Monday, June 29, 2015


Getting kids to do actual work is work, and it can be exhausting. Sitting on the edge of a bunk bed, smacking the mattress with a ruler, yelling, “Faster! Pick up those twelve thousand Legos faster,” can really take it out of you.  But it’s part of the job description.

Motherhood Manual, page twelve:  Attempt to impart to the next generation of toddler types that sweat is not a reason to lie down and die.

In our family, daughter number two dropped out of dance classes when she realized the moisture on her brow was the result of the body movements she was required to do in ballet. She was five. “I’m too sweaty, Mommy.”

Although, we have grandchildren who think nothing of lugging a forty-five pound tree stump from the burn pile out into the middle of our yard, so they can hoist it onto the picnic table. These are the same kids that often collapse at the thought of having to pick up candy wrappers they’ve tossed to the winds of chance in that same yard. Curiouser and curiouser.

But still we thump the bunk bed drumbeat and try to train the junior galley slaves to “row well and live.”

I knew our kids were beginning to understand the employee/employer work dynamic when, after watching the movie “Ben Hur,” I discovered that the boys had flipped over our picnic table, chained their sisters, Heather and Maren, to the makeshift slave galley, and shoved rowboat oars in their hands.

They’d set up Adam as the “drummer,” while big brother, Aric, yelled, “Faster. Faster,” and “Ramming speed.” Those girls were rowing for all they were worth. Minimum wage was quite low, however.

Still, we continued to try to instill a solid work ethic in our children.

When Adam got his first “real” job, it was to deliver flowers. To nudists. Once in a while. He found it wildly unsettling.

After one brutal encounter at our friendly, neighborhood nudist’s colony he came home to slump at the kitchen counter.

“Rough day?” I asked.

“You have no idea,” he said, reaching for a chocolate chip cookie, “I had to make a delivery to Cypress Cove. You know? The naked nudists place.”



“So?” I tried to sound like I wouldn’t be horrified when he related his workday to me.

“It’s naked alright. But it’s not good naked.” He swallowed a swig of milk.

“But it was cold today. Surely folks covered up.”

He looked at me. “Sure. You’d think so. But on my way to the office, I drove by a really old guy. He had a jacket on and nothing else. A jean jacket. It was short. He was wearing a short jean jacket and nothing else. Did I mention he was really old?”

“Well, look on the bright side, you get paid soon.” I wiped cookie crumbs off the counter.

“Yeah,” he sighed, “but not enough. Not nearly enough.”

Work is ennobling. It imparts a sense of accomplishment. It keeps us active, challenged, and engaged. It can lift and create. It affords independence. Work is NOT a four-letter word.  The Puritans had it right. The gave us their work ethic and high necked clothing. Work well and live and cover up for goodness sake. You are not “good” naked.

Linda (Ramming Speed) Zern


Monday, June 22, 2015


I am getting older and no part of me is getting younger.

Just ask Conner. He is nine years old and my grandson. His skin is pristine and without wrinkle. His eyes are keen. His powers of observation are laser-like.

I have forbidden him to look at me—for the rest of my natural life.

This weekend I caught him staring. I always know when he’s going to comment on some unfortunate aspect of my advancing decrepitude. He shuts his mouth. And he quits blinking. 

Sure enough.

“YaYa,” he began. 

“What, Conner?” I said, girding up my wrinkled forehead.

“You know what you could be for Halloween?”

No good could come of this, but I asked anyway. “Oh good grief! What? What could I be for Halloween?”

He leaned over, pinched the fat under my chin and said, “You could be a frog or a lizard. You know, one of those lizards with that flapping thing under their chin.”

“A dewlap? Are you saying that I could be a lizard with a dewlap for Halloween?”

He smiled a cherubic smile. “Yes.”

I sighed. “I was thinking more of a pelican with a pouch.”

His smile widened; his dimples flashed; his eyes twinkled. I searched his profile for a hint of a gene-induced double chin. Nothing.

Getting old is making me crazy. I thought I would be better at it or not care so much! But wow! It’s the worst and not because it limits your Halloween costume choices.

