Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Penny in Time Chapter 9: Courage (part 2)

Fifteen and twenty-one equaled thirty-six, the same age my mother is now.  My Mom would be fifty-seven in twenty-one years, old but not ancient.  But I guess I wouldn't know what she even looked like in twenty-one years if I wasn't going to be there.  And I wouldn't know anything about anybody; my grandparents, my Dad, Slinky, Frank, Dean, Fran, Annie and all my other friends.  Or how ninth grade would be, let alone the next twenty-one years of my life on Earth.

"Would Sarree be a good mother?"  Better than me? I wondered.

"She wants only what is best for Yugo, even if it means giving him up to you.  She would do that out of love for him, and I think that defines a good parent."

I thought about my Mom...and my Dad.  I knew my Mom cared about my best interests, but to tell the truth, I had some doubts about my Dad.

"Would you be a good father?"  The nagging uncertainty that had been hovering over my thoughts was out of my mouth, but I couldn't forget that Mr. D had rejected Yugo when he first met us at the gate.

Mr. D's face crinkled and he bowed his head.  I don't think I hurt his feelings, exactly.  More like he admitted there was some truth to what I'd said.

"I would try my very best," he replied, like he was pledging his word of honor.  "I know that I would.  For his sake, for Sarree, for my own.  And, for you.  I have come to understand a great deal about love, because of you."

I felt my face flush.  I wondered if Mr. D could see the color red, or if he only sensed emotions.  "Why did the Perfect Council go all weird about the pennies?"  I dug them out of my pocket and put them in front of us on the table.

Mr. D stiffened, a rather odd reaction to a measly five cents.  "That is a great deal of wealth to us here, Dusty."

"Five pennies?" I quipped, arranging them in row.  "What's so valuable about these?"

"They contain the most precious resources on our planet.  Resources that are regenerated every five hundred years."  Mr. D's hand fluttered, then tapped lightly on the tabletop.  "Just the minute amount of copper and zinc found in one penny allows us to build and maintain our city for a hundred years."

"You mean, I'm rich here?"  What a neat thought!

"You are indeed," he answered with a chuckle, then, sounding just like an adult, added, "but you must realize you offended everyone by trying to buy Yugo."

Like I was some kind of slave trader!  "I did not!" I shouted, totally mad.  "They acted like he was worthless and all I wanted to prove was that I'd give everything I had to save him!"

Mr. D drew back.  "Yes, of course, I know that.  But there will be those who say you did not save Yugo out of love, but for gain.  There will always be someone who will find fault with the why and wherefore of what you do."

"And I thought this was a perfect society," I groused.  "No more perfect than my own."  I wasn't real sure that I wanted to be left out of my rightful place back home, anymore.

"Dusty," Mr. D whispered, though Yugo slept on unaware of us and no one else could have overheard us, "look out the window!"

The colorless sky was no more!  Streaks of reds, purples and pinks fanned across the horizon, like a brilliant Seattle sunset, though there hadn't been any sun to set.  Lots of dust maybe, but no sun that I ever saw.

"What happened?" I whispered back.

"Once in a million years!"  Mr. D's eyes sparkled and his face lit up with a smile.  "This is a most rare occurrence!"  He reached over and grabbed my hands pulling me onto my feet, adding with a little laugh, "You might say you've brought color to our world!"

He motioned to me and I swept Yugo into my arms as I followed Mr. D outside.  A great crowd had gathered all along the sidewalks and in the street.  A hushed murmur followed us as we walked down the middle of the street through a path left open for us.  I felt x-rayed.  Mr. D came to a halt in front of the mass and stood transfixed before the silent fireworks in the sky.  Yugo woke and I shared his sense of joy and wonderment.

Then he began to chitter, squirming in my arms, and I knew Sarree was somewhere near us.  I watched him eagerly searching for his mother, trying to communicate with me his sense of rightness, hope and belonging.  I clutched him tighter, willing him to stop, but I knew I had already lost that special link with him.

I had to look away, up at the sky.  Rainbows danced in my teary eyes.  Once in a million years wouldn't be enough for me, that much I knew as a deep, intense longing filled me to go back home.  I tried to tell myself that I was picking up Yugo's emotions, but I knew that this was my own, my very own, feeling.  I guess I knew all along that it wouldn't work out with me staying here, that sooner or later I would want to go home again.

I understood it all; and I didn't understand any of it.  The pain that had ripped my heart in two, left me feeling oddly at peace.  I scanned the crowd, looking for that face I would recognize as Sarree.  It wasn't hard to find her, for she was staring at me.  Me and Yugo.  Yugo blipped like radar when he spied her.  I had a choice:  break eye contact and turn away, or smile.

