Table for Two: Chapter 4

Table for Two: Chapter 4

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

July 4, 1967 – Firecrackers

“How about a big hand for Sara Gibson, our leading lady and her horse Lilly,” the parade announcer said to the crowd in the reviewing stand.

“Sara’s been riding horses since before she could walk. Let’s all thank Sara and her cousin Stuart for getting the Hartsburg Annual Fourth of July Parade off to a beautiful start.”

Sara and Stuart waved to the moms, dads, grandparents and especially the kids lining the streets along the parade route.

Stuart leaned over toward Sara, “Let’s double back to Table for Two when we reach the end of the route. We can watch the rest of the parade and try the red, white and blue cake on the menu.”

“Sounds like a plan Stuart. I didn’t have time for breakfast this morning and I’m starving.”

* * *

Out of breath, Lucy, one of the twins who owns Table for Two, brought two slices of Firecracker Bundt Cake and two strawberry milkshakes tochaper-four-1 the table.

“Sorry it took so long getting your order out. Sadie’s off on an internship with an accounting firm in St. Louis this summer. I hired two part-timers to help, but I guess they both found better things to do today. Sadie owes me big time when she gets home.

“Did you notice the flyer? Table for Two will be open Friday nights for coffee, desserts, poetry and folk music. Mayor Jerry wants to bring more business downtown at night. He and Gladys will be here. Let me know by Thursday if you’re coming and I’ll reserve a table for you.”

* * *

“Thanks for doing the parade with me Stuart. I didn’t want to lead it by myself.”

“Glad to join you Sara. How many weeks since we went riding together? I want to catch up with you before the summer is over and we are both back at school. I’ll start.

“I declared a major in biochemistry, one of the hardest degrees at the University.  Ugh! I’m taking a summer lab class to lighten the load in the fall. Between lab hours and working part-time at the pickle factory, I meet myself coming and going. At least with labs there’s no homework.”

“Pickle factory? What on earth do you do at the pickle factory? I thought pickles grew in a field not in a factory,” Sara said with a smirk on her face.

“Very funny. Pickles start as cucumbers but are fermented, pasteurized and processed before they reach the store shelf. I measure the acid, pH, sugar and salt levels in the pickle liquor. The Food and Drug Administration publishes strict guidelines about pickle juice. Making pickles is a science,” Stuart said, holding back a laugh.

“Did you say you are majoring in biochemistry? What will you do after graduation, come up with a better pickle recipe.” Sara bit the inside of her mouth to stop giggling.

“Just what the world needs, a better pickle. Seriously, I love the research aspect of biochemistry. In another year or two I’ll decide on a specialty. How about you Sara? Any ideas what you want to do with the rest of your life?”


chapter-four-4“I think so. I’m going for a Master of Science in Physical Therapy with a specialty in Equine Assisted Therapy. It’s new in the United States.  However, Scandinavians started working with polio victims like me in 1946.  Eighteen years of riding helped me both physically and mentally. My leg braces disappear when I’m on a horse. I want to give other people with disabilities the same opportunity.”

“Wow. I didn’t realize you could get a degree in equine therapy. Does it include a class on the fine art of shoveling manure? Where there is a horse, there’s a shovel.”

“I think extra credit is offered for mucking the stalls. It just so happens Greeks used horses for therapy way back in Hippocrates time. I’ll need to make the case for completing my Master’s thesis in Germany, when the time comes. No formal program in equine therapy exists in this country, yet. Germany offers the best curriculum in the world.”

Sara and Stuart finished their Firecracker cake and shakes.

“Want to meet here Friday night, Sara? I’ll bring a friend if you do.”

“Sounds like fun. I’ll ask Lucy to save us a table for four.”

“Speaking of mucking out stalls, we better get Lilly and Dandy back to the farm. I’m sure they are ready for some oats. And when horses eat oats, horses make manure, and there’s bound to be a shovel nearby.”

“Let’s do it.”

chapter 4 fireworks.jpg


[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.


