Happy Halloween and Happy NaNoWriMo

vint pumpkin head cardMy favorite of all holidays… and my favorite yearly challenge… It’s my time of year!

So for all my spirited, Ghost in the Kitchen-loving, heavenly haunt hunters, poltergeist pursuers, and gremlin getters I bid you –

Happy Halloween!

nanowrimo-Bernstein

I’m glad my spirits are high (and I don’t mean Maestro Martino has gotten locked into another wine bottle), because I hope to begin National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) with a running start on November 1st.  I’m even taking leave next week in hope of a great beginning.

Be sure to ask, “What’s your word count?” because that will help me stay the course and WriMo.  My book for this year is a quirky urban fantasy, called The Guitar Mancer.  I’ll try to tell you a little about it as I rewind the original serial Three Things on the weekend blog.

So to all you writers out there who are taking the challenge this year, good luck and –

Happy NaNoWriMo!

Wishing you happiness and treats, hugs and kind-hearted whimsy, and a purrrfectly, wickedly wonderful Halloween.

cat halloween

 

a happy halloween

Stevie Nicks: Animal Lover

teagan geneviene:

Thanks to Debra for a huge grin on my face, at a time when I really need to smile. This must be a cousin of Cracker the Parrot — grooving to my favorite Stevie Nicks song! How could i resist a reblog?

Originally posted on C-Dog & Company:

Confession time:

I’ve always been a huge Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac fan. As a matter of fact, there was a time when I desperately wanted to BE Stevie Nicks!

Evidently, I’m not the only admirer:

Truth is, the bird dances better than I do. (Remember that great Seinfeld episode when Elaine goes to a party and disgraces herself on the dance floor? Well, Elaine could easily have been me.)

Eventually, as I grew older, and somewhat wiser, I learned this truth: Be yourself; you’re the only self you can be.

Put another way:

If you’re a bird, you’re a bird — be a bird. Flap your wings, and quit trying to bark like a dog.

I know, I know . . . I’m rambling, and you’re asking yourself . . .

WHAT THE HELL IS SHE TALKING ABOUT?

AND WHAT DOES STEVIE NICKS AND FLEETWOOD MAC

HAVE TO DO…

View original 348 more words

Rewind – Three Things Serial Episodes 1 – 5

busy bee cafe signHello everyone — and welcome. I’m delighted to have you here, and I’m happy to be here too.  You see, a week ago I had a resignation blog ready to post — leaving this blog and the serials, and maybe writing all together. Why? Something troubled me greatly when I concluded Three Ingredients Cookbook-2, a Ghost in the Kitchen.  I keep trying to let it go, but a swarm of thoughts like buzzing little bees, kept stinging me.

The most important of those buzzing thoughts is Sanctuary. Not long ago I wrote an episode introduction describing this blog as my sanctuary, my safe place, my refuge. I said that I mean for it to be a safe place for you as well.  Yet some of my favorite people complained about how I wrote the end of Cookbook-2 — and my sanctuary no longer felt safe.  I know no one said anything with malice in their heart, and I know everyone meant well. I’m honored whenever anyone takes the time to leave a comment. So I guess they meant to criticize nicely, but first one complaint and then others had to jump right onto that critical bandwagon. Buzz-swarm-sting-sting-sting!  Can you imagine that stole my thunder? And then some.

Throughout the serials I make a point of staying true to the spirit and mood of the story, wherever the things or ingredients may lead. That includes endings.Black Kettle

I write for the same reason that I read — pleasure. I don’t go into detail about my “9 to 5″ job. It has evolved such that I wear several hats, but chiefly I am a technical editor with executive-level experience. (Yes you will find plenty of mistakes in my work despite that — my purpose is to entertain with the tiny amount of time I have to write this blog, not to be a perfect example.) So I turn off my editor-brain and simply enjoy what others produce. Can you imagine what I see when I look at books, products, and posts with a critical eye?

All I’m saying is remember, this blog is a sanctuary.

Enough said. No apologies necessary — don’t even think about it. Moving on.

I had suggested a repeat of the original serial Three Things, to allow me some time to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is November. I’ll try to give you a peek into my thought process with these interactive serials as I rewind them.

It’s hard to believe that Granny Fanny, Maestro Martino, and Cracker the Parrot all have their roots in the images the words “oscillating fan” brought to my mind. That was the first reader-contributed “thing.”  Using a writing challenge for Episode-2 resulted in some characters who have gone the distance with us.

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

You’ll see that I hadn’t even “met” Pip in Episode-1.  I didn’t know anything about the narrator, except that it was a woman — I was letting the “things” guide every part of the story. Neither did I know the era of the story’s setting. Horsefeathers, it might have been on another planet for all I knew!

As I rewind Three Things, I will include the original episode introductions as well. I feel the things I share about you readers who contribute things and/or ingredients are an equal part of the storytelling. So hang onto your hats Sheiks and Shebas — rewind commencing!

Three Things Serial Story

With “things” sent from readers everywhere

Episode-1

Here begins the “Three Things Serial Story.” Mary kicked things off with Oscillating Fan, but to keep things consistent right 1920s Fanfrom the start, I needed to use three things.  So I took two more “things” from Mary’s last two blog posts: Scent and Cowboy.

Oscillating Fan, Scent, Cowboy

Tic, tic, tic, grunt.  Tic, tic, tic, grunt.  The noise chipped away at her preoccupied mind while she absently gazed at the quiet street below.  It was Sunday, so hardly anyone was out.  A little boy in a cowboy costume came around the corner.  He pushed himself against the brick wall of the building across the street and peeped back around its edge at his unseen playmate.  Then he jumped out with arms spread like a bear to startle his friend, and quickly disappeared out of sight.

Tic, tic, tic, grunt.  Tic, tic, tic, grunt.  The sound of the fan drew her attention away from the window.  Some would find the low repetitive noise hypnotic, perhaps even relaxing.  To her, however, the sound was becoming downright annoying.  A dust bunny skittered out from a corner, propelled by the breeze of the oscillating fan.  The stirring air brought a familiar scent to her nostrils and she looked toward the door.

Episode-2

1920s PhotoPlayCome on now everyone — don’t let me down about sending “three things.”  Words, phrases, that’s all it is; whatever pops into your head.  As an example, I’m taking “things” from The Daily Prompt Today’s was a thought provoking post. They asked what you wanted to grow up to be when you were ten years old, and how it compares to what you’re doing now.  At ten I wanted to be a psychologist.  Can you imagine how well off I’d be by now if I’d had any encouragement?  Ha! But you can’t change the past, so you move forward.

Having a few more “things” helped me see how the story might grow, so I’ve revised yesterday’s post telling it in first person. Now continuing our serial with “things” from The Daily Prompt.  (Even though these things are related, all being careers, I encourage you to send unrelated things if you can.)

Ballerina, Fireman, Astronaut, Movie Star

Burned toast.  That’s what the scent was.  I sniffed the air and stood up behind my desk as the odor was suddenly much stronger.  My new pink cloche hat fell to the floor and I quickly scooped it up and dusted off the nonexistent dirt.  “Oh, applesauce!” The hat was brand new.

I wrinkled my nose at the growing odor.  Really burned toast.  A heavy knock at the door made the newly painted glass shake.  I cringed thinking about how much it had cost to get the frosted glass with my name stenciled on it put in that door.  It was nearly as much as I’d spend on food for a week, but the expensive glass inset proudly bore the sign, P. I. Peabody, Palmistry.

Right behind the knock was a fireman.  And right behind the fireman was a lot of smoke.  He didn’t have say a word.   I swept papers from my desk into a satchel and followed him down the stairs.1920s Fire truck

“Don’t tell me,” I said over my shoulder in a dry tone.  “The ‘movie star’ in 2-C burned her toast again.”

