Pets Are Better Than Pie

Social media. The interwebs have been wild recently, with global events and local sparking flurries of response, tragedies personal and political flying every which way. The news winds carried as much fiction as fact, with narratives true and false woven so tightly not even fact-checking sites that excel in unraveling legends could pick them apart. They couldn’t even keep up for a while.

Everyone loves a good story, but real life doesn’t happen with once upon a time or happily ever after.  Every event has a backstory, every hero and villain an origin tale, but nothing in the world is as tidy or as harmonious as the heart wants it to be. So we latch onto stories, any stories, that vindicate or validate or merely resonate with the narratives we know.

We want stories. Tragedies. We need stories with happy endings.

What does this have to do with my title? Well. Before all this blew up I was pondering why some of my posts explode in popularity and some wither in obscurity. To me they’re all equally fascinating topics. But pie? Pie makes people happy, elicits discussion, and promotes sharing. Cat pictures, even more so. Big concepts may spark conversation, but pie and pets start a party. Now I’m thinking there’s more to it than simply universal appeal of cute animals and food. Or, rather, that those things are more important than I’ve understood.

There’s a reason people bring food to the grieving.  There is value in the familiar and the earth-rooted, and comfort in reminders of life. Compassion fatigue is a real and dangerous problem because it leads to turning away, rejecting, forgetting the things that cause pain. So maybe it’s okay to take a breather, to sit with the puppies and kittens and have a cookie.  Maybe it’s okay that people only pay attention to me when I bring them things that give them shelter in the storm of their days.

Healing hearts so they don’t break.  I’m okay if that’s all I do.

Time: 9:45 AM
Tea: All-India blend. My usual second cup.
Steeped: 7 minutes…ish.


Happy All Hallow’s Eve

pratchet death cat quote

and also this:


Spooky Flash Fiction

These were written for a Halloween contest I did not win, so here ya go, world. Trick or treat. A sea monster story, a devil dog story, and a story about demons. Sort of. Count on me to mess with the concepts.

Grief’s Reward

I heard her call, in the chill night after an autumn storm, and I went to her. How could I not? She sobbed as she sang, and her lonely pain plucked at chords within my empty heart. She sang my pain, and it touched me as no one else ever had.

The surf was cold, roaring high, and the stones tore my bare feet to shreds. I bled into the salt foam between land and water, before she rose to embrace me. There was beauty in her coils of iridescent scales, and she sang of joy and warmth beneath the waves. She tied me to her body with strands of kelp, and she tied me to her soul with song, and her sharp fins cut my flesh as she took me under the sea.

She brought me deep, where lay the bones of those gone before, but I did not care. They had fallen prey to her frustration and rage. This time happy accident brought a widowed fishwife when she called, not the tall fishermen her lure had ensnared in the past. She had sought always the biggest, strongest mates, not understanding how my kind differed from the creatures of the sea, and she laughed, when I explained. We shared that joy and more until dawn came, when she brought me safe ashore.

She left me, but I am no longer alone. I watch the sea in springtime now, under warm hazy skies, and life grows inside me. I watch the surf, and I hope for storms.

Good Dog
Dog was adorable when he was a baby. When Jim looked over the litter of nine–born who knew where, abandoned at the animal shelter–the pup was a palm’s worth of black fluff, with shiny button eyes and a tiny pink tongue that got stuck between his teeth when he barked. Jim tucked him into a coat sleeve for the bus ride home.

The shelter said he would probably grow to fifty pounds. Perfect, Jim thought. Fifty pounds was the perfect size for a country boy who was willing to admit that he wanted protection on the mean city streets. No mugger would ever beat

 him again, not with a dog like that. He named the puppy Dog, because nothing else fit. Dog grew. He read training books. Dog grew. They attended obedience classes. And Dog grew.

Devil dog, the landlady called him, and made evil-eye signs at them in the hall. “He’s a good boy,” Jim would say, and she would spit on the floor.

By six months, Dog had left fifty pounds far behind. He was big enough to pull Jim off his feet and run loose to chase rats in the alleys. When Jim would catch up to him, Dog would look up from his prey and let his teeth show. His eyes would glow red, above his red-stained muzzle. He looked evil, when he wagged his tail.

Evil? No. Not my dog, Jim would tell himself as he picked up Dog’s leash. He can’t be evil. He’s a good boy. “Who’s a good boy?” he would say, and Dog would let his pink tongue loll out between his bloody teeth. He never left a scrap behind.

When he was a year old, he killed his first mugger. “Who’s a good boy?” Jim said, and he smiled when the landlady opened her door.

Once upon a time, when I used to hike the woods at night, I saw portals on every trail. Every gap between curving beech trees was a gate into another world. Every fallen tree hid the entrance to some strange place filled with ancient, forgotten treasures. I walked through each archway and listened to things rustle in the undergrowth with hope in my heart, praying that this time it truly would be a gate to Beyond.
I wanted those other worlds to be real, when the pale bark of the beeches glowed white by moonlight, and each firefly blinking in the darkness promised magic. When I was young and innocent, when I still walked outside after sundown, I saw passages to worlds wondrous and strange everywhere I looked.
There are doorways between worlds. There are. I did find them, in the end. I was right about that, but I was so very wrong about the rest. When the gates opened, when the hunters came through, I saw–oh, what I saw–and I knew my error. Too late.
Now I pray that those gates close, because those other worlds are filled with horrors. I have seen them. They came for me, with eyes glistening, and the skins of their victims buckled around their slimy throats. They heard me; they heard me calling, there in their dark lairs, and they came.
They sit outside my door, when the shadows grow long, and they rustle in the bushes.

Shiva, destroyer of shrubs

Today is not the first warm day of spring, nor the first sunny one, nor even the first time I wandered through the yard to eyeball the progress of all the tiny plantlings huddled under mulch and last autumn’s withered leaves.

It is, however, the momentous day on which I commenced Spring Cleaning. Outside, that is. Cleaning is a yearlong continual process indoors, where seasons are marked by decorative changes and not vegetative ones.

Today’s Spring Cleaning, Outdoor edition, began with the ritual kicking mulch back into beds. Someday I will invent a squirrel transporter, and then mulch-kicking will be retired from the liturgy. Until then, kicking mulch back into the little holes the monsters leave will continue.

Next, today’s main event: shrub pruning. Snip, snap, saw, drag, pile. Utility lines to the house are now safe from the wanderings of waving branches, dead wood was disposed of, shapely shapes were shaped into being, and sproutlets popping up in Unwanted Places were ruthlessly removed.

Fun was had by all. Fun was had by me, anyway.

One dire discovery: the fence behind the shrubs is  trying to fall over. This is a Problem.  I Don’t Do Fences. Professional help will be enlisted soon.