Rings are easy to lose. Even though the human finger is quite long with two lumpy joints, a ring can come off by itself, or worse shed a stone undetected. Sometimes the wearer finds the ring restrictive or in danger and takes it off. At such a moment the ring is in peril as it is about to be placed in a supposedly temporarily “safe” place but not the box where it is normally kept.

We lived in our home on Riverview in Houston Texas for twenty-six years and never found the emerald ring that the seller’s wife told us she had lost somewhere in the house. Now, fifty years later I search my Austin, Texas home for a lost antique Persian cabochon turquoise stone which fell out of a ring that I gave my daughter. I assume that the stone will be slightly smaller than an M&M candy. I go to extremes; after looking under the cushions in all our easy chairs, and going under every piece of furniture, I transition into phase two search. I go through the dirt in the vacuum cleaner. We pull out the refrigerator, broken glass here, no precious stone. I search clothing and gloves.

Eventually I accept that the Persian turquoise stone is lost and take the ring to a repair shop in the Mall. The ring is part of a Victorian set which I inherited from my English mother. She inherited it from her mother who inherited it from my aristocratic great-grandmother. This lady is reputed to have served as a Lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria. I speculate that this jewelry was no doubt worn in the Queen’s presence. The set consists of three screw-on receptors, one on a gold ring, one on a gold and diamond broach, and one on a gold band bracelet. There are two screw-on pieces; one is a large pearl surrounded by mine-cut diamonds and the other was the Persian cabochon turquoise stone also surrounded by mine-cut diamonds. The repair shop will find a replacement turquoise stone and reset the pearl to ensure that it does not go the same way as the Persian stone.

When the jeweler calls to discuss a replacement. I learn that the Persian stone was an extremely hard turquoise stone only found in Iran. Because of its high quality and place of origin, the Persian turquoise of today is expensive. I agree that $1,000 is too much and we settle on a Rio Grande “Sleeping Beauty” turquoise stone as a replacement. When I see “Sleeping Beauty” I am astonished at how small she looks. I have been searching for something the size of an M&M but this stone looks more like half an M&M. I speculate that something this small could go down a drain. When we return home, I have my husband dismantle the sink P-traps – nothing.

I tell everyone of the loss even after we have picked up the reset ring from the jewelers – it looks fabulous. The diamond setting makes the “Sleeping Beauty” stone look as large and beautiful as the original Persian stone. Although I have replaced the missing stone, I continue to long to find the original.  It is still on my mind and I talk about it a lot in the hope for a revelation and that someone will have an idea. My friend Martha obliges and tells me her lost and found story.

One of Martha’s many aunts lived in New York and was quite a society lady. She had beautiful jewelry and frequently wore it to the opera, theater, and formal dinners. She had a closet full of formal dresses matched by a large collection of designer shoes all of which she stored in their original boxes. One of her favorite treasured pieces was a tri-colored S setting ring featuring diamonds, rubies and sapphires. It was custom made for her by her husband using stones which he bought loose during a business trip abroad. When this aunt died, she left a complex will in which she described each piece of jewelry and carefully designated to whom she wished to bequeath it.

Martha tells me that the named recipients got together after the wake before the funeral to sort out their inheritances. Everything went smoothly except, to everyone’s dismay, the tricolored diamond, ruby, sapphire ring was missing. They looked everywhere from dressing table to safe, under beds and bureau, a dozen cousins thoroughly turning everything topsy-turvey. During the following night, my friend Martha had a revelation. For some inexplicable reason she came to believe that the ring was in one of her Aunt’s designer shoe boxes. When she got together with her relatives after the funeral Martha spoke of her strong feeling. She was so sure that they went to the shoe closet. Here Martha took down a box and opened it. The shoes lay in a bed of tissue paper. There was no ring there. Martha examined the shoes and put her hand inside. In the very toe of the right shoe her hand encountered the missing ring.

934 words

February 3, 2021

An Apology

There was a time when I regularly posted a piece of original Jane Stansfeld creative writing every week. Then I began to dry up and suddenly the Covid -19 pandemic came and changed everything. Don’t worry I and all my closest family are fine. It has taken me over a year to become re-energized to write. I greatly admire those who didn’t let a nasty little virus upset their creativity.

