In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Childhood Revisited.”  … is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?

Fear. I would choose less fear.

Children are amazingly adaptive. At two or three they’ve already attained a yardstick, a ‘normal’ beside which everything else is measured. Whether they share one room with their family – dirt floor, leaky roof, pallets of straw for beds and, very rarely, a piece of chicken from a bird caught and killed out back – or they are well fed, well-groomed children of plenty, this is their normal. An overwhelmed mother. An absent father. Close, annoying brothers. Smiles. Hugs. Slaps. Vacations. Pain. Dad holding you tight as you learn to ride a bike. Mom all snuggly in her bathrobe. Hunger. Silence. Shouts. Tears. Good schools or the horrifying school of the street. Normal is what a child sees when she looks around.

My normal was fear. The sick feeling in your stomach. The overwhelming need to watch, to listen, to gauge the temperature of the room as your foot steps over the threshold. It wasn’t the fear of hunger, or need, alcoholism or abandonment, but it was fear. And it was as real to me as the green shag carpeting or the tiny B&W television with four channels.

I remember anger. Yelling. Learned all my swear words pretty young. There was some hitting, some hair pulling, some cruelty – but it was usually couched as games, as discipline, as clever tricks, and any pain or hurt or despair on my part was labelled “too sensitive,” or “you should be smarter,” or “toughening you up,” or “haven’t you figured it out yet?”

Do you know what the expectation of harm does? It makes you afraid, yes, but it also makes you into a liar. A manipulator. Someone who can show the right face in the right circumstances in order to avoid harmful results. It makes you into an avoider. A sometimes oily, sometimes deceitful person who is always trying to figure out what particular combination of words, attitude, and actions to deploy to receive affection instead of anger, love instead of loathing, and peace instead of violence. You want to control everything, because, only then, can you be safe.

Fear was my reaction. My brother and sister had their own means of coping – or non-coping, I guess. We love each other, but we weren’t there for each other back then. We didn’t know how to do that. We learned, my sister and I – about the Love that drives away all fear – but that’s a different story.

I wish I could say that my daughter is free from fear. That she grew up with a perfect mom and dad; that I’d learned so much from past generations that her childhood was one for the storybooks. Too bad I don’t seem able to lie to myself quite as easily as I learned to lie to others. But she’s fierce and fabulous, smart and loving, a giver, a loyal friend and unselfish helper.

I suppose, to answer the second part of the prompt, I wish her a life of courage. Of strength. Of peace and joy. I hope she will find a spouse that will love her, comfort her, and show her there is another way to live, just like her father did for me. I want her to be able to let go, laugh long and hard with milk dripping from her nose, wear nerdy t-shirts or formal gowns, stop to help strangers. Trust God. Trust herself.

And I’ll continue to pray daily for my daughter’s safety, because, as far as I’ve come, some fear is still there. Like a child squeezed into a corner of my soul, eyes closed so that I don’t see her, fear sits in the dark. I do see her. I hear her in nightmares, and sometimes, in the words coming from my own mouth. Yeah, I’m a work in progress. Progressing out of darkness and into the light.

From Fear to Love


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Satisfaction of a List.”

Fave SG-1 Episodes:

1. The First Ones

2. The Quest

3. Legacy

4. Prototype

5. The Curse

Yes, they are all Daniel Jackson heavy. Daniel holds the Stargate universe together for me. He’s the conscience, the scholar, the unlikely hero who makes friends with both the lizardy monster who wants to eat him and the race of whack-a-doo creatures who like Klingon opera. He’s played beautifully by Michael Shanks, the most underrated actor of all Canada. These are puzzle episodes, sad, episodes, dangerous episodes, but all episodes that reveal something of Daniel’s character. That take us behind the nerd glasses and into his heart. Daniel loses a lot. His wife. His home. His mind. His reputation. His life. His innocence. But he gains, too. Respect. Friends. A place.

No, you don’t see Window of Opportunity up there. Why do so many people love that episode?? Because there are funny bits? Really? Jack riding a bicycle does it for you? Someone explain why that is so many people’s absolute fave because I just don’t get it.

