Displaying 1 - 10 of 18 entries.

Before the Griswolds . . .

  • Posted on December 9, 2013 at 2:58 pm

were my dad and his buddy, Harold. These two men grew up during the Great Depression and served in World War II. It didn’t take much to entertain them. It just had to be shiny.

Our family’s tradition was to put up the Christmas tree on Dad’s birthday, which was fine except for one small problem. Have you ever tried to buy a live Christmas tree on December 20th? Dad would leave the house early to scour the few tree lots in our town. After examining several trees at each lot, and chatting about “men stuff” for what seemed hours, Dad would arrive home with his pride and joy – a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, years before Charles Schultz even thought about the little round-headed boy. He would then mount the prize tree in our ancient tree stand.

While he was gone my mom and I would clear a corner of the living room for the tree, all the while making bets on how bad the tree would be. The loser had to adjust the tree while the other one judged whether we had enough live branches showing to make it look full and beautiful once the decorations were added. One year we tried to find a three-sided corner in our tiny house. Failing that, I was sent to the dime store to buy an extra pack of tinsel. We had those giant lights that got hot enough to set the tree on fire, all set on flasher mode. We also had bubble lights and glass balls – and two cats. Dad liked to decorate the outside too. We didn’t have money for real decorations, so he usually designed something with the tree branches that wouldn’t fit in our little corner and a string of lights.

As far back as I could remember our city workers, which included my dad, would string three giant red bells across various locations across Main Street. They covered the support and electrical wires with greenery. It actually looked festive and, for our town, classy. One year when I was in high school and at the height of “my parents are dorks” phase, the city decided to buy all new decorations for Main Street.

Dad brought home one of the bells (about 3-4 feet tall). He then attached a wire frame that followed the shape of the bell to which he attached a string of those giant fire-inducing bulbs. The coupe de gras was then hung from the front peak of the roof and visible for, what seemed, many miles. Whenever anyone asked where I lived, my friends would say in unison, “The house with the giant red bell.” Did I mention we lived only two blocks from the high school?

Meanwhile, a few miles outside of town Dad’s buddy Harold lived on a farm, not too far off the main road. He loved lights too and each year bought some new gadget to light up his front yard. Then his uncle passed and willed all his lights to Harold. Oh boy! Harold was happy. A few years later Harold’s father passed and willed all his lights to guess who. Oh Wow! Only one problem, Harold did not have a design bone in his body. Santas were grouped with manger scenes and reindeer grazed among the carolers. Snowmen rode the ferris wheel. Oh, did I forget to mention the ferris wheel? The one with lights strung on every support bar and seat and ran continuously?

Harold, being as prosperous as my dad, found himself working 11 months to pay the December electric bill. This could not continue, so he contacted the largest newspaper in our county to do a story on his display. Harold prepared for the crowd. He created a driveway that wound through the display and back to the road. And, he added a donation jar to help pay the electric bill. The height of my dad’s holiday season was to drive out to Harold’s house, admire the lights, chat a little and return home with visions of lights dancing in his head.

The year I divorced my kids’ dad and was without a job, I found myself wishing for a small tree to cheer our tiny apartment. After paying bills and buying food I found a spare $7 in my wallet. Hoping for a tiny tree or some cut branches, I pulled into a tree lot and told my tale of woe to the man on duty. He said he had just the tree for me and the children. He walked to the back of the lot and brought out a gorgeous, full tree about 10 feet tall and tied it to the top of my decrepit station wagon. Once home I realized I couldn’t get the tree up our narrow stairway, so called Dad to the rescue. He and Mom came within a few minutes. While Dad and my son cut the tree to fit, the girls, Mom and I made paper ornaments.

By the time he was finished installing our giant tree, Dad once again had visions of evergreen glory. He asked what lot and which worker sold me this magnificent tree. He drove straight to the lot, spent more than $20 and bought – you guessed it – a Charlie Brown tree. Have you heard the phrase, “mad enough to spit nails?” That was my mother.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 9, 2013

I Did It Wrong

  • Posted on November 7, 2013 at 10:30 am

After my babies started coming two at a time, I decided it was time to do some serious family planning; but I was fertile during the dark ages when birth control pills and IUDs were still the latest and greatest technology. Depro Provera was not even a gleam in a woman’s eye.

