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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas, 2011


  In wishing my writers group a Merry Christmas, 2010, in the post below, I'd add, in 2011, we've seen some come and go. We now have more members to name, and rather than do so and perhaps miss someone, I cast instead, glistening wishes out, for all--all writers, family, friends, colleagues, people--from birth to the aged, of all occupations/talents/skills and being, and send joy, peace and love.
  Peace and love. May we be open to experience more than is present. And on!
  May we all strive for our dreams and highest desires, live our lives to the fullest, and create the lives we want to look happily back on.


  Time flies--It was Halloween, now it's almost Christmas! Like many, I say, I blinked and time passed. It's interesting how that is, especially since during the days, I try to remind myself to be conscious of the moments. They feel so complete...divine...especially on the weekend mornings when it is quiet and sun glistens on the lake. I watch it through my window, have a sip of coffee with my strawberries, and edit through a story I'm preparing for Create Space and Smashword.
  While cleaning out drawers last night, I found my note I wrote for my writers group, last Christmas. We met for dinner. Thought I'd share. Friends are special, or groups we belong to where we enjoy. I enjoy my writers group very much, and am thankful for each.

12-09-10 (Self) Prompt :)  : They met at Tanners for holiday dinner.

It was the meeting for the holidays, 2010, of Hearts and Pens. Not "Pens" really...yet People Engaged N Serenity.      People: The writers           Engaged:  Minds bonded with writing instruments.
Serenity: Peace known to their hearts, through the act of writing.

  It was the writers group Christmas dinner. Instead of Come One, Come All, it was a merry few, who joined to represent the blessed souls whose hearts beat to words manifested on pages.

  To write, to join mind with paper. How does this bring such thrill to the being, tears to the eyes, laughter out of the lips, quiet moments to be thoughtful in?

  It is with words we communicate, bringing us closer in vision, in story, or at best, understanding.

  It is with words, we vibrate ourselves from thoughts and imagination. These take us into traveling around the world, throught the universe, or to the nearby, or within.  In moments of experiences of happiness, grief, wonderment, frustration, problems and resolutions, stories are told.

  It is with words we describe senses. Smells of rank--Steve's smelly fish along the beach's pristine sand and sea salt laden air,    to healing essences of flower oils. Sights of beauty's adornment, to the aghast that make us turn our heads in utter fear. We hear the soft breaths and feel the heat of it, from a lover...with words.

  We've cried with Rachel. Oh, how her words and poet-like writing, can touch and describe the intimate moments.

  And Helen--She is a maestro of writing children's stories!

  Listening, I have hunted through woods in my mind's eye, with Scottie. What a hoot!

  And into psychology of imagery with our German, John, running toward, yet not meeting, his beloved, due to circumstances, until peace enters...then bonding may return.

  Mermaids and adventures at sea, are brought in, naturally like the ocean's waves, by Joe. Joe...goodness, Joe. He who writes novels it seems in our 20 minute prompt time.  And the same may be said about John E. Illustrious Professor John, who can succulently bring in stories--through catacombs of imagined honey as it drips, slowly and thickly within his words. (I really like the old witch in the stormy night story!)

  Most of our prompts do become stories, somehow in the 20 minutes, and they are lovely and lively. Unless Chuck gives us a prompt which makes us melancholy--then we grace the sidewalks of death or dear sentiment.

  Chuck, our leader and winner of, how many FWA awards? CONGRATULATIONS! Now you lead us by example into the computer website and blogging, thank you!

  And our guests, at different times,have always been welcome and enjoyed. An open mat to any who feel the heart beat stronger, quicker--to slowed moments, drawn-in quiet thoughtfulness by the sight of a blank sheet of paper and pen, or computer screen.

  Happy Holidays to you all! I thank you for creating a safe haven, a wonderful explorative meeting place. I appreciate you all, and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, properous, joyful 2011--May all your dreams and goals come true!

  To you, my heart beats wishes of joy,

Monday, October 31, 2011

Silence lay as thick as death. Happy Halloween 2011 :0

This was a prompt last year with our writers group. Since it's Halloween, I thought I'd add it (and not part of a women's fiction novel I'm working on).

Prompt: Silence lay as thick as death.

     Scattered rays of yellow light penetrated in patches through the fog. The owl above turned its head 180 degrees and hooted. Its claws rested calmly on the old oak's branch as it shook dew from soft feathers.

    "Did you hear that, Stanley?"


    Marcus grabbed Stanley's rain jacket and slipped.

    Stanley's flashlight went out and darkness came in to surround the two boys.

    "The owl, Stanley. It wasn't a regular hoot like usual. It was drawn out, like a warning or something. Just like in the story... Beware of the owl with the calm hooot," Marcus whispered.

     Stanley hit the flashlight a couple times. "Old flashlight...Marcus, forget that story. It's just an owl that hoots that way."

     Suddenly a thud came from behind them.
     "Stanley!" Marcus screamed.
     Stanley grabbed Marcus's flashlight. He shined it behind them, over a moss-covered, long branch with dead leaves, lying in the path they walked moments ago.  "It's only a branch. Probably old and gave way in the earlier storm."

     "And now it falls?"

     "Marcus, do you want to go home empty handed, or get what we're looking for?"

     "I don't know."

     Stanley thought to himself, I really don't know either. Instead of letting Marcus know this, he answered strongly. "Well I know. we've got to get it back and get it back tonight before dad comes home."

     The wind swirled around the boys as they stood still. Stanley was waiting for his gut to point the way.  Where were we the other night?  He began to shine light on the concrete tombstones around them.

     John Harrision...Beloved Father and Husband  1873-1938, R.I.P.

     The boys moved past the plotted family section to the next headstone. Hilary Dyer. 1894-1923. May You Dance in the Hereafter.
     "Here we go. I remember this," Stanley said. "We laughed thinking she probably loved jazz and wore frilly outfits and red lipstick. Would have liked to have met you Hilary."

     "Stop kidding, Stanley."

     A crack of lightning lit the sky. A raven, large and blacker than midnight, flew in front of the boys. Marcus yelled hearing the wings flapping. Thunder rumbled in the distance.

