Saturday, May 26, 2007

Flickr Fiction's New Home; Modesto Madness

So, of course the Berkeley student who stole the Nobel Prize medal out of the Lawrence Hall of Science is from Modesto. Of course. In other news from today's Modesto Bee, a young man died of autoerotic asphyxiation, and the city prepares for Graffiti Summer. Incidentally, a friend of ours was stabbed in the leg at Graffiti Summer when she was 16, which apparently prompted a downplaying of the festivities for a few years. Yes, Rob and I moved to a very strange place.

We Flickr Fiction-ites now have a new group home on Ning for your convenience - bookmark the site for easy reference and viewing of everyone's writings. My contribution for this week is called "At the Top" and starts thusly:

"Huffin' and puffin' and blowin' your house down," Scott Mason said, grabbing a protruding part of the rock with his right hand and pulling himself up to the top of the boulder with sheer brute strength...

Visit our "Ficktion" page for more.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Occupado

This week is crazy. Here's one post I wrote about it on the YA Writing blog. There's just been so much going on. I have photos I want to post--namely, giant organic vegetables from our CSA subscription (including a leek as long as my arm) and the new kitten, Zelda (who is little and black). Zelda's been taking up a bit of time because she was ill with a respiratory infection when we got her last week from the animal shelter. So there was some medication and a vet visit last week. Now that she's doing better, she's spazzing out all over the house. I swear, that kitten can play for eight hours a day. She and Roxie are starting to get along fairly well now, though, which is a relief, since the first few days Roxie was hissing and actually growling at her. But they've been playing and napping together, and as long as Zelda keeps her distance most of the time, they seem fine.

But I have this wedding on Saturday that I'm a bridesmaid for, and a huge rehearsal barbecue tomorrow, so until Sunday I'm pretty booked. So no substantial blog posts until next week...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Flickr Fiction: Rosemary for Remembrance

Daria fingered the long, rustling grasses, picking through them for roots, herbs, and healing plants, head down, intent. Watching from a few feet away, Ink scratched the itchy spot on her head, digging her nails deep underneath the dark cowlick at the back.

"Don't scratch. If you scratch, I'll have to spread the rosemary paste on your scalp again. You won't like it." Daria's voice was stern and matter-of-fact; she didn't quite look up. "How a foundling like you who's been living in the forest managed to make a den for the night with poison ivy for a pillow, I will never know. And you nearly a woman."

Ink didn't reply. Ink rarely spoke. There hadn't been a need, when she'd been living alone, and that had been two years now. She was out of the habit. Even now that she'd been a full springtime with Daria, she still hardly said a word. But that seemed to suit Daria, who didn't appear to expect answers.

Ink's blood mother had expected answers. When she didn't get them, she would reach for her walking-stick.

That seemed a lifetime ago, now. Ink looked up; the sun warmed her face from a sky studded with tiny puffy clouds. She let a tiny smile stretch the corners of her mouth.

"Don't dawdle," Daria said. She straightened for a moment, hand on her lower back, and pointed to a stand of brilliant pink flowers several feet away, under a gnarled oak tree. "Over there--I need foxglove."

Ladyslipper, Ink said to herself, trying not to forget the names she'd given things while she'd lived in the forest. Names the plants themselves had seemed to tell her, but she wasn't about to tell Daria that. Not yet. She walked slowly to the patch of foxglove and began gathering the flowered stalks in a bundle. She had walked nearly all the way around the tree before she noticed what had been growing in the shelter of the tall foxglove.

She let out a small cry. Whitecaps! They had been her favorite--such a treat to find them when she'd been eating nothing but sun-dried old apples, boiled tubers, and bitter walnuts for weeks. The tiny mushrooms, just boiled in her battered tin cup with water from the stream and the little onions she called teardrops...it reminded her of nights spent alone huddled by her small fire, but also of her mother before...before Maisy...

The girl known as Ink swallowed hard against the ache in her chest. She gently plucked the small handful of whitecaps and cradled them in her free hand, the bundle of foxglove sandwiched carelessly under her left arm. She walked quickly back to Daria where she squatted, plucking catmint leaves for tea. Ink stopped beside her and held out her hand.

"How did you...?" Daria trailed off, and the lines around her face softened for a moment. She pulled Ink to her chest with bony arms, letting the tears wet the front of her linen shirt.

