Monday, September 28, 2015


Over the years, Moms learn a lot. I know about “blood” moons, yeast bread, and potty training. I can sew my own curtains, pillows, and clothes. I’ve experienced elementary, middle, and high school five times—a side benefit of being a homeschooler. I can paint a wall and grow a rose. I can’t help knowing a lot of stuff. 

It’s like barnacles. When you’re in the water long enough, you grow barnacles. I’ve been in the water a while. Besides, I like to watch the Discovery channel. 

Doesn’t matter. This is the age of Google. My knowledge base is challenged at regular intervals, mostly when I talk.

Doesn’t help that I often make statements—out loud, randomly, and without warning. 

“Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal,” I spout off.

Scoffs, scorns, and narrowed eyes greet my statement.

Kid #2 yelled, “Google it.”

Kid #3 immediately starts scratching at her phone. 

“Nope,” Kid #3 exulted. “It’s the mosquito. Most dangerous animal in the world.”

“Okay, my bad. I should have said land mammal.”

“Too bad,” Kid #2 said. “We Googled you.”

When the grandkids were studying Egyptian history I suggested, “Hey, you should try building a shaduf.”

“What’s a shaduf?”

“It’s an ancient Egyptian device for dipping water out of a river.”

One skeptic whispered, loudly, “Google it.”

Phone scratching commenced.

“Yep. She’s right. This . . . time.”

Sometimes the Google wins. Sometimes I win. I guess it’s okay. It’s a lot like running for public office. The fact checkers are everywhere, scratching at their phones.

“Did you know that koala bears are absolutely disgusting animals?” I offer, after hearing about how adorable someone thought they were. “The babies eat their mother’s poop, eighty percent of them have a sexually transmitted disease that makes them incontinent, and they’re mean. Go ahead Google it and weep.”

They did. They wept.

Google at your own risk. That’s what I say.

Did you know that the end of the world, well . . . at . . . least the end of the part that runs your television and Googler machine, is most likely to come from the giant star in the sky? Solar flares are real. They come from the sun. They have already blasted the earth many times. Because we are SO dependent on the electrical power grid in this century, a real deal solar storm could smash the grid to fried wires and blown transformers. What? 

Google it.

Linda (Candle Both Ends) Zern



Survived the blood moon, did you? Sure. Sure. This time. But what about next time?  Start with the basics and let's have fun talking all things BeyondtheStrandline readiness . . .

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Our boy goat hit puberty, which sent him spiraling into mindless wooing. Mindless wooing consists of getting his head stuck in field fence and grunting at the neighbor’s girl goats. 

So I had to move him to a pasture, one field removed from the neighbor’s trampy girl goats.

Herding goats is like herding goats. They’re all over the place. So I got a bucket of feed to trick them into a new pasture. 

But then the horses hear the tink, tink, tink of oats in a bucket so they come running.

Except that Tracker, a big bully boy, hates the goats, so the goats can’t be with the horses, but before I know what’s happened, the horses—hearing that tink sound—have snuck through the open work shop door and into the barn with the goats.

But they can’t be with the goats because Tracker will stomp goats into goat paste.

So I wrangle Tracker out of the barn and into the goat pasture that the goats can’t be in because our boy goat is in love. 

While I’m wrangling Tracker, Mavis the Goat—who is related to a magician and a prison escapee—slips out of the barn through a crack, wanders over to her old pasture, jumps up on her goat house, burps up a wad of goat oats, and settles in with Tracker, the goat hater.

The other goats, envying Mavis her agency, began to probe the fences for weaknesses. I reinforce every microscopic goat exit with epoxy and rope.

In the meantime, Charlie, goat neutral horse, has been snacking it up with random goats. I chase him into another paddock, slam the gate shut, and then count the number of beads of sweat rolling down my nose.

Six hours have passed and no one is where they’re supposed to be all because one boy goat fell in love.

Linda (We All Fall Down) Zern

4.9 out of 5 stars

PAGE NUMBER ONE, AVERAGE CUSTOMER REVIEWS, PREPPER ROMANCE!! 4.9 out of 5 stars and counting . . . BEYOND the STRANDLINE . . . action, adventure, romance, courage, tragedy, triumph!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Love is Not Pork Bellies

“The pork belly futures contract became an icon of futures and commodities trading.”

I don’t even understand that sentence, but I know it’s as American as apple pie futures. Here’s my take on it. Pigs have bellies. Pig bellies are finite, and that means it’s possible to run out of pork tummies. The price goes up. The price goes down, depending. People eat bacon. Right?

