there's not a whole lot going on

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Missin' One Guy's

Tommy sat atop his horse in the middle of a clearing with two paths before him, scratched his head and mumbled to Sally.

“Sally, I ain’t too sure ‘bout this. Ya’ know, I thought we was supposed ta take this trail, but I don’t remember nobody tellin’ me nothin’ ‘bout no fork in the road.”

Sally, in an uncharacteristically assertive manner, tugged at the reins and took a few tentative steps, but Tommy pulled her back in.

“Well, now Sally, where ‘bouts do ya’ think yer goin’? We’ve got ta put our heads together on thissun. Now, where’s that map that Ma’ give me?”

Tommy rummaged through his saddle bags without dismounting, and Sally took those few moments to walk toward her preferred path.

“Sally! Why, what in samhill has gotten inta you? Yer turnin’ inta a regular ol’ Joe. That dadburn horse never did mind nobody. Wadn’t no wonder when Pa’ sold him off fer glue, ‘n you’d better just start actin’ right er you’ll be in the same fix as Joe!”

Sally snorted.

Flapping the map open in front of him, Tommy ran his finger back and forth, up and down, and around in circles over the map until he finally decided he should have paid more attention when Mrs. Cole swatted him during geography lessons.

Sally started toward her chosen path for the third time.

“Tarnation Sally! If yer so blamed excited ‘bout what’s down there, we’d better go see what’s down there! Let’s go ya’ ol’ mule.”

With that Tommy gave her the reins and a tiny tap with his heel to encourage her down the right branch. When the pair stepped into a second clearing, Tommy nearly cried. They’d made it to their destination, but far too late for Tommy’s purposes. There was One Guy* standing in front of an empty table rolling up a sign that read, “Free calzones while supplies last!”

Undeterred, Sally tugged at the reins once more redirecting herself while redirecting Tommy’s gaze. When he saw a barn overflowing with hay, and a sign that read, “Free hay while supplies last!” he did cry.

*One Guy from Italy is the only place in Lubbock you ever have to go. If you don't like their calzones, there's something wrong with you. Be sure to get a Big Red while you're at it. ;)

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Way of Despair

Heaviness stopped her fingers, darkness clogged her mind, the pressure of despair pulled her deep into the earth and she did not fight it. It claimed her, made her its own, wrapped its arms around her, sank its claws into her brain and slowly poured its poison through their hollow tips.

A whisper drifted across the darkness, but she never turned her head. A voice pleaded with her, but she turned to further embrace the night. A warm hand, soft but firm took hold of her own, but she pulled away. And she sank, deeper into the blinding night, drinking in the damp and sorrowful air in great droughts as despair made itself one with her mind and her heart.

With slow, familiar tugs, the earth around her feet took her into itself. As it pulled, she never struggled, opening her arms and entwining herself in an old friend.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Doing [continued]

One who pays heed to the wind will not sow, and one who watches the clouds will never reap. --Ecclesiastes 11:3-4
After the wedding and the move to Kansas, Tommy was still looking for a job, but nothing really seemed suitable. He'd had several offers, but after the interviews and learning more about the positions, the time commitments, the pay and everything else that went with them, he still couldn't decide which direction he wanted his career to go. He knew he wanted to put himself in a position where he would be able to take care of Jamie, but he wanted to make sure that position would still leave him time to be with her and to raise a family with her. As for Jamie, she was settling in well at the university, and encouraged him to look until he found a good match.

A few months down the road, though, and Tommy was still looking. Finally, exasperated with everything, he took a low end job with no career path at a local non-profit. He hated his position, but he just couldn't decide on anything, and he didn't want to commit his family to anything that wasn't going to pan out.

Tommy bounced from mind-numbing position to brain-freezing position for several years while Jamie successfully completed her degrees and was beginning her own job search. By this time, Tommy was not just worried that a career might be unsuccessful, he was worried he'd be burned out after a few months the same as he had been with every job he'd ever had. He wanted to go back to school. He'd wanted to go back to school since they moved to Kansas, but the same paralysis came over him every time he thought about it. Would he be able to get a better job that way? Would he do well? Would he be good enough to even get a job? Would he even like going to school or in the end would he like the new jobs he could have?

Finally, Jamie found a tenure track position in Boston, and since Tommy's career wasn't quite working out, they moved to the freezing north, with hopes of having children once they were settled. Maybe it was something in the weather, or maybe it was the change of scenery, but a few months after Angela was born, Tommy informed Jamie that he was tired of trying to figure out what was going to happen tomorrow while today was wasting away - he wanted to go back to school and he was going to look for a real job.

While Jamie tried not to let her relief show, she silently vowed to light a few extra candles after Mass.

A few months later, Tommy was enrolled in night and weekend courses while working for a local corporation that specialized in non-profits. He hadn't been this happy since the day he was married, though if you reminded him, he would tell you he hadn't been this happy since the day his baby girl was born.


One who pays heed to the wind will not sow, and one who watches the clouds will never reap. --Ecclesiastes 11:3-4
Jamie looked out the window for the hundredth time that morning. She simply did not know what to do with her life. Graduation would be coming along in three months, and though she'd filled out applications and interviewed for jobs, she still couldn't make up her mind. With applications to countries across the nation, interviews with corporations around the world, many of them successful, others less so, she still could make no decisions.

As the clouds scudded across a pale blue sky, she sighed, also for the hundredth time, and plopped her head into her hands. She told her boyfriend Tommy that she was so desperate to know which path to take, she was on the verge of going to a palm reader. All he did was laugh and kiss her cheek, then propose she burn everything and run away with him to the Bahamas where they would live for the rest of their lives on coconuts.

She rolled her eyes and reprimanded him, "Tommy you know you can't live on coconuts! We would have to have jobs and a home to live in. Besides, we'd never know which hurricane was going to wipe us and everything we had off the face of the earth!"

"Well, yeah, but you don't know which of these corporations is going to lay you off three months after hiring you or which school is going to make you miserable for the next six years."

"I know! That's the problem! I've got to figure out which one is the least likely to ruin my life!"

Tommy smiled, kissed her forehead and let himself out the door, leaving Jamie staring out the window wishing the clouds could tell her the end of each possible path. Shaking her head in frustration, she followed Tommy out the door, hoping she'd be able to catch him before he made it to his car.

He was just turning the key when she tapped on the passenger side window asking if he wanted to go for a ride. As they drove through town, heading to the dirt roads just on the outskirts, Jamie began, "You know, Tommy, with all this uncertainty about what I should do next with my life, there's one thing that's clear. It's the only certainty I've got right now, and I'm afraid that I might lose it once we've graduated and you go your way and I go mine. I mean, when I'm in who knows where and you're in. Well, you haven't told me where you're going yet." She looked at him quizzically. "Where are you going?"

Laughing, Tom squeezed her hand. "I'm going wherever you're going! Even if it is the Bahamas!"

Jamie's quiet, "Oh," was almost inaudible as she realized what he'd just said.

A few minutes later, she looked at him again, this time as though she could see into his brain, or at least as though that was what she hoped would happen. "Well, then, I guess it doesn't matter where I go. How's about Berkeley?"

"You remember that fall starts in May in Berkeley, right?"

"Oh, good point, well in that case, we should definitely go to the Bahamas," she winked at him. "But, really, what do you think about Kansas?"

"Kansas, good Lord, whatever would I do in Kansas?"

She winked again, "Be with me!" be continued

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sweet Beginnings

Becky Brunsberg was one of the prettiest girls in town. Jeffrey Wincrest couldn’t stop thinking about her all Sunday long, even when the preacher, in a surprisingly agitated state, actually began hopping up and down during his sermon. Jeff had no idea what could possibly have been amiss as he hadn’t been able to focus long enough to discern Reverend Willicot’s meaning. What Jeff was discerning at just that moment was the pretty little hat sitting on top of Becky’s head just two rows in front of him.

The night before she’d gone with him to the high school prom, and while they hadn’t been going steady when he’d asked her out, or even by the time they’d actually made it to the dance, that didn’t stop Jeff from thinking maybe she was hoping he’d finally get around to asking her on a proper date and then to going steady. Jeff’s mind was filled with dancing and laughing and one sweet little peck from Becky Brunsberg while he stood on her front porch after walking her home.

After church was over, Jeff made sure to follow Becky out, trying not to be too conspicuous to his family – he didn’t want to hear the catcalls and hoots from his younger brothers until after he’d gotten Becky to say yes. As he was just about to place a hand gently on Becky’s shoulder, Jeff’s insides fell to his feet. Becky Brunsberg, one of the prettiest girls in town, had just made a bee-line for Joe Schumacher, one of the handsomest guys in town. Unsure if he’d been noticed, Jeff dodged the pair and continued walking, hoping there were someone on the other side who could save him.

Granny George, who seemed to be everybody’s granny, smiled sweetly up at Jeff from her crooked hunch and patted him on the back, asking for his help in walking to her car. The smile she received was perhaps the most angelic she’d been given since her own children were babes, and Jeff made every possible effort to make sure her journey was safe. And slow.

After kissing Granny George goodbye – no she wasn’t his granny, but that didn’t make her any less his granny – Jeff turned to walk back to his own family, but was caught halfway there by Becky Brunsberg, one of the prettiest girls in town.

“Hey, Becky, how’d you like Rev. Willicot’s sermon today?”

“Oh, I don’t know Jeff, I wasn’t really paying much attention. Not even when he started hopping up and down like there was ants in his pants.”

“Yeah? Me either, but now that I think about him hopping around, it sure was funny.”

“I guess it was. You know, I had a good time last night, thanks for taking me to the prom.”

“You’re welcome, Becky, there’s nobody else I’d rather have taken.”

“That’s what Joe was just telling me.” For the first time she looked up from the ground and from looking at the trees to direct her pretty brown eyes at his own, and Jeff’s heart nearly jumped through his teeth.

“You two were talkin’ about me?”