Table for Two – Chapter 3

Table for Two – Chapter 3

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

June 15, 1967 – Recipe for Love

“One year. Can you believe I’ve been working with Hart County Planning Commission for a whole year now?” Gladys said to Jerry as they clinked coffee mugs at Table for Two. “Time sure does fly.”

“Happy anniversary. They say the first year at a new job is the hardest,” Jerry said before taking a sip of his coffee.

“Days in the office working on budgeting is not my favorite thing, but I love assessing community needs and designing improvements. Next week at our annual strategic planning retreat I’m introducing my ideas for developing a park on the river. Mayor Jerry approves my design, don’t you? I tested the concept with Aunt Irma and some of her friends to listen to their perspective. Sadie and Lucy Abrams, the owners of Table for Two, gave me a younger point of view.”

“Best of luck! After your idea is accepted, the budget will need approval on the ballot in August. I’m presenting enhancements to Main Street. Let’s hope the tax payers support both projects.”

Sadie walked out to the table to refill their coffee.

“Lucy and I are testing a new recipe. The two of you are such regulars, would you mind tasting one and giving me your opinion?”

Lucy set one extra-large peach muffin in the center of the table. She winked at Jerry and went back inside the restaurant. Jerry lifted the top off, put it to one side and reached in to pulled out a ring box.

“Fourteen months ago we met at this table. We’ve spent many an hour here celebrating milestones, working through disagreements, sharing sorrowful moments and laughing at ourselves.”

Jerry got down on one knee, “Gladys Margaret Stanhope, will you do me the honor of marrying me?”

Sadie, Lucy and Irma waited for the scene to unfold.  Watching from the other side of the restaurant window, fingers crossed, the three bounced up and down with excitement.

Tears in her eyes, head nodding, Gladys said “Yes, Gerald Maxwell Taylor. I will marry you.”

Sadie and Lucy ran outside with balloons, a bottle of champagne and five flutes. Irma followed them out to the street.

Jerry slipped the ring on Gladys’ finger.

“Main Street may not be the most romantic place for a proposal, but this street and this table for two are an important part of our lives.”

“It’s perfect Jerry. Were you all in on this?” Gladys said, pointing to the three ladies.

Lucy smiled and rubbed her hands together. “Jerry came by yesterday with a special order. Someone needed to make a pastry gigantic enough to hide the box.”

“How long have you known, Aunt Irma?”

“I helped Jerry shop for the ring. He made the final decision. You went elegant and simple. Excellent choice.”

Sadie popped the cork and poured the champagne.

Jerry raised his glass, “To Gladys. I crave your presence. I thirst for your love. Your spirit feeds my soul. Every time our lips touch, I taste the next sixty years of my life. May the feast of our love continue to nourish and sustain our connection at a table for two.”


[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

Table for Two – Chapter 2

Table for Two – Chapter 2

T-Squared Energy Connections

April 20, 1966 – Sara and Stuart

Sara met her mother at Table for Two after school. Their mission: find Sara a prom dress.

Table for Two opened four days earlier, on Main Street in Hartsburg. The restaurant provided the ideal spot to meet and strategize the search for a perfect dress.

Sara arrived first. She paced up and down in front of Table for Two with a bounce in her step. Weeks of scouring magazines came down to pictures of half a dozen dresses she liked.

Marge rushed up to the Sara, “Sorry I’m a little late honey. I had a cake in the oven for tonight’s pinochle club.  It’s my turn to bring dessert.”

Marge sat and looked over Sara’s display on the bistro table. “I like this one. It suits you; stylish but modest. The colors will show off your rosy complexion and grprom-3een always brings out your eyes.”

Sara was jumping for joy. She included dresses her mother wouldn’t like, hoping they would agree on her favorite.  And they did.

“I think I saw a dress almost like this in the shop down the street. I hope it fits. This might be the one,” she said, holding up the picture of a flowered dress with a pink ribbon at the waist.

“Let’s just sit for a bit and talk about prom. I could use a coffee. Would you like a cola?”, Marge asked. She wanted to be sure Sara’s expectations were realistic.

“Now? Can’t we wait till after we find the dress?”

