Sunday, December 29, 2019

Ed's Comma Clinic

Janine Davies decided to end the year with another magazine interview of the Wicca Horror Show. It wasn't the show's Goth-glam hostess that intrigued her as much as its cynical producer; his ascetic wit hit the right note with homemakers taking a coffee break. She took the stage chair backed against the second-floor patio doors and waited for Ed to perch on the stage edge.

Ed got down to business. "Get that painting appraised before hanging a two-dollar tag on it at your garage sale."

"Sound advice." Janine wrote it down, grinning. "Not the voice of experience, I hope."

"Nah. I watch TV."

Janine checked her notes. "I'm  not familiar with this 'Soma Beach' reference in Saturday night's script."

"There's no such place," Wicca said from her corner wing chair. "It means he's a soma beach! Ha ha ha!"

"Wise guys," Ed groused.

Janine had given up trying to interview the mercurial hostess. The woman might come out of the vampish dress, but she never came out of character. Undead mage indeed.

"Here's one," Wicca offered. "If you dream you're two inches tall, watch out for the cat."

Janine pretended to write it down. "You've. . . .had such dreams?"

"Yowzuh bowzuh!" For Janine's benefit, Wicca clarified. "That's like when those Thunderbirds puppets sign off with 'F A B'. No one knows what it means--maybe short for 'fabulous'--but that's a fussy thing for a spaceman to say."

Ed grimaced. "Getting back to Earth-if you don't pick up pennies, you won't fall for the penny-glued-to-the-floor gag." He took a bow. "When you jog, don't let the abs bounce along for the ride--keep 'em taut."

"Let me catch up," Janine said, scribbling. "This could signal the onset of writer's block."

"It heralds writer's block," Ed countered. "Word economy conveys ideas fast enough to visualize. Carry that far enough and you get poetry."

Wicca rolled eyes. "Watch out for him. He loves to teach."

"I do have trouble with commas," Janine admitted. "Take this line from another article: 'The storm brought wind and hail later'. Does it  need a comma?"

"Of course." Ed shrugged. "Wind and hail are in the future. Put a comma after 'wind', and you bring 'wind' into the present."

Janine wrote: "Without the comma we have 'The storm brought wind and hail later'."

"You need a comma after comma," Ed pointed out over her shoulder. "Otherwise it says 'without the comma we have', making 'comma' the subject, with 'wind and hail' as the consequence. Weird!"

"Ayehhh. . . ." Wicca put hands over ears and sashayed out.

"Short attention span," Ed said.

Janine rose, notepad in hand. "Where is she going?"

"The break room." Ed waved her to follow out of the studio and across the hall. "Your readers should like this."

Wicca got into a box of chocolate booze bottles, this one a variety of scotch recipes from Scotland. She unwrapped one, bit off the chocolate cap, spat it onto the table. The helmeted dwarf sidekick, Hecabano, avidly scooped it up. He did the same for the small discarded bottle after Wicca took the shot.

"Eeergg." Wicca's mouth went aslant. "Scratch this one--tastes like bacon." She unwrapped another.

Ed swept an arm in flourish. "Some freak show, eh? And those booze bottles cost better than sixty bucks."

"I'll bring her one," Janine said, jotting it all down. "Maybe that will keep her seated long enough to try another interview."

Friday, December 27, 2019

Thinking of New Year's

As I sat at an outdoor table in Paris, musing and listening to the life around me, a charming voice stirred me.
"Bonjour, Monsieur. May I sit here? The others are taken."
"Why, yes!" I said, looking at the gentle figure before me.
The beautiful young lady wore a hat; but it was then, when she removed her hat, hiding it from others as she sat, that I saw it — a corkscrew in her forehead.
"You are from...?" she asked.
"Yes...yes," I stammered.
"Where are you from?" she persisted.
"The States... States," I replied, glancing at her eye and back to the corkscrew.
"I would like to go there some day. But I could show you around Paris. First, please, do be gentle and remove the corkscrew," she said. taking my hand and leading it to the horrifying spot.
Everything froze. My heart fell. I didn't want to lose her; but this! I began to pull.
"Stop! You are hurting me!" I thought I heard her whisper.
Never good with corkscrews, I twisted and turned and yanked it. She fainted! Blood poured all over! People screamed. I fled.
From that day on, I could never again look at a corkscrew to open a bottle of wine. Now, I drink only champagne.

(Though mine, I'm not so perverse. The theme was one of several from an association's contest long ago which just flat died. No results given.)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Friday Night Frights Presents: Scene One, Take Two

Perhaps it's fortunate that there is no such thing as time travel. After all, a slight change in history has awfully big repercussions. Take the example of Perseus: long before the Romans knew his nemesis as Medusa, the Greeks knew her as Magera. Suppose our enterprising young hero decides not to do the will of the gods, but opts instead for a mutually beneficial business arrangement. It's a decision that will long outlive him.

Six elite warriors crept through the lair of the gorgon, instructed to keep their eyes down. They were already unnerved by an echoing hiss and mocking laughter. An arrow from nowhere claimed its first mark.

