Monthly Archives: April 2013

Silly Decoratoring?

I really don’t think about interior decoration very often. (I’m more likely to be thinking about things like “Where can I put these books?” or “I know I had another skein of blue yarn!”) But after writing last Saturday’s Friday Fictioneers story, I found myself pondering what sorts of decoratory things I actually do – and I realized that all the stuff I like best in this house (well, other than people and books) shares a certain eccentricity.

Silly Dining Room ForestThere’s the forest in my dining room – its date may be late September, or maybe early October, but those yellow leaves haven’t fallen for many years, and it’s never rainy or windy.

Several years back, one piece of my job involved building new PCs out of components. That meant that day after day, I wound up with a pocket full of twisties – part of the discarded packaging. So I used some of them to make a menagerie. Some of my critters are tripods, or have perky tails and big horns. Others have five legs and a trunk. I’m fond of them all.

Silly Couch FishAnd then there’s the couch fish, swimming unconcerned through the air in my living room. I hadn’t planned to buy a pillow the day I met him, but it was love at first sight, and home he came.

What are your favorite things like?

Friday Fictioneers: Decorating

Late again, but here’s my hundred words of Friday Fictioneering for this week –

claire-fullerDecorating

I don’t much care about interior decorating. I try to be polite, though. The other day my friend Kath showed me her place. New kitchen, what great cabinets, living room, LOVE the rug.

“But now I’ll show you the best part,” Kath announced. “I thought I’d never figure out what to do with this little corner.”

Books. Oh, the books. “It’s wonderful,” I said, and I meant it.

“Isn’t it cute wallpaper?” Kath said. I stumbled across the tiny room, reaching. Flat. Only pictures of books. “I can tell you where to get it.”

I shook my head. “I’d just have to build shelves in front of it.”

Reverse 100 Things – How did it turn out?

I’ve thrown out a lot of very ordinary stuff – reams and reams and REAMS of paper, to start with – in the last month, but there have been some oddities, too. (How many decades has it been since Bandaids came in metal boxes??)

Anyway, we’ve come to the end of the Reverse 100 Thing Challenge. (Actually, a few days past the end.) How did it turn out?

Very well – though mostly as a jump start for later developments. The basic idea was to throw out one thing a day for a hundred days. Not a bad idea, but if your home is already pretty tidy, you’re probably doing that much and more anyhow. If, like me, you have the usual stack of junk mail coming in day after day, throwing out just one item a day would leave your place even more cluttered than it was when you started. It certainly wouldn’t make a seriously messy house look much better than before.

But I didn’t confine myself to only one item a day even at the start, so I was making halting progress. Then, about a month ago, we found out just how bad a house can get when you’re overcome by age and illness. Those problems will catch up with all of us one day, but I’ve become strongly motivated to minimize our clutter while I can. I never expected to say this, but I’ve become a cleaning fanatic.

So where am I now? Half of my house – the “public” part – is as cleared out as I want it to be, ready for anybody to walk in at any time.  It’s proving pretty simple to keep it that way too – look it over every day or so and put things away or throw them out, and actually clean about once a week. (I know, I know – this is kindergarten stuff, but I never went to kindergarten.)

Piles of books as high as my head, on their way to book sales

Piles of books as high as my head, on their way to book sales

And I didn’t even clean up that first half by shoving things in the other rooms to get them out of sight. The rest of the house is still messy, but not as messy as it was before, and getting steadily emptier. Some categories of Stuff, like books and yarn, will take a while to clear out, but even there, I’ve at least learned not to go out and buy more for now.

Do I recognize this new person, Sharon the Cleaning Fool? I can’t say that I do, but I think I can put up with her!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

I suppose you could interpret this week’s photo challenge two ways (well,  more than two, if you’ve seen Rarasaur’s version) – you could show pictures taken from a place that’s high up looking out or down, or then again you could show what it’s like to look up at something that looms over you.

I may have mentioned a time or two that I’m a Short Person. I tend to think in terms of looking way way up at things, the point of view I have most experience with. So here we are –

PaleSeattleSpaceNeedleLooking up from the base of the Space Needle in Seattle

Friday Fictioneers: Wasps

Friday’s come and gone, but at last I came up with a story to tell about this week’s Fictioneers photo. What are – well, who are – the Friday Fictioneers? We’re a tightly disorganized gaggle of bloggers who share stories we write based (more or less) on the pictures that our Fearless Fictioneering Leader Rochelle Wisoff-Fields shares with us. Want to join? Just look at the photo Rochelle posts Wednesday morning, come up with a hundred word story related to it, post your story, and add a link to Rochelle’s collection so we can find it. And take a look at the strange tales the rest of us come up with! Here’s mine – please let me know what you think!

wasp-nestWasps

My cousin Joe could do anything, except make us little kids stop tagging after him. He had a tube he called his wasp chaser, carried it everywhere. So when I found this nest, I wasn’t scared.