“That and half her kitchenette too,” the fireman said with a lopsided smile.  “But don’t worry.  It wasn’t too bad.  We just want to check and make sure everything is okay before we let folks back into the building.  Procedures the chief always says.  It’s a decent building,” he added with a thoughtful expression.  “You think there’s a vacancy?  I’m Frankie Fabro, by the way.”  He took off a heavy glove and offered his hand.

“Paisley Peabody,” I introduced myself and shook his hand.  “Call me Pip.”

Nope, with a moniker like that I didn’t have any business giggling about anybody else’s name, but I couldn’t help smiling at the thought of Frankie Fabro, Fireman.  Besides, Frankie really was the cat’s pajamas, a real cutie.

I explained that the building was meant to be for offices, but times were tough, so as long as occupants at least put up the pretense of having a 1938 Saturday Post Firemanbusiness and paid the rent on time, the management let them live there.

Because of the pseudo businesses, I had come to think of my fellow tenants as if they were children playing the roles of what they wanted to be when they grew up.  There was the toast-burning Mona the Movie Star, so a fireman might be good to balance that.  There was also the Boris the Ballerina, a graceful but aloof man with a Slavic accent who gave dance lessons about twice a week.  Then there was Andy the Astronaut, or rather Astronaute, as he would correct me.  He was really a writer, but he wrote stuff like Edgar Rice Burroughs – wild imaginative stuff.

As if on cue, Andy came running out of the building.  His glasses were askew and he clutched his screenplay to his chest and chased a few loose sheets of paper down the street when they escaped.

Episode-3

Surprise — a mid-week post! Here’s another short installment of the Three Things Serial.  This time the “things” are courtesy of Sharon in Virginia.  You can view the entire story (so far) as it develops on the Three Things Serial Story page.

Popcorn, Painting, Movies

A sheet of Andy’s carefully typed screenplay drifted to my feet.  I picked it up, thinking how he must love his work.  He had gathered up all his writing when he thought the building was on fire.  Andy really was a sweet guy, but he was head over heels for Mona.  I looked at the sheet of paper.  His typewriter had a broken “M” so the letter had a blank streak across it.  However, it was easy enough to read the title, “A Princess of Mars, A Reimagining.”

250px-Princess_of_Mars_large“Hey Andy!” I called after him.  “Everybody’s going to see the new Fatty Arbuckle down at the Nickelodeon.  You wanna go?”

Andy looked pensively back at me.  “I really don’t have time for movies.  I need to repaint my apartment — I mean my office.”  He walked over to where I stood with Frankie, muttering to himself.  “I think I got ‘em all…”

I grinned and handed him the piece of paper that had floated to me.  He gave me a sheepish thank you and straightened his glasses.

“So’d you write this?” Frankie asked him, looking over my shoulder at the page.

“Yes and no.  Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the story awhile back.  I’ve turned it into a screenplay.  I know there would be all sorts of legal issues, but Mona would just make such a perfect Dejah Thoris, I just had to write it.”

Frankie seemed to be familiar with that stuff, so I let the two guys talk for a minute.  “Andy, there’s no point in painting your place ‘til all that smoke settles.  No more lame excuses.  Come on to the Nickelodeon with the rest of us.  Mona’s going too,” I added the deal maker.  “So you want to go, Astronaute-man?”

He brightened considerably.  “And how!  Okay, Flapper.  It’s a date.”  Then he blushed and stammered, all serious like, “My deadline is self-imposed, so I can change my schedule.”

“You know; if there’s room for one more…  Well… that would be a way for me to check out my potential new neighbors,” said Frankie the Fireman as if in sudden inspiration.  “I’d buy your popcorn.”

I gave him a quizzical look, just to mess with him.  “OK Fireman.  Put on your glad rags and come back around dark-30.”

Episode-4

Our “interactive” story continues with two sets of “things” from amazing friend, Provincial Lady.  But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook — be sure to send me your three things!

(Episode-5 was combined in the same post with Episode-4.)

Gelato, Aerobic, Thunderstorm

1920s Girl Hat 2

A teenaged Lucille Ball — Surprised?

Clouds gathered ominously, so twilight came early.  I worried that Frankie might be early too – and I wasn’t ready yet.  However, the face in the mirror winked at me, or I winked at it, whichever.  I smiled and applied some rose colored rouge to my cheeks, and “helped” my lips into a Cupid’s Bow with careful use of some plum colored lipstick.

I had run into Boris a few minutes earlier as he was finishing what he called his aerobic exercise.  He was limping some as he came up the stairs.  A bad knee injury caused him to give up his career with the Ballets Russes.  Before the sky had even clouded, Boris insisted that I take an umbrella with me to the movies.  He was sure there would be a thunderstorm.  “The knee,” he said, “it never lies.”

Just as I put my lipstick away I heard a man’s shoes pounding up the stairs.  Then came three quick knocks to my door, tap tap-tap.  I practically skipped across the room, and when I opened my “office” door I saw Frankie’s smiling mug.  He looked at the frosted glass inset on the door for a minute, at the new sign I was so proud of, “P.I. Peabody, Palmistry.”  The only other time he’d seen my door he was there as a fireman, because of a small fire in Mona’s kitchen down the hall.

“Hey, maybe you can read my palm some time.  My grandma reads tea leaves,” he said by way of a greeting.

“Hello to you too,” I said dryly.

Frankie looked abashed enough that I let him off the hook for his lack of manners.  Then he held out a brown paper bag that was damp with condensation, finally looking at me.  “Wow!” he said with quite a gratifying drop of his jaw.  “You look swell, Pip.”

“Why, you’re dudding up pretty well yourself, Frankie.  Come on in for a sec.”

When I looked at the bag he exclaimed, “Gosh, I almost forgot!  I brought you some of my grandmother’s gelato, but you’ll have to eat it now.  I mean if you want.  Uh, I mean…”

It was good to know that I could make him stutter.  I stepped into my little kitchenette and got two spoons.  “Only if you help me,” I said, digging my spoon into the softly frozen treat.  “Oh, holy Hannah, this stuff is delicious!”

Ballet Russe

Episode-5:  Slate, Waterfall, Devious

Everybody piled into Andy’s jalopy.  He deviously made a big deal of helping Boris, whose limp had become more pronounced, into the backseat.  Then he made over Frankie, being as he was our newcomer, seating him as well.  Naturally I’d be expected to sit with the fireman, since I’d brought him into the group.  So that left Mona to share the front seat with the little Astronaute-man, as he obviously intended.

Poor Andy, he was so transparent.  Mona the Movie Star rolled her eyes at me in an exaggerated way, but she was a good sport about it as he handed her up to the Studebaker’s running board and then the seat.  Andy tucked a slate-blue plaid blanket carefully around Mona’s lap.  She protested that the night was too warm for the blanket, but she didn’t remove it.  Then he carelessly tossed a matching blanket back to the rest of us, and nearly knocked off my hat.Studebaker

As the Studebaker puttered up in front of the Nickelodeon Theatre the bright lights reflected off the waterfall in the fountain.  The star billing for Fatty Arbunckle was mirrored in squiggly letters in the water.  Boris the Ballerina looked at the theatre entrance with a sharp intake of breath.

“You okay, Buddy?” Frankie the Fireman asked, having been told about the Russian’s bad knee.

Boris muttered that he was fine.  But that little gasp didn’t sound like pain to me.  It sounded more like shock laced with fear.  Boris looked intently at the people going inside and murmured in his accent,  “I thought I saw someone.  But is not important.”

 

Three Ingredients II – 18: Conclusion – Sweet Potato, Wimberries, Worcestershire Sauce

young Lucy blue

Young Lucille Ball

Welcome back everyone! Our previous chapter of this interactive culinary mystery was essentially part-1 of a 2-part finale. And yes — I heard the commotion when I left our three suspects of ill-doing hanging in midair (literally) and basically you along with them. I’m just wicked that way… I really can’t help myself.