Perseus leaped to the fore and dropped his sword. "Hear me, Magera! There is no need for anyone else to die here today, including you!" The laughter went silent, and Perseus could practically feel the arrow winging its way toward him. "How would you like to get even with Athena who betrayed you?--to outlive all the gods of Olympus?"

The words came from everywhere and nowhere. "Face me, Perseus."

He kept his gaze down, seeing her lower coils slither into view.

"You may safely look upon me, mortal. I will know the truth in your eyes, for if it is not there, my face is the last thing you will ever see."

Perseus forced himself to slowly track his gaze up her body, struck by what the legends had said about her beauty--it was unmatched. As long as she wanted it that way, and if you could get past the undulating black serpents. "If the kraken destroys Thyatra, the world of men falls. Hades will bring his minions into the light, and all will be a charnel house. Not even you can stand against them. The gods will withdraw to Olympus, safe from both Hades and the men who will one day reckon with their capricious cruelty."

"Speak further," she commanded.

Perseus watched for any forward thrust of the serpents, signal that she was about to unleash the petrify curse. "We can transport you there. . .your safety is guaranteed."

More mocking laughter. "I need none of your charity, as I will go there by sea. But I cannot face the kraken beneath the waters, as he will destroy me before I draw near. I shall await him ashore, where you will keep your people away from the old temple of Artemis."

In planning to get this far, Perseus hadn't considered the aftermath. "And when the kraken is destroyed?"

"We shall see, for in making your offer, you have freed me from these confines." She slithered out of sight.

Lysander, the expedition captain, ventured forth to take an arm. "Perseus, you may have just made things worse."

"I think not," he said. "We can't be sure we'd have succeeded in taking her head. Besides, I'm counting on her sense of adventure. She's taken hundreds of men--where's the sport in that? Let her test her limits, and be avenged on the gods."

Off the coast of Greece, present day.

Max led Jenny, his fiancee, onto a snow-covered causeway. At the end sat a squat lighthouse about three stories tall. Frigid waves slapped at snow-capped stones littering the waters, wafting steam to obscure the morning sun. Max followed the hand rail, struggling not to slip on the ice. A panorama of distant rocky isles almost compensated for the arduous trip from the U.S.

The wind snatched away Jenny's misted breath. "Okay, tell me why we're not in Hawaii?"

"I wanted to see the ruins of Thyatra. See that big formation out there? It's called the kraken rock, supposedly because it resembles a monster head."

Jenny squinted at gulls wheeling about the barnacle and seaweed coated mass. "If that's a mouth, it's a dangerous place for gulls to nest."

"How the mighty have fallen," Max quoted. "Souvenir hunters long ago chiseled out all the teeth."

"You're in a funny mood today." Or was he? He wasn't smiling.

Max took her hands. "Jen--I want you to know what you're getting into. My dad just passed the baton, claims he's descended from Perseus."

"The guy who teamed up with a gorgon?"

"Yep. The most recent bad guys to go down were on an enemy sub. That's one petrified crew that will never be found."

Jenny still believed he was kidding. "I guess that makes you heir to the family secret."

Max assumed a look of dread at something behind her. "Looks that way. The gods of Olympus are gone, but magic remains."

Forcing herself to turn, Jenny beheld the snaky-haired apparition arising from the mists.

"The family secret," Max announced. "Let's take it slow, and try not to get the day off to a bad start."

Monday, December 23, 2019

Skyscape: Home By Six

This 16x20 won first place at the hospital craft show. The lab manager was so pleased, he ordered pizza for lunch for the whole crew. Being on night shift, I got one of two pieces held back for me and a tall redhead who served as my 'partner in crime', as we called each other. It's the original design that launched any number of alternate takes of all sizes.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Christmas Traditions

As a Christian, and a reader of Celtic/ Pagan traditions of which in a time before Christianity came to the British Isles, many of these have carried over because it's a significance of our historical heritage. It's the joining of Christianity as the sole faith/ belief that Jesus is our Savior.

Of course we have connections to the old faiths, because they were carried over. The Gaelic traditions are still evident in small pockets of Ireland because they carried it over into Christianity. God is good, God is wonderful. Once we were one with Nature/ God. At this time, we are one with God, and his extension of love through the baby. Why is Jesus different? Because he came across space & time to our Earth home. Supernatural exists. We should always try to be one with Nature, thank God for the bountiful crops and such etc.
Let God into your house, read a script of the Bible...let your heart be warm.
Merry Christmas!

Traditions and Symbols of Yule

yule traditions and symbolsWhen the days grew colder and the nights grew longer, people of ancient times would light candles and gather round fires to lure back the sun. They would bring out their stores of food and enjoy feasting and festivities. Dances were danced and songs were sung and all would delight in decorating their homes.

Evergreens for Yule

Evergreens were cut and brought indoors to symbolize life, rebirth and renewal. They were thought to have power over death because their green never faded, and they were used to defeat winter demons and hold back death and destruction. Because of their strength and tenacity, they were also believed to encourage the Sun’s return.

