Monday, July 18, 2011


There’s a lake near my apartment building. On nights when I’m tired or need to clear my head, which at my age is nearly every night, I sometimes will take a walk around it. I never liked birds but I find these birds on Kendall Lake particularly interesting.

Especially the long-necked geese. They’re larger than the Canada geese that flew over the lake near my home in Northern New York. These larger, longer-necked geese stay year around.

One night while I strolled the lake’s perimeter, I saw a sea of brown and black taking up nearly one-fourth of the bank on the other side of the lake. As I got closer, there must have been a hundred of or more of those long-necked geese.  

I had seen them on the golf course but never before in such big numbers.

It had rained quite a bit and I supposed the grass surround the lake was a hot spot for worms or grubs or whatever geese eat. They sure poop enough. The sidewalk was covered with the evidence of their existence.

Then as mysteriously as they came, they left.

Probably to literally find greener pastures. I figured they’d pecked the land clean of grubs and went hunting to find more.

Then tonight, there they were again. Not as many but pecking away, content in their meanderings. Once in a while, one of them would catch a grub and another greedy mate would chase him away and steal it.
I suppose greed and trying to take something away from our fellow sojourner that we didn’t earn for ourselves is not necessarily only a human condition. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Fellow Writers Blog Hop


By Linda Rondeau                                                           

Our blog exchange for Fellow Writers asked us to excerpt an old manuscript and show how our writing has changed. I wrote this story eleven years ago as a writing exercise. You’ll quickly see the before was too passive and telling.
            Now, I write from deep point of view which helps eliminate the sense of telling that often accompanies a distant narrative style. Deep pov also promotes a more active narration.
I doubt I’d even write this story today as it is too predictable and contrived even with the fixes. But if I did, I’d probably write it from Chang Lee’s point of view.
Here are a couple of excerpts from the original and some from the “fixed” version.
How would you fix this story?
Nick’s Diner was nearly empty.  Miranda fixed her gaze on the rumpled note. The A homeless man had shoved it into her hand as she left the bank. He had said nothing and disappeared into the rush hour crowd.  
“What you reading? Must be fascinating.”  She hadn’t noticed Detective Dickson was seated next to her at the counter.
She quickly folded the evidence, sliding it into her purse.  “Just a letter from Dad.”  She lied.  The note had warned her not to contact the police. 
“So how is Sarge?”
“Fine.  Just fine since he left the force and is living in a warmer climate.”  
Dickson glanced at his watch.  “What are you doing here this late?” 
Miranda knew it was already 10 PM.  The minutes ticked away while conversing with the obese and balding Lieutenant James Dickson.
“I’m a big girl, Jim.  I can take care of myself.  I already have a father.” 
“I envy Sarge.  Wish I could retire.”  Miranda pretended to listen while Dickson related the intricacies of his golden year fantasies.  She had no time for his ramblings. When he lifted his head toward the ceiling fan, she glanced at her watch—10:15—only fifteen more minutes. Third and Main was three blocks away. “Well, I really must be getting home.  Nice chatting with you.”  She stood.
“Give that kid of yours a high-five for me.”  Dickson slapped Miranda’s hand to further his instruction then left the diner as if on cue.  
Someone had been shadowing her around the clock. Had that someone followed her to the diner? Was she being watched even now? She had instructed her mother to take Brandon out of town for a few days. “Watch him carefully and stay in public places,” she had warned her, telling her nothing more.
The Chinese woman’s gaunt frame was unmistakable.  Even from a distance she knew it was Chang Lee.
 “You’re the one who wrote the note.  I suspected as much.”
She stopped short, noticing a revolver clasped in the woman’s hand.  “Where is Jiang?” 
Miranda stiffened defiantly.  “Brandon is safe where you will never find him no matter what happens to me.” 
“I want my son, back.” Chang Lee raised the gun aiming at Miranda’s chest.
“But he’s my son, now.  Remember?  You signed the papers giving him to me. You did a loving thing by letting him have the home you could not give him.  Don’t ruin his life by murdering the only mother he has ever known.”
  Miranda moved a little closer.  Chang Lee’s eyes were glazed and fully dilated. Was Chang Lee suffering from a drug-induced psychosis?  She inched carefully toward Chang Lee, making certain to avoid sudden movements or long steps.

