Blog Archives

Write to the Death

Finding time to write is not a problem for me.

Oh, wait.

I meant to post that on April 1…but didn’t have time.


Another blogger and I have been kicking around the idea of forcing ourselves to novel with a deadline.

I suggested we call next month Manic May (in which we write like mad) and proofread each other’s work in Judgmental June (because I couldn’t think of a better word starting with “J”).

Upon hearing my idea, Hubby said, “and then, Judgemental July because neither of you will finish writing in May, so you’ll have to push back proofreading.

Then will come Angsty August because you don’t like each other’s novels but don’t want to say so.

During Sad September, you’ll find your friendship ending over red pen.

You’ll try to salvage the project, if not your camaraderie, during Objective October.

Finally, in Nasty November: a fight to the death over grammar, stabbing each other with the Oxford comma.”

Geez. Maybe HE should write the novel.


The Suit: Write it! (Yes, You.)


I saw this suit jacket in front of an empty building for lease.

Can’t help wondering how it ended up on the ramp. Where is the owner? How did this happen? Why leave the jacket but not the pants?

It appears to be arranged with some care. Did the jacket have a family? Why was it abandoned? Does the owner plan to retrieve it?

Now, take my challenge. Write the story of this coat.


  1. You may not read anyone else’s story until you write your own.
  2. Link to your story in the comments below.
  3. Make it as short or as long as you like.
  4. Enjoy writing!

I look forward to seeing your imagination at work.

Casey XO

The Unexpected Result of An Unexpected Choice

In response to a challenge from this guy and this gal regarding this post. (Fiction)

“‘scuse me, dis is not my car.  It tis my son’s car and I cannot open dis.”  I finally get his attention.

These Americans. So busy. I know he can see me try to open stupid little gas cap door.

I muddle accent on purpose. Doesn’t matter. Americans all think they know where we are from by our talk. Other day, this redhead, she said, “So, I bet you are from Czech Republic?” Sure, sure. Why not? No one can ever place my speech, but I move a lot. So. I pick up a lot of the accent.

Soon I will get rid of this rusty bucket. My son says car is jalopy. I think jalopy is pepper. I like rusty bucket better. Once mission is done, I go home.

Busy Americans never want to help or it would be over already. Finally. We have winner. Coming to rescue immigrant grandma. Eblan.

I wrap coat tighter. You think it’s cold here? Try Siberia. Ukraine. Minsk. Moscow. I watch him scan my face for…what? My age? Ha. He will never guess. No one does.

I watch him watching me. He is tall. American food makes tall boys. Tall but not big. He needs potatoes. Stiff Moldovan wind would blow him down, I think.

He looks at driver door. Door? Why would gas cap be in door? I don’t know. He folds into car. Almost in half, I think. Ha, this balvan will hit his head. Well, that’s nothing. Just wait.

Then I notice. His foot, outside car. Tapping. This moodozvon likes my music. This is problem. How can I push button if he likes Nikita K’s Best Party MixTape 2? I think I have to push button. Walk away. Quick. Push button.

But no, he hums. He taps wheel, looking. I can not decide. Push button? Don’t push button? He grins through open window.

“Hey, this unicorn air freshener is great. Where’d you get that? I know a guy who really needs one for his handlebars. D’you remember where you bought it?” He laughs. Handlebars? I sigh. He likes unicorns? How can I push button now?

He finds gas cap lever. Finally. I thought we would stand all day, not pushing button.

He even pumps gas for me. Only a little, I say. Not much money. He nods.

He walks away, back to car with bike rack. Oh. Handlebars. Wait. He didn’t like unicorn. Thinks unicorn is joke. Chort tzdbya beeree! Swine. I should have pushed button.

But. He likes music. Okay. You live today. But tomorrow. Tomorrow is different story.

Vlad say, we have to get noticed. We don’t have to take it. I put detonator back in little box. I drive. I look for next mark. I sing with Sisters, bang on wheel.