When I opened my computer to write the finale, I realized that the “ingredients cupboard” was bare!  However, Lord David Prosser of the the Barsetshire Diaries and the Buthidars, came to the rescue.  He graciously honored Teagan’s Books by providing three ingredients for the concluding episode of Cookbook-2.

Throughout each of these interactive serials, Lord David has been among the most consistently supportive participants. I’m very proud to think of him as a friend. I hope everyone will visit his blogs and browse his collection of published books. Here are just a couple of them. Be sure to leave a Buthidar hug!

Queen's-Envoy_D-Prosser

The Queen’s Envoy

Tall Animal Tales for Toddlers & Up

Tall Animal Tales for Toddlers & Up

      

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I sincerely do try to make this serial unplanned pantser fun and as interactive as feasible. So in writing this ending I let your thoughts and comments take the ending to places where I probably would never considered going myself. Without further ado, I present the conclusion to Three Ingredients Cookbook-2, a Ghost in the Kitchen.  Bon appétit!

18.  Conclusion – Sweet Potato, Wimberries, Worcester Sauce

With Looming Specter

The sight of Caleb Colman the cowboy looming to twice his normal height, with ruby-red fire in his eyes was enough to strike fear into anybody’s heart — including mine.  The three men, 1939 Saturday Evening Post Parrotssuspended high in the air above the hard marble floor were screaming and writhing as if they weren’t just afraid but were also in pain.

Something brightly colored streaked through the open French doors.  Cracker!  She had let herself out of her cage.  I should have known it was too much to expect to drive her home from the doctors Vale without her getting into or up to something.  Fear for the bird’s sake stabbed my heart.

“Cracker, go back to your cage!” I said in a voice that I forced to be calm, but loud enough to be heard over the noise.  So okay… that’s how I tried to sound.  I think I mostly shrieked at her.  For once the parrot showed good sense and didn’t try to get in the middle of everything.

“Twenty-three skidoo!” Cracker squawked with a whistle as she zoomed back outside.

Daisy turned to watch the parrot soar away.  Her expression was distracted, and the look in her eyes was so faraway that I wondered if the spirit was in her right mind.

“I know you,” Daisy murmured to Cracker’s departing form.  “My husband and I watched you hatch, but we made sure the first human you saw was Alastair Wong.  I guess you’re all grown up now, huh?  Is that why you keep coming to see me when I visit this plane?” she asked in a thoughtful tone, but the parrot had already flown out of sight.

Thunder cracked inside the mansion.  The scene playing out before my eyes terrified me for many reasons.  Regardless of what Henry Kingston III and the Binghamton brothers may or may not have done, I was afraid of what might happen if they were hurt or killed.  I was worried about Granny and Kate Kingston — they might come back inside and be caught in the chaos at any minute.  Not to mention Andy, who was right in the thick of things beside me.  I was also afraid for Caleb and Daisy if either of them took things too far.  I wasn’t sure what could happen to ghosts, but I was certain there would be consequences.

1923 Life woman devilish man masksDaisy stood mesmerized by the display.  There was an unpleasant, almost greedy look in her eyes and they glowed softly.  She looked like someone with a thirst for vengeance.  Based on what was happening, that thirst was about to be quenched.

Something had to be done.  I didn’t know if it might cause Caleb to turn his anger on me, but I screamed at him to stop.  If he heard me, he didn’t pay any attention.

“Daisy!” I yelled to be hard above the din.  “You have to stop him!”

“Pip, you don’t understand,” she said in a level voice that somehow reached my ears.  “Sweet Potato, I should have showed you too,” the ghost said and before I could move, her hand shot out and grabbed mine.

I staggered from an unseen impact.  It was as if a huge ball of electricity had blasted through my skull and into my brain. I fell toward the polished white marble floor, but Daisy still had hold of my hand and kept me from going all the way down.  She pulled me to my feet with unexpected strength.  My lungs strained for air — the wind had been knocked right out of me.  Spasms raked my body and I couldn’t stay on my feet. It felt as if I dangled from Daisy’s grasp.

“What are you doing?” Andy demanded of Daisy who looked at him with a mildly puzzled expression on her face.

“I had to show her,” Daisy told Andy, but then she seemed to finally notice my state.  “Oh my goodness!” she cried and seemed more herself.  “Oh Pip, I’m so sorry Sweet Potato!  I just 1936 Girl Horse Cole Bros Circus postermeant to show you the same things that I showed Caleb.  I guess that’s the difference between doing that with a ghost and with one of the living.  I didn’t mean to hurt you,” she said with tears of contrition streaming down her face.

With that extraordinary physical strength, petite Daisy lifted me in her arms as if I were a small child.  She carried me past a table where someone had been making Bloody Marys.  When she turned, my foot knocked over a bottle of Worcestershire sauce.  I remembered Andy calling it Worcester sauce, and how we playfully argued about which was correct back in Florida.

Daisy carried me to a sofa and gently deposited me on it.  With a worried expression on his face, Andy handed me one of the Bloody Marys.  He said that it wasn’t brandy, but maybe it would help.  I managed to take a couple of sips.

All the drama continued around us, buffeting winds, screaming, crying.  I lay back on the sofa, because I wasn’t able to even sit up.  I tried to speak but my brain was too scrambled for me to chain two words together.  So whatever I meant to say came out as gibberish.  You’d have thought I was speaking in tongues or something.  I couldn’t think straight either.  It was as if every thought I’d ever had competed for dominance in my mind.  And my head hurt.  Bad.

Finally one thought lodged into a clear spot in my mind.  Then another fell into line.  My brain was sorting the memory Daisy shared with me all in one electric blast, and putting things into their proper sequence.  In my mind I watched events unfold as if I stood looking over Daisy’s shoulder.  However, I felt most of it as if I had actually been her.  It happened like this…

***

1920s two women garden

Daisy was having the strangest cravings — particularly for wimberry pie.  She had even put on a frock the same shade of blue as wimberries.  Yes, Daisy thought she was pregnant.  She was bursting at the seams to tell someone the news, but she wanted to be certain.  However, she really did have to tell someone.  Surely, she thought, it was permissible if her best friend was the first to know.  She just couldn’t tell Henry until she had no doubts about it.  It would break his heart if it turned out she wasn’t really expecting a little one after all.

Mattie Maddox was in the expansive, well lit kitchen when Daisy divulged the news to her best friend.  Daisy was ecstatic, and Mattie was so happy for her that she cried and hugged her.

Then young Henry burst into the kitchen.  He sent Mattie hopping to some urgent errand that he said his father needed right away.  But Daisy could always tell when the young man was lying.

After the kitchen door closed behind Mattie, Daisy turned to him.  “Henry… You heard,” Daisy had said and it wasn’t a question.

Vintage Tuxedo adAs gently as she could, Daisy finished breaking the news to Henry III that he would have a younger sibling.  She knew that despite how well “King Henry” tried to raise the boy, he had a bad attitude.  Young Henry’s face turned red and a vein at his temple throbbed.  He stormed out of the kitchen without a word.

Then she heard the French doors open.  She heard Henry’s friends come inside from the terrace — the Binghamton brothers.  Daisy heard him shouting to them about her being pregnant.  In his anger he threw a crystal vase to the marble floor and shattered it.  The vase was an anniversary gift from her husband.

Daisy went out into the foyer to settle the young men down.  Bradley Binghamton stood near the door.  By the look on his face he had heard Henry III yelling and stopped there, deciding whether he should go back outside.  Byron was near the stairs with Henry.  Egging Henry on came easily to Byron, and the more the two boys talked the madder Henry got.

She approached the young men and tried to smooth over the situation.  But they turned on her.  They said the most horrible, unspeakable things to her.  She couldn’t keep her tears back and Henry and Byron laughed as she wept.  Henry pushed her shoulder causing her to stagger backward.  He called her a whore and things that were even worse.

