Friday, December 30, 2016

Ready for 2017

It has been quite a year, full of personal trial and public tragedy with the endless stream of celebrity deaths. I will be so happy to see 2016 finally end.

The news of Debbie Reynolds passing the day after her daughter Carrie Fisher added further insult to another injury. I pray for their grieving family and friends.

Like so many others I have found myself looking up the biographies of those talented actors, actresses, and musicians we have lost. Yesterday was no exception.

This time I enjoyed a surprising upside. I found the movie clip of Ms. Reynolds singing "Tammy" in the 1957 film "Tammy and the Bachelor". While never having seen the romantic comedy I was happy to learn the tune's origin.

You see, my mother sang "Tammy" as a lullaby during my childhood. It's neat to know that the movie made such an impact on her that she sang it to her only daughter twenty years later.

I'll be sure to call my mom and share the memory. My thanks to nednickerson2010 for posting the video on Youtube:


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Gift of Love

Even though big holiday gift exchanges are a thing of the past, the season got me to thinking about some I have received over the years. Ruminating made me realize how much love has blessed my life. The presents wrapped in pretty paper pale by comparison.

One gift, however, stands out. This delicate artwork has survived three decades, numerous home fashion trends, and three moves. The piece has remained on display throughout them all.

And accompanied by a poem, it represents the lauded emotion in purest (if regrettably ill-fated) romantic form.

More fragile than the thinnest eggshell
Sometimes, as hard to hold as the wind
And more elusive than the unicorm
But they can come true
All mine did when I met you

Merry Christmas, everyone. May the New Year be one of joy and prosperity and, of course, love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Good Day to be Indoors

I am so grateful to be safe and warm indoors today. I feel like a little girl again, snowed in on a cancelled school day. Here's hoping all local commuters are driving safely.

Meanwhile, I couldn't resist pulling out my camera.

Even the Weed at Left Looks Pretty Today
My Sculpture Regrets Not Migrating with the Real Buzzards

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Autumn is In the Air

Ever since I graduated high school and thus no longer dreaded the end of summer break, autumn has been my favorite season. Cooler weather, brilliant foliage, and the anticipation of Halloween are just some of the joys.

There are also the brilliant skies:

Outside My Bedroom Window

From My Driveway

Jezebel Enjoying the Cicadas, Another Fall Bounty

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Darla’s Helpful Household Hint

Stick blenders are great, especially when using the larger food processor is unwarranted. Planning to emulsify a small number of dried peppers with tomato sauce, however, I pictured red splatter staining everything within radius. I looked around the kitchen for a potential cover.

What could I possibly use when the blender’s wand needs a hole?

Eyeing a stack of paper plates gave me an idea. I grabbed the kitchen shears and made this:

Wardrobe Saved!
 As you can see, it worked well. I only used a second plate for the photo’s visual contrast, so our bulk supply should last a long time.

Do you have any tips for preventing a seeming inevitable mess? I’d appreciate reading them in the comments.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review of David Bridger's "The Honesty of Tigers"

How would you like to live your life over again? Surely there are things you would do differently, especially if you could go through a second time knowing how things went originally. It’s like the old Midwestern US saying: If I knew then what I know now…

Well, David Bridger outdid himself addressing this very issue in “The Honesty of Tigers”.

I have actually been stewing a few days since finishing the book, unsure what to write in a review. Obviously I enjoyed reading. But what can I say without spoiling any of the surprises? Well, that decided me to write nothing more about the plot.

Buy this Book. Keep your mind open to the plentiful twists. And enjoy.

ou can find the book here (USA) and here (UK).


Friday, July 29, 2016

Tilly Before and After - A Feline Transformation

Blessed though this household is with two sweet tempered cats, one requires a little more help in the grooming department. Meet Tilly, before yesterday's visit to our wonderful local groomer:
They Call Me Woolybear. Go figure...

And that was taken after I trimmed her ruff a few weeks ago! We've postponed the visit to groomer extraordinaire Renee because leaving the house is stressful when one is a sixteen-year-old pampered pet.

Now she looks like a different cat:

I Just Want My Kibble, if You Please

She no longer appears as if she's gone to seed and about to blow away on a summer breeze. Of course that's not likely to happen given her girth. But she is losing weight with a strict regimen since supermodel thin Luna passed away nearly two years ago, so don't judge. ~grin~ I do adore how she crosses her paws.

Anyone in your household have a recent makeover? No fashion expert, I could use any tips you might offer.


Monday, July 25, 2016

The Liebster Award

I'm pleased and grateful to have been nominated by a very talented writer for the Liebster Award. It's a fun way to spread camaraderie and readership.

After sharing the pretty badge, I want to thank Patricia Garcia. She is positively lovely and you can read her delightful reaction to the award here:

Pat Garcia Book Reviews

Her other blog features some really moving prose. It's the one I discovered when we were part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge and that home page can be found here:

Everything Must Change

Now let me share my answers to the questions posed by dear Patricia Garcia. I hope I was not too wordy. ~grin~ They are compelling questions.

1. What does writing mean to you?

Writing means expression of self, whether through diaries or fiction. In fact the former led to the latter when I realized how well my young self could portray scenes.

2. Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from a combination of memory and dreaming which my imagination weaves together. Basically, I write the way I wish life could be but with a heavy dose of danger and angst not welcome in my reality.

3. Do you write fiction or non-fiction or both?

My intentional focus is fiction, but I still spend a lot of time writing in journals.

4. Do you blog and if so, how often?

This blog, as well as some other group and one separate solo endeavor, never see as much activity as I intend. The April A to Z Blog Challenge is my most active period, for sure.

5. Where is your favorite place or room to write?

I like writing wherever it’s most peaceful. My back porch is a favorite place when the weather is good (especially cool and rainy under my tin patio roof!) and my home office if I’m left alone long enough.

6. Do you have a regular routine, like writing in the morning or evenings? Or do you write whenever it hits you?

I have been guilty of not writing at all lately. My routine is completely amorphous if the muse really prods me. I’ve been known to get up and write at three o’clock in the morning and returning to bed only when exhaustion overtook me. At one day job there were days I stayed late, off the employer’s clock, just to have uninterrupted writing time.

7. Who is your favourite author? What kind of influence have they had upon your writing or upon you personally?

Michael Moorcock is probably my first choice. Elric of Melnibone tales especially, though many Stephen King, Andre Norton, “Ringworld” and “Thieves’ World” series books influenced me greatly. I have always appreciated a combination of angst and romance, continuing to this day.

8. Do current events in the world have an effect upon what you write?

I’m sure they do, though I avoid addressing politics and current world news. I prefer escapism from reality. And real world happenings leave me feeling quite helpless.

9. How often do you read? Do you read books in different genres?

I have not read as much lately as in past but enjoy biographies, science fiction, romance of every possible configuration, and fantasy. My tastes tend to go in waves. Dear friend and author Tina Holland hooked me up with free books from a conference and I’m really grateful because it led to some surprising territory.

10. Please share a paragraph or two of what you are currently working on.

Well, here goes:

“You know what?” I asked softly, barely above a whisper. “I do love you. You can’t make love if you aren’t in love.”

His body tensed. It transferred to his tight, near breathless voice. “Are you sure?”


He said nothing, his face turning from my shoulder to the seat cushions beneath us. I felt awed. Was he crying? I felt certain he never dared show any such vulnerability at home.

11. Where and what do you see yourself as within the next ten years? Will you have relocated? Will you have become the writer person that you have dreamed of being?

Ten years go by so fast and my dreams are mostly relegated to the rapid eye movement sort. So instead let me share how I imagine my much older self, skipping these middle years and  living as a solitary successful writer.

The fantasy: My home is expensive but not opulent, and quite reclusive. It’s either atop some wintry, thunder filled Japanese valley or perched over some isolated beach or overhanging an Alaskan waterway well north of Anchorage (view is key!). I live essentially alone, not lonely. Usually I envision some quiet assistant catering to all my wants and needs. There is always an animal companion whose nature depends upon where we live.


Now I will share the rules of the award, one of the necessary stipulations. There are only five and I took liberties with the order in which I met them.

1. Write a blog post about your nomination, displaying an image of the award.

2. Thank the person who nominated you that includes a link to his or her blog.

3. Answer the 11 questions the person who nominated you asked you in his/her blog post.

4. Nominate 5-11 other starting bloggers who you think deserve this award and come up with 11 questions of your own for them to answer.

5. List these rules in your blog post

Now, for the nominees: 

Jingle Jangle Jungle  - Mary shares great musical trivia and lots of videos 

Kalpanaawrites - Here you can view lovely photographs and read about writing, yoga, and travel

Kurt Nemes
- This is a truly amazing classical music almanac

Rhodrymavelyne - An aptly named Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration with book reviews and shared snippets

Joan Summers
- She shares design and more, especially her delightful travel photos

And lastly, here are the questions I propose:

1. What is your favorite destination, be it local or across the globe?

2. Do you have any extremely early childhood memories? If so, I’d be interested to know what you recall.

3. What is your favorite form of escapism?

4. Does your region/town have a famous attribute? If so, what is it (whether it’s a famous former resident, some large festival, or anything else that comes to mind)?

5. Would you embrace eternal life, given the chance?

6. If time travel were possible, would you move forward, backward, or stay put?

7. What color are your eyes? Would change it if you could? And if so, to what shade?

8. Given the chance to take animal form, what would you choose? Would you prefer being a pampered house pet or something wild and fierce?

9. In that animal state, would you hope for human sentience or existential oblivion?

10. Where would you go as an animal? Would you stay home or roam afar?

11. Do you currently have a project you would like to tout? Feel free to self promote!


Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Amazing Story Generator - A Prompt Ficlet

A friend of mine posed a challenge using "The Amazing Story Generator: Mix-And-Match Creative Writing Prompts" by Jason Sacher. The book has every page divided into three segments. You flip each randomly to create a three part sentence. This is what dear A. Catherine Noon shared on Coffeetime Romance forum:

1. Ignoring the advice of friends,
2: a temperamental sculptor
3: is tormented by vengeful spirits.

And here is my story (sorry it's a little long at 707 words):

The Sculptor

“We failed. It won’t burn. Pamela and I told you, Ian, you never should have painted that.” She pointed without looking at the lurid murder scene.

