Friday, October 30, 2009

Wordzzle 87 - Impractical nurse

This is my contribution to this week's Wordzzle. Wordzzle is a game in which each week word lists, used to create stories, are given on the blog Views from Raven's Nest. Participating users post their stories on their own blogs.

This is my entry number 31, for Wordzzle week 87.

Ten Word Challenge:

Florence Nightengale,
a chill wind’s a blowing,
watering hole,

"A chill wind’s a blowing," the parrot said, as we gathered around the watering hole. It tested the surface tension with one foot, sending triplets of ripples out from its claws. "You know, you really should have called a plumber."

"Plumbers cost money."

"Just give them your autograph, like you usually do. That always seems to make them happy."

"That's my signature on a check. They got paid, of course they're happy."

"It was nice having running water, though. Still, it looks like I'm going to have some nice sleek bugs to eat."

"In the water?"

"Of course in the water. You'll want to strain yours. And boil it. I hate it when I have to tend to the sick."

"Yeah, you're definitely no Florence Nightingale," I said, remembering in spite of myself, and shuddering. "I think I'll just wait until the stores open in the morning, and get some water while I'm out getting more plumbing parts and tools."

The parrot hooked a bug with a claw and flipped it backwards into its beak. "You never give up, do you?"

"Can't afford to," I said. "There's not enough money to pay for others to do it."

A gust of wind blew across the grass, sending waves through it, and more ripples across the watering hole. "It's too cold to spend the night out here," the parrot said. "If you're not going to drink anything, let's go back to the house."

"Can't. Everything's wet, and I can't sleep with all the dampness and wet-carpet smell."

"I don't see how you're going to sleep out here. I'm going to have a difficult time of it myself."

"I don't think we have much choice."

"You'll catch pneumonia out here, and as I said, I don't like to tend to the sick."

A wave of fear went through me. "Uh, I guess we could go to a motel, just for tonight."

"And you'll call a plumber tomorrow?"

"Sure. I've still got some room on a credit card."

The parrot hopped on my shoulder, its claws gripping tightly. "Let's go then. It's not getting any warmer."

"Sure, I'll stop briefly at the house to get a few things, and then we'll go find a place to stay. Just don't let them see you, not everyone likes pets."

"Yes, I know," the parrot said, "but I tolerate you anyway."

Mini Challenge:

Free estimates,
French fries,
silver-tongued bandit

The silver-tongued bandit ate my French fries and left strange, Braille-like ketchup stains on my carpet. He offered to repair a leak in my roof to make up for it, but he ended up taking off layers of shingles and tar paper, and finally falling through a weak spot and then through the ceiling of my living room. He said he knew a guy who gave free estimates, but the repairs were anything but free. He offered to fix the leaky faucet then, and it seemed to actually be fixed at first, but that night it basically exploded and flooded the house before we realized what was happening. I had to replace all the carpet, but at least the ketchup stains were gone.

"See, it all worked out for the best," he said. You got a new roof, a new ceiling, a new faucet, and a new carpet, the place looks great. There's really only one thing left." He walked over to the wall switch for the hall light and fiddled with it. "This switch has gotten awful stiff and doesn't always work. I'm sure I can put a new one in there pretty quick and then everything will be perfect."

"Sure," I said. "Go ahead." Why not? The house needed all the wiring replaced anyway....

Mega challenge:

Florence Nightengale,
a chill wind’s a blowing,
watering hole,

Free estimates,
French fries,
silver-tongued bandit

The parrot peered at the thermometer. "I have no idea what this means, but I'm sure it's not good."

"I'm sure it's just a cold," I mumbled.

"I'm sure it's the swine flu. I don't know what I'm going to do if you turn into a pig." It suddenly yanked down one of my eyelids with its claw. "Aha! Bloodshot! What does that mean?"

"That I'm tired? You know, that claw is kind of sharp..."

"Stop complaining. You brought this all on yourself. 'A chill wind’s a blowing,'" I said, "but you sat out in it soaked, and then you got soaked again the next day."

"Well, I thought I could fix some of it before the plumber got here, and maybe save some money."

"You just never learn, and here I am playing Florence Nightingale again."

I winced. "Please, not that."

"It's too late. It's too late for anything else. Now I'm stuck with it." It poked at my arm with a claw. "Is that a red spot?"

"I'm sure it is now," I groaned.

"I can't fix you chicken soup. I'm no good at opening cans. I suppose I could kill you a pigeon."

"Please, don't put yourself out."

"Maybe I'll just order some more pizza."


"I'll tell them no anchovies this time. Maybe no onions, too."

"It's too expensive to keep ordering pizza."

"Just give them your autograph and stop worrying about it."

"Every time I sign something, it means more money going out."

"We wouldn't be in this position if you weren't so cheap in the first place. And after getting soaked you left all the windows open..."

"I had to air out the carpet. I couldn't get all the water out of it otherwise."

"We'd have been better off pitching a tent by that watering hole."

"Tents cost money."

"Money, money, money. See where worry about money gets you." It started combing my hair with a claw. "It looks sleek. Is that a bad sign?"

"Right now, everything's a bad sign."

"They say everything comes in threes. I suppose there could be more than three. Even triplets of triplets."

"I don't think the universe needs your encouragement."

"The carpet still smells bad. I'm sure it's not good for you. I saw a man on TV offering free estimates for new carpet."

"Free estimates doesn't mean they'll replace it for free. I can't even afford to have someone clean it. They're all silver-tongued bandits anyway."

"Penny wise and pound foolish, whatever that means. Though I'm not sure you're even penny wise."

"Everybody's trying to save money these days, I'm not the only one."

"You're the only one here, if not for me. We've got to do something. If you're not going to do something for the carpet, we still need to find something for you to eat."

"I think I'll just get out the frozen French fries and throw some in the oven."

"No, you stay here, I'll just pop them in the microwave, they'll be done in no time."

"No, wait, I'll do it," I said sitting up, remembering with horror the popcorn incident. Then, in spite of myself, falling backwards onto the bed.

"You're in no condition to do anything! You're too weak to even get up!"

"No, I can do it," I mumbled. "Though I may look limp on the surface, tension is everywhere underneath."

"Delusional too, though I'm not sure that's a change from normal."

"Maybe I'll just fix one of those soup cups. All I have to do is add hot water. I can heat the water in the tea kettle, and the steam would probably do me good."

"Are they chicken?"

"Maybe a little, but they're mostly hot noodles."

"I guess that's better than nothing. I can't do the tea kettle, though."

"No, I'll do it. I'll manage somehow."

"You're too weak. Let me try some acupuncture first. I'm not an expert, but if I poke you enough places I should get the right ones just by chance."

"Ack! Ow! No! No! I'm feeling better already!" I weakly lifted the parrot off me. I was going to look like someone had written all over me in Braille with an ice pick before this was over.

"Well, if you're sure..."

I swung my feet onto the damp rug, took a deep breath, then slowly got to my feet. The parrot hopped onto my shoulder. "Don't worry, I'll be here every step of the way."

"Yes, I know it. I can't tell you have much I appreciate it."

"Finally some thanks. You're quite welcome."

"Yeah, I know I complain a lot. I don't know how you put up with me."

"It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it."

I nodded and sighed, and headed toward the kitchen.

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The Sandwich

This is perhaps more a fragment of a story, as it hints at larger things, but it still forms a complete little story in itself.

This story is dated 2:59 AM, June 11, 2003, Arizona time (MST).


I was hungry, so I picked up a sandwich at a deli along the way, and ate while driving.

After each bite, a little hand came out of the sandwich and dabbed my lips with a little handkerchief.

After the last bite, the little hand came out of my mouth and dabbed my lips again.

It was a good sandwich.


Dream - Dinosaur skeletons trying to get me

On Friday morning, June 6, 2008, I dreamed about lots of dinosaur skeletons trying to get me, clumsily milling around and bumping into me. I think it might have been in a large open lot somewhere around Las Vegas. A lot of other things happened that I don't remember, and a lot of other dreams that are also forgotten.

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Dream - My brother's bed has an unseen presence, and another unseen presence is trying to take over my mind

Around August 21, 2008, in the evening, I think, I was sleeping in bed with the overhead light on. I had a dream where the room was less cluttered and my brother's bed was still there, where it had been, at a right angle to mine. I was in my bed in the dream, and the light in the room was dim and pale, yellow-orangish and thin.

Sometimes it seemed like someone was there in my brother's bed, but usually it didn't. Usually the bed was empty, though it sometimes seemed like a presence was somehow associated with it, almost like the presence was somehow back by or in the wall.

I was in bed and kept looking toward the other bed and toward the hallway. Sometimes it seemed that my mother was outside in the hallway somewhere or in one of the other rooms, maybe even the living room or kitchen, or at least her presence was. Sometimes I think I could hear a dim sound from her, a faint distant voice, saying something.

There was also another presence, ominous and frightening, somewhere high up, toward the ceiling in the direction of the closet and doorway, but spread out, diffuse. I had somehow gotten its attention by some thought I had that specifically referenced it in some way. Now I tried to reject it, to disavow the thought and think and concentrate on other things, talking to the mostly empty other bed, to the presence there that was apparently my brother, talking sometimes by voice and sometimes in my head.