After taking the pills for the maximum number of years that was considered safe, my doctor switched me to other methods. They all did their job but not all were, shall we say, fun and easy to use. I even tried the orange juice method. What is that you ask? I asked the doctor the same question. “Do I drink the OJ before or after?’” He looked at me like I was an idiot and said, “Instead.”

Now after all those years of purchasing expensive contraception items, I learned there is a better and less expensive family planning method. I cheered, knowing my daughters and granddaughters won’t have to go through the trial and error methods I used.

Amazing discoveries happen daily. For instance, a few months ago a politician said that women cannot conceive from rape because stress will prevent conception. But the most amazing information comes from Saudi Arabia where a conservative cleric has made this proclamation about mechanical birth control. He said,

“If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards.”*

Just imagine, I could have avoided all that hassle and money by simply going for a daily drive. Back then gas prices varied from $.20 to $1.00 per gallon, much less expensive than contraceptive products. It would also have given me short serenity breaks as I cruised along country roads admiring the corn, wheat, and soy beans. With the windows down I could have heard the birds singing and felt the wind blowing through my long red tresses. My husband would have been delighted to come home to a calm, collected wife instead of one who was exhausted from chasing children all day.

What a wondrous discovery this cleric has made, and he’s not even a doctor or scientist. Some day we might celebrate Driving Prevents Babies Day. Future generations of women will no longer need to spend hours in the gynecologist’s waiting room, wondering what antiquated contraception she will be told to use this time. Instead, they can look forward to pleasant drives around the countryside, smelling the flowers, admiring the butterflies and going home to a houseful of children.

*News of the Weird, The Daily Press, October 17, 2013, Reuters news release
© by Sharon D. Dillon, November 7, 2013

Officially Old

  • Posted on August 27, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Life moves along at warp speed. We’re in first grade dreaming who can will write my research paper, then married with children, children leave home, college begins and gives career a new direction. Then comes semi-retirement and enjoying time with grand- and great-grandchildren. Hopefully, semi-retirement will dissolve into full retirement with hours of fun with the great-grands and maybe some traveling to see the United States’ natural wonders.

I look at varicose veins as leg art, no tattoos required. I see wrinkles as character lines created by life, most of them laugh lines. Even though my red hair is fading into the “other blonde,” I consider it a mark of maturity. Each of those OB (other blonde) hairs was earned through life experiences. They are a sign that I lived life as fully as I was able. And, perhaps the water on my brain has drained away.*

I walk a bit slower, but that gives me time to enjoy the beautiful flowers of summer. Getting up and down from the floor is now a major project, geared to make sure I remember each time I play on the floor with my great-grands. The flab under my arms is just the beginning of wings. Soon they will grow and I can fly wherever I wish to go.

At least that was the way I viewed my life until I was approached by a small child two days ago.

All of this is just a lead-in to the words that could have seared my soul, but instead gave me a good laugh at the different ways small children and older adults perceive life.

I was working in the Magic Shop at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, greeting customers, chatting about this and that and ringing up their purchases. All was well in my world. Then a little girl about six or seven years old approached me and asked, “Are you old?”

“Yes. Why do you ask?”

“Because you look old.”

Now it’s official. I’ve been declared old, not just fluffy and mature.

*When I was in elementary and middle school the other students used to say, “Sharon’s hair is red because she has water on the brain and her hair fell in and rusted.”

© by Sharon Dillon, August 27, 2013

Thoughts to Ponder, June 5, 2013

  • Posted on June 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm

 “What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?”

George Eliot

 Trust is a word that is loaded with emotion: fear, anger, hope, expectation . . . . Volumes have been written about this subject. What more is there to say? Let’s try anyway and define it.

Trust is –

believing our children will be safe at school.

believing that our spouses will be loyal.

believing that our government will resolve its issues and get on with the process of governing.

believing that we will be able to pay our bills when they are due.

believing that we, our individual selves, have the knowledge and strength to do what needs to be done no matter what else happens.

Did you notice that the list above uses the word believe, not hope? Have you noticed that fear and distrust are synonyms? Trust is a knowing, deep in our souls.

