Friday, April 30, 2010

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 107

This is week 107 of the Saturday Wordzzle Challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. I don't know that what I've written is any good, but I kind of had a good time with these words. Hope the rest of you did too.

This week's 10-word challenge is: salacious, charity, spoof, t-shirt, magical mystery tour, observation, book club, sneezing, street lamp, raining cats and dogs And for the mini: operatic, a better start to a better day, gorilla, spinach, global warming

My mega:

It was raining cats and dogs and Margaret, achy, sneezing and sporting a runny nose, was tempted to stay home and skip the charity book club gathering. This month's book had a truly salacious looking cover with a scantily clad woman standing under a street lamp. The cover seemed totally out of keeping with the title, which was A Better Start to a Better Day: Gorilla Johnson Takes a Magical Mystery Tour of Global Warming. It was a spoof in novel form on the politics surrounding the future of the planet and the author's observations on the operatic, often arcane nuttiness on both sides of the debate were as cogent as they were hilarious. She sighed. She'd been looking forward to the discussion for weeks and she was darned if she would let a cold and a little torrential rain stop her. And Cafe Roma, where this month's gathering was to take place did make the best spinach salad in the city... and the best whiskey sour's too. And there was no dress code so she could wear jeans and a t-shirt and not feel out of place. Cold or no cold, she was going to have a good time... and maybe that George would be there.

My 10-word:

Fred thought his wife Charity looked salaciously alluring in her Magical Mystery Tour t-shirt, but maybe that had more to do with his memory of when he had first seen her wearing it 10 years earlier in the dim, mystical glow of a street lamp outside Spoof, his favorite book store, where he had been planning to attend the weekly book club meeting that was held there. It had been raining cats and dogs and she was alternately sneezing and crying. It had been his observation, he recalled, that despite her wet and bedraggled state, that she was possibly the most beautiful girl he had ever seen and he could not stand to see her crying. He had ridden to the rescue, so to speak, and taken her for a cup of coffee and a meal and like a movie romance, it had been love at first sight for both of them. Ten years later, he still thought she was the most beautiful woman on earth - inside and out. His life with her and their 2 beautiful children was a magical mystery tour every day. Her beauty he knew would never fade in his eyes and he would always love that t-shirt.

And the mini:

Her Broadway musical - A Better Start to a Better Day - was Sandra Amberson's contribution to the global warming debate. So far, unfortunately, it had been rather a dismal failure. One critic had somewhat mockingly called it "rather operatic, with aspirations to be the musical Gorillas in the Mist of climate change..." Another somewhat kinder reviewer had opined that, "Although there are a number of lovely songs, the play is painfully lacking in plot; its dialog consisting almost entirely of ecofriendly slogans. The crusading hero of the show," he had continued, "is a sort of modern day Pop-eye without the spinach, who is such a priggish know-it-all, that even though I agreed with him, I found myself wanting to run out of the theater and pollute something. Ms. Amberson's has aimed high and fallen short. With a better play to accompany the music, she might just be onto something." After her original devastation, she had taken those last words to heart and was hoping to find a writer worthy of the task of creating what she liked to think of as "a better end to a better play."


Words for next week's 10-word challenge are: samples, argumentative, tragic, bagels and lox, osprey, bank balance, dream a little dream of me, providence, bride and groom, the flowers are in bloom again

For the mini: over the top, preposterous, sing, cantaloupe, creepy

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ruby Tuesday: Red, You Say?


Ok... I don't want to lose momentum trying to get back into blogging, but I don't really have much red to offer, so I'm kind of pushing it..... There is some red... It's all kind of cheaty, but.... I'm posting... two weeks in a row.... doesn't that count for something?

I don't have much to offer, so I thought I'd do a Care2
commercial because it's a really good cause. You
can go to every day and in a matter of about
a minute and a half, donate (free) to all sorts of good
causes from conserving wildlife to feeding children
to preventing violence to women. Free and easy way
to do some good in the world.

Stretching it here... if you look closely, there are
reddish leaves on the stuff growing around this stump....

More of my pretty flowering quince (posted last week)
which is really more pink than red, but....