The problem is that the world gets to thinking that everything is bacon and might run out.

At our house it is not uncommon to hear comments like, “If your bacon has formed a pyramid on your plate, you have too much bacon. Put seven pieces of bacon back.”

Bacon, it’s finite. 

Love is not bacon.

As the grandparent of, soon to be, fourteen grandchildren, I feel confident making that statement. 

When we had our first baby I thought my feelings for him were like pork belly futures, limited and finite, and that I couldn’t possibly love anyone else the way I loved that rosy- cheeked little boy. But then we had a quiet, graceful little girl with huge blue eyes and the love got bigger—not smaller. 

Then came another daughter, with a feisty attitude and a smart mouth that made us laugh, followed by a son with an attitude so cheerful that it dazzled, and the love got bigger yet.

A friend of mine explained it like this. “Everyone in college is pretty sure that children will suck them dry. That’s what conventional wisdom teaches. That’s what society says. But I looked around and saw that ninety percent of everyone, in the end, wanted what I already had, even Madonna.”

“I can’t imagine life without her.” (Madonna the Singer, speaking of her first daughter)

I know. Right? And unlike pork bellies, love is one of those things that the more you get the more there is, and the more there is, the more you can have and the bigger it becomes. Love, it just never runs out. 

Linda (Love it Up) Zern 

I'll Scratch You All Over

The fourth brother in the grandkid gang was snotty, crying, dirty, and done. I pointed at it and told my daughter, “Take that one home, wash it, pat it, and put it to bed.”

The third brother in the gang felt that I had dissed his littlest brother. He began to mutter. His face closed like a fist.

I tried to interpret his three-year old muttering.


“Heather,” I said to my daughter, “what’s he saying?”

She listened for a while.

With more optimism and hope than knowledge she reported, “He’s saying, ‘I’ll love you forever.’”

Zac’s face now resembled angry granite. 

“Heather, look at his face. I don’t think he’s saying, ‘I’ll love you forever.’”

She sighed and then reported, “He’s saying, ‘I’ll scratch you all over.’”

Ah ha! That was more like it.

This incident typifies what I like to call the Wishful Thinking Syndrome. It was wishful thinking that Zac was waving a fond goodbye to his old YaYa with charming declarations of undying devotion. 

There’s a lot of Wishful Thinking Syndrome going around I’ve noticed.

It’s wishful thinking that professors who are busy trying to sell their books will be available to help you sell yours.

It’s wishful thinking that low self esteem, broken hearts, damaged egos, and sociopathic behavior can be fixed with quick cash. 

It’s wishful thinking that food without butter, salt, fat, and sugar is going to be as good as food with butter, salt, fat, and sugar.

It’s wishful thinking that bread and circuses are going to work forever. (See history of the Roman Empire)

It’s wishful thinking to believe that hot flashes will make you grow taller after age fifty or before age fifty.

It’s wishful . . . well, you get the picture.

Wishful thinking is a direct result of the modern notions that human beings deserve trophies for breathing, that buying a Wraptastic will change your life, and that everything billed as ‘based on a true story’ is true.

Get real. The three-year old kid is not telling you he’s going to love you forever—this time. This time he’s threatening to claw you with grubby fingernails. Sigh. It happens.

The news isn’t all bad, however. 

It is my hopeful wishful belief that for every busted thought-wish, there are those rare and dazzling moments when our wishful thoughts actually reflect reality and the kid is saying that he’s going to love you forever and the purchase of a Wraptastic does, in fact, change your life. But those moments are both rare and dazzling, which makes reality way better than wishful thinking—sort of like having a unicorn to ride to the free puppy store.

Linda (Scratch Resistant) Zern

Saturday, September 19, 2015


NOTE:  It's a new blog about prepping and preparation and good ideas and emergency preparedness and buckets . . . of course . . .


Mindy’s been talking about water and water got me to thinking about carrying water and carrying water has me thinking of buckets, and what if water didn’t flow out of my faucet or into my tub with a twist of a handle, and I had to carry it from here to there; how would I do it?


Or build a Roman aqueduct.

But buckets seem a more reasonable solution.

One of the truly delightful consequences of writing a novel like Beyond the Strandline is the opportunity to play the “what if” game. It’s eye opening.