Ian turned to face his two guests, shadows under his eyes like bruises, almost darker than the brunette coif spiked by restless fingers. His furtive gaze darted from one sister to the other, then fell to the floor. Ian shook his head and threw out his long arms. “I thought if I painted it the scene would get out of my head.”

“And it did,” Pamela replied.

“At least partly,” her sister Patricia added.

“Like we warned you.”

“Is this another I told you so, Pamela? That doesn’t help me.” Their sad eyes met, the sisters holding hands like mourners seated for a funeral. Ian stopped pacing and folded to his tattered daybed across from the small couch. Both women saw how his fingers bunched the denim upon his thighs. “How do I get rid of them?”

“We don’t know,” they said in unison. After a pause, Patricia continued, “But I have an idea.”


“Ian’s right, Pam. Our words aren’t helping him.”

“They would have,” Ian grunted, “if I’d heeded them originally. I won’t ask you to endanger yourselves.”

One of Ian’s early works tilted from a nearby shelf. The movement barely registered to anyone before the bust flew like a marble arrow toward Pamela’s head. She ducked with a squeal.

“Too late,” Pamela opined with a shaky laugh. “I guess you should tell him your idea now, Patricia.”

Silence and wide eyes were the only reply for long moments. Then, Patricia gave her proposal. Ian sat in stunned silence, noting Pamela’s agitation in the way she tugged on the tassels of her shawl.

One week later…

Ian never sculpted a full scene, before, let alone used color. He was a classicist, after all, and this endeavor took him out of his comfort zone of traditional stone media. The sisters walked around the one-half scaled scene composed of papier-mâché.

“It’s eerie,” Pamela breathed.

“You really captured the painting,” Patricia agreed. “How did you get it done so quickly?”

Sprawled on the little sofa, Ian squinted at each in turn. “You think they’ve let me sleep?”

Dropping his head back, he didn’t like the expression on Pamela’s face. He couldn’t read Patricia’s. Fatigue won over both fear and fascination. He closed his eyes, sighing.

“So they do want to move into the sculpture. That’s good!” Patricia enthused. “Then we’ll destroy it!”

Ian’s eyes flew open. Before he could voice his confusion, Pamela protested for him.

“That didn't work before, Patty. Why would now be any different? We already agreed to try a psychic shield around this three dimensional rendition.”

“A shield would have to be reconstructed on a regular basis,” Patricia said, waving her hand. “Ian would be back in danger as soon as something happened and we let it lapse. I’ve found an ancient spell we can use that will work.”

“Then I sculpted this for nothing,” Ian huffed, then sat straighter, shaking his head. “I’m sorry.”

Patricia tilted her head, hands across her heart. “You’ve had it rough.” Standing, she continued. “And no, this wasn’t for nothing. The painting was their entrance to the living world and the sculpture is their exit. We’ll cast the spell over both.”

In the desert, Ian thought the supernatural flames looked just like those for cooking on his grandmother’s gas stove. But the fuel, mostly incantations with some smelly physical components Ian didn’t try to identify, became exhausted long before the cold light extinguished. Of the art, there remained no sign. Sand turned to weirdly shaped glass, much of it shades of crimson and carmine.

Celebration was muted. The sisters trudged toward Ian’s Volkswagon Beetle. With an ever artistic eye, the sculptor palmed some of the small, more colorful chunks. Only much later would he recognize miniature fragments of the murder scene he painted one fateful day.

The ghosts left him in peace, no longer so much as screaming at him through sleepless nights. While he regretted never figuring out exactly how the spirits returned, let alone their identities or purpose, Ian kept the glass chunks until the end of his days.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review of Storywalker by Author David Bridger

Skillfully weaving ancient mythologies and his own imaginings, David Bridger created a fantastical tapestry with Storywalker. He did not just build a world, though. Rather, he devised an entire universe.

The environments vary much as our modern scientists extrapolate existing on other planets. Yet these unique characters are threaded together via very human foibles and failings, goals and gallantry. And also like real human beings they can surprise the reader, sometimes even themselves.

I found myself fascinated by how many historically recorded myths Mr. Bridger mirrored and/or spun in this one tale. Recognizing many, I sometimes laughed out loud – not at slapstick humor or gross banality but the sheer cleverness. A few puns were delightfully sneaky, clicking into place like puzzle pieces.

The story’s heroes, meanwhile, diverge and reconnect as their quest comes to light with the natural ebb and flow of understanding. The reader gains knowledge alongside them, too, an organic construction I appreciate.

Mention of real world politics did jolt me from the fantasy once or twice but I uphold Mr. Bridger’s choice to do so, by all means. I am simply enacting my own right to admit it’s something I find mildly irksome. Those moments certainly did not derail me for more than a few beats, and I respect Mr. Bridger’s humanitarian passions as something which surely enhance his characterizations.

If you enjoy myths and fantasy, plots with a bit of spin, and worlds intricately cast, I urge you to read Storywalker. And my best wishes go out to Mr. Bridger. Himself a brave fighter against Myalgic Encephalomyelitis like Storywalker’s Molly, he is first and foremost a treasure to both readers and fellow writers.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Adventures in Flossing

Lately I’ve been struggling to floss my teeth. It’s frustrating. I want to maintain good oral hygiene but sticking my fingers in my mouth makes me gag some days.

