Sunday, August 17, 2014

New website/blogsite

I have a new Website/Blog which can be found at: 
Please come visit.

I am currently transferring posts and making adjustments to the new format.
There will be new posts, but it will be slow until the dust of the new 'construction' settles.

Please be patient... Thanks!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Writing on the Wall #37

Storytime Sunday #8: The Rule

The Rule
We didn’t have a lot of rules when we were raising our children, but we did have an important one. “Never climb into any place you can’t climb out of.” What it meant most often was, don’t climb onto to a roof or up a tree you can’t climb down from on your own.
Like most kids, my children were born with selective deafness. They didn’t seem to be able to hear rules. That meant there would often be a plaintive wail from outside the house (above ground level), “Help Dad! Help me!” It also meant I would have to get out of my comfortable recliner and miss the last exciting moments of my favorite television program while I went out to rescue a wayward child from their self-imposed predicament.
I would often find myself looking up into the terrified, tearstained face of one of my children pleading for help out of their situation. Standing at the foot of the tree, I would ask, “What’s the rule?”
“Rule? What rule?” Suddenly they had no idea what I was talking about.
I would patiently repeat, “Never climb into any place you can’t climb out of.”
“Oh, that rule. I forgot. It will never happen again. Cross my heart and hope to… fall and break both my legs if I ever do this again!”
At this point, as a parent, I became an absolute ogre. I would calmly fold my arms across my chest and begin to explain where they needed to move their hands and feet in order to climb down on their own. That usually triggered another panic attack. It was not the type of rescue they had wanted. I would wait until the shrieking and pleading died down a little, and then I would repeat my instructions.
Eventually I would have a sobbing, red-faced child (partly from fear and partly from hatred of this abusive parent) standing on the ground in front of me. I would then ask, “What’s the rule?” Through the saliva and snot they would mumble something vaguely resembling the rule before streaking into the safety of the house where they undoubtedly began planning my gruesome demise.

The purpose of the “rule” was not to curb our children’s adventurous tendencies. With the brood we raised, I am not sure we could have even if we had wanted. The “rule” was partially intended to keep from interrupting my television programs any more than necessary, but you see how that worked out.
The “rule” was mostly intended to teach a valuable life lesson. It was to teach them to be aware of their surroundings and if appropriate, to have an exit strategy in mind. It was to teach them a lesson which might be applied in any number of life’s situations. Don’t climb a tree unless you can remember how to climb down. Don’t borrow money you can’t repay. Don’t accept a job you can’t quit. Don’t buy things you really can’t afford. Take the ‘rose colored glasses’ off before you start a relationship. Never get involved in a land war in Asia. No wait, that last one was Vizzini from “Princess Bride” …but it still applies.
As individuals, families, businesses, communities, and nations, we need to remember “Look before you leap!” “Be Prepared.” “Never climb into any place you can’t climb out of.”
Has teaching my children the “rule” spared them from making mistakes? No! They seem to have followed in their father’s footsteps. Sometimes they make great decisions. Sometimes they are sitting tearstained and terrified in one of life’s many trees. I would like to think that understanding the “rule” has helped to give them a little more confidence when it comes to climbing down… on their own.

Moral: “Never climb into any place you can’t climb out of.”
©2014 William L. Steen

Friday, July 25, 2014


It is easy in life to start thinking you are unimportant or unnecessary, yet each of us makes a myriad of important contributions every day. Just because they are not large or praised does not mean they are not vital.

©2014 William L. Steen

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writing on the World #4

"You're Eating Like a Pig Again!"

Food, Pigs, and Prelutsky, three of my favorite things in a single poem. Jack Prelutsky is one of my favorite children's poetry authors.

"Life's Ledge"

Maintaining a proper balance in life allows us to enjoy the beauty. Otherwise it is just crisis management.

©2014 William L. Steen

Monday, July 21, 2014

Writing on the World #3

People may say, “You were just lucky!” Maybe it’s true, but no one gets ‘lucky’ without effort. You can’t succeed if you don’t try.

So as you start the week remember, the only way to guarantee failure is to never make the attempt. No matter how overwhelming the odds, give it your best ‘shot’. You might just get ‘lucky’.
©2014 William L. Steen

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Napkin" haiku (on a napkin)

My son suggested, "Dad write a poem on something cool, like a napkin." So here is a haiku on a napkin... 'on' a napkin. Perhaps I take things too literally.
©2014 William L. Steen

