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“What do you see out your window?”

I see a boring view of a suburban street canting downhill at an angle. There’s a dead lodgepole pine in the center of the view, with an empty bird feeder hanging from a limb and three empty suet feeders hanging from nails in the trunk. I didn’t put the nails there: they came with the tree, which came with the house. The tree wasn’t dead when it came with the house, but died in increments of some mysterious fungal disease or bug infestation. There’s a large hydrangea planted under the tree, I planced it there so the roots would be in acidic soil and the flowers on the hydrangea would be a deep teal blue-green.

Beyond the tree, beyond the short retaining wall, there is the street and mailboxes. In mid-summer, just in front of the retaining wall, the bright orange day lilies bloom for weeks. In the winter, the street looks like a creek as water from the rains wash down it and swirl out onto the cross street and down.

Suburban ranch style homes built in the 1950’s line the south side of the street, with their little rectangle front lawns and requisite azalea and rhododendron bushes. A row of Douglas fir trees line the north side, their branches trimmed up so that I can see the traffic coming and going. These are not my trees, but belong to the neighbor in the green house directly opposite us. A bright orange fire hydrant marks the sharp corner to our street, and the corner of the neighbor’s yard.

I have hummingbird feeders hanging from the eave of the small porch roof. I can watch the Anna’s hummingbird all year, and the rufous-sided hummingbird in the summer. Red breasted nuthatches and black-capped chickadees drink from the ant moat (an inverted bowl of water hanging above the hummer feeders, designed to keep sugar ants out of the feeders). Chestnut-sided chickadees, bushtits, and white-breasted nuthatches utilize the dead lodgepole. I bird watch through this window.

It’s a boring view, an ordinary view, a view that is most often wet and dreary throughout the long rainy season. It is a perfect view of changing seasons, migrating birds, and the various nattering squirrels who come to depend on the bird feeder being filled all through the winter. It is my view.

 

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The Hammer

You’ve heard the song, “If I had a hammer/I’d hammer in the morning.” Well, it’s about social justice, not an actual hammer. And it would be pretty obnoxious to go around hammering in the morning, noon time, and evening, although some contractors seem hell bent on doing so. Someone would probably want to hammer your head in, if you did that: hammered all the time.

I didn’t own a hammer when I first moved out on my own. I had platform heels. Yes, those infernal torture devices that pinch your toes, raise your heels and throw your back out, and – eventually – cause bad posture, bad backs, bunions, and (ironically) hammer toes. I could even walk in my platforms, which is more that some women can say.

I owned several pairs of pumps and platforms, and there was never a real need to go out and buy a hammer: I’d just grab the toe of a handy shoe, and aim the heel at the nail. Worked pretty darn well, for all the hammering I needed to get done in those days: a 12-penny nail to hang a painting on a wall without a stud. No damage to the shoe. Heck, I even used a butter knife for a flat-head screw driver and I avoided Phillips screws like the plague.

Times change, and so do feet and trendy styles. Flats are in. Those cute shoes I wore throughout the first 35 years of my life took a toll on my feet: I developed bunions. I tossed the last of the platforms and pumps, kept a couple pairs of wedges (which aren’t nearly as good as hammers), and gave in to wearing flats and boots. I fought for, and won, a toolkit complete with a hammer and screwdrivers, at a Christmas gift exchange.

The benefit of the hammer is really the fact that it has a claw. Misplace a nail or hammer it in crooked and need to retry? Use the claw to pull it back out. Heels double as shoes to wear with that little black dress (if you can fit into one; I can’t), but hammers double as nail removers. Both heels and hammers work as self-protection, aimed at the right part of someone’s head, although hammers do have the advantage of being heavier on the peen end.

I doubt I will ever hammer out justice with my hammer (or even a nice pair of stilettos). But I can hammer in nails, hang up photos of grandchildren, pull out nails poorly placed, and I don’t exacerbate my bunions in the process. That’s what I call a win-win.

