Doggie Bag Blues – December 14, 2020

Homebound doggie bags

Here at Chez Spwilcen, we save leftovers in the fridge.1  Eating healthier, reducing mealtime portions, there are of late more times we have leftovers.  Some dishes, from Gram’s recipe, are measured to feed Ma, Pa, five kids, two hired hands and any farmer who happens by at lunch or suppertime. Proportioning Gram’s measurements to miniscule amounts just doesn’t deliver the right flavors so we make the full or half a recipe.  We know the chili, spaghetti, goulash, hash, stew, or paella will be even tastier the second or third time it’s served.  And for a clincher, who bakes half or one-quarter of an apple pie?

To store in the fridge, you can do it the bachelor way.  Just jam leftovers still in the pan or pot you cooked in into the fridge on any shelf with room.  Yes, seasoned bachelors know not to stuff a hot pan into the fridge, especially if the shelves are glass or that pretend-glass.  “Tempered” is one thing.  Bachelor-proof is another.

Advanced beyond bachelor level in the kitchen, you store leftovers in what?  Old soup cans are inconvenient.  Bowls covered with clear stick-to-everything-but-what-you-want-it-to wrap is more struggle than it’s worth.  I’ve seen a ten-inch sheet of that clingy crap subdue a child and more than one adult male.  Waxed paper?  Yunh, you try wrapping left over green beans in waxed paper once, you’re done with that.  Aluminum foil?  Really?  I want to see you aluminum foil the Ambrosia salad Aunt Pearl brought to Thanksgiving dinner. You dasn’t toss it while Aunt Perl is still visiting; you save that delightful treat.

You’re left with plastic and glass containers.  Both work really well.  Going in.

Plastic however, is evil.  At least, that’s the current read.  Even the heavy-duty, intended for storage plastics.  Something about leeching chemicals.  Not much of an issue when you’re storing winter sweaters.2  Different though, when you need to store squash casserole. Long ago, we gave up the convenience of popping that last helping of stew in its plastic fridge container into the microwave for a quick bite so not to be late for lacrosse practice.  Guess that’s a no-no.  So we don’t don’t.  Plastic is evil.

When the suggested “don’t use after” period expires for handy plastic containers, we still have, well, plastic to dispose of.  We can’t use them all for starting next spring’s onions or presorting saved screws into near similar sizes and types in the shop. Even then, plastic containers will reach a point where they’re just evil junk plastic.

The war on plastics continues.  Mostly single use plastic.  But plastic is plastic.  Some plastic, once you understand the hieroglyphic symbols on containers, is “recyclable.”  Right.  Recycle places that take plastics are shutting down faster than voting booths after all the Democrat votes have been trucked-in.  Plastic is used in everything.  Ev-er-ee-thing.  Furniture.  Auto bumpers and side panels.  Nuclear reactor containment vessels.  Farm tractor tires.  Clothing.

Reduce plastic use.  Okay.  Good plan.

One evening, in a fit of social conscience, I announced we needed to switch to all glass containers for food storage.  We’d been well on the way with that for some ten years already.   It was time to get serious not only with the dry goods in cupboards, but all leftovers in the fridge.  Feigning agreement (knowing full well my lunacy would abate) the idea got something akin to permission from home council members.    

It’s a slow process. We’ve made progress, though we’re not plastic-free.  Heavy duty glass, touted as freezer to microwave safe.  Not cheap.  Good deal.  In the long run.  Re-useable.  Chemically safe.  No BPA, polyanythenes, FDIC, or SAE chemicals. Refrigerator to microwave?   And beyond.  If you’re a bachelor and no one is looking, the perfect single-serving dish.

A word of caution

Brace yourself.

Doing a bachelor feed on leftovers, I’d nuked some leftover date, squash, pecan, and basil side dish for a noonday repast.  Perusing my Popular Mechanics while I munched from a proper dinner plate3 I suspended my read of an interesting article on chainsaw maintenance to reconnoiter what remained on my plate.

Something shiny.  Not metal-shiny.  Glass-shiny.  Squash don’t look like that. Ever.

