Monday, October 30, 2006

Snazzy New Features

I just moved over to Blogger in Beta and I am so tickled with this new feature (tee hee). Check out the bottom of my posts, you will find a "label" identifying the kind of post I've made, Wednesday Story, Sunday Intellectual Question, Funny Story, Playing with People ... and on and on ad nauseum. Simply click on the label and you will find yourself viewing all posts belonging to that category. Read them all, or just collect the Capital Letters to trade with your friends, the choice is yours.Why do I LOVE this? I no longer have to feel guilty about not updating my lists in the the column to your left. I now have room to feel guilty about something else, like the fact that I'm sure there's other new features but I have no idea what they are or how they work. And I used a plural in my title. Now I'm responsible. Thanks Blogger.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Question: Spooky Stories

I am a big chicken. I scream at jumpy things, I can't go to sleep until I am sure all the doors and windows are locked, and I have been known to lay eggs. Well, I don't actually lay them, I buy them in a carton and put them carefully in my fridge, but it's pretty close! If I watch a horror movie, or even a "thriller" I have nightmares for weeks and can often recall the details clearly years later ... Evidence: the silly "horror" movie my friend's big brother rented when I was seven. I can still see clearly a little kid in the woods jumping in his sleeping bag away from a plastercine monster. Even though I know it's fake, and plastercine monsters who are slightly out of focus around the edges do not haunt the forests of Canada (but possibly Borneo, lots of strange things happen there) I still don't want to sleep without a tent in the middle of the woods. Given the number of bears, wild cats and feirce porcupines up here that is probably a good thing.

This leads me, finally, to a question: Why do some people, like myself, translate even the silliest horror movie into jumpiness and long term fears, while other people are able to watch the movies "just for fun"?

Is there a horror movie moment or campfire story that just won't leave you alone?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wednesday Story: Eileen and the Wings of Glory Part 4

Eileen staggered out the screen door, her hair still steaming from the explosion and gave a little wave with the Scum Remover can. She wasn’t sure she could let it go. All the muscles in her body were so tense they wouldn’t release on their own. “Hey Bruce. This stuff actually does take out scum.”

Bruce dropped the branch of the African Fig that he was chewing, “what happened to you?”

“Cleaning.” Eileen’s muscles suddenly released and she melted down onto the sidewalk.

“Really? Petula had said there was no magic in this world. Hmm. Do you always clean this way?”

Eileen just stared. “Always.”

“If I had known rinsing would be this big of a deal I would have told you to forget it.” He nudged her several times with his nose. “No time for sitting, we’ve got to go right away. Your daughter is in terrible danger. We’ll start flying and figure something out on the way.”

After several truly embarrassing attempts to get on Bruce’s back, all of which ended with Eileen either falling on the ground or sitting backwards, she was finally holding on for dear life watching the ground lift away below her feet.

Bruce pulled his head forward and shook, “Not so tight Eileen! You’re going to rip my mane right off!”

Eileen didn’t feel so good. She had never been air sick, but then, every plane she had been on had sported a floor ... and a chair. “I don’t think I can. I am going to be sick, or fall off, or both. Oh dear!”

“Oh no you’re not!” Bruce yelled , his hide forming goose bumps under her hand.

Eileen grimaced as the whole world as she knew it became so small she could put it in her pocket.“This is not going to work. There must be another way. Surely there’s a door in a closet or hole in a lake or something else. Anything else. You could fly. I’d meet you there.”

“Absolutely not, I go where you go. I am lotted to you alone. I can’t change what the fairy council has done. For a little girl who wanted a flying horse, you would think you’d like flying ... or at least riding.”

Eileen clenched her teeth together, “I was five.”

