Went And Got Lost in a Tall Hedge Maze – Fiction

Photo by keith thomas on Unsplash

It wouldn’t have been so bad, being lost in a corn maze, not exactly his idea of fun, but no big deal. But then his cell phone died. No GPS to get out of this mess. And he remembered that he hadn’t applied the SPF 110 to his body before leaving the house, and at midday, he felt fried to a crisp at the center of the maze. He knew he was at the center; the sign saying “You have reached the center of the maze,” made it pretty obvious.

He hadn’t seen anyone for hours. His friends has gone off ahead of him when he’d had a moment of panic and pulled out his inhaler and waved them on with his starched handkerchief as he’d wheezed. They’d rolled their eyes at him, Sadie muttering “drama queen” under her breath as they’d pass by him and heading down a tunnel.  At least he was at the center. But his water bottle was empty, and he was going to have to conserve his backup, and his backup a backup water bottle as well, if he wanted to make it out alive.

The sun shifted a degree while he fashioned a spear from a corn stalk, several strips of leaves, and a pointed cob he’d sharpened with his swiss army knife. It took a while, but he was certain he could make it out if he had to fight his way after it got dark and the vampires came out. Too bad he’d left his rosary at home. Would have come in handy. Being that it was sterling silver and all. He could have used some holy water, just in case.

Sweat was fogging up his glasses as he tied his shirt around his head in an attempt to block the sun that beat down on this scorching September day. Nearly October and it was 87 degrees. Or at least that was what it felt like. The pale skin on his back would be blistered by nightfall, he was sure of it. 

Several wrong turns and a couple dead ends left him crying out for God to rescue him from this madness. He was slumped down against his spear, sucking down the last of his backup water bottle, knees in the dusty dirt, when he felt a tap on his shoulder.  He nearly jumped out of his skin and turned, startling the young girl standing behind him. She was about 8 and had a lollipop in her mouth. 

“You okay, Mister?” she asked with a slight lisp from the sucker in her mouth.

His mouth was too dry to answer. The girl frowned up a him and in an all girl fashion, flipped her braided blond pigtail over her shoulder.

“Did you get lost?” she asked.

He nodded.

“Well, I got lost too, the first time. But it’s easy. To more turns and we’re at the end. Want some help?”

He nodded again.  Before he could take a step, she had looped her sticky fingers through his and started tugging him along.

“I’m Janie. What’s your name?”

“George,” he rasped.

“Oh, hi, George. My mom and daddy are just behind, we’ll be out in no time. I love the maze. It’s different every year. Last year it was a giant witch, this year it’s Frankenstein!”  She tugged him along and in just a flash they were exiting out into the even brighter sunshine. Out into the waiting laughter of his friends who stood around at the end of the maze drinking beers and and giving him a round of insecure applause and mocking bows. “There are your friends, Mister,” the girl said, releasing his hands. 

He nodded his thanks then watched in shock as she ran over to Molly who handed her a ten dollar bill.

“What was that?” he croaked.

“Eh, we paid the girl to hunt you down. She said she knew this maze inside and out,” Brian said, handing him a beer.

“So, vampires are gonna get you, huh?” Colton teased, jabbing him in his bare shoulder. He quickly yanked the shirt off his head and pulled it back on.

“You heard me?” 

“Day one, I’m nearly out of water,” Molly impersonated. “It’s the fifth day and I’ve taken to fashioning a spear from cornstalks.”

“If only I had my silver rosary when the vampires come out,” Brian mocked.

“I wasn’t that bad,” he muttered into his beer.

“George, you are the biggest drama king ever. This wasn’t Castaway. You were forty minutes behind. And your cellphone you forgot to charge, you idiot,” Molly lightly punched him in the arm. “Come on, let’s go get some lunch.”

They pulled him along in the direction of the sandwich stand on the edge of the property where the maze was. George knew it was going to be a long time before they ever let this one down.

I was having a conversation with a friend about being in a corn maze and cell service dying. Then add in our very pale white skin that burns at mild 100 watt bulbs and being vampires…. bada boom bada bing, this hit my head. An overly dramatic guy pulling a Tom Hanks  ‘Castaway’ vibe. Yes, it’s meant to be completely silly.

I’ve also been waiting to use the lyrics from the Paper Kites song Featherstone
“She went out to the hay in the morning grace
She went out and got lost in a tall hedge maze”

Hope you all enjoy.

