Does That Sleigh Have Brake Lights, Mr Claus?

When you write with a consortium, like the group I am currently writing with,

somehow you know that:

  1. no matter what the topic was SUPPOSED to be, it will turn out different than you thought, and
  2. Someone in the group is always pushing the envelope to see just how crazy it can get.

Usually me.

But I have to admit, this week really took the biscuit.

Starting with the fact that,


around Christmas,

we were asked to put together a group of topic suggestions for the next year,

in this case, 2016,


with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head,

grandma got run over by a reindeer playing on the radio,

and, I have to admit,

quite a lot of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in my tea,

not to mention a huge overdose of Aunt Elizabeth’s divinty fudge,

and with Christmas spirit abounding,

not to say rampant,

I tossed on today’s topic.

Relatively near the top of the list.

And, since it was well after midnight,

and I assumed it was clear where it went,

and I really just wanted a few hours sleep before shower, tea, tai chi, work,

I dangerously left it where it was on the list.


with the added topics of other writers in the group,

meant that you end up with today’s topic,

On the….

uhm, gulp, twenty-ninth of April.

Hey, no problem.

I’ve sung Papgena in a feathered bathing cap, remember?

Just keep in mind,

they’re not staring at you,

they’re just afficianados of stage backdrops,

so kick out that buck and wing,

and  keep tap-dancing.


culturally speaking,

since the Gutenberg Land Radio and Television stations all love American shows,

like NCIS,

and the Big Bang Theory,

and since they are a WHOLE lot cheaper if not shown at the original time,

Easter over here always brings a plethora of Christmas Shows:

The Return Of The little House on the Prairie,

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir,

The NCIS Christmas special from 2012…

And since,


someone or other over here in GB-land

always has to have his car inspected,

even on the twenty-ninth of April,

and that

by some of the toughest, most tight…(ly run ship crew in the world)

the Gutenbergers’ own technical inspection service,

who, to be fair,

and keep my car owning it’s cute little clock badge that tells me the time,

ie the month to have it inspected,

is actually one of the best anywhere,

Even if a dear girlfriend of mine,

German, of course,

did do her rendition of a Mexican hat dance,

complete with waving authority papers

and stomping on her removed license plates when they told her

she didn’t pass the inspection,

since the running board of her ancient VW beetle had fallen off,

during the inspection,

(knowing her, it was probably super-glued)

and could not be welded on,

as it wasn’t safe…

Not that they were wrong.

Just that we were students at the time,

many years ago.

And for some of us,

it was either a car

(and there is a reason a cheap car over here is called the fifty buck duck)

(duck is the old German nickname for the citroen 2cv)

or a whole lot of extra time waitressing or picking grapes,

or no student fees paid.

And since I often still see,

on the student sign-boards,

when I bring my husband to work,

that even today,

the most important phrase in ads for selling a student car  is

“technically drivable till…”

Which brings us back to technical problems in a sleigh,

from reindeer oopsies on the windshield of the car behind, to…

and here my thanks to Shackman.

He thinks that way

and writes with the best,

or Ramana’s story of riding an elephant while dressed as Santa.

In the middle of summer in India.


to roughly paraphrase the knights about to approach Camelot,

Monty Python version,

“methinks they are a silly lot.”


and if you think that is strange,

wait till next week,

when we all explain to you the difference,

or maybe connection,


growing up, and growing old …


copyright 2016

I Think My Dancing School Diploma Just Expired

The topic for the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium this week is from me.

Probably from re-reading too much of Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Whimsey.

Anyway, before starting my take on this, I checked with the other members of the LBC.

And shackman of has truly outdone himself with his hysterical tales of how he manoevered his “buffalo-petite” frame as a Samoan fire and knife dancer.

And since I assume Ramana of Ramana’s musings will also come up with something more than a little fascinating,
and hopefully a few of the others,

Here is my take:

My history as a dancer is grim to more than a little wacky.

