In Search Of

Prompt: Word of the Day*

grape scissors

Envy, in the junk shop looking for grape scissors, spotted the oddly exotic wooden candelabra and asked Chester what it was.

“It’s for Kwanzaa,” Chester told her. “You know, celebration time if you don’t do Christmas.” Chester had not yet taken down the shop holiday decorations: the flashing red and green fairy lights above the cashier, the tree decorated with white and blue baubles, and the sinister mechanical Santa that posed menacingly on the counter top.

She felt drawn to the kinara, but she’d felt drawn to inanimate objects with mysterious pasts for some time now, and with her frequent visits to his shop she and Chester had become ineluctably friendly. She knew he lived with his mother and that their relationship was amiable, he was allergic to cats, he loved modern classical music, and had an aversion to barbers.

He however, knew very little about Envy, except that she was a plain little thing, wore an engagement ring, paid full price for items he was fully willing to be bargained down on, and was constantly in search of something. She didn’t seem like the “I’ll know it when I see it” type. She was too precise, too serious. He’d seen the facade drop only once and noted that it was as fragile as the antique glass balls on his artificial Christmas tree— in danger of shattering into a million irreparable pieces with only a slight jog. In Envy’s case, when Chester told her the old joke about Santa’s reindeer when she came in just at closing on Christmas Eve. She’d laughed like a delighted toddler.

There was a strange cathexis about her, for sure. Her deportment was hesitant but eager, reserved but outward-looking, shy but not cowed. He was half-tempted to pursue his relationship with her, even as friends, but his epiphanic discovery that he cared more about objects than people steered him clear of following that irresponsible instinct.

In any case any desire to spend more time with her shattered like the aforementioned glass ball when her fiancé entered the shop.

“Envy!” Was she deaf? “I’ve been looking all over for you. It’s on, our party is on, I got the Midsomer Room and they have Chilean sea bass!”

She looked like a Chilean sea bass, caught in a net. “They have it?”

“Well, they can order it. But we have to confirm by tomorrow.” He grinned. “C’mere!” and before she could move closer he had picked her up in his broad embrace and pulled her off the floor. “Can’t wait, babe!”

Envy’s scowl dissipated somewhat as she was mercilessly adored, but the wariness around her eyes remained.

“Chester,” she said when she was released. “This is Bob.”

“I’d inferred that,” said Chester pleasantly. “So Envy, did you find what you were looking for?”

She sighed inaudibly. “No, not yet,” she said. “Keep an eye out for me, will you?”

“I surely will,” said Chester. “Nice to meet you, Bob.”

“You too,” said Bob. He suddenly pulled out a business card and scribbled something on its back. “By the way, here’s the number of my barber— a great guy! and reasonable too.”

“Thank you,” said Chester, taking the card and dropping it into the wastebasket behind the counter, out of sight of Bob and Envy.

As they opened the door and let a gust of cold wind rattle the interior of the shop, Chester could hear Envy whispering, “Yes, it’s better, but still…!”


*courtesy of a Word of the Day calendar gift that I just opened.

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

Imperfection

Prompt: The Artist’s Eye


Hello Wednesday,

Two of the framed artworks that hangs on the walls of this home got here in rather strange ways.

One I purchased at a silent auction— it is a large abstract piece with a compact multi-coloured blob in the centre in shades of fuscia, green, and royal blue, which you could say compete with the other colours in the living room (warm reds, woods, muted yellows). You could also call it …imperfect. Yes, that’s the word. It ended up on my wall because as I cruised the silent auction goodies, I noticed that no one had bid on this imperfect work of art, so lovingly created and so generously donated by the artist to a good cause. So I entered my bid. Sometimes silent auction items need a kick-start.

Naturally mine was the only bid, and I don’t buy art and put it in the garage. So there it hangs, just around a little corner so it’s not always in view, which is fine with me.

The other work of “art” was discovered by some builders in the old garden shed of the old house that used to sit on this property. This is an oil painting, a landscape in muted, muddy colours with a mountain and a tree, no doubt the masterpiece of previous owners. While the contractors were busy with the renovations, they placed this painting on the mantle of the fireplace.

When we had our house-warming party, all the builders and tilers and tradespeople were invited (they did a splendid job) and as a kind of inside joke, we framed and hung this sincere painting on a prominent wall. They just loved it!

