The Clemstead

A place heavy with history and screaming for new thoughts.

Mag 185: An Outing

“Ronnie, please don’t touch that”, we’d only been here for 30 minutes and I was already exhausted. Ronnie kicked the trash can in the corner of the room. “How come Dad didn’t have to come?” “Oh, don’t worry Ronnie after tonight Daddy will be wishing he did come with us.” I replied back through a toothy smile.

“Stephie, I can’t read the small print under that painting can you tell me what it says?” trying to at least engage one of my two children at the Norman Rockwell museum. “Boy in a Dining Car. 1946, Peter Rockwell was the model for the boy in the painting.” She looked back to the painting and back up at me. “What’s a Dining Car?” Ronnie piped in next to me, “That is like the Roach Coach Dad talks about that serves sandwiches at lunch time.” “Ewwww”, Stephie bellowed. Two older couples shushed the kids from across the room.

I tried to salvage the conversation. “Ronnie, take a good look at the picture. Can you tell what a Dining car is? The painter put in a clue for you…look through the window.” Both kids leaned really close to the painting. Ronnie pulled back and crossed his arms “All I see is a train.” “Correct.” “Now what is a Dining car?”

“Mommy, how old is that boy?” I looked at a few articles I had printed out off of the Internet to see how old Peter could have been when his father used him for a model. “Well, it says that Peter was born in 1936 and this was done in 1946. How old is he?”

Ronnie brightened up, “He’s my age…10 years old.” “Yes, he is” I smiled glad to see that he worked through the Math. His smile crashed, “Why is he holding a purse? Daddy says that boys should not have those otherwise they are called …” I covered up his mouth as a gay couple walked into the room. “Ronnie, back then little boys had what they called change purses and it was OK for them to have.”

“Mommy...” Stephie pulled at my arm, “why is he in dirty socks and stinky sneakers? He is wearing good clothes shouldn’t he be wearing his good shoes?”  Leave it to my daughter to notice the sneakers. I decided to shock her further. “He might have a t-shirt on underneath and jeans.” She stared at me mouth wide open. “Na..uhhhh.”

“Mommy is he in trouble?” I grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him closer to me. “Why would you think he is in trouble Ronnie?” He looks worried and that man is just grinning like a clown grins when he’s trying to be funny.” I rubbed his back. “Well, It looks to me like he is trying to figure out his bill.”


“That’s it!!!” Stephie cried, “He’s on a train… that has a car where he ate food and now he has to pay!” “Yes, dear” Stephie stuck out her tongue at Ronnie. “Alright you two, I think we have all had enough. Let’s say we ditch the rest and go get some ice cream.”

TOMW: Flash Fiction Friday- The Longer I Stared

The longer I stared the lines between him and I blurred. Was it male? Of course it was. This wasn’t spring or summer where the little ones were running around and Mom needed to keep an eye on things.

Winter had already started throwing its weight around by coating the deck in snow and ice. I didn’t have to break the deadlock in order to see that because he was even darker up against the splotches of white.

My mind blanked and wandered back to my previous thoughts that seemed to be even more strange and personal. ‘Do I really look like a female?’ How was I supposed to know? Yet on some strange level, it mattered.

I stepped back and it stepped forward… did I really care what the sex of it was? No…not really. Then why as the longer I stared the more concerned I became about being correct about this intruder this thing that walked into my path? Better yet, why did it look like it was going to charge me?

Turning my head to the right I kept my peripheral sight on the brown fuzzy lump on the deck. It advanced. My head turned and locked eyes again and it stopped its actions reminding me of the childhood game of “Red Light, Green Light”. A thought popped into my head ‘What is red and green?’ “What?” I cried putting my hands to my ears as if I could tune out the noise generating from the inside of my head.

The staring continued and became even more intense. ‘Just relax, move your paw and I’ll do the rest.’ “I don’t have a paw.” I protested out loud. It rose to its back haunches and wiggled its left foot. I mirrored the response and wiggled my right. ‘That’s the one…now just move it back a bit.’ I kept contact as the squirrel slowly came up to the crack in the deck in front of my toe. ‘Now… I’m going to reach down here’ Indicating the crack with a jerk of its head. ‘I trust you not to do anything stupid like kick me. We both know that your leg is nothing more than a scrawny sapling to me.’ I nodded my head.


He placed his paws into the crack and worked up a grungy old Cheese Doodle. I looked at the creature’s eyes one more time as he stuffed it into his mouth. ‘Thanks, these are so hard to find anymore. Hopefully a new crop will come up when the air is warmer.’ It scampered back to the other side of the deck and up a tree where it sat eating its prize as its paws and face became smeared full of orange doodle dust.

Mag 184: Up a Tree Without a Ladder

“So how long are you going to sit there? Is there any valid reason why you think an adult your age should be climbing trees, bare foot, in a dress, with a crown and fairy wings?” The bird muttered in squawking tones.

The woman stared at the bird during its fit and finally spoke in a small meek voice, “Dear friend of the forest, be at ease I misjudged the height of this tree… have come to the top and now need a cooling rest before heading down …be at peace.”

“Friend of the forest? Friend of the forest??! I am your bird that you couldn't bear to take care of and left me out here to fend for myself! I thrived, found a partner, built a nest. My nest…where is my nest? Where are my eggs?”

The woman rocked left and right, “I thought that noise was my hips. Oh look…what a lovely shade of white and mustard yellow on the ground.”

Death to the Asian Tiger Mosquito


aedes mosquitoI am morning the loss of warm weather as fall starts its trek into our daily routines, but this year I might rally and start chanting “bring on the cooler temps”. The only reason for this odd behavior is… no… don’t go there is it not “she wants to get relief from hot flashes” sorry folks hate to disappoint.

It is actually due to the mosquitoes, not just any old run of the mill blood sucker it’s specifically the Asian Tiger Mosquito that has been the boon of my existence this summer. I am so tired of being bit in my yard, in my kitchen, and yes a little bugger got me in the shower the other day. So come on 50 degree nights and death to the mosquitoes! I’ll deal with the cooler temps and put on a sweatshirt just to see you go down.

But wait…say it isn’t so!! When trying to locate a picture of these little beasts I discovered this disturbing fact. According to Science News, Part of its success at spreading throughout the world is due to a warming climate, but the Asian tiger mosquito has one other pesky adaptation: "Its eggs are tough enough to survive a cold winter."

Next stop on the Internet…natural remedies for bug bites and concoctions that can be made at home to ward them off next year.

About Me

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I come from German (Mennonite/Brethren) stock with bits of Norse, Celtic, Native American, and some mysterious unknown combination from an adopted grandparent. Not an uncommon blend for most of us who settled early in Pennsylvania. This type of diverse heritage left me ripe for the genealogical bug. I make a pilgrimage once a month and attempt to trace all the branches of my family tree. Unearthing facts that were never documented previously always brings excitement.

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