If Only

Fatty, fatty, two-by-four, can’t get through the bathroom door!”

I was in second grade the first time I realized the size of my body differentiated me from my siblings. My siblings were normal. I was fat.

On a warm spring day in 1963, my mom pulled me into her bedroom and closed the door. She sat on the bed and patted the spot next to her to beckon me to sit beside her. I was nervous as I searched my mind trying to figure out what I could have done to be talked to alone. I slowly walked from the door toward the bed as my mom reached out for my hands as I cautiously sat down.

My mom cleared her throat and began.

“Honey, you know how much we love you.”

Oh no, I thought to myself. She’s going to tell me that I’m adopted. I knew it. I just knew it. (Because, it made perfect sense in the 60’s that the second of four kids would be adopted.)

“Yes,” I answered looking at her thumbs rubbing the tops of my hands.

“We love you so much and we know that being a little chubby makes you sad,” she stuttered.

I wanted to tell her that being a little chubby did not make me sad. Being picked on because of it made me sad. But I said nothing.

She began again. “Mary, you are such a pretty girl. You have the prettiest blonde hair and clearest blue eyes. I love your rosy cheeks and your beautiful smile.”

What I heard were the words my grandma repeated to me each time she saw me. “You’d be such a pretty girl if only you would lose some weight.”

I was damaged goods.

I started to cry. I continued to look down at our hands and saw the big raindrop tears fall from my eyes right on top of my mom’s thumbs.

“Oh Honey,” she said earnestly. “Please don’t cry. Your daddy and I just want what’s best for you and we think that it would be best if we took you to the doctor to put you on a diet. The school nurse suggested it and, well, we think it’s probably a good idea.”

With those words, the trickle of tears became a geyser. My mom, the person who was the protector of my heart and feelings when the kids sang, “Fatty, fatty two-by-four, can’t fit through the bathroom door,” betrayed me. She, with all her good intentions, was joining my tormentors by letting me know that I was different. I was not normal.

With that, my mom grabbed her purse and keys and we set off for Dr. Huibretgse’s office. I sat in the waiting room and slouched in my chair with my head down. I knew that everyone in that waiting room knew that while others were there because they were sick, I was there because I was fat.

“Donna,” the receptionist called out to my mom. “Doc would like to talk to you alone for a few minutes.”

“I’ll be right back,” my mom reassured me. “Everything is going to be okay.”

My mom was gone for a few minutes when the receptionist came over and told me to come with her. I felt the heat rushing to my cheeks. She took my hand and walked with me into the doctor’s office. Doc Huibretgse was sitting at his big wooden desk while my mother was sitting in a straight-back chair next to him. Next to my mom, hung a skeleton and a large scale.

“Well, who do we have here?” Doc asked cheerfully.

“This is Mary,” my mom stated with a smile, “and she’s very happy to be here.”

“Is that right, Mary?” he prompted me.

“No,” I mumbled quietly. “I want to go home.”

“I bet you do,” Doctor Huibretgse sympathized. “Why don’t you jump up here on this table and let’s you and me have a talk.”

I stepped up on the footstool and dropped myself onto the padded wooden table. Once settled, I dropped my chin to my chest and looked at my feet. Dr. Huibretgse wheeled himself over in his office chair until I could see the top of his head right beneath my chin. Doc reached up lifted my chin up until we were eye-to-eye.

“Mary, do the kids at school call you names?”

I nodded yes.

“And do the names make you feel bad?”

With tears in my eyes, I nodded yes.

“And do you wish that they would stop calling you names?”

Sniffling, I nodded yes.

“Do you think maybe if I helped you lose a little weight that maybe the kids would stop calling you names?”

I nodded yes.

“Then that’s what I’d like to do. I’d like to help you by putting you on what is called a “diet” so you could lose a little weight so the kids stop calling you names.”

“Okay,” I whispered.

“Okay,” Doc whispered back.

