Monthly Archives: October 2012

100 Word Challenge for Grownups – Pie of Newt

I should probably apologize for three posts in one day, but Julia at the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups has asked us to provide recipes fit for a witch, and I wanted to offer mine before Halloween comes to an end. Let me know what you think – is this truly horrifying?

Not intended for human or animal consumption under any circumstances.

Do not cook this at home, or elsewhere. 😉

Pie of Newt

3 newts
10 rotten apples
sugar and cinnamon to taste (bespell somebody else to do the tasting)

1/2 small package of quick-set concrete

Cut newts into bite-sized pieces. Slice apples; do not remove seeds and stems. Mix with sugar and cinnamon.

Line pan with thin layer of concrete. Pour filling into pan. Top with remaining concrete; cut a few steam holes in top crust before concrete hardens. Bake in a medium oven for about 45 minutes.

An excellent treat for testing whether your magic is powerful enough to compel obedience, since no one will eat this concoction voluntarily.

Sandy. It’s over, except for the cleanup.

Random thoughts about this week’s hurricane.

I gather there’s been serious destruction – mostly from flooding? – at the Jersey Shore. So sad for the people who have lost homes and belongings. And apparently the New York City subway system flooded, as predicted; a serious nuisance, but since they had the forethought to shut down ahead of time, not a catastrophe.

Sandy, in the end, came through a little bit south of us – but it was such a huge storm, I don’t think a few miles made much difference. (Atlantic City apparently took a direct hit; that’s where the storm made landfall.) Monday, here, was dramatic but not terrifying (indoors, at least). Steady rain, heavy sometimes; lashing trees; a constant roar of wind that sounded like you were standing next to a passing train.

Until the power failed Monday afternoon, we kept checking the news on local television. Governor Christie of New Jersey and Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia probably rarely agree on anything, so it was amusing to hear them use the same words: “Don’t be stupid!” in addressing people who were refusing to evacuate from areas that tend to flood.

Ah, power failures. God bless the folks from PSE&G (south Jersey) and PECO (Philadelphia) and the other power companies who have been out getting things back to normal. Our electricity went off and on and off and on and definitively off Monday afternoon. And then it was very dark and very cold, in spite of sweatshirts and flashlights, until sometime late last night or early this morning.

Right now, I can’t help noticing what a marvel it is to have bright light when you want it, where you want it, and to be comfortably warm, all the way to the tips of your toes. For thousands and thousands of years, no amount of wealth and power could buy those little everyday luxuries. There’s a lot to be said for technology.

Travel themes: Spooky

In honor of Hallowe’en, Ailsa is asking us to post “spooky” pictures this week. I think this one looks pretty sinister…

Doesn’t it look like…something…that quickly stopped dancing and disguised itself as a tree when I looked at it? OoooOOOOoooo….

Seriously, it’s in a fairly hostile environment, even though it’s not far at all from the city of Tucson. We were hiking along one of the trails in the Saguaro National Forest when we came across this non-saguaro; by that point, in spite of gulping freely from my big bottle of water, I was getting pretty dehydrated and overheated.

Another random book review

I’ve pretty much given up on the structured reading challenges, but that doesn’t mean I won’t post occasional book reviews. Lately I’ve been reading a story about a girl who moves to Alaska – well, close – and meets a charming, handsome, fascinating man…well, not exactly…a charming, handsome, fascinating vampire. Oh, you say you already know all about that book? Um, maybe not.

Review: The Goldcamp Vampire
by Elizabeth Scarborough

A keeper? Yes indeed

This story happens during the Yukon Gold Rush of 1897 and features the clash of wills between Count Vasily Vladovitch Bledinoff (groan) and novelist Pelagia Harper (also known as Pat Harper, Valentine Lovelace, and – during her short career as a dance hall girl – Corazon, the Belle of Barcelone). Oh, and we also meet an ambitious young fellow named Jack London.

Unlike some vampires, Vasily Vladovitch isn’t content to spend eternity in high school. He has great plans to turn the Yukon into a haven for his kind of people and home base for an eternally youthful theater troupe. And it’s even possible that Pelagia would have left him in peace to carry out his schemes if he hadn’t tried to recruit her, and if she didn’t have such high moral standards, and if she hadn’t been accused of murdering a hapless Mountie who became one of Vasily Vladovitch’s meals.

The plot rockets from one unexpected complication to another – Ghosts! Swindled gold miners! Arctic winter! Rivalries among the cancan dancers! Food shortages! Disintegrating dresses! Mysteriously happy corpses! – finally wrapping up with Vasily Vladovitch’s dance hall burning to the ground. But the story ends well for everyone except a couple of genuinely villanous characters who meet the fates they deserve. Pelagia is cleared of murder and united with her true love. Her not-exactly-stepmother Sasha Devine pairs off with yet another adoring gentleman. The whole town rallies round to raise money for Vasily Vladovitch to start over elsewhere. Is it believable? Of course not. Is it fun? Oh, yes.

Besides, how can you dislike a story that features a helpful weremoose?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

WordPress is asking for photos illustrating “foreign” for this Weekly Photo Challenge. Here’s mine – to me, it seems as if it might be “foreign” in two ways:

Stop signal in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The word in Cyrillic characters transliterates as – guess what? – “STOP”.

As far as I can find out, Russian really does use “stop” as a command – there are several much longer, and more “Russian sounding”, words for the more relaxed meanings of stop. I have to wonder if they borrowed the word directly from English?