The next twenty minutes passed in more or less silence. Eileen tried desperately to loosen her grip on Bruce’s mane and took long soothing breaths in the hopes that it would calm down her tummy. When a small flock of birds came bursting out of a cloud in front of them Eileen waved her free arm frantically hoping they wouldn’t hit her in the nose. It was at that moment she realised she was still holding the scum remover. How embarrassing. If anyone saw her waving around a cleaning bottle they would think she had gone mad. Actually, if anyone saw her flying on the back of a Pegasus that would be the least of her problems. She quickly tucked the cleanser into one of the pockets on her apron.

They had levelled off now and Bruce turned his head ever so slightly, “Well, you must be doing a little better, you’re not riding like a sack of potatoes anymore.”

“Thanks.” she said.

“A few more days should have you in shape. We have about twenty more minutes until the gate so now might be a good time to come up with plan. I don’t think we should fly right in ... too dangerous. He might just kill you and take me and the girl ... we’ll land a days walk to the south. He doesn’t watch the borders much, not enough men yet that he can fully trust. Now, how are we going to defeat Nestor.”

Eileen took a deep breath, “Look. I just want my daughter. No offence but, I really can’t get involved with your politics. He wants you, you go with him.” she patted him reassuringly, “I’m sure he’ll have nice grass.”

Eileen nearly fell as Bruce reared in the air, “Nice grass! Nice grass! Nestor is evil! He’ll do anything to gain power. That is why the fairy council sent ...” he cleared his throat anxiously, “I can’t and I won’t”

“Oh, yes you will. He can’t be all bad.” she bit her lip hard, “Besides, you could run away.” Something tickled the back of Eileen’s brain, “Hey, what ‘fairy council’? I did not rescue a council of fairies I know that much for certain. What is going on here?”

Bruce sighed, “I wasn’t supposed to tell you. Alright, it seems only fair now that your daughter has been taken. You did rescue Petula when you were five, but she had no intention of rewarding you with me.”

“See! Ha, ha! I knew it.” Eileen tossed her head, accidentally letting go of Bruce’s mane. For a moment she seemed suspended in air and then finally, she grasped the thick strands of mane once more.

Bruce didn’t appear to notice, “Ah hem. No, instead she gave you the figurine you found at the end of your lane.”

“Oh, I loved that one. It was a lovely horse with wings, all crystal. It made the best rainbows when I set it on my window sill. I wonder where it has gone?”

Bruce snorted, “Yes, on reflection quite a suitable replacement. Anyhow, the pegasi of our land are rare, only four are bred every fifty years, we are highly trained, tightly guarded and when we are mature we are only lotted to one of the four rulers of our world. We are lotted for life and must do what they command.”

“Oh. How did you escape?”

“Escape! I didn’t escape! Never in all my life have I ...” what sounded like a growl rumbled in his throat. “You have no idea. It came time for the pegasi to be lotted but there had been trouble in the third kingdom. The king and his pegasus, D’Argon, died while performing a simple manoeuvre for the crowd on Ascension Day. They were doing a lay up into the clouds when D’Argon suddenly lost air and plunged into a tree. They both fell to their deaths. D’Argon was a great Pegasi, strongest of his fold, those sent to the third kingdom always are, they have to be. He had years left to his pasturing it seems incredible that something so simple could bring him down. Then the Queen died of a broken heart, and soon after their little boy disappeared during a walk with his nurse in the woods. The nurse disappeared too. All very suspicious. Everything had an explanation, mind, but taken all together it was suspicious. Then a dragon started troubling the kingdom.

“Dragon?” terrible nightmares fled through her head. While other children had brought flashlights into their bedrooms to ward off monsters, Eileen had made a nest under her bed to protect herself from dragons. “As in real Dragons? I thought it was just, make believe.” but then everything make believe was suddenly real. Why not that?

