the double yellow line in the middle of the road

The double yellow line in the middle of roads means Do Not Cross. If the road is painted correctly, every time there is a spot where a driver needs to turn, the double yellow lines are changed to single dashes, just so the driver of the car won’t be breaking any laws by making a turn.

Our country has become a road painted with double yellow lines. One side stays on the left; the other side stays on the right. And no one crosses the double yellow lines.

I’ve always tried to keep this blog politics free. Mostly because I’m the only one who agrees with my political views. Conservative on some issues and liberal on others, it’s no wonder I can never find anyone for whom to vote…

I didn’t vote for him.

I didn’t vote for her either.

I am one of those millions of displaced voters who didn’t like either choice. I need a different party, a third party, that’s located somewhere near the double yellow lines in the middle of the road.

I need a different kind of leader: one who is kind, compassionate, cares about people, is true to their beliefs, and unafraid to stand for honesty or do the right thing. Someone who isn’t crude, crass, or speaking out of both sides of their mouth. A Gentleman. Or perhaps, a Lady.

During the debates I did write a post poking fun at both of them; but it languished in my drafts until the election was over, and by then it was pointless. I never posted it because I didn’t want to join the ear-piercing, country-dividing, online dissonance.

I still don’t.

It reminds me of the sixties when the country was divided over the Vietnam War, race issues, women’s issues, and sex. Old people said the young kids were going to hell; young kids said the old folks were rigid, straight, and out of date.

The country is still divided over war, race issues, women’s issues, and sex. Add immigration, the environment, and trade wars and, well…. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Or maybe this one: There is nothing new under the sun…(Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Last week, I was an unhappy Republican. This week, I am an unhappy Democrat. All it took for me to switch parties (on the last day that I could before the primaries) was a letter from the president. With his picture on the envelope. Nope, not gonna happen again. I don’t want anyone — even the mailman — thinking he was my choice.

I guess that’s why the country is divided on either side of the double yellow line,

and the only answer I have is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)

You mean politicians are my neighbors? Yep, it’s hard.


Eminent Domain 12: The Penn Dot Engineers, part 1

12 The PennDot Engineers 1, Slightly Unethical
February 11, 1988

Phyllis was tidying her desk and files and wrapping up the day’s work. She didn’t always feel as if she was the neatest, most efficient secretary she could be, so it always made her feel better to organize at the end of the day. Leaving her desk uncluttered and prepared for tomorrow helped her in the morning as well. She was just switching off the word processor when Alex came through the door.

“I thought you wouldn’t be back after you’d been gone for so long,” she said. “Were you visiting Mr. DeBolt this whole time?”

Alex shook his head. “I had been there for about an hour when Pastor Stewart came in. We talked briefly after that, and I left. I needed to think, to clear my head, so I took a drive to Hattiesville and back along the infamous 592. Is everyone gone?” He looked around the office. All the doors were shut. The Engineering Department of District 13 occupied a suite of offices with Phyllis’ desk and filing cabinets and several chairs in the reception area. Surrounding the central area were two engineer’s offices on the right side and the draftsman’s office on the left. A small kitchenette separated the two back corner rooms — the conference room and the Chief Engineer’s office. Alex had reluctantly moved into the Chief Engineer’s office about two months ago, which left the front engineer’s office vacant.

“Keith left about four o’clock saying something about an appointment. Pat showed up and hung around here for a few minutes just doing nothing, and, finally, he and Henry left. I think they were going to the Basement Grille for dinner.”

“The photographer Pat from The Chronicle?”

Phyllis looked at him speculatively and nodded. “How is Mr. DeBolt?”

“He looked like… uh, well, he said it himself, ‘death warmed over.’ It didn’t look like anyone had combed his hair or shaved him for three days. And all those tubes…” Alex looked at Phyllis. “His memory was fine, though.” He dragged a chair over to sit across from her desk. “If I’m keeping you, go,” he said. “You’ll probably have plenty of overtime in these next weeks.”

“No. Talk if you need to. I won’t say anything to anyone. Although I might have to become a hermit.”

“We all might. We might need to drag couches into this reception room for overnighters and lock the door to photographers, friends, and curiosity seekers.”