Stuff is starting to break, hang, and quit outright, all over the place. 

And if Conner isn’t happily reminding me about my dewlap trouble, it’s the television telling me that my ears are shot. 

Tinnitus. Ringing in my ears. I have it. I don’t know when I got it, but now I have it. The television commercial said that I might get tinnitus, and then I got it, which means that I got it from the television . . . or from Conner, telling me that I should be a frog for Halloween. Either way, it stinks.

Linda (Croak-Croak) Zern 

Friday, June 19, 2015


A lovely woman came up to me at our local shoe kiosk the other day (they’re having a snappy shoe sale) and informed me, “You know you’re old when the latest styles are too dangerous to wear because you may fall and break a hip.”

She was a delightful woman. Never met her before in my life.

“True,” I agreed, and then added. “I know I’m old because all the latest styles remind me of Viet Nam. Everything my daughters put on their feet look like the North Viet Cong cut them out of bicycle tires on the Ho Chi Men trail.

“That’s because everything IS made by the Viet Cong these days, also the Koreans, but mostly the Chinese.”

She laughed sweetly and hobbled off atop pale pink platform sandals.

Lovely woman. Excellent shoes.

Aren’t shoe shoppers the friendliest people and so well informed on the current import-export situation? I believe it has something to do with squashing your feet into the very same pair of shoes that the lady next to you just finished squashing her feet into. It gives you a sense of sisterhood. That’s why bowlers are so warm and friendly, because everyone wears everyone else’s shoes. Nice and cozy.

My shoe wearing philosophy: I’m short. I always wear heels. I’ve told my daughters that the day they see me in flats is the day they should throw dirt on me, because I’m done.

Best shoe related quote: “Those shoes are just too Cha-Cha for words.” (From Steel Magnolias)

Best reason to be a girl: The assortment of shoe choices, of course. I couldn’t be a man because their shoes are so plain, not to mention blah—also boring.

Why shoes are magic: Because you can tap them together three times and cool stuff happens.

The smartest reason to have lots of shoes: So you can justify having lots of clothes to make “outfits” inspired by all the shoes you own.

Shoes that had the most influence on me: Those white Go-Go boots from the sixties that were the coolest, hippest fashion statement ever created by the hand of fashion designers in any time period, and I’m including those saber tooth tiger boots that every one was into in the ice age.

Why I never feel guilty buying shoes: Think of all the jobs I’m providing all those former Viet Cong, Koreans, and Chinese. I’m feeding the peoples of the world and looking too cha-cha for words all at the same time. It’s win-win.

Linda (Well-Heeled) Zern

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Freckle You!

I’m weighing in. I’m sounding off. I’m tossing in my two cents. And I’m doing it before it’s illegal to weigh, sound, or toss my opinion around.

In a day when feelings trump facts or DNA or actual freckle count on actual skin, I want to say that I’m all for relative reality, because there’s a list of stuff I have believed about myself that my society has not believed about me. A. List. Of. Stuff.

But the biggest one is freckles. I reject them as a skin option. I do not identify as a freckly person.

Recently, my husband of thirty plus years looked at me with narrowed eyes, thoughtfully. I could tell he was being thoughtful because his mouth wasn’t moving.

A long minute passed, and then he said, “Wow! You have a lot of freckles. I never noticed before.”

I was less thoughtful. “WHAT???? Who have you been looking at for the last thirty years???? Are you insane???? I look like a commercial for one of those hip clothes companies where they feature freaky people with freckles.”

But he is right. I do have a lot of freckles. Here’s the catch. I don’t want a lot of freckles, in that freckles tend to be accompanied by skin so white, it’s see-through. No, I’m serious. See-through skin. So, imagine my delight with all the folks out there in society leading the way to new and improved genetic realities.

Born a boy? Want to be a girl? Both parents white?  Rather be black? Hate your hair? Enjoy hair made in Indonesia?   Sure. Sure.

Well, GOOD because I want new skin. I have always felt that I am really a human with gloriously freckle-free skin. In truth, it is the color of golden sunlight, undershot with a hint of glitter. My hair is spun lightning. My check bones are sharp enough to cut glass. And I’m five feet, nine inches tall, so that my wings don’t drag.