I was afraid, though, somehow knew though, that this wasn't going to be enough. The diffuse presence above and to the front of the room waited, barely being kept away, waiting for a chance to get closer, waiting for me to tire and falter, for my concentration to fade. It then would move closer, and surround me and be in me, and try to take me, and make its thoughts my thoughts, and I didn't know what would happen then. I woke up, then, and found that I had only been asleep around 15 minutes.

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Dream - Shaking hands with a ghost

On Thursday morning, June 12, 2008, I had a dream in which I met someone, then later shook hands with his ghost.

A lot happened earlier in the dream. At some point, I was at a mall that sometimes seemed to be a school, or partially a school.

Someone came there who I think was a former senator or representative of some kind. He was there, I think, to make a speech as part of some school event. At some point, either he or I was leaving. I shook hands with him. He was concerned more with someone else, but turned to me and shook hands. He had a firm handshake. He was perhaps around 60, with dark gray thinning hair on top and whitish hair on the sides. His face was somewhat thin and rectangular and his hair was slicked down and combed to the side.

I left and went out to the parking lot and then went back in. He was talking to someone. Other people were around coming and going. He turned slightly and looked at me and frowned a little, no doubt wondering why I was back. I'm not sure now exactly why I did go back.

He left not long afterward, getting into a car with some people that were with him, a car that had pulled up by the curb. A few days later I heard that he had a heart attack and died.

Sometime later, perhaps a week or two, maybe less, we were outside somewhere at some school function, a picnic or something like that. Some kind of game or dance started where people held hands in a circle and went around in stops and starts. A photographer was there, and now he was in the middle of the circle taking pictures. I came to realize that the person taking pictures was the dead politician. Although at first he didn't really look like him, he looked more and more like him as time went on.

I shook hands with him again. It was firm like before. He smiled at me, leaning into the handshake. The circle of people had dissipated and I was telling someone from the circle, then, a man who was a school administrator of some kind, about the photographer being the dead politician. The photographer was gone now, apparently having faded out after going a few feet to the side.

The administrator kept asking about it, going through some papers that were stapled together, trying to find who was assigned to be the photographer, asking was I sure. I took him to the camera, which was sitting on the ground now, an odd device with a broad back that had an LCD display low on it. When activated, the name of the photographer crawled across it, with some letters between them, perhaps three, that were evidently a company name. The first name was ANDY. I don't remember what the last name was, it was perhaps ten or twelve letters. It was the name of the dead politician, though, though I don't think I ever knew it before that point.

I was then going toward a car parked at the street in the city. Everything was gray. Some people were standing by it in dark clothes and long coats, talking and looking around somewhat furtively. The dead politician was there. I was seeing something that had happened earlier. He had been tainted some by association with people who had some underworld connections. I realized, though, that the situation was not as it had appeared and was not as it had been portrayed. The politician was not aware, or at least not aware much, of the underworld connections, and was just trying to do his best for the people. The dream then seemed to blend into the next part.

It was cold. I was going back toward something. A cold rain was falling, perhaps snow even. Everything was gray. I went across the road to an area where nothing was built. In the middle distance across another road was a low building with a large yard around it, a yard that extended a very large distance toward the back, blending in with the land, the land going finally toward a low rise and then back down again. Then a much smaller yard and then a row of small darkish buildings, perhaps houses or businesses, leading away from me.

Everything was shades of gray. I walked on gray grass, flattened down, wet with rain and slushy ice, and headed toward more of the same. Two figures were going from the direction of the large low building across the land behind it, heading toward the low ridge. There seemed to be a fight or struggle going on between them, as every now and then one would turn, the one slightly in the lead, and attack the other somehow. I don't think it was usually hitting with fists. I don't remember now exactly what was happening, but one was hitting the other with something, maybe a coat sometimes, though I think something else was used too, maybe the slushy ice, picked up and loosely packed together. I think the one attacking kept trying to take something the other had and was wearing, a coat or shirt, perhaps a T-shirt.

I was dragging a thick hose along with me and turned it on them when I was still quite a distance away, several hundred feet. It didn't do much to stop the fight. It rained a large quantity of cold, large, heavy drops on them with some force. I hoped to break the fight up, but it only slowed it a little. I thought it might melt the slushy ice used as ammunition, but it didn't seem to be having enough of an effect. I think the person attacking got the article of clothing he was after and the one attacked was not able to get it back and finally went down.

I reached the area past the rise in the ground. There was a bit of a dip behind the rise and then the ground rose back up to a normal level. It had stopped raining now, but everything was still wet. It was a little warmer and the slush had melted.

A man came from the small building or around there, and was talking about the fight. I told him I had the hose and could spray them with force. A person came over the ridge then and down the other side, wearing a T-shirt that was not in good shape. He was grinning and denied knowing about the fight, though he seemed to be the person from the fight.

I went back to the road or near it and went toward the big building, going by the side at a distance and around to the front. It turned out to be the radiator shop on Scottsdale Road. I think the man from the small building might have gone with me, but I'm not sure. There were a few cars out front. I went into something like a large van or maybe a trailer and was talking with someone, perhaps the man from the small building, and then someone showed up at the back grinning, evidently the man in the T-shirt. It had big holes in it and strange markings in different colors, like they had been put on with markers.

He gave various stories when pressed on where he had been. He had been somewhere else, he had been to WalMart, he had been to some other place, the story kept changing. He kept changing, too, sometimes seeming slimmer and sometimes more muscular. He pulled his shirt up, apparently trying to show us evidence of some sort. He had more markings across his stomach and chest, across his head and face even, at least one of them changing from a marking to a scar, going in a shallow zigzag across him, a scar that got bigger and raised up, a 3-D pinkish line.

I finally got out and went toward the front door, going in I think and looking around briefly and then going back out, and continuing on past the front and around to the side. Other people were around and I could hear them talking [the radio was on in real life]. My father was somewhere, perhaps inside or perhaps not. I got down by the window by the repair tanks and got inside somehow, I think maybe by peeling back a section of wall. The main worker, an Hispanic man, was somewhere nearby, but I don't think I actually saw him, or if I did it was dimly and not directly on.

I needed to make my way back and find the other guy, the one who had fallen, to see if he was alright. I needed to take someone with me, I wasn't sure what situation I would run into. I think someone was actually urging me to do that.

I went out back and got someone, a young employee who worked on cars I think, and we continued on going back and in a short while reached a building that stretched across the way. It seemed to be some kind of garage run by some rural types, a large number of people, apparently all or most related to each other, suspicious of outsiders. I had somehow acquired a third person and I think a local deputy or sheriff had somehow come and was directing the search. A somewhat paunchy middle-aged man ran the place and was showing us around, at the sheriff's continued insistence. The employees/relatives kept trying things, like going for baseball bats or crowbars and tools of some kind that were laying around, to try to attack us with them, and had to be dissuaded.

It was a big building and had divisions running across it as we went further through it, dividing it into different sections. We got finally to the last section and were looking through it.

The sheriff was still questioning the owner, the employees/relatives were still trying things. At least one time one of them slowly sneaked out from under a bed toward something on the floor. Someone stepped on his wrist, I think, and kicked him back under the bed, it might have been me. They were continually trying things and there was someone every few feet.

The sheriff was talking to the owner and there were people continually sneaking up on both sides that had to be continuously taken care of in various ways, sometimes by knocking the weapon out of their hands or their hands or arms away from the weapon, sometimes attacking them, sometimes just moving threateningly toward them.

The owner seemed unwilling to control them in any way. The owner himself picked up something from somewhere, some kind of shiny tool and was talking, looking slightly past the sheriff in a distracted way, seemingly ignoring what the sheriff was saying.

The sheriff bent down and picked up a heavy dark pencil that the employees had been trying to use and stabbed the owner in the stomach, toward his right side, pushing it all the way in, then pulling it out and stabbing him again and little way from the first, slightly more toward the center but still toward the side, and then pulled it out and stabbed him again, either this one or the one before being a little higher. It was like pushing the pencil into clay. Sometimes it seems I was the sheriff now and sometimes I was watching.

The owner fell down backwards and then got back up, still holding the tool and talking some more but glancing now toward the sheriff and then away and then back again, some concern showing on his face. The sheriff stabbed him again, this time in the center and higher, just under the breast bone.

I started to protest, thinking it was too high, that he had actually stabbed him in the heart. The owner frowned and had a "Hey!" type of expression, and his head turned down then and he folded, falling backward. He didn't get back up.

The scene jumped to a little in the future, then, and the place was full of law enforcers, federal agents I think. The various employees were under control, but they seemed to lose interest in fighting after the owner was killed. The place was being thoroughly searched. The fear was that the missing person might be hidden somewhere, perhaps still alive.

I went toward the north side. A lot of small, low, upholstered chairs were there, with burlap type cloth, set up along the walls and in rows across the narrow space of the long room. Others came with me. I was looking through the chairs, picking up the cushions and looking and feeling under them, pulling the chairs back and looking behind them, etc. Others were doing the same. A time or two some odd things were found, like a pair of children's shoes set neatly under a seat cushion, along with a belt. It might be ominous or it might not be. Finally we had them all pretty much searched. I was by a door that led back toward the front. We had to look somewhere else now, working our way toward the front.