“You are about to jump out of your skin. I need a few minutes to catch my breath so I can keep up with you,” Marge said, looking over her shoulder as she entered Table for Two.

* * *

Sara dreamt about going to prom but thought it was out of reach. A shy girl, Sara had a hard time making friends. Plus, she transferred to Hartsburg High last November, two months into her senior year. Most students lived in Hartsburg their whole lives. They moved from elementary school to middle school to high school as a group.

Starting in January, Sara overheard girls talking about their prom dates, shopping for dresses, and before and after parties.

“One more rite of passage I will miss,” Sara confided in her cousin Stuart at an anniversary party in March for their grandparents .

“We’ve moved around so much for dad’s job there’s never enough time to make friends. I feel like a shooting star. Now you see me, now you don’t.”

“I see you Sara. May I take you to your prom? That is, if no one else invites you.” Stuart asked.

Sara bit her lower lip and nodded her head.

“Karen won’t mind?”

“Too bad if she does. I’ve known you longer and like you better. Anyway, I think she’s got her eye on some fraternity guy she met at Christmas. He owns a faster car and lives in a better neighborhood.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Who cares about those things?”

Having spent the last ten summers together on their grandparents’ farm, Stuart and Sara became best friends. Stuart felt like a protective older brother. Sara experienced what it might be like to have a sibling. They fed chickens and pigs every day. They mucked out stalls and groomed the horses. The reward for their hard work was naming a foal to raise as their own and learning to ride. Stuart named his horse Dandy. Sara named hers Lilly for her favorite flower.

Sara and Stuart loved night rides. Chores were done. A peaceful blue-black cloak enveloped the earth. Galaxies of stars shimmered from one horizon to the other, evoking a sense of infinite space. Time stood still.


Sara and her mother were back at Table for Two making a list of things to do before prom.

“The dress is perfect, except for the length. Grams can shorten it.” Sara made a note to call Grams when she got home.

“You’ll need shoes. I think I have an evening bag you can use,” Marge added.

“How about jewelry? I hate the way earrings pinch. Can I get my ears pierced? The jewelry store does it. Please, mom.”

“Your father would have a conniption. How about I let you borrow my pearl necklace. It was a gift from your father. He would like that. Goodness, look at the time. We better get home. I’ll need you to help with dinner. Daddy and I are going over to the Meier’s for cards tonight.”


Stuart picked up Sara in his father’s car on prom night. Matt, Sara’s father, met him at the door.

“Hello Stuart. Be sure Sara has evening to remember and stay out of trouble. I expect you back by one.”

“Sure thing Uncle Matt.”

Sara walked into the room and took a spin to show off her dress and hair.

“Where’s your pick-up?” Sara asked looking out the front window to the driveway.

“Tonight we go in style. You look stunning, by the way.” Stuart handed Sara a wrist corsage of lilies.

Sara pinned a red rosebud boutonniere on Stuart’s white tuxedo jacket.

“You’re beautiful, princess. Have fun, but not too much, if you know what I mean” Matt said as Sara and Stuart walked out to car.

* * *

“You are floating on air Sara. Was prom everything you expected?”

“More. The music, everybody dressed up and on their best behavior, the stars hanging from the ceiling of the gym. It reminded me of our night rides. Thank you, Stuart.”

“Such a beautiful night and too early to go home. Let’s go to Gramps farm and take Dandy and Lilly out,” Stuart suggested. We’ve haven’t been there together in a while.”

“Curfew is not for another hour. Besides, we can call my parents from Gramps phone and let them know we might be late. I think it will be okay.”

Marge answered the phone and gave her blessing for a midnight ride. At least she knew Sara was safe with Stuart. It was better than a post-prom party where who knows what might happen.

* * *

Stuart saddled the horses and gave Sara a boost on to Lilly before mounting Dandy. They rode out along the fence line till they reached the end of the property.

Taking a deep breath, Sara tilted her head up at the starry sky. The moon was behind the trees. “Look over there Stuart. A shooting star. Make a wish.”

As the tail of the star disappeared, Stuart asked, “What did you wish for Sara?”

