Monday, October 28, 2013

The Amazing Andee & the Pumpkinhead Beast

The little Green Orchard
- Walter de La Mare

Some one is always sitting there, 
In the little green orchard;
Even when the sun is high
In noon's unclouded sky,
And faintly droning goes
The bee from rose to rose,
Some one in shadow is sitting there
In the little green orchard.

Yes, when the twilight's falling softly
In the little green orchard;
When the grey dew distills
And every flower-cup fills;
When the last blackbird says,
"What - what!" and goes her way - ssh!
I have heard voices calling softly
In the little green orchard.

Not that I am afraid of being there,
In the little green orchard;
Why, when the moon's been bright,
Shedding her lonesome light,
And moths like ghosties come,
And the horned snail leaves home;
I've sat there, whispering and listening there,
In the little green orchard.

Only it's strange to be feeling there,
In the little green orchard;
Whether you paint or draw,
Dig, hammer, chop or saw;
When you are most alone,
All but the silence gone...
Some one is watching and waiting there,
In the little green orchard.

A terrier dog
in a peat-moss bog
who thought he was a big bully frog
gave three loud croaks to the October moon
as the ghosts of all souls who were tricked and not treated
gathered above that cold mucky mire and shrieked to the heavens on high
swarming like vengeful fists of hungry locust down to the town in Manny Bones Hollow.

"Come closer my lovely little black feline with dainty white paws.  Such beautiful flowing fur, perfecto!  How may the Amazing Andee help you?"

She sits opposite him in the dark.  "Grrrrr... you smarmy libertine."  She leans her head forward into the candlelight and stretches out both her paws, digging their razor sharp claws into the edge of the table.  "Does my future include murder?"

Recognizing Zoe, he regrets for half a second his pumpkinhead fable.  Keeping his cool, he taps the right side of the table with his right paw, then the left side of the table with his left paw, repeating the cycle over and over, as her head follows the movement. "You're feeling sleepy, very sleepy...close your eyes and let the peace of emptiness fill your soul."

"Who's that peeking around the corner.  Ah...!  Come in, shy terrier, and sit."

Leaping up onto the table the terrier lays down.

"On the chair, doofus, sit on the chair!"

The terrier lays down on the chair.

"Sit, dog, sit!!"

The terrier rolls over onto his back.

"Okay, then...down!"

The terrier sits and starts chewing on the corner of the table, reminding the Amazing Andee why dogs are at the bottom of his list of pets one can force themselves to live with.    

"Do you wish your fortune read, mutt, or have you already figured out old dogs don't really have long futures?"

"Dustin's my name.  My owner is falling out of love with me.  Jumping up on her, laying on the furniture, eating out of the cat dishes, jumping up on the bed; she yells at me for everything.  I just want her to keep loving me.  Is that in my future?"

"Poor, poor terrier.  She's testing you and you're failing.  She pushes you away, you stay away.  NO, no, no.  She wants total devotion.  She wants you to prove you're worthy of her time and generosity.  She wants you to jump on her more, to sprawl out all over every piece of furniture, to eat the cat's food right out of their mouths, and to crawl under the bed covers each night.  Then she'll love you completely."

"Oh, I'm so happy.  Thank you, kind kitty."

"It was nothing.  I have a soft spot in my heart for cute little terriers.  Do you have the $20 for the cost of this session?"

"Here it is tucked in between my toes.  I stole it from my owner's purse as you instructed yesterday."

"Good dog!"

He ducks under the curtain covering the doorway, leaving the back room and his warm bed to see who is causing the commotion that has awakened him.  While extreme beauty eludes her, she is far from ugly, and the magic that is working in her behalf rivets his eyes to her as she circles around that crystal ball pawing, clawing and gnawing.  After a minute, annoyed, he breaks her spell with the glass globe.  "I'm closed for business until late this eve, spirited calico.  Come back then."

She circles the globe once more and with an air of haughtiness leaps onto his chair.  She sits, washing her left paw and then her right paw, never once looking his way.  She puts her front paws on the table edge and looks coquettishly into his misty green eyes.  "Come closer, big guy, and let me foretell your future."

The urge to take a flying leap, wrestle her to the ground, and kick the living daylights out of her lasts only moments, as he searches for his inner zen to remain super calm.  He moseys over to the chair taking his own sweet time, jumps up, and faces her with that death stare he has perfected so well over his many years.