She strained to see over someone's shoulder and I lost sight of her momentarily.  When I saw her head pop into view, I smiled and moved so that there was a space for her.

The sky dripped colors, like a wet painting.  The gallery of Monosapiens oohed and ahhed, as Sarree squeezed between me and Mr. D.  Yugo chirped and mewed, rocking in my arms, delighted that he had us all together.  He reached out for Sarree and she hesitated but a fraction of a second before she took him from me.

He has it all, I thought, watching them, happy for all of them, yet tasting the bitterness of my loss.  Mr. D smiled lovingly at Sarree and Yugo, his massive, white-furred hand on Sarree's elbow.  She nuzzled Yugo, stroking his cheek.  It was a perfect picture of a perfect family.

I was not the only one viewing the perfect scene, for others had noticed.  It seemed all eyes were on us.  What did they expect?  I'd go crazy and run up and down the street, shouting and swearing?  I stood quietly beside the family reunion until the onlookers lost interest and went back to sky gazing, then made my way back to Mr. D's house.

It wasn't easy to find.  I had to walk up and down the little paths to the front doors and check out the nameplates.  It would have been smart of me to have counted the houses, but it seems I get these good ideas too late.  I had only walked in the door when Mr. D came in behind me.

"Dusty," he acknowledged my pain in saying my name.

"It's okay, Mr. D, really.  I thought about it, and I know that it's better for Yugo to be with his mother.  There's whole a lot I don't know about raising a Monosapien."  I laughed, but it was half-heartedly.

He tipped his head.  His smile was so nice, and his eyes were so kind!
"I'd like to go home."

"Yes."  He indicated the five pennies on the table.  "Take them."
I shook my head.  "No, I'd like Yugo to have them."

Mr. D clasped his hands, his face a map of concerns.  "That would not be wise.  So much wealth for one individual would be a terrible imbalance in our society."

"Then for the three of you!" I shot back.

Eyes downcast, he sighed.  "No."

With my back to Mr. D, I wiped the table clean of the pennies.  I was about to pocket them all when I flashed on  finding Yugo in the desert.  There were probably others out there left to die.

I plunked a penny down on the table, turned and faced Mr. D.  "Then this should be plenty to get enough food and shelter for all the misbegottens."

I had stunned Mr. D, I could see it in his face.  "You will make sure of it, won't you Mr. D?"

"Of course I will," his voice rose and filled the room with warmth.  "Of course I will," he repeated, coming to me and hugging me tightly.  "Oh, Dusty, what a legacy you've left us!"

Well, at least it wasn't a bad pun like my Dad would have made.  But still, I finally appreciated how making 'sense' could mean a lot of different things, all at the same time.

I was smothering and pulled away from Mr. D's chest.  "Mr. D, how am I going to get home?  I don't have a magic ring, ruby slippers or a mirror, so what's left---a space ship?"

He planted his hands firmly on my shoulders.  I sucked on the inside of my bottom lip, to keep from smiling and crying, for I felt like doing both.  We locked eyes, and I knew I would miss him and Yugo a lot, for a long, long time.

"I won't forget you, ever," I said, without even a crack in my voice.

He dropped his hands from my shoulders, brushing one hand across my forehead and down my cheek.  "Nor I you."

Out of the corner of my eye I could see through the window that the colors had begun to wash out of the sky.  Everyone began to drift away.  Sarree and Yugo would be home soon.

"Just open your eyes, Dusty," intoned Mr. D.  "Open your eyes."

Weren't my eyes already open?  Confused, I squinted hard, trying to focus on Mr. D.  I blinked and blinked again.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Penny in Time Chapter 9: Courage (part 1)

"The woman, Dusty," matching fingers, Mr. D pressed his hands together, his voice husky, "is my partner, Sarree.  And yes, she is Yugo's mother."

"Then Yugo is yours!" I blurted, rising part way out of my chair.

"No," he replied simply.

No? my thoughts spun, and I sat back down.  If he wasn't the father, then someone else had to be.

"Here, where couples are together until death separates them, love is not the first consideration:  compatibility is.  But sometimes that is not enough.  And one person cannot love enough to make up for the void."

"You loved her?"  It came out in a squeaky whisper.

"I love her."

I couldn't help but glance quickly over my shoulder at Yugo, sleeping without a care in this world.  "How can you say that after she deserted you and left her baby out in the desert to die?"

"She had no choice.  Yugo was taken from her, unwillingly.  Yugo's father died trying to bring him back.  That happened, in fact, shortly before you arrived and rescued him."

