hot pants

Fast. Hot. Slow. Wet Cement.

I took advantage of Kathy Fish’s generosity last week and joined in the Fast Flash Reunion Extravaganza on Zoetrope. It was a great time and I adored reading other people’s work and saying “hey” to many fabulous and talented writers such as Raima Larter, Todd Clay Stuart, Nan Wigington, Cezarija Abartis, Matthew J Robinson, Jayne Martin, Jolene McIlwain, Alex Reece Abbott, Jan Elman Stout, Karen Schauber Karen Jones, Chris Haven, Patience Mackarness, Melissa Saggerer, Amy Braziller, Mary Crawford, Gay Degani, Andrew Stancek, Tommy Dean, and Chelsea Stickle. Over the course of that weekend, I wrote one creepy/Stephen King-ish flash, another that has a lot to flesh out and then two I didn’t post because they decided they couldn’t be flashes at the time.

What I’ve noticed is a similar progression of “lessening” lately. After a recent absence from Hot Pants, the first flash I wrote was solid and earned a finalist slot in a contest. The next piece wasn’t as good – though it had good parts – and the stories since then have had no true endings.

This is a reflection of my life. The lack of “the end” to Covid is insane and driven me to apocalyptic theorizing. The political news has altered my mind. Case in point: Mattresses. Not only is it the usual “what size and softness.” No, this creative mind of mine rushes to the financial outlook – no, not everyone will be all right. Will we? What if they stop making mattresses? What if we wait for the riots in Hamburg and Orchard Park and grab one then? What if our mattress is the only one in the neighborhood without bed bugs? What if climate chaos turns us all into backstabbing-for-survival neighbors? What if we lose in that battle? I don’t want to be murdered for my mattress. Black people have been murdered for less. Black people have been killed for no reason. The wide spreading-about of “bad apples” in law enforcement is astounding. Until it isn’t. Then it’s sad and awful. What kind of white privileged person am I? I may get Covid and I might survive even though my life has no more worth than anyone else’s simply because I am white and live in a state that took the threat seriously. Then again, I might fall under the care of that worthless physician assistant in Springville and die because he’s a useless jackass idiot.

Ah, there’s nothing like way too much information for a whizzing bang to the head. Obviously I’ve had time to over think and let small things fester. I vote we proceed to the picture portion of this post…

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A few of you dear readers were sent a video clip of an Evening Primrose exploding into bloom. You would think this boring, but it is fascinating. The process takes a variety of time but you notice it in the day, the ones getting ready. They grow plumper, like nourishment is rushing up the stems. In the dusk, you come out and watch. And wait. Perfect interlude on early summer nights when you seek communion and there isn’t a campfire. But with Covid, who is there to commune to?

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The hummingbirds were ferociously hungry this spring. I’ve never filled the feeders so much, but I only hung two feeders instead of three. There are many fuchsias, though. One has cascaded down from the hanging pot and I have watched the birds visit each of those flowers before visiting the nearby feeder. Other times, they treat the blooms as their dessert.

What is beyond sweet is the promotion work done by The London Independent Story Prize. The gorgeous and generous highlighting of their winning artists is amazing and much appreciated. I’m also grateful to Nina Fosati and everyone in the Hamburg Writers’ Group for their help and many, many thanks to Kim Chinquee and the Hot Pantsers for theirs! Also wonderful is the promotion the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts does for its writers. My story is here with much gratitude to Randall Brown for including it in this year’s amazing group of stories. I am honored. Thank you!

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At 10 months, new cat sprawls about when not terrorizing the dog. I’ve had her out on a leash and harness. She is a skittish thing, afraid of everything. I ordered “The Tiny Tawny Kitten,” a little Golden Book written by Barbara Shook Hazen and read it to her. New cat doesn’t believe it was my favorite story as a kid.