Starting with the fact that I was raised in a church that shuns dancing,

to the fact that at age 18, as an on-going opera singer, I suddenly had to learn to waltz in order to sing in Traviata.

Which turned into one of the wierdest moment of my life,

when a dear, and very patient friend, a fantastic former ballet dancer and now opera singer and conductor,

decided, out of the goodness of his heart,
he would partner me,

and ended up getting a monster-sized metal hoop from a hoop skirt up the snoot.

Enter blood.

And not Kensington Gore.

That made me realize that I would, somehow or other,
have to get in touch with body movement,
if I wanted to do the singer thing.

There followed a purple belt in judo,

which didn’t do me a whole lot of good,

but did keep the tenor from hiding my shoes,
(because I was taller)

or spinning me into a metal door in rehearsal.

The next attempt was,
believe it or not,
a semi-professional square dance troup-

with exhibition tours all over Germany,
and other parts of Europe.

And I must admit, I had a great time,
and learned to tea-cup chain with the best,

but it really wasn’t classical ballrooom.

As I unfortunately learned,
when I discovered rule number one in surviving social situations here in Gutenberg Land:
thou shalt ballroom dance.

Starting with the fact that,
at a wedding,
the groom is required to dance with every woman in the room.

Out of sheer panic, I turned our dance, with everyone watching

(dancing school is an “optional” requirement to graduate high school over here- sort of like drivers’ training in the US. (You need it, it’s relatively cheap, everyone goes.))

into a tourist version of the Sirtaki we learned from a sweet but bored exhibition dance troup at a math conference in Greece.

And then pulled in the entire spectators, once by one, until the line was doubled back on itself about six times, and I could slip out and have the bar,
and spectator rights,
all to myself.

This is still seen, in the clique of my husband’s old school friends, as the best wedding ever.

And, at the moment, since I am more or less semi-retired,
more less than more more,
I have basically given up all hope of ever really learning to ballroom dance.

Although there was the moment when we opened a Christmas concert with a small group-
a double quartett of women,
echoing the main choir
as they approached from the back of the church,
with candles in their hands.

And I had to teach them to do the bridesmaid’s step.

Or when we did an upbeat version of the wedding march,
broken in the middle, with a version of “going to the chapel”, and I had to develop a hip hop version of the bridesmaids’ step,

Oh, and the choreography for a choral version of Sister Act.

And Trial By Jury.

But still,
to this day,
reguarding ball room…
“I can’t dance. Don’t ask me…”

And watching the modern techno-kids going at it…

Hey, I think my dancing school diploma just expired.

But then, of course,

Dancing is what you make of it.

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Harry Potter Versus Hairy Potter

Yesterday, the love of my life-
He who spends immense amounts of professional time doing all kinds of odd things to helpless little Deltas and Epsilons,
gave me the news:

“Get the glad rags on, she who is occasionally math wife.
We’re going to do the town.

The department is paying.”

Now, when a department pays,
you know two things:

1. It will be a low budget performance,
(not that I’m complaining, especially since times are hard financially,
and mathematicians usually can’t tell a day old liverwurst sandwich from caviar,
especially if they are in the middle of a discussion of the latest Russian math olympics)


2. you are definitely going to be the only non-number cruncher there.

Which means you put on the very special,
bought at the local version of J.C. Penny’s
fashion-conscious late afternoon,
but not evening,

to go down to a huge old historic
crystal chandeliered and red-carpeted
opera house,

to listen to someone talk about:




While looking around to see if one of the wine pourers, caterers of catfood on a cracker, or ladies’ room attendents,

is actually an out of work,
make that “resting”
or actor,

with a whale of a great story to tell,
or stories,
usually of the wild places they have worked when they aren’t working.

Followed by the chance to recall tales of the wierd places you have been,
and things you have seen,
as a math wife.

Like a fascinating and multi-award-winning teacher/researcher
taking the stage at the opera house,
to talk about….