What if the water stopped? Tess Lane and her sisters carry water from their deep water well in buckets, catch water in rain barrels, and are constantly boiling water to keep it and their surroundings clean. Water from a safe well would be safe as long as the containers used to transport it were clean.  

Three days without water and it’s a done deal and not just any water, clean water, water that would need to be boiled to be drinkable if it were from an open water source: creek, pond, river, lake. According to, open waterways contain: “The hardy giardia and other disease-causing bacteria, known generally as coliform bacteria, can survive outside the body for months, spreading water-borne disease from animals or humans. Several common culprits cause symptoms that may range from mild indigestion to diarrhea, dehydration and death.”

Yucky. And that's an official prepping term.
The closest place I can think of to get water in an emergency would be the swampy area at the back of our property. A little digging and we would have a mucky pond, but that’s not next to my kitchen sink. Believe me. I’d need a bucket and not just any bucket but a bucket that could be kept clean, really clean: germ resistant, heat resistant, drop-on-the-ground resistant.

Plastic. Galvanized. Ancient. Battered. I took a good look at the buckets we use around the farm and realized that I wouldn’t trust them to put mud in, let alone my water.

Plastic buckets are inexpensive, but they don’t hold up. They crack and aren’t very sturdy.

And galvanized buckets corrode, good for feed, seed, and eggs. I’m not sure a corroded bucket would be my first pick for carrying my family’s water.

I’m thinking that a seamless, stainless steel bucket would be best, the kind of buckets recommended for milk, the kind you could sterilize, food grade. Milk buckets are made without seams so that there’s no place for the germs to grow. They’re designed to stand up to heat. Could I boil the water in the bucket? 

It’s settled. I’m going to do some more research and find out more about buckets.

It’s what happens when you write books; you start to think about things you might not have thought about before. Like buckets. How handy they can be. How much you’d miss them if you didn’t have one when you needed it.

And if you did have a big enough bucket to drag water back to the house then what would you boil the water in? Tea kettles. Too small. Wash tubs. Too big. Cast iron . . . hmmmm . . .  

And so it goes. Before you know it, you have a novel . . . or some new buckets.

Linda (Bucket Brigade) Zern

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Disney World - All I need is a sash that reads "Votes for Women"  - Ahhh, well, next year!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


READ THE 60TH FIVE STAR REVIEW FOR BEYOND the STRANDLINE:  4.9 out of 5 stars!!!!!!!

"This is a YA novel that is as good as any popular YA books out recently. It's action is in constant motion and the characters draw you into their world without a glimmer of it being anything but realistic. The hard elements of their situations are molded expertly with the touching and sensitive relationships that unfold. Great book!" (Thank you, Dear Reader)

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Author in Her Natural Habitat

When they print the new owner’s manual for the John Deere Turbo Grass Master 6000 Series, I will be one of the silhouette people in it with a thick, black line slashed across my silhouette face. The caption will read: Danger, Warning, Caution! Stupidity Alert.

I will be the international symbol for people who ride over a pine tree root and get the lawn mower blade jammed so tightly into that massive hunk of root that seven strong men on steroids could not lift me off.

The black silhouette person with the black line through it will be a representation of me sitting next to my wedged, stalled, jammed, trapped, lawn mower. It will show me leaning against a forty-foot pine tree, my cell phone to my ear—crying, me not the cell phone. The caption will read: Don’t Let This Happen To Your Silhouette!

I called my husband in Virginia. We live in Florida. He travels. I like to think that it’s because he has to for work, or he’s a spy.

“Honey,” I wailed. “I’m stuck.”

“What? Where? How? Who is this?”

“I got the new lawn mower stuck inside a pine tree . . . and I can’t move it.”

There was a pause. It was one of his long, slow, deliberate pauses, which being interpreted means: Why did I marry this woman?

“Inside? What? Never mind. Well . . . put the mower in reverse.”

Sob. Gasp. Wail.  “I can’t. The mower blade is stuck INSIDE the pine tree root. I had bad luck. The mower took a bad hop and the root was hiding.”

“Stuck INSIDE the pine tree root! Bad hop!” Which being interpreted means: You crazy woman, you ran our brand new, four thousand dollar riding lawn mower into a TREE.

“Can you push it off the root?” Which being interpreted means: You crazy woman, what do you expect me to do her in Virginia where I must travel to earn money to pay for lawn mowers that you run into trees or roots?

I wailed, “I can’t lift the lawn mower. I’m too little.”

I sounded five years old. I felt four years old.