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The reestablishment of the once railroad ties steps is slowly taking shape. We’ve been to the campfire area a few times. Letting it seed out last year seems to have worked, but now there is greenery up there to mow. The labyrinth and all paths leading to it are the best maintained. I’m not up to discussing the garden. I don’t want to talk about my mild inconveniences and minor tragedies. It doesn’t seem fair to mope. At least not online. I think there is so much more people agree on than not, but it’s so hard to get anyone to shut up long enough to see the obvious things. How is observable, data backed science something to debate? Opinions are not fact. Health emergencies aren’t about your rights…

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Speaking of opinion, the moon looked sneaky one night. Actually, that sounds like a great first line. After I post this, I’ll go see if it works. Who knows? Maybe it will lead to a story with a happy end. One with Covid contained and my Facebook family and friends intact. One where I have an agent, a book deal, and can report being annoyed over faulty sock elastic and feeling dread over how to effectively transfer feathers without feeling guilty for having such belligerent nothingness on my mind.

Thank you for stopping by and for the read. I appreciate you!

What’s a marriage without an anniversary fight?

The above picture shows exactly how far the annual putting up of the screened-in tent proceeded until we were both hot and sticky, then pissy enough to walk away. That was on Memorial Day; it’s rained every day since then so there the parts lie rusting. I can only hope the canvas isn’t growing mildew. I don’t know why. We put this up annually, it’s the same parts, yet every year we find a way to have it not go together smoothly the first time. This year was particularly awful. Husband was on the ladder, holding the top while I was to run around to all the corners and slip in the posts…and I found we’d assembled the panels incorrectly. Everything needs to be undone and reassembled. Good times…

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The long weekend was productive in that the garden bed I’ll be using is tilled and after years of having them, the gates are all on so I can dump compost in there without the dog deciding that some bits weren’t ready for the heap.

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I missed the blooming of the crab-apple tree, but the lilacs are out and so are these purple flowers though I’ve forgotten their name.

The weekend before the ugly one, we had a lovely time over lunch at Julie’s with Robert Little. He was in town for an impromptu visit from Chicago. Jim and Julie Tuttle joined us, as well as their grandson. (The dumpster photo involves a joke I’m not going to explain.)

I haven’t been writing too much, or submitting, but after a drought, I have an acceptance! Thanks to John Xero at 101 Fiction, my piece born from a Kathy Fish Reunion prompt called “Landscapes” will go live on 2 June 2019. I also received word that “Firstborn” written from a prompt in Kim Chinquee’s Hot Pants office on Zoetrope made the long list in this year’s Micro Madness Contest for National Flash Fiction Day NZ in conjunction with Flash Frontier. I guess my so called writing career isn’t dead yet…or is it? Check back soon to find out for sure!

🙂 Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Oops! It’s Friday and I’m in love with Iced Lemon Biscotti!

Apologizes for my tardiness, but I have fantastic excuses. The first is that the rewrite is going well so I’ve been focusing on that, but the biggest focus has been figuring out the details of our trip to Essex for the family reunion. The car rental is reserved, tickets for the play we’ll be seeing while we’re there are bought, and a cat sitter has been found. Now I’m down to packing, making pasta salad for 40 and cleaning the house before we leave. Piece of cake.

Yesterday there was a tornado in Hamburg. I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it to Tamara Grisanti’s place for her soy candle party, but I did and it was lovely. Iced Lemon Biscotti and Beach Linen were the two Hemlock House candles I bought and would recommend to everyone. We also got to sample some masculine scents that Tamara’s husband created for a bachelor party. I hope they make more of those soon. Kim Chinquee was there, too, and now I have a copy of Veer that will be traveling with me.

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There’s a novel critique group coming up and I’m psyched to see Mary Akers and Gina Detwiler again. It’s been too long! Tonight, I’ll be at Comfort Zone for the Hamburg Writers’ Group. Last week, I had the truck and spent time across the street at SPoT Coffee writing two new flashes. Yes, I’m back to being active in Hot Pants on Zoetrope.

