The Drought

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is PELT.

This short scene yesterday was my Write Practice exercise: we were to tell about some activity during the day and add some kind of conflict to the account. My basic activity will be filling the dishes I’ve set in the back yard for the birds, and I’ve used the elements — the drought — as my conflict. Here’s that scene, embellished somewhat, as my RDP prompt response.

Watering the Birds

Looking out the window this morning I see half a dozen small birds clustered around the plates I’ve been putting out. The plates must be empty again. Full of dust, more likely. I’d better refill them – don’t want the poor birds dying of thirst.

There’s no other moisture for miles. Pot holes and sloughs disappeared back in June and the steady winds keep shifting dust along the ground, coating whatever plants may have a bit of juice in their leaves. The nearest place for the birds to drink would be the river twelve miles away. Even that’s just a trickle by now. Surely the fall rains will start soon?

I smiled as I filled the water jug and lugged it out to the garden. Many trips I’ve made already this fall, but I’m thankful Tom allows me this bit of “wasting.” He knows how I love to watch the birds and want to keep these last few with us just a little longer. We pray every day that the well will keep flowing. The birds aren’t the only ones needing water in this brutal country.

As I walk through what was once my garden, trying not to stir up too much dust, a relentless wind pelts me with falling maple leaves. The trees have suffered, too, this summer — but the fall rains will start any day now. Surely?

A Cascade of Adjectives

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge today is FRUGAL. A much more…well…frugal word than some others he posted this week. When I saw the provocative words Inexorable, Doleful, Deviate, Extraneous, Vehement, and Elucidate pop into my In-box, I really wanted to concoct some suitable responses. However, I seemed to be otherwise occupied all week – and/or my muse has headed down the garden path chasing a tale. Stay tuned…

Reading various articles this week, especially a comment from another blogger about “pastors ranting about..the need to promote the new Cyrus: Trump” – my mind started to form a picture…

Have you ever stood close to a thundering waterfall and tried to hear yourself think? Now, add to the turbulence of the waterfall a bunch of doleful, croaking frogs, several flocks of vehement gabbling geese, throw in the extraneous cry of a distant loon – and then try to listen to someone giving a speech. How much will you get?

Fast-forward to today. An author has written a book about the current presidential candidates and would like some feedback. I won’t mention the title, which would give the game away, but I read his blurb on Amazon elucidating his preference and I messaged him that it sounds like he’s doing some fiery preaching to the choir.

There’s a lot of that going on.

Often with politics there’s a whole lot of noise and few people who are actually listening in an open-minded way. Especially when I read the current US political scene, I envision two roaring streams of opinion coming from opposite directions, ending in two cascades of adjectives hurling themselves at each other and splashing onto the rocks below.

Cement-headed, fanatical, xenophobic, fascists and rednecks versus closed-minded, anti-American, neo-Nazi, self-serving opposers of law and order. One comment: “If said party chose a maggoty dead skunk as their candidate, I’d vote for the skunk.” With all these acrid opinions frothing about, the ultimate winner is clear: the English language, Adjectives branch.

The frogs could be a bunch of journalists analyzing the chaos; the geese may be various extremists on either side trying to make themselves heard. And the loon, dare I say, yet another prophet trying to fit current people and affairs into the grand scheme of end-times prophecy?

There’s always been speculation about people and events. J.N. Darby believed in the 1880s that the end of the world was very near. At the start of WWII, I’m told, evangelical Christians were thinking Mussolini was the anti-christ. My husband remembers speculation that David Ben Gurion would turn out to be the messiah. He also recalls a general alarm among evangelicals about the US electing JFK, a Catholic president! Then Henry Kissinger being pegged as the anti-christ.

Dear Christian friends, please don’t go there. The noise is already so loud; the chances of reading the signs wrong is so great. Isn’t it time to abandon all the adjectives and rather seek the “prayer closet”? “Be still and know that I am God.” There will be elections in several Canadian provinces this fall, too. I honestly believe we’ll accomplish more for the good of our nations by spending our time in prayer.

Verbalizing English

As often happens, an article on another blog has fired my mental cylinders and — coupled together with some peeves I’ve already petted — has generated enough sparks to inspire a story.

The culpritical article in this case, is Merriam-Webster’s Great Big List of List of Words You Love to Hate. All your favorite pet peeves in one location.

This has touched a nerve. My past musings, after seeing the word HEROIZE in an article, were about how some writers have such a love of making nouns into verbs, and/or mangling both. Heroize is actually an old word that’s never caught on well, but M-W’s article has given me a few new words to grind my teeth on: CONVERSATE, COMMENTATE, and INCENTIVIZE. Shriek!

Biff has done another Whatnot Wednesday prompt post again; since this post definitely fits in the “Whatnot” class, I’ll give him a nod for that inspiration.
The Ragtag Daily Prompt word for today is ZEPHYR. I think I can work a few of those into my tale.

