Last Day Free

Amazon Link for Jessica Lost Her Wobble

This is the last day for the free download of my book, Jessica Lost Her Wobble, the Kindle Version.

I download lots of Kindle books. I also buy lots of hard and paperback versions of books. About half of what is in our bookshelves are unread. We have lots of bookshelves in our house.

imgresThe main reason is I believe I’m saving them for the rainy day or for some disaster that may happen, wiping out the internet and/or electricity. One of my most favorite episodes of the Twilight Zone was one of the earliest shows, Time Enough at Last. You might recognize the episode from the picture.

My Kindle Version Free

Through Friday, January 19, “Jessica Lost Her Wobble” is free on Amazon 12643026_10206177359858282_7424323914318400345_nKindle. Click here for book link. I took a screen shot because it made it to the top three on one list. I don’t think that means a lot. I’m so new to all of this. But, it impressed my husband. Really easy to do. So hoping for reviews from this giveaway.

51CgDFB+W1L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_In the meantime I finished “My Life on the Road,” by  Gloria Steinem. I found it hard to get into at the very beginning and put it down. Then I picked it back up a few days later and read it in two mornings. 

I particularly loved the other people’s perspectives that she brought into the book as well as the passages about Native Americans. I have Native American blood myself, although, you wouldn’t know it to look at me. But, now I want to visit the Serpent Mound.

I admire her work, although the term feminism has always bothered me. I like its definition – the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Still, in my mind, the word or label creates division. I think most labels do. One day I hope we can just be humans, coming together through our similarities, but still appreciating and respecting our differences.

 

 

Barefoot Snow Run

Continuing Saga of Snowmaggedon 2016 Our heat pump quit sometime during the night. Zero Degrees. Of course, if it is going to quit, it would be on the coldest night of the year. I hope this is the coldest. The temperature can only go up at this point, right? But, then our weather for the last several years has been askew, at least unpredictable, in my opinion. I’m just thankful, that at 42 degrees today, it seems like a heat wave.

But why is my husband running around the field, half-naked? Well, we have been practicing something called the Wim Hof Method. Wim Hof is also the guy they call the Iceman.

My husband said that he promised himself that if he could fix the heat pump that he would run around the field barefoot. He didn’t quite run around the entire field which is one-half mile, but he at least did one-half of this. I think you can see his tracks in the snow. Also, most of it was fifteen inches deep. Proud of him. Also, proud that he was able to switch our cistern water over to city water in our bathroom this morning. Our cistern water had froze because we were optimistic enough to not leave the water dripping in the shower last night. After all, the temperature was predicted at twenty degrees, not zero. We were hopeful.

Snowmaggedon 2016

img_0846First deep snow walk of 2016. Yes, that’s me. My husband was taking the picture. I was trying to lift my foot out long enough to show off my pedicure. Useless. At last measure it was ten inches and still coming down. Twenty degrees. I don’t last long in that temperature – two minutes tops. I lasted a little over three minutes in an ice bath. Cold showers, ten minutes.  #WimHofMethod   We are practicing something called the Wim Hof Method. It involves walking barefoot in the cold among other things. It’s been one of the best things we’ve ever did. We started it in October. Work was called off for my husband. We enjoyed a veggie burger with sprouts that I had made and split pea soup. img_0837

A Night of Firsts

img_0834

Last night was a night of firsts. My husband and I went to our first author reading. Pictured is Red Dawson. He read from his book, A Coach in Progress:  Marshall Football — A Story of Survival and Revival. Other authors who read were John Hash, Laura Treacy Bentley, Carter Taylor Seaton, and Pam Marie Thompson.

I plan on reading the books by these authors. I just finished Ten Saturdays by Pam Marie Thompson, and have Falcon Strike by John Hash and The Silver Tattoo by Laura Treacy Bentley awaiting me on my Kindle app. And then on to Red Dawson’s book and those by Carter Taylor Seaton.

And, then as we neared the front of the store, I looked for my own book and found it on display on the table in the front of the store. Having a book out is a weird and exciting experience, kind of other worldly, akin to a parallel universe for me, hmm, which is kind of what I’m writing about in my next book.

img_0833

The Wickham

If you like Pride and Prejudice and Star Trek, as I do, this is a story I did combining the two. This story can also be found in the Wicked Wordsmiths’s anthology book, “Stories From the Stacks,” which can be found on Amazon.

The Wickhamflying-saucer2

“Did you get it?”

“Yes, well, sort of.”

“What do you mean — sort of?” We are on suspension as it is. If we don’t pass this exam, we’ll be thrown out of the library program.”

“I got what counts. At least I got the gist of it.”

Kalal grabbed the book from Bulan’s hand. “This won’t do. It’s not all here.”

“Some strange creature with a ribbed forehead was in hot pursuit,” Bulan exclaimed as he waved his hands in the air. “He ripped it from my hand, all the while shouting, “It is a good day to die!” What was I to do? This was all I could salvage.”

“I should have beamed to the location with you,” Cand said exasperated.

“I don’t think that would have been a good idea,” Bulan said sarcastically. “Everyone started out friendly enough. A cordial gent with pointy ears, dressed in blue, greeted me. He made some sort of hand gesture and said live long and prosper. I did my best to emulate it, but lacking in digits, I couldn’t quite get it right. I smiled in my embarrassment showing my best four fangs. He just kept a straight face.”

“Was he angry?” Kalal asked, hoping they hadn’t caused an interplanetary incident.

“I don’t think so. I gleaned no emotion from him whatsoever,” Bulan said, trying to reassure him.

“Well, as long as we didn’t start any kind of incident. Burns wouldn’t be none too pleased. So what happened next?” Kalal asked.

“That planet is strange. Are you sure we got the coordinates right?” Bulan interrupted, looking over at Cand.

“I’m sure I was close,” Cand said.

“Close! Close won’t cut it with Burns,” Bulan said.

“Well, I did the best I could with what time we had left. Whose idea was it to stop off at Risa?”

“That planet does have some wicked attributes,” Kalal said with a toothy grin. Both Bulan and Kalal fumbled awkwardly, their tails wagging behind them, as they looked at Cand with sheepish guilt.

“Well, back to the business at hand. We have at least got something. And, Bulan, you are absolutely sure this is the planet’s most authoritative literature?” Cand asked.

“As sure as you were close to the coordinates you gave us.”

Cand threw imaginary darts from her third eye while rolling the other two.

“There was someone named Uhura in charge of all of the planet’s communications. She was reading it between rolls and cuts,” Bulan said, defending himself and dismissing her feminine rebuttal.

“What are rolls and cuts?” Kalal asked.

“I don’t know as I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. That is about the time the gruesome creature with the ridged forehead started chasing me and threatening me with death. He had some weird contraption with jagged blades in his hand.

“Well, you survived. Did you at least get the name of the planet?” Cand asked. “That will most definitely be on the oral examination.”

“Hollywood,” Bulan nodded with an air of authority.

“Are you sure?” Kalal asked.

“Of course I’m sure. It was in big bold letters, on a hillside, where all could see.”

“Well, we don’t have long. I have the ship set on autopilot. We must start studying what we have of this literature,” Cand said.

“I have already read it – in the decontamination chamber,” Bulan said.

Both Kalal and Cand flipped through the pages, committing them to memory. They both looked up at the same time.

“The Wickham rules,” they said in unison.