***

This week's piece was inspired by this photo by Flickr user dis cover y. I think this was probably influenced by the little potted herbs I just put on the kitchen counter this week. Check the usual suspects for more Flickr Fiction: The Gurrier, Isobel, Elimare, Chris, TadMack, Neil, Valsha, and Mari.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Fun Never Stops

Where have I been, and what the hell have I been doing? Not blogging, that's for sure. I did a little blogging on the YA writing site, including a few cartoons that are finally getting noticed and commented on, but other than that, it's been a little quiet in aquafortis-land. I do plan to post this past week's Flickr Fiction today or tomorrow (late, I know, but what can I do?). And why, you ask, am I suffering from chronic absenteeism? Okay. Here's some of the stuff that's been going on this past week and what I've learned as a result:

  • Sewing is not one of my inborn talents. I've been spending many long hours helping my friend Jay sew costumes for the bridesmaids and groomsmen for her wedding later this month. And I do have a sewing machine, and I was very excited to use it, except it turns out my skills are quite rudimentary, and evidently when I'm sewing I have the attention span of a monkey on crack, so I tend to do idiotic things and then have to take stuff apart again with the seam ripper. Hopefully I'm capable of a small project like this tea cozy, which I'm making for a friend in need...see next item.
  • Shotgun weddings do not necessarily involve buns in the oven. A friend of mine whom I've known since elementary school was scheduled to be married in June, and I was going to be a bridesmaid for that, too. But two weeks ago, I got a phone call from her and found out she's been diagnosed with a fairly aggressive form of breast cancer. So she decided to reschedule her wedding for April 29th (last Friday) so that she and her now-husband could enjoy a little married time together before she started treatment. It was actually a gorgeous wedding, and all of us bridesmaids were able to come (though our dresses weren't ready--we all wore plain black dresses). About 60 or 70 guests made it, too. She went off on a honeymoon for a few days, and when she got back, decided on neoadjuvant therapy. It starts this week. My plan is to send her a care package that will include the tea cozy and other tea stuff. If you know Cindy and you're reading this, shhh! Don't tell!
  • Buying plant matter is time-consuming. We're finally landscaping the front corner of our property, which has of late become an after-dark gathering spot for neighborhood teenagers smoking pot, who then leave beverage containers and sometimes even school folders in the empty planter box. We'd prefer our property to be less friendly to such random gatherings (though we'd like to stop short of actually shaking our fists in a cantankerous manner while yelling "lousy kids!"). So we're taking out most of the masonry so that they don't have a nice ledge to sit on (the masonry was ugly anyway), just leaving a border, and then we're putting in a bunch more Japanese boxwood shrubs with a couple of mini-rose trees in the middle. We're also putting another tree in the front yard, a purple-leafed plum with the rather bizarre name of "Krauter Vesuvius." Thus completes the final part of our quest to shade all the front windows, which get hot afternoon sun in the summer. But shopping for like 20 shrubs and a tree takes a while.
  • The Modesto nightlife is not as scary as I had feared. Friday night I had a little ladies' get-together as a belated 30th birthday celebration (missed you, B-dog and C-dog!). Five of us started the evening at 1505, where we listened to a more-than-halfway-decent cover band and enjoyed a few mixed drinks while getting better acquainted (not everybody knew one another). We also got a round of free drinks mixed in showy style when they found out it was my birthday. Very classy--a nice little place. Then we went on to Crocodiles, where Kathleen joined us for some dancing into the wee hours.
    Highlights: DJ with a mullet. Getting asked to dance by guys clearly over 40 (and refusing). Fumi and I getting chatted up by a slightly creepy guy while we were attempting to kill a last drink at the bar, and Fumi responding by saying "I'm sorry, we're having a moment here." Aforementioned DJ not having "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order when I requested it (I don't understand how that's even possible). Dancing to "My Humps" and "Stayin' Alive." Me stubbornly sitting out "Back in Black." Some five-foot-tall guy repeatedly attempting to breakdance. Bar had Malibu rum and every kind of Schnapps or Pucker imaginable, but no Stoli Vanilla. Vodka gimlets that seemed to consist mainly of vodka, ice and a lime slice. Blinking lights in the floor, numerous ferns, and about twenty disco balls.
  • You never know what might happen at a pig roast. We went to another pig roast planning party for PR2 last night. I did not drink a single beer (Friday night I had about 7 drinks and managed not to puke, so I wasn't going to push my luck. I was still recovering from residual feelings of yuck and headache.). I did eat some delicious carne asada tacos with homemade tortillas, though. Anyway, evidently there is now going to be bocce ball at the pig roast, and super soaker fights in the orchard behind Brian's house. These computer graphics faculty are an interesting bunch...
  • Fresh vegetables rock. We finally enrolled in our local CSA program, through Rancho Piccolo at Silveira Farms, and got our first organic vegetable box on Thursday. It had romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, fava beans, cilantro, carrots, a lone cucumber, a few beets (with greens), chard, two teeny rutabagas, radishes, arugula, and a truly monstrous leek. And this is a half share.
  • Our cat needs exercise. Thus our plan to get another kitten so that Roxie doesn't spend all day lazing around and failing to lose weight. We don't want her to be a diabetic cat later. Anyway, they were supposed to have an adoption event all weekend at PetSmart, but for some lame reason, this morning's event did not involve cats, only dogs. They did not tell me this over the phone. They only had a small selection of cats, only one of them a kitten, so we decided to try other options tomorrow. The only things we got out of the trip to PetSmart were a business card for a pet rescue center and dog crap on my shoe. Hooray.