While I was growing up, my world was entirely full of classical, baroque, and other “serious” music. No complicated reasons. I spent a lot of time studying and practicing the piano. Even then, there were only so many hours in a day, so it wasn’t until I knew I would never be a professional musician that I began to explore the world of “pop.” The Beatles were the first group that I truly loved. After “A Hard Days Night” (I loved the movie and the score), and “Rubber Soul,” I was a fan for life. Eventually, I added many other individuals and groups, as well as many other categories of music.

John Prine was a latecomer to my “playlist,” but he remains a favorite. Better known as the writer than the singer, there are a couple of songs that I particularly enjoy and always cheer me when I’m blue. It’s pouring rain right now. I mean, it’s coming down in buckets with thunder rumbling in the background. A good day for music. A bad one for any other plans we might have had.

Not everyone has heard of John Prine, but he wrote many songs. He sang them himself on various recordings, most of which I once owned on vinyl. Lo and behold, there’s a CD collection of his work available … just $10, double CD. I ordered it. Of course.

John Prine sings about life. He always had a sense of humor, too. He wrote great, witty lyrics, and singable melodies. What more do you need? Because to me, that’s music. A sentiment … several sentiments … to which I can really relate. John Prine. Singing one of  my favorites. Musical philosophy.

The meaning of life according to John Prine. He sums it up for me. Thanks John!

MUSIC – A WordPress Daily Prompt


Procrastination? It’s not procrastination. Uh uh. It’s enjoying the freedom of unharnessed time. For long time-faceyears, I too was scheduled. Always short of time, but never late. Never missed a deadline. Always left the house early in case I encountered traffic. I used up my time making sure to have enough time.

But time is all in our heads. There’s always time and there’s always no time at all. I put off what isn’t critical, do what must be done now, and the rest? I’ll have another cup of coffee and a Danish, please.

I call and change appointments when I don’t feel like going. If traffic piles up? I’m late. I say “Oops, sorry. Hit some traffic.” The world keeps spinning. No one takes out a pistol and shoots me. Yet.

In the immortal words of Robert Heinlein’s Time Travel Corps from All You Zombies —

Never Do Yesterday What Should Be Done Tomorrow

If At Last You Do Succeed, Never Try Again

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine Billion

A Paradox May be Paradoctored

It is Earlier When You Think

Ancestors Are Just People

Even Jove Nods.

Priorities are important. I’ll get my leaky valve fixed. In time. I’ll get that book review written. Tomorrow. I’ll process some more of the pictures we took yesterday … later. After coffee. After I read, write and think a while.

There will be time. For the important stuff. Maybe there won’t be time for other things and, well … they just won’t get done. Because my hurrying days are done.


Hope for Homeless Teens, by Rich Paschall

Yesterday we presented a fictional story about a gay teen tossed out of his home.  The story is based — in part — on elements I know to be true. Many other true stories of teens exist; kids tossed out by parents or who leave home in fear for their safety.

Where do they go?  What happens when you are a teenager and homeless?  Where is there hope?

Corey Nichols, a 15-year-old, became sick and was ignored by his parents who suspected he was gay.  He became desperate and suicidal. A friends’ mother rescued him, and she and her husband nursed him back to health.  When the boy returned home after the absence, he admitted he was gay but the episode took a scary turn.

The Gaily Grind reports “Corey claims when his parents and brother tried breaking down the bedroom door, he took refuge in the bathroom. After they had gone to sleep, he slipped out of the house, never to return again.”  The friend’s parents took him in and adopted him.  Corey’s biological parents did not contest the adoption.

“I want the world to know that Corey is a beautiful human being,” Mindy, Corey’s new mom, told Out In Santa Cruz. ”I want the world to see Corey’s pain and know it is not necessary.”

In the fall of 2014 The Huffington Post reported the story of Georgia teen Daniel Ashley Pierce.  He came out in 2013 but last year the parents tried to intervene, and it became violent.  The episode was caught on this shaky home video here.  Daniel stated on his Facebook: “to add insult to injury my step mother punched me in the face repeatedly with my grandmother cheering her along.”  Warning:  The video contains graphic content.