When I began to write this post I was prepared to apologize that ALL my creativity died. Then I remembered the Covid-19 chair seat cover that I made in 2020. I post an image of it ready to be upholstered onto a dining room chair.

Let me decode the image. The grey thing in the center represents the virus itself as we a led to believe that it looks under a microscope. Below the virus is a “standard” face mask. Around the edge is a chain to represent the lock downs, Two golden keys float at the top and three padlocks hold the chain together at the bottom. The locks represent the holds exerted by federal, state and local jurisdictions. On either side, inside the lock-down are medical symbols pointing at the virus as they seek ways to immobilize or kill it. The eight blue flowers are forget-me-nots to remind us to remember those who lost their lives to this virus. You will see that the forget-me-not buds are pink – they turn brilliant blue with yellow centers when they open. I sign and date all my tapestries at the bottom. It took about eight months to design and implement this one.

Now that we are into 2021 I pledge to myself that I’ll engage in additional writing creativity and possible more painting. I’ve done one tapestry a year starting with 2015 and now intend a break to encourage other avenues.


At noon on Thanksgiving 1975. Kent and Helen stood in the front door of their Austin Texas home and greeted their Thanksgiving guests, two couples about the same age as themselves. These were the lost souls too young and penurious to have started their own families and too distant from their own parents’ locations to afford trips ‘home’ even though such a trip would be odd as Thanksgiving, that uniquely American celebration, is not celebrated in either New Zealand or the United Kingdom. They crowded inside shaking off their wet clothes and stacking umbrellas in a neat row along the porch.

Everyone seemed to be talking at once. The question they were asking was, “What is going on? It is Thanksgiving for goodness sakes and yet your driveway is full of phone company vehicles -it looks like a convention.”

Kent and Helen looked at each other and smiled. It was one of those smiles which is exhibited to help mitigate anxious embarrassment. Moments when internal grief is either expressed by manifestation of anguish or is supplanted by an expression of ridicule. Helen said, “Come right on in, let’s get comfortable. I’ll fix some drinks then Kent can tell you everything. It’s his story.”

“Well,” Kent began, “as you already know this morning the weather was glorious, but the front bringing this cold rain was forecast to arrive by noon. And, yes, today they were spot on, it arrived as predicted.”

Everyone nodded in agreement. Their words flowed in unison, “You never can tell in Austin. At Thanksgiving or Christmas, the weather might deliver a glorious 80-degree day of sun, a chilly freeze, or a dark overcast cold rainy day as we were now experiencing. You just never know.”

Helen handed out glasses of wine while Kent told his story, “Well, this morning the weather was glorious. Since we finished our Thanksgiving preparations yesterday all we had left to do today was to get the turkey on the oven. So, we decided, or I talked to Helen and got permission.” This comment was greeted by sniggers from Kent’s audience.  “Anyway, we decided that it was okay for me to take advantage of the good weather and plant a Wax Leaf Ligustrum that we bought last weekend for the back corner of the yard. The ground is hard, so I was glad to be using a new sharp spade. About a foot down I encountered a large brown root. It was so big.” Kent demonstrated with his thumb and forefinger. “It ran straight across the planting hole. It had to go! I had great difficulty breaking into it and kept thrusting my spade down with all the force that I could muster.  By the time that it severed I was quite winded. I was surprised to see that the severed root was no root, but some sort of flexible conduit stuffed with a multitude of colored wires.  “Hmm,” I thought, “this must be another piece of abandoned construction debris.”  I pulled on each end as I tried to remove it but without luck. By now the cold front had arrived and my beautiful morning had morphed into a miserable rainy day.  I decided to abandon until the weather cleared and came inside.”

Helen took up the narrative, “Less than an hour later the phone rang. It was the phone company checking if we had service. I told them that everything was fine. They responded that everyone ‘downstream’ from us was not fine for they were without service.  They delicately inquired whether we knew of anything which might explain this anomaly. Helen looked at her audience as she shook her head, “I had to tell them that my husband had severed what looked like an abandoned conduit or cable in our back yard. They thanked me and rang off.”

