Category Archives: The Writing on the Wall

Can be just about anything…quotes, essays, articles, etc. that have some meaning for me and perhaps you, too. Again, feel free to comment and add your own. Keep it positive!

No Matter How Tasty

image for TASTYGrandma packs her paltry belongings in a rag bag – more rag than bag. Folded neatly is a worn flannel gown mended only to last “one more year”. The spigot from their first sink with running water from their old farmhouse down country is wrapped in a paper. At the top of the bag, she places a carefully bound 2-page scrapbook holding news clippings from the day Papa bought the Keller farm plus one faded photograph of their wedding 50 years prior.

Now Papa was not an ambitious man – a dozen coops in the backyard with cages too small for the hens. Papa had one expectation. Each day the hens would lay one egg. No egg; chicken soup. She could barely keep the pot full. When Papa died, the chickens stopped laying altogether. No eggs; chicken soup.

The mortgage came due and Papa’s small nest egg was gone. The bank would not accept Grandma’s offer of payment by chicken soup. The bank foreclosed.  No chickens; no eggs. No chicken soup.

Grandma moves to the County home.  

betsy mcdermott fecto

Best Friends

His name was Bogart…..

My raggedy friend.

Thinning hair. Ears frayed.

One blue eye, one green..

He beamed his threadbare smile.


I protect Bogart staunchly.

Fighter planes overhead in perfect formation.

Kennedy is dead.

Gremlins in the closet, voices boom outside my door.

Bogart fits in the bend of my arm.


We hide sometimes – Bogart and I.

Under the table with the long draping scarf.

In the treehouse in the field. “Boys only”.

In the basement. Never in the attic.


Reclusive in my bright yellow room.

The moon rises above the barn.

Daddy sleeps, still wearing his shirt and tie.

Mommy reads mystery novels in the recliner.


She reaches to hug,  Bogart and I.

Scanning the bruises with blind eyes.

Her touch feathers my cheek.


We join the others watching TV.

My own green bottle of Coke.

I do not join in the play.


Bogart’s arm must be sewn back lest he die.

Gentle stuffing, stitching.

Throw him away”. Ignore the voices.


Sounds around me fade.

Bogart’s arm slowly heals.

Ready for sleep. The peepers chirp in unison.

Writings on the Wall

Torment Refused

A breeze spawns whirling 

dust devils

that scour her face

She curls in a bed of red clover

a low, hollow sob,

Anguished eyes, torment refused

A voice beckons

Are you ready? Toes dig

into the sand.

“Not while there are sweet teas to

sip and berries 

to be crushed

Shepherds Purse harvested

Leaves of raspberries 


There is bark to strip

and dry. Tinctures to be

strained, roots to be ground”

Her arms stretched before her

she leaps swirling, swaying,

spinning, dipping, pirouetting

I”ll call again…..

Becoming a Grandmother


It is not often that a woman my age meets a new milestone. Milestones are usually reserved for the young – first tooth, first rolling over and sitting up, first birthday, first tooth, first day of school, first date, first prom, first “real job”, first marriage, first divorce, first gray hair and now, my first grandchild.Granny&Autumn


Autumn Elizabeth  Fecto simply slipped into our lives. Well, not exactly “slip”. I am sure my daughter, Sarah, would object to that term. I sat with Sarah through 4 days of intense labor before Autumn greeted the world with her presence.  As most “labor coaches” do…I took the brunt of Sarah’s lashing out each time a contraction took her by surprise or never came at all. All I could do was hold her hand and put a cool washcloth on her forehead. My niece, Jennifer was there most of the time and she kept us sane and nourished. Her efforts through a difficult time will never be forgotten or gone unappreciated.

Eventually, the doctors decided that labor had gone on too long and it would be wisest to take Autumn out by C-section. Frightened but relieved, I followed Sarah in my wheelchair to the operating room. I had sat through days of painful labor. Surely I was going to be there for the birth. Someone tossed me a johnny and stuck a net hat on my head and sanitizer to wash my hands. Moments later, it seemed, I heard the cry of a newborn. Autumn was here.

A tiny human life was placed in my arms – a little girl so beguiling that it took my breath away. Together, Mama and Grandma bubbled over with tears of joy. We had just witnessed a miracle. But time was of the essence and Autumn was whisked away to have her ratings done. Returning to her room, Sarah, Grandma, Papa Fecto, Jennifer and Judy, Papa’s long time companion waited.

Freshly bathed and smelling of powder and sweetness, Mama and child finally had a moment together. This 7 pound creation snuggled into Mama’s waiting arms and the room went still. My hands shook and my heart beat quick and strong. The instant bond between mother and child was palpable, their eyes meeting and holding each other. Mama had fallen head over heels in love with her newborn.  There was not a dry eye in the room.

I had a  new job and I knew what lay ahead. There would be thousands of diapers and hundreds of bottle of formula. There would be green poop and skinned knees. And I could not wait for it all to begin!

It was October 15, 2009 and Autumn had arrived.

Published in Ideagems, July 2010.