Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

I thought I'd be better able to tackle the weekend than I was, silly me. Instead I'm going to share a project I've been working on as the mood allowed the past couple of years. It's an odd sort of story, so I'd really like feedback. It's heavy supernatural, urban-fantasy, interracial and female-centric. Make what you will of the last bit. As for the title... I'll keep that to myself for the time being.

Hey, maybe one day someone here will tell me how to do one of those cut things so I don't clutter up my front page with walls of text (looks hopeful). Yes, I am that clueless.

* * *

For hours Neuri Ralston watched the crowds of humanity flow past the front of Absinthe of Malice, an innocuous bar in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. She had stood watch over the establishment on and off over the last month. Each time, a siren’s song wrapped in scent pulled her closer to the door. Who or what was inside? Why was she drawn? Most importantly, was this a trap or could she finally have found where she belonged?
The door opened and another tantalizing drift of pearlescent smoke wafted her way and she was sorely tempted to give in, to explore the bar’s mysterious interior. Maybe at long last her yearning heart could find a place where she belonged. With a disgusted shake of her head, Neuri subsided deeper into the shadowed cove of an alley to watch and hope.
“I’ve dreamed,” the terse words fit the angry jerk of movement as the petite woman behind the counter slapped decorated cardboard coasters on the sleek surface of the bar.
“Misa, you are the Strix, when don’t you dream?” Lyndi Chiao laughed and shook her walking staff so the incense in the complex metal head plumed smoke to disguise her own. Being a dragon was getting harder and harder with all of the anti-smoking laws being passed. For the last hundred years, the po-shun flying staff remained safely hidden while a ceramic cigarette holder lent her the illusion of smoking. Now, she pretended to sniff the scent of burning orchid seeds as a customer sent her a scathing look, now she faced having to go back into hiding in the hinterlands.
Not so for her voluptuous little lover, the Strix. The modern world had lost true appreciation for the witch-born demonesses. Today, thanks to the neo-pagan movement, strix was just another name for a type of witch, not the beautiful shape-shifting, dream haunting, blood drinkers they truly were. Lyndi loved the feel of Misa’s small talons gripping her wrist as she ruffled her silky feathers before a nocturnal hunt.
Misa’s gusty sigh accompanied a pained roll of green eyes, redirecting Lyndi’s fanciful thoughts. Artemisia had been a youth with the first blush of womanhood gracing her limbs when she walked naked in the creek, harvesting herbs and the attention of a dragoness. No matter her innate tranquil grace, a simmering cauldron of emotion always bubbled beneath the surface.
“At least I find my way through dreams by more than mere moonlight,” an impish dimple dented a soft cheek a split second before Misa’s classic Greco-Roman features turned serious. “Oscar Wilde aside, I’ve been dreaming awake. Again and again the same thing – a cry of loneliness that kills, an arctic wind that burns with heat, and a fury unlike anything I’ve ever felt.”
Lyndi nodded, she too had felt a change in the energies of mountain, air and water. However, she wasn’t as attuned to the earth and its creatures as Misa. A celestial being at heart, she needed to breathe the air and see the stars. Contemplating the possibilities, her claw, tipped fingers twisted the po-shun surrounding her with comforting smoke.
“Ugh, that is so disgusting.” A nasal voice full of haughty derision buzzed in Lyndi’s ear like an annoying gnat. “There are laws about smoking in public places, ya know.”
“Yes, I do know,” instead of getting angry, Lyndi felt amusement coil in her belly. This pale round eye held nothing but contempt in her insubstantial little frame. Humans walked such a small time on the earth, yet roared as though their voices carried the impact of a Shishi, Foo Dog, protecting their temple.
“You are very thin,” she commented, looking at the annoying one’s underfed body with a spark of lazy, masochistic interest. A spark that must have registered in her eyes the way the waifish virago flinched. She felt the bristling energy of Misa at her back and pulled the full-bodied beauty to nestle under her shoulder. If she let her little demon-witch have her way, the woman would be sipping hemlock tea and smiling prettily. Sometimes having dominion over water had its perks.
“I’m a model,” the annoying one said with a toss of badly permed hair. The whining voice was starting to erode Lyndi’s good humor. White women would never make sense. Twenty, or maybe thirty, years earlier, a designer looking for something unique had stumbled into Absinth of Malice and persuaded the dragoness to pose for a few photos to sell his foul smelling perfume. Black women weren’t supposed to have Asian cat-tilted eyes and long layers of waving green-blue hair – she was a hit and business increased. Thankfully, her fifteen minutes of fame lasted only that long. In no time she was back to being reviled as a mongrel freak.
“So was I child. Being pretty doesn’t give you a right to be surly and demanding.” Lyndi’s eyes slid slowly closed, unconsciously pulling the bony creature forward. “Aren’t you,” she extended a pearly claw forward and caressed a hollow cheek, sensing the implants behind it, “thirsty?” The fake blonde licked equally false raspberry lips with a suddenly raspy tongue.
“Yes,” her voice, now quieter, rough with thirst was far less troublesome to Lyndi’s ears.
“Then perhaps you should have more to drink?” The suggestion had the desired effect and the young human stumbled back to her table to order a new round.
“Misa,” she purred, a throaty sound not unlike the rumbling timbre of a tiger defending her dinner. “Be a dear and call your friend, the Peace Officer and allow him to know that a very inebriated female will be leaving within the hour.” Giving in to temptation, Lyndi rubbed her nose against the pale fragrant skin of Misa’s neck, allowing the thick fall of chestnut curls to tickle her nose giving rise to images of another spot of her luscious lover’s body where crisp curls delighted.
With the spark of arousal came an image…snow swirled and flew coloring the air and ground in a tornado of white, above the sound of the howling wind was the wail of an animal that wasn’t quite an animal. The feeling of arousal intensified, Lyndi lifted her head and her lips bowed into a true smile. “Our third nears; soon our trinity will be complete.”