For the next two hours I cried while digging a trench around the trapped lawn mower. I cried while scooping dirt from around the point of direct pine tree root and blade contact. I cried while hack sawing through the pine tree root.

I cried because pine trees are so tall. I cried because pine tree roots are so thick. I cried because I’m not strong enough to lift a riding lawn mower. I cried because grass grows and needs mowing. I cried because all my children are grown now and aren’t around to mow the grass. I cried because time passes. I cried because I said a bad word. I cried because the Bald Eagle in our backyard was staring at me from another pine tree waiting for to die. I cried for the sadness of being alive. I cried and I cried and I cried.

And that’s how I knew I’m menopausal.

When my son-in-law showed up to push me off the root that I had already hack sawed into two big hunks, he said, “I can’t believe you used a hacksaw on wood.”

I said, “Huh.”

“You should only use hacksaws on metal.”

I snapped back, “Why, because we have so many metal tree roots in the world?”

And that smart aleck comment was how I knew I was feeling better.

What I learned that week was how it’s not the trees that are the problem. The trees you can see. It’s the roots. They lurk. You never know when you’re going to get totally jammed up because of them.

Linda (Hacksaw) Zern

Sunday, September 13, 2015

BEYOND the STRANDLINE: With a Little Help From My Friends

BEYOND the STRANDLINE: With a Little Help From My Friends: In the novel, BEYOND THE STRANDLINE, the character of Col. Kennedy creates an oasis of preparation and stability at in the S-Line ranch a...

Friday, September 11, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015


"A quick vision of Tess as she’d crossed the sheep pasture a week ago, her unbraided hair a loose tumble of curls, flashed through his memory. It had looked like warm honey in the sunlight. She’d been hurrying on one of her endless errands, not the least of which was keeping her younger sisters on task and out of trouble.

He found himself doing that more and more, watching her from the shadows, telling himself that it was to help Colonel Kennedy keep an eye on her. Great. When had he become as bad as those silly girls [her sisters]?" (Richmond Parris from the novel, Beyond the Strandline)

BEYOND THE STRANDLINE:  Life after the collapse, life in a quonset hut, life in the middle of the Florida jungle, life for Tess and Parrish . . . (My Author Page)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Internet - A Force for Porn - Also Corn

Race Bannon was my Intro to Computers professor. Race Bannon was also a character from the television cartoon “Johnny Quest” in 1964.

He was a spy—the cartoon character, not the professor. I think. Dr. Bannon could have been a spy. 

When Dr. Bannon told us his name, I may have been the only one in the room to look surprised, being the only one who was alive and watching Friday evening cartoons in 1964. I probably was the only one to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and the panic that went with it as well. But that’s another post. 

I had high hopes for Dr. Bannon. Shoot, I had high hopes for Intro to Computers. He insisted that we memorize the two-page explanation for how the letter A gets from the computer keyboard to the computer screen. It took half the entire test time to write out the sequence, which was only one question. I still don’t know how the A gets from the keyboard to the screen. Sigh. 

In addition, Dr. Bannon was a bit of a . . . creeper. He seemed fascinated to impress on our class how many porn sites existed on the Internet. (He used an actual number; I can’t remember what it was, and I threw those notes out.) He talked about porn every single class. He also liked to hit on the bosomy coeds during our class breaks, but that’s another post too.

It’s true; there’s a ton of pointless, destructive websites out there, but I have since learned that the Internet is more than porn. 

Did you know, that you can type in the question, what are the top 100 “Prepper” websites and the Google machine will answer you?

Did you know, that you can type in the question, what is the recipe for making bleach for long term storage AND THERE IS A RECIPE?

Did you know that there are hundreds of sources for buying food storage, often with free or minimal shipping?

Sure. Sure. Plenty of porn but there’s also a heap of dehydrated, freeze-dried corn in number ten cans that can keep your family going even in the worst of times, which is the opposite of the best of times, also beans, meat, soup bases, milk, rice, pasta . . . and so forth.

Now there a lot of highly educated, academic types that might point fingers and call you a crazy, conspiracy, prepper kook. Sure. Sure. My advice: Take a few computer classes, you’ll get over caring.

Dr. Race Bannon? He was arrested halfway through Intro to Computers and escorted off the campus in handcuffs. 

I made an A.

Linda (Ready Steady) Zern

BEYOND the STRANDLINE: The Internet, A Force for Porn, Also Corn by Linda...: Race Bannon was my Intro to Computers professor. Race Bannon was also a character from the television cartoon “Johnny Quest” in 1964. He...