Yep. Next time, before I push button, I pull Nikita K’s Best Party MixTape 2 out of car first.
Nikita was good boyfriend. I should keep mix tape. I sing loud.

We’ve got the right to choose and

There ain’t no way we’ll lose it

This is our life, this is our song

We’ll fight the powers that be just

Don’t pick our destiny ’cause

You don’t know us, you don’t belong

We’re not gonna take it

No, we ain’t gonna take it

We’re not gonna take it anymore

p.s. All Russian expletives are, as far as my research took me, mild. If you look them up and they’re really awful…my bad.
p.p.s. you can find LittleLearner’s response to the original post here. I like hers, too. Great characterization.


Blogging 101 suggested starting a regular feature, weekly or monthly.

I’d already been thinking how cool it would be if someone would interview adoptees, but didn’t know where to start.

Enter Reddit.

After putting a request out to the adoptee community, responses are pouring in. I’m excited to announce a new “Adoption Interview” feature. I’m committing to monthly, but might post as often as weekly.

Here’s where you come in:

1. If you know an adoptee, please ask them to email me at to be included.

2. What do you want to know? Post your burning questions below (or email me) and I’ll be happy to include them.

My Most Prized Possession…isn’t mine.

My most-prized possession is silver, but I don’t actually have it. 

You were born in 1915, a boy raised mostly by your mother and aunt, something of an oddity in the early 1900’s. You grew up in the Dakota Territory. The Great War, later known as World War 1, began the year before you were born. As a four year old, you watch soldiers begin their return. Ten years later, the world collapses. Men throw themselves from buildings in despair.

The adults attempt to shield you, but the radios play on, and you hear everything. The Depression begins; most of your friends’ parents have no work, no money, no future. At fourteen, you determine to stay alive, to keep afloat, to win. 

You are fascinated with anything that flies. In the thirty years since the Wright Brothers’ famous 1903 flight, everything has changed. Planes, gliders and airships access the clouds. The Hindenburg comes to New Jersey. You listen in fascination, then horror, as announcers describe the scene in detail. Beautiful airship, burned. Destroyed. Decimated. You are twenty-two.

You and your friend decide to build a plane. The two of you drag pieces of crashed planes to the barn. You accumulate new parts, fabric and wood. Hard work pays dividends, and before long, you are stretching fabric and painting dope. When the test run is successful, you are ecstatic. On many following weekends, the two of you fly, exhilarated by the freedom. Kids and adults wave as your shadow passes. On Sunday mornings, you buzz the church, laughing to think of the startled parishioners inside.

You began flying for fun, but find ways to earn money. The Depression, if it comes again, will not take you. World War II arrives, and you begin training pilots, but thankfully you never have to fight.

PanAm hires you as a pilot. You meet the man who will remain your best friend until his death forty years later. You are dashing in your uniform, and you steal my grandmother’s heart and marry her.

You fly the Avianca route to Columbia, always returning with dozens of yellow roses, her favorite. Through the 1950’s and 60’s, you fly. You are a spectacular pilot.

Then, it’s over. You retire. Ever the entrepreneur, you buy land with your best friend and start a cattle ranch in the Mid-West. You take me to the cattle auction and save my hand from being crushed against a fence by errant hindquarters. I stand in your pickup truck, holding the dash, as we bounce through the sun-dappled fields. We eat vanilla ice cream and watch the sun set. We are best buds. I think you hang the stars.

We move away. My Grandmother passes. I worry about you and miss you terribly. I grow up. You grow old, but always independent, you sell the ranch and buy a 5th wheel. You and your brown Dodge visit most of the lower 48 states and Mexico. You send chocolate from Mexico.

Your best friend dies, asking you to take care of his wife. The two of you marry, for convenience, I think, but then I watch you fall in love. She becomes Grandma, and I love her. I begin college, and you both volunteer at the school. I spend as much time with you as I can, ecstatic to have you nearby. I am not thrilled to find you on the roof, replacing shingles in the summer sun, but you are nonchalant. Silver hair means nothing.