With that, Doc Huibretgse patted my knee and lifted me off the table. He steered me toward the large scale with weights and a sliding bar and began moving the bar. Once he had the scale balanced, he wrote down the number and had me turn around so he could get my height.

“Okay,” he stated. “We have all the facts. Now we need to get down to business.”

Doc Huibretgse talked with my mom about what I should and should not eat. He gave her different options and she jotted down a grocery list of foods that he suggested. He talked to me about staying tough and only eating the stuff that mom was going to buy specially for me at the grocery store. He told me to play outside more. I laughed because playing outside was my favorite thing to do and he was telling me to do it!

Loaded with facts, information and all the good intentions in the world, my mom and I emerged from the doctor’s office and soldiered on to Food Queen to gather the “right” foods for me. We bought Hollywood Diet Bread, cottage cheese, peaches, tuna, hamburger patties and best of all, my mom bought me a 6-pack of Tab.

When we got home, my mom cleared off a bottom shelf in one of the cupboards for “my” food. She told my siblings that they were not allowed to have any of my food because it was special food for a special girl. They didn’t care much about any of my special food other than the Tab. There was whining and complaining that I got to have soda.

In the end, the best part of the soda was that it was mine and mine alone. It had a strange taste to it somewhere between cinnamon and rusty horseshoes. Its bubbles burned my nose and throat as I tipped the can on my lips. It left a strange after-taste that would follow me long after I guzzled the soda. Truth be told, I would have preferred drinking water, but I didn’t want to hurt my mom’s feelings since she spent a lot of money for it so I could feel special.

My first diet lasted about as long as my special soda did. I may have lost of a few pounds before the cottage cheese and peaches were replaced with mashed potatoes and gravy, but I gained a brief taste of the process that I would welcome like a mother-in-law’s visit every couple of years throughout my life.

Being overweight is hard, unhealthy and socially unacceptable. Fixing it, for some of us, is even harder.

These days, the weight battle has less to do with vanity and more to do with longevity. My head knows that yet the struggle between health and some weird drive to fill an unknown emotional need with food continues. My current status is sixty pounds down after a year-long battle yet I feel my resolve fading. The new year bolstered my resolve and five pounds were gone in the first week of January. I’ve now stayed the same weight for the last three weeks and chastise myself each time I put something in my mouth that I shouldn’t.

Somewhere inside of me, that chubby little girl lives. She wants to look just like everyone else. She wants to be pretty without the if only. She wants to be normal.

While I have schooled her over the last 60 years that she is pretty enough, good enough and unique, the battle continues…

Doctor Who – The Bad War by Matthew Knaak

My seven-year old grandson came to work with me this morning. While I was doing accounting/tax season-type work, he wrote a story. He is quite a writer for a first-grader! I thought I’d share!

Chapter 1

Once upon a time there was a fire. They almost died but then someone came for them. He said “SUPERBOY WHAT EVER MY NAME IS TO THE DAY!” He said he doesn’t remember what he usually calls himself. The Mysterious Hero saved the people from that fire. The Mysterious Hero can fly, Run 100 miles per hour, and can even have laser vision! Then… what we all been waiting for. The Doctor & Clara lands the TARDIS (Time Relative Dimensional In Space) at London 2020 Time is 3:30 Clara was so amazed she couldn’t say a thing. “Impressing.” Says The Doctor. “What time is this?” asks Clara. “London 2020.” Says The Doctor.

Chapter 2

The Doctor sees a DALEK chasing a CYBERMEN. The Doctor whispers to himself “That can’t be good… That cant be good at all.” “What?” Clara asks The Doctor. “There’s  going to be incoming trouble later.” Says The Doctor. The Mysterious Hero sees The Doctor “Hello. What brings you here? And why are you standing by a blue box??!” asks The Mysterious Hero. “Well. This isn’t just a plain old blue box. This is a time machine. I call it The TARDIS. T A R D I S stands for Time Relative Dimensional In Space.” Says The Doctor. “No Way! Your so silly it can’t be a time machine. Its not possible to have a box that is bigger in the inside.” Says The Mysterious Hero. “Your Wrong. It is possible. Take a look.” Says The Doctor. The Mysterious Hero opens the door & then he could not believe his eyes. “B-B-But.. Hhow?!” says The Mysterious Hero.