But first,
I who own jeans, sweaters, jackets,
tennis shoes,
and about twenty-five suits of formal wear,
more male than female style,
since I prefer to conduct in a jacket and pants,
than the formal fumblies
where the buttons fly open when you crescendo,
and the silver sequins fly off into the audience when you vivace,
and I won’t even begin to try to tell you what happens when you try to wear a bustier.

Oh, and then there is sweat…

Excuse me, transpiration.

Which is why a whole lot of orchestra musicians wear a long-sleeved tee-shirt

under the fake backless white vest with bow tie.

You didn’t hear that from me.

So anyway,

after excluding the heavy, black, floor-length, mutton-sleeved formal “I am a solo angel” things I wear when a choir insists,

which are not really suitable for a late afternoon,

And, since neither are my black conducting clothes…


there I was…


Looking at the first clothes I had had on in over seventeen years, that weren’t jeans… or baroque soloist, or working conductor’s-

With kangaroo-sized pockets for the tuning forks, throat discs, pencils…


would you believe it…

I actually found,
to my total amazement,
the perfect clothes for the Leibnitz afternoon:

Harry Potter.

Not that that was what went through my mind when I first saw them.

For, if you spend seventeen years of your life in working clothes,
or jeans,
and then are asked to go to an evening out-
with Leibnitz,
what is going through your mind is not Harry Potter,
except perhaps the bit where he expecto patronems-

No, what you are really looking for,
in your heart of hearts
and dream of dreams,

Is not Harry Potter,
it is a hairy potter.

Clothes that airily float as you walk on the edge of a cliff.
Long skirts,
wide-brimmed sun hats.
Swirling petticoats.
Lady Chatterly and the gardener.

Catherine and Heathcliff.

And then reality set it.
And what I got was:
you guessed it-

Harry Potter.

Or at least the clothing part of him and his friends.

For what is all the rage here at the moment,
in all the shops,
with nothing else to be found,

a gown.

No, unfortunately, not a ball gown.
With full skirts,
long white gloves,

The kind you wear when greeting the Queen,

or dancing with Elton John,

So anyway…
ball gown?

No, that which is the stylish ‘must have’ rage here at the moment
is definitely not a ball gown.

It is,
and I scarcely dare utter the name.

For that piece of clothing,
whose name shall not be mentioned,
in its entirety,

is an academic g…

Those badly fitted black polyester graduation day things that drag around your ankles,

as you walk the final mile on your way from the sheltered world of academia and into the better world of six am alarm clocks and taxes beyond,

and trail yards behind you on those commencement day paths,

as you sink ever lower under the combined weight of the embarassment of the entire family taking pictures,

and the mortarboard.

At least this one didn’t have a mortarboard.

what it did have, though,
was a blouse with a multitude of layers of bandaging.

Think mummy tatters,
in black,
on a bias.

Sort of from right shoulder to left hip.

And then the undergraduate robe on top.

I thought of adding a pair of round Harry glasses,

or a sash I once was given to wear for a while:

Mu Phi Epsilon,
Mu Eta chapter

Embroidered in gold.

Hey, they didn’t have anyone else pledging they could con into it at the last minute.

In the end, though, I decided:

1. If I put the stuff on,

and it is cheap,

I can someday save for a real dress.


2. If I put on make-up,
as only stage people know how,
add long dangling earings,
a very long chain with large silver medallion,

I can look so theatrical,
no mathematician would even dare to come close enough to me to ask my opinion
of the subject of the evening’s talk:
he who truly looks like a Hairy Potter,

and I get to spend the evening talking to the waiter who starts as a baritone next week in Don Giovanni.

copyright 2016

P.S. Historical footnote after the fact:
there was no food or drinks,
but the talk was magnificent,
and they actually had a very good big band play,
since it was not only the three hundredth death year of
Leibnitz, it was also the one hundredth birth year of Frank Sinatra.
Expecto patronem indeed.

