John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

The winter years, a short story by John William Tuohy

Here, here's some art for you to look at and enjoy

Mark Rothko, No 15 (Two greens and a red stripe), 1964

  The Winter Years

A short story by John William Tuohy

      He was reading the newspaper while he waited for his order to arrive.  He never read the newspaper before she was gone.  Now he read it because it was something to do.  He was reading an article in the newspaper about the young mother of four children who lived in town and had died of pneumonia.  She was 22 years old and had worked as a security guard down in New Haven and now her children would be sent to live with their grandmother who was also of that city and was reported to be thirty-eight-years old.    

   He put the paper down and thought that life is unfair.  He remembered that she closed the door tightly and locked it but she did not want to go.  She adored her home.  She paused to wonder what it would be like to wake up and have no breasts.  She pushed that thought out of her mind and remembered that the doctor said he wanted to talk to her.  There were other developments, he said.  She told him that she would see him after the operation.  It was just too much to deal with.  She knew, anyway.

   She looked out into the day and it was beautiful.  It smelled cold.  The sun was bursting brilliantly in the deep blue sky.  The New England snow slowed things, and in the early morning hours, when the snow was untouched and pristine, it blanketed the Valley with a pleasant sense of peace and calm.  Beautiful winter days like this were a part of the reason she loved this place and why she had never left.

   She held the thin black iron rail and stepped carefully down the slate and cement steps.  Watching her, he said across the freshly fallen snow, “Ice is gone.  I got it.”  And he had.  In fact, it was gone before the sun had risen over his Valley’s hills.  He took shoveling seriously.
   She went over the mental list of food she had left prepared for him.  There was Golabki, stuffed cabbage and Chlopski Posilek, bacon and cabbage, Rosoz kurczaka and golden chicken consommé with noodles.  There was Placki kartoflane, potato pancakes, and Klopsiki, meatloaf stuffed with eggs.  There was Kotlet schabowy and breaded pork cutlet.  She left Faworki, pastry twists, and Makowiec, sweet poppy cake for dessert.

    “I left you a few things inside the frig-er-rater,” she said and went over the working of the mysterious microwave with him, again, although they both knew its intricacies would elude him anyway and he would nuke the food so long that smoke would billow out of its every crevice.

   He let the engine idle and turned on the heater to warm the protective vinyl coverings on the seat.  A slight steam of blue grey smoke from the exhaust floated ghost like over the open trunk where he had carefully placed her white Naugahyde covered luggage over an old quilt in the unlikely event that there was dirt on the trunk floor.  She had packed only the clothes she knew she would need, her nightgowns, slippers, her best dress, shoes, and her good jewelry.

   He smelled the cold too and he liked it.  He liked the way it felt on his cheeks and on the tip of his nose.  He liked outside because you were alone outside.  Years ago, he had worked inside the shop for a few months but he didn’t like it.  He did not like the way some of the guys talked dirty talk about girls.  Some of them even had dirty magazines with naked pictures of girls jammed inside their lockers.  They would show him and he would say, “I go to mass, you know,” and they stopped doing that.  That was why he took the driver’s job, hauling loads from Ansonia up to Springfield and back again.

   Twenty-four years behind the wheel of a big rig had left him with enormous flat hands, thick wrists and a flabby rear end that was distinctly disproportionate to the rest of his wide muscular body.  Decades of handmade kielbasa, and potato cheese pierogis topped with bacon, and fried onions had left him with an enormous belly.  And those were the only things about him that were memorable or unique except that he was a kind man, a benign gentle man.  She always said that the crew cut on his still blonde but thinning hair made him look like a Polish prison guard and men who didn’t know him stepped out of his way.  But children liked him instantly and he had that aura of men who would rather listen than speak.

   He did not speak about this hospital situation.  He didn’t understand it and sitting there on the edge of his thoughts was how he would take care of himself after she was gone.  He worried about the laundry the most.  Those machines were a mystery to him.  When she was in the hospital that time with the baby, he had fought it out with the laundry machine and the laundry machine won by shrinking everything to half its size.  He wondered if she would feel pain.  There were a lot of times over these past few weeks that he closed his eyes and talked to the Virgin Mary.  He said to her that if there had to be pain involved, let him feel it instead of her, because he could take it and he was not sure she could.  She was a small woman he thought, and God must have made him this big for a reason.

   He did not want to think about any of that now.  In a half hour, he would be alone and then he would have no choice but to think about it, because there would be no one else to talk too.  He turned his attention to the slate wall and noted that roots had pushed their way into the tiny porous holes in the cement and pushed apart and severed the gravel that kept the wall together.

   She slowly made her way over to him and stared at the crumbling wall as well.
   “It’s gotta come down,” he said, “before it falls down on its own.  You don’t want that.”
   “I remember you and the boys built that.”  She pointed to the patch of wood in back of the house. “Took the rocks from the back.  Remember?  We took the Easter pictures here with yous in your red suit coats.”