“I suppose we were. Joe’s been such a good friend. Did you know that he and my sister Mary Ellen are gettin’ married in a month?”

For the second time that day, Jeff gave the most angelic smile he’d given since he was a babe, and said, no he had not heard that. “Would you happen to need a date for your sister’s wedding, Becky?”

The angelic smile he then received was all he needed for an answer, but just in case, Becky said yes.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


For the sake of learning who my one and only reader is (I hope there's one of you anyways), I've added the Followers Gadget to my sidebar. Once you've added my blog to your list, Blogger will update my list and stick your profile photo in my sidebar. It's pretty nifty and gives people an opportunity to learn about your blog while perusing mine. It's also a nice colorful addition when there are many faces there, so it's aesthetically pleasing to boot!

The only drawback as far as I'm concerned is if you're using Google Reader already (which I am), then it adds another folder for the Blogger blogs that you follow. Those blogs are, of course, already in Google Reader (which is grrrrrrrrrrrreat!), so I now have them twice, in folders that I want them in. Not a big deal, just a little annoying. Maybe they'll eventually make that an option. Even with the annoyance, I clicked to follow blogs to let folks know I think their blogs rock enough to let them put my face on it.* =)

All that being said, if you'd like to follow this blog, just go to Regular Readers** on my sidebar and follow the instructions!

*Followers just makes me feel like I've got some sort of crazy messiah complex...

**You don't have to think my blog rocks, I just want you to stick your face on my blog. 0=)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lost at Sea*

Cast your bread upon the waters; after a long time you may find it again. --Ecclesiastes 11:1
The old man struggled with the oars, pulling with all his might and fighting only to make small headway in his overladen barque. He cursed the weather, cursed the wind, cursed the waves and cursed the lightning that lit the snarling sea. Up the crests and down the valleys his little boat dipped and plunged, threatening submersion as it scudded into each oncoming wave. Somehow he managed to keep the boat afloat, somehow he managed to convince the unruly beast to right itself and ride up the wave rather than through. For hours he rowed, for hours he fought until his arms could row no longer and he thought surely daylight must come. It came not. The clouds, thick with danger, had gathered to block out the sun, to turn each hopeful ray back upon its source and give the fool no glimpse of hope.

Long after daylight should have come and all energy was spent, as the thunder rumbled its taunting laughter at his folly, he knew that he would make no progress in this manner. Turning his cursing to petition he pleaded with the One who had made the winds and rains, the One who had brought him to this place, the One who alone could carry him safely home.

But the clouds did not part, nor did ray of sun carry through the angry storm, the rain did not cease, the waves did not calm and still he rowed. For hours more his hopeless skiff looked to capsize, leaving him and all he owned adrift in a raging storm that seemed likely never to end. Once more he turned to pleading, begging, importuning the One to whom all things belong. Finishing his supplications, he knew the deed that must be done. Not knowing in which crate his life would lay, he cut all loose and threw his dreams into the sea.

His skiff now unfettered, no longer lingered, but sailed as though with wings, up and over each mighty crest and on toward the shore. With energy that he could not, should not have, the old man poured himself once more into rowing, and at long last, many hours later, he found himself coming safely ashore with nothing of his possessions but his little boat and himself in sight. Dragging the war-worn dinghy ashore, he laid it over himself and fell asleep as the storm roared around him.

When at last he woke and threw the row-boat off, he looked to sea in hopes that some small particle might have followed him to shore, but he looked to find nothing but his shoes. Pulling them onto his feet and praying to God that these should be sufficient, he clambered up the dune and into town.

Many years later, bringing offerings of thanksgiving, the old man returned to the place of his safe landing. As he shuffled down the dune up which he'd walked so long before, his eyes alighted upon a lonely crate sitting on the sand. Running to unclose it, he gasped and laughed and leapt like a child when his wife, once lost to the angry sea, burst into his arms and covered him in love forever more.

*I hate naming stories almost as much as I hate writing their endings.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Guardian Angels*

Jeremiah walked out the door like he always did, briefcase in hand, suit and tie in starched perfection. His mind wandered through the course of the day, meetings he expected to have, papers he needed to read through, reports he needed to file. He did the same thing he did every day when he stepped into his car, started the engine, flipped the radio from FM to CD and drove down the street.

When he arrived at Jerry's house, however, things were not as they always were. He awaited his friend and co-worker patiently for 5 minutes, then spent the next 5 minutes considering if he should honk or walk up to the front door. Finally, he decided to wait another 5 minutes and then ring the door bell.

The woman that him when the front door opened surprised him - he and his wife had dined at the Rousseau's on numerous occasions, and Jerry's wife was always immaculate. Today she was not. Maud apologized profusely for her own appearance and for Jerry's lateness, but there was simply nothing that could be done. She informed him hurriedly that their trusty alarm clock that kept perfect time and never went out even when the power went out (it had a battery backup) had gone out! All of the other clocks in the house still had the correct time, but it had stopped working, and so they had slept over an hour late, and Jerry was just now in the shower. When she asked if he wanted to take a seat in the living room while he waited, Jeremiah declined, saying he didn't want to keep her from getting ready for the day either.

Ten minutes later, Jerry ran out the door, his own briefcase in hand and his own suit in mild disarray. After apologizing profusely, he explained everything as Maud had and proceeded to improve his appearance. Jeremiah nodded politely, said it could have happened to anyone, and not to worry, he'd already phoned the office, the meeting had been postponed anyways. Apparently a logging truck had lost it's load just ten minutes before on one of the major interchanges before downtown. The logs, not being satisfied with blocking traffic on the overpass alone, had managed to tumble onto the overpass below and then finally to crash and splinter on the lowest level. The office wasn't sure which interchange or which highways were blocked, and the radio news hadn't been very helpful in suggesting alternative routes.

The pair arrived at the interchange as the road crews pulled the smashed hulk of a tractor trailer onto a flat bed. Looking at the other remains Jerry spotted the tractor that had been pulling the trailer and exclaimed that the driver was really lucky the cab hadn't been crushed. Fortunately, most of the remaining lumber had been pulled off to the side of the road, and the traffic began moving shortly after the trailer began moving.

The next day Jeremiah and Jerry left their houses and headed for work like they always did, but today, both men caught the other checking the time when they drove through the interchange. Jerry cleared his throat, and laughing said maybe he'd better call his wife to pull that alarm clock back out of the trash.

*Thanks for the inspiration from Fr. Longenecker at Standing on My Head (a great blog, btw) and Julie D. at Happy Catholic (another great blog).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Writer's Block

It seems lately that every time I sit down to write something for this blog, that after a few paragraphs I just can't figure out what happens next. This is fine for a few items that didn't really warrant more than a couple paragraphs, but just a setting and a character don't really make for a story. And that's about all I've come up with lately - characters and places without stories. So today, I'm going to share with you a couple of my false starts, simply because I can't give you anything better. I hope you enjoy. ;)

The room filled with light as Jason drew the curtains. Jack, his lone companion for the journey blinked at the new brightness, then resumed scratching behind his puppy ear. Jason sighed, opening his carryall to withdraw his pen and ink. As the train shook itself around the next mountain, he prepared himself for his arrival in Dodge and the speech he expected would be demanded. The writers in Washington had written him a pleasant enough speech that would, naturally, bring cheers from the crowd without abandoning too many of the old timers whose families had been in Dodge since before Texas had joined the Union. That was over 300 years ago, and the new families that had settled the area following the planet's bizarre and unexpected flash freeze, were expecting Washington to bring peace to the area.

But Jason wasn't simply interested in peace. His family had been among the first founders of Dodge, and he knew and understood the feelings of the older community. He fought down the resentments that came from harboring the refugees for so long. It had been 30 years now, and many of the newcomers refused to accept the old ways, the old customs, the old attitudes and most of all, the old values. Jason had been shrugging off those old thoughts for years, sometimes little pricks of conscience would still come through to haunt him...


The sun crested the hills that morning bright and clear, chasing little whisps of fog from the harbour, and leaving the cool crispness of an autumn day in its wake. The leaves had begun turning a few weeks earlier and now clothed the city in impressionist splotches of rust reds and auburn yellows. The leaves that had already fallen crunched and crumpled as I passed, alternately kicking and stomping, just to hear the sounds of fall. A friend shuffled through the leaves ahead, and I bobbed my head this way and that, pretending not to know them when they smiled and waved. When our paths met, we shared a brief hello, and apologies for having no time to stop and chat - our educations beckoned.

And so, it was that on a beautiful, autumn day, the kind that always makes me long for the open road, an open window and loud country music, that I walked into another world.

That morning I copied all of my class information onto a tiny scrap of paper, not wanting to waste the paper or the ink for a printout, and soon wished I had not. As I pulled the door to my first class open, a heavy waft of apples greeted me, but I passed it off as some new, unusual perfume, not unusually applied to excess. Once I realized my mistake, I turned to leave, but the diminutive gnome that now clutched my elbow prevented my immediate departure while babbling loudly. Shrugging him off, I reached again for the door, but another gnome now gripped my other elbow and the two spun me to face the room, all the while wildly gesticulating and still babbling loudly first toward me and then toward each other and then back at me.

Friday, September 12, 2008


She still didn't know how she'd wound up in this place. She couldn't even see well enough to tell what place it was. The world around looked the same, but something was different, a haze had fallen, distorting everything, turning crisp lines blurry. The sounds were different, somehow muffled. Every sense twisted, tainted, hid reality from her mind, pushed her farther from the truth, and yet, in her mind, she knew her blindness, her deafness, her muteness, and even that nothing she touched was as she felt it. Her cries for help went unheard, she couldn't even voice her needs, how could she make sense of what she could not understand? How could she grasp the truth knowing that no perception could be trusted?

