Friday, August 27, 2010

Magpie Tales: Saying Goodbye

She walked about the house; her bare feet cool on wood floors the color of honey straight from the hive before it had been pasteurized. From the living room to the dining room to the kitchen, on hands and knees they’d worked side by side peeling back layers of coverings exposing each plank. So many years had passed that now the renovated floor took on a patina of age and wear, yet the smoothness and color remained as glorious as the day they completed it.
In the foyer, her hands encompassed the walnut ball that marked the beginning of a journey upstairs. Holding it as if she held a mystical gazing ball that would foretell her future, she closed her eyes and traced her fingers over the hash marks left by a hurried craftsman generations ago.

Climbing the stairs she counted, "One, two, three, four, five, six..." A loud creak sounded at the fall of her foot on the seventh step. Over the years it became the tattle-tale of sneaky stair climbers and later the tell-tale sound of a wandering heart. At the top of the stairs she turned to the left, opened the door to the now empty room where once upon a child a little girl lined up paper dolls on a crocheted lavender rug. The tiny table set for tea with a bear, a monkey, and two dolls named Lily and Lucy disappeared long ago. Down the hall, another square room witnessed raucous wrestling and little boy games. She turned her back on the room at the far end of the hall, too many memories, too much pain. Her audible sigh echoed through the hallway bouncing off walls, plumb and plain. No framed prints, no rogue’s gallery of the branches, limbs, and twigs of the family tree stared down from the walls. Everywhere she looked basic beige stuck her as boring and necessary.

From room to room she wandered. Each room naked and vulnerable lacking furniture and adornment that speaks of personalities, experiences, likes and dislikes. Not even shades, hanging like heavy eyelids over dark eyes peering out into a world remained. It had become a hollow house, too lonely for words, so she moved on in silence.

Back down stairs, she gazed out the wavy glass of paned windows where 200 years worth of children watched seasons transform from trees shaking in the frigid winter winds to pastel blossoms bothered by bees on spring days. From this vantage point, she could see the magic tree where the children hid and created fantastical lands of fairies and goblins. So many memories enveloped in a few acres called home. A hot trail of tears descended down the curve of her cheeks, passed her chin wetting her neck with salty brine as she stewed in her thoughts of past and future.

She continued the final tour while ghosts, still living, haunted her mind and followed her steps. In the dining room, where rainbows danced against the wall from chandelier prisms that caught the early evening light, she smoothed a hand over the antique step back cupboard, emptied of its fragile occupants, standing alone, a compromise for the future staring blankly from the wall as if questioning why it should remain.

The kitchen loomed before her an open wound with yawning cupboards waiting to be filled and the fireplace gaping wide-eyed and cold across the room. She stood in the heart of the home, a mirage of joyful meals dissipating into marital battles and lingering tearful nights accosting her memory.

It was time. She slipped her shoes back on and with one hand on the brass door knob; she touched her fingertips to her lips, blew the kiss into the house, turned, and walked out the door.

A brief glance into the rearview mirror revealed the setting sun’s glow embrace the house while she drove into her future.

Each week Willow offers a photo on her writing blog, Magpie Tales, and invites all interested to take a look at the photo and write their take on what they see.  This is my story inspired from the above photo.  Take some time to read the inspirations of other talented writers. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

100 Word Challenge: Teacher's Pet

"Teachers pet," she heard someone hiss just before closing the door quietly behind her. Buoyed up with a deep breath, she began the trek down the long corridor. On either side, children sat behind opaque walls unaware of each reluctant step carrying her closer to sticky paste, amber-colored liquid soap, and paint jumbled into one oppressive odor.

Approaching steps, jingling change and a soft tuneless whistle echoed down the passage urging her to stand on tippy-toes, desperately reaching for blood-stained paper.


"Here let me help you," he said pressing her budding body against the shelving; spiriting away her innocence.

This bit is in response to Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge.  Go head... check out the fabulous writings of other 100 word scribes. 

The photo above is a painting by my daughter that I photographed and added a crumpled brown bag texture to.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Photography & Changes

Straight out of Camera (SOOC)

I love beautiful things whether it's a superbly penned story or a richly hued painting.  I've always been drawn to photography as a viewer, but never tried to seriously take a photo until about 15 months ago, when I started blogging in ernest.  With my first shots, I discovered a whole new world opening before me in glorious vistas and macros.  Beauty truly is in the details.  I was so surprised by this unexpected pleasure that I started taking more photos of everything in sight. I nurtured this new-found love by reading about photography, viewing websites, and following the blogs of some amazing photographers. 

My camera is a simple Fuji point and shoot with some pretty cool settings like macro and manual, sure I long for a Canon or Nikon, but this little camera is serving me well for now.  Sometimes a photograph looks fabulous straight out of the camera, but then there are those times some tweaking would make all the difference.  I don't have Photoshop, but I did download Picasa and then discovered Picnik has a lot more options for a little bit of nothing, but I'll bet you all ready knew that. 