Kent added, “For a while we continued kidding ourselves that the severed cable was abandoned debris. But not for long, the crews now parked in our driveway arrived faster than an emergency ambulance. Their foreman came to the front door to inform us that I had cut a main trunk putting a whole neighborhood in telephone back-out on Thanksgiving Day when everyone wanted to talk to distant family. He informed that they would immediately set up in our back yard and repair the line.”

The group stood and peered through the rain. They could see a large bright yellow tent set up along the back fence. It glowed from light within. A portable generator hummed from a location on the grass outside. Before the gathering sat down to eat Helen put on her raincoat and protecting herself under an umbrella went out to the crew working on repairing the lines. She offered them hot drinks and food. They greeted her with smiles and high spirits. “It’s okay,” they said, “we will be finished in time to go home to our families for a late dinner. Right now, we are on triple time, the tent keeps us dry.”

As the friends sat down to eat Helen described the crew. “It is quite cozy in the tent. One man is in Kent’s hole making repairs, another sits on a folding chair reading instruction from a manual, the third sits on another folding chair – I’m not sure what his role is. They are in exceedingly good spirits. They said that they are on triple time.”

“You realize,” Kent and Helen’s friends told them, “that the phone company will bill you for this little fiasco.” Someone attempted a laugh, “it will probably be your most expensive Thanksgiving ever.” Helen responded, “What is, is. Let us put it aside and enjoy our time together.” She went on to deftly lead the conversation to other topics.

Kent was quieter than usual and kept letting his mind wander to a mental calculation. He wondered, “What would three men for, say seven hours, on triple time cost. Three times three, times seven that’s sixty-three. But what would their hourly rate with overhead be? Overhead is probably about three-point-five so about twenty-four an hour might be reasonable. Oh no it can’t be so much. $1,500 would mean a second mortgage for Helen and I. (Note $1,500 in 1975 is estimated to be equivalent to $7,260 in 2020).

Kent’s mental calculation was close. The telephone company bill came in at $1,549. Before an unhappy trip to the bank Kent looked up their home insurance policy. He and Helen struggled through the lengthy legalese. It seemed to imply that the Thanksgiving event was a mishap which might be covered. Coverage or no coverage appeared to be a decision left to the discretion of the insurance company’s claims assessor. Kent made a telephone call. The agent listened to Kent’s narrative in silence. “Well,” he said followed by a long pause, “this is not a cut and dried case; but believe it or not I, many years ago, had a similar experience. Your claim is approved.”


Sam blinked and looked again. His heart was racing, and he felt distinctly damp underarm. He was trained to handle stress but had never felt so drained. A Cessna 152 had materialized out of nowhere and was heading for the runway on which Sam was directing incoming Air France from Paris to land.  The Cessna, with its distinctive red markings and G-BRNE written along the cabin made no response to radio contact. Sam deduced that it must be an idiotic training flight gone amiss. Until the Cessna had appeared the Air France landing was textbook; aircraft flying eastward, the runway west-east, gentle wind from the east, sun setting in the west. Her pilots François Flagel and Claude Canty were veterans they had landed on this runway many times. Sam yelled,

“Runway obstruction, abort, abort!”

“Merdre! Impossible!” came François’s astonishingly calm voice.

Sam continued watching even as he put out an emergency alert. He stared, still in disbelief. The Cessna missed the runway and landed on the grass beside it. The small plane shuddered, wobbled to a standstill and disappeared. Sam blinked; it was gone as though it had never been. Sam returned his attention to Air France. It made a perfect landing. He alerted emergency responders that his alert was a mistake – he murmured a vague apologetic comment about birds. When Air France was safely at a gate with jetways attached, Sam could relax for this was the last flight of his shift. Although he looked forward to his time off, he did not immediately jump up and head out. Instead he leaned back in his chair and breathed deeply to relax his body. He absent-mindedly reached up and pushed a strand of his still blond hair from his forehead. At fifty he was beginning to bald, but he nurtured his wrap-over locks, like the one he now pushed aside, with the mistaken belief that they concealed the truth. Now he was faced with a new truth. He decided that the Cessna must have been a delusion. Perhaps a reflection off the mirrored glazing being installed in the new airport hotel under construction.

