Accomplishments, Monochrome

My author-friend V.P. Chandler wrote today about putting a sticker on a little calendar when she accomplishes something.

That reminded me I used to do the same thing to designate when I worked on my writing. The system lasted a few days before breaking down, mostly because of color coding.

January 2015. Color-coded accomplishments. Can’t remember what the colors meant.

There’s a book, Organizing for the Creative Person, that says creative people should never try to color code. I read the book not because I considered myself creative but because at the time I read every self-help book I could find, especially those about organizing. The book was excellent.

It said that creative people file on the floor behind their desks, and that’s when I knew I was definitely creative, because my office floor was always covered with little piles of paper. I had to take great care not to roll my chair over them when I left my desk.

Anyway, the book advised not to color code but since I rarely take advice from self-help books, there went my system of recording my writing accomplishments. And the less I record, there less there is to record.

It was a shame, because I just loved the little Kliban Kat calendar bought especially for the purpose.

Anyway, when V.P. mentioned calendars, I thought about planners. I love planners and have spent several hours this week wandering through Amazon, looking at planners. But I decided I couldn’t justify spending so much–because it would have to be a really special planner–on something I wouldn’t use more than a week or two. (My best planner is David’s Google calendar, and it works because he uses it and reminds me of what he knows good and well that I won’t remember.)

January 6, 2021. Accomplishment (little blue dot)

Anyway, if I can’t justify a planner, how can justify buying a calendar?

Then I remembered the calendars my friend Mariana gave me for Christmas–one is just the size for stickers. But it has cats on it, real ones, and I hate to think of messing it up with extraneous matter. It should remain pristine.

So I went back to Amazon . . .

But then I came to my senses. I will not just hang that little cat calendar on the wall. I will use that little cat calendar. I will put a sticker on it for every time I write. That is the best use I can put it to.

As a symbol of my intent–because I have no stickers–I inked a little circle on January 6, when I wrote a scene and sent it to my critique group. I had to look back in my email to find the date; sent mail makes a wonderful archive.

Ernest, impeding accomplishment

The cat calendar will be just for writing. The large kitten calendar Mariana gave me might become a record of general accomplishments. Like getting my first COVID-19 vaccine dose yesterday. Cooking. Putting on makeup. Getting out of bed before noon. Not playing Candy Crush. Brushing my hair.

The calendar issue having been solved, I now move on to the next project: buying stickers. One color only.

I shall not, will not, color code.

#

Maybe I’ll use gold stars for working on my novel and red stars for other writing. Surely a little color coding couldn’t hurt.

###

A good book

1902: The Barber Pig

In January, it’s traditional to summarize the events of the previous year, but there weren’t any, or to announce resolutions for the next year, but I know better than to make those.

Well, I do have a couple of goals: to keep the COVID-19 virus out of the Davis household (and everywhere else I can) and to be vaccinated (which, every time I check online, looks like it’ll happen before 2022, maybe).

Anyway, I’ll begin 2021 with another story told by Aunt Bettie Pittman Waller. She was known for telling the truth, never embroidering, and she was an eye-witness. She was sixteen years old. She lived down the street from the Barber family, and Miss Annie Barber was a special friend. I think they later taught school together for several years. The Normal she mentioned was a teachers’ college in San Marcos, Texas, which is now Texas State University.

I’ve used most of the real names because I don’t think their families will object. But a young man remains anonymous. Aunt Bettie also mentioned one particular detail about him but then said, “You don’t need to put that in,” so I didn’t. It’s nothing derogatory, just  funny, but it doesn’t change the story.

The story is taken from the tape of an interview I did with Aunt Bettie.

###

This really happened at Mr. Barber’s house when Callie and Maud were little. I know, because I was there, too, and some other children—Jessie Daugherty was one—and we were all interested in Mattie’s beau. Annie was in San Marcos then, at the Normal, in 1902.

Mattie was going with a boy—Louis S____. Annie boarded with Mr. S____’s family. He was a grocery salesman who came to Fentress once a week. He was very religious and would time his trips so he could come to day services when we were having a meeting; we had them about ten o’clock.

