Sunday, December 27, 2015



a person who is involved with something in a petty or contemptible way (usually used in combination):
a gossipmonger.

Chiefly British. a dealer in or trader of a commodity (usually used in combination):

verb (used with object)
to sell; hawk.

Monger is an excellent word that should be used more frequently—in my opinion, of course—because I certainly wouldn’t want to foist my beliefs on others because that would make me an opinionmonger and since opinions are personal and protected speech under the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States, we are all free to believe what we want about words like monger. 

I like it. The word. Monger. I’m kind of partial to the first amendment as well.

In this coming new year of anticipated happiness, I am making a resolution to use the word, monger, more frequently. It’s good to be a goalmonger. Here’s a few possible uses of the word . . . monger . . .

Anti-free speech mongers: Those that object to my opinions when my opinions oppose their opinions. These people include most of my professors on the first day of class, especially the one who said, pointing to the class, “Anyone out there a conservative?” 

I watched several students in the class cringe, which prompted me to think of them as pansymongers.

Or my Comp I professor who enjoyed wasting class time quizzing the students on the best spots to procure drugs or discussing various student's plans to get rich by producing Internet porn on their webcams. I then became a gripemonger when I went to the head of the English department to complain, only to be told by the department chair that “creepmonger” professor was quite popular with the students. No doubt. No doubt.

I tried to get my money back, making me a gypmonger.

When security marched my Introduction to Computers professor off the campus under guard, having been accused of sexual harassment so severe they had to fire him, I became bittermonger. 

I paid good money for Doctor Race Bannon (he swore it was his real name) to waste my time. He was a real slickmonger.

I have seven classes to finish my degree. I’m trying to gird up my loins to be able to justify the cost. 

Seriously, when I paid $1,600.00 for an “advanced” creative writing class at a very fine local institution, I thought I’d be able to get help with writing point of view. I even asked, “Can we please talk about writing point of view?”

Sorry. Wasn’t on the syllabus. Thankfully, I found a little book on Amazon called “Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View” by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. Cost: Six Bucks. Here’s to Amazon Prime and capitalism. 

And that makes me a POVmonger.

Linda (Get Real) Zern


MERRY:  1843 was the date of the publication of Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol and it was around that time, in the early part of the reign of Queen Victoria, that Christmas as we now know it was largely invented. The word merry was then beginning to take on its current meaning of 'jovial, and outgoing' (and, let's face it, probably mildly intoxicated). Prior to that, in the times when other 'merry' phrases were coined, for example, make merry (circa 1300), Merry England (circa 1400) and the merry month of May (1560s), merry had a different meaning, that is, 'pleasant, peaceful and agreeable'.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


I live in a small town. There is one game in our town when it comes to grocery shopping and buying cheap fire ant killer. It’s a box store of highly recognizable signage. I shop there. After all, it’s the only game in town, and now that I’m older and closer to death, I find that driving to other towns to shop at their only game in town is a lot less interesting. 

I don’t waste time sorting my silverware either. I figure if the only way you can tell the difference between a fork and a spoon is to have them sorted into specially shaped plastic slots, I’m not sure I want you eating at my house anyway. 

The Walmart in my town keeps my family in cooking oil and silverware. Amazon and the Internet do the rest.

The problem is that I can’t seem to get out of the only-game-in-town without causing some kind of scene. I don’t know why. It’s like being the town dunce. I always wind up embarrassed and feeling like it would be better if I were sitting in a corner, wearing a pointy hat. 

I think it’s because I buy a lot of cooking oil. Because . . . well . . . I’m pretty sure that our government has sold all America’s surplus cooking oil to Iceland. I have no proof. But I really like home cooked fried chicken, so I worry, and I tend to stock up. I don’t buy good cooking oil, but I buy a lot.

And I drop it after I pay for it. Twice. It’s happened twice. 

The first time, cheap cooking oil, bottled in cheap plastic, slipped through my fingers like oily sand. Well . . . actually . . . the bottle dropped right out through one of those plastic shopping bags that had started to bio-degrade before I’d finished paying for the cheap crap in the bags.

The cheap green cap on the bottle of cheap cooking oil exploded off the top like a bullet, and oil glugged out onto the floor—everywhere. 