I looked along the wall behind the chairs. It was bulging out with, I think, a thin sheet of paper-like stuff pulled across it. I pulled the furniture, low couch-like stuff, away from it and we started looking, other people doing most of the work. The paper covering was pulled away and behind it were rows and rows of record albums, staggered rows, getting thicker toward the floor and blending in with the wall about mid level, then going back inside the wall, sticking out more toward the corner. A few were found toward the corner that seemed to be homemade ones, showing pictures of a couple of the employees/relatives kissing each other with love and affection.

The sheriff looked sad and uncertain and said there was no way to know what was on them. I was beginning to worry that the owner had died for nothing, that the people here might have had nothing to do with the disappearance of the person, that they might just be strange people, it was hard to know yet and it might be that we would never know.

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Dream - Repeated out-of-body experiences, and a computer on the wall shorting out

On Friday, May 30, 2008, just after 7:00 PM, I fell asleep in bed while watching television. Countdown on MSNBC was repeating its earlier show. I had two dreams, of which I eventually remembered one. It was long, surprisingly so, considering the time asleep.

In the dream, I had repeated out of body experiences or attempts at such. I was mostly just lying in bed, though, while odd things happened. I kept hearing things and thinking that my mother had come, time after time, and was in the doorway, sometimes saying that supper was ready, sometimes bringing me it, sometimes she was there for something else.

One time it seemed my feet and maybe legs left my body, and one time later on I tried to have an out of body experience and then opened my eyes and suddenly found myself looking at the blue wall perhaps a foot or so away. I think initially I thought it was the ceiling (which is white), but then realized it was the wall by my bed. I thought then that I hadn't had an OOBE after all, but thinking back on it I was actually laying facing mostly the other direction, though my head was pointed up.

Toward the end, I saw a big structure on the wall that was some kind of computer. It was maybe fifteen inches wide and a foot and a half to two feet tall, and maybe a couple of feet above the bed. It started shorting out midway up it. I was worried about a fire and tried to unplug it, but I was having trouble moving properly. I think I finally managed to do it.

My mother woke me up rapping sharply on something, possibly the filing cabinet. She was in the doorway with a paper plate of food. It turned out to be a beef pot pie and some cucumber slices. Only about 15 or 20 minutes had passed.

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Dream - The tornadoes and the dinosaur tree branch

On Sunday, November 2, 2008, I had a dream about being in Nevada and then in Arizona, driving home, coming to a white building where several tornadoes came. Then I was home and saw the tornadoes had blown down a tree that had a T. rex dinosaur, that I had never finished making, carved in a branch.

In the dream, I was working in Nevada and also somehow going to school as part of work. The school was something that occurred during work. At work, my boss had said, to the Engineering group in general, that later on, a few years in the future, in a later part of the class, we would have to travel some and spend some time in Portland [Oregon]. I had protested, saying I didn't want to travel, that I wouldn't do it. He said I would have to, if I wanted to complete the class. Now the years had passed and it was time to do it, there was going to be some travel back and forth by plane to Portland with possibly weeks at a time being spent there. I didn't want to do it and I didn't want to travel by plane, wanting to drive if I was going to do it, but it was so far, so much distance added to my trip to and from Arizona, that I wasn't sure how I was going to do it.

Then, later, I was back in Arizona and driving home. I went to a low white block building, not very large, completely out in the open with nothing nearby, like it was in the middle of a field. A few other people were with me. The building had large windows and carpet on the floor. We were talking to some people there, something about an auto part I think, about trying to get one or a supply of one. One of the people started talking about the economy. It had nothing to do with what we were there for, he just started talking about it in a kind of conversational oh-by-the-way kind of tone. I was probably actually picking up something from the radio and incorporating it in my dream.

He kept talking and I wandered off a bit and looked to the side out the window to the front. I saw several, maybe five, tornadoes going this way. They were tall and narrow and a very dark bluish color, moving rapidly this way. I called out a warning to the others, repeatedly since some of them seemed to be slow to respond, then dived down near one of the walls, which was also white, almost everything inside was white or pale colored. I think I might have been beside a short section of wall, maybe between it and the main wall. I think someone dived down with me, too. The tornadoes passed over, the sky and room darkened and the building shook, but though things were falling around the building and hitting the building, and some things seemed to be falling inside, the building seemed to have survived without much damage. I had to go home then.

At home, my brother and his (former) wife were over and some other people, including a bunch of kids. His wife looked different, not like she really is. It seemed to be an earlier time, and it seemed to be some kind of special occasion, though I'm not sure what. There was a couch in front of the cabinets in the family room, near the corner by the wall with the sliding glass door. Some of the adults, particularly my brother's wife, walked around in the family room talking. Sometimes some of them sat on the couch. We, mostly not me and mostly his wife, kept talking. The subjects were odd things, not always related. I was probably still picking up something from the real-life radio. At some point most of the kids, there were quite a few of them, went out to a big wading pool, about two and a half or three feet high, that was on the carport. I occasionally looked out at them from the family room, just glancing out the window from where I happened to be. I considered whether I wanted to join them and decided not to. The talking went on...

I happened to look out at the back yard then (I think I may have even been walking around in the yard earlier, though I don't think I noticed anything at the time), and saw a very long bare branch a few inches thick that had fallen off one of the trees and was laying across the top of the swing set and extending off over the top of the fence to somewhere in the alley. I said something about a branch having fallen off one of the trees, saying it a few times. I went out with some of the others, then. I think some kids were already out there. A couple of big sections of the wooden fence were leaning out toward the alley, and most of the lattice work along the top was missing. My mouth was hanging open in surprise and wonder. I said that the tornadoes (I may have said hurricanes instead) must have passed over here, too. I looked at where the tree to the side was and it was entirely gone, there wasn't even a hole or stump left, the ground was just smooth, like a tree was never there. I guessed it must have somehow been rotten and broken off at the base and fallen over entirely into the alley.

I heard sirens, I think, and a bunch of emergency cleanup people came, wearing yellow raincoats I think, in a big truck or two and started working in the alley. They started quickly taking down big sections of the fence. I saw one of them hitting the end of the top board in the corner with his hand or a hammer, popping it up from where it was nailed down to the post. The fence seemed to be in the way. I hoped they would put it back up when they were done. I started trying to move the long branch that had fallen, or maybe I had tried that earlier. I didn't do much with it in any case. I couldn't see what they were doing in the alley or what things looked like out there, the fence blocked the view.

I walked around looking up at the branches overhead. There were still quite a few, either from the fallen tree or the one in the middle of the yard that was presumably still standing. I was talking sometimes with the kids or other people in the yard. Still looking up, I saw a dinosaur that I had made long ago, that I had started but never finished, a huge Tyrannosaurus rex. It was made out of wood, out of part of the tree, and had fallen down some, sticking out past the swing set over the yard, several feet overhead, on its side with the branch it was part of extending behind it. It looked old now and damp, its contours softened and rounded a little. Blackened with mold and age, it almost looked burned. The head seemed to have a sinister grin, made more so by its open eye socket. I looked at it perhaps for the last time. They would take it away with the rest of the tree. I thought somewhat sadly that in this way it would finally be finished, finally be done with.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Wordzzle 86 - Past times

This is my contribution to this week's Wordzzle. Wordzzle is a game in which each week word lists, used to create stories, are given on the blog Views from Raven's Nest. Participating users post their stories on their own blogs.

This is my entry number 30, for Wordzzle week 86.

Ten Word Challenge:

rolling off a log

"The incensed sidewinder came at me, rolling off a log it had been hiding behind. In its zeal it was spitting venom everywhere, so much so the Haz-mat people had to come and clean up afterward. It spit so much venom that when it finally bit me, it didn't have any left, and had a conniption fit when I wouldn't die. Well, I got my staple gun and perforated it back, no critter bites me and gets away with it. I stuck it to the log with some staples, where it can be seen to this day. I had these special customized boots made in memory of the occasion, and renamed my ranch the Stapled Sidewinder.

"Now, it is only because of extreme financial difficulty that my brother and I are forced to sell this ranch. We are not even able to properly feed our animals anymore, and the roosters have stopped laying eggs and the steers have stopped giving milk. We are desperate, and are willing to take much less than market value."

"That's totally bogus, man. You people are just conniving to get my money. If you bother me again I'll call the cops."

The two watched him walk away. "Where did we slip up?"

"I told you to cover up the Made in China label on those boots."

Mini Challenge:

dung beetle

Formerly a cheerleader for somewhat unusual notions, he became a bit more abstemious in his ways, and now gave his friends carrot cake, with cheese slices on top folded into origami animals. His friends gratefully accepted this, the memories of last year's chlorophyll and dung beetle fruitcake still fresh in their minds.

Mega challenge:

rolling off a log

dung beetle

I saw her again at the fair. She was in a little booth selling plastic paperweights with dung beetles in them, and little pictures of sidewinders about to strike, and other such things. She had been a cheerleader back in high school, and I had mostly made little paper origami animals. Her father, who had a Haz-mat business, didn't think I was good enough for her. He was incensed when he caught us together in her bedroom, and threw me and my clothes out of the house. I was very grateful for my clothes, because the snow was very cold without them.