Kate

Life’s Little Shifts That Equal a Whole Lotta Change

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Have I mentioned that life is forever changing? I think I might have mentioned it a time or two. These last two weeks have done it quite well. Two of my favorite people have either left, or are leaving my work place. Sassy Girl is off on a new venture… she’s just down the street, building up her arm muscles and upper body, a la me, with baking. I told her the other day her arms are gonna be so buff. It was sad to lose her, though we didn’t have much time to grieve because there she was filling in, two days after her last day. Well, at least she’s not far away. Making cookies… I already love her even more.

Then the same week I found out Coffeeman was moving on to a new venture. That one was harder to process. Because, see, Coffeeman, for all his faults, (yes, he has them, we all have faults) took us from the horrors of a megalomaniac type boss, or set of bosses, and shaped us all into a more well rounded team. Sure, there are still pits in the mirror and a few chunks that need some filing out, but we are at least capable of running a restaurant when he’s not around. He hasn’t left yet, per se, though I know he has in his mind. I’ve missed him for months, and months. I’ve known this was coming, for months, and months. I’ve missed the original Coffeeman of last year. He was instrumental in getting me out of my shell, and while I’m still not there to where I want to be, I’m much better. Much, much better. I will miss his bizarre jokes I never get, his music and movie references, his hugs when I’m breaking, and his well, Coffeemaness. I can’t explain it.

How I feel about Coffeeman isn’t something I can explain. The thought of him being gone makes me want to cry my heart out. As it was, I was ‘fine’ for a day or two, then just broke down at work after a stressful evening and a blood sugar issue. The next day was Sassy Girl’s last day and one of my lovely servers and I were just not ok. We were bawling our hearts out. Ok, maybe more me, but I just was not processing it too well. It was sudden in a sense, and a crazy week, and boom, just stress. And I can’t explain my attachment to Coffeeman other than he came when my world was crashing and fixed a hella lot. That right there will create a connection that is unexplainable. Same as Lucifer came right when the first Chef was killing me. Lucifer wasn’t good for me, but he got me through the mess, even though he created a mess Coffeeman had to fix. Weird, right? I guess it is just all on coping mechanisms.

Jersey Boy is our new chef, and GM. So far, so good. I’m excited. It’s been good getting to know him and work with him this past week. It is a delight that he likes working pizza and likes to bake. And he’s tall. (John Wayne was tall…) <— While You Were Sleeping movie quote reference. Bare with me. I’m dubbing him Jersey Boy only because my first thought when I saw his face was he was from Jersey, which is so far off the mark it’s hilarious. But when a name gets in my head, boom, it’s stuck there. So if anyone ever tells him this, I’m looking at you Miss Holly…. please explain it’s because I envisioned a jersey accent. And please don’t tell him this, Miss Holly.

I’m writing more these days, in my head and on paper. I’ve started using Google Docs a lot because I can read things while at work. I also like One Note, though it’s harder for me to use or get comfortable with. I’m not sure why. It’s easier to pull up on my phone, but on my computer it stutters along.

Summer is in the height of heat. Right now it’s in the upper 80s and I’m inside on my “Sunday” not doing the laundry I should be doing. I have a stack of dishes too. I should get on that. I’m in a Gatsby, oracle cards, nature poetry and sultry nights frame of mind. I want to watch classic films. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is calling me. I have a Cary Grant film on my dvr that I shall get to later, but well, that’s my weekly update.

I wanted to start typing up poetry from two years ago that didn’t turn into anything but is filing up my last journal, but when I started reading it, it was just too jumbled. Now I don’t know what to do with it. Does anyone else have moments where they want to share things like that but they don’t know how to work it? Do you have any suggestions?

While I’m rambling on, I just want to give a shout out toNathan at The Myth of Prometheus which has been an amazing blog to follow. I’m so impressed with his writing and ideas. I can honestly say I would like to meet him in person.  His writing has inspired me to want to post more poetry as well, though, like I said in the above paragraph, I haven’t. I need to. I think it’s also because of him I’m dabbling in more flash fiction. I forgot how much I liked it.

So, there we have it.

Kate

“Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys”

13406986_10153566220727371_623513095724235842_nA few weeks ago I came across this statement. I fell in love with it and it has become entirely too applicable in my life. Today I was brutally slapped with it again as I had to deal with some craziness that while affected me, was not my circus. Thank God. I can walk away.

I have had this idea since last year while watching Paris When It Sizzles, a favorite Audrey Hepburn movie. I mean, I seriously love this film. And I got this idea for my local library. What about ‘Summer When It Sizzles’ for a book theme where you pull off all the romances and steamy books and trashy romances….  okay, not super trashy, but heck, even a few Harlequins have some ‘bodice ripper’ style covers. It is what it is and hey, the library has them on their shelves. It’s not like I would insert naughty books. Heck, the Fifty Shades of Grey books are right there.