I screamed, “Hurry. It’s oil.” 

Walmart employees screamed, back, “Don’t touch it. Do. Not. Touch. It. Get back. Get back.”

They acted like I’d spilled a bottle of sarin gas. It made me wonder what they’re putting in the cooking oil at Walmart.

I just wanted to fry some chicken—not overthrow Iceland. 

Anyway . . . that was the first time.

Today, I did it again: same cheap oil, same crazy plastic cap bullet, same yowling employees acting like I’d just dropped a canister of mustard gas, same giant pool of spreading, smeary canola oil.

That’s it. I can’t take another oil bomb incident. 

I’ve got to look into Amazon’s cooking oil shipping policy or maybe Ali Baba. 

Linda (Fry Cook) Zern 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


What a great year learning about making books and the business of making books. Thank you, for your encouragement, support, and enthusiasm.  Happy New Year of Books!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Some time ago, I was watching an Elvis impersonator get arrested, interrogated, searched, accused, and observed for possibly whipping up a batch of Ricin in his kitchen. 

It made me wonder. What would our neighbors say about us on cable TV, if we were hauled off for cooking up crazy crap in a crock-pot? 


See something. Say something. 

I’ve been trying to imagine what the neighbors are “seeing” at our place when they peek over our wire field fence, realizing if I said something every time I saw something at my neighbor’s house, I’d have the See-Something-Say-Something folks on speed dial.

I mean how weird does it have to be to qualify as something?

It’s not hard to imagine one of those breathless, throaty cable reporters stuffing a microphone in my next-door neighbor’s face and asking, “So, is it true that the Zern family had some unusual weekend rituals? Allegedly?”

“Rituals, no, but they seemed to be overly found of circling.”

Reporter nods and asks, “Satanic symbols? Hex signs? Crop circles?”

“No. Nothing like that, but when they sit outside in their crappy lawn chairs they always wind up in a circle. But it migrates.”

“What does?” The reporter will look perplexed but intrigued. 

“The yard circle. In the summer they circle under that big maple tree, but in the winter they land on the septic tank.” At this point our neighbor gets tired of pointing and drops his hand. 

“And did you see that as an indication that they were cooking up crazy crap in a crock-pot.”

Hesitating, my neighbor will scratch his head. “No. But those grandkids are constantly peeing on stuff.”

There it is. Public urination and yard circles. Our family would be good for at least one charge of felony mischief.

But that’s not as bad as what goes on at our next-door neighbor’s house. Allegedly.

Our neighbor’s eight-year old son informed my daughter that on Sundays his family likes to practice “knifing.” 

She asked, “What’s knifing?”

“You know,” he said, “when you make a target and practice throwing knives at it.”

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that our family is way behind on its knifing practice. Don’t tell.

Linda (Don’t Look. Don’t Tell.) Zern 

Thursday, December 3, 2015


In our church we believe we have a duty to look after each other. Once a month, we try to visit or call each other, by assignment, to make sure everyone is okay, find out if anyone is in need, or try to get free baby-sitting . . . oops . . . umm . . . I’m just kidding. I don’t have little kids. I don’t need free babysitting; I need someone to feed my horses and rub lotion in Charlie’s ears. But I digress.

Anyway, it’s called visiting teaching. I have two sisters (yes, we call each other brother and sister for deeply meaningful reasons having to do with being spiritually related in that big family in the sky sense—but I digress) that I “visit teach.”

One of my dear sisters has hit a rough patch that has put her in a rehabilitation center following some health issues.

Off I went to check on her. 

She’s in room 600 plus. I stood at the first rehab center I cleverly thought of visiting, checking the room numbers. They went up to 200 plus. I stood puzzling and puzzling until my puzzler was sore. The lovely, gentle woman, who runs the joint, recognized a stumped puzzler when she saw one.

“Are you lost?” she said.

“You don’t have six hundred rooms here do you?”

With a knowing twinkle she gave me the number to the other rehabilitation center in town. I called. Ahhhh . . . they had a room with 600 plus on it and my friend.

Laughing, waving, and blowing kisses, I sped off to the next rehabilitation center. 

And found . . . my friend. 

