Flash Friday 55: Busy Being Cute

This is my entry for Friday Flash 55.  For more 55s, visit G-Man here and look in the comments under Friday Flash 55.

Busy Being Cute

Just a week old, and I’m already a celebrity.   Everybody tells me what a doll I am.  (In fact, some of them think I am a real doll.)  Good Morning America and People magazine are clamoring for interviews.  Sorry, but my public will just have to wait.  For now, I’m too busy just being cute.


As we were reading 55s last Friday, little Einstein was born on a farm in New Hampshire.  Mom and Dad are diminutive, but no one expected their newborn to be anything like this little guy.  He weighed just six pounds at birth.  That’s less than any of my children did!   I'm not sure they were as cute, either.  Well, OK, yeah, they were, but Einstein is the most adorable horse newborn I've ever seen.

Folks, meet Einstein!

For more about Einstein, go here and here.


Theme Thursday: Bicycle

This week's prompt at Theme Thursday is bicycle.

I have always been fascinated by a pennyfarthing (almost as much as I am by the people able to ride one).  They're pretty rare; I'm always surprised when I see one.  I took this picture in New Orleans, where I'm never surprised by anything I see.

And now for an entertaining collection of bicycles, both familiar and fanciful:

Wordless Wednesday: Ups-a-daisy!

Ups-a-daisy, and a building, and a...


A Friend Gone Bad

For months, she’s been r-i-n-g-i-n-g,
Hounding me morning, noon and late at night,
And leaving a message if I don’t answer her call.
Lately, she hauls me from my sleep at quarter to three.
In the beginning, when I answered, “Hello. Hello?? Hello!!!”
I heard only echoing nothingness, a round black void of sound.
But eventually, she started leaving me odd cryptic demands,
Weird and hollow, delivered in a slow, menacing drone.
They’re always the same, in code, I’ve no doubt.
And, today?  Today she brazenly spoke to me,
So sure she is safe in her anonymity.

Her cold and mechanical voice commands:
“Three. Three. Please hang up and try your call again.”
Her voice isn’t human. It's tinny and canned.

I’m sure my phone is stalking me.  

Don’t you just hate it when a trusted friend turns on you?

The poem that follows is by one of my favorite poets, Louis Jenkins, posted here with the gracious permission of the poet.  If you haven’t had the pleasure, you can get a small taste of his prose poetry here.  But I warn you, it’ll leave you wanting more.

The Telephone
by Louis Jenkins

In the old days telephones were made of
rhinoceros tusk and were big and heavy enough
to be used to fight off an intruder. The telephone
had a special place in the front hallway, a shrine
built into the wall, a niche previously occupied
by the blessed virgin, and when the phone
rang it was serious business. "Hello." "One if
by land and two if by sea." "What?" "Unto you
a child is born." "What?" "What did he say?"
"Something about the Chalmers' barn." The
voice was carried by a single strand of bare wire
running from coast to coast, wrapped around a
Coke bottle stuck on a tree branch, dipping low
over the swamp, it was the party line, all your
neighbors in a row, out one ear and in another.
"We have a bad connection, I'm having trouble
understanding you."                     

Nowadays telephones are made of recycled
plastic bags and have multiplied to the point
where they have become a major nuisance.
The point might ring at you from anywhere, the
car, the bathroom, under the couch cushions...
Everyone hates the telephone. No one uses the
telephone anymore so telephones, out of habit
or boredom or loneliness perhaps, call one
another. "Please leave a message at the tone."
"I'm sorry, this is a courtesy call. We'll call back at
a more convenient time. There is no message."


Botanist's Journal April 26

Your weekly letter came in today’s mail, scrawled on a pink paper garden dotted with violets. 

When we first began this postal exchange, you were suffocating in the dark winter of depression, gasping for breath and praying for sunlight.  Your writing shifted between thorny anger refusing to be subdued and pain flourishing  relentlessly, overtaking everything else.  Every week, I’ve shivered in the frigid air as I struggled though the ice-crusted nettle weeds killing the flowers and strangling hope to death. 

But today, at the sight of new growth, I felt the promise of summer.  Like crocuses pushing through the thawing earth, I see the seedlings of recovery and optimism in your note, straining toward the sun and ready to bloom. Were I a botanist, and could graph the tone and lightness emerging tentatively from your words on the page, my graph lines would climb slowly toward that place on the hill, where budding wildflowers and young green grasses sway in the spring breezes. 