We are taught from a very young age to distrust almost everything: teachers, neighbors, strangers, dogs, dark, insects, government, and other religions. This list could go on for pages. We all know what our fears are. Many of them are valid and should be respected. We can’t change what will happen “out there” so a healthy sense of protecting oneself is vital.

What we don’t know is how to move from fear to trust. This can be a major change in the way we see the world around us, but is often a slow, incremental movement away from fear.

I can recall a time when I told my friends, “I refuse to live in fear.” That statement changed my life. I opened my curtains. I walked around the neighborhood. I went out to local events. These changes took a few months, but it opened the world to me. Eventually, I began taking larger steps into the world of trust, and am still learning that it’s okay to explore the larger world, to take risks.

We can only let go of fears when we begin to trust ourselves to make the right decisions, to do the right thing, to love fully, to feel endless gratitude. If we make what seems to be a mistake, we trust ourselves to resolve the situation. We no longer need someone else to tell us what to do next.

What you choose to trust is up to you. You can trust your Higher Power, your mind, your instinct. It doesn’t matter because all three are the same. All three will protect you or encourage you to move forward.


Spirit, I know that my fears and mistrust are preventing me from living my life to the fullest. They prevent me from being the best person I can be. I turn those thoughts over to You right now, right here. I trust that You will fill me with knowledge, strength and trust in myself. That gift is mine this very instant, because You have promised it in all the holy writings. I trust You to keep your promises. And, so it is.

If you know someone who would appreciate reading “Thoughts to Ponder,” please suggest that he or she contact me at: energywriter@cox.net

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://theenergywriter.com

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by www.booksyoucantrust.com  Available in print and e-format at www.amazon.com

Contents may be forwarded, but please give credit where credit is due and erase all email addresses on original message.

A mini con man

  • Posted on May 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm

How early do kids learn to con adults? I think he learns it in the crib. (I’m using boys as my example because that is what my great-grands are. Girls are equally conniving.)

If I cry, Mommy or Daddy will come and hold me. If Grandma is here, she’ll try to beat my parents to the crib. I love watching them all try to come through in the doorway at the same time. That’s so funny, but I keep crying until one of them picks me up.

Then the little darling turns two. He soon learns to sit on the potty chair without filling said chair until Mom, Dad or Grandma gets tired of reading stories. Then exactly one minute after the Pull-up is up, the tot fills it. The adult will get frustrated and turn red in the face, but won’t yell because the little angel tried. Then he gets more attention while getting his pull-up changed.

As he starts pre-school he learns even more skills from their classmates, such as, “I really, really, really want it,” while making this sad, little face. So the adult, especially Great-grandmas, give in and the little sweetie has a new toy. As he progresses through pre-school and kindergarten he learns to just stand and look at the toy with wide eyes while saying, “I don’t need a new toy. I just want to look at them.” Try to say no to that.

Then just as kindergarten is ending and the little sweetie can read simple words, he asks Great-grandma to take him to “the library that sells toys,” i.e., Barnes and Noble. He runs straight to the toy department carefully not noticing a single book, even those on special display. Finally Great-grandma steers him to the train play table with several of the “Thomas the Tank Engine” family just sitting there waiting to be joined together and driven around the tracks, over bridges and even into the round house.

After playing quietly and sharing the trains with other little boys for about an hour, the child notices, like he had just seen them, the train cars hanging from the display. He points out several new double car sets. Great-grandma explains that they cost too much. The boy continues to scan the display naming the train cars that he already had. Then he came to one named Patrick. “This one is Patrick. I don’t have him.”

“Maybe you’ll get one for Christmas.”

“But Patrick is my little brother and I love him.”

No need to describe how this story ended.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 26, 2013

Thoughts to Ponder

  • Posted on May 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm

May 15, 2013

 “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.

 Dwelling in the present moment I know this is a wonderful moment.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

 What a simple truth, yet so hard to live. Most of us can only live in the present for a few moments. Then, all too soon, thoughts start worming their way into our brains. Today I must accomplish these 10 tasks. I think I’ll make a stew for supper. Oh, relatives are visiting on Sunday; I must clean the guest room and get extra groceries. And so it goes; anxiety building with each thought.

How do we stay focused on the present moment, enjoying it, savoring it, living it? Each time we realize that we are focusing on the potential future and all the work we have to do before we get there; we can do exactly what Thich Nhat Hanh suggests. As the calm settles over us, we can thank Spirit for our feeling of peace. With practice we’ll experience more of these precious moments.