Not fun, though a minor inconvenience. Seems like a puzzle needing solved. So I took stock of the situation. Our floss is mint flavored, which should conceivably aid the process. I decided to really focus on the flavor by pretending I was actually enjoying a mint candy.

“Why not make it a mantra?” I thought. “I’m sucking on a mint.”

But that seemed boring to the storyteller in me. So I added visuals. The chant took off from there.

An entire scene evolved over the brief period. I imagined some of the best things I know by adding I am sitting on a beach. A string of pelicans is flying by.

And finally I ended: I’m sucking on a mint. I am sitting on a beach. A string of pelicans is flying by. The surf is washing over my toes. Sexy surfers are out riding the waves. There is a kite string in my hand.

Focusing and building upon each repeated sentence constructing my idyllic scene totally got me through without any eye watering and potentially embarrassing annoyance. It’s a strange post, admittedly, but perhaps my trick can help someone.

What mind games help you through minor difficulties?


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kitty Call

Thanks to the April A to Z Blog Challenge, I've met several super nice bloggers the last two springs. Today I'd like to promote one of them for a very special reason. You see, she helps rescue needy felines in the Portland, Oregon region.

She officially calls herself a cat woman and goes by the name of Strayer. You may well recognize that moniker from friendly posts on this humble little blog. Strayer had a very successful endeavor recently and now there are some sweet animals up for adoption.

Look at this Friendly Little Doll! Photo Credit Belongs to Strayer

If you are in the area, you can meet Cayenne at the Heartland Humane in the city of Corvalis, Oregon. And here you can read about Kiki, Elton and Lucky and Strayer's heroic efforts.

Wherever you live, if you have room in your heart and home for a pet, please consider adopting from a local shelter. And always be responsible in getting your pets neutered as well as providing them a safe environment with plenty of healthy food and fresh water. The rewards are worth the investment.

What about you? Any furry members already in your family? And if you have both dogs and cats, I'm curious to know how you keep each from eating the wrong food. It's astonishing how different are there dietary requirements.

Thank you Strayer, for all your efforts. You are a blessing upon this world.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Passing On Positivity

For some inexplicable reason I spent this morning feeling anxious. Julia Cameron, whose creativity workshops like "The Artist's Way" aid my attitude in all sorts of situations, would tell me to do the next right thing. Today that meant cleaning bathrooms and mowing the back lawn.

The latter takes only about fifteen minutes, most of our backyard otherwise landscaped. And it would have been wise to head outside before the day heated up. Yet I found myself wasting time playing card games on my Kindle Fire. I needed to break that cycle.

So, what did I do? I turned on my laptop, telling myself I needed to verify which area of the house was scheduled for deep cleaning this week. Of course I'd been right about the bathrooms.

Did I start my chores? No.

I read blog posts. As it turned out, however, Vidya Sury's "Joy is in the Routine" got me motivated. As you can read for yourself, she overcame sickness and frustration with positive action. The lovingly home-cooked lunch she packed for her husband made me both happy, harmonious, and hungry. It was like the sun rose on my heart.

Maybe Not As Glorious As When I Stood Here... ~grin~

Without physical discomfort aside from anxiety symptoms, I got up and got busy. Now it's early afternoon, my home has two clean bathrooms, a mowed backyard, the front mowed, vegetable garden watered, and organic weed killer sprayed where necessary. It feels great.

Now I know that folks with legitimate reasons for depression and/or anxiety may well need more help. This fact only makes me feel more blessed. I'm looking forward to a pleasant afternoon and evening with my partner and cats. I hope anyone reading can say much the same.

Brain chemistry. It can be annoying. Is there anything that helps when your mind mysteriously drags you down?


Friday, May 20, 2016

One Week - An Autobiographical Ficlet About Blessings

One Week

A recent Monday began with a dreaded medical checkup. Not fun, but necessary. I entered the hospital nervously, as much over dealing with people as regarding the procedure itself.

The technician acted professional, upbeat, and friendly. Only when I mentioned something personal did I learn that her demeanor hid sleep wrecking nervousness concerning her profession. For the first time in ages, I hugged a stranger and the social anxiety plaguing my morning faded far away. I certainly don't have to worry about any life endangering mistakes.

Days later I found myself approached by a former colleague at the local gym. He shared delightful news about his son and the fact that he happily remarried a few months back. There was a catch, though. His very ill wife remains in an intensive care unit after months of unsuccessful treatment. She may not live.

I practically rejoiced now over the inconvenience of a preventive medical test. My little family safely awaited me at home. And lifting weights took on renewed meaning. I am healthy and strong.

The next afternoon I stood by my vegetable garden, thrilled to see beet seedlings. Thinning them to one out of three, I was startled by a neighbor approaching. He lives several doors down in the opposite direction.

I heard the lady of the house say his name and wondered again at his appearance without hearing the rest. He replied without turning, words I still did not catch, then she approached. A warm clasp met my arm before she spoke.

"I believe someone broke into our house."

Stunned in this quiet suburban neighborhood's sunshine flooded afternoon, I heard our neighbor confirm her suspicion. Police officers arrived in two squad cards shortly thereafter. At least nobody got harmed, including the family dog.