Then she knew that she was falling, flailing, fighting against the dark maw at the bottom of the great abyss that was sucking her down. She gasped for breath, breathing only the deathly water that was drowning her, and then she felt the little tingle, a tiny whisper from her heart, and in her mind she inhaled the sweet perfume of a thousand roses, held her breath through a thousand sunsets, and gasped at the enormity of a thousand night skies. In so doing, she filled her lungs, her fingers and her toes, her entire being with new life, with the sweet breath of love and hope and faith, and she was no longer drowning. She was soaring.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

King of Cheese

Sir Gouda woke to find himself sweating and bound in chains. After ensuring that his mask still hid his identity, he began scanning his surroundings, trying to find a clue as to what had happened and where he was now captive. Unable to move without becoming nauseated, he finally discovered the reason - each motion caused his entire body to sway, looking up from where he lay prone, he realized he must be dangling from the ceiling by the massive chains that covered him from shoulders to toes. He also became aware of the waves of heat coming from somewhere below.

Struggling to turn his head toward the sound, Sir Gouda was dismayed to see his archnemesis The Swissinator!

"That foulest of fiends must have something to do, or perhaps everything to do, with my present situation," thought Sir Gouda to himself. "Perhaps he hasn't noticed that I'm awake yet, but how am I going to extricate myself from these chains? If only I could reach my Cheese Belt, then I could create a distraction while wriggle free."

The Swissinator began laughing softly to himself, then louder until his cackles echoed through the room.

"Ahh, Sir Gouda. You are so profoundly funny in your little Cheese Cape and Cheese Boots. Oh? Are you looking for your Cheese Belt? Why, don't you recognize your little toy here on my waist? Yes, I see you do. How nice. Well, since you have always been such an observant little cheese head, perhaps I need not explain your predicament to you." He turned to leave, but abruptly turned back, "But where would the fun be in that? You see, Sir Gouda, we are alike, you and I. Like two cheeses from the same continent, but one of us went bad, and one went good. You attempted to rule an entire country, and this simply could not be. I have decided I will be the king of cheese in the Netherlands, and you will simply be a new croquette. The Americans call it fried cheese, but the Dutch will simply call you a croquette and none will know when they look at you if you are chicken or shrimp or cheese or something far fouler."

"Swissinator! You evil doer! You have no right to be the king of cheese in the Netherlands! You're not even Dutch! You're Swiss! You're a pacifist! You can't take over another country!"

"Ahh, but Sir Gouda, I am not taking over another country militarily, I am taking over it's cheese preferences. One must admit that I am far silkier and smoother than you shall ever be. Why, I am even more decorative than you, who has ever heard of a Gouda Lace? Noone, but Swiss Lace, that is world class! So be silent and await your transformation from culinary necessity to lunch time afterthought!"

As the Swissinator walked out the door, the chains released Sir Gouda, plunging him into the vat of hot oil, frying him into a perfect croquette of Gouda cheese. After being removed from the grease by a giant spatula, Sir Gouda realized The Swissinator had made a terrible mistake - as the fried cheese of choice, Sir Gouda would become the king of lunch! No Dutchman would be able to take his lunch without the soon to be famous Fried Gouda!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The coffee wasn't very good that day - mostly burned and tasting a bit like someone hadn't cleaned the pot in a while, but he didn't say anything. He just drank it in silence while staring out the window.

She asked him how the coffee was, explaining that it took longer to make than usual, even though she'd cleaned it the same as she always did.

He told her it was fine and took another sip as if to prove his point. Then he went back to staring out the window.

She turned in her seat to see what was of such interest, but couldn't see anything besides a few birds and a cat or two who seemed more interested in the flowers than the birds. She turned back around and looked at him.

"You're goin' home today, aren't you?" she asked.

"Yeah, you know that."

"I was just making conversation. Are you looking forward to it?"

"I would except for what I have to do."


"I just wish that old guy hadn't decided to take up residence on my grandfather's place. We've been farming that land for years, it's not like it even looks abandoned."

"You think he's looking for squatters' rights?"

"I don't know what he's looking for, I just wish he'd stopped in someone else's house."

He finished the last bit of coffee and stood to leave.

"I better be goin'. It's a long drive, and I'd like to get there before dark so I can get started in the mornin'."

"Alright." She hugged him. "I'll see ya' when you get back. Don't forget to call me a couple times."

He gave her a quick peck and walked out the door.

"I will."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Into the Highlands*

The shouting was finally beginning to fade behind him as Ethan plunged through the forest, struggling past the vines and shredding his skin and clothing against the thorns. He wanted to slow down, but he knew they would follow him and anyone else who had escaped the final onslaught of dragons and warriors. Dragons had not been seen in those parts for more than two centuries, and few in the city still believed, or rather, few had believed the great monsters had ever existed until today when on rushing wings and spouting firy streams they screamed into the village as the warriors on their backs showered arrows into the fleeing masses. The castle's defenses had weakened during the seven day siege, but they could have held out, could have won through with a little more time. And no dragons.

Ethan stifled a yell as he tumbled down the unseen cliff that broke the hill he'd been climbing. After shaking himself off, he found that he could not ascend the cliff, nor could he walk the shoreline, for the small patch of sand upon which he'd landed seemed to be the only break in the cliffs allowing a footrest. Knowing he had little time before the dragon warriors began seeking him, he started for the water when he suddenly landed face first in the dirt before him. Jumping to his feet, Ethan whirled to face his adversary, reaching for his sword and crouching in the only fighting stance he knew.

A smile on the face of Wilomena, Princess of the Gnomian Highlands, greeted him.

"Ah, Squire Ethan, you wouldn't use that sword on your protectress, would you?"

Ethan stood silently, poised for the expected attack.

"Squire Ethan, I see that you have grown untrusting and that a slight trick leads you to think the impossible. How is it that one who once danced in my father's halls now draws his sword as though to slay me?"

"Ah, Princess Wilomena? Forgive me, I did not know it was you. Your father's balls have been out of my memory for a very long time, and for a week now, I have been at the ready day and night for nothing but a fight. We have no time, I'm afraid, for greetings, but only for running. I do not think those who follow me will be any more affable toward you, however charming and beautiful you may be."

"That, my friend, is precisely why I sent you sprawling on your face just now. You cannot enter the river as you are, but you cannot stay here either. I will not follow you, for I have other business to attend to. No," she waved her hand at him, "I will be fine, gnomes do not have the same troubles with dragons that humans have, and that is why I may help you and you may not help me."

The doubtful expression on Ethan's face gave way to surprise as a great doorway appeared in the side of the cliff. At Wilomena's touch the gates swung open and a young Gnomian called Ethan forward. Still stunned, Ethan looked from Wilomena to the boy with uncertainty. His mind was made when a dragon flew past them as it searched for him in the river. As Ethan darted through the gates, he heard Wilomena calling, "Squire Ethan, remember my father, remember the balls, let yourself not forget them again!"

The gates closed as Ethan stood dumbfounded, and he did not move until the little Gnomian boy took his hand and led him through the hill.

*Quite possibly the worst thing I've written so far...

Thursday, August 7, 2008


We walked through the night, sure the hunting grounds would be bountiful, fully expecting the sun to rise over miles of billowing grasses reaching to our thighs. We knew beneath the surface we'd find what we were looking for - mice!

We'd had no luck when we started out in town, mostly losing cheese to the bigger mice like the Pirate Mice that occasionally follow unwary hunters returning for more cheese or better equipment. Everyone in town had been helpful, suggesting that we try our hand in the meadow, using a low grade cheddar that would likely only lure the weakest mice while we learned the techniques that would make us truly great mouse hunters.

And so, we walked through the night, hoping to set and bait our traps in the morning, so that we could leave the area surrounding them still and settled before the mice came out at night. We had heard that they were clever, recognizing the presence of humans and waiting a time before cautiously approaching, and we hoped that our plans would prove more clever than they.

As we watched, we scanned the undergrowth, looking for mouse sign, hoping to spy a few that would promise us good hunting the next day, but we saw none. We walked into the field as the sun began peering over the mountains, bathing the meadow in its rosy glow, and then we saw it: what must have been the biggest zombie mouse ever seen munching on the remains of someone's rat terrier. His owner must have run away, terrified by the mouse's enormity.

The four of us hunkered down, hoping we hadn't been spotted. Zombie mice were solitary animals, few hunters ever caught them back to back, and they were known for their ferocity when cornered. Hunters had lost fingers to zombies that weren't fully incapacitated by the trap. We'd even met one smelly old man who claimed the empty socket on his left side had been left by a zombie. They were tough cookies, and we didn't want to find out how tough.

As we watched the zombie mouse ripping the flesh from the terrier's dead bones, I became aware of a warm, stench filled breeze blowing across the meadow. I turned to glare at Mike who had eaten pickled herring and onions for dinner so that he would back away from my position, only to see the mother of all zombie mice glaring back at me.

The others were gone, I hadn't heard a struggle, and I'll never know what happened. Just as the zombie opened his cavernous jaws to rend flesh from bone, I heard the winding of the king's horn! The hunt was on, and the zombies were fleeing. As I stood from my position, crouched on the edge of the meadow, I watched in stunned horror as hundreds of zombie mice fled.

I knew in that moment that I would need a bigger trap and a lot more friends.

*MouseHunt has many various instantiations, one of which is a Facebook application that I play a bit too much (I checked my trap four times during this writing).

Monday, August 4, 2008


Sort of. I learned how to knit with the aid of several websites, but didn't quite knit what I had intended to knit. Instead, I wound up making this soap sack. If you'd like to read the details, they're over at Lost in Holland.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I'll be back when Texas is done.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

D*** Cool Layout

Now, usually I wouldn't use such language, but I'm so happy with this layout, that it just seems necessary. Ok, so I'm a closet user of d*** and h***, but that's beside the point. Ask my husband, he'll tell you I use those words too often... But that's it. Really. ;)

At any rate, if you want to check out what work went into making this layout happen, check it out over at Design-Err.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Background

While looking for suitable background images for my other blogs I found this image from fishmonk's gallery (in a weird coincidence, also where I found the raindrops photo for the Lost in Holland background).