That, my friends, is what I feel that I am. And I’m not kidding, so you have to take me seriously. You. Have. To.

If you laugh at me or mock or talk about me behind your hand I will become irritatingly whiney—even bratty. Be warned.

Or . . .

I can embrace the package that “evolution” and DNA and life have handed me, rejoice in the air in my lungs, the wind in my hair, and the grandchildren at my feet. When I look in the mirror I can see that my scars are reminders of battles fought and won against time and cancer. My freckles are a genetic banner of the islands, fiords, and the wild North Sea where my people lived and died and dreamed.

And that more importantly than my outside, is my spirit. A spirit whose Father is God, making me the daughter of Heaven. Who needs human wings?

Linda (Winged Fury) Zern    


Friday, June 12, 2015


Is there anything more loved than a dog-eared book?  Yes. The one who made it that way. My everlasting thanks to Phoenix, Payton, and Mason for choosing MOONCALF for their summer book reading club.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Attack of the Bad Stinger Goat

In the weak sunshine of a Florida winter, it is customary for some Floridians to sit on their septic tanks, their faces tipped up to the sky, their sinuses exposed to the gentle medicinal comfort of the sun’s warmth, their hope as raw as their throats that God and nature will heal them of their Ebola-Rhino-Flu-Plague. Okay, sometimes I pull a lawn chair over to the septic tank and sit in the sun and hope that it will make me feel better when I’m sick. Sometimes, Phillip, my son-in-law, brings the grandkids over and sits on the septic tank with me. What can I say; it’s Saint Cloud. 

Once upon a time, we (Philip and I) sat in the sun on the septic tank. I was feeling as weak as two kittens in a sinking sack from Ebola-Rhino-Flu-Plague, while Conner and Zoe (the grand-kidlets) cavorted merrily under a Japanese Plum tree. 

Zoe sang, “Fruit-fruit-fruit, I want two fruits.” Conner pooped in his pants.

The world spun gently, right up to the point when Conner, poop in drawers, stumbled in the direction of a strange, horned, white goat that had mysteriously appeared in our yard, having journeyed from somewhere beyond next door.

“Phillip, grab that boy before Billy Goat Gruff knocks your kid down.”

The goat flipped his scraggly beard in the direction of my voice. Phillip ran and scooped Conner up, setting him next to me in my pool of medicinal sunshine on the septic tank. The goat, a smallish—no higher than my knee variety—with dirty blond hair and “come hither” yellow devil eyes, started a slow determined trot in our direction.

Phillip, never a lover of goats or farm creatures in general, said, “What does it want with us?” He sounded nervous—also squeamish. 

“Oh, he’s probably just seeing what’s what.” I tried to sound confident.

The goat kept trotting.

I closed my eyes in exhaustion brought on by the Ebola-Rhino-Flu-Plague. The odor of goat, BOY goat, engulfed me, and wow, did he smell close! When I opened my eyes, it was to the sight of this stinker of a goat trying to French kiss the sleeve of my shirt and the sound of obscene noises of goat love. I bolted out of my lawn chair.

I yelled, “Or he could be looking for a date.”

The goat made a lunge at my leg. I dodged.

“Grab the kids before it’s too late—this stinky goat is in full on goat whoopee love mode.”

Phillip scooped up Conner but Zoe, misunderstanding what I had said, began running wildly around waving and yelling, “Go away stinger goat. Go away.”

Confused, but hopeful, the goat surveyed the scene and then lunged at the closest leg—Phillip’s leg.

Zoe waved and yelled, “Leave my daddy’s leg alone.”

“It’s having its’ way with your leg,” I screamed, as I ripped the garden house from the side of the house.

“Run!” I ordered.

Expecting a torrent of water, I turned the spigot on full blast, but lying advertising and crap marketing had given me a false sense of security in my new never-kink hose. A weak drip of water taunted me, and I cringed to see more crimps and kinks than hose.

Phillip shrieked.

Zoe shrieked. “Bad Stinger Goat!!”