Then at the last minute, I found these berries from
the end of last summer.... don't think I posted them before.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

In Memorium: West Virginia Coal Miners

I'm sitting here listening to the memorial service for the miners who died in West Virgnina on April 5th. It's profoundly moving. Profoundly real despite the presence of Presidents and Vice Presidents and Congressmen and Governors. There's a beauty in the deep faith and community of people who live daily with the possibility of death. There's a beauty in the realness of their pain and their grief and their love for one another.

I don't often think much about mining, except to wish that we would shift away from coal as an energy source to solar or wind. I take fuel that warms my house and powers my lights pretty much for granted except to whine about how high the bills are. Or to think about the old time movies about miners who were at the heart of the union movement, who risked much to secure even minimal levels of safety and decent wages in return for lives risked daily. It's much better now, but accidents like this one are a reminder that greed still outweighs the lives of brave men for some people, that they will cut corners to increase their profits and hope that nobody dies as a consequence. Only people do die.

Twenty-nine people died three weeks ago so that I can have electricity. That's pretty stunning to think about. It's worse to think that it could have been avoided, that they could have continued living - living dangerous lives, but living - had better care been taken by government overseers and mining companies.

In any case, at least for the present, when I give thanks for the power that keeps light and warmth coming on gray chilly days like today, I will give thanks for the sacrifice of families who live daily with the threat of death to provide it to me. I will hold them in my prayers.

The service also reminded me for some reason of the service when my sister died, though I suspect it's very different. I felt moved by the presence of many, many people who came to mourn her passing, many who didn't know her, but came because of the tragedy of her murder, because "it could have been them." There was a community in mourning and not just a family. But that communal process - for me - took something away. It turned my grief into public theater. It took pain that was private and made it into something else. But perhaps that isn't true for these families. This is a close-knit community, mourning a true communal loss, and as I understand it, they had private funerals before this mass public memorial. There were numerous pastors who spoke, local clergy who have sat with the families, held vigil during the rescue efforts and held hands to solace grief. Joe Biden spoke. He said - and he's right - that the worst time will come when life goes back to normal for the rest of us, but that in time grief would diminish. He prayed for them that the time when life felt normal again, when happy memories begin to replace grief would come sooner than later. A good prayer. I second his wish. May God and their community comfort them in the days to come and may time ease their pain.

Guess that's all I have to say, except maybe thank you for the courage and sacrifice that these people live with daily so that my life is more comfortable. The President in his speech pointed out that the song Lean on Me was written by someone from the mining community. I thought I'd share it here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 106

This is week 106 of the Saturday Wordzzle Challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works.

This week's10-word challenge was: salamander, lawyer, prank, flaccid, spurious, angst, flowers, once upon a time, genesis, spark and for the mini: largesse, salad dressing, flying purple people eater, priest, Spanish

My 10 word:

Once upon a time, Fredrick James Salamander had entered law school sparked by idealism and a desire to make the world a better place. And at the genesis of his career, he had tried to live up to that dream, but financial necessity had led him to take the occasional spurious law suit, cases that were more like legal pranks than anything else. He had proven to be good at them... to be a winner and the temptation to "play the courtroom game" again and again had proven too much to resist. Now, aging and world weary, his flaccid muscles reflected the flaccid spirit, the angst of one who had lost his way and knew it. But all was not lost. Meeting the beautiful Amanda Flowers had reawakened something in him and he had hope that maybe, if he could find his way, if he could become the lawyer he had originally meant to be - even if he was late doing so - that he could also win her heart. Even thinking about it made him feel more alive than he had in years and that alone was a gift he hoped he could become worthy of.

The mini:

Unfortunately, the young priest, Padre Juan Largesse, spoke only Spanish and was unable to make the police understand that he had tipped over the cart of salad dressing accidentally because he had been started by seeing a large flying purple people eater fly past the window of the restaurant.

The mega:

It was the case that Frederick Salamander had been hoping for, and would be the genesis for turning his life around and winning the heart of the beautiful Amanda Flowers. His client was a Spanish speaking priest named Juan Largesse who had been arrested for disorderly conduct when he accidentally upset a cart of salad dressing in a well known local restaurant called the Once Upon a Time Cafe. Because the father was Hispanic, the police had presumed he was either committing a prank or that he was an illegal alien. In other words, because he was Hispanic, he must be guilty of something. These spurious charges, along with disturbingly rough treatment at the hands of the cops, had caused great such great angst in the poor priest - who was already deeply traumatized because he believed he had seen a flying purple people eater - that it had sparked a mild heart attack. It might not be the case of the century, but it was a chance, Fredrick thought, to become the lawyer he had meant to become. He felt his flaccid spirits, his flaccid muscles awakening with enthusiasm. There was injustice out there and a victim needing a champion. He would get justice for the poor priest and Amanda would see his true heart. Everyone would win.