Daisy fled up the staircase in tears.  Young Henry bounded up behind her, taking the stairs two at a time.  He continued to yell at her, to berate her for the life he felt she was taking from him by giving his father another child.

Cornelia Vanderbilt, 1924

Cornelia Vanderbilt, 1924

At the top of the stairs he grabbed her arm as she was about to run down the hall to her sitting room.  Henry was in his late teens.  He was as tall as his father, thickly built, and strong.  Daisy couldn’t pull or twist free of his grasp.  The pain and humiliation caused by his words turned to anger when he seized her arm.

Being manhandled was something Daisy could never tolerate.  She was livid when he grabbed her.  She drew back her hand, and with every bit of her strength behind it, she swung to slap his face.  But he saw the blow coming and reflexively pushed her away.

Henry III never had learned to think things through.  They were standing at the top of the stairs when he pushed Daisy.  She toppled all the way down the long curving staircase to the marble floor below.  Slowly blood started to spread on her skirt.  It was a lot of blood.

“We have to get her to a doctor,” Bradley Binghamton told the other two boys as he hurried over and knelt beside Daisy.

“No!” Henry said.  “My dad will find out.”

“He’ll find out anyway!” Bradley told him.

“No… No, he might not,” said Byron.  “I know somebody.  He took care of a girl once for me.”

They carried Daisy to a car, but by then she had lost consciousness.  She woke to the harsh smell of ether and a foggy head, and a lot of pain.  Looking around she saw that she was in a place that was sort of like a surgery, but not like one should be.  It wasn’t very clean, and the space around her was too large.  It echoed like a warehouse.  Then she remembered hearing of a doctor who did free work for the poor at the old warehouse.  It had been used as a hospital in wartimes long ago, so it was usable for that purpose.

She heard an unfamiliar man talking to someone.  “I couldn’t save it,” he said.  “But you didn’t want me to in the first place, did you?” he said with a trace of a sneer in his tone.  “Anyhow, she’s lost a lot of blood.  You need to take her on to the hospital.  You should have taken her there straight away.  I don’t have the equipment or the skills for this.  I’m afraid she still has internal bleeding.  She might not last the night,” he said as Daisy drifted back to incoherence.

vintage queen of the mayDaisy had proved them wrong.  She lived through the night and for a few weeks after that.  Her husband had his own physician examine her.  The man shook his head gravely and would not discuss his prognosis in front of her.  However, Daisy already knew.  She could tell her days on earth were limited.  She could tell something inside was damaged, something the doctors of that day didn’t know how to fix.

She never told King Henry what his son had done, but sometimes she thought he knew anyway.  She tried to get strong again as she lay in a bed next to a beautiful golden and aqua stained glass window in a quiet place where Henry took her to convalesce — he was determined that she would recover, especially with the right environment.  He couldn’t accept what the doctor said.

Daisy tried to be happy for Mattie’s sake.  Mattie never left her side.  She tried to be strong for Henry, to smile and be vivacious so he would feel better.  She was secretly afraid that if he saw how weak she really was that he’d stop loving her.

Finally a day came when she gazed at the luminous colors of the window and surrendered.  At that point the memories that belonged to Daisy drifted away from me, and I had my own thoughts once again.

***

Vintage ghosts several

Chaos still ensued all around me.  It took much longer to tell about Daisy’s memory than it did for me to actually get my wits about me.  Double-sized Caleb still held the three men hanging high above the floor and they still cried out in pain.

After a moment I started to feel a little more in control of my body.  I took another sip of the Bloody Mary and its spiciness was heartening.  I looked toward the staircase where Henry Kingston III was suspended in midair.  I found my voice.

“Somebody has to do something before Caleb completely loses control of his temper,” I said.  “Daisy, you have to stop him,” I repeated.

“The spirit woman looked abashed.  After what she’d been through, and decades of searching the great beyond for the awful memory of it… I figured it would feel pretty good to see someone taking revenge on your behalf.  I couldn’t resent her for momentarily considering vengeance.

Daisy vanished and then reappeared across the room to stand in front of Caleb.  She reached1920s Bride Kneeling up and placed her hand on his arm.  Caleb looked down at her seeming irritated for a moment, but his face softened as he regarded Daisy.  He returned to his normal size, but the demon-red glow didn’t leave his eyes, and the men still hung in the air, although their screams had toned down to whimpers.

“No ma’am.  It’s not right that you finally got a good life, after how hard thing started out for you when you were just a child — it’s not right that these men should be the cause of your dying and go unpunished for it,” Caleb said.

Her hand rested on Caleb’s chest.  I was sure Daisy would never intentionally hurt anyone.  She hadn’t meant to knock me down with an electric shock; she just didn’t know how to handle her new strength.  But I wondered if there was still a part of her that wanted payback.  Maybe Caleb felt that from her.

The spirit woman hesitated, but she squared her shoulders, affirming her resolve.  “Caleb, it isn’t for us to judge.  These men are each guilty in different ways and to different degrees.  However, it isn’t for us to decide their punishment.  It simply is not right,” she told him in a sincere voice.

1877 American Horse Oglala Sioux

1877 American Horse Oglala Sioux

Amid the sobbing from Henry and the Binghamtons I abruptly heard that old pop-fizz sound.  Maestro Martino knelt in front of my sofa.  He inspected me more closely than I thought was proper, but I knew the ghost chef was concerned if he had picked up even a fraction of my fears.  Maestro could do that, at least where I was concerned.  He could detect strong supernatural activity, and it somehow helped him home in on me.

Once he was satisfied that I was unharmed Maestro became agitated all over again.  “Signorina o Signore, this is far too dangerous.  You must leave at once!” he insisted.  “Signore, get her away from this place!”

However, Maestro’s caution was immediately followed by a double-pop-fizz and the ghost chef was no longer alone.  A man — no, I corrected myself, a ghost in heavy white satin robes stood behind him.  A looming specter towered over them both.  That was the tallest man I’d ever seen.  He wore pale buckskin clothes with turquoise stones decorating them.  He had flowing black hair with two white feathers tucked into one side.

Che peccato!  Maestro Martino, you should be ashamed.  Is this how you repay my gift?” demanded the short ghost.

“No, no.  Your Imminence, please do believe me.  I would not piss you off again!” Maestro said.

I was shocked by the Maestro’s choice of words, because I remembered how he told us he came to be cursed.

“But — you see, the short of it is that I pissed off the Pope!  And this predicament is my fate,” the ghost had said with a mournful look.

Wide-eyed I looked at the three newly arrived ghosts.  I wasn’t Catholic, but I wondered if I should try to get up and curtsey or something.  I didn’t know how to act in front of a live pope, let alone a dead one.  And who was the guy in buckskins?  I knew less than nothing about how to behave in front of a Native American authority-figure-seeming ghost.

Movement beyond the French doors caught my eye.  A tremendous cow with long curving black horns paced impatiently, pawing the ground with her steel hooves.  Her red-eyed stare turned to me and she snorted fire.  I jumped and looked from the demon cow to the tall black-haired ghost.  I understood then that he was the one who controlled the ghost-rider curse.Glowing-Longhorns copy

Surely, I thought, that powerful spirit’s presence would register with Caleb.  However, the cowboy remained transfixed in his determination to take revenge on Daisy’s behalf.  Maestro followed my gaze.  In an instant Maestro Martino stood between Caleb and the objects of his retribution.  The cowboy glared uncomprehendingly at the chef.

“Hey, cow-poke!” Maestro yelled at Caleb in a passable western drawl that finally got his attention.  “Incredibile! Non fare lo stupido!  What stupidity!  Do you mean to waste the gift I sacrificed and bestowed upon you?” he demanded in his usual Italian accent.  “Basta!  Stop this at once if you have any respect for this woman,” Maestro said indicating Daisy who stood looking up at Caleb with pleading eyes.  “Would you give up eternity with this woman to satisfy your thirst for the blood of her enemies?  You see the foolishness of that, no?”

