Pigeons and Shipwrecks

I’m working on my WIP tonight—gonna turn off the WiFi, plug in the appropriate playlist and thrash out one small continuity problem,* if I have to rip the entire chapter to shreds and redo.

You know, I’ve shipwrecked manuscripts for less . . . But I refuse to let Pigeon go.

And vice versa, thank God.

So no real post today, but to fill the space and speaking of shipwrecks, I thought I’d toss up a weird character study I found in my file cabinet the other day, while I was looking for something else.

It’s dated around the time Sunny was born, so it’s probably also a study on what hormones can do to one’s subconscious.  I think I stopped after two chapters and partial outline with this because another story captured my attention—can’t remember what that other story was, but it obviously didn’t make it out of the harbor, either.

But while I’m not letting another story get in the way of Pigeon—hush, those others meant nothing to me—I do like Ms. Daisy Zelda Fitzgerald, possibly because her nemesis might have her pegged.

Anyway, it’s good for a laugh.


I’d only thought about committing murder once or twice before—who hasn’t—but it was looking more and more like a viable option.

I snapped my cell phone shut and reached into the icy wind for my deposit receipt.  “Thank you, Mrs. Fitzgerald!” said the cashier, smiling in her warm bank as I shoved the container back into its tube and hit the window toggle before I froze to death.

I lifted my hand in return, not wanting to brave the elements again just to correct her.  It was a common, logical mistake for tellers and salesclerks, who assumed from the joint household account and same last name that Nicholas and I were husband and wife, instead of brother and sister.

But this particular misunderstanding would soon be at an end, along with the convenient financial arrangement—all the arrangements we’d set up over the past few years.  Of course, the bank would probably think Nick had left me for another woman, which was technically the truth.

Nick was getting married.

I repeated that sentence a few times as I turned right onto Kimberley Road, trying to make it an everyday, normal statement instead of a major upheaval.  An upheaval made worse by the frequent calls and voice mail messages that were encouraging my recent daydreams of homicide.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want my brother to be happy—I wasn’t entirely selfish.  But Nick’s marriage was going to change everything.  And after mulling over the problem for a few weeks, I’d decided that it wasn’t so much what was going to happen as who was making it happen.

I could not believe that my brother was going to marry Annette Billingsley.  I knew from personal experience that love could be blind stupid, but this . . .

Annette was everything I was proud not to be, from her artificially enhanced figure—it is genetically improbable to be a size two and a double-D, Dolly Parton notwithstanding—to her manipulative, avaricious, and all too obvious ways of getting what she wanted from the opposite sex.  And she thought I was a homely, sour-grape-fueled, man-hating control freak.

We were each fully aware of the other’s opinion, too, which proves that effective communication isn’t necessarily the answer to world peace.

Nick, one of nature’s ostriches, apparently assumed, since nothing had been discussed, that Annette would simply move in, start adding a paycheck a month to the household account, and all would be well.  To be fair, we had been more or less civil to each other for his sake, so the poor man was probably unaware that a court order from God wouldn’t make us give each other access to money.

Living in the same house was unthinkable.

Thanksgiving dinner alone was going to be something of a trial, unless I snapped and poisoned her potatoes—except Annette would rather die than eat a starch after two p.m.  I grinned as the wind shoved me across the parking lot and into the grocery store. Maybe just offering her potatoes would do it . . .

I went up and down the aisles in my habitual pattern, produce to meat to dairy to frozen, selecting the staples on my list and the more perishable ingredients for tomorrow’s feast.  A Fitzgerald Family Thanksgiving owes much to the time-honored tradition of full fat dairy products, which I don’t keep on hand, as a rule.

Nick would’ve had the refrigerator stuffed full of them, if he could’ve, along with half the bakery department—and wouldn’t Annette have something to say about that—but the weekly shopping was my job, like the laundry was his.  Though I guessed I’d be making better friends with the washing machine in the near future.

My cell vibrated while I was pricing sour cream.  I checked the number, shoved the phone back into my coat pocket, and selected two pints of Swiss Valley.  A short while later, a single beep told me I had a message, which I also ignored.

I wondered whether arsenic or hemlock would make a better choice of seasonings.  But wasn’t hemlock a spring herb?  I had the new Penzie’s spice catalog at home—maybe I should see if they had a Socrates Blend.