Also, I want to say I was so happy to finally accept my first piece for Literary Orphans as Fiction Editor. Congratulations Tara Isabel Zambrano! Her stunning piece, Measurable Hours, will be in the September Issue.

Gardenwise, the hydrangea is blooming

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and the yellow flowers that attract so many different types of bees are opening up.

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Writing is a strange process. The more time I don’t have time to write, I write more. A friend of mine was lamenting that he’d just been given a chunk of time and space to do nothing but write and he’s written next to nothing. I’m thinking about ordering him a candle from Hemlock House so the amazing scents will reawaken his imagination.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

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(*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences will vary.)

Lent is over, flowers are in bloom, and I’m writing again.

The problem with “not writing” is that when I do, I end up writing deeper than I intend. The blog post I started for today has – somehow – turned into a craft essay. If I remember, I’ll get back to it, but in the meantime: Congratulations Nina Fosati for your story in Breath & Shadow! Gina Detwiler , congratulations on finishing Antillia! You both ROCK! Thank you for inspiring me!

It’s warming up outside and lovely things are in bloom.

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The one raised bed has been plowed up. (Thank you, Husband!) If it’d stop raining, I can get the peas planted. Otherwise, I’m hoping to visit garden places soon and choose tomato and pepper plants. This is the first year I haven’t grown any from seed which I don’t feel bad about since there are first times for everything. I will plant squash, sunflowers, and other things by seed in May. So there you go, those are my garden plans of the year.

I’m eager to get the “cabana” back up and the swing inside. Writing out there last year was so fruitful; I can’t wait to recreate that magic. This Lent, I learned a few different things about myself and my writing. Allowing myself to not write was healthy in some respects, but now I feel “backed-up.” Like not drinking a whole beer the first time I have a drink after abstaining, I’ve grabbed a set of 5 words from Hot Pants (Thank you Kim Chinquee!) and tried my hand at 300 word flash this past week. It’s going well, though yesterday I ended up with a 981 story that needs to be expanding. Ah, the twists, turns, and so-called thrills of being a writer.

I hope you’re well. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

 

(*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences shall vary. )

Let’s wrap up this year already…

This is my last post for the year and — knock on wood — we get to the new one before yet another celebrity passes. Cohen, Bowie, Rickman, Prince, and Princess Leia all in one year is devastating! Sadly, there were even more…

I’ve ended up with a bit of a time buffer that I’ll be using to play catch-up-on-the-paperwork. Such a fun game! I made a decent dent in the filing of my writing over the weekend, have been winnowing the newspaper stack each night, but I’m dreading the receipt sorting/gathering tax paperwork part of the game. Yes, I know, it could be worse and I am grateful for the problems I have, but I still sometimes wish I had a secretary so I didn’t have to play one in real life.

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Speaking of real life, I really was appointed to the Board of Education. Is that life imitating art or me getting suckered punched into a bureaucratic and political quagmire? Either way, it will be more experience to plunder for another story or two…

Writing wise, I only know I’m not getting my hopes up. When I finished Life and Crimes, I thought it was the best thing I’d ever written. Full requests from agents was so damned sweet and then, when they said no, it hurt. This book, tentatively called Near Eden, New York, is better written than that — in my opinion by a lot. What if it isn’t enough though? What if I need to write another book that surpasses this one in quality before I have a book published? It’s such a heartbreaking profession — not at all the way I imagined it would be when I started dreaming about being a best-selling author. I know I’ll get there because I’m not smart enough to quit, but in the interim, I think I’ll return to the Hot Pants office at Zoetrope and start churning out flash.

I stopped in there last night before I glanced at my flash file. I don’t have a lot left to send out. Again, I know, that is the best problem to have — getting so much accepted that I have nothing left to submit. I am grateful. So grateful and I would love to continue kvetching here, but that isn’t reducing the paper stack.

Thanks for stopping by!

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*These are my Creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.

