Home of the Yellowjackets!

Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths.

The home I lived in when I was twelve…all right, near as I can figure, counting on my fingers, that means sixth grade plus or minus a year? ’74, probably. And sixth grade was Mississippi. So dad was still finishing up at Keesler AFB, and we were living off-base east of Biloxi (Ocean Springs? D’Iberville? Some place in Jackson county, anyway, the exact borders of a lot of those little townships were unincorporated at the time. Ask Mom.) Don’t argue with me, spell-checker, D’Iberville is spelled correctly.

Anyway, we were close enough to I-10 that I considered it ‘right in my backyard’, though is was probably closer to a half-mile away, or a couple of minutes for kids on bikes. On the both sides of I-10, pine woods. Streams, creeks (one creek literally pushing the property line in our backyard). Dad raised rabbits at the time; we had rabbit hutches and an Irish Setter. My friends kept turtles, frogs, toads, snakes and pretty much any other living animal we could catch. We spent a lot of time terrorizing the local wildlife.

Enormous humidity, heat. Lots and lots of swampland in a ten mile radius. Skeeters from hell.

Sixth grade would be the Year of the Smart-ass. Miss Pleasance and St. Martin. You see, coming out of a military grade school (quite good) and going to a southern MS middle school (really, really bad)…my first year at St. Martin had me a) competing for valedictorian (finished second, barely) and b) winning the science fair. Effortlessly.

My fifth grade math teacher, Mr. Watanabe, had been feeding me on HS algebra books. Sixth grade students at St. Martin were probably operating around fourth grade level equivalent to anywhere else in America. MS schools were not good.

Miss Pleasance was nice enough, as I recall she was very supportive. Maybe too much so?

I coasted through sixth, seventh and eighth grades. I didn’t crack a book again until college. And if I have any tendency toward egomania, know-it-all-ness; it was born of sixth grade. Imagine I was a pretty damned annoying brat, at that age. Did I ever grow out of it?

Anyway, we’re living in the past, again. If these projects have any serious shortcoming, it’s how often they focus on retrospectives.

RecDave Seal

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We wish you a merry oopsmas?

One of my favorite meals growing up actually began as a mistake. My mother was fond of spaghetti (quick, easy, cheap–who wasn’t?) as one of our comes-around-in-the-rotation-frequently meals. This was back before the big explosion in jarred sauces (Ragu et al), so it was common practice to add tomato paste, water, and dry sauce mixes to make the the quick-and-dirty spaghetti sauces. I seem to remember McCormick as being a big player in the dry sauce mixes, but it may have been some other brand (not important).

Anyway, mom made a fairly simple mistake; reached into the cabinet for a packet of sauce mix and nabbed Taco mix (instead of spaghetti). Mixed it up as usual without noticing and served over spaghetti noodles…and you know, that taco-ghetti bastard hybrid was go-oood!

It’s odd how events like taco-ghetti, char-broiled cat, and burned taco shell last meal for the convict in solitary confinement, stick in the brain when so much else gets lost.

Thanks Mom, for making it all so much fun. Even better for the “oops” moments.

RecDave Seal

The answer is blowin’ in the wind

P1000164John walked slowly, enjoying Sara’s presence at his side and the warmth of her hand in his. Everything just seemed so perfect, from the light breeze carrying the scent of fresh-cut grass to the sunlight highlighting Sara’s golden hair.

A pair of joggers ran past, very attractive young ladies. But John’s eyes didn’t follow, just this once. John was admiring the trees, and a pair of red squirrels chasing each other, chattering. “This is just perfect,” John breathed.

He paused for a moment while Sara sneezed, then wrapped one arm around her waist and squeezed gently.

John smiled as he and Sara passed a park bench, where an elderly lady was knitting a small, red sweater. As they proceeded several steps beyond the bench, the wind shifted and John suddenly found himself helplessly choking back laughter, tears running down his face.

That old woman…oh god, what had she been eating? Oh man that is foul!


Sara was in misery. Poor John, he seemed so eager to make a walk in the park into the perfect date. As they strode together, hand in hand, Sara tried to concentrate on something, anything but the pounding in her head.

Her sinuses were filled, grass and mold and pollen were apparently everywhere in the park today, she could barely breathe as she clutched John’s hand more tightly.

A pair of joggers ran past, looking like tramps in their little tight jogging shorts, and they could both use much better sports bras. Sara missed her twenties, and the perfect tight little body she’d had then, but even in her prime she’d never had boobs to match those. She closed her eyes against the brightness of the sun.

“This is just perfect,” Sara heard John say, and just wanted to punch him hard; bastard was probably looking over those bimbos. A pair of squirrels were fighting, chattering angrily at each other, headed for a brawl in the trees, no doubt.

Sara sneezed and wished for a fresh Kleenex, damn allergies. To her dismay, John decided to side-hug her just as she felt the warning signs of an impending nose drip. God, not now.

As they strode past an old woman on a park bench, Sara tried to force a smile. Don’t think that was very successful, she thought, I’m just too miserable right now.