I tried to see her after that, but he had a conniption fit every time I came to the door, and I was getting awfully tired of landing in the snow. We just got to see each other at school and were conniving to sneak away together when the school year was over, and go to another state where he couldn't find us. She abruptly disappeared, though. She was there one day and gone the next. Her whole family had gone with her, moved away, no one knew where, or if they did they didn't say. I never saw her again.

I had gotten pretty wild for a while, and gone heavily into drinking and drugs, but had become much more abstemious since then. After finishing with my schooling, I went through various jobs, from selling chlorophyll drinks to customized T-shirts to bogus humorous college degrees to perforated wallboard, and more. I can't say I had much zeal for any of them, though I had to pretend to at the time.

I had pretty much given up on seeing her again, but still thought about her sometimes. I guess a part of me hadn't given up hope. Now, after all these years, here she was again, at a fair in a town I was only passing through, on the way to somewhere else.

I picked up a small drawing of a drunken cowboy rolling off a log. It was amazing that people bought these things.

"Can I help you with anything? Is there anything in particular you'd like to have?"

I picked up a small branch with a row of varnished pebbles with flat plastic eyes on them. The pupils in the eyes moved around as I tilted the branch. "I'll take this."

"That's a good choice. Lots of people are buying them." She paused. "Have we met before? You seem familiar somehow."

"I was thinking I had seen you before, too."

"My family moved around a lot when I was a teenager. I could have been here before, I guess. Or maybe not. It's hard to tell."

She put it in a bag and handed me the receipt, then looked at me again. "You really seem familiar but I just can't place you. I don't know, maybe I was thinking about somebody else."

"You look familiar, too, but I guess that's possible."

"I really feel I should know you, but I just can't think of anything. I can't think of anybody it might be. I know I sound really silly, it's probably a mistake, it must be somebody else."

"I suppose I could be mistaken, too."


I picked up the bag and looked at her again. She looked back at me, her eyes searching mine.

"I guess it must have been two other people," I said, in a lighter tone than I thought I could manage, and turned and walked away with my purchase.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Glove

This was inspired by something that was in the news back in the 1990s, though I have also worn various work gloves myself, and sometimes gloves to keep my hands warm. Although the story is told in the first person, my gloves have almost always been large enough, so the person in the story can't really be me. Like the person in the story, though, I do sometimes worry over details.

This story is dated 1:09 AM, October 14, 2004, Arizona time (MST).


I saw a glove by the road.

I thought it might be mine, but it looked too small.

I tried it on anyway.

It was tight.

Too tight.

The fingers were too short, and it did not cover my palm.

I thought it might have my fingerprints inside it.

If it didn't, it did now.

For I did get it on.

It had some stains on it, also.

That I thought I remembered.

But it did not fit.

So I left it by the roadside.

For me to find later.


My Word Imperfect entries, Part V

In June of 2007, I came across a blog called Word Imperfect, which is run by a person known as the Word Imp. At that time, the blog was normally updated every day. After quite a while when new posts were rare, the blog owner has recently resumed a new-post-every-day schedule.

Each day, the Word Imp puts up a new word and a made-up definition, and readers submit comments with their own made-up, "wacky" definitions of that word. The next day, the Word Imp reveals the real definition and chooses three finalists from the entries submitted. Readers vote (in a poll) for what they think is the best one, and the next day the Word Imp announces the winner. The only prize is the glory of being chosen.

This is the fifth group of my Word Imperfect entries. The times given are the approximate times of my posts, in Arizona time (MST), from the clock on my computer.


2:02 AM 8/2/2007

Fenks are comic book fans who are way too heavily into it.


I missed adding a definition.


4:57 AM 8/3/2007 *** winner

Orogenesis was a religious text telling the story of the Garden of Eden from the viewpoint of the snake. It was one of the books excluded from the Bible, and now survives only in the form of extensive quotations in other documents.

My entry for orogenesis was chosen as one of the three finalists. It's allowable there to vote for yourself, and I did. And I won.

The vote count the last time I checked it:

11:56 PM 8/4/2007

Choose a winner for orogenesis
stephen 47.37%
realityjunkie 36.84%
sprite 15.79%

Total votes : 19

Word Imp:
Orogenesis is quite important. It's the process by which mountains are made. Presumably out of mole hills. Could be a useful word in an argument. Lots of word imps joined in with their invented meanings, but the winner on the poll - and one that impressed me a lot - was written by Stephen. Great work, Stephen.

The Last Seven Winners
Gypsy Queen
Alina Escalante


12:14 AM 8/5/2007

A quantivalence is the mass of ruffles worn around the neck of some men in the late middle ages, making it appear that they had no neck at all and that they had somehow gotten themselves caught in the middle of a large, dainty wheel.


11:46 AM 8/5/2007

Postiche is "going postal" on a very small scale. Some possible examples would be stamping one's foot, holding one's breath, and refusing to eat one's veggies.

11:56 AM 8/5/2007

Also, thank you Word Imp for nominating me for my definition of orogenesis and for liking it so much, and thanks also to everyone who voted for me. And thanks also, everyone, for past nominations (and sometimes wins). Though I didn't say anything at the time, I did appreciate it.


9:46 PM 8/6/2007

Theorbo is the worship of orbs, the floating balls of light sometimes seen by people.


6:21 PM 8/7/2007

Radix stands for Radically Inspired eXperiment, and is a term in common use among improvisational jazz musicians.


12:25 AM 8/9/2007

A scaramouch is a type of moth with a pattern on its wings resembling a menacing face.


2:00 AM 8/9/2007

Estovers are estuaries that have dried up.


7:30 AM 8/10/2007

A grimalkin is a devoted fan of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Grimalkins frequently amass huge collections of memorabilia, including various editions and interpretations, recordings of TV and movie adaptations, toys and figurines, etc., and blame it on having been put under a spell.


3:36 PM 8/12/2007

A solidungular is a person who designs and builds open-air prisons, such walled or fenced enclosures. The word literally means sun-dungeon-maker, and originally applied to people who made prisons that were deep outdoor pits that were open at the top.


12:23 AM 8/14/2007 [too late for the poll]

Lampion was a nonsense song popular in the 1940's. It switched the beginning and ending of words and then slurred the result, making for intriguing but entirely incomprehensible lyrics.


2:50 AM 8/14/2007

A rivage is a legal document detailing water rights to a river. Normally, the document describes how some person, corporation, or government entity can take so many cubic feet per minute at such-and-such time of the year, but it can also simply state that certain people or farms can have access to the water.


11:36 PM 8/15/2007 *** finalist

A discobolus is the welt produced by being struck by a Frisbee or other such flying disc.

My entry for discobolus was chosen as one of the three finalists. It's allowable there to vote for yourself, and I did. I didn't win, though.

The vote count the last time I checked it:

Choose a winner for discobolus
stephen 100%
judi 0%
duckman 0%

Total votes : 2


10:58 AM 8/16/2007

Concettism is the tendency of some types of sea shells to form conch-like spirals.

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Dream - Summoning the Grays

On Tuesday morning, April 14, 2009, I had a dream in which I tried to summon the Grays, a type of extraterrestrial alien, or perhaps a hyperdimensional one, thought by many to be real.

I was sitting at my computer at home and fell asleep, and dreamed I was driving. Someone was with me. I put the person in a different car as I went along, for safety. Then as a curve came up I was too tired, it was too much trouble to turn, too hard to do it, and part of the car went off the edge. There was a drop off below. Somehow I was on the passenger side looking down at it. I just let it happen and went sailing off the road. I went to the side in the car, sailing over the ground far below, maybe sixty feet or more down. I was higher, then, maybe over a hundred feet. The ground below was barren and mostly level, pale dirt and short yellow grass, slight rolls and curves with occasional small hills sticking out sharply, sometimes ending in a small flat area of just dirt, like the top of the hill had been scraped off.

Then I was in an office, I think in a multi-story building. I had been left there by someone, a woman I think, who had gone to get someone else, someone who I was supposed to see. I'm not sure now whether I had an appointment or came by myself or was just brought there.

The hall outside had low, inexpensive carpet, and the door was cheap and hollow, with thin paneling covering it. The walls had thin fake wood panels, simulating boards, with dark recessed lines simulating the space between the boards. The office also had low, cheap carpet. Perhaps ten feet away from the door was a large, inexpensive desk, covered with stuff. As I stood there, facing the door, perhaps three feet from it and a little to the left of it, about eight or ten feet to my left were large windows, almost floor to ceiling, completely covered by long pale curtains. I'm not sure of the time, but it seemed to be late, or possibly on a weekend. The building seemed almost deserted.

Realizing, I think, that I was in a dream, and needing to do something to pass the time while waiting, I decided to see if I could call up the Grays, the extraterrestrial aliens with small skinny bodies and oversized heads with big black eyes. It seemed to be a good time for that.

I concentrated and a small shadowy figure started to appear, dark gray and vague and transparent against the paneling, only a couple of feet high. I concentrated and it grew in size, stretching upward, becoming slightly less transparent, looking at me with more awareness and interest. I became scared and stopped and turned away to the left, but then decided that this was what I had been wanting, contact, and this was what happened during it, and I had to somehow get through it.

