  up into a bun at the back of her neck as tears rolled down her cheeks.  She had come to get a last look at the city she had loved, a city that no longer felt safe, but the fog was so thick this morning, she could barely see 2 feet in front of her.  She closed her eyes and thought of the last time she had seen the city from this view point.  Tina came here often.  Her family lived close by and she liked to run everyday.  Running across the bridge provided such a beautiful view, plus she loved seeing all the tourists taking pictures and how happy they were to finally be on the famous bridge.  Yes, it was annoying sometimes to run around them as they randomly stopped with their selfie sticks, but she made a game out of it, ducking and dodging them like she was in a video game silently keeping score every time she was successful.  Her Mom always had a large glass of cold water and a plate of nuts, apples and cheese waiting on the kitchen table when she got back from her run.  She had loved her Mom and all the little things she used to do.  Tina began to sob now as she thought about it.  Her Mom had been killed 6 months ago.  She had been walking to her car in a parking garage downtown when a man had grabbed her hijab from behind, pulled her close, and shot her in the head.  The man had been caught a week later because he had gotten drunk and started bragging about what he had done to a friend he thought shared his same hatred.  The fact that the man had been caught was a relief at first, but all the media attention, the stares, the insults to her Mom, her family, and to her, were too much.  Many people had come to support their family.  They had received an outpouring from the community of money, food, and some people even came to walk with her to protect her from the haters, but Tina didn’t feel supported.  All she could think about was that her mother was gone.  She couldn’t get the images of what she’d seen on TV of the people who supported the man who’d killed her mother out of her head. There had been a spray painted message on their garage that had read “You don’t belong here!”  And the worst of it, a group of girls had surrounded the outside of her toilet stall at school and had whispered things like “your mother deserved it”, “your mom was a terrorist”, “muslims are scum”, “I hope it hurt when that man shot her”, “I hope the President deports you and bans you from coming back” and so much more.  It seemed like they had kept her trapped in there for hours whispering horrible things, things that kept popping into to her head when she least expected it.  She can’t forget them no matter what she does.  Her father keeps trying to talk to her, but she doesn’t want him to know about it all.  He is already so hurt and so angry.  She sees how he struggles to keep going for her sake.  She hears him crying all night, but every morning he’s in the kitchen making breakfast and trying to appear like nothing is wrong.  Tina had stopped running, stopped laughing, stopped caring.  She just wanted it all to end.  Everyone kept telling her it would get better in time, just think about the good times, remember who your mother was not the way she died, take one day at a time, but that was all bullshit.  Her mother was gone and never coming back.  Her life had changed forever and she couldn’t handle it.  Her Mom had been her rock.  The expectation that she be just as strong as her mother, pick up the pieces, and carry on were unfair.  Her mother was exceptional.  That man had extinguished her life in seconds knowing nothing about her other than she wore a hijab.  Tina pulled one of her mother’s hijabs from of her pocket now and put it on.  It felt warm like her mother had put her arms around her.  As she straightened the material around her neck and head, she caught a whiff of her mother’s scent.  She smiled. It was the scent of lavender.  She thought of the time her mother had put a little drop of lavender on her wrist and how grown up she had felt.  Tina took a deep breath.  And another.  She knew she had to be fast.  She didn’t want anyone to stop her.  Someone may be on their way now with all the crying she had been doing.  She was angry with herself.  She had told herself that she wouldn’t give off any signs of wanting to jump. That anger helped her stop crying now.  She wiped her tears away.  She took another deep breath, quickly climbed over the railing, and jumped before she could change her mind.

Replacement (A Short Story)