I whipped the hose from side to side to un-kink the kinks and to defend whatever honor Phillip had left in his right leg. The goat continued to lust.

Finally, the hose kinks came free and I fire-hosed that nasty, stinker of a goat. The goat loved it. The distraction gave Phillip enough of a head start that he, Conner, and Zoe made it to the screened porch. I brought up the rear, not two steps ahead of the now wet and super rank horn-dog of a goat.

What I saw in my son-in-law’s eyes still brings a shudder to my soul. What he said next, I cannot forget.

“I showed fear,” he said. “I showed fear.” He hung his head. 

Conner tried to pet the goat through the porch screen. I tipped over a lawn table and shoved it against the screen door.

“You smell like a bad stinger goat,” I said, avoiding Phillip’s eyes. “I hope you have a change of clothes.” 

Before he finished slinking off to wash himself, I said, “We will never speak of this.” His chin collapsed onto his chest. He continued slinking. Somewhere in the yard a goat bawled his loneliness. 

This is the story that I started my website with several years ago. To catch up on all my tales of hose kinks, goat attacks, and family shame check out

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

One of my favorite quotes with one of my sweetest passions . . . 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Realistic Fantasy - 2.0

My husband is an engineer. He likes the solid reality of computer languages and Internet access. 

I enjoy the idea that trolls live in the knothole of our live oak tree in the backyard.

In that one Batman movie, when Robin knocked on the giant metal island with his fist and joked, “Holy rusted metal, Batman,” my husband snorted through his nose and declared, loudly, “Oh, that’s so unbelievable.”

Astounded, I looked at him and said, “Which part of this movie did you find believable? The bat suit with the rubber man nipples?”

Movie watchers sitting near us in the theater were happy to tell us to shut up.

Fantasy is not my husband’s thing.

I love Godzilla and Mothra and horse riding wizards.

Sherwood loves jock straps.


After watching the latest incarnation of the great Godzilla franchise, I waxed enthusiastic. 

“Godzilla as he was meant to be. Big. Tough. Ticked off. Loved it. Loved the train full of atomic bombs, conveniently lined up for radiation eating monsters—to eat! Loved it!”

I never told my husband to go see Godzilla. Never. Why would I? He is NOT a true fan. He is an engineer, forced to see the world as a giant Sudoku puzzle—poor linear man.

He went to see Godzilla . . . 

And found it wildly flawed.

Then he went to see X-Men with our son, the same kid that used to wear fish shaped oven mitts on his feet and stomp around my kitchen pretending to crush some guy named Tokyo. After the movie, my husband, the computer engineer, came home on a tear.

“So how was the movie?” I asked.

“Ugh! It was so ridiculous. All the creatures are so fantastic.”

“Sure. Sure. Fantasy tends to be kind of fantastic.”

“But why? Why can’t there be realistic fantasy?”

“It’s called the suspension of disbelief or pulling the stick out of one’s bottom for a bit and having fun with monsters. That’s all. You have to want to believe.”

“But I can’t.”

“I know, honey. I know. It’s okay. You don’t have to believe. Just sit here next to me. I’ll believe for both of us. See there,” I said, pointing. “In that big old oak tree over there, I think I see a troll peeking out of that knothole. Just squint your eyes up a bit.”

He never did squint.

Linda (Run, Tokyo, Run) Zern

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Lists to Love

Bloggers know that readers love lists: ten favorite movies; eight best ways to watch your ten favorite movies; twelve best snacks to eat while watching your ten favorite movies in your third snazziest pajamas. You know. Lists. 

Some of my favorite lists are 1) Lists about pet peeves 2) Lists about people who make lists and 3) Lists of favorite . . . colors, foods, names, smells, movies, books, snacks, games, dogs, cats, vacations . . . you know, everything.

So, let’s make some lists. Shall we?

Favorite come-on lines that my husband has been using on me since we started dating in high school: 1) Let’s get it on. 2) Let’s get in on in my Chevy van. 3) Want to get it on before the kids get here?

My three best responses to my husband’s favorite come-on lines: 1) No! 2) You don’t have a Chevy van and no! And 3) Are you crazy?