Bruce sighed, “Even here many do not imagine they exist. They are rarely seen. Dragons usually hate populated areas, and are incredibly lazy.” Bruce laughed, “There is a dragon who lives at the tine, Nimbleflame, the fairy council had brought him to protect the breeding grounds ... but you would be lucky to wake him with an army. Fairy Tusca dotes on him and feeds him too many cows. However, the dragon in the third kingdom acted like none before him. He had an unquenchable thirst for carnage. He raided for days on end. He openly attacked many of the noble keeps and carried off anything of value, including the young boys who never returned. Now, a fully trained king or queen with their pegasus and quarter of knights, could have ended the dragon, or at least bound him to a place far away, but the kingdom was defenceless. Many of the knights who could have stood a chance against the beast were attacked and killed before they could band together. It was almost as though the dragon knew everything, who to attack and when. The winter winds were almost at our door by the time a single knight arrived at the tine. He was barely alive. The dragon had hunted him over the mountains. He had been burned and left for dead by the beast but still managed to crawl to the council chamber in the hope that the fairies could band the kingdoms together to save his. He died in the end and the fairies, with their politics at their feet, argued away the remaining weeks before winter. By the time they sent out the call it was too late."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Question: School Curriculum

The education of our children is a touchy topic, and why not, it involves our most precious treasures. We all feel strongly about what we want them to learn and the things we want them to avoid. There are those who trust the school system to do this for them, there are those who teach children at home, and a whole spectrum of parental involvement in between. Personally, I feel that most schools, depending on the teacher of course, do not encourage classical reasoning and thought. It was often my experience that in order to receive good marks I needed to parrot what the teacher said as opposed to formulating an argument and proving it reasonably. So, I would definitely add classical logic to the curriculum. That, and I would still like to take a course on grammar ....

What courses would you add to the curriculum and why?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wednesday Story: Part 3 - Eileen and the Wings of Glory

The morning had to get better.

It didn’t. Eileen arrived in the bathroom just in time to see what looked like a scrawny, dirty little man, disappear down her bathtub drain. There, scrawled into the grime on the tub wall read,

“The Pegasus for the girl. Or you will miss her baby brown curls. Nestor.”

Stuck to the bottom of the message with a wad of chewing gum was a pink ribbon still holding a few strands of brown curly hair. It was the same ribbon Bonnie had worn to school.

The room spun, “Bonnie! My Bonnie!” Someone had her, some one who wanted ... Propping herself against the sink she pulled herself over to the window and pushed it open, “Bruce!” Bruce stood by the fence, the long stem of a prize astilbe hanging out of his mouth. He was ignoring her, “Bruce!”

“I need proper nourishment, many a pegasus has died from ...”

Eileen gripped her hair, “Bruce, someone has my daughter!”

Bruce turned, eyes wide, ears back, and galloped to the window, “What?”

“Someone,” she glanced back at the grimy words, “I can’t quite make it out ... Nestor? He has my daughter. I don’t even know who he is.”

Bruce blew hard through his nostrils, “Nestor. He found me.”

Eileen’s eyes fixed on Bruce, “What do you mean, he found you?”

“You had better come outside so we can talk, quietly, his Pipe Haggers are quiet efficient.” he glanced through the window at the writing on the tub. “And I’d rinse that off right away, it’s very corrosive.”

Eileen gently took down the ribbon and hair and laid it on a towel by the tub. It seemed that the slightest gust of her breath would blow the strands of Bonnie’s hair away and leave her with nothing. Her own parents had seemed so strong when she was little, so invincible. Every danger melted away with the sight of their pant leg. She wasn’t invincible, come on, she could hardly get the soap scum off the tub. Now, here she was with a flying horse and a Pipe Hagger, whatever that was. She was a housewife, for goodness sake, with rough hands and a round bum to boot, what could she do? She glanced down at the ribbon again. Bonnie was so small, even though she was five Eileen still rocked her to sleep at night. “Momma’s coming little one. Momma’s coming.” she murmured.