"Oh, I see you have a closed mind to this session.  You're not going to make it easy for little Lacey, are you?"

"Let me tell you your fate, you little ragamuffin of a twerp."

"Oh, you're so cute when you're all hot and bothered." 

He knows cats can't smile, he's tried it a hundred times, but that Mona Lisa stance seems to encompass her whole being.  It's un-nerving.  "Out of my chair, or I'll have that birdbrain terrier next door run you off the premises, you charlatan in wolf's clothing."

"Oh! I'm so scared! I'm shaking all over.  Miss Lacey wants to tell you your fortune, you little teddy bear, please, pretty pleaseeeee."







Curling up into his cozy warm bed, he's trying to block out all that noise from her fortune telling sessions in the front room this evening.  He's hoping she'll be gone come daybreak, but good fortune will make a detour to the other side of the planet tonight, and The Amazing Andee will never be alone again.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Luminescence - Chapter 4

Charlie and Lucifer wasted no time occupying the designated dog area of her couch. Charlie hogged his whole blanket; but Lucifer, paying no attention, quickly took over the spot for himself. Not copacetic with Lucifer's arrangement, the terrier opted to claim a chunk of No Dog's Land at the end of the couch beyond the edge of his blanket.  Preferring not to rat them out, Josh chose to let sleeping dogs lie and quickly walked back into her kitchen and sat at the table. Watching her prepare two coffee mugs of hot tea, one he hoped with the faint taste of sweet sugar he had asked for, he sized up her backside from head to toe, and thought it was getting a little too hot in that small room. She peeked over her right shoulder, and met his smile with a caught you smile of her own. She turned back and a movement above her caught his eye. "What the...?"
She turned around with a cup of tea in each hand and followed his stare to the top of the cupboard above her stove. "Oh, that's Lily." She looked back at that look of astonishment on his face. "She's a cat, you know; fangs, claws and purrs."
"Do you have any others?"
"She's an only child." She knew he wasn't a cat person, but he was looking at Lily like she had just risen up out of the bowels of hell. "She doesn't scare easily, so you'll have to deal with her." Sitting down, she pushed his cup of tea across the table to him.
"Is she friendly?"
She leaned back in her chair with her coffee cup held to her lips and gently blew her breath across its surface. He couldn't believe that small gesture was such a complete turn on for him. He was having a difficult time concentrating on the cat.
"She's sizing you up."
He smiled.  "For the kill?"
She grinned, "One never knows with cats." She watched him taste his tea and give her that look of contentment.
"Do you want me to get that package back out of the garbage?"
"Come on..."  he grinned, "how can you just toss it away without knowing?"
"But I do know.  If it's from Patrick, it's crap."
"What if it's not from Patrick?  I'm assuming the P guy is an ex...right?"  She made a face letting him know he was right.
"Somewhat younger than me," she paused, "the last...cured me from ever wanting to be married again." Giggling, she added, "Don't look at me like that. Anyway, would you open a package that you guessed your ex from hell sent from somewhere in Egypt with the name Cleopatra on the return label?"
He laughed and some of his tea splashed onto the table. He wiped it off with his shirt sleeve without thinking, and glanced at her hoping she hadn't noticed, but of course she had.  The intensity of that stare as she got up had him fantasizing she was going to rip off his shirt in the heat of the moment, but she left him feeling a bit foolish when all she did was walk past him to the pantry and bring back an open bag of salt and pepper crinkle chips.  She picked one out and pushed the bag to dead center between them. 
"Junk food with our tea.  Do you like spicy?"
"Is it going to make me hot and bothered?"
Laughing, she picked out another chip and crushed it to pieces between her teeth, then slowly licked the salt and pepper off each finger.  He took a long sip of his lukewarm tea to cool down.  He knew the memory of her P guy hung over her like a huge storm cloud brewing up a hurricane, so he just went for it.  "So, tell me about your ex from hell."
She sighed one of the longest sighs he had ever heard, then began to steadily munch on the chips.  He pulled the bag to his side and pinned it down to the table with his arm.  "Talk to me, Jez."
"He treated me like he couldn't get enough of me while we were dating, and then treated me like he couldn't get rid of me soon enough after we got married.  It was the loneliest three years of my life.  I still don't know if he was gay, screwing around with other women, or just an all around asshole.  If I kept my mouth shut and lived with his narcissistic attitude of himself and his loathing of me, all was peachy.  If I breached the subject with him he tried to pound my head into the wall.  I doubt he ever had friends.  I never met any.  I used to fantasize him being eaten alive by piranhas, or crushed in the jaws of an alligator, but my life has never been one for miracles.  A few months after our divorce he showed up wanting me to keep him on my health insurance plan so he could have work done on his teeth, the creep.  I told him to get lost."  She thought a bit with that pouting of her lips.  "I don't think he was all too happy with me at that moment."  She looked into his glazed eyes and laughed.  "I guess that was a little more than you were expecting.  Are you going to run?"
