Writing 101 – Stream of Consciousness

(Added after the fact, so I can include a link: this is for Day 1 of WordPress’s new Writing 101 series.)

Okay, twenty minutes. I can do this. Well, I can do it if my left hand holds out.

Dumpster wrist, is what a friend of mine calls it. You develop it after too many days of lugging trash out of a house you’re clearing out and putting it in a dumpster or out at the curb for regular trash pickup. I’ve spent a LOT of this summer doing exactly that. And now my go-to hand is sore and undependable. Some mornings I can’t trust myself to pick up the coffee pot with it.

(The assignment for today is to write whatever goes through our minds for the next twenty minutes, and it occurs to me that this may sound like a pre-planned beginning. Really, it isn’t. It’s just that if you spend some of your time, as I do, thinking about how to tell stories, you get in the habit of filling in background information when you know you’re writing / thinking / talking for an audience.)

Of course, if you’re talking, you’d better have an audience. Even if it’s only the goldfish.

No, I don’t have a goldfish. But I suppose it’s acceptable to talk to one if you have it. I should ask my son if he talks to his accidental goldfish. Probably not, but who knows?

Anyhow, I hope I can get through this project without resorting to hunt and peck typing. That’s hard. Especially when you were forced through a year of learning to touch type back in high school. I don’t think anybody loved that class – maybe the aspiring secretaries – but it has been useful. Kind of like being tormented by the math teacher who insisted that we all practice adding up columns of numbers by blurting out what each new sum was without taking time to think about it. You make mistakes when you think about basic arithmetic. I suppose that’s why computers are so much better at it than humans.

Well, that certainly rambled a good distance from the original topic – not that there’s anything wrong with rambling stream of consciousness. I probably wouldn’t have remembered where I started if my little finger and ring finger weren’t getting so sore.

At least we’re finally making a visible dent in the mess in my mother’s house. With any luck, we’ll get the attic emptied this week, and also the sewing room and maybe the bedrooms – they’re mainly empty anyhow, except for stuff that came down from the attic a few weeks ago. After that, check the kitchen and dining room and living room, and drag a few things up from the basement. Then we should be ready to clean the whole place thoroughly, and after that talk to a possible buyer and an estate auctioneer. I really hope we don’t have to spend the winter travelling back and forth halfway across Pennsylvania to keep checking on it. We’ll see.

And after that project is finished, it will be time to clear out this house. I’ve spent way too much time listening to my parents’ horror of throwing out anything that could theoretically be put to use. Finding everything that somebody else could certainly have used if only it had been given away twenty years ago, thirty years ago, forty years ago, and that’s now junk, will definitely clear that notion out of your head.

It’s harder to get rid of your own useless treasures, though. But it needs to be done, so that I don’t wind up ninety years old and surrounded by stuff that I don’t even know where to start looking for. Better to have less and be able to find it. But which “less” to keep?

Well, start by locating and dumping things that I don’t need and don’t want and will be perfectly happy without. Then I can start triage on whatever else is left. Not fun fun fun. Hopefully my stupid hand will have recovered by that time. This is frustrating. It does seem to be better than it was last week; I need to remember to take a wrist brace to my mom’s this time so it doesn’t


Wordless Greek Wednesday


Flowers, and names

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s a picture of Queen Anne’s Lace and bluetop.

Or is it a picture of wild carrot (if you manage to break those tough, wiry flower stems, they do smell a bit like carrots) and wild aster? I grew up using the first pair of names, but I know some people prefer the others. Then there’s the question of how many other languages have their own names for these flowers…

The world is so full of a number of things, and even fuller of names. Luckily, the wildflowers don’t seem to care.

Friday Fictioneers – Ghost Stories

Friday Fictioneers again! It’s been an exhausting summer – I’ve missed writing these stories, and reading the stories by other Fictioneers.

campfireGhost Stories

“Out of marshmallows.” The kids protested. He couldn’t see faces around the campfire, but he knew the voices.

“We’ll get more tomorrow. Right now, let’s tell stories, then bed. I’ll start. One night, three kids were camping in the woods. It got dark, and their dad said ‘Time for bed!’ And they said ‘No!’ ‘No!’ ‘No!’ ‘No!’. Well, their dad could count right up to four. So he said -“

“Dad,” sighed Norah, “is this a ghost story? Because they’re dumb.”

“Yeah. Wanna go to bed now.”

“Me too. Because there’s no ghosts.”

Kids bedded down, he stared glumly into the flames. Got to stay awake till the fire’s out.

Thin – bony thin – fingers clutched his shoulder. A voice moaned, “It’s cold. So cold. Let me join you?”


Please let me know what you think!


Statues, and Gettysburg

We’ve visited the Gettysburg Battlefield several times in the past two years, and one thing that always amazes me is the sculpture. There are statues of soldiers and bas-reliefs and symbolic figures everywhere; it’s like traveling through a grimmer-than-usual sculpture garden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor some reason, I’m always startled by this statue of William Wells of the Vermont Cavalry (a soldier I had never heard of until I saw him here on Big Round Top) striding out of the woods. At the time of the battle, he was a twenty-six year old major; only two years later, he was a general. That probably tells us something about the horrifying death rate back then, but he must have been a capable officer as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt any rate, rest in peace, William Wells; you did your job and helped put your country back together.


Wordless Wednesday – September 3, 2014


Summer’s Over

Well, not according to the calendar. But what does it know? Ask the vendors at the Jersey shore. Ask the empty beaches up and down the east coast. Ask any child who’s sitting in a classroom today instead of – well, remembering how I used to feel by the end of August, instead of dragging around complaining that there was nothing to do.

Anyway, for practical purposes, we’re moving into fall now; in a few weeks, it’s going to be too chilly for summer clothes. (And the first thing I saw when I looked out a window this morning was a leaf spiraling to the ground.) So I thought I’d take a day to look back at the very middle of summer. July 15; right in the middle of the long green hot days. We were, very appropriately, on vacation then, out in Montana at Glacier Park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt definitely looked like summer.

Then we took a shuttle bus up – and up and up – to Logan Pass, the high point of the park. At that point, the road over Logan Pass had only been open for two weeks. (For all I know, it’s snowed closed for the winter by now. It certainly won’t be open more than another month.)

There were little wildflowers everywhere

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand ground squirrels

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand long stretches of scenery

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand tiny specks of creatures in the distance.

Oh. Hikers, on their way to a lake on the far side of that spur of mountain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot everyone had the least intention of heading back down to where it was warm and green, though. These mountain goats like it where they are.