Aging…? I’m Not A Cheese

“Ten signs of physical aging-”
taken from a women’s magazine
discovered in a doctor’s office-
You don’t think I would buy something like this, do you?

“Lose weight by eating cabbage till you stink,”
“do fourteen sets of repetitions for your rear end only…”

Anyway, as I said…
from a women’s mag in a doctor’s office…

Men reading it would either be trying to figure out what to talk to women about to get them in bed,
or turn the page fast and reach for some political, car, or financial mag.

More like many years of watching men read magazines in doctors offices.

So anyway…

“10 signs of physical aging-”

1. when you groan when you have to get your body out of bed in the morning-
hey, I was a gymnast.
I did that at ten.

2. turkey neck-
a turkey neck is what keeps a turkey’s head from sitting on his collar bone.
People have character lines.
and a swan-like demeanor-
which is why they aren’t carved for thanksgiving.

3. sore feet.
sore feet? From six hours of square dancing? Walking to the top of a mountain, standing in line with grandkids to ride some popular ride at Disneyworld, or to get tickets to a kids’ rock concert?

4. age spots-
those are beauty marks. Get used to it.

And here, since I could go on and on about the other six things people seem to think are marks of my ancient and withered appearance,

(you want me to wear a heavy hot hairdo with bangs to hide my character lines?)
I think I’ll just slam the magazine closed.

(if you want to read it, or any other of the hundreds of magazines or online posts about smearing your face with peanut butter and oatmeal so your husband won’t leave you for a younger woman, be my guest-
mine has morals and a healthy wife who would take his head off if he tried it)

Oh, and as to real aging?

It’s in the mind.

And how you deal with things.

Which influences how your body reacts.

Which influences how you look.

From avoiding life till you look like a prune,
conserving yourself, till you look like canned raspberries,
battering yourself against everything till you look like a raw steak,
or coating yourself in teary salt water,
till you look like a wrinkled gherkin.

I think I just want to be the old broad on roller skates with a kite in my hand.

Hey, you don’t see Winnie the Pooh getting any older, do you?

copyright 2016

This is a blog for the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium, where the writers of Ramana’s Musings, Shackman-Speaks at, Business to the Buddha, and whoever else from the gang is up for the weekly challenge all write on the same topic, but from different standpoints and cultural views. This week’s topic posed by Ramana.

My topic next week: I Think My Dancing School Diploma Just Expired

And Gutenberg Lived Here: World Licorice Day

Yesterday was world licorice day.

As I found out when I turned on the tv news,
hoping against hope for a quick catch-up on the world situation,
with my breakfast tea,

before getting dragged into speculation,
momentarily correct statistics,
and long prognoses
of the current war.

Not to mention the latest “he said she said”
US political campaigns.

And discovered that:

apparently a lot of other people were feeling the same way.

And with the stations running out of things to say,
(be kind: send them a list of things they could talk about)

we were offered:
world licorice day.

That’s right,
a fifteen minute special on:

the fact that in the year 2013, Christian Kaufmann,
a German blogger,
discovered the American holiday National Licorice Day,
started in 2004 by the Lincoln Nebraska company Licorice International,
whose aim was explaining the health benefits of black licorice,

(and sweetening the last three days before taxes were due)

And Christian decided to do his part.

And make licorice more “visible to the public.”

As if the 165 kinds currently sold here in Gutenberg land-

in all sizes, shapes, and colors of the rainbow,

aren’t visible enough…

But there is, of course, more to it than that.

Take, for example, the health issues:

Licorice is anti-septic.

It is also anti-inflamatory, anti-bacterial, anti-spasmodic,
and anti-depressant.

Unless men eat more than 100g of it,
at which point it becomes anti-potency.

And can raise blood pressure.

So say the web sources I have found.

