I stood before the stove, mesmerized by the pan of sugar water I was boiling up for the hummingbird feeder. The roar of the garbage truck barreling down the alley brought me back from my pot-watching mental time warp. I turned off the heat and set the pan aside to cool.

For several days I had suffered these wandering moments. I couldn’t get my mind off Margie McNamara, the young officer who brought evidence into my forensics lab last week. She . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words about the topic “hummingbird.”


Connection Fees

I hate those connection fees the phone company adds to my bill, almost doubling it. Yet there are all kinds of connection fees in my life that I don’t complain about. I’m connected to all sorts of people via the internet who I’ll never meet in person even though I think of them as friends. Is the fee for that connection my computer and internet service?

How about those plane tickets in my drawer, waiting for my trip to see my daughter. Is that plane fare a connection fee keeping me in touch with my family?

When I go to lunch with a friend, is the price of lunch a connection fee? True, we could stay connected some other way . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “connection fees.”

Private Concert

Ella and Sarah stood outside my door. Ella grinned mischeviously and announced, Private Concert. They came through the screen. Sarah sat in my rocking chair while Ella stood in front of the fireplace.

Ella snapped her fingers, setting the beat, and a band appeared behind her. She sang Cow Cow Boogie and Angel Eyes. Wow, two favorites of mine, I thought.

Ella took a bow and Sarah gave the rocker to her, moving to the fireplace-stage. At the first snap of Sarah’s fingers, her band appeared. She started with Misty and moved on to Bring in the Clowns. Another wow, I have such specific and precious memories of times when I heard Sarah sing those songs.

I didn’t care how or why this was happening, I just prayed . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “private concert.”


I pulled out my calculator and punched in numbers. No matter how I tried to make it work, there was no way this job offer would earn me enough money to pay my rent and my car payment.

I didn’t know what to do. I’d been looking for a job for too long. I needed a paycheck, any paycheck. If I took a job that didn’t pay enough, would I be ruining my chances at a better job that would let me keep up with basic needs?

My apartment was one of the cheaper in town. My kid needed to eat. Gas prices were driving me nuts. I threw the calculator in a fit of anger. “Why don’t jobs pay enough for people to live on,” I fumed . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “calculator.”

Getting Somewhere

For many years my daily rhythm of life involved getting somewhere and accomplishing something. A month ago I crashed my car into the curb on a dark corner, flipped the car three times, and ended up in this bed. I’ve spent the entire month feeling pretty sorry for myself and complaining a lot. The nurses probably talk about what a pain in the ass I am.

Then yesterday it occurred to me that maybe this whole holding still and lying down while my body heals thing is actually a blessing in disguise. I mean . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words about “getting somewhere.”


Hikers in the woods
There were five people scattered in small cabins around the main house. The place was billed as a retreat, where writers could hike in the woods and clear their minds of all the debris of civilization while preparing their next great American novel.

Truth in advertising went out the window the first day, when the police were there all day questioning everyone because one of the cooks was stabbed eleven times with a big knife that police thought might be a kitchen butcher knife. Especially one extremely irritating detective named . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words about “retreat” or about something suggested by the photo.


Troubleshooting is what I hate
Yet it’s often my fate
To spend the day
In a broken way

To tinker and sputter
But never discover
How to fix fast
What seems to last and last

I don’t need the aid
Of a merry maid
I need a report
From tech support.

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “troubleshooting.”

Favorite childhood food

Crisp potato chips layered over a huge slather of sandwich spread. (Sandwich spread: really just mayo with chopped pickles in it.) All on white Rainbo bread.

Cold leftover scalloped potatoes and cold salmon patties for breakfast. Not the kind of scalloped potatoes you get in a box now-a-days. Real scalloped potatoes. And the salmon patties were probably fried in something ghastly like bacon grease.

Navy beans ‘n ham (greasy ham floating in a navy bean soup) on corn bread.

Ignorance was bliss.


“Just take this ball to a full service gas station and have it inflated,” the physical therapist said. He handed me a flattened hunk of rubber that he means to have me use as a computer chair. What century is this guy living in, I wonder. A full service gas station? I’ll bet he thinks bicycle pumps still come with one of those little needle gizmos on the end that was used to insert air in a football or basketball. Part of his idea is great: I do need to change my posture at the computer. Part of his idea is pure crap: full service gas is as dead as dial phones.

That’s the way thinking is. Parts of it are revised periodically and reflect the current state of events. Parts of it are stuck in some legacy mode that hasn’t changed since before the Beatles came over from Europe, or maybe since one cave man viewed another cave man he didn’t know as a source of danger. This mish-mash of ideas accounts for . . .

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “ball.”