Sunday, January 24, 2016

Happy-Sad-Angry Story

Last night Younger Daughter and I did Writing Challenges. This is a beloved family activity in which we sit around and write stuff.  One person issues a friendly challenge, known in scholastic circles as a “writing prompt.”  Then we write, and then we share what we wrote.  Here is one challenge from last night, and our responses.  Please keep in mind that there is no time for editing.  YD’s composition was wistful, while mine was violent.

Challenge:  Choose one thing that makes you happy, one thing that makes you sad, and one thing that makes you angry.  Combine these three things to write one story, no more than one page long.

Feel free to try this challenge on your own and if you wish, put your response in the comments or link to it. 

Younger Daughter wrote:

            There once was an old house on Graham Street.  It didn’t look old on the outside.  It looked sweet, and modern, and like any other house on the block.  However, when going inside the screen door to see the black and white carpeting, and the little raised step, the house felt old.

            It wasn’t a decrepit kind of old, though.  It was a comforting kind of old, a blanket kind of old, a hot tea with apple pie kind of old.  There were spiral stairs to the right, nearly hidden behind the eye-attracting splendor of the dining table.  It led to an attic with sock-sliding floors and a monster mat and a kraken that would come out at night.  This was a very cozy little house.

            A house so very little can have a little history, too.  It had memories of new places, new sights, new countries, carried on from mothers and fathers long past in their children’s memories.  It remembered children’s children, and on, and on, until future and past no longer seemed quite so separate any more, with all the memories floating about this so very old house.

            It remembered a menorah, with chants and strict rules, and tradition handed down to a new felt menorah, taken from memories although never seen.  It remembered frustration on what once was calculus, to be turned into a toy by a child at play.  It remembered tragedy.  It remembered love.  It remembered loss.

            It stood now quite empty, this old house on Graham Street.  It shuddered, its old bones creaking, as yesterday settled into tomorrow.

I wrote:

            The people on the stage, all clad in sharp black, sat at attention.  Maestro slowly picked up the baton and raised his arms.  Violins went to shoulders, clarinets to lips, tympani mallets at the ready.  The audience of five hundred was expectantly silent.  Then, just as Maestro was listening for that silent downbeat in his head, everyone heard, - Crackle – Crinkle – and “Would you like a Rice Krispies treat, dear?” 

            It was Seat 24D.  Maestro spun around and glared.  Every other member of the audience shone a laser pointer at Mrs Seat 24D.  The orchestra members stood in unison and shouted, “Get her!”

            I pressed the button, and the giant claw descended, picked up Mrs Seat 24D, and lifted her up to the ceiling.  She disappeared through the hole in the ceiling, where she was rapidly liquefied and forced through the pipes.  I smiled and returned to my post.

* * * * * * * * *

YD was thinking fondly of her Grandpa and Grandma’s house.  She loved the attic there, where she could indeed slide around in her socks, and there was a “monster mat” rug with a friendly monster face on it, and an ancient adding machine that Grandpa used to use in his business.   The thing that makes YD angry is math.

I guess it is a good thing I don’t have access to the button I imagined in my composition.  Music makes me happy; the thing that makes me angry is when people whisper, eat, crackle wrappers, and breathe during music concerts.  The thing that makes me sad is the hole in the living room ceiling, which is barely represented in my story.  Now when I encounter someone talking during a concert, I will imagine stuffing them into that hole.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Rainbow Reading

Our awesome library has started up its Cabin Fever Adult Winter Reading Club.  We have two months to curl up by the fire and read books (ah, if only life were really like that!).   This time one of the categories is “Color Me Reading” – we must read books with a color in the title. 

Nonplussed by that category, I went to Amazon and searched on the word “green”. 
The top result was

Green: A Field Guide to Marijuana

Not exactly my thing.  I decided to see what some of the top search results on Amazon are, for each color of the rainbow.

Red: A History of the Redhead;
Books about Russians and cops

The top book is by a Japanese manga author.
Two prison memoirs: the famous “Orange is the New Black” and the related “Out of Orange.”