A friend posted the video and a Go Fund Me page to help with living expenses.  The video went viral, and there was an outpouring of support.  Daniel got his start and has since directed donations to Atlanta’s Lost N Found, a not-for-profit agency that help homeless LGBTQ youth.

In September 2014 Rolling Stone reported on the rising number of gay teens being tossed out by “highly religious” parents. The article states: “The Center for American Progress has reported that there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the United States.”  The figure may reflect (partly) youth coming out at an earlier age, encouraged by social media success stories.  Unfortunately, many coming out stories do not turn out well.

This “hidden epidemic” of homeless gay teens is quite troubling to Carl Siciliano, founder of the Ali Forney Center, the largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBTQ teens. “I feel like the LGBT movement has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to this,” he told Rolling Stone. “We haven’t been fighting for economic resources. How many tax dollars do gay people contribute? What percentage of tax dollars comes back to our gay kids? We haven’t matured enough as a movement yet that we’re looking at the economics of things.”

So it is a variety of organizations across the country that are dealing with this growing problem. Since gay is “unacceptable” in so many communities, we literally have a generation of gay children without homes.

Point Foundation:  The largest organization dedicated to providing scholarship money and support to LGBTQ students.  The need is great. However, they can only offer scholarships to 2 percent of the students who apply.

The Trevor Project: “The leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.”

It Gets Better Project: “The It Gets Better Project’s mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.”

For more on any of the organizations mentioned above, just click on the name of the organization in the article.

Read more about the “hidden epidemic”:
Follow: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook


Discounting failed marriages and bad investments, both of which count as major disasters, most of life’s problems are little things. Dinners burnt. Stuff you meant to pick up at the grocery, but forgot. Appointments missed. Fender benders, dents, dings, and forgotten oil changes. Tires that got old too fast. Appliances that stop working before you finish paying for them. Computer viruses and bad software.

problem solving dogs

Little things can accumulate into bigger things. If you forget enough appointments with your dentist, you lose the tooth. When you burn the holiday dinner, those accusing eyes at the dinner table can make you feel like the turkey at the feast. The Titanic was not sunk by a big hole in the hull. It was thousands of popped rivets that turned her into a sieve. And down went the big ship to the briny deep.

Speaking of the small stuff and a life of perpetual crisis, I have an acquaintance — an almost friend — for whom everything is the end of the world. Life is one huge calamity. She’s a Facebook kind of gal, so no matter what happens, she’s telling the world the sky is falling. On her. It’s personal. If it’s snowing, it’s to punish her. Ditto if it’s raining. (She’s the person who complains it’s raining in the middle of a drought.)

I thought about it one day after reading one of her posts. Her usual collection of followers were commenting on how she is the unluckiest woman on earth.

Is she? A few minutes of pondering made me realize I have as many bumps in my road of life as she does. On a bad year, probably more. Mostly, unless it’s serious enough to sink the ship of state, I fix the problem as best I can and move on.

panic button

So much of “disaster” is perspective, response, and perception. We choose how to deal with the stuff we encounter. I expect the airline to lose our luggage (or some piece of it), but I also count on them to find it again. It’s an inconvenience, not the end of the world. I try not to let it define our travels.

If every problem is a cataclysm, we are the boy who cried wolf. Our friends and family stop listening so when a really bad thing happens … no one is there.

Disaster – The Daily Post



Too much has been written about the angst of aging
And the war against it we’ve recently been waging.
Baby Boomers have made it a major obsession
And a cause for situational depression.
We need to improve the P.R. on getting old,
Increase the positive things about it we’re told,
Help change our youth-oriented system of belief
To understand, our later years can be a relief.