Chapter 3

“Magic.” Says Clara. “Magic.” Says The Doctor. “Oh and one thing. What’s your name??”

asks The Mysterious Hero. “My name… is The Doctor.” “Doctor what?” asks Mysterious Hero “Just The Doctor” Says The Doctor “But Doctor who?” asks The Mysterious Hero “I told you The Doctor” says The Doctor.

Chapter 4

Mysterious had to stop asking and had to see that if he is actually a timelord. So he made tests “Hmm.. Speak a different language.” Says The Mysterious Hero “őíň ıįåç Ţ ŹŲćă ŢŦ” says The Doctor. “Now. Prove me that it’s a time machine. Take me to the same place just in the date that is 100,20,33” says The Mysterious Hero. “Ooooh I cant do that. Earth doesn’t live forever. Neither will you.” Says The Doctor. “What about.. 1995 but same place.” “Sorry I cant. If I do then I will see myself from the past. I have different faces.” Says The Doctor. “Fine.” Says The Mysterious Hero “Doctor. Your forgetting about me again.” Says Clara in a stressed way. “Yeah sorry about that Clara. Everyone stay here, its safe nothing can get in. There’s some enemies I need find.”                                                                      

                                Chapter 5      

Said The Doctor. The Doctor leaves The TARDIS and locks the door. “Lets see where are you little monsters.” Says The Doctor when The Doctor gets far away from something comes to come steal it and destroy it. “THE TARDIS IS DETECTED! YOU. TELL THE BOSS THAT WE DETECTED THE TARDIS!!!” Says DALEK “YES SIR.” Says CYBERMEN (That got Dementedetated. (Pretending it’s the daleks upgrade) ).


Chapter 6

The Doctor heads back to The TARDIS. He sees that The TARDIS is gone. “Oh no you don’t.” says The Doctor as he pulls out his sonic screwdriver and turns it to Land Here mode. (Meanwhile in The TARDIS) “Well that’s good we landed and stopped shaking” said Mysterious Hero & Clara. The Doctor unlocks the doors and opens doors then he asks “Are you two alright?” “Yeah were fine.” Says Clara and again The Doctor save the day.

The End      

Drum Roll Please….Today’s Word is “In”

The word carefully chosen from the bowl i…IN.


Dueling Laptops

maxine in love

Only Fools Fall “In” Love by Her

I did a little research before writing this as I was curious what the “experts” say you need in order to be “in” love rather than “to” just love. According to Aish.com, you need to:

  • Have “us” time
  • Connect through the day
  • Give appreciation
  • Try new things
  • Praise your spouse’s physical appearance
  • Make your spouse laugh

Have “us” time

Hmmm…our “us” time during the week consists of a quick kiss and “love you” right before I walk out the door to go to work. Total “us” time = 15 seconds.

Connect through the day

We talk on the phone at lunch if I don’t have a meeting. He gives me the daily report – Did our older dog Izzy eat? Did either or both dogs poop? What he did after he got up and before he called. He then asks me how my…

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I will share one of the pieces I wrote while in Camas, Washington at my TLC Women’s Writing Retreat. We went on a field trip yesterday to an antique store and we were asked to take a few pictures of anything that might be used as a writing prompt. I wandered the store snapping a few shots and then I found my inspiration. This story goes back to a great time in my life somewhere around 1994-95. Matt and I were living in our apartment on North 12th Street and this is the story of a most unusual morning. 

The day Bob entered our lives started no different than any other day for this single mom and her 13-year old son. The alarm went off and I hit the snooze the obligatory three times and finally got up in a rush to get my son to see the light of day. As I searched for what dazzling outfit I would wear to work, I began to silently kick myself for not taking the clothes out of the dryer the night before. Yes indeed, most of our socks and underwear were in fact sitting at the bottom of the dryer drum waiting to be rescued.

