Monday, July 25, 2011

School Starts...When?!

I got my homeschool packet from our local Board of Education yesterday.  Amongst the paperwork there was a regular county school schedule.  Apparently they are starting school on August 2nd this year.  Yep, August 2nd.  And there's a holiday almost immediately.  Can I just ask, what's up with that?

I'm a little lost here.  I don't understand why schools - who are having trouble with funding anyway - must open so darn early.  That's a full month and a few days before most homeschoolers I know start.  To be frank, we use what I suppose most would call an "old schedule"; which means we start the day after Labor Day, only take the main holidays off, and not two weeks at a time when we do have a break.  We also don't have Teachers' Days, so I suppose that helps, but ultimately we end up having more days that necessary by the time the end of the school year comes around.  And, yes, our school year ends when the brick and mortar schools' do.

August 2nd...it seems much too soon.  I know the argument that parents have to work, and this helps them with "babysitting".  However, I've also talked to plenty of working parents who are frustrated because they have to figure out what to do with their kids when the schools are out on holidays, which appears to be at least once a month.  I'm not even certain about the whole "quantity over quality" argument, either; we go the same amount of days and the children learn what the school system dictates they should know.  I'm confused as to why school must start so early.  Is there a benefit I'm not seeing?  Is it because of unions?  Do the children learn better, work faster, absorb more on this schedule?  I'm not being sarcastic here, because I honestly want to know.  It's been nearly three years since my children have been in the public school system, so I guess I'm a bit out of the loop.

I also want to make one important point: I'm not trying to be snooty or superior.  This is something I truly would like to have illuminated.  I homeschool, and we're happy with that; others prefer private schools (which usually follow the county schedule) and still others prefer the public school system.  I've got no problem with personal choice when it comes the education of children.  After all, we're still free enough to choose what's best for our kids.  However, I'd like to know the logic behind starting school before summer ends, then having a vacation day not even a week into the school year.  The repeating pattern of vacation days, a monthly occurrence, as well as three weeks for the Christmas Holidays, has me flummoxed.  If anyone can clear this up for me, I'd be appreciative.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

You Mean You Weren't Abducted by Aliens??

The title pretty much says it all.  No, I wasn't abducted, though that would have been a sweet excuse.  Nope, it's just been plain old day-to-day disasters which have kept me from updating like I should.  If I went down the list of everything, you'd run away screaming in the other direction.  Seriously.

So summer is here, and the family is on a...I don't want to call it diet, but more "proper eating habits".  I've actually lost more weight than I anticipated, plus feel lots healthier than I have in the past few months (one of those disasters I was speaking of).  The big payoff for it isn't just that I'm not so ill anymore, but my kids are also paying lots more attention to what they're putting in their mouths.  Huzzah!  My sweets addicted son started putting scoops of ice cream back.  My food loving daughter has been chomping down on more veggies than crackers.  Not surprisingly, it seems like their brains are just a little quicker, a little clearer, than they have been.  Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that I'll be able to keep up when we start school again.  Speaking of which...

I agreed to teach a Creative Writing class for our homeschool group.  I've been asked before, but was reluctant since this past school year was our first in the group.  This time around I really had no reasons not to, and plenty of kids who were interested.  I'm excited, but nervous, too.  I know how to teach my own kids, which can be nerve racking upon occasion, but other kids?  Yeah, that's nerve racking on a whole other level.

Now, on a completely different note, I've had some people ask me to start posting a few of my recipes.  Be warned, I am nowhere near a master chef, but I've figured out a few tricks to hiding good stuff in yummy food, plus I've learned how to stretch a penny until it cries.  I'll post some recipes periodically; I'll be sure to put up family favorites first.

I think that covers about everything to this point.  Well, about everything, other than another apology for the long lapse in posting.  Fingers crossed life has calmed down enough now for me to be able to hop on at least once a week.  Twice if something interesting happens!  Have a great week, all, and let me know if there's any particular food you'd like a recipe for.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mab to Mysterious Three Flash Fiction Challenge

I've been a little MIA the past week and a half, but you know, real life and kids and such.  On the up side, their plays were a hit!  And hey, no more scenery painting for yours truly - at least until next year.  But since I've been busy, I haven't had a chance to really do any of Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenges the past two Fridays.  I really wanted to, because they were very interesting, but I didn't have the time let alone the energy.  However, this weeks I'm definitely in for!

His challenge this time is all about interesting fables and fairy tales...of a sort.  We were asked to go to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, the "M" section to be more precise, chose a phrase or name that struck our fancy, then write a Flash Fiction about it.  It took me a while to pick one, but I finally did, and of course it's Norse Mythology.  Gotta love those Vikings!  Don't forget to check out the other entries.  I intend to spend a few days this week enjoying the heck out of what they've come up with, because it's always entertaining.

So, without further adieu, here is my entry for Terriblemind's From Mab to the Mysterious Three Flash Fiction Challenge:

******

* Muninn Memory; one of the two ravens that sit perched on the shoulders of Odin; the other is Hugin (thought). *

He sat on the hard, rounded shoulder, claws dug into giving flesh.  Golden hair rolled in the unseen wind, wrapping thick tendrils around his dark wings.  His master gave him an absent stroke, dislodging the blond strands and focusing his attention on the small lake.  The ripples of water cleared, slowly calming to reveal the sights which he, Muninn, had so recently witnessed.

“These were the warriors,” his master wanted to know.  “These men cried out for me?”

Muninn’s caw rumbled in his throat, mixing with the expanded magic in his chest, until it emerged as a human voice.  “They cried gloriously for Odin.  They battled for the land, and asked for your favor.”

Odin nodded, his brow furrowed with the weight of the truth.  “You bring me their memories, Muninn.”

With that, his master laid a gentle forefinger on his head, and Muninn felt the sudden rush as all the images were pulled from him.  It only took a few moments for Odin to absorb all that the bird had seen.

“I worried for you, my friend.  More than for your brother.”

Muninn tilted his head and eyed the god.  “Hugin has not the nerve.”

Odin smiled, an amused grin of beauty.  “I have given you that curse, Muninn.  Bravery is too akin to stupidity if not used with caution.”

“What caution when they kill themselves?”  Muninn blinked, puzzled by his master’s concern.

“Yes, indeed.”  Another stroke of his feathers, then a long sigh.  “They must fight, or be wiped from the earth.  Strength is what I have given them, cunning is what they have learned, bravery is what they have fashioned.  All these dead will have a place at my table.”

“Then will fight again.”  He momentarily spread is wings, indignant.  “They have blood lust that is never curbed.”

His master laughed, deep and sure.  “Not all, my friend, but without it they would never survive.  What you see has made you too cynical.  Think you of the women, strong in their own way, of the children, pure of heart, of the joyous feasts and passionate songs.”