“It’s the same every time. I wish people would look past the leg braces and see me.”

“I see you Sara. I see you.”


Table for Two – Chapter 1

Table for Two – Chapter 1

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

April 16, 1966 – Gladys and Jerry

Table for Two opened April 16, 1966 on Main Street in Hartsburg. The original menu included sandwiches, pastries, coffee and tea for take-out or eat-in. Catering options included lunch and desserts. One bistro table with two chairs sat outside the shop entrance.

Sadie and Lucy Abrams father, Daniel, wanted his twin daughters to go to college and pursue their dreams. Sadie was working on an accounting degree. Lucy aspired to be a chemical engineer. They traded days at the restaurant to accommodate class schedules and they studied at night.
Daniel also wanted the twins to earn the money for college tuition. He thought they would appreciate a degree more if they paid their own way. So Daniel loaned them money to open Table of Two. Sadie and Lucy would learn how to run a business, repay the loan and later pay back school loans made possible through the Education Act of 1965.

* * *

Jerry Taylor turned twenty-three the day before being sworn in as the youngest mayor of Hartsburg. Jerry won on his vision for Hartsburg. He wanted to maintain a thriving downtown while shopping centers popped up on the outskirts of the city as new neighborhoods developed around Hartsburg. Cutting the ribbon on opening day at Table for Two was one of his first official duties. After cutting the ribbon, Jerry took a big bite of blueberry muffin and a swallow of the first cup of coffee served.

“Yum! Sooo good. I’m going to have to keep an eye on my waistline,” he said to the crowd as he brushed the crumbs from his face.

Jerry sat at the bistro table outside the restaurant all morning greeting passersby and encouraging them to support the newest business on Main Street. Pointing to the second chair at the table, Jerry beckoned patrons to sit and chat with him about whatever was on their mind. Jerry learned so much sitting outside the restaurant he decided to make Meet the Mayor on Main a weekly practice.


Gladys was visiting her Aunt Irma on April 16th for a shopping excursion. Irma was like a second mother to Gladys; Gladys’ mother died from cancer shortly before her eleventh birthday. After shopping half of the stores lining the two blocks considered downtown Hartsburg, Gladys and Irma were ready to take stock of their purchases. They stumbled upon Table for Two, almost tripping over the empty chair.

“Whoa! What’s this?” Gladys asked.

“Are you ladies OK?” Jerry inquired.

“Is this that new restaurant I read about in the Daily Gazette?” Irma asked.

“Yes,” Jerry answered. “Welcome to Table for Two. Why don’t you put your bags down and take a break? Looks like you’ve been busy. Today is your lucky day. Table for Two is offering a free mini-muffin with every order, no matter how small.”

“I am kind of thirsty Aunt Irma, and my feet are killing me. Not the day to wear new shoes. Would you like a coffee or some tea?” Gladys asked. Biting her lower lip, head tilted down. Gladys couldn’t take her eyes off Jerry.

Gladys and Irma took Jerry up on his offer, setting their packages on the empty chair.

“We won’t be but a minute or two. Thank you ever so much,” Gladys said as she opened the door for her aunt.

One look into Gladys’ hazel eyes and Jerry knew he wanted to marry her. Wavy, shoulder length auburn hair framed a sweet face and sunny smile. A robin’s egg blue shirt-dress adorned her petite frame. Smitten from the beginning, Jerry felt his heart beating double time. His mind went blank.  An electric current filled the air.

While the ladies were inside, Jerry removed the packages from the chair and placed them in neat pile under the table. He opened the door for the Gladys and her Aunt after they paid for their beverages.

With a swish of his arm Jerry said, “Please ladies, sit a spell. Tell me, what you think of our newest establishment?”

Jerry stood next to Irma for the best view of Gladys. Topics of conversation over the next half hour ranged from the delicious free muffins to the future of Hartsburg. Jerry spoke with enthusiasm and passion for preserving a vibrant downtown and his five-year development plan.

“I’m graduating next month with a degree in civil engineering. I would like to learn more about your five-year plan. I’m in town for a couple more days. Maybe we can meet for coffee before I leave,” Gladys said.