I left the daughter's sobbing canine reunion in respectful silence. No longer did our rising home security bill seem such a burden.


It's easy to wallow in minor misfortune or discontent, then one need only watch the news to learn how much worse life can be. How often does the fact strike close to home for you?


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Konjac Kraziness

Silly me, I completely blew my proud count on the last garden centered post. There are not six corpse flowers blooming near my front door, but eight! I initially missed the two tallest ones basically within the canopy of my weeping crabapple tree and then failed to recall the two little ones now fading closer to the house.

So I opened a window and took a better photo. Unfortunately, the plants' stink attracted a big flat housefly continually buzzing around my living room. I hate killing them. So we'll see if I can lure the insect out.

Can You Find Us?
Here We Are!
Are you forgetful like me? Especially when it regards to math, I have no head, forgetting a figure a moment later. Be well!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Mid-Week Ficlet

 Fading Rose

“It’s like a slow collapse of words,” Rose said, looking at the kitchen table.

I worried that Alzheimer’s once again befuddled my friend. Deciding it best to say nothing, I did not even try puzzling out her intended meaning. It seemed kinder to simply leave my hands  blanketing hers and give her thoughts a chance to regroup.

“That probably doesn’t make any sense,” she confessed after pausing, “but that’s how I feel. My thoughts have always seemed clear, a speech spelled out on notecards. But now those conversational snippets form a tremulous house of cards. And somebody left a window open so that they scatter in the wind before I can reorganize them.”

Her rueful chuckle pierced my heart. Rose’s gentle humor and artistic poise were the first traits to fade when she had a bad day. This, here and now, was about as good as things got. Mindful of arthritic knuckles, I gave the gentlest squeeze. My vision blurred. I blinked rapidly hoping she wouldn’t notice and cleared my throat.

“Your mother once told me that you spoke poetry before most kids say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’, Rose.”

Seeing her headshake made me regret bringing up poetry, her greatest love and the first skill she lost to this thieving disease. Her eyes met mine, though, and twinkled with mirth rather than pain’s bitter liquid.

“Mama always liked you, Myrna, from the day your family moved next door. You were ten, weren’t you? And so precocious.”

I grinned unabashedly now. Not only did she recall that time correctly but her praise brought back fond memories of her twenty-something self treating me like a little sister.

“You always stood up for me when I got into trouble. Like the countless times I got stuck in your father’s oak tree or when I pushed that bully Mark in the playground once. He left me alone after that, at least.”

“Oh, child,” she huffed, sliding one hand from beneath mine to hide a delicate smirk.

We spent the next hour recalling stories from joint family lore. I left her napping on the window seat overlooking her riotous flower garden. Only dots of white here and there betrayed mild neglect – invasive bindweed seeds blown in from somewhere.

Locking her front door behind me, I imagined her grown children busily tending their own gardens. Their visits were either spent reminiscing like we enjoyed today or driving to Rose’s numerous medical appointments. With that thought I vowed to eradicate the pesky little vines over the summer.

Days later I sadly learned that task would be falling to the realtor Alice’s daughter Maggie, ten years my junior, hired to sell the home she and her brothers inherited. I think half our town witnessed my eulogy.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Fertile Ground

Well, since the A to Z Challenge ended I really haven't written anything except some journal pages. Definitely nonfiction in the boring section. ~grin~ At least we got our garden planted.

Except for our two Earthbox Planters, which received garden center plants, the ground is not much to look at. The bare looking dirt primarily bears seeds - carrots, beets, and something called a watermelon radish which is white on the outside with a red interior. And the carrots should come in various colors including purple and white.

Rows Marked with Bamboo Chopsticks & Some Twine
In the back are some sugar snap peas with a few radish seeds tucked in between. I really hope we get some tasty crops. Meanwhile, it's fun watching the peas reach for the twine-laced tomato cages.

I Want a Stop Motion Camera (!)
As for our tomatoes, they got one of the Earthboxes, a highly recommended growing system. The big one is a cherry tomato variety known as Sweet Millions. I hope it doesn't overshadow the heirloom Mortgage Buster, so named for its creator paying off a $6,000 USD 1930's (!) era home loan. The man received $1 a piece for his plants way back then! My fingers are officially crossed.

Wish the Little Guy Luck!
As for another staple, we like hot peppers. In fact there are two little habañero plants at lower right of the first image. The other two are shown below alongside three jalapeño babies and a larger so-called "super chili".

Waiting for the Sun...
As a smelly bonus, my amorphophallus konjac patch produced a record (for me) six corpse-scented blooms. I had no idea what I was in for when buying one small pot years ago; we half expect someone knocking on our door will believe there is a dead body inside and call the authorities. The summertime foliage of this "voodoo lilly" remains worth the spring odor as the flowers trap their winged protein snacks.

What I Bought in One Little Pot...
And here is what I have now...

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Flower to the Fly
Sorry the flowers are surrounded by so much distracting greenery. My crabapple tree nearer the front patio and centranthus blooms have been here even longer than the konjac. So, here is a close-up taken of one bloom years ago:

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for ZZ Top

I honestly thought there would be at least two or three bands on my iPod that started with Z. I was wrong. And, sorry guys, you are talented but I don’t even have a full ZZ Top album over which to opine. I purchased “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” through, of all things, a Harley-Davidson road song compilation. A cool thing I learned is how they got their name. According to singer-guitarist Billy Gibbons, they wanted to pay tribute to the great blues guitarist BB King and planned to use the name ZZ King until fear of confusion instigated the change.