Words for next week's 10-word challenge are: salacious, charity, spoof, t-shirt, magical mystery tour, observation, book club, sneezing, street lamp, raining cats and dogs

For the mini: operatic, a better start to a better day, gorilla, spinach, global warming

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week!


Thursday, April 22, 2010


How do these guys get elected? And how do they sleep at night? And how do they say the crap they say with a straight face? Agggggghhh! I think Anderson Cooper did a good job calling him on it. He let up to the interview with clear photos of the certificate, the signature and the embossed stamp. So many crazy, creepy, self-serving people with nothing to do but stir the hate pot. Sad.

Nobody Ever Listens

Well, I'm trying not to lose the momentum of returning, so since I have nothing very intelligent to say, I thought I'd share some of the things I write to the government about all the time that nobody listens to.

Nobody Listens to Me #1:

First, the thing I've written about over and over during the health care riots was a way to make (I think) Medicare both more fair and more self-sufficient. I'm really lucky to get Medicare even though I hate doctors and never go. Still, it's there. And actually I do get my money's worth because I talk to Dr. Jim every week and he then waits months - up to a year - to get the pittance they give him for the pain of talking to me. He's covered by Medicare Part B, which is where I think a little re-thinking would make my life easier and add tons of money to the Medicare trough. The way Part B is done now is they take money out of your stipend every month. In my case, they take $96 and some change. That's about 14% of my stipend.

I couldn't find my Medicare book from this year, but this is an excerpt from an email I wrote to someone back in 2007 when I began my one-woman campaign to talk about this. So far, it's still a one woman campaign. Anyway, here are the numbers from 2007.

$80,000 or less (individual) or $160,000 or less (joint)
you pay $ 93.50

$80,001-100,000 (individual) or $160,001-$200,000 (joint)
you pay $105.80

$100,001-150,000 (individual) or $200,001-300,000 (joint)
you pay $125.00

$150,001-200,000 (individual) or $300,001-400,000 (joint)
you pay $142.90

Above $200,000 (individual) or Above $400,000 (joint)
you pay $161.40

Math is not my strong suit (to put it mildly), but by my calculations, those at the 80,000 end of the equation in my $93.50 category are paying less than 2% of their income towards Medicare versus my 8%. The low end of the $80-100,000 category pays 1.5% of their yearly income and the upper end pays about 1.25%. Moving to level three, the bottom level folks pay 1.5% and the upper level folks pay 1%... Level 4, the bottom rung pays about 1.15% of their total income and the top end pay less than 1% (.085 or some such thing). Those at the bottom of the top range pay under 1% (.097% approximately). For someone with $500,000 in annual income the percentage is about .004%...

Even though the numbers are off for the current year, the principle remains. Someone with 10 times my income pays only $150 more per year than I do for Part B. And someone making $750,000 (50X what I get) pays only $814 more/year for insurance than someone with a yearly income of $14,000. Doesn't that seem a little nuts?

Nobody Listens to me #2:

My other big idea is about recycling. I don't understand why (sorry Republicans) don't nationalize our recycling system so that instead of each state recycling some things the nation recycles everything. If New York is set up to recycle #1,2 and 3 plastics, let them ship their #5 to Arizona where they recycle that and so on. This would be good for the environment and it would provide much needed jobs. It's a win-win.

Well, That's all I've got. I got side-tracked in the middle. I'm saving fairies from wistful spirits and it I thought I was just going to check in, but it took much longer than it should have.

Hope you are all having a lovely Thursday. Hard to believe the week has flown so fast.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's Ruby Tuesday!

