’20 A To Z Challenge – X

 

How do you catch a bear??  You dig a hole in the forest, and build a big fire in it until it burns down to ashes.  Then you place frozen peas around the rim of the hole.  When the bear stops for a pea, you kick him in the ash-hole.

All of which is easier than catching a theme for the letter X.  I recently published a post with references to Utopia, Brigadoon, and Shangri-La.  Since I did not include it there, and with inspiration (and words that begin with X) so thin on the ground, I’ve decided to feature the word

XANADU

a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment.

Xanadu – the movie – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanadu_(film)

Xanadu – the poem (part of it) – By Samuel Taylor Coleridge – actually titled

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

   Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round;

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

The Xanadu in the poem was inspired by Shang-tu, the summer residence of Mongolian general and statesman Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan). You might also recognize “Xanadu” as the name of the fantastic estate in Orson Welles’s 1941 film Citizen Kane.  Coleridge’s fantastic description of an exotic utopia fired public imagination and ultimately contributed to the transition of “Xanadu” from a name to a generalized term for an idyllic place.

There’s everything that you never wanted to know about Xanadu.  After (almost) completing this post, I decided on a likely suspect for next year.  After that, you’re on your own.  The alphabet will only contain 25 letters.  Any suggestions or requests will be gratefully accepted, unless you want an exciting and extended treatise on the development and use of the cedilla.   😳

Flash Fiction #247

PHOTO PROMPT © Alicia Jamtaas

LEFT HANGING

Ah, the joys of being a writer.  At least I’ve identified my Flash Fiction.
Big deal!  We’ve got your number,

I downloaded Rochelle’s photo.
Ho Hum!  After only eight years of practice.

I have a title.
Life imitating art – again.

I have a theme.
Your therapist will be intrigued.

I have a bright, colorful story arc.
Which will not end in a pot of gold!

All I need now is a great finish, a fascinating denouement.  Think, Archon!
We’re sorry!  The inspiration that you are trying to reach is currently binge-watching The Expanse, on Amazon.  Please try again later.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

’20 A To Z Challenge – I

A To Z ChallengeLetter I

 

 

 

 

 

 

have been an inept, indolent idiot, about the A To Z Challenge, for the letter I.  I have not had an iota of inspiration, so I have decided to insert a travelogue.

20 Fun Facts About Estonia

Esto Man

Esto-Man

Careful!  You may end up unintentionally learning something.

You may be wondering why I chose Estonia for this blog.  Since rheumatoid-arthritis prematurely retired Cookie Monster, our Estonian-heritage, ex-chiropractor, he and I and my son have got together about every six months, to sample the various road-house restaurants in the area.  We enjoy deep, socially-significant conversation, lack of female supervision, and delicious, but questionable, menu choices.

Mr. COVID19 has put a kink in our calendar.  We are almost a meeting behind.  I publish this so that he will have something to read in self-isolation.  If it influences him to offer to buy me an extra beer when we are paroled and next visit Montana’s, that’s purely coincidental.  😉  So, here are some non-evaluation related facts you may enjoy about this country in northeastern Europe.

Let’s get started with “tere” which means Hello in Estonian!

Fact 1:
While the official capital of Estonia is Tallinn, the country is unique because it has more than one recognized capital. In fact, it has several capitals that change throughout the year. Tartu is established as the “cultural capital of Estonia”, while Parnu is known as the “summer capital”.

Fact 2:
Estonia was the first country in the world to use online political voting.

Fact 3:
Estonia has two Independence Days. It first achieved independence from the Soviet Union on February 24, 1918 and again on August 20, 1991 after 51 years of occupation. The second date is known as the “Restoration of Independence Day.”

Fact 4:
Estonian is the official language. Russian is also widely spoken.

Fact 5:
The Estonian currency was the Kroon, but they have joined the Euro-zone and Euro is their official currency now.

Fact 6:
Even though Estonia is considered to be a part of the Baltic countries; along with Latvia and Lithuania, there is no real political alliance.

Fact 7:
Estonia is named after the “Ests” who inhabited the region in the 1st Century AD.

Fact 8:
Estonia is the least religious country in the world with only 14% of the population claiming any religious beliefs.