Of course, since 100g is an entire BAG of licorice…

And, just as a quick footnote:
for women, it THEORETICALLY works as an aphrodesiac.
In small amounts.

Besides, for most people,
it just plain tastes good.

And speaking of taste,
there are so many tastes available,
from salty,
to sweet,
to downright sugared,
to the kind called “mimic-line-makers”
that are so strong, sharp, and pungent,
it pulls the entire face together.

Sounds like fun at a party, huh?

Then there are the colors-
all the colors of the rainbow,
up to and including mauve, and robins-egg blue.

And the shapes:
everything from licorice tobacco pipes, to wheels, to frogs,
to the multi-layered coconut cream tasting extravaganzas you get in the mixture packs.

And here, in Gutenberg land, not only do you get all of the 165 kinds, shapes, and colors,

you also get licorice, as a sweetener, in drinks, in herbal teas, tobaccos, you name it, it’s in there.
Just part of normal life here in Gutenberg Land.

And as for us Gutenbergers not born within the sound of the cathedral bells,
not born in the extended boundaries of the city,
but Gutenberger by choice
(there are actually three different historical words for the three kinds of Gutenberger):

My better half, Harald, being a Hunsrück mountain man, prefers his licorice to be the real stuff:
real licorice root boiled till it is strong, slightly salty, and with just a hint of anise taste.

Oh, and as for me, like most of the women here in Gutenberg Land, born, bred, or moved in:
I like my licorice in the form of vampire bats.
With different flavored bodies.

Dark Shadows, eat your heart out.

copyright 2016

Of Shavians, Diets, And Oat Cuisine

A couple of days ago, I got in a discussion with a very interesting,
and down-to-earth
Who writes of memories,
joyful moments,
and with a downright respect of solid and decent food.

That got me thinking.

Standard in our home, was always a simple, honest meal of tomatoes,
cottage cheese, beans, and applesauce.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Fresh from the garden,
or the cow,
or canned in the fall.

My other grandmother,
called Grams, because she was nearly twenty-five years younger than Grandmaw,
was raised in a family that ran a prairie boarding house
in a town almost exactly between St. Louis,
and the State Capitol of Springfield.
On the saints’ trail.

And cook that woman could.
Green apple apple sauce,
spicy chutneys,
and always major portions of meat and potatoes and thick gravy,
to make the salesmen,
and the major politicians of the day,
who knew her mother had been a cook at a fancy spa in Creve Coeur,
stop there to eat,

And then,
lose money at cribbage,
or one of the card games popular at that time:
hearts, pinochle,
all fun,
but all cutthroat.

Which brings me to the oat cuisine.

and any other form of cooked grain,
from grits to cream of wheat, rice, barley, six-grain,
and often still are,
in homes who eschew poptarts,
the staple of a mid-western twenty below zero breakfast.

Start the body’s motor, take care of the farm animals,
dig out of the snow,
and go to work.

I was therefore absolutely flabbergasted,
when I heard that a certain Hollywood film star,
with the initials DM
used a couple of days of oats to lose weight.
Oat cuisine.

Not to pick on Miss DM,
but there are a lot of places I have visited,
where oats are survival food.

Oats and lamb fat with pepper and onions is a white sausage in Edinburgh,

adding oats to offal gives you haggis.
(sorry, I know there is a lot more to it, especially the spicing, but there it is.)

Oat scones, oat biscuits, oat müssli, oat flakes, oat nuggets,
even cheerios.

Basic, filling, cheap, and,
if it’s grown right,

And, supposedly, it lowers cholesterol,
no claims from me, so says the web.

And feeds the thinking cells of the brain.

So said, apparently, George Bernard Shaw,
he of Joan of Arc,
Major Barbara,
and many many other Shavian texts and plays,
named, of course,
for GBS,

and feminist,

social thinker,
and supporter of Hitler and Stalin,

lower middle class upbringing,
and strict, upper class insulting,
“dinner with blood offering rejecting” vegetarian,

who did his best work when “eating backwards”
ie desert, bread, fruit,scones,
with no time or interest in the main course of meat,
instead living off of the oats, carrots, and peas he raised himself in his own garden.

