Blatant Self Promotion

The winners of Kelley Armstrong’s short story contest have been posted. I didn’t win, but I’m glad I entered, because she’s promised feedback to all who did.

For the record, I’m not disappointed – it was a worthwhile exercise. I’m also not surprised. The winning entries are all much more overtly otherworldly (I’m not sure, but I think all three are also about vampires – I read them very quickly.)

The title of this post aside, I’m pretty shy about sharing my work. I’m trying to get over that, but it’s difficult. In any case, MY story can be found at, and this is an official request that anyone reading THIS also head over and read THAT (unless you’re among the people who read it when I emailed it out.) Comments are encouraged. Feedback is better than chocolate. (No, really.)

All links open in new windows.

Summer Burn

It’s that time again: the folks at FunJunkie are hosting Summer Burn 2005, in which people from around the world burn two copies of their favorite summer playlist, and send them off to the random people the host provides.

It’s a great way to get new music, and it’s sort of fun.

(Registrations close 21 June 05).


Somewhat ironically, even though I’m trying to cut our expenses by eating at home more (we eat out far too often), I have been buying bread from Panera instead of the grocery store, and it’s more expensive than our usual Orowheat 12-grain, but it’s also fresher, and the loaves are larger. Plus it makes me happy.

Today’s purchases were tomato-basil bread (great for sandwiches) and the stuff they call “French” bread (not to be confused with a baguette), which is a buttery white bread designed to be toasted.

(Those who know me will no doubt raise their eyebrows at the notion of white bread entering my home, but be assured, this is white bread in the way that a brioche is white bread, not in the way that that Wonder-bread stuff is white bread.)

My flash-fiction exercise for this week (250 words with the title “Punk”) can be found at my new fiction site, The direct link to just that piece is here.

It’s been a lazy, rainy weekend, and somehow it’s fitting that just as the long weekend ends the clouds have broken, and we have a clear sky to watch the sunset in.

Sleep Disorders

My sleep cycle is completely confused – it began last week, when I had a horrible cold, and was exacerbated this weekend by the lack of a schedule, and reacting to Fuzzy’s odd on-call hours – the dogs don’t settle into sleep when he’s awake at odd hours, and their wakefulness translates into MY wakefulness, as they don’t want to be separated from either of us. If we lived our lives within five feet of each other all the time, at least they would be happy.

So, Saturday we slept late, and then Fuzzy was informed at 1 AM Sunday morning that he had a 4 AM maintenance to perform. I watched the sun begin to lighten the sky before giving up and going to sleep, and Fuzzy crawled into bed sometime between eight and nine. I think.

Today was a day of puttering at the computer, and watching the rain. Quiet, but enjoyable. I took a break at five to make meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and then we went to Starbucks.

I came home and, with some encouragement from Ms. Eclectic, installed WordPress on one of my other domains, and I’m now posting my fiction there. It still needs much tweaking, but if you’re curious go look at MoonChilde – I still prefer MT, really, but for what I’m doing a one-click install was easier than all the usual configuration. And it’s good to learn new things.

It’s a hair before 4 AM now, and I’ve resolved to get to bed while the sky is still dark, so, goodnight.


As a little girl, one of my favorite words was bedraggled, because even though it isn’t truly onomatopoeic, it conjurs a perfect image of its definition: wet, limp, dishevelled.

I mention this because I spent last Monday afternoon feeling like the picture-dictionary definition of that word.

Our pool filter was havng a problem, so we called our home warranty service who sent out a Happy Pool Guy in Shorts (HPGiS)who ran his fingers through his blond hair and said, “The good news is that it’s not the actual filter, it’s the cleaning system; the bad news is that it’s not covered. It’ll probably cost around $200 to fix it, and we have to order a part.”