There is that dreaded word practice again. We have to practice playing the piano. We have to practice a new task. We have to practice breathing. We have to practice gratitude. We must practice to see, not how far we have to go to reach perfection, but how far we have progressed since we started.


 Spirit, I thank you for this new day, this beautiful day, filled with new experiences. Some will be daunting. Some will be a pleasure. If I start feeling overwhelmed, please remind me to breathe deeply, smile and enjoy the moment. Knowing that this is so, I thank you for each lesson learned.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 15, 2013

If you know someone who would appreciate reading “Things to Ponder,” please suggest that he or she contact me at: energywriter@cox.net

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, www.theenergywriter.com

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Soon to be published in a book of Amazing Mom Stories.  Final title and date of publication to be determined.

Contents may be forwarded, but please be sure credit is given where credit is due and that all email addresses on original message are erased.

Thoughts to Ponder April 17, 2013

  • Posted on April 17, 2013 at 8:15 am

Thoughts to Ponder

April 17, 2013

“It is understandably human nature to see yourself as small;

Until you stop seeing yourself as just human.

Should be easy for you.

You are pure energy, infinite, inexhaustible and irresistible.”

. . . TUT – A Note from the Universe


When an incident we consider a disaster, such as Monday’s bombing in Boston, occurs we tend to feel small and ineffective. Truthfully, we are very powerful. We can impact this, or any, situation for the better. Our guides have assured us that those people who transition in such an event go straight to heaven as angels. They do not have to pass go or collect $200. The guides have also assured us that while we are sleeping we are, in fact, on site working with those who are injured in any way. These are big thoughts to ponder and accept.

If they seem too much to comprehend, we can focus on how to help while in our human bodies. All of us have healing power, whether or not we’ve studied any particular method of energy healing. We have the power of prayer and intention. We don’t need a formal ritual. Just a thought will send healing energy to our intended destination.

This brings us back to our imaginary smallness. We are much larger, stronger and wiser than we can conceive. We can help heal these emergencies, and closer to home we can help heal personal crises. Today’s mediation is my favorite way to send healing to any situation.



Spirit, it is my intent to be a clear and perfect channel for peace, love, joy and healing energy to be used for the highest good for all who have been impacted by the events in Boston. We know that all is in divine order and are grateful that we are here to assist in any way necessary.

And, so it is.


Sharon Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, www.theenergywriter.com

The cooking lesson

  • Posted on June 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

Well, I did it. Jody Worsham (www.themedicaremom.com) no longer holds the title of World’s Worst Cook. She earned that title when she cooked a chicken with wine recipe that Wanda Argersinger (www.wandaargersinger.com) taught her. Somehow the chicken turned purple. My dish was edible but I killed the pan.

This is what happened. I bought a brand new, shiny stainless steel skillet from the Calphelon store at Williamsburg Premium Outlets. (I know TMI, but I’m trying to make as many connections as I can.) I carefully read the instructions: wash first, moderate heat and wash again after pan cools. Okay, got it.

I sautéed some green beans and they were delicious. Upon washing the pan
I noticed a huge light brown scorch on the bottom. Apparently, there had been some grease on the burner. After scrubbing for two hours the bottom was finally clean, but my arm felt like I’d tried out for the Milwaukee Brewers or (insert your favorite team here).

The next day I made hash browns and eggs. This time I had a small light-brown scorch spot inside the skillet. Trying to avoid an additional two hours of scrubbing I turned to the time-tested method of cleaning burnt pots and pans. “If it gets cooked on, it can be cooked off.”

I filled the skillet with water, added a small squirt of Dawn and put it on medium-high heat. While waiting for the skillet to clean itself, I sat down to read The Daily Press, our local newspaper, and promptly fell asleep.

Sometime later the Fire Safety Angel awakened me. I ran to the kitchen in time to see a crusty skillet, just beginning to smoke. I quickly turned off the heat and moved the skillet. When it cooled I drew a sink full of hot sudsy water and let it soak a while.

Upon returning to this depressing project I found that the light-brown scorch had turned into a big black burn, which I scrubbed as long as my pathetic muscle development held up. Now the skillet had black splotches all over the bottom and a few brown ones on the sides.