So I talked it over with the librarian this year. I thought, heck, while the kids are having their summer reading program, the adults can have a fun “summer sizzling’ kind of reading program. Nothing fancy, just all the romance are pulled out and showcased. Up on shelves with little cut out tidbits of  ‘something steamy in here’ or “sweet romance’  or ‘a classic romance’. See?  Simple.

The librarian loved it. She even said, she would pull out one of the extra kids tables and set it up by the door for me to set up the display. I was even wishing I had some red fabric for a Valentines-y look.  I was tempted to cut out hearts.  And I like to think the librarian was excited for this display because the day before the first of July, when we were going to set it up, she made sure I was coming in to do it and seemed super excited.

So, I set it up. You can see my display.

July 1st rolled by and we got a laugh when she had to hunt for a book that I had pulled out to showcase and she had to switch labels…..

The the holiday came…….

Then today.

I walk into the library with my stack of due books and before I barely get in the door, one of the volunteer ladies immediately tells me that they didn’t think it was appropriate that the children’s table had been used for ‘those kinds of books’ so they put them all back in the library and set up children’s books instead, and oh, would I call the librarian.

Fortunately the librarian was trying to catch me before I was slammed with the switch.  But I would have liked her to have maybe stood up for me a bit. I mean, I had spent two hours making the labels and wording for the sign, and another hour setting up the display. And good grief, what? The table is not specifically a ‘children’s table’ but just a small table in the kid’s section.  I didn’t know that kids could get an STD by picking up a romance novel…… which they can check out and the librarian cannot stop them (I should know, I worked in the library and when I saw a 12 year old check out Hannibal, I was shocked but couldn’t do a darn thing about it….)

The shock and horror that was in the volunteer woman’s tone was like I was this awful bad person.  Yet, aren’t we supposed to be promoting reading? At a library?  And aren’t romances part of the library? And a lot of them? And Fifty Shades made the rounds.  And yes, I’ve read some of it.  (Personally I find it terrible writing. I’ve read much better erotica in my time, but I digress)

The point being was, how petty can you be? How utterly childish and prudish can you be?  Now, I’m not naming names because I plan on sending this to a few friends who know these people, but my gosh.

This is where I say, not my circus, not my monkeys.  You can go take your own GD monkeys and well….. I’ll leave the option up to you.  Needless to say I was not happy. In fact, I was kind of fighting tears later this afternoon because honestly, one day. The display was up one day with the Librarian’s permission and people got upset.  Emma was one of the titles for pete’s sake!

It reminds me of Marian the Librarian from The Music Man (modern version best)

Professor, her kind of woman doesn’t belong on any committee.
Of course, I shouldn’t tell you this but she advocates dirty books.

Harold:
Dirty books!

Alma:
Chaucer

Ethel:
Rabelais

Eulalie:
Balzac!

OMG! Dirty books! I mean, who knew that Emma and Emilie Loring books were dirty?

And this is one reason I don’t get terribly involved with the library. And this is one reason why younger people don’t get involved with the library. It’s having to deal with anyone over the age of 55….. and their lack of , well lack of a lot.

Is this a rant? You bet it is. It hurt. And am I going to let it go? Yep. But seriously, this is the last time I bring up an idea to the library.

Kate

Fog Wildfires – Short Fiction

This last month my local valley libraries had their annual writing contest.  I decided to enter their theme of Wildfire Summers and ended up placing third.  Down from second two years ago, but I sort of half-assed it, writing it two days before the deadline.  But still, I placed…. amongst 5 people. Ah, small town.  I have to laugh.

But I thought I would share. I don’t think it’s good enough to ever submit to any literary magazines, but who knows. Once I publish it here, I wouldn’t dream of submitting anyhow.

Enjoy

Fog Wildfire

She called the summer wildfires ‘Fog Wildfires’ after the way the fog of smoke would sink down the mountains just like the fog rolling into San Francisco Bay. However, unlike its counterpart, this kind of fog was hot, dry and smelly. The golden disk of the sun was no more than an amber colored stone, and it gave the land an eerie sepia tone like she had stepped into a western film. Or an aged photograph. Still air with not even a hint of movement made the smoke and heat push down on her. It made her feel anxious and restless.