“They make poetry and then make war.  Killing and pillaging what they praise.”  A shake of his dark head showed disapproval.

“Perhaps I shall give you the soul of a human.  Mayhap I shall conjure you into a great warrior.”

“Rather to be roasted over a fire.”

Odin’s laugh this time was a boom that rolled like thunder.  “Then I shall send you to my table, and you shall feed the hungry horde.”

Muninn cawed, annoyed, understanding the god was teasing, but still perturbed by the idea.  “You would only have my brother, Hugin, for company, and then only thought and not memory.  You would see but forget.”

Odin plucked him from his shoulder, cradling him delicately in his monstrous hands.  “You are too wise, my friend.  Much too wise…or much too brave.”

A sound erupted from below, the call of a horn, the cry of crazed men, the clashing of steel.  It was too loud to be a small skirmish; another bloody battle had begun.  When the god slowly opened his hands, the bird readily stretched his great black wings for flight.

“Bring me their memories, Muninn.”

The reply was a rumbled screech as the bird glided toward the conflict, the sun of Asgard glinted on the tips of his dark feathers.  Behind him the riotous sounds of Valhalla turned to roars of delight as the fallen warriors tumbled out of the doors of the great hall.  More would join them today, and Muninn would gather their memories for his master.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Word Monogamy

So, I've been writing like a crazed woman.  Head bent over laptop, warning sign posted on my door, eyes glazed over and brain in book world.  I tend to write for hours, without going back, without pausing to breathe (okay, maybe I breathe, but I do forget to eat).  But before every writing session, I go back to read what's come before, not necessarily to edit myself, but to get back into the feel of the story so the continuity will continue to flow.

Here's where I found the problem.  I've been falling in love with one particular word every writing session.  What I mean is, I use a word over and over, until you'd think I was married to it.  It's in every second or third paragraph.  It's like I can't let the word go.  But then I get all fickle - which is actually a good thing with this problem - and find a new word to be monogamous with in the next writing jag.  I just can't figure out why.

It's not like I have a limited vocabulary.  Okay, maybe it's that I like to think I don't have a limited vocabulary.  Whatever.  The fact is, I know at least four different variations of the word blue.  I can recite them right now.  So why do I become obsessed with the word blue?  Other, more complicated and less complicated words, like independent, or secrecy, or, heck, even hard, have been subjected to my constant keyboard abuse.  There are other ways to say it, but my brain just latches on like a rat terrier and won't ease off the jugular.

I'm beginning to suspect it's because I become so focused on all those other words that I have this word monogamy problem.  My mind says, "Hey, if I gotta work so darn hard on all this other stuff, then you've got to let me glitch and burp on something."  And without conscious thought, it randomly chooses a word and that's that, at least for the few hours I'm hunkered down over the bright glow of the monitor.  I suppose it could be worse.  At least I have a thesaurus handy.  Plus I can probably tell you the origins of the word extraordinary, not to mention spout out several synonyms.  Does that make me a grammar geek?  I thought so.

Anybody else have this word monogamy issue?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

And I'm Still Alive

Yeah, if you've played Portal you're cursing me about now.  That song will be in your head all night.  You're welcome.  Anyway, I'm not just posting to torture you.  I'm actually on to say hello, and to wish all of you a happy belated Easter or Passover or Non-Denominational Spring Holiday!  Don't you love P.C.?

This week, Chuck over at Terribleminds has a very interesting challenge going on, though I'm not 100% certain I'll be doing it this week.  Lots going on, including being head first in a writing jag (yay, writing jags!).  Not to mention, guess whose daughter will be waking her at 4 am on Friday to watch a little wedding going on in England?  Ah, well, I suppose I did the same thing to my poor mom when I was my little girl's age, but for Charles and Diana.  It'll be a strange circle around to an odd closure...sort of...maybe.  We'll see.

Speaking of Portal (you're still singing it, aren't you?), Portal 2 is out.  I'm actually looking forward to it, especially since I'm a big supporter of little-things-that-could.  Portal was only meant to be a little "crash course" type of game, stuck to a bigger game, in order to show off the very cool graphics and abilities that the creators had discovered/made.  And look what happened.  A sleeper hit!  I would say cult classic, but it's pretty much permeated popular culture, so not so much cult but more classic.  Hopefully I'll be out of the pool of 65k words (that's my goal) soon so I can play the game, before everyone and their mothers and aunts leak out spoilers.  Yeah, it could take me a while to surface.  Lucky for my kids and hubby I know how to set alarms, so no one starves and mini-us'es are (surprisingly) educated by yours truly.

Um, yeah, so that's it.  Just a little tag to say hi, and see how everyone is doing.  Maybe I'll actually try that Three Sentence Challenge over at Terribleminds.  It would indeed be a challenge for someone who doesn't just talk way too much, but writes too many words, as well.  Oh, you should go over and check it out.  Brilliant, I tell you.  These people are brilliant.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Random Word Flash Fiction

It's time again, boys and girls, for Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction!  This time it was a little different.  Seems he found an interesting word generator and decided to use it for this week's challenge.  We had five random words to use in our story: Figure, Dusk, Flirt, Mobile Phone, and Wig.  We can use them any way we want to, whether slang or actual definition, and we can use a form of the word, like cell phone for mobile phone.  This one took me a little while to formulate, but I've posted the image that really kick-started the short story I wrote.  It's much fluffier than my last one, so don't expect anything heavy.  Still, I hope you enjoy it.

Here's my entry for the Random Five Word Flash Fiction Challenge, in 1,000 words or less (it's actually 941).
******
Caroline stared down at her cell phone and cursed.  Ben had said he would be here, right in front of the brick wall with the vintage hand painted Coca-Cola advertisement.  He was almost forty minutes late, and dusk was beginning to set in.  How long was she supposed to wait for him?

She heard a moan come from behind her and sighed.  Either someone was getting lucky in the parking lot, or the zombie apocalypse had begun.  In her current mood, she couldn’t decide which she’d prefer.

She checked her cell again, saw another minute had passed, and tried not to be irritated.  Ben was notoriously late, but his other qualities tended to balance that out.  Sure, he would probably be late to his own funeral, but he was funny, smart, had amazing eyes, and even more amazing rear, liked Simon Pegg, and wasn’t put off by her affinity for vintage advertising art, like the Coke sign.  But his tardiness did get old at times.  Especially those times when she started to wig out because she was afraid something had happened to him.  Like now.  Because her imagination was way too vivid, it flirted with wild ideas like car accidents, muggings, holes opening up to swallow him down to the world of dinosaurs in the center of the earth.

Caroline shook her head.  She wasn’t going to think like that.  It only made her feel like an idiot when he showed up, usually racing around a corner, mostly out of breath, full of apologies.