“My conjecture also,” Bulan agreed.

“We will act it out, in preparation for our quiz with Burns. I will be the Wickham,” Kalal said.

“I suppose I must play the villain,” said Bulan.

“It’s only fitting since you only brought us part of a book,” Cand said.

The rehearsals went on until their ship’s computer announced entry into the Romo atmosphere. Kalal took over the controls, bringing the vessel into an uneventful docking. They all stiffened in their demeanor, as Cand set the beam-out coordinates for the library’s archives where Burns would be awaiting their return.

Kalal held the book forward in his three digits toward the professor. “Sir, we offer the most brilliant piece of literature from the planet Hollywood to the library’s archives.”

“It’s in fragments. What is your explanation for this?” Professor Burns said, aghast.

“Sir, I can explain,” Bulan said, looking to the others for support.

They all looked at each other as Bulan elaborated with wild arm gestures, hoping that Professor Burns would buy their story. “I just only made it off world as the planet was erupting into war. I was chased by a most ferocious creature, which was threatening me with death. And, it’s no wonder. The good of the planet have been sorely persecuted. This George Wickham fellow was greatly shunned and frowned upon by the villain Darcy.”

“Yes, sir. They regarded fortune as everything,” Cand blurted in. “Elizabeth was after it. Yet, she found the Darcy to be utterly contemptible, although he had it. It was all a world of pride and prejudice. You can plainly see why they were on the brink of destruction.”

“Yes, they started out well enough, loving the good guy, Wickham, but quickly turned against him,” Kalal said, adding his part to the mix.

The three space travelers, Kalal, Bulan and Cand, stood frozen with their digits crossed behind their backs.

Professor Burns, after a deep breath shouted, “Long live the Wickham! Passing grades for all of you.”

 

My First Book Interview

From the Blog of

Mercedes Fox ~ Author

Howdy fans! I’d like to welcome author J. Schlenker to the interview hot-seat.

Why do you write? Expression, creativity, mainly because it’s cathartic. An emotional release comes from it, and even sometimes, satisfaction.

When did you decide to become a writer? I wrote poems in high school, but it wasn’t until retirement that I entertained it seriously. I thought, what now? My husband said, “Why don’t you write.” I think it was that very same day that I heard about a site called Gather (now defunct) on NPR. It was a group where people shared what they wrote. My husband came home and started to tell me about it as he heard the same story. I said, “I’ve already joined.”

What genre are your books? I think I would categorize them mainly as women’s fiction, or mainstream fiction. Establishing a genre for what I write has possibly been harder than the writing and even editing for me. I just can’t seem to narrow it down. I currently have only one published book, “Jessica Lost Her Wobble.”

What draws you to this genre? I would say instinct or intuition. It’s what comes out when I sit at the computer.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? Other than belonging to the group Gather, it was the challenge of NaNoWriMo. It was during National Novel Writing Month that I completed “Jessica Lost Her Wobble.” That was in 2013.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Full-Time, although on some days other projects need doing. On those daysJessica book cover it would be part-time.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I start out in the mornings. If I’m on a roll, I may still be at it when my husband comes home from work. At that time I look up and say, “I guess you want dinner.” He then says he’ll fix it, which is merely a feeble gesture on his part. I usually work at the kitchen countertop. He starts asking where everything is, and what steps to take. It’s at that point that I say, “Okay, I’ll fix dinner. You sit here and read what I wrote.” He’s great about doing that.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I learn something new everyday, at least I hope. As far as evolvement I’m most likely still in the kindergarten stage.

What have you written? A work of fiction, “Jessica Lost Her Wobble”

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? The plot is in my head. I just sit down and write until the well runs dry for the day.

How do you market your books? My downfall. But, I’m doing this interview. That’s a start.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? Basically word of mouth. I know a few people have recommended my book to others, and of course I announced it on Facebook. I just joined Twitter, and I have a blog. I’m rather technically challenged, but I’m learning (evolving).

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? My main character is Jessica (Jessie). She is a middle-aged woman, who after many upsets, is trying to find herself. She is special in that she is like so many other women. People who have read it have said, I see so much of myself in Jessie.

Where do your ideas come from? The idea for this book came from a past life regression. However, when I actually sat down to write, the time frame changed, as did many other things.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Just sitting down at the computer and starting, or maybe editing. It’s a toss up.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? As in latest manuscript? That is still in progress. Probably, the research part has been the hardest.

Which writers inspire you? Yogananda, (“Autobiography of a Yogi” is my all time favorite book.) Wally Lamb, Elizabeth Gilbert There are so many authors I read. Since I’ve started writing myself I pay more attention. So many times I think, wow, I wish I had written that.

What do you do to get book reviews? Ask people who I know have read it. Currently, at the time of this interview, I have five reviews on Amazon, one on Goodreads.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?It’s a little soon, perhaps as my book was just released less than a month ago, on December 11.

What is the current book you are promoting? “Jessica Lost Her Wobble” I entered the very rough draft into a contest, The William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and placed as a finalist. That inspired me to continue.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?Definitely Jessica, the main character, although I loved writing them all. Mrs. Gibbons has a small part, but I also enjoyed writing her.

Who is your least favorite character and why? I don’t think I have one. There are supporting characters who are not so developed.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you cast? Ironically, I was just thinking about that yesterday while out hiking. Meryl Streep as the older Jessie, and her daughter as the younger version, as the book spans over decades.

What is your next project? I have two other books in the works, both done during NaNoWriMo. I will be editing “The Innkeeper on the Edge” and “The Color of Cold and Ice.” And, I’m also working on a collection of short stories, “The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries.”

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Darcy I guess, probably because he has been so romanticized.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why? Jesus, because he would have all the answers. I picture him as kind, smiling and always laughing, not judgmental at all.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be? I would change myself into total love, peace and contentment. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.”

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?Patience

What is one thing you hate about being a writer?Marketing

Tell us something unique about you. I was a weaver before I was a writer. I wove cloth. I am now weaving stories.

Thanks so much for taking the time from your writing to chat with us. I do hope you drop by again!

For more about J. Schlenker follow the links below:

Blog / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / BookLink

Children, The Meaning to Life

A picture of our grandson I did last night on my iPad using Art Studio.

This morning I started reading “Tying Rocks to Clouds,” by William Elliott. It’s a book I have been meaning to read for several years. I first came across it in a friend’s home. It is a book about the meaning of life. I guess all books are in one respect, if they cause us to question. The innocence of children, I would say, definitely brings us closer to finding the meaning to life.

Strange and Exciting

  This morning my husband came back from the post office with our stack of mail that was on hold while we were on a Christmas holiday road trip. My first published book was in the stack of mail. Having the e-book on my iPad was nice, but this somehow made it more real.

I was pleased with the way it turned out. Everything looked to be in order. I was especially pleased considering I self-published doing all the design and layout work. It was a learning process, on some days a down right struggle, but it paid off. 

I took various pictures of the book this morning, but ended up using the one I took of it on the kitchen counter, which is fitting, since that is where I wrote it during the NaNoWriMo in November of 2013. And, then there were the many edits, rewrites, and edits which came after.

On Monday I plan on plunging once again into the process of writing, editing and rewriting my current two other manuscripts and collection of short stories. I tend to use the word plunging quite a bit. Maybe because my father was a plumber.

Happy New Year!

