How Tor Saved My Garden

Hi. My name is Ginger Teigh. Yes, it sounds like “tea”. Yes, my parents thought it was funny when they named me – each of them having safe names like Gary and Ramona. No, I don’t mind when people ask. Yes, I do get tired of the jokes.

I was sitting outside on my rather small deck – large enough to hold  two sun chairs with pink and green Hawaiian print, a small stump I lugged up the two steps from the yard on which to put my sweet tea, a couple of flowering plants I picked up on sale at Sam’s Club, and the dog. It’s not as small as you might imagine. My dog is huge. And my dog is the problem.

He likes to dig. Fine. Dig away. I’m not in the market for a layout in Birds and Blooms, anyway, being the type of gardener with a less than admirable success rate. See, I have all sorts of grand plans every spring. I buy dirt. Whoever thought of selling dirt is probably very wealthy and living somewhere where someone takes care of every speck of dirt for him. He probably sits on a pristine beach and drinks something with an umbrella in it. I don’t imagine it’s sweet tea. Anyway, I drag the bags over to my “gardens”, cut them open, and dump. Then I smooth the area with a hoe, and lovingly plant delightful little plants in even rows. And as the spring turns to summer, I watch them die a slow death. It’s tradition. But I digress.

So the dog – I might as well tell you his name – Tornado (Tor, for short) – had been digging up a storm under the deck for two days. This morning as I was sipping my morning brew of green tea and Mountain Dew, I noticed he was heaving and panting; even whining a little. That’s unusual for Tor. He’s not a whiner. He came out from under the deck as black as sin a couple of times, looked at me, and returned to his digging.

His project had by now become my project. I wondered how big a hole he was making and was wondering how many bags of dirt I’d have to buy to refill them. Then I wondered if it was necessary. Who looks under a deck anyway, right?

I was on my second cup when Tor pulled a huge bag of something out where I could see it. I hopped down to the yard to have a closer look. And immediately wished I hadn’t.

to be continued . . .



Opening The Door

He scraped the key back and forth in the lock again. Nothing. He rubbed the tip of his nose with the side of his finger and looked at his watch. Humph. Seventeen minutes. The first minute was annoying, the next four – irritating. The ten after that were demoralizing.

It shouldn’t be this hard! He had the key. He was in front of the door. Sure, the lock might be a bit old. Used many times? No doubt.

He took the key out of the lock and rubbed it on his pants, then between his fingers. He prayed. Again. Skritch skritch . . . faster, then slower . . . skritch skritch skritch. He pulled the key out, dropping as he did so. His fingers scraped on hard cement as he retrieved it from the step. Sighing, he put it in his pocket and started down the stairs.

This wasn’t the first time he’d worked to get through the door, but maybe it should be his last. He was tired. Disconsolate, truth be told. He glanced over his shoulder and stopped.

Once more. Just once more, then he would leave. For good, this time. He trudged back up the stairs, inserted the key, and . . . click. It turned like new. No. Really? Really. He turned the knob and opened the door.

It is labour indeed that puts the difference on everything.     

Image:; Quote: John Locke

The Box

I wrote this nearly 30 years ago – before I owned either a computer or cell phone. Its length and language tell, perhaps, how much Tennyson I was reading at the time. Its truth, well you can decide for yourself.


Snow floats so lightly to the ground

Akin to diamonds’ sparkle bright.

It’s quiet, oh so quiet now

As onward winds the gentle night.



And light breaks up the darkness which

Was soft and warm, a friend to man.

Rays setting forth with their own gift

Of life, a silent contribution.


Acknowledged by the sons of Day

The sun projects its sharpest beam

Of warmth, of tenderness, of love,

Of clarity of visions seen.


The townsmen underneath the sky

In tasks intently diligent,

Yet stop to help a neighbor

In Greater work; benevolence.


A Child is born within this scape.

Fair, thoughtful, willing now to learn

He grows in stature, virtue, intellect;

Seizing lessons, each in turn.


In play with friend he learns of sharing;

Give and take, each in its place.

Perhaps to give the better part,

And in so doing finds more grace.


