Tiana bent over low to peer under the orange pick-up truck, aha! She skittered away fast when the fat bearded guy walked up, slung his groceries in the back and yanked the driver’s door open. She kept a keen eye on anyone coming and going in the parking lot as the noisy thing finally left. The she went over and picked up the can of Cherry Pie Filling where he’d been, no dents or nothing.
Safely in her backpack, she patrolled the IGA lot for more dropped goodies, more stuff not recovered from busted bags, dropped money (seldom). Too bad they took away the Salvation Army donation box that used to be on the far corner of the lot, too bad. She wore a nice warm coat from there until she had to give it to her little sister. They had a church pretty close but she was afraid they’d chase her away like the church on the other side of the lot did. They’d called her ‘filth’.
‘Sheesh, one good thing all morning.’ Her thoughts darted between vigilance and wondering if her mother’s asshole boyfriend was gone yet. He was mean and evil and she hoped her puppy he killed would haunt him. She loved her pup, but put him under the seat of his car anyway because Star Baby would really haunt him with stink pretty soon.
The sound of a busting grocery bag arrested her attention. She raced over to the elderly lady and picked up everything that fell for her. Yes she honestly did, everything. The lady did not want the jar of bread and butter pickles with the crack down the side. Tiana did, and thanked her for it. She went over to the ditch to get a spare bag out of her backpack. She tied the bag tight with the jar securely inside. She had a pickle jar saved at home to transfer the pickles into. Win!
The old lady hadn’t driven away. Why not? She went over to check on her. The driver door was open.
“Hi there, young lady.”
“Hi, I thought maybe something was wrong cuz’ you didn’t leave. Are you okay?”
“I was thinking about you, child. Why you out here scroungin’ like this?”
Just as Tiana started feeling self-conscious, she noticed the woman had a Salvation Army jacket across the passenger seat. “I gotta be gone while Mama’s boyfriend is there, he’s very mean.”
“Mean to you, your Mama or both y’all?”
“Both, and he killed my puppy too.”
“Why does your Mama let him in?”
“I promised I’d never ever tell.”
“He sells her dope so she has no money for groceries or clothes or anything else.”
Tiana said nothing but nodded slowly.
“We can help you child. I got this here food to supplement an open picnic we’re having today. You are welcome to be there. You know where our church is? Good. Be there early and put some shoes on if you can. Okay?”
Tiana felt a bright light of love shining into her heart! “Yes ma’am! Can I bring my little sister?”
Out Of Rehab. Again. Pong opened the trunk to get his duffle of a thousand patches out. He’d sold his house and most everything in it for his addiction to Happy Herry. His and Lili’s house, with little Po. Yeah, little Po had lived with his brother for a few years, since the rehab before last. Now he’d live here at Pete’s too, or under a bridge with the other cracked up vets. They’d flown him to Laos while the new love of his life went on to Saigon. Oh Lili.
Pong realized he stared at Lili’s patch from Afghanistan, the official one from the Hagibi Hospital where she worked putting people’s faces back together. She used to work there as she’d stayed in after he was discharged. She’d sent Po to him with a note saying they were a real family now, with this little boy. He yanked on the duffle strap and dragged it to his brother’s front door.
“I got the tea straight from Singapore. Great isn’t it” Pete grinned and topped off Pong’s mug.
The kitchen table was supposed to be a cozy, comforting family place to ease anxieties. Crap. “Yeah, great.” Pete had set him up in the rec room, too much room. Pong had nearly collapsed to see a new drawing table, paints, markers and a stack of poster boards. Not anymore, no more cutesy art, not without Lili. He walked outside the room and leaned against the wall in the hallway.
Po burst into the front door singing out “I’m home!” The kid stopped cold when he saw Pong. “Hi Pong.”
Jeez, the kid had grown! “Hey sport. What did you learn in school today?” God forbid if the kid wanted a hug – that was Lili’s job.
In a much subdued tone, Po said, “I have to do a report on a pet. But I don’t have a pet.”
The kid stood as if in the choir, in church. At least the single time Pong had attended church. He’d seen the boy trail up to stand on the stage with a dozen other kids and belt out some hymn. He remembered the grand days where he and Pete had belted out harmonies at some of the big shows. Jimi Hendrix got top billing but there were instant venues all throughout the milling crowds. He’d met Lili at the Pixly Farm show, where it rained the whole time. They let her sleep in their tent.
Pong jerked. “What?”
Pete patiently said, “I told Po that we could go to the Dog Pound and get a pet.”
Pong saw Po’s eyes dart from his nominal daddy to his own mug of tea. He’d had missed the kid sitting down. Annoyed, he blurted, “You could make up a pet.”