She was about to call him when she heard a sharp whistle.  A sharp whistle that sounded remarkably like Ben’s.  Wrinkling her brow, she turned to look first right, then left, nearly looked behind before she remembered the moaning couple.  The sound came again, as if floating down from the roof tops.  But that wasn’t possible…unless….

She looked up, directly across the street, and saw a figure standing on top of the three story granite building.  She craned her neck, squinted her eyes, and saw the outline of a familiar man.

“What are you doing?” she called, completely baffled, slightly miffed, and very amused.

Ben waved to her and yelled back in a voice that betrayed his smile.  “Wait right there!”

She cocked an eyebrow and crossed her arms over her chest, but did as he’d asked.  This, she decide, ought to be good.

She heard the sound of material unraveling, and a split second later saw a giant image on canvas flutter down the wall where Ben had been standing.  She immediately recognized the advertisement; it was a 1940’s magazine ad for Chesterfield Cigarettes, but it was slightly altered.

Instead of the fresh face of the model, Caroline’s face had been drawn in.  She was holding a cigarette case; the wording above read “ – and it’s Always Ben and Caroline for keeps”, with their names substituted for the simple “ABC” Chesterfield had used.  The cigarette case itself had the requisite “ABC” carved in the top, but the small cigarette packets were replaced with images of wedding bands peeking out of velvet boxes. 

The boldest part of the ad, the words printed brightly across the bottom, had her blinking, her mouth hanging open, closing, opening again.  What should have said “Always Buy Chesterfields” had been replaced with “Marry Me Caroline”.  The tilted card again read “Always Ben and Caroline”, completely ignoring what was originally printed there.  And finally, the smaller script across the very bottom had been replaced by “The Right Combination of the World’s Best Love…Marry Me”.

She put her hand to her throat, felt hysterical giggles and breath taking excitement mix.  Her eyes filled with tears as she gasped for air.  Behind her, the moaning couple finally emerged.  The woman, a leggy redhead, paused to read the sign.  She turned to the brutish man standing beside her and elbowed him in the gut.

“Now that’s how you propose to a lady.”

“Figures some other guy would find a better way,” the man sighed.  “Don’t get your wig all twisted, sweetheart.  You know I love you.”

“Yeah, yeah.”  But the redhead linked her arm through his and the couple strolled away, her stilettos clicking along the sidewalk as they went.

By the time she was left alone, Caroline had managed to gulp in enough oxygen to keep from fainting.  Then she saw Ben’s figure appear across the way, watched as he jogged to her, the purple light of dusk a halo around his dark blond hair.

He was grinning like a maniac when he reached her.  “Forgive me for being a little late?”

“Ben, when did you…how did you…”  How was she supposed to form a sentence?

He laughed and pulled her into his arms.  “I wanted to surprise you.  I love you, Caroline.  Have since the night I tried to flirt with you at that modern art exhibit.”

“It was a terrible show.  Except for you.”  She snuggled closer, smiled.  “Your pick-up lines were terrible.”

“Yeah, they were, but I made you laugh, which was the whole purpose.”  He pulled back, rested his hands on her shoulders, and stared down at her.  “Marry me, Caroline?”

“Will you be late to the wedding?”

He shrugged.  “Of course.”

Caroline smiled and shook her head at his honesty.  “In that case, I’ll be sure to tell you the wedding is an hour earlier than it actually is.  That way you’ll be on time.”

Ben whooped and scooped her up, spinning her around as she threw her head back and laughed.  He might be habitually late, she thought, but the man sure knew how to make up for it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Who's Down In Whoville

I love Dr. Who.  I watched the series when I was a kid, thanks to PBS, and I was addicted from the first episode.  Okay, I can't quote the dialogue.  But I refuse to believe that makes me any less a Whovian.  And, yeah, I actually know that's what Dr. Who fans are called.  I'm such a geek.

All over the world, we're counting down to the Easter start of Dr. Who.  New baddies, old baddies revisited, new places, people, and time.  I can't wait!  It's like torture waiting for the new episodes, especially when you consider the last one was the Christmas special, and before that it ended in June.  That's practically a year!  Okay, more like ten months, if we don't count the December episode (what a tease!), and the waiting is so hard.  Think excruciating.

So, in celebration of the upcoming Dr. Who series (as they call seasons in Britain), we started watching Dr. Who (the new ones) from the first episode.  What's so great about the show is we can watch it with our kids.  It's just scary enough to satisfy the "yikes!" factor one likes, and sci-fi/fantasy enough to satisfy the other.  It's a great compromise for my family, since our kids are old enough to watch more adult style shows, but are still too young for a majority of prime time television.

Anyway, I'll stop sounding like a reviewer and go back to fan girl.  Dr. Who is coming!!!!  Just thirteen days until we get to see The Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory, and the Tardis, and River Song!  Yippee!!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Flash Fiction The Cocktail

Yes, it is time once again for another installment of Flash Fiction, thanks to Chuck at Terribleminds.  He makes them so interesting, it's hard to say no.  This weeks challenge is all about The Cocktail.  Ah, liquor!  He asked for us to create a story using the name of a cocktail as the basis; oh, and it couldn't be more than 500 words.  So it was definitely a challenge for me.  This one is a little darker than my last couple of Flash Fictions, but hopefully you'll still enjoy it.  And you'll definitely want to hop over and read the other entries; they are terrific, as usual.

I won't tell you which drink I chose.  You'll find that out at the end.  And as an added bonus, you'll find the recipe for the cocktail I used after the story.  
********
“He’s dead, Jim.”

They never got tired of that line.  “Yeah, I’m a doctor not a street sweeper.  Ha freakin’ ha.”

The man in the black trench coat chuckled.  “Bet you hear that a lot.”

Turning, Jim stared at the body sprawled in the alleyway.  “Why this one?”

Trench Coat raised an eyebrow.  “All the years you’ve been doing this, and you still want to know?”

“Got a right to know.”  He shrugged.  “Like to know what I’m working with.”

A long sigh.  “Not a nice guy, this one, but brilliant.  Writes mathematical theories, has an idea about folding space and time.  Interstellar travel.”

“Will it happen?”

“Could.”

The drizzle became rain, hazing over the distant orange of streetlights.  Jim studied the gangly corpse before crouching down to see the face.  Twenty-something, sharp cheekbones, buggy eyes, wire glasses, crooked nose with a slanted look.  His skin was losing the flush of life.  He stank of alcohol, vomit, excretions.  A kid, supposedly worth the risk, maybe a world changer.  He’d seen too many of them fail, even with another chance.

Trench Coat shuffled in a puddle.  “Get to it, doc.”

Jim grunted.  “Yeah, sure.”