During my internet travels I happend upon soft dreamy photography that took my breath away.  How was this done...I wasn't sure, so I started experimenting.  I placed tulle, nylon net, wax paper or paper with a heart cut out over the lens to see how it would look.  Sometimes it was a sorry failure, but I learned. 

Outcome of tulle covered lens and mini carnation. 

Then, one day while reading Gardening Gone Wild, I stumbled upon scan art.  I gave it a whirl and was wowed by what I saw.  It was flower arranging on the bed of a scanner.  It goes hand-in-hand with photography as yet another way to express my artistic viewpoint. 

Summer Orange, bloom scan

After viewing a vintage looking photo on soul aperture, I decided to try my hand at creating something similar.  I downloaded an old letter from The Graphics Fairy and superimposed the image onto another of pink roses.  It wasn't great, but I liked how it looked.  More recently I discovered Kim Klassen's textured photography.  I was enchanted by the looks, from grunge to antique.  I read her blogs, viewed her photography, and then signed up for two of her newsletters.  I have two of Kim's textures, but I wanted to try my hand at creating my own textures, so I took a trip about the house searching for things that might make decent backgrounds or textures. I scanned crumpled white paper, a crumpled brown paper bag, a page from my grass journal, the outside and inside cover of the same journal, and scrapbook pages that I'd picked up for a song at Michael's.  Here's my first adventure into creating photos with texture.
 I used the cover of my grass journal and a photo I took of flowering crab apple trees this spring.

I liked the deep brown edge and I like how it came out, a bit shadowy showing the textures with vintage colors. 

If you've been taking a peek at my photography when you visit Write in Amazement, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, but I'm moving it for now over to The Cottage on the Corner.  Writing isn't just a passionate hobby, it's my life and it desserves a blog to call its own.  I'm not sure if I'll set up a photography blog or just create a page on The Cottage. We'll have to wait and see where my passion for photography leads me.        
"Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly."
~ Langston Hughes

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

100 Word Challenge: From Failed to Different

He travels light zipping from city to city across the sky, while the weight of baggage grounds her in the undulating fields of her childhood. Like a sprite, her world revolves around circular patterns of a soft landscape dancing to the gentle rhythms of changing seasons. He navigates the hard edges and tall giants of cityscapes making the deal with the confidence of a warrior. Her view leans toward a film noir of black and white where he sees possibility saturated in bright hues.

Born from failed marriages, together they reach across miles of differences, failure no longer an option.

The 100 Word Challenge is brought to you by Velvet Verbosity, who is back after a hiatus.  The prompt this week is failed.  You can read more brilliantly penned 100 words by clicking HERE!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Meet Sara

Isn't she beautiful?

Caroline, a photographer and blogger, is in the midst of a beautiful project she calls 31 Faces in 31 Days and I've been finding inspiration through the faces of strangers that she's captured. When Caroline of Constantly Evolving penned a blog post at  Inspiration Studio  inviting others to join her I decided to step out of my camera comfort zone of flowers, still lifes, and nature and give it a whirl. . The mission is to approach someone I don't know and ask if I can take a photo.  This is what Caroline has been doing for the past 16 days resulting in a stunning tapestry of stories with the common thread that each face is a stranger to her.   

This morning, after an hour or so at the doc attentively waiting while the little fellow had a new cast put on, we stopped for breakfast at a local restaurant. Sara, our waitress was an irresistible subject with a big smile and deep brown eyes that sparkled when she spoke. I asked if I could take her picture. She answered yes with a smile and an apology that she isn’t very photogenic. I beg to differ…she’s a beautiful woman with a sterling personality to match. She let me fumble with my camera and snap a few shots that really do not capture those gorgeous deep brown eyes or the big smile that lights up her face.

Sara was such a pleasure as our waitress and as my first venture into photographing someone I don't know, but I doubt I'd ever taken this step without the inspiration and encouragement of Caroline.  A big thank you to both Sara and Caroline!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

100 Word Challenge: Junky Treasure

"Where’d you get this?" he asked turning the filthy cross over in his hands. "Jist worthless junk."

The girl reached out for the tarnished relic. "It's mine."

"You messin' in the alley, girlie?"

"I found it in the trash."

"Well it ain’t yers and we don’t need no more garbage in here," he said dropping her treasure to the floor.

Twenty years later she perched on the edge of the chair as the man peered over his glasses at her while cradling the piece as if it were the Mona Lisa. "Where did you get this? It could be priceless."

