Monthly Archives: January 2013

Small stones: The last stone

SchuykillExpresswayJanuaryIceFromRockBlack rock abrim with
Water that seeps to cold air,
Turning to white rock.

This photo was taken along the Schuylkill Expressway – the main road into Center City Philadelphia from the west. The Expressway is built in a notch hacked (or more likely blasted) out of the high, steep southern bank of the Schuykill River. Where the bedrock is exposed, water oozes out of the rock, and in winter it freezes into miniglaciers on the rock face.

Friday Fictioneers: Beach

This is probably the latest I’ve ever posted a Friday Fictioneers story without missing the week completely. Life has been hectic. Anyway, please let me know what you think.


Everybody says I need a vacation, so all right, I’ll take one. Make sure there’s nothing in the fridge that’ll spoil by the time I get back. Should I get a new swimsuit? Sandals? Sunscreen? Stop mail. Hope nothing goes sour at work – remember to bring cell. And charger. When do I have to get to the airport? Did I pack everything? Make sure I have printouts of my hotel reservation. Carryon, where’s my carryon?

Well, this is a nice walkway. Do I have my sunglasses?

Ah. Sand, sun, wave noises. I think I’ll lie right here for the next month.

Beautiful soup

I am not a soup lover. Pretty often, I’d rather go hungry. But there was something about the squash soup recipe – well, more nearly a concept than a recipe – Gilly Gee posted recently that caught my interest. And when today turned out raw and wet, and unexpectedly snowy in the morning, it seemed like a good time to try making soup.

SoupPeppersSquashSo I cut up some butternut squash

SoupCarrotOnionand some carrot and red onion

and poked holes in a few red peppers (because once in a while vegetables really DO explode in the oven. A baked potato blew up and spattered itself all over the inside of my stove years ago, and ever since I’ve been careful to stick a knife into potatoes or yams or peppers before they go into the oven.)

Just seeing the bright colors of all those goodies is enough to make you feel warm.

Then I roasted them all until they were nice and soft and slightly browned – Gilly says you don’t absolutely need to bother, but it does improve the taste. I peeled the squash and peppers and cooked them all together till they were nice and soft, and more or less pureed them in my little food processor – “more or less” because I prefer things to have a bit of texture…or to be kind of lumpy, as most people would probably say.

SoupA little more cooking to get the puree nice and hot again, and it was really very good for supper (even though I forgot the ginger; I’ll have to put some in the leftovers tomorrow). Thanks, Gilly!

100 Steps: Footprints

I haven’t been posting regular entries in the 100 Steps series, but this morning’s transformed world gave me a good chance for some new photos.

Last night, we had a just-right snow storm. Well, it wasn’t just right for all the people stuck crawling home on major highways at speeds that a horse could top. But this morning, ah, this morning.

We have enough snow to make the world magically different and beautiful. Enough snow to thrill the tiny children and give the big ones a chance to go sledding – and no school to interfere, since it’s Saturday. (The snow’s too dry for snowmen.) Too little snow to make it hard to walk or drive. Too fluffy snow to be hard to clear off walks – I used a broom. Just right.

And just right to leave a record of anything that wandered past since midnight –

(Click on any picture in the gallery to see larger images.)

Travel themes: Walls

Ailsa has some beautiful photos of walls this week, and she asks us to share our wall photos. So, here are mine:

(Click on any picture to see the gallery of photos full size.)

100 Word Challenge for Grownups: Escape

This week’s story prompt from Julia is “….the extreme weather meant…“, and she asks us to add a hundred words of our own to turn the prompt into a story.

There’s a crumb of reality behind my little fable – years ago, I came across a book about a small valley in New Guinea which, according to the writers, had a nearly perfect climate. Jack, and his story, are straight out of my imagination.

Please tell me what you think of it!


Nobody could fool Jack. To him, the extreme weather meant disaster looming. Time to escape to the world’s best climate – he just had to locate it. No traceable internet research; he read about his refuge in an old book, traveled to New Guinea, hired a driver.

Who loved to talk. “You wouldn’t believe how we’ve changed. My grandpa only ever thought about raising pigs. Now look around – roads, electricity, why, I’ve got my own web site.”