Sara blinked through allergy-teared eyes as John suddenly broke into a laugh, bent over and…crying? What in the hell?


Lucille calmly knitted the sweater for Timmy, her newest grandson. Counting calmly to herself, her mind drifted away from the knitting as she looked about at the park scenery.

The usual squirrels, trees and joggers. Lucille was a regular; this bench and she were old friends, familiar and comfortable with each other.

The buzz of the lawnmower over the next hill was soothing, another familiar sound of the  park. Lucille like the way the park smelled after the lawn was mowed.

Lucille nodded as two young co-eds from the local college jogged past. Familiar regulars, pretty things, believe they ran through here yesterday.

Another pair of lovers walked toward the bench, Lucille looked them over. Smiling young man, looked happy. But the young lady was frowning, trouble in paradise? Her young squire not treating her right?

Lucille frowned at the young man, her silent appraisal falling several chilly points down into ‘disapproval’. The young lady sneezed violently. And it looked like the uncouth youth copped a feel, and the young lady grimaced in Lucille’s direction as they passed the bench! The poor dear.

Just when Lucille couldn’t have a much lower opinion of this young creep, he glanced at Lucille and suddenly began crying with mirth.

“Well, I never!” she thought, as she furiously began gathering up her knitting.

RecDave Seal

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

Death to Adverbs

Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

Go to a public location and make a detailed report of what you see. The twist of the day? Write the post without adverbs.

Placeholder. It’s ubercold, and I may not be able to get out into “public locations” until springtime (I’m in November, even if the calendar for this post says June) rolls around again.

I’ll do it if/when I can get outside without freezing and remember to, give this post a good solid Round Tuit. I’ll get around too it.

Round Tuit Seal

Engagement and Procrastination, the faceoff

Focus today’s post on the contrast between two things. The twist? Write the post in the form of a dialogue.

“All right, you know that we should be writing something right now, don’t you?”

(unintelligible grunt)

“Aw come on, we like doing this stuff, you’ve said so a dozen times, and even when we’re not actively doing any writing, we’re thinking about it.”

“Don’t wanna.”

“What does that mean, why don’t we want to write for a bit tonight?”

“Hungry.”

“Hmm. Well, that’s a fair point, it’s been a long time since I ate. Let me fix a little something just to take the edge off.” <yum!> “There, tummy rumble has been suppressed with snackage, can we start now?”

“Nuh uh.”

“Oh come on, what’s wrong now?”

“Tired.”

“I suppose that’s a fair point, it has been a pretty long day… Hey! Are you just trying to lazy your way out of this? Not going to let you do that; we need to get started on this assignment, it’s good for us; learning and practicing and stuff.”

“Tomorrow.”

“No, now come on, you know it’s not even bed time yet. What the hell else are you gonna do, couch potato?”

“Yes.”

“No, we’ve wasted enough of our life leaving a dent in the couch, get our fanny perpendicular…how do you spell ‘perpendicular?’ again…oh yeah, there it goes–stop stalling and write!”

“Can’t.”

“Well why not, for heaven’s sakes?”

“Done.”

“Oh. Yeah, I guess we are. Did you do the logo-thing and all the category and tags and whatnot? Facebooky share thang?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Oh for….never mind, I’ll do them myself. Loser!”

(unintelligible grunt)

RecDave Seal

The Drudges of the Meat World

Names may have been changed to protect the innocent.

Wayne is the youngest of the crew, but the boss. You get the feeling he might be advancing up the corporate ladder if not for a highly visible (unmistakable, in fact) tattoo. The one that covers his entire neck (!) He laughs easily and doesn’t flex the boss muscles too often. More importantly, he braves the deepest of colds in the darkest of freezers to retrieve that odd, unsellable case of boar snouts or chicken knuckles (or whatever oddity the clients are asking about) that’s been buried in the deepest freeze since last Spring. And his health sometimes suffers from all of that freezer time; all of the Meat Heads can have that affliction.

Anka (Anglicized  to sound like “Anka”, that is–not many can pronounce the full Polish name properly, and certainly can’t spell it!) is the only lady of the group. She gets teased for her cleaning, when she can resemble the archetypal old polish cleaning woman. She’s…well…busty and hippy, Reubenesque–but not unattractive. If you like your girls really curvy, and you favor Sir Mixalot’s famous prescription for non-Cosmo girls, this could be the lady! She had to move her nametag to keep the customers’ eyes out of her cleavage…mostly, anyway.

Murray is the oldest, but not 65 yet. He works only part-time (as much as his pension allows). He’s large, and dark, and keeps his hair clipped really short (quarter inch, maybe?) It’s greying all around anyway, frosting on the grizzle. He has a big, easy smile, though, and all of the older lady customers seem to like flirting with him (which he denies, of course). The church-going man of the group, he sometimes seems uncomfortable when the humor of the others gets a little too risque.

Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

RecDave Seal

 

Rochester (III)

Rochester was the (for me at 20-something) dream car; cheap, low-maintenance, took a licking and kept on ticking. He was ugly as sin (kind of a puke green, boxy, square-ish body), but I don’t hold that against him too much.