He looked into those bedroom eyes that appeared more gray than green at that moment, and his mind failed with a response.  His life hadn't even got off the front door step compared to hers, relieving him more than distressing him; but he knew the pain of mistakes made, and couldn't find it within himself to pull away from her.  He began to realize that her pain was going to be his pain and her joy his joy.  He was being drawn into a life that was extremely complicated, and strangely he found himself not putting up much of a struggle.
She wistfully looked at her coffee cup, her thumb rubbing back and forth over the top of the handle.  She glanced at his mug as his fingers grasping the rim turned it clockwise around and around with him staring intensely at it, she imagined, absent of thought.  Their silence was like a heavy fog about them and she fretted she had said too much.  Looking up, her eyes met his soft gaze, but she felt no comfort.
With a slight smirk he pushed his chair back from the table, and walked over to the electric teapot, stopping short of the counter to check on the cat above, but it was no longer there.  Scanning the full length of the cupboard tops revealed only empty space.  While feigning absolute calmness, he quickly looked around the room stopping at Jez's eyes; but that almost smile told him she already had his number and he couldn't help his quick grin before his face became serious again.
"Did you see where Lilith went?"
"Where is she?"
"Haven't a clue."  His eyes were asking her "why not?"  She added, "Don't worry.  She's an absolute stinker, but sweet."  He looked quizzical.  "A real glutton for attention; an over achiever when it comes to play."  His blank stare egged her on, "She's friendly..a little crazy...but extremely friendly."
Putting his cup on the counter, he pushed the teapot switch and watched the bubbles begin to rise from the bottom until they became ferocious.  He was wondering what having a cat that's sweet and rotten at the same time really meant.  He turned around and faced Jez.  He needed to stand above her, to feel like he had some sort of leverage in their relationship.  She met his gaze with that questioning look that encouraged him on, like she was waiting for him to take charge. 
"I think the package should be opened.  It's useful to know where the P guy's head's at with all of this, and the only way you'll be able to do that is to find out what's in the box.  The whole thing sounds too weird.  He could still be dangerous for you."
"I'll think about it."
"You'll think about it?"
"I'll think about it." 
"Jez, just open the damn package!  How can you be so indifferent about something that could be so dangerous?"  
She leaned forward in her chair, "How can I be what?  You've seen too many horror movies.  We're talking about my life, not The House on Elm Street.  We're  talking about my normal, uneventful, everyday life.  Nothing's going to fall out of the sky and kill me.  And it's PATRICK, not the P Guy!  What is it with you and this P Guy stuff?"  She stopped herself, pressing her palm against her forehead, and sighed.  She straightened up and tried to soften her frown as she waited for him to leave, but he just stood looking at her. 
She sighed again and he watched a faint half smile seem to almost appear on her face as she twisted her mouth ever so slightly and gently tilted her head to one side, looking up at him with those soulful eyes that made him want to grab her and smother her naked body in kisses.  How he hated himself at that moment.  How could an argument be so seductive.
She couldn't take back her impatient outburst, so she just said the first thing that popped into her head.  "Our first argument, and we've only been together half a day.  Not a good omen for things to come, is it?"  She watched him turn the pot back on, and slowly make his cup of tea before returning to the table.  He stood for a moment by his chair, then finally noticed that her cup was also empty. 
"I'm sorry, for not paying attention."  He whisked her cup away before she had time to think of anything more to say and quietly made her a cup of Lady Grey tea.  She was surprised that he had noticed she didn't drink the same tea as his.  "You like it sweetened a bit, don't you?"
"Half a teaspoon, just a touch of sweet."
"Just like me."
She could hear the smile in his voice.  "Just like you."
He sat back down and pushed her cup of tea across the table to her.  "We should see which movie we want to watch, before it's too late to go."
She nodded, and held her steaming cup of tea in her hands, enjoying the warmth.  "You can take that package out of the garbage can, if you wish.  I just don't want to see what's in it today...maybe tomorrow."
"It can wait."