I turned back and concentrated on it again, and again it appeared, a vague shadowy presence. Before I focused my attention on it, it appeared almost uncertain and forlorn, eyes looking about in my general direction but at about the two foot level, not up at me. As I looked at it and concentrated, though, it's eyes looked up and met mine, and its attention focused more and more intensely on me, concentrating on me as I concentrated on it. It seemed to happen almost instantly. A kind of eagerness seemed to overtake it, and it rapidly grew to around four feet tall and became more solid, though still vague and transparent. It was leaning a little toward me, growing faster on top than lower down, its eyes growing, stretching upward, becoming like cartoon eyes, tall, with even a little white underneath, the white appearing as light gray, as there was no actual white on the dark gray figure. I could feel it reaching out into me, its mind filtering across the space between us and entering mine, threads of it going into me. In spite of myself I became scared, and though I tried to suppress it, I found myself drawing back and turning away, though I thought it might still be there.

I had closed my eyes as I turned away, but I could see what looked like the paneling through them, yellowish brown, the wood grain and all, though without any breaks for boards. Sometimes blotches appeared in the middle, something like the blotches sometimes seen in old movies when the scenes are ending, though larger here, a pale thin yellow in color, joined together in the middle to form something like a massive ink blot, that kept changing, flickering, going away and coming back. I thought I was somehow psychically seeing the wall through my closed eyelids, but wondered if I really was or if I was seeing something else.

After a time I realized that I was sitting down facing away from the door, with my head partly leaning back, my face pointed toward where the wall and ceiling joined. The image I was seeing looked the same, and I realized that I couldn't be seeing the actual wall, I was seeing something else. After a while I realized that I was awake, sitting in a chair with my head leaning against the back of it, but the image went on and on. After a while I finally opened my eyes and looked at the time on the computer, then leaned back and eventually went back to sleep.

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Dream - Attacked by a giant Phillip from Guiding Light

On Sunday morning, March 29, 2009, I had a dream in which I was attacked by a giant Phillip from the Guiding Light TV show.

In the dream, I was in a largish one story house with some other people. A lot had already happened, but I've forgotten most of it. It seems, though, that I had gone there from somewhere else, that I had been at home earlier, and was sent there by someone, and that the family, or at least part of them, was also going to go there. It was just a temporary visit, on the way to something else, perhaps a picnic nearby, perhaps with some of the people in the house.

I did meet with some of the people in the house, and I think a few family members also showed up. I think I might have also left and returned a few times, or possibly the dream replayed the house part, with variations.

At some point, I saw that Phillip from the Guiding Light soap opera TV show had come back, after being gone for a long time, maybe years, and was talking to some of the people there. He seemed friendly, in a kind of grim-humored way. He was dangerous, though. Someone had earlier warned me about him, though it seems to have been done retroactively. I was looking at him from a little distance away, sometimes in another part of the house and sometimes maybe from outside. He may have been outside initially, too.

I saw him in another part of the house, as though I could see through walls, as he ripped the top off a double-size tall spinach can and was reaching in and eating it. He was still grinning as he ate it, and still talking to people, though perhaps more listening than talking at this point. Because of eating the spinach, he began to grow, and he got big, giant, maybe seven or eight feet tall, but proportioned normally. I ran, hoping to find some spinach myself, maybe at home, but there wasn't time.

I went to an old wooden house. It had a simple, small sliding bolt to latch the door, which had a big gap when it closed. Some panels in the door were partly broken away, too.

Phillip ambled after me, like he had all the time in the world. He was talking to me conversationally, seeming to be somewhat amused by me. He was mad at me for some reason, about something that had happened before. He was mad even before the spinach was eaten, which caused him to get much stronger and bigger, though also crazier. He looked pretty crazy while he was eating it, though, with a big smile of triumph and power. I think he was going to get my father after he was finished with me.

He was lowering his gigantic head, looking in through the openings in the door and wall as he talked, sometimes hitting the door a little, experimentally. I got a pale translucent plastic bottle, maybe 3/4 gallon, of muratic acid. It was mostly empty, but a little was left. I was afraid it wouldn't be enough.

I turned and sprayed his face with it through the opening. He yelled loudly, "AHHHHHH!!!! AHHHHHH!!!" lowering his head, putting his heads to his face, moving his head and upper body up and down. I continued to pump the trigger, continued to spray him, getting some on his neck and shoulders as well as his head, soaking him.

Finally he stopped and said, "You know, it doesn't matter," and calmly pushed his way in, his head way down low so it was probably at my chest level. His head was huge. He was calmly talking to me. I continued to try to spray him. He was right in front of me, it was extremely intimidating. I was backing away and he was slowly coming forward. He seemed to be starting to have a little trouble getting air, like the acid was starting to cause some damage. I started to weakly, fearfully, push the nozzle in his nostril and spray again, first on his right side and then the left and then back. He said, "It doesn't matter, I've got a little bit of an opening left," indicating his right nostril, and sniffed a few times, saying, "Oh. Oh. That's it," drawing some of the liquid in.

We somehow got outside, through the back I think. The house wasn't really very deep and I think part of the back walls had fallen off. We got back around to the front, maybe 50 to 100 feet in front of the house. The whole area was covered with short uneven grass, and there were a few long clothes lines, metal wire I think, strung between two metal poles.

I had found a heavy wooden pole, like a heavy closet pole maybe six feet long, and kept trying to it him with it. He kept talking to me, essentially taunting me and rubbing it in, and putting up his arms and the edges of his hands. It was like hitting a metal ridge when I hit his forearms, even making a hard tapping sound. I think I may have managed to hit his head once or twice. He was starting to look a little frazzled. I hoped the acid would work soon and that he would collapse within the next few minutes, though I wasn't sure I had that long. The only reason he hadn't won yet was because he had just been toying with me, otherwise it would have been over right away. He was still talking and I kept swinging at him and he kept raising his arms and blocking it, still bent over so that he was down to my level or lower, though sometimes he raised up to where he was nearly straight.

He was looking past me now, to the left of me, saying that he had to go to town and get my father in a few minutes, meaning that he was going to beat him up, probably kill him, like he was going to beat up and probably kill me, and meaning that he was going to finish with me soon. I hoped the acid would get him first, but it didn't look good.

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Dream - Oh how high the shadow grows

On Saturday morning, September 20, 2008, I had a dream that included a naked man, a black dog, and a song with the words "Oh how high the shadow grows."

In the dream, I was in a large open mall-like area, mostly empty of people, though there were a few. Colors were pale and there seemed a starkness about everything. I was doing something before this, but I'm not sure what now. Going back and forth from the house to there was part of it. Inside the mall there was a small stairway against a wall leading to a small platform that had some low stucco walls around part of it. A door was in the wall at the platform, and maybe a window by it, though it might have had blinds or a curtain or some other covering obscuring the view to the inside.

I went up and down the stairs to the landing a few times, spending part of the time on the landing partly laying down. I seemed to be at least partly trying to hide from people, hide from being bothered by them, though for a while I called out to someone in the mall, a relative I think, maybe my mother. I held a small conversation then, but I wanted to be left alone so I could rest.

At some point some dogs came up, a large black one and two smaller pale ones, one them smaller than the other, generally all of them spaniel types I think, more or less. I was a little concerned sometimes about the big dog, though I felt also that it would probably be alright. I reached out to the big black dog and scratched and rubbed his head between his ears, first on one side and then the other. His snout was very big and his head was small, and I wondered about the size of his brain. Before, things had had a strange quality, like I was looking on the scene without my glasses. Things were much more blurry now, though, and the big dog became especially blurry. It was hard sometimes to see it much beyond its head, and its head seemed to fade at the edges into a blackness that surrounded it and that it seemed to carry with it. I worried a little bit about getting my hands dirty, touching the dog, but it seemed a necessary thing and I didn't worry too much about it. I was very tired and it was hard to move and hard to see and I wanted to rest.

I saw a man down in the mall who was just partly dressed, maybe naked at times. I'm not sure how he got that way. He was wandering around, staggering, bumping into the walls sometimes, a time or two going up and getting briefly in a niche in the wall, partly hiding, partly just resting. I was irritated that he should show up at the mall looking like that, and I went down and I guess basically harassed him for a while, knocking him about a bit, then I carried him up the stairs to the landing and put him down behind the low wall, partly hiding him. He was completely naked now. I think I might have had a part in making him naked. He was mostly out of it by this point, barely conscious.

There was some small bit of clothing on the landing, very thin material, like a piece of a Halloween costume. It was colored maybe a pale red or purple, and gathered in to a long piece of elastic, like maybe a waistband or headband, like it was either some brief shorts or some kind of turban or other headgear. I wasn't sure what to do with it. He was laying on his side partly curled up, his back to the mall. I think I finally just draped it on his shoulders.

I worried about leaving him there, but it seemed better to leave him there than down in the mall the way he was. I worried if I left him up there, though, that people who might be looking for him, maybe friends or family members, wouldn't be able to find him. He was sticking out a little past the edge of the wall, though, his rear and some of his legs. I think I might have intentionally arranged it that way so that people looking for him had a better chance of finding him, while at the same time giving him a little privacy by having him up above the mall and mostly hidden. I went down the stairs then, brushing a little against him as I went, which disturbed me.