Gripping the Super Scum Remover in both hands she aimed at the letters and squeezed the trigger hard. A blast of white foam coated the tub in swaths that slowly dripped together, gathering speed on the way to the drain. For a moment she could see the letters turning into a blotchy mess and then ... BOOM! Eileen staggered back as the air was filled with rancid smoke and bright streaks of light. When she finally opened her eyes, there was her tub, clean and bright, just like the day they had bought it. It was stunning.

Eileen staggered out the screen door, her hair still steaming from the explosion and gave a little wave with the Scum Remover can. She wasn’t sure she could let it go. All the muscles in her body were so tense they wouldn’t release on their own. “Hey Bruce. This stuff actually does take out scum.”

Bruce dropped the branch of the African Fig that he was chewing, “what happened to you?”

“Cleaning.” Eileen’s muscles suddenly released and she melted down onto the sidewalk.

“Really? Petula had said there was no magic in this world. Hmm. Do you always clean this way?”

Eileen just stared. “Always.”

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Question: Food Choices

It has been brought to my attention that Mahi Mahi is just fancy island talk for dolphin. Now, I'm pretty sure that a platter of Flipper meat served with a tossed salad wouldn't be a big seller, but is it really the same thing? For that matter, what about hot dogs? I have heard many stories about exactly what is inside that little bag of mystery, and yet, shamelessly, I still eat them.

Does knowing what is in your food make it impossible to eat?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wednesday Story: Eileen and the Wings of Glory Part 2

Brandishing the bear high above her head Eileen ran screaming out the back door, down the steps, and came to a complete stop. This wasn’t just any horse standing in her yard. He was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. His hide was so white it glowed in the sunshine, and as the wind ruffled the leaves on her neighbour’s maple, the hide rippled, changing texture and colour like facets of a diamond. Perhaps most astonishing of all were the soft white wings folded along his body. Eileen wasn’t sure she could breathe.

“That’s a most unusual way to greet someone. Is the bear a gift?”

Her jaw dropped open and refused to close. The horse loudly sniffed at the sunburnt grass, took a big bite of the nicest green patch, ruffled his feathers and continued, “Well then, might as well get on with it. Eileen McGovern? It is you isn’t it?”

Eileen blinked twice.

“I’ll take that as a yes. Special Delivery.”

“Um ... pardon?” the words barely squeaked out of her mouth.

“I believe you wished for a flying horse.” Bruce spit the wad of grass on to a paving stone, “Well, here I am. My name is Bruce, a pegasus, I come from a long line of distinguished stallions ...”

“I’m sorry ... I wished?”

Bruce shook his mane and blew out his lips, “Yes, yes ... let’s see, 12th of May 1974, you rescued fairy Petula Mendelsa Ripplebottom Crocus from a jar of fireflies. She said, “How may I repay you?” You said ...”

Eileen’s eyes opened wide,“... A flying horse.”

“Exactly, a flying horse. So, here I am.” Bruce pulled another carefully selected wad of grass from the lawn and chewed it delicately with his front teeth.

“But, I was five.”

Bruce looked Eileen up and down and shrugged, “So?” With a twist of his mouth he spit again, this time hitting Bonnie’s little pink tricycle.

“I was five and now I’m thirty seven! And ... that’s disgusting.” The green gob of half eaten grass began its slow decent to the ground. “I don’t need any more messes to clean up, you know.”

“Pegasi aren’t exactly pots of gold. You can’t just smelt one in your basement. So, here I am and here you are ... wish complete, debt repaid, so on and so forth. . . aren’t you going to say something?”


“Good. Darien gets the Prince of Belise, Shofla has the Queen of Mestlin and I get Eileen of ...”

“467 Rowan Crescent.”

“Hmm. Yes, exactly. Lucky me.”


Bruce glanced over the fence and into the Hendrew’s yard and into the most spectacular garden in all of Burnstock. Bruce just shook his mane, “Do you at least have some oats? I’m starving.”
Eileen paused. This couldn’t be happening. She barely remembered the fairy, and to be honest, in the memory she looked suspiciously like Tinkerbell.“Well, you see, there must be some mistake. I wasn’t expecting a horse ...”