IMG_0369We spent the holiday break traveling, a road trip. The plan was to surprise my husband’s family on Christmas Eve. And, that we did. They said, best Christmas present ever.

It was a long trip, two days down, three days back, three days on the way back because we decided to rest an extra day. 

Our first overnight stay was in New Orleans, actually, where we spent our honeymoon. Finding vegetarian places is always a challenge. It has gotten easier over the years. We were in the mood for Mediterranean. The hotel recommended Cleo’s. At first glance we were a bit hesitant. It was nothing fancy, one side plain tables, the other side a grocery store. At first we thought we were to place our order at the register, but we were directed to sit down by a waiter who took our order. We did choose our own drinks out of the cooler. 

The food, pictured above was excellent. I read later that the owners were Egyptian. Our brother-in-law is also Egyptian. We were on route to his house. While there he fixed us some excellent vegetarian dishes.

IMG_0523_2One of my new year goals is to learn to cook like this.

Oh Christmas Tree and Margaritas!

On Saturday we finally got our Christmas tree up. It took two rounds of margaritas, two bowls of popcorn, Dr. Who, and a roaring fire in the fireplace to do so. You will note the extra balls on the table. They are still there. The margaritas were running low, and dizziness was running high. Maybe today I will get to them.

Not All Starbucks are Created Equal

IMG_0697While in Cancun during the Thanksgiving holiday we frequented a Starbucks which was fairly close to our hotel. My husband and I were amazed at their pastry selection. We are talking big portions, and they were as good as they look in the case. A couple of times we got their sandwiches, which did not shrink up, and were a full meal. They also brought it out to our table served on a real plate. The round tart in the lower right hand corner is white chocolate with blackberries. I had been eyeing that from the first day we were there. I finally had it on the morning we departed. It was well worth the wait.

What made them extra good was the price. We converted pesos to dollars and compared to back home. Definitely cheaper, but then considering the difference in quality and size, it was hard to actually compare.

Finally

Jessica Lost Her Wobble is finally on Amazon. Click on the link for the Kindle version. The print version is currently being processed. It should be up soon. This is all new to me, a learning process. Now, hopefully, I can get back to some blogging and catch up with other people’s blogs. The last couple of months have been edit, edit, edit. And, there was some travel, as well.

Jessica Cover Paperback

 

Yesterday’s Walk

Yesterday’s walk was a treat through vibrant fall colors. We trekked through the woods to get to the top of the hill that overlooks our house.
IMG_1638The next is a next door farm.
IMG_1641A group of rocks along the trail.
FullSizeRenderComing out of the woods into a field area.
IMG_1643Coming out of the woods and back towards the house. Two mile loop.

Mexican Night

I think we started a Wednesday night tradition – Mexican night. A couple of times we went to a new Mexican restaurant near us on Wednesday nights as margaritas were half price. More times than not the food was swimming in oil, so much so the last time that I didn’t eat mine. The margaritas certainly had a kick, but I could just feel the high fructose corn syrup melting in my mouth. Then there was the indigestion and heartburn afterward. 

So, on a trip to Whole Foods, my husband looked over the margarita mix selection. Even after buying the most expensive one which had the most wholesome ingredients (of course, I’m sure there is nothing wholesome about the liquor), we concluded our margaritas would come out to about half of the half price ones at the restaurant.

Except for the fajitas and cheese, all of the ingredients I used were organic. Since we bought Trader Joe’s brand fajitas and cheese, there should have been no GMO issues. I always feel that when we eat out we are getting high doses of GMO. Plus, I used no oil. I sauteed in a small amount of water.

We actually don’t get to go to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods that often, as we live an hour and a half away. I’m excited because I just heard they both may be coming to the town where my husband works. One day I followed a woman I had seen in Trader Joe’s into Whole Foods. I had noticed her because I liked her blouse. So, I commented that I liked it, and said, weren’t you just in Trader Joe’s? She said, “Yes,” and that she went there first for the cheaper prices and then to Whole Foods for the rest. That’s exactly what I do. So, I guess a lot of people do that. 

But, then we get sucked into the dessert department, and those extra things that only Whole Foods carries.

Whole Foods, also known as Whole paycheck, is supposed to become more affordable. I have noticed that their 365 brand is just as cheap.

In our immediate area we have Kroger, and I’ve found that as far as their organic department goes they don’t compete at all with Whole Foods, and certainly not Trader Joe’s. I’m guessing Whole Foods buys tofu in bulk. 

Luckily, in the summer we have a garden, and we are still working on that greenhouse.

I remember forty year ago grocery shopping. I adhered to a strict budget, and could buy a weeks work of groceries for $20. And, that was back when we ate meat. Now a loaf of bread from the bakery can cost a fourth of that. I so need to learn to make my own bread, and I’ve tried, but I must not have the baking gene. I’m more of a casserole, stir-fryer, sandwich maker, soup maker. 

 

A Novel of Color

IMG_1404As November approaches, once again I am gearing up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

I recently completed an online writing course, Writeriffic, taught by Eva Shaw. There was an assignment were we had to write as if we were a color. I chose orange. I Am Orange 

Originally I had other ideas floating around about what to write about, but this idea about color kept coming to me in different ways. One might say signs or omens. I already had a picture I did on my iPad, one of the most favorite things I’ve done, thus far. The design came easy. I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. Now, if only the writing comes easy on November 1st. Honestly, though, the writing has usually poured out. It is the editing and rewriting that don’t come easy for me, even though I’ve had help with that. I’m still in the process of bringing my first NaNoWriMo project to fruition, which I hope will be coming out prior to starting National Novel Writing Month. 

Magic Mushrooms and Other Marvels of the Forest

A couple of days ago I saw my first blue mushroom in the woods. I’ve been walking the trails for a decade and this was a first, maybe a sign of some sort. I believe it is known as an indigo milk cap.
  Today, out on the trail, I saw more.
 And, here was one of the many spider webs.
 A deer jumped out in front of me, and got tangled a bit in the fence. I’m not quick with the iPhone, (what I took these pictures with), therefore, I miss out on quite a few opportunities. I see deer everyday. Still, they are a marvel. Perhaps I should have drawn a deer instead of this giraffe, which we have none of in our woods. I wish.

giraffe

Giraffe drawn on my iPad.

The Plans

IMG_1389“Monsieur Beaumont, perhaps you could start from the beginning and tell us what prompted you to attempt the theft of a giraffe from parc zoologique de Paris?” inquired Monsieur le president.

“Monsieur, I was not stealing Henri. I was liberating him. It was his wish,” replied Philippe.

The judge asked, “Henri?”

“His name, Monsieur. He said his name was Henri.”

“The giraffe talks to you?”

“Oui.”

“Monsieur Beaumont, I am told that you wanted the giraffe for a pet.”

“He wishes to be called, Henri, Monsieur. And, no, I don’t want him for a pet. I wished to liberate him. It was his wish.”

“The giraffe told you this?”

Philippe sputtered and spat, answering in a nervous stutter, “Monsieur, Monsieur, he wishes to be called Henri. The giraffe, you call him the giraffe? Very disrespectful, indeed. No, no, that won’t do at all. You must call him by his proper name.”

The judge winced and proceeded. Monsieur Beaumont, it has also come to the court’s attention that you were dancing barefoot on Jim Morrison’s grave.”

“Oui, Monsieur le president, it was Henri who gave me the exciting news.”