Days like this, where the smoke was a thick as fog you could cut it and call it marshmallow, except for the nasty, noxious smell of it, which marshmallows were not, was when she wished for the foggy, coastal-like mornings of early January. She loved the cool, winter fog. The kind of fog that was so wet you could see each individual droplet hanging in the air; a fine curtain of silk. The kind of fog that dripped off the eaves and made the earth and trees smell like she was in some exotic damp forest. The kind of fog you find on the coast where you can breathe as deeply as you want and it never hurts because the mist was like a balm to your lungs. Today she wished it was fog instead of smoke.

She had hung her laundry under the porch eaves as ash sifted down like shavings. Ashy pine needles, fragile as talc, floated to the ground in shades of grey and white. Easily crushed under foot. Sifting down like snow, except a whole lot less pretty in her mind. The air was dirty. When the wildfires were at their worst, like today, the sky was obscured by thick, dirty, grey smoke. But of course smoke was dirty. The day so hot you could melt, but then not hot enough as the smoke, thick grey would hide the sun enough to cool it down. And amber sun was not warm.

Stagnant air. Smelly air. Smoke filled air. The air perpetually permeated with the acrid, sharp tang of burnt trees; thousands upon thousands of wilderness burned to a crisp of blackened giant’s toothpicks. Nothing left.

She missed the days that would clear up to blue sky, but only when the inversion lifted. That was always nice because she could breathe again, filling her lungs with fresh mountain air, warm from the summer sun and smelling of fields of grass and wheat. The resin of pines and firs a spicy sweet scent that she could never get enough of smelling. But the lifted inversion meant that the fires would worsen, the blazes having more wind to ignite the downed debris. Then a plume would form, one that you could see for miles, and by late afternoon, the smoke would settle in again, thickening the air, and obscuring all of the scenery.

The laundry had taken forever to hang as she tried to find places around the porch to clip clothespins and hangers. Doubling up clothes on the line she had strung around the eaves. The sheets hung, folded twice to make room for everything. Socks hung double by one clothespin. One couldn’t walk around the porch without something wet hitting them in the face. However, because it was so still, the dampness hung like its own cloud under the roof. Step out from under and she was assailed by the heat and dry smokiness. Step back under and it was a step into the south; damp, muggy.

She couldn’t win. She wanted that misty day where she could sit in her favorite window, the fire warm and dry in the stove as she sat sipping a cup of tea. She didn’t want to be figuring out the best spot to dry her favorite shirts, knowing that they would still smell like smoke for days once they were dry. She was tired of the heat, the smoke, and the incessant smell of it permeating every nook and cranny of her life. Tired of having to sleep with her windows closed because the smoke was so thick she couldn’t see her neighbors.

Every year it was the same thing. Every year there was a wildfire that set up a blaze that lasted months. Every summer she dreaded that first hint of chlorine in the air; her first indication of a fire started in the mountains. Every year she had to make due with hazy days and always smelling like smoke.

She sighed as she took down the burnt smelling sheets. Maybe it was time to invest in a new place to live. Maybe she needed to move to the actual coast. Fires were rare there. Maybe she could find herself a little cottage near the water and breathe mist all day.

She smiled to herself, almost a little giddy at the thought of never having to deal with the wildfires again. It made her bounce around and hum to herself as she took down the laundry. Yes, that’s what she would do. She would live on the sea and have foggy mornings every day. She would never smell smoke again.

Just as she was about to call her cousin who was a realtor she stopped and frowned. If she moved to the coast she would never have the summer heat that she loved. She wouldn’t have the snowy winters and the autumns that were like a storybook waiting to explode in perfection.

Darn it! She was going to have to deal with the smoky summers if she wanted all her other favorite things. She sighed again. Well, at least she could dream of her misty mornings that came in January, and remember them when the smoke was too thick.

Like right now. It was time for another night of closed windows, a stuffy house, and her hair smelling like the burning pine needles. The fires would finally go away, the skies would be blue, and the world would be clean and fresh again, like the mountains should smell. She just had to get through the next few weeks in this foggy kind of smoke.

Such was the life of living where wildfires were a common enough thing every year.

Kate

Wordless Wednesday – Black & Tan

Mike's Black & TanOur friend, Mike, makes his own homemade beer, and his newest one this summer was actually two beers that when layered, created this marvelous drink.  We all call it a black and tan, and as you drink, the two beers stay layered all the way to the bottom.  Rich chocolatey beer on top, light, hoppy beer on the bottom.  Marvelous on a summer’s day.