Well, Mattie had a date with Louis S____—he was just a youngster like Mattie—and he was to come at about five o’clock. He had a horse and buggy.

Mr. Barber’s house set fronting south, like the house does now, but it was closer to the road, because when the highway went through they set it way over. Mr. Barber had a well or a cistern, either word would do, by the door of the dining room, and people could see the well from the road.

They had a pet pig that had grown to a hog, but they still just called it “the pig.” They fed it out by the well in front of the house, away from the other pigs. And they let it in the house. They couldn’t keep it out, because it had learned to push around the buttons on the porch and open the door.

But they sure weren’t going to let it in when Louis came to see Mattie, and all the children were working to see that it stayed out. They tried hard.

But the pig got in the back door and ran through the house with all the children following and ran out the front, squealing, just as Louis drove up.

As the pig ran out of the dining room door, Mag looked up at Mattie and said, “Mat, he won’t be back!” And Louis didn’t ever come back. I don’t think they ever invited him.

I just think, if the pig had been kept out, life might have been different for Mattie.

 

###

 

Two stories about the first months of Aunt Bettie and Uncle Maurice’s marriage appear at Ink-Stained Wretches.’

###

Image of pig by Ryan Gudmunson from Pixabay

Presents and Gifts

David and I opened presents Christmas afternoon.

I got lots of cats. Faux cats: cat calendars from an old and dear friend; cat socks and a “book throw” dotted with cats, from David. I also received Jeopardy socks and sloth socks and a backdrop.

Last year David gave me a tote bag with a sloth on it, the source of many compliments from oncology nurses. The sloth socks make me think there might be a subtext brewing, though; if there is, it’s justified.

The backdrop is designed to make Zoom friends think I live a more picturesque life. The apartment walls are pink, a pleasant pink, the same pink of the living room and dining room in the house I grew up in, but as background on Zoom they  look sick. My computer doesn’t have the oomph to support a “virtual background.” Dear husband has taken care of that. All we have to do now is stick the backdrop on the wall where the camera can find it.

William and Ernest received catnip mice. Ernest said his was okay but no big deal—he doesn’t do drugs—and headed for the litter box. William was delighted with his mouse, started batting it around, but was distracted by the sound of Ernest scrabbling around in the litter box and abandoned the mouse to listen. Returning, Ernest swatted the mouse once but by then William was in the litter box, and Ernest had to pay attention. They are social animals. So much for the mice.

About that first sentence: I never imagined writing it. In my youth, presents were a morning thing. The adults were so excited that they dragged us out of bed about four o’clock in the morning—no exaggeration—because Santa Claus had come and they couldn’t wait. No breakfast—we had to see what Santa had brought!

No one argued with them.

Back row: Lynn Worden, Mary Veazey Barrow, Wray Worden, Mary Whiting Worden, Mary Veazey Worden. Front row: Jim King, Steve King, Lee King, Kathy Waller

Correction: most of the adults. My father wasn’t quite so eager. He woke daily without an alarm before six a.m.—farm hours, even though he hadn’t farmed full-time since before World War II—but he didn’t wake up until he’d had two strips of bacon, fried; two eggs, basted; two pieces of buttered toast; and two cups of coffee, black with sugar. Then he achieved consciousness. Christmas morning for him was modified torment. He participated in the Santa part—I think Mother provided him with coffee—but waiting for breakfast was probably like being a kid and having to wait to open presents.

I was thinking the other day about Christmas presents I’ve received. Off the top of my head:

Doll beds with blue-and-white blankets my mother made. She backed them with white flannel.

A little stove with a real oven and tiny cake pans and a tiny box of cake mix.

A pogo stick.

Dolls. My mother loved dolls, so I got one every Christmas. The one when I was eight came wearing a white lace bride’s dress. She also owned a white blouse and some black velvet slacks.

But more than the presents are the memories that accompany them.

The doll blankets lasted for years after I’d put away the dolls. A lot of kittens and puppies were bundled up in them.

My cousin Lynn, about twelve when I got the oven, spent Christmas vacation with us and helped make that little bitty cake.

