Ned helped out

Prompt: Celebrate


Well, Wednesday, summer was certainly in a hurry to rush off, and so here I sit in front of a charming gas fireplace while it drizzles and blows outside.

The theme today is “celebrate” and there is much to make merry about today (and perhaps every day, if we devoted a little thought to it). How are we merry? Let us count the ways:

  1. My goddaughter gave birth to her third son, and I suspect they will end up with seven children as they keep trying for a girl. In any case, they are a fine, funny family at any size, and the new arrival is greeted with joy by all except the 3-year old who is peeved because they didn’t give the baby the name he wanted: Macaroni and Cheese.
  2. Fall wardrobes of soft fleece and plush wools, and that feeling of smugness and invincibility you get when you wrap up to go out and face the elements. It may be brisk and windy but you are toasty warm in your jacket and fuzzy gloves.
  3. The quickie kitchen book I am writing is ticking along, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated. That’s because I had another creative project to finish first. Creative projects rule!
  4. I still live by the lake. It helps to be happy to look out your window—even if it is a view of the laundromat across the street, since laundromats are good and and give us clean, warm clothes.
  5. Trump may finally be impeached. It might be too early to celebrate, since the man has escaped consequences for countless earlier sorry misdeeds, but what the hell. Bring on the confetti.
  6. Scones. Scones should be celebrated year round. Think of hot buttered scones with tea on a chill autumn morning.
  7. I had a really, very, too much fun dream the other night, which I am so sorry I can’t relate because it is of an adult nature, but trust me, it was a good one.
  8. Tomatillos.

And now, as an anticlimax, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons related to the prompt, “celebrate”?

cartoon birthday party clown

cartoon leave party

cartoon ned helped


Peace and love,

~~FP

Flip-flop Friendly

Prompt: Flip Flop


Hello Wednesday,

What a timely prompt, coming on the heels of US President Trump’s capitulation to dictator Vladimir Putin of Russia, exposing himself as a dupe and a puppet, and cravenly trying to backpedal a day later.

But no, I am on a Trump news break in the interests of my own sanity and desire to live so this brief post is not about one of the most disgraceful flip flops in US history.

I grew up calling flip flops, those cheap little rubbery sandals with the toe piece, thongs. They will never be frickin’ “flip flops”– what a ridiculous mouthful for a deceptively simple bit of footwear.

But then some skimpy underwear interfered. Ok, stringy torturous women’s panties are called “thongs” so god forbid we every refer to rubber sandals using the same term we use for an intimate garment.

When I say, “I’m gonna wear my thongs” it is definitely your problem if you think I will be donning multiple string panties.

Thongs are footwear, too.

The first cartoon of today’s small collection of favourites is connected to today’s prompt, “flip flop” so please enjoy!

cartoon flip flops

cartoon so youre a baby

cartoon do-you-have-any-books-on-the-white-male-experience-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-14261423-8419449


The last cartoon above is kind of illuminating isn’t it, with regards to why feminism exists?

Have a wonderful evening!

~~FP

When Iggie Met Sally

Prompt: Astral

aster

Aggie had her baby on July 17, and it was immediately apparent that Iggie was not the father. The child had very long, straight brown hair and its tiny baby features were snugly concentrated in the centre of her face, which reminded everyone of someone else… but who?

We had them over for dinner again to admire the new addition to the family, and it was Celia, torn away from her iPhone long enough to examine the wee thing with a critical eye, reached over her, smoothed her soft hair into a part, then snatched Uncle Fred’s glasses from his face and posed them over the little face.

All eyes turned to Uncle Fred, who turned an alarming shade of magenta, then to Aggie, who immediately took the baby up to nurse, and finally to Iggie, who was idly clipping his chest hair with my mother’s favourite sewing scissors.

He looked up, unalarmed. He was used to people staring at him and had given up trying to figure out why. He smiled and waved, then set the scissors on the coffee table. He picked up a magazine, and proceeded to rip out the pages, one by one, leaving them in a neat stack on the cushion beside him. He looked up once, to glance meaningfully in the direction of the kitchen, indicating he was ready to fill his belly.