We chatted. We read scriptures. We laughed over this and that. We caught up. We discussed her possible release date.

I met my friend’s lovely roommate.

We had visited for an hour when my friend’s roommate, a lovely woman recovering from a little of this and a little of that, pointed at my tie-dyed motorcycle vest. 

“Sweetheart,” she began, gently. “You have your vest on inside out. Your buttons are on the inside and the tag is out.”

I looked down and realized that I had—for about two hours—been wearing my vest inside out to two different establishments where people are tutored in the fine art of dressing themselves properly and re-learning to walk.

“Right you are,” I said. “You know something.” I pulled my vest off so I could re-dress myself in the manner of a two-year old. “Every time I get to thinking I’m hot stuff my shoe falls in the toilet.” True story. 

Everyone in the room nodded their head at my obvious grasp of my own dopiness and understanding of humiliation.

Laughing, waving, and blowing kisses, I made my exit.

On the way out, I’m pretty sure I heard an occupational therapist say, “She’ll be back.”

Linda (Buttoned Down) Zern 

Monday, November 30, 2015


1. Verily, verily, I say unto you that readeth this missive doeth it in the month of December in preparation for the ringing in of the end of the year of our Lord, two thousand and fifteen, both that and the celebrating of the birth of one baby Jesus, and doth read it for the knowing of both the family of Zern and she that keepeth the record, one Linda of Antioch.

2. But he that readeth doth readeth to his good humor for we did laugh much in this self-same year.

3. For verily, there were many lambs in the flock of our tribe, yeah the lambs doth number twelve and they were called: Zoe (12), Emma (10), Conner (9), Kip (7), Sadie (7), Zac (5), Reagan (5), Hero (3), Griffin (3), Scout (2), Leidy (1) and Ever (infant).

4. But we did waiteth with great expectation for yet the thirteenth lamb. He, being born in Texas to his goodly parents, Lauren of Saint Cloud and Aric of Orlando, on or near the day of birth that is my own.

5. And one mother, yeah, one Heather Baye of Geneva, did speak much to say that she is “a shell of her former self,” because of the antics of her five lambs. For they did wrestle much and cause much destruction in the land of Antioch—not by purpose but more by chance. Or as one, Conner of Saint Cloud, their brother, doth report, “My brothers be like an angry mob.”

6. And these good parents—one Heather of Geneva and Phillip of Bountiful, and Adam of Orlando and Sarah of Saint Cloud, and Maren of Geneva and Thomas of Titusville—did go forth teaching, and feeding, and clothing, and correcting, and mopping, and praying, and worrying much over their lambs. Watching forth always for wolves and the like that doth wish to harm the sheep.

7. And Zoe, in her eleventh year, did becometh like unto a young woman and did entereth into the “danger zone” of both the teenage years and the drama queen days that passeth away without understanding and she did leadeth the rest of the flock into that selfsame way. And we did both rejoice and mourn and hope to endure it well.

8. Then saith Sherwood of Winter Park unto the rising generation, Who wisheth to ride the lawnmower around the house until the gas doth give out. And the lambs did waiteth in line for their turn, some with joy and thanksgiving and some with the pitching of mighty fits. And the rest, even the fathers and mothers among us, did sitteth much about the fire pot and watch as Sherwood of Winter Park did driveth in large and mighty circles upon the mower, trying to keep those that driveth both straight and true and out of the fire pot.

9. Therefore, I did write much of their doings and did post much, yea, even now on my blog for almost the twentieth year and my family dideth ask me oft at Sunday dinner, Art thou not on Twitter?

10. And I did restrain from destroying them with my fiery wrath for not following after me both on Twitter and Facebook and Linkedin and . . .

11. But I did stay my hand.

12. For I know that should my writing become of a kind that is called viral, they would come more oft for dinner and so I do forebear.

13. And many ask if my family doth object to their stories being told far and wide at my hand and I do report that they do not object, save they recei
veth a dollar each time I uttereth their names. And so they selleth their birthright for a mess of dollar bills like unto those that dance in the marketplace.

14. And so my tribe doth both increase and prosper and laugh much, it being our way in the land. And so my days did pass away as if in a dream—of circus clowns.

