Snippet: Return to Echoing Waters

The stuff of my life had been dumped without any thought into cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling in one of those rent-by-the-month storage facilities on the south side of Vegas.  If I hadn’t come back from the dead who knows what would have happened to it.  Sold probably. The proceeds given to the state.

I turned to the manager and asked, “Are you sure all that crap is mine?”

“Your name is Dr. Fiona Butters, right?  And you lived at 3814 Juniper Drive?” he read from the rental agreement.  Poor sod was sweating profusely in the hot September sun.  His polyester SafeStorage shirt was a size too small, a couple of strategic buttons were missing but at least his fly was up.


FacebookProfileAbove is a 150 word snippet from Flipka 2, Return to Echoing Waters.  I’m posting it as part of a Sasha Black/Hugh Roberts #writespiration event. The challenge is to post a 150 word snippet from your WIP along with the working title.  Generally I don’t participate in writing challenges (too lazy) but sadly I had no door for Norm Frampton’s #ThursdayDoors and no ideas jelling for a blog post so I decided to play along!

Return to Echoing Waters is a sequel to Flipka, which you can read about here, if you like.

Feel free to play along!  Either in the comments here or on Sasha or Hugh’s blogs.

My fancies are fireflies

– Specks of living light
      twinkling in the dark.    R. Tagore

In my family Easter is more about chocolate eggs than the Resurrection. But that doesn’t mean I’m an atheist or even an agnostic. I have been to church and I have been baptized; I even spent a year studying the Bible in college. Churches can be wonderful institutions, even the ones whose beliefs leave me scratching my head but

my church is wild and uncontrolled by man.

IMG_1687Outside, be it deep in the woods or by the sea, that’s where I feel close to the inexplicable, all-encompassing, transcendental forces which philosophers far wiser than me struggle to comprehend.

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Theories about blogging differ wildly. Some insist that you put yourself out there.  Don’t be afraid to take positions on controversial subjects. Encourage debate, particularly if your platform is something like kinky sex.

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Others recommend extreme caution.  Stay clear of controversial subjects like politics and religion.  Don’t do anything to infuriate a potential buyer!

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Of course, which direction you take depends on your target audience and why you’re writing in the first place.  In general I’m a bit of a wimp.  I share bits of my life and only dip into controversy when I just can’t stand nonsense any more.  But it’s Easter and so I feel inspired to share with you the work of Rabindranath Tagore, my go-to guy for peace of mind.  I was introduced Tagore, a Bengali writer and painter, at the stupid age of eighteen by a dear friend intent on freeing my mind from convention.  For decades I’ve carried a copy of his “thoughts” (Fireflies) with me wherever I go. It’s beat up and stained and the spine gave up long ago but the book is out of print and almost impossible to replace.

Tagore was inspired by Chinese and Japanese “thoughts” painted on fans and pieces of silk, thus his works are not poems or haikus or even sonnets, just thoughts.  Like “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “let he who is without sin throw the first stone” and  “love thy neighbors as thyself” and so many other thoughts by another great philosopher. IMG_2648

#ThursdayDoors: Best Poke Bowl

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Today we return to Hawaii to find doors (last time I promise).  These doors lead to the Kahuku Superette in the small town of Kahuku on the east shore of Oahu. They might not look like much but on the other side you can experience the  Best Poke Bowl in Hawaii (according to them).  We had no idea what Poke Bowl was and took turns guessing.  My guess, it was a bowling alley where they used coconuts as the balls and pineapple as the pins.

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If you’ve clicked the link above you know how far off base I was. It’s Hawaiian fast food.  A Poke Bowl has a base of either white or brown rice, chips and/or salad.  Followed by the condiments: white onions, sweet corn, carrots, seaweed, cucumbers, avocado and/or mango and the poke (raw fish): salmon, tuna, albacore, spicy tuna, shrimp, crab, scallop, hamachi, and unagi. Then you have your choice of sauces: original (mild/spicy), spicy mayo, unagi, Japanese Kimchi, honey avocado and/or miso. Last but not least,  Poke Bowl is topped with any or all of these garnishes: masago, sesame seeds, ginger, wasabi, and green onions.