Some fairly serious books –
Yellow Crocus, about a white child, daughter of a slave-owning family, raised by her enslaved wet  nurse;
The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers, billed by one reviewer as “a collection of macabre short stories”;
a book on race relations in America;
a novel about civil war in Biafra, Africa;
a Holocaust novel for tweens.
Yellow is not for sissies!

The aforementioned Green: A Field Guide to Marijuana;
Plenty of books about smoothies.  Green smoothies.  Blech.

There are four novels named Blue, including the top search result by Danielle Steel, to be released later this month.

Five books about dye and textiles.
Four books about a type of personality, loosely defined as “a person with a warrior spirit, always questioning and challenging the ways of the world and has a strong sense of a higher purpose.”

Mostly children’s picture books.
Also two books in a series called “Mail Order Brides Stories,” including Violet's Mail Order Husband - A Clean Historical Mail Order Bride Story (Montana Brides Book 1).

* * * * * * * * *

It turns out that our library is so awesome that they even put together a list of much better books with colors in the title.  AND they have some of them available in Kindle format to borrow.  I’m so grateful!  Thanks, colorful librarians!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Set your onions on stun

This is what you get when you ask a Star Trek fan to make meatloaf.

Tap the meatloaf, and say, "Beam me up, Scotty!"

Last week, since my son was on break from college, and I was busy but he wasn't, I asked him to make a meatloaf for dinner one night.  I gave him my Dad’s recipe.

Son:  Where do I find the minced onion?

Me: You will find onions in the pantry, top section, left-hand side, in the onion basket.

Son (disappears for a bit, then returns with a red onion, not from the pantry, but from the fridge):  Is this an onion?

Me: Well, yes, but that onion is for my salad. (Getting up to show Son where the yellow onions are, which he would have discovered if he had followed my directions.  I hand him a small onion.) Here. You have to mince it.

Son:  How do I do that?

I thought fondly of my Dad, who is the one who showed me how to mince an onion.  Thanks to my Dad, I know to use a non-serrated knife to cut onions.  I had never taught my son this task, probably because I know how he feels about all vegetables (hates ’em). 

I got Son started on mincing the onion.  Then I left the kitchen.  I went away to work on crop economics, church retreat planning, the program for the band concert, and cleaning off my desk. 

After a long time, Son came in the office and said, “I think maybe the meatloaf has too many onions in it.”   I thought one onion would be enough, but he used three onions, because he tripled the recipe.

The meatloaf was already in the oven, so I told Son it would be fine.  It turned out to be really delicious.  He also made oven fries to go with it.

From far away, raw oven fries look like apple pie in the making.
This business of leaving my kids in the kitchen while I go away is turning out to be quite appealing!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I originally had a special bonus of the images you get when you google “Star Trek Meatloaf.”  But I deleted them, so as to not incur the Wrath of Khan.

Baltimore Meat Loaf
1 pound ground round
1 onion, minced
1 egg
½ cup bread crumbs or crackers
1 tsp salt (OR LESS!)
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tablespoons catsup

Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix, make into a loaf, bake in lightly greased pan for 1 to 1 ½ hours at 350 F.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Close, but no cigar

Victory!  Einstein and Lady Liberty can now stand proudly
and without wading through thick dust.
The last time my desk was cleaned on this blog was two years ago.  A shameful record.

This time, after working on the same damn pile of papers for weeks, I finally did it.  I achieved a sighting of the actual desk surface.   Reader, I dusted it.

But then there is this:  
WILL these things never go away? No, they will not.
That box is full of papers from my aunt’s desk.  They are most likely all trash, but I have to Go Through them.  It’s amazing how appealing my physical therapy exercises become when I look at this box.


I know a lot of people are reading some popular book about tidying up.  I am not ready to read that book.  First I have to put some things away.  But I want to ask if you, Dear Reader, have read about tidying, and if sitting around and reading books about it is effective, especially if it is read while sipping a glass of wine.