Signing off

~Kate

Adult Lemonade – Poetry

Adult Lemonade

If you were here I’d make a tall bottle of adult lemonade

We’d sit out under the pines drinking iced glasses of Rosemary

Ginger, Lemon, Thyme with all the time in the world

Letting the summer breezes sift through the resin and incense

Frosty etched goblets of tonic that told secrets and stories

Girl talk, book talk, gossip talk some serious guy talk

Sherlock would have a whole hour, just for him and RDJ

Throwing in Pip, Kath, and Linds, some Frank and George for good measure

The light would shift, slant and golden as we talked writing

And not writing, with beers discussed

Mumford and Sons might be adored as the afternoon faded

Then things would get silly and overly dramatic as twilight

and the stars came out. . . .

If I made a tall bottle of adult lemonade.

This is for M, who just started a new job, moved into her new place, and left the nest.  I wrote this for you a couple weeks ago when I was flipping through my book that has the recipe for ‘Adult Lemonade’.

For those of you wondering, the recipe is from Barbara Close’s book Well Being.  Barbara Close runs Naturopathica, an amazing holistic health company and spa.  The recipe is nothing more than this marvelous concoction (tisane) of lemon, ginger, thyme, rosemary, (and if I’m in the mood for it to be pink, hibiscus)  M coined the phrase adult lemonade, or maybe I did, but she fell in love with it when I mixed it up the one night we went out looking at the stars and a meteor shower with Linds.  Ah, memories.

So, to M.

Signing off

~Kate

Breaking Away In The Summertime

Cover of "Breakaway"

Cover of Breakaway

“It’s not the sun you’re trying to find, something else is on your mind…” So go the words of Art Garfunkel‘s song ‘Breakaway’. I’d love to type up all of the lyrics so y’all could hear how nice they are. (this is a prompt from The Daily Post : Daily Prompt : Earworm)

I am a child of the 80’s, but some of my favorite music is the things my parents listened to. The ‘Breakaway’ album is one in particular from my Mom. It’s funny how much I love the record; and yes it is really only a record. I’m looking at getting mp3 versions for my player, but I still do vinyl. <—- see the link to one of my other posts——  The one thing that makes it odd too is that my mom classifies it as one of her break up albums. One of the guys Mom was engaged to broke it off and this was the record that was playing or got played or whatever. So for her it brings back not so good memories, though she is quite happily married to my father for over 30 years.

But I adore this record. I have specific times I enjoy it more; fall, winter, when I’m ironing, but right now it has popped back into my mind and I’ve turned it on several times in the past week.

I blame it all on Josh Groban who has just released the song “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)”, a cover or remake of Art Garfunkel’s version from the Breakaway album. That song got me singing and I knew I needed to listen to the original. And of course, with the pops and crackles of the record and the speakers that go in and out, it’s its own kind of nostalgia. And honestly, shouldn’t most music from the 70’s be played in the summer when it’s hot?

That’s just my two cents.

Signing off

~Kate

The Romance of Hanging Laundry

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Victorian Laundry

Is there anything nicer than laundry freshly dried on the line?  There is a romantic feel to seeing white sheets blowing  in the wind, the smell of ‘country’ dried linens.  Yet in all reality, there is nothing romantic about drying laundry on the line.  It takes much more time, and at times, can be annoying when the weather doesn’t  cooperate.  It is far from the bucolic scene one imagines.  One tends to think of Victorian maids in flowing, white dresses gathering the laundry, or walking through the sweetly scented linens. Or maybe something out of Pride & Prejudice with the mid 1800’s empire dresses.  Add in a nosegay and you have the quintessential image.

I love to hang laundry.  To me there is nothing better than falling into bed at night with fresh air-dried sheets.  I love the rough texture of a towel from being dried in the sun and the wind.  Plus there is the added bonus of not using the dryer and using all the electricity.  That in itself is a major plus.

There are other things that one associates with the term ‘romantic.’ Picking berries is one such thing.  Though after spending the last few summers getting terribly scratched, romantic is the farthest thing from my mind.  Maybe if one were picking wild strawberries, but raspberries, blackberries, and anything else with thorns is not romantic.  Even though I know all of this, I still conjure up images of women in long, flowing dresses with their tin pails brimming with luscious, red berries, sun ripened and sweet.  Girls and women swinging their pails as they sing and leisurely pick plump morsels  of goodness.

Again, this brings to mind something out of a Jane Austen novel.  I can picture Emma Woodhouse, Elizabeth and Jane Bennett, and the Muskgrove sisters.  Maybe they have played up the pastoral and romantic style so one automatically thinks something like this when these tasks are undertaken.  Whatever the reason, none of these things are very romantic. It’s just a form of work, and work is rarely glamorous.

Signing off

~Kate