His father, mother, brother, sister

Teach him well in their own way

Of kinship greater than their own

Extending to the sons of Day.


Receives instruction, he and others,

From a wisened teacher there.

He learns of more than dates and graphs;

Learns the love of learning more.


Forgiveness from within his church

A lesson difficult to grasp;

Its merit true, yet grieving, freeing

Learns the Child as hands are clasped.


How charity and chastity

Go hand in hand, a deeper troth.

Consistent, true, considerate;

Teacher, student of his love.


A noble statesman teaches him

Not of rank or high degree,

But of higher consequence;

True vision, gentle quality.



Throughout the planting and the harvest

Child observes truths of the soil.

Seed produces same in harvest;

Patience requisite of toil.


From life itself the Child acquires

Understanding of own self’s control,

Without the which all else abridges

‘Til nought is left of value’s toll.


Along his journey thus instructed,

Child grows thoughtful, kind and good;

Stopping oft to help his neighbor,

Conscious of his brotherhood.


Light nudges night away again.

Child tends his work from day to day.

Projecting still its gift of life

The clarifying, warming Ray.


Into his work there comes a box,

A talking box with soothing sound.

Pleased to have this company,

Bemused, the Child keeps it around.


Its music stirs, its commentary

Sometimes stern, others humorous,

Box becomes a life its own;

Intent in its own righteousness.


Once again to help his neighbor

Child hears the box from shop to shop

Goading him for senseless labor,

“Have you had your turn?”, cries the box.


Troubled by this indignation

Child replies, “It matters not

Whose turn is whose in brotherhood.”

Silent is the box.


Soothing music, words that please him

Once again calm Child’s soul.

“I would not tell you what to do,”

Replies the box, sans virtue’s toll.


“I am your friend.  Look!  How I love you!

I am here both night and day!

I would not keep your brother hurting;

It’s only you I try to save.”


Not a little troubled, he,

The child considers its behest;

Yet what to do with the box?

Endures the stimulating chest.


And somewhat with relief he finds

The Box is what it claims to be;

A friend in hard times and in ease,

Providing helpful levity.


Again the Box scoffs at the Child

“O, innocent, you stupid man!”

Not one around chaste remains;

Each takes his pleasure best as he can.”


“Look yonder!  Love is only

Temporal and nothing more.

Naïve you are.  You poor dear Child.

Hold you only to folklore.”


Begins the child to answer it,

Yet pauses, thoughts newly confused;

Maintains his silence now disturbed.

Box, the one who seems bemused.


Thus encounters compromise

Of virtue, once he deemed as right.

Uncertain of his thoughts, his deeds;

The source unknown of Child’s plight.


Box seizes opportunity

With powerful song and dance.

It breathes a word, alluring,

Tempting.  Whispers, shouts it.  “TOLERANCE.”


“Yes, tolerance is fitting, caring,”

Says the Child, “It fits the beam

Of the Sun so high above us.”

Things not always what they seem.


Light inches in across the darkness

Radiating softer light.

Squinting, Child ponders slowly

“Why gleams the sun so bright, so bright?”


Once again a neighbor stops him

In this contemplative state.

“I advise you true direction,

Brother, friend who’s lost your way.”


“O you who are so high and mighty!

Slave to your own foolish task!”

Box admonishes the Child

“And what of Tolerance!”


“A man can turn ways manifold,

One way equal to the other.

Care you not to tolerate

The wanderings of your friend, your brother!”


Stutters Child, “The ways unequal

In the way; some briars, cliffs.

Friend would repent his wayward journey

To help was my sole motive.”


“Yet, perhaps I was hasty

In my vision for my friend.

Not I, but he it is who chooses

Paths to take to journey’s end.”


“Admitted he that he was lost,

But by my charge, admonition

Perhaps I unwittingly

Detracted from a truer vision.”


Thusly courses conversation;

“Surely you will learn to know

Even seedlings planted early

Into something different grow.”


“Childhood’s lessons better left

To babes.  You are too great for these.

With societal correctness

More the masses you will please.”


Another day forgiveness asked

From one held in the child’s debt.