My mother, who had turned pink in the face too, gratefully hustled into the kitchen where the Crock Pot roast needed no attention at all. In fact, we all threaded our way around the furniture in a long, windy, single line like a regiment of ants, into the kitchen to join her. All except Iggie, Aggie, Uncle Fred, and my father.

We could hear my father’s low baritone, humming soothingly, and Uncle Fred’s less sedate squeaks, coughs, and something that sounded like Gregorian chanting. My mother told me to get away from the door and mash the potatoes, which was usually Uncle Fred’s job, though the consensus was he mashed them too much, making them gluey. I was determined to have fluffy mash, and dedicated my full attention to it.

Julia poured herself another glass of white wine. “Who else would have him?” she said, and my mother told her to hush, even though, if you thought about it, it was true.

Uncle Fred had meticulously parted and gelled brown hair, hardened into a helmet, and he wore an abundance of Old Spice cologne because, we suspected, he had an aversion to bathing. He was very white and prone to sunburn even in the winter. He didn’t like animals and we had to lock Charlie in the basement whenever he visited, because he pretended to have an allergy. He had a lot of alleged allergies, including aversions to poppies, asters, rayon, acid-free paper, dish soap, chain link, and Chapstick. Almost everyone had caught him watching porn on my father’s laptop, because he was afraid to access it at home in case “they” could trace it back to him. He wore white sport socks with leather loafers. Uncle Fred’s political leanings shifted regularly to the opposite of what everyone else thought. He believed he was a good debater, but he had no true beliefs.

Well, nobody’s perfect.

Iggie was surprisingly and profoundly disinterested in the fact that Aggie and the baby would now move in with Uncle Fred. If you looked back, you could see their relationship had been troubled for a while. Iggie had stopped taking Aggie’s hand and putting it in his lap a long time ago. Aggie had stopped licking his face when she felt amorous. Perhaps it was inevitable that they would drift apart. The stresses of moving to a new town and to an era far different from the Pleistocene Epoch could strain any relationship.

The landlord of the apartment that Iggie and Aggie had called home wanted to torch the interior, and possibly the entire building, but my father convinced him the place could be salvaged, and called on his friend Ernie McMurphy to come and do the drywalling and carpet installation at no cost to the landlord, since the damage deposit had barely begun to cover the necessary renovations.

So Iggie needed to find a new place, a bachelor pad, and my father called on one of his ex-students, now a real estate agent, Sally Bonaparte, to help Iggie find an unfurnished studio apartment on the ground floor with room for a fire pit outside.

It was love at first sight.

Too Many Stops

Prompt: Fluff

garden Jenny Beck

Virginia couldn’t deny Cash access to his daughter, no matter what he’d been up to. She was still furious, yes, and couldn’t bear to face him and listen to his apologies and supplications, which would be sincere and heart-felt. And completely irrelevant.

Cash tended to focus on the latest of his transgressions, ignoring the string of mistakes and fuck-ups, some merely annoying, some damaging and humiliating, that led to this place of remorse and repentance. He was late picking up the babysitter— was that a sin worthy of packing up and leaving, taking his beloved daughter away too?

He would promise to be prompt, when that wasn’t the issue at all. And Virginia would have to explain, yet again, that it wasn’t one action it was many— the train they were riding on made too many stops, and so they would never, ever reach their destination.

Meanwhile, Virginia hated listening to herself rattle off the times he’d been late, had behaved like a besotted teenager with other women, forgotten planned events, disregarded legitimate concerns about their home and finances, refused to liaise with his parents and instead allowed them to intrude and interfere. It wasn’t like her to nag and complain; he was turning her into a shrew, and she didn’t like it. She was tired of it. She was tired of him.

So she had the child-minder, Devon, take Virginia’s car and deliver Echo with all her paraphernalia to Cash at the house, and arranged for Devon to pick her up again at the agreed time, six o’clock in the evening.

“There’s no one here,” Devon said.

Virginia held the phone close to her ear. “Say again?”

“There’s no one home, it’s twenty after six, no one’s around,” Devon said. Her voice sounded subdued and calm— if someone was to panic, it wouldn’t be her.

When Cash’s cellphone clicked into the answering service, Virginia called his parents, and when there was no reply, she called the police, who reluctantly told her there was nothing they could do at the moment— they were married, shared a house, he was the father, wasn’t he?

