Dear Readers,

This week’s Ask Carolyn deals with the story of stone soup and provides more information for someone who has written Ask Carolyn several times.



Dear Carolyn,

I love my husband, but he is making an annoying comment that is upsetting our family at this holiday of Thanksgiving. We have a cat. My children and I love the cat. My husband calls the cat PITA, for Pain-in-the-a**. The cat’s name is officially Angel. Yesterday, he threatened to deep-fry the cat for Thanksgiving. While he was joking, this caused one of the children to cry. He has never hurt the cat, and I do not believe he will. How do I stop my husband from such strange comments? How do I teach my children sharing for Thanksgiving? Do you have any suggestions?


Carolyn Answers …

Hmmm. You should talk to your husband privately about making jokes about Angel. He has to stop. These statements are inappropriate. Point out to him how he is upsetting your children when he makes threats to Angel the cat, however unintentional the threats are.

I would warn you that animal cruelty is a sign to worry about domestic violence. I am assuming your husband just has a smart mouth and he is joking in an inappropriate way. Watch for any indications of abuse.

You ask about sharing, and the sharing lesson should distract from the statements about the cat, Angel. Teach your children this Thanksgiving about stone soup. Maybe even make stone soup as a family activity.

Stone soup is a story about community giving. Some unknown travelers rest at a village from yesteryear. The travelers arrive at the village with only a cooking pot and a nap sack on their backs. They go to the river to fetch water for the cooking pot and find a stone and put the stone in the pot.

The fire under the pot caught the attention of the villagers, who approached with interest and inquiry. The travelers replied: “We are making delicious stone soup, but we would be delighted to share if you have a garnish for our soup.”

The villager says: “I have carrots for the soup.” So, the carrots were added to the soup. Another villager is attracted to the fire and the pot. The traveler stirring the pot says: “Our soup has not reached its full potential.” That villager puts seasoning in the soup.

One by one, villagers add this and that to the soup, until the amazing, nutritious and delicious soup is shared by the entire village. So, while the travelers tricked the village into providing the food, the story is wonderful and transformative of sharing at Thanksgiving.

There are variations of stone soup in many, many countries – from stories about soldiers returning home from war with nothing to eat or “nail soup” from Scandinavia, with a main character of a tramp seeking food and lodging.

You could make a play out of the stone soup story. Assign one child the role of the gypsy. Give another the role with the carrots. Ask your husband to carry the onions to the pot. The cat, Angel, does not go in the pot. Make some soup and share with someone less fortunate than you.



Dear Carolyn,

I was stabbed 17 times when I was younger, and this incident at a convenience store has left me scared in more ways than one. I have written you before about my case. Now my own attorney is trying to make me sell my house. What can I do?

My judgment says: “plaintiff either shall have (a) refinanced the property at XXXX Street, and shall have defendant’s name completely removed from the mortgage, deed of trust, and promissory note thereon, or (b) shall have sold the property at XXX Street with the outstanding balance on the Mortgage paid in full out of the sales proceeds.”

I am disabled. What can I do? Do I have to list my house with a Realtor?

My ex made away with $80,000 of our marital money.


Carolyn Answers …

I researched your situation, and I have some research yet to do into whether there are home mortgage refinancing opportunities for your situation under federal law. I will report later on this when I know more. There are two programs you should explore: Fannie Mae Community HomeChoice program and Habitat for Humanity (they have programs other than the houses they build). You should go to the Social Security office and make sure you are getting your maximum available Social Security. You have adult children according to your court file. Would any of them co-sign with you for a loan? Could you get a roommate, and then use the rental income for additional income to qualify for the refinancing? We need to explore all options for you.

For now, I can say that your order does not seem to require a listing with a Realtor, which is expensive, particularly for you. The commission might be six percent of the sales price. The order says nothing about the method of selling. Lots of people sell their homes themselves. So you might put a “for sale by owner” sign in your yard with your phone number. You also might advertise for a renter to help with your income in requalifying.

The order is also silent on the sales price, so you can set your price. At some point, a judge may establish a reasonable price, but the value to you may be in excess of the value according to an appraiser.

You also might look for a private lender to finance. Looking to your kids as either co-signers or private lenders makes sense, as you could then someday leave them the property in your will.

In your lawsuit, you dismissed with prejudice to re-filing your claims on the $80,000. That means these claims are done. I am not sure why you did this. Let me know why you did this.



Send your questions on family law and divorce mattter to, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro 27427 or at Ask Carolyn’s comment section at Please do not put identifying information in your questions. “Like” Ask Carolyn on Facebook and follow on Instagram and Twitter at Ask_Carolyn.


Note that answers are intended to provide general legal information and are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by Ask Carolyn.