Friday Flash 55: Hephæstus’ Revenge

This is my entry in this week’s Friday Flash 55, hosted by G-Man. The idea is to write any story you like in 55 words (no more, no fewer) then tell G-Man by leaving a comment on his Flash 55 post.  Go visit for some more great 55 entries.

Hephæstus’ Revenge

That trollop!  Mine by Olympian decree, and Aphrodite dares betray me with that bloodthirsty warmonger Ares?  She knows not with whom she trifles. I will have my revenge! 

Hence, Hephæstus set forth to forge a trap they wouldn’t escape.   As his wrath grew, so did his fire, and all the land knew well his fury. 

  AP Photograph. Eyjafjallajokull Eruption, Iceland April 14, 2010

Theme Thursday: Draft

The theme for this week on Theme Thursday is Draft. The dictionary I checked listed 38 definitions for the word draft.  But having witnessed this amazing time in our history, I can't hear the word without these memories playing in my mind.

And, of course, I have to include the anthem of another guy who lived it. The clip is long, and the sound quality not the greatest, but the video is an interesting meld of the song and scenes from the movie. 


100-Word Challenge: Promises

This is my submission for this week's100-Word Challenge, hosted by LouCeel here.  The word for this week’s challenge is Promises.
Stop by and look in the Comments for links to more promising 100-Word entries. 


The tinkling calliope music of the midway swirled around her and the blazing colored lights blurred in her filled eyes.

It had been a terrible fight, a final fight.  “I’m done!” he’d spat. “Have a good life!”  Then he’d just walked off and left her there, standing alone among the carnival crowds.   

Blinking away her tears, she turned aimlessly, wondering what to do. Her eyes lit on Zoltar.
After swallowing her quarter, Zoltar’s turbaned head slowly turned her way and he dropped a card in the slot.
“Beware cotton candy promises:  sweet on the tongue, melted away in a moment.”

Wordless Wednesday: Spanish Moss


10th DOM: Outrunning the Hounds of Hopelessness

The current prompt at The Tenth Daughter of Memory is Hounded. 

Outrunning the Hounds of Hopelessness

Hounded by hopelessness, her mother left her, mewling in a basket on the church steps like an inconvenient kitten. She heard many versions of the story, but really? She doubted any of them was the true story. All she really knew was that this was apparently how life in Hell began. Mired in the System, she was shuffled from foster family to foster family, hauled in front of judges, psychologists and social workers, and left to molder in “homes” for the unwanted. No matter how hard she tried to stay invisible, at more than one step along the way, she found herself a convenient target of lust or rage.

Hounded by desperation, she finally ran away when she was fourteen. Nothing could be as bad as the life she was escaping. She quickly discovered there was a subculture out there, a society of kids just like her. Oh, sure, they had taken different routes to this place where they now lived, but they all arrived on the rails of desperation. Like primordial savages, they hunkered down around the fire together, hoping for safety in numbers.

Hounded by hunger, she learned how to hunt. Trash bins and garbage cans were frequent stops, but the dumpsters behind restaurants offered the best pickings. Incredible as it was to her, there were people who discarded nearly entire meals, apparently so stuffed on the fruits of their affluence, they could eat no more. When her usual hunting grounds went barren, she panhandled, joining the battalion of beggars fighting for survival on the streets. Most people could not meet her eyes, as if fearful of being devoured by the haunted animal lurking there. Many quickly walked past her, hurrying to safety. Others, perhaps out of some sort of communal guilt borne by society, tossed some cash her way. Usually, she ate.

Hounded by loneliness, she was easy prey for the first man who was kind to her. He became the “daddy” she’d never had. He took her in, bought her some clothes, and sheltered her in an apartment with other young girls. And every night, he pushed her out, out onto to the streets to hunt for different prey than she’d ever hunted before. Whatever spoils she and the other girls brought home, he took as payment for his kindness and asylum. She discovered the hard way that any rebellion was met with his fists, punishment reluctantly meted out “for her own good.”

Hounded by disgust, she looked for some way to escape. She found that muting her senses with alcohol made the endless parade of creeps bearable. When cheap vodka no longer had the power to transport her someplace else, Daddy offered a better mode of transportation. If she was a good girl, he rewarded her with some meth. And on she went, climbing higher and higher on the roller coaster of addiction. Meth led to crack which led to heroin. Eventually she barely knew where she was, let alone whom she was with or what he was doing to her. Then she reached the top, and the ride down was far worse than she’d ever imagined.