During his short drive home, Sam attempted to sort out a plan of action for himself. He knew ATCO (Air Traffic Controller) standards to be high. Too many lives were at stake. If anyone knew about his near miss and the phantom Cessna, they would put him on leave and, at fifty would probably insist that he skip waiting until fifty-five to take his mandatory retirement. On the other hand, he needed to discuss what he thought that he had seen. He needed assurance that he was not going crazy, that he was not hallucinating, and that he was still alert and fit enough, to be an ATCO. He instinctively knew that even Davis his closest ATCO buddy would not understand, so his confidant had to be his wife.

Sandra, Sam’s wife agreed that the Cessna sighting must have been a freak illusion reflected off the new hotel’s glazing. They lay together in bed and stared at reflections of objects in the room which appeared to be reproduced in the space outside their bedroom window. The simple explanation soothed, and they slept.

A month later Sam heard Davis yell,

“Abort, abort.”

 There was a slight gap in airport activity freeing Sam to walk over and stand behind Davis’ chair.  His body froze, Davis’ situation was worse, a Cessna 152 was taking off in the path of an incoming flight. For a split-second Davis turned to look at Sam.

“No radio contact” he gasped.

“What the hell?” Sam’s body shook in this moment of shared pain with Davis.

The two men watched, helpless as the incoming flight collided with the Cessna and continued on down in an uninterrupted perfect landing sequence. The air where the collision must have occurred was undisturbed. The Cessna had disappeared.

The two men put in an urgent request for a meeting with their superiors. They discovered, to their amazement, that there had been several other similar incidents at other airports. In one incident there had been two identical Cessnas involved.  A Cessna manhunt was put in motion. The FAA working with the FBI researched records of all 7,584 Cessnas which were manufactured between 1977 and 1985. The few which were still flight worthy had good records and none had been near the airports where the sightings had taken place. Most were now dedicated for training purposes rather like the Cessna modules offered in Microsoft’s Flight Simulator.

Sam’s son, Sammy Jr, was an avid Flight Simulator player. Initially, he was drawn to the game because his father was an ATCO.  As Microsoft developed new modules he was drawn, as were most of the game’s participants, by the game’s pledge of realism which kept getting better. Sam enthusiastically bought Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 when it came out. He told his dad that the advertising hype that scenery, airports, weather conditions and aircraft would be closer than ever to reality was true. He added that third party vendors were contributing enhancing add-ons to enable a player to sit in front of a computer and experience flying in conditions closer and closer to reality. The only problem with the Flight Simulator world was that it was static. Each scene was physically accurate in its depiction of runways, scenery, and buildings but lacked the realism of real time people, vehicles, and aircraft.

One evening Jr., invited his dad to join him for a flight. He told Sam that he was about to see his ATCO work from a different perspective. Jr was excited because he was intending to use the beta version of a recently launched program enhancement known as the “Jordan-holo.” The “Jordan holo” was developed and marketed by Jordan, a brilliant young programmer. His program combined hologram and global positioning technology to enable the Flight Simulator player to project a hologram of his plane into space. Jordan hoped that one day he would be able to create a continuous hologram of each flight showing the aircraft from take-off to landing.  His beta version could only project holograms in the vicinity of buildings on the ground such as those in airports. That evening when Sam watched over Jr’s shoulder, he realized the root of the ATCO problem. The phantom Cessnas were Microsoft Flight Simulator holograms!



On a glorious April morning, Elizabeth stands in a field of Bluebonnets in Austin, Texas. She accompanies her daughter’s family, and watches as her daughter and son-in-law attempt to arrange their three children into photographic poses. The bluebonnets are spectacular and stretch in a carpet of waving vibrant blue under a clear cloudless sky. Elizabeth can see other groups going through the same antics. Her family seem to be having the most trouble.  Their problem is that the toddler wants to toddle and pull the blue blossoms while his sisters want to dance and swirl in their pretty dresses Not one of the three can be induced to stay still with a smiling face long enough for a photograph. The girls giggle and squirm, their voices are loud and happy. They proclaim to the world that they are princesses.