If you're interested in how I did it, you can check it out over at Design-Err.

The March of the Weeds

They went unnoticed all winter long, slumbering with sinister patience as they awaited the coming of the spring. As the skies turned blue and the sun made its way ever higher in the sky, they drew in their strength, sapping the life from those around them, pushing their ugly faces from the ground, stretching toward the sky until the lawn was clothed in weeds.

Not yet satisfied, they turned their wicked sights upon the house that squatted fearfully, hidden beneath the ivy, and they marched through the cracks and the crevices of the sidewalk, punching through the chinks in the mortar until they made the house their headquarters.

From there they plotted the ruin of the neighborhood. Their evil schemes and dark desires would spill forth upon unsuspecting lawns, taking root within their homes and eventually overcoming the university sleeping peacefully and prettily across the avenue.

Or so it seemed - for the university did not slumber, it's maintenance crews were not unready. They had seen and were warned by the dandelions in the lawns - magic puffs of doom spreading seeds of hideous leaves and deviously cute flowers throughout the region. The facilities department stood their ground, spritzing weed after weed until at last they had been pushed back, back across the avenue, back from house to house and lawn to lawn until at last they were come to that dread source of darkness and ruin - C House.

There the last stands would be made - the university would send its best men for the job, but the weeds had long held this fortress of overgrowth and would have the greater strength of arms. Many there were that fell that day. Good men and good gardeners, choked to death by puffs of doom, lost in weeds 7 feet tall, grabbed and slaughtered by foul beasts hiding between the stalks, their numbers quickly dwindled. President Z paced within his office, desperate for some relief and yet none came.

The battle wore on, day after day, week after week, month after month until the sun rose in the south and the winds blew cold air, the leaves changed from green to yellow and red and finally to brown. The weeds knew their doom was near, their hopes of victory dispelled - defeat had come at the hands of fall. One by one their colors faded, one by one they shriveled into oblivion, and then one day all that could be seen in that accursed place were the bodies of those whose lives had purchased time.

Great biers were erected, bagpipes moaned, heads were bowed and tears were shed as the university and those around honoured the fallen. The university burned the dead shells of weeds and planted a great garden in their place to memorialize the proud deeds of their comrades in arms and stand as a reminder of the glorious defenders who would stand against any weed who would rise again. And so peace returned to the little neighborhood and the weeds did as weeds usually do - rose in those places least desired, but never again did they dare to rise in force to challenge the might of the university's maintenance crews.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Standing in the shadows, she was pale and thin, and her dress shown in the places where the moonlight touched it. Within his dark face, only the whites of his eyes could be seen peering from behind her, just above her head. He whispered low in her ear, and her eyes grew wide with fear. In the distance she could hear them coming, their footsteps like rain and their weapons like the wind.

"Are we safe here, Mark?"

"We are as safe here as we would be anywhere, but we must be away from the windows, they will be here soon, and we must be far from their sight."

Mark stepped from the shadows, his size making Miriam but a doll beside him as he clasped her hand and led her to the basement door. He pulled the door to behind them as the sounds of rain reached the house and the wind began moaning through the windows. Miriam looked at him as though about to speak, but he placed a finger to her lips and carried her down unseen steps on silent feet.

The wind whistled at the basement door, as rain fell on the floor above them, leaving tiny rivulets to run beneath the door and bringing small gusts through the frame. Miriam slowed her breathing as Mark had taught her, both to guard against detection and to distract her from the fearful screams she wished to cry. A few minutes more, and the floors were dry, the wind was silent and the threat had past. Then Miriam looked to speak, but still Mark silenced her. A drip began to sound somewhere above them and a tiny whisper fluttered through the shadows, but the rains did not return and at last the drip was gone and the little wind had become silent.

Still Mark did not move and Miriam kept silent until the footsteps they heard above were those of mortal men and daylight peered around the basement door. And when those footsteps had also past through the house and the sun shone but dimly around the door, Mark lifted Miriam to her feet and they returned to the upper floors to scavenge what food remained and to watch the evening sky for the next day's movements.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Casey Karbowski

A friend of mine just started a new blog to get his photography biz going. Check out Casey Karbowski Photographer (extraordinaire). I told him today (and I really do quote - it was over IM), "Some of these are so cool. They look like a real photographer took them and not just one of my friends." So, yeah, he actually does good stuff (if he didn't, I probably just wouldn't mention it).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Hermit Woman

Once, many, many years ago, long before you were born, an old hermit lady lived outside a little fishing village on the coast of the sea. She was nice, as everyone said, and polite and as well-kept as a hermit lady would be, and yet none traveled to see her as they traveled to see the other hermits, many of whom lived farther away than she.

And she did not understand this. She was not bitter, nor was she jealous, she was not even envious of the visitors who knocked upon the doors of the other hermits. Instead, she was curious. She thought to herself about why it should be that the other hermits had so many visitors. Those who did come, left, saying that she was indeed wise, and those she met when selling her baskets in the market by the sea, said she was kind. She did not ask for these praises, they were simply given her, and yet, so few there were who knocked, that she puzzled over this on many occasions.

You can be certain she did not spend much time on it, for she had many other thoughts with which to spend her time - thoughts concerning the glory of God and the folly of man. She included her own folly in those thoughts and dwelt upon them, praying for grace and hoping for a sudden transformation, though she knew that such transformations must take time. Many years went by, and still, the villagers came but once or twice a month at most, seeking her guidance and asking for wisdom.

One day as she walked to the market with her baskets, she passed by an old beggar woman in need of bread. "I have none to give," she said to the old woman. It was true, she was going to sell her baskets so that she could buy the bread upon which she lived, and she thought to herself, "Oh, I wish I had had some bread just then, I could have helped that old woman."

Another day as she returned to her hut, she saw a leper looking sad, and as he looked at her, she said to herself, "Poor, dear man, if only someone would look after him. Where are the Saints to help us with these tasks when they are needed?" And with that, she continued home.

Still, she prayed for grace to be holy, to be generous and self-giving, to do away with all the things that bound her and separated her from God. So one morning, as she walked her usual path for prayer, a little boy walked out of the field, kicking rocks as he wept. "What an angry little boy," thought the hermit lady to herself, "I certainly would not wish to be his mother." As she finished her thought, the little boy turned his dirty face towards her, and she saw he had an ugly little face, marked with pocks and horrible to look at. At first she turned away, but then a bit of pity took her and she looked back with marvel, "Come here, little boy. Is there something which you need, something which you want?"

"Miss Hermit Lady, I wished to get a drink from the well, but the other boys won't let me near. I am very thirsty, and that is all I want in the world."

"Well, then, come with me, and a drink of water you shall have."

Many months went by as the months do fly while the hermit lady wove her baskets and told her beads, hoping for a miracle, looking for peace. One day while walking to the market, she met the same old lady who had begged of her before, and seeing her, still in need, she said, "Come with me, I am going to sell my baskets to buy bread, come with me and we will feast."

Another day, she saw the leper looking sad once more, and seeing him, her heart was moved, and she begged him stay in her hut, but he refused, asking instead for her to walk with him. And so they walked many miles until at last they came to a little village, too tiny to be called a village, and yet too big for anything else. Here she saw that he was not alone, for many lepers there were and her eyes were filled with tears, looking upon the sadness of their faces. Thinking she knew not what she could do, she began to turn away, but then she asked, "What, what can I do for you?"

And so the old hermit lady lived no longer as a hermit, but instead she lived amongst the lepers, caring for them as no other cared for them, accepting them in their sad state until at last she became a leper too, and then they cared for her as no other had and visited her as none had visited her before.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


It was getting late and the thunderstorm still hadn't passed. She swallowed what was left of her Pepsi and headed out the door. He would be sore in the morning, but there was nothing she could do. There was nothing she wanted to do.

As she climbed into her pickup truck with the faded seats and the rust spots on the rear fenders, she felt Cody brush past as he climbed in too. She was glad for the company.

"Well, Cody. It looks like we're leavin' Dodge and the sheriff hadn't even run us off. Not long on courage are we, boy?"

Cody just wagged his tail as he stared out the window.

"Time to move on, ain't it? Let's go."

As the old truck roared to life, Katy smiled at the clanking diesel engine. It was good to be back in the saddle again.

The rain beat down, drumming a senseless racket on the truck's roof, as Katy drove into the night, shifting gears with the engine's whine and cruising to the sound of an old 8-track. Someday she'd have a truck with a newer sound system, but that would have to wait for somewhere farther down the road. For now Loretta would have to wish her old cad "a happy birthday, merry Christmas and happy New Year" on tinny speakers and a crummy bit of tape. Katy wondered if Tom would see the birthday cake when he got home that night. Or if he'd even get the reference.

The first rays of daylight were just beginning to pierce the dark of night, giving a warm glow to the horizon as Katy and Cody pulled into the dock. She waved as her old friend walked over.

"Yer sure yer wantin' to go through with this now, are ya'?"

"Jon, I've never been more sure in all my life. It's now or never, tonight's the night, or today's the day, and if I don't make it, I'm gonna die tryin', and all that rubbish. Me and Cody gotta boat to catch to the rest of our lives."

"Yeah, yeah, I figured you was, I just hadta ask 'cuz that's what friends do and all. Just pull that old wreck over there and we'll go get some breakfast."

As Katy jumped to the ground, she noticed the grease marks on Jon's face and clothes. "You been workin' all night tonight?"

"Well, you just called me two days ago, and you know this old clunker don't run half the time you want it to, so I figured I had my work cut out makin' sure this'd be the better half. Wouldn't do you know good otherwise."

"That's true. That's true. So you got her runnin' good, now?"

"Yeah, yeah. Let's go get some breakfast."

Cody whined when Katy left him at the door of the diner, but he was waiting for her when she came back.

"Cody, you and that old truck are the only things've stuck by me all these years. I don't know what I'm gonna do when you finally go."