The good news is that I didn’t kill the skillet. It still does a good job of cooking food – if I watch it carefully. It just looks really ugly.

How I could have nearly killed my new skillet was a mystery until I thought back to my childhood. When I was in elementary school my parents purchased a beautiful set of copper-bottom stainless steel cookware. My mom was still using that cookware when she passed at age 82. But – – I don’t recall ever seeing a stainless-steel skillet. One or more must have come with the set. What happened to them?

I’ve developed a theory that Mom killed her stainless skillets and disposed of them while I was at school. That’s the only scenario that makes sense. It means that my incident was not an isolated one.

Killing skillets is genetic!

© by Sharon D. Dillon, June 9, 2012

My farewell speech

  • Posted on May 29, 2012 at 10:16 am

My computer is still not posting photos to this site. I’m still working on a solution.

Sunday I said farewell to my coworkers, definitely a bittersweet experience. I’ve had four years of fun while assisting our guests at the World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park. I chose to leave because my energy is not as high as I’d like it to be. Before I share my farewell speech I’d like to tell you the great news.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg has a five-week old Clydesdale foal named Aiden. He’s already larger than a pony and a sweetheart. His arrival wasn’t announced until a few days ago because the equine handlers wanted to wait until he passed the danger period that took last year’s foal. For now barricades are keeping visitors at least 10 feet away from the new family.

About 15 minutes before my last shift ended my supervisor, Leslie, came by to wish me well and ask about my plans. I asked if he wanted a speech. He said, “Yes.” This is the message I left with my co-workers.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I bid you a fond farewell as I recall my years of fun here in the toy shop. I wish to tell you that I’m leaving to spend more time with my family. I did not steal from the tills. I did not steal toys. I did not sleep with my supervisor. I did not sleep with student interns. I repeat. I am leaving because my family requires my presence at home.”

After Leslie stopped laughing, he said, “You are so funny.”

My response was, “I hope so. That’s why I went to EBWW, to get my funny back.”

I must add, “Honk if you’ve heard this speech before.”

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 29, 2012

It’s all Barney’s fault

  • Posted on May 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm

After carefully reading and digesting two items in today’s Daily Press I have come to the inescapable conclusion that it is all Barney’s fault. What, you may ask, could that saccharine-sweet purple dinosaur do to upset me? That is besides being purple and saccharine-sweet? Read on and, I’m sure, you will blame Barney too.

Article #1 – spread across pages 1 and 4 talks about a local fish kill caused by warm, shallow water that is also oxygen-depleted. Authorities are unsure about the cause of this condition and who is responsible for disposing of the stinky, silver fish. This situation is serious. However it’s cause is obvious and easily repaired.

Article #2 on page 2 reports, “… Researchers have calculated that dinosaur flatulence could have put enough methane into the atmosphere to warm the planet during the hot Mesozoic era. Like gigantic prehistoric cows, sauropod dinosaurs roamed widely. … their plant digestion was aided by methane-producing microbes…. Methane [has]… as much as 25 times the climate warming potential as carbon dioxide….”

Anyone who has stood down-wind of a cow can understand this concept. We don’t know if Barney is a sauropod, but we can be certain is not a carnivore. The fact that he is disgustingly sweet and purple indicates that he dines exclusively on sugar beets and purple kool-aid, leading to mega-flatulence. Young dinosaurs don’t just pop up out of nowhere, so we can assume that he has relatives roaming around the woods.

In addition we know that Barney has extended relatives roaming the world. Godzilla, Swamp Thing and Creature from the Black Lagoon seem to be vegetarian. We’re not sure what Godzilla eats other than sky-scrapers. However, it’s obvious that Swamp Thing and Creature from the Black Lagoon dine on water plants and algae, which become “aromatic” in hot weather. Can you imagine the resultant odor once they’ve been digested by Barney and his relatives?

In conclusion, I assert that Barney and his family’s gaseous emissions are directly responsible for the lack of oxygen and warmer temperatures, especially since Swamp Thing and Creature from the Black Lagoon spend most of their time in water and Barney needs an occasional bath.

You’ve heard of bubbles in the bath water, haven’t you?
© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 9, 2012