Fact 9:
Almost 50% of Estonia is covered by forest.

Fact 10:
Estonia has a population of 1.3 million and one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe.

Fact 11:
Estonia has the highest number of meteorite craters per land area in the world.

Fact 12:
Estonia is the homeland of Skype, Hotmail and KaZaA.

Fact 13:
All Estonian schools are connected to the Internet.

Fact 14:
Chess Grandmaster Paul Keres was born in Estonia. When he died in 1975, over 100,000 people attended his funeral (10% of the country’s entire population).

Fact 15:
Out of the nearly 200 countries in the world, Estonia ranks in the second place with a literacy rate of 99.8%.

Fact 16:
In 1994, Estonia became the first country to institute the flat income tax.

Fact 17:
They have the biggest collection of folk songs in the world with written records of 133,000 folk songs.

Fact 18:
The Estonians invented Kiiking, which is considered a sport. It involves fastening yourself to an enormous standing steel swing (kiik means swing in Estonian) which has a full 360 degrees of rotation to it. To swing a kiiker, the contestant must pump by squatting and standing up on the swing. The swing gains momentum taking the person in full circle by his skillful pumping.

Fact 19:
Estonia produces quality vodka and boasts Viru Valge and Saaremaa as its most popular brands.

Fact 20:
And, in case you are thinking of relocating, Estonia doesn’t accept dual citizenship.

Hope you enjoyed this. Head aega! (That’s “goodbye” in Estonian.)

 

WOW #61

Syzygy

The planets have aligned, so it’s a propitious time for me to tell you that we Virgos are very skeptical, and don’t believe in all that Astrology BS.  Rochelle’s weekly FF picture didn’t provide me with any inspiration or creativity, but she did donate a lovely word for a WOW post.

SYZYGY

an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet:

A, I, and O (like O Canada, or O beautiful for spacious skies, in America The Beautiful – not Oh!), are the only words in the English language with no consonants in them – although U, in text-speak seems to be coming on strong.

SYZYGY is the longest word with no true vowels.  It is followed by slyly, and the kids, shy, sly, spy, sty, sky, try, fly, fry, why, cry, by, archaic thy, nymph, and lymph, as well as the crafty lynx. (Have I forgotten any?)  For many years, I thought – and I still wish – that it was pronounced sigh-zih-gee, so that it would demonstrate all three possible sound options for the almost-vowel, Y.  Sadly, it utters the more prosaic, sih-zih-gee.

It has a couple of other, even less common meanings:
Classical Prosody. a group or combination of two feet, sometimes restricted to a combination of two feet of different kinds.
any two related things, either alike or opposite.

Does this mean that an ash tray, and a frying pan, somehow have a SYZYGY, because they are both objects in my house that people put something into??!  😯

Ahh, English; that beautiful, yet bizarre language.  You don’t have to be crazy to want to try to learn how to speak/write it.  We will train you.  😳  I am also trying to train you to stop back again next week.  Whoever finds and drags back Erato, my muse, before I need her for next week’s Flash Fiction, receives a complementary serving of French toast.  😀

Flash Fiction #223

Inspiration

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

WHERE’S WALDO?

What’s here? Typewriter? Check. As old as me, but in better shape.
Coffee to rev me up – wine to smooth me out.
Notepad and pencil. Check.
Dictionary? Bah, I know the meaning of every word.
Enough light for old eyes. Cozy work desk!
Something’s missing!

I know! Two things – me…. and Inspiration.
What’s this??! Rochelle wrote two FFs? So, that’s where MY inspiration went. Erato, you traitor! I’m gonna binge watch The Masked Singer till you get back. Sarah Palin says her performance was the craziest thing she’s ever done. She apparently forgets, “I can see Russia from my house.” 😳

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

“19 A To Z Challenge – V

AtoZ2019Letter V

 

Stalling, distraction, avoidance, procrastination!

I had a month…. Actually, I had a year from when I chose to do this year’s version of the A To Z Challenge – but realistically, I had a month to get this post for the letter V ready. I had posts composed for the letters T and U, so I had four weeks to get my act in gear – four weeks to choose a V-shaped word, pick a theme, light a flame of composition under it, and bring it to the boil of intelligent presentation.