“We better get moving,” Irma said. “There are more stores to check out and I’m sure there’s a hat out there with my name on it.”

Irma didn’t like where the conversation was going and wanted to protect Gladys from potential heartbreak. No stranger to heartbreak, Irma never fully recovered from the loss of her fiancé in a car crash. She wanted to save Gladys from starting something that might lead to a broken heart.

Jerry handed the ladies their packages.

“It was a pleasure meeting you ladies. How about we meet right here Wednesday morning Gladys? You can help me inaugurate my new strategy to keep in touch with my constituency while we discuss my five-year plan. You name the time.”

After a sideways look at her Aunt Irma, Gladys looked Jerry in the eyes and said, “You’re on.  I’ll meet you right here Wednesday at nine-thirty.”

Jerry bowed his head in acknowledgement as the ladies continued arm-in-arm down Main Street.


[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

All Words Matter

All Words Matter

Words we speak, words we don’t say out loud and words we put in writing, they all matter. 

I would like to address the ‘actions speak louder than words’ elephant in the room.  Actions are important, no question.  Couldn’t agree more.

 “Action speaks more powerfully than words, but when you use words as your actions, you probably won’t stop talking.”  “When all is said and done, more is always said than done.”  “People may not tell you how they feel about you, but they always show you. Pay attention.”

That said, what about words?


Words we say out loud matter

Words can lift us up.  Words can comfort us in difficult times.  Words can make us feel understood.

Words can cut like a knife.  Words can erode our self-esteem.  Words can be a form of abuse.

Words are often the weapon of choice for a bully.

Words can inform.  Words can teach.  Words can foster understanding.

Words can express joy or disappointment.

Words can encourage.  Words can discourage.

Words are open to interpretation of the receiver.

Words can be fact-based or totally fiction.

Words can lead or mislead.

Words can ask for forgiveness and words can forgive.

Words can get you hired.  Words can get you fired.

Words communicate our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

Words are a verbal expression of who we are.


“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”  Yehuda Berg


Words we don’t say matter

A look or a sigh can express as much as any number of words strung together.

A smile, a squinty eyed glare, the lift of an eyebrow, a comforting touch on the arm all speak volumes.

Silence may be the appropriate response.  Silence can hang in the air like a thick fog.

Gestures can represent s specific word or a general feeling.

Non-verbal clues reveal our intention.

A non-response can be a powerful response.

Good communication is the foundation of any successful relationship, be it personal or professional. It’s important to recognize, though, that it’s our nonverbal communication—our facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice—that speak the loudest.  Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Greg Boose, and Jaelline Jaffe, Ph.D. Last updated: October 2016.

Commonly used statistics

  • Words (the literal meaning) account for 7% of the overall message
  • Tone of voice accounts for 38% of the overall message
  • Body Language accounts for 55% of the overall message

The words we say and the words we don’t say matter.
There is no such thing as, “It’s just words.” 


Lessons from the Couch Test

Lessons from the Couch Test

Slap him or ignore the comment and walk away?  Is this the time to take a stand?

I laughed it off but wondered, “Is this what everyone thinks?”

It was the second time in my short career a white male made the comment, “I guess you passed the couch test,” when I was hired or chosen for a job.

In both cases the men who hired me were complete gentlemen and never made an inappropriate suggestion or move.  As my career progressed, it was the enlightened men and women who were supportive and influential.  The insecure stood in my way, or tried to.


Over thirty years ago I was a whistle blower.  While reading new-hire files, including the interviewers’ notes, this comment in the file of a young woman is burned in my memory,

“Heavy thighs, otherwise attractive.”

It was a pivotal moment for me.

The Senior V.P. of Human Resources, my boss, was encouraging this type of comment or it would have been eliminated from the file.

Not only was it inappropriate, it was illegal and could have gotten the organization in big trouble.  I went to the highest ranking person I knew at the corporate level to report it.  I figured it might be the end of my employment with that organization, but I was not willing to work for this person.

