This is my personal blog, on which I talk about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy. Some topics are serious, others whimsical. I love comments and questions so don't be shy, just courteous, even if you don't agree with me. I have another blog, The Story Template, on which I post writing-related topics on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Let's see, a bit about me... I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. I also have written a nonfiction book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This book is a programmed learner-type book that helps you, the writer, develop a complete compelling story (novel or screenplay) from a vague idea.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Monday, November 26, 2012

House of Glass

Have you ever heard of the Glass House, also called the Johnson House? This structure was designed, then built, in 1949 by Philip Johnson on his 47 acre estate in Connecticut. The only enclosed space is the bathroom, hidden inside a brick cylinder. Mr. Johnson lived, then died here in January 2005, and the house has since become a National Landmark as a tribute to modern architecture with its use of geometry, proportion, and especially the effects of transparency and reflection.

Sometimes I think about living in this house that Mr. Johnson built, and to say the thought makes me uncomfortable is a gross understatement. The exposure of it to me would be unbearable -- I'm the kid, after all, who hung a blanket over her window so I could feel alone and safe. (Fortunately for my family I've outgrown this practice, although I still feel more comfortable if the curtains are drawn at night :-)

This house draws a metaphor for me, though, about a way this present life might be viewed. First, imagine you suddenly materialize in that glass house at night with no vision at all of what is outside -- if anything -- imagine you do not even know if something IS outside this small world. If all of the lights inside the house are blazing, you will see nothing of the outdoors because the windows will reflect the light, and you will see only reflections of the room. However, if you turn the lights down, and turn your sight to the walls and not the distractions inside the room, you will begin to see the moon, the dark shapes of trees, even stars reflecting on water outside the window. It won't be clear, of course, but you can definitely say that an adjacent environment exists, and a little about what it looks like.

Now, imagine that our present life is like living in that house at night. We can be easily distracted by things of this world, by the blazing lights inside, that reflect the room and shield any knowledge of the next world. But as the lights are dimmed through hardship and negative circumstances, it becomes possible for another world to become more apparent.

My dear friends, don't be too distracted by the reflections of the windows. Instead, when the lights are turned down, welcome their dimming if you can, but if you can or no, always, always, strive to look beyond the glass walls.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Phil 4:4, NASB)

During the early 1600s the Puritans (so named because they wanted to restore Christianity to its "ancient purity") relocated from England to Holland, before deciding they would sail to the New World to establish their own colony where they could worship in peace and without secular pressures and temptations.

They sailed from Holland back to England, and were joined by farmers and tradesmen. On September 16th, 1620, the small Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England, with 102 passengers seeking a new life in America. (The Mayflower originally had 90 passengers, but when a second ship the Speedwell couldn't sail, 12 of those passengers were added).

On November 19, 1620, the land of the new world was first sighted. Two days later the ship anchored in Provincetown Bay, Massachusetts, far north of the Virginia colonies for which they had been aiming.

Although the passengers debated going south, they finally decided to stay where they were for the winter. Before setting foot on the shore, on November 21st, 1620 (November 11th according to the Julian Calendar, 10 days behind the Gregorian Calendar), 41 of the Pilgrims and other colonists signed the Mayflower Compact that read:

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread* Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.

*Note: The "dread sovereign" referred to in the document uses the archaic definition of "dread," meaning awe and reverence (for the King), not fear.

Scouting parties identified Plymouth as a place to settle, and on December 30th 1620 the pilgrims disembarked here. Governor William Bradford, describing the first landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth that December, writes:

Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth.... What could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men--and what multitudes there might be of them they knew not. The season it was winter, sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms. What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace?

The settlers built log huts. Weakened by the long journey, cold, lack of food, and disease, nearly half of the settlers died that first winter. They buried their dead at night so the Indians wouldn't observe their weakness.

In March of 1621, an Indian named Samoset who knew a few English words visited and then introduced the Pilgrims to Squanto, an Indian who had lived in England. Squanto brought corn, and taught the pilgrims how to adapt to the new environment.

In the autumn of 1621 Governor William Bradford set aside a day for public Thanksgiving to God in gratitude for the blessings already received. Chief Massosoit was invited, and brought 60 braves, 5 dressed deer, a dozen wild turkeys and popcorn.

On this day, we are hopefully fortunate enough to sit in our warm homes surrounded by dear ones and enjoying a groaning table full of food. Let us not forget the great blessings and privileges we have and perhaps take as a matter of course. Make a list. Here are a few things I'm grateful for:

God, life, family and dear friends (both here and gone), and the opportunities to pursue dreams

As I read this over, I'm suddenly realizing the things I'm grateful for are the values set forth in the Constitution -- wow, what inspired geniuses they were who set up this country, starting from the Mayflower Compact on up.