I went home then and laid down in bed. Some people occasionally talked to me and to themselves from the hallway. They were hard to hear and sounded faint and far away. I wanted to drift off into the gray softness behind and around me. The dogs came back, coming down the hall. I scratched and rubbed behind the ears of the big black dog, as before. His head seemed even smaller than before but his snout was as big or bigger than ever, and I wondered some more about the size of his brain. He was even harder to see than before, with a deeper blackness surrounding him. I was talking to someone in the hall, a couple of people.

I started singing in a sharp, clear, somewhat high voice, "Oh how high the shadow grows, the plant life of your widow, black lace curtains brought you near, from out the plate glass window". It was a song from long ago and I wondered who had sung it. Then I somehow moved to the computer room and was sitting down, seeming to move through the wall there as the view shifted, still singing I think.

I was still looking out toward the hall, but now it became more distant and had changed to a large room, almost a stage. It had a very low wall and a huge room-spanning sheet of glass. Behind the glass a large group of people were moving, leaving, going from left to right. They were mostly young and were of a range of heights but none were very tall. One of them was talking to me. I was having trouble hearing, the voice sounded faint and far away. Sometimes it seemed to be someone in the middle and sometimes it seemed to be someone toward the left side.

I said something and then the person laughed, and looking back and forth I finally determined that the person was indeed on the left. It was a young girl. She laughed and said, "Don't you recognize me, I'm [the name of my little sister, who is now in her mid-forties]".

Later that day, I was thinking about the dream and the song and realized that I had it wrong in the dream, that it was "Oh how high the scaffold grows" not "Oh how high the shadow grows", and that I have it on an old Elton John 8-track tape. The rest of the song in the dream was accurate, as near as I can remember.

"Don't you recognize me, I'm [my sister's name]," was similar to something she actually said in early January 2008, when I couldn't recognize her voice on a cellphone that greatly distorted it. Also, one time when she was young she was in the second story of the Sears at Los Arcos Mall, and I was shopping there, looking at the trinkets on some shelves out in the floor, trying to find something for my aunt I think, and maybe my grandmother. I heard two or three young people, early teens probably, perhaps 10 or 15 feet away, giggling about something. It irritated me, as they were sort of looking in my direction and I thought there was a possibility that they could be giggling about me for some reason, though I didn't know why. Later at home I found out that one of them was her, and they were apparently giggling because I didn't know she was there. I hadn't bothered to take a good look at them, so I hadn't known one of them was her.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Wordzzle 85 - Puppetry

This is my contribution to this week's Wordzzle. Wordzzle is a game in which each week word lists, used to create stories, are given on the blog Views from Raven's Nest. Participating users post their stories on their own blogs.

This is my entry number 29, for Wordzzle week 85.

Ten Word Challenge:

early morning light,

The statue of Pinocchio stood in the early morning light, in the mist, watching the people walking by. Pigeons sat upon it, their heads bowed and wings folded, almost as if they were praying. Wet leaves lay around its base, and its feet were sandy, and beside its feet was an overturned paper cup of coffee, left behind by someone and discarded. Someone had written something on its stomach, the words difficult to read now in the dampness. Traffic went by, unheeding, occasionally splashing water on its feet and legs, adding more mud and grit. Mud that would help to glue the leaves together, so that they could not be blown away. And over time, more leaves and more trash would accumulate, adding to what was already there.

No one had bothered to do anything for the statue for a long time. No one seemed to pay much attention to it. No one thought much about it at all.

The statue stood there sadly, watching the world go by. No one knew that it, too, wanted to be a real, live boy.

Mini Challenge:


The cotton candy train was light and fluffy, an admirable job overall, but was it art?

Mega challenge:

early morning light,


The giant wooden puppet knelt above the town, looking at it. It looked more like a jester than like Pinocchio, more like something that should be on a playing card. It was visible through the mist, even in the early morning light, but no one seemed to notice. It watched them, looking thoughtful.

Under its gaze, the early morning traffic went by. People were walking along, sometimes stopping into places for coffee and breakfast. Trains went by, sometimes on time.

A man slipped on some wet leaves and fell, sliding into the street. The giant puppet nudged him with its finger, moving him out of the way of a car. The man got up, his eyes big, glad that the car had missed him, but not seeming to notice anything else.

Inside a building, a man was painting a portrait of a woman. It was almost done. The giant hand of the puppet came in, somehow moving through the walls without disturbing them, and nudged his arm, which jerked and caused the brush to leave a mark on the face, extending the mouth into a bizarre cockeyed grin. The man stared at his artwork in horror, then looked at it some more, tilting his head to one side. He finally nodded his approval, and went with it, incorporating it into the design.

A woman walked into a diner, her shoes sandy, her cotton clothes wet and hanging in folds. She complained loudly about the weather and tried to fluff up her damp hair. A giant wooden finger, unnoticed and unseen, turned the head of a man at the counter toward her. His face brightened and he said hello. Her face brightened also.

Outside, a man prepared to cross the street, his head down, when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He paused and turned his head, but no one was there. A car went by then, very close, splashing him all the way up to his stomach. Had he not stopped, it would have hit him.

A man walked along carrying a bag with several sandwiches in it, and doing an admirable job of eating one of them, when it somehow slipped through his fingers and fell onto the damp pavement. He stopped and stared at it. Suddenly a skinny wet dog came up and began eating it. When it was done, it turned its head up and looked at him hopefully. After a pause, he took out another sandwich and held it out, and the dog, looking a little worried, slowly reached out its head and began eating it.

In the park, the sun broke through part of the mist, and a rainbow formed. A ray of light fell on a statue there, and the birds on it raised their heads, as if finished with their prayers, and flapped their wings and flew away. In the leaves at the bottom of the statue, a cricket chirped. High above the park, wooden fingers manipulated unseen strings, and the statue bent down and picked up the cricket, then got down off its base and walked away.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Word Imperfect entries, Part IV

In June of 2007, I came across a blog called Word Imperfect, which is run by a person known as the Word Imp. At that time, the blog was normally updated every day. After quite a while when new posts were rare, the blog owner has recently resumed a new-post-every-day schedule.

Each day, the Word Imp puts up a new word and a made-up definition, and readers submit comments with their own made-up, "wacky" definitions of that word. The next day, the Word Imp reveals the real definition and chooses three finalists from the entries submitted. Readers vote (in a poll) for what they think is the best one, and the next day the Word Imp announces the winner. The only prize is the glory of being chosen.

This is the fourth group of my Word Imperfect entries. The times given are the approximate times of my posts, in Arizona time (MST), from the clock on my computer.


9:00 PM 7/18/2007

A naiad is a Native American Indian Advertisement, which could be an ad about them, or featuring them, or featuring products made by them, or having one or more of them somewhere in the ad, or even just obliquely referring to them. It may seem odd to have both 'Native American' and 'Indian' in the name, but they were trying to please everyone. As it turned out, they didn't please too many, so it's probably a good thing they decided to concentrate on using the acronym and not spend too much time on defining what it meant.


11:23 PM 7/19/2007

Pyaemia is excessive fear of the number PI. Some fear is normal; only excessive fear is considered pyaemia.


8:57 AM 7/20/2007

A thanatoid is a person in a hurry, someone who "went that-a-way." The name comes from a combination of "that-a" and "toid", with the first psrt blurred into thana by usage.


I missed adding a definition.


8:42 AM 7/22/2007 *** finalist

Ginglymus is a game similar to polo, but played while wearing long stilts instead of riding horses. It was popular for a time in the early 17th century among the English gentry. The name is believed to have originally been something like "gangly master", a reference to the appearance of the stilt-wearing players. Ginglymus eventually fell out of favor when it was realized that the players just looked too silly, even for English gentry.

My entry for ginglymus was chosen as one of the three finalists. It's allowable there to vote for yourself, and I did. I didn't win, though.

The vote count the last time I checked it:

11:52 PM 7/23/2007

Choose a winner for ginglymus
thinks! 50%
stephen 21.43%
wunx~ 28.57%

Total votes : 14


11:57 PM 7/23/2007

Minacious is what fans of the late Minnie Pearl called themselves.

I don't know whether my definition of minacious was a finalist or not, as I didn't get back to the site in time to check.


7:47 AM 7/24/2007

Wampee is a show business term formed from the words "warm" and "pizazz", and is used to describe an actor, a show or a performance that is very noticeably less than it should be.


12:31 AM 7/26/2007

Duumvir is a type of grog that was taken by Vikings on their long sea voyages. It had a distinctive flavor due to the Duum tree (a type of fir) sap that was used to line the kegs. Those who consumed too much of the liquor were said to be truly Duumed.


7:05 AM 7/26/2007

A pergunnah is an old man or woman who has little money or is having a run of bad luck. It originally referred only to old women, as the term is a corruption of "poor grandma", but as the original words became less recognizable the usage spread to include old men as well.

I don't know whether my definition of pergunnah was a finalist or not, as I didn't get back to the site in time to check.


I missed adding a definition.


11:21 AM 7/28/2007

Struthious is a term used in the building trades to refer to a floor, wall, ceiling, etc., being straight and true and not misaligned or at a slant.

I don't know whether my definition of struthious was a finalist or not, as I didn't get back to the site in time to check.


I missed adding a definition.