Elizabeth lets her mind wander. She goes back in time and space to her youth in Durham City in the UK. To the time when she and her younger sister were the same age as her two dancing granddaughters. She remembers that they also, thought of themselves as princesses. They lived in a large imposing house named “Hillcrest.” It stood on the top of one of the hills surrounding the City. Hillcrest was their palace and its extensive garden their palace grounds cascading down the hillside into the valley below.

She recalls the time of the birth of their brother when their mother sent her and her sister on a special errand to buy eggs at the general store in May Street located at the bottom of their garden. She immerses herself in their willingness as they descend the zig/zagging garden terraces of Azaleas, herb gardens, a lawn and, towards the bottom, a beech tree woodland. It is the end of April, and the ground under the trees is covered in bluebells. The damp woodsy smell of the ground rises wrapped in the distinctive scent of bluebells. Streams of sunlight dapple the ground serving to enhance the impact of the bluebell carpet. Elizabeth’s eyes are now closed, and she is there as her youthful self, enchanted in a magical glen.

At the bottom of the bluebell woodland is a gate. The girls open the gate and emerge into another world. The world of May street is one of poverty and hard surfaces, the only green, an occasional weed, thrust through a crack in the sidewalk. Rows of identical red brick attached houses stand, each with a front door opening direct into the narrow sidewalk. The two-up two-down homes have tiny rear yards in which their out-houses are located. The aromatic air of the woodland behind the gate is replaced by the combined smell of smoke from the chimneys and the stench of human waste. Elizabeth’s memory does not take her to the store or the egg purchase, she only recalls their return to the gate.

Although Elizabeth’s youthful self was sure that they had fully closed the gate it now stands ajar. They hastily pass through and make sure that it is securely fastened. They are happy to leave the hard-unyielding poverty of May Street to reconnect with the enchanted bluebell woods. They are astonished to hear the cry of a baby and momentarily wonder whether their mother and their new-born sibling are about to appear. Elizabeth remembers the sickly whimper of their new-born. She instinctively knows that the cry that they now hear is not the same baby. She recalls her mother murmuring regretful words, Down’s syndrome, major heart defect, death. Young as she is she wonders whether the errand to get eggs from the May street general store was an excuse to occupy her and her sister while their parents tended to their dying baby.

The lusty cries of a healthy baby demand attention. Elizabeth and her sister morph from princess to pharaoh’s daughter. They look up the slope and see the bluebell ground as the River Nile. It cascades down the slope in waves of billowing blue. They see a baby basket placed close to their path. They scan all directions to see if there is someone accompanying the baby. There is no-one, no sound, only the wind rustling the treetops. They shout,

“Anyone there?”

There is no response. Elizabeth hands the eggs to her sister and picks up the baby and its basket They hurry up the path, run up the terraces and burst into their palatial home.

Some-one tugs at Elizabeth’s arm; it is her daughter. She reluctantly leaves her reminiscing and returns to the present.

“Mom, time to go. Were you day-dreaming?”

“Yes, dear, the bluebonnets reminded me of the bluebells at Hillcrest.”

“Oh, that’s our favorite story; were you remembering how you and Aunty found Uncle Moses?”

JUSTICE – a short story

This is a re-print of a story that I published 10/31/13 under the title “My Husband” It recently went through some new editing and so I decided to republish it. I apologize to any of my readers who remember reading it in 2013.

In nature it is delightfully calm after a storm, and so it was with us. Spousal abuse is always bad, but even while I suffered from my injuries, I savored those violence-free times of calm and tried to eke them out and make them last as long as possible. The period after The Event was especially sweet, that is because, this time, I effected a personal transformation and knew, from the onset, that it was to be the last time that I was hurt.

