Tuesday, March 29, 2016

It's a Happy Sort of Day

Simple things, really: catching up on rest, internet which works properly and is f a s t, a tree making it through winter, a candle in the oven; decisions made. I always feel better when I have a plan of action, don't you? But first, the images I'll be using for this week's prompt:


So, the tree we worried wouldn't make it through the winter - do any of you recall the corkscrew hazelnut (aka Harry Lauder's walking stick, aka the devil's walking stick) we planted last year? Even though our winter has been a mild one we worried it wouldn't survive, but it has! It's budding and even blooming! (The long catkins are it's blooms.)

And speaking of trees, I had a couple of photos of magnolias which were gifted to me, that I would like to share with you:

From the kidling (taken on the way from her flat to our house)

And from one of my nephews and his partner, the magnolia which blooms in their yard...

Yes, spring has sprung and yet we have a polar vortex headed our way next weekend. I fear we shall lose much of the fruit tree's production to the cold and we'll have to protect our wee corkscrew hazelnut. 

Candle in the oven? It's the safest way for me to make my own candles and works a treat.

Decisions, decisions: Multi-tasking is no longer my forte' so, in order to have the time and mental energy to edit and revise stories which have already been written, I'll be cutting back to one new story a month (near the end of the month) as well as participating in Words For Wednesday when possible. 

In other news: My oldest brother, who is preparing for a lung transplant, is in the final stages of the preparation process. Next week he'll be spending several days in hospital undergoing the final tests and assessments which are necessary before a transplant takes place. If all goes well, it will give him several more years of healthy life. During the testing process, Jim was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, inherited from our father. (You can learn more about it >Here<.) Right now, I'm taking it as very positive that Jim has made it to this stage in the 'vetting process for the transplant, many don't. 

So what's happening in your lives?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Just In Time

“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Our crappy internet has been even crappier than usual the last week or so; when we can get online our speed is even slower than the old dial we were all happy to see go the way of the dodo. Since our (ahem) 'service' provider does this regularly, sometimes leaving us without service for weeks at a time, we've elected to do the sensible thing and toss them like a stinking gym sock. As an example: our internet has already switched off four times (erm, six times by the time I could get it published) and had to be manually re-connected whilst typing up this post. 

Our new modem arrives today and on Monday we're having a new line installed from another service provider we've used in the past, with good results. We'll have much better, faster and more consistent service for the same price we're paying for the crappy, slow and horribly inconsistent service we have now. Sure, there will be some bugs to work out the first few days, but it will be worth it. Why, I do believe this is happening just in time to save the last ragged bit of my sanity.

In other news: Spring is truly here; the magnolias are blooming, the birds are serenading us with their horny chorus and a thunderstorm (with 30+ degree temperature drop) is on it's way. I'm not complaining; this time of year is exhilarating! 

A bit of new (to me) music... absolutely love this man's voice:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Personal Challenge #6 The Truth About Bulldogs

On the Care and Keeping of Humans

This is a work of fiction, any resemblance to reality is probably a figment of your imagination.

Image sources may be found Here. Once again, many thanks to John Gray for kindly letting me use his photograph, you can visit him Here!

(Taken from the lectures of the renowned Miss Eliza ManyFolds, longtime Keeper of the human: John, discoverer of the Bulldog penchant for buttered toast crusts.) It is a little known fact (among humans) that we of the Bulldog race rule the world. Any person of good sense would realize this, which naturally excludes those with homo sapiens tendencies; they have yet to make the simple discovery that we are perfectly capable of understanding their endless talk. Nor have they figured out that we are perfectly capable of speech, we simply choose to be taciturn with bipeds. Frankly, their hairy cousins aren't much better, being mostly full of nonsense; outwith the great apes of course, although it may simply be that their size gives them a certain dim dignity, but I digress . . .

