Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Wisdom Comes With Age: Myth Busted!

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman

After all my years as a functioning adult, how can I still be so gullible? Isn’t wisdom supposed to come with age? If only Jamie and Adam of MythBusters had tested that theory, I’d have been better prepared.

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil. ~ Thessalonians 5:19-22 (MSG)

Anyway, here’s the scoop. Recently, I wanted to buy some moisturizer, but didn’t know which one to get. In my defense, I dislike shopping and making decisions, so when an opportunity came along to skip all that, I thought it was a tiny miracle wrapped in God’s grace.

“How did the opportunity come along?” you ask.

I saw an ad online somewhere. (And, no, I don’t remember where. My husband, David, has lectured me on that already.) The ad caught my attention, first because it said “FREE trial!” Need I go on?

Did you catch the small print? “Simulated imagery. Results not typical.”

The second hook was “anti-aging.” I’m probably 30 40 years too late for that, but I couldn’t find one that claimed “reverse-aging.”  I reasoned that the “anti-redness” and “pore-refining” agents couldn’t hurt.

The third reason clinched the deal! All the gazillionaire members of the Shark Tank reality show had invested in this amazing product. How could I go wrong with the sharpest business minds in the country backing it?

Can you say “too good to be true”?

“How did you find that out?” you ask.

When David opened the credit card bill three weeks later. “Sweetie, did you order an ounce of anti-aging cream for $92.00?”

Indignant, I answered, “I most certainly did not. I ordered an ounce of anti-aging cream for FREE.”

FRONT: Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, and Lori Greiner. BACK: Daymond John, Clarice G. James (newest investor) and Robert Herjavec

“Okaay …. how about an under eye cream for another $92.00?”

“Hey! They said they’d throw that in for nothing.”

In less than 60 seconds online, David found a number of consumer warnings about this scam. Apparently, I’d missed the fine print in the ad, which said I could try it FREE for 15 days. If I was unhappy, I had to send the free samples back, or I’d be charged.

Instantly my head began to ache, like common sense was hitting it with a hammer, yelling, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” What was I thinking?

David spent the next few weeks on the phone with the scammers, the credit card company, and the Better Business Bureau until the matter was settled. End result: All charges were deleted from our credit card. Most importantly, my husband held no charges against me. Now that’s what a tiny miracle wrapped in God’s grace looks like.

“Did you learn your lesson?” you ask.

I sure did. But one good thing came out of this whole mess. An FBI agent contacted me to work undercover for them in their White Collar Division. They’re doing a background check on me now. All I had to do was give their agent–real nice guy, he was–my mother’s maiden name, my date of birth, and my social security number. I get paid $92.00 for every tip I send them.

Click here for more Beauty Tips and Lessons on Being Gullible.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 2:7 (MSG)

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Twisted Word Puzzle #9

Here’s a twist on my word quizzes. I’ve listed 12 groups with five words each. Your job is to choose the category  in which the words belong.

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature,that was its name.  So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. ~ Genesis 2:19-20 (NIV)

  1. bine, drupe, glume, rhizome, and spidix – a) parts of a plant; b) types of poisons; c) plastic components; d) related to the belly of an aircraft
  2. durmast, garry, banksian, bull, and mugho – a) ancient pavilions; b) architectural moldings; c) parts of a sailing vessel; d) Canadian oaks and pines
  3. abra, bonnet, cowrie, horn, lion’s paw, and turret – a) farming tools; b) seashell collection; c) jeweler designs; d) Middle East hieroglyphs
  4. danbo, esrom, mysost, sprinz, and tilsit – a) types of cheese; b) unflattering Welsh terms for the under educated; c) types of grass popular in cattle ranges; d) middle age salves and potions
  5. axminster, beck, denier, kuster, and velva – a) foreign nicknames for buttocks; b) types of beer; c) carpet terminology; d) English royalty titles
  6. cameo, daisy, doric, spiral, and royal lace – a) types of depression glass; b) notable snowflake shapes; d) stitches used in weaving; d) terms used in jewelry-making
  7. John Astin, Art Carney, Ethel Merman, Cliff Robertson,  and Shelley Winters – a) actors in the first Titanic movie ; b) actors all related to at least one US president;  c) actors who appeared on TV’s Batman; d) actors who appeared on Sesame Street
  8. Brazos, Maumee, Neches, Owyhee, and Yadkin – a) US rivers; b) towns in Oklahoma; c) villages in Argentina; d) names of African tribes
  9. calf’s head, honeycomb, lozenge, rondelle, and scissors – a) types of caves; b) street names for illegal drugs; c) a variety of high wire circus acts; d) types of gem stone cuts
  10. Aquila, Cepheus, Dorado, Fornax, and Indus – a) Big Band record labels; b) types of constellations; c) names of theaters in Athens, Greece; d) brands of Mediterranean cigarettes
  11. curlew, drongo, grandala, hoopoe, and yuhina – a) Native American hand tools; b) birds found in Chinac) Brazilian dances;  d) Asian children’s games
  12. alforja, canniken, growler, kylix, and toby – a) types of fish found in the Southern Ocean; b) types of containers; c) Cockney words that describe a layabout; d) parts of the Hubble telescope