Yet years later it still hangs there, in a gilded gold frame, flanked by two lovely watercolours. Why? I don’t know. It reminds me of the excitement that surrounded the building of this new house, and the thrill of the first few days and months in a house that was all ours and with no notion of pulling up roots ever again.

Imperfection and sincerity. There could be worse words in an art critic’s vocabulary.

Related to art and the artist’s eye, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon-this-artist-is-a-deeply-religious-feminist-and-anti-smoking-advocate-who-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9182535-8419447

cartoon-you-rarely-see-this-kind-of-joy-for-under-ten-thousand-new-yorker-cartoon1

cartoon art ask not tell


See you tomorrow for Throwback Thursday!

~~FP

 

My August Long Weekend

Prompt: Organize

beach party crowd

My long weekend starts on Thursday evening, with a mac & cheese dinner for family plus 4-6 guests.

Friday morning: Golf.
Friday: sunning, swimming, boating, sand-castling, beverages. Make 2 salads.
Friday dinner: Bring Your Own Dog (hot dog BBQ) for family plus 20.

Saturday morning: Golf. Make spaghetti sauce for 50. Pick up garlic bread. Make salad. Buy watermelon.
Saturday: sunning, swimming, boating sand-castling, beverages. Set up marquee and tables. Prepare plates, cutlery, napkins and condiments.
Saturday dinner: Pasta for 50 (some years 70-80). Meatball Contest. Musical entertainment. Beverages. Dancing.

Sunday morning: Golf.
Sunday afternoon: Bocce Bitch Tournament. Prizes. Variety of salmon appetizers. Beverages.
Sunday evening: Tacos for 30.

Monday: sunning, swimming, boating, sand-castling, beverages. Strike down marquee.
Monday afternoon: Greek lunch buffet.
Monday evening: leftovers for ? Strike down tables.

Tuesday: Bye bye to all except 3 visiting family. Return rental plates, glasses, cutlery, tables, cloths, and pots.

Wednesday: Sleep. Do laundry, Do more laundry. Try to find lost kitchen utensils. Hose down deck. Avoid weighing oneself.

___

Now, the above is too much work, and as well-organized as it all has become over the years, the number of people who come early and linger late has increased. People have procreated and bring their children to a weekend that meant so much to themselves as children. And so it goes.

How do we scale it back without offending anyone or ruining childhood memories of a fine gathering put together by generous, open-hearted and loving hosts? I enjoy all of the events and dinners, but there are never fewer than 20 or so people here, in and out, over the course of any day. I don’t golf. I personally oversee only the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday dinners, and I have help; friends or family host the others. I organize and provide prizes for the Bocce Bitch Tournament. Most people pitch in to clean up.

We go through scads of toilet  paper. The fridge stops functioning properly. The dog gets neurotic.

But it’s mostly fun. And utterly exhausting. What to do?

Parent Pair

Prompt: Invitation

chick-and-egg

“I’m not going.”

“Of course you are, it’s all about you.”

“It’s not about me, it’s about the baby,” said Virginia. She combed her hair while seated in front of her vanity mirror in the master bedroom of the coachhouse. She looked like a duchess from an English mini-series. “This is about your parents and their friends, and I refuse to play Madonna when I’m dead tired.”

“You’re hormonal,” said Cash, immediately regretting it.

“And you’re not, Mr Morning Sickness, Tender Nipple Man, Moody Bastard?”

“That was because I love you and Echo,” Cash said.

“They didn’t ask me, they just planned and invited. I had no say or warning. I’m tired Cash. I might even be fucking hormonal. I want to have a glass of Guinness and maybe a nap today. Fall asleep in front of the TV.”

“Babe,” said Cash. “Father and Mummy are just proud of you, of us. They want to celebrate their first grandbaby. Aren’t you proud? Don’t you want to celebrate?”

Virginia rolled her eyes so hard they almost flew out of their sockets. “You take the baby to the party.” Virginia looked at her watch. “She’ll most likely sleep through the whole thing.”

“Me?”

“You, the baby’s father and half of her parent-pair.”

“What if she wakes up?” said Cash.

“Then the world will end,” said Virginia.

“People will bring expensive gifts,” Cash said.

“Fantastic. I’ll write the thank-you notes.”

“I love you,” said Cash.

“Good,” said Virginia.