Friday, March 29, 2013

self challenge

Still not feeling "the thing" so I opted for an old fashioned writing challenge instead of attempting to add to anything 'in progress' to share. This type of challenge involves getting out the dictionary, picking a number of words at random and using them in the first sentence. The idea is to write a bit of flash-fiction based around that sentence. Remember, this isn't perfect, it's written fast and just based on these randomly picked words to stimulate the muse or writing process.

Todays words: negative, course, sputter, fill, descend, carcass

Negative thoughts filled the young man’s mind as he watched the thin stream of cold water course descend over the cooling bovine carcass to fill the chipped concrete gutter in the center of the floor with a thick runnel of blood.

“’You’re good with animals, help your uncle out for the summer, they said,’” he mocked, twisting his alto voice to a screechy pitch. “This doesn’t require being good with animals.” He looked disdainfully at the rough planked walls and the unsealed concrete floors while the ceiling was enough to not bear closer scrutiny. The lid of the make-shift abattoir consisted largely of exposed rough sawn beams pierced by pieces of rebar that seemed to have been wrestled into shape by the world’s biggest, burliest fisherman. Most of pieces looked as if they had been scavenged from construction sites, splattered with paint, concrete, rust or just run over by heavy equipment.
At the least he was spared doing the outright killing, that or dealing with the farmers when they brought their animals in to negotiate prices. He was quick and efficient at processing a carcass that was the only reason his lazy uncle wanted him around, and he knew it. But at the rate the old man was having people bring in cows, he wouldn’t be able to get any sleep – or the meat would go rank, because the son of a bitch was too damned cheap to buy a proper refrigeration room. There was this creepy cellar that smelled like death, but there was no freaking way he was going to stack any of the hung beef in there. No way, no how.

When he complained, asking for another flash-freezer – because, face it, one wrapping station and flash freezer isn’t enough with the amount of cows his uncle had agreed to take in of a sudden – he got dragged around to a bunch of other places just like this 1930s horror show. All had the same motif, broken down barn meets light-industrial with a side of depressed splatter house horror in blue vinyl boots and a clear plastic slicker. Just…what the hell?
In school they’d read Upton Sinclair and those stories out of the slaughter houses, things were supposed to have gotten better, not worse, right? But that was all USDA, not mom-and-pop do-it-yourself and ‘as long as you don’t sell the meat no one cares’ fly-by-night outfits. It made him want to weep. The irony being he was saving up to pay for college, hoping for veterinary medicine. And here he was, using his knowledge of anatomy to make better, faster cutlets. Watching the blood change from dark red to a foamy pinkish froth, he wondered not for the first time, if the guys at the big, clean slaughter houses ever shared these maudlin thoughts, or if it was something he was stuck with based on the ambiance of drafty former pig-pen? Fervently he hoped to never find out.