The corporate attorney got involved; files were scrubbed of such comments; some disciplinary action was taken.

As for me, the organization structure changed and my Training Department moved out of Human Resources and began reporting to the Director of Stores.  Supportive, enlightened people who believed in me protected me.

From the outside, my decisions to take or leave a job probably make no sense.  Often my jobs were out-placed, downsized, right-sized or eliminated.  When the leaving was my choice, it very well might have been prompted by witnessing the abuse of power or a violation of human rights and the inability to look the other way.

inner-light-3Earlier this year I was reminded to stand in my light and own it.

When you allow others to see the light in you, it reflects on everyone around you and everyone benefits.

I hope that my light reflects my desire for  equal rights and the compassionate treatment of all human beings.




My last post was about adoption.  This post will share my observations about adapting.  When I left home in June, I wasn’t sure how long I would be gone.  Hence, this post is in the fearless category.

Over a span of fourteen weeks I stayed in six different homes with family and friends.  I tried to adapt to my environment and not be a bother.  Not sure it always worked 100%.

If only I was working on a thesis of some sort; my Summer Sojourn would provide a good social experiment.  Here are some of my observations.

  • Eating habits: Every household has its own pattern.  Some people eat meat from all varieties of animals.  Some people eat no animal protein.  Some people eat fish on occasion but never cook it.  Some people snack healthy, some not so much.
  • Sleeping habits: Some are early to bed and early to rise; others are night owls and sleep later in the morning.
  • Pets: Three out of six homes I stayed in have a dog.  Two of the other three had a dog within the past few years; one had a cat a long time ago.  Dogs rule evidently.


  • Tolerance: Most are good for a short stay (2-4 days), one is like a second home.  You know who you are, Peggy.
  • Welcoming: All seemed happy to see me arrive.  Some were happier than others to see me go.
  • Routine: Some took time out of their routine to entertain me, which was nice but not necessary.
  • Inclusion: Some invited me to join them in their activities, again, nice to have the option.
  • Change: Most people can change for a short period of time but eventually revert back to their comfort zone.  Most people do not embrace BIG change. It can be scary.
  • Energy: Each home has its own energy, a reflection of the combined energy of the people who live there.
  • Communication: Specifically between married couples – very different from one house to the next.  I suspect having another person around was cause for some changes to their pattern of communication.


  • Television:  One household prefers radio, turning on the TV only for the Olympics.  One household records lots of shows and watches them via DVR, sans the commercials.  All of the others were somewhere in between.
  • Exercise:  All over the board on this one.  Some make very regular trips to the gym.  Some work exercise into their day via counting steps, walking the dog, etc.  Others, not so much.
  • Stuff:  Everybody has more stuff than me (something I work at).  Some are more organized about it than others.
  • Pastimes:  Everybody has their own preferences on how they spend their free time.  Here are a few pastimes I observed:  reading, playing games, cooking, going to the movies, gardening, caregiver for older or younger family members, and going to the lake/beach.

As for me:  I’m home now adapting to this environment, still trying to figure out where everything is.  That’s when you know you have been gone long enough to shake up your routine.

Come on down  to Florida and test my adaptability when you are in my environment.


P.S.(I am way behind on my goal to post 50 blogs this year.  So I am adapting my schedule to post more than once a week.)

E is for Ethan

E is for Ethan

The road to adoption is not for the faint of heart.  It takes courage, faith, persistence, determination and a whole lot of fearlessness on both sides of the adoption.  The newest member of our family, Ethan celebrates his first birthday this week.  This one’s for you Ethan.

ethan 2

E is for Enchanted.  Your parents were enchanted with you from the first minute they met you.  At one day old you captured their hearts and souls.

E is for Ever-lasting Love You will always be loved Ethan.  If you ever doubt it, just look around you.  You are surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who love you now and forever.

E is for Elated.  Every time your Mommy and Daddy look at you they can hardly believe they get to call you “our son.”  They have permanent smiles on their faces.  They radiate in your presence.

E is for Excited.  Your cousins are lining up to spend time with you.  They are so excited to have you as a part of the family.  You are excited to see them too.  You light up when they are in the room and look for them when they disappear from sight.