thinking capHave you chosen the correct category? If so, how many of the 5 words had you heard before? Scroll down to see how you did.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. ~ James 3:7-12 (NLT)

Here are the correct answers.

  1. bine, drupe, glume, rhizome, and spidix – a) parts of a plant
  2. durmast, garry, banksian, bull, and mugho – d) Canadian oaks and pines
  3. abra, bonnet, cowrie, horn, lion’s paw, and turret – b) seashell collection
  4. danbo, esrom, mysost, sprinz, and tilsit – a) types of cheese
  5. axminster, beck, denier, kuster, and velva – c) carpet terminology
  6. cameo, daisy, doric, spiral, and royal lace – a) types of depression glass
  7. John Astin, Art Carney, Ethel Merman, Cliff Robertson,  and Shelley Winters – c) actors who appeared on TV’s Batman
  8. Brazos, Maumee, Neches, Owyhee, and Yadkin – a) US rivers
  9. calf’s head, honeycomb, lozenge, rondelle, and scissors – d) types of gem stone cuts
  10. Aquila, Cepheus, Dorado, Fornax, and Indus – b) types of constellations
  11. curlew, drongo, grandala, hoopoe, and yuhina – b) birds found in China
  12. alforja, canniken, growler, kylix, and toby – b) types of containers

 

How did you do?

10-12  May I call you in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep?

07-09 When you speak, do blank faces stare back at you?

04-06 My kind of person!

00-03  I don’t think you’re trying very hard.


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Twelve Words for a Word Searcher’s Vocabulary #8

Gracious speech is like clover honey—good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body. ~ Proverbs 16:24 (MSG)
When I can’t sleep at night, I get up and read a couple of chapters of whatever book I’m enjoying. After that, I try to bore myself to sleep by doing a few word search puzzles. 

This usually does the trick–until I come across words I don’t know. Here’s a list of them. Do you know their meaning? 

  1. bismutha) gray and overcast; b) brittle, grayish-white metallic element; c) standing ovation; d) grandiose
  2. coeval – a) equally old; b) architectural detail; c) hut built over a mine shaft; d) wide and shallow
  3. drupe – a) ancient alphabet; b) to doubt; c) to hang on or over; d) any fruit with an outer skin, pulpy middle, and hard inner shell
  4. fipple – a) indecisive; b) block that forms a flue in wind instruments; c) type of dwarf tree; d) public disturbance
  5. jaggery – a) sharp protrusion; b) sugar made from the sap of a date palm; c) unrestrained indulgence; d) latest Rolling Stones album title
  6. muntin – a) aged; b) flesh of a mature sheep used for food;) playfully mean or cruel; d) strip separating panes of glass in a sash
  7. nitid – a) idiot-like; b) handmade; c) bright and lustrous; d) infected by the egg of a louse or other parasitic insect
  8. piggina) small wooden pail; b) newborn pigs; c) type of fastener; d) type of English pudding
  9. rondellea) type of French cheese; b) vegan casserole; c) circular jewel; d) type of saw
  10. scow – a) look of disapproval; b) jurisdiction over a territory or over people; c) large flat-bottomed boat with broad square ends; d) fist fight
  11. twite – a) beyond a shadow of a doubt; b) small finch; c) stomach of a ruminant; d) to flutter about
  12. valgus – a) essential amino acid; b) earthly or mortal; c) not easily discerned; d) knock-kneed or bowlegged

thinking capHave you chosen the correct definition? Can you use the words in a sentence? Scroll down to see how you did.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. ~ James 3:7-12 (NLT)

Here are the correct answers.