11:44 PM 7/30/2007

Gimcracks are the fault lines along which the ancient supercontinent Pangaea split apart. They are named after Sir Roger Gimcrack, who did pioneering work in this area.


12:31 PM 7/31/2007

A moquette is a person who imitates the Radio City Rockettes. The name is a cute misspelling of mockette ("mock" replacing "rock" and the result then combined with coquette), with mock in this case meaning imitation. The term generally tends to be slightly disparaging, but in a humorous fashion, and carries the implication that while the person might like to dance like a Rockette, the goal wasn't quite achieved.

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Dream - Ghostly projections

On Friday, May 9, 2008, in the early evening or night, I had a dream about people making ghostly projections.

In the dream, we were in a house with large rooms. My younger sister made a ghostly projection of herself that was paler and less distinct (I had just been watching a Ghost Whisperer show that featured people making ghostly projections). I touched both of them to confirm that I could tell them apart, thinking that I would not be able to touch the ghostly one. I found, though, that I could touch both of them and they both felt physical, which was puzzling.

Then my father did the same thing and made a ghostly projection, including a ghostly pile of 8-track tapes, and I also made a ghostly projection. I joked that I could identify my father's by the 8-track tapes (though we both used to play them in real life). Our ghostly projections then went to the opposite real persons, mine to my father and his to me, and stood in front of them and held hands with them. It's possible, though, that I might be confusing another person making a projection with myself making one.

Afterward, I went outside and it was daytime, but the light wasn't very bright. There was a very old (1950s) red pickup truck, that appeared to have been roughly painted with a brush using the matte red paint used to paint some tools my father sold (though I didn't associate the paint with that paint at the time of the dream). The truck reminded me of the 1955 Cadillac for some reason, though it didn't resemble it at all. It was also very high off the ground, with lots of ground clearance. The interior was not in good shape. I was to use the truck to deliver some things somewhere, just a little bunch of small things, more in the cab than in the bed of the truck.

There was also something in the dream about my grandmother's house in Arizona, about going there.

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Dream - Captured by miniature golf playing mobsters

On Thursday, September 11, 2008, very early, maybe as early as 2 AM, I had a dream in which I was captured by miniature golf playing mobsters.

In the dream it was night, and I was driving back and forth to the shopping center at Miller and Camelback Roads. A lot had already happened, but I don't remember it anymore.

Then I was driving back from the shopping center, toward my house, and someone was after me. There was a little fog, making things indistinct, hiding cars until they were only a few car lengths away. I went to the right and into and through a tall wall of foam, like some detergent-type foam, and tall bushes to a large open area associated with a mobster-type person's house, which was way back beyond it, like a house on an estate. I was worried about trying to hide there because it was so dangerous, but I was trying to elude the people who were after me. They may have in fact been associated with the mobster, but I'm not sure, it may have been something separate.

It was something like a landscaped decorated golf area. The ground was hard and was either paved or had very short grass. I went up a slight slope that was part of a slightly raised area that held a small decorative pool surrounded by a brick or concrete edge. I then laid down there by the edge and tried to be inconspicuous. The foam was fading away and the fog was thinning. It was still dark but there was a thin pale light, perhaps from a combination of moonlight and area lights.

The head mobster and other mobsters had come out and were playing miniature golf or some other game. They were slowly making their way from the house side in front of me toward the road side and then along between me and the road. I could see them and hear them talking and they somehow didn't seem to notice me. I was somewhat hopeful but it seemed unbelievable.

Then suddenly they were there behind me and he was casually talking to me, something on the order of "So, did you really think that you could hide here, that we couldn't see you?..."

I felt he could order my death at any time and it felt like guns were already pointed at me. It seemed that there might be some delay for some reason, that they might let me stay alive for a little while, under guard, but there seemed no way to escape.

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Dream - The plane like a fly, and as Spider-Man I am captured and taken deep under the ground

On Thursday morning, September 11, 2008, I had a dream about a military operation involving a plane like a giant fly, and then I went through a dimensional portal and became Spider-Man, or someone like him, and was captured and taken to a place deep under the ground.

In the dream it was night, and I was in Fallon, Nevada or someplace like it. I was driving through town in the direction toward work and I got to or stopped at the Safeway (the one at the original Fallon location). It was farther from the road in the dream and down a very sharp slope from it. I parked along the road with a few other cars, above the very steep slope to the parking lot.

A plane like a giant fly, with huge diffuse lights on the front where the eyes would be and one on each wing, though one was out, came over the car and landed. It may have turned to face the car as it landed.

I walked down to the store. Girls from work showed up. They were all or mostly all people I didn't know in real life or actually worked with. Maybe some were already there, but I think some were coming in around the time I was. We started going around inside the Safeway (the one at the original Fallon location), grouped tightly together, against each other and bumping against each other and laughing. We were shopping, but I'm not sure now for what or whether anything was actually bought.

I finally thought I had to leave. The mood had changed somewhat. It seemed something was happening. I think maybe some word or indication came that the military was looking for me or perhaps looking for someone else, it might not have been for anyone we knew. I'm not sure we really knew what exactly was happening.

I went back out and went toward my car. Dark helicopters were flying and shooting down beams of light. I was with one or more of the girls still. I almost made it up the slope, but then turned back. A couple of people on foot, up near the road with flashlights, started to come in my direction. I went onto a stairway that went in long, narrow, rectangular circles down into a deep, almost bottomless rectangular room-sized pit. In some places the stairs were very narrow, only inches, though they always had railings. Though it was dark outside, the stair area was lit from somewhere. I'm not sure where the lights would be, but it was lit all the way down.

There was someplace at the very top that the stairs disappeared into, that looked almost like bulging, slightly crumpled white paper. I tried to get up to and through it at one point, but I had to stop then, because it was taking too much time and they were getting too close. I was intentionally falling down the stairs at one point, just supporting myself on the rails and swinging or jumping out past huge blocks of stairs at a time, and then actually outside the rails, just grabbing at the railings to break my fall as I fell past down the endless stairs. The people after me never seemed very far behind somehow. I think I might have then made it back to the top somehow and through the paperlike barrier and to the other side. I did get through somewhere some way.

Then I was on the other side, running and dodging among the various white rooms there and the rows of tall metal shelves in them, seeming to imagine and then see Spider-Man doing it and then quickly becoming him, or at least becoming someone acting the part.

As Spider-Man, I was trying to escape, going over and along stacks of tall metal shelves filled with things, shooting webs and swinging from them, also shooting them at people and their weapons. There always seemed to be a delay when I tried to shoot the webs out and I was a little puzzled at it, looking at my wrist and wondering why it wasn't happening. Then some device or chemical they used on me made the webs stop, my wrists just shot dampness that I couldn't see until the person I was aiming at was covered with drops and wetness. Then they stopped working completely, and my wrists shot nothing at all.

I was trapped and captured, and brought to a strange, middle-aged mutant woman with a body that had odd irregular lumps. She was apparently supposed to read my mind and also control it, to make me docile and do their bidding. The lumps on her body moved around when I pushed at them, like they were just wads of cotton. I ended up with my hand full of dark, bronze colored metal-like needles, slightly curved on one side and perhaps one and a quarter to one and a half inches long, that her body had produced as a defense. I spent some time, then, pulling them out, groups of them at a time. I pretended that she had succeeded in her attempt to control my mind, but I'm not sure how much was pretense.

I was taken far, far underground, maybe brought back to the endless flights of stairs going down, though it seems more like I might have been brought to a similar place inside the barrier. I'm not sure now. We didn't actually use the stairs, we went down through some elevator-like device or maybe even partly through some kind of dimensional portal.

I was taken down to the last few stories, and then to someplace near or on the bottom, where plants were grown to use to make purple dye for toys. At this point the dream was mostly in black and white, though some pale color was sometimes seen. I was a worker doing whatever was assigned, though new people were generally given the most menial of tasks.

I planned to escape somehow when I got the chance. I had some small device that I had picked up or was given to me by someone. The device was supposed to help me escape in some way, maybe overpower the guards (most of the people seemed to either be guards or definitely on the side of them, though), or the device may have been more to unlock a doorway out or open some other way of passage out. It seemed like I would be passing between dimensions somehow when I left. I seemed to become a little afraid to try, though, and wasn't really sure I would.

The place seemed to be mostly a field with rows of things growing in it, though people were also working on toys that were returned or that needed more work before they were sent out. There were boxes filled with them, some boxes three or four feet high and some smaller. Some of the boxes were shaped like houses. Some of the problems were just with toys being improperly colored and color had to be added. The toys were various colors, not all purple, though we were concerned with growing plants that could be used to make purple dye and maybe crushing them and extracting the dye from them.

Then I got away somehow. I got past the people and went to a somewhat higher control area. It seemed that someone else was there first, that someone had come, maybe from the other side of the barrier. They went back after showing me how, but I was now looking through things, at the white wall and the devices on it and looking at the wall behind me and the things there. Some were pipes and some were metal boxes, all painted white. I was looking for a door or some other way through, maybe activating some device or mechanism and somehow slipping through an opening or even into where the device was attached to the wall, flowing into and through it. I had forgotten how it was done. I was worried, too, about someone finding me there. I worried about them noticing I was gone and looking for me. Somehow I finally got through and to the other side.