I wake up each morning thinking about you.  I still expect to see you there next to me in bed when I wake up.  Every now and then I think I hear you in the kitchen whipping up something good to eat like you always used to do.  I catch a whiff of your perfume and I turn around looking for you.  It’s torture.  I miss you so much.  You were my wife for 32 years and now you’re gone.  Cancer took you away 3 years ago and I still haven’t let you go. There is no replacement for you.  I gave you all my love.  There’s nothing left to give.  Everyone keeps telling me to move on.  To try dating or to at least just go out to dinner with another woman.  They tell me to sign up for one of those online dating things for people over 60.  I’m sure there are some very interesting women, but none of them will be my Regina.  None of them will be you.  You were one of a kind.  You stole my heart the minute I met you.  We both attended that dinner party with different dates, but we kept finding ourselves talking all throughout the night much to our dates dismay.  We spent 32 years talking, laughing, and loving.  How do I just let that go?  Why do people think I should?  It’s not like I don’t get out and see people.  I just don’t want to date.  I don’t want to find someone else.  You were my one and only.  You’re not here, but I still feel better when I talk to you like this.  You could always make me feel better with just a kiss to my forehead or by just holding my hand.  No one else will have that magic.  I don’t care what people say.  Maybe some other people do have more than one love in a lifetime, but I am not one of those people.  How do I tell people that?  How do I make them understand that I am okay without all of that?  I just want to be me now.  I just want to be there for our kids and grandkids.  I don’t want to start over.  I don’t want to start new traditions.  I don’t want to meet a new family and have to go through all that again.  I’m happy with what I have left.  I will be with you again someday, but for now I have this life to live.  Yes, sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s downright torture being without you, but I am the man I am today because of you and I don’t want to change that.  So I will continue to to live day by day.  I will have good days and bad.  I will miss you so much I will cry, but I will keep living.  I will keep going until we’re together again.

Growing Up

(A Story Cube Short Story)

As Kayla sat at her desk trying to figure out how her bank account got overdrawn, she began to feel overwhelmed.  Christmas is in a month.  How was she going to pay for her ticket home?  It had to be an oversight on her part somewhere, but where?  She scoured her account again looking for a charge she didn’t recognize or didn’t remember.  How could she have done this to herself?  What is she going to tell her parents when she tells them what happened?  It wasn’t her fault though.  At least she didn’t think so.  She’d been busy for weeks working on her paper for her Emerging Global Culture Class.  Sure she had spent a lot of time at the Coffee Genie working on her notes, brainstorming, and writing, but she hadn’t spent $400 on coffee and snacks had she?  No, she had to figure this out.  She was going to have to learn how to download her transactions from her bank.  She hadn’t signed up for it yet because she was afraid that someone would be able to steal her information from her computer, but maybe someone had already gotten ahold of her banking info.  Ugh!  She dreaded finding out.  She still had finals to get through.  The last thing she needed right now was to deal with money issues.

“Hey Kayla!”

Kayla jumped.

“Oh, sorry…your door was open.  I just wanted to drop off your speech for your Psych class.  I went over it.  It looks good though I did make a few corrections here and there.  I think you should…hey, are you okay?”  Liam asked as he got a good look at Kayla.

“Thanks Liam.  Sorry, I just found out that I overdrew my account and I don’t know how.  I thought I’d been doing a good job balancing my account, but somehow I spent $400 that I don’t remember spending.” Kayla stopped because she felt the tears coming and she tried to hold them back.  She didn’t want to cry in front of Liam.

“Wow, are you sure you spent the money?  Did you go through your transactions?” Liam inquired.

Kayla nodded still trying to fight the tears.

Liam crossed the room and sat next to Kayla on her bed.  “How about your wallet?  Do you have all your cards?  My Mom dropped her card once on her way out of the grocery store and didn’t notice for days till she tried to use it when she went to the gas station.  When she reported it lost, she found out someone had been using it and the charges were reversed.”

Kayla grabbed her purse and took out her wallet.  Her fingers fumbled trying to unzip it as she hoped that maybe her problems would be solved if she didn’t find her debit card in there.  Liam saw her struggling and took the wallet from her and opened it up.  Kayla saw the empty slot immediately.  Her card was missing.  When had she used it last?

Liam told her to call the bank and report it lost and they would go through her transactions with her to see which charges were hers and which were someone else.  Kayla was anxious about calling the bank to admit that she had lost her card despite all of her parents warnings before she left for college to always keep track of it.  She had promised that she would and now she was going to have to tell them that she’d lost it and not only that, but that someone had used it.  She started crying this time.  She couldn’t hold back the tears.  She felt like she had let her parents down.  She had wanted to show them how much of a grown up she was and yet here only a few months into her first semester she felt like she was barely making it.  Liam put his arm around her and told her not to worry.  The problem was fixable as long as she dealt with it as soon as possible.  Kayla took some deep breaths and got herself under control.  She thanked Liam for his help and support, but asked if she could be alone to make the phone calls.  Liam said he understood and wished her luck before leaving her dorm room closing the door after him.