I tried out the pogo stick in the street in front of our house on Christmas Day but couldn’t make it work. I never played with it because it was so sturdy—my father was probably along on that shopping trip—that my six-year-old poundage wouldn’t make it budge; nor did my father’s forty-plus-year-old poundage. The pogo stick hung on the wall in the garage for years, waiting for someone heavy enough to make the spring depress. The whole truth: I was so acrophobic that I wouldn’t have been able to bounce on it anyway; the pedals were too far off the ground.

I made the doll a suit, a rather nice one, because my mother wasn’t into playing around with the sewing machine; if I was going to sew, I was going to do it right. I found the suit last year when we moved, unironed but intact. I guess the skirt got lost in the six-decade shuffle. Note that the cape is lined. I couldn’t make a lined anything today. Or unlined. My manual dexterity has departed.

One year it wasn’t the presents I remember but the living room floor covered wall to wall with discarded wrapping paper, so Sabre, the Cocker spaniel, couldn’t figure out how to get across the room to the front door.

So many other presents over the years, so many experiences, so many memories.

My mother told me once about a Christmas during the Depression when there were no presents at all, but the Christmas Eve sky was clear and bright with stars, and the family decided it must have looked like that on the very first Christmas.

I didn’t say, of course, but I thought that must have been terrible. No presents. How could they bear not having packages under the tree, and surprises, and new toys.

So I grew up and things fell into place and presents fell into perspective. I’m still pleased to receive them. But the truth of the cliché applies: It’s the thought that counts. And the people behind the thoughts.

And with perspective comes new definitions: Presents come in boxes wrapped with colored paper and tied with ribbon and bows.

The thoughts, the experiences, the memories, are gifts.

The Road to Bethlehem

THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM

If as Herod, we fill our lives with things and again things;
If we consider ourselves so important that we must fill
Every moment of our lives with action;
When will we have the time to make the long slow journey
Across the burning desert as did the Magi;
Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds;
Or to brood over the coming of the Child as did Mary?
For each one of us there is a desert to travel,
A star to discover,
And a being within ourselves to bring to life.

~ Author Unknown

Casper (name)
Journey of the Magi (1902) by James Tissot. Public domain. Via Wikipedia.

*

“The Road to Bethlehem” appears on other websites, where it’s attributed to Anonymous. If you know who wrote it, please share the name and, if possible, other documentation, in a comment, so I can give the poet credit for his creation and can search for information about copyright. Until I know more, I will assume the poem is in the public domain.

*

Find “The Road to Bethlehem” on these pages:

http://macrina-underthesycamoretree.blogspot.com/2009/12/desert-star-emerging-life.html
http://blueeyedennis-siempre.blogspot.com/2010/11/advent-prayer-and-poems-i.html

“The Year Is Going; Let Him Go”

For seventeen years after the death of his best friend, Arthur Henry Hallam, at twenty-two, Alfred Tennyson worked on the elegy In Memoriam. In effect, he wrote through his grief.

One of the last cantos in the book, “Ring Out, Wild Bells,” signifies the end of grief, the casting aside of the heartaches and pain of the old year, the return of faith, and the hope of a new and better way of life. Legend has it that Tennyson was inspired by hearing church bells on New Year’s Eve.

“It is an accepted English custom to ring English Full circle bells to ring out the old year and ring in the new year over midnight on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes the bells are rung half-muffled for the death of the old year, then the muffles are removed to ring without muffling to mark the birth of the new year.” (Wikipedia)

The poem was published in 1850. Read it slowly. Words composed 170 years ago are as alive as if Tennyson had written them with the upcoming New Year’s Eve in mind.

I need to hear them now. Maybe you do, too.

#

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
#

The musical setting by Charles Gounod omits two of the poem’s stanzas.

Lost and Found

I’m posting at Ink-Stained Wretches today, but for some reason, I’m unable to reblog the post. So here’s the beginning, with a link to the rest. Or you can just go to Lost and Found and read the whole thing in one place. By the way, it’s not about computers. It’s about something I found while looking for something I’d lost. What I found was better—memories.

 

“Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”
– Eudora WeltyOne Writer’s Beginnings

In 2000, I wrote a story I titled, “Stop Signs.”