     "Six seconds...the storm's going away, Marcus. We're fine."

     Marcus wondered. He still felt dampness brushing his face within heavy swipes of wind. Damp moss came down on his head. He yelled, quickly pulling it off and looked up into the full moon. It was momentarily exposed as the winds had moved the clouds across. "Let's just get dad's lantern and get home." Marcus whispered.

     "It's up there, probably five more grave sites. A couple more minutes, and we'll be out of here."
Stanley stopped. He thought he saw a reflection on glass ahead. It looked like the lantern. He remembered he set it on the oldest grave. He saw a shadow near it. It was the raven. It looked oddly perched on the tombstone... above the lantern.

     " you hear that?"

     "What Marcus? I don't hear anything."

     Surrounding the boys, silence lay, as thick as death.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

my novice sewing experience (not story, true in life :) )

Okay, so last weekend, I'm in a local fabric store, feeling the fabrics... this is almost as good as tasting wines ...well, no, ...maybe.... Yet when a nice fabric is felt, it can be sensuous. 

Background: I've discovered the delight of buying a pattern, material, etc and sewing dresses. I've made two. Semi-wearable. I have a couple more patterns and material.

Anyho, on my recent trip into town, I bought an inexpensive, on sale linen, for a simple black dress. --Let's try again and get better at it, I thought ;)
I also found a pattern for a winter dress, so I was looking at the materials and feeling around (not even looking to see if anyone was watching---of course not, I'm in a fabric store, EVERY woman feeelssss her way around, right?)
I found this great deep brown color and it felt great. It was on sale... I'm there, this is it.

After getting my zippers, (not the more expensive, tactfully hidden ones, just regular ones---I'm thinking I have 2 value deals on the material. Both are noted on sale remember) I went to check out. 
The first material, lightweight linen, black, I bought under 2 yards, and don't freak, the material was under $10 (with sale and coupon).
I saw its price and then ignored the register, looking idly around. I've made over a dozen lap quilts; I know the general total my ears will hear. Then she tells me my purchase was $90. What? I had two inexpensive zippers, 1 pattern (17.95 on sale for .99 ) and a light for my rose quartz lamp.
"What??"  (I forgot to politely say, "Excuse me?")
Oh, the 2 3/4 yards.... it was ears didn't hear...somewhere around 50.   "What?  Wasn't it on sale?" 
"It's 100% wool," she said.
"Do you want it?" she asked.

Of course I wanted it. It FELT good to me, and I liked the color. I already imagined making the dress.
So I bought it. Only thinking, I better make the other dresses I have patterns/material/etc for and practice, practice, practic, before I make this one---and maybe I should get a better zipper.
My pits sweated. I'm only a novice.

So later, I wrote a girlfriend who is a wonderfully talented designer. She's in Amsterdam.
She suggested, since I'm in FL, to line the armpits to protect the wool.
She also noted more info about material, like cashmere can sell for 150 euros per meter, ...200 American dollars per yard (approximately). 

Hm. I'm happy about my purchase. The price was okay in comparison to that. And if I sew it right, I'll be able to drink many glasses of wines while wearing it.  
:) Imagine, being out for a glass of wine, with someone special, listening, laughing, and able to feel the material too under the table. Haha! It is a wonderful world.

Friday, October 7, 2011

1 for Halloween (quite mellow)

05-26-11 Prompt: Her eyes took on a faraway look. “I’ve always wanted more,” she said.

  The hairy beast crouched over its prey, as blood dripped from its fangs.
  Lily stood straight as she could, sticking to the side of the tall pine she hid behind.
  The monster looked once her way. Lily couldn’t see it, but she sensed it. She sensed his low growl rumbling through the air, rippling through the oxygen until it met her ears.
  She felt the breeze blow strands toward her face. “Thank God,” she whispered. She knew she’d be dead if she were down wind from the form she saw at the edge of the old boathouse, and now only yards away.
  She heard a flap of material and knew it was the old windsock on top the roof. If she could hear that, she knew she had to plan a delicate escape. But how to be that quiet, she wondered.
  She paused and heard nothing. No growl. No more tearing of flesh. No more breaking of bones. “Stay together.” She hoped she thought and didn’t say. Nothing. Not a crunch underfoot either. Where is it? Not knowing whether to look, she waited.
  Her eyes took on a faraway look for a moment. I’ve always wanted more, she thought. Never again. Not after this time. … If I get out of here.
  She heard a distant engine on the lake and knew it was Charles. He and Steve were going to pick up her and Margaret at midnight. … If they made it to midnight.  They may have been kidding, but Lily found out tonight the creature of Elton Island was not a myth. It was true. And if they come soon, they may be killed. 
  Lily didn’t know what to do. It was as if her legs were frozen.
  Where’s Margaret, she wondered. Did she make it?
  And where’s the beast?
  Then she heard it. Three clinks. That was the signal. Lily knew Margaret had made it back to the old boathouse.
  But had she seen the beast? The killer in the night… the stalker of prey larger than man, who kills and leaves the bones mangled, looking as if they are stirred dominos of a child’s game.
  “Margaret--” Lily didn’t know what to do. If she ran from her cover, certainly she may run into her death.
  Lily stayed, and still heard nothing. Anger irrationally lifted, thinking she couldn’t listen for the animal over the louder approaching boat engine.
  Lily heard the chains. They were on the deck, around the backside of the boathouse.
  Margaret—the monster! Lily thought.
  She peered around the pine feeling shivers as the moon cast rays of evidence on death nearby.
  It smells Margaret, Lily thought.
  Lily saw a spotlight from the boat going back and forth—along the shore, over the boathouse. It stopped at the other side of the boathouse. It jerked up, down, scattered, then stayed. Lily could make out forms in the boat.
  The boys were almost to shore. She felt her legs strengthen. Her heart beat within her chest stronger than she had ever felt it.
  “HEYY!” She heard Chuck scream. 
  She couldn’t tell the tone.
  What did he see? Lily wondered. Did he see the monster?
  HEY! Again, then laughs.
  Lily was confused. She heard something strange from the boathouse. Wood was being broken. Then glass.
  The boys’ laughter stopped and the spot light danced erratically.
  Lily heard a scream and saw Margaret run to the side. Behind her, Lily saw the monster lounging.
  A flash of light from the boat’s flare gun screamed over the land past the boathouse and into the back of the monster…. Skin, hair, bones and blood dispersed onto the back of Margaret as she fell forward.
  Lily watched the windsock whipping erratically now, and the boys jump off the boat and run toward Margaret. She couldn’t hear anything, except for Margaret’s screams.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Did she know what I was up to that day?