She was puzzled that this older man with dirty clothes, a day old beard, and the demeanor of a slightly sophisticated good ole boy was beginning to look impressive to her.  He sported no spare tire around his middle which was a huge plus as far as she was concerned.  Surprised, she was beginning to wonder what he looked like underneath all that cloth.  Blowing her breath across the surface of her steaming tea, she watched Lily emerge from under the table and sit quietly at the base of Josh's chair.  She mentally crossed her fingers, took a sip of hot tea, and hoped Lily would be a good girl.  

He felt the stare of those gold eyes penetrate to his inner core with the intensity of a lightning bolt.  To his right sat Lilith...Lily...and that look, when his eyes met hers, that look that encompassed a thousand bad words into one long stare was un-nerving.  Standing up she balanced on her hind legs with her front paws lightly resting on his thigh and he, for one horrible moment, thought she was going to try to jump onto his lap. The uncertainty lasted only seconds before she stretched out full length, lowering her hind quarters to the floor, and digging her razor sharp claws through his jeans and into his flesh.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gardens & Our Weapons of Mass Destruction

Since the loss of Eden, the majority have knocked themselves out in the quest of a protected environment to safeguard their desires to survive.  Best fix when society does not have a ready means of destruction, is to mass themselves into a huge batch of dwellings, protection becoming better as one moves towards the center, less as one journeys towards the edges.  Without fail, if a meat eater dares to cross over that threshold, we're just chub bate for the taking.

It's a given, if a person is placed in a cage with a bear, a cougar, and a weasel, that person isn't going to be eating any of them for dinner that day.  Words, swiftness of running, strength of crushing hands...these forms of defense pale in comparison to gnashing fangs, monstrous claws, racing-speed legs...plain and simple, we become dinner in short order.  There's really only one reason why man's at the top of the food chain...weapons.

Weapons of mass destruction in gardens are easily recognizable, and hard to ignore.  Rows upon rows, on shelf after shelf, they stare us squarely in the face when we make a trip to the garden centers at Home Depot or Lowe's. It's one of the reasons why species disappear out of the food chain altogether when society is involved.  We aren't even using these weapons to protect ourselves. We're using them because we just don't think the little guys are as important as us.

We disconnect from the idea that all life is tied together on one level or another, and that disengagement causes the fall of many species by our hands. Some disappearances are not noticed because...well...because they're tiny beings and small potatoes to us when we think our own problems in our own lives outweighs everything else.

Thinking that no matter what we do, nothing will change, we shortcut from what's right to what's fast and furious.  Of course, it's not really true, is it?  Things actually do change...just not as fast as this day and age demands.  Poisons kill all plants, insects and microbial matter.  Poisons kill the obnoxious along with the delightful.  No discrimination...even the instigator is at risk, directly or indirectly, when precautions haven't been set in place.

We should understand flowers and the process of pollination, whether by wind or insects. We ought to understand how food is actually created.  We need to put ourselves back in touch with the earth, the real earth before it's after-the-fact.

I walk out into the lushness of my gardens and see what isn't there anymore; what has vanished this year from years past.  Bees are few, wasps have dwindled, spicebush swallowtail caterpillars gone, gulf fritillary caterpillars almost zero, one frog in the pond instead of many, less birds...times are changing.

At the end of the day I'm just one grain of sand, insignificant in the eons of earth's existence; inconsequential in the realm of all gardens on this planet; yet my little fragment of paradise matters as long as I never give up.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Luminescence - Chapter 3

He leaned back against his door with that troublesome smile she was failing to understand.  She leaned back against her door, took the last sip from the water bottle, looked into those intense eyes of his, and waited for the fallout.  It didn't come.  She wanted him to say something.  He said nothing.  She wondered how long it was going to take him to figure out he had wasted his money on dinner.  She waited for an eternity, and then straightened up, reaching for her purse.