15. And I make an end, even, Linda of Antioch.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015



THE STAFF: Sherwood, Head of IT and Zoe, Head of Sales. Author for Authors Book Fair. Had a ball, learned a lot, met great people, sold a book or two . . . not too bad . . .

ZippityZern's: A Collage
The Long-Promised Song
Beyond the Strandline

Friday, November 20, 2015


Juke! It’s a great word, meaning so many delightful things. The first definition of the word is: 1) To defeat an opponent by using subtlety, cleverness, or a trickery. 

According to this definition, my fifty-seven year old husband was juked by a five-year old boy, who happily confessed, “Mr. Sherwod, we chased your chickens, but you weren’t looking.” 

Of course, this five-year old might need to work on his subtlety a bit.

Juke is a verb. It’s what you do to someone. In this case, it’s what a bunch of kindergarteners did to my husband. Chase is what they did to our chickens.

A second meaning of the word juke is: 2) To steal from someone else. The problem with this definition of the word is that there are so many examples these days of folks juking each other’s time, energy, money, and stuff, it’s hard to narrow it down. For example: Wow, watching that last Hollywood comedy was a colossal waste of my time, and that’s two hours I’ll never get back and I want to sue someone for pain and suffering and the theft of two hours of my eighty plus or minus years on this earth, and I got juked, or the government has juked my tax money to finance studies of shrimp running on a treadmill. 

A third meaning of the word juke is: 3) To dance while grinding one's [back parts] against another dancer's pelvis. This slang is common in Chicago.

I’ll be darned. I thought this was called “dirty dancing.”

And finally: 4) To stab another person. This slang is common in South London. 4) He got juked and mugged between the tube station and his flat. Crime abhors a vacuum and since London is a gun free zone, being stabbed with a knife has gotten its own slang term. Don’t juke me, or I juke you not.

Here I was under the impression that juke meant going to hear my grandfather play his tenor sax in a speakeasy or juke joint where you might find a jukebox, which plays music for a dime, in Chicago during the depression. Apparently, things have changed a bit in Chicago since my grandparents lived there.

Juke. It’s a great word and I plan to use it more in casual conversation, starting soon. 

Because it’s good to have goals, and I’m not juking you.

Linda (The Trickster) Zern 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monkey Chic

“You can’t wear seventeen monkeys to church.”

Zoe, my six-year old granddaughter, had come to church literally draped in monkeys. She had two to twenty monkeys Velcro-ed around her neck. There were monkey bracelets wrapped around her wrists. She had thrown a monkey backpack over her shoulders and topped the entire monkey collection off with a monkey hat. 

Zoe glowed with pride in her accessorizing acumen. 

She looked like a zoo exhibit had exploded onto her body. 

The ensuing conversation between Zoe’s father and Zoe (better known as Cheetah Girl, Queen of the Jungle) over the appropriate number of monkeys a person should wear to church lasted the major part of our church service and included tears, frustration, and gnashing of teeth. And that was just the Dad.

Arguments that do not work to de-monkey a monkey girl include:

“Zoe, no one else is wearing thirty-three monkeys to church.”

“Zoe, mommy isn’t wearing twenty-seven monkeys to church.”

“Zoe, all those monkeys are going to scare the babies.”

“Zoe, no one will be able to concentrate on the service, because they’ll be trying to count the monkeys on your body.”

“Zoe, all the other children will want your monkeys and they’ll cry.”

“Zoe, the monkeys are making your father break out in monkey pox.”

“Zoe, you’re going to cause a riot.”

“Zoe, take off the monkeys.”


“Oh, let her wear the monkeys.” This from her Poppy, who would let the grandchildren go to church in their underwear, carrying flyswatters if they wanted to.

There are people who climb great mountains. There are people who explore active volcanoes. There are people who show up at Wal-Mart at four in the morning, on black Friday, to be the first to buy the Griddle MAX by Cuisinart for one dollar. 

These people are known as thrill seekers—also nuts.

All of these people combined cannot hope to experience the stamina and courage required to argue the taste level of monkey fashion with a six-year old. Parenting is the ultimate extreme sport, right up there with bungee jumping into a river using a chain of monkeys Velcro-ed to a bridge railing.