There are many stereotypes and caricatures
That each “senior” hears and silently endures.
But we can turn this to our advantage if we’re smart
And get a free pass if we just “play the part”.
People think getting crotchety is par for the course
So we can be brutally blunt with no remorse.
Being polite and P.C. is hard and frustrating
And saying what we really think is liberating.
Perhaps there is a problem with our “editing chip”
But its fun to open up our mouths and “let her rip!”

It’s easy to joke about memory malfunction
And even laugh at ourselves, with no compunction.
But when we regularly “misplace” our purse and keys,
We’re convinced we have an incurable disease.
But the flip side of this annoying new trait
Is we can use it to get out of things that we hate.
“I forgot” can become our go to, all-purpose phrase
Its success, in most cases, will truly amaze.
“I forgot the: date, time, request”, (fill in the blank)
And “You’re sure you told me?” you can take to the bank.

“I forgot to write it down! Did you need it today?”
Gets sympathy and keeps recriminations at bay.

But after working so long, our retirement years
Can trigger all kinds of anxieties and fears.
The specter of assisted living can be scary
And there are clearly reasons to be a bit wary.
But think – we have our life’s dream in many ways
To live like we did in our college/frat days;
Imagine, to help weather this emotional storm,
That we’re returning to something like a college dorm.
In both we can socialize with those on our floor
But if “busy” we can leave a tie, or sock on our door.
There are programs and classes we can cut or attend,
There is staff (like R.A’s) on whom we can depend.
We get meals, so we don’t have to shop, plan or cook;
Also drugs, though not as good as the ones we once took.

It’s hard to stop being an overachiever
And transition from caregiver to care receiver.
But, again, we can see it as cashing in life’s chits
And focus on the obvious benefits.
The “shoulds” and “have to’s” don’t control us any more
We are less weighted down doing things we abhor.
Our kids worry when they can’t reach us on the phone
And won’t let us spend too much time home alone.
Though you know they’re afraid we’ll be dead on the floor,
Feel the love! The mortality issues – just ignore.
You can get used to all this service and attention,
Not see it as annoying, morbid intervention.

And yet – the saying: “Youth is wasted on the young” is true
And we can also see, from our new point of view,
That retirement could better be savored and enjoyed
With the bodies and minds we had when young and employed!
But whatever crap we deal with, in our hearts we know
It beats being adrift on an Arctic ice floe!



As much as we reveal in our blogging, we also intentionally conceal a lot. I’m sure it’s not just me. I prefer to not expose the rusting underbody of our lives to the world at large.

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

I do not blog about every tiff I have with my husband or anyone else. I don’t go into the sordid details of every passing  virus, sniffle, or stomach ache. Or the gory details of our lack-of-financial life.

garry laughing

Why not? Because it’s no one’s business but ours — and also, because it’s not very interesting. Whining is boring. My own included.

I know people who are in constant crisis mode and post all of it on Facebook. They present themselves as the most unlucky people on Earth because everything always happens to them.

A pipe breaks? “OMG we’re doomed!”

Flu strikes? “Why am I afflicted by the gods? Why is the universe punishing me?”

A lost cell phone? “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.”


The other day, it struck me that we (and probably you, too) have as many of these bumps in your road of life as anyone else. Maybe more. We just don’t document each and every one … unless they make a good story. It’s always worth the virtual ink if I can make someone laugh.

Garry silly with dogs 30

Part of the pleasure of blogging is we get to present ourselves and our lives in a positive way. Unless you blog for sympathy and some people do. In our virtual world, we can be our best, most entertaining selves. If this presentation conceals our pain and misery and gives others a skewed idea of us? Who says “full disclosure” is what blogging is about?

Marilyn by Garry

Writing about all the grimy and grim details of day-to-day life is like posting ugly selfies. Why in the world would anyone want to do that?

I’d rather make you laugh. I’d rather make me laugh, too. And maybe, just sometimes, maybe (along the way) I make a point or two worth thinking about.


