Days Like This [Repost]

Prompt: Switch

sheets-on-clothesline

Oh no.

Leep awoke slowly, but to the distinctive odor of his own body, warm sheets wrapped around him in knots, his head under the covers.

It was going to be one of those days.

Did anyone else have such days? He got out of bed, stripped off the sheets, took them to the back hallway and put them in the washer. He had only the one set of bedding at the moment, so he set the oven timer to remind him to transfer it to the dryer.

He had a quick shower: quick because the hot water was so pungent, minerally, and reeking of chemicals. Was it always like this?

The kitchen smelled of burnt bacon, lingering from two nights ago. Leep switched on the oven fan. There was a mechanical part loose inside the fan so it rattled ominously. He wouldn’t be able to tolerate coffee this morning, so he put the kettle on for tea. The kettle smelled salty, so he spent half an hour scrubbing hard water build-up before filling it with fresh water and plugging it in.

The fresh tomatoes were heaped in a cardboard flat on the counter. Their scent wafted over to where Leep hovered over the kettle and his teacup. Green and earthy, a pleasant smell, but combined with the burnt bacon, the hard water, the chicken skin in the kitchen garbage pail (he emptied it into the big garbage can out back), the smell in the kitchen was overwhelming.

Outside the air was sulphuric, so much so that Leep could almost see the yellowness of it. He held a cotton handkerchief over his mouth and nose and made his way to the car. He put the tomatoes in the back seat.

The sharp smell of evergreen assaulted Leep as he slid into the driver’s seat. There was a green cut-out fir tree dangling from the rear view mirror shaft, and Leep had no option but to yank it off and toss it out the window. He would clean it up later. Then there was the grease. Leep reached under the passenger seat and found an old hamburger wrapper. Sighing, he got out of the car, picked up the air freshener tree from the ground, and put them both in the garbage can before leaving for Beth’s house.

Leep got the flat of tomatoes from the back seat of his car and went around to the kitchen door of the house. He could see Beth, whom he called (to himself only) Lizzie, through the window, fiddling with something on the counter. He saw the shadow of someone leaving the kitchen. Her daughter, Deborah? He tapped on the door.

“Hello, Leep,” she said with a small smile, glancing behind her where the shadow had been.

“I was at Costco,” said Leep, setting the tomatoes down heavily on the kitchen table.

“Oh!” she said, with marginally more warmth. “What do I owe you?”

“No, no,” said Leep. And he suddenly noticed the smell in the room. It wasn’t Lizzie’s orange and gardenia perfume. It was a powerful scent that overrode anything else. The last time he breathed it in was late at night, on the street, with his gun drawn, hearing an insult so dire that his finger squeezed the trigger and someone crumpled to the ground. It was sweet and musky. To Leep it was a deeply unpleasant smell, but perhaps women liked it. Today, at this moment, it was overpowering.

Leep suppressed a shudder, but not enough to prevent him stammering. “I know you like, you know, tomatoes, you cook them, um—“

“Yes, thanks. I do freeze a lot of spaghetti sauce when tomatoes are in season.”

Which they weren’t, but at Costco Leep had put one of the tomatoes to his nose, and it smelled fresh and fruity. “These ones are ok, I think,” he said to Beth.

She looked to the back of the house again. “Yes, thank you, Leep.” Her breath smelled sour, of coffee. The pot she was making was not the first that Saturday morning.

“Who is he?” asked Leep, then immediately, “Sorry.” She waved her hand at him in dismissal, sending wafts of pear soap fumes.

Then, to Leep’s shock, she answered. “Just a friend from the cruise. Dropped by to say hello.”

“The cologne.” Leep said.

“I know,” said Beth.

He had to get outside. But when he stumbled out, the sulphur smell struck him again. He took his car to the 999 Car Wash. They scrubbed it inside and out. Then instead of evergreen and grease it smelled medicinal, which was intolerable too. Leep took the freshly laundered sheets out of the dryer and made up the bed. They smelled of linen, a blissfully neutral odor. He got a disposable surgical mask from the drawer in the bathroom, turned on the ceiling fan and the portable air purifier, and lay on the bed.

It might take a few hours, even until nightfall, but it had always gone away before. Did anyone else have days like this?


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Puffy enough

Prompt: Strange


Hello Wednesday,

Lately, despite my increased obsession with my iPhone 8s, I find I am placing notebooks and pencils everywhere: beside my chair, on my bedside table, by my desktop, and in my purse. Maybe this is my last-gasp effort to climb out of the mire of digital (digital was supposed to be clean and crisp and efficient) and into the fresh air of analog (old, slow, tedious analog?).

