Monthly Archives: May 2012

Can’t get a grip on this photo challenge

All right, I give up. This time the Weekly Photo Challenge topic is “Hands”, and I just don’t have anything usable. I don’t often photograph people except for occasions like family get-togethers – but even my photos of statues and the like seem to focus on the whole figure, or maybe the face, and if I crop to show just the hands, the picture ends up much too small.

So I’ll just post a couple of photos that have Absolutely Nothing At All to do with hands.

What is so rare as a day in…May…- then, if ever, come perfect days. And that’s what our weather was like today. Of course, I can’t post the slight breeze, the pleasant temperature, and the faint aroma of cut grass.

Some of my annual flowers come back a second year, sometimes very successfully. This snapdragon is waist-high on me. (Admittedly, my waist is closer to the ground than most people’s!)

Unintended PSA, or How to Change Your Dinner Plans Fast

Do you own any oven-safe glass dishes?

You might want to think twice about putting them in the oven.

A few hours ago, dinner was cooking away when I heard an odd popping noise from the direction of the stove. And this is what I found –

I’ve used this same pie plate the same way any number of times. Obviously, I won’t use it again. And I’m wondering what to do with my other glass pie plates and baking pans – and what to replace them with.

Friday Fictioneers – Finding the Gold

This week’s Friday Fictioneers! (The idea of Friday Fictioneers is to write a story about 100 words long based on the photo below. Try it!)

Finding the Gold

Me and Jack, we were just kids when we heard about gold at the end of the rainbow.

Well, one day there was this big storm. And after, there was the rainbow, big and beautiful like somebody painted it on the sky. We ran as hard as we could, and there it was. Pot of gold. And this guy next to it, digging in the ground. Jack ran ahead of me and grabbed onto it.

The guy stood up like he was unfolding. And he took hold of Jack.

And God forgive me, I turned tail and ran. All these years, and I can still hear Jack’s screams.

Third Sentence Thursday goes to the dogs

The Hound of the Baskervilles
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

p. 53 – “We talked little, and I for one was glad when the meal was over and we were able to retire into the modern billiard room and smoke a cigarette.”

Forgive Dr. Watson for the cigarettes. It’s sometime in the 1890s, and even a modern medical man like him doesn’t yet understand that smoking is bad for you. Besides, he’s under a lot of stress.

This time, “we” doesn’t mean Watson and Sherlock Holmes, or Watson and one of his wives. No, it’s Watson and Sir Henry Baskerville, who used to be a farmer in western Canada until, not long ago, he inherited his uncle’s wealth and the family mansion. Maybe the family curse, too.

Sherlock Holmes is tied up with an important case, so Holmes sent Watson with strict instructions to keep a careful eye on Sir Henry all the time, and to send Holmes regular detailed reports. Sir Henry and the doctor have just arrived at Baskerville Hall; already the threatening mood of the place is taking hold.

The Baskerville legend says that the family is pursued by a huge mysterious, murderous dog – and has been for two hundred years. Sir Henry’s uncle seems to have been running in terror from…something…until he collapsed and died of a heart attack. And nearby, investigators found the footprints of a gigantic hound.

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What’s Third Sentence Thursday? The idea is to open your current book to a random page and post the third complete sentence on the page, with a short explanation.

Who WILL guard the guards? (Terry Pratchett challenge)

Review: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

A keeper? Oh my yes

In a fantasy story, there are certain things you can depend on. If there’s a city, it will have a Town Watch. And if there’s a Town Watch, the guards who work for it will all be incompetent. It’s more than just a convention; it’s a trope.

And Terry Pratchett never met a trope he didn’t turn upside down and shake vigorously to see what falls out, and whether the things that fall out bounce, squirm away, or sizzle quietly while melting a hole in the floor.

Guards! Guards! is one of his many romps through the great and appalling city of Ankh-Morpork – one of his early books, while he was inventing the various sub-series that make up the Discworld stories. (For those who haven’t read Pratchett – and oh what a treat you have waiting for you – most of his books are set on the Discworld. This is a flat world (as in non-spherical; it has plenty of mountains) which rests on the backs of four elephants who all stand on the back of a giant turtle that swims slowly through space. All around the Disc, the encircling ocean pours over the edge in the universe’s biggest waterfall.)

In a place like that, it’s only reasonable for magic to work. But even the Discworld isn’t magical enough to make a Noble Dragon – or, as Captain Vimes of the Night Watch puts it, “a bloody flying alligator setting fire to my city!” – plausible. Unfortunately, the dragon doesn’t care if it’s unbelievable. It just wants power and gold and lots and lots of destruction. Before long, the Patrician – the absolute ruler of Ankh-Morpork – is locked away in the dungeons he designed himself (from inside, he can hold off the world). Worse, the city has a new king, the first one in centuries, as big as a barn equipped with wings, and scales, and fire ducts somewhere way back in its nostrils. Even worse, the Librarian from Unseen University – the college of wizards – is on a rampage because somebody stole a book and because people keep calling him a monkey. Which he isn’t – he’s a full grown orangutan, thankyouverymuch.