Yup.  A glass sliver.  About one-half inch long.  Felt-tip pencil wide.  Sharp on both ends.  Lying on the plate.  Waiting.  Patiently.  Fortunately for me, the leftover concoction was a spear-and-lift, not a slide-and-scoop affair.  Had it been scoopable, I might have got my US RDA of silicon.  Which might have been okay.  The disturbing part to me was that I might have thought to chew that glass.  It wasn’t the crunch that I feared but slicing my gums.  If I want that kind of pain, I visit my dentist.

After the container from which my lunch had been dished, I examined every glass container in the cupboards.  All the measuring cups. Any glass utensil clear or mostly clear.  I did not find one with a chip or crack matching the sliver.  That kind of mystery I do not like. I did toss two containers with rugged irregularities suggesting someone at some time had upped their intake of silicon and potash.

Point is, if you use glass containers, be careful.  Be mindful they are not flawless. Especially as they age and if they are repeatedly heated and cooled.

Here at Chez Spwilcen, our move to all glass storage containers is under consideration.  Again.

1 Fridge: refrigerator, icebox, cooler, cold box, and a bajillion other names.  It’s the place you keep your six pack, your eggs, and your spring onions until they achieve the perfect wilt and blackening.  You know, the big box where mustard, ketchup (catsup?) and tartar sauce are kept until the mold they sport is ready for collection and delivery to Johns Hopkins for biologic research.

2 Winter sweaters.  Anybody have a collection of summer sweaters?  I dunno.  I’m amazed one must twice yearly exchange one-half of your wardrobe, the half hanging in your closet, for the other half, the half in the big boxes in the attic.  At least a day keeping the house-husband out of pool halls humping boxes up and down stairs.  Twice a year.

3 The Boss was home. Tempting though it was to dine directly from the nuked storage container, I’d transferred the mélange to a sit-down plate. Someone, on day, will explain to me the need for one additional dish to wash.

Late Post Today – December 13, 2020

Late post today

I’ll use a moment if I may,
To explain this post’s delay.
No, I was not off at play,
Or working so my bills to pay.
Was no excess of Cabernet,
Nor idly fishing off the quay.

What was it then, I hear you say,
Asking I dismiss dismay.
Oh, alright, a minute stay –
I’ll take a second to allay,
And put concerned thoughts astray,
With my terse reply, okay?

I was surly, but that’s cliche,
Sent early meds upon a tray,
Twice daily is the normal way.
Borne by the burly lad in gray,
I dined upon that slim buffet,
Then slept the whole damned day away.

‘Tis the season. For interruptions, distractions, rearrangements, and mild confusion.

Ran some quick assessments.  Going back to M/W/F posts.  Maybe even less than that.  Excellent underlying reasons. Time, ROI, previous commitments, and end goals foremost but by no means a complete inventory. 

Time is in short supply.  ROI is disappointing.  I’m w-a-a-a-y behind on completing other works and submittals.  Lost sight of the fact that this “blog” was supposed to be a means to an end, so I need to refocus; the means overshadows the end.

See ya ‘round.

Christmas In July – December 12, 2020

Santa in Christmas cactus – Care for a cookie?

I don’t think I could live in Florida.  By that, I mean live there all year.  Permanently. That’s been an intermittent consideration now that complete retirement1 is on the table.  Downsizing.  Situating to give ourselves, the Boss and I,2 some things we’ve delayed for several reasons not all career and work-a-day whirl related.

Life’s unfolding has provided opportunities to experience northern latitudes and, um, sub-tropical ones.  Along with a mix of east and west variations on temperate zones in these states more-or-less united.  Never spending enough time in Alaska and Hawaii, they are ruled-out of pending relocation decisions because family, especially important to us, would be stupidly distant.

Exotics like Australia and Italy3 are appealing.  Very much so.  Those places and several others would be inconvenient again for distance.  Australia has stiff emigration policies (anyone in the Dungeon of Confusion listening?) so I rather think they might disallow expatriate curmudgeons. Italy is such a lovely place, Italians so delightful, they would have no difficulty accepting an irascible old dork, because Italians know full well their climate – meteorological and social – would quickly amend him into something useable. Maybe even likeable.

Why not Florida?  Let me back into my explanation.

Today in the middle south it’s an overcast day with intermittent light rain.  Not drizzle or a wet fog, Londoners and Seattleites.4  Unseasonably warm, but not suntan weather.  Proper “Christmas season” weather is just around the corner.  I know that for a fact.  We might even see some snow.  All this October-ish to real December-ish weather speaks to me of Christmas.  That sets a mood.