The Event had temporarily sobered him. Perhaps the shear impact of the violence and cleanup affected him; with the result that he spent more time than usual at home. He still jogged in the morning, and I loved to lie on the bed and watch him get up. He slept in the nude so that I could admire his beautiful body. When he arose and donned his jogging paraphernalia, I’d watch the ripple of every well-tuned muscle. During this period, after The Event, he would reach over and gently stroke my glossy hair before he left. While he was gone, I’d arise and prepare myself for the day so that when he came back, I could greet him at the door and give him a taste of my feigned love. For, yes, after The Event it was feigned, although sometimes I, with my newfound resolve, still got temporarily sucked into his charm. I made a rule for myself that, even though it disgusted me, I should greet him when he returned from his run. I would let myself rub against his wet skin to seal the illusion of my undying adoration.

We always ate breakfast together, he a bowl of cereal and milk, and I, milk. After he left for work I’d go for a walk, often a very long walk. Sometimes I’d be gone all day, involved in other activates, but I made sure that I was home, groomed and waiting at the door, when he returned in the evening. At first, after The Event, he would arrive home early so that we could sit together on the sofa and watch television. His taste didn’t match mine but I pretended to watch with him. Sometimes I even sat on his knee although I could tell that he didn’t like this much.

Soon, as I had suspected, he began to slip into his old habits. It began by his returning in the evening with alcohol on his breath. I suppose that he was dropping in on a bar to have a couple of drinks on the way home. On these occasions I continued to meet him at the door. I silently braved his off-time kicks, in my desire to maintain the illusion of my uncompromised love. It got even harder when he began to bring girls back with him. Before The Event he had never brought them to the house although I knew, knew only too well, that he was unfaithful to me. Now, I suppose, he thought that he could do anything, even flaunt these women before me. I pretended I didn’t care and greeted them with the same appearance of affection as I did him.

The moment after The Event, I knew what I had to do, although I hadn’t any idea how I would accomplish it. Over the weeks of the calm I had time to work out a strategy. It all hinged on his indulging in another drinking spree for only then would he be vulnerable enough for me to entice him into his basement. The trick was going to be how I could avoid getting hurt again during the encounter. The basement was quite small, more undercroft than a true basement with only one, very small, ventilation louver. During the calm I spent some time digging in the garden to make sure that the ventilation louver was completely covered in dirt. Initially he kept this lower level locked but he took to storing his alcohol down there and as time went on he became careless so that when he was out I could go down and inspect it.

It was as I expected, and smelt musty with a distinct odor of rotting which was not well disguised by the two by six rectangle of newly dug earth in the middle of the otherwise well packed earthen floor. It was that spot which had concluded the activities associated with The Event. He had a few bottles of water stored down there. I made sure that they were all broken and spilt. I even destroyed the whiskey bottle from which he had imbibed immediately after The Event. Sometimes I would sit on that two by six slightly mounded rectangle of dirt to gain strength and resolve from it. It took me several weeks to modify the support to the rustic wooden access stairs, but by the time he was bringing the women back to the house, they were so rickety that I knew that they would soon collapse. I half hoped that he would take one of his women down when he went for another bottle, thinking that their combined weight might cause a collapse.

I was patient, very patient and one day in late October I knew that my moment arrived. He came home much later than usual and was as inebriated as he was on the day of The Event. In the end I  didn’t have to do anything; he did it all himself. As he lumbered down the rickety stairs I heard them groan and collapse. He yelled as he fell and was then silent. I had him. I backed up against the basement door and heard it give a loud click. For several days I heard him moaning and complaining but the sound was muffled on the outside by my carefully placed dirt and on the inside it didn’t matter. After a week I was convinced that he was dead and that I needed to let someone know.

I slipped outside and sat upon the front doorstep and started to wail. The mailman noticed me but at first he did nothing. At the end of the second week the mail and newspapers had accumulated and even he began to look concerned. When the police arrived I rubbed up against them wailing miserably.

“Here Kitty Kitty, what’s the matter? Where are your master and mistress?”

