Tag Archives: plan


Last night was one of those occasional nights when I had trouble getting to sleep. My brain was too active and thoughts were rushing through it like people with tight timetables at Grand Central Station. Disjointed memories darted here and there, but one pulled together and stuck with me.

In the early seventies I was living a few miles west of Clovis, New Mexico, where tumbleweeds and roadrunners ruled the land. As usual, I was reading before turning in for the night. The window was open a little, letting in a cool breeze off the desert and I could hear the distant, haunting wail of a freight train. I imagined if I took a moment to look out the window, I could see it way off, a tiny thread in the full moonlight. But my book had me captivated inside.

My husband was asleep next to me and my dog, four paws in the air, was wedged between us; both were gently snoring. After turning a page, I reached for my iced soda on the night stand, took a sip and snuggled into the pillows supporting me against the headboard. I heard what sounded like a faint cough. Figuring the sound came from my husband while I was turned to get my drink, I ignored it.

In the book I was reading, the protagonist had to use his senses and deductive abilities to try to solve the looming mystery. I figured, in sympathy with him, I was being more sensitive, too. That is, until I heard a sniff. I wasn’t absolutely sure I was actually hearing something, or if I had imagined it, so I continued reading, with one ear alerted. I didn’t have to wait long. Another cough, very faint, but definitely a cough.

I sat there pretending to read while I thought about what I should do and remembered a few days ago one of my neighbors mentioned she thought our neighborhood had a Peeping Tom. I’d forgotten about that, but gosh, maybe we did. If I tried waking my husband, “Tom” would overhear, and since he was obviously sitting up on our six-foot-high concrete wall that surrounded the back yard and was scrunched up close to our bedroom window so he could see in, he’d be gone before I even finished uttering my husband’s name. Not a good plan.

I peeked over the top of the book at my dog. How come she hadn’t alerted us to the intruder? Did she know him? Or did she not hear him? She just continued to snore with an occasional twitch of her paws as she galloped along in doggie dreamland.

My brain beat a path through my “little grey cells”, trying to come up with some sort of effective course of action. Then, through the fog, it came to me, and after much deliberation I decided it was the best plan I could think of that might also help capture the guy. I was feeling really good about it and went over it several times to work out the order of steps.

Boosting my courage, I got up and casually walked across the bedroom to the bathroom in the hall carrying my soda glass. A couple of minutes later, I flushed and ran the sink water for a few seconds. Then I came back into the hall, but instead of returning to the bedroom, I turned the opposite direction as though I was going to refill my soda glass in the kitchen on the other side of the house. But, instead of going to the kitchen, I continued down the hall two doors from our bedroom to my husband’s study and gunroom. In the dark room I snuck up to the window and peeked out, careful not to be seen, and had a really good view of the guy sitting on the wall outside my bedroom. Between the full moon and the light from my bedroom he was pretty much spotlighted. I figured he was somewhere in his late teens or early twenties. It made me angry that he would invade our privacy like that so blatantly. Thank goodness I was dressed modestly.

My heart was hammering in my chest as I proceeded to the next step of my plan. I got my camera, turned it on and carefully placed the lens against the window glass, looking through the viewfinder until “Tom” came into view. In my other hand I held my husband’s Colt revolver. Hopefully, the combination of the camera flash, the moonlight and bedroom window light would also light up the gun. After taking a deep breath, I tapped on the window with the gun barrel to get “Tom’s” attention. When he jerked around and looked toward me, I snapped the picture. He practically took flight, leaping off the wall trying to get away.

I was so happy my plan worked. “Tom’s” photo turned out well, he was arrested, went to jail and we had peace in the neighborhood again. A neighboring family, however, was not so happy with their son.

Perhaps my experience may be helpful to you.


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under life, musings

The Death of Orts and Ilk: A Reaction to the new SAT by Ann Chandonnet

Mastering new words helps us think new thoughts. Unfortunately, the shenanigans of those in charge of the SAT will soon disallow the rooting out of nepotism –because we won’t know the word nepotism. We will be disinclined to admire a diamante lorgnette and will be unable to sit down to a hare terrine.