Although Mr. D looked the picture of calmness, I wondered if he weren't torn up inside.  I was, just thinking about all this.  "Why did you take us in?"

He thought about that for awhile.  "Because," he faltered, "because I had wanted so very much a second chance to right the imbalance in our lives."

I shook my head.  "I don't understand."

"I love Sarree, but I didn't know that until after she left.  Only then did I understand she could love another."

I could tell he struggled with his feelings by his shaky smile, and I was slightly embarrassed.  Yugo stirred and cried out.  I popped up out the chair, relieved to go over and cradle him in my arms.  "I think he's hungry, again."  I handed Mr. D the empty bottle.

With Mr. D busy in the kitchen, I thought about what he had said.  Holding Yugo, Sarree's image floated in my thoughts; I got it loud and clear what he wanted most was to be with his mother.  All my feelings were a hazy swirl of reds and greens, like anticipating Christmas morning, not because of the presents, but because I would be there with my family.  But I couldn't see any faces I knew, only those of Sarree, Yugo and Mr. D.  Maybe I was the "eyes" of the dreamer; there but not a part of it.
Yugo longed for his mother.  Sarree.  A stab of jealousy pierced me, but at the same time, I too, wanted to be home with my mother.  We both wanted the same thing.
Mr. D handed the bottle to me without saying anything, like he knew I needed to think through my feelings.  I fed Yugo, very careful not hurry him as he lapped at the chalky stuff, burping him every few minutes.  He was so happy!  I had to smile and even began to hum 'Old McDonald had a farm' to him.

He fell back asleep, and I swear he'd grown the short time I had him in my arms.  He was heavier and looked longer as he curled up again on the couch.  I didn't want to get up and leave him, happy to sit beside him drifting along our currents of contentment.

Mr. D waited in the dining room, seated once more at the table.  We had more to discuss, but the questions no longer seemed that pressing to me.  Or maybe, I had to admit to myself, I didn't want to know the answers.

But it's like an itch, the moment you think you're not going to think about it, you have to.  I returned to the table and dropped into the chair facing Mr. D.  "You said you love Sarree, but does she love you?"

His bushy eyebrows knitted together and I felt the weight of each word he said.  "Sarree told me she respects and appreciates me for what I am."

"And you buy that?" I asked.

"It is a kind of love, Dusty.  She's sincere and honest and truthful, and that is a sharing of oneself that is also a form of love."

"And she loves Yugo because she's his mother."  And, I added to myself, he loves her, his mother.


"Where does that leave me?"  All those feelings of jealousy and rejection tumbled out.  I had to look away for a minute to catch my breath and swallow my tears.  Outside, the sky was dingy gray, the color of dirty laundry.  I missed the blue Seattle morning sky and the dark, starry nights.  "I love Yugo, too.  And I know," I insisted fiercely, "that Yugo loves me, too."

"Yes, he does."  responded Mr. D evenly, looking steadily at me.

I felt a gentle prodding of my thoughts.  "I'll take him home with me.  My Mom would understand, I know she would.  And I would give Yugo a good home, too!"  I choked on my tears.  "I swear it!"

"Childling," Mr. D smoothed away the tears, "there is no question about your love or ability to care for Yugo.  But Yugo would not survive in your world."

I shook my head.  "I survive here in his, he would in mine."

Mr. D cupped my chin in his hand.  "Dusty, look at me.  Would Yugo not be a curiosity, an animal to be caged for display in a circus or a zoo?"

"I wouldn't ever let that happen!  No! no! I wouldn't!"  I was really blubbering now.
He tipped my chin up so that I looked into his eyes.  "You wouldn't want it to happen, Dusty, but how could it not?  You couldn't very well hide him in your room, not for very long, even if you could find him food."

I swiped at the tears.  "Then can I stay with you?"

"Yes, if you wish."  He sat back again.

I hadn't expected him to say yes.  My tears ended with one hiccup.  "Isn't Sarree coming back here?"

"That depends on you."  Mr. D nodded, his face softened by his smile.

"What do you mean, Mr. D?"  I shook my head, wishing I could shake out my confusion into some kind of order.

"It took a great deal of courage for you to cross the desert and go before the Perfect Council and fight for Yugo's right to live.  You have shown the depth of your love and commitment.  I have no right to ask you to give up your claim to Yugo, but I must ask you to think very carefully what this means."

There's always a catch, isn't there?