Probably nobody has noticed, but I kind of left the planet for a while. I've really missed Ruby Tuesday. Haven't taken a lot of pictures during my journey into the abyss, but I'm going to post some not very good ones anyway. Mixed bag. A couple of red touches in my beautiful new kitchen... well it's 9 months old now, but I still rejoice in it every time I walk in there, so... Also a sort of blurry picture of my flowering quince which, given our bizarre weather here, is already in full bloom. It always blooms pretty early, I guess, so maybe it's not the quince that's ahead of schedule but me that's behind. In any case, I love this bush, as do hummingbirds and other birds... a little magical spot in my back yard.

I can never decide whether to put cations
above or below pictures.... one of my red
pots on my beautiful new cabinets/counter tops...
and there's a red hand on the clock if you look closely.

Shannon likes to bake from time to time. They
have a giant
Cane Corso Mastiff at her house
who makes it very difficult, so she comes over here.
She's very fond of sprinkles.

The flowering quince. More pink than red, but...


Just realized that I'm so out of practice that I forgot
inventing and hosting Ruby Tuesday. Thanks, Mary!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Climbing Out of the Abyss

It has been a long 11 months. I'm not sure what happened to me... Well, that's not quite true because the trouble started when my older brother died. Something went out of me. I knew then and know now that I wasn't grieving. Phil and I were estranged and had been estranged for more than 20 years. I had spent almost 20 years - my 30s and 40s - doing a lot of care taking (Phil had Parkinson's Disease) and trying to work through the gradual realization that he was not my friend in any way. In fact, in may respects, he was the seed of my agoraphobia. Unlike many agoraphobics, my "I can't breathe" panics happened at home, in my apartment. It took a while for me to figure it out, but contact with my brother was often the underlying source. I had adored Phil from childhood on. I'd been taught to make excuses for his cruelty and to blame myself for my hurt feeling. I had spent a life-time swallowing hurt and anger and directing it at myself instead of where it should have been aimed. Anyway, I think I can call the 10 years of therapy, trying to work through things with him, my mourning period. There was nothing left to mourn by the time he died. Besides that, his physical condition had deteriorated to a state where he was not really living. There's nothing sad when someone is freed from that kind of bondage. At least not to me.

So if I wasn't grieving, why did I pull into a cave for eleven months? It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure it out and a while to process it after that. I'm just totally pissed off. I don't do well with anger in general. Even though I know better intellectually - the relentless training (from a group of really angry people) that forbade me be angry still rests deep in my bones. I can override it intellectually. I know better than to think anger is a "bad" thing. It's an uncomfortable thing, but it's a human thing. Anger isn't bad. It's what we do with anger that can make it negative. It's just a feeling and if we let our angry feelings move through us as we would our happy ones, life would be much easier. So if I know this, why did I fall into an abyss for almost a year?

Well, when I have feelings, I tend to get disembodied. I kind of leave the planet. Used to drive my therapist crazy. One minute he'd be talking to me and then I'd be gone... sitting there, smiling, talking, but emotionally far, far away... Ooops a feeling... gotta go. Until he died, I don't think I had actually realized the depth of my rage. Maybe I hadn't realized it until right this minute. You see, I always try to take the high road. Damned, bloody high road. So there were my sister's children. He was their uncle. I wished he wasn't, but he was and they had lost their mother. They knew we were estranged, but I tried to keep the details from them and tried not to influence their feelings about him.

And he was very ill. My mother's family seemed inclined to buy his lies about me.... that I was cruel and had abandoned him. This hurt me profoundly, but I decided that Phil (who was headed to a nursing home at 50 something) needed their friendship more than I did. Let them believe what they chose. I had shopped for Phil, called him daily- and sometimes twice daily to make sure he was ok, watched over him, invited him to every gathering I ever had, given him my time and energy for 15 years and then when I recognized how toxic he was to me, had still spent years trying to work things out with him. I had been his punching bag for my whole life. It cost me nothing, I deluded myself, to let him lie. That others chose to believe him said as much about them as it did about him. Or so I told myself. He had nothing. I had reasonably good health and friends. Let him have people who would believe the worst of me after I had sacrificed so very much taking care of both him and my parents. I would tell my story when he was dead and beyond hurt.

