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“Can you get that?” I asked, of no one in particular, when I heard the inn’s doorbell ring. I was too focused on giving a bourbon cake its last soaking to notice that Louisa was the only one left in the kitchen.

“I’m literally up to my elbows in a turkey,” Louisa said dryly, “so I’m going to have to say no. Mary hasn’t gotten back yet and Madelyn just left to put the fiends to bed, so I think you’re on door duty at the moment.”

“Where are the men?” I asked, still absorbed in the cake when the bell sounded again. “Oh, never mind, I’ll get it.”

I realized only as I reached for the door that I was still carrying the oversized bottle of Woodford Reserve I’d been using to baste cakes in the kitchen. I shifted it to my left hand and opened the door to reveal two pinched, elderly faces bobbing several inches below my own.

“Hello,” I said a touch too brightly. “You must be Mary’s mother and aunt.” I had no idea which was which, so I looked at each of them in turn. “I’m Cate Raleigh.”

“Hello,” the shorter woman said, eyeing the giant whiskey bottle in my hand with unveiled disapproval. “I am Myrna O’Callaghan Kavanaugh, Mary’s mother, and this is my sister, Margaret O’Callaghan McGillivray.” She sniffed dramatically. “You may call us the O’Callaghan sisters,” she said gravely, as though they were a musical group or, more likely, a religious order.

“Please come in, both of you,” I said quickly, ignoring their scowls. “Here, let me take your coats.” I deposited the bourbon on a side table and helped them out of their layers of scarves, overcoats, and jackets. As I hung the lot up on the row of pegs on the wall, I heard one of them gasp. I turned quickly to see them staring into the library, looking far more scandalized than they had upon seeing the whiskey. I followed their gaze automatically, trying to guess what had upset them and then had to bite my tongue to keep from uttering something profoundly offensive when I saw what it was.

A handful of people were sitting in a semicircle facing the far end of the library. Tuesday had been teaching art classes at the inn for weeks, with Nadine’s help, and he was currently in the middle of a lesson. Everyone in the room, save Tuesday, was busy sketching the subject on display in front of them.

Each week, Tuesday offered a different theme. I had served as the model for a class on portraits a few weeks ago after Tuesday had complimented my “glorious bones.” Before the group at the moment was another study in glorious bones. Tuesday’s. All of them.

He was stark naked and perched on the raised hearth like a sculpture on a dais. With his divinely sculpted body and regal pose, he certainly looked like something an Italian master might have rendered. If said master had a penchant for dark, seductive devils. To his credit, Tuesday was holding a hat of some sort over his naughtiest bits, but the rest of him was more than wicked enough.

“Oh that,” I said to the women, waving a hand casually toward the library, “that’s just Tuesday and his art class. Don’t mind them.” I was trying to shuffle the women away from the door when Tuesday grinned and waved hello. Of course, he’d waved the hand holding the hat, thereby revealing a shockingly large erection.

“Oh for fuck’s sake, Don Juan, put that thing away,” I shouted without thinking. At this, the little O’Callaghan sisters, who had been frozen to the handscraped floorboards, jumped and scurried across the lobby. They disappeared into the dining room without a backward glance, muttering furiously to one another and shaking their heads as they went.

I sighed and glared evilly at Tuesday, who laughed and winked at me before resuming his pose on the hearth. The art students had scarcely noticed the whole exchange. I turned back toward the kitchen, having decided to return the whiskey before attempting to deal with the old women again.

I wrote this one night after Ephraim crawled into bed with me in the middle of the night…apparently I’d been frustrated with him earlier in the day. :)

He Sleeps

He sleeps, soft and silent beside me,
His breathing in time with mine.
He drapes a leg over my own, holding me,
Beseeching me in slumber to stay.

Tomorrow he will grumble and argue,
Driving me to frustration, to anger.
His words, sometimes, are designed to test me,
To fluster and confound, to push me away.

But he pulls me close as he drifts,
Unburdened by thought, at peace.
I hold him and breath in the scent of him.
He sleeps.