And who hated Shakespeare.
Obviously not an oat eater.

And fully believed, as did Mark Twain,
that Shakespeare was written by someone else-
In Twain’s case, Francis Bacon.

But then, since I have lately, while “researching,”
(on the web)
found the “facts” that Edward De Vere was the illegitimate son of Elizabeth I of England,
and probably should have been on the throne,

that he was the leader of a group of Rosicrucian writers,
who dedicated their lives to Pallas, she who shakes the spear,

and thus wrote, communally, under that name…

And that Ringo Starr is the reincarnation of Edward De Vere…

I wonder if Ringo eats oats?

copyright Dunnasead 2016

Ye Olde Days

The old days Shackman?

I mean, the good old days I would understand.

Way back in the 1800’s,

when we rode our horses through the tall prarie grass that tickeled the bottom of our boots,

and the sun beat down on our straw hats,

as we stopped at the fishing hole on our way home,

to bring back the required trout for dinner,

or the wild berries from the woods,

that smelled so pungent and wonderful,

you had to remember you couldn’t eat them all yourself

because there was cobbler to bake.

Or the time during the depression when we all helped each other,

since you had to to survive.

And the elections only lasted a few weeks,

and the presidential candidates spoke from the back steps of a train?


Or neighbors he couldn’t trust.

Yup, I was one of the Walton kids.

Work hard, play hard.

Kids had chores,

and times outside to play.

And you came home when the streetlamps came on.

Or the neighbor got done with stringing beans, left the porch,

and sent you packing.

With threats of mayhem that were so bizarre we knew already as six year olds they couldn’t carry it out.

Or do you mean that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction-

which means, as they say where I am from,

if you want to dance, you have to pay the piper.

Faster information flow-

no one listens to anyone’s thoughts or impressions,

they ignore them and look for cold hard facts on the web.

Wasn’t it Einstein who said that intuition is a gift,

rational thinking a servant.

And then there is better technology-

lately we all run around with so much electronic equipment,

if they were to bury us with it,

they could build the coffin from it.

And as for violence levels-

And in my own case, if one more person tells me he is taking courses to develop his intuitive side,

and is now a “woman whisperer”…

Try it, and you will find out I can fill a hall of over a thousand with my singing voice.

And when I get to the top registers…


I know there is a balance.

But I quite often wonder if we are creating the person to fit the age,

or the age the person.

Are we faster, more jittery, more short tempered,

and then have to take autogenic training, tai chi, yoga,

because of it?

Not that that works.

It’s usually just one more appointment to fit in.

And why,

since we’re on the subject,

does my fitness bracelet tell me to drink water, eat peas,

and walk?

Or when to sleep.

I sleep very well, thank you.

If I get a chance to sit, I’m gone.

What I really need is a machine that says things like-

“go away. She needs sleep.”

(the voice on Space Family Robinson that used to say “danger, Will Robinson” would do just fine)

And maybe that is the answer to the problem of the old days.

And the modern age.

Like the cultures where a doctor is only employed-

and paid,

if his patients stay healthy.

Maybe what we need is for everyone to wear an armband that tells the others

“she needs sleep. If you bother her now to sell aluminum siding,

or discuss singing songs about tulips,

we will have your fitness bracelet call you at three am

and play the song Heidi,


until you do forty push-ups.

And when you who are reading this tell your grandchildren

about the old days,

and the personal space instigating bracelet,

remember where you read it first.

copyright 2016

This topic was suggested by Shackman, of
and the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium, where he, Ramana of Ramana’s, and whoever else from the FLBC is writing this week, whip up some very unusual solutions to the usual problems of daily life.