Box intercepted, whispers,

“Why is it for him you fret?”


“He has nothing done to help you

Nor to make your days seem bright

Pardon would the error prove;

Debt his due, of course is right.”


“But what of tolerance?”

Inquires the Child.  His heart protests.

“This is nought of tolerance,”

Assures the Box, “Now take your rest.”


“Sons of Day need not the Sun

To guide them, keep them safe and strong.

Tolerate cacophony!

You will grow to love the song.”


Light filters through the clouds below

Touching, warming Child at play.

“Damn the light!  It scorches me.

Await I ‘til it goes away!”


Offered now a high position

Child considers in this hour

“Take it!  Take it!” Box demands him

“This shall offer you much power!”


“What of quiet, gentle service?”

Momentarily stays Child’s reply.,

Voices he the words to please it

“None more deserving than I.”


Years of subtle twisting, turning

Child and Box trace hand to hand’

Lessons learned so long ago

No more distract from Box’s stand.


Virtue, lost in years of message

From the Box, forever gone.

“’Tis hard to see the way I travel.”

Child loathe admits.  And travels on.


Lessons taught by truer teachers

Tossed aside Child knows not whence

Liberated from their limits

In the name of Tolerance.


Enters he into the twilight

Recognizing nought of sunlight’s bend.

Night no friend, it offers strictly

Cold and darkness without end.


Quietly the child lies down

Task long forgotten, sighs

“I cannot help but wonder if . . .”

His words drift off as dead he lies.


Snow floats so lightly to the ground

Akin to diamonds’ sparkle bright.

It’s quiet, oh so quiet now

As onward winds the gentle night.


The Child in his coffin lies

Lost to Day, alike to dark.

Triumphantly, a voice rings clear

Now his casket stands the Box.



Poem and copyright by Connie Miller Pease; photos:; pixabay 

A Dusty Few Years

He picked up another piece of bread and stuffed it in his mouth as he looked at some of the ravens perching on the gnarled branches. Life was weird alright, but he’d always been one to accept that. In fact, he didn’t understand how most other folks insisted on life being the way they thought it should be. Should be! Really? Life was breath amidst delight and chaos. What did prescriptive insistence have to do with it? He deliberated over those who required people to fit into certain ideas of dignity or say things the way they imagined things should be said; over life’s roads taking particular turns at preordained times. Whose ideas of dignity? Whose way of speaking? Preordained by who? People had plenty of thoughts about him, he knew. They didn’t want to accept that God’s prophets were rough around the edges. But what was more important – their preconceived notions or the truth? A wry smile crossed his face. They had no idea of how improper and uncivilized God could be when He chose. He picked up the last piece of meat and turned it over in his hands, examining it. Holding it up, he toasted the onlooking birds, and finished his meal. Those people who said what others approved were too prideful to yield. He hoped they’d change, but even with a sign from heaven, he knew they wouldn’t. Their ideas about what was most worthy of worship were immovable and their hate for him was too strong. The sun blazed down as he slurped from the nearby brook. It was going to be a long, dry, hot, and dusty few years.

Story idea: taken from the life of Elijah – I Kings: 17:1-6; Image:


Even Then

She laughed until she was gasping for air and wiping her eyes. Doubled over, she grabbed the back of the park bench to help her sit before she lost her balance. She looked up, her twinkling eyes still wet, and tried to talk, but couldn’t.

“I’m telling you the truth. He actually did that.”

The laughter began again.


“Stop!” she breathed, “I feel like I’ve done a hundred sit-ups already.”

He sat beside her then and pulled her into his arms.

“I love your laugh,” he murmured into her hair.

“Oh now you’re just making excuses for my nearly wetting my pants.”

He chuckled.

“Even if,” he said, “Even then it would be small payment for the sound of your laugh. I could listen to that music every day of my life.”

A small smile crossed his lips as he remembered. Then the steady rhythm of the heart monitor pulled him back to the present. She lay there under the white blankets, as still as the dawn on their first day of married life, as soft as her whispers each night before they both drifted to sleep.