"Now, Katy, that ain't quite fair to me nor your mama nor half your friends. We've all been there just as much as we could."

"I know Jon, but you didn't live with it. Cody did." She paused to watch his face. "How long's the ride?"

"'Bout three hours by plane. Fifteen in Doris."

"Doris? You named your boat after your show cow? Jon, sometimes I just don't know what to think of you."

"Yeah, and what about Jake? You named your pickup after your mama's tabby cat."

They laughed as they walked toward the dock. Katy paused when they reached her truck. "Is it time Jon? Can we load up and set sale? Blow this popcicle stand, split like a banana, make like a tree and leaf and all that jazz? I know he wouldn't know where I was goin' or what I was doin', but I've just got the itch, and I've got to go."

"Sure, Katy, you just pull up over there and we'll get her loaded up."

Katy paused as she climbed in, looking at her old friend as he walked toward the boat barn. "Jon."

"Yeah, Kate."

"Thanks, Jon."

"After all these years you don't have to say that to me." He took a breath, "But you're welcome, Kate."

The sun finished his grand entrance just as the truck rumbled across the loading planks. "Jon," Katy called, "Jon, stop a minute and look at that sunrise. It's a good day, ain't it? A good day for a boat ride, and a good day to feel the wind in yer face and taste the salt in the air."

"Sure Katy, it's a good day for a boat ride, and a good day to taste the salt in the air. But Katy, Doris don't do wind in yer face." He winked and said, "You'll just hafta take it easy and settle for somethin' a mite bit slower."

Monday, June 30, 2008

It's been a long time

My husband took a 6 month research position in the Netherlands, so that's where I am now! We spent a little over a week and a half in Texas (oh the glory of 100 degree weather!) and have been here for two weeks tomorrow, so it's been a bit of a long vacation for me. =)

But all good things must come to an end, and besides that we all know that boredom sets in after so long on vacation. So hopefully I can get back to writing a few stories.

If you're interested in hearing about what we're doing, check it out over at Lost in Holland. (Do note that there's another blog called Lost in Holland, but the person who blogs there hasn't blogged in quite some time.)

btw, if you keep up with all of my blogs, yes, of course, I copy and pasted posts!

Monday, May 26, 2008

sweet temptation

Rose petals fell around her as she spun into misery, crunched beneath her feet, dried before they touched the ground. It was dark in this place with the only light from somewhere far away - it could have been the sun, but it too fell and died, hiding her toes, darkening even as it illumined.

She knew this place, felt the energy of the darkness overcoming her even as it trapped her, wrapping her in its warm embrace, constricting her from her breath, protecting her from harm, killing her while it sheltered her. She groaned, sinking from the light, while grasping for it weakly.

"Impossible," she whispered, "Hateful," she muttered, "Mercy," she pleaded, "It is mine!" she cried.

And her knees were lost in the fading light, shadows dancing around her as her breath at once stirred and doused the flame shining in the distance.

"Peace," he whispered.

"No, it's just! It's mine! It's fair! It's right! I will not surrender. Do not make me surrender. I'm tired of surrender."

"Peace," he whispered.


"Peace," he whispered.


"Peace," he whispered.

Peace she claimed, the darkness faded, light returned, shades stood still, freedom filled her, pain vanished, and the petals turned to roses carried in her arms, placed before her mother, offered to the Son, and she stood in the Immaculate Heart which stood in the Sacred Heart and peace was hers and light there was shining around her, releasing her from shackles, revealing the wounds of love and healing them with that self-same fire that burned through every dark desire.

"Peace," she whispered and peace was hers.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The lunch affair

The hand over her lips said she had spoken too much. She was beautiful. He was intrigued. What could she have said that revealed so much? He moved to a closer table, leaning onto his elbow to place himself within ear shot.

"It wasn't that bad, Molly. I mean, you shouldn't have said it, but it's not that bad. It's the truth, and you know, sometimes the truth is a good thing."

"You don't think terribly of me, do you?"

"Nah. It's you know, a thing that happens between people. Sometimes it hurts a little, but if they're grown up they move on, right?"

"Oh yes, definitely. But, now that. Now that it's ahhh out there, we'll still be friends, won't we? I don't see how we could be - you have every right to distrust me - but I hope that we can be. We've known each other so long."

"Well, that just depends on a lot of things you know. Like, what happens with everyone - does it work out or doesn't it, does one of us cheat, is one of us crazy - that sort of thing. And you know, you never really know about these things until you find out about them."

"That's true I suppose. I'm just afraid that everyone will know and everything will change and it won't be like it was before. And that would be just dreadful."

As the young lady slumped her shoulders and flopped her hands into her lap, John noticed a tiny smirk showing in the corner of the other girl's mouth.

"Molly, Molly, it'll all work out, I'm sure. Even if everything does change, change is good. We all need change from time to time. It keeps things fresh and all. You know how it is."

With that, John folded the paper he been pretending to read beneath his arm and moved to join the pair.

"Ladies, pardon me for interrupting, but the two of you are so stunningly beautiful that I simply could not resist begging you to let me buy you drinks. I am sad to say, however, that I am somewhat underfunded at the moment, and since this fine establishment requires a ten dollar minimum, I must make a further fool of myself than I had already intended and beg you in the most dramatic manner imaginable," with that he knelt before them on one knee, "to allow me to treat you to lunch."

Molly eyed the newcomer nervously. "I I'm not sure that's such a good idea. We were just leaving, you see. I'm sure your company would be most enjoyable, but I I must go, I promised..."

"Oh, Molly, don't worry about that engagement. This guy wants to join us for lunch, I think that's a great idea, and we should take him up on it."

"But Patty, you have a lunch date with Tom! You just told me!"

"Oh, Tom won't mind at all, I'll just give him a little text, and we'll make it a dinner date. There, no harm done. Now, let's enjoy our lunch, and Molly, do close your mouth, it's not attractive, dear."

John beamed at Patty, "Why, there's no need for you to cancel your date with your boyfriend, I would hate to intrude or to be the source of a lover's quarrel. Harmony betwixt a man and a woman is a beautiful thing and not of the sort with which one should ever wish to tamper."

"Oh, Tom understands. He's done the same thing to me a dozen times. It's perfectly fine, don't you think, Molly?"

Molly's cheeks flushed, "Patty, Tom would never accept lunch from a strange woman!" she paused, "No offense to you Mr. ummm. Oh I'm afraid I didn't catch your name!"

"John, you may call me John, no mister, it makes me sound like a schoolteacher. I hope that you do not think me strange. After all, any man with a bit of sense would surely stumble over himself for the simple opportunity to sit in the company of two such lovely young ladies."

Molly blushed again. "Oh Mr. umm John, please don't think me rude, it's just that it is a little awkward, as I'm sure you can understand, to have a man to whom I have never been introduced ask to order my lunch. I'm dreadfully uncertain in these situations, but I'm certain that Tom would be terribly disappointed if Patty didn't show up for lunch."

"I am certain you are correct, and as a gentleman in full and complete support of peace and harmony between the sexes, I humbly and regretfully rescind my offer. Please accept my apologies for any discomfort I may have caused you."

As he turned to leave, a tiny tug at his sleeve pulled him back to Patty. "John, before you leave, won't you leave us your card so that we might call you sometime. Perhaps we could go on a little double date."

John handed each his card, "I do beg you to allow me the pleasure of your company on some other occasion. I look forward to your calls."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Through the Great Forest - III

There is no good in the river that runs dry.

Nathan pushed forward to walk beside his mother.

"I don't understand what you're looking for. Nothing's changed for the last five hours."

"Plenty has changed, but you look with a city man's eyes, not the eyes of one born of the Great Forest."

"Mother, ever since we entered the forest, you've been speaking like those crazy shamans who come from the rural parts to persuade the king's people to leave the city. I mean no disrespect, but what has happened to you?"

"When one is away from one's life for too long, he begins to forget what should never be forgotten. I had a good life in the city with your father, but the old ways are the ones that protect us from what lies beyond the Great Forest. And those ways are the ones which we must now cling to."

"I've seen the maps, Mother, and there's nothing on the other side. It's just mountains and glaciers for miles and miles until you get to the pole, and then it changes to a snow prairie."

"No man has ever returned as himself after entering those mountains, and none has gone from one side to the other."

"Of course, you can't go into the mountains and not be changed! You'd have to be terribly dense not to come away with a better perspective on the world. They say that the world from the top of mountains makes you forget the folly of mankind and remember the world when it was new created. Dame Hilde said all of the great writers had been to the mountains, and that was where the learned to write."

"My son, you think yourself wise when you are a fool. Listen." Maura's hand silenced the angry thought about to spill from her sons lips, and Nathan cocked his head, certain he would hear no sound.

He saw rather than heard. A beast with mud matted fur stepped into view. Standing on two legs, it was easily half again Maura's height. It snarled, but Nathan was certain it was not looking at them. When the animal lunged forward on four legs, it missed them by yards. As Nathan swung around to see where the beast had gone, he immediately wished he had not. This time the beast was closer, and was looking almost directly at them. If it rushed forward a second time, Nathan and his mother would not survive. He could just see his mother out of the corner of his eye, but he dared not speak. He watched in horror as she darted forward, attracting the beast's next assault.

"Mother!" he screamed. The beast stopped in midstride, spinning toward his voice as if to attack and then fell onto its face. Nathan's knees wobbled as he watched his mother leap onto the beast's back, stabbing it with a dagger as she came down.

A thousand questions raced through Nathan's mind, but none took form until his mother's hand took his arm and began leading him away.

"Nathan, I did not want you to see what the Mountains Beyond hold for those who travel them, but now you have seen, and now you must know that there are beasts more fell and more dangerous than the one you just killed, but none are more powerful than you. This is true of every beast and every man - we stand over the beasts, though the beasts wish to stand over us."