Arranging my groceries on the conveyor belt in the order I wished them to be bagged, I switched gears from the amusing to the practical, and thought through the financial side of keeping up the house on one salary. I didn’t have to worry about a mortgage—thank you, Grandpa Frank—and the last quarterly property tax payment for the year was ready to go.  Only eight hundred and sixty-three dollars owed to the equity line of credit for last year’s roof replacement, and I had six years to—

“Don’t put the bread in with the cans, please,” I said, startling the teenager who was tossing my groceries into random bags.  “Put it with the eggs.  And please unload half of that one  into another bag, then double bag both.”  I kept an eye on him as he complied.  “Thank you.”

I could handle the taxes by myself, I thought, as I signed the card reader in exchange for a receipt that was almost a foot longer than normal.  Holiday or not, I winced at the total.  Everyday household accounts might pinch a little once Nick was gone. But I could always cancel the cable and wear more sweaters.

I shivered as I steered my cart through the frozen parking lot.  More sweaters might not be possible—I was already wearing half a drawerful and it hadn’t snowed, yet.  I’m too skinny to deal well with Iowa winters, though my friend Chloe says that someone meeting me for the first time in December would assume I needed Weight Watchers.  One more layer of clothing would make it difficult to bend at the joints.

The bags safely loaded into the trunk of my silver Civic, I headed for home.

I wound my way through the mish-mash of residential streets, the leaves swirling in panic as I drove through.  Early Autumn made Winfield County a gorgeous riot of color, but now only a few trees still clung tight to their ragged glory, despite the weather’s efforts to beat them bald.   It would have been quicker, maybe, to use River Drive, but the scenery, which included the businesses that had sprung up along the Mississippi over the past fifty years to block the view, wouldn’t have been half as pretty.

To hear Aunt Bernice tell it, our area, high on Bridge Hill,  had been the premier location in the city when the current desirable neighborhoods were still dismantling their Civil War training barracks.   But  she admits we’ve  had some setbacks since then, though in the last decade we’d become popular with people who could see lovely architectural bones underneath the ruinous vinyl siding and were willing to dedicate themselves to repairing the damages done by time and tenants.

But Fitzgerald House, the largest pile west of Union Street, had been tended, pampered, and catered to from the moment Ezra Fitzgerald, the lumber king, carried his bride, the former Clara Cruikshank, over the threshold.  It held court on Bridge Avenue with other homes of pedigree, now owned by families my aunt considered usurpers of history.

I peered up at the gutters of Fitzgerald House as I followed the driveway around to the garage.  The new guards seemed to be working, which was good.  If Nick actually went through with the wedding, I wasn’t going to be the one hanging off the roof to scoop out any accumulated muck, and I didn’t know if my budget would stretch enough to hire a service.

I slotted my car into the attached garage, which had been added to the house years before the city Historical Preservation Commission—or Aunt Bernice— might have made an issue of it. Thank heavens for Great-Uncle Randolf, without whom I would have frozen solid before I could bring in all the groceries.

My phone rang just as I finished easing the last celery heart into the overfull crisper, and I answered it without checking, assuming it was Chloe, who always rang after work.

It wasn’t.

“Oh,” I said.  “Hello, Annette.  Yes, I received all your messages, but I was driving.  I know you do—I don’t.  Were you?  He did, did he . . . ?  No, I think the Pfaltzgraff  is perfectly fine for Thanksgiving.  . .  Yes.  I do.  It even has a cornucopia pattern . . .  Yes, it is a family tradition—plus it can be put in the dishwasher, too, unless you’re volunteering to wash eighteen settings of Spode by hand?  Uh-huh.”  I clenched the phone in my fist.  “Well, thank you very much for your approval.  Goodbye.”  I shut the phone very carefully, opened it, and punched up my second emergency contact.

As expected, it went directly to voice mail.  “This is Zee,” I said.  “I am going to kill her dead and mount her head in the den next to Moriarty.**  Come on over as soon as you can to help me plan—I’ll be home.”

I turned the ringer to vibrate and left it on the counter.  There was a CSI marathon starting at noon.  Maybe I could pick up some tips.


*You know that riddle about getting a rat, a cat, and a dog over a river in a canoe, and you can take two animals at at time, but you can’t leave the rat and the cat or the cat and the dog alone together?  I went and wrote me one o’ them . . .