Even if it isn’t fun, it will be memorable.

notblueThe large calendar continues to be useful. I even put the notation, “Blog!” on last and next Thursday’s squares. When I realized that meant writing one during Stepson’s wedding week, I switched that around and so you’re reading this now and not then – or last week.

Husband and I still have a lot to do to get ready for the guests that will be staying with us and normally I’d be outside mowing or weeding, but the humidity is brutal. It was bad yesterday, too, but I managed to get the rest of the wood in, Husband pulled out the old tractor to see if that transmission can be married to the one we’ve been using and I pushed the steps to the south lawn closer together. All of this with chipmunk scurrying underfoot, under leaves, under steps and in the trees. They are plentiful and brave this year.

I had an AMAZING run of acceptances recently. Christopher James took “It Only Hurts When I Smile” which came out of Kathy Fish’s workshop! It’s scheduled to appear in Jellyfish Review on 17 December. Kae Sable took “Something to Talk About” for Dime Show Review and it’s live. I felt unsure about “Birth Control” and put it up in Hot Pants in Zoetrope to workshop…and the incredible Kim Chinquee loved it as is and took it for New World Writing. It’s live HERE. And on Sunday, A. E. Phillips wrote to say she’s taking “An Alice is An Alice is an Alice” for both the print Fall Issue and the 2016 Year End Collection of The Donut Factory. Two weeks, 5 acceptances. Hell yeah!

(I did enter the bizarro world where the rejection from Apogee was welcomed. All that winning was starting to freak me out.)

Both “Birth Control” and “Something to Talk About” are very new and from the stack of flashes involving the characters Pete and Tara.  I thought the piece I wrote on Tuesday where Tara meets Pete’s mother for scones (with clotted cream – Thanks Mary Akers!) didn’t work and I was disappointed in myself. I went back yesterday and found it isn’t bad at all.

I was discouraged that only one sunflower came up this year – I planted two rows – but look at the multi-headed one that came up!

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Saturday, I’m back to my piece of heaven — volunteering at the West Falls-Colden Community Library. I won’t be there as often this season as I’ll be working some Saturdays. (Yes, Virginia, I did get a job.) And I’m glad I put that in the book, because I nearly forgot! So much is going on in the next two weeks from Husband doing things he’s never done before – including getting his hair and beard tended to by a hairdresser – to hosting a group of writers hours (I hope I have hours to prepare!) after our houseguests leave.

So, barring that it’s too much and does kill me, I’ll be back in two weeks to tell you all about with pictures of Husband in a tuxedo!

Thanks for stopping by!

*These are my Creekside Reflections; your experiences may vary.

So Much! And grateful for it all!

This morning, between the spats of rain, I’ve seen a swallowtail butterfly flitting around the flowers. Yesterday, I spotted a newly hatched monarch and I was so grateful that Husband made an effort to mow around the milkweed.

I’ll often stop washing dishes when the hummingbirds come to the feeder on the window outside the kitchen, but Tuesday, it was empty and I washed and filled it. I still had my hand on it – standing right there so it wasn’t like I was trying to camouflage myself – and a hummingbird came to feed. I don’t know if it was extremely hungry or incredibly trusting, but it was a thrill to be so close and feel the wind from its wings. I have this lovely friend who sends out a newsletter about nature, animals, and spiritual concerns. Because of her, I’ve been more attuned to nature recently and noticing strange things like that occurring more often, probably only because I am paying attention.  (Thank you Kellie!)

Recently, I used my gift card to Barnes and Noble to purchase one of those calendar organizers, you know, the ones that look impossibly thick with pages to plan your week and list goals and you wonder why anyone would ever need one that size. Let me tell you, I didn’t realize it, but I have needed one for a very long time. I’ve only had it for a few weeks and I’m already amazed at how easy this has made my life. So, Stepson, if you’re reading this, thank you for the Christmas present.

Yesterday was Husband’s birthday and even though it was a milestone, he didn’t want a fuss, so he didn’t get one, but he did get a card, a pan of brownies instead of a cake, and a case of his favorite beer.

