Cereal No. 9

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV)



The bag of M&Ms sat on the bench seat between her and her mother, while they drove to Kansas City. When she was a little girl, her mother always let her buy a candy at the grocery checkout. It was a small luxury allowed by an exacting woman. Besides, the mother was pleased that the little girl chose the M&Ms, for they were also her favorite. But the girl never knew because they didn’t talk about favorites. They talked about education, after school chores and curfew. For the most part, she followed the rules of the household to keep the peace. Except for this recent runaway business.

And her condition, that’s what her mother called the baby, opened up conversations she never expected to have with her mother. Her condition led to the unexpected gift of M&Ms, a sort of peace offering, she supposed. She was relieved when her mother suggested a change of scenery. Obviously, her scheme of hopping a train, and making a new life for her and the baby was short lived. She didn’t want to admit it to her mother, but living outdoors, and being by herself was lonely. Before she never minded being alone. But now that a second life grew within her fifteen year old self, she was scared of being alone.

She was brave when she burned down the fort, but facing the policeman and the hospital people, and eventually her mother, drained all her courage. She felt like she was shrinking inside, instead of expanding like a normal pregnant person. She reached over to touch the candy package. She wanted to sort the candies by color, the way she always did, then she’d eat the green ones first to get the grossness of green over with. For some odd reason, she hated the color green. Then she’d eat the dark brown ones, followed by the yellows and then the reds, saving the tans for last. As a little girl, she pretended the tan ones tasted like caramel covered chocolate. Now, she believed they all tasted the same no matter what color you ate first or last. How did her mother convince her this was the best option?

The option to go live in a home with other girls in her situation seemed reasonable a couple days ago. Some days she felt like the adults in her life knew best, but most of the time she lacked any confidence in their ability to truly love. Maybe this home in Kansas City knew how to love her and her baby. She picked up the M&Ms, tore open one end and poured the unsorted candies into her mouth, chewing as many at once as she could, until she emptied the bag.

Signs and Wonders

Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness? (Psalm 88:12 RSV)

“Taken out of context, I must seem so strange.” (Ani Difranco)

Sometimes, I take things out of context on purpose. 

Most of my life I have been very concerned with context, and I’m not saying to neglect context, but what if taking things out of their usual environment actually expands our understanding.

Why do you think we have research centers that dedicate their resources to one aspect,of say, marine life,or to seek a cure for a certain disease? 

What is the purpose of a museum? Or say, a book or painting or photograph? Each one offers its perspective on a certain topic or aspect of a topic.

Today, I offer some more photo stories. No context, no commentary, just some images that could possibly be categorized by the title “Signs and Wonders.” As always, I invite you to make your own observations and share in the comments.

Vignette: A Brief Incident, Or a Short Written Description

Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:12 RSV)

“You can’t change the music of your soul.” (Katharine Hepburn)

I washed my keys today. What a relief! The last time I wrote a vignette about my keys, I described how I threw my keys into the sea. This time, I was furiously stuffing laundry from the bag into the washer, and didn’t notice the keys tucked inside. I thought I lost them, but I just washed them.

I’ve been trying to write this post for about two days now. While I love living on the boat, there are limitations. And limitations sometimes frustrate me. The internet wasn’t cooperating yesterday. Living outdoors has its own adjustments. And daily chores still have to be done. There are so many things I take for granted living back in suburbia.

But enough griping, I am here to share some vignettes from the past couple of days. I have been processing these brief incidents with words and photos.

I love the descriptive nature of photography. I probably knew that a photo could tell a story, but I hadn’t thought about it much before this trip. I’ve also noticed how these photographs could present a mystery. If I don’t add a caption, the “reader” of the composition could make up their own story of what’s going on, or maybe an image poses a question. I invite you to use the photos as prompts for you own musings.

And now tucked between the photos, I offer a few vignettes.

Message in a Bottle

Usually a favorite past time at the beach is collecting shells. This time, I have been collecting artifacts. Artifacts washed ashore, as a result of the recent hurricane. Bits of Styrofoam from floating docks, egg carton lids, plastic caps, all sizes and colors, empty Chapstick tubes, plastic cigar tips, grocery bag remnants, candy wrappers, unpaired flip flops from child size to adult, water bottles, soda bottles, a crushed Mountain Dew can, and an empty Corona bottle with a rusty cap, which had picked up some passengers; coquina shells with their inhabitants still inside.

I found the unbroken bottle bobbing among the rocks near the shore. My mind whirled, “What if, there is a message inside?” I looked, but it was empty. I picked it up and placed it in my grocery bag.

One can find even more variety, such as fence boards, plastic bucket handles, a paper receipt, Big Gulp cups cracked apart, and a hot dog in its bun that even the wild animals wouldn’t eat. Bits and pieces of life. Whether these items entered the sea from a recycling bin, or a garbage can or some passerby who let it drop to the ground, we will never know.

The ocean churned by high winds, surged and flooded inland, swallowing up everything, and now, redeposits the artifacts on shore. And so, this beachcomber gathers them up, and restores them to the garbage can and recycling can conveniently replaced by the park staff.


I dipped the end of the cigar tip in black acrylic to make these circles.
I brought this quilt for the bed on the boat. Les’ mom made it and gave it to us during our first year of marriage. It has some vignettes to tell. I love how an object can evoke story.
artifacts become art

Kokomo is our reluctant boat dog, her mixed breeding prefers the desert or hunting in the woods, rather than water sport. We appreciate her playing along with us on our adventures. On our last beach adventure, dogs weren’t allowed on the public beach; here she is allowed. Mostly she eats, sleeps, and goes for short walks with one of us. She perks up when she sees, smells or hears another person, dog or car come into our vicinity. Yesterday, I took her to the beach in the evening when no one was there. She sniffed everything, and especially got excited by the seaweed. I decided to let her off her leash, since she hadn’t had freedom in a couple weeks. She ran down the beach in a big circle, I shouted at her because I thought she might run into the street or never come back. She stopped and looked at me, then ran again. And then, I had to go get her. Of course, tonight we took her again, and she came right back to Les. She knows who is boss.

We haven’t taken her swimming again, and she’s not too keen on the waves in the ocean, however she did take a little plunge this morning. We are tied to a fixed dock, which means the boat moves up and down with the tide. We pull the boat toward the dock with a rope to get off. It can be anywhere from 2 to 5 feet away, depending on the wind and the tide. We have been training Kokomo to sit, to stay, to wait and then when the boat is right up against the dock, we tell her to go. This morning she was in a hurry, and didn’t wait for Les’ command. Oops! Wet doggy with a frantic boss fishing her out by her harness, and me standing behind freaking out. Of course, we scolded her and told her that we hope she learned her lesson. We love our Kokomo.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” (Cicero)

growing peppermint on the boat

peppermint on my watermelon salad

Sometimes, I notice things. Like this, a recipe is a vignette. A brief descriptive, incident. For this recipe, I will give you the ingredients, but no measurements, because I usually just wing it. You will need watermelon, a lime, some honey, some olive oil, chopped mint and either mozzarella (I chopped up a cheese stick) or feta cheese. Very light and refreshing salad. Colorful, too!


Last night, we had dinner at Captain’s BBQ and Bait Shop. If you’re in line for bait only, you get to move to the head of the line. We were there for the BBQ, and it was superb. One of my side dishes was beet and feta salad. So fresh!

I see a dessert night in our future.

Take some time to write about a brief incident or take a descriptive photo. I would love to see or read some of your recent vignettes!