Five Line Fetchy Fragment: Hunger

I'm so hungry for something I haven't a recipe for
I want to believe in magic
I want to believe in dreams
I want gentle ghosts to haunt my graveyard
And my house and my carousel

Cie for Gem
Ondina for Serab
Pepper for Gerry

Prompt Used:

You can stop right there and just read the poem, or you can continue on and read the long and rambling notes.

This story poem was created for Team Netherworld's longest-running WIP, Fetch, which is a Lovecraftian paranormal romance.
Fetch's protagonist is Gerry Clifford, a Scottish musician raised in London's seedy Crouch End borough from the time he was twelve years old. (As inspired by Stephen King's Lovecraftian short story, Crouch End, which can be found in the 1980 anthology, New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos.) As Gerry's cognitive and physical abilities deteriorate, he is placed in London's Candlelight Ridge Care Home. Gerry's spirit begins to go AWOL from a body which no longer works properly, and he discovers that the unfortunate residents at Candlelight Ridge are not simply succumbing to the ravages of age and infirmity, their souls are being harvested by Yadira Root, an ancient high priestess of the notorious Cthulhu Cult and the daughter of Nyarlathotep himself. Pursued by a hostile hive entity, Gerry turns to troubled American medium Pepper Baiij for help.
Many millennia previously in another star system and possibly another dimension, Gerry was a thief named Serab. Serab was a member of a race persecuted by West Zecor's tyrannical King Qweh, who captured the hapless thief one day and presented him to his sister Princess Ondina, an empath whose primary function was attempting to ameliorate the destruction and chaos caused by Qweh.
Qweh hoped for Ondina to be irritated when he gave her the tiny, elfin Serab as a replacement for her slain bodyguard, but Ondina did not react as Qweh hoped. She treated Serab respectfully. There was an immediate attraction between Ondina and Serab, although Ondina was statuesque, stately, and a member of the ruling class while Serab was small, rough, and a member of an oppressed race.
When Serab was brutally murdered by Qweh at the end of the doomed planet Zecor's existence, Ondina sent his soul to "the realm of the yellow sun" with the admonition that the pair must never meet again. Ondina hoped to protect her beloved from Qweh's threat that he would destroy Serab in any lifetime where he and Ondina reunited.
Serab eventually reincarnated as Gerry Clifford while Ondina reincarnated as Pepper Baiij. The star-crossed lovers were finally reunited when Gerry's spirit or Fetch began leaving his body in search of help.
It's doubtful that Fetch will ever be published in any kind of cohesive form. It remains Team Netherworld's favorite WIP.

Disclosure: If you purchase the book through this link, I earn a small commission.

Carpe Diem Summer Challenge 2019: The End of Summer

the end of summer
can't come soon enough for me
I'm sick of the heat


Carpe Diem Summer Challenge 2019 + Tuesday Platform: Coming Full Circle: Not Your Summer Tryst Under the Big Moon

no summer love here
hope for a rainstorm to come
far from any beach

on a faraway seashore
as the children gather shells
couple making love

I want a garden
perhaps a small waterfall
spilling over stones

don't want a French kiss
I take tea with sunflower
won't lurk in shadow


I've never been keen for flings and I don't like being anyone's dirty little secret. Finding a summer love never appealed to me, and I've only been to the beach once in my life. I'd much rather spend my time on mundane activities such as gardening than engaging in an ill-advised mating dance which will only end in heartbreak for me. 
Frankly, in many ways, I'm quite content not to be young anymore. I only wish I had the strength and endurance of my youth. The impulsiveness, stupidity, and desperate lovesick puppy behavior is more than welcome to remain in the past.

Real Cie Reviews: Wyrm's Warning

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

The following is a duplicate of my review on Amazon and Goodreads for this novelette.

The author really knows how to get inside his characters' heads and describe their motivation. Unlike many male authors writing a female character, he doesn't linger on unnecessary descriptions of her anatomy. Tala is an ordinary young woman who lives in a time and place where women are treated as objects to be done with as males see fit. She faces manhandling by the old woodsman whom she is attempting to assist, and worse from the realm's boorish prince and corrupt priest.

One night while leaving the old woodsman's cottage, Tala is attacked by an unknown creature and mysterious changes begin to take place in her life, subjecting her to moments of terror and rage as she tries to comprehend what is happening.

Tala is a brave and level-headed young woman who faces truly awful situations both from the supernatural realm and the natural world in which she resides. Although there are uncomfortable scenes in this story with regards to men's treatment of women and girls as sex objects to be used as a man sees fit, these scenes are never gratuitous or unnecessarily explicit. 