Dragons’ Breath, Writers’Breath, Save Your Breath

Warning: non-humorous thought piece.

This is a Tuesday prompt from the Helmsley editors at Writers’  Den.

The task is to start with their first sentence.


She ducked behind the wall, sheltering herself from the blast.

His breath was a form of dragon breath she had not been subjected to in all the years she had been on this planet.

She knew she would have to face him when she came out,

but she had a few moments still to come up with an excuse.

Maybe more, since he surely wouldn’t come into the ladies room.

Or would he?

And that was exactly the point.

He was the boss,

and he thought his rights were unlimited.

Especially since he had decided she wasn’t fawning enough.

Not disrespectful.

He was the boss,

it was his company.

But she simply didn’t accept the fact that being a “team player”

meant that she and the others,

nearly all women in the office,

should have to accept group hugs at the coffee machine,

or be the buffer between he and his married for thirty years wife.

Especially when he was having a “long lunch” at a local motel.

The sadness in his wife’s eyes at the Christmas party had been more than she could bear.

The sadness in the eyes of one or another of “his girls”

as they left when he tired of their company at his long lunches, ditto.

She had been looking for a job for months.


And the boss, if he knew of it, had accepted it-

more or less.

He had to.

She was the one who kept the books,

and managed their public relations

and ad campaigns.

And she was good at it.

She had once read that several of the best female murder mystery writers had worked for advertising companies.

She understood their motivation.

Today, though, had been a whole new ball game.

Their company had been bought out-

forced-merged with a company making the parts they dispersed,

and one assembling them into personally designed

and pimped,

luxury cars.

Meaning expensive clientele.

And a head-banging good-old-boy battle between the head of the her company,

and the Grand in toto Poobah.

Who lately had a habit of droppping in for a four p.m. drink,

and a chat with the lovely ladies on the front office list.

And where she had,

up until this moment,

gotten grudging admiration

and studied ignoring,

from her office’s boss,

she now found herself locked in a battle of wills,

between two territorial males,

one of whom now wanted to spend “time” with her,

and the other who wished to improve his buddy chances,

and show,

once and for all,

he wasn’t a wimp,

by handing on a

neatly tied in ribbons and quietly aquiescing,

superior prize lamb.

She leaned against the inside of the door,

trying to simultaneously think fast,

and retain what dignity she had.

While the only thing she could really think of at the moment,

was male private parts,

and the use of a steering wheel lock bar as a cattle prod.

Throwing some cold water on her face,

she finally made the decision.

Even working at a hamburger joint was better than this.

It was time to go.

She was drying her hands, when she heard the soft knock on the door.


She opened it a crack.

It was Helen.

One of the ones who had held out longest against the good-old-boy-chicken-house system.

Southern baptist,

with a sweet fiance

and marriage-babies-white-picket-fence dreams.

Which was why what she said  next shocked Jean so much.

“Here. We were afraid you were going to leave, so we hid this a couple of days.”

The post-mark was from the day the office had been forcibly merged.

It was from the headmaster of a private girls academy-

in the woods of Vermont.

Offering her a job.

They were trying to stave off a take-over

by a large corporation,

whose all male board

was setting up a chain of expensive co-educational private academies-

for students  with learning disabilities,

or who needed more discipline in their lives.

The position was listed as:


with duties in public relations…

and advertising.

copyright 2016


And Gutenberg Lived Here: Taxi, Taxi

When you are carless,

you learn who you really are.

Not that we usually drive everywhere.


Due to the narrow streets here,

castled walls,

city gates,

one way everywhere,

not to mention the road construction on a tourist fast train none of us wanted,

you can spend a lot of time driving around and around,

trying to get your gps to stop sending you down one-way streets,

which went the other way when the gps was made.

Or into the Rhine,

since the ferry is marked as a bridge.