He grasped the shoulders, heaved the body over, looked into the dull hue of blue irises.  He took the jaw into his hand, forced the mouth open, tried not to gag at the stench.  One deep breath…he leaned closer, parted his lips, breathed out.

Tingling started in his scalp, traveled along his neck, spread like bubbling water to his throat, torso, feet.  Energy searched for escape.  It found its way from Jim, surging in blue pulses, rushing into the inert body.  Jim’s world grayed, shimmered, slammed back in a hard squall of reality, his signal to tear away.

The body jerked, muscles taut, the heart kick-started.  Jim rocked back, covered his eyes with his palms, pressed them against the sockets, reached for equilibrium.  He ignored the scuttle-scrape of Trench Coat, the slosh of the revival in the gutter.  Pull the energy back, rebuild one pulse at a time, store it for the next call.

“Wh…where…?”  Hoarse, confused, reeking.

“You’ll be all right.”  Trench Coat knelt beside them.  “Here, let me help you up.”

Standing, thanks, leaving all happened in a staccato deception.  The boy would be used because of possibilities, enslaved by the signature of the thing that had saved him.

“See ya around, doc.”

Scoffing laughter, a head shake of denial.  “I’m not a doctor.”

A snort of derision, shuffling of hard soles over wet pavement.  Then he was abandoned, left alone to renew his depletion.  He hated the miracle, hated his absorption of the experiment he’d agreed to.  A handful of them as saviors; so noble, so righteous, so wrong.  Recover the lost; some went crazy, some screamed to get back.  Some didn’t remember.  Those were the scariest.

He wanted his life back; girlfriend, friends, career…but he’d given them up.  What he’d said was true; he wasn’t a doctor anymore.  He was a corpse reviver.

**********

The Corpse Reviver is actually a cocktail that's been around for quite a while.  Here’s a little more detail about the origins of this drink.  After I read exactly what this cocktail is supposed to do, and how it was/is used, I was pleasantly surprised to realized just how well the drink fit in with the story that was forming in my head.  The site is also where I found the recipe roundup of both the original Corpse Reviver as well as the Corpse Reviver 2.  Yep, it was so good they made another one.  Enjoy!

To make a Corpse Reviver, you’ll need:
  • 1 ½ ounce brandy or Cognac (for recipe 1)
  • ¾ ounce apple brandy or Calvados (for recipe 1)
  • ¾ ounce sweet vermouth (for recipe 1)
  • 1 ounce gin (for recipe 2)
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau (for recipe 2)
  • 1/2 ounce Lillet Blonde (for recipe 2)
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice (for recipe 2)
  • Dash of Absente or Absinthe (for recipe 2) (optional)
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Cocktail glass
  • A stirrer (for recipe 1)
  • 1 cup ice
  • Maraschino cherry (optional)
  1. Before you make a Corpse Reviver, decide which recipe to use. Harry Craddock’s “The Savoy Cocktail Book” dubbed the two recipes that have survived as #1 and #2, and that’s how bartenders commonly refer to them today. While the first recipe is considered less popular than the second, both recipes make powerful, balanced cocktails. Choose the one that best suits your mood–or the one that sounds least nauseating when you have to prepare it.
  2. To make a Corpse Reviver #1, chill a cocktail glass. Combine 1 ½ ounces of brandy, ¾ ounce of apple brandy, and 3/4 ounce of sweet vermouth in a cocktail shaker. Add 1 cup of ice, stir the Corpse Reviver with a stirrer for at least 30 seconds. When it’s cold, strain it into the cocktail glass and serve it immediately.
  3. To make Corpse Reviver that’s a bit more potent, make a Corpse Reviver #2. In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 ounce of gin, 1/2 ounce of Cointreau, ½ ounce of Lillet Blanc, ¾ ounce lemon juice, a dash of absinthe (if you have it on hand), and 1 cup of ice. Place the lid on the shaker and vigorously shake the mixture for about 30 seconds, until it is well chilled. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass and garnish it with a maraschino cherry. Serve your Corpse Reviver cold.
  4. Feel free to experiment to make your own Corpse Reviver. This family of drinks used to include innumerable variations that didn’t stand the test of time. Since any hard and fast rules also died out, make your own Corpse Reviver using any concoction of liquors or liqueurs that make you feel a little more alive the morning after.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Unexplainable Explained Flash Fiction

Yep, it's time for another Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge, and this one was hard to choose.  He asked that we go here, take a look at the pictures, and then choose one to write a short fiction about.  I chose #15, because the story of it just jumped right out at me.  I hope you enjoy it!  And don't forget to go over and check out some of the other excellent entries, cause they're all going to be totally unique.
********


“I figured out a way to make the money.”

She stopped stirring her coffee and stared at her friend.  “I told you I wouldn’t be a part of anything illegal.”

He grinned devilishly, his blue eyes bright.  “It’s not illegal.”

“Good, because if we’re going to open our own shop I refuse to use dirty money.”

Trent shook his head and leaned in closer, blocking out the rest of the patrons in the coffee shop.  “It won’t be dirty, I swear.  You never trust me, Rachel.”

“I did once…and only once.  Then I had to wake Jake up to come bail us out.”

“He’s a very understanding fiancĂ©.”

“With a good sense of humor, lucky for me since he thought the naked car dancing stunt was hilarious.”

Trent waved his hand dismissively.  “I was the one who was naked.”

Rachel snorted.  “I was the one holding the camera filming it.  Nothing else that’s illegal, got it?”

He sighed and leaned back.  “If I promised on a stack of every religious text available, would you believe me?”

She raised an eyebrow.  “Maybe.”

A couple walked by, absorbed in each other, laughing like giddy larks, bumping into their table as they maneuvered toward the door.  The man gave a negligent apology over his shoulder; Trent turned his head away from Rachel with a smile and faced the couple.  She didn’t see what he did, but there was a sudden moment of shocked silence as the two stared, seemingly dumbfounded, at Trent.  Then the pair burst into raucous laughter.

“I think we’ll head over to the museum,” the man said, cuddling his date closer as they hurried out.

Rachel slanted her eyes in suspicion.  “And just what exactly was that about?”

Mischief covered her friend’s face as he shrugged.  “Oh, nothing.  Just the brilliant way I’m making the rest of the money.”

“I shouldn’t ask.  I’m not sure if I want to know.”

He sipped his coffee leisurely, watching her over the brim of his cup.  He had that look again, the one that screamed trouble.  She let out a long breath of defeat.

“I have to know.  What did you do, Trent?”

He tilted his head, catching the rays of the spring sun that danced through the picture window, and opened his mouth.  But instead of rolling out words, he rolled out his tongue.  She blinked, stared, leaned up, blinked, squinted.

There, on his tongue, was a picture of the Mona Lisa.  There was no denying the image that was splayed across the tender flesh.  Her first thought should have been how horrible a tattoo on that particular area had hurt him; instead she thought of the museum and their much touted Vincent van Gough exhibit.

