Step Inside

“Enter when you will, take what you need, leave something of yourself when you go”

I have a friend I met over a bottle of scotch in a Brandywine Valley bed & breakfast some odd years ago who travels constantly and widely, sending me bits and pieces of the world as he goes. Each picture contains a sense of mystery, or surprising humor, and/or most likely the bicycle he rode in on.

I forget where he said he shot this wide planked shack. It is intriguing, don’t you agree? The sun and scattered leaves promise it is a bright, brisk day, yet, I wonder what musty odor fills your nose when you poke your head through the door, what scurrying varmint lives in the corners, what fingers grab your ankle once you cross the threshold and the heavy door slowly shuts out the light, the long, strong boards slide through the door handle locking  you inside…

… you go first…I am right behind you…


I live on a city street running in front of homes built in the 1940s and 1950s.  

Cracker boxes, I call them.   Small, seven hundred-eight hundred square foot private residences.

Some with lawns and gardens and a sedan or SUV in the driveway.

Some with six, eight, ten work trucks parked out front,

parked where there could be grass in the middle of yards,

parked two or three deep, usually one or two with the hood up, guys poking around the engine, one guy gunning it.

Many of the trucks have great sound sy’stems which the drivers blare as they race up the street. Loud fiesta music, ole’!

Loud, revving engines and pounding music you can feel in your kitchen in the back of your house, or in your bed when they come home at two or three A.M.

Heavy bass beating, beating, beating while kids sit in their dark -tinted- windowed low riders doing who knows what as they sit there.  They’re not bad kids, just noisy at all hours of the night.

When I first moved here, well over a year ago, I asked my city councilman if they could put in speedbumps to slow the cars enough to allow little kids and walkers to get out of the way; also thinking that slower moving cars would be quieter.    Silly me.  The city cannot put in speed bumps.  They would impede the snowplows, come winter.  And drag races are prohibited, and monitored out on Federal, not the side streets.

Often, now, when I’m out front when a truck goes growling by, too fast and too much bass, I pointedly glare.   I’m an old woman.   It’s a privilege to glare at those who annoy you.   They don’t care, but it feels good sometimes, and I never watch to see them flip me off.  It’s all good.

Mostly the trucks and cars and their drivers truly do not bother me.   However, two days ago some truck, most likely a truck with a long trailer hitched to its rear, its music beating loudly, and the driver moving too fast, and unwilling to drive down the street to the next corner to turn…some truck pulled a U-ey in front of my house. 

It made a U-turn, not so unusual on this street. Typically, if there is a space along the curb without a car or truck in it, someone will use it to turn around.

This particular U-turn could not be made without swinging wide. 

It could not be completed on the street, but required use of the sidewalk,

And you guessed it, the corner of my struggling lawn.

I discovered it sometime after it occurred, when the culprit had already split.

Oh, how I stared at the tire tracks imbedded in the sandy soil I had just last week seeded.

I stared, and glared, and screwed up my mouth at the evidence of destructive driving.

I put my hands on my hips, and looked from truck to truck to car lining my nearest neighbors’ driveways unable to tell which might have done the damage.

I stomped back into the house, then stomped back out to stare at those tire tracks, fuming.

I drank my morning coffee staring at those tracks.  

I walked up and down the sidewalk, staring at those tracks.

Oh, I know. I could grab my rake and smooth them away.

Say it was nothing to be upset about.

But dammit, it was rude, and careless, and rude, even disrespectful of my property, and rude.

I wanedto walk up to that driver, whoever it was, and glare, point my finger, and tell them to get THEIR rake and fix the damage, however slight.

Yeah, that’ll never happen. No one will fess up, even if they know they did it.

So, as I was working out back, digging up new gardens and pulling big rocks from the old, dried up pond that was once likely someone’s pride and joy before it was filled with stones, bricks, old bottles, broken Legos, empty chip bags, and covered with dirt, I started hauling and dragging those big rocks out front…to the corner of my lot…to cover those tire tracks in heavy stones.

The more rocks I dig up, the more I pile on the tracks.   They look pretty good.  Establishing a defined border.  Solidifying my boundaries.   I like this solution.

And I hope someday to get the satisfaction of watching some truck pull a wide U-turn in front of my house and blow its big treaded tires on one of my stones.

Lord, hear my prayer…

04/18/2023 rJoHerman

NaPoWriMo 2023 Free form


Today’s prompt is to write a fresh limerick,

Nothing too sweet, nor very, very slick.

So I’ve tried for an hour

To be clever, not dour,

But I cannot find rhymes that will stick.

04/14/23  rJoHerman

NaPoWriMo 2023


I did not hit pay dirt today,

Nor rich soil,

Nor a sandpit.

Today I hit stone after stone after stone.

Brick after brick resisted my shovel, my hoe, my curses.

All were buried under an exhausted layer of desiccated sod.

It is no wonder sections never grew green and soft.

They were laid on stony soil where roots could only shrivel.


I suppose now, after coarsely cursing the fool sod layer who owned this yard before me (I know, I know, I am the fool who bought it ), stupidly kicking at the rocks, and finally letting go of the aggravation, I will take my time,  clear out the area stone by brick, refresh and level the dirt, and plant some flowers to soothe the savage beast (music would agitate the neighbors).   There is time.  If ancient New England farmers could successfully clear acres and acres of land of enough rocks to build miles and miles of walls, I can surely clean up this mess, and live to enjoy it later.