“Exciting news?” inquired the judge.

“Oui, I am the reincarnation of Jim Morrison. I only wished to reconnect, so to speak. I go to his grave, in essence, my grave, whenever I am sad, or sometimes happy.”

“So, which was it Monsieur Beaumont.”?

“Monsieur le president?”

“Were you sad or were you happy?” The judge gave a side-glance toward the court psychologist.

“Why, happy, Monsieur le president. Henri and I had devised a plan for his liberation. We were to steal out of the zoo in the dead of the night and hide in the catacombs. I was elated to tell my former self of the plan. That is when the gendarmerie took hold of me and, well, now I am here. I fear for Henri. He must truly be worried.”

“I’m sure he is. I’m sure he is,” replied the judge.

A lawyer approached the bench, whispering something to the judge.

The judge said, “We will take a recess for lunch.”

***

“We would like to call Monsieur Labore to the stand, Monsieur le president.”

“Monsieur Labore, you were recently fired from your job at parc zoologique de Paris?”

“Oui,” in a barely audible voice.

“Would you speak up, Monsieur?”

“Oui,” Monsieur Labore shouted.

“And, you were caught pretending to be animals talking to the zoo patrons?”

“Oui.”

“And, what did the patrons do?”

“Most laughed. Some thought they were on television. They looked for cameras.”

“But not Monsieur Beaumont?”

“No, not Monsieur Beaumont?”

“What did Monsieur Beaumont do?”

“At first he acted surprised, but he believed the giraffe was actually talking to him.”

“And, you were standing behind some rocks, making believe you were the giraffe talking?”

“Oui.”

“Can you elaborate on some of the conversations?”

“I would tell him things, like how I was tired of being imprisoned. We concocted a plan for my freedom. Philippe was to bust me, the giraffe out.”

“Did you tell him he was the reincarnation of Jim Morrison?”

“I don’t remember that conversation.”

“Perhaps you didn’t remember it, because a lot of these conversations took place while you were drunk?”

“Oui, maybe, but I don’t remember anything about Jim Morrison or reincarnation.”

The lawyer turns toward the judge, “Monsieur le president, as you can see this whole episode has been a cruel hoax on Monsieur Beaumont. By the psychologist’s own report, Monsieur Beaumont may be a bit on the impressionable side, putting it mildly.”

The judge stifling a smile said, “Agreed. The court rules that Monsieur Beaumont must undergo weekly counseling.” The judge turned to face Monsieur Beaumont, “Monsieur, I would strongly recommend you stay away from the zoo and Mr. Morrison’s grave. Do, I make myself understood?”

“Oui, Monsieur le president.”

The judge continued, “And, might you find some sort of work, nothing too taxing on the brain, to occupy your days?”

“Oui, Monsieur le president.”

***

“How did it go today?”

“I am to find a job.”

“A job?” the voice from the toaster asked.

“Oui.”

“Might I suggest an iron chef?”

“But I am afraid of knives,” Philippe stuttered. “I am afraid of knives.” Philippe repeated.

“Philippe, you must overcome your fear. Pinky and I will help you. Didn’t we help you overcome your fear of death? You must think about how brave your former self was.”

“Oui, Mr. Brain, you are right. Mr. Morrison would not be afraid.” Philippe let out a heavy sigh.

“What is wrong?” came the voice from the toaster.

“I am worried about Henri.”

“Not to worry. You worry too much,” came the voice from the toaster. “Chew on your mint leaves and remove your shoes. You know how those two things calm you.”

“Oui, you are right. I am feeling much more relaxed all ready.”

“You should be, and we can free Henri yet. You must bring knives, all the knives you can smuggle from the restaurant after you obtain the job. With the knives, we will rule the world. Then we can free Henri. We can free all the zoo animals.”

“Oui, Mr. Brain,” you always have the answers.

“Now, today is Friday, remember to pack your ‘p’ foods for lunch. You have a busy day. You must be strong.”

“Oui, peanuts, parsley, persimmons, potatoes, parmesan, pumpkin seeds. I must remain strong to rule the world.”

(This was for my writing group. I was given the prompts:

Repeats themselves often

Has a pet giraffe

Hates to wear shoes

Believes they are the reincarnation of Jim Morrison

Chews on mint leaves

Only eats food beginning with the letter P on Fridays

Stutters

Has a fierce desire to become an iron chef but is deathly afraid of knives.

Believes cartoon characters Pinky and The Brain are real and living in his toaster oven.)

The Adventures of Butterscotch

Synopsis: A dog has a harrowing day, finds a hero and changes her name.

The Adventures of Buttercup Butterscotch

IMG_1385“Surprise!” Bernie removed his hands from Doris’s eyes.

“An amusement park?”

“Not just any amusement park. The Jungle Park. Action and adventure for the whole family, that’s what the brochure said.”

“But Bernie, there is just the two of us.” A slight whimper emerged into the air, and Doris covered her purse with her hands. “This is our second date, and we’re a little past the family stage,” Doris blushed.

“Did you hear something?” Bernie asked.

“No.”

“Do you want a piece of candy?”

“No.”

“Are you sure? It’s butterscotch.”

“Butterscotch? No.” Another whimper.

“Are you sure you didn’t hear anything?” Bernie looked around. “Oh, well. Let’s get in line for our tickets.”

“The gates are certainly big and pearly white,” Doris said, as she clasped tightly onto her purse.

“What do you have in that thing?”

“What?”

“Your bag. Sure is big.”

“Nothing, just stuff.”

“How about the roller coaster?” Bernie asked.

“Hmm?” Doris looked at him.

“For our first ride.”

***

Doris sunk one hand into the front bar, and the other one around her purse. “It sure is a long way down.”

“Don’t worry, Hon, I’ve got you,” He snuggled closer putting his arm around her. “”Whoa, what was that? Something moved. I felt something wet on my fingertip.”

Grrr.

  You have a dog in that bag?”

“He’s so small, Bernie.” Doris pleaded. “I just got him last week. I couldn’t leave him home by himself.”

Bernie looked at her and back at the dog’s minute head peeking from the purse. “Oh, well, no harm. He’s already here. Just keep him hidden.”

“She.”

A zillion screams began with the descent.

“What?”

“The dog is a she. Her name is Buttercup.”

“What?” Bernie shouted.

Millions of shrill dog whistles. I think I’m going crazy. We’re up so high. Don’t they know I’m scared of heights? Why didn’t she leave me home? Fill my food and water bowl, leave a few dog biscuits scattered around. Pop in a “Lassie” DVD? I would have been fine.

 ***

“The jungle boats, let’s head that way,” said Bernie. “Push that dog back down into your purse. We don’t want to get in trouble. What did you say his name was? Butterscotch?”

A herd of preschoolers ran by, talking and shouting all at once.

“Buttercup, and it’s a she.”

“What? I didn’t hear you Hon.”

“Oh, never mind.”

“Be careful, now. Don’t rock the boat.”

What are those sounds? They are coming from that jungle next to the water. Water! Don’t they know I can’t swim? What do they think I am? A lab? I’m a Dachshund, for heaven sakes. Look at these paws. Do they think I could maneuver in the water with these? And these ears. I’ll sink faster than an anvil. Oh, no, I remember my master saying pearly gates. I’m doomed.

That was a lion’s roar. I know that sound. He’s coming for the boat. I just know it. Dog overboard!