A Page from Mrs Ditz’s Longsuffering Diary…

My car was running rough, so at 10 am I took it to the mechanic to see if he could figure out what was wrong. And since I didn’t want to loiter at the shop while he was mechanizing it, I decided to go for a walk. The morning was warm and sunny with zephyrs swirling around, I felt inspirated to meanderate through the park and enjoy the flowers.

I wonder if my daughter is finding the prom dress fabric she’s looking for. I left her at the mall where she planned to materialize at Fabric Haven. This girl is definitely an accomplished seamstress. You should have seen the gorgeous fitted blazer she seamed for herself last month. A perfect fit!

I’d thought of going back to the mall myself and grabbing a coffee in the food court, but you know how it is when everybody’s cacophoning on their cells. You can’t hear yourself think! So I’ll just stroll along and appreciate these morning breezes zephyrating the flowers and shrubs. I just encounted a nice old lady taking her young grandson for a walk and she commentated, too, on the lovely weather.

This morning my son is engaged in an important work. He’s together with several other scientists who want to scientize a report on our local environment. They’ve got a lot of data to analyze and categorize, then they’ll compilate their findings and present their report to some committee that wants to improvate air quality in our city.

I hope it doesn’t take that fellow long to mechanize my car. My dog’s having pups and the vet tells me Drowsy could be litterating any moment now. Drowsy’s a purebred English Terrier and I was hoping to sell the pups, but I suspicion that the mongrel down the street may have illegitimatized this batch.

I think I’d best rotate and head back in the direction of the garage. I don’t want to incentivize him to bill me for any more time than what’s strictly necessary.

The Constant Sea

Image by K Moser — Pixabay

The salt smell of the sea, the foamy breakers, the incessant screaming of the gulls in their wild play. These familiar sights and sounds soothe old Matt as he walks along the beach. When life is out of kilter he wanders down to the beach again to watch that constant rolling reminder that life goes on. There’s something solid about the sea. The thought makes him smile. It’ll be here ’til the end of time.

He delights in recalling the days of long ago when he worked with his uncles on the Doughty Daisy before a vicious storm tossed her on the rocks. He sees again the line of fishing boats heading out to sea, imagines the wind, the spray, the thrill of it all when, as a young deck hand, he was part of the crew harvesting the sea.

He thinks of the wild storms that held them in port for several days – or worse, swept down on them while they were filling their nets. All hands on deck back then, fighting to ride the waves and keep the equipment – and each other – from washing overboard. Those were the days when you worked, boy!

The fishing isn’t good now, the new crews tell him. Too many fish harvested by the factory ships; stocks haven’t had a chance to replenish like they should. Cod are about gone, they say, and rarely do you find the big tuna anymore.

He turns to watch the gulls wheeling, ever on the lookout for some tasty gift from the sea, and squabbling over it when they find it. Ah, now they’ve spotted something further up the beach. A couple of gulls have landed beside it, one’s carefully inspecting it while the other argues “finders-keepers” with his mates in the air.

“Now what do you suppose those birds have found?” Matt slowly makes his way over to the spot. By the time he gets there the gulls have flown away. He looks down and laughs. A tube of Paradise Suntan Lotion – Economy size. Just what he needs. He sticks it in his pocket; there’s a trash can up along the walkway.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: INCESSANT
Your Daily Word Prompt: SUPPOSE

A Unique Editing Encounter

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge for today is REPLACE
The Daily Spur word prompt yesterday was EDITOR
The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was WOODSY

Fandango had an interesting story as his response to these prompts, the furious reaction of a writer who’s sent his manuscript off to an editor and it comes back thoroughly red-penned. He calls the editor, irate about all the marking and even replacing of sections. So I’ll credit Fandango for my tale. His story got me thinking down this line. I do feel a bit of sympathy for that editor, though he overstepped his role.

One day, after reading a story by a multi-published author, I asked my eight-year-old grandson, “How can a person fall off a train and land in front of the train? And furthermore, land far enough in front of the train that the train can stop in time to not run over the person’s body?”
He thought for a moment and said, “It would work if the train’s going backwards and the person fell off the engine.”
A certain writer should engage my grandson as technical advisor.

A Unique Editorial Encounter

I was wandering my way through an Ontario woodland path one morning, taking in the sound of birds, the woodsy smell of the trees and earth, listening to the wind fluttering the leaves, when I came upon a penguin weaving its (its – not it’s) way among the trees.

“What on earth! Oh, I’m losing it,” I exclaimed. “Penguin! What are you doing in these woods?”

“I don’t usually do woods,” the creature replied. “I seem to have gotten lost.”

“Big time. You’re over half a planet from home.”

“Can you tell me the way to Puddleville?”

“Puddleville? I can, but what do you want to do there?”

“A writer who lives in Puddleville wants a penguin for her story; she ordered me from e-Bay. She’s writing something about Hudson Bay and she wants me to do a guest appearance in her story.”