With a shake, he returned to the task at hand. This beef need to hang. Time to focus on another. In this fashion he hoped to numb his emotions, preserve his sanity, dull his senses and keep a running tally on days, hours, minutes, and cows via steaks, chops, burger, and entrails. There was another guy, one with a missing eye who pulled his leg along like a puppy on a chain that dealt with head, hides and hooves. Let him face the faces and those horrors. The other man never really talked, he liked that as he was at his limit.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

world of hurt

No bones about it, today was an awful day. On Monday I picked up a prescription and noticed the generic for the Topamax that I usually take was totally different. It really made me uncomfortable. I wasn't onboard with going generic in the first place, but didn't have a choice, but going to yet another generic...well, I decided there really wasn't anything I could do about it. Hindsight, is a bitch. Tuesday was sort of okay, Wednesday I had a headache all day that just kept getting worse no matter what I did. Just put it down to two doctors' appointments in one day plus trying to squeeze in grocery shopping. Overload. Today. Yeah, it blew. My eyes still ache. My face still feels swollen. My skin still feels foreign, and I just managed to hold down my first meal of the day. Go me.

In case you don't know why it is important to tell your doctor that you want 'brand necessary' checked on your prescriptions for chronic conditions, unless you're being ground under by the system like me: Crazy Meds

On the upside, my husband didn't know how bad my day was going and he brought me home an Easter gift early, six white Peking ducklings. They are sitting under a heat lamp in a special tub with a feeder system - cat proof, of course. It's indoors until they are ten weeks old, they're only a week old.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

casual conversation

I love people watching. Really. As much as I dislike being around people in general (crowds are not my thing), I'm actually one of the rare types that goes shopping on Black Friday every year not for the deals, but to people watch. Just ask my mom and sister-in-law. They've spent enough years with me during our annual event to testify to my lack of actual spending to own up to the truth of what I'm really doing - gawping at the sheer humanity. Or in the case of that pulsing mass if gibbering mayhem, lack forthwith.

Used to be I'd take a notebook and jot down what I thought people were saying, or doing as I watched them. My own brand of alternate history. It was pretty popular for a while, I've lost track of some of the older creations on the internet bulletin board system. Would have kept them on my computer but the grey box did a pop and fizzle with a wicked virus a number of years back that killed a score of files. Every so often I challenge myself to do a story in conversation alone, like this:

“Mmmm…I don’t know about you, but I love coming here every Friday. Look at all that prime man flesh.”
            “Tabitha! You're married!”
            “Sweetheart, I may not be allowed to sample the treats, but I can certainly appreciate the beauty that is the male animal.”
            “That is so not right.”
            “Aw, come on! I sit and listen to you complain about that woman at work who makes eyes at everything with a penis but you can’t indulge me?”
            “It’s not that Tabby, it just seems wrong sitting here drooling over those guys.”
            “Because I'm married?”
            “Partly, but also because it’s all based on looks.”
            “Hold that thought! It’s okay for you to tear down your co-worker based on her looks, but I can’t appreciate beautiful men? What kind of half-assed logic is that?”
            “Fine! I'll be nicer to Betsy, but I just can’t stand to be around her. She makes a good target screwing up as much as she does.”
            “Tracy you have got to be the biggest hypocrite. That woman doesn’t screw up, you set her up simply because she is fat and, as you said, makes an easy target. In order to judge her worth properly you have to use unbiased standards.”
            “Why're you looking at me? Look at the guy over there. Yeah, that one with the dark curls. She just makes me want to gag. All she does is sit in that office and eat all day. Fritos, Crunch ‘n Munch, Twizzlers – you name it. She sticky fingers her way through the day with a saccharine smile – literally and physically. Being that big isn’t just disgusting, it’s positively unhealthy.”
            “I forgot about your mom. Didn’t she die of heart disease complicated by obesity.”
            “This has nothing to do with my mother!”
            “If you say so.”
            “I say so.”
            “What do you think about that one…the one over there on the left with the long brown shaggy hair?”
            “Tabby, I just don’t get it. None of these guys you are panting over looks anything like Carl. I mean, if this is what you look for in a guy, what gives?”
            “Carl loves me and I don’t even love me. This is what I look for in fantasy land. You do know the place. You would have to since it been how long since you've gone out on a date...? Tracy? Hello over there.”
            “No, you are right, I don't date. I do have fantasies. Just not over these guys.”
            “As in really never? What the hell!”
            “Not a big deal. Oh, sure I'm good enough to drink beer or watch the game with, but dating requires...Well, something a bit different.”
            “Damn! You work in construction, you get to look at all those luscious men all day and you want me to believe that not a one has asked you out for a drink or maybe a “working” lunch?”
            “Yeah, I’ve had those sorts of offers. Be still my beating heart! What romance, ‘yo, Trace, you wanna suck my dick and get some pizza?’ Thank you but no, Tabby.”
            “I didn’t realize it was like that.”
            “Tabs, I'm a mason. I lay brick for a construction company. The only other woman employed by the firm tosses back jelly doughnuts like a wino at nickel beer night. What do you think I get all day? I get, ‘hey there Trace, you can bed my bricks any old day,” or “lay me sweet mama.’”
            “You’re kidding me!”
            “Hello? Remember me? I don’t have a sense of humor.”
            “There is a lot to love about you, the least of which is that delightfully sarcastic sense of humor. Look at you! You are in great shape!”
            “Yeah, I guess fireplug is a shape. Short and squat. My arms are more muscular than most guys, and I got a working man’s tan. I look like a car door reflection, not a runway model.”
            “You are so wrong, that assessment is so wrong. Oh, oh, oh! Love the buns on the blond! Okay, so these guys do nothing for you. Tell me then what is your fantasy man, Ms. International Fireplug.”
            “You won’t laugh at me?”
            “Out with it woman before I stab you with my fork.”
            “Okay, okay, no need to get psychotic. I want a guy with perfect hands. They have to be strong but not clumsy or too big, long lean fingers that can hold me gently, but strong enough to hold me close. Not body builder stuff, but honest strength. He has to have a deep voice, not crackling or spooky movie deep, but a nice bass tone that makes you see dark nights and silk sheets just by whispering into your ear. He has to be taller than me. Damn it, I want a man that makes me finally feel like a delicate female that needs protected. I want to feel like a lady when I am with him, not a bowling partner. I want a partner and a protector, it gets old being alone. This female power shit is for the birds, coo-coo birds to be precise.”
            “Damn Trace, you’re a romantic.”
            “Yeah, I guess so. Tell anyone and I’ll break your nose, sissy-girl.”
            “You wish, She-Ra. Hell, look at the time, I have got to run and get the kids. Stay single you really aren’t missing all that much, only the screaming and the crying and that’s while the kids are asleep.”
            “Funny lady. Guess me and my make-believe man will just keep on going for now. Same time next week?”
            “Of course! But next time, if it looks like rain, we’ll sit at the indoor café across the street. The rain makes you utterly maudlin.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

curry chicken

Before you look at the dish and run away - stop! This is actually a sweet dish, not spicy, nothing to fear here. Plus, there are a couple variations to keep things simple and easy when you are in a hurry or short on the more hard-to-come-by items.

white rice
1 lb. chicken breast cubed
2 tsp. curry powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 - 13 0z. can coconut milk*
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups baby spinach**
1 cup diced tomato

Make enough white rice for your family. Your distance may vary. That's why I didn't give amounts, sorry.

In a separate bowl, sprinkle the chicken with the curry, salt and pepper - turn until well coated. In a wok or generous skillet, heat oil on med to med-high add onion and chicken, turning often until well cooked. Stir in milk and tomato paste, bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer for five minutes or until thickens. Add spinach and tomatoes cook until greens soften, 2 or three minutes. Serve with rice.