That was in the Dark Ages. Ancient desktop, probably Windows 3.1 and  WordPerfect. Hard drives. Floppy disks that didn’t flop.

I composed in cursive—sat on the bed with a pencil and a tablet, wrote a couple of pages, crossed the room to type the fragment into a document and make some edits, moved back to the bed to pencil two or three more pages, went back to the computer to transcribe and edit, moved back to the bed . . . And reaching “The End,” printed and penciled in more edits, then went back to the keyboard to type the changes, then printed and penciled more edits, then back to the keyboard . . .

It was my second foray into fiction. I rather liked the result, and as a naive newbie, I submitted it to a contest. A month later the North Texas Professional Writers Association notified me the story had placed first in its fiction division. They enclosed a check for $50 (real money!) and a copy of the chapbook in which winners’ work was published.

Later I became comfortable composing at the keyboard. I printed, marked the manuscript, revised and edited the document, went through that process several times, stored the file, ripped up the paper.

Down the road apiece, “hard copies” became unnecessary—just attach a file and email it off to contests or zines. Easy peasy.

And then came another desktop, and laptops, and new versions of Windows, one after the other, and CD-ROMS (writable!), and external backups, and online backup services, and cloud backups, and a whole raft of things I’ve never heard of.

The paperless society. Everything on record, available at the touch of a fingertip, no document or image ever lost.

Yeah, right.

Read the rest of the post on Ink-Stained Wretches, here.

What the Angels Don’t Eat

WATERMELON

When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat.
It was not a Southern watermelon that Eve took;
we know it because she repented.

~ Mark Twain, Pudd’nHead Wilson

I believe in eating locally grown food. I also believe in eating watermelon.

For a couple of months out of the year, I can do both.

For years, I did both, waited through long months of fall and winter and spring, until late June, when the Luling fields came in and brought the food the angels eat.

Waiting wasn’t easy, especially since I was at the same time waiting for roasting ears to get ripe. Field corn—horse corn—musty-flavored yellow dent: not the food of angels, perhaps, but only because they don’t know about it.

But this post is about watermelon. It’s high in fiber and potassium, low in calories, and available in grocery stories year-’round. A couple of months ago, I decided—I’ll wait for Stonewall peaches, but watermelon, wherever it comes from, I’m having now.

Except tonight, when David called from the kitchen, “This watermelon is bad. I just stuck the knife in, and look.”

I trotted in to see.

It was bad.

I’d never seen anything like it.

No matter. We always have a back-up.

***

Read about square watermelons at Wikipedia. Common in Japan, they’re “purely ornamental” and “tend to appeal to wealthy or fashionable consumers . . . in 2001 they cost anywhere from two to three times a normal watermelon (at about $83).”

Note: Eighty-three dollars is much more than two to three times what I pay for a watermelon.

***

Another note: The corn pictured above is getting on toward horse stage. Humans eat it as soon as it’s ripe. I haven’t seen yellow dent corn in years. They don’t sell horse corn in grocery stores.

***

Quotation at http://www.twainquotes.com/Watermelon.html

Image of whole melons by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

Image of sliced melon by Stephanie Albert from Pixabay

Image of dent corn by moni quayle from Pixabay

Images of bleh melon by the Davises

Ernest, Vigilant

An hour ago, Ernest had his monthly dose of anti-flea medication.

Process: David sprayed calming spray and gave it time to take effect, then dragged Ernest out from under the china cabinet, put him on my lap, and held him steady while I squeezed the little droplets onto the back of his neck.

Afterward, David retreated to the bedroom to dose William, who is perpetually calm.

Ernest has been sitting beside me, in the same position, staring down the hallway, ever since David left. I think he would like to crawl back under the china cabinet, but he’s too calm to move.

But he is vigilant. Ever vigilant. He never knows when an enemy agent might assault him with essential oils and pheremones.

And what then? The possibilities are too terrible to imagine.

He’s heard about flea baths.

Ernest, vigilant

Colorful Fall Foliage or, The Best I Could Do Considering What I Have to Work With

Facebook friends from around the country are posting pictures of colorful fall foliage.