Devon drove Virginia’s BMW X3 the half-mile to Cash’s parents’ house— it was a beautiful, sprawling, white gabled home with an expanse of perfectly manicured lawn in the front, surrounded by azalea and rhododendrons which had been photographed one spring and published in a national home and garden magazine. Devon hadn’t seen the house before. It reminded her of the one she and her old friends had squatted in back in the 90’s.

She walked around most of the perimeter of the house, by the pool, the tennis courts, past the pond and the strange topiary (which Cash had told her gave him nightmares as a child), and what looked like stables, though there were no animals. Twilight was settling upon the estate, and lights, triggered electronically, started turning on automatically inside the house and around the grounds, bathing everything in a golden glow.

If Cash hadn’t brought his baby Echo to his parents, where had he taken her?

Something caught Devon’s eye… something bright and incongruous, a small, fluorescent orange object near the poolhouse. She approached and picked up a plump, fuzzy orange rabbit toy, as soft as the real thing, from the tile.

The door was ajar, and, bunny in hand, Devon pushed it open, and saw Echo’s care bag and toy bag dumped by the entrance to the showers. There was a kind of lounge further in, with a blue sofa, a small fridge, and a flat screen TV. The room was unlit— only the light from the string of bulbs surrounding the pool outside illuminated the room.

Cash was sprawled on the sofa, on his back, with Echo on top of him, her face nestled into his neck, both of them deep in sleep. Cash had his mouth open. A small trickle of vomit dried on Echo’s cheek.

His phone was on a table, vibrating. That would be Virginia.

Devon picked it up.


Mockingbird

Prompt: Flavor

baby doll

“Look at his tiny toes,” said Mama.

I looked at its toes, they were tiny; it was tiny, smaller than my baby doll, and just as bald. its face was tiny and wrinkled, its eyes were tightly shut as if it was in pain.

When I poked it in the tummy (when Mama wasn’t looking) it didn’t cry. I could wrap my whole hand around its foot or its hand and it would disappear in my fist.

“He is so tiny and beautiful,” said Mama, not to me, but to someone else. Jesus? She held it up against her face, breathing it in.

I wasn’t tiny, not any more, not yet. Mama didn’t notice when I stopped eating. She put my cheese sandwich and fruit salad on the table. She fed it milk from her breast. She put Kentucky Fried Chicken and coleslaw in cardboard tubs on the table. She took it to the changing table and wiped its bum with a soft white cloth. She gave me a dixiecup full of vanilla ice cream and a small wooden paddle to eat with. She rocked it in her arms, walking round and round, singing “Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird”.

When I fell asleep at school, Mama said, “I’m sorry, kitty, baby kept you awake.” I didn’t hear it cry at night. It slept in Mama’s bed.

Gramma came to stay. She held it, saying, “He is so tiny!” And then she saw me watching, and took me out to the front porch, where there was a bench, and we sat down, and she took me into her lap.

“You are thin,” Gramma said. I squirmed. “What’s wrong with your eyes, kitty?” She put her face close to mine. My eyes had fallen inside my head so I could hardly see out.

Gramma wrapped me up in her arms and I disappeared, just like its tiny foot disappeared in my fist.

Gramma brought me something that moved. It was covered in soft grey fur, striped, with ears too big for its head and a tiny nose and tiny paws. It was warm and purred when I held it to my chest.

“What will you call him?” Gramma asked me.

“Moon,” I said.

“What shall we call the baby?” Mama asked me.

He wrapped a tiny hand around my finger. “Can we call him Joe, same as daddy?”

“We can,” said Mama.

New Word

Prompt: Paper

post it

Cash returned home to find Post-It notes attached to surfaces all over the house.

He was late; he knew it. But what the hell was this? He tossed his car keys on the polished hall table, and saw the first note, stuck to a little wooden box where Virginia deposited all the small bits and bobs she scooped up so they could find them again, like keys, business cards, polysporin, coins, membership cards, stray earrings, thread, beads, Tic Tacs, and all manner of reminders and odd notes.

Echo and I have gone to Annie’s for a few days, it said in Virginia’s small, rounded handwriting. She learned a new word.