Po took a deep breath. “I read that the Dog Pound mostly kills the big dogs and the black cats.” His eyes lifted toward Pete. “If you don’t want a big dog maybe we could get a black kitten.”
The hope in the boy’s plea would have broken Pong’s heart if the still had one. But he gazed at Pete. Apparently, he’d lost his adopted son as well as his wife, each gone quite a while before he ever knew it for certain. He sipped his tea and remembered how he and Lili talked about getting a dog right before her unit sent her over to Afghanistan.
A jacket thrust into his face made him jump. Automatically standing to put his jacket on, he asked, “Where to?”
“You stay in outer space most of the time, dude. The Dog Pound. That’s what we’ve been jawing about, right? They close at five so we’d best be movin’ along.”
In the back seat Pong vividly recalled his favorite poster, ‘Movin’ Along!’, the one he’d got prints made of, the one that had people coming up to get their copies autographed. The cool air in his face and opened door clued him they’d arrived.
At the counter Po explained that they needed to see the process from the end to the beginning. The woman in charge frowned, saying the public was not allowed in the euthanasia area. Struggling to pay attention, Pong asked, “Can we see Death Row?”
The woman screwed her mouth up for another access denial, but Pete saved the day by asking, “He’s troubled. Can we visit the pets that have been here the longest?”
Pete stopped at the Cat Room that was indeed populated with a preponderance of black kitties. Pong went on to the last chance Dog Room, Po at his heels. Huh. He glanced back again, not a hallucination.
The dog room felt so weird, almost electrically frizzy. Maybe because there were now a hundred eyes on him? A neon rainbow sprang from Po to a shaggy auburn Irish Setter-like mutt. Pong blinked and it disappeared yet the affect remained. The mutt looked intently his way. Pong thought about how long he’d tried to draw somebody making the “Tck-Tck” sound you make with one side of your face pulled back, like when you wanted a dog to come. He’d messed up too many poster boards trying, no luck. Luck? Really? He shook his head hard to keep in this time and space.
He stretched one side of his lips back and “Tck-Tck” erupted. The mutt bounded up and over until his paws on each shoulder nearly bowled him over. Once he caught his breath, he knew this was HIS dog. Or maybe his and Po’s? ” Hey son, what you want to name this giant hairy creature?”
His son’s face lit bright. “Angel.”
“Down, Angel”. The dog sat obediently, tail wagging like a windshield wiper. He remembered that leaving Pixly Farm he had to get new wiper blades before they got to the interstate. Angel brought his attention back to the here and now. He saw Po lean forward to check out Daddy’s demeanor. Pong flung his arms out. That hug felt better than he ever thought one could.
The 60’s style flamboyance made his ‘Save a Pet’ posters a big hit, in the restaurants, in vet’s offices, grocery stores, lots of places. One of Pete’s cats, couldn’t tell Stupid from Cupid, had knocked over a bottle of black ink, stepped in it and walked across the top left corner of Pong’ s first effort. Now they all had black cat paw prints stamped there, like the seal of approval.
He shook his head and turned away from the framed posters on the wall. “Lemonade. I came in to get lemonade. He took a Minute Maid out of the freezer and stirred it with water. He heard Po shouting something and laughing. He walked to the screen door and watched Po try to toss the tennis ball again except the dog sat on this hind legs right in front of the boy, begging. Pong opened the door and aimed for his lounge chair. Po ran over and took the lemonade from him just a second before Angel knocked him over, licking his face and arms until he felt like a slobber doll. That Angel could wear a guy out! That Angel was a blessing.
I’ve always liked chicken cooked a dozen ways, I made a little fenced in chicken coop when the cabin was finished and always had fresh brown eggs, and worked at a chicken processing place for a decade!
My chicken fetish lasted for several years. It’s over now, but I can’t bear to get rid of any of this stuff.
Some aren’t in the kitchen…
And there are a few items collects overseas, a wooden rolling chicken the egg turns around inside I made, ceramics, even a chicken tea cup. No, I’m not obsessed. Am I?
This year with more time, I restarted making my own yogurt. Golly, I’d missed it, and was delighted to get that first batch made. Since then, when there’s only one jar left I scoop a glob aside to make the new batch before gobbling the contents.
To start the fermentation I needed some new culture, the stuff I had in the freezer had been there WAY too long. The easiest way is to just add a glop of one from the store. They used to make the ‘fruit on the top’ kind so getting down to the plain yogurt was easy. To compensate, I used strawberry flavor as I put a spoonful of strawberry preserves in the finished jars anyway.
To begin, heat up half a gallon of fresh milk, 185 degrees F. I let mine set at that temp for 30 minutes because I like it thick. The let it cook to 115 degrees F and mix that reserved spoonful into it. Then put it in the clean jars to ferment!