Christmas Holly

Holly, which represents the masculine element, was often used to decorate doors, windows and fireplaces. Because of its prickliness it was thought to capture or ward off evil spirits before they could enter a home and cause harm. The holly leaves, symbolic of the Holly King, represent hope, and the red berries represent potency.

Holiday Traditions: Mistletoe

Mistletoe, which represents the female element, also holds much importance as it was used by Druid priests in special ceremonies during the Winter Solstice. They believed that its green leaves represented the fertility of the Mother Goddess, and its white berries, the seed of the Forest God or Oak King. Druids would harvest the mistletoe from sacred oak trees with golden scythes and maidens would gather underneath the trees to catch the falling branches, preventing them from falling to the ground; for if this happened, it was believed that all sacred energy in the plant would pour back into the earth. The branches and sprigs were then divided and distributed to be hung over doorways as protection against thunder, lightning and other evils. Mistletoe was also worn as an amulet for fertility, or hung above the headboard.

Yule Tree: An Important Pagan Symbol

The Yule Tree was also another important symbol in pagan tradition. Originally, it represented the Tree of Life or the World Tree among early pagans. In ancient times it was decorated with gifts people wanted to receive from the gods. It was adorned with natural ornaments such as pinecones, berries and other fruit, as well as symbols sacred to the gods and goddess. In some holiday traditions, garlands of popcorn and berries were strung around the tree so that visiting birds could feed off the tree as well.

To Honour and Protect: The Yule Log

The custom of burning the Yule Log began with the ancient Scandinavians who burned a huge log, felled from and Ash tree, to honour their god Thor. In the Celtic tradition, a continual hearth fire was kept to prevent spirits from entering the home. In order for the fire to keep burning, a large Oak tree was felled and brought into the home where the tree was placed trunk first into the hearth, with the last remnants set aside to burn with next year’s fire. It was also believed that the longer the Yule log burned, the faster the sun would come to warm the earth.

Other Yule Traditions and Symbols

Candles were another way to have an eternal flame within the home. They symbolized the light and warmth of the sun and were used to chase away evils and lure back the returning sun/son.
Wreaths were also traditional in ancient times for they symbolized the wheel of the year and the completion of another cycle. They were made of evergreens and adorned with cones and berries and hung as decoration throughout the home. They were also given as gifts to symbolize the infinity of goodwill, friendship and joyfulness.
Bells were often rung during the Winter Solstice to drive away demons that surfaced during the dark time of the year. They were rung in the morning as everyone began to wake to chase away the dark days and herald in the warmer, brighter days following the solstice.
Elves first became associated with Yule because the ancients knew that the Spirits that created the Sun inhabited the land of Elves. By including elves in the Yule celebrations, the ancients believed they were assuring the elves assistance in the coercion of the Sun to return.
Gingerbread was considered to be a specialty bread during this time since ginger had not been available until the Crusaders brought it back in the 11th century. There were strict laws regarding specialty breads in that time, so gingerbread was only allowed to be produced during the holidays and thus, it became associated with winter and Yule.
Wassail derives from the Old English words waes hael, which means “be well”, “be hale” or “good health”. It is a strong drink, usually a mixture of ale, honey and spices or mulled apple cider. When pagans went into the forest to fell the great oak for the Yule log, they would anoint the tree with wassail and bedeck them with wassail-soaked cakes, thus the ritual of wassailing was born. At home, the wassail would be poured into a large bowl during feast time and the host, when greeting his or her guests, would lift a drink and wish them “waes hael”, to which they would reply “drinc hael”, which meant “drink and be well”.
Carolling was also a popular Yule tradition when young children honoured the Winter Solstice with song. They would go through the villages, singing door to door. The villagers, in return, would reward them with tokens and sweets and small gifts which symbolized the food and prosperity given by the Mother Goddess to all her Earthly children.
Nature Symbols of Yule: Holly, Oak, Mistletoe, Ivy, Evergreens, Laurel, Bayberry, Blessed Thistle, Frankincense, Pine, Sage, Yellow Cedar.
Food and Drink of Yule: Yule Log Cake, Gingerbread, Fruits, Berries, Nuts, Pork dishes, Turkey, Eggnog, Ginger Tea, Spiced Cider, Wassail
Colours of Yule: Red, Green, White, Silver, Gold
Red represents the waning Holly King. Green represents the waxing Oak King. White represents the purity and hope of new Light. Silver represents the Moon. Gold represents the Sun/Son.
Stones of Yule: Rubies, Bloodstones, Garnets, Emeralds, Diamonds
Activities of Yule: Carolling ~ Wassailing the Trees ~ Burning the Yule Log ~ Decorating the Yule Tree ~ Exchanging Gifts ~ Kissing under the Mistletoe
Deities of Yule:
Goddesses: The Great Mother and Earth Goddess, Freyja, Gaia, Diana, Bona-Dea, Isis, Demeter
Gods: Mabon, The Sun God, The Star (Divine) Child, The Oak King, The Holly King, The Green Man, The Red Man, The Horned One, Odin, Lugh, Apollo, Ra
What Yule traditions and symbols still appear in your Holiday celebrations? Did you know the origin of some of these Yule traditions or did they surprise you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
~ Daniela Masaro and Sacred Earth Journeys