 Among our many backstairs operations is the covert protection and guidance of certain important humans. Scoff if you like, even among the humans there are individuals who can manipulate their world to make it a more pleasant place, which makes them important. For instance, where would the proud Bulldog race be without the male who invented sandwiches or the delightful female who invented the Scotch egg, hmmm? It goes to prove that even the most disadvantaged creature can rise above their circumstances, if given the proper guidance, discipline and affection. That they have opposable thumbs simply adds to their usefulness. Keep that firmly in mind, pups, should you find yourself in charge of one of the unfortunate two-legged; protect those thumbs!

As well, do keep in mind and have patience with their rather simple-minded assessment of our race's intelligent, good looks as 'cuteness' and the oft-times regrettable actions taken as a result. For example: Yes students, my human, dear as he may occasionally be, affronted my dignity by offering me a sandwich (why else would he have left it lying on the coffee table unsupervised?) then called me by the peculiar name he gave me, Petunia of all things, with camera in hand. You must rise above these occasions as best you can, as I did.

 If they become too profligate with their buffoonery then one may take corrective action which is appropriate to the offense. Refusing to make eye contact is good, especially if you hide your face against a wall, as is passing gas in their direction. Use your Bulldog creativity to maintain the ascendancy over your charge. In fact, during a particularly galling incident where my male tried to feed me a noxious mixture of sliced bread and something he referred to as Spam, I climbed surreptitiously into his bed and shat on his sheets. He never again tried to feed me that mess, let me tell you! Remember: You must remain in control of your temper! Never let a silly two-legger make you forget your inherent dignity and restraint so much that you nip or bite; a biter has lost control of the situation and may never regain it. 

There is one more responsibility that a Keeper of Humans must be aware of at all times: the human tendency to become unhappy for oft-times inexplicable reasons. One may apply to the Institute of Humanalysis for help, but you may find it to be both quicker and more effective to attempt some simple remedies of your own. Is your person getting enough exercise? It is reasonable to suppose that those with only two legs lack the stamina that we with four are happily blessed with, but this doesn't mean they don't require regular and adequate exercise. Lack of exercise can lead to such things as: lethargy, loss of appetite, depression, and constipation. Don't let your human suffer needlessly!

 In addition, your biped may suffer from unmet mating urges stemming largely, so some suppose, from the female being always in heat. I know, it sounds quite ridiculous to us and a good deal of research has been done as to why humans attempt to control these needs so rigidly; they can, after all, manipulate the frequency of births and (mostly) the number of pups they have. I suspect we will never have a truly definitive explanation for human mating peculiarities, but, regardless, if they are stifling their own needs, then it is incumbent on us to take action, albeit subtly. Before we end this lecture, it may be helpful to share an example with our perspicacious Trainee Keepers, from my own experience. It would be quite helpful if young Keeper Michaelangelo BumbleButt joined me on the Speaking Lawn. 

He and I both hold responsibility for human adults who were desperately suppressing mating urges and both were suffering from it terribly. As is often the way with these odd creatures, both worked unimaginably hard at not allowing their loneliness to show. Fortunately for them, there's no fooling a Bulldog nose. Equally fortunately, Michaelangelo and I often met at a nearby park for frolics and to discuss our humans. (Remember pups: If you meet a Bulldog with a human companion, that biped is important for some reason.) 

After a bit of casual chat about the interesting smells our people could produce, my young friend opined that his person was showing definite signs of repressed mating urges. On further questioning, he admitted that the incessant playing of 'Aida' had worn down his nerves to the extent that he had considered biting his charge to make it stop. Having been subjected to bouts of operatic overload myself, I could certainly sympathize, but vehemently warned him not to descend to the level of biting. After a bit of discussion, we came up with a reasonable plan and young Michaelangelo trotted off to initiate the first part, stopped and turned to face me again: “So, Miss Eliza, is it true your veterinarian said you have a fanny big enough to park a Mack in?”