And then he died. The friends who had watched over him (as his sister had abandoned him) wrote to me about his death. Whether it was there or not, I read coldness and judgement in their emails to me. We're letting you know that your brother died. Please put us in touch with your nieces and nephew. Cold. That was the start of my seeping rage. I wanted to defend myself. But they had loved him. What would it serve to try and take that away from them? What did it matter to them how cruel he had been to me for my whole life, how he had poisoned my self-esteem and even my relationships? What did it matter to them that he had spat on what was originally supposed to be my life's work to such a degree that I was unable to pursue it? What did it matter to them that he might have raped me when I was a child? What did it matter that he had tried to make me think that my parents didn't love me, wanted me institutionalized? It wasn't their fault. But it felt like my childhood revisited. Poor Phil. To the lawyer, I wrote a pathetic email saying that I was glad Phil had had friends, that I would not give any details, just saying that it was hard to be painted as the villain when I felt like the victim. Not surprisingly, I didn't get an answer.

And how do you explain the kind of damage growing up the victim of a psychopath causes? How do you explain - when it took 40 years to even begin recognizing it - the slow drip of emotional acid on your psyche? How do you explain how frustrating it is to always have that pain turned against you? To have every cruelty rationalized away, every small accomplishment poisoned because your brother was jealous of any praise sent your way, any love given? How to explain the pain of watching him hurt others you love? Of having him tell your 18-year old nephew that his late mother had "complained" about him, a cruel lie designed to make himself important and to hurt someone he viewed as a "rival" (the only other male in the family). How do you explain the wound of endless, diminishment disguised as kindness? How to explain coping with someone who could tell a lie in such a way that he let you it know it was a lie, but so cleverly done that you couldn't prove it? How to explain the kind of slimy sadism that responds to a question like, "is it possible that you molested me?" with the response. "It couldn't have been me. I think I'm gay and only sadism turns me on." How to explain all that hurt? How to cope with all that repressed rage and pain?

Clearly, I didn't have a clue. It probably didn't help that almost immediately after Phil died, hordes of people descended (thank you very much, Delaware Opportunities for the awesome gift of my bathroom, kitchen and ramp) on my house for three months of pounding and sawing and painting and.... I had to process all that stress and unusual human contact too.

And then months passed a tiredness I can't describe came over me. Somehow every time I thought about posting I just felt too tired to connect to other human beings. I would try. Sometimes I would start a post and it just seemed like too much effort to follow through, too much effort to visit and leave comments. I just couldn't. I felt bad about it, but I just couldn't. I'm sorry about that, because I have missed people and a few have been kind enough to hang in there anyway. Thank you for that. It has meant a lot to me. Well, that's my story.

Anyway.... I think maybe three weeks without a computer followed by a week and a half of flu gave me the necessary time to process more deeply. While I was sick, I did a lot of reiki and healing work on myself. You'd think I'd have thought of doing that sooner, but I guess everything happens in its own time. At any rate, I feel like I have returned to planet earth for the first time in ages and it feels good to be back. Hopefully I will be able to stay.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Morning (Afternoon) Thoughts

Well, I'm still battling a kind of weariness that won't let go of me, but my brain is ticking away this morning, so I thought I'd blather on for a bit and see if I can't push myself past my inertia and start posting again.

So anyway..... things I'm thinking about.

The volcano in Iceland. Somewhere over the winter I was listening to an interview Fahreed Zakaria (one of the only Sunday morning shows worth listening to) had with some computer guy who was convinced that we could turn back global warming by putting focussed pollution into the atmosphere. He had come to this theory because of research he had done on the impact volcanoes have had on the ozone layer. I think that's what he said, anyway. It was quite a while ago and I just remember thinking it was a very cool idea. So anyway, here we have this awesome volcano, not only spewing stuff into the atmosphere in a very focussed way, but grounding massive numbers of polluting air planes. Maybe this is a gift from the Universe. Of course then all the loony tunes people who don't believe in global warming will delude themselves that they were right all along, but let them, if we get a reprieve on all the pain of the reality they have been ignoring. I went and did some googling to see if I could add a reference and it looks like there are different views on volcanoes and global warming. Some say they add to it, some say they can cause cooling, depending on what kind of stuff they spew. I'm going to hold happy thoughts that this volcano is benevolent. At the least it's cut back on air traffic, which is apparently a major factor in the warming process. That's something.