Is your head spinning yet?

Poke Bowls are served differently, depending on what part of the island you’re on.PokeBowl2We’d stopped at the superette to pick up water and pretzels for the nearby beach (which was rumored to have calmer waves than the North Shore). Squeamishly we passed on their world famous Poke Bowl.

One more pic of the wild waves and then Aloha Hawaii!

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By the way, if you find yourself craving a Poke Bowl, I’ve read that they might become the next rage in the culinary world!

Check out other doors at Norm Frampton’s #ThursdayDoors challenge here. 

Murder by Cat

After spending two hours at a tax accountant’s with a 90 year old who can barely remember her first husband’s name I’ve decide my next Fi Butters’ mystery will be Murder by Cat, the strange tale of Ubiquitous K of Babylon Heights.

th-1Synopsis: A series of murders takes place at Babylon Heights, a retirement village where all the residents and in particular the owners have skeletons in their Depends. Reluctantly former psychiatrist Fi Butters is called on scene when one of the residents, her elderly aunt, convinces the others that Ubiquitous K (a Norwegian Forest cat whose owner has recently died) is the cold-blooded murderer. 


Murder by Cat, the strange tale of Ubiquitous K of Babylon Heights 

“One thing I’m certain of, she was not killed by a cat!”
“She wasn’t killed by a hat?”
“No dear, a cat.”
      Martha was one of those little old ladies who questioned everything she heard and thus it was impossible to get through a conversation without saying the same thing at least three times and she wasn’t alone. 
      “Well isn’t that the darndest thing.  Killed by a hat.”  Mr. Fassenbinder chimed it.  He’d long since lost his hair and hearing but refused to wear an aide because “there wasn’t much good to hear in the world, so why wear the damned thing?”  I had to agree.    
      The residents of Babylon Heights had assembled in the very same community room where holiday parties and bingo games were held. I figured there had to be at least forty folks which was fine; the room could easily hold a couple hundred.  Heavy furniture provided comfy seating which meant a few in my audience would probably doze off, but regardless, after my auntie introduced me I launched into an attempt to quell the panic that rattled their aging bones. 
     “Nobody was killed by a hat or a cat or even a bat!”  I chuckled which clued them in that something funny had been said.   A few followed suit with a chuckle that sounded painfully forced. Okay, Butters, I thought,  the last comedian to crack these folks up was probably Bob Hope.   “First of all, despite my aunt’s kind introduction, I am not a detective.  I am, or was, a psychiatrist.”
     “Was a psychiatrist?”
     “Yes Martha. Was.  But I won’t bore you with the gory details of my many career changes…”
     “Gory details?”
     “Well not really gory. . . “

Okay, that’s as far as I’ve gotten on this bit of silliness.  If I’m going to continue I need some appropriate character names. Do you have any suggestions? (other than – stop now Jan before you embarrass yourself any further!)

St. Patrick’s Parade 2016 in Waterford

Some lovely pics of a Saint Patrick’s day parade in Waterford Ireland by one of favorite photographers!

Making memories

St. Patrick's Day

This picture is my personal favorite. I took it in a small town a couple of years ago. Proud mother and her beautiful baby daughter, surrounded with their family, are standing in the crowd of spectators during the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the first such Parade for the baby.

St. Patrick’s Day parade features everything Irish. It is a wonderful spectacle of marching bands and dancers, schools and community groups, and various floats, that include local businesses, artists, firefighters and many others.

This year, almost 60 parades and many more cultural events and festivals took place throughout the country. The main National Parade in Dublin city attracted more than 500,000 spectators

To celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, some of the parades include the re-enactments of the events.

Waterford City was the first city to declare St Patrick’s Day a national holiday, and to entirely suspend business on the day…

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Mudluscious

This time of year, when the rains give way to sunny days, in my mind I  always hear e.e. cumming’s poem  in just spring. Those of you who’ve studied poetry remember cummings. He never capitalized his name or the titles of his poems which I could never get away with in English class! Here he is reading the poem:

In California a break in the rain this time of year brings this urgency to all gardeners: Quick: Pull the weeds while they’re young and tender and the ground is mudluscious!!!  

weedsSure they’re cute in their infancy.  So many brilliant shades of green particularly after four years of drought, it seems a shame to try to uproot them but if you don’t, they will grow like – well – weeds.  And once the ground starts to dry your best chance to get rid of the bratty teens is with a jack hammer.