Getting to talk books, stories, and future dreams with a fabulous group of young people. MOONCALF: A book for all time and all people.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Because I am so engrossing and we live in an era that celebrates the glory of accomplishing absolutely nothing, I’d like to share with my friends and family a day in my fascinating, engrossing life.

3:00am – I am awakened from a troubled sleep by a circus troop of raccoons assaulting the family trashcans.

3:13am – Motion sensor light comes on as the raccoons form “HUMAN” pyramid. That’s right; I said HUMAN. I imagine the raccoon heap now measures 4’ 11” inches in height and comes up to my chin.

3:20am – I race outside in my fluffy bathrobe with a broom to confront raccoon troop. Trip over garbage slung thirty feet in all directions. Realize raccoons have thrown invisibility cloak over themselves.

3:27am – Shake broom at nothing. Watch hair on arms stand up when the coyotes start howling.

3:28am – Go back to bed. Attempt to sleep.

5:00am – QUIT trying to attempt to sleep.

6:00am – Say a simple prayer of thanks that every man-jack of us have lived to see another day. (Note: We will be the first to admit that our family may occasionally merit Biblical destruction.)

6:09am – Check out cable news. Feel vindicated that every prediction I’ve ever made is coming true. Turn up the volume when it’s reported that a woman in North Carolina was attacked in her sleep IN HER BED by a surly—also rabid—raccoon. 

6:12am – Shuffle to the bathroom and because I’ve caught my great grandmother’s arthritis, I daydream about my granddaughters having to push me to the mailbox in a wheelchair every day. They will chatter happily as they push. Say a prayer of gratitude for such a wonderful granddaughters.

6:31am – Limbs and appendages begin to bend. Postpone nursing home reservation.

7:27am – Feed good animals (not garbage eating night marauders) stuff.

9:00am – Go to yoga and during meditation time, when I’m supposed to be emptying my mind of all stressful thoughts, I try to calculate the force necessary to kill a raccoon with a rock.

10:07am – Declare yoga a bust. Decide to try combat kick boxing next time.

Noon – Eat macaroni or rice or beans. I’m not kidding.

12:00pm to When-I-run-out-of-steam-or-the-coyotes-howl: I scribble and scribble words on virtual paper. Words that no one may ever read, but I still feel compelled to write, in spite of the fact that it makes me look like an agoraphobic shut-in.

Bedtime – When the sun sets and the chickens go to sleep, because I’m saving precious energy and resources for future generations—also I can work in bed while wearing pajamas. Don’t be jealous.

Tomorrow – Rinse and Repeat

Linda (Night Stalker and Fascinating Person) Zern

Friday, September 4, 2015

Social Media Code Smack

When I was a girl, the phone sat in one place on the kitchen counter. It did not hitch rides in our pants. It did not display text messages from the bug man. It did not beep, bleep, blink, or monitor heart rates. It was a simpler time.

Now, there is social media and people talking smack in tech shorthand. 

It’s like drowning in Babylonian graffiti. 

I have absolutely no idea what is going on. 

“You have to be on Twitter,” my kids said. 

“I am on Twitter. Haven’t you friended me?”

They didn’t even have the good manners to look uncomfortable.

“I don’t get Twitter,” I #complained.

They didn’t even have the good manners to hide their #scoffing.

“Seriously. What are those weirdo messages? I can’t understand anything on Twitter. I mean what is #Xtl #blog #skip amc long $25.00 #skip #to #my #Lou supposed to be about? What happened to subjects and predicates? What happened to #language.”

They didn’t even have the good manners to look up from their blinking machines. I’d lost them down those LCD rabbit holes. I sighed.

Daughter #2 (that means number not a hash-tag) looked up from her machine to say, “Mom, you really need to be on Instagram. It’s the latest thing. It’s like Twitter but with pictures.”

“What? You mean picture writing like on the walls of an ancient temple?”

The green glow of her computer screen highlighted her cheekbones. She scrolled away, presumably on Instagram. 

It’s okay. I’ll keep trying, to connect, to decipher, to find the Rosetta Stone of social media shorthand. That’s what I keep telling myself. But then I check my Facebook page and see a message that says, “The stump is healing nicely.”

Whaaaaaaaat????????? What stump? Which limb? Who’s body parts? Huh?

Linda (Hash-Tag Harpy) Zern

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