I answered by arching against their shins and followed them into the house. I waited by the basement door but it was the last one that they opened. The smell that emerged was strong and even I had to draw back. A ladder was brought and they examined his body which lay on top of my grave. I didn’t stay to watch them dig up the mounded dirt of my makeshift resting place. I didn’t want to watch the exhumation of my murdered human body. I was now free. I quietly glided away to live the rest of my lives in peace.

Face-Time with Honduras

Every two or three days our medical missionary daughter calls from Honduras. She always calls in early evening as she sits on her north-facing front porch. She is enjoying a breeze which releases the heat of a humid tropical day without air conditioning. Initially she appears to be alone but as we talk the shouts of playing children are captured by the cell phone. Before her stretches a green swath of meadow shared with two other widely spaced homes. The site overlooks a steep slope down to the Caribbean Ocean. On clear days you can see the islands of Cayos Cichinos dim on the horizon. They are mystical, and reputed to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. They wink and beckon, just as Bali Hi beckoned in the Rogers & Hammerstein musical “South Pacific.” In the middle of the foreground, partially obstructing the view of the ocean, is a low growing spread-out knurled tropical fruit tree. A perfect climbing tree, it frequently sports several children in it branches. My daughter tells me that there have been times when the tree had a dozen children concealed in its twisted canopy. The children’s chatter is akin to that of a flock of birds gathered in preparation for migration. Occasionally one will drop out or hang head down momentarily visible, with legs hidden, wound around a low branch.

On three sides the site is flanked by steep tropical jungle ravines. Most often these steep narrow ravines with their dense vegetation appear as protective barriers of tree and undergrowth. Colorful tropical birds hop and squark among the leaves. If you stand on the edge and look down the ravine the bottom is dark; it is shaded into almost nocturnal gloom by the dense overhead canopy. Above this abyss Howler monkeys often visit as they rustle and leap from tree top to tree top. They eat the flowers, fruits and foliage. Sometimes this jungle threatens, epitomized when a male monkey begins to howl. He utters a noise reputed to be the loudest animal call on earth. It resounds over five miles. At other times a giant eight-foot-long Boa may slither into the sunlight. It comes to nab a free-range chicken kept, not so much for its egg laying capabilities, but rather to control the scorpion population. The ensuing battle is noisy and proves the end for both assailant and victim. After swallowing the chicken, the snake moves slowly and is target for a Honduran gardener who captures it with a noose around its head. The snake is proudly displayed and dragged off. The Honduran says that it goes home with him to become a rodent control guardian. I wonder if an alternative is that it will become someone’s dinner.

Our face time is periodically punctuated as my daughter hurls instructions to her children.

 “Josiah, don’t pick the watermelon. Leave it alone. It’s not ready!”

“Gideon, don’t’ do what I just told your brother not to do.”

“Madi, rescue the rabbit don’t let it get into the drainage conduit.”

I observe that my daughter looks tired. She confirms that she spent most of the night in the hospital, located on the other side of the ravine to her right. She was working to save a very sick baby which was born in a make-shift Honduran “taxi’ on the way to the hospital.  I can’t imagine how this was accomplished for the Honduran taxi is a glorified three-wheel motorcycle. My daughter goes on to add that during the first half of the night Isaac, her husband, joined a team administering to a lady who had been shot protecting her children and home. Apparently when her assailant arrived, she managed to lock the children in a backroom and then refused to give the thief money. She received four gun-shots.  The one to her head bounced off her skull, the one to her abdomen went through fat and missed organs, the one to her chest entered to the high right and went clean through diagonally to emerge without hitting an organ, the one to her arm also went right through. The medical team sewed her up and gave her blood from a matching donor on site.

My daughter sighs and goes on to tell me that the Corona virus has found them and that another Covid-19 patient managed to bypass their screening and arrive in the unprotected part of the hospital. By the time that this person was diagnosed much of the hospital staff had had contact. The horror continues as she tells me that their family has parasites which she is treating. I comment,

“Head lice – again?”

“No, not head lice, worms.”

“Yes, all children get pin worms from time to time.”

“No, not pinworms,” she sighs, “worms as big as this.” She holds up her pinkie. She goes on to mention a drug that she is administering to combat the worms.