Yes, I’ve (sans Boss) Christmas-ed in tropics.  On a whim, on a dare, or duty bound, that’s okay.  But not year after year.  It’s not so much I spent my emotionally formative years in the snowy north, or that my European ancestors hailed from snowy climes, it’s that Santa without snow is just, well, wrong. Santa wasn’t a Beach Boy or an Outbacker.  Santa, proper Santa, must be from Norway, Switzerland, Poland, Russia, or Barnalovia.  Okay, the North Pole, maybe, JIT5 supply chain challenges aside.

North of here, where real “winter” visits most every year, folks have Currier and Ives Christmases. There’s a lead-in ripening and harvest season.  There’s a re-awakening (rainy, wet, muddy) spring season after.  A summer that can, at times, give Florida, south Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona competition for national high temperatures.  Okay, can’t out-swelter Arizona.  Still, Arizona has…

Florida on the other hand is seasonally borderline monotonous.  Not sure I can see myself on a long pier fishing for mackerel or on a channel dock fishing for mullet on Christmas day.  Not an orange juice fan, but I hear anyway Florida exports most of the crop to foreign countries like Alabama, Wisconsin, and Oregon, making the commodity expensive to native Floridians.  Is that stupid or what?

Christmas is not orange juice.  Christmas is eggnog.  Christmas doesn’t come in July.6  Or May for that matter.  Christmas comes in December.

I would have difficulty at Christmas accepting Santa in a Hawaiian shirt with Leis around his neck strumming a ukulele, or on Panama Beach in flip-flops and tank top flailing-away with his surf-casting rod.  Hawaii is to too too far from family,7 too. I need seasonal variation.  Like to understand nature has a time she too wants to rest, recuperate, rejuvenate.   Don’t want either, to fly to snow, borrow it so to speak for two weeks, then return to sunny humidity bordering on boredom. 

Florida has appealing qualities.  Christmas is only part of the year.  But to face “wish you were here” sandy beach postcard scenarios year around?  No.  Great selling-points aside, I pass.

1 Retirement.  I’d like to font that so it looks like a creep-show banner.  Realizing the flack it will cause, I still admit I’m just now making progress convincing myself retirement is not a death sentence, not as close to death as one can come retaining hopes of escape if another option presents.

2 Hereafter you understand, “us” and “we.”  Relocation left to me alone (I can’t imagine that, don’t want to contemplate that) would be different, have different parameters.  Suppose since I’ve mentioned it, I have contemplated it. “We” have those discussions, too. Unpleasant. Dismissed.

3 Exotics. Frame of reference.  Remember, I hail from the US(of)A.  Alabama and Rhode Island are “exotic” to me.

4 Please don’t correct me, telling me of lovely sunny days in London and surrounds, or remind me of proximity to fresh Salmon in and around Anywhere, Coastal Northwest. Refrain, too, from telling me of the wonderfully mild seasonal variations in Iberia.  The decision under debate is already difficult enough.  Then, there’s the distance thing.

5 JIT “Just In Time.”  Get out your Six Sigma hats.

6 Lest my Down-under and other Southern Hemisphere friends take offense, it’s an accultured thing.  I’d been born and raised in Brisbane, I’d consider snow Un-Christmasy.  Forgive me my parochialism.

7 Air travel is out of the question.  Just for the holidays or just to see family. Years ago (I understand those who tire of hearing of it, but shut up, it’s all true) air travel was an adventure and pleasant.  Any long distance, tiring, but pleasant, even romantic.  I personally have no desire to be seat-bound for six hours or more with a group of sloppily dressed, often unpleasantly fragrant boorish clods and entitled biddies with their emotional support iguanas.  The bawling babies?  I wear hearing aids.  Plop, plop: quiet.

Surrogate Episode II.

Evening Update – December 11, 2020

Listening to WXPB…

I was tuned-in to the radio side of our local MSM radio-television-web conglomerate yesterday.  Just happened to be trying out a new toy here.  Got a mini recorder so I can ‘dictate’ story ideas instead of scribbling them on a legal pad. 