 “Bernie,” Doris screamed. “He’s headed for the falls. Do something.”

“What can I do? Butterscotch, Butterscotch!”

“She can’t hear you. The waterfall, it’s too noisy. And, it’s Buttercup.”

Is this what it feels like to die? I’m sinking, sinking. Everything is in slow motion. What is that sound? Is it the waterfall? No, I think it’s the sound of AUM. I’m going home. My life is flashing before my eyes. It’s times like these I wish I were a cat.

I’m caught. Oh, no, my red kerchief is caught on a branch. Now, I’m not only going to drown. I’m going to choke as well. What was my master thinking?

 What’s that? The hand of God? No, it’s Bernie. He’s saving me. You’re all wet, Bernie.

“Come on, Butterscotch, I’ve got you. You’ll be fine.”

It’s Buttercup, Bernie. Oh, never mind. You’re my hero.

 “Now where is the doorway out of here?” Bernie scratched his drenched thinning hair with one hand, while grasping onto Buttercup firmly with the other.

Oh, Bernie, I’m sorry. I bet that watch is ruined. What was that sound? A tiger, I’m sure of it. Are we lost, Bernie? I need to pee. Is that a real tree? It looks fake. The grass, it looks like AstroTurf. I’m sure of it. Is this even a real jungle, Bernie?

 “Do you want a piece of candy? It’s butterscotch, Butterscotch. No, I don’t suppose so. You might choke.”

We’re lost in the jungle, and you’re worried about me choking on a piece of candy? Bernie, did you just throw that wrapper on the ground? That’s littering. We are so, going to get in trouble. Oh, no, what was I thinking? Hansel and Gretel, right? You’re leaving candy wrappers, so we won’t go in circles. Smart thinking, Bernie.

 I see light, Bernie. You saved the day. You saved my life, again. You’re my hero.

“Sir, did you know you are not supposed to bring pets to the park? I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

***

“Bernie, Bernie, are you okay? And, my precious little Buttercup. Are you going to be all right?” Doris took her from Bernie’s arms.

Butterscotch, Doris. I’ve changed my name to Butterscotch.

 

 

 

 

 

A Walk in the Woods

While out walking in the woods, I came across this. I’ve been out in the woods a lot this week. My husband and I recently saw the movie “A Walk in the Woods,” and were inspired to work on the trails around our house.

IMG_1377

You can see another spider’s wed in the lower right hand corner.

Most of the pictures I post are taken by my husband, as he is the photographer. I took these with my iPone. I am particularly pleased with the way the first one turned out.

 

I Am Orange

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Taut strands of warp swallow soft fibers of weft as the shuttle makes its way through to create me. I am carefully removed from the wooden frame and then boiled in a mixture of roots and tubers, plants, bark, leaves, flowers and fruits, and then beaten against rocks to assure my hue. It is a labor of love and one of humility. I trek the far reaches of the Himalayas on the body of a holy man who carries only a walking stick and a bowl for sustenance. Vibrations of Sanskrit chants are absorbed into my substance. I bathe in pristine water and sit cross-legged on the top of a mountain. I feel the cold, crisp air, but my soul is warm. I behold beauty in every direction.

The pendulum swings. Industrial looms ran by disgruntled workers formed me. I’m utilitarian and serve a lone purpose. My fibers are stiff. I feel the chaffed skin and smell the stench of sweat of the man I cover. Self-loathing and anger penetrate my fibers. I sense the condemnation and mocking from the man pushing the metal rod against my backside as it clangs against the metal cuffs. Hollywood tries to add romance to my situation and calls me the new black. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

In a small village I am yet again handled with care. I am the earth, a rich vein of clay. I am rolled out flat and baked in the sun. I love the name I have been given, Terracotta. It flows on the tongue. I am trodden upon, but I don’t mind, except for possibly spiked heels. Bare feet are my favorite. But, also I love the bare hands. I am massaged into shape in the form of adobe bricks. I am placed one by one on the Terracotta. I make a home, the home of an artist, a potter. He molds me and sits me spinning atop a wheel. The motion makes me ecstatic. I am a Whirling Dervish. I become a beautiful pot, admired by many. I am passed down through generations. Someone is careless and knocks me to the floor. I crash on the beautiful Saltillo tile of a Mexican restaurant. What is that I hear? It’s my song. A mariachi band is playing. All my colorful cousins stand playfully against the stucco plaster. I am happy. In my elation I drift back to another time.

I purr and strut along a cobblestone street, elated and smug after a victory over a mouse, a worthy prey. I stop to lick my tabby fur, and am caught off guard. A man scoops me up and begins caressing me, the stench of linseed oil strong on his bony hands. He looks up at the moon and down at my fur, an ah ah moment for him. In haste he carries me back to his studio giving me a place of honor on a cushion in the corner. I watch as he skillfully captures my very essence on canvas, as he translates it to the rising moon and hayfields below. He signs his name, Van Gogh. I think, superb. This man understands me. My hunting prowess takes second seat. I am humbled in his presence, and I meow my approval.

For a brief time I am followed by the paparazzi. Yet I evoke reverence and respect. Awes and oohs can be heard with the snap of Cannons, Nikons and Hasselblad’s. I am sublime. They call me autumn. I fade and fall, as all things do. A chill invades the air. I am earthy and fragrant peering out of pots on porches. It is the season. I am everywhere – chrysanthemums, pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns. The air grows more frigid.

I am transformed. You can find me crackling and popping inside a hearth. I look out to see a family playing a board game, drinking hot chocolate. Outside it is snowing. In another instance I look out taking in the hungry gaze of lovers and blush, if that is indeed possible for me. In the distance I blaze against the backdrop of stars, comforting a lone hiker on the Appalachian Trail.

I am a color chart in a hardware store, a smear of paint across the top of a can. A woman eyes my different tints and shades, choosing two. To the clerk, she says, I will take these two. The clerk walks away and then comes back and says almost in shock, “You did say these were for the outside of a house?”

She replies, “Yes, I did.” This woman is bold. Once again, I am reminded of the painter a century ago.

My progeny of tints and shades are many, apricot, peach, amber, burnt sienna, vermilion, salmon, tangerine, pumpkin…the list goes on. Simply put a child calls me orange, the color of juice, or the fruit, or a carrot. Bugs Bunny likes carrots. I am a pumpkin pie with whipped cream. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am a scary jack-o-lantern. I am both yin and yang. I am the ten thousand straws of The Tao.

At my root I am the sacral chakra, second up the ladder, between red and yellow. I am both sensual and sexual. When I’m balanced I give grace to movement and pleasure without guilt. I am positive and spontaneous, acting on pure gut or instinct. I give freedom and inspire. I won’t steer you wrong, except in the kitchen. I am a stimulant and will definitely wet your appetite.

(This was for a writing class. I added to it, so am posting again. I’m working my way through the colors.)

This I Believe

imgresA cashier at Trader Joe’s asked where we lived. I will correct that to an associate at Trader Joe’s asked where we lived. I don’t want to be politically incorrect. We live in a small town that no one has ever heard of, well, until just recently. I blurted out we are from Kim Davis Country. Should that be a new territory?

I believe, make that we, live in the bizarre universe, the one that has turned upside down, the one that is confused, mislead, totally out of sync. Bonkers. Topsy Turvy.