“How does it work?” I ask innocently.

“They exit. When the intestinal environment is alien to them, they exit the anus. We found lots of them in the children’s shower.”

We end the call when my daughter hears the distant roar of Isaac’s motorcycle as he returns from the hospital. It is time for their dinner. Once I might have envied her for the beautiful place where she lives; a place where children play outside. But then I wince as I reorganize that this place is laced with many silent horrors. It is good that she and Isaac are dedicated to a healing higher cause.

25th Wedding Anniversary

Twenty five years ago, on June 24, 1995, my brother, Wyon, married his girl-friend, Janet. Due to today’s nasty pandemic they are unable to throw a celebration, so they invited their friends and family to send them memories to share. I sent a photograph of them siting on a wall back-to-back and this short poem. In the poem I attempt to recapture 6/24 1995.

To you Janet & Wyon
After twenty-five years
We offer congrats and best wishes
To you and your son
For love radiating and shared,
May it always remain
As strong as that day
When you did it your way

No stuffy receptions, instead
We recall early guests met
At a farm to pick strawberries
Nuptial banquet table food
Luscious, sun baked, red
Delicious for the day that you wed

No wedding hall
In a manner house setting
Wyon, you stand, counting time
Among wild flower decorations
Beckoning red strawberries
And expectant assembly.
You are handsome,
Wrist-watch anxious
You stand in your red jacket,
With white flower corsage.
We note your dark pants, curls, and beard
Your love worn with humility
We see the appointed time come and go
We become fidgety, in whispers debate
The meaning of this uneasy wait.

Hark then with joy,
Distant music wafts to anxious ears
Soothing trembling hearts.
Then we see you Janet,
A stunning, fairy princess
Clad in shapely red dress
Your flowing red hair
Crowned with white flower garland
You float across the fields,
Surrounded by dancing nymphs
Pipe and string melodies
An ethereal bride, face radiant, blushed
We, the audience, are now hushed.

Wyon and Janet, you stand eye to eye
You pledge eternal love
Support, honesty and faith
You exchange rings
You share universal words
Prayers of antiquity
To earth,
To air,
To fire,
To water
To love defeating all strife
To your union for life.

As the wedding day wanes
You lead satiated guests
To hold hands in wide circle
To let meadow grasses
Crushed by our feet
Offer up sweet aromas
We dance in rondos,
As ancient as the land
Luxuriating in this memorable way
To celebrate a wedding day

As time marches goes on
May you continue together strong
May your love always give
Strength to the days you live
We, friends and family join in wonder
Knowing that you two will never sunder

Jane Stansfeld 6/24/2020


One of SDWG challenged members to write a “Covid-19” format poem. He described the format as C or 100 words and 19 or nineteen lines. The following is my response to his challenge.

Go away Covid one nine
We thought ourselves fine
Now a global struggle for life
Unites all in common strife.
It’s a world burst asunder
We stop, to watch in wonder.

We enjoy astonishing side shows
Beauty through sealed windows.
We readjust our living pace
To quit a harrowing rat race.
No rush hour frustration
Never a route to salvation.
We know isolation is fine
For we can all meet online.

Covid, please go away
Leave us alone we say.
Won’t you vanish to nowhere
Gone we will stare and share.
Saying, Yes, I was there!

96 words)
©20200 Copyright, Jane Stansfeld


I recently wanted to add a comment to a blog which responded by asking me to identify myself. The comment box asked for a little known unusual fact about me. I responded with a 118 word narrative to find that this became my comment on the blog submission . It was completely off base, but I rather liked it so I post it here.

When I was very young, I had a pet tiger. He did everything with me. I was fond and protective of him and annoyed when people stepped into his space. That’s until my parents banished him. They said that it was unhealthy for a child to have an imaginary friend. A little later I remember their look of horror and behind-door whispering when I brought home my first art class creation. It was, of course, a clay model of a tiger. He sat with his tail sticking straight up into the air. I treasured him but when we moved houses he disappeared. Now, an old lady with Parkinson’s, I can hallucinate him back into my presence. No-one complains.