Last week I walked around our apartment complex and snapped a few shots of our foliage. Most of the trees around us are live oak, post oak, pecan, and Ashe juniper (a vicious allergen, known in Central Texas as cedar, and loudly cursed for several weeks every winter).

I got one shot of an anemic crepe myrtle, but it didn’t turn out.

Speaking of crepe myrtles, back in Mrs. Dauchy’s second grade [Hi, Cullen], we were instructed to gather pretty leaves, put them between two sheets of wax paper, and iron them to make pretty placemats.

My yard boasted a number of trees—pecan, elm, ash, hackberry, peach, chinaberry—but no pretty leaves.

Three huge crepe myrtles lined the street on the north side of the house, and one grew at the end of the driveway, and in summer, when they bloomed, they were gorgeous.

 

But in the fall, the little green leaves got a few reddish-brownish-yellowish-deadish spots. Then they fell off.

My mother suggested I go across the street and ask Miss Essie Langley if I might have some leaves from her something-or-other tree—big yellow leaves, they’d have made lovely placemats.

I was shy. I wouldn’t ask.

Note: The Langleys were our wonderful neighbors. We often sat in their yard on summer evenings, and Mother and Miss Essie were always back and forth across the street. Mr. Will gave me two rat terrier puppies when the mama dog that lived on his farm had litters. Miss Essie would have been pleased to give me some leaves.

But I was shy. And stubborn.

My mother said she wasn’t going to ask Miss Essie for me.

So I ended up with a bunch of ugly little crepe myrtle leaves ironed between two sheets of wax paper.

But I’m sure I wasn’t the only second-grader in my class—or in the whole of Central Texas, for that matter—with ugly placemats. Even the socially inclined would have had trouble finding colorful fall foliage.

***

Fall foliage, Austin, Texas.

This is, of course, only a small sample. Some places are lovely.
But all in all, we save our color for spring.

Multiple pictures of colorful leaves
are actually several shots of the same tree.

 

***

Image of crepe myrtle blossoms by Deborah Jackson from Pixabay

Image of giant crepe myrtle by Bishnu Sarangi from Pixabay

Images of fall foliage in Austin by Kathy.

Pearls and Teeth and Abject Mortification

 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

On November 3, I joined women across the United States in wearing pearls to honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I admired, and admire, the Justice for her intellect and her dedication to extending the rights guaranteed under the Constitution to people who had been denied them.

I was happy about the pearls, a gift from my husband, because I don’t often wear them. Sheltering in place has shrunk my social life. I could wear them to medical appointments but am afraid they’d get in the nurses’ way.

Before I posted my photo on Facebook, I cropped out my face. Then I thought, Justice Ginsburg didn’t crop her pictures. So I published the whole thing.

I have little vanity left anyway. I went around bald during chemo, and recently I became desperate enough for a haircut to submit myself to David’s new clippers, which have two settings, extra-short and scalp-showing-in-places. I chose extra-short. My hair has grown a lot since then. I look forward to the day when I no longer look so much like Hercule Poirot.

Yesterday I had a scare: a throbbing headache above my right ear. I haven’t had any headaches at all since the migraine that sent me to the emergency room in 2000. That was the best migraine I ever had. They knocked me out for forty minutes and when I woke up I felt great. All those years of twenty-four-hour migraines, and I could have gone to the ER and had them zapped.

Kathy wearing pearls

But I digress. Last year, when I was having some problems with balance, the oncologist mentioned the possibility that cancer had made it to my brain. So when yesterday’s headache suddenly blossomed, throbbed, in just that one spot above my ear, I had a choice: to report it at my appointment in December, or to call the triage nurse immediately. David called. I described the symptoms. The nurse told me to stay near the phone for a call back.

Waiting, I dredged up all the no-big-deal causes I could think of: I spend most of my time reading and writing, and I really, really need new glasses; I’d skipped lunch and was very hungry; it was the day after the presidential election. . . .

Within fifteen minutes the doctor’s nurse called and asked for details.

I recited my history of headaches, my current symptoms, and my emotional state.