  1. b) Bismutha brittle, grayish-white, red-tinged, metallic element used in the manufacture of fusible alloys and in medicine
  2. a) Coevalof the same age, date, or duration; equally old
  3. d) Drupeany fruit, as a peach, cherry, plum, etc., consisting of an outer skin, usually a pulpy and succulent middle layer, and a hard and woody inner shell, usually enclosing a single seed
  4. b) Fipple: a wooden block that forms a flue at the mouth end of certain musical instruments
  5. b) Jaggerya coarse, dark sugar, especially that made from the sap of East Indian (date) palm trees
  6. d) Muntin: a strip separating panes of glass in a sash
  7. c) Nitid: bright and lustrous
  8.  a) Piggin: a small wooden pail with one stave extended upward as a handle
  9. c) Rondelle: a circular object; especially a circular jewel or jeweled ring
  10. c) Scow: a large flat-bottomed boat with broad square ends used chiefly for transporting bulk material (as ore, sand, or refuse)
  11. b) Twite: a small finch, Carduelis flavirostris, of northern Europe, having streaked brown plumage and, in the male, a pink breast
  12. d) Valgus: an abnormally turned position of a part of the bone structure of human being, especially of the leg. Bowlegged, knock-kneed, or the like

Jumping for joy over your score?

10-12  May I call you in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep?

07-09 When you speak, do blank faces stare back at you?

04-06 My kind of person!

00-03  I don’t think you’re trying very hard.


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Twelve Words for a Thinker’s Vocabulary #7

Many of the words I chose are from The Thinker’s Thesaurus by Peter E. Meltzer.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. ~ Pslam 111:10 (NIV)

  1. apothegm – a) saying; b) growth on throat;  c) respiratory condition; d) architectural detail
  2. codswallop – a) British fish and chips; b) backhand; c) nonsense; d) swallow whole
  3. deflagration – a) slander; b) explosion; c) mass migration; d) corporal punishment
  4. harpocracy – a) berating; b) silence c) glad-handing; d) fear of harps
  5. keelhaul – a) rebuke; b) drill a doorknob hole; c) climb aboard; d) shuck shellfish
  6. mobocracy – a) agility; b) political control by a mob;) of robotic limbs; d) type of poem
  7. neoteric – a) lighthearted; b) self-centered; c) genius; d) recent
  8. ostreal – a) of or relating to oysters; b) night sky; c) of or relating to ostriches; d) unfathonable
  9. pleonasm – a) stinginess; b) type of political lobby; c) legal pleadings; d) redundancy
  10. rataplan – a) caste system; b) zuchini and tomatoe sidedish; c) repeating noise; d) type of roof shingle
  11. smellfungas – a) wine taster; b) faultfinder; c) mushroom tester; d) person with huge nose
  12. ulracrepidarian – a) presumptuous; b) liberal; c) delusional; d) unkempt

thinking capHave you chosen the correct definition? Can you use the words in a sentence? Scroll down to see how you did.

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew. ~ Proverbs 3:13-20 (NIV)

Here are the correct answers.

  1. a) saying
  2. c) nonsense
  3. b) explosion
  4. b) silence
  5. a) rebuke
  6. b) political control by a mob
  7. d) recent
  8. a) of or relating to oysters
  9. d) redundancy
  10. c) repeating noise
  11. b) faultfinder
  12. a) presumptuous

Jumping for joy over your score?

10-12  So, I see you enjoy being an introvert and book worm.

07-09  People only pretend to know what you’re talking about.

04-06  You might not want to try out for Jeopardy.

00-03  If I were you, I’d stick with Word Search puzzles.


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I Have Questions. Where is King Solomon?

QuestionsWhen the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions. Arriving at Jerusalem . . . she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. ~ 1Kings 10:1-3 (NIV)

The US is a complicated place, and the people who live here even more so. I have a few questions. If there’s a King Solomon out there, give me a call.

Do you have questions too?