Caleb looked at Maestro Martino so angrily that I feared for the ghost chef’s life.  I had to remind myself he was already dead.  After what seemed like a long internal struggle, Caleb’s shoulders relaxed.  Then Henry Kingston and the Binghamtons, suddenly freed from the magic that held them aloft, rushed toward the marble floor.

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920's

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920’s

Maestro’s eyes bulged and he whirled to face the falling men.  He held out his arm and snapped his fingers.  Their descent slowed.  Or rather it slowed until they were about five feet above the floor and Maestro let them drop unassisted the rest of the way.  All three landed quite uncomfortably.

Daisy approached the new, very official (not to mention powerful) seeming specters.

“Please,” she began, looking angelic in the flowing white wedding gown she still wore from reminiscing about her marriage.  “Please don’t punish Caleb.  He only wanted to protect me.  It’s my fault.  I didn’t act quickly enough to stop him before he went so far.  I know that I could have if I had tried sooner.  So this is my fault, not his,” she pleaded.

By then Caleb was behind her.  He took off his Stetson and bowed to the two dominant spirits.  Then he insisted that he was the one responsible, not Daisy.

“Stop it Caleb!” Daisy cried.  “I couldn’t bear it if they made you a ghost-rider again!  I’ve been so alone.  I was unprotected and fending for myself throughout my childhood.  I only had King Henry for what seems like a short time, and we were happy, but then I was adrift and alone all over again.  If anyone is punished for this, it has to be me.  I can’t bear to see anything happen to you,” she said and then looked down at the floor, apparently unable to meet the gaze of the spirits surrounding her.

The ghost in the white satin robes narrowed his eyes and his lips curled inward making a thin line of his mouth.  I thought he looked downright petulant, but I certainly wouldn’t have said so.  Maestro exchanged a look with me and gave a barely perceptible shake of his head.  Was I really that transparent?Michalemas daisy card

When the black-haired ghost spoke, his voice came as a bass rumble so deep I felt it vibrate from my ears to my toes.  I had thought he’d be fierce and furious, but he spoke in a very matter of fact tone.  With a shrug he said, “I see no wrong done here tonight.”  He tilted his head, raised one eyebrow and looked down at the white robed spirit.  “Do you?”

The other specter’s mouth twisted in an unpleasant expression.  Then he rolled his eyes at the much taller spirit, spread his hands and shook his head that he did not.

“However,” continued the buckskin clad spirit with a slow smile.  “I think you could be of service this night, old friend,” he added a suggestion.

At that moment Granny Fanny stormed through the open French doors.  She was fit to be tied, and Kate Kingston was right behind her.

“What do ya’ll think you’re doing in here?  I never heard such a racket in all my life!  We could hear ya’ll all the way down at the gazebo!  Why, your ruckus scared Kate’s cat so badly, I thought we’d never catch poor Marie Antoinette to put her skin medicine on her,” Granny said without taking so much as a single breath.

Vintage Catz Bitters adKate Kingston was carrying Antoinette the Maine Coon cat.  Her arms relaxed at the shock of seeing her devastated living room and foyer, and she let the cat jump down.  Antoinette walked over to the group of ghosts and delicately sniffed their feet.  The cat looked up at the collection of spirits, gave a satisfied purr-meow, and sauntered up the stairs and out of sight.

Mrs. Kingston’s gaze fell on the ghosts; they were all powerful enough that anyone could see them unless they just chose not to be seen.  For a moment she looked at them in doe-eyed amazement.  Then she fainted dead away.

My grandmother took in the chaos around us, the furniture overturned by the blasting wind and the struggles of the three men, the shattered lamp, and my own tousled appearance.  She glared at Maestro Martino as if it was all surely his fault.

Then my grandmother saw all the other ghosts.

Granny’s mouth snapped shut with a pop.

***

Flower petals in white, pink, and yellow floated gently on a breeze that kept them aloft and scattered in the air.  The petal cloud gracefully drifted down the stone path of the terrace that began outside the library of the Kingston mansion.  The petals glowed ever so softly in the moonlight as they slowly moved among us, magically suspended in the air.Vintage girl and parrot

Notes from a flute filled the night air.  The beguiling strains of music were calming yet uplifting.  The music and the flower petals seemed to encircle our small group as we stood on the terrace.  The petals exuded a sense of positive warmth, pleasure, and togetherness to all who were present.

Cracker the parrot swooped away from her perch on a magnolia tree and zipped uphill and out of sight.  I heard her squawk, “Dainty Dish!  Attagirl!”

A moment later the beautiful parrot glided down the path at an unnaturally slow speed.  Strands of pink, yellow, and white blossoms trailed behind her as if they were extensions of her long tail.  The flowers streamed gracefully behind Cracker during her magical approach.  The parrot alighted on a blossom decorated perch beside the white robed specter.

Cowboy Caleb Colman strode slowly to stand beside them.  I thought he looked strange without his Stetson hat.  But he was a fine figure of a man — or rather ghost.  He stood tall and straight, handsome beyond anything mortal.  He still wore western clothes, but they were different from his work clothes, nicer — and they were shimmering white.

As the moon steadily crept lower in the sky, the unseen flute played a loud trill that came from the top of the hill.  All eyes turned in that direction.  Daisy appeared; a vision in glowing diaphanous white.  I thought she could have been a moon goddess as she effortlessly drifted toward us.

A light stream of smoke carried a pleasing aroma to us. I thought it was sage with other floral 1920s Bride n Groom 2scents I couldn’t identify.  Then I heard the rhythmic sound of drums, softly beating.  The tall black-haired specter suddenly appeared, standing before Caleb and Daisy.  His counterpart bowed to the couple, made a motion with his hands.  He spoke something I didn’t understand.  I supposed it was Latin.  Then he made another motion with his hands and backed away.

The tall ghost spoke words that were reverent and beautiful as he united Caleb and Daisy.  It’s just impossible for such glorious phrases to come out of my flapper mouth, so I won’t try to repeat what he said.  Just know that he spoke words that you felt with your soul as much as you understood with your mind.  His speech touched every heart.  I cried.  Granny Fanny cried.  Andy Avis cried.  Maestro Martino sniffled and then burst out blubbering and sobbing so hard that the white robed ghost had to pull him aside and console him.

Cracker flew over and perched in a spot that allowed her to face me.  I could have sworn there was a tear in the parrot’s eye too, but that wasn’t possible.  Was it?  When another tear rolled down my cheek, Cracker hopped over to my shoulder and preened a strand of my hair, trying to comfort me.  I stroked the feathers of her back and she nuzzled her head behind my ear.

The flower petals had floated among us throughout the ceremony presided over by the two high ranking spirits.  At another trill of flute music the petals began to swirl.  They gently whirled all around us, and tickled when they touched my skin.  They grew in number as they lifted above our heads, making a cloud that rose higher and higher into the sky.  Then it exploded into a twinkling starburst.1903 Girl 2 Horses postcard

A faint clip-clop caused me to turn.  Caleb’s horse, always impressive, was transformed into a shining white magnificent steed.  Tiny blue sparks lit the paving stones as he pranced toward the couple.  The horse whinnied softly and shook his silken mane.

Then the horse lowered his head and shoulders.  Caleb lifted Daisy easily onto the steed’s back and held her steady as the horse stood.  Caleb leapt onto his horse’s back in an effortless bound.  They trotted the length of the uphill path, blue sparks flying as the horse built up speed.  Then the horse made a mighty leap and they soared into the sunrise.

I gasped in amazement.  Just when I thought they were gone I heard a whinny above my head.  I looked heavenward and saw Caleb wave his white Stetson in salute.  Daisy gave a genteel wave of her hand and threw something down to me.  I reached out reflexively to catch it.  It was a bouquet of white daisies and red roses.