Educators seem to have forgotten that increasing vocabulary is a way to rise up in the world. That very kind of rising, in fact, is the subplot of the novel The Color Purple. Readers who waited at American wharves for the latest installment of Dickens expected to find new terms in those pages, and they would gladly reach for their dictionaries to master them.

The current SAT compilers intend to limit vocabulary to what can be reasonably used in future professions. Considering that 75% of future professions will involve computers, that indicates they will be texted on terms like mouse pad, Google, format and type face–perhaps carbon footprint and hundred-year storm–rather than prestidigitation, red herring, anomaly, flexor, ort or pallet. This leaning in 21st-century education is unfortunate because it will produce adults who are incapable of thinking not only outside the box but also outside the cubicle.
Amortize sheds no light on crenellations or crepuscules. Principle gives no insight into troubadours. How can these prospective adults be expected to create original ideas if they do not have the terms in which to house them? They will consider selfies portraits. They will be unaware of the frog in flower arranging and the nightingale floors in Japanese architecture, not to mention the palmate feet of many water birds, the palliative in medicine and the tongues in shoes. Winston Churchill’s Black Dog will become a household pet.

Streets will be numbered, not named. Hirsute, flue, dirk, inclemency, ringlet, protuberance, anomie, merman, menhir, inchoate, persiflage, denizens, epergne, orogeny and gunk hole will all vanish into some silent circle of hell.
American civilization will be the poorer for every precise and memorable term suppressed. Word-bare poets will shiver in the thoroughfares, depressed novelists under bridges. Shakespeare and his pithy ilk will be thrown out with the bathwater.

Must we brook this ludicrous interference, this testing treachery? Or shall we take arms against a sea of verbal troubles? Rise up. Refute. Be vociferant in your dissent. You have nothing to lose but your mentation. Howl out your objection now, or forever be condemned to inarticulateness.

Ann Chandonnet is a nonfiction writer, food historian and poet who resides in Vale, North Carolina. She writes the Musings column for the Hickory Observer. Her next book, a food history titled “Barn Raisings and Cemetery Cleanings,” will be published this spring by Second Wind.


Filed under Art, Humor, writing


4 January 2014 

Goals.  January is the time to start fresh, make new goals and promises to do better, to get more accomplished and to follow through.

Goals are what keep us going, keep us motivated.  We all have goals, dreams and plans.  We dream about them, make lists so we can tick items off and measure pour progress as we make plans to have those dreams become reality.  We think about our goal’s potential, do what we need to and wait for them to manifest.

Creating your goal is the first step in making it happen but that is only the first step of many. When we give our goals a purchase on reality by voicing that goal, or putting it in writing we set something in motion.  Then as we strive for the changes needed to accomplish our goals, unfortunately, we awaken all the little demons that like to trip us up in our struggle to reach our goals and make positive changes in our lives.  All those blocks, fears and even the shame that has stopped our progress in the past can be counted on, one more time rear their ugly heads and do all they can to retard any forward momentum we have gotten going. 

Don’t give up.  Don’t let the negativity, the blocks, fears or shame stop you.  We do not need to have those negative impediments derail us in our pursuit of the goals we have set.  In order to achieve our goals, at the very least, we have to make some changes in our lives. By making these changes we are making room for our goals to manifest, to come into being in tangible and measureable ways. One way to think about these changes can be as simple as cleaning out the excess junk in your attic, or close or even your garage so you can make room for the things you want, the goals you have set.

We need to clean out the junk of the past, the rubbish that clutters our path, trips us as we try to pass, or garbage we hold onto to shame ourselves into failing because we may not feel worthy.  These are spiritual blocks and will take some work to clear, but it can be done, and must be worked on so that our goals have somewhere to take hold, put down roots and flourish.

I know I have a great deal of work to do in order to reach my goals.  I know they can be achieved with hard work, a willingness to let go of the past both in the spiritual wounds as well as the physical stuff I have kept that is no longer necessary.  Every day, I will do something, large or small to reach my goal.  At the beginning of the journey, it may seem like it is so much, but as the days pass, little by little I will erode the blocks in my path, for I am determined to reach my goals!  You can do the same and together the journey will not seem so lonely or arduous.  Happy New Year, and may all your goals be achieved.

S. M. Senden: author of Clara’s Wish and Lethal Boundaries.



Filed under writing