 The cheeky wee devil certainly pulled off that maneuver brilliantly! How he heard that unfortunate tale baffles me to this day, but it certainly gave me incentive to chase him down with murder in my eye. As agreed, when our respective companions dashed up, I managed to wrap my lead around my John's ankles whereupon he fell right into the arms of the charming young Professor he'd been sighing over for days. Whilst it may not have been quite what humans refer to as 'love at first sight', they had their first anniversary a fortnight ago. So keep a stiff upper lip young pups, we Bulldogs shall ever prevail and the world will be better for it!

And with that, I am taking a week off from writing, although not from blogging. In the meantime I will attempt to decide on a better way to plan my writing time. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

And the Fog Rolled In

My apologies for not having the story out yet. It's been an odd week, not bad just... odd. Distracting, but in a good way. 

There's been a bit of illness (and not just mine) and a lot of canine silliness. Brain fog has perched itself securely on my head the last several days so I've spent time in a mostly happy fugue which has not been conducive to coherent writing, let alone thought. 

"Brain fog, also commonly known as brain fatigue, can be a mild to severe episode of mental confusion that can strike without warning. When this occurs, it is common to experience a lack of focus, poor memory recall and reduced mental acuity." - bing

Tonight I spent 15 minutes looking for the rice I was holding in my hand. So, in lieu of a semi-intelligent post, have a couple of photos!

Buddha 'making eyes' at me from my sweetheart's recliner and a rather tasty 'Cheater's Lasagna'.

The fogginess should be clearing soon, if all goes as it usually does.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Someone's in the Kitchen With...


The kidling came over yesterday evening and spent several hours: taking me to the store, catching up on Walking Dead and a series on space which reminds her of shows she and my father used to watch. We also did a bit of cookery, her contribution was cheddar and garlic pull-apart bread.

I made spicy tomato soup, not that we really needed anything to warm us. It reached 75 F. today.(About 24 C.)

The wind has risen and temperatures are falling however; we may well have snow this weekend. As the saying goes "If you don't like the weather in Indiana just wait a minute, it'll change!"

Later, I'll be making Cheater's Lasagna. Such is my 'exciting' (yet satisfying) life.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Personal Challenge #6 Clash of the Titans?

Methinks we'll be hamming it up a bit this week, or at least having a laugh or two... seems a good idea after last week's tale.

 Why do I do this? To encourage myself to continue writing and to explore new genres and voices; to see what I can achieve. Each week I select disparate images and concoct a short story which connects them in some fashion - the results have been interesting. Feel free to join in if you like.

The first photo comes to us through the good graces of John Gray. (You can view the original by going Here.) Thanks John!

And here is the second, equally adorable, photo:

I feel a major (and funny) clash of wills coming on, how about you? Anthropomorphizing here we come! 

And now, appropos of absolutely nothing, a bit of new (to me) music which I like:

Friday, March 11, 2016

Personal Challenge #5 - Trigger Warning for Alzheimer's/Dementia

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

This is a work of fiction; anything resembling reality is a figment of your imagination.

Go Here for image sources. This is a sad tale, just as I thought, so be warned.

The sharp rapping of knuckles on glass and the high pitch of young voices woke her from strange dreams of frozen land and sky, steel grey water, and ice growing in her veins. “Miz Haymes, Miz Haymes! You in there, Miz Haymes?” Fighting for consciousness, like a deep sea diver struggling up from cold depths to reach the warm, sunlit surface, she pushed herself out of her chair and tottered toward the front door. Outside, lazy snowflakes glinted in the light of the setting sun and she shuddered.

Still confused from sleep and that other thing which had been preying on her mind of late, she shook her head at the number of young bodies thundering through her front door. Once the herd had gained admittance and headed for the warmth of Miz Ruby Jean Hayme's parlour, she shut the door firmly against the cold she'd always hated.