Oh, the yummy-ness! Add a dab of of any preserves or such you like and enjoy something that’s actually GOOD for you at that afternoon snack time!
I been in an all-out tumult this year! How about you? I had a ton of terrible anxiety at work last year that culminated in getting fired two days before Christmas – Ho-Ho-Ho! I can’t go into it, non-disclosure statement, but let’s just say it was both a magnificent relief to be away from there and also a new mega-anxiety. At my age, a woman has little chance to get a good job. I was at the old place 11 years and got bonuses every year but the last couple. No way can I hire in around here for even half of what I was making there. Where’s here?
Unpack: I bought a fixer-upper in the city to be nearer to work and not have to drive a couple hours to-from each day. Had to sell it this spring too cheap and try to move all my stuff out in my Subaru. Anything I could not stuff in, tie on or take apart stayed. Now all that plunder is piled in the cabin out here in the 100-acre forest. I’m trying to upgrade my online bookstore inventory from about 900 books to 3000. I have an account with ABE Books who harbors independent booksellers from all over and my monthly account is for 0-3000 books. As the Old Lady Who Bookstore, I have about 1500 books in the inventory now and strive onward, often with books I have collected over the last few decades. Some are even worth much more than I bought them for as they’re 1st editions and some have become rare! Speaking of books, I finally did get all my Elise t’Hoot Galactic Adventure series into print…took a while to get the covers right.
Elise is a crewmember who, as an aid to the exiled Agronomy scientist, is the only non-exile allowed out onto the planet surface. The others stay on the main ship in orbit or on the transport ship that delivered the exiles to do the studies.
Elise’s chip says she’s Marta from Germany but her management decided she’s just another ‘Soggy’ and shun her. This allies her with the exiles even more strongly. ‘Soggy’ is a likely phrase as humans have a history of making caricatures of ‘lesser’ folk with such derogatory language.
Elise’s plan was to make enough money to go home and pay tuition to finish her degree. She is flayed when she hears of the plan to destroy the trees planted and the horticultural bounty the wrecked Dutch ship carried. My mentor told me that such heartrending issues affect people now, the world over, and that it will doubtless occur more often when times get tougher. They really do care about us.
When Elise takes a walk though the planted trees, she finds one she does not recognize and is affronted, that was her major in college! She realizes this is not a tree but an alien. And there are more hiding among the trees. I was told life comes in trillions of forms, most that formed by evolution in their home environments. They have a wide span of development, some simple and some highly advanced.
Elise’s Paraguayan friend dubs the aliens Amigos. As life is in many forms, so are the attitudes and emotions of that life. Tehuti said peace and cooperation is most natural, and there is a strong tendency for civilized folk to recognize peace as beneficial. He’s from the Lyran area of the galaxy and there were folk like him there as well as a civilization that thought the weaker or more self-serving beings should be thinned out. For the Amigos I chose smart, peaceful and honest as attributes. Later, other aliens that threatened Earth for example, were more mechanical and unconcerned about others if there was a technical concern.
Elise convinces the other exiles to help her smuggle the aliens to the next Colony planet instead of allowing them to be destroyed with the trees. Tehuti’s major concern was that we show the poorly treated illegal with mental issues from trauma can lead and make pivotal changes for humanity. She sacrificed her future to save the Amigos and bravely introduced this alien species to the humans of Tenembras. This was my way of stating that real heroes don’t let anything stop them.
Elise, now known as Marta, signs up for a colony supply bus that has an initial science stop. She becomes the aid for an exiled Canadian food distribution master, famed for supplying poor populations. Her best friend is an exiled Pantanal peacekeeper who tried to save the Amazonian ecosystem. They reach the initial planet stop and find a Dutch ship full of trees and plants that had launched with grand fanfare was sabotaged and crashed there. There are no human survivors, however the shipwreck also destroyed the transport for a group of aliens. As word of this questionable shipwreck would incite riots, ship command will destroy the shipwreck and the cargo of plants, flowers, trees as well as the tree they were able to plant on this dim and inhospitable planet.
Space tech is making amazing progress considering where we were a decade of a few ago. I was informed that the ET Entities try to inspire some of the most promising scientists.
When the number of refugees get far too manageable and there’s no place for all the bodies, the US and China compete to colonize planets. Then it becomes a real estate race; who can find and keep the most lucrative planets?
I was urged to read of the current planetary findings by NASA and affiliates. Most at the time while I was writing the stories, the discovered planets appeared to have no atmosphere or water and to be very close to the local sun. Ricky told me that many do have atmospheres and water but are more difficult to detect with current methods. There is much life thriving out there according to the ETs, and they should know!