For one long year, my youngest son, Adam, refused to leave the house until his sisters tied his hair up in a rubber band. His hair stuck out of his head like a hair horn, but since he was my fourth child and my second son, I knew better than to care. I was numb, which is another way of saying I had cried, “Uncle!” quietly. 

When Adam could finally talk, he told us his rubber-banded hair horn was his “feather.” Who knew Adam had been embracing his Native American heritage and had been reaching out to his ancestors all that time?

Climb a great mountain if you must. Dance about the rim of a spewing volcano if you dare.

But if you really want the thrill of unpredictability, the raw terror of potential destruction, or the rush that comes from a total loss of control, then go car shopping with a four-year old boy. A boy who, at any moment, might drop his pants so that he can take a whiz on the tire of a brand new Lincoln Town Car— in public—in the showroom—in front of the entire sales force of The Central Florida Lincoln-Mercury dealership. 

(We bought the Cougar station wagon. We did not get the special discount.)

Or you can attempt to convince Zoe that wearing a mob of monkeys just “isn’t done” in polite society, which is like trying to convince cannibals that boiled meat is not fine dinner fare. 

Linda (No Fly Swatters) Zern 

Thursday, November 12, 2015


As a college dropout: Because - I refuse to go into massive debt; waste time writing crap for people who will read my essays once and then give me a score like a Russian figure skating judge; or hear one more time why Republicans suck, Mormons are bigots, and that I should donate tons of money back to the institution that spawned me should I ever graduate and get RICH . . . oops, sorry, as a college dropout I like to reflect on my years in higher education. 

NOTE: I can use semi-colons according to one of my professors for emphasis, while another of my teachers said that semi-colons are out because they’re ugly.

Anyway, I like to reflect. 

One of the moments I like to reflect on from my experience as a higher education student is of my friend. We’ll call her Morning Glory. She was wicked funny and a lesbian and a comrade and a left wing liberal down to her communist comrade hat. I loved her, and we laughed—a lot.

One day, I walked into class. Morning Glory looked at me, a quizzical expression on her face. 

She said, “What is it with you?” And then she made a circling gesture over her face. 

Puzzled at first, I touched my face and then realized she was asking me how I could come into class, smiling, a lot.

“What?” I said, “Happy?”

“Yeah, that.” And then she narrowed her eyes at me and said, “And don’t tell me that you are high on Jesus.”

“Okay,” I said and sat.

Here’s the funniest part of the story, I would never use the phrase ‘high on Jesus.’ It’s not in my lexicon.

Here’s the saddest part of the story, that my friend was so unacquainted with happiness that she did not know it when she saw it plastered across my face every morning.

Ahhhhhh, higher education! So much knowledge, so little learning . . .

I’m thinking of transferring to BYU Hawaii to finish up. I hear the weather is lovely.

Linda (4.0) Zern

Monday, November 9, 2015


Write a book. I dare you. It’s a labor of blood, sweat, and tears, and sometimes, actual blood dribbles down into the keyboard, gumming up the works and sending authors racing to the Apple Store for new stuff like a laptop. But mostly, it’s a labor of tears and sweat. After that, there’s a book and it’s beautiful and lovely and of good report.

And then the reviews come in.

“The descriptions are amazing. I could smell, hear, taste, and touch the humidity.”

“There could have been more description of humidity.”

“The action lagged in only one spot.”

“The action was almost too much. I liked when the characters sat around and talked.”

“Too hot.”

“Too cold.”

“Too many bears.”

And so it goes . . .

Seriously, and so it goes . . .

I love feedback from readers and reviews are publishing’s lifeblood, but there’s a trick to keeping reviews in perspective. Don’t try. 

Don’t misunderstand. I am a big believer in studying and refining craft. I have about a hundred books on writing to prove it, but honestly it’s a crapshoot trying to get the number of bears right for every single person that will pick up and read your book. 

It’s important to know that the world is full of experts, critics, and people with peeves. 

Keep writing.

Keep in mind that every reader brings his or her own experiences and hang-ups to the story. 

“You’re such a nice lady. How do you write about such terrible things happening to children . . . and bears?”

“Too much cussing.”

“Not enough cussing.”

Just keep writing.

“Cliff hangers make me breathe hard and dream furry dreams.”