Moving as slowly as the woman of 'leventy one she laughingly claimed to be, she headed toward the fireplace herself. “They's cookies in the jar” she called, “ help y'selves, but save me a couple!” “One each” instructed the oldest girl, firmly. “Mama said not to eat Ms. Haymes outta house and home! You want me to put some wood on the fire while we're here, Miz Haymes? Wood's almost out too, we could bring some in for you.” The girl pointed her twin brothers toward the porch and turned to grab the last two pieces in the wood box, tossing them on the dying fire. Another, younger girl wandered over and leaned against Miz Haymes, thumb firmly planted in mouth. “Now you take that thing outta your mouth right now, Arabella” insisted the old woman. “That's Angela, Miz Haymes, not Arabella” said the older girl.

So what's all the ruction about, Miss Sassy Pants” asked the old woman. “We can't find Snow, we looked everywhere we can think of and Daddy and Mama said we could come ask you” the girl, who was more patient than most adults would be, answered. And just like that, it was back again... the worry that had been eating her up for weeks now. 'Either that girl ain't got a lick a' sense or you losin' your mind, Ruby Jean Haymes!' Confused, she looked out the window at the snow coming down, then glanced at the boys carrying wood in. The first one dumped his wood in the box and headed out for another load... as he passed Ruby's rocker he whispered to her “I'm missing my dog an awful lot, Miz Haymes”. His dog! That big old white bear they called Snow! Relieved, she patted his shoulder and murmured “I'll find your dog, Reese.” “I'm Marcus!” he whispered back cheerfully.

The children didn't think much about it when Miz Haymes called them the wrong names, she'd been doing it for a while now. Their parents had explained that sometimes old folks get forgetful and that her children had been named Reese and Arabella... Reese had died a long time ago in Viet Nam; Arabella had died just a few months ago, she'd got the breast cancer. As far as the children were concerned, Miz Haymes was the best storyteller and cookie baker around and she was as fun to be with as the friends their own age were. She'd told the children once that she was still young - that she'd been young a really long time; why, just this past summer she'd spent afternoons playing 'Hide and Seek' with them, they wouldn't dream of calling her a liar. Still, Miz Haymes seemed to get real old, real fast after her Arabella died . . .

Hugs, kisses and cookies filled a few happy minutes before the old woman scooted the children out the front door and on their way back home; Marcus reminding her once more to watch for his lost dog, Snow.

Muttering to herself, more confused as the sun slipped below the world's snowy rim, Miz Haymes grabbed her coat. 'Now where's them dang galoshes? Bet one of the kids moved 'em for sheer cussedness; just wait till I get my hands on 'em, I'll tickle 'em so's they can't see straight!' Squashing her knit cap down on her head, she spotted the Benadryl sitting on the counter (by her galoshes, as a matter of fact) so she grabbed a cup of water and three pink pills. “Better take these now so my nose don't run right off my face when I find that darn dog” she singsonged to herself. Going to the bathroom, getting dressed in her winter gear, and shoving cookies and a sausage... for the dog, of course... in her pockets took a few minutes more, then she started through the kitchen to the back door. “Whoops!” she sang out, spotting the Benadryl on the counter again, “don't wanna forget to take some of these, or I might end up sneezing my eyeballs right outta they sockets!” So, sooner done than talked about, Miz Ruby Jean took three (more) Benadryl and headed out the back door into a flurry of white flakes and sleet.

Dammit,” she grumbled beneath her breath, “ I HATE the cold! Reese best start takin' care of his damn dog or I'll spat the seat of his pants for 'im but good!” Beneath the grumbling and confusion, however, lay an abiding fear of the cold; a deep fear that the cold would snatch her soul away from the world when she wasn't looking. “ Figures, Mr. Haymes bein' away when I need 'im for somethin'” she continued, “so's I guess it's up to me, cold or not.” And she marched toward the creek, which a wispy remnant of memory pointed her toward as Snow's most likely escape route. “Deer creek,” she harrumphed as she passed the outskirts of the small town, “Oh Dear creek be more like it!” Chuckling at her wit, Miz Haymes missed the faint whining and yapping coming from the creek's bank, at first. Yawning widely, the Benadryl working despite the cold, the old woman spotted Snow, half in the cold water, only because of his thrashing. “ Hey you!” she called, “get yourself on over here and stop messing around!” But try as he might, Snow couldn't seem to pull himself all the way out of the water.