"So, tell me the rest of the story...stories."

She knew excuses wouldn't do, so she took her time.  "I thought I had it all figured out after I divorced Dave..."


"My second husband."

"You divorced him?"

"I divorced them all."

"So you're set up pretty good?"

"I never asked for anything.  I just wanted to get out of the marriages and back to feeling better about myself.  Each time was like starting over again from scratch, so I guess I'm set up pretty badly from a money point of view.  I can't afford or plan on a fourth time.  I pick badly.  I don't plan on picking anymore."

He rested his arm on the seat-back and pushed his bent knuckles against his lips as he thought.  "...on picking anymore or on picking badly?"

"Both."  She watched that troubled smile grow on his face again and leaned her head back against her window, despondently.

A relationship with this woman scared him a bit, and he was trying to choose his words carefully.  "Well, that creates a problem for me.  I'm not a one night stand guy anymore.  Getting to know you better is what I would like."  She seemed to relax, twisting a strand of her hair around her finger.  He felt safe in asking, "So, am I different from the others?"

She smiled, and then her face became a little more serious.  "I didn't pick you, did I?  You're nothing like the others."

She didn't want to give him time for more questions.  "I'm going to the ladies room," and she left without waiting for a comment.

Watching her walk away from his car, he was wishing she wasn't so damn sexy.  His infatuation had dimmed after their conversation, but there was something about her that wouldn't let go of its grip.  He looked at her dog and his pup sleeping together with their stomachs grumbling off and on.  He felt a little bad about the meatballs.  Wondering what one does in cold weather with a thin skinned dog, he figured she would just say the walk was it.  Why would there be anything else.  She had a dog...she would just go home.  The rest of his day was going to be a day alone if he didn't have an offering when she offering of what?

He didn't appear to notice her as she walked around his car to her side.  She saw a surprised face when she opened her door and scooted onto the seat and glanced his way.  He remained quiet.  He appeared deep in thought even as he was watching her.  "I have a question," she began, "You're not married, right?"




"But you've dated."

He twisted his mouth a bit with that quirky smile.  She knew he knew she was on a fishing expedition, so she just waited.

"I lived with someone for a few years when I was younger.  It fell apart for me, but she didn't want to leave.  I had to move out of my own apartment and let her keep it."

"You mean the both of yours apartment?"

He looked straight into her green eyes, "Yes, I mean the both of ours apartment, but it was all my things.  I just left, but it never seemed the right time to claim the stuff later.  I guess it's all long gone now.  It's been a few years.  I don't plan on letting that ever happen to me again."  She sighed so heavily, he stopped himself and waited.

"Do you want to drop the dogs off at our homes and go to a movie or something?"  She saw that what just happened look on his face and ignored it.  "It's too cold to take the dogs anywhere, so I just thought..."

"A movie sounds good."  He smiled, "Do I have to watch a chick flick?"

He watched her eyes came alive with that cute laugh of hers.

"Probably.  Oh..."

Instantly she became so serious he thought she might  have remembered a fourth husband.

"Do you want to know my name?"

"I do know your name.  You said Ann, right?"  She pressed her lips a little too hard together and he knew Ann wasn't Ann anymore.  "So, am I supposed to guess?"

"You just looked kind of homeless.  I didn't know if I wanted to tell you my real name."  She paused, looking directly at him.  He loved that smile of hers so much that anything she was going to say next didn't matter. 

"You have to admit you look too rough around the edges, and what you see is what you get doesn't do a thing for you in ...anyway...I'm really called Jez."

"Jez.  Like in Jezi..."

"I hate that name.  It's just Jez...J-e-z!"

He laughed, "Okay, just J-e-z, Is your dog still named Charlie?"

"Yes," with that sparkle back in her eyes, "I thought Charles was dignified, but after he began snacking on garbage it became Charlie.  You know," she smiled, "he's in heaven with the meatballs, even though his stomach's complaining.  He'd adopt you in a heartbeat.  Loyalty to me isn't one of his strong-point's."

"He's some sort of terrier, right?"

"I guess.  The vet thought Rat and Jack Russell, although he's so laid back the Jack Russell part's misleading.  He's my little jackrat terrier."