You retire, again, to the Mid-West. My grandma is often confused, and a stable environment will be better. You move to an apartment in a retirement community, caring for her yourself.

You continue to amaze me. I visit as often as possible, which is not often enough. We eat shrimp for dinner and ice cream for dessert. We look at old photos and walk out to check your monster tomatoes. We are best buds. I still think you hang the stars.

You have a silver plaque from Avianca. Every time I visit, you tell me stories of flying. You point to the plaque and grin. I love the silver plaque, not because it is beautiful, although it is. I love what it does to your face. Your eyes have a sparkle borrowed from decades before. Years melt away as you regale me with tales of last-minute landings and engine malfunctions; these stories always end well. You are forever my hero.

You are in heaven now, retired for the third and final time at age 97. I don’t know where your plaque ended up, and to be honest, it doesn’t really matter. Every time I think of it, I remember your face, your joy, your exuberance. My most treasured item is actually not the the silver plaque, but what it represents. My heritage: your indomitable spirit, your determination, your drive, your joy, your love for God and your concern for every human in your life. I want to be like you, to make you proud.

P. S. I saw that a new star was discovered in March. Pretty sure God let you hang that one.

All pictures found on Google Images.

To Whom it May Concern

Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What jumps out at you? Start there, and try a twist: write in the form of a letter.

My Dearest Patsy,

I’ve been meaning to write a thank-you note and am just now getting to it. Thank you again for all you’ve done for me. You’re simply amazing.

I still can’t believe it. You really saved the day. Thank you for being willing to be inconvenienced on my behalf–in this “Me First” society, that’s just not something people do anymore. I know the timing was inopportune for you, but as far as I’m concerned, you couldn’t have shown up at a better moment. If you hadn’t been there, my whole week would have gone horribly, horribly wrong. You are truly a lifesaver. I hope, one day, to repay the favor.

I heard about your sabbatical; how are things? I can’t believe you managed all-inclusive accommodations. I guess it’s karma, right? You helped me, someone helped you…super cool. Free food is my dream. Is the workout equipment as great as everyone says? I understand they also have a great research facility. (Patsy, you nerd…even when you take a break, you make sure you can keep up your education). One of these days, I really need to make time to come visit. Things have just been so busy. Work, you know.

Traveling all over South America just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I wish I had time to take an extended vacation. You’re so lucky. Sometimes life just isn’t fair…but, I suppose I can’t complain since without you, my dear Patsy, I wouldn’t even have this job. I’d probably be stuck in routine drudgery, in some corporate dungeon. You have made this possible, and I am truly thankful. As I keep saying (I just can’t stop!) you are truly an extraordinary person. Thank you, again and again. I still t don’t think I’ll ever fully understand what made you do it. Just your inner beauty, I suppose.

Well, I need to wrap this up. I have a flight to catch, but one last thing.

Like I said, I don’t know what made you wear a black mask that day; maybe you thought I’d be blamed for your robbery. Instead, you get to serve my time. Thank you, again. You were the perfect patsy. Good luck finding a lawyer. At least you have all those law books available.

And remember,

Orange is the new Black.


The real Man in Black

P.S.  Don’t even think about trying to introduce this as evidence. Why do you think I typed it (and sent it from your house)?


Thanks to my 8 year old son for leaving “Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets” by Dav Pilkey on the coffee table. “PATSY is an acronym for Photo-Atomic Trans-Somgobulating Yectofantriplutonic-zanziptomizer.” -Melvin


Adoption = Despicable


We are watching Despicable Me 2. The movie is funny in itself, but the best part is listening to the kids laugh. Some parts elicit a giggle, while others bring a full-on belly laugh. Watching Gru and his minions’ antics brings back memories of our first few months.