Well hell and damnation dog, how'd you get yourself in such a fix? Reese won't never forgive me if I let you turn yourself into a pupsicle!” Sliding down the icy bank, so cold she didn't feel the old fence post bash her leg, Ruby Jean finally reached Snow, only to find him tangled up in old fence wire. “Well, lucky for you it ain't barbwire, poor old soul.” Untangling him as quickly as her shaking hands would allow, she tugged at the dog's collar until he was out of the water; trembling so violently he couldn't stand. Unbuttoning her coat, she pulled Snow's half-frozen body to her; sharing a feeble spark of warmth with the dog, rubbing his back until, at last, his shaking eased. Tucking one of her sweaters around the pooch, she ordered him home, but he wouldn't leave her. Re-buttoning her coat, she surveyed the big white dog with growing exasperation: “What I'm gonna do with you, boy? Sure cain't drag you all the way home! SCAT!!” Finally; tired, confused, angry and frightened, the old woman shoved Snow as hard as she could, which was pretty hard for a 'leventy one year old. When he just circled back around to her, Miz Haymes flung her hands up in frustration, losing her footing in the tangled wire and landing in the river. 'Why, it's almost warm!' she thought in surprise, as her heavy clothes pulled her under.

Snow howled until a nearby farmer found them the next morning.

Mud Season

It has been an extraordinarily mild winter in Crankyville, something for which I'm inordinately grateful. Even so, the return of spring-like weather brings a definite uptick in moods; even the irascible neighbour who calls out the gas company in the middle of the night for entirely ludicrous reasons stepped out of his front door with a smile on his face. Who says miracles no longer exist?

Along with warmer temperatures, we get plenty of this:

Which leads to rain and these beauties, yellow morel mushrooms (my favourites)!

Eventually, it will lead to more of this:

That's right, gardening season is just around the corner... which means (hide your eyes Mitchell) fresh from the garden cookery will commence! Oddly enough, I don't seem to be living up to my blog name very well just now, despite the political situation in the States. Ah well!

Florid, but appropriate:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Oh The Weather Outside...

Isn't frightful/Which I find quite delightful!

The high temperature yesterday was 71 F. ( about 21.5 C.) which was lovely jubbly... all this week the temperatures between 16.5 and 21.5 C. (62 F. to 71 F.) February really is over, huzzah! Do forgive me for meandering about the great outside whilst the opportunity exists; March will do a switcheroo soon enough. Still, open windows in March!

Doesn't seem to be quite so nice in Scotland just now, as per this striking photo from a cousin:

The kidling and I shall be out and about today, but for now I should busy myself doing adult-ish things like washing up and cooking.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Personal Challenge #5 - A Paler Shade of White*

*The post title is not the title of the piece which will result from the photos.

To encourage myself to continue writing, to explore varied genres and emotional tones, I've decided to begin selecting disparate images every week. (Usually two, but sometimes more or less.) The goal is to concoct a short story which connects the images in some fashion and publish the tale on Friday; you are more than welcome to participate.

There are two photos to work with again, as well as a feeling that this will be a sadder tale than is my normal wont; the sadness isn't written in stone, just a hunch...

The first photo, 'Snow':

And more snow...

And a little music whilst you're cogitating...

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Personal Challenge #4 - The Second of February, 1948

With both Mom and Dad away at work, Charlie cranked up the radio Father had bought them when he finally returned from Warm Springs, Georgia... the station was playing a current favorite: Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo) by Danny Kaye and the Andrews Sisters. 

This is a work of fiction; anything resembling reality is a figment of your imagination.

To see the image sources for the photos, go Here and scroll down.