Friday Night Frights Presents: Tankerman

For those of us who labor in unsatisfying jobs, there's always the option of higher education or trade school. For a misfit pipe fitter like Mort, it's easier just to stew in righteous indignation. Lady Luck has served him ill in landing him in construction work, where it's cold in winter and hot in summer. He'd much rather be in a cozy indoor job like so many born under a lucky star. But rather than avail himself of said options for improvement, Mort finds it easier to languish in bitterness and resentment. . . .in The Twilight Zone.

Mort finished his biscuit and coffee, his breath steaming where he sat against a keel stiffener. The oiler's empty tank still had a petrol smell, though not so noticeable in this kind of cold. The shipyard's seven o'clock whistle wailed its distant summons. Teddy Jones--the pipe fitter Mort was helper to--would clamber down the ladder any minute now, so it was time to make with the artwork.

White chalk, in Mort's guiding hand, began to sketch a sinister figure on the rusted aft bulkhead. Tankerman had a tall hat with one side of the wide brim turned up in classic villain style. His Dracula-type cape was pulled across his body, framing the skull face between the high collars. The last touch was red chalk for the eyes. Mort's own hatred for his miserable lot blazed out of them.

High above at the forward end, grayish dawn light dimmed as someone came down, tool bag slung over a shoulder. Teddy reached bottom and dropped the bag with a grunt. "Mornin', mornin'. Heard the news?"

"About what?" Mort had come forward between risers, leaving his latest creation behind in the gloom.

The tall bro rubbed at his gray-flecked goatee. "Some welder got 'lectrocuted over on the carrier last night."

The Navy carrier under construction had been Mort's home base for months. He'd left behind any number of Tankermen in deep, isolated holds. One had even been sprayed over with brick-red paint in one of the aviation fuel tanks, destined to sail with the ship until the end of its days. But a shortage of men down at the ship repair end of the yard had gotten Mort and Teddy a week in the cold; this tanker was a bid job, and had to be out of here on schedule.

"How'd it happen?" Mort had gloved hands in pockets.

"Freak accident," Teddy said. "Friction tape came off a bare spot on his weldin' line. Somehow he got tangled in it on the way down. They found 'im hangin' there."

In an adjacent tank, the rapid chatter of an impact wrench started up. It was almost loud enough to cover the warning tone of the gantry crane as it moved on its tracks. Annoyed, Mort screwed in his ear plugs. "Where was this?"

"Up fo'ward, where we was workin' in the chain locker---down in the bulb space."

That gave Mort pause. He had taken advantage of Teddy having gone for a blueprint, making his way down to the cavernous nose bulb. These were designed to prevent ships from plunging too deep at the bow in heavy seas. Mort's quick sketch had graced it with a leering Tankerman.

"Funny thing," Teddy added, unrolling a print. "Ol' Doctuh Death was down there too."

". . .Doctor Death?" Mort's marrow chilled.

"You know--them drawins of that dude that looks like Oil Can Harry, 'cept for the skull face."

Was it Mort's imagination, or did he hear a sepulchral sigh, see a shadow pass across the aft stiffeners?

"Damn," Teddy swore. "I forgot the emery cloth. Run over to the tool room and get some." In addition to its abrasive use, emery cloth made a handy wrap for drawing cut lines around pipe.

Mort demurred. "You know. . . .one of those 'Doctor Deaths' is back there on the bulkhead. You wanna be alone down here?"

Teddy made a gold-tooth grin. "Go 'head on, man!"

Given little choice, Mort hustled up the ladder, bent on completing the task pronto. Naturally the tool room was busy. He was better than ten minutes getting the roll of cloth. The round trip took over twenty minutes.

Upon return to the pier, Mort was horrified at sight of an ambulance just pulling away. A fellow fitter named Shaffer sidled up to him.

"Your boy Teddy done had chest pains," he said.

"Did he. . . .see anything?"

Shaffer's mustache twitched. "See what? When his chest hurt, he hauled freight up the ladder and called for help. They'll check 'im out at the clinic and send 'im home. Nothin' to worry about."

"I'll get his tool bag." Mort used the excuse to hurry aboard ship and climb down into the holding tank. He made his way aft, past a few lights strung on a temporary line. Tankerman was no longer there. Only his outline remained, a lighter area against the bulkhead.

Mort clenched fists against his newfound power. "Death!--" His challenge echoed, directed at the more fitting name of the doctor. "This isn't how it works!"