No, we Gutenberger learned some time ago:

the best way to travel,

here in Gutenberg Land,

is to have a bike,

in the case of Harald and I,

a tandem,

which works great as long as there are actually two people on the bike,

since taking the tandem alone inevitably means that when you come back after shopping,

two people are sitting on it,

trying it out,

and one insists on being taken home.

And since this is a small town…

So anyway,

in addition to the speed-racer,

tandem style,

where Harold and I get into interesting major discussions about spin point,



and the ratio of the number of bugs eaten and teeth loose

to six-week muscle pain,

since Harold,

He who was born with  itty-bitty hiking boots,

prefers a ratio of fly at top speed,

with maximum gear and muscles being used,

followed by the maximum number of beers he and his buddies can down

before heading home again.

Harald seated behind me on the tandem,

holding on to me around the waist,

the others,

Laid out like moose, front and back, across the fenders.

And one of us,

obviously alone

and all by their lonesome,

doing all the pedaling.

And listening to the others sing off-key versions of

I love to fly where the wild geese fly.



Did I mention that I prefer a quiet cup of tea and a good book,

Or a quiet ride through a country lane?

Or that Harald is the one with the gear shift next to his handlebars?

So anyway,

since I am, due to compacting my car to the size of a sugar cube,

with me inside,

not yet able to do the tandem thing,

yesterday we set out on the great adventure.

And before I explain,

I have to add,

our mayor and co had the great idea,

two years ago,

to run a mini-train system through our city.

The Mainzel Bahn.

With pictures of cartoon characters on the sides.

To take the tourists to the amusement park the second German television,

the ZDF,

won’t be building,

we  hope,

since we voted it down several times.

But still,

they are now building the train.

Not a bad thing of itself,

what with a university and a college and a major teaching hospital,

and now the 05 soccer stadium

right within a few blocks of one of the stops.

And since university is nearly free here-

a few Euros per semester,

and you get health care and bus-

soon to be Mainzelbahn-

ticket thrown in….

The only fly in the ointment being:

the signs,

at the start of the roadwork,

read “coming in spring 2014.”

They now read “dedication October 2017”

Your government at work.

Oh well,

time to get new tires for the tandem.

Or, like yesterday,

take a one hour bus ride to go less than two miles

to the local shopping center.


next time,

we’ll just take a taxi.

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Yo Ho Ho, It Wasn’t From Me

Yesterday I got a notification that a blogpost I didn’t write

had been sent out in full force,

and was now being followed by two new bloggers.

Which is a cute trick, since,

as I just said,


Yo ho ho.

I had been pirated.

At WordPress.

And the worst of it is:

the person absolutely can’t write.

Lousy syntax.

Worse grammer.

No imagination.

The point being:

I started a blog.

the Dogwood Gazette,

in August 2015,

as a test.

And the first two chapters went so well,

and I like them so much,

I decided to turn it into a small-town murder mystery.

And just left it sit while I worked on plotting, etc.

Then came a few, to say the least, personal serendipities,

and a lot of great chances to make music,


So yesterday, someone, either out of hate,

or in his personal desire to make himself

no matter what, an author,

sent out chapter three.

As I mentioned, badly written,

and possibly just for the bucks,


and here is the real point,

there just plain is no joy in it.

It is written by someone who,

and here, I will give them the benefit of the doubt,

is possibly trying to copy others,

since he himself has no own style.

It is a copy.

And what is missing is,

in my opinion,

the most important weapon we have,

after our personal faith and beliefs:


Joy in the wonder of the creation.

And everything in it.

And that we still breath,

which totally amazes me, as a function.

And our heart beats.


And that we love.

And enjoy.

Despite all that can happen to us.

You, Captain Pegleg,

who lifted my page,

don’t even begin to get it.

You are commercial, massive, and cheap.

Vive la difference.

Ps. I have now crashed the Dogwood page.

If it doesn’t come from me, here, at Quahog,

it ain’t the real thing.

Joy, peace, love, and believe in yourself.

You are unique.

copyright 2016