Yellow House

Yellow House 1967

It was July of 1967.  I was 12 years old.  We lived in a two story house on the north side of Sheboygan.  My family consisted of Daddy, Mama and the six of us kids.  I was the oldest.  After me came Mary, who would be 11 in August.  Tammy turned eight in the spring.  The boys had their birthdays at the end of the month.  Jerry would be seven, Michael, three and Patrick, the baby was almost 2.

The house was a pretty yellow and so much bigger than the last one we lived in.  I didn’t care about any of that.  Who needs a big house when all that really mattered was that we left our old neighborhood and all of our friends.  I was mad for a short while.

My new school was a block away.  I quickly made new friends, but I could also jump on my bike and ride back to the other side of town in 20 minutes.

My sister Mary and I shared a room upstairs.  All the kids were up there except Patrick who had his crib in a room downstairs.  My parent’s bedroom was also on the first floor, next to the living room, at the front of the house.  It was the room Daddy died in.

Sunday, July 30 1967.  It was a day I will never forget.  My brother, Michaels’, third birthday.  Daddy had one of his headaches and wanted to lie down before church.  He died suddenly during that nap of a cerebral aneurysm.  He was 33 years old.  Mom had just turned 30.

We moved back to the south side shortly after that.

This was for Writing 101, Day 11.  Where did you live when you were 12. The twist is to pay attention to the sentence length.

The Red Sweater

Crystal’s Story

The sky has been gray all day, with darker clouds moving in from the west.  Looks like it could rain at any moment.  But, she’ll be here, she always is.  Rain or shine, the old lady comes to the park every evening at 7 p.m.  She knits sweaters for an orphanage, she calls it her meditation time.

When Herbie told me about his Grandma’s daily ritual, I knew what my plan would be.  I’ve run it through my head for months, it’s so simple.  All I needed was for him to see what I saw.  Granny had to die!

The only reason I went on that first date with him was because of his name, Herbert Farnsworth Jr.  His family had money and I wanted it.  It wasn’t until the second week that I found out, the skinny nerd lived on an allowance, and not much of one.  Only when the old lady died did Herbie get the Farnsworth fortune.

So, for six months now, I’ve paid my dues.  I laugh at his stupid jokes, I smile at all the right moments and I let him crawl on top of me whenever he wants, and he wants all the time.

Last night he popped the question and I said, “Yes, I would love to marry you and have your children.”  But, only if he went along with my plan.  He fought me, but I can be very persuasive.  In the end, I won.

No guns I told him, too loud.  A knife would be perfect and the police would see it as a robbery gone bad.  There shouldn’t be much of a struggle, as I met her once and she is not a big woman.

There she is sitting on the bench, same bench as always.  All alone, most people had either left the park or were in the lit up area near the fountain.

She looked up from her knitting as she heard us approach.  Smiles for her grandson and then as she looked at me, the smile disappeared.  Herbie says she doesn’t like me.  Bitch!

I look over at him.  Shit, he’s crying.  At this point I know that I’ll have to take over.

I reach into his jacket pocket, pull out the knife and step toward her.

What the Hell!!!

Herbert’s Story

“This is crazy!  This is Crazy!!”

What am I thinking?  What is she thinking?

When Crystal told me her idea last night and all the reasons we should do it, it almost sounded okay.  Not rational, but okay.  I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that we were on our third bottle of wine.  Or, the fact that she had brought up the idea of getting married while she sat on top of me and rode me like I was a wild stallion.

I know she wants my future fortune and it’s the only reason she is with me.  I’m not her type.  She dates the muscular, good looking jocks, hoping they will make enough money to someday give her the big house she never had.  To take her to the places she dreams of.

I’m a computer geek, a gamer.  I run every morning, looking forward to the next marathon.  But, you will never find me in the gym.

I want Grandmother’s money, but at 75 years old, I just thought I would wait her out.  Although, in the back of my mind, I remember what Father said before he died.  “Herbert, make sure you finish college and are prepared to make a living for yourself.  Your Grandmother is a bit on the strange side and some of her ideas are not what the rest of the family would want.”

That was 10 years ago while I was still in high school.  The money continues to show up in my account like clockwork, so I’m not too concerned.

It’s a little after 7 p.m. and I see her sitting on the bench.  Crystal grabs my hand and squeezes really hard.  Grandmother sees us and smiles.  I can’t do this!  Tears well up in my eyes and I can’t stop them.

I hear Crystal swear as she grabs the knife from my pocket.  I reach out to grab her but she’s too quick.  Next thing I know, she’s walking toward Grandmother with the blade over her head.

Oh my God!


Tell me that didn’t just happen.

Now what do I do?