I spent an extra minute or two in the bathroom hoping that Matt would come out and ask where the clean clothesbasket was, but to no avail. I was going to have to go down to the bowels of our 75-year old house, fighting spider webs and imaginary goblins, and empty the dryer.

Flipping on the light, I made my way down the stairs. Sitting ominously at the bottom of the stairs was our washer and dryer. I shimmed between the stair rail and the washer, scratching my butt on the resident coca cola bottle opener which was nailed right below the rail, and stood in front of the dryer. I grabbed the ratty old clothesbasket which only had support on one side and opened up the dryer. Immediately, something flew out at me.

“Ahhhhhh,” I screamed as my heart jumped into my throat. “Maaaatt,” I opened my mouth to yell but no sound came out.

I ran up the stairs and slammed the basement door shut. My son was standing in the middle of the kitchen scratching whatever it is that boys scratch and turned to look at me.

“Whaaaat’s up?” he drawled in that sort of annoying way that only teenagers can utter that instantly irritate their moms.

“There’s, there’s, there’s something in the basement,” I stuttered in a panic-strickened voice.

“What?” he questioned. “My clean underwear?”

“No, no, no, I think it’s a bat, or a huge bug or pteradyctl. Go down there and kill it.”

My son, similar to me, was not brave. He no more wanted to go downstairs than I did, but with some unknown act of bravery within him, he cautiously approached the basement steps. I followed behind and as he made his way down the steps, I closed the basement door all but an inch or two and watched him make his descent. I heard shaking and crackles and suddenly I saw him racing back up the stairs. I quickly opened the door and once through, I slammed it shut.

“Mom,” he said. “There’s a crow sitting on the basement window sill. I can’t kill him. He’s bigger than me!” We looked at each other with wheels obviously turning to come up with a solution to remove the crow from the basement.

“There’s too much crap downstairs for me to be able to get at him,” Matt stated. “We have to get him up here.”

“Up here?” I moaned. “No, not up here.”

Suddenly Matt’s eyes lit up and he said, “Let’s nail a sheet between the dining room and kitchen doorway and close all the other doors except the one to the back porch. I will then gently push him with my tennis racket out the door.” “Mom,” he continued. “We will call him Bob. Bob the Bird. He is our friend.”

So we took on this mission to save Bob the Bird from our basement and return him to the wild. I grabbed the top sheet off my bed while Matt retrieved the small step stool from the back closet. We worked as a team preparing the bird sanctuary from which Bob would graciously spread his wings and await Matt’s gentle tennis racket urging to head for the great outdoors.

We walked with determination toward the basement steps. Matt, armed with a tennis racket and a beach towel, awaited the opening of the door. With great trepidation, I gently turned the doorknob and pulled. Bob was waiting for us at the top of the steps and sailed into the kitchen. I screamed and ran into the bathroom but saw Matt throw himself to the floor.

“Mmmmmattt,” I eeked. “Are you okay?” “Yeah, Mom. Just stay put,” he commanded. I could hear swooshing and an occasional, “Come on Bob” from outside the bathroom door. Finally I heard the screen door close and I inched my way out of the bathroom. I peered around the kitchen and saw the tennis racket lying on the floor in the middle of the room. Turning toward the back porch, I looked out and saw my son sitting on the back steps with a towel draped across his knees.

“You got him, huh?” I asked.

“Yeah, I got him.”

“Did you have to hurt him?” I questioned.

“No, I threw the towel over him when he landed on the table sort of wrapped him in it and then let him go once I got outside and he flew away. I was gentle.”

We sat there side-by-side, shoulders touching, for a while just looking around. Finally, Matt stood up and looked at me. “Mom,” he said kind of forlornly. “I’m going to miss Bob.”

I looked at him and smiled, “Me too, honey. Me too.”



Our latest offering…

Dueling Laptops

The word of the day is “light”. One might think after reading our offerings that we have absolutely nothing in common. This would not be far from the truth! Enjoy!