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(stock photo)

 

 

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I was introduced to Paul by a coworker with a warped sense of humor. She recommended Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, as well. I caved and convinced my husband we needed to see at least one of those movies, and since Paul was available on Netflix – it was the movie of the night. And it had us within the first five minutes of the movie, somewhere on US 95 traveling south to Las Vegas in my home state of Nevada, passing right by Area 51. Graeme and Clive (Simon Pegg & Nick Frost) are on their way to a ComicCon, where they hope to promote their book to a renowned sci-fi author. It’s the road trip of a life time for two blokes from Great Britain.

Then – they witness a horrific car accident, a roll over in the middle of the night, in the middle of the desert. Rushing to the aid of the driver of the wrecked vehicle, they encounter… Paul.

Cigarette-smoking and foul-mouthed Paul asks for help, commandeers the ComicCon trip, and sidelines every bit of “proper” the two Brits have thought to bring along with them. This is not only a spoof on ComicCons, but takes a nod to everything from the purported Alien from Taos, New Mexico to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Men in Black. No subject around alien abduction rumors is spared.

Paul offends everyone. Paul is endearing to everyone. Paul is short, green, and has a very large head with very large eyes. Paul does not fit in. And Paul just wants to go home, like ET (another nod to a Spielberg film). Oh – and Paul calls Stephen Spielberg during the movie to collaborate on the movie: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

Come to think of it, you have to watch all of those movies to understand much of what is happening in the movie, Paul. I recommend you start with Close Encounters.

kinogallery.com_paul_poster_1

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Cora walked through the ashes of her home. Nothing was left, nothing. Melted glasses, tattered shreds of curtains, a still-smoldering sofa pulled out into the dirt road. The appliances were blackened hulks of themselves. She felt something hard against her toe, and heard a metallic clink of metal against glass; there, at  her foot, gleaming dully in the hazy light, were her orange sewing scissors splayed open. She stared at them: the thumb handle was twisted and concave, black against the bright orange handle.

Gingerly, she picked them up out of the soot, running her thumb over the rough, pocked surface of the melted plastic, feeling how cool they were in her hand now. How odd that they had survived! She took her thumb and felt the edge, gasped at the sharpness of it. These scissors, always comfortable in her hands, now disfigured, but still sharp…

She snipped them shut: snip-click, a little grating noise as the sooty sides came together, snip-click, the sound they made when cutting fabric. Cora turned them over in her hand, and thought how the thumb hole now resembled a tear-drop: were the scissors as sad as she was? She lifted them to her nose and breathed in the smell of fire, melted plastic, tasted the smoke that still lingered on them. Burnt, salvaged, something of hers from the fire.

Describe an ordinary household object using: 5 visual descriptions, 4 tactile descriptions, 3 audial descriptions, 2 olfactory, and one about how it might taste.004

*Postscript – while I own the scissors pictured and they were found in the aftermath of a house fire, I made the story up.

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This *is* a challenge: “Write five or six different emotions on little slips of paper and put them in a bowl. Draw one at random. Write a review of a recent movie or TV show you’ve seen using only the one emotion you drew.”

Can I redraw?

JOY

I have had Arthur and the Invisibles on my Netflix queue for quite some time now. My husband slides right over it on those nights when I get to choose the movie we watch. Last night, I had the television to myself, so I poured a glass of wine and turned on the movie of my choice. It was everything it promised to be.

I wasn’t prepared for the animation or for Arthur to shrink (I thought he stayed a regular boy and found the Invisibles living in the grass, or something along that line). I certainly wasn’t prepared for the large Masai-styled warriors, complete with shields and primitive costumes (but who spoke perfect American-English). In fact, the movie has quite a few surprises in it!

The tale is wrapped around a classic plot of evil-developer-out-to-steal-poor-woman’s-country-acreage-to-put-up-a-mall, and you know from the very beginning that the story is going to have a classic happy ending, but how the tale gets from A to B is where the meat of the tale is: and it is an amusing, happy tale where Good triumphs over Bad, and you even half-way like the Bad guy (The Evil M).

The story is dorky, quirky, funny, and perfect for a Home Alone movie for a 60 year old woman who doesn’t want to think. It made me smile.