I know, I know, you folks, especially you young whippersnappers out there, snicker derisively contemplating anyone actually writing something down.  Learning to write at the age of twenty-two, that has worked for me nearly fifty years.  Lately though, I can’t write as fast as I think. (I hear laughter.)  Trying to hurry, my notes – countless Pulitzer pieces – become unintelligible scrawls; pretty to look at for curlicues and flourishes, but for example, what looked like “kitchen wars” turned out to be a reminder to revisit “killer hornets,” which I’ll get to shortly if I don’t fall asleep first. 

Typing ideas directly into a document is not conducive to unrestrained flow of creative juices.  When I see a mistook, I stop to edit.  That pause makes me lose five to ten already meaningfully connected words.

Yes.  I tried dictating to my computer.  That worked less effectively than a legal pad. If you think spellcheck is ignorant, try dictating Nobel-caliber literature for thirty minutes, to discover latest-and-greatest AI software (my turn to snicker) has created a word document resembling a Martian grocery list.  All considered, longhand, however sloppy, is more accurate than dictating to software.  Present state-of-the-art anyway.

Re-enter analog tape technology. It works.  It takes time to transcribe what I manage to dictate before embarrassing myself, sounding like a pompous twit and quitting, but it works.  It’s all there.  No Kitchen Wars. No organic Venusian morble filmeg.

So I had just embarrassed myself into being “done” for a bit when WXPB started a story1 I thought it best to share with you.  Through the magic of Mylar tape, I transcribe…

“…as we promised earlier, in the studio this evening is Bill Penpoint, our field reporter with an update to a story he has been following carefully.  Fill us in Bill.”

“Thank you, Wally.  You will re…”

“Walter.”

“Yunh, okay, Walter. You will remember the story WXPB broke here on Asian Murder Hornets a little over a month ago.  This reporter has discovered area entomologists and apiarists have observed native eastern honeybee species have put into play an amazing defense against invading hornets.  I must warn viewers when you tune in for our videocast at eleven, the pictures you will see are graphic and could be upsetting to some.  These clever bees know or have learned the invading hordes are repelled by a naturally-occurring and readily available…”

As it turns out, buffalo poop.  And, ever resourceful, in a pinch, urine.  “Eastern” turns out to be eastern like in Asia eastern.  Western bees, Bill reported, are not keen on the idea of using buffalo poop to mark their hives off-limits to hornets.  Which may be irrelevant as there are not many buffalo native to Oregon and Washington states, anyway.  It somewhat makes sense Asian honeybees would have something figured out as that’s where the “murder” hornets themselves originated.

I can see it now.  Asian honeybees green-carded to teach “western” honeybees how to harvest Longhorn dung and apply it to hive entrances.  Which raises some concerns I have for division of labor.  Not sure I want the same squadron of honeybees hauling Hereford poop to swap shifts to make honey. I don’t care how efficient their task-swap sanitizing procedures are. 

“Hmmm.  Nice honey for these biscuits, Momma.  I detect notes of Giant Red clover and aged Angus dung?”

Let’s think this through.  Giant murder hornets are from Asia?  They are a problem?  So let’s bring in some technically advanced honeybees to train our native honeybees?  Import from where?  Asia?  Anybody beside me see a pattern here?

Remind me.  Where did COVID19 originate? Be concerned, people, Be very concerned.

As a PSA, I report ZipFast is once again sold out locally. 

1 I knew you’d be curious.   Gizmodo.com recently webbed an article loaded with pictures and references elsewhere, so it should entertain smartly even the most severely affected dictaphobic reader.

Surrogate Episode I” is available in “Writing” in the dropdown “Conversations.” 

Back to Work – December 10, 2020

Not enough agitation in your life?

Off the spwilcenwrites homepage, in Conversations, “Surrogate Episode V” joins the parade.  Though each ‘episode’ fairly-well stands by itself once you’ve the gist of the underlying thread, I’ve resolved to go back, re-edit and post Episode I, then move forward with remaining episodes in order.  I mean not that anyone gives a righteous rip. Yes, the whole of “Surrogate” is NSFW, some episodes more than others, so you’re aware.