He plopped onto a stiffener, head in hands. He'd have to find the foreman and get assigned to another mechanic. Then he'd scrap around and try to look busy, which made for a long day. Suddenly he straightened. Tankerman, aka Doctor Death, shouldn't be afflicting Mort and his fellow slobs out here on the waterfront. No--the problem lay with those office types in their cushy jobs, looking down with contempt at the hard hats. It was just a mater of getting into an office for a little wall art.

But first, Mort had to rein in this freak. He began to sketch with white chalk around the newly-vacated outline. When the line rapidly filled itself in, a stunned Mort dropped his chalk. The completed drawing filled in with black, and red eyes glinted in the grinning skull face. Mort backed away, tripped, his hard hat bouncing on the deck. This was a level of art beyond his ability, almost photographic.

The eyes looked down at him. Was it just that weird illusion of all pictures?--or did Doctor Death just make a dire promise?--that the ultimate price of infernal power would be Mort's soul.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Dusty-file Poetry

Definition: gripman — a cable car operator


My father's father was a gripman
My father wore a helmet
And I lovebeads

My father's father went to and fro
My father left campaigning
And I was lost

Barn In The Clearing

The acrylic in this 6x9 is used thinly. That allows planks and roof slats to take up the texture of the canvas for a rough look. It's more opaque in areas where shrub overlaps the structure.  With a little
imagination, this small magazine photo takes on the aura of a lonely, simmering day in the country. The tin roof reflects the sky, with its grayish color slanting blue more toward mauve. For me, the openings invite exploring the musty old relic, with bird calls echoing in the distance.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

At the Bromius

Ok I am posting for a possibly new author. Let's give this one a good review etc.   Thanks for your support for the new blogs!

Lennox: Ah oh, what a dream I had.
Porter: Let me help you up. Put your arm around my shoulder. Careful now.
Lennox: What happened here? Everything looks wrecked.
Porter: There was a storm last night; the chimney was blown down, and windows broken.
Lennox: And the rest?
Porter: Well sir, the laws of nature are altered. It cannot be helped.
Lennox: Laws...nature?
Porter: Our land suffers. When the king is near women forsake their children and home, and run through fields and forest. It is heard throughout.
Lennox: Oh, the dream, nightmare, whatever it was—
Macduff (entering): You are up. Look at this place. I thought it was the storm.
Lennox: Was it a dream I had?
Macduff: More than a dream it seems. We'll have to pay for the damage. Drinks too. But the dream?
Porter: No payment is required sir, this is common nowadays.
Lennox: The dream, the storm.... The women running through the woods.... I joining them....  Rather, they joined me. This is not my habit. Then in the morning, the women attacked the herders' sheep and cattle, and beat up the herders who tried to stop them. Women defeating men! Then Sheriff Pentheus, that's what he called himself, came with men to arrest me and the women. His own mother was involved. When the sheriff and his men came to the spot and saw the carnage, the men deserted. The women attacked Pentheus and tore him to pieces. His mother came to me holding what she said was the head of a mountain lion; in her ecstasy could not see she carried her son's head. When I enlightened her she was horrified, sobbed.
Macduff: Dreadful dream, but we have to call on Duncan.
Lennox: When I got here a battle was raging and the king was at camp. He never did lead. With the treaty there was little to defend, but now that we are attacked, he stays behind while others fight.
Macduff: The Norwegian king fought! But you say Duncan would not show himself on the battlefield. He passes himself off as an old man who's not expected to go into battle. Let's go before the sun rises.
Porter: When you get to the castle, knock hard. My brother is porter there, and he often empties bottles.
Lennox: Something new with him since, you said, nature's turned upside down?
Porter: No, sir, he is constant. The king too.
Macduff: A good thing sometimes. Duncan commanded I wake him in early morning. Macbeth received the title due me. I should have come up here myself and told Duncan to his face what I did. I expect bounty for defeating the Norwegian king and the tribute I exacted. Never would I step foot in Macbeth's castle but for the king's command. Let's go. led women? Were you Duncan?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday Night Frights Presents: Subtext

Good evening. Mr Arthur Deco is one of those pesky masters of the unspoken word. His opponents have a sense that something isn't right, but they just can't put their finger on it. It's quite infuriating, you know, as one is unable to devise a snappy comeback, not knowing the question. Fortunately for our harried shop owner, he's not averse to resorting to violence.

The curio shop's bell jangled as Arthur Deco swept in, clutching an ancient tome of Greek philosophy--or at least a modern English translation. Such dry subject matter couldn't compete with Harry Potter. The publisher therefore released it as rare, signed copies that commanded high prices from academics. It was all a fraud, in Deco's opinion. His job as an art critic was to have that fact published in his newspaper column.


The shop's owner, Trent Harker, emerged from a side room. His face fell upon sight of his nemesis. "What now, Deco?"

"I suppose you haven't read my column today. It's a critique of this piece of trash."

Harker looked chilled at seeing the book's title. A buyer had offered the shop four thousand for it. "You can't be serious. That book is a window in time. It gives us insight to how men thought three eons ago, before the golden age of Greece."