E is for Extraordinary You will have an extraordinary life as the son of two extraordinary people.

E is for Extreme.  We are extremely grateful to Ethan’s birth mother for the courage it took to evaluate her options and choose adoption.

E is for Eager.  We are eager to watch you grow and develop into a fine young man.

E is for Emotions It is hard to express all of the emotions swirling around you.

E is for Explode.  It feels as if our hearts will explode.  We love you so much.

E is for Enjoy.  Enjoy this very special family you are part of.  Enjoy each day.

Happy First Birthday Ethan!

ethan 4


The Bus Stop

The Bus Stop

May was rocking back and forth at the bus stop.  The butterflies in her stomach smoothed out for a few seconds when one of the other girls admired her new, pink, canvas shoes with blue laces.  May loved how her shoes matched her dress and the ribbons in her hair.

No matter how bus 4many times she changed schools, the first day didn’t get any easier.  May was hoping she would be at Sterling Elementary for more than a few months.  May’s father moved her and her mother around when neighbors were too friendly or too nosy.  “It’s time for a change,” he would say.  She counted the schools on her fingers; five schools in two years.

May’s eyes welled up with tears as she climbed onto the bus, her head spinning with questions.  Would anyone sit next to her?  Would she find any friends at school?  Would the teacher be nice?  Would she be smart enough to keep up?  Turning back, looking at her mother, May pleaded with her eyes, Please don’t make me go.  Her mother, Ellen, waved and blew May a kiss.

As the bus pulled away, three mothers crossed the street, headed for home.  Kim suggested they get together for coffee since they lived so close to one another.

Nora said, “I have to get home.  My husband is watching the baby and waiting for me to get back so he can go to work.”
Ellen thanked Kim, and said in a voice, barely above a whisper, “My husband is waiting for his breakfast.” Ellen looked at her watch and started home.

* * *

Ellen was allowed outside the apartment, unescorted, twice a day.  She walked May to and from the bus stop.  Nick, Ellen’s husband, knew down to the minute how long the journey took.  If she was gone a minute longer, there would be hell to pay.

Those few minutes in the morning and afternoon were the only time Ellen was alone with May.  After school, May did her homework while Ellen prepared dinner.  After dinner, Ellen would check May’s work, give her a bath then read to May before tucking her in for the night.  With Ellen’s sleeves rolled up during bath time, May could tell when new bruises appeared.  The two never talked about the bruises or the shouting when her father thought May was asleep.

One day, on the way to the bus stop May said wistfully, “Momma, maybe someday we can both get on the bus and never come back.”

“We have nowhere to go honey, no one to stay with,” Ellen said in a small voice.  But May’s suggestion started Ellen thinking.

That evening, Ellen ripped a sheet of paper from May’s notebook when they were going over homework.  The next morning she walked onto the bus and slipped the driver a note whispering, “Please read this later.”

* * *

The next day, the bus driver motioned for Ellen to come onto the bus. He slipped her a piece of paper.  Ellen read the note, looked into the bus driver’s warm eyes. With the smallest of movements she nodded her head.  The driver put another note in her hand.  Ellen stepped off the bus and waved to May as usual.

During bath time, Ellen told May to pick a toy to take to school for show and tell the next day.  May started listing her stuffed animals.  “Which one should I take Momma?”

“Which is your favorite?” Ellen asked.

May smiled, “Bunny.”  Her smile was quickly replaced with a frown.  In a small, sad voice May asked her mother, “Is dad moving us again?”

“No Mbus 5ay, dad is not moving us again.”  Ellen didn’t want to lie to May, but she was afraid to tell her about the plan for the next day.  Nick might overhear them.  May might say something to give it away.

* * *

In the morning, Ellen left the note the bus driver had given her on the kitchen counter as she and May left for the bus stop.  The note was from May’s teacher “reminding” her to come to school the next day to help in the classroom.