I wrote this about 2 years ago, way before I started a blog. I thought I’d give it a home here, since it does fall into the fiction category. Albeit, far different fiction than what I’ve written since. Ephraim thought it was pretty cool, though.

November 16, 2009
After reading some Seuss stories tonight, I had an idea, and put fingers to keyboard. Thought some of you moms might appreciate it.

A Very Strange Dog:

There once was a boy named Ephraim McSnog,
And this Ephraim, I say, had a very strange dog.
This dog could change colors, from purple to blue,
To red, black, or yellow, or a strange greenish hue.

But one day, when Ephraim McSnog turned around,
His very strange dog was nowhere to be found.
He looked high and low, and he looked far and wide.
He looked in ten houses with people inside.

He was getting quite worried and he started yelling,
If anyone knew where his dog was, they weren’t telling.
Just then he ran into young Kerry Kerchoo
Who’d lost both her kittens that morning. All two!

She’d looked far and wide, and she’d looked high and low.
There were too many places for kittens to go!
She’d looked in the bushes and under some rocks.
She’d looked under hats and in pockets and socks.

“I have an idea,” offered Ephraim McSnog.
“Let’s look together for your cats and my dog.
Two lookers are oh so much better than one.
Looking alone really isn’t much fun.”

They set off down the street, calling their names.
One of the kittens was called Jimmy James.
The other was something like Candystripe Clover.
“My dog,” Ephraim said, “is named Bully Dozer.”

They searched and they searched, but they still couldn’t find them,
So they both started walking to places behind them.
They went back to the place where it all had begun,
And Ephraim saw something that made his feet run.

He saw a red shape up ahead change to blue,
Then he saw a small kitten, and then he saw two.
Kerry Kerchoo saw them too, and she yelped.
She was really quite glad that this Ephraim had helped.

They were all very lucky the dog Bully Dozer
Had found Jimmy James and Candystripe Clover.
If the kids hadn’t spotted his coat turning blue,
The pets might still be lost, and that just wouldn’t do.

So if ever you’re feeling alone or quite strange,
Remember the tale of the cat Jimmy James,
And Candystripe Clover and that very odd dog.
Strange is just fine. Just ask Ephraim McSnog.

New blog post up on Another Mind’s Trash. Link on the right.

So, WordPress says that I should change the title of this post, which they created as a sample “welcome-to-wordpress” sort of thing, but I think I like it.  Shouting “Hello world!” requires no small measure of pluck and self-importance, which probably explains why I am simultaneously thinking of Gypsy Rose Lee and singing The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb.”

This blog is a placeholder of sorts.  A seed.  A toe in the water, if you will.  My dear friend and soul sister, Amanda (a.k.a. Auntie Mander) and I have hatched a plan to host a cyber-repository of essays, short stories, novel excerpts, and whatever bits and bobs of miscellaneous musings our wide and varied circles of friends might have to offer.  For us, life is, at its core, a search.  We aren’t sure what the search is FOR, just that there is one.  Writing is the chronicle of that search.

I tend to write fiction in one of two ways.  I either have a destination in mind, but no clear path by which to get there.  In that case, I know how a scene or story will end, but I have no idea what road the characters will take.  Or I have a clear vision of a journey, but  no sense of the destination.  In that case, I have merely a cast of characters, a full tank of gas, and a blindfold.  I type those stories with my fingers crossed.  Never does my cast of characters possess either a map or a plan.  Like mother, like child.

Hopefully in the coming weeks, you will find in Another Mind’s Treasure chest a trove of fantastic bits of both fiction and reflection.  Our theme–and the name of our future indie press should we ever manage to upgrade this experiment to something more productive–is “Lost & Found.”  This seems to encompass both the more spiritual aspect of our endeavor–chronicling the search–and our more practical desire to keep our options open and showcase a wide variety of material.  I’ll be posting, and I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, sit back and “let me entertain you,” ’cause “I’m your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-CHERRY BOMB!”

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