26 June, 2022

Technical Difficulties

I am resolved to be more diligent about blog visiting and reading. I did well right after A to Z, reading all the reflections posts and revisiting several. Then, with very little positive response from all of that visiting and commenting, I kind of thought, "Well, forget it! I'm trying to interact with no response. I'll stick to my tiny blog with few comments."

But that's negative thinking. And I have found some I enjoy and want to stay up with. So I'm going to be more proactive, add blogs to my reading list, etc.

Today I was going to revisit and add to my list.

I can still do that, but I can't comment! I am visiting blogs and not allowed to comment. There's a little pop-up saying something about checking my Google settings. But I haven't changed my google settings in ages. Even if something changed when I got a new laptop a couple months ago, it's been fine until now. So what gives?

I checked my settings.

They said to ensure Cookies are enabled. They are.

What gives?

For now, I'm here! I'm visiting and reading, and wishing to share comments!

Soon, I hope, I will have this technical issue resolved and then I can begin my new initiative of interaction.

25 June, 2022

Fiction Friday - The Nose Knows

The antiseptic smell hit her in the face and nearly made Parqa gag. There might be people who hated hospitals more than she did, but Parqa doubted it.

Her hatred was born of years of repeated visits during her childhood, several surgeries, and extended stays. Now as an adult, she was returning to her gag-inspiring past as more and more friends and family members took ill or died. When her uncle was in hospice care, it was less terrible. He was still at home, and his home smelled the same. Mostly. A little chemical-y, after the hospice set-up was in place. If he'd lived further away, maybe she wouldn't have that to compare hospitals to, but he lived in town, so how could she not visit?

That was the thing. Parqa had inherited the family duties. Or obligations. Whichever way your mind chose to see it. She was the one doing the visiting these days. Her long ago childhood illnesses and ailments - and their subsequent treatment - had culminated in Parqa's extraordinary immune system.

"Good morning Parqa!" called out the entry nurse. "Who are you visiting today?"

"Mrs. Lopez?"

"Oh, good! She'll love having a visitor. Let me see... Room 302."

"Thanks Brandi." She knew most of the regular nurses by name.

Mrs. Lopez had been Parqa's mother's neighbor for years. Two single, senior, women, they looked out for each other - running errands, sharing coffee, inquiring after each other's children. Mrs. Lopez' kids lived far away though. It was unlikely they'd be able to make the trip.

Parqa might hate hospitals, but she loved being here for Mrs. Lopez. She would come again, if Mrs. Lopez held on long enough.

As soon as she left Mrs. Lopez' room, Parqa visited the public restroom. She scooped handfuls of water into her mouth and spit it out, trying to rinse the hospital flavor out. It didn't help. Feeling the bile rising, she hurried out of the hospital. There was a coffee shop at the end of the block. The strong aroma of beans roasting and a good strong cappuccino would obliterate the horrid taste-smell memory.

Coffee was always the answer.


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

21 June, 2022

Tuesday Tirade

I am livid.

I recently joined a writing group, and found that I enjoy it. It's nice to write and getting immediate feedback. So I've been regular there for three weeks.

Yesterday, one woman - I'll call her Karen - came in and announced that her daughter has Covid. Her grown adult daughter who lives with her. The daughter had tested positive a week ago, but Karen had not gone to get tested yet. I don't know why not.

Two of us put on masks after hearing that, but no one left. In my mind, I was thinking, "This is a responsible adult. I know they have a large, 3-bedroom house. Maybe the daughter is self-isolating. Because surely she wouldn't come to the group otherwise."

Tonight, she posted in the groups chat that she has Covid.


I believe Covid has a 3-day incubation period. (Yes? No?) So on Thursday I'll go get tested. I pray that I will be negative. I wore my mask, except for when I was taking a drink of coffee or water. I hope it was enough. But that was yesterday. If it wasn't enough, it's too late now!

Livid! Who does that? Irresponsible, careless people, that's who.

18 June, 2022

Fiction Friday - No Simple Trips

I read the Bible every year, and often think about backstories to characters that are not told. Why did Rebekah favor Jacob over Esau? What was Adam and Eve's relationship like before the fall into sin? How awful/exciting would it have been to live on the ark for all those months? Today I'm considering the more obscure story of Balaam's donkey...