Bluebirds

December, almost mid-December, and I see out my office window a bluebird?  Handsome dickens. Bold crisp blue. But in December?  Seeing a lot of unusual flapping dinosaurs this morning.  Must be something I’ve just not noticed before, this many transients this time of year.  Uncharacteristically bold Red House Finches.  Chickadees dressed to the nines in sharp black and white formal wear.  Purple Finches, though ‘purple’ is something of a guffaw. Blue jays, the scourge of everyman’s feeder. Goldfinches, the ruinous little twits.  Twits?  United Nations Sparrows.  Pompous Tufted Titmouse.  Several.  Titmice?  [Aw, geeze, man, now do I have to signal this post NSFW?] 

Almost makes me think of a run to Wacky Wally’s to buy seed to stock the feeder.  Nah.  That’s asking for squirrel trouble.  Reminds me.  Time to re-edit “Cardinal” and submit it somewhere again. But not here.  Runs 8,000 words.  That would disturb most who pass by and encourage them to do just that – pass by. 

[Back to work, man, back to work.]

In a minute…

Anger management

Apoplectic bull charged. Delicious hamburger. 

A shadow of her former self

Jumbo jilted.  Diligently dieted.  Presently petite.

That office window

A source of amusement and consternation.  Genesis of one or two blog posts, several short stories, multiple anecdotal pieces, and a few rants.  Problem is, I generally have it in mind what I want to accomplish each day.  Then, days like today it’s so bright outside, older retired folks, doggie-walkers, one-thousand-steppers, and work-from-homers in the ‘hood pass by my window in a steady stream all day long.  That’s distracting in an oddly pleasant way.  Keeps me busy taking notes.  Shouldn’t.  Should be working my notorious “to-do” list and tackling some of several works in progress.

[Dadgummit man, get back to work!]

Okay, okay.

Apologies – December 9, 2020

I hate my therapist.  Sometimes he’s so obtuse.

Was there ever a time you should have said, “I’m sorry,” but didn’t?
Yes.
Were you then?
Was I what then?
Sorry?
No.
Why would you say ‘I’m sorry” if you weren’t?
To make someone feel better.
Can I assume then, there were times you weren’t sorry but said so anyway?
Yes.
And that made you feel better?  That you made someone feel better?
No.
I see.  Was there ever a time you were sorry and didn’t say so?
Yes.
Why not?
They should have been sorrier.
How did that make you feel?
That they weren’t sorry?
Okay, yes.
Sorry.

Willing to bet he’s still sorting all that out.

Thirty-nine Ford – December 8, 2020

Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

I’m trying to remember.  It must have been nineteen sixty-four.  Surely not sixty-three.  Sixty-three was the year of the assassination.  Also the year an on-again, off-again heartbreak was mostly on.  Ah, youth! That’s fifty-six, fifty-seven years ago?  You can see where the exact date gets cob-webby.  Should an old duff tell you, “I remember that like it was yesterday,” he’s smoking you.  Things get hazy no matter how convinced you are you have the facts straight.  Find someone else who was “there” at “that” time, you’ll get an interestingly different story.  No one lying.  Just the way it is.  You weren’t there, so what do you know?  Let the old gaffs have it their way.

Whatever year it was, I was pulling parts from junkers out in the oldest part of the auto salvage yard that kept me in social-affairs funds and taught me most of the little I know of things-automobile.  It was far enough out that heading there to pull parts meant you took your lunch with you.  I spied a weed-hidden ’39 Ford1.  Essentially the body, doors, and hood, no trunk, but clearly recognizable.  In its state of neglect, every inch covered in a patina of rust in shades to delight any desert scene artist, it was still a piece of beauty to a lad already appreciating classics. No glass, no engine or transmission, seats, or dash.  A restorer’s challenge.  Even this rookie knew that.

Lifting a not-so-late model wreck to cut the chassis from what remained of the body for a short-track racing group, the always cantankerous crane cable snarled in the top pulley.  It would have been nice had there been a yard bird junior to me standing around or trying to pull an alternator or radiator for a customer.  Nope.  I was in fact the only one there, king of the yard, so to speak.  I was the whole short-list of volunteers to argue the cable back into the wheel flange, at least a once-a-week chore.