Uncle Harrison, Harry for short, Mom's younger brother, would be here in a half hour to sit with Charlie, at which time he would be ordered to 'turn off that racket!'... Charlie was hoping his super duper favorite, Buddy Rich, would come on before his uncle's arrival. Mom had taken a job watching Mrs. Cameron's twins two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, to help pay the hospital and doctor bills. The fees for rehabilitation at Warm Springs had been paid for by what was now being called the March of Dimes. President Roosevelt, who'd also had polio, had started the charity before he died. It helped a lot of people, adults and kids both, and he'd had a lot of friends there. He'd had a lot of friends here before he got the polio, but two years in the hospital and rehabilitation plus being stuck inside in this big, old wheelchair left him out of things. His old friends had come once or twice but he could tell they were gagging to get outside, so he'd waved them off and watched wistfully from the window as they leapt from the porch and ran off to join in a game of street ball. It wasn't long before they stopped coming around.

Hearing the back door open, Charlie turned off the radio; Uncle Harry had been awfully funny about loud noise since coming back from the Pacific Theater. The refrigerator opened, snicked shut, and today's lunch was shoved into the oven before a tall, thin man with graying ginger hair came through to the living room. " Brought you a new Kid Colt Outlaw comic, Charlie." The older man's voice was quiet, not the booming laughter-filled voice Charlie remembered filling the house when he was younger... "Found you a new aggie too; try to remember not to leave it on the windowsill this time." He placed comic and marble on the table beside the wheelchair and turned to go. "Hey, want to play some chess after lunch, Uncle H?" Charlie called after him. "Sure Charlie, whatever you want..." his uncle said, then left.

Lunch, chess and being helped to the bathroom (Charlie was over being embarrassed by the latter after two years of it) filled two hours, but the remainder of a long, long day needed to be filled. Unable to attend school because of all the stairs, Charlie was taught at home in a rather hit or miss fashion. A pity; since he couldn't use his body to dissipate all his immense energy, he needed something to fasten his mind on instead. Sitting by his bedroom window, eating a Moon Pie and peanuts and tossing the shells to the ground below, he stared outside; watching the crow which had stolen his best aggie three weeks before. A crow he called Winston but only to himself, of course. 'Why he's got my aggie!' he thought, 'what is that crazy crow up to?'

And crazy is exactly how Winston looked: swooping to the ground, tilting his head back and forth as he hopped up and down, then suddenly taking to the air; backwinging at times before landing a little further off. Sure enough, Charlie's old aggie was flashing in Winston's beak.

As afternoon turned to dusk, Charlie heard his parents return to the house; neither of them worked far from home, so they walked rather than take the car. Soft-voiced conversation began between the three adults as soon as they all reached the kitchen, probably about him, but the boy took little notice because he heard scrabbling in the bushes outside his bedroom. Grabbing his flashlight, he aimed it and caught a chubby little mischief maker in it's beam.

Winston flew to the windowsill, flapped twice - blowing Charlie's hair in his eyes - and dropped the aggie into the boy's hand, before grabbing a peanut and tossing it to the waiting raccoon. 'Costello' thought Charlie, 'Costello Coon because he reminds me of Lou Costello'. Charlie could imagine the raccoon saying "I'm a baaaaaaaaad boy!" just like Lou Costello did, and laughed for the first time in months.

The adult's voices were abruptly silenced as three sets of footsteps hurried toward his door. "Everything okay in there, Charlie?" came his mother's voice, as his father swung open the door. Not knowing what to say, Charlie just nodded as he pointed out the window, where Winston had joined Costello; then held his old aggie out on the palm of his hand. Uncle Harry startled them all by chuckling a big, fat, juicy chuckle before turning to his sister: "Well, Martha, unless I'm sorely mistaken our nephew Joey will be showing up soon, looking for his pet raccoon."

"Well, Lord have mercy," drawled Charlie's mother, a slow smile spreading over her face, " another redheaded boy? They'll eat me out of house and home."