*substitute canned milk (sweetened condensed)
**substitute canned spinach or turnip greens, we're really fond of turnip greens

Monday, March 25, 2013

may you live in interesting times

Back in college, when I was taking creative write classes to alleviate the rigors of engineering, I entertained classmates with slightly altered accounts of my own life, or tales thereof. I've always kept a journal, a diary or something to that effect, even after my car accident, even if it was just a few scrawled words here and there. Looking back through chunky books of mess from those weeks and months there was a lot of lost time but also a lot of pain I'd rather not revisit, so I turned to the internet to see what I missed.

Words fail me.

There is a curse, "May you live in interesting times." Even if I don't live in interesting times, the way the world has shrunk so the internet touches every spot on the world in an instant...well, we're ensured we don't miss much of anything anytime soon. Which begs the question of how to create anything new or interesting to what must be jaded readers. Face it, if you can pop on the world of twitter, blogger, facebook and the like and inside a few keystrokes and be inundated with real stories of heroism or romance, debauchery or wickedness, how is a mere storyteller ever supposed to attempt to compete? Bad enough knowing the classics are out there, you know, myths and fables and tales handed down over generations - but to have every last impression and event shared over a day? Talk about overload.

So, what do you think. Do books and television shows and movies still provide a bit of alternative escapism, or has it come to the point where we as a society now expect so much more from authors that we hold them to an even higher degree? Or is it just me that seems to see authors in that light?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The oldest profession - redux

With snow spitting, the husband and I decided to stop at a local watering hole for a quick drink and we had the following chance discussion with a female friend - much to the amusement and consternation to the bar patrons.

Her: "Ehhh... Snow, again, snow. I wish it would stop. I'd much rather see buds on the trees than that crap on the ground. But at least it keeps the hubby busy shoving wood in the wood burner. What the hell is it with men and fire?"

Hubby: "Hey now, that was man's first job, taking care of the fire!"

Me: "Just like women's oldest profession was prostitution, and likely just as noble."

Her: "Gee, I can see it now. Did the first fire for man to tend start from the first profession being worked in the high prairie grass, you think? All that friction?"

Hubby: "Hell no woman, we figured that shit out to keep your cold feet off us and to get you gone after so we could get some sleep."

Her: "Charming."

Me: "Yup, him and his chainsaw wielding skills are all mine."

We, the sniggering ladies of the room toasted and the guys just looked ill at ease, unable to fathom why we weren't out to directly kill my Neanderthal male. Why? He amuses me. That and he really does stock the wood burner, entendre included.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

presents from the past

Late last night, I was pulling my hair out looking for a file I'd misplaced by frantically scanning through backup CDs burned over the course of a number of different years. We've all done this, I guess. It's the cyber version of tearing the house apart looking for our car keys. In the end I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did find something so much better.

I found my son. To be more specific, I found a slew of three minute movies my then, seven or eight year old son had made while his mom was doing the dishes or cooking dinner. In those days the young man would have been so busted. Now that he's in his twenties - the potential embarrassment factor is delicious! And seeing his sweet little face pop-up in the dark grainy screen with such cheesy dialogue...just cracked me up. No mom could possibly erase these 'precious moments.' Nope. I plan to save them. Maybe even send them to family members cell phones, once I figure out the cell phone thing well enough...

He didn't let me carry pictures of him in my wallet when he was growing up, because and I quote, "Mom, that is sooo embarrassing. Someone will see!" For as outgoing a child as my son was, things were strictly regimented to eliminate any possible extra attention. He was a bit phobic about being in the spotlight. As a result, anytime I tried to take a picture of him, he disappeared into the background faster than a ghost on fade. The only one permitted to snap a pic was a designated grandparent, because, "you know, that's their job." Make that make sense.

So for Passover this year, I'm going to be passing out copies of his epic, nine-part mini series filmed in my old bedroom, featuring the whisper voiced detective clad in his dad's Laser-Tag gear, as he assaults my old wicker rocking chair for posterity's sake.