And there’s nobody to save the city except the Night Watchmen: Captain Vimes, who has spent years emptying liquor bottles (though once the dragon turns up, he stops drinking; he doesn’t have time). Sergeant Colon, a very big man very dedicated to keeping his life peaceful, no matter how hard it is to keep from noticing crimes. Corporal Nobby Nobbs – it’s not quite clear that Nobby qualifies as human, but no other species would take him. And the newest recruit, supernaturally naive Lance-constable Carrot the six-foot-tall dwarf. (Well, dwarf by adoption.) Even with the help of Lady Sybil Rankin, probably the richest woman in the city and utterly devoted to raising little swamp dragons until they explode, will the Watch be up to the job?

Of course it will, with a little help from cunning cynicism, fanatical honesty, and True Love.

100 Word Challenge for Grownups – Week 42

I found – guess what – another 100 word writing game (from Julia’s Place)! This time, instead of working from a picture, we’re asked to start with a group of words – this week they’re LIBERTY, APPLE, YELLOW, ENORMOUS AND EMPIRE.


New York. They say it’s the Big Apple, home of enormous Lady Liberty. Well, okay, it’s not the capital of the Empire State even though everybody thinks it is. But who cares? I’m gonna make it there if I make it anywhere. Ain’t no stopping me now. I’m on my way, I’m making it. Opening night, no time for caution.

So why is every traffic light I see yellow tonight?

Opening night. Closing night?

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And another Thank You to Lucid Gypsy Gilly Gee for leading me to this challenge!

Weekly photo challenge – Blue

Okay, it was a delayed Weekly Photo Challenge, and this week’s official theme is “Blue”.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything bluer than the water off Capri. This was taken looking way, way down from the top of the cliff.

Sort of Weekly Photo – Reflections

There hasn’t been a Weekly Photo Challenge this week – so I’m joining the Reflections challenge from Ailsa at WheresMyBackpack, with thanks to MargeKatherine at Inside Out Cafe for publicizing it.

This isn’t an especially dramatic or original photo, but I think it’s pretty:

I took it at a botanical garden in Copenhagen in summer 2006.

Friday Fictioneers – Lunacy

My first try at Friday Fictioneers (with thanks to Gilly Gee at Lucid Gypsy, whose post told me about it). The basic idea is to write more or less 100 words, based on the photo below.


She peers up at a moon encircled by distant trees.

Be careful of sinkholes, her teachers said. Water flows through limestone, dissolves it, washes it away. Slowly, but water has all the time it needs. Finally the fragile stone bubble crumbles, collapses. The underground world is left open to the pitiless sky.

She’s lucky, the troll girl thinks. By day, she’d have found this hole full of poisonous sunlight and left only her body turned to a boulder to shield her friends. She squirms back into friendly darkness; better set warnings so no one else stumbles into the polluted area.

A twofer for Third Sentence Thursday

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

p. 113: “It’d burn its own lips off!”

Captain Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork Night Watch is a sensible man (even if he does tend to dive headfirst into the nearest bottle of liquor). He doesn’t believe in big threatening dragons, because they just wouldn’t work. So when he sees one with his own eyes, breathing a huge blast of fire in classic dragon style, his instinctive reaction is “it can’t do something like that! It’d burn its own lips off!”

Then Vimes realizes that whether the dragon is possible or not, it’s a threat to his city. And he gets mad.

You wouldn’t like Sam Vimes when he’s mad, but you’d enjoy reading about him.

A Forest of Kings by Linda Schele and David Freidel

p. 282: “Lady Eveningstar moved to take the position on Shield-Jaguar’s left, but before she could mount the bench, Lady Xoc entered and usurped that position for herself.”

Or, power politics among the ancient Maya, about 1300 years ago. (Think Game of Thrones with tropical climate, amazing ornate art, and religious bloodletting.)

A Forest of Kings tries, fairly successfully, to be several kinds of books at once: archaelogical study, art history, and history-history, with little scenes from time to time of how things could have happened (and, from the information we have now that Maya writing can be read again, how they probably did happen).

The sentence above comes from one of those vignettes – in other words, it’s historical fiction, almost; but very close to fact. We know definitely that Lady Eveningstar (a low-ranking wife of the previous king) was Shield-Jaguar’s mother. But Lady Xoc, his father’s main wife, tried hard to stop him from inheriting the throne – much like a classic fairy-tale evil stepmother. Only real.