Kayla got out her cell phone, took a deep breath, and called the bank.  The phone call seemed to take forever, but she felt better once it was over.  The person who had helped Kayla had been really nice and like Liam had said, they went through each of the transactions on her account until she got to ones she didn’t recognize.  Whoever had taken her card had gone to Barnes & Noble and bought almost $75 in books, $40 in yarn from an organic sheep farmer, and had signed up for a sky diving class.  Not what Kayla would’ve done if she’d had free access to someone’s card for sure especially not the sky diving class.  She was terrified of heights and hated to fly let alone jump out of a plane.  The bank told her to file a police report and let them know about the skydiving class since it hadn’t happened yet.  Maybe the person would show up and the police could catch them.  Kayla wasn’t sure what would happen, but she was glad that the problem on her end was solved.  Well, at least most of it.  She still had to tell her parents.  Maybe she would go tell Liam what happened and get dinner at the commons before she called her them.  Talking to the bank had taken a lot out of her.  Talking to her parents was going to be even more taxing.  She needed a break.  Kayla found her hoodie and put it on, grabbed her school ID and her keys, and walked down to Liam’s room.  It felt good to move.  She’d been so anxious all afternoon.  Maybe she needed to go for a run before she talked to her parents.  She wondered if Liam liked to run.   She hoped he did.

Learning to Cook

Little Olivia woke up in her bed.  She was a little confused because the last thing she remembered was laying on the couch watching TV downstairs with her sister.  Olivia was cold.  She could see her breath every time she exhaled.  She pulled the blankets up over her head.  Just as she was starting to warm up again, the blankets were yanked away.  Olivia tried to hold onto them, but her little hands weren’t strong enough so she kicked out instead catching her sister in the butt with her foot.  The blankets came flying back at her. Olivia reached out to catch them and saw a hand coming at her from the side, but she was too slow to avoid it.


“Ow!” screamed Olivia.

“Well, don’t kick me then, ” her sister Izzy screamed back.

“You pulled the blankets off me,” Olivia retorted.

“You pulled them off of me first!”

“Oh,” said Olivia, “Sorry.”

They both lay in silence until Olivia’s stomach made a sound.

“You hungry?” Izzy asked.

Olivia didn’t want to admit it, but her stomach had already given her away.

“Yeah, my tummy hurts.”

“C’mon, then…let’s go find something to eat.”  Izzy slipped out of bed and moved the footstool closer to the bed, held Olivia’s hands, and helped her down onto the stool.  Olivia was only 3 and needed help sometimes, but Izzy didn’t mind lending a hand.  They often fought, as sisters do, but they also knew they were a team.  Their Grandma had told them so one afternoon while baking cookies for the girls.

She’d said, “Girls, your parents work hard and aren’t always there, so you need to be a team.  You need to work together and help each other.  Take care of one another.  Especially you Izzy.  Help Olivia and teach her the things you know.”  She looked like she was going to cry then and that made the girls worry, so they listened.  Once their Grandma got her emotions under control, she continued, “Be helpful to your parents when you can. Clean up after yourselves.  You’re a team and together you are unstoppable.”  She’d hugged them then and they had squeezed her back.  They loved their Grandma.  They loved visiting her because she made them feel safe.

Izzy held Olivia’s hand as they made their way quietly downstairs.  They didn’t want to wake their Mom.  She worked the overnight shift as a nurse at the local psychiatric hospital, or “Loony Bin” as their Dad liked to call it.  Speaking of their Dad, they heard noises in the kitchen.  They stopped the at the bottom of the stairs.  Izzy sat down on the second to the bottom step and Olivia held onto the banister while she climbed up onto Izzy’s shoulders to peek over and look into the kitchen.  Sometimes their Dad was in a good mood and sometimes it was better to just avoid him.  Olivia had to push up onto her tip toes to see into the kitchen.  Their Dad was moving about quickly.  He seemed to be cleaning up while the coffee dripped into the pot.  Olivia tried to see his face, but he kept moving out of her view.

“I can’t see him good, but he doesn’t look mad,” Olivia whispered down to Izzy.  Izzy listened and didn’t hear anything worrisome.  Izzy held on to Olivia and she climbed down off of Izzy’s shoulders.  They were about to leave the stairs when they heard their Dad coming out of  the kitchen.  They quickly sat down on the stairs  moving as close to the wall as they could and listened.  They heard him put on his jacket, grab is briefcase, and head toward the door.  He didn’t notice them.  He walked out the front door and locked it behind him.  The girls crept over to the front window.  They saw him get into his car and start the engine.  He sat there for a while letting the engine warm up.  Finally, he drove away and the girls let out a breath.