Nathan could only mouth a silent "What?" as she continued. "Had I raised you in the village, you would know all that you must know, but now you must learn it at a time when the knowing of it must be written in your very flesh. You must learn to watch and to listen. The beast you slayed was a Daemon-Wolf, it hunts by movement and by sound. That is how one must defeat it - using its strength and its weakness against it. You did this without knowing, but you must learn so that you may do as you know - then you will be able to defend yourself and protect the Great Forest."

Nathan regained his tongue and blurted, "Mother, I did nothing to that beast! You stabbed it, you led it away, you killed it! I had nothing to do with it! I want nothing to do with it! I don't belong in this place!"

"All mankind belongs in this place, many have wandered far from it's borders, but all must return whether they acknowledge it or no. You will learn. You must learn. If you do not, you cannot live, and you will instead be born into the Mountains Beyond in the bellies of the daemons."

Nathan fell silent, falling behind his mother, giving her the lead and keeping his thoughts to himself.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Through the Great Forest - II

There is no good in the river that runs dry.

Maura looked down from the overgrown bank into the empty riverbed as Nathan caught up to her. The expanse between the two banks was immense, and the distance to the bottom enough to allow the greatest ships to sail without worry.

"What's wrong?"

"The river isn't here. It's dried up."

"Long time from the looks of it. Look how cracked the bed is."

"This is the river that brought your father looking for a wife and brought his bride to a new life. In all the time before I left, this river was never dry. The elders speak of only one other time in the history of our village when this bed was dry. That story was one of great sorrow. Pray that those times are not being revisited. Come, we must hurry."

"What happened in the old story? Did people die? How long ago was it?"

Maura only said that they would speak of it later and moved toward the bridge. With each question from her son, she pushed faster until they had crossed, then slowed to a pace that Nathan could maintain. Nathan watched as his mother looked from side-to-side and began to do the same. The trees, however, looked no different than they had before the pair had come to the dried-up river. If anything, the forest seemed to grow more pleasant until the dusk winds made the leaves shimmer in the dying light of sunset, and Nathan heard the murmur of running water.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Through the Great Forest*

There is no good in the river that runs dry.

Maura didn't know why this old saying came to mind again and again this day - she had left the river days ago and didn't expect to see another for several days to come. Still, it was an ever present thought, even as she picked her way through the undergrowth of the Great Forest. Her son Nathan, who had been raised far away from his mother's homeland, struggled behind her.

"Mother, how did you ever live in this place?"

Maura smiled at his question. "My son, when the Great Forest has given you life, as it gave life to me and to my ancestors, you come to love it as you come to love your own mother."

"Oh, I see. You love the forest because it is difficult, just as I love you because you are difficult!"

Maura laughed as the branch she had been holding swung back, filling Nathan's mouth with bitter tasting foliage.

"You will see. The Great Forest provides what you need when it is needed. Remember when you balked at leaving without provisions for the entire month's journey and I said it would be unnecessary? Have you noticed that your meals since we entered the forest have been a bit unusual?"

"Well, yes, but Mother, how could I expect them to be the same as we have at home? There is a cook there, and I never taste your culinary umm delights."

"Perhaps this lesson would be better learned if you could not rely on me. We shall see what the elders have to say about giving you to the Great Forest when we arrive."

"I think I'll pass."

"I think you won't have a choice!" she laughed.

*This is a bit of a teaser. My next post will either be this story or the beginning of a serial based on this post.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Just a little bit longer

And I'll be back. We went to visit my husband's sister's families this last weekend and I took on a part time job writing a tech manual. Life just hasn't been the same since. Hopefully I'll be back under control (or what passes for control) by next week.

Wish me luck. ;)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Passing on

It was time. Twenty years of waiting were twenty years too many. It was time. His wife was dead. The one child they'd born was grown. It was time. He donned his hat, threw on his overcoat - the same one his father-in-law had given him twenty-five years ago - and walked out the door.

He passed the flower shop like he always did, but this time he went inside for the first time in twenty years. The clerk greeted him cheerily, but he was more interested in finding the right roses - the slightly off colored ones with a little orange and a little pink. Not that he could tell - he was color blind - but his wife knew them. He shrugged and asked the clerk for help, they were called something like autumn or fall or some season or other.

With roses in hand, he walked toward the parish where they'd been married, where their daughter had been baptized and then married, and where he, at last, would end the waiting. Bittersweet memories brought a little smile to his face when he first looked on the statue where his wife had given every rose to Mary. Kneeling at her feet, he placed one of the roses in the little vase, asking her blessings for his wife, his child and himself. As he passed through the gates of the cemetery where his wife had lain these twenty years, his throat tightened and his eyes watered. Finding her grave with the little marker - as far away from the trees - so that she could see the stars - and as close to the water - so that her dad could go fishing - as had been possible, he knelt in the grass, placing the remaining rose upon her stone. Here he paused once more to ask mercy for his wife's soul, his child's and his own.

Standing, he continued his walk toward the parish. When they had married, it was a secular parish run by the diocese, but the Jesuits and taken it over in the last ten years. Fr. Peter smiled when he walked into the office.

"Andy! It's great to see you! How're things going down at the university?"

"They're good, they're good. How're the Jesuits these days? Running low on new recruits?"

"Oh no, we haven't been low on recruits since we got that new Superior General. The kids just love the guy. It's amazing ya' know, it really is."

"So you're not looking for any old men anymore, is that it?"

"Well, gosh, Andy, I don't know. Do you know any old men that'd wanna join these days? I mean, if there were more guys like you, we'd be doin' great, but you've got your daughter to look after and all."

"Actually, that's what I'm here for. I wanted you to be the first to know that I'm applying to the Jesuits. I also want your recommendation."

"Wow, Andy that's great. That's just great. Sure I'd love to give you my recommendation - don't look a gift horse in the mouth, ok? You know that one right? Oh, hey, did you hear the joke about the Jesuit and the liturgy yet?"

"Yeah, Fr. Peter, I heard that one already."

"Oh, that's too bad. It's a good one, but I guess it gets old after a while, huh? Say, listen, I've gotta hear confessions in a few minutes, why don't you come back after Mass and we'll go have dinner er somethin' alright?"

"Sure, that'd be great Father, I'll see you then."

He smiled as he left. Fr. Peter hadn't changed since they'd met twenty-five years ago. He was a good man. And a good priest, though how he wound up in the US and not in China was anybody's guess. Maybe he shouldn't have agreed to dinner. The last time they'd gone to dinner, Fr. Peter had picked the worst burger place in town. Oh well, it would at least be an experience, and his wife had always liked Fr. Peter. She would be happy for him. She would wish she could join them. He smiled, twenty years was too long to wait, but he still had twenty years left to go.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sometimes Misunderstanding is a Good Thing

Damon played with the Grape-Nuts that had sunk to the bottom of his milk. They weren't his favorite cereal - that one hadn't been restocked the last time he was in the SuperTarget near his house. If it weren't for the Tyson's chicken tenders he picked up at the same time, it would have been quite a failed trip, but he could at least remind himself of tomorrow's lunch of rice, chicken tenders and a protein shake that tasted like chalk. He usually didn't think much about meals - eating was more of a chore than a pleasure. This meal was of special interest though - the new teacher he'd been chatting with in the teacher's lounge always asked about his meals and she thought this meal particularly unusual. He smiled just thinking about how she would laugh at his lunch.

When he finished washing his bowl, Damon tuned his tv to the Rangers game - no matter how badly they were doing (they were 3 and 51 this season), they were still his team, and he watched religiously. That was something else the new teacher laughed about - she was an Angels fan, graduated from UCLA but born in New York City. Somehow that didn't bother him. It was a little like her tastes in music - he hated rap, but it was cute the way she waved her hands in the air while singing to her iPod. He was sure it would never last, but he enjoyed thinking about her and being with her. He decided he'd have to ask her out the next week so they could laugh at that too. She'd already said she never dated coworkers, so it would be ironic.

The next morning he woke up smiling, still thinking about the girl who was his opposite in all things. He had twenty students in his class - ten who had never cared, five who hadn't cared for the last ten years, three who didn't come and two who managed to pass most six weeks. Up until the new teacher started a month ago, he woke up frowning, still thinking about those kids. For the first time since he was a student teacher with an Honors class, Damon was actually looking forward to going to work.

That afternoon, the two of them laughed over his lunch and even talked a little baseball - Abby had watched the Angels game the night before and she was happy they were doing so well this season - 51 and 3. Damon barely noticed his class that afternoon or the next.

In fact, he didn't notice them until the following Tuesday after he asked Abby out for Friday. He hadn't expected her to say yes, that would have been ridiculous after she'd sworn she never dated coworkers, but the response she gave was unreal, unbelievable, earth shattering in fact. He needed to think things through, to work things out in his head before it exploded, but his entire class seemed to be jumped up on some kind of nutty juice. He couldn't take it, they were making him insane, he was on the verge of running out of the room, of screaming the thoughts he'd kept to himself about their true origins and the nature of their minds for the last six months, when the last bell finally rang. He breathed deeply, gulping for air as though his head had been underwater for the last two hours of the day. When he made it to his car, he only felt a little less like a fish out of water, but by the time he'd gotten home, eaten his cereal, and turned on the Rangers game, he was in a better state of mind.

He couldn't believe what he'd done. He couldn't believe what a fool he was. He couldn't believe his horrible, rotten luck. What kind of girl tells you she NEVER dates coworkers and then agrees to go out with you? To a rap concert that you don't have tickets to no less! He was getting himself worked up again, he was on the verge of panicking when his phone rang.

"Hello?!" he gasped into the phone.

"Hey, Damon?" It was a woman's voice. Who would be calling him? Who was it? What did they want? What was going on?

"Hey, Damon? Is this Damon's phone? Hello? I'm trying to reach Damon." It was her. It was his opposite. The freak. The psycho. The crazy the loon the whacked out nut job who agreed to go on a date to a rap concert when she knew he hated rap and she had sworn she NEVER dated coworkers. What kind of woman was he dealing with?