Bruce’s upper lip peeled back, “A pegasus, if you please.”

“Right, well, I didn’t even think the fairy was real. I was five, I thought I made it up. And now as you can see I really can’t have a horse ...”


“In my yard. I just can’t. There’s no room and, I’m really busy, and ...” As Eileen paused, a serene calm washed over her face, she started to laugh, “just a second, I get it. Squeezing her eyes shut, she placed one plump hand over her heart and began to chant, “I don’t believe in Pegasus, I don’t believe in Pegasus, I don’t believe in Pegasus.” She opened one eyelid just the slightest. Bruce, the pegasus, was still there. “Dam! Ok, I don’t believe in fairies, I don’t believe in fairies, I...”

“Are you alright?”

Eileen’s eyes flew open,“How can you still be here?”

Bruce rubbed his hocks casually with his nose for a bit, then swung around so he was looking firmly down his nose at her. “Just because you believe something is real or not doesn’t matter a straw. A thing is real because it is. Honestly!” he turned around and gently preened his feathers with his teeth, “I was serious about the oats. Your grass is, well, below standards. And then I’d like a nap. Travelling between worlds isn’t easy.”

Eileen’s could feel her headache returning with a vengance, “Look, my day hasn’t exactly gone very well, and really, you caught me a little off guard, it has been thirty four years.”

“Thirty two.”

“Whatever. And to be honest, if she had asked me today I would have asked for something else. Like something to clean the house.”

Bruce rolled his eyes, “That was harsh.”

“Can’t you just go back to the fairy who sent you here?”

For the first time Bruce looked truly offended. He stretched out his long neck high in the air and pawed at the grass, tossing loose clods of dirt into the air and onto Eileen’s clean windows.

“Certainly not! A pegasus has never been sent back to the breeding tine. Ever. It would be a disgrace. I am lotted to you, I may only go where you go.”

“Oh.” The air outside was feeling a little too thin and Eileen had a sudden urge to scrub something, really hard. Even the scum in the bathtub looked good right now. “Try some grass, I have things to do.” she flicked her flowered apron with annoyance and marched up the stairs, throwing the screen door back with vigour. The morning just had to get better.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Discussion: Thanksgiving

This weekend in Canada we are celebrating Thanksgiving. It is a time to reflect on the year and all the people, and things we are thankful for. We also eat a lot of turkey.

Today’s question is a simple one:

What are you most thankful for?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wednesday Story: Eileen and the Wings of Glory

I have been working away on a "short" story that I hope you will all enjoy. Now if you will endulge me as I give you one of my most favorite genres ...

Eileen McGovern knelt on her chubby knees, her round bottom high in the air, scrubbing the bathroom tub with all the strength she could muster. True, there was not as much elbow grease left in her scrubbing, but she hated housework, and under the circumstances this was as good as she could do. After a whirlwind summer of soccer practice and art camp, Jamie, Clarke, and Bonnie had finally headed off to school leaving Eileen to scrape clean the summer grime. Flicking her drippy brown hair out of her equally brown eyes she squeezed more Super Scum Remover on the drain area. The yellow band around the tub reappeared no matter how much she rinsed. The scum was out to get her.

She could feel her hair creeping slowly down into her eyes again and a ribbon of sweat dripped steadily onto her nose. Eileen tossed the sponge at the tub, “What a joke. All this work and I’m still not done.” After a full week and a day of straight cleaning, speaking to herself was as exciting as it got. She made a fist and pressed it into her back, catching a glimpse of the ceiling out of the corner of her eye. “What a mess!” she screamed. There was mould up there too.
Things had been going badly all day. She had forgotten to pack the lunches the night before, Clarke refused to wear anything but a grubby jersey, and Bonnie had clung to her leg during the entire walk to school. To top it off she had locked herself out of the house and had subsequently been stuck for half an hour in the basement window, wondering if she could wiggle her way into the house before the neighbours called the police. It was not a good day.