They turned around and headed for the kitchen both of them dreaming of something yummy to eat.  They started looking around in the pantry since they knew there was nothing left in fridge.  They found some saltines.  They each had a few while they continued to look around.  They were lots of canned foods, but they couldn’t get the can opener to work.  Izzy had tried a couple of times, but she wasn’t strong enough to get the blade point through the top of the can.  There were a couple of boxes of macaroni and cheese, but they weren’t allowed to turn on the burners on the stove top.  Way up high they saw boxes of cereal and a package of cookies.  If only they could reach the cereal.  Izzy tried to climb the shelves, but as always, when she stepped on the third shelf, it made a scary creaking sound and Izzy quickly stepped back down nearly missing the bottom shelf and falling, but she recovered at the last second and made it back down.  Both girls stood there staring at the cereal willing it to fall from the shelf.  Olivia’s stomach gurgled again.  Izzy had to find something they could eat.

Their Mother hadn’t come out of her room to make dinner again yesterday.  She stayed in there a lot.  They often heard her crying and the one time they had gone in to see what was wrong, they had found their Mother sitting up in bed surrounded by opened letters scattered all over.  She was holding one of the letters and just crying.  When their Mother had noticed them, she cried more and shouted at them to leave her alone.  So when they had heard her crying again last night as they quietly listened outside her door, they left her alone.  There had been some left over fried chicken in the fridge and they had  settled on that for dinner, but this morning their prospects of food seemed to be just more saltines.

As they sat on the floor of the pantry eating what was left of the crackers, Izzy looked up at the boxes of macaroni and cheese and decided she was going to break the rules.  She reached up, grabbed a box and walk out of the pantry.  Olivia followed her worriedly asking, “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to make us breakfast.”

“But we can’t turn on the stove.  We’ll get in trouble.  Momma will come down with her brush again.  Please Izzy, don’t get us in trouble.”

Izzy turned on her sister and said, “Don’t you wanna eat?  I’ll be quiet.  I’ve watched Momma make it before.  Plus, if we get in trouble at least we’ll have eaten something.”

Olivia was worried, but her stomach gurgled again at the thought of getting to eat macaroni and cheese so she didn’t object further.  Izzy told her to find the milk and butter in the fridge while she found a pot and a spoon.  Izzy couldn’t read, but she knew she had to put water in the pot and put it on the stove.  Izzy pulled a kitchen chair over to the sink and filled the pot with water.  She filled it so full that she ended up spilling quite a bit of it on her way to the stove, but she got it there.  Olivia pushed the chair behind her and after Izzy turned on the burner under the pot, they both climbed up onto the counter to watch the water get hot.  Izzy knew you weren’t supposed to put the noodles in until the water got hot, but she wasn’t sure how long that took.  Izzy decided to put the noodles in as soon as she started seeing little bubbles on the on the bottom of the pot.  They took turns stirring the noodles.  Izzy had seen their Mother throw noodles at the wall to see if they were done.  Izzy carefully fished a noodle out of the pot and threw it at the wall.  It didn’t stick, but some of the water had gotten on her hand.  It was hot and she dropped the spoon so she could put her hand in her mouth.

“Are you ok Izzy?”

Izzy pulled her hand out of her mouth and looked at it.  There was a little red mark, but the pain wasn’t so bad any more.

“Yeah, I’m alright.”

Izzy picked up the spoon again and started stirring the noodles, but she wouldn’t let Olivia stir anymore.  Olivia was mad because she wanted to help too, but she saw the red mark on Izzy’s hand and let it go.  They continued to watch the noodles in the pot and got a little worried when the water started boiling.  Sometimes the water popped out onto the counter, so Izzy made Olivia get down so she could move away from the stove top a bit, but still see into the pot.  Their stomachs started grumbling again so Izzy moved back over and fished out another noodle to throw at the wall.  It didn’t stick, but they didn’t want to wait anymore.  Izzy turned off the burner.  Olivia found the strainer and threw it into the sink.  Izzy carefully carried the pot to the sink and set it down before retrieving the chair and climbing up so she could pour the noodles out.  She fixed the strainer in the sink first and then poured the noodles in.  She was so scared, but she was determined to make them something to eat.  Once the water had drained, Izzy put the noodles back in the pot and poured in a little bit of milk while Olivia opened the stick of butter and threw in in the pot.  Izzy struggled to get the package of powdered cheese open, but eventually she did and she poured it in.  They took turns stirring again.  They were excited to see the ingredients mix together and savored the smell.  It seemed to take forever for the butter to melt.  They tried to wait, but they were too hungry.  Olivia got the bowls and Izzy scooped the macaroni and cheese in.  They sat on the floor and quickly stuffed the noodles into their mouths.  It didn’t tasted the same as when their Mother cooked it, but it was still good.  They continued stuffing their mouths afraid their Mother would come downstairs any minute and find out what they had done.  She didn’t and eventually their stomachs felt full.  They had done it.  They had made themselves food.  They looked at each other and smiled.