04/13/2023  rJoHerman

NaPoWriMo   Day 13



In the middle of the meadow

In the shadow of that towering spruce

Idling next to that cool, easy moving stream.

Can’t you see it?

That small log cabin with yellow curtains

Wavering in the window near the door?

There’s a spring garden out front with green sprouts

Just about ankle high; and there’s a sweet windchime

Barely sounding its greeting to the sprites in the meadow.

Surely you can see the two chairs out front,

Facing each other over a cold firepit.

They look comfy, each with an afghan draped over one arm

And a cushy, square pillow to lean on.

Oh, and did you catch that whiff of cornbread?

And what smells like spicy green chili?  Mmm

Likely cooking in a cast iron Dutch oven on the woodburning stove.

That explains why the door is open; to let in some air to cool the kitchen.

Unbelievable!  You refuse to see what is right in front of you!

It’s all right there, right where it has been since we planted that spruce

When it was only two feet high.  Do you remember nothing? 

How Mom crocheted an afghan a week in every color of the universe, and how we all finally had enough to warm us for infinity and beyond?

How Marie opened the cabin each spring, dusted, swept, set out the chairs, split the kindling

and started a fire in the stove on day one, then kept it going the whole time we were there?

And she started her chili and kept it on the back burner for anyone who wanted it on their

Breakfast eggs, or their mac & cheese, or over rice with grated cheese for dinner.

What do you mean, there is nothing there?   You must be blind, c’mon!  Give me your hand! 

I’ll walk with you down the lane to the front door!   I might even splash you into the creek just to wake you up to see where we are!  C’mon!


Wait!   Why is this door locked?    Where have you taken me?  Get me out of here!  Stop!    We were just in the meadow!  You saw it!   We were just there…just getting ready to have some chili and cornbread with Marie…   please…  Please!

04/11/2023   rJo Herman  

Day 11 NaPoWriMo  2023   with a nod to dementia and the heartbreak of “reality”


Mittens was a handsome lad.  

Silky gray coat, four white paws.

Alert, bright eyes, ever watchful. 

Patient on the occasional event when a bird was playing hide and seek in the bushes (I tried to tell him to learn to refrain from mewling as he readied himself to jump. Tsk).    

He was able to leap tall cupboards in a single bound, then look pleadingly into my eyes for who knows what.  His food bowl was full, his water fresh, his litter box cleaned.   When I picked him up, he melted into a snuggle, purring warmly.   My great little guy.


4/5/23  rJo Herman

100 word story, with a nod to my darlin’ Emil Catt.


a numerical poem…





4 for $4



don’t 4get

4warned is 4armed

Danger 4seen is half-avoided



2 divided by 4=1/2

4 divided by 2 = 2


and now we’ve circled back…


4/4/23  rJoHerman

NaPoWriMo 2023  Day 4 



What’s not to love?!

Shiny, slick.   You could say luxurious!


Editorial Covers that often make you cringe;

 multitudes of ads for things you’ll never need;

eye-trapping layout pulling you into

a world not yours, but ever so possible in some other dimension;

portable companions entertaining you as you sip java at the neighborhood bistro;

conversation starters found on your sister’s table – Can you believe THIS?…as you share the page, wide eyed and disgusted – awed.


Some people strive to be featured IN magazines – each makeup covered blemish magnified.  Fame, y’know.

Some strive to create, publish, and promote magazines, dedicating their lives to finding new twists on old news.  Satisfying work, some say.

I revel in unrequired, unscheduled, unordinary reading pulp can provide, covering on my tables and lying by my bed, and calling my name even as I toss the pile.  


Observation:  The Universe hates a void.  Magazines work in sync with the Universe to keep voids filled, and so their purpose is clear and well established.  And so it is. And so I am grateful -selah-

04/03/23  rJo Herman

NaPoWriMo 2023  Day Three


HORDES of people claimed

The open grass at Wash Park.

Nowhere to park. Damn.

04/02/23  rJoHerman   

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day Two


Here’s to a month of poetry and wine,

And Dutch tulips blooming in the bright sunshine

In between snowstorms, often heavy and wet,

That drive us back inside.  It’s not quite Summer yet.

Here’s to some rhymes that make us stop and think;

That teach us where to focus, when our moods begin to sink

From gloomy contemplation of the status of our world.

Heads up, chins out, get some happy flags unfurled.

Today’s day one of April with plenty of things to do.

This month spreads wide before us with traditions tried and true;

Birthdays and remembrances of people who were/are cool.

I am hoping I will finally not be the biggest April fool.

4/1/23   rJoHerman   NaPoWriMo Day One

Un Grand Souvenir

One year, many years ago, I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s in a little cabin up in Marble, CO. It sat at the back of the property of a friend, deep in the snow. There was no heater, but a tiny woodburning stove called Francis (after St. Francis, me thinks) and a pile of kindling and logs, a few good books left by previous visitors (Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard), candles, chili in cans, and long lengths of roads on which to cross country ski. SO COLD at 7900 feet altitude, on the north side of a steep hill, but Francis felt so warm after a couple hours of skiing. The chili warmed my innards…and the deep silence and naps in between chapters in the books calmed my usual hyperactive self… and gratefully there was an electric blanket on the bed that kept me from totally freezing when Francis was reduced to mere coals in the middle of the night.

It was a great Christmas gift from a good friend, whose name I cannot recall (Michelle, I think) who was a customer of the bank…she was older than I, from France, and she loved the Americans who liberated her town in WWII. One of life’s treasures found when looking another way.

Bonne année