Rochester was a 1977 Dodge Dart. A low-powered but very, very stable slant-6 engine (stock). Bench seats, front and back. Big, kind of cubical trunk. Box with wheels.

But damn Rochester just kept going and  going and going. After a series of costly cars, it was a relief to have one that didn’t suck money out of my wallet every other week. As old as he already was when I acquired him, that was a really, really unexpected bonus. Reliable; feed him a quart of oil now and then, and he just wouldn’t give you any trouble at all.

Rochester was the car I was driving when I met Annie. Thanks to Rochester, I was able to volunteer a ride home when she needed one. (Smooth!) Thanks to that Meatloaf cassette, I didn’t stumble over my own tongue too much on the trip…and thus failed to scare her away. (“Ain’t no doubt about it”).

And he kept us going, without embarrassing breakdowns or incidents, all through courtship. Unlike my other cars, he didn’t even endanger us at any time, what a guy!

We did finally kill Rochester. While driving Annie home in December, Rochester finally gave his dying gasp and blew a rod…that slow oil leak, simple age maybe. He was pretty decrepit at that point. We had to hike across a sub-zero corn field through the snow to borrow a phone (no cell phones, kids!) which was an adventure in Wind Chills…but the nice folks let us in and kept us warm until help arrived.

So remember Rochester fondly, he gave his all for us. :sniff sniff:

RecDave Seal

 

Lights out

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.


 

First Stellar Power Company regrets to inform you that due to arrears payments and lack of response to final collection notice, Sol will be turned off at

 


How do you simulate darkness in a story without describing it?

Anyway, my first instinct was to do something romantic/tragic, like:

On some solitary rock
A desperate lover left his mark,
“Baby, I’ve changed. Please come back.”

–Don Henley, New York Minute


 

Then I remembered Knock by Fredric Brown:

“The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…”

And science fiction just offers a ton of ideas that can be brief as all get out, SF is made for short-shorts.

Thank god I’m not a fan of Victorian bodice-rippers, or something…that would be challenging!

RecDave Seal

 

The Mustang (II)

Between Beauregard and Rochester, there was the Mustang.

It didn’t have (or earn) a name; I didn’t have it nearly as long, nor did it make much of an memory. My really only remaining impression of the car was…crap. It wasn’t even a Real Mustang; it was an early-70s Mustang II. A Pinto with a Mustang-inspired body.

The Top Gear guys picked the Mustang II among the Worst American cars ever made (S5E16), and I must endorse that choice.  All I remember about the Mustang II was how quickly it fell apart.

Ford committed larceny on a grand scale producing this…thing, and they should be ashamed. Less than six months from a car to a piece of yard art. In between, it was a money vacuum, sucking up dollars and producing only smoke.

RecDave Seal

Part III: Rochester

Beauregard (I)

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

Beauregard was a 1971 AMC Javelin SST, in metallic silver-blue. I acquired him (used, of course) for a paltry sum, six or seven hundred bucks, which I borrowed from Pop.

He didn’t have a name, at first. Cars don’t receive names until they demonstrate a personality.

It didn’t take long. In less than a week my brand new (well, new to me) car had an ugly snarl (but not his ugliest snarl–that was still in the future). The first and only time in my life I’ve been front-page news. Please let’s not talk about that though, all right?

Beauregard had acquired a shattered windshield, and a thoroughly crumpled, dented hood. He looked angry, with the snarl where his grill used to be. If I was him, I’d have been angry, too. My beautiful lines!

We got him a new windshield, and pounded out the dents a little bit (well, enough to keep him drive-able, anyway, if not very pretty).

Beauregard settled into “semi-public college buds transport” role fairly readily, and for a while he did behave. But the solenoid went…and Beauregard had to be started with a screwdriver. Watch Dave jump out, pop the hood, short the solenoid to start the car, and jump back in. Fun, right? My buddies seemed to think so, they laughed pretty hard.

He developed slowly-rusting holes in his floorboards. Air-conditioning, in the summer. Even more so (the slush flew up inside) in winter…

Once or twice, Beauregard tried to eject whoever was in the passenger seat during left turns. Didn’t succeed, but he did give it his best try! The passenger door popped open, and we’d grab for whoever the chosen victim du jour was, pull them back inside.

Terrifying. But my friends quickly learned to buckle up! A good habit to have!

Beauregard got his Snarl-Plus Upgrade at the start of a winter break “headed to Chicago” road trip. Icy exit ramp, locked-up breaks, frictionless surface, and a (very expensive, as it turned out) highway sign. But despite the new-and-uglier facelift, we did manage to get everyone home–150 miles north. Somehow.

That epic final road trip was pretty much Beauregard’s Last Hurrah. Too much damage accumulating over time. Too many miles. Too many terrified passengers.

But despite his…eccentricities…I loved that car. Maybe because of his foibles? For every annoyance, every time he didn’t want to start or petulantly demanded more repairs…I had a  lot of good times with some of my best friends, ever, in that car.

Don’t think my college buds loved him quite as much as I did.

RecDave Seal

 Part II: The Mustang