Best of all is the joy it will bring me when I make my husband watch it. He will have to watch it. David Bowie is the voice of The Evil M, and the character even looks a tad bit like the late rock star – one of my husband’s favorite musicians.

~The End~

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It is late in life and I am feeling a desperate need to speed up my writing and artistic process (e.g., I really need to get a novel published and start selling art seriously). This means, I have been hopping around the Internet, picking up all the free advice I can get, looking into Webinars (I hate webinars), forums, and downloading great advice that I will (maybe, possibly) use. I even have my first ever coaching session scheduled for tomorrow morning (I wouldn’t even dream of doing this except that I know the life coach personally, and she has been an encouragement in my life for a couple of years now, and she made it into a challenge).

Yesterday, I joined a writer’s group and downloaded a 31-day writing challenge, the first of which is a challenge to write about my favorite childhood book and the emotions it evoked.

Um. Yeah. That’s a hard one. There’s a little pink book my mom used to read me, called “Big Little Kitty”. Original, huh? But I can hear my mother’s voice as she sing-songs through the story:

Karen Kay is four and a little bit more. How old are you?001

Muffin comes into Karen Kay’s life when she is four (and a little bit more) on Christmas Day.

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They have wonderful adventures until one morning in the spring when Muffin ran away.

It was time to see the world.

While Muffin is out gallivanting, Karen Kay is at home, pining away. Muffin goes to the city, and Karen Kay plays – sadly – with her little-girl doll and the teddy bear Squeaky Ben.

One night, when the stars were very bright and snow had turned the garden white…

Karen Kay gets a wonderful surprise, the sort of surprise my father would never have allowed me to keep, let alone see:

Six pink ears like Muffin’s ears, six blue eyes like Muffin’s eyes, a wonderful, furry kitten-surprise!

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And Muffin? Well, Muffin was leading the way and meowing proudly as if to say, “Look at us, look at us – we’re home, Karen Kay!

What do I have to say about this book? I probably fell in love with cats because of this book: I imagined myself as Karen Kay, the spurned cat owner. I would beg my mother to read it and bask in the words. “Look at me, Look at me!” Oh – how a kitten in a stocking at Christmas would be almost as good as a horse hiding in the garage!

We lost the original book, of course. I picked up the copy I presently own at a library discard sale or a yard sale. It didn’t matter to me: I had to own this “Tell a Tale” book from 1953 in my possession. Karen Kay and her little hussy-cat, Muffin, who went off adventuring in the city, only to return after she was knocked-up and had little fatherless kitties to bring home to her rich mistress.

I may be a bit jaded about cats and their sexual lives, now. After all, I’m “sixty and a little bit more” and I’ve known a few cats.

On a side note, I owned a cat that I once fancied I would name “Muffin”. The name never fit her. No name ever fit her. She came into my life when she was a not-yet-weaned kitten and I was an 18 year old college drop out. She stayed with friends when I traveled, she moved to Oregon with me, she lived in the country and in town, and she moved to Portland after I got married. She survived several other cats and the introduction of dogs and children into our lives. She hated being an indoor cat and remained an outdoor cat until she went blind and deaf. She died on my 36th birthday, at the grand old age of 18, in the laundry room while I was folding laundry and talking to her.

My husband helped me give her a proper burial.

She was never named “Muffin”. She was – and will forever be – simply, “Cat”. With quotation marks.004

This photo captures the very life-essence of my “Muffin”.

Excuse me while I wipe away the water leaking from my eye…

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We have had a long, hot, dry summer – the kind of summer I love, but which is not natural to the area where I live now. The earth has been parched, the Cascade Mountains are on fire, and smoke has been lingering in the valleys. We looked and felt like Reno on a typical summer day, but a little more humid. There was one sprinkling of rain in August, but we haven’t had anything that felt like real rain until last night, when we were blessed with about three hours of steady rain.

The garden looked so happy to have received this gift from Heaven this morning, that I had to take photos. These are the result on my time spent worshiping the Creator (making any kind of art is a form of worship). Enjoy.

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