9-22-11 Prompt:  It has always intrigued me… Did she know what I was up to that day?

    It happened one spring day, when the grass was as green as an Irish landscape after soaking in a week’s steady rain and warmth of the sun. 
    But today was overcast,.. because it didn’t work, he had thought, as if the heavens were joined with him in his disappointment.
   However, backing up, on that special day when the grass was green and hope filled the air, and the lungs of this man held breath for possible success…The day where it was his adventure out to see, yet failed.      He wondered, had she been there? Did she know?
   I thought she was far away, he thought.  Only later did he learn of her probable close vicinity.
He racked his brain wondering how she knew. .. Or did she?
   I tried steadily for weeks, to keep it a secret. No one should know. This was my mission, my project.  If it worked, I would let the public know. If I failed, no one would be the wiser.   And wiser all would be, if I had succeeded.
   He looked a her from across the café bar. She sat at the opposite end. She looked too poised, and had glanced many times his way. He noticed.   

   Did she know what I was up to that day?
   I don’t want her to know…unless the experiment becomes a success. Then, she would believe me to be brave, …and smart. 
   A stranger she is. I didn’t want to be strangers. Not any longer. I had wanted to be able to introduce myself by now. And more. But since it failed…I failed, I have to wait.
  What if I don’t have a chance now? No, if she does know, surely she can’t hold it against me for not being successful. She should think me gallant for my effort.
   Hm. She may think me an idiot and fool.

   The man took a sip of his water. Second serving, in a clean glass, no ice. He set it on the placemat, upper right hand corner so its round bottom met the edges precisely.
   He glanced up from his bowed head, to the end of the bar. She was smiling. At him. She waved.
   He began to meekly raise his hand, yet was interrupted.  Someone passed him so close his shoulder was almost brushed. A chill enveloped around him from the closing café door.
   The someone was another man and her eyes followed him…the stranger walking toward her. Her smile reached out to the stranger’s face.
   The man at the opposite end of the bar wanted her eyes to see him, wanted to feel her smile, for him.

   Oh, she must know what I was up to that day, he thought. “What can I do next for her?” He mumbled to himself, lifting steaming soup toward his lips. He kept his head bowed and imagined an empty field, with a track and his new machine to help the world. “This time it will work,” he said, as he delicately patted his lips with his napkin and returned it, centered in his lap.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

09-08-11 Prompt: "Time passes," she said. "You'll see."

9-08-11  Prompt: "Time passes," she said. “You’ll see.”

  She held my hand with her hands. Her frail and boney hands, with blood vessels enlarged in streets of their own. I wondered about her circulation. Really, I did. How did her vessels make it to 108 years?
She looked at me, a fawn self to her old dearness. I twitched in my chair. Luckily my short blue jean cutoffs had frayed and I could play with white cotton strands. Normally I liked the residents at the nursing home, however, this visit was out of scope. … out of school and it made me nervous... She somehow saw into me.
  Coming every Tuesday and Thursday to practice observation to finish my occupational therapist degree is what drew me here. But now, this very day, with Sadie Marie, I am a companion, not an intern, and she is 86 years my senior.
  Why I wore my cut offs and not a dress, I wondered.

  “You’re still fresh, child, like a strawberry with green near its top. I’m the old oak. Think about it. I came from an acorn 108 years ago.”

  I laughed. “Oh Sadie, you were not an acorn.”

  “You know what I mean. Don’t try to fool me, Sara. I see you. I watch you. You come in here with the others, young and with sparks. But I see you. You’re not one of them. They are all academic. This is fine. It’s good in fact. Your whole group will be fine OTs. But you, child,  study us. You find us intriguing. You linger, helping the most critical, watching their breaths when they talk. You notice what brings them peace or agitation. You look into their eyes and get what they need before they ask. But still,” she hesitated, while I thought this was normal for all of us, and to a point, it is.  Sadie continued, “You look beyond that. You watch us as if you are watching for answers, answers to questions only you ask in your head.”

  I waited for her to talk more.
  “Why you hide behind your youth and exhibit a paleness, I don’t know.”

  “What?” I asked.

  “You hide, Sara. You observe and hide yourself. I’m telling you today, you can’t do that your whole life. You have too many questions, you have too much life in you. Time passes. You don’t have forever,” she said, “You’ll see.”

  “I do see that.”

  “Yes and no. One day you’ll understand deeper there is an end. All seconds are important and how you spend your time and with whom is important.”

  “I see that, Sadie.”

  “Well, I’m telling you, you need to see it more.” She reached over, twisted her back and reached far for her water.

  “Let me get that for you,” I said,.

  “It’s your day off, honey, just relax and visit with me. And tell me, Sara,” she said, “--why’d you wear those shorts in here? They’re too short.”

  Frankly, I thought that was none of her business. In fact, my life was none of her business and why she thought she had the right to tell me what to do, I don’t know. “Sadie—I’m playing tag football after I leave.”

  “Football?! My words. You’re an angel, a delicate creature, why are you playing football?”

  “Because I like it.”

  “Well every bump and bruise you get now, you’ll feel it later. I’m here to tell you.”

  Sadie was telling me more and more. “I know, I know. There is an end and how I get there is important.”

  “Your darn tootin” Sadie said. She aimed to set her water back and I took it before she twisted too far.

  “Can I get you anything, Sadie?”

  “You can get through your life intact, in peace, and happy. Do you know what makes you happy, child?”

  “Sometimes. Sadie, who’s the therapist here?” Although we both knew OTs are mainly for the physical, we went beyond it into thoughts and being.