When the kids first arrived, Despicable Me 1 was their favorite movie. They watched it anytime we had movie time. They watched it in bits and pieces on the rare days it did not take hours to complete their kindergarten and first grade homework (which should have taken 30 minutes max). They watched it in full on movie night with pizza and soda (every Friday). They watched it on Saturday afternoon. They watched it on Sunday afternoon. We basically had the movie memorized.

I think, on a subconscious level (aside from the fact that the movie is genius and hilarious) they loved the movie because it tells their story: children who were abandoned to a horrible, uncaring individual, then taken to a home they thought might be a good fit, then taken from the home by social workers. The children think they are unwanted, but then, they are rescued and adopted.

Our kids spent their first five (she) and three (he) years locked in a bedroom by their biological mother, The next two years were comprised of at least five moves. In one of the homes, there was an older child who threatened to kill them in their sleep (gee, maybe this is why our boy couldn’t sleep more than 3 hours a night). The children were made aware (either by the social workers or the foster parents) that the reason they were moved was their horrendous behavior. By the time they arrived on our back porch (dropped off by a temporary foster parent, sans social worker who should have been with them), they were thoroughly convinced that no one could want them.

I became slightly concerned about the Despicable Me attachment (after watching it for the 30th time), but since it ends well I figured it might be a good thing to just let them watch until they moved on. They didn’t move on. After the 130th viewing, I checked with the counselor. He said it would be okay; just let them watch. They would eventually find another movie they liked. And, after viewing #335, they did.

Watching Gru and his minions’ antics reminds me of just how far they’ve come. We’ve come.

They’ve made so much progress since even Despicable Me 2 came out. We saw it in theaters, and when the minions became purple monsters, our boy hopped in my lap quicker than scat. He looped his little arms around my neck and held on tight. For the entire purple minion sequence.

After the movie, he asked me to “not get” the DVD. (He has since changed his mind.) Tonight, over a year later, neither child is concerned. It’s a movie. They know everything goes well in the end. Just like their lives; everything will work out. Eventually.



Post Script: I had already finished my post, but I have to add this. At the end of the movie, Agnes (the youngest child) says, “She kisses my boo boos, she braids my hair…My new mom Lucy is beyond compare.” Tonight, at the same time, my son was quoting along with her, but replaced “Lucy” with my name, then looked at me and said, “I love you, Mama.” If that won’t melt your heart, well, I can’t help you.

**And although this is post is not a plug for Despicable Me, I highly recommend both movies.

All images from Google.

His Point of View

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years. Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

It’s hot. Hotter than most days I can remember. I remember most days.

Wish I had a chair. The steaming sidewalk concrete grits my bare legs. I press my hand down for 1, 1, 2, 3 seconds. I inspect the peaks and valleys left in my skin, the red indentations. Funny how skin molds around what you touch. Legos are best; if I press carefully, sometimes I can even see tiny letters on my fingertip. I brush the sandy bits on my shorts. Sand off, clean hands. That’s better.

I heard Mrs.Pauley tell mama she’ll probably be leaving. She doesn’t pat me on the head or look at me, so I know she likes me. She never tries to hug me. All mama’s other friends hug me. Mrs. Pauley just sits next to me sometimes to talk about the yard, or the flowers, or something else she thinks about. I like that. Mama said Mrs. Pauley lost Mr. Pauley. I don’t understand this. How do you lose a grown man? I don’t know. I am only twelve. I will probably know more when I turn thirteen.

Most of the time, adults make no sense. But mama says since Mr. Pauley is lost, he can’t go to work, and Mrs. Pauley can’t pay the piper. Don’t know about any pipers. We had a man come to our house about the pipes under the sink, once. I watched him until mama made me stop. His breath smelled like coffee and burritos. I like burritos except for the mushy part. The rice is good, and the meat. I wonder why he wants Mrs. Pauley’s money. I don’t know why she has to leave. I like her.

I don’t like the man on her front porch. He has weird eyes. They will probably burn a soul to nothing, so I stop looking. Police men stand in the yard, but they seem okay. Mama says people in uniform are here to help. Robbie one time called them the Po-Po but mama said no that’s not polite and how would Robbie like it if the police called him Ro-Ro. I try to be polite, so I always think “police men” about the police.