I don’t say this lightly. I look out and see madness, craziness, pure insanity. I don’t think this is a new thing. I think it has been going on for thousands of years. Teachers were sent – Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, to name the most prominent. But, we twisted their words, or at least pick and choose to suit our own purposes.

The cashier assistant asked what side we were on.

Mostly this whole issue has just brought up a lot of questions in my mind. Someone once told me they could do an impression of me. Naturally, I was curious. They began, “Why, why, why, why….” Well, you get the picture. I have more questions than answers. Maybe the theme song at Kim Davis’s release should have been Annie Lennox’s “Why,” instead of “Eye of the Tiger.” Somehow, that seems more appropriate, as well as more ironic.

The questions I’m about to raise aren’t in any order of importance. Putting an order on them would only result in more questions for myself.

  1. What does the Kentucky constitution actually say? If the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA was not justified, than was the law immediately removed from the constitution, or is it still on there in black and white? If so, when will it be removed? Will it be like the Abolition of Slavery? The Kentucky legislature didn’t go on record against slavery until 1976 – 111 years after the 13th Amendment prohibiting involuntary servitude became the law of the land. http://www.kentucky.com/2013/02/23/2528807/kentucky-supported-lincolns-efforts.html Will this matter take as long?
  1. Why are salaries so out of line in our country? Bill Maher tweeted that “Kim Davis makes 80,000. The average income of Rowan County is 13,888.” Actually, the latter figure seems low to me. After all, Morehead does have a hospital and a university. Then there are the public school teachers of the county. It is rather appalling in my opinion that a clerk should make more than a schoolteacher. Why does any political figure make so much money? They are called public “servants” are they not? If they made the same as schoolteachers I don’t think there would be so many of them. Maybe Kim’s salary is more in line with an evangelist. When will she have her own jet? How much did Jesus make? As much as Pat Robertson? That reminds me. I haven’t sent my donation in yet to John Oliver’s church.
  1. What version of the Bible is Kim Davis and her followers basing their prejudices on? The King James Version? I find this ironic, being that King James was purported to be a flaming gay.
  1. During this whole scenario, there have been articles condemning sodomy based marriages. My question is what marriage it actually based on sex of any kind? There are couples that quit having sex altogether after marriage. At any rate it usually greatly diminishes. Can’t she and her followers see same sex marriage in this case as a glass half full? Most marriages I see are based on mortgages, paying bills, insurance, having and raising children, and trying to get through the wedding plans unscathed. There is the stress of finding someone who will bake your cake, and worrying that the glue on the wedding invitations might kill you off before you get to the altar. Also, to be clear I looked up the definition of sodomy. It seems that oral copulation falls under the definition of sodomy. How many of us are guilty of that? In fact, oral sex is illegal in 18 states, including Washington, D.C. The article I read was dated 2006, so maybe this has changed. I was seriously surprised that Kentucky was not on the list. At any rate should most of us ask to be handcuffed and taken away? Or would asking for handcuffs be another form of deviant sex?
  1. Are we living in a democracy or a monarchy? First there was Kim Davis’s mother holding the position. And, her son currently works in the office. Will he inherit the throne?
  1. Some people bring up the divorce factor. I will concede that she wasn’t a born again Christian until after the divorces and remarriages. As I understand it all sins are forgiven after that. I am divorced and remarried myself. I certainly won’t cast any stones. Actually, I wouldn’t cast any stones regardless.
  1. Then there is the denim demise. I shouldn’t call it demise. It is still obviously alive and well in a lot of circles. I, too, was guilty of going through a denim phase. I will definitely keep my mouth shut there. As a wise man said, “And this too shall pass,” as all of this will.

One of my favorite quotes is by one our most favorite gays, Oscar Wilde; “The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past while every sinner has a future.” So, maybe there is hope for us all.

Stories from the Stacks

I belong to a writing group called Wicked Wordsmiths of the West. I discovered them through NaNoWriMo last November. Hard to believe, it is coming up again so soon. A year of writing flew by fast.

The writing group does a yearly anthology. This year the theme or setting is a library. Also, the name Burns must appear somewhere in each story. I have two stories in the book: “Master of the Stacks” and “The Wickham.”

“Master of the Stacks” is a progression of one man’s life, much of it centered around the library where his mother works. It is also about the Akashic Records.

“The Wickham” is a light-hearted attempt to combine Star Trek and “Pride and Prejudice.” I am a fan of both.

All proceeds from the sell of the book go to support the writing group, a non-profit organization. The book can be found on Amazon here:  Stories From the Stacks  P. S. I designed the book cover.

I Am Color

IMG_0841I am currently taking an online writing course. The latest assignment was to become a color and write from that perspective. Here is my piece:

Taut strands of warp swallow soft fibers of weft as the shuttle makes its way through to create me. I am carefully removed from the wooden frame and then boiled in a mixture of roots and tubers, plants, bark, leaves, flowers and fruits, and then beaten against rocks to assure my hue. It is a labor of love and one of humility. I trek the far reaches of the Himalayas on the body of a holy man who carries only a walking stick and a bowl for sustenance. Vibrations of Sanskrit chants are absorbed into my substance. I bathe in pristine water and sit cross-legged on the top of a mountain. I feel the cold, crisp air, but my soul is warm. I behold beauty in every direction.

The pendulum swings. Industrial looms ran by disgruntled workers formed me. I’m utilitarian and serve a lone purpose. My fibers are stiff. I feel the chaffed skin and smell the stench of sweat of the man I cover. Self-loathing and anger penetrate my fibers. I sense the condemnation and mocking from the man pushing the metal rod against my backside as it clangs against the metal cuffs. Hollywood tries to add romance to my situation and calls me the new black. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

In a small village I am yet again handled with care. I am the earth, a rich vein of clay. I am rolled out flat and baked in the sun. I love the name I have been given, Terracotta. It flows on the tongue. I am trodden upon, but I don’t mind, except for possibly spiked heels. Bare feet are my favorite. But, also I love the bare hands. I am massaged into shape in the form of adobe bricks. I am placed one by one on the Terracotta. I make a home, the home of an artist, a potter. He molds me and sits me spinning atop a wheel. The motion makes me ecstatic. I am a Whirling Dervish. I become a beautiful pot, admired by many.

For a brief time I am followed by the paparazzi. Yet I evoke reverence and respect. Awes and oohs can be heard with the snap of Cannons, Nikons and Hasselblad’s. I am sublime. They call me autumn. I fade and fall, as all things do.

I am transformed. You can find me crackling and popping inside a hearth. I look out to see a family playing a board game, drinking hot chocolate. Outside it is snowing. In another instance I look out and blush. In the distance I blaze against the backdrop of stars, comforting a lone hiker on the Appalachian Trail.

My progeny of tints and shades are many, apricot, peach, amber, burnt sienna, vermilion, salmon, tangerine, pumpkin…the list goes on. Simply put a child calls me orange, the color of juice, or the fruit, or a carrot. Bugs Bunny likes carrots. I am a pumpkin pie with whipped cream. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am a scary jack-o-lantern. I am both yin and yang. I am the ten thousand straws of The Tao.

At my root I am the sacral chakra, second up the ladder, between red and yellow. I am both sensual and sexual. When I’m balanced I give grace to movement and pleasure without guilt.

Short Story Book Cover


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Along with the novel, “Jessica Lost Her Wobble,” I am also working on a book of short stories. This is my attempt at drawing my own cover.