“It won’t work, Alex. This is too small of a town, too small of an office, and even if we don’t say a word, rumors will fly. Rumors are already flying.”

“We could all lose our jobs,” he said thoughtfully. “Though would they fire all of us?” He grinned and said in a news announcer’s voice, ‘In a local story tonight, the entire staff of PennDot District 13 in Adamsford was fired yesterday. When asked to comment, the local secretary Phyllis Deeter said…’” He leaned forward and held an imaginary microphone in front of Phyllis.

She burst out laughing and said, “No Comment. No, no, wait. I mean, Screw You Ross!” She covered her mouth with her hands. “Oh, I can’t believe I said that.”

It was Alex’s turn to burst out laughing. “I hope that felt good. Don’t worry, when Ross calls tomorrow morning, your secret is safe with me.”

“You know that he’s calling tomorrow morning?”

“He is calling every morning from now on. Till eternity. Or till we get the plan done.”

“Oh my.”

Alex sighed. “I don’t know what to tell Angie. I don’t know what to tell anyone. Nothing, right? Oh, sorry. I’m forgetting and talking to myself. You’d better go home.”

“Let’s walk out together. There’s nothing more you can do here today. You should go home and tell Angie that you’ve gotten a huge project laid on you. That it’s confidential, and you’ll tell her what you can but not to ask any questions.”

“And the first thing she will do is ask me a question. The Question. Does it have to do with the accident?”

“And you will give her a hug. Tell her you love her. And that you can’t answer any questions.”

Do I love her? Alex wondered to himself. How will this all turn out?
He spoke what had been in the back of his head off and on all day. “Phyllis, we’re going to have a baby in May. I can’t get fired.”

Phyllis got up from her desk and gathered her coat and purse and keys. “Come on. You’re going home to your pregnant wife. It’s highly unlikely you will be fired. It’s much more likely that when this is over you will choose to find another job somewhere else. Somewhere sane. Where they don’t ask their engineers to do impossible, slightly unethical projects.”

“Is this project unethical, Phyllis?”

“I don’t know, Alex. Is this project unethical?”

“Conrad DeBolt said that Ross left him high and dry on the ’63 project even when he had promised to back him up.”

“Did Ross promise to back you up?”

“Yes, he did. Those exact words.”

“Well, then. You know how much those words are worth.” They were standing at Phyllis’ car.

“Phyllis, you need to get a new car. When this project is all finished, I’ll help you find one myself. My brother in Warren, Ohio, works for a car dealership, and I can put him on the lookout for you. You need a nice Toyota for getting up and down your driveway.”

“Thank you, Alex. Go home, love up your wife and get some sleep. Tomorrow will be an adventure.”

He grinned. “So far, I haven’t been looking at it as an adventure. Thanks. I think that’s a good perspective.”


The first part of this novel, Eminent Domain, can be found by clicking here, or by clicking on Fiction Projects in the menu bar.

The last snow of spring

Our bird feeder sat on the porch table all winter long, filled with sunflower seeds, untouched by any flying, hopping, or scurrying creatures.

It isn’t that we don’t have flying, hopping, or scurrying creatures: we’ve had flocks of Bluebirds in January, and a mischief of mice invaded our kitchen; herds of deer decimate our gardens; a labor of moles have invaded our lush lawn (that’s a joke, folks); last year a chorus of cicadas denuded our trees;  a loveliness of ladybugs live on the west side of the house all autumn; and right now we’re battling a colony of ants. Yes, I’ve written about critters before.

So where were the birds this winter? My best guess is that since we had very little snow, they weren’t starving and didn’t visit out feeder.

But a week ago we had (what we hope was) the last snow of spring. Snow dusted the ground, the daffodils, and tree branches. And a little visitor found our bird feeder. I didn’t get a picture of him that day; he was skitter-ish, but he discovered that the attack cat is fat and lazy, and his true bravery emerged. Plus he likes sunflower seeds.

Haiku for Squirrel

Red squirrel skitters
Sliding in the slick spring snow
His winter stash spent.

I’m not concerned about a solitary squirrel, but I certainly don’t want a drey of squirrels nesting on the porch this spring or a scurry of squirrels stealing our walnuts this fall.