20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers

From a Stranger

I know it has been awhile, but I am back.  The holidays were a little overwhelming for me, but I made it.  All the gifts were wrapped and the cookies baked and delivered.  My husband and I have just returned from a short stay in Palm Springs in the sunshine and warm weather.  Now that Hanukkah and Christmas are behind us, my thoughts turn back to reading and writing.  I am reading this amazing book by Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety.   He is a writer who writes about writing so beautifully, he is inspiring me. The setting is Madison Wisconsin, at the University of Wisconsin, in 1937.  The main character, Larry Morgan, is a first year professor at the university, newly married with a baby on the way.  He and his wife live in a basement apartment, and he writes in the furnace room, early in the morning and late at night.  He is a struggling writer, who has just signed  his first book deal with a publisher.  His main goal in life is to make a contribution.  I am in the middle of the book, so I am on the brink of finding out how this all works out for him.  Now I will see how this all works out for me.


Mornings with Chipper

There is a little white furry guy, weighing about 21 pounds,  stands one foot tall and lives in our house.  He is a Bichon Frise and his name is Chipper.  He is just what his name says he is, Chipper.  A happier dog you will never find, or a truer friend.  He loves us lots , and we love him more.  He has been a part of our household and family for 12 years, his entire life.  He once had a companion named Jake, another Bichon.  They did everything together.  Chipper depended on Jake for ideas of where to go to the bathroom, what food to eat, where to take a nap and which cat to chase.

Two years ago, Jake died of cancer.  Chipper was devastated and missed him terribly.  We thought of getting another dog to be his companion, but we knew no dog could replace Jake in Chipper’s life.  My husband and I became Chipper’s best friends.  We help him make the every day decisions for which he once looked to Jake.

About 6:30 every morning, I feel a warm tonge on my face and a little paw scratching on my arm.  That is the signal that tells me it is time for a walk.  I drag myself out of bed, put on my sneakers, gray hoodie, and a golf hat, and Chipper and I set out to explore the neighborhood.  This is the most important part of Chipper’s day.  He trots down the sidewalk as if he owns the whole neighborhood. We pass the bank of mailboxes and head down the street. We pass Jan’s house.  Jan recently moved to South Carolina.  We both miss her, and Chipper gives the rock in her front yared a good sniff.  The guy, who lives in the gray house next to Jan’s,  seems to always be mowing the grass or timming a tree. Chipper goes up and gives him a sniff, and Chipper receives a pat on the head.

Chipper loves to meet his dog friends.  He excitedly greets Nicky, the Fox Terrier, with a good thorough sniff.  There is a Pug who runs up the street  to greet Chipper, and Chipper is happy to give him a sniff.  He would like to play with the Pit Bull, who is behind a fence, thankfully, and the black Labrador Retrievers, who bark at him from behind their fence.  Chipper sniffs the fences and they bark.  Chipper feels he is entitled to sniff the neighborhood every morning.

The love of his life is Precious, the Pekinese who lives across the street.  They both look for each other when they trot out of their respective front doors.  They run to great each other, share kisses, and frolic in the grass.  There is never a cross growl between them.  Chipper is in love.

I look forward to walking the neighborhood with Chipper each morning.  I endure his long sniffs of all things that interest him, and stand beside him as he greets his many friends. The humans on the other end of the leashes are my friends.  The quiet time we have together is a wonderful way to begin our day together every day.


My Love Affair with J.K. Rowling

Last Friday, I sailed breathlessly into my nearest Barnes and Noble to purchase J.K. Rowling’s newest book, The Casual Vacancy.  I had been waiting for this moment for months and eagerly anticipated shelves lined with books, but found nothing.  I asked a friendly clerk, where is J.K. Rowling’s latest book?  Didn’t it come in yesterday?  He told me that 350 books came in yesterday and they were all sold.  But he added, we expect another shipment in a few  days, and would I like to put my name on one.  Sure great, I would certainly put my name on one.

Saturday morning a notice popped up on my email stating that my order had arrived.  Needless to sa,y the first thing I did that day was drive to Barnes and Noble.  I walked up to the counter, and the lady behind the counter found the book with my name on it.  I happily bought the book, tucked the bag securely under my arm, and left the store. In the car I hastily pulled the book out of the bag and had my first real look at the book. The cover was yellow and red, with a big black check mark slashed across a small square in the center.  J.K. Rowling’s name was at the top of the box, and under the box was the name of the book, A Casual Vacancy.  What a strange cover I thought, I was only familial with the Harry Potter books. I had read all of them. This cover looked like non of those covers. But then, this is her first adult book. It has to look different.

I gingerly opened the cover of the book.  I leafed through the book. The pages were pristine and crisp, untouched by human hands. I could not wait to get home to begin reading it.  And that is exactly what I did, just as I had done with the Harry Potter books.  This book opened with a zinger and kept me hooked. It’s different from the Harry Potter series, but her characters are alive and real, and jump off the pages.  I was immediately transported to the village of Pagford, England, and involved with the people living there.

Today, Thursday morning, I checked the USA Today, Bestselling Book List.  Guess what? The Casual Vacancy is number one.  It bumped Fifty Shades of Grey to number two. Yah!  The publisher Little Brown reported in an article next to the bestselling list, that Rowling’s novel sold 375,000 copies in all formats its first six days on sale.  The hardcover out sold the e-book.  I am validated.  I am not the only person in love with this author, who I still picture sitting in a cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland, writing about Harry Potter and Voldemort on a napkin.



Her hands, crippled with arthritis, clutch the flour sifter
and scoop just enough flour to knead the flaky pie crust.
Knobbed fingers, spotted with age,
lovingly stitch dresses for a little girl’s dolls.
Warm rough hands, callused from hours, hoeing in the garden,
hold a little girl’s hands in hers, as they walk to the piano lesson.
The little girl knows,
all is well, the world is safe and she is loved.
She is with grandma.

Her hands, crippled with arthritis,
scrape clumps of cookie dough onto the shiny sheet.
Knobbed fingers, spotted with age,
stitch a wedding gown for a not so little girl.
Warm rough hands, callused from years of putting tractor parts in bins,
hold a little boy’s hand in hers, as they walk to the lake.
The not so little girl knows,
all is well, the world is safe for her son,
he is with her mother.

Her hands, crippled with arthritis, clutch the flour sifter,
only at Thangsgiving, now.
Knobbed fingers clutch a pen, attempting to catch a piece of life,
and put it on paper.
These hands have known the touch of a woman’s hands,
which pass on the love that has gone before.
These hands have held the hands of children,
have dried their tears and her own.
She carries on, she is the daughter.


I have arrived

It has taken me awhile, but I have finally arrived at post.  Due to technical difficulties,  because of  my lack of technilogical skills and knowledge, it has taken me awhile to arrive.  The gravatar placement really threw me for a loop.  It is good to be here, and I promise to contribute something more than I have arrived.  There are many topics running around in my head, such as a concert I saw and heard last week, and the solar eclipse.


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