“You…what did you…how did you…”  She clicked her mouth closed and shook her head.

Trent pulled his tongue back in and chuckled.  “Don’t worry, it’s not permanent.  I have a whole sheet of these, all of them with a van Gough work on it.  I put it on in the morning, and by the time I go to bed it’s faded off.”

“Wait…why?”

“The museum is paying me.  I sold my body for advertisement.  Brilliant, right?”  He looked like a cat who’d had some particularly tasty cream.

She couldn’t deny he was right.  It actually was a brilliant idea.  Plus it wasn’t illegal.  Rachel’s laughter started soft and gentle, then slowly rose into a near hysterical sound.  Holding her stomach, she ignored the rest of the patrons staring at her, then laughed even harder when Trent stuck out his tongue and wagged it around.  A moment later the rest of the coffee shop was filled with merriment, the sound skipping out the door and into the street.

“So…what do you think?” Trent asked over the cacophony of laughter.

“I think,” she gasped, “that the museum is getting a bargain.  Just promise me you won’t rent out your X-rated parts.”

He didn’t reply; he slowly tilted his lips into a wicked smile and sat back to sip his drink.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Oh, Medical Crime Dramas, I Want To Love You

Show, we need to talk.  I just watched you, and I did so because I love Dana Delaney.  She's just one of those actresses who can take a small moment and make into something so personally intense, you feel like a voyeur.  But what I want to talk about isn't Dana Delaney, but her character; and not just her character, but all the M.E.s and C.S.U.s, etc. that are flashing across millions of screens right now.  Because frankly...it all feels terribly wrong.  And you're one of the culprits.

All right, show, I'm willing to give you some poetic license.  I'm even willing to suspend a huge hunk of reality for television.  Take "Castle" for example; I love that crime-drama-comedy (I'm a Nathan Fillion fan from back in his Firefly days).  I'm open enough to go for the whole "writer shadowing cop to get a feel for his next character".  In fact, I think it's a wonderful thing to showcase a writer actually doing these things so he/she can get a feel for what cops go through, because that translates over to the work.  It's just too bad some television writers don't seem to be doing the same for the medical personnel, including you, show.  (I'm excluding "Castle" because their M.E., Lanie Parish, actually appears to do her job and not everyone elses'.)

Facts are facts, dearest show, and the hard truth is M.E.s do not play detective.  That is not their job.  They do not go out and question suspects.  They do not solve the case all on their own.  Yes, they definitely contribute; their information is key to helping detectives solve crimes.  However, the over glossing, over dramatized medical dramas give a false sense not only of the reality of what it is to be in a C.S.U. or to be an M.E., but it also creates a terrible ripple effect.  You, show, are only adding pebbles to the waves, waves which are called the "C.S.I." effect (any guesses where they got that name?).  Juries think that there is always solid proof; there's undeniable evidence of the bad guy, DNA spread everywhere, security cameras that take pixel perfect images that can be blown up to see reflected faces in car windows.  Really?  Cause you lost me at DNA everywhere, show.  I might give you a few blood spatters, and as I've proven I'm willing to let myself float along in a little bit of fantasy; but please don't insult my intelligence.  I want to like you, medical-crime-thriller-drama show.  Don't make me hate you.  At least try to pretend to infuse the insiest winsiest bit of pseudo-reality into your plot.

Now if you want to see anything close to what a "real" M.E. might do, dear show, then check out N.C.I.S. (the original) and dear Ducky (the character I wish were my uncle).  If you like the British scene, try Midsomer Murders (which is an excellent show in and of itself) and the ever stoic and prosaic Dr. Bullard.

I don't want to put down television writers, or the shows they create (well, okay, some deserve it, but I don't want to lump them all together), or even you, newest medical-crime-thriller-drama.  TV is a fantasy world.  I get that; most people do.  However, being a writer I just want to bash my head into the floor when I see plot bunnies running like wild llamas all over your script.  Trying for some reality in the words and actions of the characters can only help; make at least some of it believable - and not just the tongue twisting medical jargon.  It can be done.  I've seen it happen.  And if you can't do that, then don't be a medical-thriller-drama that has their medical staff solve crimes for the police.  There are plenty of excellent medical dramas that don't: House, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, ER, St. Elsewhere, and that's just to name a few.  Even canceled ones, like "Leaving LA" (just a few episodes, but if you haven't seen it, you must!) are prime examples of medical dramas done beautifully.  And some of them, really most of them, have the whole "solve the mystery of X's death/deadly medical issue" written in, so you don't even have to abandoned your beloved "thriller" or "crime" undertones, show.  As a matter of fact, "Leaving LA" is actually set in a Coroner's Office.

Okay show, I realize you're already airing.  I know you can't change stream midcourse (even if you're paddling toward a waterfall, which is actually harder to steer away from).  But isn't it possible to fuse some of these past, much prized medical shows' magic into your story?  I think it is.  I really, really do.  And I think there's got to be someone out there who can do it, because I believe you deserve at least a small chance to live past five episodes, show.  Mainly because of Dana Delaney...but still, you deserve it.  And the viewers deserve it, too.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Flash Fiction The Portrait

So, it hasn't even been a week since I posted the last Flash Fiction, but I was really late getting the last one in.  Not so this time!  Yes, Chuck at Terrbileminds is at it again, putting up an all too interesting challenging that most of us couldn't resist.  He posted this picture and asked everyone to write a story, whatever it might be, that fit the portrait.  You should go over, check out some of the other stories, and leave comments.  The writers are just amazing.  As soon as I post this, I'm heading back to read some more!

But before you go, I hope you'll enjoy my little entry in The Portrait Flash Fiction challenge:
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“And here we have our most intriguing display.”  The plump, gray haired woman stopped in front of a spindle legged table which stood in the middle of the traditional southern sitting room.  “As you can see, this portrait is quite old.  Though there isn’t a date on the image itself, experts have estimated that this picture was taken between 1840 and 1850.”

I stared at the sepia image of the man in the oval frame, which was carefully protected by a thick glass box.  It was surrounded by miniature skeletons, probably made in Taiwan, I thought with a sigh, but I supposed they gave the display the creepy feel that the D’Arnoult House advertised.

“Who…who is he?”  The tiny man with a bald spot scooted closer and aimed his camera.

The tour guide gave a wide smile and lowered her voice, as if she were sharing a great, dark secret.  “Some say he was the lover of Mrs. Francois D’Arnoult.  Supposedly he was a handsome young man, educated, but from a working class family.  It’s said he swept the young D’Arnoult bride off her feet, and they fell madly in love with each other.  When her husband, Mr. D’Arnoult, found out, he used his influence within the more…unsavory parts of the community to curse him.  He took this picture and kept it displayed so his wife could see it every day to remind her of what would happen should she stray again.”