“Don’t go,” he choked, “Don’t leave me. I’ll tell you a million funny stories every single day if you’ll just stay.”

The heart monitor quickened, then settled again to its rhythmic pace.

He wandered over to the closet where only her bare essentials were. How did life distill to a few things in a plastic bag? He pulled out her purse and rummaged through it. Lipstick, a comb, her billfold. He opened it. Ten dollars, her license with the picture she hated, two credit cards. There. There was a slip of paper folded and refolded. He pulled it out. Her handwriting danced across a page that held only the faintest scent of her. He held it up to his nose and inhaled deeply. Then he read: Dearest, This is in case I don’t make it. Maybe sometime soon, I’ll be rummaging through my things and find this note and we can both have a laugh over my dramatics. But even if . . . even then I want you to know I love the way you make me laugh, so don’t cry too much. It’ll make your nose red. On the hard days, just listen until you hear something that reminds you of the good times. Of my love. And, if you insist, my laugh. Someone said: “Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”

The rhythm slowed, and he hurried to her bed and grabbed her hand.

“Thank you,” he said.

And all sound stopped except the echo of her laughter.

Quote: attributed to William Penn, Ralph Waldo Emerson, or R.W. Raymond; I’ll Be Seeing You: Words by Irving Kahal and Music by Sammy Fain, 1938, Sung here by Frank Sinatra

Lovers, Fighters, Icons, and the Rest of Us

I read something about someone who was described as an accidental icon. Wouldn’t that lend excitement to your days?!

Most of us don’t set out to be icons, but we don’t propose to live accidentally either. We have plans that we follow rather lazily or like gangbusters depending on our age, energy, and personality.

And then there are those who seem to cut a path that puts the rest of us to shame. Too often those individuals are renounced, diminished, or just plain cut out of a story that, but for their influence, would have a very different ending. We do well to read their autobiographies or, sans that, their biographies if said biographies are written by dependable authors.

Winston Churchill is a large figure in post WW II history. A recent movie about him received justifiable accolades. He was a man in power during a time in which history’s hinge would swing one way or the other. He stood strong and unyielding when giving in to political pressure would have made his life easier. He said, If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves. He was a fighter. Everyone loves a lover, but sometimes a fighter is what is needed.

A four page government memo was released today. It reveals deceit and duplicity among those who were supposed to be trustworthy and straightforward. The crimes were committed not by the many hard-working members of the DOJ and FBI. They were committed by a powerful few, and not once, but repeatedly. I suspect the path of the memo will lead to names we all know and people who believe they are untouchable. Now we wait to see if they will get away with it because of their power and connections. I hope not.

One wonders what role those of us without prominence or power play. We don’t have the influence some others do. But still we can take a page from someone we admire. After all, citizens of good character who stand straight and strong and who do whatever it is at their hand to do with honor and care are more likely to hold a nation up than bring it to its knees. We’re not just a thousand points of light. We’re a thousand steel beams, a thousand iron plates, a thousand rivets and bolts.

Iris Apfel, the accidental icon referred to at the beginning of this post has said, You have to try it. You have only one trip. You’ve got to remember that. 

Have a great day! Me? I’ll be doing my best to stand straight and strong, to do whatever is at hand to do as though I’m doing it for God, Himself, as I keep walking the path. I hope to see you on the way!

Quote: Rick Lowry in the New York Post, 12/28/17; Quote: Winston Churchill; Memo: ; Quote: George H.W. Bush; Photos:; Quote: Iris Apfel

Something New

The house had been cleaned from top to bottom. Candy canes hung in ribbon above the windows and the tree was resplendent with ornaments of sentimental value. The scent of gingerbread filled the kitchen as she began rolling out sugar cookies while she thought about it all. If only everything could be washed clean and made new. If only . . .

For, you see, something new crossed her path every day. Normally that would be a good thing. Something new meant something fresh and exciting! But now the something new was stomach-churning. Every day. And the season which had before brought beauty and sweetness, sparkle and peace had been tarnished with unrelenting tales of deception, perversion, and anger. It was as though a spider of darkness was determinedly spreading its sticky web over the season of light.

