Wine and Cheese

Prompt: Song


Dear Wednesday,

Since the smoke and smog from the surrounding forest fires has finally dissipated and the sky is visible and we can smell grass and trees again, it’s hard to concentrate on the indoors, and that includes writing!

There are storms clouds gathering as I write this and I am thrilled just to be able to see them. We need rain, too, lots of it, as there are still hundreds of fires still burning and we’ve had barely a lick of precipitation for two months.

I don’t know anyone who has experienced this past month who will ever take a smog-free environment and fresh clean air for granted again.

Today’s casual prompt actually suggested we write about the third line in the last song we heard, which for me was an advertising jingle encouraging people to buy lottery tickets. So I altered the prompt yet have written nothing about music— still, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which relates to the prompt, “song”?

cartoon-next-song-s-about-pain-new-yorker-cartoon_a-G-9185253-8419447

cartoon made-the-wine-i-made-the-cheese-new-yorker-cartoon_a-G-9168438-8419447

cartoon two-scientists-look-at-rats-in-a-lab-cages-zachary-kanin


Happy Wednesday and every day!

~~FP

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I Dream of Jean

Prompt: Genie

I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair
Borne, like a vapor, on the summer air;
I see her tripping where the bright streams play
Happy as the daisies that dance on her way…

The above is a lovely, sentimental song written by Stephen Foster, which was eventually punned to this:

My mother’s name was Jean, and I think of her whenever I hear either the song or the TV series theme song, and also when I hear this:

I miss my mother, and do dream about her.

And in lieu of getting all weepy, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, only the first one of which is related to the daily prompt, “genie”?

cartoon dog genie

cartoon web troll

cartoon shrink lifeguard


Have a happy, sunny week!

~~FP

Philosophy

Prompt: Song

college campus

Dear Virginia,

Sorry I took so long to respond to your email, but the campus ISP was down for almost four days. We were also without running water for two days, which was a disaster. The administration tells us these occurrences are extremely unusual, and to happen concurrently is even more of a rarity. Anyway I’ve sat constipated and lonely with dirty hair in my room trying to fathom David Hume’s billiard balls and now think I will just make something up for the paper due tomorrow.

I don’t know why I’m taking Philosophy, though it’s probably why I’m now wondering about everything including the meaning of life and why I am wasting away my youth at this fucking college. Virge, I can hear you say, “It’s only the first semester of your first year, Envy, give it time”.

How do I give it time? My roommate is a raging germaphobe who counts Q-tips in fear I might have stolen one, and she sings “Where is Love” from the musical Oliver in her sleep. Or at least I think she is sleeping. So I can barely stay awake during the day and already struggling with most of my classes, include the ones I should breeze through like Lit and Art History, because my Lit prof is trying to bully me into participating more in class (can you image me participating to begin with? me?) and my Art History class is nothing but a series of slide shows. I get most of my sleep time there. My Spanish tutor thinks his housemate is trying to murder him, so every class is like a scene from a horror movie, where we expect a man in a moustache to jump out from behind a door wielding a kitchen knife.

Let me tell you about my new friends. Oh wait, I don’t have any. Only one guy in my Spanish class has even spoken to me, and I have no idea why he would. He’s gorgeous, you see, and well, you know what I look like.

My roommate just burst in and told me she has food poisoning from the toxins served at the cafeteria. She may be right.

It’s ironic: I picked a college as far away from my parents as would have me, and yet I’m so looking forward to Christmas and getting home and seeing you and even my worthless brother, Cash. I want to sleep in my own bed and eat real food and read a trashy novel and maybe even decide if I want to come back here in January.

Have to run. Roomie is vomiting in the trash can.

Tons of love,
Envy

——–

Dear Virginia,

I can’t even tell you how much I missed you over Christmas break. Words fail me. I’m speechless. And so on. I understand you had to take the job, and lucky you for going to the Bahamas in this weather, but oh lord I could have used a friend.

My brother picked me up at the airport, because he got his driver’s licence back. He really shouldn’t be on the road; plus I think he was a little drunk.

Anyway we get home and Millie takes my bags and leads me upstairs to my room (mother was at a meeting) except it was not my room, it was the small guest room. This room has a double bed, a wardrobe but no closet, and has blue geraniumed wallpaper that matches the bedspread. There are carpet and wallpaper samples rolled and stacked in the corner by the window, and on top of the wardrobe is a stack of old telephone books. It is the overflow guest room, in other words.

“Darling,” my mother says when she gets home, flushed from her success in choosing the theme for the cancer gala, Greece, Ancient and Modern, “we are converting your bedroom into a clay room, you could say, since I am learning to sculpt and throw pots.”

“You are? Why my room? What did you do with my stuff?” Honestly Virge, I was well and truly devastated.

“Your room faces north— the light is right, and it’s bigger than the the um, overflow guest room. I didn’t think you’d mind really, your little room was so fussy and dated, you know, with those posters and pink things and that koala bear.”

What did you do with Cocoa?

“Darling.” My mother smiled indulgently. “All your precious belongings are in boxes in the garage. Millie was very careful to pack everything.”

“Even the jewelry I made?”

“Oh,” said mother. “Did you mean to keep that?”

“Why couldn’t you set up your clay room in the basement? There’s tons of room.”

“Sweetheart, I’m not a basement kind of person…”

God, my family. Nana Appleby and my father’s cousin Uncle Gary had been assigned the actual guest rooms, even though Nana was only staying overnight Christmas Eve. I can’t begrudge her. She turns 101 in February. Uncle Gary though, what an asshole. I can only imagine he is paying to stay with us, since no one likes him.