I sit back against the handrail post. White paint flakes down my collar. Yesterday, Daddy said the rails need a new coat. I never saw a coat on this rail once, even in winter. I don’t think a new coat will do any good, but it might make the post a little softer to lean on. Maybe we can get one of those puffy ones. I squirm, but I got sweaty and now the flakes are sticky. I want to go inside, but mama said wait here for a few minutes. I don’t know how many is a few, but I tick off seconds in my mind. I’ve been here for six minutes and thirty-two seconds. Thirty-three. Thirty-four. So I think it’s almost a few. Maybe.

The man is too loud. He banged on her front door, then tramped around back and pounded. Now he’s back out front, and I think the police men want to tell him to shut up but they don’t because they probably think it’s not polite. If he keeps being loud I want to call him a name that is not polite. Like Dum-Dum. Robbie called me that and mama said that name is in a propriate. I don’t know what a propriate is or how you put a name in one, but he stopped. I want to put Dum-Dum across the street in a propriate and lock the door. Loud. He hurts my ears. Earmuffs would help but mama says it’s not winter. No earmuffs. People think that’s weird.

Mrs. Pauley finally is on the porch. Her face is wet. I don’t like it. She waves at me and says, “It’s okay, Joey.” She doesn’t look at me because she likes me. I don’t think it is okay. Maybe I should find mama, but mama said wait. Seven minutes and fifty-four seconds. Fifty-five. The loud man says get out and I told you and too bad lady but you gotta pay like everyone else. This is not the piper man, so I don’t know why he wants her to pay. I think he might hurt Mrs. Pauley. I have to help. I have to protect her. I know mama said wait but I get up and walk over. The man’s boots are dirty. I think he stepped in dog poo. I look closer. Yes. Definitely poo.

“Get away from me, kid!” The loud man pushes me. I scream and lunge for his knees. If I can’t see his eyes, he can’t hurt me. Mrs. Pauley screams, too, “Get your hands off Joey!” The man grabs my middle. Pain sears everywhere he touches. He must be from that place the preacher talked about. He tosses me into Mrs. Pauley. I think he is really going to hurt her. That’s it. I have no choice. I brace myself, then look straight into the loud man’s eyes. My stare will destroy his soul. I count, waiting. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…nothing happens.

“That kid is creepy,” he says. “What is he doing?” I don’t understand. This is killing me. My eyes are burning, but he just stands, facing us. “Mrs. Pauley, get your stuff out of the house. Now. And get rid of the retard.” Retard? Robbie called me that, too, and mama said that one was in the same propriate as Dum-Dum. Now the police men are walking over. I think one of them is going to touch me, but Mrs. Pauley stops them.

“Wait. Let me call his mother. Please don’t put your hands on him. Joey has sensory issues; it’s very painful when others touch him. He functions at a three-year-old level. I’ve never seen him make eye contact before today, and he’s non-verbal. We’re not really sure how much he understands. Most people think he has nothing in his head, but I’m convinced he’s locked away somewhere in there.” She smiles at my shoes. “Someday, we hope Joey’s family can afford a special computer to help him communicate, but their insurance isn’t good and it’s very expensive. He understands simple directions.” She tilts her head toward me and holds out her hand gently next to my arm, not touching me. “Joey, please get your mama.”

I turn toward my house. Behind me, I hear Mrs. Pauley again. “I’ll get my things. You don’t need police. Everything is packed; I was just hoping something would work out. I hate to leave him.”

I wonder who she will leave. She already lost Mr. Pauley, so she can’t leave him. Maybe she wants to lose someone else. I look for mama and hope the loud man is gone when we get there. I want to sit by Mrs. Pauley. She likes me.