   The memory brought a wonderful smile to his face.
   “Yous were so handsome,” she said with pride that lifted her chin.  “Oh honest to God though.”

   He pulled a large rock from the top of the wall and placed in on the lawn. “Well, it’s gotta come down now while we can still save it.”

   He turned to see her eyes had welled up.  “Hell, woman, it’s just a damn wall,” he said trying his best to sound gruff but coming nowhere close to the effect he wanted.  She locked her short soft arm into his and he turned and embraced his bride for a long moment because he loved her and because he missed her already and because hospitals upset him and he held her to keep out the world, if only for another moment.

    They walked silently to the car, arm in arm.  The snow was tapering off into rain, a rain that unlike the snow, seemed to come as an assault, an attack that would somehow, alter things forever.  He opened the door.  She slid in.  He shut her door, and he drove his bride to the hospital.

   He ate alone these days.  He arrived to the Diner at six every evening and sat at the same place at the counter and thought of her often while he waited to see her again.

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

By William Stafford 

William Edgar Stafford (January 17, 1914 – August 28, 1993) was a American poet and pacifist, and the father of poet and essayist Kim Stafford. He was appointed the twentieth Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1970.  Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, the oldest of three children in a highly literate family. During the Depression, his family moved from town to town in an effort to find work for his father. Stafford helped contribute to family income by delivering newspapers, working in sugar beet fields, raising vegetables, and working as an electrician's apprentice. As a registered pacifist, he performed alternative service from 1942 to 1946 in the Civilian Public Service camps. In 1954, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. One striking feature of his career is its late start. Stafford was 46 years old when his first major collection of poetry was published, Traveling Through the Dark, which won the 1963 National Book Award for Poetry. The title poem is one of his best known works. It describes encountering a recently killed doe on a mountain road. Before pushing the doe into a canyon, the narrator discovers that she was pregnant and the fawn inside is still alive.Stafford died of a heart attack in Lake Oswego, Oregon on August 28, 1993, having written a poem that morning containing the lines, "'You don't have to / prove anything,' my mother said. 'Just be ready / for what God sends.'

If you don't know the kind of person I am 
and I don't know the kind of person you are 
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world 
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star. 

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind, 
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break 
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood 
storming out to play through the broken dyke. 

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail, 
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park, 
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty 
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact. 

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy, 
a remote important region in all who talk: 
though we could fool each other, we should consider-- 
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark. 

For it is important that awake people be awake, 
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep; 
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe-- 
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

German photographer Elke Vogelsang captures her beloved dogs expressions

“I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.”
                                                                  W. Somerset Maugham

“You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against.”
                                                                                          Laurie Halse Anderson

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”Albert Einstein

“I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and it isn’t of much value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.” Boris Pasternak

“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” Frank McCourt

“Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” Unknown

“Oh, happy who still hopes to rise
Out of this sea of errors and false views!
What one does not know, one could utilize,
And what one knows one cannot use.”
—   Goethe, Faust

“Make yourself a priority. At the end of the day, you’re your longest commitment.” Unknown

If I cannot brag of knowing something then I brag of not knowing it; at any rate brag. Emerson
300 quotes from Emerson
To view more Emerson quotes or read a life background on Emerson please visit the books blog spot. We update the blog bi-monthly  emersonsaidit.blogspot.com

What Love is…..
I could fall in love with a sumo wrestler if he told stories and made me laugh. Maya Angelou

Good words to have................

Turbid: (TUHR-bid)  1. Unclear; opaque. 2. Dark or dense, as smog or clouds. 3. Confused or muddled.  From Latin turba (turmoil, crowd). Earliest documented use: 1626. Not to be confused with turgid.

Prolegomenon (pro-li-GOM-uh-non, -nuhn)  noun: A critical, introductory discussion, especially an introduction to a text. From Greek prolegómenon, from prolegein (to say beforehand), from pro- (before) + legein (to say). Ultimately from the Indo-European root leg- (to collect, speak), which is also the source of other words such as lexicon, lesson, lecture, legible, legal, legend, select, alexia, cull, lection, ligneous, lignify, subintelligitur, and syllogistic. 

Putting the cabbage in it's place.....