"Maybe as originally written. But the publisher has taken liberties." Deco consulted a small note pad. "On page 156 he has 'appeal to'--epikalesasthai--instead of the original 'call out to'--epikaloumenon. That makes the speaker subservient--not at all the bombastic type he actually was." Deco could practically read Harker's mind via the man's expression: Storm clouds ahead.

"Do you speak Greek?" Harker spluttered.

"No, I never had interest in studying and mastering the  tongue." But easily could have.

"Then you're hardly an authority, Deco."

"Isn't that what scholars are for? Your thesis is that I can't look at Greek text on a screen, and read the plain English that appears beneath it." This is the captain, folks. We're experiencing turbulence.

"Still. . . .it's not like being a native speaker."

Strapping on parachute. "I know grammar, Harker, such as when the prepositive article is abused." Sound of birds chirping in Harker's brain. "To clarify that for you, it's the word 'of''. The translator moves it from the genitive cast, making it a simple inclusive."

"Well. . . .I'm not convinced."

Jump out, pull the ripcord. "The question is who made the error--translator or publisher. My money is on the biased translator." Well, THAT ship has sailed. Moving right along. . . .

Harker seemed suddenly resolved. "Suppose I can show you an original voyager through time--one who will settle that matter once and for all."

"That I'd like to see."

The shop owner navigated glass cases, arriving at a small safe. He spun the combination and removed the lock. Stepping behind the safe, he prepared to open the door. "Stare into the eyes of--Medusa!"

Deco's face registered the same horror as the would-be robber a week ago. His movements grew sluggish as he grayed over and solidified.

Days later, one of the shop's more reliable buyers marveled at Harker's latest acquisition. "Amazing--that's the art critic Arthur Deco! Why would he commission such an unflattering likeness? He looks positively scared to death."

Harker beamed at the praise. "That's what the sculptor is calling it: Scared To Death."

"I can't understand why the artist wants to stay anonymous. How much is he asking for it?"

"Oh. . . .four thousand ought to do it."

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Deed To The Country

Empires turn on a coin, goes the old saying. Enter a pair of entrepreneurs named Scrum and Chalmers. They've absconded with the collateral of a high-stakes card game, hoping to cash in on a life of ease. They're about to discover the truth of another old saying--easy come, easy go--as they sail with a singular lack of imagination into the murky waters of. . . .The Twilight Zone.

A rowboat emerged out of bright morning mist, bearing three survivors of the Lolligag. Captain Squee roused himself from the fugue of having taken a falling timber to the noggin.

"Hoist the Roger! Haul that lanyard!" So saying, he slumped forward once again.

At the bow, Scrum raised placating palms. "Let's keep it quiet, Cap'm--somebody on yon beach might be hearin' us."

"Besides," Chalmers added, "flyin' the Roger is the last thing we wanna do at this point. It's what got us proper gunned by that Frenchie man-o-war."

Scrum drew up on a reedy shore of white sand. "Nothin' for it now but to hide the chest. That bluff makes a right landmark."

The pair splashed ashore, grounding the boat and its dazed skipper. They lugged a small chest behind some scree at the cliff base, since the mist was burning off and might expose them to any eyes out at sea. There wasn't much chance of discovery by the colonials, whose tenuous foothold on this coast faced all manner of challenge: Indians, raiders, the king's grasping tax men, unpredictable storms and the  like.

Chalmers leaned on his shovel, wiped a sweaty palm on his striped tunic. He stole a glance at the captain's bowed head. The plumed black hat obscured the man's vision, even if he was just shamming. The red coat was a liability, though, for blokes not wanting to draw attention. Suddenly emboldened, Chalmers hatched a plan.

"The cap'm don't know what we're about. I say we move on, and tell 'im the chest got stole." His craggy face leered. "Then there's the bounty on 'is head. Can't say as how it's easy takin' serious a man with a name like Squee!" He started to chuckle, checked himself with another fearful glance at the boat.

"Stow that, barnacle brain!" Scrum secured his tri-corner hat against a grit-laden gust. "I'm not sure he ain't watchin' us right now, clear through 'is hat, or listenin' to every word!"

These ruminations were cut short by distant thunder rolling ashore. Flashes of light fired the mist farther out. The Frenchie was back, and this time her opponent flew a union jack. Scrum shouted for the spy glass, and Chalmers lumbered down to carefully ease it out of the captain's hand. On his way back, another blast startled him, and he juggled the glass, almost dropping it into the foaming surf.

Scrum focused on the newcomer. "Limeys!" he spat. "Now all we need is the Spanish and the Portuguese!" The combatants moved farther off, the contest undecided.

"And the Dutch," Chalmers added. "There was five kings at that card game."

Scrum rested a foot on the chest, grinning. "A noble idea it was, gamblin' all this territory on a game--no war, no killin'. Too bad they didn't keep a closer eye on the deed to it all!"

Both men laughed at that, carelessly letting down their guard.

A girl of maybe fourteen or sixteen stood on the lower slope. It was the second thing Scrum noted, the first being the pistol in her belt. He shook Chalmers, whose giggling abruptly ceased.