Writing on the Wall #35

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Writing on the World #1

Storytime Sunday #7: The Parable of the Disappointed King

The Parable of the Disappointed King
“You wanted to see me, Your Majesty?” asked the Royal Gardner.
“Yes,” said the king brightly, “I would like some corn. Did we plant any corn in the Royal Garden?”
“No,” said the gardener, “in our last meeting you told me you wanted the Royal Garden to be a place of beauty. I was commanded to plant only those things with beautiful flowers. As you know, Your Majesty, corn does not produce beautiful flowers, so it was not planted this year.”
“Oh how disappointing,” sighed the king with a frown, “I think you misunderstood. I have always liked corn. Please plant some at once.”
“As you wish Your Majesty,” said the gardener obediently. “There are many varieties of corn to choose from. Would you like the best one for this climate, or a variety which fruits quickly?”
“I am the king. When have I ever wanted anything other than the very best?”
“I understand, Your Majesty. I shall plant the corn this very morning.”
The obedient gardener spent the remainder of the morning digging up some petunias and pansies he had just planted a day earlier to make room for the requested corn. He planted an excellent variety for the climate which was expected to produce fruit in 88 days.
After working in the Royal Garden all day, the gardener took a few of the discarded petunias and pansies home and planted them around the edge of his own humble vegetable garden. He thought they added a little beauty to his surroundings as he watered his peas, thinned his carrots, and weeded his corn before eating his simple dinner and retiring for the night
Two weeks later the Royal Cook appeared at the garden with a wicker basket. “The king has sent me to fetch some corn for his dinner. Please pick some at once.”
The Royal Gardener pointed to some tiny green shoots poking an inch out of the ground. “The corn has just barely sprouted. Tell the king it will not be ready to pick for about two and a half months.”
“Oh my,” said the concerned cook, “the king will be very disappointed. He had his heart set on corn for dinner.” With that, the cook returned to the castle kitchen.
It was only a few weeks before the cook returned. “The king insists on having corn for dinner tonight. He said to pick some corn at once.” The gardener just shrugged and pointed to the fruitless green plants. “Oh my,” said the cook, “but the king will be very disappointed. You had better go explain it to him. He won’t listen to me.”
“Did I not tell you to plant corn?” asked the irate king when the Royal Gardener was escorted into the king’s presence.
“I did, Your Majesty, but it is not yet mature enough to bear fruit.”
“This is very disappointing,” mumbled the king. “You said before that there were many varieties of corn. Is there a variety which will grow quicker?”
“Yes, Your Majesty, but…”
“Perfect!” barked the elated king. “Replace this disappointing corn with one which will grow quicker, at once.”
“As you wish,” said the obedient gardener, “I will replace the corn this very morning.”
The gardener spent the remainder of his morning digging up the small corn plants and reseeding the corn patch with a variety of corn which was expected to produce fruit in 66 days.
As was usual, after work the gardener went home and tended his own garden by weeding the carrots and watering the corn before retiring for the night.
A few weeks later the Royal Cook was back. “The king wishes to have corn for dinner.”
The gardener pointed wordlessly at the small green plants in the corn patch.
“Oh my,” said the cook, “the king will be very disappointed. You will need to explain this to him. I’m not brave enough.”
Again the gardener explained to the king. Again the king was disappointed. Once again the king demanded that the gardener replace the disappointing corn with a new variety. Obediently, the gardener worked all morning digging up the immature corn and reseeding the royal corn patch.
A few more weeks passed. As before, the Royal Cook appeared and requested corn for the royal table. As before, the gardener could not supply the corn. As before the Royal Gardener appeared before the king.
“Still no corn!” shouted the king when the gardener arrived. “This is too disappointing.”
“I’m sorry to have disappointed Your Majesty,” said the humble gardener. “I feel under the circumstances that I must offer my resignation as Royal Gardener.”
“Did you plant the corn as I asked?”
“Yes,” said the gardener, “but you are still disappointed in me.”
“Nonsense!” said the king, “You did exactly as I asked. I am not disappointed in you. I am disappointed in the corn. It is not growing fast enough.”
“But, Your Majesty,” began the gardener.
“We must keep trying to find a variety of corn which will not be disappointing,” interrupted the king. “Please continue your duties. Dig up this disappointing corn variety and plant another—at once!”
Once again the Royal Gardener did as he was commanded. That very morning he dug up the disappointing corn and planted a new variety. He spent the afternoon performing his other gardening duties and then went off to his small cottage for the night.
As he worked in his own small garden, the Royal Gardener thought how very grateful he was to still have his job as the Royal Gardener. He loved gardening. He knew there was no more magnificent garden in all of the kingdom than the Royal Garden. He felt he was a very lucky person to be able to work in the Royal Garden each day.
Later at dinner, as the gardener bit into a freshly picked ear of corn, he also thought of the king. He thought sadly that the king was destined to be forever disappointed because he never seemed to understand that only with patience can some fruits be eaten… although a little fresh butter was also nice.

Moral: Only with patience can some fruits be eaten.
©2014 William L. Steen

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Sunday" haiku

Not my normal style, but I have been playing with the haiku form lately, just for fun.