Last thing at night, first thing in the morning, I stare at the screen. What if something happened while I was away from staring at the screen? What if there was a political event, a meme, an emoticon message that I missed for a few hours later or even until tomorrow?

Irrational digital.

A paper novel, a fresh notebook and a pencil. The six o’clock news on television? Maybe. Read a little, look at the horizon; write down a thought or a note, think, put the pencil down. Comprehensible analog.

Ok, just try and pry my laptop or my iPhone from my hands— I don’t want to give them up. But I am making room, lots of room, for my lined notebooks and sharpened pencils, too.

Apropos of nothing particularly strange, though strange they may be, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon valentines day

cartoon horizon

cartoon not puffy enough


Love and peace,

~~FP

Shantay, You Stay

Prompt: Earworm


Don’t you hate it when you get up, have a shower, realize you are too sick to function, go back to bed with wet hair so that you look like a clown when it dries, miss out on a whole day and don’t even manage your usual Wednesday post?

The struggle is real. But I’m fine and busy and had time to mull over the prompt, “earworm”, which is a tune that buzzes around in your head and is impossible to silence. When I feel sick I like to binge-watch stuff on Netflix— well, even when I’m not sick. In any case, I’m up to season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality-style competition show that pits drag queens from across the nation of America in a contest that nets the winner $100,000, some make-up, and huge drag queen fame.

When you binge-watch, Netflix edits out repetitive credits but the basics of the RuPaul theme song remain… “May the best woman winnnn” and of course the show is filled with repetitive songs and catch phrases (“The library is open!”) and insider jokes. The song that simply will not leave my head after a binge evening is “Cover Girl”, which plays every episode when RuPaul, before the judging segment, appears in full glorious drag and struts down the runway:

Cover girl
Put that bass in your walk
Head to toe
Let your whole body talk

That’s about it. But that little fragment spins round and round in my tiny brain until it collapses in on itself in exhaustion… then I sit down and watch anther RuPaul. I am diligently focussing on this series now so that I can reach the final episode and have that song grow wings and take flight for a destination far, far away.

(…BTW, I tend to like the quirky and the glamorous queens, like Tyra, Raja, Sharon, and Sasha.)

May  I now present a wee cartoon extravaganza?

cartoon that good

Merry

cartoon hickock


And remember, if you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?

~~FP

Robin

Prompt: Enigma


It’s it is somewhere between twilight and darkness and the clouds are defined by the light ash sky behind them. Crickets are making their night sound. And I am thinking about Robin, the enigma.

Robin arrives on our back lawn every evening at 5:30 pm. He is tall and plump for a bird and has excellent posture. He hops around on two legs. When he hears worms making worm noises beneath the sod, he stops, tilts his head, and pounces. Then he continues his hop but with a worm or half a worm dangling from his beak. The ritual continues. When enough worms dangle he disappears, presumably to his hungry young family, tucked away in a nest in a location unknown. Then he returns, hopping and posing and pouncing, until sunset.

Robin returns every afternoon, punctually, so that I always know when it’s happy hour. This is a great service.

I can’t help but wonder what sound worms make in the dense earth under the grass. I wonder if they can feel Robin thudding around on the surface. “Oh shit, here he comes. Everybody run!”

Robin is not bothered nor distracted by me. He doesn’t fear me. If he does, he hunts anyway, for how else with the kids eat? He is a success as a provider.

I see the quail, and their parade of babies. I see the ducks, and their trail of ducklings. I watch them fatten and, sadly, dwindle in number as the season stretches on. I will never see Robin’s babies.

But I’ll see Robin tomorrow at 5:30 sharp. Cheers!

As it is Wednesday, many I now present a few of my favourite random cartoons?

cartoon mystery wrapped

cartoon nice moat

cartoon security


Peace and love,

~~FP

Teach a man to yodel

Prompt: Taught


Dear Wednesday,

Memorable teachers I have known:

Miss Howard: My grade one teacher was a kindly old woman (was she really old, I wonder? I remember her as grandmotherly). See Spot run. Look, baby, look! A good introduction to school for a sensitive little boo like me. My younger brother and sister were not so lucky.

Miss McGillvray: My second and third grade teacher was young and pleasant; liked kids and loved her job. She had freckles.

Miss Ferguson: My fourth, fifth and sixth grade teacher was a gem. Pushed us hard because she knew we could excel. I learned to write essays (yes, essays) in her class, a skill I needed and used in university. She once rapped my knuckles with a ruler for passing notes. She saw me as a feverish loony when she made a house visit when I was off school for three weeks because of strep throat. I missed my stage debut as Mrs Flintstone in the Christmas play because of this illness, which probably dashed my future career as an actress.

Mr Fraser: A prankster. It was fun to have a teacher with a sense of humour— also got my sense of humour.