Did I do that??! OH NO!!

Instead, I spent an inordinate amount of time debating with Christian Apologists. Some guy who styles himself TheistThug, and lives up down to the name, really needed an opinion readjustment, and I was just the guy to do it. Saturday night, instead of dutifully typing, I watched some fool build a log cabin in Alaska, and read part of a book…. because it has 800 pages, and needs to be returned to the Library in 17 days.

A character in the book returned to her tough childhood neighborhood after escaping it at 15, and being away for another 15 years. She observed that the worldly-wise woman that she was now, barely matched the frightened teen who left it years before.

There were all my V-word candidates
venal
vivacious
vapid
vicinity

VENN DIAGRAM

vainglorious
vacuous

Venn

when suddenly “Venn diagram” stood out. Venn diagrams visually indicate how and where two or more different sets of data do, or do not, overlap. They help making decisions which will satisfy the greatest number.

For most of us, the Venn diagram of our early life, compared to our current life, need not be quite as severe as hers, where only a tiny point intersected the two segments. Still, it seems a good idea to strive for continual change and improvement. Get smarter, better, and happier. I know that I am not the same naïve, trusting, callow young man who ventured into the World and wedlock 52 years ago. If I could only enlarge that “Get Projects Finished On Time” section a bit…. 😉

Flash Fiction #176

Serenity

PHOTO PROMPT © Randy Mazie

SERENITY

He loved going for a walk, or sitting, in the graveyard beside his house, for solitude or inspiration as he worked on his book.  The residents were quiet and well-behaved, so unlike his redneck neighbors on the other side.

Bitch, bitch, bitch;
Your grass is too long…. So he mowed it.
I’m on the night shift this week. You woke me.
And that harpy wife of his – nude back yard sunbathing??! – on a street of two-story houses.  😯
That was a sight that couldn’t be unseen.  Claimed she had an 18-year-old’s body, but got it all wrinkled.

They get my goat.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

’18 A To Z Challenge – Neighbors

 

Challenge '18letter-n

 

 

 

 

 

Neighborhood

I accidentally did another favor for my neighbors – and I don’t regret or begrudge it.

I wrote of being able to do several favors for them, several years ago.  Those favors have been returned like bread upon the waters, 7-fold.  The ‘rot-proof’, pressure-treated posts that support our common fence are over 30 years old, and they rotted.

As I sadly stood considering the tilting fence, morosely calculating what it was going to cost in money, energy, time, and lost skin, the neighbor asked me if I would mind if he repaired it.  His son runs a small landscaping firm, so he had access to a powered post-hole auger.  His first thought was that he could bore out the concrete bases….FAIL!

Digging them out by hand was difficult and time-consuming.  Suddenly, inspiration struck.  He cut 2 feet off a 10-foot panel, moved the necessary holes two feet, and spliced the orphan back in at the end.  All he asked, was $100 for lumber and supplies.  The wife tipped him an extra $20 for saving me the trouble.

Recently, his first-marriage daughter stayed with them for several days.  They are both non-smokers, so she sits on the front porch to puff.  One spring evening, in the dark of 9:30 PM, I left the living room to use the powder-room, next to the front door.  The pebbled glass in the lower pane made car lights on their driveway seem like they’re on our front lawn.  I stood tippy-toe to look out, but it wasn’t their car.  I turned on the light, and peered out again.  The car quickly backed out, and drove off.

I hadn’t got my ass back on the couch, when the phone rang.  They were at a friend’s, and the daughter had called.  While she was sitting, smoking, some guy had just pulled into the driveway and said, “Wanna come over here, Babe?”  She’s a sturdy lass of 25, and could probably handle any problem, but she stepped inside, locked the door, and called them.  Would I please take a look and see if there was any trouble?

I told her that my neighborly nosiness had already driven him off.  She was reassured on an immediate basis, but now she, his daughter and I, were all somewhat perplexed.  Was this just some random guy, approaching random women?  In the dark, neither of us got a good look at the driver, the car, or the licence plate.  In our quiet, safe suburban subdivision, do we have a hooker, or a drug dealer working?