It was early, but I was already out in the paddock with the other donkey when I heard my master coming for me. My big ears perked up at a sound of something hard and crunchy knocking together as he walked. Yum!

Balaam was a good master, I suppose. He never overused my services. I know he preferred to ride on me than on the other donkey he owned. Since he was walking my way today, I figured we were going somewhere. Why not? It was a nice enough day for it.

"Hello there!" Balaam said as he approached. He was reaching into his bag with one hand, reaching out to stroke my ear with the other. "How'd you like to go visit a king?" he asked as he pulled a pear from his bag. He held it just out of my reach for a moment, as usual. The tricks we have to do for humans!

I brayed, as he expected, and he let me take the pear from his hand. "Good girl. It should be a simple walk. Smooth road. Not too far." 

As we left the paddock, I saw a large group of men waiting for us. They rode on other kinds of animals, mostly horses. Some camels, I think. They were dressed differently than my Balaam. Wore things on their heads. Longer robes. This was a bigger deal than I thought. I held my head up as we joined the group and started down the road.

The sun was shining. The birds were singing. The men in our group chatted easily with each other. I felt good to be a part of such an important party. There's a first time for everything! 

A first time for everything, indeed! Something bright was in the distance on the road. It was strange. A light in the middle of the road, and all this crowd of men and animals were headed straight for it! I felt my steps slow as we drew closer, but Balaam urged me on. He was talking to the man riding next to him. 

Nope. Nope, nope, nope! That glowing thing had wings and a fiery sword. And even as we got close it was not moving from the road! What was a donkey to do?

I turned off into the field on the side, and kept walking. Better safe than sorry. But Balaam started beating me! I knew he carried a stick on him when we rode, but he'd never used it before, except maybe a gentle tap to tell me to start moving. "Why are you hurting me?" I tried to ask. Couldn't he see we could be chopped in two by that sword?

There was no choice, so I moved back onto the road. There was laughter from the group we were with, and a lot of chatter for a few minutes, but the being with the sword was gone, thankfully. Had I imagined it?

Walking on, as we rose into some hills, there were vineyards all around. I like the smell of vineyards. I don't know if humans can smell the delight of grape vines, but I brayed in joy at the smell. Overall, this was a pleasant trip.

No. Not again! That same being, with the big wings and fiery sword was in the way again! What was it doing? Now we were walled in on the path, with guarded vineyards on both sides. I tried to tell him, but Balaam heard my braying and just leaned down to stroke my neck. Nice, but not what I needed. Humans never listen. 

He was still urging me on, using his stick gently on my hind quarters. I didn't want a repeat of that earlier episode, so I kept walking. I edged over as close to the wall as I could. Closer. A little closer. 

"Ahh! You stupid animal! You've crushed my foot!" Oops. That was Balaam's voice. His stick came up again, in anger. He struck me again, and it stung. As I looked to where the being had been, it was gone. I moved away from the wall. The whole party had stopped to inspect and then wrap Balaam's foot. I tried to tell him, "It wasn't my fault! Would you rather have a crushed foot, or be cut in half by a fiery sword?" but he didn't understand me.

We were on our way again, but I was keeping my ears down. That thing had come upon us twice, and no one seemed to notice but me. What was happening? 

The road narrowed. We were between a drop-off and a mountain side when I caught sight of the thing with the sword again. Nope. Not doing that. 

I lay down, there in the road. Now I knew what to expect from my normally peaceful master, but better his stick than a sword! He stepped off me and started hitting me again. 

I cried out again, "What have I done to make you beat me these three times?" even though he wouldn't understand me.

But this time he did! He stopped hitting me and stared at me. Then, seeing the looks on the faces of our company, he yelled, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I'd kill you right now." 

I knew he was saying that for his audience, for all eyes were on us. And I know Balaam. Never once had he hit me before. So I asked him, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?"

His stick lowered and he looked around at the others. "No," he shrugged. I looked ahead at the angel of the Lord with its sword raised. Balaam's eyes followed mine. His jaw dropped and his eyes went wide. The stick dropped from his hand and he dropped to his knees. No one else did anything. I guess they still didn't see what we could see.

Boy, did that angel make me feel good! It told Balaam that I'd saved his life by leaving the path. It told him that if I hadn't done that, Balaam would be dead, but I would have been spared. I had done the right thing. I knew I did!