We paid the required $50, and HPGiS went off, presumably to order the part, and work up an official quote. He called back the following Monday with a total, which we had no problem with, and I left a message in response giving the go-ahead. The message was lost so a week later I called back, and finally on the 23rd, HPGiS and the part were in my yard and the filter was burbling happily, although there was a second part of the filter system that Fuzzy was told to go purchase at the nearest pool store (there’s a Leslie’s in our neighborhood, so that wasn’t a big deal, and the parts were a replacement bag for the polaris cleaner, and a new o-ring for the separation filter.) He did that, and for the first time since ever, I learned how the vacuum thing is supposed to work – apparently it had been broken when we moved in, and we didn’t know because we’d never encountered this type of cleaner before.

Anyway, my day of bedragglement began before the trip to Leslie’s, when I was volunteered to fish the vacuum out of the pool and remove the broken bag, so Fuzzy could take it with him. I hadn’t realize that the hose attached to it was still pushing water into the device, you see, and ended up sitting on my ass on the patio, while tons of chlorinated water poured over the black pants I was wearing (they were old, but still…). Peeling wet black cotton off of wet skin is NOT fun.

So, while I dry off, change, and drink cranberry juice, Fuzzy trots out to get the bag, and comes back in and attaches it to the now-waterless vacuum, and we drop it in the water, and turn the valve back to the ON position, which is fine, except that I hadn’t realized that the tail with the little rubber wheely things on it also had a water nozzle at one end, so when the thing climbed back up the pool wall, spun in a circle, and then submerged itself again, I got squirted in the face.

Later, I went outside, and noticed that the vacuum was completely tangled in its hose, and was no longer able to move from where it was wedged against the bottom step of the pool, so I pulled it back toward the surface, and having learned from the earlier incident, kept it mostly beneath the surface of the water as I unknotted the hose.

Except…except that Cleo came out to bark at it, and ran into me, and while I didn’t fall into the pool, I did lose my grip on the vacuum, and it flipped over, and started spraying water at me, at the dog, and over my whole patio, like an extremely localized, chlorine-scented rainstorm. Then, it sank to the bottom, and unknotted itself, leaving me soaked and frustrated. I’m pretty sure it was feeling smug, though, because a few minutes later, it climbed the wall right near me, and squirted my retreating form again, as if blowing me a raspberry.

It was in the high nineties, outside.

It was in the low seventies inside the door, because in order to make our bedroom tolerable, we have to make the rest of the house arctic. (Note to self: get window unit for the bedroom, so that you can turn off the central air at night.)

I stood on the mat inside the kitchen door, dripping and bedraggled and yelled, “Fuzzy! I need a hug….and a really big towel!!!” And he came and wrapped me in a big yellow bath sheet, and wiped the water out of my eyes, and didn’t even mock…much.

Later, I took a hot shower, which made me feel much better, but, as I pointed out to Fuzzy, while letting my hair drip dry “I may not smell like chlorine any more, but I’m still WET.”

Cranky & Sniffly

MissMeliss regrets to inform her friends and readers that she is feeling crabby and anti-social today, and is suffering from a summer spring cold. She apologizes for abruptly disappearing from various IM windows.

When she feels better, she will be posting more flash-fiction, and the incredible tale of her battle with the Pool Vacuum of Doom (which she swears she did NOT make up).

In the meantime, she is dosing herself with lemon toddies, mint tea, mild pain-killers, and dvd’s of ER and The West Wing.

She wishes everyone restful sleep, and a wonderful tomorrow.

Before Sunrise

I went to bed at midnight, and I should still be tired, because it’s only 5:27 AM, but we took a long nap after church, yesterday so I’m actually pretty well rested.

The tradition at our church, we learned yesterday, is that the choir doesn’t sing over the summer – a notion I understand but don’t like – and that, instead, people get to suggest favorite hymns, and the weekly music is picked from the most relevant of the suggestions, so I went through the hymnal after my nap and found that of the 710 or so songs in it, there are a total of six that I was familiar with (not including the national anthems of the UK and US, which are both in there, or “America the Beautiful,” which is also in there) BEFORE we started singing with the choir. And of those six, I only like five of them.