There I was, routinely guiding my Parrot Bebop over a nearby-enchanted forest, intensely watching the camera feed on my battered laptop, and there he was! Clearly visible in a small clearing, unmistakable, a dragon!

I jumped into my red Nissan Juke, the Ruby Rocket, and sped to the location. Surprised to be discovered, he was hostile, at first. After much cajoling and whining on my part, he reluctantly agreed to an interview. A lifelong dream realized!

Me: Thanks for agreeing to this, Mr. Dragon. I’m a big fan.

Dragon: My first impulse was to burn you to a crisp, but my race has a longstanding tradition of watching over humans — the good and the stupid ones, anyway. Besides, people…

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The latest in the word bowl series!

Dueling Laptops

Our latest bowl word is “cane.” I’m fairly certain that I came up with the word and have silently cursed myself since Richard picked it from the word bowl. Other than my short use of one during my recent knee replacement, I’ve had little experience with a cane. We had to think long and hard on this one!

The first effort, my husband’s, is purely a work of fiction. Mine is a memoir. 


I sit in my father’s hospice room. I have been there, off and on, for days, maybe weeks. After a while, it all runs together. It has been a long vigil, too long to be exact.

It is a deathwatch for an only child. My father is terminally ill, and he has decided to die. He has stopped taking his medications. He has stopped eating. His organs, the doctors say, are shutting down. The time will come…

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12 things I’ve learned in nearly12 years of marriage as we are about to celebrate our wedding anniversary

Anniversary is the word! With our 12th quickly approaching, we explored what we’ve learned about each other and life since tying the knot!

Dueling Laptops

  1. I’ve learned that men just poop more than women and they take their sweet natured time about completing the action.

Not only do men poop more, but they are unable to carry out the mission without words…written words. I’ve seen my husband scrounging the house for something to read when the month is drawing near the end and he’s gone through the multitude of magazines that he subscribes to and houses in his bathroom. I can see his mental struggle when he has to choose between my Oprah magazine or the back of a cereal box for possible reading material.

I order two magazines and very seldom get through either of them. As a practical matter, I poop once a day and do not dally about. I get in and out. I do not read. I poop and leave the premises once my mission has been accomplished. I can think…

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The latest installment of Dueling Laptops – present (is in now), present (as in here it is), present (as in show me the gifts)…where did they take it????

Dueling Laptops



The present is that infinitely small slice of the space-time continuum in which I travel. Behind and ahead of me stretch the infinite past and the future.

The size of my now cannot be measured. Scientists have put numbers on how long the continuum has been and will be. Perhaps that gives them comfort.

I have been present throughout my timeline. To simply be present does not differ from being absent. I must be actively present if I am to steer my line, even imperceptibly outward or inward, as I move forward through time.

My infinitesimally small bubble of present must be expanded to include those who lines intersect mine. To not do so is to deny those who would add meaning to my life.

My timeline is a present from the Universe. When it ends, I will present myself to the Universal Mind and hope to not be…

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Old, Old, Old

Source: Old, Old, Old

Write it Out/out

Our latest Dueling Laptops bowl word is “out”. Sounds easy, right? Took us a week to write something…not so easy!

Dueling Laptops


The latest bowl word – OUT
Here is the outcome of our out of body experience in writing out “out”!

Write it Out by Mary

Out of luck
Out of time
Out of shape
Out of my mind

Out to lunch
Out of the blue
Out for service
Out with you

Out of sorts
Out of jail
Out of the closet
Out on bail

Out of the office
Out of gas
Out to the ballgame
Out on your ass

Out of my league
Out of line
Out of words
Out of time

Now that I wrote it
Now that it’s done
I think the word “out”
Ain’t all that much fun!


out by Richard

“out” is a word that can’t be trusted. Not for a moment. Even standing alone, “out” reeks of something negative.

“out” means gone, no more, not in and a few other thousand problem-posing developments. When “out”…

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