There are jokes about male authors writing women in an overly sexualized fashion. Michael J. Allen manages to avoid being on the receiving end of the joke by writing his female characters with empathy rather than salacity.

I finished this story in one afternoon. It is a compelling page-turner.


Carpe Diem Summer Challenge 2019: Twilight

Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay

Looking forward to
Finally seeing twilight
From the window of
My new home on the prairie
Will the day finally come?


When you invest in a historic property in a way-off-the-beaten-path town, there can be holdups. This place is not move-in ready, and getting it to that state is proving to be a challenge. It's been like pulling teeth for the electrician to get the necessary permits. He's trying his best, but the people who are supposed to be helping him aren't being very helpful. He said that usually permit people are more than happy to take your money.
It's also been like pulling teeth to get the proposal from the plumbing company. Why don't these people want our money? If they don't get the proposal to my email tomorrow, I'm going to tell them that we'll come to the office and sign it. 
With my health issues, these 250-mile round trips are knocking me on my ass. I'm an old night shift worker who has never slept well at night and these contractors like to get cracking at the ass-crack of dawn. 
I may suggest to my son that we consider packing everything from the townhouse into a pod and staying in one of those by-the-week motels in Greeley so we don't have to keep making this drive. It's really taking a toll on me. Of course, we'd have to find one that would allow cats...hell, it's always something.
Anyway, this bit is going to start coming down today, so that's a start.

Real Cie Reviews: B-Side

Rating: 3 of 4 stars

Main positive takeaway:
If you like gritty modern mysteries with a nod to ongoing social problems such as homophobia and sexism, you may enjoy this story. It's a fast-paced page-turner.

Main negative takeaway:
The author tends to suddenly switch between past and present tense. This may have been a deliberate stylistic tactic, but it didn't work for me.

Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation: Goat and Sunflowers

I drive past a house
Little goat stretches through fence
Munches sunflower


Come as you Are: J.O.B. to Poor but Free

Image by Grae Dickason from Pixabay

This poem describes very well how I felt about being in the Employee Mindset for nearly 40 years. The line "grey upon greyness" is particularly evocative.

That's exactly how I feel about the Life of an Employee working a J.O.B., which I did from the time I was 16 years old until this year when my disabilities knocked me out of the working life for good. (I'm 54 now and am working from home.)

There were some things about the jobs I did that I liked, but, overall, it was an extremely soul-destroying situation. I absolutely felt like I had to give up bits of myself all the time.

I certainly don't like living in poverty, which I am at this point. However, one thing is true which it never was when I was working a J.O.B. (stands for Just Over Broke). I am really and truly myself, not someone else's servant. On a soul level, that is tremendously freeing.


Ugly: Secrets

Copyright Ross Findon via Unsplash

Content Warning: Adult themes. Although this post contains no explicit depictions of sex, it does contain a brief mention of female genitalia using medically accurate terminology and a brief allusion to a sex act. If you find such material offensive, please do not read this post.

Raakel walked into the abandoned hospital building and down a flight of stairs to the basement. She wasn't really sure where she was going, but she felt that she had plenty of time to explore.

Although the basement was dark, Raakel could see everything. She looked in the employee break room and in the women's and men's locker areas, wondering exactly what she expected to find.

One of the men had taped a pornographic picture in his locker. A young Caucasian woman with bleached blonde hair and a heavily made-up face sat in a chair, her legs spread wide, leaving nothing to the imagination. Her left leg draped over the arm of the chair. One finger of her left hand covered her clitoris, pointing at her vaginal opening with a red-lacquered nail, while she sucked the index finger of her right hand with pouty scarlet lips, simulating fellatio. Her half-closed eyes with the smoky lids and overdone false eyelashes regarded the camera with an expression of mock desire.

Raakel felt a sudden surge of rage as every incident of rejection she had ever experienced came flooding back. She tore the poster out of the locker and threw it on the floor. She hated to admit the ugly truth even to herself: she secretly despised women who agreed to pose for such pictures because they made things all the more difficult for ordinary women. Men had unrealistic expectations of women as it was, the sluts who posed for pictures like this only heightened those expectations that women should be sex dolls with perfect bodies, spending each and every waking moment dedicating themselves to pleasing their masters.