  1. When a company advertises its frozen chicken product as having “ingredients like all meat chicken,” what exactly do they mean by like?Strawberry-Roll-ups
  2. Why do we say “You’re only [pick any age] once” and “You’re not getting any younger” as if it’s a lost nugget of Solomon’s wisdom?
  3. Why were consumers caught unawares when it was disclosed that strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups contain no strawberries?
  4. One day, a doctor can tell a woman smoking may harm the baby in her womb. The next day, another doctor can end that same baby’s life in that same womb. What kind of choice is that?
  5. Yes, bacon soap is real—but why?
  6. Speaking of soap, what happens to soap scum that doesn’t stick to your tile?
  7. Why does the news media blame drug addiction on everyone except the person who started taking the drugs? I know the problem is complicated, but shouldn’t we hold the addict accountable too?da14_bacon_soap_closeup
  8. Who decides what to do when an endangered animal eats another endangered species?
  9. That brings me to this: Why do sharks get more respect (and news coverage) than the seals they eat?
  10. Why can’t gruntled people get as much attention as their disgruntled counterparts? Sheesh. The word’s not even recognized by spell-check.
  11. Have you seen the ad for the Preparation H Totables which come in a “discreet, convenient travel size”? Pardon me, but isn’t all use of any Preparation H product meant to be discreet?PH
  12. If, for unknown reasons, either and/or both of our presidential nominees were unable to continue their race for office, how would a replacement candidate be chosen?  No, seriously, how?

 


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Through a Glass Darkly: The Potluck Widow

 

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ~ Matthew 7:2 (NIV)

As an author, here’s how I imagine things versus how they really are. Sort of.

The Scenario:

SingleA middle-aged widow attended Small Church in Small Town. Though she loved the church, it didn’t have a promising selection of eligible men. None, to be exact. When she heard about an active Singles Group in Big Church in Bigger Town about an hour’s drive from home, she signed up for their Potluck Social two weeks away.

As excited as she was, she had a few concerns:  How much weight could she lose in two weeks? Could her hairdresser do her roots the day before? What would she wear if she lost weight? And what would she wear if she didn’t? Most of her friends were married–could she walk in alone? If she invited a single friend, would it increase the odds against her? More importantly, what could she make that would make a man’s mouth water?

The way I imagined it happened . . .

bacon and tenderloinThankfully, the widow’s hairdresser was able to fit her in the day before and even added red highlights. Then, with one quick stop, she found all the ingredients on sale to make double bacon-wrapped tenderloin tips and molten chocolate lava cakes. She grabbed a family-size bag of barbeque chips just in case.

dress printThe morning of the event she stepped on her scale. She was ten pounds lighter! Off to a great start, she happily chose a dress she hadn’t been able to fit in since she bought it. Once she’d prepared her delectable contributions to the potluck meal, she packed them in the  thermal containers and was off!dress print

There was very little traffic, so she found Big Church without a hitch. She had arrived early enough to appear polite, yet not desperate. Greeted warmly by a gray-haired woman a few years older and a few pounds heaver, the widow set her creations on the buffet table between an egg salad sandwich platter and a bowl of pickled beets.

mocha lava cakeThe aroma of her double bacon-wrapped tenderloin tips caused a mad dash of single, well-dressed, good-looking, middle-aged men to rush in through multiple doors. All were suitably employed and loved to cook, do housework, and redecorate rooms.

The biggest problem the widow encountered that day was which single man to keep.

The way it really happened . . .

Her hairdresser wasn’t able to fit her in, so she colored her own roots and added red highlights. She mustn’t have waited long enough for the root color to set because the highlights turned her gray roots hot pink.

She scrambled around multiple food stores, confused about what to make for the Potluck Social. Not much of a cook and on a limited budget, she ended up buying an accidently-thawed Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pie and a crushed box of Choco Mallows from the seconds bin. She grabbed a bag of chips, but ate them on the way home.

frumpy dressThe morning of the Potluck Social she weighed herself (before dressing, after peeing). Stress-eating over this whole affair had resulted in a gain of eight-plus pounds. Off to a crummy start, she had to wear that navy, flowered dress she’d vowed never to be seen in again.

She baked the thawed pie according to the directions on the box. The crust burned so she removed it and cut the rest of the pie into weird geometrical shapes, some of which  rocked. She unwrapped the Choco Mallows to make them look more homemade, then put them and the pie bites in disposable plastic containers. And she was off!

She got lost trying to find Big Church in Bigger Town. An hour late, she was greeted by a blonde, twenty years younger and twenty pounds lighter, who said, “Where did you come from?” When the widow told her Small Church in Small Town, the younger woman said, “Then why don’t you start your own singles group there?”

With no real answer, the widow found the buffet table where she placed her squished chocomallowspumpkin shapes and melted Mallows near an empty platter that still had the aroma of bacon and beef. She weaved through the full room of singles carrying a paper plate filled with a beet-juice-soaked egg salad sandwich and three cold pigs ‘n a blanket.