Reference: The story of Balaam's donkey is told in the book of Numbers 22: 21-33. For the reasons as to why the angel of the Lord was in the way, you'll have to read the surrounding verses. The story in the Bible includes this trip, but the donkey's perspective isn't given. The point when Balaam actually understands his donkey, is however stated in the Bible. My little tale above is pure conjecture.

14 June, 2022

Tuesday Tidbits

Not so much a "Tuesday Tale" this week. More of a catching up.

There are no stories to tell, just life happening. 

I've been more social lately, which is weird and will have to balance out somehow. Two things:

1. Writing Group: I joined a writing group in my area. They meet weekly at a coffee shop that's a two minute bike ride from my house. We write, read what we've written, and give and receive feedback. The feedback is very helpful. Probably because it's coming from people who don't know me very well.

2. Wellness Wednesdays: I should list this first, because I did this one first, and the woman who runs Wellness Wednesdays invited me to the writing group. Wellness Wednesdays consists of an hour or so of low-key connection, meditation, a little aroma therapy, discussion, and maybe lunch. It's sounds weird, but it really is a great moment of calm in the middle of a hectic week. She varies the location, though, so I don't go regularly, just when it's near me.

Speaking of "hectic weeks".

Opening a new business is a lot of work! Classes began last week at our new school. The classes themselves are fine, but like any new business, we are finding some kinks to work out. Nothing major. Mostly logistical things and details like managing the time between classes, keeping kids where they are supposed to be, scheduling, timing of getting materials ready for each class. All the stuff you don't think of until you're in action. (Well, some things I had thought of, but seemed beyond my purview.) 

Now I'm taking over scheduling. Just to keep it organized and manageable for the staff, and to take one thing off Brett's plate. He's been shouldering most of the responsibility.


Ah yes, the times between the chaos. Last month I finished Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, and although it was okay, it wasn't my cup of tea. Could he please just tell a straight story? This was so convoluted it drove me crazy. I was interested in the characters, but had very little idea what the point was throughout much of it. Still, I didn't put it down. If a book bothers me too much, I will not waste my time with it. I'm glad I read it.

...Glad I read it, but wanted to read something straightforward again. Who writes in a straightforward manner? One thing leads to another to another, until the end? Stephen King. So I read Firestarter. Tbh, we recently watched the original movie, quickly followed by the new one (a disaster) so it was on by mind. Great read, easy read. I would even say, for people who've never read King because they're afraid his books might be too dark or scary, this would be a good one to start with. Not really scary, not gory, just a great thriller.

I finished Firestarter a couple days ago, and almost picked another King, but decided to go lighter and started reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I've read two of hers so far, and she has a nice, easy-reading style. I'm only a few chapters in, but so far I'm enjoying this book!

And that's my life - work, social, and books. I can't even believe "social" is a category of my life now! What about you? Busy summer or relaxed? Any book recommendations?

10 June, 2022

Fiction Friday - Always the Same

"Nico wants me to go with him on this trip," LaVin's words floated in the air like motes of dust. Cheri sat filing her nails on the sofa as her roommate's ephemeral plans hovered and drifted down to settle on the floor.

LaVin was doing her normal evening routine of putting things away, nibbling on snacks, and wiping counters as if a mess had been made by elves in their empty apartment during the day. She narrated her day and her actions, not really talking to anyone, just voicing her thoughts. They had been roommates long enough that Cheri knew her role. It was always the same. She was just attentive enough to interject the obligatory responses of "uh-huh", "wow" or a random chuckle. 

"Really, he'll be working, taking meetings and things a lot of the time. I guess, anyway. What they do on these business trips, who knows? But he wants me along!" That was the big point tonight.

"Yeah!" Cheri offered, and pulled out a buffer to smooth her nails before adding a clear coat.

LaVin, still talking, floated on her words back into the kitchenette and poured herself a glass of wine, as she mused over what it could mean and what she could do with the time while Nico worked. "Cheri?" 

Hearing her name, she looked up and saw LaVin holding up the bottle of wine, inquiring whether Cheri wanted a glass. "Oh, sure, thanks." Cheri re-focused on her nails. It was just a matter of time before LaVin ran out of words.