"Rat Terrier makes him sound...ratty," he chuckled.

"I know.  Something to do about hunting rats in medieval times."


She laid her head back against her window and laughed, "Not really; I haven't a clue."

He loved that laugh of hers.

She continued, "What about your little devil?"


"Looks a little poodle-ish."

"I hope not," he laughed, "I need him to grow up big and woolly, a man's dog!"

"Standard poodles are big and woolly...real woolly...poufy woolly!"  There was that sheepish smile lighting up his whole face; then he looked at his watch and the magic was gone.  She waited, a little disappointed.  He left no wiggle room for changes of minds.  He was too practical.

They had decided on dropping off Charlie and her car first, then traveling to his apartment before the movie to drop off Lucifer.  It was a good plan until he realized she was weaving in and out of traffic like he wasn't even a thought in her head.  He hadn't asked for her address or cell number, and when the third car squeezed in front of him from her, he threw up his hands and just drove without a destination.  Noticing her little red car up ahead on the shoulder, he felt relieved until as he approached she sped out again and there was hell to pay keeping up with her.  He took a deep breath and just shook his head when she pulled into a small driveway.  He almost drove off the pavement behind her as he gawked at the jungle surrounding her house.  He was beginning to realize this lady was much more complicated than he was used to, and that fear of appearing boring began nagging him again.  He could only be himself, but he was beginning to question if that was enough.  Her life seemed much more colorful than his and much more troubled.

Her brain screamed bloody murder when his car was heading for her own lawn and gardens instead of her neighbor's, but he managed to not careen across it at the last second.  She was beginning to wonder just how old he really was, but she managed to kept her cool and smile.  She watched him exit his car, pull the seat forward and pick Lucifer up off of the floor where she presumed he fell during the abrupt stop to stay on her driveway.  She feared the poor thing was destined to suffer hurling across empty spaces quite frequently in his life with this man.  She had already, in her mind, made Josh off limits with her Charlie.

Laughing, he couldn't help himself, "you're the first person I've ever seen who can manage to have a smile on her face while her eyes are bugged in terror."  A sour look came across her face.  He was trying to stifle his laugh, but then he couldn't get his words out when he did.  "I," he chuckled a little less this time, "was blindsided by this explosion of weeds."  Her mouth opened and her eyes narrowed in on him.  It was still hard for him to breath as he continued, trying not to laugh.  "God, I didn't quite say that right. I mean, this isn't weeds is it...or is it?"  He could have heard a leaf fall to the ground in her back yard, she was so quiet; then she began to laugh and he laughed, relieved.  "I've never seen so many plants crammed into one place.  There isn't much grass."

"That's right."

"Is there grass in the back?"


"Pretty wild."

She smiled, "Very wild."

She tugged on the leash for Charlie to follow her and walked up the steps to her little porch with a small glider and chairs.  He picked up the small package sitting on the chair, handing it to her after she unlocked the door.  She was paying more attention to the package than him, so he asked, "Do you want me to wait out here?"

"No, you can come in."  She removed Charlie's harness and he raced around the living room a few times before settling back down at her feet.  "Is your puppy housebroke?"

"Sort of."

"Sort of?" 

I'll take him out.  Where's the back door?

She was interested more in the package at this point, but she needed to pay attention to this man who was making himself a part of her life.  "To the right through the kitchen...I'll go with you."  They ventured back out into the cold, sitting on the swing while the dogs raced off into the gardens.  She had examined every side of the package, finally cradling it in her hands on her lap.


He glanced at her.

"It's from somewhere in Africa...the package."  She closely examined the label again.  "Accra, Ghana...Don Juan," she giggled, "Don Juan sent this to me."

He watched her smile turn to apprehension, as she slipped into deep thought miles away.  He quietly waited, then touched her hand breaking the spell and drawing her eyes to his. 

"Patrick talked about Africa, about living there someday."  She turned away.  Minutes passed as she remained silent.  "This isn't what I want in my life right now."  She sighed unhappily.  "This isn't what I want in my life."  She looked at Charlie sitting at her feet, Lucifer whimpering to be picked up, and then the package that made her feel like the past she was trying to forget was flooding back in, drowning her.  "The bastard.  I hate him."

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