  “Life’s more than what is seen. That’s all I’m saying. What makes you happy, or what draws your attention is good for your heart. Or more.”

  “Yeah, it’s the or more I wonder about.”

  “I know dear.” She looked at me and smiled.. “So why football?

  “Because it’s fun and I need fun. Otherwise I’d only be thinking.”  

  “I know honey, I know.”

  Then I realized, I liked being here, with Sadie Marie,… she felt familiar to me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A (real life) visit with a banjo player. :)

"Bill’s Banjo"

         On Tues, August 30, 2011, I had the honor, and pleasure, of having a friend phone and ask if I was busy. He was downtown and had his banjo in hand.
        “Of course come over!” I replied. I set aside a pile of paperwork and books. Studying could continue later in the day and the next appointment with a client was in an hour. This was an opportunity I delighted in.
         Below is what I felt when Bill was present and playing his 1890’s banjo he had just finished restringing:

            He sat in my old grandmother’s chair. It hadn’t been used like this ever---well maybe, I’ll never know. She would be about 100 if she were still alive. I can’t ask Grandfather this either—he would have been about 102 by now.
            Bill held on his lap and in his tan hands, an instrument from the 1890’s—a banjo. With Mother of Pearl and abalone, the shiny green and blue within ivory-like inlays, glistened and marked frets, in the dark stained maple neck. His short-nailed fingers on his left hand traveled over the four newly strung gut (not metal) strings on the upper neck’s notes, and his right hand danced its magic stroking the strings over the round banjo’s pot.
            The muscles in his forearm pulsed, and moved with the strumming. The rhythm of his head matched to the excreting joy and tenderness of the moments.

            He played Chicken in the Barnyard. This one could have made anyone smile. J
            Next, it was Wild Horses. This tune reminded me of wagon wheels, canvas covered, night fires and long grassy fields.

            He labeled and pointed out parts to educate me. The bridge, neck, and new calf skin frets. He noted, goat skin could also be used; it was usually animal skin in those days. Plastic strings were more recent.
            The 5th string began later down the neck. He said it was more of a drone note/not an octave. The frets, were marked by the shiny Mother of Pearl and abalone, at 3, 5,7, 9 and 12. This is typical, yet sometimes may be different. The twelfth, he said, is always octave. (I’m not sure what that means.)
            Bill said someone playing a banjo, plays higher if playing with a fiddler.  

            Back to another tune. The Big Scioty. This had lyrics, although unsung, he told me it was a story about the underground railroad in Ohio.

            I asked why is the neck dark; what kind of wood is it? Bill explained it was maple, stained, and he noted, they usually did this until 1901…then the whyte ladyie was made. This banjo had unstained maple and therefore was lighter. If I remember correctly, he also said this banjo had thicker wood at the pot, under the pulled skin and rim. The thicker wood made the banjo louder. They wanted it louder, so larger crowds could hear the music.

          Another tune is played, Jack-of-All-Trades. By hearing the music, I imagined a laughing card player, cigar smoke and women in wistful scarlet red and blue silk dresses. (I suppose my memory banks went into childhood television I watched---lots of western movies and shows seen.)

          “Hammering on and pulling off” Bill said was the official language for the playing.

          A little history on banjos: In the 1890s  W.A. Cole in Boston had a banjo company. He worked beside, or with,  A.C. Fairbanks. As relationships sometimes go, these two eventually parted.
          The fret boards had ebony over them that the inlays were put in.
In the back of the pot,  a Dowel was put in. (Or was Bill talking about the neck put through the wooden circle/ that the dowel rod was next to….
           I may not have followed this part accurately:  This old banjo Bill played on, he had to restore. He is a banjo enthusiast, to say the least. He can play them and has rebuilt many in his day. Anyway, he said usually he could take the dowel rod out (relatively) easy---and pointed to a bolt or screw and plate. On this old banjo, however, the dowel rod was put into a drilled slot (this is usual) yet instead of being able to drip hot water to loosen the (gluey) substance to extract it, this particular dowel was in put in using a different technique. Apparently, the builder used a rod cloth with pine tree resin to anchor the neck into the pot. Who knew. …  Bill did. It was not so easy to get pliable.
          Used to, designers used single spun metal to encase the wood. Nickel silver. When they wanted it louder, they double spun the metal around both edges, top and bottom. To get it even louder, they figured out to thicken the wood, and shoe attach to the band above and below without the wood screws. (metal screws were in the wood at even intervals on this one aound the pot. I think.)
           As noted above, the Whyte ladyie was very loud…it had the thicker wood design.
            Oh play another tune!
            And Bill did. This time, it was Sallie Ann.
            It didn’t take long before another image immerged within my mind. I saw a lady in white, dancing in a daffodil field, yellow and green colors blurred, twirling, holding a parasol to keep the sun’s heat at bay, only now, she could care less, as she was twirling it around over head and down to the waist with a swoop. She danced with the late summer breeze. A nearby man resting on a blanket smiled.

          It was a lovely visit. My studies had a beautiful intermission.  Thank you, Bill.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Prompt: Words given: Stew glutton desert colony philosophy elixir savvy nirvana

From a group meeting, Jan. 14, 2010. It's words given to us this time. "20 minutes, use as many as you may...write." :)

   Of all the places on earth, the biplane had to crash land in the desert. Walking was not an option in a day of 120 degrees heat. The night at 98 felt like nirvana for this Scottish man. His white skin began matching his face's growing rusty bristles. Usually soft, the beard now felt like thorns. Thorns of a cactus he lusted to see, as perhaps water or meat under its skin could be had.
  His mind began to drift, looking for palms and an oasis heard within stories of youth. His mind questioned to remember--were they fables or truths? Could there be hope or was it certain death? How far off course had the sand storm put him?

  The first night was frightful. Feeling decreasing sanity and bewilderment, he thought of squeezing his socks to drink his own perspiration--something else he had heard stories about. He sipped from his canteen, each spoonful measured and received as an elixir from the Gods.

  "You're a glutton for punishment. This serves your death, sir." He heard words ring in his ears.  Yes, this is what she would say in her madness to him if she could see him now.