He finally choked out a strangled, "This is Damon."

"Oh, hey, this is Abby, I was calling about our date this Friday. You looked a little green when I agreed, so I wanted to tell you that if you didn't really want to go out, that's ok. I almost thought it must be a joke when you said you had tickets to a rap concert, but when you actually knew the band's name and they were in town, I thought maybe you were serious. I think you must have been kidding - it would have been a really funny joke - but I thought that we had been having such a good time that maybe you were serious. So anyways, if you don't really have tickets and you don't really want to go out on Friday, that's alright, ever since one boyfriend turned out to be crazy, I've avoided dating coworkers. You just seemed so nice and normal that I kind of hoped you meant it, but I'm pretty sure you didn't, and it's really a bad idea anyways - everyone always says, 'Never date your coworkers,' but sometimes I forget stuff like that, so yeah, I'll see you tomorrow. Sorry if I weirded you out or anything. Have a good night."

"Wait! Abby, wait!" He listened for a full minute, holding his breath, but there was no answer. Once he came to, he remembered how to use his caller id to return the call.


"Hey, uhh, Abby, this is Damon. From work."

"Oh. Ummm. Hi, this is awkward."

"Yeah, I thought it'd make something fun to talk about on Friday night when we go out to this blues club a friend has been telling me about. I didn't really have rap tickets, and I don't want to go to a rap concert, but I think we can both settle on the blues. There's also a little sports bar owned by a guy from L.A. who plays the Angels games no matter how many people try to pick a fight with him. Does that sound alright to you?"

When she didn't answer he almost fainted from holding his breath. He looked at his phone, stunned that she had hung up on him. He felt so foolish. What was he thinking? He'd never be able to talk to her again. She'd hate him forever. She'd think he was creepy, a jerk a freak a weirdo a louse. Then his phone rang.


"Hey, Damon?"


"I'm sorry, I get really bad reception in my apartment, can you repeat that? I didn't hear anything after something fun to talk about."

"Oh. Uhh, yeah. Well, I, umm, I just thought it'd be fun to actually go out on Friday night. Not to a rap concert ya' know, just out to something I don't hate and you don't hate. Like a, uhh, blues club or something and maybe a sports bar where they play the Angels and the Rangers."


Unable to bear the long pause, he hurried on, "But only if you want to. I mean, you know, I kind of lost reception halfway through your phone call, so maybe you said you didn't really want to go out or something and you know you don't have to feel obliged or anything, so you can just say no, and it won't be weird at work or anything 'cuz it'll be funny in a week or so and..."

She interrupted him, "Sure, Damon. I'll go out with you on Friday. Do you want to leave from work?"

In his astonishment, he almost forgot to say, "Yes, of course," and when he finally had finished making all the arrangements he was still uncertain that this was a good idea.

Then he thought about what he would have for dinner on Friday and smiled. At least they'd have something to laugh about on Monday.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Her Lover* was Coming Home

She arose that morning at the usual time with an unusual smile upon her face and her lover's voice in her ear - he was coming home at last and she'd miss him no more. She walked to work that day at the usual time with an unusual step and her lover's face in her thoughts - she'd be in his arms by 8 the next morning. She came home at the usual time with an unusual lift to her chin and her lover's embrace on her mind - a few more hours, a good night's rest and he'd be there. She cleaned at the usual time with an unusual glow in her eyes and her lover's voice once more in her ear - he was going to bed to rise fresh and early to see her the sooner.

Then she realized she should have washed the sheets at 6 and not at 10:30 so she could go to sleep and be awake enough to go to the airport at 7.

*Hey! Let's keep it Catholic here!

Monday, March 10, 2008

From dust you have come, to dust you shall return

"'The fool folds his arms
and consumes his own flesh' -
Better is one handful with tranquility
than two with toil and a chase after wind!" - Ecclesiastes 4:5-6

"Now, my child, I will tell you three little stories of three little creatures.

"First, there was the ant. As you know, ants are among the strongest of God's creatures, moving objects many times their sizes and their weights. They are truly amazing little insects and are known for their industriousness. One year, during a particularly wet year, when food was in plenty and grain was easy to find, our hero, we will call him Ant, was busy with his cousins and his brothers and sisters bringing in the harvest for the winter. Many times he would look around at all of nature's marvels and wish for just a moment that he could stop and rest a bit. One day he even climbed up a rosebush just to smell the roses, but he immediately had an overwhelming sense of loss when he realized how much food he had failed to move in wasting his time climbing the rosebush. When the winter came, the anthill had food in plenty, and so everyone was healthy when the spring came once more. The new spring was as beautiful as the last, but Ant refused to succumb to the temptations of the year before - he knew that this winter could be much harder than the last and that you never know what tomorrow holds in store. When the next winter came, the ants were as well prepared as the year before, and everyone was well fed. The next spring Ant noticed the ground rumbling, but he and the other ants didn't know what could make the earth rumble so. Then one day many ants were sucked up into a terrible cyclone as the rumbling moved over the mound. The next day a terrible smelling liquid fell from the sky, drowning many and poisoning the others. Our little hero, industrious and hardworking Ant watched in sorrow as those around him died. He too passed on, thinking of the rose and the fine harvests of years past."

"Gramma, that wasn't a very nice story. All the ants died. And Ant died. And he didn't do anything. I didn't like it."

"Ahhh, hush child. Let me tell you the next story, perhaps you will understand a bit more.

"Grasshopper, the highest jumping, farthest spitting, greenest looking grasshopper in all of nine counties was hopping through the fields one spring. All around him he saw the other insects working hard to prepare for the winter, but Grasshopper said to himself, 'Oh, ridiculous fools! Don't they know we've never needed extra food in this area? That noone ever goes hungry around here? There's always plenty to eat!' And so, the young grasshopper didn't do any work that spring. Instead he hopped here and there, distracting the other youngsters from their work, convincing them that tomorrow would be just as sunny as today and what they should be doing was having a good time. The young grasshoppers caused a great deal of mischief that spring, but when winter rolled around, it was just as Grasshopper had said - noone went hungry and there was plenty of food to go around - everywhere one jumped there was a leaf, just waiting to be eaten. The next spring and winter passed just as before with Grasshopper and his friends causing trouble. When the third spring came, the little band, convinced that nothing bad could come tomorrow disrupted all of the gathering for the next winter, so that that year's harvest was smaller than all the years before - much smaller than would be necessary if the winter turned out to be a bad one. But before winter even came, there was a rumbling like none of the insects had ever heard before. Grasshopper and all of his friends were confused and frightened by the noise. Some of them were caught up by a cyclone that moved over them. Most were fortunate enough to have hopped away, but when they looked around, there was nothing to be harvested - everything was only three inches tall! The insects looked at their stored grains and were saddened to see so little there - it would not be enough for the rest of the summer and certainly not enough for the winter. That winter was very hard and many of the insects died. Because Grasshopper and his friends hadn't helped, they always received the smallest and most infrequent portions. Finally, after watching each of his friends fall ill and die, Grasshopper died too, thinking of the beautiful springs of long ago and remembering his empty tummy."

"Gramma! That's so weird! Why does everyone keep dieing and not doing anything! Why don't you tell me a good story?"

"Child, child, listen to the stories - I tell them to you for a reason! Now, hush and listen to the last one.

"One spring the butterfly flitted to and fro through the fields of flowers, happily dining in the sweet nectars presented him. His happy flitting was periodically interrupted by the other animals - Ant called to him, 'Butterfly, Butterfly, you are too beautiful to go about so merrily without putting up your stores for the winter! Do not enjoy yourself so much unless you do not make it this year!' and Grasshopper cried out, 'Butterfly, Butterfly, why spend so much time collecting your meals? Come, join us in our revelry and enjoy this find spring!' But Butterfly kept floating from one flower to another, relishing the ebb and flow of his work, content simply to do what he was made to do. When the winter came that year, there was food in plenty. The next spring Butterfly did the same as he had done the year before and Ant and Grasshopper looked on, thinking him very silly for seeming to put no thought in tomorrow and take no time for today. The winter came and went just as before and so did the next spring. But the third winter, the great rumbling came, chopping down all of the plants so that many of the insects went to the anthill to ask for food. Grasshopper was first in line, asking Ant to share his stores. As they argued as to whether or not the lazy should eat, they looked up to see Butterfly flitting to and fro, just as happily as ever. 'Butterfly!' the two cried together, 'Why are you so happy and not the least distressed about this terrible winter?' Butterfly looked down and said, 'Why don't you know that there is a time for everything? We do not know what tomorrow may bring, so if we worry about tomorrow today will be wasted. But if we are always worried about today, then we will waste tomorrow. And so I haven't enough stored for this winter to share with Grasshopper, but I have enough to last until the spring rains come once more!' With that, Butterfly flitted away, only to find himself inside a jar with a strange smelling puffball that put him into such a sleep he never awoke again."

"Gramma! Those stories were awful! I wanna go home!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sarus's Simple Wisdom

Peacock spoke between beakfulls of feathers as he preened his beautiful tail. "There, Sarus, is no such thing as desert. Have you ever seen the desert? What use would a desert be? Nothing could live in the desert. You and I would die. Those who say that they've been there are either liars or crazy, and I would say that based on their behavior, it's some of both."

"But, Peacock, my own mother said that her mother said that her mother said that the desert existed and she had been there. She said the wisest of the wise go there for wisdom and that my great-grandmother was the wisest matriarch our flock has ever had."

"Nonsense, you cranes have never been known for being overly intelligent and you're always believing what someone else has told you. Believe me if you're going to believe anyone. I've reasoned it out, I know what I'm saying - there is no desert. Nobody can prove it - have you ever even seen sand except on the shore? How can there be sand and no water? How can there be life without water?"

"But, Peacock, my husband said he once flew over the desert after a terrible storm, and he says he saw little tracks in the sand and small bushes. My husband isn't crazy!"