After releasing cable tension, I climbed the derrick to lever the cable back into the wheel groove, make what repairs I could to the flange, and re-secure the cable-retaining covers.  No need for trips to Six-Flags-Over-Anywhere2 for this kid.  As I went higher up the derrick, it seemed the whole of the contraption would collapse, and the odd yellow Eiffel Tower would carry me to the ground.  Pure nonsense because that was the very machine that lifted more-or-less whole cars either to expose juicy parts on the bottom side or swing them onto a trailer to be yard-dogged to the crusher.

One-hundred feet in the air3, whanging-away at the top pulley, I spied some thirty yards from the Ford skeleton what I figured to be the ‘39’s frame behind a gnarled old oak.  Axles were intact and even some of the bumpers and grill.  The ’39 Ford as a project was becoming more interesting all the time.  I figured to ask the yard owner if he’d give me a deal on it.  I had no place to keep it while chasing-down missing parts, no idea how tough finding everything would be, and no idea how much coin I’d have to come up with to reconstruct that beauty. Things like that never occur to you when a grand idea starts to form in your seventeen- or eighteen- year-old mind.

As I write this, I have less of an idea why I never asked the owner to sell it to me.  Maybe I did and he gave me a stupid price.  I remember the guy. He’d nice-talk you while charging you fifty bucks for a used part you could get new for thirty-five – make you feel you were taking food from his children; he was doing you a big favor.  Junkyard owners do that.  Kind of a stereotype like for pawn-shop owners. Not that junkyard owners have plans to restore a specific “gonna be a classic” car themselves.  They just get real possessive.  Ends up a lot of the time, pieces someone has interest in end-up in the crusher because the yard owner looks to make a killing. 

To be fair, I can’t say for sure I asked and if I did, if he became tight-fisted4, or gave me a good deal.  Logistics of purchase price (however reasonable) and where to house the project for what surely would have been a long time, may have played a part.  I know the yard has been long-since cleared-out, all remaining junkers crushed – glass, rubber, chrome, seats, and missing teamsters’ union presidents and all.  I’m betting when they came in to clear it all out, ignoring any further salvage, that old ’39 was still there, still solid, but skeletal.  A real shame.

People’s lives are like that somewhat.  A real shame, too.

And now a word from our sponsor5

Our sponsor reports shelves in local area retailers are now well stocked with “ZipFast.”  Going to sell out fast at $19.95 for each one-liter bottle.  Get yours today at Smitty’s Super, at the Brewster Co-Op, and at Elmo’s Auto Repair, Realty, and Bait Shop.

In local sports today

Five walk-ons walked-off.

Late harvest and typecasting

Temperature is supposed to drop to twenty-seven overnight.  Our kale is in a late season spurt.  There’s a handsome side dish almost ready for picking now.  If temperatures turn milder for a week yet, another after that.  Since I’ve already caged the plants, it’s a matter of taking out the covers and tossing them over the wireframe.  Unless it goes sub twenties, the plants should make it. 

Grabbed a battered old work jacket, pulled a watchman’s stocking cap over my head, and went out to tend business.  Coming back inside, I passed the back bathroom.  Looked in the mirror still with the cap and jacket on.  Who was the dewd staring back at me?

Weekend.  Shave?  Why?  With the scruff, old jacket that’s seen better days, and a navy stocking cap pulled homeless-style over my ears, I looked a right regular bum.  My scruff is one of those tatty-looking affairs – mostly gray, white actually, with enough brown mixed-in, it’s not at all handsome.  Maybe that’s what I’m cut out for.  Bumhood.  Wonder how much training is involved?

Barely time for this

Selling late husband’s boat. Repairable leak.

Responding to an inquiry into the previous micro-story effort:  Six-word (or thereabouts) stories are meant to be cleverly abstract yet give enough “story line” readers are left to imagine the whole of the story themselves.  For the (we’re not certain) lady selling the revolver yesterday, a number of possibilities present.  The woman shot her husband, got away with it and now is going to make a few bucks ingeniously disposing of the “smoking gun”?  The poor woman’s husband did himself in?  The lady’s hubby did someone else in, in the process found his expiration date before he could get off another shot?   Perhaps as innocuous as firearm collector hubby naturally expired after only testing his newest purchase?  The beauty of minimum-word tales is the author doesn’t have to explain and in any event, the readers’ versions will most times be better than what inspired the write.