Ah motherhood, the gift the keeps on giving!

Friday, March 22, 2013

soutzoukakia recipe

Growing up Greek, we had a lot of great foods that a small child pretty much couldn't pronounce let alone spell. One of my all time favorites (aside from dolmades aka grape leaves) was what I called Greek meatballs. Face it, when you're five years old and an American mutt with a percentage (about 25) of Greek blood, you're not belting out words like 'soutzoukakia' like a champ on a regular basis.

But boy, oh boy, do I adore this recipe. So, I am sharing it today.

1 kg/2 lb ground beef
2 eggs
1 sliced onion
1 liter/1 quart of tomato paste
Some olive oil
some flour
2 spoons of sugar

You'll notice there isn't a lot of exact measurements. Yeah, about that, a lot of folks don't do salt or pepper and some aren't too keen on cumin - so it's to taste, same with oregano. I never realized a person could have a dislike of oregano until I got married. The male isn't too fond of the nicely scented green herb, it gives him heartburn if I don't pay attention. The flour is 'use until stiff' so if you buy/use fatty meat you'll use more flour than folks who cook with lean meat or venison. So, no amounts given.

Mix the meat with the eggs (raw folks, seriously this should go without saying but I didn't and a friend hardboiled them, it was the weirdest fiasco - ever), and add the chopped onion, the cumin, salt and pepper. Form into elongated balls and turn inside a bowl with the flour until firm. Fry the floured meatballs in the oil at high heat.
When cooked add the tomato paste and sugar, and let cook for another 10-15 minutes at medium heat. Serve with either rice or fries.

Now, you'll notice the 'some' on the oil, this is not an invitation to a deep fry either. This is a lightly coat the pan and fry the meatballs, just a bit more than sauté but not heart-attack worthy grease immersion.

Good luck and enjoy!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

daily posts

I want to start doing daily posts again, but am not quite sure if people would like to read teasers from things published, to be published, in the works, or original stand alone its - full and complete that could be about one to three pages in length.

Sound off and let me know. For those of you who are aware of where my live journal is hidden, I'm attempting to post there daily as well - those aren't for public perusal given the adult nature of topics. So Try to keep things here pg-13 suggestion-wise.

As for facebook, I seriously don't know what to do with that place. My internet service is via a satellite uplink, and we only have so many megabytes each day. Not nearly enough to deal with the bloated mess of that place. Not only that, but every time I go there it's rife with viruses and other problems. I know a lot of people love it, but really, I'm not one of them. And for the life of me I can't figure out twitter. Call me dense, call me stupid, I just can't tweet.

Hope to hear what you'd like to see :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Taps on the mic...1-2-3

Well, there were things about this blog I could change, and things I couldn't. I spent hours clearing out old posts and updating dead links and book covers, but for some reason blogger seems to adore the YouTube links.

Go figure.

Clunky crap like that just seems beyond me. I'm quasi-amused at the most inordinate of things lately. So, we're taking a militaristic view of my quirks. Meaning if you don't ask the blue haired mad-woman, she probably won't tell you. Yes, my hair is blue. No, you probably don't want to know.

But if you do find yourself really wanting to know. That's what the reply button is for. Machine gun style, here's life:

My son has moved out, he's on his own, doing well with his (now) fiancé.

Seizures are under control and I've not only got my driving privileges back, but a really awesome radiant red, Toyota FJ-Cruiser.

My hair is blue, my family still gives me hinky looks at the dinner table at holidays. Totally sweet.

I'm writing again; about 5,000 words per day when the muse moves me. Took apart Dog Wild 3, Trickster's Folly and started over from the ground up. It's cooking along nicely now at the 20,000 word mark so I hope to be done in about two or three weeks. Seriously. This one will be polyamorous and have lots of violence. I'm giddy thinking of my plotlines.

I'm also doing a lot of gay and lesbian stuff. I know most of my readers are going meh. Sorry. I have some other things in the works as well, don't feel bad. Getting out of the doldrums and being able to do things has really helped a great deal.

Well gots to go cook dinner. TTFN and will post more as soon as this piddly sat service chokes up more 'net service for me.