“Those are for Mattie if you please, Pip,” Daisy called to me.  “Tell her I’ll always remember her,” she said.  Then another bunch of flowers dropped and I had to move fast to catch them. “And these are for you.  Remember me Pip,” Daisy called.

Caleb added his voice.  “Remember us!” they said together.

1920s Bride n GroomThe supernatural glow from the two spirits increased three fold.  The white horse made an intensely bright streak as they traversed the sky, blue sparks from its silver hooves glittering the breaking dawn.

Remember them?  Of course I would remember Daisy the Dainty Dish and Caleb Colman the Cowboy.  I was awed by the perseverance, communication, and trust they had shown throughout the time I’d known them. Then I realized those were three ingredients for success or happiness, or maybe both.

 

 

The End.

***

To celebrate the conclusion of A Ghost in the Kitchen, I’m including two different Bloody Mary recipes.

Video:  Bloody Mary Cocktail Recipe from the 1920’s

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unwhUbwJiLM

 

Recipe:  Homemade Bloody Mary

Homemade Bloody Mary

Recipe and photo credit:  Vintage Cooking.com

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

2 teaspoons celery salt

Wedge of lemon

2 Jiggers (3 ounces) best quality vodka

Generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Several shakes of Worcestershire sauce

3-4 drops of Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

8 ounces tomato juice, chilled (I recommend Sacramento Gold)

¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

¼ tsp. celery salt

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

 

Instructions

Mix both the kosher and celery salt in a shallow flat dish.

Rub the rim of a 16-ounce glass with a wedge of lemon and dip the glass into the dish so that it clings to the rim.

Fill glass with ice.

Add vodka, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce.

Stir in the tomato juice with a long spoon.

Add horseradish, sea salt, remaining celery salt, and pepper.

Stir again and serve this drink recipe with a wedge of lemon.

You may also add a dill pickle, olives, or a celery stalk. Serve with a beer chaser on the side, if desired.

 

Notes

Makes 1-16 ounce serving.

 ***

Skeiks and Shebas, stick around.  These interactive serials are not over and done.  During National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I will rerun the original story, The Three Things.  Then in December we will begin another all new serial. So stay tuned!

Hugs,

teagan

Roy Rogers Trigger

Roy Rogers and Trigger

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

My Workspace Blog Hop

Albuquerque at nightWelcome to the My Workspace Blog Hop.  When smart, funny, and talented, Jo Robinson tagged me for this bloghop I did a double take.  “What workspace? ” I thought.

When I lived in the desert southwest I had a detached house with a little work room I used for writing and crafts.  It was not a large house by most standards, but it was much bigger than the townhouse I’ve been renting since I moved to my nation’s capital.  (And I’ve been lamenting the complete lack of storage space ever since…) So — I don’t actually have a workspace now, but here’s what I do have…

Workspace-1 blog

After hunching over my laptop on the coffee table for a few years, I found this perfect little tilt-able laptop desk on wheels. The photo isn’t really how the laptop desk is positioned. This was just the only half decent looking view I could give you.

Editorial staff 2014

Editorial Staff

I squeeze the tilt-desk between the sofa and coffee table, allowing the table to give me extra “desk” space and (as you see) room for my big coffee mug.  As the day goes on, the mug might contain tea (usually iced), or seltzer with fruit juice.  The coffee table is also a staging area for my editorial staff, pictured here.

When I’ve finished, I roll the laptop desk behind the sofa so that it’s mostly out of the way.

My living room is small enough that I can also run a cable from my laptop to my TV, to stream Netflix or YouTube. (I don’t have a smart TV, so it has to connect to something.) So sometimes I listen to Bob Proctor or Louise Hay or Mike Dooley while I work, for a dose of positivity.

How I Work

It seems like I can’t participate in any of these things without bending the rules.  Since I didn’t have a workspace or a story behind it to show you where I work, I’ll show you a little about how I work.  I haven’t tried any of the writer’s tools I’ve been hearing about. What I developed a few years ago works so well for me, that I haven’t investigated them.  Most of my process is electronic. For longer works I make a detailed spreadsheet. Here’s a snip of the one for Three Ingredients.

Electronic notes

I use “Styles” in word, and use the navigation pane to see an outline of what I’ve done and easily find things I want to further develop. This requires using the “headings.” I make headings for ideas, in the order I expect to use them. Then I convert the notes into manuscript as I go.

Here’s a snip from a work in progress so you can see what I mean. I break the outline structure down more while I’m working the idea, using headings down to three levels.  As I move from “ideas stage” to “draft” I cut back to just heading level-1, because I only want my table of contents to one heading-level for the book.  You’ll get the idea — below I have a draft of chapters 1 and 2, and part of 3, but the other headings are still notes.

Atonement 2 nav pane

Atonement, Tennessee by Teagan Geneviene

“Atonement, Tennessee” click here.

Sometimes I make hand-written notes, but not too often.  I don’t have the time/energy I’d like to focus on anything except work.  Ideas don’t often pop into my brain unexpectedly, since I’m preoccupied with non-writerly things.  However, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an exception to that.  I carry a notebook with me during November, and I keep it beside the bed at night.  I’m not a good sleeper, so once in a while the midnight idea comes along. (I did the draft of Atonement, Tennessee during my first NaNoWriMo.)   Talk about scribbles — yeesh…

atonement notebook

You know how these blog hops work — I’m supposed to tag other people. You have also probably noticed that I rarely find anyone who wants to be tagged. So, as is my custom — Tag — you’re it if you want to be.  Anyone who wants to take up the torch feel free to do so. Hopefully you’ll link back to this post if you do your own.

However, Siobhan Daiko graciously agreed to be tagged. I can’t wait to see what she does. Her general environment is breathtaking and fascinating to me. No matter what her workspace is, I know I will be intrigued.  Visit Siobhan and learn about her excursions in Italy and her beautiful book, The Orchid Tree.

As you saw, I don’t have much to show you for my workspace. No interesting snacks, or anything very inspiring. I just realized I could have taken a picture of my office at work, but that’s even less interesting.  So here are a few writers at work who are much more intriguing.

Hugs,

Teagan sig

 

 

 

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terry Brooks

Terry Brooks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris

Three Ingredients II – 17: Spinach, Carrots, Yogurt

Horsefeathers! This took me by surprise. I didn’t know quite where the “ingredients” would take this story — until last evening.

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Balltake this story or how many more episodes would be needed to conclude this ghost in the kitchen story-line.

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Sheiks and Shebas, I have to tell you — this is the penultimate episode of Three Ingredients Cookbook-2, a Ghost in the Kitchen.  Sorry I didn’t add that subtitle sooner — it’s always been in my head.  That’s right. Next week will be the concluding episode of this story. >
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Your ingredients have taken us for quite a ghostly ride — and a delicious, multi-cultural one too!  The three food related things for this chapter are from the very creative Ishita at Kooky Cookyng. It’s been a while since she contributed these ingredients to the serial’s “cupboards” so she might have forgotten.  I hope it’s a nice surprise for her.
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So that I had more time for writing this episode, I’m also featuring one of Ishita’s recipes this weekend. Her blog also includes tabs/pages with lots of useful information like “Weights & Measurements” and “Oils & Fats.” Spend some time there and enjoy yourself.
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I give my sincere thanks and appreciation to each of you who take time to read these stories, and to those of you who contribute to the “ingredients cupboard.” You make it possible — and you make it fun!
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Need a recap?  Go to the top of the page and click on “Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients Serial Home.”  Without further ado, I give you the penultimate chapter in our interactive culinary mystery, Episode-17.  Bon appétit!