A wide eyed young lady fluttered a hand at her chest and asked, “But what happened to him?  The young man, I mean.”

“No one knows for sure.  Some say he was taken in by the very woman who cursed him.  Some say he ran off into the swamp and was killed.  Still others say he snuck back here one night, where he committed suicide in the carriage house.”  The older woman leaned in, her face full of the joy of the macabre.  “Whatever happened, many of our visitors swear they still see him on these very grounds, searching for the woman he loves.”

That elicited romantic sighs from some, skeptic chuckles from others, but all seemed to enjoy the story.  I kept my mouth tight, rolling my lips together to keep from speaking.  As the tour guide ushered the group out of the small drawing room and into the study, I stayed behind.  When I was completely alone I stepped closer to the picture, my heart pounding with too many emotions to name.

“Hello, Grandfather Fossier.”  My words were soft, a prayer spoken in the sanctity of the tiny room.

He didn’t speak back, only stared at me with sightless eyes.  Still, I felt as if he were there, watching, relieved to be recognized at long last.  My great-great grandfather.  The missing link of my genealogy.  The man who’d only been a first name for too many generations.  Here he was, finally, in one of the only two images that survived of him.

The protrusions on his face were like bone spikes; the jagged teeth and hugely yawning jaw were sadly terrifying.  Some mutated form of Exostoses?  A curse from a Voodoo Priestess?  No one knew; likely no one would ever find out.  It had never occurred again in our family history. 

I had been researching my family history two years before and had come across the name Phillipe, no surname; it had intrigued me.  No one had heard of him, not my mother or uncles or aunts.  I searched family and public records, and as the days turned into weeks, and weeks to months, I was frustrated and not a little angry with the blank results.  Then I found two clues.  First was an entry in my great grandmother’s diary written on the night before her wedding.  She spoke of her real father coming to see her, a man who wore a low brimmed hat and scarf surrounding his face.  He told her she was as beautiful as her mother, and was glad the Fossier curse hadn’t touched her.  The next day I closeted myself in my mother’s attic and began digging through all the old family keepsakes.  And there they were, a small pile of ribbon tied letters, carefully preserved in a sealed bag, wrapped tenderly in a vintage wedding dress.  Obviously my grandmother had found these, but had never revealed any of the truth.

With a surname as well as a town name, I searched again.  It wasn’t so hard this time; there were very few records of my great-great grandfather.  His birth record in Baton Rouge; his death record in New Orleans.  He had never served in the Civil War.  Most likely they would never have taken him.  There was no record of employment, no records of medical care, no records of marriage or children.

I knew he had been truly happy once, when he’d been in love with my Great-Great Grandmother Sophia.  The tour guide’s story was a twisted version of the truth, of which I knew the real answers.  Sophia and Phillipe had been lovers, she from an influential family, he from a poor one.  When she found herself pregnant, Phillipe had known she couldn’t be with him, and so he had walked away after making plans with the gracious and rich Monsieur D’Arnoult, whom had been Phillipe’s patron.  D’Arnoult had married Sophia knowing she was carrying Phillipe’s child.  And Francois had loved that child as his own, just as he’d cared for both Sophia and Phillipe.  There had been no curse.  There had been no torrid adultery.  There had only been love and friendship, and, many generations later, my children had come from that.  Because of their sacrifice, I felt it was only right to abide by their wishes.  I would keep their secret.  But I would visit, and when my children were old enough, I would share the story with them.

I kissed my fingertips, rested them for a moment on the glass display.  “Thank you grandfather.  I’ll come back next week.”

I left the old antebellum house quietly, holding myself a little straighter, a little prouder, as I shut the door on the chattering of the tour guide.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Flash Fiction Pulp Babies

Yes, you read that correctly.  This week's flash fiction is all about pulp, noir, detective, adventure...babies!  Chuck at Terribleminds put forth this challenge, and I'm coming in just under the wire.  It's been a busy week. But I just had to do this; oh, and do yourself a favor and head over to read all the terrific entries.  They are superb!  So, for all of you, here is my Baby Pulp Fiction (no working title, sorry):
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It was the usual Tuesday afternoon.  Hot, sunny, the mommy-broads chattering like birds as they sat on the hard green benches.  The other lugs sat around the sandbox, jabbering and blabbering about nappies and pacifiers and when they were gonna score their next gummy snack.  It was hard listening to them; I’d kicked the gummies to the curb weeks ago, but just thinking about them made my hands shake.  I should have listened to my doctor when he said the sugar was poison.

I was trying to think of something else when I saw her.  Big blue eyes, curls of blond hair, plump gams that let a man know she wasn’t afraid to walk on her own…and all over your heart.  Her pink jumper was expensive and classy; no smears of peas or juice on the pristine material.  She scanned the park, turned her nose up, and sashayed away.  Pretty but high maintenance; too posh for the likes of me, but nice to look at.  I’d sworn off women the same day I swore off the poison.  Both would kill you quicker than you could breathe.

“Sammy…Sammy…”

Her sweet voice made me look up.  There she stood, little Daisy, all doe eyes, pigtails, and red dress.  I liked Daisy.  She was a good dame, too nice for her own good.  I pulled my pacifier from my pocket and chewed on it.

“Sammy, I need help.”

“I don’t go in for that anymore, Daisy.  Not since…”  I couldn’t speak of the clown incident.  It was still too painful.

Her eyes filled with tears and she sniffled her little nose.  “But Paddy’s gone!”

The desperation was hard to hear.  Harder to ignore.  “What’d ya mean, gone?”

“Kidnapped!  Oh, Sammy, someone took him and left me this note.”

She shoved a paper at me.  The thing was lousy with purple crayon and pointy hearts.  It was a hideous warning I wanted to ignore.  But I knew Paddy; he’d helped me through hard times, held my hand when some scum lug had whacked a swing into my head.  I couldn’t walk away.

I put my pacifier back into my pocket.  “All right, Daisy.  When’s the last time you saw – “

Benny ambled up, a wide bully with a big mouth.  “Hi ya, cutie.  Wanna come see my sandcastle?”

Daisy stomped on his foot.  She didn’t mind a little retaliation; I liked that about her.  “You’re a brute, Benny.  Go stuff your sandcastle!”

I almost laughed.  “Amscray, Ben.”

He sneered, but steered away, aiming himself for the new girl.  Good luck, I thought, and turned back to Daisy.

“So, when’d ya get the note?”

“It was in my car seat this morning.  Oh, Sammy, you don’t think they’d hurt him?” 

The last thing I needed was a nervous dame.  “They won’t pop him.”  At least not yet.  “You seen anyone out of the ordinary at your house?  Anyone hanging out?”