Grandmothers Story

Today has been a busy day.  Up at 5 a.m. to get ready for Jason to be at the house at 6 a.m.  We re-evaluated the workout he has me doing.  I told him I thought the weights were too light and I needed more cardio.

After that, I had my kick boxing class at 10 a.m.  I taught the older children at the orphanage in an advanced class and basics to the younger ones.

A meeting with my lawyer at 3 p.m. regarding this year’s contributions left me a bit stressed and looking forward to my quiet knitting time tonight.  He argued with me about the new orphanage I wanted to build and the increase in scholarships. He told me I might outlive my fortune.   I won, I always do!

There was a sweet, little 5 year old girl who was brought in last week.  She loves red so this sweater will be for her.  I am just working on the finishing stitches and will drop it off in the morning.

I looked up as I heard someone walking up the trail.  It is Junior and the sleazy blonde he’s been dating.  Crystal Bleu, what kind of name is that?  I had a private investigator check her out a few months ago.  His report showed me nothing good about her.  She changed men like she changed her shoes.  She was after money and my grandson was her latest target.

I smile at him and then look at her.  She’s smiling at me and I can’t help but feel something is wrong.  Junior’s crying.  What’s going on?

All of a sudden, the little blonde gold-digger has a knife over her head and is walking toward me.  The look on her face was evil.

Sorry, little girl, I don’t play that game.  I pull out the loaded .45 from my knitting bag and shoot her.  You never know when someone will decide to rob you in the park.

Junior screams like a girl.  I grab his face, look him in the eyes and say, “Herbert, go home.  You were never here.  Grandmother will take care of it.”

Special Delivery

While riding my bike, I saw an envelope in the ditch .  I stopped, picked it up.  It was addressed to Naomi on Brooks Rd.  Because of the dampness it was no longer sealed.  I pulled the letter out and read it.  OMG!  Suicide note written to her from Sam.  Dated today.  Somehow, dropped after pick up and before delivery to post office.  Maybe there is time.  No return address.  I had to get it to Naomi.  I know the road, half mile from here.  Knock at the door.  “Are you Naomi?”  She reads the letter, screams and gets into her car.  I get on my knees and pray she gets there in time.

Writing 101 Day 5

I Will Survive!

I looked forward to going home every summer.  This year we were doing something different.  This year we would be more active while still having fun, a little quirky, to include all ages.  I couldn’t wait to get on that plane and back to Wisconsin.

The ex was from So Cal and after getting out of the Army in 1978, he decided it was where we would live.  We were there long enough to have a baby, get jobs, move to 3 different homes, spend most of our money and move in with Ex’s divorced father and 3 siblings.  All that in 2 years, until we moved to Wisconsin, my home state.

We settled in a wonderful medium sized town, got good jobs and later put our son into a great public school.  We had it made, on the outside, anyway.  Ex started his construction company.  Good money and a lot of stress.  We built a home in an upscale neighborhood.  One of the jobs he took was remodeling a restaurant and lodge. It was a big project and took many months.  He did this on a handshake.  After it was finished, they didn’t have the money to pay it all.  Bankruptcy, moving out of our custom home, and then too much drinking.

Time to move back to California.  That was at the end of 1989.  Ex went back first and found a house and a job.  Our son and I came out shortly after that.  I had to leave a job I loved for 8 years and my family.

Oops, back to the story and fast forward to 2001.  I go back to Wisconsin for a week every summer.  I go by myself.  Ex is never happy about me going and won’t come with me.  After a few years, I don’t care, I just need to go.

I always end up at my parent’s home on the Island and my 7 siblings come, at least for the weekend.  We had done Christmas in July the years prior.  This year (2001), my brother-in-law suggested we do a family “Survivor”.  There were plenty of emails and phone calls to plan the weekend.  We figured we had between 20 and 30 people with sibs, in-laws, nieces, nephews, my grandma, my parents and a couple friends.  The teams ended up with 12 people each, ages 7 to 81.  We had spouses on opposing teams.  Each team had four siblings, mine with 2 sisters, a brother, Dad and assorted others.  The other had 2 brothers, 2 sisters, Mom, Nanny plus 6 more.

Events included food challenges, basketball shooting, how far can you jump, hit a golf ball and sunflower seed spitting.  We picked teams on Friday night and saw the area my bro-in-law chose for the tribal counsel. Games to begin on Sat morn…

Tribal Counsel

Writing 101 Day 4

My Life in Three Songs



Until he died, my Papa was my favorite person.  He was more fun, loving, and inspirational than teachers, aunts & uncles, even my parents.  I loved him best!  He whistled, sang, yodeled and danced.  He would grab my grandma and dance her around the kitchen.  She’d swat at him and he would laugh.  My grandparents frequently threw parties out on the lawn for all their friends.  Papa danced with the ladies and when we were visiting, my Mom was his favorite partner.  As I got older, he would dance with me.  I consider our song to be, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline.  Now, when I hear it, I have to dance.  If nobody will dance with me, I dance alone.