As did the Dutch, the Canadians will probably use their newly warn northern areas to grow great quantities of food which they, in the story, do charge those who can pay but also donate much to support central African countries in particular as they are working on grass root improvements for all. Having a shipload of grain ruin on the dock under US orders looks very probable. Stopping African nations from cooperating on ways to allow a better life for millions will probably not be acceptable to the autocrats.
Elise ‘known as Marta’ is common now. I worked with such a person with an assumed name 25 years ago. The technology will attempt to thwart this by giving US citizens embedded chips that can be scanned wherever one goes. Does it surprise anyone that there are people who can reprogram the chips?
The main and title character of the Sci-Fi series The Elise t’Hoot Galactic Adventures, is Elise. 100+ years hence, the Dutch folk (her mother in particular) are premier at food production techniques and the construction of strong seawalls (her father’s forte) that protect vulnerable populations. Elise’s world is shattered when the outer barrier wall for the Netherlands is destroyed, allowing a ravaging storm to flood the country. Her father is missing. Her mother and brother are herded to a camp where the crowding is made worse by dead bodies and food is dumped for sport, to watch the refugees fight for it. Her brother is killed that way.
No surprise, the climate will pass critical tipping points without dedicated and effective action. All the entities are very concerned as the Angels are tasked with aiding and caring for us, Jesus is hoping to prevent pain and mass suffering, the Elemental share the planet with us and the ETs, many of which helped start human civilization as gods, want to use their technical expertise to prevent havoc. All of them have leaned to care for us, even when humanity does terrible things.
Any competition to the US hegemony on tech, food, status is in danger. The Netherlands devoted much to assisting others by providing innovative propagation methods and rising sea safety. They, particularly Elise’s father, got too much prestige for that and was allowing upstarts to rival the US in some areas.
Elise and her mother got German help. There will always be caring and loving people who can make the situation better. Unfortunately, it seems these folks will need to be more and more careful of speaking out when the authoritarians come into power.
Making sport of food fights? That happened through history, and these camps are much like concentration camps. The difference is, the citizens are herded together for exile as property proof on barely livable colony planets.
Elise and her mother escape and find a German uncle who has a dying daughter. He gives Elise and her mother the identification of his daughter and wife. They arrive in the US as Germany is a favored Eurussian ally. They live with an aunt in Kentucky that operates a forestry reserve. She attends WKU until her scholarship is revoked for unknown reasons. Perhaps the Botany and Forestry section fell from autocratic favor?
The series covers many current issues that we might use to gain a wider perspective on. The series is still in eBook only, I’m having a darned hard time getting the covers right to send to the publisher. I won’t give up!
My hateful, arrogant *&%#^@(@? boss fired me after trying for a year (ha ha!) and since then I’ve had the time at last to format and publish some of the books I’ve written in the last few years.
The oldest were the Elise t’Hoot series, originally written in 2017 as 400 page goliaths and re-done in 2019 as re-edited and cut in half books with cool new covers and a catchier subtitle to make them more noticable and readable. Now they’re all in Kindle as the 10 book series called An Elise t’Hoot Galactic Adventure! I had to go to the ISBN agency and revise the titles and when that change winds through the system, I’ll put the print versions up. Yip! Yip!
The other thing done so far is the dowsing book that I’ve made far to complicated. I had the eBook up first of the year but like the t’Hoot books, I could not get the publishing company I was trying to work with to accept my covers. They were never the right size in one way or the other. Well, I’m taking the t’Hoots off that site to Amazon’s KDP and will do them there. I was going to yank this dowsing book as well but miracles can happen – they took the 6th revision cover for the print book! Conversing with Various Entities is now in print! Whoopee!
Most of the rest of my time has been gobbled up by that dowsing book’s website, blog posts and the store that will sell the 200+ pendulums I’ve made so far. I’m great at making the pendulums at about 6 per hour but keep getting muddled and aggravated in the attempt to finalize the website and store. Yesterday I thought I was fixing some of the store issues and realized I’d made my blog page static and had 40 pendies on sale there. Good greasy gravy!
The Little Brown Bats book will be next, or maybe Otto & Socks Outpost One or I might skip to the dozen Take-A-Break Shorts books ; all of them eBooks that need to go into print so I must format them and design the folding covers and then I gotta jerk them from Ingram to set-up on KDP. For so long I had no time to fool with these and now I can. Yes, I need to get another job soon, but gee willikers, I feel so good about making progress with these books I wrote and hoped for so much. They took time, energy, imagination, a piece of me in each one! I grieved about letting them all languish…why bother writing anything (including this blog) anymore?
Now, I have planned and written out a series of blogs featuring eco-aspects of the t’Hoot books. Coming up soon! Hopefully they’ll be available in print by then. Stay warm!