She shook her head.  “Nothing.”

“You go any place you don’t usually?”  Lots of times people left their things behind when they were excited.

“The grocery store…cleaners…Benny’s place on Wednesday – “

That perked up the peepers.  “Benny’s?  Why’d you go there?  You didn’t go to score gummies, did ya?”

She glared at me.  “I don’t need bootlegged poison, Sammy.  Mommy keeps raisins for me.  We dropped off a cake for his daddy’s birthday.”

I snorted.  “Fine, you didn’t go for poison.  Did you take Paddy in?”

“No, I left him in the car.  I was afraid he’d hurt him, and Paddy’s just a little bear.”

I nodded; Paddy was a sweet puluka who wouldn’t hurt a fly.  “Did you see him after that?”

“Well…I…no.”  Her eyes got even bigger.  “You don’t think Benny…but he was inside the whole time!”

I didn’t want to do it, but I knew I had to talk to the blockhead.  I toddled over to him, rolled my eyes when I heard him making a play for blondie.  She tossed her hair and stuck her chin up.

“Benny, I gotta question for ya.”

He turned and sneered.  “What’d ya want, Sam?  Can’t you see I’m busy?”

“Yeah, sure.”  The blonde wrinkled her nose at me.  “Anything strange happen in your neighborhood this week?”

Benny swung his pacifier on its chord and tried to look tough.  “Depends on what you mean by strange.  The boy next door got himself a dame.  With all those pimples it seems strange to me he’d get a girl.”

“Anything else?  Anything actually helpful.”

He shrugged.  “Same as always.  Except Ruby here; she moved in this week.  Tuesday, wasn’t it doll.”

She twisted a curl around her finger.  “Yeah, what about it?”

I looked at her, saw the heart clips in her hair, and got suspicious.  “Mind if I see your hands?”

She gave me a pout but stuck out her chubby fingers.  It was exactly what I thought.  I stared at her and she snatched her hands back.

“Your stuff still packed up?” 

Ruby stomped her foot.  “What’s it to you?”

I nodded and pulled my pacifier out of my pocket.  “You got something still tucked in a box, sweetheart?  Maybe a stuffed animal?”

She gasped.  “It’s none of your business, you big mook!”

“Don’t have many friends, do ya?”  I chomped on the plastic nub of my pacifier for a moment.  “Didn’t have many before.  That’s why you took Paddy.  You saw an opportunity to have a bear to snuggle until you got yours, and another to force someone to play with you.”

Ruby fell on her diapered bottom and began to sob.  I didn’t need to hear the confession.  The purple crayon under her fingernails said it all.  Benny stared at me, then at Ruby, then back at me.

“She took Daisy’s bear, tried to use him to make Daisy play with her.” 

“Please…please don’t tell my mommy!”  She wailed so loud the mommy-broads began running over to us.

“Just bring the bear to the Jumpy Palace for our play day tomorrow, and we can forget about it.”  I turned to leave, but before the mommy-broads reached us I decided to give her a piece of advice.  “You wanna make friends around here, sweetheart, apologize.”

As the mommy-broads bent down to cuddle Ruby and Benny I toddled back to Daisy to give her the good news.  I missed this, the thrill of discovery, the sweet smile of relief.  Maybe someday I’d be able to get past the clown incident.  For now I was happy to know Paddy would be back home by tomorrow night.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Isn't There Something In Between?

I went shopping with my daughter yesterday.  She's not quite reached her double digit years, but she's always been quite the fashionista.  Seriously, she has better fashion sense than half the designers in Milan.  But I digress.  We were clothes shopping yesterday, looking for summer stuff, and we went to a famous store.  I'll not name names, but I'll tell you it starts with a T.  So we were at T, and we went straight to the Girl's Section, since that's where we usually go.  We loaded our cart with several outfits and headed to the dressing rooms.  She tried on the clothes...and they didn't quite fit.  Just a little too tight and/or a little too short for her body.

Okay, I thought, it must be time to hit the Junior's Department.  No big deal.  She's always been a big girl (and I don't mean so much chunky as tall and broad...let's just she has my figure, which means Jane Russell is our mentor).  So we go to the Junior's section.  She wasn't at all impressed with the styles, but I told her we should look, because sometimes you can find little gems.  We dug, we scavenged, we flipped through racks; we found nothing.  Let me explain what that means: the clothes (shirts in particular) were V shaped.  And not lower case v, but "V".  And no U, not even a slightly broader bottomed V.  Now, I'm not physiologist, doctor, or dietitian, but it seems to me that girls who are this tiny in the waist can't be that healthy.  Not just tiny in the waist, but huge in the, um, chest area.  I was skinny as a teenager; seriously, I had a small waist.  None of my friends, who were all shapes and sizes, were that small, nor were we proportioned like that.  None of the teenage girls I know right now are shaped like this.  I was horrified and mesmerized.  Was I feeding my daughter wrong?  Was she a mutant?  Or were we the "norm" in a mutant society?  What was going on??

So there I stood in the Junior's Department, my little girl staring at me almost in tears, asking me if she had an okay shape.  Was she fat?  Then this always chipper, bright girl turned gloomy faced and said she hated shopping (yeah, right) and hated clothes (um, not buying it).  All the women reading this will know what she really meant: I hate myself and my body.  I soothed her, immediately told her that she was fine, she's not overweight (if she was her plain spoken doctor would have had no qualms in telling us), and the clothes were just too mature for her.  Plus they were blah looking anyway.  She calmed down, managed a smile, and we left after purchasing only a swimsuit (ironically enough found in the Girl's Department, and it was actually loose). 

We headed to another major retail store, I'll call it ON, and there had a very helpful saleswoman take pity on us.  I probably looked as frazzled as I felt.  She immediately asked if I wanted the clothes to perfectly fit, or be slightly big.  I said bigger, so she told me we might be looking for plus, though she pointed out belts to help keep the shorts up (yep, even she saw my daughter isn't overweight).  She asked if we wanted regular shorts, Bermuda, or Capris, then took us immediately to where we needed to be.  Hooray!  There were no pluses in the shorts, but she had no problem finding the fuller cuts and really made my little one happy by find absolutely adorable Bermuda jean shorts.  When we looked at their shirts, again in what should have been the correct size, it was much, much closer to fitting her, but still a bit too tight.  However, their selection being what it is, we found the perfect compromise: a flowing tank top that hung from her shoulders.

Next year, though, we're not going to have a choice but to hit the Junior's Department again.  I'm not looking forward to it.