“The Missing Butler” is the opening story. It is an expansion of the shorter story that I had entered into the NYC Midnight writing competition. I only did one round of the contest, but did receive Honorable Mention on the story.

Now, if only I can master the technical skills of Scrivener in order to get these two items published. Then on with the third novel, which is nearly completed.

Any suggestions on any of the above is most appreciated.

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11813344_10205230658591342_7851279700848925198_n

Another Birthday

11813344_10205230658591342_7851279700848925198_nI’m not sure when I last posted, but, it’s been a while. Yesterday was my birthday. I’m officially social security age. My husband took off work, and we traveled to one of my favorite restaurants, Roots, 2 1/2 hours away, for lunch. We were the first to arrive. The hostess said sit where ever you want. I chose the cushioned seats, kind of like a sunken tub, a little hard to maneuver. Luckily, I was still able to maneuver them. Some pictures of the food. Just the other day I saw a video of a woman 92 years of age. She was incredible. She had started yoga in her 80’s, among other things. I’m reminded it is never too late. After lunch, we shopped, and then stopped at another favorite restaurant, Pies and Pints, coming home. And, today, I’m tired. 11201915_10205230658151331_9186327587146195451_n 11846591_10205230659911375_4070484036762197949_n 11796455_10205230660991402_5044962300857726606_n 11204925_10205230665111505_2680264303906654410_n 11235043_10205230667471564_8533312863388894005_n 11813344_10205230658591342_7851279700848925198_n

Adventures of the Pond

IMG_1286We actually have two ponds, well, four, if you count the two in different fields for cows that are no longer there. I’m sure the deer benefit. There are two in our yard, a front one and a back one. We put a few goldfish, tiny ones from Wal-Mart, several years ago, in the back one. We never fed them. There was plenty of natural stuff going on back there. In a couple of years those goldfish turned into about seventy. That number would fluctuate over the years.

Then we decided to get Koi. We put those in the front pond, only last year. Almost immediately, a huge snapping turtle appeared. There was one of our new Koi, might I add, what I considered the prettiest one, floating on the water, with a bloody hole in its side. Isn’t it always the prettiest one? Out of five Koi, one was dead; two appeared to be going strong and growing like crazy. The other two we couldn’t figure what happened to them. Maybe the turtle ate them whole.

The front pond was a work in progress, year after year. We had never intended in using it for fish. It was just supposed to be a relaxing waterfall, one to do yoga beside. But, each year we would make it a little bigger. It was a natural pond, clay based, no need for a pond liner. Koi love these kinds of pond. But, by the same token, when we did decide to put Koi in the pond, they whipped up so much mud; we couldn’t really see them, unless they surfaced. Nor, did they appear to need the food we threw at them.

It was last year that we decided to expand the pond one last time. We worked around the Koi. We dug on the outside of the pond and finally broke the barrier. All looked okay for a while. But we had dug beyond the clay into dirt. Water kept leaking. We gave up trying to find the leak. It was just too much work. At times we did think we had the leak under control. So, we purchased seven more Koi. Mind you, these were baby Koi, and only cost around $4 to $7 each. There still was enough water in the pond that the remaining fish (we only thought two at the time) found places to hibernate. We said we would deal with it next year, which is now this year.

A liner for that size pond was going to be super expensive, but we sprung for it. These projects always take on a life of there on and become more expensive. So, this spring we began the work, lining it, and building a rock walkway around it. All the rock we use comes from the farm we live on. While doing the work, we moved the two larger Koi and the others to the backyard pond. In the meantime, while draining the remaining water we found the original other two Koi that we thought Mr. Snapper had gotten. They were alive and doing well in the mud.

When the front pond was ready, it was not so easy to move them back. They resisted. Like who wouldn’t when you see someone coming after you with a net. I tried to reason with them, saying, “You are going to a better place.” They obviously thought, “What, we will be reincarnated as these pesky frogs that invade our space?”

Anyway, we basically had to semi drain the back pond to get them out. After we did, we could see they were much happier. They were basically doing dolphin tricks to show us their appreciation. We decided to just move all fish to the new pond, in other words, the goldfish, too. We hadn’t even intended to put any fish in the back pond either. We just intended it as a meditation pond. But after a couple of years, like I said, we thought we would get a bag of small ones, approximately eight, from Wal-Mart and would just see what happened.

When we did move all the fish, there were much fewer goldfish than I had counted at peak times. Perhaps, when they all thought they were going to their death, they partook of what they thought was their last meal. There had been tons of baby goldfish.

Right after the move, I was sitting near the pond, and spied a strange-looking head peering out of the water. It neither looked like Mo or Jo, our two biggest Koi, over a foot long now. Yes, that is how much they grew in a year’s time. I went over to look, but didn’t see what I thought was a miniature Lock Ness Monster creeping out of the front pond. A week later, my husband discovered it was a new snapping turtle. We had purposely built this pond with steep sides to prevent such a thing from happening. This was the third year that a snapping turtle had made its way to the front pond. Maybe telepathy or some type of radar from past turtles drew him or her here. It obviously couldn’t get out. And, luckily, the fish were of a sufficient size and swam too fast for him or her. My husband scooped it out and placed it in the back pond. We fed it for a about a week, thinking about possibly making the back pond into a haven for turtles, but it moved on. Hopefully it sent out telepathic vibes to his fellow comrades that the pond had steep sides, “Don’t go there.” We can hope.

Then within a week of the move, we saw strange things happening in the water. We had just bought three new baby Koi. I hadn’t intended to, but they were just too cute. We only went to the fish place/greenhouse to get some pond plants.

It was only a couple of days before I spied one of the new ones floating atop the water. I scooped it out. This time the other fish all scurried to my net at the same time. I could have easily taken a few more out. Maybe they thought there was a better place even beyond this pond. Maybe they weren’t as happy as I thought they were. Maybe it was just their irrational behavior during spawning season. After some research we found this was what was happening in the water. They reaped havoc on the new water plants, and more than likely killed the new fish.

We did put a bunch of the eggs in a bucket. The man at the fish store said if we did this they would be safe from their parents and might possibly hatch. We will see what happens.

As far as predators besides the turtles, we have both dogs and cats. They seem to take care of most things. Our dogs even chase the shadows of birds across the lawn. The man at the fish store said the raccoons got all of his prize Koi. And, while there we ran into someone who told us that her backyard had flooded during the heavy rains we just had. Her Koi floated down the creek. I wondered if they said, “Free at last!”

Just when we thought the turtle adventures were over, I noticed one day that the waterfall had stopped. When my husband got home he put on his rubber boots and stepped down into the pond. Upon pulling out the pump, he jerked back with a startle. The backside of a turtle was hanging out of the pump enclosure. His head had been sucked in. Luckily after removing him (yes, he or she was dead), the pump started back up without a hitch.

So, this is my big fish story for the day. Honestly, I would have never thought I would be this into fish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMC3Vd3lCg0

The Cookie Jar

IMG_1263The round green object sat atop a pink counter that I was too short to reach. I eyed it, particularly the ceramic lid three white cats that shot up acting as its handle. It always held a reward, usually store brand chocolate chip cookies.