**Stuffed moose head.  I was on a roll.


Random Thursday: Yes, We Have No Bananas

So, why didn’t any of you lovely people tell me I misspelled the day of the week in my post title yesterday?

Just for that, no more erotic 13th Century poetry for you.

Ha!  Made you look!

‘Course, it’s actually there, which kind of spoils the—Ha!  Made you look!


And while I’m complaining, no one mentioned that Monday was Labyrinth Day, either!

‘Twas the twenty-fifth anniversary of a girl (with my name!  Squee!) making the wrong wish at the wrong time and falling headfirst into Jim Henson’s looking glass, ruled over by Ziggy Stardust in the most fabulous tights ever.

I think my best friend and I wore out her copy of the video over two years—we watched it every single weekend.

If you haven’t seen it, please do—I’d loan you my DVD, but it’s slightly melted from overuse . . .


Overheard in a restaurant last week:

“He’s the kind of person who, when you ask him for the time,  will teach you how to make a watch.

I couldn’t tell whether this was an admirable trait or not. 

Suppose it depends on whether you have the time or  . . . wait a minu—

I mean, wait a sec–



My brother-in-law and his wife are coming up from Ohio tomorrow night to visit for the weekend.

Should be fun, as long as my MIL doesn’t work herself sick getting ready—we keep telling her he won’t care, but she does and is busy scrubbing the ceiling on her hands and knees.*

The kids are excited—their uncle, who was constructed to a larger-than-life scale, is better than a jungle gym.

But if there are fewer posts over the weekend, their visit may be why.

And if there are a few extra, their visit may be why . . .


It’s hard to beat last Thursday’s last cool thing, but Joshua Allen Harris comes close with his singular take on recycled urban art:

There are Air Bears, too, but I think they look more like dogs—really life-like dogs, though!

He also makes monsters:


*My job is to clear away the writer’s nest on the dining room table.  It has been stated it no uncertain terms that if I don’t, it will be done for me.  I’m almost done.  Sort of.  They’ll be coming in late, anyway . . .

Random Thursday: Llama Llama Llama!

Llama Font. You know you want it.

Click to go to the generator and write secret llama messages—though once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to read.

The T and the Y are particularly adorable, I think. And the I. Okay, yeah, all of it.

Go forth and Llamafy!

(thanks to Janet Reid for this new toy, even though I didn’t decode her message fast enough)


Janie has discovered Weird Al Yankovic. The world may never be the same–after ten straight repeats of “The Weird Al Show Theme Song,” in the car this morning, I’m pretty sure I won’t be.*

She has it memorized and goes around singing, “But that’s really not important to the story!” at odd intervals. I’m beginning to miss, “Whatever.”


It’s amazing to her that a professional musician messes up songs on purpose.  Music is supposed to be sacrosanct, like books.   “I mean, I know you do it, Mommy, but he’s good.”

Thanks, kid.

My husband’s reaction? “Excellent!” He’s so proud to have helped produced the next generation of Dr. Demento** fans.

‘Course, he doesn’t drive her to school and back.


Quotes from the Notes

People who talk by the yard and think by the inch should be removed by the foot.

—Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers


Sheer (shear?) unadulterated cuteness:

cute baby animals - Let Me Pinch Those Cheeks For You

To get this kind of effect, I’d need a handful of styling product, a round brush, and a windtunnel—and some Rogaine.


One off the bucket list:

I finally found a copy of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen’s version of the Mission Impossible theme song from the first movie. I’ve been looking for this for years, but didn’t want to illegally download it.

In the end, I had to buy a CD with a Bjork song on it.  Bjork.   But it was so worth it.

Yes, Janie comes by her musical obsessions honestly. Why do you ask?


And to end this odd, little llama-fest, Wally Llama, reluctant guru, and three insistent pilgrims:

The moral of this clip?  Use your smartybrains: don’t meditate without a net.


*Yes, I was closest to the stereo control and yes, I’m the parent.  But it was either listening to ten reps of this song or twenty minutes of begging, whining, pouting, and aspersions cast upon the quality and quantity of my maternal love.  I’ll take the earworm, thanks.

**Does anyone else miss this guy? Does anyone else remember this guy? I used to stay up past my bedtime and listen to him under my pillow with my huge airport runway style radio headphones.

