Days Off

Days Off by Leslie Noyes

I gave my characters the weekend off. The beggars were complaining that I was working them too hard; that the

Hours were too long and the pay too cheap. I swear, I’d fire them all if I could. Except for the smart ass who keeps

Coming up with all the witty lines. I swear, he makes me laugh even when I’m trying my level best to be serious.

He has a mind of his own. How can that be? Isn’t he a figment of my imagination? A golden boy with a quick wit

That I can’t control. I hate to play favorites, yet there’s no denying this guy is stringing me along. Too much time invested in him now.

Pretending for Grownups

Before I began blogging on WordPress occasionally I’d write what I called “Pretending for Grownups” posts on Facebook. My Facebook friends would read them and declare, “Oh! You should write a blog!” Ironically, very few of those who urged me to blog actually read my blog–but I blame (and thank) them for my addiction to blogging.

Today Facebook resurrected one of my “memories” which happened to be an early Pretending for Grownups. I thought I’d share it with you. Ah, the good old days…


What to Read? What to Read?

After weeks of dragging my feet, on Sunday evening I finally finished reading the eighth, and thus far, final book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Fittingly, my well worn Kindle Paper White e-reader bit the dust with less than 3% of the book remaining as if it knew I didn’t want the story to end. Thank goodness I have the kindle app on my iPhone, though, so I was able to cry myself to sleep with Siri comforting me.


She’s a rock, that Siri. Salt of the earth, and all that.


As soon as I was able to leave work on Monday afternoon I drove with cautious haste to Best Buy and bought a new Kindle Paper White. The relative ease with which I registered the device and downloaded my virtual library restored my sense of well being. Once again all was right with my world.

Except that now I had no idea what to read next. At random I chose a book with a catchy title. The Shelf Life of Happiness by David Machado. In contrast to the weeks, nay months, I’d spent with the Outlander books, The Shelf Life of Happiness took exactly four hours to read. It’s a good book, totally unlike the Outlander series, and I found that comforting. The last thing I needed was a poorly written replica of a cherished series. 


Currently I’m looking for my next great read, and I’m open to suggestions. My tastes are eclectic, but I greatly enjoy science fiction/fantasy and post-apocalyptic novels, (zombies are a plus), as long as they’re well written. Outlander was a bit of a departure for me because it was a historical, albeit, time-travel romance.

So what are your suggestions dear readers? I’m eager for some new perspectives. The world is my library, and this is my motto: Have Kindle; Can Download.
Note: I still purchase physical books, just in case of an apocalypse, lest anyone should fear for my reading soul.

Peace, and happy reading, people.

Caution on a Windy Night

The evening ended on a high note. A C, I believe. When the applause faded into 

murmurs and restless rustlings I found myself in the midst of a jubilant crowd, 

jockeying for position to exit the venue. 

A seemingly endless series of stairs climbed up and up, testament to the 

quality of my third row seat. By the time I’d made my way to the top I was winded, weak in the knees.

Across a carpeted foyer and into the night, I inched along, part of a slowly stampeding 

herd. Around me, talk swirled of late dinners and night caps, of romantic 

assignations and illicit rendezvous.

The doors opened onto a blustery night. Jackets quickly donned against the chill 

could not dampen the anticipation in the air. And I? I threw caution to the wind and 

ordered two donuts at the bakery next door. 

Walking on the wild side.

  

Undiscovered Treasure

Facebook is a source of much of my blog inspiration. Between cute kitten videos and wine humor, political satire and jokes about aging (un)gracefully the social media site is a veritable treasure trove of ideas.

Take this post for example:

  

Here is one of the sentences I culled from the multitude running through my head:

Gabriella Montagne plucked a pomegranate from a basket on the kitchen counter and hurled it at her loathsome brother Claude, hitting him squarely in his one good eye.

Justification for this being a unique sentence: uncommon names, uncommon fruit, one good eye.

The possibilities are endless. Come, give it a try. Who knows where that sentence might lead? 
Peace and happy writing, people!

The Last Time

when was the last time, and did we know then that it would be?

no, for if i had understood i’d have held on forever, the end would never come;

i’d will it away.

there were tears that neither of us understood at the time.

i laughed them off. “this was too beautiful,” or something equally inane.

maybe if i hadn’t laughed, if the tears had continued, the denoument
would have only

been an interlude.