He looked at me without blinking.  "You'll be responsible for Yugo until he comes of age.  You will be the focus of his life, and always answerable to our society, even in the midst of changes, now."  He leaned back, folding his arms across his snowy chest.

To be so powerful!  Making decisions that mean something. Changes, which affect others' lives.

Though he spoke ever so softly, his words framed a clear picture of what life here would be like.  "You have become a symbol of reformation, the catalyst of the changes that began with your arrival and your challenge to the Perfect Council.  It is inevitable that your every action, every word, your daily life, will be watched, analyzed and criticized."

"Sort of like being under a microscope, huh?"  I always felt a little sorry for those poor, unsuspecting specimens sandwiched between two slides, eyeballed to death.  But then again, to be a part of Yugo's life, forever!

"Yes, Dusty, forever."  He said it so quietly that I didn't fully catch the importance of 'forever'.

"Forever is a long time, Dusty."

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Here’s A Handful of M & M s

Writing is like an all day sucker sometimes; just not worth the effort and time for sticky lips.  But other times, writing is itself a sweet reward.  Most of the time, though, it is a must-do item on our list that evokes a lot of anxiety about how to start, how to get through it, how to do this, then that, and get it done!  I am going to take a few lessons from my book, KISS Keep It Short and Simple, to use as “M & Ms—The Mechanics and Magic of Writing” to illustrate how a few simple techniques can make alchemy happen.

The computer has redefined how to write a paper, both in content and mechanics, as the internet has given unlimited resources for the writer and word processing has eliminated a host of difficulties, such as formatting and spell checking. While that is a wonderful thing for all writers of all ages, the authors, students, professionals and non-professionals alike, most of us have angst when it comes to actually putting ideas into an organized presentation.  Texting and tweeting has destructured the sentence, and with emoticons, has fragmented thoughts into information of bits and bytes, making it even harder to organize and compile a composition.

But therein lies the beauty of writing:  chaos.  From all those swirling ideas, associations form from clustering ideas, memories, and sensory perceptions into coherency.  This is layering—write! doodle! play with it! and soon a theme emerges. When it pops! and it will, you then can arrange these elements into the topic of your paper.  The beginning of the paper states intent; the middle is explanatory; the last is summation.The critical difference in a composition, such as a business letter, essay or review, and social media posts, is a complete sentence. As you see the theme take shape, begin to organize it into paragraphs, using the CCI: Compare, Contrast and Interrelate technique. Remember, the rule of three (at the least): each sentence has a noun, verb and adverb;  three sentences in a paragraph, three paragraphs for a composition.

That’s it.  That’s all there is to it. Grab some chocolate goodies, put on your wizard’s hat and write!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Effects of Online Shaming

Video: When Online Shaming Goes Too Far
"'Twitter gives a voice to the voiceless, a way to speak up and hit back at perceived injustice. But sometimes,' says Jon Ronson, 'things go too far.' In a jaw-dropping story of how one un-funny tweet ruined a woman's life and career, Ronson shows how online commenters can end up behaving like a baying mob — and says it's time to rethink how we interact online." -
Watch the entire video on>>

What You Should Know If You Laughed at This Viral Photo of Me
"You cannot see my disabilities but they are there and they are real. So next time you see photos making fun of people just remember you know nothing about these people or the struggles they face every day. It is never just harmless fun to laugh at someone." - Jennifer Wilkinson
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Understanding online shaming - a guide for parents
"There have been other cases of online shaming. Most of the time, the user who is publicly shamed on social media simply doesn’t deserve the magnitude of the attack they receive, and the consequences of it. It could be a comment that perhaps wasn’t fully thought through by the poster, a sarcastic message that was taken the wrong way or out of context. And if enough people see it, and it’s sufficiently spread around, it can result in a mob of people belittling and condemning the user."
Read the entire article>>

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Film About Student Journalists Who Take on the Childhood Obesity Debate

"In an effort to address the obesity epidemic, notification letters are being sent to students whose body mass do not fall within a narrow range deemed "acceptable" by the government; essentially telling children, even as young as kindergarteners, that they are fat.

THE STUDENT BODY is a true underdog story of two brave girls who take a stand against bullying, government intrusion and hypocrisy while exploring the complex and controversial truths behind the childhood obesity debate."

American Family Association Journal says it is “Extraordinary. The film is both inspiring and challenging.”

Common Sense Media calls it “enlightening” and a “tribute to student journalism and the power of investigative reporting.”

Official Selection at Traverse City Film Festival, Woodstock International Film Festival, Providence Children’s Film Festival, and Sedona Film Festival.

Available on demand and now on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Watch the trailer online>>
Visit the official website for more information>>