“But there are no penguins in Hudson Bay. Ever,” I protested. “Never have been.”

“You’ll have to take that up with the writer. I’m just one of the cast. I’ve supposedly stowed away on a fishing boat going into Hudson Bay. Now I’m to fall off the boat and flail around in the bay so her brave main character can save me from drowning in the frigid water.”

“Save you from drowning? But you’re a penguin – you can swim. And as far as frigid waters go, the water in Hudson Bay is a lot warmer than the Antarctic.”

“Say, you really like to find fault! What are you, an editor? What have you got against an exciting sea rescue? She’s writing it in a very dramatic style readers will love.”

“I like my drama to be realistic, even in fiction. A lot of readers do, you know. She should have at least hired a seal.”

“But I’m way more interesting than a seal any day.” He took a moment to preen a bit. “Anyway, I’m just going to do what I’m told, then grab the bucket of fish she’s offering as payment, and head south.”

“I think this whole story is going to head south. What’s the name of her book so I don’t spend good money on it.”

“She’s calling it Igor’s Alaskan Adventure. I’m Igor. “

I shook my head. “Why am I not surprised? Anyway, how be you follow me home, then I’ll drive you to Puddleville in my car. You’re never going to get there hobbling through the woods like this. I might even have a word with this writer about geography. Alaskan Adventure indeed!”

“You’d better watch out. Writers don’t always react well to some ‘slash and burn’ editor type finding holes in their plots.”

“You’re probably right.” I sighed. “Well, come on, Igor. Your adventure awaits.”

Forest Image:
F Richter & S Hermann at Pixabay

The Lost Cabbage Leaves

And now, dear readers, here’s a story that’s 100% silly. When I opened my e-mail first thing this morning I saw word prompts from several sites, plus a big one from Merriam-Webster giving their Word of the Day and their Words of interest this week. So I’ve decided to write a tale incorporating all these words:

From M-W: Docile, Joke, Manipulate, Synonym, Soup, Besot, Hair-trigger
From Word of the Day: Dilatory; from Your Daily Word: Loyal,
From Ragtag Daily Prompt: Again, and from Fandango (FOWC): Excuse
And because the image of a snail on a rock popped into my head…
this one is from Pixabay, shared by photographer Carpi23auto.

So now I give you…

“The Saga of the Snail Siblings”

Sally snail made her way over the rock in a dilatory manner.

“You’re such a dawdler!” her brother Sangster called from the ground below. “Why did you have to go over that dumb rock, anyway? Honestly, the snow will be blowing by the time you get over to the cabbages. You’ll miss munching all those delicious leaves.”

Another brother, Sander, added his reproach. “Yeah. They’ll all be chopped up and in the soup before you get halfway across the garden.”

“Well, there’s more to life than cabbage leaves,” Sally told them as she slid off the rock. She joined her sister Salvena who’d opted to go around the rock and had found a few discarded green beans near the base.

“Just ignore them, Sally.” Salvena, ever loyal to her sister, offered to share her find. “Help me eat this green bean. It’s a bit limp, but still lots of flavor.” She nibbled on an end in her careful way.

Sander hooted. “Beans are blah! That’s just an excuse for quitting. There’s nothing like a cabbage leaf for flavor.” He started off again toward the cabbage heads that so besotted him.

“Race you,” Sangster shouted at him.

“Those guys racing. That’s such a joke,” Sally muttered to her sister. “Well, I’m not going to let them manipulate me into rushing around, getting my lovely shell muddy. Or have those flea beetles jumping on my head.”

“Oh, I hate those fleas! That’s why I never go near the radish row,” Salvena told her. “They have such hair-trigger paranoia. Anything sets them off and they spring willy-nilly all over. Next thing you have one or two riding on your antenna.” Salvena shuddered. A docile creature by nature, she eschewed sudden or erratic movement.

“A flea on your antenna is like red ant on your foot. A nuisance you want to get rid of as soon as you can.”

“That’s a really good synonym, Sally.” Salvena turned her eyes toward the cabbage patch. “It looks like the boys have almost made it.” Then she gasped. “Oh no! One of those monsters! Oh, I do hope the boys will be safe.”

“It’s picking them up,” Sally exclaimed. The two sisters watched as the monster flung their brothers out of the garden. Sander and Sangster flew over their heads and landed in the grass just beyond the onion row.

Ten minutes later the boys came crawling out of the grass, back to the rock where their sisters were still working on the beans.

“Maybe we’ll join you after all,” Sangster said. “Though I’m still feeling pretty dizzy. I’ve never moved so fast in my life! I used to think it would be fun to be a bird, but not anymore!” Sangster wiggled his antenna to test them.

“You poor things.” Kind-hearted Sally moved over to give her brothers some space. “So much for the cabbage leaves, eh?”

“Yeah. Guess we can’t always have our first choice. But this is okay,” Sander admitted, chomping into the fat bean.