  

This was inspired by these stills from the film The End of the Affair

Peace, people.

One Lovely Blog

My friend Mitch at http://mitchteemley.com, authors a powerful, inspiring, often magical blog, The Power of Story. I’m a big Mitch fan, so imagine my delight to learn he’d nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award! Thank you, Mitch. 

  
I confess I don’t often accept awards on WordPress, not because I’m not honored, but because I am just horrible at linking others’ blogs to mine. It’s an age thing. 

When I was a kid a link was one part of a chain and not some futuristic doohickey meant to convey one through space and time to another website. And a website had more to do with a spider….but I digress.

Part of accepting an award is following instructions. Let’s see how well I do, shall we?

1. Thank the person who nominated me and include a link to their blog. (check)

2. List the rules and display the award. (So far, so good)

3. Add 7 facts about me. (Seven seems reasonable, but honestly I could go on and on.)

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers. (Wish me luck on the linkage part!)

5. Leave a comment on one of their posts to let them know they have been nominated (Alrighty then! Again, wish me luck.)

7 Facts About Me:

1. I’m a lousy cook. My entire repertoire  consists of dishes that can be made in the crockpot using five ingredients or fewer. Sometimes I still mess up.

2. As a child I was a compulsive liar. The facts were never quite exciting enough, so I was forever making stuff up. Kind of like I do now.

3. I ride a motorcycle, and took a solo journey from central Illinois to Dallas, Texas, to celebrate turning 50. I’ll be 60 in October and need a way to top that trip. Suggestions?

4. I’m a native Texan, having been born in Buddy Holly’s hometown of Lubbock. I grew up in Floydada, Texas, home of the Floydada Whirlwinds. I just enjoy saying Floydada. You should, too.

5. My husband, who I affectionately call Studly Doright, was my high school sweetheart. In July we’ll celebrate 40 years of marriage. 

6. I’ve seen Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope over one hundred times. I still fantasize that one day Han Solo will come to propose and we’ll fly away together in the Milennium Falcon. Studly’s given his ok.

7. I’m affectionately known as Nana to five brilliant, beautiful, and spunky grandkids. Best fact ever!

I nominate these fine bloggers to receive The One Lovely Blog Award. Please check them out, send them some love, maybe bake them a muffin.

Sanseilife writes haiku, reflection, and shares her art through her wonderful blog: https://sanseilife.wordpress.com/author/sanseilife.

The mischievous Anna is a poet and an artist. http://themischiefmemoirs.com/author/themischievousanna.

Bunkaryudo writes one of the funniest blogs out there. If he doesn’t make you laugh, there’s something seriously wrong with your laugher. http://bunkaryudo.com/author/bunkaryudo/

Miss Crumpett focuses on the humorous and often touching antics of the students in her classroom. https://thecrumpettfiles.wordpress.com.

Mike Bizeau is a nature photographer who gets me as close to the great outdoors as I’ve ever been without leaving the comfort of my own living room. http://naturehasnoboss.com.

Mike Steeden pens the most incredible poetry. He makes me laugh and think simultaneously. The thinking part is the hardest, for me anyway. https://mikesteeden.wordpress.com.

My friend and fellow Words With Friends aficionado, Andy Garrabrant, is a poet whose beautiful soul shines through in every piece he writes. https://aroilinpain.wordpress.com.

The author of the blog, Windmills of My Mind, writes reflection pieces that’ll make you smile and maybe shed a tear or two. https://contemporaneousquixotic.wordpress.com

The blog, A Not So Jaded Life, is a great pick-me-up with timely quotes and stories of every day life. https://anotsojadedlife.wordpress.com/author/anotsojadedlife

The Joys of Joel is a poetry blog, and oh so smooth.  https://joysofjoel.wordpress.com.

One of the loveliest and edgiest blogs I’ve recently discovered is https://scottishmomus.wordpress.com. I’m seriously crazy about her poetry.

Laine Ann Jensen writes real from-the-heart romantic poetry on her blog, http://frommidnighttodawnlight.com.

If you’re into edgy fashion and photography, I highly recommend that you check out http://grungeandart.com

Jan Wilberg is one of my all time favorites. She’s honest and witty and insightful. Her blog, https://redswrap.wordpress.com is a must read.

Rounding off my fifteen is the blog https://eurobrat.wordpress.com. Certainly worth your time, eurobrat is both thoughtful and thought-provoking.