One Word Photo Challenge: Distance

OWPC: Distance (Jennifer Nichole Wells)

We continued our Random Acts of Kindness this week by collecting and painting rocks with positive words.  The kids and I really enjoyed transforming these boring gray rocks into these beautiful works of art.  I hope we were able to put a smile on someone’s face today.  I will wonder, just like the kids (they wanted to stay on the walking trail to watch people’s reactions), whether someone picked up one of our rocks and took it home. Will they look at it and smile every time they see it?  Did we make a difference in someone’s day(s)?  All I can do is hope and continue to do these Random Acts of Kindness.  The kids have been inspired and I hope they want to continue this journey with me despite not knowing for sure if we are making a difference.  Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!



Gratitude Days 15 -18

Day 15 : What season are you grateful for?

I guess right now I would have to say Fall.  Fall is the season that rescues me from the heat of the Summer.  Plus it’s the time of year that has some of my most favorite holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving.  And well I also must admit that it’s the also because my birthday is in the Fall.

Day 16: What about your body are you grateful for?

This is a hard one, but I finally settled on my eyes.  I love to read and see beautiful things.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to not be able to see or to even to be color blind.  My Dad was color blind though he could see burgundy and some blues.  His wardrobe was black, burgundy, gray or blue.  I would sit around and try to imagine what it was like, but my brain could never quite fully imagine it.  I am definitely thankful for my eyesight even though it’s not 20/20 and my ability to see all the colors of the rainbow.
Day 17: What knowledge are you grateful for?

I wasn’t really sure how to answer this one.  I have so much knowledge yet I there are days feel like I know nothing compared to the amount of knowledge that is out there.  I see pictures of giant libraries and I think about how long it would take to read all those books and it’s mind-blowing.  That being said, I am grateful for my knowledge to read a map.  I love to take road trips.  When I got my first car, I bought myself a Thomas Guide to make sure that no matter where I went, I wouldn’t be lost.  I kinda miss having that giant book in the pocket behind the passenger seat.  There are so many Map apps nowadays that having an actual map seems pointless, but I still love maps.  I love to see all the roadways and imagine racing along them.  I think I need to take a road trip.
Day 18: What piece of art are you grateful for?

My brother in law is an artist.  He doesn’t sell his art.  He’s just one of those guys that must constantly doodle, draw, paint, sketch, takes photos, sculpt, etc.  His work is eccentric yet amazing, but he doesn’t see it as such.  Many years ago after a trip to see his family in the Philippines, he came back and painted many different paintings about the things he saw.   One of them looks like just a bunch of squares, but it’s actually his interpretation of his home town and how crowded all the buildings are there.  I have had that painting hanging in every house and apartment I’ve had since he gave it to me almost 16 years ago.

A Photo a Week Challenge: Leaves

APAWC: Leaves (Nancy Merrill Photography)

I took this picture outside of my work.  Every morning I would drive up and see the sidewalk just covered in the these bright beautiful yellow leaves.  I was always in a rush to get to work and always so tired afterwards that I took me awhile to take a picture of them.  I was so glad that I finally snapped a picture though because the day after I did, the owners of the two houses covered by these leaves raked them all up and the sight I looked forward to each day was gone just like that.  I learned that day to not procrastinate on taking a picture because tomorrow the opportunity may be gone.

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

CWWPC (Cee’s Photography)

I went for a walk one day in a direction that I don’t normally go.  I wanted to see some different scenery.  As I walked out this way, I was on the other side of the street where there aren’t nearly as many trees or shade.  I was so hot and sweaty, but I had set out to walk at least 2 miles before turning around.  Once, I finally did, I crossed the street to seek refuge in the shade of these trees for my walk back.  Unfortunately the trees didn’t last all the way back, but the bit of shade I did get plus walking through all the beautiful colors, kicking the leaves and listening to them crackle helped me forget how hot I was for a little while.  I love fall, but nowadays it takes way too long for the cool weather to come and stay.  It’s already the middle of November yet it’s still been in the high 70’s –  mid 80’s here.  Global warming at it finest.

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