Hounded by hopelessness, she walked out onto the bridge. Wondering why her mother hadn’t loved her enough, she jumped.  

Picture by Tavik František Šimon, 1927


Friday Flash 55: Hoo Hoo

Hoo’s that standing beneath my tree?
Hoo’s that taking pictures of me?

I’m way up here, how can you see?
How can you get a snapshot of me?

Telephoto lens? Not that I see.
Oh, you can zoom? That’s really neat.

So click away, I won’t hide.
Just be sure to get my good side.


Theme Thursday: Lunch

For this week’s Theme Thursday, I decided to take a trip to Fantasyland, Parisian style. Keeping in mind the theme for the week, Lunch, this is my offering.

If you’re still hungry when you’ve finished, drop in at Theme Thursday for some more goodies from the lunch menu.

Déjeuner dans le parc

The whistle blew and, mon dieu, I was ready. It had been a grueling morning, and it was only the thought of lunch that had kept me going. I collected my lunch pail from the window sill near my desk, and headed outside. It was such a beautiful day, one of the first of the year, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to soak up some of the warm spring sunshine.

Le Jardin des Tuileries wasn’t too far from the office, so I decided to spend the lunch break there. Two hours in the warm sun were just what I needed.

I spotted a small copse of chestnut trees near the boat pond. I carried my lunch over, and settled beneath one of the trees. The tree was just beginning to bud, and the few pale green leaves that were out were not enough to shade my spot. The sun dappled through, covering me with a delicate blanket of warmth. I sat for a few moments, gazing over at the pond, and letting the stress of the morning drop away. It wouldn’t be long before the children came to launch their sailboats out onto the pond, but for now, a few ducks had the place to themselves.

With growing anticipation, I opened my lunch pail. Oh, la! Jean Luc had packed it with all my favorites. I laid out my feast, poured a glass of wine, and leaned back against the welcome support of the big tree.

Ah, c’est magnifique.

There were definite advantages to being married to a chef!

Like I said, Fantasyland.

Portrait of a Tragedy

Portrait of a Tragedy

It was a new day. She was beginning her first year of high school in a new country. Her Irish eyes smiled with anticipation.

But she never anticipated what would happen.

She never anticipated that the price of popularity with the cool guys would be sex.

She never anticipated that the consequences of that would be online and physical harassment, cruelty, and physical abuse from her fellow students.

She never anticipated indifference from the teachers and administration.

She never anticipated being unable to cope.

But she couldn’t.

The end of the day found her at the end of a rope.



In 2009, Phoebe Prince came to the United States from Ireland and began high school in South Hadley, MA. She was 15 years old, an age when fitting in is paramount. She no doubt made errors in judgment in her attempts to fit in, but again, she was 15. The result was a continuous barrage of harassment from a group of her fellow students, the pretty, popular girls who came to be known as the Mean Girls. Determined to put her in her place, they were relentless, stalking her and calling her cruel names. She was threatened with physical harm. She was brought to tears more than once by the vicious attacks, some of them witnessed by teachers. Taunting messages were posted on Facebook, Craigslist and other social networking sites, and were circulated via text messages. Repeated pleas for help from both Phoebe and her mother were allegedly ignored by the school administration.

On January 14, 2010, after suffering three separate attacks at the hands of the Mean Girls, Phoebe went home and hanged herself.

But, unbelievably, that wasn’t the end of it. After she was dead, vicious messages belittling Phoebe were posted on a memorial Facebook page. In school the next day, the Mean Girls continued to bad mouth her. And the school administration continued to deny any culpability. The mother of one of the Mean Girls actually blamed the victim.

Perhaps because of an attack of conscience, or perhaps because pressure from public opinion and the media, help has come for Phoebe, albeit too late. At the end of March, the local District Attorney brought charges against nine students who made Phoebe Prince’s life a living hell. A movement campaigning for “Phoebe’s Law,” legislation that would make school bullying illegal, is gaining momentum nationwide.

This is all good and necessary, but really? It’s too little, too late.

Rest in peace, Phoebe.


On May 3, 2010, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed an anti-bullying bill into law. 