The worst part about these nominations, other than the linking thing, is the number of folks I’ve left off! If I follow you, I do so because you’ve got something important or funny to say or display, like https://juliepowell2014.wordpress.com/

And https://bhharned.wordpress.com/

Oh, and http://inesemjphotography.com

Ok, I’m not all that good at following directions. So sue me.

Peace, people!

Ghouls: All Together Now

After tons of requests, alright, only three requests, I decided to merge my Ghouls trilogy from Halloween past into one story. It was either that or write a Turkeys of Thanksgiving piece, and I had trouble wrapping my mind around that one.

Ghoul of Halloween Past

Sam Hollis had driven most of the day and into the night trying to get home. His eyes were gritty from lack of sleep and his head kept nodding and then jerking to an upright position. When a rest stop exit sign appeared in his headlights at 9:30, he decided to pull in and sleep for awhile.

The I-10 rest stop was lit up like noon, so Sam backed into a spot furthest from the lights and reclined his seat. He cracked his windows an inch and settled in for a nap. Just before he fell into sleep an image of his former business partner and friend, Eric Marks, popped into his head. Eric’s funeral was the reason Sam was traveling on this late October night, and Sam couldn’t quite shake the feeling that Eric’s death was his fault. No, he hadn’t pulled the trigger, Eric had done that, but his suicide came hard on the heels of the end of their longtime partnership.

A scratching sound awakened him. Sam sat up, disoriented. Beside him, on the passenger seat, sat a man-sized rat.

“What the hell!” screamed Sam, scrambling for the door handle. The door wouldn’t budge, and Sam felt his heart banging against his chest wall.

“Relax, Sam,” said the rat. “It’s me. Eric.”

Sam screamed again and felt a liquid warmth spread across the front of his suit pants, “Just a dream, just a dream, just a…”

“No Sam. You’re not dreaming. This is Eric, and I’ve got a message for you from the other side.”

“Heaven?” gulped Sam. His heart continued to race and he thought a heart attack imminent. Oddly, the thought that he should have exercised more crossed his mind.

Eric laughed grimly. “Not exactly.”

“Look buddy,” the rat with Eric’s voice continued. “I’ve only been dead for three days and already it feels like eternity. But the big boss downstairs offered to lighten my torture if I could haunt you into following my lead.”

“You mean get me to kill myself?”

“Exactly. I mean, what have you got to live for? Marie’s about to leave you. You’re gonna get audited by the IRS this year. Your old man’s about to cut you out of his will.”

“Wait, you’re making this up. None of this is true.”

“Whatever. I’m out of here for now, but before the night is over you’re gonna have some visitors. Three of them. Once they’re through with you, you’ll be dying to join me.”

With a start Sam awakened. “Holy shit,” he said aloud. He cautiously felt the front of his pants and let out a sigh of relief. Dry. So it had been a nightmare. Shakily, Sam started the car and pulled back onto the interstate, anxious to put some distance between himself and the site of his dream. Glancing at the clock on the dashboard he realized he’d only been asleep for twenty minutes or so.

His mouth felt cottony and Sam decided to stop at the next town on his route to get some caffeine in his system. Already the nightmare had begun to fade. Sam shook his head and smiled at his own foolishness. “That’s what I get for eating greasy fast food after a funeral,” he thought.

At the Live Oak exit Sam located a mini mart and parked. Inside the store he grabbed a donut and poured a steaming cup of hot coffee. For good measure he grabbed a bottle of water and waited in line behind an elderly man at the checkout. The man was buying scratch off tickets and taking his sweet time.

“Give me two of them new ones,” the old man told the clerk. “No, not those, the ones next to them.”

“You want the ‘Devil’s Due’ game, old man?” the clerk asked.

“Might as well,” he cackled.”I’m deserving of it ain’t I?”

Sam cleared his throat and the man looked over his shoulder. “What’s your hurry. We all going to the same place.” he told Sam. “Least ways, you and me is.” Sam took a full step back as the man turned to face him. His white hair was long and stringy, his teeth yellowed from years of smoking. And damn! His breath smelled like rotten onions, slick with slime.

In a blink the old man grabbed Sam’s arm and transported the two of them out of the convenience store. For the second time that night Sam felt as if his heart was about to explode inside his chest. A high pitched scream emanated from his trembling lips as he and the ghoul, for that was what he must be, rose into the October night.