Quotes from the Notes

I have a small bound book that I carry around so I can scribble dialogue and plot points, things that interest me and stuff that might be useful later.   I often forget why I bothered, but it’s always a trip going through it.

And I needed a blog post.*

So here’s a sample, in the exact order they were written.  I only edited one entry—a brownie point awaits the first person who figures out which one it is.

Oh, have I mentioned that I’m a quote-hoarder?


If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
—Mark Twain

To err is human; to forgive infrequent.
—Franklin P. Adams


“My team was killed because I thought I was invincible. I’m sure you’ve heard the story.”

“Several versions.  Yours is the only one that blames you.”

“Yeah, well, I’m the only one left who was there.”


Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
—Arthur Schopenhauer

Fernando Botero

We must have infinite faith in each other.  If we have not, we must never let it leak out that we have not.
–Henry David Thoreau

Traver—collector of bridge tolls

Silver doesn’t tarnish on the moon.

Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.
—Lily Tomlin

Shanking:  “stabbers never show; and showers never stab”—watch the hands


“You may be the big sociopath in this little pond of yours, but I’m the monster of the deep.”


People enjoy just the right amount of strangeness, and authenticity is often too strange.
—Jo Walton

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.
—Saul Bellow


Her abrupt answer stung, though he knew better—or hoped he did—than to take it personally.  But it meant he didn’t have a lot of time to talk her around.  And if she refused to help—truly refused—he was going to have to respect her decision.

But not yet.


PA does not require firearms to be registered.  LTCF’s can be issued to res and non-res.  Good for 5 years. For res—applications are handled by their county sheriff’s office, with the exception of Philadelphia (the Gun Permits & Tracking Unit of the PPD). Permits by one county must be honored by all counties, Philadelphia, too.

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
—Jorge Luis Borges

Just because we’re in charge doesn’t mean everything is okay; we are not very nice.
—Benjamin Rosenbaum

If you’re violating your standards faster than you can lower them, time to go away.
—Robin Williams

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who only dream by night.
—Edgar Allen Poe

St. Drago—patron saint of unattractive people

If you could see infrared light, you could use your TV remote as a flashlight

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Biography lends to death a new terror.
—Oscar Wilde

The only people who can change the world are people who want to.  And not everybody does.
—Hugh MacLeod

Alcohol detection Bracelets.  Personal Technology.  Starter interrupt for cars—anti-On Star??—missed payments, drinking, etc.  Electrocution?

My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.
—P.J. Plauger

You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.
—Jack London

There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.
—Will Rogers


X is a mole!!! S/he’s been feeding info to the bad guys the whole time! That’s how they knew! And Y suspects!  This fixes EVERYTHING !!!

K.  can’t break into the Courthouse for the marriage record. -Recorder’s Office has them on microfilm.  Have C. distract the guard–that’ll tick her off, too J. has marriage covered, don’t dup.  K & C go after Pinstripes?  K. goes, C. tags along to irritate him.


Justice does not come from the outside.  It comes from inner peace.
—Barbara Hall

Aurivorious—craving gold

The louder he talked of honor, the faster we counted our spoons.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The reason lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place is that the same place isn’t there the second time.
—Willie Taylor

Ring the bells that still ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen

Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.
—Jules de Gaultier


“Would you want someone digging up your past, even to save your life?”


Taphophiles—cemetery lovers

A rumor without a leg to stand on will get around some other way.
—John Tudor

Cerumen = earwax

Dentures were made of the teeth of dead soldiers from the Napoleonic Wars—these were cherished by their owners.  Oh, yurgh.

Freedom deserves a better epitaph than fear.
—Leonard Pitts

We live in a Newtonian world of Einstein physics ruled by Frankenstein logic.
—David Russell

To repeat what others have said required education; to challenge it, requires brains.**
—Mary Pettibone Poole

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.
—Philip K. Dick

Callipygian—having a shapely bottom

In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.—Mark Twain

Call it a clan, call it a Network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.
—Jane Howard


And for a rousing finish, here’s a poll for no reason whatsoever, except I finally figured out how to set one up:

Anyone want to share their favorite quotes or scribbles?  It’s kind of cathartic . . .


*Which is rapidly becoming my favorite excuse next to, “I didn’t hear the dryer ding.”