Ultimately I am blessed that every letter does have representation. Thanks for playing along. I hope you enjoyed my humble take on the A-Z Blog Challenge.

As for my final mock band name, I decided to end with Norwegian symphonic black metal. And so I give you Zest for Death. I’m hearing Dimmur Borgir in my head as I type it. You can view the lead singer's image at bottom.

* Notice: I anticipate restricted Internet access for several days at least as the challenge comes toward a close. So please excuse me if I do not reply to your comment anytime soon. My online activity is currently restricted to reading and commenting on others’ blogs. Thank you for expressing interest in my frivolous entries!
Shagrath - By Shadowgate - originally posted to Flickr as Dimmu Borgir 18, CC BY 2.0,

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yellow Fried Chickenz

This side project, headed by J-pop superstar Gackt, started as a solo endeavor before turning into a vaunted touring group. I basically had to buy the album “Yellow Fried Chickenz I” because I adore Gackt. The guys traveled not only Japan but sold out venues across Europe. Too bad they didn’t tour the United States. I thank Rokkyuu Magazine for the image at bottom.

As for a mock band name, how about Yesterday’s News? It makes me think of Huey Lewis and the News but I learned that the name is a song title by an alternative country band, so maybe they are a Whiskeytown tribute group.

* Notice: I anticipate restricted Internet access for several days at least as the challenge comes toward a close. So please excuse me if I do not reply to your comment anytime soon. My online activity is currently restricted to reading and commenting on others’ blogs. Thank you for expressing interest in my frivolous entries! Now, please enjoy the eye candy below.

Gackt Stands Far Right (the long-haired blond fellow third from right is Gackt's incomparable guitarist with the stage name Chachamaru)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for The xx

I didn’t even recognize this name, my sole representation of the letter X. I listened to The xx song “VCR” and realized they are featured on one of my most meditative albums, “Save it for a Rainy Day”. I listened to it while a neighbor’s tree removal ruined my familiar peace and quiet. Tension truly did slip away.

Today’s mock group name is not so imaginative, titled X-Ray Fantasy. I’ve decided they would play heavily digitized tunes with cynically suggestive lyrics like the Norwegian band Combichrist. Wikipedia describes their music as aggrotech, in fact, a fitting description.

* Notice: I anticipate restricted Internet access for several days at least as the challenge comes toward a close. So please excuse me if I do not reply to your comment anytime soon. My online activity is currently restricted to reading and commenting on others’ posts. Thank you for expressing interest in my frivolous entries!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Tom Waits

Mr. Waits is the single true solo artist I featured this month and a stark departure from most of what I've shared. Nikki Sixx, lyricist and bass play from Mötley Crüe, recommended him in an article a few years back. Weeks later, I read that Johnny Depp is another purported Tom Waits fan but by that time I already owned three of his albums. His voice was described by music critic Daniel Durchholz as “sounding like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.” I thank The Epistle of Jim for posting the quote (and some music clips!). Recently Mr. Waits featured on a tribute album to Blind Willie Johnson, one of the most influential blues artists of all time. If you want to hear this unconventional master, here is his take on Mr. Johnson’s  "What is the Soul of a Man".

In honor of Mississippi Delta Blues, today’s feaux group could feature on “God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson”. I’ll call them Walking the Word.

* Notice: I anticipate restricted Internet access for several days at least as the challenge comes toward a close. So please excuse me if I do not reply to your comment anytime soon. My online activity is currently restricted to reading and commenting on others’ blogs. Thank you for expressing interest in my frivolous entries!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Vampire Weekend

I have to admit, the name Vampire Weekend enticed me as much as the first single played over the airwaves. Then I heard the tune “Oxford Comma”, which this fussy writer still embraces. That sealed the deal for my owning their self titled 2008 release.

I thought of the awesome band Audioslave when I concocted this mock title of Volume Junkies. Are you familiar with Audioslave? For some mysterious reason, I don’t own a single tune of theirs. Time to go shopping?

* Notice: I anticipate restricted Internet access for several days at least as the challenge comes toward a close. So please excuse me if I do not reply to your comment anytime soon. My online activity is currently restricted to reading and commenting on others’ blogs. Thank you for expressing interest in my frivolous entries!

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for The Urge

I own a lot of movie soundtracks. Many times they evoke the visual impact of the flicks and The Urge title “It’s My Time to Fly” is a perfect example. That “Titan AE” soundtrack got me through a lot of groggy, discontented mornings at my previous day job. A Wikipedia search on The Urge pulled up an article listing people from Missouri. Criminal. Perhaps it's time I search for more tunes.

Anyway, the current craze over the undead returning to life inspired today’s mock band Union of Zombies. I like to imagine them playing toe tapping tunes with dark messages much like my beloved The Bravery, whom I discovered by luck when they opened for Incubus one summer.