Magpie Tales: une femme d’un certain âge

This my first entry for Magpie Tales, hosted here by Willow.  Go visit and and you’ll find the work of some very creative people.

une femme d’un certain âge

All eyes were drawn to the lusty laugh ringing out from across the room. I was instantly reminded of that voice you so often “hear” in literature and music. She had a deep, throaty, whiskey-and-cigarettes voice that said “I’ve been there.” The sound of that voice laughing, sexy and uninhibited, invited the listener to go there too.

The surprise came when she turned around. She was somewhere north of eighty, with snow white hair swept back into a haphazard chignon of sorts, fastened with a big barrette. Her glasses were set in unremarkable silver frames and her lips were colored a deep burgundy, neither of which did much to add color to her wrinkled face. She wore black trousers and a black silk blouse, the somber effect relieved only by a tumble of brightly colored necklaces cascading from her neck. She was shod in simple shoes, and carried a handbag that looked as if she could produce anything you needed from its depths.

In short, she looked like somebody’s grandmother, and probably was.

But there was that laugh! There was nothing grandmotherly about that. Unable to help myself, I went to her, curious to resolve my confusion with the whole Kathleen Turner-Helen Hayes thing. As I reached her side, she turned to look at me. Peering out from behind her aged face was the sexy young woman she had once been. Her lively eyes pierced me like shards of arctic blue ice twinkling in the sunlight, and I was smitten.


Friday Flash 55: Bad Hair Day

This is my entry in this week’s Friday Flash 55, hosted by G-Man. The idea is to write any story you like in 55 words (no more, no fewer) then tell G-Man by leaving a comment on his Flash 55 post.  Go visit, and enjoy some real 55 deliciousness.

Bad Hair Day

Every morning, it was the same old dilemma. She looked in the ancient crackled mirror and sighed. It was hopeless. Try as she may to tame her locks, they had minds of their own and were always astray.

When your name’s Medusa, every day is a bad hair day.

Best you look the other way.


Theme Thursday: The Box

This my entry for this week's Theme Thursday for "box." It’s a repost from an earlier date, which I don’t often do.  But it perfectly targets this week’s theme, and I just can’t get past it to another inspiration.  So if you’ve read it before, my apologies.
The Box 

Once upon a time, there was a box. Tucked away high on a closet shelf, it was an unassuming wooden box looking forward to a happy future next to the rocking chairs on the front porch.

It was filled with fun and fantasies, winter dreams and summer drives, passion and love. Postcards and coasters. Matchbooks and guide books. Ticket stubs and Playbills. Geegaws and tschotches. Baubles and bangles. Memories for the inevitable day when memory fails.

One day, the memories came to an end, and the box was left to languish. Instead of gathering life and love, it gathered nothing but dust and spider webs. But still it waited, because… well, you never know.

As will happen as time goes by and lives move on, the day came when there was nothing left to wait for. The box no longer held happy recollections. Instead, it held meaningless collections for the garbage truck.

And so off it went, its memories carried to the landfill to decay with the rest of life’s cast-offs.

But perhaps, when memory is gone, wisps from the box will drift into the cloudy grey heads of those rocking on porches far apart, and they will remember.

Wordless Wednesday: Ballet in Central Park


100-Word Challenge: Behavior

This is my submission for Velvet Verbosity's 100-Word Challenge, temporarily hosted by LouCeel here.  The word for this week’s challenge is Behavior.

Stop by and look in the Comments for links to more 100-Word entries.  You'll find the entrants on their best behavior.

Behavior Modification

They were arrested, and had their day in court. From high on his bench, the judge looked down at the three perps standing before him. Peering over his glasses at their pale faces, he boomed, “You know what you did was wrong, don’t you?”

“Yes, s-s-sir,” they answered, their voices trembling.

“Do you want to go to the pokey?”

“No, s-s-sir!”

“OK. I sentence you to one year’s probation. But here’s the deal. I’ll be talking to your parents and your teachers. If you do anything like this again, you’ll be back to see me. Next time, bring your toothbrush!!!”

Many years ago, just before the holidays, three children were arrested for trespassing and destruction of private property. They had broken the windows on cars in the junkyard. They were 10 years old. One of them was mine.

They went to court, and stood alone in front of an exceptionally high bench, three little criminals looking up at the judge with terrified eyes. The story above is exactly what happened.

Not one of them was ever arrested again.