I was above ground then, in some big building. The building had a lot of lights, but it still didn't seem brightly lit. The walls were dark. There were conveyor belts and a section at the right, from my perspective facing toward the front, with huge bins with clear plastic covers over them, like some kind of smorgasbord. Some of the bins contained identifiable food, but everything in them was kind of dark. The darkness may have been a trick of the lighting used. Workers in white protective clothing, almost like containment suits, were working at them, putting more in some of them. A grainy mudlike substance was in some of the bins and also on a big area of the wide conveyor belt, blocking it.

There was also a contest going on, something about the bins and the conveyor belt, and traveling down the conveyor belt, and people in a hurry to complete it, but I don't remember the details now (I am adding to this last section on December 2, 2008, almost three months after the dream). The high area where I was also seemed to be part of a huge theater, with lots of rows of seats leading down to the front on a downhill slope to a stage.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Wordzzle 84 - Breaking through

This is my contribution to this week's Wordzzle. Wordzzle is a game in which each week word lists, used to create stories, are given on the blog Views from Raven's Nest. Participating users post their stories on their own blogs.

This is my entry number 28, for Wordzzle week 84.

Ten Word Challenge:

cottage cheese,
hard working,
food for thought,
blood drive,
broken finger,
ceiling fan,
pastry chef,

I'm no pastry chef, but even I know that tarts aren't supposed to have blades sticking out of them. Plaster in the cottage cheese is never a good sign either, I thought sadly, as I looked at the remains of dinner, with the fallen ceiling fan in the middle of the table.

The meal hadn't been any hallowed production, but it was all I had left in the house, and I just didn't feel in the mood right now to go get any more. Money was kind of tight, too. I'd been off work for several weeks now, because of a broken finger and the associated complications. They'd had to start a blood drive at the hospital, because I'd lost so much blood, and had an odd rare blood type. I hadn't been bleeding till they started work on me, and I still couldn't understand how I had started bleeding like that. The doctors had never been able to explain it to me in a way that I could understand. I'm not even sure they understood it. Then the finger had gotten infected, and then I'd gotten pneumonia, and then some disease I couldn't pronounce and had never heard of. At least I was back home now. Not that I felt real good about it at the moment.

A small demonic head peered out of the hole in the ceiling, followed by a small demonic body. "Enjoying your dinner?"

"Not too much at the moment, and getting steadily less."

"That's too bad, it looks pretty tasty to me." It crawled a short distance across the ceiling, then dropped to the table and began chewing on one of the fan blades. "They don't make ceiling fans like they used to," it observed. "Ceilings either. Still, it's not bad."

"I don't suppose that there's any chance you could be leaving soon."

"Not really. I'm a hard working imp, and I like to stay until the job is done."

"Well, your job was almost terminated early. I almost didn't make it out of the hospital."

"Oh, the plan was never for you to die, just to make you miserable. I think it worked out rather well." It leaped up on my head, dug its claws in, and started to lick the plaster dust off. Its tongue was long and wet and rough.

"Is there any chance you could do that somewhere else?"

"I can't very well lick the plaster off your head somewhere else, now can I? Silly." It leaned over and peered into my eyes, upside down. "Is there anything at all in there? Sometimes I wonder."

"Couldn't you please just go away?"

"Sorry, it's seven years bad luck for breaking a mirror, you know, especially for breaking that kind of mirror, and we've only just begun."

"Yes, it was an old expensive antique mirror, but I bought it after I broke it, that should have settled everything."

"I'm sure the owner was happy. I'm happy, too, for that matter. Breaking the mirror let me out."

"If you're happy, why are you punishing me?"

"Rules are rules. And, anyway, punishing you makes me even more happy. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself when the seven years are up." It leaped back onto the table and scooped up some plastery cottage cheese and began eating it. It then picked up the whole container and began pouring it into its mouth.

"Look," I said, "I glued it back together. You know I did, you watched me do it. Why won't you go back in it?"

"It hardly looks the same, now, does it? All those cracks and splits. You were pretty sloppy with the glue, too."

"It was my first time. I'm no expert."

"Obviously. Who would want to live in that thing? Not that I wanted to live in it before. I was bound within it, though, by the spell. That was broken with the mirror. You're not going to get me back in there no matter how nice you make it look."

It suddenly turned and dumped the rest of the cottage cheese on my head. "Here, have some food for thought. You need all the help you can get." Then it sat down and wrapped its arms around itself and laughed and laughed, rolling from one side to the other. I sat there and smoldered, cottage cheese dripping on my shirt. The laughter went on and on.

I suddenly got up and left the room, and came back pushing the mirror ahead of me. It was a tall oval mirror, almost full length, on a heavy wooden stand.

"Here! Get in it!"

"It isn't that easy, I told you."

I grabbed it with my good hand and jammed it against the mirror. Nothing happened. It laughed and squirmed around in my hand, then grabbed my index finger in both hands and casually broke it. "OW! Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow..."

"Silly, silly boy. Now you really need an extra hand. Good thing I'm here to help out."

"Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow..."

"You didn't even glue this thing together properly, this big piece at the top is coming loose."

"I had to get more glue, and then I couldn't get it back apart to put the glue on it. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow..."

It pried the piece off the mirror and started poking me with the sharp end, then tried to work the point underneath the bandage on the finger I had broken earlier. I somehow grabbed the piece away from it, gritting my teeth against the pain, and held it far away, behind it. It laughed some more, the sound fading and then abruptly choking off. I looked, and saw that the demon was between the main part of the mirror and the fragment I was holding, and its horrified image was reflected back and forth between them, creating an endless series of small, receding, demons. It raised its arms, like it was trying to fend them off, then it screamed and blurred and somehow went into both sides at once. I saw it now in both of them, pale, almost transparent, writhing around. I slammed the piece I was holding against the face of the mirror and heard another scream, fainter and somewhat muffled. Wisps of smoke came up.

I carefully lowered the mirror to the floor, keeping the piece tight against it. Then I went and got the new tube of glue, put a liberal amount on the back of the piece, and fitted it back into its proper place. The image of the demon, looking very distressed, slowly flowed out into all the separate pieces, becoming more and more divided, and more and more pale and ghostly. I righted the mirror, and the images slowly slid down to the bottom in a jumbled heap, their horrified eyes, locked in pain, staring out at me. They slowly faded out, leaving just a fogged area in the glass, and then that, too, was gone.

Feeling kind of faint now, I made my way over to the phone and sat down by it. I dialed 911 and told them I needed an ambulance, and then sat there and waited for it. My finger had started to bleed again, but so far it didn't look like I would need a transfusion, so things were already looking up. Maybe I would even get to the hospital in time for dinner.

Mini Challenge:

the sky is falling,
variations on a theme,
powder puff,
empty soda bottles

"The sky is falling!" someone screamed, and something hit me on the head. Then something else, and then they were falling all around me. They were just empty soda bottles, made of thin plastic, and didn't really hurt much, but it was annoying. Then some powder puffs started falling. Variations on a theme, I guess.

I looked up and saw a small craft flying around above me. I pointed my finger at it accusingly, then shook my fist at it. It flew around closer and then landed. A strange little being got out and stood by the craft for a minute, then slowly came toward me. It stopped about five feet away. I glowered at it. It looked back for a while, and finally, slowly, its head drooped, its eyes still looking at me. Its whole body seemed to sag. I pointed at the stuff on the ground, still glaring at it. It slowly took out a large bag, made of some shiny material, and began picking it all up. When it was done, its eyes, sad but tinged with hope, looked up at mine. I nodded and gave a grim smile, still glaring at it. It slowly turned around and made its way back to its craft, and put the bag in and got in and left. I watched it fade into the distance with smug approval.

I'm not noted for my bravery, but sometimes you just have to stand your ground.

Mega challenge:

cottage cheese,
hard working,
food for thought,
blood drive,
broken finger,
ceiling fan,
pastry chef,

the sky is falling,
variations on a theme,
powder puff,
empty soda bottles

"Blood drives will one day collect cottage cheese, and these hallowed walls will once again be plastered."

I had no idea what that meant, but so far it sounded good. I had driven a long way to get here, all the way to Broken Finger, Wyoming, to see the guru. I hoped it was worth it.

"You will one day be a pastry chef, and will make tarts in the shape of ceiling fans. Some will say the sky is falling, but you will know better. Never accept empty soda bottles, unless something is in them. It takes no bravery to fight powder puffs, but you will nevertheless need it. Hard working people will make much ado about something, and the production will be sold out."

There was more where that came from, variations on a theme that I couldn't quite catch. Food for thought, but it didn't really answer my question, the reason I had come out here. At least, not as far as I could tell. "This is all really interesting, but what I really want to know is if there is intelligent life elsewhere, and if it has come to visit us. Whether UFOs are real."

"I have already talked at length. Another forty dollar donation would be appreciated. Thank you. My answers float through the air, and find no safe place upon you. They lie all around us, waiting for eyes that see. Sometimes you just have to be hit on the head. That is all."

That is all? "Wait, I still don't understand..."

"Sorry, other people are waiting. Next!"

I left, feeling glum. What could all that mean? It sure wasn't likely that a UFO was going to come and hit me on the head. All that money for nothing. And I had to buy that broken mirror from him, too...

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