“You kept me waiting, boy,” the man growled. “You’ll pay for that, you will.”

Sam closed his eyes as he felt bile rise in his throat. His stomach fell as he and the old man dropped suddenly, landing with a thud.

“Open them eyes,” rasped the old man. “I said open them, now!”

Hesitantly, Sam dared a glance at his surroundings. “Whe-where are we?” he gasped.

“Where’s it look like boy?”

When Sam realized he and the old man were sitting on the topmost arm of an old elm tree he gulped audibly and steadied himself on the branch. One wrong move could send him plummeting to his death.

The old man growled, “it ain’t where we are, it’s where you used to be. Recognize the building down there?”

Sam looked down at the old three-story brick edifice. Every light in the building was on. At first, Sam couldn’t recall where he’d seen the building, then it came to him. Old Andrews Ward, the elementary school he’d attended in fifth and sixth grades.

Briefly, Sam forgot his fear. “My god! I remember this place. Eric and I met here when we were 10 or 11, but this old school was closed years ago. What’s going on here tonight?

“You’re seeing this place as it looked 47 years ago. Halloween 1967. You remember that boy?”

“I remember the carnival. Stupid kiddie games. Eric and I got kicked out for some reason.”

“That’s why we’re here,” the ghoul said. “I’m the ghoul of Halloween Past and you’re gonna get educated.”

The man wrapped his bony fingers around Sam’s arm and in a heartbeat Sam found himself inside the old school gymnasium. Black and orange crepe paper swags looped around the walls and festooned the booths set up on the edges of the room. Kids of all ages lined up to test their skills in tossing rings around bottles and scooping plastic fish from a tub of water. Kids bobbed for apples and had their fortunes told by a fake gypsy.

In spite of himself, Sam found himself grinning. He’d had fun here. That he remembered.

“See that girlie over there?” the man asked.

“Holy hell! That’s DeeDee Dunn!” gasped Sam. “She was the hottest girl in school. Eric and I both had the hots for her. We called her ‘Double D'”. For a second Sam’s memories made him smile.

“How about that girl?” the old man said, indicating a scrawny girl in the corner. “You ‘member her?”

When Sam saw the girl standing alone next to the far wall of the gym his face lost all color.

“Yeah, you know her all right. Little Scarlet Jackson.” The man’s evil grin turned on Sam. “You boys really taught her a lesson that night.”

Sam made an attempt to leave, but the old man held him firmly. “Yep, you and Eric got yourselves kicked out of the carnival that night. Just watch and remember.”

As Sam looked around the room he saw the 14-year-old versions of himself and Eric heading nervously towards DeeDee Dunn.

“Hey DeeDee,” crooned Eric. “Wanna come hang with me and Sam?”

DeeDee shook her head and gave the boys a polite, but vacant smile.

“Bitch,” whispered Sam. “She never even knew we existed. Thought she was too good for us.”

“Is that why you two turned over the table with the cakes displayed? asked the old man.

“We were just pissed off,” Sam said, watching his younger self help Eric heft the cakewalk table onto its side.

“But why did you two decide to mess with Scarlet?”

Sam watched as he and Eric sidled up to pitiful little Scarlet, smiling like they had something good to tell her. “I don’t know,” Sam replied truthfully. “I guess we just wanted to take our bad moods out on someone.”

When the school principal came charging up to banish the boys from the carnival, Eric grabbed hold of Scarlet’s hand and pulled her out the door with them.

“I don’t need to see this,” said Sam.

“Oh yes you do boy.” The old man cackled. “You need to know one of the reasons why Eric took his worthless life.”

It started out sweet. Both boys lied to Scarlet, telling her how beautiful she was. Eager for any kind of attention, the girl quickly fell under their spell. Eric led the trio to the football field and underneath the bleachers.

“Really,” says Sam. “I remember. Please don’t make me watch this.”

The old man tightened his grip on Sam’s arms, forcing him to watch the attack on Scarlet. The two boys threw the skinny girl on the ground and ripped her clothes off. They taunted her with insults, calling her a skank and a lowlife.

Sam watched as Eric held Scarlet down and then threatened her life if she told on them. Eric stepped aside and gestured for Sam to take a turn. But Sam shook his head, “no.”

“I didn’t do anything!” screamed Sam.

“You sure didn’t,” cackled the old man.”Not a damned thing.” He lunged for Sam, his clawed fingers poised to rip and tear.