LaVin, now discussing the itinerary, came over with both glasses of wine, and sat next to Cheri. With Cheri's hands occupied, LaVin set her wine on the table in front of her. LaVin tucked one foot underneath her and turned so that she was facing her roommate. "I mean, it's this weekend! That's not a lot of time. I'll have to run out and do some shopping. I want to be ready for any eventuality, you know?"

"Sure," Cheri said.

"I might just go shopping tonight." LaVin took a thoughtful sip of wine and Cheri cocked an eyebrow her way. She seemed to be winding down the monologue. "Yeah. He hasn't said we will, but I'm guessing we'll probably go out for dinner tomorrow night, so I'll just head down to the shops now. What do you think?"

She actually asked for an opinion! Cheri was stunned into silence. She looked intently at LaVin before remembering to smile. "Uh, yeah. Definitely a good plan. No time like the present."

"Exactly." Without asking a word about her roommate, LaVin rose to head out to the shops. At the door she said, "Hey, when I get back you can tell me about your day!" Cheri smiled. It was always the same.

With the apartment to herself, Cheri put down her manicure set and leaned into the sofa. A sigh escaped. LaVin was a good roommate, but the silence after her departure felt like a breath of air. She reached into her bag, took out a bottle of pills, shook two into her hand, and swallowed them with a big gulp of wine. If she'd been thinking, she'd have done that before she got into the apartment. 

She flipped on the TV and waited for the relief, the lift, the vacant "nothingness" feeling to spread through her. It was always the same.


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

04 June, 2022

Fiction Friday - Peace and Quiet

Vicki was bored. They had been out in the boat for an hour and a half already, and conversation had dried up fast.

She sighed and flipped the pages of her magazine, trying to find anything new to interest her. It wasn't Leon's fault. He told her it would be a morning of peace and quiet. He was going fishing, and she'd asked if she could come. Something was slipping in their relationship, and Vicki's roommate suggested she try to take an interest in the things he liked.

Leon had hesitated at first. "You won't enjoy it, Vicki," he'd said. She hated when people tried to tell her what she would or wouldn't do. "I really just sit in my canoe and fish. Sometimes I don't even catch anything big enough to bring in."

But Vicki had to try. The dating game was a mess. If things could work with Leon, if she could only find a way to feel like they had staying power... In the end, he had allowed her to join her, with another reminder that this was going to be very quiet.

Of course, there were things to say as they got the boat out onto the lake. He'd brought an extra fishing rod for her, and helped her bait it. In the end, she went with a lure because she couldn't bear to touch the live bait. He'd smiled a little at that, but they seemed good. She was trying. And he was trying, too. 

He showed her how to cast the line into the water, and they sat and waited. She tried to start up a conversation after a few minutes of silence, but his response was short, and after a couple more attempts, he gently reminded her, "Hey babe, really, I meant it. This is quiet time." Was he shutting her up? "Listen to cicadas, the sound of the lake. Isn't it peaceful?"

And she'd listened for a moment, then looked at him. "So, this is what you like to do?"

He just nodded. "I like the peace and quiet of fishing. Give it time. It may grow on you." 

But it hadn't. The quiet was disconcerting. She'd propped her pole up in the boat, and immersed herself in her magazine an hour ago, comparing her life to the lives of the glamorous people on the pages within. Now, there was nothing left to read and she had all the fashions burned into her retinas from repeated viewing. The buzzing and humming of insects grew louder in her brain, to an oppressive cacophony, and she let out a loud sigh.

No reaction from Leon. Maybe there was really something wrong with their relationship. If his favorite thing was peace and quiet, what was he doing with her in the first place? Vicki was full of energy, full of stories, full of sound and passion! 

She looked across at Leon, happily toying with the rod, tugging the line this way and that, with a tiny smile on his lips. He really did love this. He never looked so calm when she was with him. It was unnatural to her. When they were together they were either doing something or talking about something. Never just sitting still doing nothing. They had met at a club, and she thought he enjoyed clubbing, but it turned out he had only gone there for a friend. Did they even have anything in common?

The more Vicki sat and watched him, her magazine forgotten in the bottom of the canoe, the sadder she became. Who was this guy she'd been dating for the past eight months? She sucked in a cheek and weighed the merits of staying with Leon in this troubled - but "fine" - relationship, or breaking up and finding someone she was more compatible with. Was it even possible?


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.