"Good morning to you, gents," she began. "Leave off the chest, and be away with you."

Scrum drew up with swelled chest. "Keep in mind, lass, you only got one shot."

"Then it will be for you, even if you send your man after me."

"I ain't nobody's man!" Chalmers blustered.

"Shush!" Scrum warned. "The cap'm. . . ." He confronted the girl again. "Nothin' but a piece o' paper in here, missy." He took out a scroll as proof. "It's just the dregs after we lost all the gold."

"Then it must be mighty important. It'll be the scroll for your life."

Scrum was liking the bounty idea more and more, risky though it was. "Fair enough--the scroll is yours." Over Chalmers objections, he led the way back to the boat. "How is it you're called?" he shot back to the girl. "Who is it what got the best o' Cap'm Squee?"

"Don't laugh," she said. "I have one aunt named Erica, and another named Amelie. My da put both together to name me: Am-Erica. America."

"Bah!" Scrum risked some parting sarcasm to save face. As he and Chalmers rowed south along the coast, his confidence in betraying the captain faltered, and the captain didn't disappoint.

From somewhere in his coat, Squee came up with a pistol and pointed it at Scrum's head. "Where be the chest, Mister Scrum?"

Scrum's eyes crossed at the nearness of the gun to his nose. "We was beset by superior forces, sir!"

"Aye," Chalmers echoed. "Superior forces, it was!"

Squee slumped forward again.

As Scrum exhaled relief, Chalmers fetched a jug from under his bench. "There's some rum left. I say we keep 'im sozzled, then throw in with a new crew at the next town."

"It's just like you to have no imagination," Scrum scolded. "Here's what we do. . . ."

Their bickering trailed behind them as the boat journeyed on, passing the future home of the Norfolk Naval Air Station.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Case of the Vanished Man

From the journal of Dr Watson

In Kensington there stands a manor which shall remain nameless, for reasons to be revealed later. The master of the house stood accused in the disappearance of one Cyrus Hampstead; both men were known to be bitter rivals for the affections of a certain woman. Dogs were called in, having lost the trail at the end of an upstairs hallway. Yet Scotland Yard knew there was no such thing as a dead end when it came to Sherlock Holmes. Holmes insisted on seeing the exact spot the trail was lost, marking it with chalk. Even so, the suspect, Lord Wellesley, remained boastful that no one should ever get the goods on him. Nullus Corpus, as it were--no proof. It is here that our tale begins.

"Smug popinjay," I huffed. "He has the air of a man who has committed the perfect murder."

"It's my own sentiment as well," Holmes said. "Attend." He stomped vigorously on a step about halfway up.

"How very curious." I performed the test for myself. "There is no hollow boom. It's as if the thing is made of stone instead of wood."

"Quite so, old boy. We shall make a detective of you yet." Holmes nodded to Inspector Lestrade, who waited at the top of the stairs with Wellesley. Lestrade led the suspect out of sight down the hall. Having been briefed the previous day, I went up to join them at the spot Holmes had chalked. Strangely, the corridor was a dead end, save for a pair of guest rooms on either side.

A brief interval passed, and what was my astonishment to see Holmes coming up the stairs backward!

Lestrade scowled. "See here, Holmes--I've learned not to question your oddball methods, but this is too much! What do you expect to accomplish by walking backward!"

"If I'm right, Inspector, I expect you to make an arrest."

None of us spoke right away. Wellesley looked positively ill.

"It's a queer thing," I said. "When you came up in reverse, I had the disorienting thought that time itself was moving backward."

"The final trigger," Holmes explained, "though it has little to do with time. It's only necessary to awaken the progenitor mind, that primitive part in tune with that which cannot be seen or felt.."

"Blarney," Lestrade muttered.

Holmes glowed like a school boy. "Our own minds have set in motion the arcane machinery entombed beneath us. I'd never expected to see one--a set of Euclidian stairs!"

"Entombed," you say. I waited for him to continue.

"Legend has it that a large gyroscope spins in opposition to earth's rotation, operating as a true perpetual motion machine. I'm loathe to delve too deeply into the occult aspects, but the manor's original owner knew an airtight seal of the chamber is essential. If our two realities should collide, the resulting explosion--"

"Hallo!--" Lestrade drew back from one of the rear doors, which had begun to grow translucent. It winked out of existence, admitting cold and foul wind from a barren chamber within. It was no longer a well-appointed bedroom. Lightning flashed at a tall window, illuminating a gray nightmare world of blighted wood and tattered drapes. Nothing else occupied the cursed space--except for the man crawling toward us.

"Great Scot!" I peered closer. "It's Hampstead!"

Holmes beckoned urgently. "Quickly, man, come out of there! The breach won't hold for long!"

Clearly the man had been shot. No sooner had we dragged him clear did the door come back into existence behind him. He raised a trembling hand to point accusingly. "Wellesley. . . ." Then he fell dead.