In one way, it was like the Friday afternoon at 4:48, a couple of years ago, when I touched my neck and felt a lump, and panicked, and called the nurse, and she said to come in Monday morning . . . and then on Sunday night I realized the lump was part of my new port. They’d removed the malfunctioning one on the left and installed a new one on the right, and a right port sometimes feels different from a left port . . .

So on Monday morning I told the nurse practitioner I was there on false pretenses but refused to feel silly about coming in. She confirmed the false pretenses and said, “Never feel silly about calling when you suspect something’s wrong.”

Yesterday’s experience wasn’t so pleasant. Before the nurse called, I had figured out the reason for headache. I knew I had to disclose everything, and I did, but this time I felt silly. No, not silly. Mortified.

“The headache was caused by . . . I was wearing a tiara.”

Two sets of tiara teeth and the paw of one cat

The string of pearls had made me feel so dressed up, so elegant, that the next day I celebrated the democratic process by wearing my tiara. It’s a little tight. On each side, there’s a comb whose teeth–emphasis on teeth–slide into the hair to keep the tiara in place. If the wearer has no hair, they pierce the scalp.

Hearing the full story, the nurse, instead of saying, “Never feel silly  about calling,” said, “Hahahahahahahahaha.”

“So I took it off a few minutes ago and the headache went away.”

“Hahahahahahahahaha.”

When she caught her breath, she said she was glad I felt better. “Hahahahahahahahaha.”

We hung up. I spent the next half-hour imagining her repeating our conversation to the doctor.

Now. Some women in my position would be so embarrassed they would run out and find a new oncologist. I thought about it.

But then I remembered Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Would she be mortified ? Would she run out and find a new doctor?

Not on your tintype.

So neither will I. In December, I will don my tiara, ignore the excruciating pain, march into the doctor’s office, and show him those teeth.

Ever since I told him I can’t sleep because when I go to bed the voices in my head start talking–I meant my characters–he’s thought I’m a little crazy.

I might as well let him think I’ve gone completely around the bend.

And if he says, “Hahahahahahahahaha”–that’s good medicine.

###

Someday I’ll explain why I have a tiara.

###

Portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Simmie Knox, under commission of the United States Supreme Court, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

The Maven: A Poe-ish Poem for Halloween

2018-10-20 ttm pixabay poe cc0 pd writer-17565_640

I would say this post is back by popular demand, but I’d be lying. I’m posting it because it’s Halloween, and because I had fun writing it way back when, and because I want to.

For the reason I wrote it, read on.

*****

Why? Because–A friend, calling to confirm David and I would meet her and her husband the next day for the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center, reported her house was being leveled for the second time in three years: “There are thirteen men under my house.”

I hooked up Edgar Allan Poe with the number thirteen and house with Usher and wrote the following verse.

Note: Tuck and Abby are my friends’ dogs.

Another note: Maven means expert. I looked it up to make sure.

THE MAVEN

To G. and M. in celebration
of their tenth trimester
of home improvement,
with  affection.
Forgive me for making
mirth of melancholy.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping,

As of someone gently tapping, tapping at my chamber floor.

“‘Tis some armadillo,” said I, “tapping at my chamber floor,

Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the dry September,

And my house was sinking southward, lower than my bowling score,

Pier and beam and blocks of concrete, quiet as Deuteron’my’s cat feet,

Drooping like an unstarched bedsheet toward the planet’s molten core.

“That poor armadillo,” thought I, “choosing my house to explore.

He’ll squash like an accordion door.”

“Tuck,” I cried, “and Abby, come here! If my sanity you hold dear,

Go and get that armadillo, on him all your rancor pour.

While he’s bumping and a-thumping, give his rear a royal whumping,

Send him hence with head a-lumping, for this noise do I abhor.

Dasypus novemcinctus is not a beast I can ignore

Clumping ‘neath my chamber floor.”

While they stood there prancing, fretting, I imparted one last petting,

Loosed their leashes and cried “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war.

As they flew out, charged with venom, I pulled close my robe of denim.

“They will find him at a minimum,” I said, “and surely more,

Give him such a mighty whacking he’ll renounce forevermore

Lumbering ‘neath my chamber floor.”

But to my surprise and wonder, dogs came flying back like thunder.