Written in response to Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge.  The prompt and inspiration was the word worthless.  Please, mosey on over to Lou's, the host for the challenge, and read how other writers spin the prompt for the week, worthless.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Magpie Tales: Beyond the Walls

Every day on her way to work at the only law office in the pastoral town, she walked passed a watering can set upon the cap of a stone wall. Weathered with a verdigris patina the long necked spout held out the multi-holed rose as if offering a cool drink from its dark, mysterious interior. On the other side of the wall a verdant green oasis dotted with tulips in spring transformed into a pink pleasure place filled with roses that scented the air with every whisper of wind that touseled wisps of hair and fluttered the hem of a skirt. At times, she stopped to peer into the garden with squinted eyes making out the curved outline of a feminine form beneath a tree. In the three years that she navigated this route to and from her office job, today was the first time she saw anyone in the garden.

Bending at the waist he plucked a weed from a patch of ashes of rose flowers. As he stood up, his rheumy eyes met clear baby blues and for a moment the two locked into a surprise stare. She broke the moment with a wave of her hand and an upturned smile. "May I come in?" she asked without hesitating.

Slowly, he shuffled over to the wall, patting his white hair down with one blue-veined hand, and straightening himself to his full 6 feet height. A gentleman always looked presentable.

"I walk by your garden every day on my way to work." she explained smiling soft and friendly, 'and well....I thought since I saw someone in the garden that perhaps you wouldn't mind if I...."

The old man suddenly realized he was still holding the weed in one hand and gave it a quick toss. "Well, I don’t know. I don't often have guests in my garden."

"It's so lovely," she added with a flourish of her hand.

The old man pondered her face and saw a kindness too often lacking in the people who hurried by his wall, hands clenched in tight fists pumping to a beat from headphones that looked like two black donuts. "There’s a gate on the other side," he said turning and walking away from the wall.

Magritte found the gate and opened the black iron latch that held it closed. There was no flowery sign that welcomed visitors to the garden, no cute little cement rabbits, fairies or gnomes to greet passersby, and no gazing balls to mesmerize children. What she discovered was a serene coolness beneath ancient trees surrounded by pink flowers. Spent peonies gave way to hydrangeas that yielded to pink annuals of all shapes and textures. Spring-green ferns softened the edges and everywhere, climbing, crawling, and standing were luscious pink rose petals swirling around high points. Roses, in every shade of pink imaginable from the palest to the deepest, grew in joyous abandon inside the walled garden. Her breath caught in her throat as she took it all in....the beauty and gentle sweetness of the variation on a hue.

A sculpture of a weeping woman seated on a bench overlooked the walled backyard turned garden with a vacant stare. Tears, exquisitely sculpted on bronzed cheeks, caught tiny glimmers of light as a hand, lying in her lap, clutched a bouquet of freshly picked flowers. At her bare feet grew a profusion of pink Damask roses, the scent rising with the heat. "What a beautiful sculpture," murmured Magritte.

The man smiled, but offered no explanation of how such a sublime work of art came to be in his garden.

One turn around the garden and then he suggested she come back another time for a visit and perhaps tea. "Do you drink tea?" he inquired. She nodded as he opened the gate.

"Thank you for letting me visit your...." She began, but he was all ready walking down the flagstone path to the garden.

As she continued on her way home, she realized she'd forgotten to ask him about the watering can on the wall. With a smile, she decided that the watering can would be a perfect tea-time tale and she looked forward to the telling.

Written for Magpie Tales inspired by the watering can photo at the top.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

100 Word Challenge: The Courage to Fly

(look closely at the photo, you can see one leg on the shell as a touching farewell)

You sheltered me while I grew. I had no choice but to slough you off like a skin too small. Crawling out wasn’t all that easy. I struggled, you know, I worked hard like the cicadas we watched from the porch swing on sultry August Sundays. Remember? We looked on as the hard shell of security that surrounded wet, transparent wings split down the middle. Singers of summer songs perched vulnerable on the sprawling oak tree until the moment came and with dry wings launched into life. I discovered my courage to fly, too, and we were companions no more.

Written for Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge using the word companions for inspiration and graciously hosted by Lou

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

" what happens then.."

There’s a new kid in the writing blogosphere. "and what happens then..." is the creation of Tara R. She set up shop and invited fellow bloggers/writers to join her in a collaborative writing venture. Each writer takes on a chapter giving their own personal spin to the story entitled, The Courier. Tara penned the first chapter of the novelette with 21 writers to follow:

And Triplets Make Six - John
Bad Momma
If Mom Says OK - Tara R.
It’s Always Something Around Here - Lou Ann
Just One Miss
Molding Young Minds - Miss H.
Musician’s Widow - Denise
Pieces of Me - Jen
 Red Monkey - Ender
Redefining Perfect - Sarah
Rock and Drool - Melissa
Sex and the Single Dad - J.R.
Shiny Healthy People - Jen
Soft Skies - Heather
Stay at Home Dad in Lansing - Chris
Suburban Scrawl - Melisa with one S
The Drafts Folder - Draft Queen
The Scholastic Scribe - Melissa B
Whee All the Way Home - Patois
Write in Amazement - Teresa O

This should be a fascinating journey and I'm looking forward to following the path the story takes and giving my own twist to the ongoing tale.  I hope you join me at "what happens then..."