* Notice: I anticipate restricted Internet access for several days at least as the challenge comes toward a close. So please excuse me if I do not reply to your comment anytime soon. My online activity is currently restricted to reading and commenting on others’ blogs. Thank you for expressing interest in my frivolous entries!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Tangerine Dream

Tangerine Dream’s purely instrumental contribution to the eighties flick “Risky Business” is a big reason I bought that soundtrack. But I learned that this is just the tip of the iceberg, if you will. Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that these German artists have produced over a hundred albums! Time to check out one or two, eh?

Troubled Puppets is my mock group for the letter T. I haven’t decided what type of music they play, but I’m picturing those so-called fabricated Americans from the 2002 sitcom “Greg the Bunny”. Seth Green acting with puppets is a joy to behold. Too bad the network mishandled things and it only lasted one year.


Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Seeed

I found this talented gang thanks to my partner discovering German solo artist Peter Fox. This dynamo sings lead on a lot of Seeed’s songs. And no, the extra E is not a typo, by the way. Their offbeat material is a real treat and makes for a great workout play-list. I hope other club members don't mind me dancing a little. ~grin~ Expect irreverent lyrics and a great reggae beat. Yes. German reggae. Sung in English. Amazing stuff.

My mock group bears the name Papercut, though their music is not nearly so annoying. I’ve decided they have a female drummer who could hold her own with Godsmack’s talented guy Shannon Larkin. I guess his unlikely first name inspired me to imagine this drummer female.

Um... I'm a goofball. Thank you, Liz A. for pointing out that I somehow used the letter P for my phony group. How about Shannon's Papercut? ~grin~ Guess I was daydreaming when I posted this.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Rollins Band

Front man Henry Rollins is perhaps better known for his television and movie appearances than his music. I appreciate his take on both, though I only have two Rollins Band songs thanks to still more movie soundtracks (1994's "The Crow" is a particularly favorite film with awesome music all around). If you get the chance, I advise seeing his live talk shows. The man is a notable writer and speaker.

Today, as well, please enjoy the musical stylings of my mock band Robot Monkeys. Finger Eleven inspired this by their original name, The Rainbow Butt Monkeys. That still cracks up the juvenile boy in me. And Finger Eleven is a fun live act. But there I go, cheating again. I didn’t mean to do a double post.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Q Lazzarus & Garvey

Honestly I planned to write about Queens of the Stone Age. Yet I found myself drawn to Q Lazzarus & Garvey for the tune “Goodbye, Horses” that I enjoy from the “Clerks II” movie soundtrack. Ironically, my only two Queens of the Stone Age songs are also on yet two more soundtracks. I hope this post doesn’t seem like cheating. ~grin~ Both are worth a listen, though very different in sound.

For my mock band, let’s hear from Question Authority. I like to think they would be appropriate as openers for Stone Sour. Corey Taylor's penchant for on-stage political rhetoric fits with the moniker, for sure.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Podunk

A decade or so ago I attended a show with some friends when these Texas natives opened the venue. I cannot recall who we went to see, though Alabama is the name that comes to mind. Anyway, I bought Podunk’s self titled album right away as well as subsequent recordings. They have uplifting yet bittersweet music much like the great band Tesla.

Today’s made up band goes by the stingingly rude moniker Pepper Spray. They won’t make you tear up, though, unless you perhaps get injured thrashing around in the mosh pit in front of their hard rocking stage. I’m thinking of the real group Mindless Self Indulgence here. MSI's James Euringer (AKA Jimmy Urine) is entertainingly rude to his own audience. It’s a hoot, and The Birthday Massacre (see the letter B) opened for them, my initial introduction to that group. ~grin~ I can't help bringing up some of these fun bands more than once.


Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Otep

Otep is a wonderful addition to my relatively small collection of female singers' albums. Songstress Otep Shamaya will raise the hair on the back of your neck with lyrics spotlighting survivors of domestic violence. And she can scream and growl as wonderfully well as Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows’ early recordings showcase. I own Otep's entire catalog.

Origin Story is my fake band. I want to front this one and tell the world all about how to be yourself just like Marilyn Manson with his confrontational yet inspiring (if you really listen) lyrics. Go MM! ~snicker~ Sorry. Just had to work them into this...


Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for the New York Dolls

If you want to discuss glam rock you can’t ignore the New York Dolls. Their proto-punk sound is a little too fast paced for me, but I am still glad I own the debut album that Wikipedia describes as one of the most popular cult records in rock. Amusingly, front man David Johansen portrayed the ghost of Christmas past in 1988’s “Scrooged” with Bill Murray.

By contrast, I made up the band name Nerve for the letter N. Imagine with me a band displaying Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails “Downward Spiral” sensibility with a slightly less industrial sound but similar moodiness. Would you check them out?


Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Mindless Self Indulgence

Anyone who knows me at all hears me talk about Marilyn Manson. And while you should check out the music if you’re unfamiliar, I decided to talk about a band fewer folks know. My partner discovered Mindless Self Indulgence years ago while I shopped shirts at a Hot Topic store. The album cover for "Another Mindless Rip Off" caught his eye, to be sure (see at bottom). As I will revisit in my post for the letter P, they are a hoot to witness live, with the lead singer actually teasing their own fans in a good humored way. During one show we sat in the balcony in padded recliners and learned later that my niece risked her life in the mosh pit.