Five top signs that you are living with Visigoths. 1) There are sticks and stones in the microwave. 2) There’s more sand in the living room than the barn. 3) You find small children asleep under bushes and hedges. 4) Butting heads with a goat is considered a recreational activity. 5) Underwear is considered outerwear.

Seven things that make me sad: 1) Dead light bulbs. 2) Sticks and stones in my microwave. 3) When my husband says he’s, “Ready to go” and he really means, “Get in the truck and try not to die of heatstroke, while I check every window, door, lock, and light bulb.” 4) Liars. 5) People who live in cities—where they sit in apartments listening to each other’s poop slide through the walls—who try to tell people who live in the the country the right way to live and be happy. 6) City mice. 7) Corrupt city mice that live in Washington D. C. 

Favorite authors: 1) Shirley Jackson 2) C. S. Lewis 3) Ray Bradbury 4) Ayn Rand 5) Harper Lee 6) Charles Portis 7) Richard Powell 8) Pat Frank 9) Oh, so very, very many . . .

Top Five Regrets: 1) That I’m too small to pick up tree trunks 2) That big and strong is wasted on a lot of people 3) That I can’t fly 4) That I can’t make other people fly 5) That I can’t brainwash people, even though I’ve been accused of being able to brainwash people.

Most favorite colors: 1) Glitter. That’s it. It’s a short list.

And so the list making goes on your top blogs, saving us from having to read real long sentences with complicated punctuation.

Linda (Listless) Zern 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


"I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. 
I only claim to know how a story ought to be told, for I have been 
almost daily in the company of the most expert storytellers for many years. 

There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind--
the humorous. I will talk mainly about that one. The humorous story 
is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. 
The humorous story depends for its effect upon the MANNER of the telling; 
the comic story and the witty story upon the MATTER." 

Mark Twain (From his essay “How to Write a Story”)

Storytelling is just this side of lying—the north side. Humorous storytelling is just this side of lying added to hyperbole, mixed with enough wit to make reality look funnier than it actually is.

According to Mr. Twain, any little old thing that happens during the day can become a humorous story if told with the correct amount of art and skill. I agree. 

I find that there isn't much in this world that isn't funny, especially now, what with the roving gangs of I-Want-Something-I-Don’t-Have-But-I’m-Pretty-Sure-That-You-Might-Have-It, Therefore-I’m-Going-To-Fling-Poo-At-You-Until-I-Get-It goblins roving about. Note: In this sentence I used the word roving as both an adjective and a verb with possible humorous implications. 

Like whistling in the dark, humor keeps the goblins away. They may fling poo and it may stink, but it’s reassuring to be able to compare stinking goblin behavior to the best of monkey etiquette. And who can’t laugh at monkeys? 

I know I’m laughing when I practice my anti-goblin tactics and poo dodging drills.

I enjoy humorous stories that involve irony, wit, satire, and the clever use of the word indubitably. 

My husband, father-in-law, and grandson find the three stooges wildly funny. The three stooges are known for their clever use of smacking each other in the face with wooden planks, thus illustrating the ethereal nature of what qualifies as funny storytelling. 

Some people laugh at the sound of a fart produced by an armpit. 

Some laugh at a story full of well-placed verbal barbs, as long as it’s directed at someone they disdain—like goblins.

Some folks laugh at the subtle and not so subtle manipulations used in the advertisements of politicians that have spent sixteen trillion dollars to convince people of their pure and holy intentions. YES THEY CAN sling the bull but is the joke on us?

According to a popular Facebook meme, vulgarity is not wit. Sure. Sure. Tell that to the Sit-Com folks and Hollywood crowd and those that laugh with them.

I love self-deprecating humor. It takes a confident and humble soul, secure in their own skin, to tell a story using themselves as the object of the joke. Love it. Confidence is wildly attractive. Humor is gorgeous and wit as good as abs in attracting the opposite sex. It’s true. They’ve done studies.

Here’s to telling a funny story today.

Linda (Giggle Bottom) Zern 

Monday, June 1, 2015


Found this note from Sadie and Zoe on our office door.  Literacy starts at home or YaYa's. 

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