Keep on writing.

“Why aren’t there fifty shades of gray zombies in your story?”

Write and write and write.

Then, on a fine humid day full of expectation and lemonade, a reader will grab you by the shoulders and say, “Linda! Your book! I couldn’t put it down!” making you run not walk back to the keyboard and proving that crying blood-sweat to get your story told is a small price to pay.

Then sit down and write.

Linda (Keyed Up) Zern

DISCLAIMER: All the above quotes are fictional and represent no actual opinions from any actual readers about any actual review stuff. Mostly, it’s based on smart aleck stuff my kids have said. Sigh. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015


After the last national election I had to block about a thousand people from my social network. I didn’t want to, but I had to. I don’t enjoy people dancing on other people’s graves. It hurts my heart, and aren’t hearts the most important organ of the body: full of feelings, and emotions, and irrational hurts, and liberal amounts of sentimentality.
Except the heart isn’t the most important organ of the body, and feelings aren’t centered in it. Feelings originate in our brains. Hearts beat to serve the brain.Emotions are a product of our gray matter . . . or they should be.
Anyway, after the last election when my “friends” chortled and exulted and rubbed their candidates’ wins in my face (after warning me not to chortle or exult or rub their faces in it should my candidate win) I realized that double standards have become the norm in all things politic. Therefore, I have been working on a set of rules for discussing politics for the coming contest.
Rule #1. Everyone gets to talk up why they like his or her candidate without fear of being blindsided by strangers. To be allowed to crap on your guy or gal, individuals out there in the cyber jungle have to be able to name one of the following: the title of one of my books, the title of one of my blogs, the name of my youngest child. Please state your name, party affiliation, and major hangups for the record.
Rule #2. Arguments for or against a candidate should be backed up with logical discussion of the individual’s background and philosophy. For example: “I like Hitler because he can really get a crowd going, he is super popular, and he’s Time Magazine’s Man of the Year” are not acceptable.
Rule #3. Full discloser is absolutely required. “I think this guy [or gal] will buy all my toilet paper for the rest of my life, and I’ve already worked that into my budget,” or “He’s my boss!” are acceptable declarations. “I’m still waiting for the first Clinton to pay for two years of community college for my kids like he promised,” is also acceptable.
Rule #4. Cynicism encouraged. “I’m not sure any human being can—with the force of his or her personality—fix everyone’s everything. I’d have to see the spreadsheet on that.” Candidates are just people, folks.
Rule #5. Name-calling is right out. Smart, sharp witty comments are right in. Whining prohibited. Double standards will be highlighted, targeted, and blown to cynical bits.
Rule #5-A. Using the number 19 trillion in a sentence is encouraged. For example: I have 19 trillion questions I’d like to ask American voters who think that coming to the potluck dinner without bringing any food but expecting to eat is a winning, helpful, sustainable lifestyle.
Rule #6. Understand that I believe that compromising with evil is never a win. I believe that absolutes like good and evil actually exist and that humans are capable of free will, and that wickedness will never be happiness (even if someone else pays for all the penicillin.)
Linda (Sister Suffragette) Zern

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Sometimes the talk is serious, still fun, but serious. Check out our prepper blog about pockets (best invention known to man.)

Monday, November 2, 2015


“Is that guy biting that girl’s thigh?” My son pushed a computer screen with a picture of a guy biting a girl’s thigh in front of my face. I squinted. Not only was it a picture of a young man biting a young women’s thigh, I knew the biter boy.

“Don’t you know that guy?” My son began to scroll down to other pictures of the young man in question biting other questionable girl bits.

“Yeah, I know him,” I sighed.

“Didn’t you . . .”

I cut him off. “Yeah, I wrote him a letter of recommendation for the college of his choice . . . so, apparently, he could go to that institution of higher learning and bite girl’s meaty leg parts.”


I agreed. 

“Do people on social networking sites know that we can see them?” My son looked at me with a puzzled frown.

I closed my eyes with visions of thigh biting dancing in my head. “You know; I think it’s kind of like my theory of why people pick their noses in their cars. Glass feels solid, even if it is see-through, and I always want to yell, ‘We can see you!’ But no one ever hears me. Apparently, it’s also sound proof.”