What I want to know is why isn't there anything in between little girl and sixteen?  I know I'm not the only one having this problem.  In fact, one of the mother's from my homeschooling group had the same problem with her daughter.  So why is it stores don't have something that bridges the gap between little bodies and maturing bodies?  And it's always been this way.  I had the same problem when I was a girl.  You would think some store somewhere would see the need and jump on it.  We're talking million dollar idea.  Something in between.  Something that can accommodate a tween without forcing them into clothes meant for high school teens.  I'm not even talking about the provocative lines and cuts (though I could certainly get into that).  I'm talking basic shape.  When I can take my daughter into the Boy's Section of T and find a shirt the exact same size of the girl's, and it fits, there's something wrong.

Maybe I'll start my own company once we have the Singer working.  Maybe I'll begin making clothes to fill in the gap that no one is paying attention to.  It might very well be the only way to clothe my daughter for the next few years.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Learning to Sew...On a Singer Machine

So I've been singing the post title to the tune of Tom Petty's "Learning to Fly" all day today. Because we are actually trying to learn how to sew on a Singer. This is something we've talked about doing for a while now; if you have kids, you know that sometimes mending and tweaking clothes can't be avoided. Besides, dh (dear hubby) and I both grew up around women (yes, mostly women) who did a lot of sewing. I still have one relative who is sewing for a living, and she's pretty darn amazing. Delicate, hand crocheted snowflake ornaments? Yep, she can whip those out without thinking. Needles to say, we'd been considering finding a used sewing machine so that we could at least do and learn some basics. I'm not completely helpless; I know how to sew on a button, darn a sock, that sort of thing, but nothing more complicated than the small time.

As luck would have it, a few months ago a friend of the family had a garage sale and dh went over to help do the heavy lifting. Guess what he found? You got it...a Singer sewing machine! They sold it to him for a song (wow, that's a little pun), and he brought it home. He'd been warned that we'd need a new needle, but other than that, the last time it was used it had been fine. So, dh did what he does best, researched the heck out of the needle situation, and we purchased an appropriate one. We sat down in anticipation of using it, thinking of all the things we could do when we figured out the machine. DH plugged it in, spooled the thread, put a piece of cloth under the machine's foot, pressed the pedal...and went a few stitches before it hung up. After much trial and error, and much bunching of thread and gnashing of teeth, we struggled through to make some very crude bean bags for a kids' project. We haven't really managed to do much else with it.

Just a week ago we were talking to a woman in our homeschool group, one who knows way more about these things, and she said she'd had the same problem with her Singer machine. Turns out, it's a dust build up and apparently it's a pretty common issue. Sometimes it can cleaned out, sometimes not; if not, the machine is basically a paperweight. So guess what we're going to be doing in the next few days? We're going to be looking up instructions for how to take the machine apart to clean it, or if it's even possible. Because really, now that we have a sewing machine, we've got so many little ideas in our heads of things we can do - and things that need to be done - that going without one would be difficult. Especially for my poor pants which need another hem.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Way Too Philosiphical Post

So, I'm going to keep this post from being way too sad.  It's March, and in just a couple of days we'll all be sporting green, toasting with Guiness, and maybe even enjoying a parade.  St. Patrick's Day!  Don't forget to have a traditional Irish meal: shepherd's pie, or corn beef with cabbage, or a nice hardy stew.  Geez, I'm making myself hungry!  I actually remember my paternal grandmother making Shepherd's Pie with leftovers; it was so tasty I forgot it was really a cost saving casserole.  I might have to try to recreate it on the 17th.

When you think about it, the world has sort of gone back around in its circle.  We're scrimping and saving, like our grandparents did, mending and making do as they did in the late twenties and early thirties, stretching every penny to the point it bounces like rubber.  My paternal grandmother used to take sugar packets from restaurants, slip them in her purse, and take them home.  She never let food go to waste; it was kin to sacrilege.  My maternal grandmother sewed and knitted and mended everything, so that she could stretch her wardrobe a good two to three years.  Both had gardens and canned anything that could be eaten.  People are Googling Depression Era Recipes now and digging out the sewing machine to help deal.  Because I lived so long with all of my grandparents' ways (which also became my parents' ways), buckling down isn't so strange to me.  It's not so much the old/new way of living, as seeing it all swing back around.  It makes me wonder when the eighties will rear its head again.

So now I've fallen into philosophizing, and I have a feeling if I keep going on it won't end well.  I'll be all dust in the wind, every rose has its thorn, like sands through the hourglass....  This is why my Philosophy Professor always reminded me to keep my answers to four sentences or less.  Have a great rest of the week, enjoy St. Patrick's Day, and maybe go check out Depression Era Recipes on YouTube.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My First Post

So...I don't blog.  Now, pick yourself up off the floor and please try not to laugh.  I don't know why I don't blog.  I've been told that I should.  After all, I write, and every writer is supposed to have a presence on the web, right?  I know this; it only makes sense.  And yet...I don't blog.  I've tried to.  I failed.  But, hey, if you fail then you pick yourself up and try it all again.  At least that's the idea.

Now, why did I decide to try this whole blogging thing just one more time?  Because a Terrible Mind made me do it.  No, seriously, Chuck Wendig over at Terribleminds did something evil...and good.  He posted this picture for his Flash Fiction Challenge, and my brain immediately started formulating a very short story.  While it's not as good as some of the other entries (I loved reading them and enjoyed the different scenarios), it did help me break through a particularly nasty spell of writer's block.

And now, for better or worse, here is my entry (edited to make reading it on the web easier) - which happens to be my first blog post:

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She hated life.  She couldn’t let go.  It was the paradox she couldn’t free herself from.  The street below bent and bowed with life, breathing people in and out of the buildings that lined the busy sidewalks.  Little creatures running from one place to another, never looking up, always looking down, ignoring the very things she desired.  Beauty had had a place here once.  Beauty would have a place here again.  Just not in this endless moment…her moment.
            
 She could feel the gray clouds skitter overhead, tumbling and rolling over each other until the sky was full of their thick, wrestling wisps.  It would rain soon.  The little dots below would become a sea of bumbling black covers, sometimes punctuated by a bright, rebellious hue.  She had been that hue.  She had burned hot and sure.  She had feared the fading.  The fading which never came.

The room grew restless, the bricks along the corner of the building expanding in anticipation of rain.  Her corner room.  Her corner window.  Sometimes they came.  No one stayed.  The paradox shifted, righted, snapped into place.  Hate them, love them, let go of them.  She might remain quiet, but still her visitors could feel the war of animosity and despair.  Felt, but never seen.  Experienced, but never documented.

 If they could only see.  If she could make them.  Her mistake was a purgatory of gray, a waiting maelstrom of silence.  She could shout with one sad glance what she knew as truth.  But they never looked up.  And so she stayed in her room.  She looked down at the belching and staggering of life.  She turned from the ignorance that weighed on their shoulders, turned back to the agony of wanting and not having, never seeing eternal youth, only knowing her mournful heart.  And waited for someone to look up.