She had learned a new word. When Virginia first arrived from the office, after getting the babysitter Devon’s panicked phone call, she’d heard the both hugely wonderful and hugely disappointing news. She didn’t go into the office every day, but she’d had a couple of meetings, and needed to catch up undistracted on some long overdue emails with her agent and financial advisor. Of course Echo, bless her little heart, waited for the moment Virginia was out of the house to blurt out her new word:

“Hi.”

Devon hastened to assure Virginia that was the word, after she’d seen Virginia’s face fall, but they both were well aware that “hi” was one of Echo’s first words ever. It was when Devon passed Echo, squirming and giggling, into her mother’s arms, saying, “There you go, say hi to mommy”, that Echo actually said the word that melted Virginia’s heart. “Mama.”

As Devon packed up her notebooks and textbooks, she said, “I’m really sorry, Virginia, but I have an appointment with my parole officer, and can’t be late for this one.”

After reassuring Devon and confirming that Cash hadn’t phoned or texted, Virginia paid her in bills instead of the usual cheque, adding a little extra for the stress and trouble.

 

Cash wondered what the new word was, and opened the lid of the wooden box to find another yellow note. Who knows how much you owe? it said. Cash saw one of Echo’s teething rings under the note, and when he picked it up it was still damp.

He spotted another Post-It note attached to the lampshade just inside the family room:

Come out of the darkness of your own ego.

There was a note on the flatscreen television:

Blank until turned on— like you.

The notes piled up. Cash kept each one neatly stacked, placing one on top of the other as he found them.

On the sofa:

A place to lie.

There was a longer note stuck to the mantle of the fireplace. It read:

You hate the song ‘Dust in the Wind’. It’s still true. How do you matter?

On the door of the fridge:

Fed up.

And most hurtfully, on the bedside table in the master bedroom:

When secrets don’t matter any more.

Cash sat on the bed and took out his cellphone. He put it back in his pocket again. He set the pile of notes beside him on the duvet. Driving home from the ad agency, he’d forgotten what happened at the meeting, and the dark young woman with the silky hair, and thought only of Echo, and her eyes as blue and clear as marble, the way her hand folded into a fist when she laughed, and the thin, wispy hair that they thought would never grow, and how it smelled like lilacs.

He was late, but he was often late. He should have called, but there were other times he should have called. He wasn’t a complete fool: He knew he was sometimes lax, lazy, spoiled. But he also knew how deeply he loved, how much Echo and Virginia meant to him. Surely they knew?

Annie’s cottage was a good three-hour drive. He wouldn’t text her while she was driving. This would also give him a chance to read the strange notes again, to gather his thoughts, to think of what to say to convince Virginia to bring Echo home again.

In a few minutes, he went to fix himself a sandwich. He’d taken the note down, but as he opened the fridge door he could see what she’d written as clearly and starkly as if it were etched into the surface:

Fed up.


Pink

Prompt: Pink

pink mobile

Cash and Virginia agreed about one thing: they wanted the nursery for Echo to be pink. They liked pink. Virginia liked it in her design and decor projects and Cash— well one of his favourite press photos was of himself a the Doral tournament with all the pros in a group photo, and Cash in a pink golf shirt looking masculine and caring. People magazine online published the pic.

Virginia supported pink ribbon causes, though she had her doubts. Breast cancer “awareness”— what was that? Were there people unaware of breast cancer? Where did the money go? As a professional model she accepted, all the same, stipends to appear and run mini marathons; she promoted the cause, for a fee, on her social media accounts. It all felt strange. How could she push the issues of the pink ribbon without succumbing to trendy and meaningless promotions that did nothing but further the images of the corporations who sponsored them?

Cash made several trips to China. He hated being away from baby Echo, but he needed to get serious about his business and the Chinese manufacturers of the prototype and possibly the contract for the mass production of the Dinex (name pending) chair. His dad was doubtful and disdainful, and he wasn’t completely sure where Virginia stood on the launch. But there was a young woman who worked for one of his contact firms, a girl with black hair as slick as a snail’s trail, who wore a pink spaghetti strap dress and looked at Cash the way Virginia had during the weeks of their early courtship.

There was a baby girl named Echo. She lay in her crib, on her back. surrounded by pink and black mobile abstracts, poking her hands and feet in the air as she learned how to move her limbs. She cared nothing about pink, and everything.