Which brings me back to mud.  I don’t view mud as icky. Especially when my mud is rife with worms.

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Isn’t this a lovely shot of mud?

It will dry out quickly if the California sun continues to shine.

And then my battle will be hard. But today was a mudluscious day.
i wore my garden hat.
i listened
to the birds

and the boy practicing basketball
thump… thump… thump

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and the creek, dry for years roaring to life.

and i said oh what the heck and started my day
in the lower case.
with the worms and the mud.

oh please wordpress – don’t ruin my mudlicious day by insisting i capitalize everything!

(although clearly I’m no e.e. cummings)

Now, the theory of proper blogging etiquette dictates that I end this blog with a question, thus encouraging comments, but the question “what do you think about mud?” really seems a bit daft, don’t you think?

Acrophobia or Schizotypy?

This was the view from our hotel in Honolulu which I couldn’t enjoy without fighting the urge to jump.

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I am not suicidal. In fact, I rarely even suffer from depression.  And I don’t have these urges every time I’m in a high rise.  I worked on the 25th floor of this building for ten years with nary an urge to jump.  Of course, there were no balconies and the windows didn’t open which could have helped.

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From Wikipedia – the Kaiser Building in downtown Oakland

Acrophobia (or the fear of heights) is an anxiety disorder having no known cause. The only treatments are behavior modification and anti-anxiety pills but since I’m not planning on becoming a tight-rope walker I think I’ll pass.  Acrophobia is often confused with vertigo, the sensation of swirling and imbalance made famous by Hitchcock’s film of the same name.  However, vertigo has been linked to inner ear problems and is therefore treatable.

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Use your ear drops Jimmy and quite your belly aching!

Some psychologists equate acrophobia with flunking a field sobriety test. 

Sobriety

“the initiation of proprioception is the activation of a proprioceptor in the periphery – in other words, you’re drunk.”

Only oxygen (and not alcohol) is the culprit. On a very basic level, proprioception is the ability to locate your limbs in space.  Not outer space, mind you, just the space you inhabit at any given moment.  If your proprioceptors are impaired by too much oxygen or too much alcohol then you lose what is known as “muscle sense” and can’t accomplish such tasks as touching the end of your nose with your eyes shut.  Or you feel disconnected from your body and unable to control it.

In college I annoyed the heck out of my doctor by running into his office on a busy day shouting: “I’m having a massive stroke!” My hands didn’t belong to me and my speech was slurred.

After taking my blood pressure he sighed. “You are only having a panic attack.” He went on to explain I’d been hyperventilating for so long there was too much oxygen in my bloodstream, causing a lack of muscle sense.   

Panic(Note to all doctors: There’s nothing “only” about a panic attack. I honestly thought I was going to die.)

“But,” I said, “things are going fine!  I was stressed at the beginning of school but now I’m fine.”

“Stress builds up in the body,” he said. “You could go through a stressful time and then have a panic attack months later. Often when you’re least expecting it.”

Like on a balcony seven floors above the infinity pool?

I found it hard to believe that merely breathing into a paper bag will end my nightmares about heights.  So I decided to do some research just in case another set of experts had another set of opinions.  What I learned is that people who suffer from acrophobia frequently report having Out-of-body Experiences (OBE) and sleep paralysis.  Such people are “fantasy prone personality” types with something called schizotypy.

From Psychology Today: schizotypy is a watered-down version of schizophrenia, consisting of a constellation of personality traits that are evident in some degree in everyone. High levels of schizotypy are typically found in relatives of individuals with full fledged schizophrenia.

Good grief.  How about you?  Does the thought of scaling Half Dome or standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon fill you with dread?  If so, I would suggest not self-diagnosing the problem by using the tools of the internet.  You may find out you’re crazier than you think!