“What for?”

The driver grinned. “Help grandma market the pigs. Where were you going again?” Jack repeated the name of the perfect valley. The road wound higher past a hydroelectric dam. The car stopped. “Hope you can swim.” An expansive gesture toward the lake. “It’s down there, all flooded.”

Reverse 100 Things: Any progress?

Eleven days ago, I started the “Reverse 100 Thing Challenge”, or a modified version of it. (The “100 Thing” concept asks people to live with only one hundred possessions, subject to various exceptions. The original “Reverse 100 Thing Challenge” asked people to choose a hundred things to recycle; the – oh, call it the “Revised Reverse 100 Thing Challenge” calls for you to spend 100 days throwing things away, or recycling them, or giving them to charity.)

I got a bit derailed by getting sick around the same time, but I have been plugging away at removing something from my home (or someone else’s) daily through most of the past week and a half. Let’s see how things are going –

Reverse100ThingsMiscPaperMonday the 14th, I sorted through miscellaneous papers and recycled a small handful.


Reverse100ThingsPlasticGlassRecyclingTuesday the 15th, we recycled an assortment of plastic and glass containers (though I’m not sure if this should count, since it’s already routine).

Friday the 18th we visited my mother, and I recycled a foot-high pile of junk mail she had received (no photo, alas; there was enough of it to be slightly dramatic in a will-the-whole-thing-collapse-onto-the-floor  kind of way).

Reverse100Things3BooksSaturday the 19th, 3 books – one to donate, one to recycle because it’s falling apart the way old paperbacks do, one to recycle because it’s horrible. (And I think I’ll count one of the three for the 16th and one for the 17th; those two days I spent either coughing or reading.)

Reverse100ThingsMiscPaperAndCoughSyrupSunday the 20th, more paper to recycle. Including the box for a bottle of cough medicine, which I emptied in the course of a week.


Monday the 21st I threw out things that were overage in the refrigerator; be glad there aren’t any photos. You don’t want to know.

Tuesday the 22nd, more glass and plastic for recycling

Reverse100ThingsOneBookand today, Wednesday the 23rd, another book to donate – this one actually isn’t bad a paragraph or so at a time, but it’s fatally easy to put down and not pick up again. And it’s not like we’re short of things to read. Maybe someone else will enjoy it more.

I can’t claim that the house is suddenly spotless, but progress is happening. I even cleaned my dusty computer cables yesterday!



Small stone 6: Weather forecast

Snow showers, they told us yesterday. Expect an illusion, the look of something falling, something that vanishes as if it never was.

Midnight and snow

Midnight and snow

All evening and all night flecks of whiteness dropped through the air. They couldn’t resist us, our houses and yards and streets, our world. They wanted to stay. So they did.

Lavender in the Snow

Lavender in the Snow

The sun set last night on faded winter beige. It rose today on a different world, bleached to white, punctuated by black stones and gray-green lavender. Winter’s here.

100 Word Challenge for Grownups: Lessons

I haven’t participated in the 100 Word Challenge for a week or two. Time to get back on track! This week, Julia asks us to add 100 words to the prompt “…the notes from the piano…” to make a very small story. Hmmm. Where is that piano? Who’s playing it – and what kind of music are they playing? Here’s my answer – please let me know what you think!


The notes from the piano in the studio downstairs drifted through the floor. Sounds charming, right? Well, no. Scales, G to G, drifted through the floor. Over and over, up and down. And every time, the same wrong note. I burrowed into the pillows, coughed some more, and tried to sleep.

Finally the hour’s lesson was over. Blessed silence. No – footsteps stomping up the old stairs. A fist banging on my door. I pulled on a robe and staggered out to answer.

“Look, I’ve been hearing you cough all afternoon. Are you – no, I can see you’re not okay. Do you need help? What can I get you?”

Travel themes: Up

This time, Ailsa’s travel theme is “Up”. Here’s a picture I took in Old City Quebec,

StatueChamplainQuebeclooking way way up at a statue

StatueChamplainQuebecInscriptionof explorer Samuel de Champlain.