But people’s hearts seemed impossibly hard and the enormous amount of disgusting behavior seemed darker than a black hole. How could such contempt for what was right be turned around? How could those who allowed themselves to wallow in a gutter mindlessly covered by glamour and status or blame and suspicion be redeemed? How could both accused and accuser find peace? It was hopeless! What was needed was a miracle. An unconscious sigh escaped her lips.


And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.


And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them,and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Gory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

In evil times to desperate people comes One who makes everything new and redeems those willing to be saved. It is an astounding miracle that crosses time and space to every culture and generation. It is offered to a multitude and available for a single soul. And that is the best miracle of all.

Luke 2:7-14; Softly Now He Comes by Connie Miller Pease,, Image: pexels-photo-713494.jpeg; christmas-935456_960_720-CC0-Public-Domain.jpg

Lights Out

“The important thing is that we focus on the diversity this campus is known for.”

“Right.” He paused. “Everything gets equal attention.”


“Well of course I don’t mean Christmas. It’s had too much preference for far too long in this country. Besides, it’s passe.

“Right. Twinkly lights are fine as long as they don’t mean anything. And Christmas carols . . .”

“Ach! Don’t even mention them. I can’t stand them.”

“I hated to see the Santa display go, but it was for the best.”

“Haha! I’d forgotten about that one!”

“What in the world? Did you see that?”

“I think it’s the Fine Arts Building. I’d think they’ll be on it before too long. Painting in the  dark would be a challenge, eh?”

“Of course, red and green were fine for awhile, but – I don’t know – do you think it’s associated too closely with Christmas?”

“Let’s just go with white and gold. No reason to ruffle any feathers.”

The two men stopped and peered down the street for a moment.

“The English department will howl, for sure.”

“Oop! And Languages. Ah! And a few of the street lights! I wonder if it’s something with the electrical system?”

“Ooo, watch out there. Are you okay?”

“Just a minor stumble. It’s a bit hard to see without those lights.”

“Did you see the creche in front of the gas station down on 7th?”

“I can let the student group know. They love a good protest.”

A loud buzz echoed through the evening air.

“Look! The History department! They’ve probably all fallen asleep anyway.”

The two men chuckled.

“Science and technology will feel that.”

“I wonder how it will affect research?”

“But to the main point. This time of year shouldn’t be any different than any other time. I think we’ve done a fine job of cleaning up the campus. I don’t see evidence of the C word anywhere, do you?”

“How much better our campus is without Christmas!”

The other man nodded. “Nothing to take offense at here.”

And the campus went dark.

Image:; John 1:5; I Peter 2:8;

White and Red Christmas Eve

Wind whipped the branches and slammed snow pellets against the brick until red became white. City dwellers had heeded the forecasters’ warnings and had stocked up on necessities including rock salt, sand, and kitty litter. Shovels were sold out. Streets had emptied. Here and there a window blinked a hint of brave light otherwise muted by the blizzard.

She’d heard the warnings just as everyone else had, but how often were forecasters right, really? When she’d started out, it had been simply cold and windy. But the forecasters had been right, and she had gotten it very wrong.

She wanted to make it home for Christmas – surprise everyone for once in her life. Oh, they’d planned on her coming, but with this weather, had urged her to stay put. They’d get together another time. Still, it had been too long.

Last Christmas she’d been invited to Aspen and you’d have to be crazy to turn down an invitation like that. The Christmas before that she’d worked because, well because she needed the money, and at the time money seemed more important than going home. It wasn’t the same. Working made the day seem like just another day. She’d gone back to a quiet apartment and ate leftover quiche that had lost some of its texture and toast that tasted like sawdust. Aspen had been exciting and beautiful, but . . .

As December 25th approached, she’d begun to think of the pine scent of the Christmas tree she knew stood in front of the window and the cookies her mom always made, the ginger ones with sugared orange rinds on top. Every time she heard a Christmas song on the radio or in a store, she thought of the little church down the block from their house that held Christmas Eve services no matter the weather.