©2014 William L. Steen

Storytime Sunday #6: The Parable of the Dying Chick

Parable of the Dying Chick

I own a flock of hens; eight to be exact. I don’t particularly like chickens, but I keep a few because like me they are scavengers. Along with their normal feed, they will gladly consume any leftovers I don’t claim first. Unlike me, they produce more than belly fat from those leftovers, so we enjoy a few fresh eggs.
Our children are all “city kids”, but a bit of residual agriculture runs through the veins of my wife and I. For all my many moves, I grew up mostly on or around farms in northeastern Washington State. My wife was raised on a small farm in southern Idaho, where her dad also worked as a state potato inspector.
The other day, I stopped by the local feed store to pick up a bag of chicken feed. My wife and 18 year old ‘citified’ daughter were with me at the time. It was spring, so as we entered the store it was alive with the peeping of baby chicks. While my wife was off checking on some items for one of her projects, my daughter and I wandered through the aisles looking at all the varieties of chicks on display.
As we were looking at the chicks, I pointed to one and said, “That one is dying.”
“Oooohh!” was my daughter’s sympathetic response. “Why is it dying?”
My intent was to supplement her urban education. I explained how fragile baby chicks were and how high the mortality rate could be; especially if they were not cared for carefully. I pointed out how the chick sat stationary against the side of the box. I told her it had either become sick, or more likely, injured during transport. Now it did not have the ability to fend off its fellows who were walking on it and curiously pecking at it. I wanted her to understand that the “Circle of Life” is more than a Disney song by Elton John and Tim Rice.
I don’t know why I expected to give this daughter any agricultural insight, when I had so completely failed with all her siblings. When we bought our house in a somewhat remote area of the city nearly 30 years ago, our nearest neighbors had a variety of farm fowl as well as a few rabbits and goats. I thought raising a few chickens and rabbits was a great way to supply some meat and eggs; supplementing my meager income.
I set to work building the needed chicken coop and rabbit hutches. We acquired the necessary livestock. I had heeded the call of the soil. I was excited to be a farmer again. I wanted my children to be excited too. I encouraged them to wander in and out of the animal pens like I had done as a child on the farm. They did. Of course after about a week, all the critters had names and were pets. Rabbits and chickens were carried around like dolls. When the children learned that I intended to kill and eat their pets, they were all appalled. They were never going to eat Fluffy, Pecky, or Trouble.
As you may have already guessed, no sharp blade has ever touched an animal on our place. Even worse, most of the beasts live well past their “sell by” dates. They enjoy a long life; very long life; extremely long life, where they eat me out of house and home and (aside from an occasional egg) never produce as single edible thing.

After looking at the assorted baby chicks, I bought my feed and carried it to the car. I deposited the sack on the back seat. When I turned, my wife and daughter were walking purposefully back into the store.
“Where are you going?” I asked (as if I didn’t already know.)
“We’re going to buy that baby chick!” was my daughter’s response. “I’m not going to leave it to die where it is being picked on. If it dies it is at least going to be loved.”
So that is how we got into the business of providing hospice for a baby chick. I went back into the store with them, fished the pathetic little critter out of the flock, and placed it into the provided transport container.
At the check out, the clerk looked in the container to determine the breed. Noticing something was wrong, she asked with concern, “Is this one okay?”
“No!” was my daughter’s terse reply, “That is why I am buying it.”
I’m sure that answer confused the poor clerk because she spent the next couple of minutes explaining the return policy. If any of the chicks expired within the first 24 hours, the store would happily provide a replacement free of charge.
At home the baby chick was provided with a warm light, a cozy nest, food, water, and lots and lots of attention. Over the next few hours I thought I noticed some significant improvement, but predictably the next morning it was dead.
That should have been the end of it, but my daughter has been raised by a psychological Scotsman. “Waste not, want not.” My daughter had no original intent, other than caring for the dying chick. After its predictable demise, her pragmatic thrift kicked in. “We already paid for it and bought the feed. We just as well get a replacement so we don’t waste our money.”
Of course, when they returned to pick up a new chick, my wife and daughter decided they should buy a second chick, so the replacement chick wouldn’t be lonely.
That is how I went to the store for chicken feed and ended up raising two extra chickens.
What is the legacy of that dying baby chick? I am confident that in less than 24 hours, it received more love and attention than the combined flock of little ‘peepers’, but what did that insignificant little ball of fluff do for others. Did its last 24 hours have any impact?
My daughter was able to display some of her latent compassion on the terminally ill chick. I may have a few eggs produced by the new infusion to my flock. Two chicks lucked out. Whether they produce eggs or not, they will never find themselves sitting beside the mashed potatoes at Sunday dinner. My grandchildren had the joy of watching two piles of peeping fluff endure their awkward (unruly feathers poking out everywhere) teenage stage and mature into respectable looking hens. My children and grandchildren gained some additional insight into their parent’s and grandparent’s agricultural roots as they learned a little about what it takes to care for chickens. Isn’t that quite a legacy for such a brief and insignificant life?
Moral: No life, however insignificant or brief is without influence. 

©2014 William L. Steen

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"The Last Kiss"

This was an entry for the “Fire and Ice” poetry contest.

©2014 William L. Steen