Although my mother was big on cooking, baking cookies was not her forte. She did bake – cakes, usually blackberry or red velvet, or the laborious stack cake, that no other stack cake in our small Mayberry-like town could touch. Despite all of this, homemade rolls were her culinary excellence. Butter wasn’t even necessary. To this day, a half a century later, I can still smell the rolls coming from the oven. They had her in them. The cookies, dull and lifeless, didn’t. The cookie jar did. Other than pink, green was one of her most favorite colors.

The words “Three Little Kittens” are now faded. Only a dab of red paint remains, at the beginning, “Three.” Only the ears of the first kitten remain intact. The others are chipped off. I imagine this worn and torn area of the cookie jar still holds the essence of my mom as she removed the lid with a smile and handed me a cookie for a drawing well done. I was always drawing.

The cookie jar was in a pile of stuff that my sister was throwing out. I asked, “Could I have that?”

She said, “I don’t want it. It’s junk.”

Her words stung. I said nothing. Maybe she had no memories of the cookie jar.

(Note: This was synchronicity. I wrote this yesterday. But first, I emptied a box that had been in the closet for several years. I pulled out the cookie jar and started cleaning it up. Then I opened a writing course that I had recently signed up for and began my first lesson. The assignment was to write about an object from our past, one that evoked memories.I looked up this particular cookie jar up on line and found several images. It had McCoy Pottery written on the bottom. I found it was manufactured 1954-55. Yes, that was about write, as I was born in 1953.)

 

 

 

Koi and Goldfish Pond

This is one of the things that has been taking up a lot of our time, and will conIMG_1261tinue to do so as there is always work to be done. It’s like doing laundry and mowing the lawn. And, last night the pump went out. Perhaps we expanded the pond so much it couldn’t carry the water load. I have hopes that the pump will be okay and work in the smaller pond in the back.

We wanted to get everything finished before our grandson arrived. Luckily, the pump was fine then. This is our grandson with me sitting on the upper part of the lawn over IMG_3144the pond. There are still some flowers starting to bloom, and we’ve added some more plants. The grasses will grow much taller. I would like to get it natural looking with various shades of green, with next to no maintenance. People have told me that isn’t possible, but anything is possible. Below are pictures from various angles. The building in the background is the building we also finished rocking. All of the rock for these projects come from our woods. One year we went to the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. It was a great inspiration for all of this. I’m thinking a tea house would be nice in the back, but then finishing the greenhouse is more important.

Tractor at Edge of Field

While I wasn’t posting I somehow achieved over 500 followers. I think that may be a mere drop in the bucket for most, but for me it is quite amazing.

 

The reasons for my absence have mostly been good weather and the opportunity to work on outside things. I practiced my art of concrete mixing to make rocking a building go faster. My husband piled stone upon stone, while my job was to keep the concrete coming and advise him on which rocks to place. The project required two trips out into the woods to acquire the rocks. That is always one of my favorite things to do. The building exterior finally got completed. But I always find rock projects to do. I’m thinking of a rock patio at this point. A dream is to rock the barn, but that would be massive.

 

Another thing we worked on was finishing the pond area. That is always an ongoing project, but the major stuff is now done. This past weekend we added some water plants and a couple of new fish, which I couldn’t resist, even though the fish we now have, Koi and Goldfish, are presently spawning, as far as we can tell.

 

Mostly, we wanted to get done with certain projects before our three-year-old grandson came to visit. We acquainted him with farm life while he was here. We visited my uncle’s farm, where he petted the horses. Then we took him to an Old MacDonald’s type farm. There were cows, goats, sheep, chicken, guineas, llamas, and dogs.

 

After he left, we spied a snapping turtle in the pond, not as big as the ones that had found their way there the previous years. They must have some telepathic communiqué that lets them know the fish are spawning. We had built to pond with steep sides to prevent this. We were fairly certain he or she couldn’t get out. My husband scooped him up in the net and moved him to the back pond where we hope he or she will stay. We have started feeding him or her the fish food.

 

While rocking the building I sat in the grass between concrete mixings. I gazed off into the distance at the field and saw some trees I wanted to draw. I didn’t get them the way I wanted. Instead, it somehow ended up being all about the tractor in the foreground. We use the tractor to haul rocks from the woods.

 

Later, more on the pond and the koi and goldfish.

Vegetarian Hot Brown

athursdayschild

Before going vegetarian, hot brown, made famous in Kentucky, by the The Brown Hotel in Louisville, was always an okay dish with me, but not to be listed among my favorites.  I had never thought that hot brown could possibly be vegetarian considering its main ingredients were ham, turkey, and bacon, but the vegetarian version is definitely one of my favorites.

photoA friend told me about a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky, called Stella’s, and how the vegetarian hot brown was her favorite dish there.  So, I tried it.  It was great.  Therefore, as I usually do, I did my best to come up with my own version at home, down to making my own sprouts.  The hot brown pictured above is my own version.  It is always a little different depending on the veggies on hand.  The tomatoes in the picture came out of our garden.

Ingredients:

Various vegetables

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The Continuing Saga of the Pond

Once upon a time, there was this troubling spot right in the middle of our front lawn. It was a pesky patch of hill that just dropped off. It defied mowing. It was the sore spot of the lawn, like a giant pimple that wouldn’t go away. In my opinion it was troublesome for children, in that I felt it was dangerous.

One day I watched a little boy. Having a little girl, I wasn’t used to little boys. I had to keep telling him to quit jumping off “sore spot.” The whole situation was making me nervous. I told his father when he came to get him. He just laughed, saying he did much more dangerous stuff at home on his bicycle.

So, when my now husband came along, we dug up the rough patch of ground and planted a hillside garden. It was mostly clay, not that clay was a bad thing. I’ve heard that the Amish love clay gardens. Maybe I heard wrong.

But, we moved the garden later to another spot, another clay area. It did great there. Still, yet again, we moved it to richer soil. It didn’t do bad there, but there was not enough sun where we moved it. So, what do they say, the fourth time is a charm? We moved it again. We are in the process of building a greenhouse next to the garden, another continuing saga. Our projects are all continuing sagas.

Back to the eyesore patch of ground that was now a dug up piece of clay has been garden….well, we decided to put a pond there. I’ve lost track of all many years ago that was. If you scroll down my blog, you will see some pictures.

Last year, we finally thought we got it the way we wanted it, but we had dug beyond the clay, and there was a slow leak. So, this year, a complete overhaul was in order. We lined it. It took a mighty big liner. We’ve had to redo most of the rock work around it, and redo the waterfall.

Last night we worked until dark on the waterfall. The rocks are bigger than they look in the picture. I can’t believe my husband can lift them, but I’m thankful he can. Actually, some of the rocks on the pond were set in place by the tractor. I don’t know what the contraption is called that hooks on the back of the tractor, but there is a chain you can tie around rocks and carry them back. We make regular excursions into the woods for rocks. We have nearly rocked our entire house doing that.

There is obviously still more work to do on the pond. The black liner has to be covered. The walkway around the pond has to be finished. The things we’ve planted over the years are slowly blooming and should fill up the area behind the pond. We are working on just differing shades of green, easy and natural. We may add another waterfall between the grasses, which haven’t taken off this year yet.

This morning I saw the iris’s in bloom, and said hello. They said hello back with a spurt of their fragrance. 

IMG_1206Yesterday, it was warm enough to have lunch on the deck. I had a spiralized English cucumber with a dressing consisting of an avocado, sea salt, pepper, lemon juice, dill, and garlic.  

 

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