"Sarus, Sarus, your husband is either crazy or a liar. If you believe that the wisest of the wise go to the desert, then don't you see he only wanted you to think him wiser than he is? It's very sad really. Animals have been spreading these lies for years, beguiling simpletons such as yourself into following them. Why don't you listen to my reasoning and let go of these childish beliefs. Recognize that there is no desert, that all there is are mountains and valleys, jungles and rivers - the desert simply does not exist."

"But, Peacock, those who have been to the desert speak with such wisdom of such beautiful things. They say the sunsets in the desert are magnificent, that when you look at the night sky, it seems as though you're standing in the middle of the sky. They tell us how we were meant to live, the ways that are best for us."

"Why don't you see that anyone can make up a beautiful imaginary place? Of course, they tell you that the way you should live is beautiful - you wouldn't live it if they said it was ugly. They drag you around, telling you what to do, how to live, where to go by feeding you ridiculous stories of sunsets and starry skies. The desert does not exist - it is a lie promulgated by those who are too simple to look at the facts and those who are too self-serving to tell the truth. I refuse to believe that others have seen something which I have not, that a place where animals live without water exists, that there is any magical place capable of imparting wisdom upon those who enter therein. There is no evidence that it exists, and so I tell you it does not!"

As Sarus the crane fretted over Peacock's words, Elephant, that wise old lady of the jungle, pushed through the trees.

"Good afternoon, Peacock, good afternoon, Sarus. Sarus," she looked concerned, "what is the matter? You look perplexed."

"Oh, Elephant! I am so glad to see you. You are so very wise and so very kind, perhaps you can help me. Peacock here has just been telling me that the desert does not exist. Tell me, Elephant, is it true? Does the desert truly not exist?"

"Rest easy, my friend, the desert does indeed exist. I have been there myself - once when I was a child."

"Oh, but, Elephant! Peacock says that those who claim to have seen the desert are either liars or crazy! Why would you lie to us?"

"Sarus, I am not lying, tell, me what has Peacock said that would make you believe I would lie to you?"

"Don't ask Sarus what I said. She hasn't yet come to terms with the reality that the desert doesn't exist." He began preening again. "I'm sure you won't even be capable of seeing the facts since you seem to think you have been there. Nevertheless, I will tell you why the desert cannot possibly exist. First, you cannot take me to the desert - the stories say that only those who wish to go may go unless they are specially called. Second, the stories all say that there are animals which live in the desert, but those same stories also say that there is no water there. Such contradictions clearly show that the desert does not exist for animals cannot live without water. Third, a place is not capable of imparting anything other than the material needs of those who enter, so there cannot be a place into which one may enter and thereby gain such wisdom as the stories claim. Fourth, and most despicably of all, those who promulgate this disarming and blinding lie all benefit from it - they receive food for nothing, they pretend to do valuable things but are merely playacting, they are lauded as wise though they merely seek to control us. Now then, Elephant, do prove me wrong. Prove to me that the desert does indeed exist and that all my reasoning has been for naught."

"Well, Peacock, you have certainly put a great deal of thought into your arguments. I hope you don't mind my saying so, but I'm afraid your mental energy has been poorly spent, for you have failed to prove the non-existence of the desert, but have instead succeeded in proving your own weak reliance upon yourself rather than accepting our common need for and reliance upon each other. Just the same, I will endeavor to help you see that your proofs have failed and I will give you the option of coming to know the desert's existence."

Peacock mumbled through his preening, "Do tell, Elephant, do tell."

"I will answer your objections beginning with the last. There have been many who pretended knowledge of the desert to lead the animals astray, and still more who falsely believed they had entered therein and so led themselves and others astray. There have been those who sought fortune and fame through false associations with the desert and those who though they had entered the desert left unchanged. That does not prove that the desert does not exist, it proves instead that we animals may do as we please.

"Your third objection concerns the impossibility of receiving wisdom from a place. But I ask you, have you ever looked upon a starry sky, or a beautiful sunset? Have you ever gazed upon the mountains as the clouds swirled around them and not felt your heart pause in wander? Have you not had your heart lifted beyond yourself to a realm you could not truly fathom? If we cannot receive something immaterial from the material, then how is it that your heart is so moved? Did something pass from the mountains to your heart or leap from the sunset into your chest?

"As to your contradictions, have you ever noticed that some plants are more succulent than others, that some contain more juices than others? Have you watched as the lions consume their prey that there is moisture within the animal he is eating? The desert is not bereft of water, it merely has no water flowing upon its surface and the rains are rare. There is no contradiction there - the animals and the plants are small because water is scarce, but there is water and there are plants and animals.

"Finally, if you wish to truly know if the desert exists, then come with me, and I will take you there. The stories say that noone may enter the desert unless he seeks it, but they never say that one cannot be led by another. I offer you the opportunity to witness firsthand the beauty and the magnificence of the desert. If you would like, you may consider this your call."

Peacock flapped his wings. "Bravo, Elephant, bravo. You have succeeded in proving yourself as ridiculous as all the others who believe the desert exists. You have proven your unwillingness to see the very plain evidence which I have provided, and I am sure your weak arguments have beguiled poor Sarus into believing once more in your pitiful desert. Farewell then, I'm going to find more reasonable company." With that, he was gone, leaving Sarus and Elephant behind.

"Elephant, I'm so glad you came when you did! I almost believed what Peacock was saying! Tell me," she looked sheepishly up to Elephant, "tell me, Elephant, can you take my husband and I to see the desert? When he flew over, he did not stay, because I was nesting, and I have always longed to see the desert for myself. Please tell me that you will take me there!"

"Gladly, Sarus, gladly. I will take you and anyone else who wishes to come with me"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sidewalk Defender

She pulled the umbrella from her side as though pulling a sword in a long-forgotten time, held it as holding a long sword and waited patiently for her enemy.

The cards in his spokes clicked as he pedaled toward her. He hadn't noticed his assailant poised and prepared to pounce, he saw only a young woman struggling with her umbrella, standing in the sidewalk - another pedestrian standing between him and class.

Suddenly, with a loud "THWACK" he found himself sprawled on the ground. He looked around - afraid of another blow from his unknown and unseen foe, but none was forthcoming. Too shaken to ride his bike, he walked the rest of the way to class.

Our valiant warrior smiled, tucked her umbrella back in its place and continued on her way to work.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ursula's Remix

The scene opens with a couple's hands crossed over each other so that you can see their wedding bands. His hand is the hand of the working man. Hers is smaller and feminine but strong with 70s green nail polish.

Vince is a working man with an accent reminiscent of Sylvester Stalone in Rocky, but without the mush mouth effect which makes him incomprehensible. He is almost well built, as though he works construction, but enjoys his carbs a little too much.

Ursula is a slight woman, easily given to excitement with an occasional bit of an attitude that doesn't overshadow her femininity. She doesn't have the attitude that scares shy people, just the attitude of a working class woman.

Darla lives in the same complex as Vince and Ursula. She's a motherly sort, even though she's no older than the others.

Scene 1: Ursula is on the phone in her small 70s decor apartment kitchen. On the counter is a bowl, some cake ingredients, lemons and an empty carton of eggs. She's a little frantic.

Ursula (on the phone): Oh, no! Darla what'm I gonna do? I was makin' a cake for Vince's birthday ya' know, and like I was makin' bahs er somethin' 'n I put all the ingredients in before I knew what I's doin' ya' know, 'n now I got like 8 eggs and flowa and powdad suga and butta all in da same bowl and da eggs was fer anuda paht of da bahs. What'm I gonna do? He's gonna be home in an owa 'n dat's all da eggs I got.

Darla (from off screen and with a telephone sounding voice): Oh, don't worry, Honey. I'll just come right on over through the back door, and we'll fix things all up. It's fine, Honey, it's fine. These things happen to ever'body sometime or 'nother.

Ursula frets over the bowls for a few seconds when a knock at the kitchen door indicates Darla's arrival.

Ursula: Thank heavens ya' heeya! It's such a mess, do ya' think you c'n do anything with it?

Darla (bustling over to the ingredients, pats Ursula reassuringly on the arm): Honey, Honey, ever'thing will be just fine. Don't you worry about a thing. We'll just say 1-2-3-4 cake a coupla times, and you'll serve it with a bit of coffee, and Vince won't know a thing!

The two women bustle about the kitchen with Darla mostly shooing Ursula out of the way until Vince comes home and Ursula walks out. Darla continues working while Ursula and Vince have a conversation off screen.

Vince: Yo, Baby. I missed yous all day. What've you been doin'?

Ursula (a bit nervously): Makin' plans for ya' burthday, whutta ya' think?

Vince: Oh. Dat sounds alright den. Is it done yet?

Ursula: Yeah, yeah, it'll be done, it'll be done in a little bit.

Vince: Good. I don't like to wait fuh my su'prises. 'Cept when dey're from you, Baby.

Ursula comes back into the kitchen where Darla is cleaning up. They whisper loudly.

Ursula: Thanks, Darla, I dunno what I'd do widoutcha.

Darla (patting Ursula reassuringly): Oh, you'd get by just fine. You didn't have a few things, so I improvised a little, but I'm sure it'll be ok. Just serve it with coffee and pretend it's a coffee cake. It'll be fine, just fine.

Darla leaves and the oven timer goes off. Ursula still looks worried as she removes the cake from the oven and prepares it for Vince.

Vince (from the other, unseen room): Yo, Ursula. Where's my cake?

Ursula: Hey, keep ya' shirt on, it's almost ready, it's almost ready!

Cut to the living room where Vince, wearing a white tank-top is trying the cake with Ursula who is watching more than trying her own.

Vince: Hey, Baby, dis is da best cake evah. It goes great wit dis coffee dat you made. Baby, dere's a reason dat I love you.

Ursula: Oh, Vince-Honey, you say the nicest things.

The two cuddle on the couch in birthday bliss as Vince changes the television channel, the picture fades and the credits begin to roll.