“That’s no armadillo milling underneath your chamber floor.

Just a man with rule and level, seems engaged in mindless revel,

Crawling round. The wretched devil is someone we’ve seen before,

Measuring once and measuring twice and measuring thrice. We said, ‘Señor,

Get thee out or thee’s done for.'”

“Zounds!” I shouted, turning scarlet. “What is this, some vill’nous varlet

Who has come to torment me with mem’ries of my tilting floor?”

Fixing myself at my station by my floundering foundation,

Held I up the quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

“Out, you cad!” I said, “or else prepare to sleep beneath my floor,

Nameless there forever more.”

Ere my words had ceased resounding, with their echo still surrounding,

Crawled he out, saluted, and spoke words that chilled my very core.

“I been down there with my level, and those piers got quite a bevel.

It’s a case of major evolution: totter, tilt galore.

Gotta fix it right away, ma’am, ‘less you want your chamber floor

At a slant forevermore.”

At his words there came a pounding and a dozen men came bounding

From his pickup, and they dropped and disappeared beneath my floor.

And they carried beam and hammer and observed no rules of grammar,

And the air was filled with clamor and a clanging I deplore.

“Take thy beam and take thy level and thy failing Apgar score

And begone forevermore.”

But they would not heed my prayer, and their braying filled the air,

And it filled me with despair, this brouhaha that I deplore.

“Fiend!” I said. “If you had breeding, you would listen to my pleading,

For I feel my mind seceding from its sane and sober core,

And my house shall fall like Usher.” Said the leader of the corps,

“Lady, you got no rapport.”

“How long,” shrieked I then in horror, “like an ominous elm borer,

Like a squirrely acorn storer will you lurk beneath my floor?

Prophesy!” I cried, undaunted by the chutzpah that he flaunted,

And the expertise he vaunted. “Tell me, tell me, how much more?”

But he strutted and he swaggered like a man who knows the score.

Quoth the maven, “Evermore.”

He went off to join his legion in my house’s nether region

While my dogs looked on in sorrow at that dubious guarantor.

Then withdrawing from this vassal with his temperament so facile

I went back into my castle and I locked my chamber door.

“On the morrow, they’ll not leave me, but will lodge beneath my floor

Winter, spring, forevermore.”

So the hammering and the clamoring and the yapping, yawping yammering

And the shrieking, squawking stammering still are sounding ‘neath my floor.

And I sit here sullen, slumping in my chair, and dream the thumping

And the armadillo’s bumping is a sound I could adore.

For those soles of boots from out the crawlspace ‘neath my chamber floor

Shall be lifted—Nevermore!

STABBED! by Manning Wolfe and Kathy Waller–FREE eBook–Limited Time Only

STABBED

Bullet Book Speed Read #5

FREE ebook

STABBED, co-written with Manning Wolfe, is celebrating its first birthday!

From October 13 through October 17, the ebook edition is FREE.

Click the link above or the image below to download your free copy from Amazon.

See the book trailer here. Read the excerpt below.

Like all Bullet Bullet Book Speed Reads, STABBED is for readers who want to escape into a good—and fast—read. 

*

 

Click the image

I didn’t want to call Hart. I knew him too well.

I didn’t hate him. I’ve never liked extreme emotion. It clouds the brain. It can lead to obsession.

At one time, I guess, I loved him. But love is also an emotion taken to the extreme. I couldn’t afford to feel it again.

Except for Trace. Years before, I had vowed to do my best to keep my son safe and happy. That meant breaking with Hart. He could cut with words like no one else I’d ever met. Sweet Trace cowered in his presence when Hart went on a yelling spree.

But I had no choice. When I found myself that night alone in the dark, covered with blood, I knew I had to call him. Because he would never believe I was capable of murder.

*

Manning Wolfe, co-author of STABBED, is the author of the Merit Bridges Lady Lawyer mystery series. Read more about her here. Read about all 13 Bullet Books Speed Reads here.

Kathy Waller, co-author of STABBED, is the author of this blog as well as a number of short stories. Read her bio here. Read the rest of her bio all over this blog. She’s still working on a novel. She still lives in Austin with the same two cats and the same one husband.