  However, the Scot genteelly spoke, quietly and precisely to the illusion of his lover clearly envisioned in his mind. "My lady, my philosophy has always been and always will be that life is an adventure to be lived deeply through each season, with passion and salt. Salt to season, as within the most delicious stew from lambs meat, fresh garden carrots the color of the setting sun, potatoes infused by the earth's calming nutrients, and onions where in the core is the pearl." By the end, he muttered to himself with a slight smile.

  The man, now lost of his savvy presences of surrounding riches, sat under the plane's wing, looking at his reserve canteen and dried beef. He spoke up. "Not the combination I need nor want now. Not salt to make me more thirsty, not toughness to make me chew harder, ah, but a dreary reminder-- Instead of salt of the earth to nourish myself, it is but salt in my wounds I feel, cut open from this treacherous twist of fate. I will not to win at crossing the desert, yet lose the prize, lose the game, and perhaps my life.... and Rebecca.

Friday, September 2, 2011

prompt: The only seat left was next to a strange old woman 5/12/11

  The only seat left was next to a strange old woman, but I had to take it. What else was I gonna do? I had to get out of here. So I tucked my head low and chin tight and wiggled my way past her knobby knees.
  “’Cuse me” I said. I put my tattered book into the seat. Its cracked binding long ago showing white like her hair and its pages were not staying together…kinda like her knobby knees. I tried not to look. That’s not where a man like me wanted to go.

  Her eyes were more gray than blue. I wondered what she went thru in her living.
Unlike most little old ladies, she didn’t look up. Didn’t say hello son, how are you? She didn’t smile and show her dentures, or even grin. I’m certain she has dentures.
  Well, honestly, how many on this stinkin’ bus are going to grin? Maybe they’re gettin’ out of town like I am. Had enough. And enough is enough.
  I put my bowling bag in the overhead. Its worn out leather looked like I felt. Guess I scraped it too many times … after too many beers. It made me smile. Didn’t have my lucky bowling ball in it now though. How I managed to roll two days of clothes in it, I’ll not know either.
  Of course, my ball’s not so lucky. How I cracked it last night, I can’t remember. This morning, it looked like a geode split in two.
  And Gracie. Hm. She ain’t had no patience for me lately. No woman of Grace these days.

  “Every one sit down please,” the driver said.
  “Geez…how long have I been standin’?” I shook my head’s fog and closed the hatch.

  “Three minutes,” the old woman said. Or at least that’s the sound of words that came from below and beside me.
  I sat and straightened my jeans. Patted off a splotch of dirt. Must have gotten it from somewhere last night. Probably in the alley. Yeah… Behind the bowling alley…in the dark alley. I let out a small laugh and noticed the old woman’s head tilted my way. Her eyes were closed. And her mouth. A woman’s mouth closed. Now that’s a sight to see. I laughed again. I saw a fold begin in her eyelids and one cheek crunched upward in her wrinkles. She was peeking my way.

  The bus rocked once as the emergency brake was released and it was put into low gear.
Outside the window, I saw the fog lifting.
  Concrete bus station. Empty already. People couldn’t wait to get whomever on the bus for out of town and pull out to leave.

  "This is the last I’ll see of this town."
  I must have spoken out loud. The old woman turned my way and looked right into me. I mean she looked right into me.
  “Leaving huh? Hope it’s for the better.”

  Me too, I thought. I didn’t say anything to her, just nodded. I softened and I didn’t know exactly why. There was something familiar in her eyes. I had seen eyes like that somewhere else. Somewhere…
I turned to look out the window. Oddly, my chest felt tight and my throat felt strangled.
I rubbed my palms on my jeans. They were so damp I almost made mud where the dirt was.
I took a breath in and turned to the woman.

  “You goin’ and coming back….or just goin?” she said.

  “Don’t know.”

  “Don’t know huh?” She said without judgment; it was as if the unknown was somewhere.

  “That’s right.”

  She turned away and looked straight.  I picked up my book from beside me.

  “Walt Whitman?” She asked, turning my way again.

  “Like him?”

  “Yeah, I do,” I said.

  “Hm” was all she said back. And then, “Why you leaving son?”

  “No reason to stay.”

  “Reason waiting for you wherever you going?” She asked

  “Not really. Dunno.”

  “Hm.” She took out a tangerine, peeled it without saying a word. Tore her napkin in half and
offered me some plugs.

  I took it—it smelled fresh.

  “Well,” she said. “I’ve traveled near and far. There’s always something waiting wherever we go.”

  “Yeah,” I said. “There’s something left behind too.” I felt myself open up and started thinking of Gracie. Don’t know why we fussed. Don’t now know why I left in such a hurry.

  “I like buses,” the old woman said with a smile. “They give us plenty of time to think.”

  She opened her satchel and pulled out a book. It was Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman. “He’s good.” She said, and she bit into a plug.

  The juice sprayed onto her finger and she wiped it off.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Prompt: Her letter lay on the table unopened

   Alexandria paced the floor as the fire crackled in the background. She followed the burgundy circular pattern on the rug.

    "Enough!" she cried. She looked at the letter on the dark mahogany table. Flames' reflections danced around the rectangular envelope.

   "I'm not burning this one."

   She watched the unopened letter as if it were threatening to her presence. It was the third she had received. The first was five days ago after their heated arguments. Her flames of fury from that night were now smoldering. She attempted to write letters in response, yet had torn them in anger. Sadness then led them, joined with his, to be kindling to the pine.

   Being drawn to the fire, she moved toward it and sat cross legged on the creamy long-haired sheepskin rug. She pressed her hands into the softness.

    A lone tear made a trail along her cheek and down toward her chin.

   She felt cold, abandoned and weak.

   Weakness was an unfamiliar feeling. This is why she felt the anger. The anger was her internal fire still prodding her to make a decision.

   "I should never have to do this," she said to herself. "It doesn't feel fair and has pain written all over it."

   She looked behind her. Beside the unopened letter, a red candle burned half way down, showing time's passing. Alexandria sat alone in the house, darkened by all but the fires around her.

   She felt darkened within herself.