100 Word Challenge for Grownups: Reunion

I’m playing punctuation games this time. Julia gave us a four-word phrase to prompt our 100-word stories this week –

… and winter will bring …

– so I split it between two sentences. (Smiles innocently) That’s all right, isn’t it?


When we were in our twenties, Cindy was my best friend ever. She always had ideas on what to do for fun. But you know how it is, I grew up, got married, moved, raised kids, lost track of her. I hadn’t heard from her in twenty years or more; the last time we talked, she had just thrown her third husband out. Or maybe he threw her out. I wasn’t sure.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got a Facebook message from her.

“I’ll be in your town all fall and winter! Will bring sleeping bag’n’wine. You provide house. Party on!”

And this is an experiment.

Right now, the weather forecasts are threatening The End Of The World As We Know It, or at least the biggest baddest storm ever – “Frankenstorm” seems to be the favored name. (Our weather forecasters love drama.)

Some say it’s going to make landfall in Delaware and proceed up the Delaware Bay; some say it’s going to hit near Atlantic City and grind westward across New Jersey; a few are holding out for a direct hit on New York City; I don’t think I’ve heard any predictions today that were still threatening Boston.

Anyway, the consensus around here (but see drama, above) seems to be that the hurricane of the week will either follow the Delaware River or head overland through New Jersey – either way, they tell us it’s going to make a direct hit on Philadelphia. Philly’s only a few miles away. We’re being told to expect to be without electricity for at least a couple of days early next week.

So, just in case, I’m going to see if I can figure out how to create a post and have it publish on a designated day, later than when I click the “Publish” button. Right now it’s late evening on Friday the 26th. I’m going to tell this one to wait until Saturday to become generally available. And we’ll see if it works.

(Aha! Now that I set the “Publish” options to “Schedule for 10-Oct 27, 2012”, that familiar button caption has changed from “Publish” to Schedule”. I think I’ve got it. But we’ll see. Okay….clicking “Schedule” now………)

Note: And this is a successful experiment. I set this to post at 8:57 Saturday morning. It’s now 8:59. I just finished answering a comment on the previous post; when I scrolled up to the top to check, there it was – the nice new link pointing to this entry.

Friday Fictioneers: At the Diner

Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is starting us Friday Fictioneers off with a quiet photo looking at trees through the window of a restaurant (got to be a restaurant, nobody else has those glass jars to pour sugar out of), an ordinary moment of today’s world to inspire our next 100-word snippets of fiction.

But what about someone who doesn’t quite fit into today’s world? I started wondering what a modern dryad could do –

At the Diner

“The cheeseburger special. Only no fries. I want a baked potato. And no cheese.”

“Pickle okay?” Phoebe’s feet hurt. Her hair’s slipping, a green lock drooping over her left eye.

“Hey, green girl! You gonna bring that coffee?”

“Right away, hon!”

Snatch up the coffee pot, fill cups for the truckers at Table 3. Dodge a pat on the rear. Plates for Table 6.

“Don’t know why you color your hair green,” Dani mutters.

“They remember me. Better tips.”

“More gropes. I’m gonna get out of this excuse for a town soon.”

“My roots are here.” She glances out at the trees, smiling.

* * *

Please tell me what you think of this story!

Thursday’s Windows – Venice with arches

Another contribution to Sandra Conner’s Thursday’s Windows

I love these elaborate windows with ogee arches in Venice. (The girl at the right is crossing one of the many arched bridges – every ten feet, it feels like – that take you over the canals. In the lower left corner, you can see steps at the beginning of the next bridge.)

Headaches, Part 4

The continuing short story of a World War I nurse, in 100 word installments…to make this a bit easier to read, I’m going to include the first three parts –


Parts 1-3

I woke with another headache. The guns were still thudding. My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. Have to find water today. See if the legs will work. If you’re lucky you can dodge shrapnel. Time to go.

* * *

There used to be a little stream, down the hill. I tighten the splint on my dragging foot. Deep breath. Skirts will hinder me, but female clothes might make snipers pause. The big guns? Soldier or nurse, they won’t care, any more than an earthquake would.

Crawling under fallen beams, out of what was a hospital once. Day before yesterday. Nothing looks the same. Artillery echoes through my bones. Hobbling forward dizzily, creeping up piles of rubble and sliding down the far side. Once I fainted. I woke with another headache. Water gurgles ahead. What germs, what poisons does it carry? I smile wryly – I’m going to drink anyway.

* * *

“Miss! Miss!”

What now? I was so close to the stream! “Miss!” He’s scrambling down the hillside, dirtying his nice clean uniform. “Isn’t there a hospital around here?”

I laugh and laugh. “Up there!” I point at the rubble.

It takes a minute for him to understand. “But – I’ve got all these wounded men.”

He’s a bit shocky, I decide. But he does have a canteen of water. Oh, it tastes good! “Thank you,” I say, briskly, nurse-like again. “There must be some places in the world that haven’t been blown up. You’ll have to go there.”

* * *

Part 4

“I’m not leaving you here,” he says. “You come with me – I’ll give you a ride in the ambulance.”

I thank him and walk briskly up the hill. Or I intend to. Somehow I’m sitting flat on the ground with the driver bending over me. “I think I’d better carry you,” he says apologetically, scooping me up.

By this time I should be used to the way the pounding guns make the whole world vibrate. My head swims; my mind floats like a leaf in water. I should go on duty – where’s the hospital?

Maybe I’m the one who’s shocky.