“Argh!” Her head felt like a balloon. The Super Scum Remover was supposed to leave everything sparkling. “But notice,” , she said rubbing her nose furiously, “there’s no ‘stinky’ symbol next to the explosive symbol on the side of the can!” It was time for some fresh air.

Hard as it was to ignore the layer of dust on the window sill, she steeled herself and threw her shoulder into the bottom of the frame. The window slid up with a grunt, and she breathed in. There was no fresh air at all. Outside something pressed up against the screen, blocking all the air. Something big, and white.“Just one more fantastic surprise! Great!” Eileen flicked the screen to push the thing away. The thing moved. On its own. Trembling she watched as the white thing turned around and a pair of brown eyes came swaying into view. It was a horse. She blinked twice. Yes, a horse. Actually, that was a bit of a surprise.

She took a big breath in and squeaked,“I’ve been in the bathroom too long.” Racing to the door she quickly turned on the fan. “All those chemicals! It’s no wonder.” She cautiously looked over her shoulder; the horse was still there.

The horse tilted his head, “Eileen McGovern?”

Eileen blinked frantically. She rubbed her eyes. She looked around. “Clarke? Darren?”

“Actually, the name’ s Bruce I...”

Eileen slammed the window down so hard it shook. Then, quickly shutting the door for good measure, she ran into the hall and leaned panting for breath against the wall. “I must have mixed the cleaners.”

She glanced into Jamie’s room. The shades of paint splashed on the walls were very trippy indeed but that was just the way Jamie liked it. All the clothes were still strewn across the floor, her stereo sat cockeyed and open above her bed, and her stuffed bear, the large one that her boyfriend had won at the carnival, was sitting very still on the middle of her bed. It didn’t appear to be talking. Just to be sure Eileen walked across the room and poked it. The bear didn’t move. She breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m not hallucinating that much.”

Actually, the bear felt rather soft and more than a little comforting, so, feeling rather silly, Eileen clutched the bear in front of her, and tiptoed to the bathroom. She took in a few more deep breathes just to clear her head and slowly opened the door. Through the frosting on the glass she could just make out a large white shape, moving gently side to side. It still looked remarkably like a horse. Like the rear end of a horse. If it was a real horse, which she doubted, it was wedged into the yard pretty tightly. Eileen and Darren could only afford a semi, and even then the yard was barely more than a glorified path to the garage. Who ever thought this prank up had some serious time on his hands! Still, if it was a real horse, which, again, was highly unlikely, it would come with some real poop, which, in turn would mean more cleaning. Her hands clenched tightly around the bear’s throat, “not today buster!”she yelled.

Brandishing the bear high above her head Eileen ran screaming out the back door, down the steps, and came to a complete stop. This wasn’t just any horse standing in her yard. He was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. His hide was so white it glowed in the sunshine, and as the wind ruffled the leaves on her neighbour’s maple, the hide rippled, changing texture and colour like facets of a diamond. Perhaps most astonishing of all was the soft white wings folded along his body. Eileen wasn’t sure she could breathe.

“That’s a most unusual way to greet someone. Is the bear a gift?”

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Discussion: Worst Childcare Item

This question is inspired by the terrible clutter I have found myself in. How, after all the research, did we end up with toys that my children do not play with ... and products that are not only bulky but also refuse be operated by the sleep deprived? By far the worst baby item we have ever bought was the diaper genie. Sure it may have worked wonders for some other PHD holding smarties but we just couldn't get the thing open, or once it was open, we couldn't get it closed. It ended up a glorified waste basket hanging half way open all day until we could stand the stench no longer. It has since been sold in a yard sale and been replaced by grocery bags that are quickly tied up and wisked outside before people pass out.

What is the worst baby or childcare item that you have ever purchased for yourself or someone else? (This could include annoying toys bought for unsuspecting friends...naughty :)