   "I have half a candle left to make my final decision," she said as she turned back to look into the fireplace's flames.

   What am I going to do?

   Her chest rose as she took a slow deep breath. She exhaled as long as she could and felt some tension release as other choices came to her mind.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Prompt: Something was poised to attack

    The lizard was perched on top of the concrete wall. The sun-heated stone didn't seem to bother the small reptile. Its dorsal side had thick skin compared to the white and softer underbelly.

    The lizard did two quick push ups and from under its throat extended out semi-circular red flesh that retreated again.

   I have wondered if these precise actions were a mating ritual, territorial marking, or just haphazard movements from these small creatures.

   I took the moment to look around at nature for a clue. I looked for a temporary mate or rival lizard. I didn't see any. I looked for a bug--a meal, in the vicinity. I didn't see one either. My experience with lizard watching didn't expect this. I've seen lizards get insects. They are poised still until the attack and capture. I've also wondered before about those half-hanging-out-of-the-mouth bugs in lizards' mouths...are they dead or alive?...You know, with the head down the throat, like a shark devouring people in Jaws. (What movies do to the minds!)

   A flash of movement breaks my thoughts. It broke the stillness I was resting in. I jumped. The lizard is history. Apparently, a cat behind me was poised to attack.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Prompt: (From a picture of a bare room, teady bear on the floor, on a rug

On one evening, sometime in 2009, Chuck, our writers' meeting leader, gave us a picture to look at. It was a picture of a bare room, it had a window with no curtains, ... on the floor was an oriental rug and a teddy bear. There were 2 pictures on the wall.     Of course, as usual, he said we had 20 minutes.... go!    :)

Below is pretty much what came out.... cleaned up about 5% later.

S. Palmerton
     It was a night of rage, not long ago. Outside, a violent storm broke the blackness with streaks of lightning. Rolls of thunder shook the home.

    Inside, the electrical movement of a mother's protection.....
    "He can't find us here," the mother anxiously said to her child, as she tightly embraced the toddler to her chest.

    Like a strobe light, flashes of lightning minutes before, through a window without curtains, showed a mother run into the room--bend down--sweep the child into her arms, his teddy bear fell to the oriental rug--her silhouette move away--and then the room bare.

    Amid the simultaneous rolls of thunder, the night had heard her call out, the brief cry of the boy, the closing of a makeshift door, and the slamming of a distant door.

    Now she was secluded and laid her sleepy son next to her legs.

   Soon after, a flash of light streamed into the room--its path focused, searching quickly back and forth. From the door to each wall and covering the floor...over the lone teddy bear, light came and proceeded to move erratically. The rage had entered.

    The light dropped to the carrier's feet as the door to the room shut, and a locking of it was heard.

    Sounds of rushing footsteps moved into the hallway. The next room examined. Again, a locking of the door and more footsteps heard, farther away.

    The woman sat crouched in the hidden closet-size room. Three inner deadbolts double-checked were on her secret door. She heard his footsteps above, climbing the staircase, it seemed two at a time.

     Rolling thunder and the pelting of rain continued.

    She hoped the storm inside the house would go away. Her heart beat against her ribs. She looked down at her child with blond curls, asleep on his favorite sheet laid over a thick lambskin rug. A dim nightlight glowed onto them. She looked up to the base of the stairs that was now her angled ceiling. To her right, on the secret door, she looked at her taped picture of her and her child. A quote of Einstein's was paper clipped on it.

    At the speed of light I'll get away sometime, she thought and began to feel thinning of her chest's fear. She took a sip from a water bottle, screwed the top and set it beside a few more non-perishable foods. For now, this is my safe place, she thought and rested her head on a feather pillow. She'd figure out what to say in the morning.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Prompt: When papa laughed like that, I was at once reminded of the past.

Aug. 2009
S. Palmerton

     Although the years had slowed his gait, his height enveloped him vertically into looking like a lanky giraffe.  Bold crimson red walls with cinnamon trim framed his presence tonight. He sat in the firm chocolate leather chair and his grandson plopped himself right onto his lap.

     Pulling on his snow white beard, young Johnny pronounced, "Grams, it's your turn to tell a story."

     "It is, isn't it." I heard my father state. I looked around. Tonight it was the three of us.I sat at the hearth and stoked the burning logs to bring them closer. After adding a fresh one to burn, and I chose one that would take a long time, I turned to give my father attention. Seeing my son nestled in his lap, stretched my chest forward. I took a deep breath in.

     I don't remember him doing that with me, I thought. In my time, for him, work was from dawn to dusk. My scanning mind couldn't locate any memories of sitting in my grandfathers' laps either.

     Yet there Johnny sat, perched quiet and still.  That's unusual, I thought and inwardly laughed.

     Time was lovingly expressing itself within three generations present, and was as tangible to me as the warmth from the fire behind me. I moved to the couch and stretch out, laying a blanket across my legs that were longer than my son.

     "Yes, go ahead dad. Tell us all a story," I said as I interlaced my fingers behind my head and crossed my ankles. The couch always fit me perfectly. Tonight I'd try to listen and not fall asleep within a half hour.

     I basked in the sight of my father, my papa, holding my son.

     The tale he told was spun like threads from a golden spider. It was natural and intricate, a piece of artwork.

     When did he learn this? I wondered. I could tell he was improvising anew, as we noticed Johnny beginning to drift off, even though he was trying to stay awake.

    By the end, he began to close his imagination's journey with a  joker's bells and a steam train riding on rails, to a land of butterflies, lizards and baseball games... all of Johnny's favorites. Father laughed. Oh, did he laugh. He tried to keep from hooting and gently rolled out soft laughter. His open heart washed over us with glory.

     Oh..., my mind alerted me. When papa laughed like that, I was at once reminded of the past, back to a time I now remembered... when I was no taller than his legs.

Prompt: It was a time when he had been happy and hadn't known it.

S. Palmerton

     Jack stood outside, leaning against the white post railing of the wrap-around porch. He looked over the horizon. Rolling hills stretched out in front of him. And in his view, long, uncut grasses waved as swirls of ocean breezes blew inland from the west.