There were way more women than men in attendance. And from what she overheard, most of the men her age were talking about their mothers–whom, it seemed, they still lived with.

She found a seat in an outside circle of chairs. Inside the circle, smaller circles of people stood and chatted amiably with their backs to her and their backsides inches from her plate.

No one, other than the blonde, spoke to her the long, painful hour she was there. It was as if a secret alarm had sounded: WARNING! WARNING! NEW WIDOW ON THE PROWL! (Not nice,  even if it was true.)

The biggest problem the widow encountered that day was how to find the exit out of  Big Church so she could get back to Small Town fast.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)

 

 


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Through a Glass Darkly: The Quilter

As an author, here’s how I see things vs. how they really are. Sort of.

The way I imagined it . . .   

Jeff ConwayRecently, while walking through the Mall of New Hampshire, I noticed a man, probably in his mid-forties, with his hair rolled into a slick pompadour like Jeff Conaway as Kenickie in Grease. He wore a royal purple  satin jacket with knit collar and cuffs. Embroidered in gold on the back were the words “Perth Amboy Foreign Autos.”

A short, sandy-haired woman dressed in a flowered turtleneck and denim jumper held his arm and clogged along loudly beside him. She looked nothing like Stockard Channing as Rizzo.

While the happy couple admired the display of miniature hand-blown glass animals at a kiosk, I “found” them a family.

A trio of tittering pre-teens, windowshopping outside Claire’s, seemed perfect for the role of their daughters. I named them Sephira, Solara, and Sienna.

A 15-ish square-built boy, looking bored near the escalator, became their son. The crotch of his jeans was almost level with his kneecaps. Crippled by this ill-advised design, I dubbed him Yugo.Yugo

They’d traveled all the way up from Perth Amboy, New Jersey for the “Happy to be Scrappy” Ladies of the Lakes Quilters Triennial Quilt Show. It had been held over the weekend at Kingswood High School in Wolfeboro, where “Mrs. Kenickie” had taken first place.blue-ribbon

The family planned to return home directly after the judges’ decision in time to phone friends and family before the news got old. They would’ve, too, but for the nuisance of a dragging muffler on their 1992 Chrysler Town & Country mini van.

Rather than pay for an extra night at Motel 6, they hiked to the mall about a mile from the mechanic’s garage. Before they entered, their kids watched as their proud dad pinned the blue ribbon to their mom’s jumper.

The family whiled away the hours, not bothered by their car trouble, just pleased to be together to celebrate this milestone occasion.

The way it was . . .   

John Travolta hairThe couple, Hank and Betty Dutra, hailed from Raymond, NH. Hank combed his hair this way because twenty-seven years ago Betty told him he kinda looked like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

Hank bought the royal purple satin jacket (practically brand new) with the Perth Amboy logo for $5.00 at Goodwill because he’d never owned anything from Australia before. Betty hated it. He wore it today mainly because she’d made him come to the Mall.

Despite Hank’s jacket and hard-headedness, Betty wanted this day to feel special. That’s why she’d exchanged her comfy sweats for a proper jumper. After all, it was Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, not Dollar Tree in Raymond.

Used to her everyday sneakers, she clung to Hank’s arm, unsteady in her dress clogs.clogs

As they passed by the kiosk filled with miniature hand-blown glass animals, Betty  whispered to Hank, “Who on earth would pay these prices?”

Hank answered, “Who knows? Maybe the kind of people who live in Hollis and Bedford and Exeter.”

They listened to a trio of girls cackling outside Claire’s and witnessed a teen boy’s jeans slip down to his knees.

Hank shook his head. “Aren’t you glad we have dogs?”

“Don’t forget the chickens,” Betty said. “They might cackle but at least they keep us in eggs.”

flex-seal-liquid_1000After a few hours of browsing, they bought some Flex Seal Liquid Rubber (as seen on TV) so they could repair the used truck bed liner they purchased for their 2016 double cab Ford 2500.

The blue ribbon on Betty’s jumper? It was there when they left the house. She’d taken first place in the “Happy to be Scrappy” Ladies of the Lakes Quilters Triennial Quilt Show held at Kingswood High School in Wolfeboro that weekend.

And Hank made sure everyone in the Mall of New Hampshire knew it.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)