Aromatic and Day 21

Prompt: Aromatic

There’s nothing like vintage, and in keeping with today’s prompt, here is a vintage New Yorker cartoon. Oh, so sublime.

cartoon-aromatic-cheese

Meanwhile, because of NaNoWriMo I am still concerned about bodies, clothes, and household becoming aromatic as I neglect everything in order to write 50,000 words in 30 days. There is progress: laundry is done, it just is in a heap ready to be folded.

And I hit my halfway mark today, 25,000 words. Very late, and very stressful, but I will carry on!

Live and Let Live

Prompt: Volunteer

lamb-jumping

“I almost didn’t recognize Sandy and Ron with their clothes on,” Jerry Plankton said to his neighbour, Lily Rose Roades. They were sipping on weak Harvey Wallbangers, served from a massive punch bowl, at what Jerry would call a soirée— an evening gathering of friends, with drinks and snacks. It looked like everyone brought a little something. Lily Rose, the host, had laid out the offerings on the white linen tableclothed dining table. Sausage rolls, raw vegetable platters, and odd little tortilla pinwheels filled with strange ingredients, like peanut butter and bacon, were set out side by side with potato chips and toasted almonds.

The kitchen, dining room and living room were basically all one room, which made entertaining easy, unless you were a guest who liked to lurk and hide. As far as Jerry could tell, there were no lurkers at this little party, except perhaps the dog.

Lily Rose told him she’d invited some fellow teachers, neighbours, people from her Wednesday night Aikido class, a few from the volunteer community garden, and her physiotherapist, Adam, who’d become a close friend.

“This punch is nice,” said Jerry. “But needs an extra hit of vodka.”

“There is some in the cupboard over the fridge,” said Lily Rose with a smile. “It’s not like you have to drive.”

Jerry made his way to the kitchen, where Lily Rose’s neighbour on the other side was at the sink running water into a metal bowl, presumably for the golden retriever that stood nearby, grinning a dog grin, and undoubtedly thirsty. Who brought a dog to a soirée?

“Who brings a dog to a party?” Jerry said to his neighbour, Bernard. He hated to embody the cliché of an old and cantankerous man, but seriously, a dog?

“She’s more than a dog,” said Bernard. He took the bowl of water and put it in the front hallway, where no doubt it would be spilled all over the terracotta tile by a departing guest.

Sandy and Ron hovered near the dining table, with tumblers of frizzling club soda with a wedge of lime, looking not so much out of place as awkwardly overdressed. Sandy wore a sleeveless frock that resembled a nightgown, loose and comfortable, and Ron wore a pair of Bermuda shorts and a t-shirt which displayed a silhouette of a gambolling baby sheep with the caption: “What kind of asshole eats a lamb?”

“Vegetarian, are we?” asked Jerry, emboldened by the extra splash of vodka in his punch.

“Vegan, actually,” said Sandy. “We are teetotal too, very boring.”

“Not so boring,” said Jerry. “You don’t usually wear clothes.”

“True,” said Ron. “We prefer a natural life, and you are welcome to join us and appreciate our natural state at any time, in our home or in the privacy of our garden.”

“Thank you,” said Jerry. He noticed Lily Rose was now chatting with Adam, the physiotherapist, who was obviously flattering her, since she was clearly blushing. “How did you become, um, nudists? What was the process?”

“My fault,” said Sandy. “We were both consumers, like you…” (Jerry decided to ignore this remark.) “We got kind of big and flabby and unhealthy, so I organized a naturist camp holiday. Well now, we could go all dimply and droopy, or we could get in shape.”

“Seriously?” said Jerry.

“Oh yes,” said Sandy. “And it was wonderful, very motivational. We dropped masses of lard on the vegan diet, and took to walking two miles a day, and were quite fit by the time we turned up at the nudist camp.”

“And you decided to stick with it?”

“Oh yes,” Ron said. “Felt so good, felt like rebirth. Best thing we ever did. Life-changing. Never been so god-damn happy. By the way, do you eat lamb?”

“No, no,” said Jerry.

“Doesn’t matter to us, really,” said Sandy. “Live and let live.”

Jerry could see the dog in the hallway, sitting quietly by the water dish. Bernard was in the kitchen, eating cubes of orange cheese stuck with toothpicks, drinking a beer, and talking with a group of young teachers.

Jerry picked up a plate heaped with carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes, with a green dip placed in the middle. He held it out to Sandy and Ron.

“Carrot?” he asked.