            Miranda glanced at her watch. Fifteen minutes to spare—Third and Main only three blocks away. Nick’s dinner smelled like old fish. Its emptiness pressed against her. She re-read the crumpled note the homeless man had shoved into her hand as she left the bank earlier.     
“What you reading? Must be fascinating.”
She whipped her attention toward Dickson, Dad’s old partner, seated next to her at the counter.
“Just a letter from Dad. I didn’t see you come in.”
She shoved the note into her purse. Hard to put a lie past Dickson, but the note warned her to come alone and not tell anyone.
 “How’s Sarge doing these days?”
“Fine since he left the force. Loves Florida.”   
“Out kind of late, aren’t you?”Dickson peered at the clock overtop the grill. The dimmed florescent light bounced off his balding scalp.
“I’m a big girl, Jim. I can take care of myself. I already have a father.” 
“I envy Sarge.  Wish I could retire.” 
Dickson rambled on about his ever-changing retirement fantasies. This time he’d move to the Virgin Islands. She glanced at her watch. She had to leave.
“You’re right. It’s late. Guess I should get home.” 
“Give that kid of yours a high-five for me.” 
“Will do. Brandon thinks you’re pretty cool for an old guy.”
Dickson laughed, normally an appealing laugh. Tonight it grated.
Miranda slipped her purse onto her shoulders, her thoughts not far from the note. Bring Brandon with you
She sighed, gripping the Derringer…waiting. For what? Maybe the note had only been a cruel hoax and no one need die tonight.
She turned toward the sound of footsteps. A gaunt frame sauntered toward her, the Asian woman’s grotesque limp a giveaway. Chang Lee.  “I suspected as much.”
Chang Lee aimed a revolver at Miranda’s chest. “Where is Jiang?” 
“Where you’ll never find him.”
 “I want my son, back.”
“Chang Lee. Think about it. You did a loving thing by letting Jiang have the home you couldn’t give him. Don’t ruin his life by murdering the only mother he has ever known.”
  Now under the lamppost, fury blazed from Chang Lee’s dilated eyes, reminiscent of the day she signed the adoption papers, then under the throes of a drug-induced psychosis.


Friday, July 8, 2011


What ever happened to role modeling? How can we expect our youth to see integrity and honesty as something to emulate if no one around them exemplifies it? Is it any wonder our moral standard has sunk so low it is unrecognizable?

I remember the days when certain topics were taboo around children and truck drivers apologized for slipping out an impure word or two in front of children and ladies. 

Not so today. As I left the store to walk home, three young men were outside, their language colorful—not merely speckled, mind you, but bright-orange-foul.

I stopped, turned and said in a relatively calm manner, “Please don’t use that kind of language in public. Not everyone likes to hear it.” My mind said, “Didn’t your Mama every wash your mouth out with soap?”
I turned around again and headed back toward home. Then it dawned on me.

I wasn’t in rural America anymore.

These kids might have been thugs for all I know.

Everyone in the south seems to carry heat. Not me, though. I hate guns.

Oh well. I refuse to be a prisoner of fear.

Those boys needed a reminder, to at least rethink their language choices, and Grandma gave it to them.

I heard growling behind me. Turned again and the boys scowled at me grunting inaudibly (at least it wasn’t distinguishable swearing). I was glad they used their facial expressions as a weapon rather than taking out a Glock.

Grandma got one last word. “Now grow up.”

I’ll probably never know if my stab had any impact. Maybe that’s why we’ve reached a point where we have become too tolerant. It takes energy and courage to speak up for values. It’s easier just to ride the tidal wave of obscenity.

I went on my way and only looked back once to make sure they weren’t following me. I hate for them to know where I lived.

How did I feel?

Free to some degree. One woman congratulated me for speaking up to the young men.
Mostly, I felt sad. Sad that our country has deteriorated to the point our ears are assaulted at every turn. Not just our ears…all of our senses are bombarded with less than wholesome stimuli.  I felt saddened that there is so much disrespect for one another and for ourselves, that an older lady like me seems to be the only person shocked by this lack of civility.

Have the morals of the young squelched those we oldsters used to hold dear? Where is our example? I can’t even go into the McDonald’s without hearing the grossest of conversations…from what my friend calls the ROMEO crowd…raunchy old men eating out.

Sometimes I feel like I’m standing on the beach trying to hold back a tidal wave. But if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll think about whether you’re the wall or the ocean?