Give me a character that I can sink my teeth into and I’m all in. It worked that way for Stargate, for Criminal Minds (Spencer Reid), for Buffy (Xander and Anya), Star Trek (Spock), The Man from UNCLE (Illya), and NCIS (Tony). Give me someone who has a past, a secret, who is conflicted, or a fish out of water. These are my characters.

So, in writing my original fiction book, why didn’t I consider what I liked? Why didn’t I keep with the types of characters I would want to read about? My first readers – and thank you all again for wading through that first draft – did not connect with Deok. Why? Because I didn’t make her into the type of character that I love. The type of character that pulls you in, that makes whatever story you’re telling so much deeper and more cutting and more emotional.

Time to start my re-write. Time to make Deok into that character, that woman, who will center this world I’ve created. Matthias is there, he’s fleshed out and whole, with the right amount of strengths and weaknesses. But he’s only half of the story.

Time to write that strong female character that I’ve wished for all my life. The character that every girl wants to be and every actress wants to play. Janet Frasier and Samantha Carter and Anya and Black Widow combined.

New List: Things to Do with Deok:

1. Give her a past

2. Show her struggles to fit in

3. Show her strengths and her weaknesses

4. Let her lose

5. Let her win, sometimes, too

… Checking it Twice

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Moment in Time.”


It’s a picture of my cat. Well, not my cat, exactly. My daughter’s cat. But my daughter hasn’t lived here for quite a while now. She’s 26, in medical school in another state, and has a big rambunctious cat of her own. My grand-kitty, if you will. Max. Maximus. Huge and bouncy and adorable and not at all brilliant.

But I digress.

Oreo. The cat’s name is Oreo. That’s what you get when you allow your eleven-year-old to pick a name for the new kitten that is black and white. (Her brown/orange/white sister was named Snickers. True story.) So, by now, you can do the math and figure out that this is an old lady cat. Elderly. One might say set in her ways. Or, one might just go with blatant honesty and say ornery. Crotchety. Stubborn.


When she climbs up on my lap now, she seems to weigh nothing. All fur, bright eyes, and a scraggly tail. Her bones are just beneath the skin and when I run my hand over her fur I wonder if I’m hurting her. Petting her is not an option, however, more of a royal decree. And I can’t help myself. Softly. Gently. She purrs. She lifts her head to make it clear to the dumb human that I’m to rub her chin. She scruffs her cheeks against my hand. The table. My laptop. My laptop is warm and must feel good to those old bones. Measuring the *poof* of cat fur that greets me each time I open it, it must feel very good indeed.

A cat’s internal clock is unquenchable. I’ve always thought so, anyway. Every evening, about 9:20, she begins to pace, to stalk my husband, to chirp at him, reminding him that feeding time is coming right up. Ten o’clock. On the dot. Not one minute later. But, lately, she is sleeping so soundly at ten o’clock that we must rouse her. Pick her up. Give her a snuggle. Carefully. And as soon as that tummy-alarm kicks in she’s away to her food dish, ready for action.

She’s been a friend, a monarch, a companion for a very long time. The proof is there, in the pictures, the scrapbooks, the memories. Playing. Sleeping. Allowing my daughter to dress her in doll clothes. Suffering the cuddles and clutches of young hands, or the benign negligence of impatient adults.

Ahead, the days stretch out. Days of not enough sunshine to warm her, fewer laps to cushion her, no sister to lick her face or curl up in a pile of vibrating fur to sleep away the day.

We’re not going to even mention that behemoth (Max), annoying (playful), giant (well, he is large), thing (grand-kitty) that invades her home (comes to visit) far too often (once in a while).

It’s far too late to guard my heart against her leaving, even though I know that day draws closer every hour. But I will resolve to make more laps. Free up more hands for careful petting. And relish the need for a lint roller in every room.

Stay a while, Oreo. Another summer is coming, I promise. With sunlight. And warmth. And that favorite lap of yours visiting.

Please, stay a while.

Stay Awhile