And now: A bit about Charlie, before he was sick; many thanks to Elephant's Child for the Words For Wednesday inspiration. (Click on the blog title to visit her.)

Young Charles was a freckle-faced imp of a ginger, eight years old and 'full of the devil' as his grandmother often said. His mother was always on the hunt for ways to ENHANCE his school holidays, preferably somewhere FAR from the house for at least part of every day. 

It wasn't so much that Charlie was bad as much as it was purely rambunctious cussedness and he was clever with it; nearly as clever as he thought he was. There was, f'rinstance, the time he decided to SEEK treasure by digging in Mr. Hamblin's garden. (His father's hand had to CONNECT rather firmly to Charlie's backside before he could be persuaded to stop.) Then there was the time he caught a young skunk and tried to get it to spray Miss Dean's three-legged dog, Tippy...

Sighing, Charlie's mother pushed her hair out of her eyes. 'This should work' she thought to herself, before calling her ENERGETIC son down from the apple tree. Trailing her to the shed at the back of the garden, expecting to have to clean it, he reluctantly pulled open the door. Once his eyes had adjusted to the gloom of the miraculously clean shed Charlie gave a great shout; inside sat the most desirable INSTRUMENT for bored, energetic little boys: a set of gleaming drums!

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Spoon Theory

Have you read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino? If you or someone you know deals with a chronic illness, and you want to know more about living with it on a daily basis, it's an excellent read. You can find it Here

Ms. Miserandino has Lupus, I do not, but there are a number of things in common... the fatigue, having to count 'spoons' every day, and so on. There are also a number of areas in which we differ. Yes, I am thinking of doing my own version of The Spoon Theory; mayhap I'll call it the Half-Baked Shakester Theory. Does it seem like whining? It probably is, but it's mostly about guilt; there's a lot of guilt involved, at least for me, when one is chronically ill. 

This isn't a plea for sympathy; it's just easy to forget what a struggle each day can be when it becomes the new normal... not only for other people, but for oneself. To grow less conscious of the constant decision-making process and why it's necessary. Sometimes a reminder is necessary to foster patience, and there are people who need to read such pieces; to foster hope, understanding, or just a bit of relief that they're not alone. So, there it is.

In any case, although my stomach is still wobbly I was up to a bit of cookery:

Vegetable beef soup:

A loaf of salted caramel banana bread, with walnuts:

And mini-loaves of salted caramel banana bread, without walnuts:

A good song when I need to remember that there really is...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bah Humbug

I'm thoroughly sick of being sick... that's all for today, other than a photo of the kidling after her latest hair-styling session. I rather like the look. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Personal Challenge #3 - Save The Queens, part II (+ this week's pics)

I should know better by now... if I say I'll write something tomorrow it is inevitable I will get sick, and so it went for much of the weekend. My apologies.

This is a work of fiction; anything resembling reality is a figment of your imagination. Go Here to read Part I.

Bounding down the steep hillside, graceful as a young buck, Tommy gave forth with a bugling call which carried all the long way back to Old Ma'ms steading... Rose, working in the garden, raised her head then rushed into the house, calling "Tommy's sounding an alarm Mum, something's wrong!" "Aye, and so there is Rose, a grey has come onto oor land, did ye no' feel it?" Rose shook her head, blushing. "No matter, hen, grab oor bags... May's as well if she disny have it with her, an' let's get this sorted."

As they passed the barn with their new car shining in front of it, Tommy bounded around the corner and dropped to his knees before them, sides heaving as he gulped for air, his overly large brown eyes stricken. "May..." he began, before Rose stopped him: "We heard your alarm Tommy." Old Ma'm's gasp roused them both and they whirled around to watch the hill above bloom with all the colours of sunrise, " no May, you're not strong enough yet" May's mother whispered, before taking off at a run. Tommy, slight lad though he seemed, hefted Old Ma'm on his back before gracefully bounding off behind Rose; quickly catching up.