The wasps went for me anyhow. It hurt so bad. Then Joe was there, chasing them off, getting stung himself. He started gasping and fumbled the wasp chaser out of his pocket. “Stick it in my leg,” he choked. How many chances do you get to stick a pin in a big kid? So I did it. And later everybody said I saved his life.

Maybe now he won’t mind me tagging along.

* * *

Oh yes! And this is my five hundredth post. Wow. Just a second while I pat myself on the back. 😀

Weekly photo challenge: Change

Sometimes change is hard to see, and even harder to illustrate. But I finally remembered this photo –

ChangeAug04Pompeii3aThis Pompeiian gentleman is much too responsible and serious to acknowledge the apparition staring at him from the distant future. When everyone knows that Roman culture is perfection, why waste attention on these barbarians? It’s not as if anything in a prosperous little town like his could ever change.

Hooray for the Taxman

NotExactlyWritingYet

Not really writing yet – but somebody was counting sheep and cows

Today is April 15 – and here in the U.S., that means we all have to get our income tax filed by midnight. Yes, it’s tax day – a day all us bloggers and writers should celebrate.

I can hear you now, all of you. Has she lost her mind?

No, or not any more than usual. If there’s one thing everyone who enjoys writing or reading (at least, everyone who speaks any of the various European languages or Hebrew or Arabic) depends on, it’s the alphabet. But where did the alphabet come from?

It seems that several thousand years ago, people in what’s now Iraq started building cities along the rivers. (Well, to them they were cities – clusters of buildings where so many people lived that you were likely to see strangers almost every day.) They needed to work together to irrigate their crops, and somehow they had to feed the people who organized the irrigation system – so they invented taxes.

They hadn’t invented money yet, though, so you had to pay taxes in farm produce. You might owe five sheep every year, and your neighbor might be taxed twenty bushels of barley. Of course, right away people started arguing over whether the taxes had really been paid or not, so some clever collector came up with little clay tokens shaped like sheep (or whatever). When you brought your five sheep in, the tax collector set aside five sheep tokens to show that you had paid.

Only, how could you tell which tokens applied to which person? Pretty soon somebody figured out that you could wrap your five tokens in a clay “envelope” to keep them separate from everybody else’s. And soon after that, collectors started making marks on the outside of the “envelope” to show how many tokens were inside, and what kind. Then they realized they didn’t need the separate tokens – it would be easier to just make marks on a piece of clay that stood for the tokens. By now we’re halfway to inventing writing.

It only took another century or so of people inventing ways to add more information to these lists of tax payments – for example, maybe an explanation of why somebody had only paid part of what they owed – before they started using this wonderful new technique to write down important information like what towns the local king had just conquered. And after that, well, the rest was history.

At first the symbols on the clay were pictures, quick ways to represent whatever they stood for. But as time went on and people got busier and busier, they made the pictures simpler and simpler – and after centuries, they just stood for sounds. They had become letters, like the ones this post is written with. And it all started because of people who didn’t especially want to pay their taxes if they could avoid it, and tax collectors who needed a way to keep track of who really had paid.

Thank you, all you ancient taxmen. 😉

Friday Fictioneers: Invictus

Once more, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields has challenged us to produce a hundred-word story to dramatize the photo of the week – and this time, I have failed. Oh, I have a story to share with you, but it’s really hard to tell a quasi-Victorian little story and keep it down to a mere 100 words – at least, I couldn’t. Here you are, a tale of ambition and modern technology and, of course, true love –

sandra-crookInvictus

On a damp, chilly spring morning in the year 20–, a young gentleman set forth to participate in the Velocity Competition held in the town of C——-. His heart swelled with confidence, and indeed his current machine could scarcely be improved. The frame was of the finest cast iron, and two elegantly curved and conveniently positioned steering handles mounted before the operator’s seat served to guide it.

Once he won the race, the prize would fit him to request the hand of lovely Tiffany Maud. Settling himself astride the device, he placed his feet on the propulsionary pedals and thrust against them. And thrust again, and again. But alas, a week of rains had caused the vehicle’s iron frame to rust into an immovable, though sculptural, solid mass.

NaPoWriMo: Unlove poem

For a change, I’m going to tackle today’s NaPoWriMo prompt – not yesterday’s or next week’s. Today, the call is for “un-love” poetry – not “a poem of hate, exactly…more like a poem of sarcastic dislike.”

Yeah. I can do that.

Helpfulness

You know me oh so well –
you’ve said so many times,
explaining me to me.
How grateful I should be!
I clearly need your help
because I never seem
to recognize the person
you’re acquainted with.

Look At My Babies Grow!

So far so good…

SeedlingsJustSproutingThe peppers are just sprouting, at last.

SeedlingsFirstPairOfLeavesMost of the tomatoes are already growing their first pair of true leaves. (The “leaves” that you see when they begin to grow are really part of the seed.)