I'd love comments to hear what you are grateful for, and how you celebrate Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Cab Ride

This was sent to me by email. I thought it was a good story.


The Cab Ride

So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. "It's nothing," I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated."

"Oh, you're such a good boy," she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"

"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly.

"Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now."

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I said

"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you."

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

Veterans Day falls on the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I -- the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. It is a day to remember the sacrifices of those in the armed services have made to defend our country.

I have heard war stories, and can't imagine the horrific circumstances that so many have had to fight through. Can you? The green clouds of gas coming for you in the trenches during World War I. The blinding artillery as you disembark from a gunship in Normandy, or the torturous Bataan death march during World War II. The hard-fought and ultimately successful battle of Inchon in Korea, or the frustration and horror of Ia Drang in Vietnam. The horror of a barracks bombing in Beirut. The exhilaration of Desert Storm, the current conflict in Afghanistan, the terrifying stories that are just beginning to emerge with the deaths of our Libyan ambassador and three more men in Benghazi on September 11th 2012.

Our American forces stand strong, fighting to defend our country and liberate others. Individual soldiers can pay a terrible price for our freedom: loss of limbs, loss of peace of mind, loss of friends, loss of family through divorce, loss of life.

Veterans, today is your day when we make a point to honor you. Thank you, Veterans, of war and peacetime, for your service to our counry.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Amazing 5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake for Election Day

My friends, I have to admit to being more than a bit disappointed in Tuesday's election results. We may have reached and tipped over the point between national freedom and national servitude. I posted this after the 2008 election. I don't have energy to write anything new today.


This is a special treat for a tough day, whether you feel hopeful or afraid. (Almost) instant gratification -- what could be better? Enjoy.

The most dangerous recipe in the world: Night or day, you are only five minutes away from warm, delicious chocolate cake! Use this recipe with caution.

1 coffee mug
4 tablespoons flour (plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips
Small splash of vanilla

Quick Chocolate Frosting

4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon baking cocoa
a few teaspoons of milk


Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla; mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.

The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little and then tip out onto a plate, if desired.

While the cake is baking, mix the chocolate frosting -- add the milk a little at a time until frosting is a pasty consistency. Spread over the cake.

For a complete dining experience, you can also top with vanilla ice cream, instead of or in addition to the chocolate frosting.

EAT! This cake can serve two if you want to share.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Starfish

The story goes that, after a storm, two men walked along the shore near the ocean. Squawking seagulls circled overhead and dove into the debris near the receding tide. It was a mess.

One man reached down and threw an object into the water. Then another. Then another. The second man was puzzled.

"Why are you bothering with those starfish? You'll never be able to save them all."

"No," the first man replied. "I won't. But I make a difference for this one." He threw another starfish back into the wave. "And this one. And this one."


Overwhelming circumstances discourage our best efforts. This past week's destruction of the Jersey shore and New York City seems impossible. Over a hundred storm-related deaths from drowning, electricity, fires, and falling trees -- and we've all heard the wrenching stories of terrible loss. Two little boys ripped from their mother's arms during the storm, and the next day their bodies found not far from each other. Weeping people brought to shelters wearing only a T shirt, jeans, and socks, bearing stories of how everything -- everything -- is gone. No power, heat, food water, car, hotel rooms, for evening after evening as young families with babies shiver near flooded neighborhoods. Sparking wires. New York subways flooded. Six hour gas lines. Talk of passing out granola bars to visiting marathon runners while long-time residents dumpster dive for their next meal.

Overwhelming. And yet... less than a week later, truckloads of supplies are already being brought into the areas. Electricity is being restored. Clean-up has begun.

We want to help. And we do, little by little. Those on the scene do as they can to rescue people, clean out areas, feed people at shelters. Those at a distance, like utility workers from Alabama, come in to restore electricity; others bring in supplies or donate money to the people that do.

None of us can snap his fingers and immediately make things right; truly, things won't ever be the same again. However, although not perfectly lives and ground can be rebuilt, brick by brick. Mitt Romney said something profound a few days ago when speaking of the overwhelming nature of the damage -- MAKE THE DIFFERENCE YOU CAN.

A good principle, not just for those suffering from Hurricane Sandy, but for all of us, all the time. You can't help everyone, and you can't fix everything. But remember those starfish, and throw back as many of those you come across as you can. MAKE THE DIFFERENCE YOU CAN.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Hello Friends:

I live on the East Coast of the USA. If you see this entry, you'll know that our power and internet is still out, and I am not able to post. I will be back as soon as possible, hopefully by early next week. In the meantime, happy writing and best wishes.