17.  Spinach, Carrots, Yogurt

With Demon

FDR Little Whitehouse banner

The Little White House – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Doctor Veronica Vale had arranged for Marshal Moses Myrick to go to Warm Springs, Georgia. She said the natural hot springs there were perfect for his convalesce.  Cracker the parrot left her perch on the G-man’s chair and glided across the Vales’ living room to perch on the back of the sofa where I sat.
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Cracker dropped a bit of spinach she’d been nibbling on the rug as she flew.  I saw Granny Fanny look disdainfully from the dropped food to the bird.  It sure seemed like the progress those two had made toward getting along had been forgotten.  When the marshal was shot, it looked like Granny and the parrot had forgotten their differences, in their mutual concern for Moses Myrick.  I was surprised to think that might have only been temporary.
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I missed Cracker terribly when she transferred her affection to Marshal Myrick, but I figured that she was helping the critically injured man in that amazing way that animals seem to help humans heal.  So I tried not to feel rejected, and repeatedly reminded myself that Cracker was just a bird.  She wouldn’t intentionally hurt my feelings.
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Veronica again mentioned that the spa didn’t allow any animals.  Cracker bumped the side of my head with hers.  Then she did it again a moment later, as if she was nudging me.
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“I don’t have any treats, Cracker,” I told the parrot.
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“Who’s your daddy?” Cracker asked in an imploring tone and bobbed her head in a way that looked much like a 1920s Woman Parrotnod.

“Oh that vulgar bird,” Granny Fanny complained, reminding me of how much she hated that phrase.
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“Oh Fanny, Cracker doesn’t mean any harm.  Why, she’s downright ladylike most of the time,” Moses said, and his voice seemed to echo the imploring tone Cracker had used.

“I realize it’s been quite a burden for Veronica and Vincent to have to look after me and Cracker too,” the aging law man continued amid protests from both the Vales.  “I’d hate to ask them to keep looking after the parrot while I’m at Warm Springs,” he added and Granny’s expression suddenly became stiff and suspicious.

“I know it was a challenge for you too, Fanny, when Pip was taking care of her.  It’s a lot of extra work for a woman to unexpectedly add a parrot to her household,” Moses said soothingly.  “I know Cracker gets messy sometimes too, just like a child.  Nobody could blame you for not being able to deal with it.”
>

Oh Horsefeathers!  Granny could handle anything, and she’d be the first to say so.  Was the revenuer baiting my grandmother?  He couldn’t have said anything that was any more likely to get a rise out of her if he’d tried!  Had he done it intentionally?  I wouldn’t have advised anybody to get Granny’s back up on purpose, but I saw a twinkle in the Fed’s eyes that told me he had done exactly that.

1920 Home Journal Parrot
“I think the poor bird has missed Pip,” Marshal Myrick went on to say.
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“Whatever gives you that idea, Moses?” Granny exclaimed, agitated.  “It’s just a bird.  She switched her interest to you from Paisley easily enough.”
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“Paisley Idelle Peabody!” Cracker shrieked in a fair imitation of my grandmother.
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Moses started laughing, and then winced and clutched his side.  That was one of the several bullet wounds he had taken when Queenie Wetson’s thugs ambushed him.  “That’s why,” he said, still chuckling.  “She calls Pip’s full name several times a day.  I sort of think, since she’s calling her name the way you would, that it means she misses you too, Fanny.”
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While Granny blustered wordlessly over that comment, I turned to Cracker and scratched her neck.  “Oh Cracker,” I exclaimed.  “Have you really missed me?” I asked feeling oddly guilty — it wasn’t as if I’d had much choice in the matter.  “So do you want to go home with me… if Granny says it’s okay?” I said turning my most imploring and saddest eyes on my grandmother.1920s PhotoPlay

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I waited. I held the hopeful sad-eyed look for so long I thought my eyes might cross.  My eyebrows contracted and I was about to give up.  I looked down at my hands in my lap, unable to hold Granny Fanny’s gaze any longer.
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“Don’t worry Moses,” Veronica finally said.  “Vincent and I will look after Cracker.  It’s really no trouble.”
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“No, no…” Granny said.  “The bird can go home with us.  Paisley, she’ll have to stay in your room though.  And mind you, keep her out of my kitchen!”
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Cracker made a noise that sounded like laughter.  “You slay me!” she squawked.
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Moses started holding his side and laughing again, but I thought Granny’s eyes would pop right out of her head, she looked so mad.

“I remember Cracker Jack Daddy using that phrase a lot,” the G-man said.  There’s no telling what all she picked up from him.  “But I’ve noticed Cracker often says it when somebody laughs.  I wonder if she misses that gangster…” Moses said and his voice trailed away thoughtfully.  “I guess anybody can have a good quality, and Jack Daddy seemed to have taken good care of my girl here,” he said meaning Cracker the parrot.
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Country Gentleman Kernan Sat Eve PostSomehow that seemed to calm Granny’s flare of anger.  Our visit wasn’t eventful after that.  Moses made a big deal over the apple pie Granny had made for him.  But Granny’s apple pies were well worth the praise.  Of course we didn’t have the pie until after the delicious meal the doctors Vale prepared.
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Veronica said Vincent was a better cook than she, and the couple argued playfully about who was the better chef.  Soon we sat down to a delicious dinner that started with a beautiful creamy carrot soup, and just kept getting better from there.  Granny’s apple pie topped off the meal.
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As we were leaving Vincent asked a favor of Andy and me. “Could you kids deliver some medicine for me, first thing in the morning?” the veterinarian asked.  “Bishop Binghamton’s mare is having difficulties, and she could foal at any time.  So I don’t want to go into town,” he said.
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Cracker glided into the dining room.  I wondered if hearing the “Binghamton” name brought her.  She had acted strangely when she saw the bishop at a distance when we arrived earlier.  She’d said “Dainty Dish” when she saw him.  After the things Mattie Maddox had said about Henry Kingston III and the Binghamton brothers, hearing the parrot also connect Daisy, the ghost woman, to them made me really suspicious, despite how nice the bishop seemed.
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“It’s for Kate Kingston’s Maine Coon cat.  Poor Antoinette gets a terrible skin condition sometimes,” Vincent said.
>1920s Vaudeville Cats postcard

At the name “Kingston” Cracker cocked her head and looked at Vincent attentively.  “Fourandtwenty,” she chirped as if the phrase was a single word.
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“What’s that Cracker?” Moses asked, not understanding the rapid speech, but the bird didn’t respond.
>

I could tell the G-man was going to miss the parrot.  It was as if he was paying extra attention to her all evening.  However, I remembered Cracker repeating that phrase when we were trying figure out who killed her owner, as well as when we worked to foil Queenie Wetson and her bootleggers.  She said four and twenty repeatedly and finally we ended up at…
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“Pos-i-lute-ly,” Andy said, interrupting my thoughts.
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“That’s quite alright, Vincent.  If it’s not too late, the children and I can run it over there this evening,” Granny offered.
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“Where do we deliver it?” Andy asked.
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Fourandtwenty!” Cracker screeched.
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Vincent gave the parrot a surprised look.  “The big estate at 420 Kingston Lane,” he said and Cracker bobbed her head excitedly.Vintage girl and parrot

***

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It was completely dark when we arrived at 420 Kingston Lane.  I could hear the river next to us as Granny headed the Model-T up the narrow drive that led to the estate.  Andy started complaining of a bad cramp in his foot.  We were just below where the drive forked with one way leading to the kitchen entrance and the other broader lane continued to the front of the mansion.
>

I exited the Model-T with Andy so he could walk out the cramp.  He limped along and I pulled his arm over my shoulder so I could help him.  It must have been a fierce cramp because I saw a tear in his eye that he pretended wasn’t there.  We kept walking and eventually found ourselves on the beautifully landscaped terrace, where the “parade of pets” was held at the ritzy party Granny Fanny catered as a front for the lawmen’s sting operation.  It seemed like a lot of time had passed since then, but I knew it hadn’t been all that long.
>