This incident just highlights why writing letters of recommendation can be so problematic, because the world has become a thigh biting, obscene gesture shooting, booby flashing extravaganza, while I still blush when I fill out the forms in the gynecologist’s waiting room. 

The blush is off the world’s rose, that’s for sure.

So I have decided that in all future letters of recommendation that I am asked to write I will include the following disclaimer:

What I know of this candidate, student, or potential employee does not include knowledge of: thigh biting photo’s winging their way across the world wide web; strange or twisted philosophies concerning Marxists mass murderers and their views on day care, first names, or the proper running of a gulag; lying to Israeli officials; or superficial tattoos displayed prominently on bits that can be chewed on by boys whose friends are sober enough to hold the camera steady.

I’m not kidding about the blushing part. My gynecologist once looked at my face and neck, his glasses slipping to the end of his nose, and poked my cheek with his finger.

“What’s that?” he asked.

I knew immediately, but I refused to admit to my old-fashioned red-faced shame.

“Are you blushing?” He looked at my fevered cheeks with squinty eyes. “That’s amazing,” he continued. “Nobody blushes anymore.” He poked me again. “Look at that.” He acted like he’d just discovered an extinct species of pigeon nesting on my head.

Sighing, I shrugged and pulled my exam gown closer to my throat, covering my embarrassed shame with a paper towel, wondering who wrote my doctor his letters of recommendation.

I’ve got nothing against public confessionals of guilt to save the taxpayer the expense of a trial, stocks in the town square where you get to throw old veggies at the town bully, and admitting to your most embarrassing self deprecating moments for their humorous uplifting quality, but don’t cry when you—finally and at long last—realize WE CAN SEE YOU and, boy, do you look silly!

Linda (Once Bitten, Twice Shy) Zern

Friday, October 30, 2015


Hillary Clinton made the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” famous. She stole it from an old African village but . . . well . . . that’s a worry for another blog, and I’ve got a couple of questions for Bill’s wife.

What village? Whose village? Big village? Small village? City village? Country village? And what should the village do with the villagers who can’t keep their drunken tally whackers in their nasty pants, making babies they have no intention of buying insurance for . . . 

But mostly . . . what’s a village? Please define.

From a really, really recognizable source of information that no one lets you use in college when you write an essay: “Although many patterns of village life have existed, the typical village was small, consisting of perhaps 5 to 30 families. Homes were situated together for sociability and defense, and land surrounding the living quarters was farmed.”

Hmmmm . . . families . . . extended families: so a village is mom, dad, brother, sister, grandma, grandpa and crazy Aunt Maud. Interesting. But I’m afraid I have some bad news. Young villagers aren’t so village minded these days.

One fine day in college, while contemplating the coming Thanksgiving break, I listened to some fine young students talk about heading home to—you guessed it—the village that spawned them.

One young man said, “I’m going home, but it’s bu!!$&*#. I hate my family. But hey, they’re paying my bills.”

My immediate thought? And another village bites the dust.

Villages are closely related people who care about and worry for the health, wealth, and happiness of the next generation of villagers. Boys were valued for their ability to battle off soccer hooligans. Girls were valued for just about everything else. Adults imparted culture. Older members imparted wisdom and opportunities for service. No one went on a cruise.

Not only were villages efficient, they were also tough. Villagers who proved to be idiots were often displayed in public stocks, allowing the other villagers—on their way to milk goats or weave something—to express their displeasure by tossing verbal barbs or horse crap at the idiot. Hard work was lauded. Idiots included: adulterers, liars, thieves, slack-jawed losers, and hooligans. 

Villages that practiced slack-jawed laziness became extinct like the giant sloth. No one bailed them out. To deal with the worry and the insecurity and the global climate shenanigans the village went to church on Sunday, and they did pretty well. 

They drank raw milk. They ate free-range eggs, and they stored up roots for winter soup. They didn’t live as long as we do—true. But they did manage to give birth to and educate some fairly impressive individuals who managed to realize that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness does not come from the village at all but from some greater, more permanent source: God and Nature’s God.

I say, “Bring back the village and the public stocks.” I’ll provide the horse pucky.

Linda (Shame on You) Zern
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