Mildew is the name of today’s mock group. No doubt you have long since figured out that I lean toward music that is an antithesis to pop culture, perhaps even subversive. So these guys might actually open for Marilyn Manson, who I imagine inspired Mildew's lyricist/bass player to first pick up a notebook and a guitar. ~grin~

By the way, I realized today that Mindless Self Indulgence has a highly processed sound that I usually don't care for but they somehow make it work for me. Maybe because it's so over-the-top.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for Lucky Dube

Picture a rainy afternoon with a book in your hand. But you want to hear more than the wet splatter against your window as accompaniment. What music do you choose? On one particular lazy day I found Lucky Dube thanks to the reggae music channel. And the atypical song “Soul Taker” creeped me out so delightfully that I bought the album online that very day.

For the letter L I’ve imagined a band name that sounds sort of like a disease - Listeria. Or I suppose the vine called wisteria inspired it. That plant actually cost me some grief because the behemoth never flowered once before toppling my trellis. I’ve decided that this band plays brooding instrumentals accompanied by eerie, melancholy lyrics. Sort of like Otep, I suppose, who you can read about in a few days.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for Korn

The R should be backward and upper case for Korn, actually. In fact Bakersfield, California where the band formed installed a street sign in their honor with it spelled just that way. I find that hometown support adorable considering their heavy music and twisted lyrics. It's good stuff. This is another band that gets my blood pumping still faster while lifting weights.

For my phony band I chose the name Kiss of Death. I’m not sure I really care for it now, days after the invention. But that’s okay. Maybe I wouldn’t like their music. Let’s say their name is tough but the music sounds mainstream enough for prime time. If you like pop music, more power to you. I’ll just be in the corner with my Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson albums book ending Korn. I promise to wear headphones.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for Jem

This music is not something you would expect me to enjoy because anyone following along knows I’m less fond of female vocalists. In truth I picked up the album by way of an auction when I really wanted other items in the lot. Yet Jemma Griffiths is not only a gifted singer but writes some really macabre lyrics. Just finding a female lyricist makes my day. And her voice sounds heavenly.

Today's fake band is called Just Cherry. The name was inspired by a line in the movie “Planet Terror” that came out nearly ten years ago (!), in which actress Rose McGowan played a comically dour character. In the end, she apparently saves the human race. I think this band would play something like the awesome Mark Ronson tune voiced by Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”.


Monday, April 11, 2016

I is for Incubus

I own two albums by Incubus and had a blast watching them perform live years ago. It surprised me when another fan expressed disapproval over their changed sound at the time. I wonder if it had more to do with her disliking change than the music itself. Anyway, later you can read about a band that opened for them who inspired me to buy still more CDs.

{Confession time: I’m old school. I rarely download tunes because I enjoy the visceral pleasure of holding a real case in my sweaty little palm. Besides, nobody can take my music away, unlike downloads.}

Today’s unreal band goes by the name Ick Factor. I like to think their music would incorporate video game soundbites similar to what George Clinton used from the “Mortal Kombat” film for that soundtrack.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

H is for Hollywood Undead

This is another group whose name intrigued me almost as much as the singles initially played over the local alternative station airwaves. I don’t listen every day to Hollywood Undead, but their first album “Swan Songs” remains my favorite. The sometimes shouted lyrics wouldn’t appeal to everyone but make me want to pump my fist in the air.

Halitosis is the name of my phony band for the letter H. Heck, there’s a real band called Saliva. So why not? Maybe they could go on tour together. Of course the lack of oral moisture promotes stinky breath, so maybe that wouldn’t work. That’s your little factoid for the day, by the way.


Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Gorillaz

I adore this group’s first album “Demon Days” from 2005, which still gets me into a funky groove regardless of what I’m doing. The fact that members are portrayed as cool cartoon characters only ups the anty for me. The late, great Dennis Hopper actually laid a fantastical voice track for “Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head”. And who else in the world titles a tune after Clint Eastwood? It’s another alternative radio station favorite.

Grave Robbers is my fantasy band for the letter G (separate from the real band without the pluralization). I can’t help but think of the incredibly talented singer/songwriter/actor/what-have-you Terrance Zdunich who corroborated with other artists to brought us “Repo: The Genetic Opera” and “Devil’s Carnival”, both terrific musical productions. He played a character named Graverobber in "Repo". His wide ranging croon is to die for and I imagine this fantasy group would do his operatic style true justice.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for Faster Pussycat

I consider Faster Pussycat a guilty pleasure due to the blatant sexual content. That said, one track is an homage to the lead singer and bassist of Betty Blowtorch, Bianca Halstead’s tragic death marking the group’s demise. Another reinvents the classic “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” first made a hit by Nancy Sinatra. I adore Ms. Sinatra’s version from the soundtrack of “Full Metal Jacket”, which just makes Faster Pussycat’s take that much more fun.

My phony band for today goes by the name The Frozen. As you can probably already guess, they also have a counter-pop culture sensibility. I think they may write angst ridden tunes similar to The Faint (“Ballad of a Paralyzed Citizen” being one great example). In a cool aside, tunes by The Faint featured on episodes of the creepy television show “American Horror Story: Hotel” last year. What a treat.