 As a feminist, Raakel realized that the women posing for the pictures were not necessarily doing so because they truly wished to and that the pictures were altered to remove any perceived imperfections the model might possess, such as scars, blemishes, stretch marks, cellulite, or fat rolls. The woman in the poster she'd torn down might well have agreed to pose for the picture so she could make the rent money. She may even have had children whom she needed to provide for. She really wasn't the one to blame. Raakel hated the ugly secret prejudice she harbored and resolved to be kinder.

"We can't make a change by blaming women," Raakel reminded herself. "We need to start holding men responsible for their half-baked, impossible, and frankly ridiculous beliefs about what women are supposed to be."

"Some men are certainly pigs."

Raakel gave a start and gasped with surprise. A diminutive older man wearing a blue jacket, dark gray cargo pants, worker's shoes, and a knit cap stood before a doorway. Shaggy gray-brown hair poked out from beneath the cap, forming a veil over the man's eyes and brushing his collar. There was an orange neon sign above the door spelling out the word "change."

"My name is Vespasian Adomaitis," the man introduced himself. 

"I'm Raakel Viborg. You have my attention," Raakel replied, feeling foolish the instant she said it. 

The man smiled and gave a nervous chuckle.

"Oh, well, good! Always better to have another's attention when you have something to say, don't you find? Please, come in, won't you? I'll fix us a cup of tea."

Gem Moondreamer
Nikki Lee
Thalia Graves
The Real Cie

Prompts Used:

This is a chapter from Team Netherworld's sadly neglected WIP, Ugly, which is part of The Yadira Chronicles. It is the story of Raakel Viborg, an Upir, and her companion, Vespasian Adomaitis. We haven't quite decided what Vespasian is yet. He could be an angel, a ghost, or some sort of revenant, including an Upir. It's still up in the air.

Insecure Writers Support Group Book Club Question: During Which Season Are You Most Inspired to Read and Write?

Image by Henning Sørby from Pixabay

During which season of the year are you most inspired to read and write?

My response:
Autumn and winter. I have horrific spring depression, and I tend to have a lot of extracurricular activities which take me away from my normal schedule in the summer. 

I'm always a bit amused by the responses I get when I reveal that I have spring depression and gloomy winter days don't bother me much.
"But how can you be deepressed in the spring when everything is so preeety, and young people's fancies turn to Lurve????"
The part of my brain responsible for the physical aspect of my bipolar disorder doesn't see pretty. I theorize that it becomes aware of changes in light which it doesn't like and which make me feel like a lonely ghost haunting a mausoleum. The pretty flowers make this part of my brain think of flowers on a grave. I often dream of cemeteries at this time of year.
As for young folks' fancies turning to Twoo Wuv, have you read my poetry? Does it seem like that shit has worked out for me, like, at all, other than to be a complete and utter thermonuclear holocaust? It's kind of like saying "but why don't you like having a railroad spike driven into your chest? What's wrong with you?" 
Twoo Wuv doesn't work out for everyone. End of.

Carpe Diem Summer Challenge 2019: Flowers and Bees

Summer Flowers

depth of a flower
flying away with the bee
some mystery

depth of a flower
more than human eyes can see
beneath its petals

flying away with the bee
nectar gathered for the hive
pollen on their legs

some mystery
why foolish humans can't see
how necessary

~Jane & Cie~

The "sleigh" of this Troiku was created by Jane Reichhold (1937 - 2016). The trio of bees pulling the sleigh was wrangled by me.

Weekend Writing Warriors 28 July 2019 (ER, LGBT, RO, SF)

“I’m Ipatiy,” the cyborg introduced herself. “This is Csilla. Please, let us help your friend.”

“I…my given name is Ipatiy, but I go by Rhodie,” Rhodie explained, wondering if she had struck her head and was imagining the whole bizarre situation.

“Please don’t be afraid,” Ipatiy soothed, gently touching Rhodie’s arm. “I assume that I must have been cloned using your DNA. I mean you no harm. I want to help you. Bring your friend and follow us.”

The gigantic Irejna scooped Samantha up in her arms and cradled her against her breast.

~Cie for Naughty Netherworld Press~

When the volcano which Base Lust-69 was situated in erupted at the end of Paraji's Prisoners, our heroes and heroines found themselves drawn through wormholes to various other locations in space and time. Norman and Sarah are in one location on a strange earthlike planet. Climax Castle's Mistress Samantha Zuniga (a Gamma Iridian), her bodyguard Ipatiy "Rhodie" Rhodes (a 100-year-old vampire), the Gargoyles Irejna and Elsza, the Gamma Iridian test subject Bella, and the human technician Francie are in another location on the same planet. 
Rhodie is shocked to meet her Cyborg doppelganger Ipatiy, Bella is erotically enamored with Ipatiy's cyborg companion Csilla, and Irejna is extremely concerned about Samantha, who is very weak and fading in and out of consciousness.