So I’m sitting here, with my scalp itching because I’m hot (it’s not hot in the house, I’m just hot), and my brain running circles, trying to decide if I should bother submitting my suggestions at all, because two of the three are sooo cliche as to be over-done.

What are they? In numerical order:
(8) “Morning Has Broken” – cuz I’m a true child of the ’70’s
(376) “Joyful, Joyful” – can there ever be too much Beethoven?
(405) “All Things Bright and Beautiful” – which really should be sung by freshly-scrubbed school-children in uncomfortable outfits, for maximum effect.
(416) “For the Beauty of the Earth” – it’s a really simple melody, and actually it’s inclusion in the Episcopal hymnal surprised me, because I think of it as being sort of Quaker, though I suppose it’s really not.
(671) “Amazing Grace” – a song I’ve loved forever, actually, and have always associated (erroneously, as it was written by an ancient Anglican) with Southern religion.

Clearly, my knowledge of liturgical music is lacking. Must work on that.

But as I sit here, waiting for the first rays of light to paint color in the sky, the birds are stirring into the ultimate dawn chorus, and I’m wishing someone could capture THAT in a hymn.

UnMutter: Week 120

I say… And you think…?

  1. Heimlich:: maneuver
  2. Gesture:: noble
  3. Party:: line
  4. Cuddle:: muffin
  5. Room with a view:: Room of one’s own
  6. Sebastian:: PDQ
  7. Ooooh:: la-la
  8. Sigh:: breath
  9. Two fish, three fish:: ugh
  10. Cake or death:: the bastard love-child of Marie Antoinette and Patrick Henry

Like this meme? Play along here.

Happiness is…

…taking your dogs for a walk on a sultry spring evening, and watching them roll in the grass for the sheer pleasure of it.

…smiling up at the moon when you walk – the glorious peach-colored full moon.

…waving to your neighbors, and meeting their dogs, as you pass them on THEIR walk.

…coming home to notice that the tree outside your garage door, that you’d thought was an ornamental fruit tree is actually a fruit-bearing PEACH tree.

…sitting out on the patio on that same sultry spring night, and eating the first peach of the season, sun-warm and succulent, from your very own tree.

Disembodied Voices

A writing challenge courtesy of Tales from the Ridge: 300 words with the title “Disembodied Voices”

She was in bed, with the covers pulled up to her chin and her tiny hands clenched into white-knuckled fists around the sheets. Around the perimeter of her bed, an army of stuffed animals stood guard over her, making sure the muffled sounds from beyond the wall didn’t penetrate her dreams as anything but indistinct sound.

When the sounds got louder, she squinched her eyes shut, so that all she could see was the pixelated after-image of her darkened room, blankness like the snow on an ill-received television channel forming general shapes of furniture on the backs of her eyelids.

She yelped when she heard the *crack* of something hard against something alive…and took herself to the place inside herself where the stuffed animals could talk. “Winnie,” she whispered in her mind, “are you there.”

The golden-brown stuffed bear answered in a golden-brown honey-thick voice, that he was there, and she was safe as long as she kept her eyes closed.

Sleep child, she heard the maternal voice of Raggedy Ann urging in harmony. Everything’s fine when you sleep. In your dreams, everything’s all right.

She smiled into the darkness of her room, and drifted into sleep, an imaginary soundtrack blocking the voices of her parents from her consciousness. She’d learned to do this months ago, when they’d first begun their almost-nightly screaming matches: tune out of the real world, and tune into the songs in her head, or the voices of her dolls.

When morning came, she crept to the door of her room, and peeked out. Finding no one, she announced “I’m going to get juice now,” to the toys that had been dumped to the floor when she tossed and turned in her sleep.

She didn’t wait for any response, but silently thanked them for their vigilance.