May stood perfectly still, crystal blue eyes never leaving the twisted figure of the grey, who bared it's sharp, rusty-looking teeth at her in a devilish grin. Behind her back, a creaky sort of chuckle sounded and May quickly turned half around so she could keep an eye on both greys... for another grey it was; such a one as she'd never heard of, for this one was obviously female and with hair like raven's wings, whilst her eyes were the sickly grey-green of an approaching storm. 

"So, little May Queen," the female grey hissed, "here you are; you all alone and not quite nine!" She darted forward so quickly that May scarcely saw her move and was unable to react in time to protect herself; her slick-soled new cowboy boots saved her by sliding on the damp leaves and dumping her on the backside. The grey overshot her mark and May, desperate to save both herself and the land, cast a subtlety both beautiful and powerful: weaving a web of morning light from her own substance. Pearly white like her skin at first, it rose like a spring mist before turning all the colours of the rising sun... just like May's hair... and over all, the crystalline blue of a perfect May sky. Everywhere within the circle which the light touched, sprang up the laughing heads of white clover; surrounding the clover grew a thicket of rowan trees - mountain ash - which set blossoms and fruit simultaneously. The first grey, hissing in pain, quickly skittered out of the circle but the second threw back her head and cawed out a contemptuous laugh. "Very pretty, my dear, but do you really think it can stop me? I'll have your blood, your throne and your power; then I'll open a door to bring the Havoc into the world."

Applause? First one pair of hands, then a second and third.

An ashen pall settled over May's now-drooping form before the grey lady turned to face her audience. Standing between the young rowans, which raised their branches to make room for them, stood three changeable forms; as each stepped onto the clover, their bodies moved into very different aspects from those which had run from Old Ma'm's house. Young Tommy, that slim lad, was now as tall as a young rowan himself; stout of muscle and with a stag's horns growing out of his long, long hair. Rose, with her green gown and hair as red as her namesake; golden hawk's eyes fastened on her daughter's attacker... and Old Ma'm. Most changed of all was she: no longer stooped, but tall and slim as a young maiden, with silvered hair to her ankles and an ivy crown to frame her adamantine eyes and rosy apple cheeks. 

"Come no further!" cried the grey raven, for so she now seemed; "I've captured the little wretch, and will kill her here and now if you move one step forward!" "You'll kill her anyway!" Tommy roared as he leapt forward, tackling the grey. Old Ma'm, Ivy Queen, and her daughter, Rose Queen, sped forward, scooping May Queen up between them and carrying her beneath the rowan's branches. Rose cradled her daughter's limp body, brushing fruitlessly at the dirt which caked May's gingham dress. Ivy turned back to Tommy and the grey he had captured, rowan branch in hand. "Time for you to return whence you came, sister" she pronounced and laid the branch across the grey's form, watching as it began to smoke and then disappeared. The first grey, hidden, peered between the trees and seeing it's leader vanquished, silently slunk away whilst it could.

" Mama," called Rose, "Ivy isn't waking!" "She drew too heavily on her power, she's nigh burned herself up to a cinder. Tommy has been injured and is bleeding badly. There's nothing we can do for either of them here; we must return to the Summerlands, quickly." Lifting May's slight form, Rose nodded to her mother, who lifted Tommy as easily  as Rose had May, and the two women stepped through the white veil between the worlds, which only they and children could see... ever mindful of the horror even the single grey left behind could inflict upon humanity. Still, they were grateful that it, alone, could not invite the Havoc into the Earth and they hoped against hope that people would find the strength to resist their enemy's suasion until their return.

There were few among the mountain folk who remembered the Queens and the day the sun twice rose, but the oldest of them whispered back and forth about how the world had changed since the Queens and their Tommy had disappeared. Some told their grandchildren how the second World War had begun just a few months after and had continued under one name or another; fewer still held the conviction that one day the Queens would return... None of them, young or old, walked past the old barn and rusty car, up into the hills where clover and rowans still bloomed, waiting.

And now the photos for this week:

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