American Pie

I’m not sure when it started, but it had to be after most of the siblings were of drinking age.  Being the oldest, that’s a long, long time ago.  At family get togethers, after a few drinks and before the end of the night, we sang.  All siblings, and later, the in-laws, would link arms and belt out all verses of Don McLean’s, “American Pie”.  Sometimes we would have an entire tavern full of people singing.  It’s now family tradition to have the D.J. play that song at all weddings.  People who don’t know us well, start out thinking we are a strange family, but halfway through the song, you see them singing the chorus with us.  For this family, the music will never die.

Who Am I?

As a born again Christian in 1996, I found a love for contemporary Christian music.  I would sing Chris Tomlin’s songs as I cleaned the house or did gardening.  My sister told me about the group, Casting Crowns sometime around 2008.  Loved, loved, loved their music, still do.  I sang their stuff all day long.  I was singing “Who Am I” one day and stopped what I was doing, sat down and really listened to the words.  “You told me who I am, I am yours.”  I cried.  I listened to it again and cried.  I had been singing the song for months.  Why did it affect me at that time?  I’m sure He had a reason.


Writing 101, Day 3.

View From the Dock



If I could be transported anywhere in the world, I would want to be sitting on our dock enjoying a partly sunny, breezy day, with the temperature around 65 degrees.  I fell in love with that spot when I first moved here.  It was where I found peace and solitude after leaving my marriage and everything I had known for most of my adult life.  I started a new journal there, I laughed there, I cried, I began a new relationship on that bench.

We are on a river that if we wanted to, we could kayak out to Lake Michigan.  It’s a narrow river, about 60 ft. across and pretty shallow.  Trees line the shore and right now they are full of new leaves.  The green is a beautiful sight after the long gray winter.  On the opposite side, about 100 feet away is a small waterfall that we can hear all year long except when it’s frozen over.  I love that sound at night with the window open.  It’s been called Slippery Rock for many years.  During the summer, the campers go there and you hear the children screaming in fear or delight as they slide down the rocks.  That’s also the prime time for groups of people tubing down the river in front of the dock.  All different kinds of people.  There are families, groups of couples with their designated beer cooler tube, and sometimes groups of teenagers.  It is people watching time, but so different than at an airport or the mall.  It’s almost intimate, catching them in private moments only meant for them.  Some of them are friendly and will talk as they float by, others won’t look at us, almost like we are interrupting.  I always have my camera with me and take pictures while I sit there.  Some people pose, others hide and then there are those who just stare at me with the, don’t even think of taking my picture, look.  The voyeuristic side of me, loves it.

About half a mile upstream is the dam that creates the lake.  When the ice is melting and the water is rushing over the dam, there is a good current.  As summer goes along and the lake level drops, the current is pretty weak.  Sometimes it looks almost glassy out there.  At this time of year you can see the bass splashing in the areas where they are making their beds.  We do fish off the dock but catch and release.  I almost feel like they are my fish.  There were a couple of guys in waders last year fishing about 20 feet from the dock.  I went out there and told them not to be catching “my” fish.  They probably thought I was crazy.  Maybe I am…

The Offer

Falling asleep last night, took forever.  Staying asleep, impossible.  Getting up, very difficult as I slept hard from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

There are a few reasons for my insomnia.  Last night one of the reasons was the offer I got on a property I just listed.

My ex and I flew to Wisconsin for my 50th birthday back in 2005.  It was a great week.  All seven of my siblings came up to the Island and roasted me in my parent’s dining room.  It was hilarious. Something I will always remember.

While we were there we looked for a piece of property.  He fell in love with one off the beaten path.  It was all wooded, lots of hard woods, mostly oak.  We bought it.  I was thrilled to own a little bit of a place (born there) I will always love.

Out of the eight properties we owned, it was the only one I wanted when we divorced in 2012.  Fast forward to now.  I will never put a home on that property, I can’t afford it.  I listed it last week assuming I wouldn’t get an offer for years.  It would take someone with the same vision as my ex to consider buying it.  I got a call yesterday from the realtor.  He had an offer, cash, but lower than I wanted to go.  The guy has adjoining property to mine and just wants it.  He has a reputation for being an ass and a hard negotiator.  Do I take the money and run or counter and risk losing the guy?  That is my dilemma.  I make the phone call now.

Oops, twenty minutes is up. Seems short but I was also scanning the signature pages sent by the realtor.

First post for Writing 101 done!