Would You Change Your Name? by Rich Paschall

When I finally come around to writing a short story for SERENDIPITY, I usually get stalled at the beginning when I need to decide on character names. It seems to me that the name is important and certain names will convey certain feelings to the reader.  So, I try to choose carefully.

I liked Harold for an older character because I don’t know any younger people named Harold.  Although the most famous literary character of this century so far is named Harry, I never thought of Harry Potter as a “Harold.” But he probably is.

I inadvertently used Harold twice. I wrote a story titled Alone and actually filmed it a year later, calling the only character Harold.  This did not stop me from forgetting about it and naming another older character Harold in a series of stories that started with Soup and Sandwich. Some names just seem to lend themselves to young and old, rich or poor. A lot of that is surely based on personal experience and naming trends over the years. Names go in and out of favor for newborns.

The characters of the stories are newborns to me. Most of my characters arrive full-grown, I look for age appropriate names.  For example, Richie might be alright for a boy, but a grownup would probably prefer Rich or Richard. A few folks who know me from childhood still call me Richie. I get all three versions of my name these days. I can’t escape the variations.

what's in a name

If a story has a local flavor, I try to use names that could not be mistaken for anyone I know.  Trying to think of names that don’t belong to friends or relatives can be challenging … and leave me looking up names on the Internet.

If you named a child, did you use a book of baby names?  Did you look up names on the Internet? Did you make lists of names,  then negotiate the final choice with others? Fortunately, I only have to debate with myself about my characters’ names. Right or wrong, I’ve no one to blame or congratulate but myself.

Aside from Harold, I don’t think I’ve duplicated a name, but I’ve got so many stories out there, I’m can’t say for sure. I know I’ll always have favorites tucked in the back of my mind.

In my neighborhood, there’s a family in which the father is Edgar. His son is also Edgar. Another son is Eduardo.

In this household, no one is called Ed. The younger Edgar is Eddy. The others are called by their full names. Parents get to set rules on that — at least in the home — but there’s no telling how kids will change your name once you start school. You could get a nickname that sticks. That might be good. Or not.

If there are several kids named John in your class, classmates —  even a teacher — may decide you’re Jack, Johnnie, Jay … or something else. A room with multiple Johns, Michaels, or Susans will likely trigger a round of renaming.

Did you get stuck with a nickname? Do you like it? Hate it? Don’t much care either way?

I had a cousin named George whose father was also George, so they called him Ricky. For years, I thought that was his name. No idea how they chose this name, but it stuck with him his entire life. When relatives on that side of the family called me Ricky, it drove my mother crazy. She’d point out Ricky is not my name.

Aunt Mary is called Joan. It’s her middle name. Some said they did not want to call her by her mother’s name, but no one I know called my grandmother Mary.  Her sister called her Mae. There are Roberts who became Bob or Bobby, including my father.

I know a few people who hate their name.  Some are downright upset at their parents about it. If you were named Moon Unit or Dweezil, disliking your name might not seem unreasonable. Yet, Frank Zappa’s kids stuck with those names.

The Zappa family got away with giving their kids what could optimistically be considered “unique” names. Celebrities get a pass on lots of stuff. I doubt an ordinary kid would survive such names. Most parents want to make their children feel their names are special, but sensible parents don’t want their kid’s name to make them a target.

Destiny Hope Cyrus decided she liked Miley better. She changed her name — which was already her nickname.

As for my own, I’m neutral about it. I neither love nor hate my name. It’s okay. All of its variations are fine with me, including Rick or Ricky, despite my mother and I am also okay with RJ (Richard John).

But. I hated Dick. Few dare call me that, but one friend does. He’s the only one who gets away with it. I remember all too well the years of President “Tricky Dick” Nixon. I wanted no association with that name.

Do you like your name? Would you prefer a nickname?  Did you always like your name or did you accept it over time?

If you could change your name now, to what would you change it?  Feel free to share your new name in the comments?  I might choose Ming the Merciless, Emperor of the Universe.  That had a certain ring to it when I was small, though it would be hard to fit on a business card.