Notice: your GPS does not have the latest updates

Walking back from checking the mail yesterday evening I noticed three Canada geese flying low overhead.  Low enough I was reminded how big those birds are.  Yet, they manage to fly effortlessly through the air6.  Admittedly they flapped like crazy, but they still made it look effortless. 

A fourth goose followed shortly behind the first three, squawking like a choking English horn. One goose always seems to get the “time to boogie” email a little after the others. Oddly, these geese were flying northeast.  Late fall in the northern hemisphere.  Hmm.  That doesn’t seem to be correct.  But then I’m not a Canada goose so there’s a lot to goosing I just don’t know.

Figured if I were I to express my confusion to those four geese, they’d probably laugh at me.

Mail in hand, I walked up the drive and looked overhead to see one lone goose flying ninety degrees out, southeast.   Bookin’ it.7  Closer to the right direction I thought, but I’m on record about my goosing skills.

All I can figure is there was an update to Canada goose GPS data.  The first four hadn’t received the update and the fifth did, or vice versa.  Or maybe the “fifth” was one of the “four” going back to temporary Canada goose HQ to double-check.

Yup.  Convinced a lot to Canada goosing I could probably never master.

1 Could have been a ’39 Merc.  In the shape I describe, a Ford and Merc are pretty much indistinguishable.  Which was okay because parts for the two badges were virtually interchangeable.

2 Six Flags Over …Atlanta, …Dallas, …Toledo, …Possum Gulch.  Themed amusement parks.  Rollercoasters, thrill rides for idiots of all ages.

3 More likely twenty, maybe less, but it makes for a better story to report it as one hundred.

4 “tight-fisted” describes a stingy attitude, an unwillingness to turn loose of something for love or money.  Most applicable when the item dickered over is really of no value, and pumping money into it results in an item not worth anywhere near the money invested.

5 You don’t know what ZipFast is? Imma fix you right up. Lookit here and here.

6 Purely stupid.  Like geese flying through the water is a thing?

7 Bookin’ it, or more correctly simply “bookin!”  Means haulin’ hiney.  Smokin.  Tearin’ it up.  Wasting no time.

Winning Numbers – December 7, 2020

From the Beyond 

“Odds against?”
“Thousand to one.”
“Backup?”
“Astronomical.”
Should’ve picked Lotto numbers. ‘Chute failed. Backup too.

Pearl Harbor Day

It was a Sunday.  Last “righteous war”?  There are those who argue otherwise.  Same brand of folks who deny a Holocaust.

You don’t understand?

Walk a mile, people, walk a mile. You don’t have to change your mind.  Just stop. Shut up a minute.  Listen. Consider. If your shoes are still comfortable, walk on.  If not, change shoes.

Yard sale?

Selling late husband’s revolver. Fired once.

Parting

Despite preposterous commercialism, cold and snow here in the north of the northern half, and separation from friends and family by difficult distance or by friends’ and family’s passing, this is my favorite time of year.

Christmas? Ah, yes for children and lovers. Ski vacation in Vail, Stowe, or the Alps?  Well, if that’s your thing.  Sunday morning tromps through snow before dinner with family?  Wow! If you can manage it.  Pina Coladas while soaking-up sun in a beach chair?  Sure, everyone of us a time or two.  Quiet in front of the fire with a good book and a lazy yule log burn?  Yep.

Whatever your fondest seasonal joy, look for it.  Make it happen. You got this.  You do.

Turning Tables – December 6, 2020

Language studies

“Hand me that bub.”
“What?”
“Hand me that bub. Imma thow it away.”
“Bub?”
“That light bub.  Right there.”
“Oh! That light bulb!”
“Yeh. Whaja think I said, ya dummy?”

Popular advice is not to write accent and brutalizing of the English language.  Supposed to make editors pull hair and toss submissions.  For my money, not attempting to portray accent and abuse leaves sometimes too much to the reader’s imagination. For example, above, “right thar,” or “rat thar’ would suggest deep, deep south and maybe hint a masculine speaker; like for “right here” instead, “ri heah” Appalachian, “ri cheah” ‘redneck,’ or “ri cheunh” Cajun. Something seems to get lost writing it straight-up.  Maybe I should learn IPA phonetic symbols? 

Nah.  Probably less than half the reading audience would be familiar with IPA. (Yeh, I heerd thet, Lenny, but IPA ain’t some kinda beer.)