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I posted a similar pic on Facebook and was delighted at the number of likes and birthday wishes it generated. Also, I know it’s small minded and petty, but I do wish people wouldn’t use his first name on Facebook, because, well, I’m not sure he wants to be associated with the likes of me via social media.

And Husband’s birthday is not the only close family member’s birthday this month. There are at least seven, plus two friends that are like family, and there’s a baby shower to attend and an ex-in-law’s anniversary to celebrate, so yes Hallmark, I am keeping you afloat…not that I expect a big company such as yourself to send me a thank you card.

Besides sending out tons of greeting cards, I’ve also been weeding the garden, mowing the trails, weed-eating the labyrinth, reading, making and drinking gallons of sun tea, cooking, cleaning, stressing out over Stepson’s impending wedding and the guests we’re putting up and the accompanying dinner menus, who’s getting where and when, attending Board of Education meetings, Hamburg Writers Group Meetings, looking forward to the novel critique meeting, being thrilled for friends with book releases (Congrats Gina Detwiler, Jeff Schober, Mary Akers, Claudia Cortese), enjoying the results of the Bemer treatments, being excited to start as a Bemer tech tonight, submitting two things a day because I was down to something stupid like only four things out plus fretting over the pink hibiscus and goji plants that I bought at the East Aurora farmer’s market last week which haven’t gotten planted yet, but man do the bees love them both.

 

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If I was reading this, I’d think that was all I was doing, but actually, I’ve been doing a lot of writing. These two characters, Pete and Tara, will not leave me alone. I’m taking old and new word lists from Hot Pants and even though I can’t find a story with the words, “Boogieman, ankle, Dumbo, kiwi and tax,” they do, and make it all about them. I decided to make them have sex so they’d have what they wanted and leave me alone. Was that good enough for them? No, they were right back at it yesterday and used a Kathy Fish Workshop Reunion prompt to get there. I read that piece, “Sweet Spot,” to Husband and his response was “I didn’t know you had it in you,” which made me not want to associate with him on social media.

Oh, and we have new art!

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Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

*These are my Creekside Reflections; your experiences may vary.

I was Vanderwalkered in a Schoolhouse

I’m still catching up on the laundry from the family reunion in Essex over the fourth. I think it was Angela who summed it up best for all of us who aren’t blood related:

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“Champy,” the monster of Lake Champlain, was spotted and photographed.

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I tried to visit the library in Essex–which is right beside a creek, like mine is–but it had funky hours.

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We also toured Edward Cornell’s Art Farm.

Last night, as I was speeding down old 219 toward home after the “Donut Hole” rehearsal and a B.o.b. campaign meeting, three banging songs came on the radio–all in a row. “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna, “Come With Me Now” by the Kongos, and “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode. Different channels, but still. Anyways, careening around those curves at dusk, volume up, I was in control–but going too fast. It flashed that this is the way my life is going right now and I couldn’t be more delighted.

I’m juggling a lot of things and if I blink, I’ll have added a new chainsaw to the rotation. If you ask if it’s too much, I’ll tell you I’m fine. I am. I know this will peter out or a crash will happen, but until then, I’m “alive” in a way I haven’t been in a while.

I have the 10 minute play by Donna Hoke I’m directing which is going well, but that’s over on Saturday. The campaign didn’t raise enough funds so the Iowa trip has been delayed. I’m preparing the second round of questions for Beth Gilstrap‘s interview for The Tavern about her book, I Am Barbarella. I participated in a writing “joust” and had a ton of fun with that. I’m cranking out new flash pieces since being invited into the “Hot Pants” office in Zoetrope, plus writing a new book in 20 page increments. The garden is weeded and if the rain stops, I’ll get the weedeater going.

Right, so I should be getting on with it. Maintaining swiftness and busyness is a temporary thing, but while it’s going on, I am enamored with that sense of power over my own life. Yes, I know that’s delusional, but it is a nice delusion to have.

 

(These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)