So the decision whether or not to return to college became no decision at all. I see now how that can happen. When you have two shitty alternatives, you choose the one you are not in the middle of.

And semester two couldn’t be worse than the first. I found out the name of the guy in my Spanish class. Marcus. He’s adorable.

Tons of love,
Envy

Itsy Bitsy Spider [Repost]

Prompt: Proclivity

web with rain

Itsy Bitsy Spider: A Bad Fable

Janet was the littlest of all the spiders in the colony. At dinner, she never got the tasty thorax or juicy abdomen of the flies captured in the silver webs– no, not even the compound eye. She scrambled against the other little spiders for bits of antennae, tough foreleg, and wisps of dry, tasteless wings. Her mothers tried to fend off the ravenous older spiders at dinner time, but Janet found herself constantly hungry.

“You’ll have to mate,” mama Goldass told her with a sigh. “To help you build your own nets. What about Armand? He seems nice.”

“Ugh,” Janet said. “He’s so ugly and hairy, and he spits and he always wobbles his spinnerets in public.”

“Some people find that charming,” mama Goldass said. “I hear his silks are strong.”

“I overheard Tippy say they sagged,” Janet said.

Mama Goldass laughed. “And how would Tippy know?” Her abdomen jiggled as she chucked softly.

But Janet knew mama Goldass was right. Without a mate, she would starve. On the night before her mating with Armand, mama Queenbutt took Janet aside to wish her well, and found her in tears. “Don’t worry, little one,” said mama Queenbutt. “Think of all the tasty Cyclorrhaphae you will feast on!”

Mama Goldass had different advice. “Just lay back and think of the downspout,” she said.

And that’s what Janet did. She thought long and hard about the downspout, she thought of its cold, slippery surface, and the way the webs created a bridge to the wall, which was softer and had hundreds of caves to build nests and bear young. She thought about it every day, and wished for than a life different from her life with Armand and his spinnerets and the waterspout, and so blamed herself when the deluge came.

Armand’s silks were strong, the webs held, and though many, including Armand, perished, Janet’s tiny weight carried her on and above the flood; she surfed it like a butterfly and started anew.

Janet bore young in the spring. She mourned Armand as widows do, and found a new mate and had many bountiful harvests. She made her mothers proud.

If Janet the spider were here now, she would say to you, go ahead and settle when life compels you, but don’t give up your dreams. A deluge may happen to sweep your troubles away and show you a path to true happiness.

*Note: This is no way like an Aesop or other helpful fable. This is a bad fable.


Sugar Bunny

Prompt: Smoke

cupcake-yellow

We were making cupcakes again. This time there would be no sabotage or bullying while Lily was watching daytime TV. Isabella could put whatever stupid designs on her icing that she wanted. I wouldn’t say a word.

Our tools for icing the cupcakes were pâté knives, spoons, tiny paintbrushes, two tubs of store-bought icing, one chocolate and one lemon, and a bottle of red food colouring. “Be careful with that,” Lily told us. “Don’t make a mess.”

While we waited for the cupcakes to cool, Lily dumped the icing into two bowls for us to stir up so it would be nice and soft and smooth for frosting the cakes.

Isabella absently sang a sing-songy little verse as she stirred the lemon icing with a wooden spoon:

If you love me, show me
Show me that you want to know me
If you’re troubled go to me
Darling, don’t say no to me
Be my little sugar bunny
Be true to me, your only honey
Show me that you love me
Put no one else above me.

I said, “What is that song?”

She said, “I don’t know.”

“Is it a record?” I asked.

“I forget,” said Isabella.

What was left of the chocolate icing I had been stirring was carefully spread on the top of half of Bella’s cupcakes, and half of mine, the last one a little scant. I used the spoon to put yellow polka dots on the chocolate. There was a lot more lemon icing left, but only because Isabella didn’t like it as much as I liked chocolate.

We dipped our brushes into the bottle of red food colouring and painted animals and faces on the yellow cupcakes. It would have made a mess if Lily hadn’t put newspaper down all over the island counter.

“This tastes like strawberry,” Isabella said, touching the red-soaked brush to her tongue.

“It does?” I picked it up and took a sip. It didn’t. Even at that age, I had a better palate than Bella.

Just then smoke started seeping out of the oven, a natural occurrence since some of the cake batter had spilled to the oven floor, and Lily hadn’t turned it off  before she returned to General Hospital.

“Fire!” I said. I was teasing Isabella, but she grabbed the food colouring from my hand, opened the oven door, and emptied the bottle– probably less than an ounce– onto the bottom of the oven, on her overalls, and on the floor. A little of that stuff went a long way.

“Uh-oh,” I said, as I heard our mother coming in through the back door.

Her scream brought Lily back into the smoky kitchen, where she saw two little girls, one who looked like she had vomited blood all over the other one, and spots of blood all over the floor and walls. My mother was near hysterical, until Lily took the empty bottle of food colouring from Isabella’s hand.

“You are definitely fired this time!” my mother said to Lily.

Lily turned off the oven, opened the kitchen window to let the smoke escape, took my and Isabella’s hands, and led us to the upstairs bathroom. “Let’s get you cleaned up,” she said.

Isabella sang as Lily stood us in a tub full of soapy water and scrubbed us with a loofa:

If you’re troubled go to me
Darling, don’t say no to me
Be my little sugar bunny
Be true to me, your only honey.

I am an Island

Prompt: Island

My first thought with this prompt was the song by Simon and Garfunkel. Will songwriters be studied (or are they now?) in schools the way classic poets have been?

I am a rock

I Am a Rock

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.