Ellen and May hung back as all of the other kids hopped on the bus.  It was a different bus driver than usual.  Holding on to May’s shoulders to keep her hands from shaking, Ellen looked at him, pleading with her eyes.  Gesturing toward the first row, he said “Come.  Sit behind me.”

Heart racing, Ellen kept looking over her shoulder as the bus pulled away.  What if Nick read the note before she was expected back?  He would pull her and May off the bus.  They would be moved out of the apartment by dinner time.  Nick was always planning two moves ahead.

As the bus drove off, Nora and Kim looked at one another.  “I wonder what that’s all about,” Kim said.

“I don’t know,” Nora replied, “but don’t you think it’s odd that May had a stuffed animal, and they both looked like they had on too many clothes for such a nice day.”

“Wasn’t that a substitute bus driver?  I have never seen that man before,” Kim added.

* * *

The bus made a few more stops to pick up kids.  When the driver pulled into the bus lane at May’s school, he told Ellen and May to wait for the others to leave.  Once everyone else was gone, he said, “Slouch down so no one can see you.”

May knew that something was happening.  She also knew not ask any questions.  She held tight to her mother’s hand clutching Bunny in the other.

“Remember how you wanted to get on the bus together and go away?  The bus driver is going to take us to a special place.  Somewhere safe,” Ellen whispered, trying to keep May from getting upset.  Several blocks away from the school, the driver let them know it was okay to sit up again.  bus 7

After a twenty minute ride from May’s school, the bus pulled into the parking lot of a plain looking building.  The driver turned to Ellen and May.  “My name is Dan.  I volunteer at The Haven.  It just so happens I used to drive a bus and I still have my license.  Once inside you will meet with an advocate who will ask you a lot of questions.  If anyone can help you, this is the place, these are the people.”

Hanging tightly onto May’s hand, Ellen entered the shelter.  “Welcome, my name is Tina; let’s go talk about how to make sure you two ladies are safe.”

bus 6


The Cone Zone

The Cone Zone

Summer Sojourn 2016, Part Two

Of the six states and two continents I have called home, Kentucky is byky roads far the plushest and greenest of them all.  The rolling hills, narrow country roads covered by a canopy of trees and lined with fences speak of a gentle life style.

Both Lexington, Kentucky and Gainesville, Florida claim to be the “horse capital of the world.”  I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but between the two, Lexington wins, hands down.

* * *

Heading north on I75, just before you cross the Ohio River, a spectacular view of Cincinnati appears on the horizon.  Take a good look.  It doesn’t last long and it beats the view from ground level as you drive through. Once out of the Greater Cincinnati Area, Ohio is basically flat.

Ohio – it should be named “The state of Perpetual Road Construction.”  Orange cones, barrels and signs of “road work ahead” abound.  I intentionally did the drive on a Sunday to avoid construction slowdowns.  For the most part, it was a good strategy.

I’ve been travelling this stretch of road for decades.  One of my favorite land marks used to be “Big Butter Jesus” until it was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.

If you have never seen this edifice, the best description can be found in the following song on YouTube:  Before the fire…  I apologize in advance if you find it sacrilegious.

After the fire, a new last verse was written to the song and can be viewed here:  After the fire…  Fast-forward to the end.  It is worth it!

* * *

Michigan, My Michigan!  The very minute you cross the state line it’s hard not to notice how much more aggressively people drive here.  Keep your wits about you, an eye on your side mirrors and another on the rearview mirror.

I suspect there are more cars than people in Michigan.  One person may own an everyday car to get to work, a vanity car, and an SUV or truck to pull a boat or RV.  One word of advice:  plan your north- and southbound trips to avoid the masses migrating “up north” to their cottage/cabin on Friday and returning home/south on Sunday.

Michigan is also known for the prevalence of construction zones lined with orange cones and barrels.  The local news report includes a “Cone Zone” advisory.  With all of the construction going on you would think the roads would be in better condition.  The hard winters and number of cars on the road do take their toll.

And so as Part Two of the Summer Sojourn unfolds, I leave you with this from the Mitten State.

Welcome to Michigan Sign at State Border
AJ7400 Welcome to Michigan Sign at State Border