Miss Connor: The one who called me a dim bulb, and failed a story I wrote because she didn’t know what a “gremlin” was. No, I still hold a grudge.

Miss McIntyre: Never was a teacher more well-intended but more boring. I used to pray for nuclear war to put an end to the mental paralysis caused by the topic “portage”.

Miss Campbell: Miss McIntyre after 30 years a teacher and thoroughly bored (and still boring).

Mr Cummings: a young teacher who somehow got me through Math class, which I took by mistake since I was hopeless and disinterested, and congratulated me after graduation at a basketball game for passing the final exam, when I was embarrassingly high as a kite and just grinned and drooled silently like a maniac.

Mr Creep: Several of my post high-school teachers fit this mold. Yep, creepy comments, asking me out, penalizing my work if when I didn’t cooperate, downright sexual harassment. One of these was expelled by the University of British Columbia because of me. Well, not me directly. My mother and a few other parents petitioned the Dean of Women after hearing a few of the stories, which I told as if they were jokes. She didn’t tell me this for 10 years.

The teacher who told me every single word matters hugely in a poem you are writing, and every single stroke counts mightily in a picture you are drawing.

And may I now present several of my favourite cartoons, some tenuously related to today’s prompt, “taught”?

cartoon janitor conference

cartoon give a fish

cartoon viii skater


Peace, love, and early season cherries,

~~FP

Innocence [Repost]

 

Prompt: Famous

adam and eve

Kelly Bak was joining Pat for a private lunch at the White House. They’d become quite close during Rich’s run for governor of California— both wives to powerful, and in Kelly’s case, very wealthy men. They could talk freely about their travels, their servants, their possessions, the famous people they knew, without sounding pompous or pretentious. All these things were incidentals, elements of their daily lives.

They both knew that the Mellon family didn’t eat shellfish, that coats made from the fur of female mink were lighter in weight but just as warm, and the first name of the owner of the hidden hotel near the Spanish Steps. They could share concerns about temperamental cooks and valets, discuss which make-up artists were the most competent, or when to wear the real jewelry and when to wear the paste.

On this day they met in the small family dining room, where Pat’s “help”, Constance, had laid out sandwich triangles of egg and ham, fruit salad, and slices of chocolate chiffon cake, along with pots of tea and coffee, on a smooth white linen cloth.

They chatted briefly about their daughters, Julie being only a few years older than Kimmy, when Pat noticed a shadow cross Kelly’s face. “What is it?” she asked.

“I think,” said Kelly, “that Kimberly made a mistake.”

“A mistake?”

Kelly hesitated. She lit a cigarette, a Virginia Slim, and inhaled deeply. Feathers of fawn-colored smoke swirled in the air around her.

“There was something going on with her riding instructor,” Kelly said at last, setting her cigarette on the rim of a cut glass ashtray that Pat had thoughtfully moved closer.

Pat didn’t smoke or drink in public, but she looked at the cigarette cradled in the Vallon ashtray with longing, and fought an impulse to smoke, herself, as she always did when conversations or feelings became too intense.

“Oh dear,” said Pat.

“He’s gone, but…”

Pat said nothing. She clasped her hands in her lap. An image of Julie and Kimmy as small children, splashing about in a turquoise blue wading pool, popped into her head. She remembered the bathing suit that Julie wore, her favourite, a pale pink and yellow plaid with a skirt frill.

“She made an appointment with a doctor,” Kelly said slowly. “A different doctor.”

“Perhaps it’s nothing— a teenage thing,” Pat said.

“No,” said Kelly. “I don’t think so.”

Pat wanted to say, Why don’t you ask her? But she knew what happened when you asked questions. They both knew.

“Would you like more coffee?” Pat asked.

Kelly set the china cup on the table and Pat poured from a silver carafe. “How is Richard?” Kelly asked.

“Richard is just fine!” Pat said. “As always.” And she smiled, and poured a second cup for herself.


Legal Drugs

Prompt: Law


Dear Wednesday,

I wonder what the world would be like if there were laws that penalized or even incarcerated liars?

Think of anti-vaxxers, who put the world (yes, the world) in jeopardy of preventable disease pandemics. Or YouTube conspiracy theorists who bully the innocent and terrorize the gullible. Or policy-makers who claim devotion to bettering the human condition while taking bribes to do the opposite. Or a big fat Orange Foolius who lies multiple times daily and renders a entire nation laughable, harmful, and ineffectual all at once.

And he doesn’t even cross his tiny fingers.

…Quick, a diversion! Like you and the entire population of the Universe, I am sick to death of you-know-who. So may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, more or less related to today’s prompt, “law”?

cartoon divorce

cartoon higher court

cartoon legal drugs


Peace, love, and good health,

~~FP