Wellesley closed his eyes as does a man facing the gallows. A sick grin came to his features.

Holmes took hold of the dead man's arm. "Help me turn him over, Watson."

"No matter," Lestrade said. "We have our man. There's nothing more this poor devil can tell us."

"Except," Holmes pointed out, "what Lord Wellesley finds so ironically amusing. What do you make of the wound, Watson?"

"I'd say it cut the right renal artery, causing rapid blood loss, though not so catastrophic if the descending aorta had been hit. It bought him an extra moment or two."

Holmes looked up at the killer. "Your arrogance has undone you, Wellesley. You didn't go for a kill shot because you wanted the victim to be some hours in dying an agonizing death. You overlooked a prime characteristic of Euclidian stairs: they always return to the same point in time as the prior visit. It wasn't days ago that you shot Hampstead, but mere seconds!"

"Away with you, now." Lestrade hustled his charge downstairs, his reputation once again riding the coattails of Sherlock Holmes.

I stared at the door. "I suppose we should alert the science ministry."

"Nay, old friend. We can't have adventurers coming here for some infernal thrills. When the lightning flashed, I saw something at the window, which clung to the outside. I didn't get a good look, and for that I shall ever be grateful."

I nodded. "Some things are best forgotten."

We made our way down as two policemen came to collect the body. Wellington's maid inquired as to whether it was safe, having overheard the proceedings.

"Quite so, my good woman," I assured her. "But do not go up these stairs backward."

Friday, December 6, 2019

Best Christmas Displays

Ok I have to go with the season.  I love when someone spends lots of time getting into the spirit putting on lights, buying up the displays to arrange in a special way on their lawn, the bushes and the house.    My husband usually does this every Christmas. Our house looks so nice and gets people to slow their cars down to take a look. To keep with the season, post some displays of lights.  It can be in your neighborhood, your house, or someone that really goes way out to blast away their electric bill to power those lights.  Have a great Friday night!  Ok our house is not like Griswold's but this person really got into it.

See the source image

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Skyscape: Peach, Berry, Plum

This is another small 8x10 acrylic, done rapidly with thin paint. That allows some of the white canvatex to brighten the colors and show streaks to suggest movement. The eccentric cottage owner has elected to use a green bulb. It helps keep the foreground neutral against a sky that has both warm and cool colors.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Ideal Writing Place

What is your ideal writing or work area?  Are you happy with it or does it function?  I have had many different writing areas throughout my life.  I had a loft over the garage, quite spacy and enough to put in a library.  When I got married, we have a two bedroom house.  The bedroom in the back became an office/art room and I used it quite much.  When the kids were born, I took my workspace into the kitchen where I use it.  I make it work.  My last workspace was under a tree in Florida watching the ducks in he lake, feeling the breezes and my ideas just flowed. I came across this, and thought that would be really cool.  But I would spend more time watching movies or binge watching one of the series. Maybe the red has too much energy, though my favorite color is red.  

Image result for writing office

This writing office may look nice, but closer to the window perhaps so I can look out while I warm up and drink my coffee.
Image result for writing office on the beach

I have written my work on a bar table overlooking the water under the shade.    Just have an iced coffee, or slushy cold drink while you let the creativity flow. I would have to have a light lunch here. What is your writing space like? Share it with us!

Sunday, December 1, 2019


Okay I do use contractions, and sometimes I think over using them can reveal a lazy writer.  I do use them at times when my character is using dialogue with an accent.  What other contractions have you come across not on the list?   

I I'm
I am
I will
I would
I have
I had
you you're
you are
you will
you would
you have
you had
he he's
he is
he will
he would
he has
he had
she she's
she is
she will
she would
she has
she had
it it's (or 'tis)
it is
it will
it would
it has
it had
we we're
we are
we will
we would
we have
we had
they they're
they are
they will
they would
they have
they had
that that's
that is
that will
that would
that has
that had
who who's
who is
who will
who would
who has
who had
what what's/what're
what is/what are
what will
what would
what has
what had
where where's
where is
where will
where would
where has
where had
when when's
when is
when will
when would
when has
when had
why why's
why is
why will
why would
why has
why had
how how's
how is
how will
how would
how has
how had

she would have she'd've (colloquial)
it is not 'tisn't (archaic)

of o'
of the clock o'clock
madam ma'am
never-do-well ne'er-do-well
cat-of-nine-tails cat-o'-nine-tails
jack-of-the-lantern jack-o'-lantern
will-of-the-wisp will-o'-the-wisp
it was 'twas (archaic)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Seascape: Little Boats

For this blustery day, I used brush scrapes to suggest wind; it's best seen above the sailboats. The ragged pink cloud shows the same effects, as does the background with its horizontal strokes. The movement continues in the waves and slant of the sails. Acrylic, 8x12. The blue mat accentuates the darkness, though a lighter color might brighten it somewhat. The present arrangement helps suggest a cooler clime as opposed to a summer day. The ripples happened because the canvatex isn't glued to cardboard like most are. At least they're only noticeable on screen.