Now her Christmas surprise had made an awful turn. God was in heaven, and Jesus wasn’t just a baby in a pretty story. She knew that. But she never prayed. Wasn’t sure she knew what to say even if she tried. How, after all, did one ask for Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer?

She pulled over as she approached the edge of town. Ten more miles on a blowing highway and she’d be home. Ten more miles might as well be ten hundred. She couldn’t even see where the road ended and the ditch began.

Squinting into the whiteout, suddenly she caught sight of a light up ahead! Not white light, but red and red enough to break through the blinding flakes. She pulled out and crept onto the highway, following it. A lone trucker needing to make it a few more miles would’ve laughed to think he was an answer to prayer. No matter. The driver of the car behind him was humming Rudolph.


Image: 800px-Blizzard_Mt_Keen-wikipedia.jpg;; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: composer, Robert L. May; story idea based on a trip back to the cities from St. Cloud in blinding fog after a night class I took many years ago


She liked little things: the shape of bark on a tree, the tickity sound of that one machine she didn’t know the name of, Christmas, of course, and the smell of dirt just before anything sprouted in the spring. And she loved math. It was logical and dependable. It was actually beautiful in the way the same conclusion could be reached in a variety of ways. And the answers were never fuzzy, never tentative. They were solid.

One January day she felt a little dizzy. Maybe it was the flu. Then she fell during recess. And in one day a brain cancer diagnosis stole the little things, her favorite sights and sounds and scents. She was six.

She lost her hair overnight, and wondered if anyone’s hair could grow back overnight, too. When she lost her bowel control, her dad reminded her of all the things she could still control, and gave her some equations to work just for fun. Her appetite left her, and she didn’t wonder or think anything. She just felt weak. And then one day she sensed her math skills slowing; and it was on that day that hope became transparent. That day her world was no longer solid. That day was the worst day.

One night voices filled her dreams. She could hear bits and pieces here and there of what they were saying, of what they were praying. Sometimes she heard her name. She saw a man standing in front of her and liked him instantly. He told her the number sevenpixabay was one of his favorite numbers and asked her how old she would be on her next birthday. She laughed when he threw up his hands in surprise. He told her his birthday would be celebrated soon, and they talked about the sound of stars and the warm breath of sheep. He told her that miracles are as dependable as math if you know who to ask. The man seemed so real and his words so solid. She felt happy and, for the first time in a year, a weight lifted. But when she woke up, she was in her same bed with accustomed pain and saw the familiar troubled look in her mother’s eyes.

In one year things had grown so hard. Spring and summer had passed without tree bark or the smell of fresh dirt because tests and worry had taken their place. Her world had grown smaller and quieter in the hospital. Math ceased to bring the satisfaction it had one time brought. It hardly seemed possible her days could ever become better.

Christmas wasn’t far away now, but she would lose that favorite thing, too. How would she celebrate it with such a tired body?

And then it was Christmas Eve. Before she went to sleep, she thought again about the nice guy she’d seen in her dream. She could almost hear him telling her about how miracles really do exist, and she prayed for the miracle she wanted most of all. A small smile crossed her face as she thought about the sound of stars, the warm breath of sheep, and how he liked the number 7.

Christmas morning dawned cold and sharp, but bright and clear. She stretched and felt a tug. What in the world? She jumped out of bed and ran to the mirror. There – just touching her shoulders – was the hair she’d missed for too long. Her eyes grew wide. She breathed deeply.

“Mom! Dad! I feel good! I feel great! Nothing hurts! I! Have! Hair!”

She ran into the living room and jumped on the couch. Up and down, up and down. She couldn’t stop! She ran back into her room and grabbed a math worksheet. Ha! How could anyone not like math?! And the answer was seven! Seven! Seven! Seven! She ran back into the living room, plugged in the tree lights, and felt the glow of Christmas, itself: promise and hope. Today she would celebrate her friend’s birthday with all her might. It felt so right. So real. Solid. She was home. She was whole. And miracles? Miracles are as dependable as math if you know who to ask.


This story borrows from the story of a little girl I am praying for. Won’t you join me in asking for a Christmas miracle?

Images: tree-bark-en.wikipedia.jpg; fanpop.jpg; pixabay