The wobbly wife wants a new rail installed on the deck steps.  The old ones are leaning as badly as the fence was, and she needs safe support, when she follows the new puppies that you’ll read all about in a month, out onto the lawn.  Maybe I can leverage this into some design/installation help from the amateur carpenter husband.  😀

Flash Fiction #144

Hot Chili
PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

WATCH YOUR TONGUE

It was a fantastic idea, inspired, as many fantastic ideas were, by the liberal application of beer. He had decided to make chili as the snack for his turn to host the guys’ Friday poker bash.

He liked his food with a little heat to it….and surely his buddies would too. He put in lots of chili powder, and several shakes of Tabasco.  Maybe he’d add some of this stuff his mother’d given him.

Hmm, Scotch Bonnet Pepper?? Bonnets??  Thanks Mom.  Probably some delicate old schoolmarm spice.  He’d add a good tablespoonful.

Dig in guys. It’s got a little kick.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

***

I’ve finally come full circle and am now plagiarizing from myself. This is a re-imagining of my #46, Four Alarm Flash Fiction story of April 16, 2015.  Sorry guys.  I couldn’t help myself.  When I saw all those spewing fire hoses outside the frat house, it was either that, or a “cold shower” story.

AutoTopic: List Your Favorite Ways To Procrastinate

procrastinate-no

This entry was posted on October 3, 2011 at 07:09

Medal

The Procrastinators Unanimous meeting was postponed, so I thought that I’d publish this post instead. Above is a picture of the medal that I got for coming in first – actually, last – in procrastination.  I was going to show it to you earlier, but I just never got around to it.  Right now, I’m doing something I like to call ‘synchronized procrastinating.’  Or maybe it’s simultaneous procrastinating.  It’s a real art form.  You have to want to not bother doing two different things at the same time.

The line in red above, just proves what a master of it that I really am. This was below the above title, of the second blog-post that I ever read, six years ago, before I even had my own blog-site.  It wasn’t until I’d published 825 posts, and was looking around, desperately, for inspiration for another theme, that I finally got around to using it.

And that’s not even my longest-time record for putting things off. I have un-performed household chores that go back decades.  I am the Superhero of procrastination.  I think that I’m from the same high-gravity planet that Superman is from, because several people have told me that I’m very dense.

One thing I do, so that I fail to accomplish, is to apply my industrial-grade forgettery – and I don’t even have to fake it. Oh, was I supposed to pick up that steak that was on sale, for supper?? I’ll thaw some wieners and we’ll have hot dogs instead.  😳

Rapier

After only two and a half years, I did finally get around to mounting the lovely rapier that my grandson bought me for Fathers’ Day, on the wall.

I don’t sweat the small stuff, and unless there’s a loan-shark threatening to smash both my kneecaps, it’s all small stuff.  I decline to take any of the wife’s ‘honey-do’ list items seriously.  The karma nicely balances out, because she takes them all seriously – until she finds that they’re not.  That happens often enough to justify faking it ‘till she changes course.

I sit beside the big living room picture window, to read. The wife sits across the room.  There is a large window at the top of the stairs behind her, and during the day, the sun shines down through the open rail – but at night….  Her eyesight, like mine, is becoming less acute.

She has a table lamp to her left, and a floor lamp, 4 feet to her right. Recently, I was told to bring up the swag-lamp from the basement, and hang it directly above her chair.  This was the swag-lamp that neither the son nor I wanted down there, the one whose chain had to be hooked tight to the ceiling, or it would garrote anyone going to the kitty-litter tray, or the utility room.

I ignored considered her request for a week – and she moved the floor-lamp 2 feet closer to her chair.  It still wasn’t bright enough, so she still wanted the swag-lamp moved.  I ignored considered it for another week.  We were at the hardware store for something else, when she thought of replacing the 60 watt CFL bulb in the floor-lamp, with a new-style, 100 watt LED bulb.  I have seen the light….and so has she!

Screwed one bulb out. Screwed the new one in. I’m very competent at screwing around.  That I can handle.  Problem solved.  I got to sit on my laurels hands computer chair, and compose this post.  I should be back with another post in a couple of days – if I don’t get distracted.  I do have other things to do.

Procrastinator