Now you could argue, U.S. readers, told the speaker was from Bayou country in Louisiana could handily read correct English, and translate mentally to include appropriate twang.  Someone from Wales or (the real) Birmingham would have less success and miss subtle humor, certainly a bit of flavor.

Consider, unless constantly reminded a character had a speech impediment, the audience will forget.  I would, do.  That’s like a movie without a score.

Take a dare

You up to it?

Most of the fine folks who pop by here won’t be interested.  Accounta they are male.  Awrighty.  Most of the ladies who pass through seem to be genteel sorts, but I have no way of knowing for certain. 

Point?

Point is, I appear to take shots at the stronger, smarter gender [can’t write “sex” accounta that would make this post NSFW] so I get back at myself with a short I poked out early this summer. In that short, I let my protagonist belittle menfolk.  Reading it doesn’t take nerves of steel, a strong stomach, or a well-defined sense of raunch.  But you must understand it’s not for Sunday School.

The story was an exercise.  Rather like stretching your legs and torso before starting a morning run.

At the time, I was new to “flash” format.  I’d challenged myself to explore as many genres as possible, as many formats, as many “story” types.  It had its rewards.  Confirmed I don’t like and am therefore no good at all at horror, as bad at sci fi, and a real stinker at poemetry. Figured trying to work in different forms and styles (even subjects) I could rule-out a lot of possibilities. 

Boy, did I ever.

“Calamity Jane” is flash fiction, tipping the scales at a mere 990 words plus change. It’s not a “romance” story by any stretch.  Well, maybe, but it’s doubtful.  It is set in a romantic novel publishing house. That’s probably as close as it comes to “romance.”  What is more out-of-ordinary for my “stuff” is that it is from a female POV.  I’ve done that once or twice before but in rather innocuous circumstances.  In “Calamity,” I’ve attempted a snarky man-eater tone.  Which again suggests something NSFW.

There have been a few minor changes since I first put it out there to be trampled.  So why is it here?  Other than I’m an absolute glutton for punishment?  Because I think the tiny plot is interesting, the twist modestly unique, and its humor passable.  Hate to let it go to waste.  If you’re curious, read “Calamity Jane.”  Let me know what you think.

Buttoning-up for the night

I’ve seen a few WPers lately going after six-word stories.  That’s tough. I’ve done 50, even 25, 10.  Six?  Not yet. 

Now, I must study for an exam.

Shameless Self-Promotion – December 5, 2020

Checking links on the home page, ran across three pieces of flash I’d like to shamelessly pitch.  Seems to be a thing, shamelessly pitching one’s work, here.  I’ll try not to make it a regular event, but suspect these may be of interest to readers, even casual readers.  I’ll pitch and leave paging-out to you.  I know it takes extra effort.  Consider it finger exercise.  You might want to mix a protein shake afterward to rebuild phalanges muscles.

Snow is brand new.  Well, just pulled from the file, toned-down, and paged into Flash Fiction.  Lost some of its zing when stripped of expletives. A sneaky way to ease into the next two without requiring welder’s goggles.  Comes in at PG.

Heartbeat has been out there in flash for a while. Because I know lots of folks don’t have or want to spare time to browse, I’m thinking few know it’s there.  It’s a quick spy-type narrative with a quirky twist and a theme line most don’t see. Has a frustrated love-interest, some international mention – Michigan’s UP, Moscow, Warsaw, and Spain, and some double-dealing.  I’d give it an MA or a thin R.

Old Men suffered several revisions, yes, no, yes, no, before making it into Flash Fiction.  It is Heavy-duty R for language I’ve heard on television though not MSM television.  Sorry folks, that’s the way people talk.  Especially military, and other walks of life most think have low regard for life but actually have greater regard for life than people who wouldn’t say schitt if they had a mouthful.  Not loaded with offensive language, in fact it’s sparse, but removing that last bit I found wasn’t true to life. A life capsule of maybe ten minutes, three minutes to read: old politicians, old military, and one old man (I’ll let you work out exactly what he is) brought to focus by one youth so unaffected he sleeps through the whole of the vignette and a man somewhere for a few years anyway not young and not old.

Maybe catch you again tomorrow.  Maybe not.