Check out Paraji's Prisoners, the sizzling erotic sci-fi extravaganza from Naughty Netherworld Press.

Carpe Diem Summer Challenge 2019: Beach Party for Every Body

Image by David Shaw from Pixabay

What I have been wondering for a long time is this.

Why is it that when you have a bunch of stupid guys on a beach and a person with the “wrong” kind of body walks by, and they yell terrible and mean-spirited things at this person who is minding their own business,

Why is everyone’s response to ignore and even justify their behavior rather than shouting them down?

Why shouldn’t everyone be allowed to relax and have fun at the beach or the pool?

Why is it only fun for those whose bodies have been deemed attractive enough?

Why shouldn’t fat people and skinny people and people with scars and stretch marks and ladies with saggy boobs and men with round pot bellies and hairy folks and scrawny scarecrow guys and gals with arms and legs like Betty Spaghetti have a nice time too?

I think it’s rather boring when the only people who can go for a swim without feeling self-conscious and like they must keep covered up are young people with the “right” kind of body.

Shouldn’t we have gotten past the idea that the only people whose bodies should be seen are sleek, unblemished, photoshopped visions of pornographic “perfection?”

Shouldn’t the beach be a place where everyone can cool off, not yet another spot where only the hottest hotties are allowed?

Beach parties are fun
For those with the right body
Not so much for those
Whose bodies have been deemed wrong
Ignoring not an option


Cyberia: Cyber Labyrinth

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Cyber Labyrinth

Norman and Sarah walked to the top of a small hill. Norman scanned for metal in the hopes of finding another access port and, hopefully, food and water for Sarah. The android looked momentarily puzzled.
“What is it, Norman?” Sarah asked. “Can I do anything to help?”
“Not at the moment, Sarah,” Norman replied. “I was momentarily stymied, as I believed I would be scanning for metal versus organic material. However, I will have to adjust my sensors to scan for a specific type of metal instead.”
“Why?” Sarah inquired, suddenly feeling as if she might scream at any minute.
“Because everything beneath the surface layer of this sphere is metal, so scanning for metal was as if I had gone anosmic and was attempting to sniff for food. It was as if all the food suddenly smelled like gelatin.”
“Why do you suppose everything under the surface of this planet is metal?” Sarah wondered.
“I do not think this is a planet at all. I believe it is some sort of space station which has been terraformed and given an atmosphere in order to make it appear to be a planet. The effect is Barmecidal once one realizes the truth.”
“Do you suppose it was designed by the same inept technicians who built a scientific base inside a dormant volcano only to have it break apart and, hopefully, send its occupants on an astrovagant journey rather than having them burn up in a flood of molten lava?”
“I sense similarities in the construction of this station and Base Lust-69. Please do not be afraid, Sarah. It is my intention that we shall converge with our companions who were sent on other trajectories. I will work tirelessly towards this goal and, surely, it shall be accomplished.”
“I’m not sure that can happen, Norman. We don’t even know where we are.”
“We will find out, just as soon as I acquire you some food and water. Together we will work towards this goal, Sarah. Between my computational and processing software and your intelligence, we are certain to discover a solution.
Sarah’s eyes welled up with tears.
“I’m afraid I’ll never see Julie or Dale or Marc again, and you’re trying to put rose-colored glasses on my eyes and blind me to the truth!” Sarah snapped. “If you really think that we can find a way to reunite with our companions, then do it! Prove me wrong, don’t tell me another lie. Please!”
Norman located another access door. This one had stripes painted on it.
“If I had a shovel, maybe I could help you get in,” Sarah suggested, feeling bad about snapping at Norman.
“It is secured with a titanium lock,” Norman noted. “In order to best breach the lock, I will need to make it cold. This should make the tumblers more responsive to my pick.”
“Norman, I think I hear water running,” Sarah stated. “I’m going to go see.”
“Sarah, a moment! I nearly have the lock breached! Please, I advise you not to go anywhere without me in this unknown territory!”
Ignoring Norman’s warning and her previous training dating all the way back to her days as a Brownie, Sarah capered down the hill with a manic grin lighting up her face. She stopped at the edge of a glistening stream so clear that she could see the sunlight glancing off what appeared to be emeralds embedded in the sand. Sarah was terribly thirsty. She cupped her hands and drank.
“Sarah, I’ve found something incredible!” Norman announced as he hurried down the hill. “Quickly, you must come and see!”
Sarah suddenly leaped up, assuming an exaggerated martial arts stance.
“Who are you, Metal Man?” she demanded.
“Oh dear,” Norman sighed, sticking his finger into the stream and running an analysis. “Well, at least the water isn’t poison and the effects should wear off in a couple of hours. This is fairy water. It should have a similar effect to psilocybin, which does not explain your sudden display of fear and aggression towards me. Oh…but this might. You ate a piece of this necro-mushroom, did you not?”
“What’s it to you, you metal wise guy?” Sarah sneered, approaching Norman and poking her finger against his chest. “There’s nothing you can do to me! Oh, you thought I was dead when you and your crew of titanium thugs mowed me down during that home invasion, but the savvy scientists at Base Lust-69 rebuilt me, and now I’m fucking bullet-proof! Nobody puts Sarah Swallows in a corner! Try anything and I’ll put you on the scrap heap, you rust bucket!”
Norman scanned his database and, although Sarah was something of an enigma, he found nothing to confirm the home invasion that she alluded to, and he was already aware that her body contained no bullet-proof material of any kind. He reached his hand towards her.
“If I had any desire to harm you, I’d obviously have reason to fear your retaliation,” Norman said. “However, I am here to help you. I assure you I was not involved in the home invasion you describe. The first time you encountered me was at Base Lust-69. I am your friend, Sarah. It is my top priority to ensure your safety. I assisted you in escaping when the base collapsed, and now it is my mission to assist you in reuniting with your companions. I believe I may have found a way to access the various components of this space station. Won’t you come with me? When your mind is back to its normal functioning, you will be able to assist me.”
“Very well, you certainly don’t seem like the sort who would break in and blow innocent people away,” Sarah agreed, although she continued to regard Norman with suspicion.