     He breathed in air so clean, he wondered if he were breathing at all.

     Jack thought of the moving boxes inside. Some were opened, and all were labeled and in the appropriate rooms. The quietness surrounding him seemed louder than the taxi cabs he used to hear at night. That was of a time when he had been happy and hadn't known it. Now, he realized it.

     Jack took another deep swallow of beer and crumpled the can in his hand. He left the porch and walked back into his cabin. A lone open window showed the only movement inside, as navy curtains shifted easily in the breeze like the outside grasses.

     I miss the haze of smog as the sun sets in the city, he thought. His mind drifted as he walked over to boxes, opening a couple and walking away, disinterested in taking out any holdings.

     Jack walked over to the refrigerator and got another beer.

     A rhythm of quick steps caught his attention as he heard paws of his new Labrador slapping the wood floor.  Looking down, Jack saw slobber drop next to his boot. His dog, London, barked once.

    "Want some food do you? Me too." Jack poured some dry food for London and took some cheese and salami slices for himself.

       The screen door creaked and shut with a snap behind him as he walked outside. Jack winced, knowing he would be fixing that this week too. He looked over to a tractor showing rust around more than its edges.

     Man, what was I thinking? He paused. A little farming, fresh air, the quiet and a change would do me good, he remembered.

     He wondered. What would he do without the city lights and movement of people? All kinds of people, meandering together in ways he thought had agitated him, and now he felt he missed the rush...the communion. He felt antsy inside his belly as he looked around... at all this space. Time felt broader, unfilled and waiting for him--and he didn't know what to do.

     I'd rather have ten things to get done in the same hour like I used to. I feel unproductive, even bored here.   "The city never bored me. That's for certain."  Doc said I needed a change to live. I don't know. I felt more alive before. Living out here may be slow self-extinguishing... all this silence.

     A bark came from inside. Jack put his plate and beer down on the white wooden porch and stood from the rocking chair. London sat at the screened door, looking for company, looking for Jack.

     "Come on out, guy" Jack said, as he opened the door. He figured his Lab would run over the grassy grounds with delight.

     London didn't. He sat beside the rocker and looked up at Jack and then to the horizon.

     Jack laughed. "Okay, let's see how this is done... this thing called relaxing." He sat down and reached to pet behind London's ears.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ps!!! always exploring

Yes, yes, whether big, or small, life is about exploring it---observing and feeling, wondering why at times the feelings or relations or moments are as they are. Experiencing life is what is happening... from birth until death (or crossover time). To explore self or explore life... it's quite a journey. (to be active in exploring and know this is being done..... not just chaotic feeling ---like one is "being done" while going thru the days.
I find it best now to go slower, observe more, be gentle and respect as much as I can. .. to learn or know what is good, what I want and how to get there....or accept and do what I can in the moment.   And if I feel lost for a moment, staying still and looking for choices.

It doesn't have to be big

I took a quiet break and checked in on my glowing embers.
I softly smiled at what I felt. Joy in seeing ladybugs the other day while trimming outside bushes, and in hearing the laughter of my children, and looking at their smiles. Feeling gratitude for my friends and our communications, seeing expansion of the world through, yes-- the internet, and the beautiful posts of life--photos and info of travel and home.   Home... there's no place like home. (hmm I don't have, nor want, red slippers, but I do like my red sandals. :) )


I remember traveling to Colorado, in December, 1997. Hiking during the days was breathtaking (in exertion and beauty seen) whereas  cold snowy nights had this FL woman under blankets on a sleigh ride, or by the fireplace.    Back then, my wanderlust nature was in full steam.

Years ago were also times of strong self exploration---as I felt the muck and mire of...something... and wanted to unzip it like a tight wetsuit in a swampy horror film and step out. It wasn't the only time. That course of my life (self exploration) spanned from l984-2005.  Some times were tough, yet they also were...light. Light, in a sense of clarity in the heat.

Sometimes presently I think my embers of desire for discovery are glowing only. I peak in on them in my busy days, making sure they are not out, yet ---in these busy days/work and to dos--- they don't seem to get to burn brightly.  Sure sparks come at times.

Perhaps I need to add some new wood. I always liked burning pine.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sam & Shadow

A semi-mental story can't be left alone!  How about a lost-in-the-woods one? ;)

A prompt and result with the local writers group. We meet 2x/month and began Jan 2008.

2-23-11 prompt:
He/she stared into the darkness not knowing what to expect.

Here's Sam & Shadow
by S.P.

   It was a cool, foggy night. This usually brought a comfort to Sam as he looked into the woods. Not 
now, however. Somehow tonight was different. If he had been sitting on his porch, in his own wooded back acres, it would be fine. Yet out in the woods here, it was different. He was in unfamiliar territory. He checked his supplies and shook his head thinking how he misplaced his GPS earlier.  He had come to rely too much on it instead of his attention to details. Now all he had was his instinct.

  “Which way, girl?” he said, not expecting an answer, as he kneeled to pet his black lab.
A small whine was all he received in return.

  Sitting for a moment, he began to backtrack within his thoughts. Where had they gone? 

  Excitedly, Shadow had pulled him off the trail. She had smelled something.  Sam knew he saw a buck in the distance and fresh rutting on the nearby tree bark, so he let Shadow have fun. He let Shadow take the lead. Something he hadn’t done before.

  At the time, he didn’t pay much heed. He had tapped his side and felt the GPS in its holder on his waist, and they had taken off.  Shadow was in her harmony and Sam was getting a work out as they traversed over the sandy boulders and cracking leaves underfoot.

  Now they stood, as all pines looked the same, towering toward the sky getting darker by each fragment of time.  Sam inhaled deeply. This time, it was not done from the running, but from exasperation of not knowing which direction to turn. He held his breath to listen, and stared into the darkness, not knowing what to expect.

  Another small whine came from below. “Steady girl,” Sam said to Shadow. He reached down. Shadow was sitting, with head and eyes toward him, waiting for direction. Sam reached to pet her, and questioned whom he was encouraging.
  Overhead, he heard a flapping of wings. Looking up, he noticed he was loosing definition of the branches into the night from all but the west. His mind began to trace a pattern of topography.
He knew where the old mill was on the mountain, relating to the east, yet it wasn’t enough of the puzzle pieces he sought.