Happiness comes from constantly improving ourselves

By Greg Bell, For the Deseret News

What do advertisers, psychologists, clergy, bosses, teachers and moms have in common? They want you to change. Change your actions, surely, but also your thoughts, beliefs, outlook and habits. Advertisers want what’s good for them, not for you. However, most of the other people who are working with us or on us sincerely want us to change for the better.
Changing human behavior is one of the most difficult things we can do. Getting to the moon was simple compared with restricting one’s diet or quitting cigarettes. My work associate and I were talking the other day about the need for people to exercise better discipline by cutting out the junk food so commonly available. No less than a half hour later, under no duress whatsoever and with several good apples just steps away in the fridge, I gobbled down two large sugar cookies at an office birthday celebration. Was that even the same person in both scenarios?
Most of us get 75 or 80 years of life so we can make those necessary changes. For all its vaunted glories and notwithstanding the best efforts of millions for whom prolonged youth is a talismanic treasure, regaining youth is overrated. Far, far more valuable to me are the good habits and routines I developed, mostly in young adulthood during a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and college. That self-discipline revolutionized my life. It stabilized me. It put me in prudent control of my time, money and commitments. It is a blessing to work, sleep and exercise when one should and to apply one’s time by thoughtful choice to productive activities. Will Rogers had it right: “One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it's such a nice change from being young.”
With middle age, we typically tackle more of the really important things, such as getting our marriage and/or other relationships on solid footing by eliminating conflict and healing old wounds. We learn to listen to the significant people in our lives about our bad habits and tendencies. Meanwhile, the vanities of youth, the fripperies and excesses, get laid aside like heavy furniture from a pioneer’s overburdened wagon.
As we shed a teenager’s indulgent preoccupation with self, we learn that listening to others and helping them will bring some of life’s greatest rewards and blessings. Indeed, a stable, disciplined life is the optimum platform from which to employ our time and resources in making a difference in other people’s lives.
C. S. Lewis spoke of change this way in his book "Mere Christianity": “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage; but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
Whether you call it repentance, involving God, or you simply decide to improve and become a better person, change is a fundamental requirement of an enlightened life. While it can be very difficult, improving oneself is the stuff of character. Facing and mending one’s weaknesses is the very mission of life. Just when we think we’re pretty polished, life will soon show us the great amount of polishing there is left to do. But it must be done.
We must ban from our lips the sayings “That’s just the way I am” and “I'm too old to change.” These nostrums are not true. They are cheap fakes. They obscure the great purpose of life to ever change for the better.
Greg Bell is the former lieutenant governor of Utah and the current president and CEO of the Utah Hospital Association.

I’m trying to teach myself Spanish and this is what I learned today……..

El pecho: peh'-choh chest; breast
1.         Si siente algún dolor de pecho, es mejor que vaya al doctor.
If you feel any chest pain, it's best to go to the doctor.
2.         A mi mamá le extirparon un pecho como precaución contra el cáncer.
They removed one of my mother's breasts as a precaution against cancer.

Morning Poetry A Series In Color  By Nikita Gill

From As You Like It
(Jacques speaks)

Visit our Shakespeare Blog at the address below

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything

Half the lies they tell about me aren't true.”


Compiled by

John William Tuohy

Fortune Cookies

"Your life should be recorded for prosperity."

You will find a bushel of money."

"Your smile will tell you what makes you feel good."

"You are going to have some new clothes."

"Your family is young, gifted and attractive."

"There is a true and sincere friendship between you both."

"The night life is for you."

"Face facts with dignity."

"You are magnetic in your bearing."

"You are free to invent your life."

"Good sense is the master of human life."

"Maybe someday we will live on the moon!"

"Don't panic."

"If you don't have time to live your life now, when will you?"

"Ignorance never settles a question."

"You have an unusual equipment for success, use it properly."

"Avert misunderstanding by calm, poise, and balance."

"Simplicity and clarity should be your theme in dress."

"You have a potential urge and the ability for accomplishment."

"Do you believe? Endurance and persistence will be rewarded."

"Good Luck bestows upon you. You will get what your heart desires."

"Pat yourself on the back for creating an opportunity."

"It could be better, but it's good enough."

"You will find a thing. It may be important."

"The calling that has sounded will not be the lasting call."

"In youth and beauty, wisdom is rare."

"This is the year when ingenuity stands high on the list."

"The best year-round temperature is a warm heart and a cool head."

"Ssoorrrryy,, dduupplleexx sswwiittcchh oonn.."

"You will prosper in the field of wacky inventions."

"Remember to share good fortune was well as bad with your friends."

"You may be hungry soon; order a takeout now."

"Buy the red car."

"I cannot talk right now. Even fortune cookies need to sleep sometime!"

"You and your wife will be very happy." (received by a single woman)

On one side: "You have an important new business development shaping up."

"Never kiss an elephant on the lips."

"Strike iron while hot."

"No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings."

"Real is all a vision. You have to see it for yourself."

"Food is sex."

"Ignorance never settles a question."

"You have a potential urge and the ability for accomplishment."

"A liar is not believed even though he tell the truth."

"You have an unusual equipment for success, use it properly."

In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were prompltyl spilit apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more then ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny complelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obsticales of the foster care system and find his dreams.

John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."

His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.

His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play. 

Contact John:


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