Continue reading “Ghouls: All Together Now”

Garrett’s Day

When Studly and I decided to have grandchildren we didn’t waste any time. Our Dominique was born on September 13, 2002, and our grandson Garrett followed just short of three months later on December 6.

Garrett wasn’t our first grandchild, but he was our first grandson. He restored symmetry to our family. From the beginning our Garrett was a fascinating kid. He started talking very early and his curiosity was boundless. He questioned everything from the moment he started talking, and that continues to this day.

He taught me all the ins and outs of Thomas the Tank Engine, such as the names of every engine and how to lay down a good track. When he outgrew Thomas and Friends Garrett became a Lego aficionado, a true master builder who once told me that every set must be built according to the directions at least three times before the pieces can be used for other purposes.

Nowadays Garrett is a spelling hotshot. He practically eats words for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After winning his school’s spelling bee as a fifth grader, he went on to place in the top ten at the regional bee. He’s also a budding oboist AND he can ride a motorcycle. Pretty well-rounded kid. Oh, my favorite thing? He still says, “Nana, I love you.”

There is something he’s not fond of doing–math homework, so awhile back I wrote this little story.

“Garrett Battles the Math Monster”

No one knew about the monster in Garrett’s bedroom except for Garrett. He’d almost told his parents, but he didn’t think they’d believe him. He thought his sisters might be scared if he told them, so he kept it a secret.

As monsters go this wasn’t a particularly awful one. It had but one purpose in life–to prevent Garrett from completing his mathematics homework. The monster didn’t care about English, science or social studies assignments; it just didn’t want him to tackle math.

When the monster first moved into his room Garrett thought he could just ignore it and it would go away. He could see the enormous beast from the corner of his eye as he worked on assignments. It had silver scales, almost like mirrors that winked merrily as long as Garrett practiced spelling words or memorized state capitals. But as soon as Garrett pulled out his math textbook, the scales turned blood red and began pulsing with a menacing intensity. The monster would snarl angrily and poise for attack. Quickly Garrett closed his book and watched the monster mellow out.

“Ok,” thought Garrett. “No math, no problem.”

But there was a problem. Garrett’s math grades began to slip. Then to slide. Then to plummet. Things were serious. It was time to banish the math monster.

Every afternoon Garrett entered his room with the intention of driving the monster out. First he tried to reason with it.

“Hey there,” he said. “I’m in need of a break here. Do you think you could go mess with someone else for awhile?”

The monster showed his fearsome teeth and howled.

Next he tried fighting his scaly nemesis with fists. All Garrett got out of that idea were bruised knuckles and a black eye.

Maybe the monster was afraid of animals. Garrett brought in his cat Lucy to test his hypothesis, but Lucy took one look at the monster, screeched and scampered upstairs to hide under the sofa.

Nothing was working. Then Garrett had an idea. Maybe he needed to attack the math monster with words.

“Hey, Scale Breath,” said Garrett. “Can you spell extrudable?”

The monster looked perplexed. “How about excruciating?”

The monster started growing smaller.

“What kind of monster are you if you can’t handle a little spelling contest?”

The monster shrugged.

“Try this one,” continued Garrett. “Esophageal.”

The monster’s scales began to lose their luster.

Feeling more confident, Garrett said, “Spell Feuilleton.” The monster grimaced and seemed to shrink even more.

“Stichomythia!” Garrett crowed. The monster’s scales were now a dull brown and he was half the size he’d been just syllables ago. “Knaidel!” Shouted Garrett, and the monster shrunk again.

Sensing victory Garrett asked, “What do you have against math?”

The monster hung his now tiny head and said, “I didn’t want you to be good at math. You’re so good at everything else, I just thought that if I could keep you from being a star math student that it would make me feel better.”

“And did it?” asked Garrett.

“Not really,” admitted the monster. “But I did enjoy hanging out in your room.”

“Look man, you can hang out here. Just don’t interfere with my homework anymore. You’re making me look bad.”

“Ok,”said the monster. “Could I ask you a favor?”

“Sure,” said Garrett.

“Teach me to spell?”

Happy birthday, Garrett! I love you! Don’t let the Math Monster win!

Below: Spelling bee stud; Big boy sliding; Hanging out with Dominique

IMG_1400.JPG

IMG_1973.JPG

IMG_1974.JPG