Autism Speaks logo

Favorite Meal, Part 2 of 2

Assignment: Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory. Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Continued from

I creep down the stairs and peek around the door frame. An ice cream carton, small cellophane packages, bowls and four spoons litter the table. He sees me and grins. “Go get the kids.” As the oldest, they rarely count me among “the kids,” even though my brother, next in line, is only two years younger. I tiptoe back upstairs.

“Pssst. Get up. We have a Secret Eat tonight.” My brothers roll from their bunks and stand, dazed for a moment. “Kitchen.” I hiss. “Go, and be quiet.” They nod. I move next door to wake my sister. Sleep clings to her and I half-drag her down the stairs. Even the sight of vanilla ice cream barely rouses her. The sound of Twinkie wrappers finally prods her to coherence. Her eyes sparkle.

“Remember, we have to be quiet. Mommy is sleeping,” our father says, as he divides the treasure equally. Mom would flip if she knew. A Twinkie, ice cream and an oatmeal pie for each of us. This is more sugar than we see in a week, with the exception of holidays.

We thrill at the secrecy and the semi-forbidden treats. He asks about our week, apologizes again for working so late all the time. We don’t mind, not tonight. Tomorrow, we’ll play quietly inside or go to a friend’s house, so he can sleep. Sometimes it’s hard to remember not to be loud, but we know that if we try very hard, he’ll bring another Secret Eat feast sometime soon.

Twinkies make everything better. Especially at midnight.

*Years later, I learned that our mother was aware of our midnight parties, but she knew we got a kick out of her supposed oblivion, so pretended to be clueless.

My House at 12 (Part 1)

Assignment: Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

I stare at the tip-toe smudges on my ceiling; in the bunk below, my sister mutters sleep-gibberish. She’s so lucky. Dreams rarely take me before midnight. My bed is high, built into a wall  that formerly housed a closet. I flip myself backward by pushing on the ceiling. I do this a lot, which accounts for the footprints. I roll over and stare at bright red numbers, convinced the traitorous clock takes more than sixty seconds between minutes.

My window faces three streets; two are parallel to the front of our house and one intersects, in the shape of a capital H. Cars driving on the middle of the H aim straight at my window; the headlights brighten my room almost to daylight. On approach, the lights concentrate to the shape of my window on the opposite wall. If the driver turns left, the window reflection slides toward my bedroom door and is gone. If right, the reflection slides back the other way. My father likes the blinds turned down, so no one standing below the window can see in. I turn them the other way. The stripes of light that shine in help me guess which way the car will turn.

I flip again and my stuffed bear falls to the nubby brown carpet below. Deciding a bathroom break is in order anyway, I clamber down the wooden painter’s ladder. My father has promised to build a sturdier ladder attached to the bunk, but the worn wooden steps are familiar and I hope he forgets. Bear lands on my pillow with a soft fluff. Wow, I really need to vacuum. Are those cracker crumbs? Nope, dry play-doh crumbles. Gross. I still don’t understand why my parents couldn’t have adopted three older siblings for me. Younger ones are messy.

Before I leave the room, light filters through the blinds. I pause to see which way they turn. Wrong way. Not him. I head into the hall. Heated air blasts through the vent from the den downstairs, where our huge wood stove radiates. I hear my mother feed the roaring monster. Loud squeaks shiver my spine as she spins the cast iron vents down for the night. I pad into our late-70’s blue bathroom. The tiny night-light doesn’t even cast shadows, but I leave the light off. If I’m quick, she won’t notice I’m still awake.

Back in my room, I pull my little square black flashlight and A Wrinkle in Time from my pillowcase. Can’t sleep. Might as well enjoy being awake. Before I can settle in, lights streak across the dingy peach walls. The car turns toward our driveway, and–my room is brighter and brighter–he’s back! Relaxing into my pillow, I can sleep now; my father is home from work. Being alert for intruders, fire or tornadoes is only my job when he is absent. I can’t wait until they put him back on the day shift. Staying awake is for the birds. Or, actually, for the bats.

Almost asleep, I hear rustling in the kitchen. That means only one thing.

Click here for Part 2  

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