So then, when I was done thinking about that, I was (sorry, talking head day and politics is everywhere I turn) listening to Religion in America on PBS which is part of my Sunday morning routine. They were doing a piece on Jimmy Carter's work that has almost completely defeated one of the worst diseases that has ravaged Africa. I was listening to this and at the same time listening to a clip of Clinton saying he had been wrong on some economic policy and I got to thinking that these two men embody in some ways the deepest difference between Republicans and Democrats. The Republican presidents I can think of have retired to their ranches and made money giving speeches and writing books. The two living Democrats are both totally involved in trying to solve world hunger, disease and other social ills. They build houses, they are completely absorbed in making the world a better, healthier place... and not with big government, by the way, with individual actions. I think that speaks volumes.

Dan included the new Google Chrome browser when he gave me his computer. I like it a lot, but I'm still getting used to some of the differences with how it works with blogger. Great browser. I like it ever better than the Mozilla one. Doesn't crash as often. Of course that might have as much to do with the computer as the browser. I continue to loathe Explorer.

I had some other thought earlier but I got side-tracked for about 4 hours and can't remember what it is/was.

Weather here has turned chilly again and it's gray and rainy besides. Sigh. Even so, though, there are daffodils in bloom and my quince has got flowers, so Spring is here even if the temperatures are in the 30s today. Finally reinstalled my Canon program thingy so I've added a pictures of Angel and Tara Grace, my sweet girls.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 105?

This is week 105 (I think it's 105... since some of you posted during my absence... ??) of the Saturday Wordzzle Challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. I have to admit that I had intended to post catch up wordzzles for the weeks I missed but haven't had the gumption to do it, so I may post them later or with this post or... I feel very out of the loop, out of synch our of inspiration. Hopefully it will all come back to me once I get started with this week's words. It's almost 6:30 and I just barely got this week's offerings (all of which I hate) done, so I will try to add the back entries either later this evening or tomorow. Boy, this week's words seemed really difficult to me.... maybe I'm just out of practice, but I had a rough time. Hope everyone else did better. I'm sure you did.

This week's 10-word challenge was: oh, my aching bones, Spring has sprung, solitude, spearmint, platitudes, cardboard box, chimney, yogurt, shattered, flagrant and for the mini: dragons are forever, jelly beans, practice makes perfect, asparagus, spelling bee

My 10-word:

Spring has sprung, but oh, my aching bones are still feeling very wintery and achy and shattered. They are showing a flagrant disregard for my happiness and I must say that I rather resent it. But such is life. I have to say that some days my solitude wears on me more than others. I wish I was able to do some gardening... I'd plant spearmint and roses and maybe some tulips too.... and another flowering quince. I love my flowering quince. I look forward to seeing it burst into color every Spring. Well, I have moaned enough for one paragraph, I guess. Maybe I'll go have a yogurt, pack up some of my cardboard box collection for recycling next week. I was hoping that google would offer up some nice platitude about clean chimneys so I could finish this off in a tidy way, but alas, no such luck, so I'm forced to fit it in like this. Happy Spring, everyone.

The mini:

I had so much fun at the State Spelling Bee finals. Didn't hurt that I won. Practice makes perfect, my mother said over and over, and I guess she was right because considering the pressure, I was pretty relaxed on the whole. I met lots of nice kids and the whole thing was just interesting. I think my favorite part was the lady who made up the sentences (can you put that into a sentence?) . She had a wonderful sense of humor and came up with some really silly things that made us all laugh and helped us feel less anxious. Asked to put the word medieval into a sentence, she came up with "Medieval writings tell us that dragons are forever." For asparagus, she offered, "the vegetable asparagus is better for you than jelly beans." I can't wait for nationals.

And the mega:

"Oh, my aching bones," Jelly Beans, the world's oldest dragon moaned, "I'm so glad that Spring has Sprung at last. These old bones ain't what they used to be." He had burned the last of his cardboard boxes a few weeks earlier, finished his annual house keeping spree, and even cleaned the cave's chimney in preparation for the annual birthday gathering of his family. He had several children, all named in the family tradition of food names passed down both sides of his family tree. His father Spearmint and his mother Asparagus had been devoted parents and had raised their children and grand children to be flagrantly and outspokenly proud of their dragon heritage. "Dragons are forever" was part of the family crest and his daughters (Ice Cream and Sherbet) as well as his youngest child and only son Yogurt all served on the dragon high council, Ice Cream as chair person. He was very proud of them, though for himself, particularly given his extreme old age, he preferred solitude over politics and only allowed for his isolation to be shattered for very special events like his 1,111 the birthday. Popcorn, his first grand child, knowing his love of platitudes, had made a fire-breath wooden plaque onto which he had burnt the words "Practice makes perfect," which was one of his grandfather's favorite sayings. His grand daughter, Spaghetti, who was the world's youngest (and history would sadly record the last of their kind), shyly gave him a video of herself winning the International Dragon-kind Spelling Bee. In accordance with Dragon tradition on such an auspicious occasion, Jelly Beans gave each of his children one eight of his accumulated treasure and in keeping with his own personal tradition, each of his grand children 11 of his finest gems with which to seed their own future treasures along with a personalized family crest wrought in silver and gold with diamond highlights. They were quite stunning. All in all, it was a grand party and everyone, even Jelly Beans, had a wonderful time.


Some catch-up... In my computerless/flu burdened absense, Argent offered some words: For the 10-worder: Minute, shave, orange, cardboard, scissors, speaker, calligraphy, wooden, picture and jute... and for the mini: hope, milk, freshness, earring, blinds.

I'm just going to do a mega for this one, if nobody minds.

Jute Blinds was an expert in calligraphy, among other things. He was well known for his decorative wooden plaques, which were generally made up of an etched picture (he was also a gifted artist) and some wise saying or quote in exquisitely minute gold, green or orange lettering. There was a freshness and creativity to his creations that kept them from being just the ordinary kitch. He was a great fan of recycling and had done some amazing things with old milk cartons and cardboard boxes that made the critics rave and customers flock to his shop. Give him a pair of scissors, some old plastic bottle caps or pretty much anything and he'd whip up a pair of earrings that would make Cartier envious. His talent and inventiveness were an inspiration that gave hope to the live green movement and eventually one of them persuaded him to shave his beard and go on the road as an inspirational speaker. He agreed to this mostly because he had fallen madly in love with her (she got his vision for saving the earth and she also happened to be quite beautiful). As with everything else, he took to speaking - perhaps because he so believed in his own words - that the tour was a great success and moved many artists and customers alike to begin thinking more "green."

and the challenge from a month ago when my computer crashed.... The ten word was comprised of eight words a friend had given me 10 years ago and 2 additional ones... Here's what I'm doing with them today. Once I'm done, I'll write to Vivian for what I wrote before and post both as promised... I guess I'll post what I've done and add the old one when Vivian emails me.

10-word challenge: culture, sheep, skin, mentally, box, desert, several people, church, Greece, thirst,

Next week's mini challenge: swimming pool, cargo, czar, focus, fine

The 10-word:

Since early childhood, Fred Gregory had sought out ways to be mentally challenged. He had an exceptional and creative mind along with a deep thirst for knowledge. He was fascinated by the dynamics of different peoples and loved to immerse himself in those cultures he was interested in. He had early developed a special fascination with Greece and the evolution of Orthodox church there. He had moved to Athens at age 20, learned the language and served as an acolyte for a number of years in order to "understand viscerally" as he put it. But he also loved learning about the desert cultures and had once spent a year sheep herding with Bedouins in order to understand their ways more completely. His passion and his love of experiencing many different ways of living made the books he wrote best selling page-turners which caused jealousy in some circles. Anthropologists, sociologists all wanted either to claim him as their own or disown him as a diletantte. He was generally among the most open minded and genial souls on earth but he did have a thin skin when these people tried to put him and his interests into a proverbial "box." Several people who had tried to do so had seen his dark side and would not make that mistake again. It was rare that he lost his temper, though. He had too much else to do. Tomorrow he would head for the American desert and spend some time living among the Hopis. How could his life get any better?


Carlos Sanderson, the swimming pool czar, watched the cargo plane land with focussed anticipation. This job installing pools at a chain of the finest hotels in Greece was going to make him richer than he had ever dreamed. He had come up with some amazing designs and was looking forward not just to the money (which he loved) but to creating several of the most magnificent swimming pools ever seen. Life was good.


Words for next week's 10-word challenge are: salamander, lawyer, prank, flaccid, spurious, angst, flowers, once upon a time, genesis, spark

For the mini: largesse, salad dressing, flying purple people eater, priest, Spanish

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week!