Michalemas daisy cardThe cramp finally left Andy’s foot.  We were near the big French doors and we debated whether we should knock there or walk all the way around to the front door.  As we stood discussing that minor problem a blast of frigid air tousled my bobbed hair.  I shivered and Andy tucked me tightly under his arm.  He’d never done that before.  Not to keep his arm there.  Not to hold me that close.
>

However I didn’t have time to wonder about Andy’s behavior.  Softly glowing light drew my attention to the uphill path.  Tiny white flower petals cascaded toward us on the wind.  With the cold breeze, for a moment I thought the petals were snow.
>

When the blossoms settled I saw Daisy at the top of the path.  She was dressed in a wedding gown, but the veil was turned back to reveal her angelic face.  Delicate lace trained behind her on the wide stone stairs.  White satin gleamed in the moonlight and beading glittered with her movements when she glided forward.
>

I realized Daisy was reminiscing about her wedding to Henry “the king” Kingston.  I knew she had a horrible childhood, but her marriage to him was a happy one, and clearly their wedding was a fond memory.  She looked at Andy and me and smiled sweetly.
>

The sound of a horse’s hooves on the pavers behind me caused me to start.  Turning, I watched the former ghost-rider, Caleb Colman dismount an otherworldly steed.  The spirit

Mary Pickford 1920

Mary Pickford 1920

horse whinnied softly.  The cowboy took off his Stetson when he saw me and nodded politely.
>

“Ma’am,” Caleb said and then nodded to Andy as well.
>

Then the cowboy saw Daisy glowing in the moonlight, a beatific specter in flowing white.  He gasped and dropped to one knee.  Hat over heart, Caleb bowed his head then slowly shook it from side to side as if in amazement.  He looked up at the spirit woman on the uphill path and his face was a mixture of wonder, uncertainty, and pain.  A single tear ran down his cheek.

>
At that moment I saw Bishop Binghamton come out of the wooded path to our left, halfway between us and Daisy.  Binghamton stopped to put out a cigarette.  Andy, Caleb, and I were farther down, closer to the kitchen and in the shadows.  He didn’t see us, but he was headed straight for the big French doors and not paying attention.  I don’t know if Daisy would have been visible to him, but he didn’t look in her direction either.
>

Daisy paused when she saw the bishop.  Her serene expression became puzzled and uneasy when she looked closely at the clergyman.  She moved toward him, but he continued toward the double doors and went inside the mansion.  Daisy’s full attention was on the scene within the house.
>

Wind buffeted us.  It was hard for me to walk upright into the gale.  I wondered if we were about to be caught up in a tornado, then I saw the frightening light in Daisy’s eyes.  Caleb saw it too.
>

“Daisy!  No!” the cowboy yelled.
>

1920s Cosmo FebShe turned and looked at Caleb and at Andy and me as if she’d never seen us before.  Then she turned her attention back to the house.  She took another step toward it and the French doors opened as if of their own accord.
>

We ran toward Daisy.  The bishop was standing just inside.  He turned in surprise when the doors opened behind him.
>

Caleb’s presence seemed to comfort Daisy, and the horrible light in her eyes dissipated.  I heard the two spirits whispering to each other.  I didn’t think anyone inside, except perhaps my grandmother, could see them.  Granny Fanny vacillated between disbelieving it was possible for her to see ghosts and actually seeing them.
>

As we moved close to the doors I heard Mrs. Kingston talking to Granny.  She sat a crystal bowl on a table.  It contained something creamy and white.

Yogurt is very good for lightening and brightening the complexion,” Kate Kingston said.  “Just leave it on your face for a few minutes and then wash it off,” she said, but her words died away when she saw the strange way the bishop was acting.
>

Andy and I hurried up to the doors and went inside.
>

“You didn’t open those doors,” the bishop murmured.
>

Daisy followed us.  She turned to Bishop Binghamton, who was still near the doors.  Then she saw his brother, Byron, standing at the foot of the gracefully curving staircase.  Henry Kingston was at the top of the stairs, on his way back down to join his guests.
>

“They’re all right where they were that night,” Daisy said as she stared transfixed by the scene.
>

She blinked and turned to me.  “Pip, I remember!” Daisy exclaimed.
>

Ghostly cowboy Caleb Colman moved closer to her.  “Ma’am?  Are you all right?” he asked, clearly concerned.

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920's

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920’s

>

“I remember,” Daisy repeated and trembled violently, dropping the bouquet of flowers she held.
>

Caleb took her hand.  I thought he meant to comfort Daisy, but I quickly saw there was more to the gesture than that.
>

He grasped her hand tightly.  “Are these the men who hurt you ma’am?” he asked softly, but she didn’t answer.  “Show me!” Caleb said in a firm voice.
>

Daisy squeezed the cowboy’s hand.  Wind wailed and buffeted inside the mansion.  A lamp turned over and shattered on the floor.  The crystal chandelier swayed dangerously overhead.  Voices rose near enough to panic.  The bishop fell to his knees, eyes tightly shut, praying for all he was worth.
>

Caleb bowed over Daisy’s hand and then let it go.  Abruptly the wind stopped.  The room went completely silent and I knew that everyone could see the formerly cursed ghost-rider.  Maestro Mario had made a great sacrifice, giving up countless years that would have been removed from his own curse, just to give Caleb Colman a chance to redeem himself.  Else the cowboy was condemned to a futile eternal chase.  I remembered Caleb’s words the first time I met him.
>

“It’s my curse.  Me and all the riders.  We chase that herd of red-eyed cattle, but we never get any closer to catching ‘em.  And we’ll chase them ‘til the end of time,” The ghost-rider had said seeing the expression on my face.

>
I wondered if Maestro’s sacrifice was about to be wasted.  Caleb looked steadily at each of the three men in turn.  His eyes started to glow a frightening red to match the eyes of the demon heard he used to chase.
>

The men cried out in fear as the spirit glowed with supernatural light and grew to twice his already impressive height.  The wind began again, lifting the bishop, his brother, and Henry Kingston III into the air where they remained suspended while Caleb cast that red-eyed stare at them.

***

Recipe:  Autumnal Spinach & Carrot Soup, the Indian Way

Ishita spinach soup

Photo and Recipe credit to Ishita at Kooky Cookyng

This time I am just giving you the link to Ishita’s blog for the recipe and instructional photos.  I hope you’ll look at many of her creative meals.

http://kookycookyng.com/2014/09/12/autumnal-spinach-carrot-soup-the-indian-way/

 ***

In Memory of Izzy

October 2014

pug memorial candle

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Teagan Geneviene – author interview and review of “Atonement, Tennessee”

teagan geneviene:

Interview & ANNOUNCEMENT
Dear readers… I hope you aren’t bored with me reblogging interviews. But I’m told that’s what I’m supposed to do for “indie” publishing. More importantly, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to take a look at wonderful Christoph Fischer’s blog and brilliant books. My thanks again to Christoph for being such a great interviewer.
>
I also wanted to use this for an announcement. This weekend will give you the penultimate episode of “Three Ingredients: Cookbook-2.”
So stay tuned! Hugs, teagan

Originally posted on writerchristophfischer:

I met Teagan via her amazing blog and decided to check out her writing and I must tell you that
“Atonement, Tennessee”  is a beautiful novel.  51Y6VSVtEuL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_

It’s a new start for Ralda, who just moved to Antonement from DC: a new city with her rescue cat Lilith and a world of possibilities, especially when she first meets handsome and charismatic florist Guy. Since her last disappointment relationshipwise she felt drawn to Atonement and settled in an old estate, which seems to house some odd mystery.
I don’t want to give away more of the plot, but I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed the book with its excellent characters – human and others. For an animal lover the book has extra interest, but the mystery and the supernatural magic elements alone make for a wonderful read.I hope Ralda will have more adventures in further books. The concept of…

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