  “Too bad I wasn’t a better boy scout, Shadow. Maybe I would know the pattern of stars as a map.”

  Shadow barked.

  “You think that’s funny?“

  Shadow barked again.
   “You always did trust me, girl.”
    Sam began to relax. He sat for a moment with his arm over Shadow. Her fur was a welcomed warmth, as he realized he had a slight chill. The night’s temperature would drop and he hadn’t been prepared for this either. He shook his head in frustration, yet contained himself. Breathing in calmly, he rested. He listened. A few small animals were beginning to scurry. Then he heard it. He heard his answer. A faint, yet growing more clear answer was registering.

  “We got it, Shadow,” Sam said as he stood. "The river’s below us. It’s south. And by the look of the two peaks west, I think we’re about forty minutes from the cabin.”

Let's Begin!

  It's Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011, and being new to blogging is appropriate to write. (Hello writers group :) ! )
I'll get the hang of this blog thing soon---if I can recruit a little help from my friends!
  A writer (of horror stories) I was talking to the other day read a short story I had written after a prompt I read in Stephen King's book On Writing. She liked it, and suggested I post it to "my blog." (I didn't have one.)
  My son, who says, Mom you really didn't grow up with computers.... would understand my initial dilemma. He's sleeping or I'd ask him--How to I pull the story from my documents to this blog?
Oh how I love pen and paper and snail times; I'm loving the speed of computers too.
  Back to prompts--- It's a great exercise for writing. A brief suggestion is made--a sentence, a scene, 6 words, etc and for the next 20 minutes (or other alloted time given) one writes what comes to mind.
   DING DING--- I figured it out. Simply copy and paste.
  Ok: In Mr. King's book, he had set up a scene between a man and woman, where the woman is the ...dangerous one. The names were Dick and Jane.   The following is what came to my mind--I did clean up what I wrote--not much. What fun writing is!  
  PS Usually my writing is women's fiction with slight romance.   For the following to slide out of my brain was an interesting insight.
  Hope you enjoy!  Sharon

By Sharon Palmerton

            Dick and Jane…This is not from the 1960’s kindergarten book… Dick sees Jane... See
Dick run. Although Dick would like to run—back to the past to warn his foolish self, or at least faster than Jane. Jane--The maniac woman who enticed him at the bar, became a real whack job within time. At first, Dick was in denial. No woman could be planning to murder me, he had thought. Then it was reality after Little Nell was born—He couldn’t overlook it—It was in several dashes of time, he concluded with no doubt, the woman he married was schizophrenic and dangerous.  He couldn’t understand how a woman with a PhD could have a metamorphosis in reverse, like a butterfly into a worm… not a caterpillar, but a worm. One that belongs at the bottom of a Tequila bottle, or better yet, chewed up and dead in the belly of a fish, deep in the ocean.
            Dick had been in denial—but no more. In reflection, Jane had manipulated and drew him in. Her workings were like casting bait on a fishing line.  She liked being the bait. She was also the rod she held as she cast the line and hook. He had been caught like a hungry fish. And all of it came to smell. Yes, he admitted, he had been hooked for four years. Four years lost of his life. Three years of his daughter’s.  A daughter he would watch only months ago, as she played with her dolls, … to make certain she didn’t behead another and blame it on Rex, the dog. His pet dog, whose tail used to curl up and wag, and since Jane entered, it too often seemed stuck in a tucked position.
            Dick made it to hell. All because he found Jane irresistibly attractive. She had taken his internal compass, his radar, and shifted the views. She moved like a professional sniper, seemingly quiet and out of sight…all while in the midst of his presence.
            Now, Dick cracked a beer. He grinned… and then felt familiar anguish. He wondered about his sanity. He sniffed the dark ale and felt foam run down his fingers wrapped around the cold glass bottle. He brought them up to his mouth and licked.  As he popped the cap into the garbage can, he thought about taking the trash out in the morning. It was after all, trash day. Maybe that’s why he was thinking of Jane again. He tried not to, yet seemed to, twice a week, on the nights before garbage pick up.
            “Never again,” he said as he opened the refrigerator and saw four more beers. “That’s enough for tonight.”
            He went into the living room, moved three books off the cushion and sat down in his chair. He looked at the mantle. Three framed pictures grouped on the end were dust free. “Here’s to you, my little Nell,” Dick said as he took a swallow and his throat tightened. His cheeks held the extra cool liquid until enough went down, and then he pulled the rest inside. He rubbed the tender spot over his belly where it landed.
            Dick stood and moved in front of the pictures, watching the eyes of the beloved as he traversed his path. In the first picture, one of Nell soon after birth, her eyes stayed the same as he walked. Hairy, wet, and he thought, full of potential. His blood. Or half anyway. The middle picture was of her at two, playing with blocks, looking up, and smiling at him. He saw her. He knew her, the good her. At two, she was still fresh eyed and charming; he had no clue what would happen the next year. The third framed shot was Nell’s last picture taken. In it, Dick held her, but she had a look...dazed, glassy eyed. Or had she been reaching out? He now wondered.
            Dick walked three feet, looking into the last picture of him and Nell. He watched his eyes. He walked back. They stayed fixed. He walked three feet and looked into Little Nell’s eyes. He walked back. They followed him, both ways. Her headless doll was behind them, on the ground, under the bush. He hadn’t noticed it that day, only later when Jane told him she had bought the fifth replacement.
            “It’s her, I swear it’s her doing it! She’s not your little princess like you think!” Jane had screamed. They were taking Jane away, her arms pinned across her abdomen with a strap. Spit leaked out her mouth. Her once immaculate strands of hair laid in order were frazzled over her face, somehow leaving spaces for her eyes to be seen…black pupils reaching out instead of being empty place holders Dick had become accustomed to.
            The next stretcher had sent him reeling to his knees as the adult body bag was but a quarter full, with Nell.

((That's what I get for reading Stephen King---- Oh, let me go read some Jane Austen!))