~Cie for Naughty Netherworld Press~

 Prompts Used:

 Word Salad:

1. Who Are You
2. Break Apart
3. Water
4. Anosmic- absence or loss of the sense of smell
5. Stripes
6. Scream
7. Shovel
8. Barmecidal- giving only the illusion of plenty; illusory:
9. Station
10. Help
11. Converge
12. Specific
Prove me wrong, don’t tell me another lie. Please..
travelling through space; traverse through stars.

This is a chapter from Naughty Netherworld Press' exciting new WIP, Cyberia, due for release on 8 August 2019.

Naughty Netherworld Press' most recent release: 

Heeding Haiku: Shadows on the Wall

shadows on the wall
hope to see you hiding there
haunter of my heart

A story-poem for Fetch
By Cie for Gem and Pepper for Gerry
Fetch is Team Netherworld's longest-running WIP

Insecure Writers' Support Group Discussion of Are You There, God, It's Me, Margaret

1. Throughout the book, Judy Blume shares Margaret’s prayers to God. Have you ever used prayers in either external (spoken) dialogue or internal (inner) dialogue? (Doesn’t even need to be directed toward God. Any sort of prayer counts.)

I was raised Catholic and I was quite devout until I got into my late teens. Honestly, one of the reasons I came to doubt the dogma of my religion was their attitude towards menstruation. I had hellish periods and the idea that I was being punished for Eve's indiscretion was odious to me.

2. Judy Blume tended to keep her dialogue short but relevant, no more no less, do you keep your dialogue short and to the immediate story point?
I try to keep things short and to the point. I don't always succeed, let's be real.

3. Judy Blume writes in the first person, and I noticed she used small portions of narrative between dialogue to convey thought and feelings of the main character as they talked. 

QUESTION: Do you combine narrative and dialogue?

4. A. Have you ever written dialogue for children or young adults? Did you struggle with it or find it surprisingly easy?
I struggle with it. I'm used to writing for adults. I find writing for adults much easier.

B. If you’ve had children in your writings, what/who inspired them, their actions, and their dialogue?
To be honest, I'm not particularly innovative in this area. Most of my child and adolescent female characters are me, and most of my child and adolescent male characters are my son, who is now 29.

5. At the time it was written, this story was a contemporary, and now it reads more like a period piece (no pun intended). Is this story still effective? How could this story be re-imagined or updated to better appeal to the youth of today? 
I don't think it should be changed. I think it is still relevant and I don't think it would work as well if it were modernized.

Real Cie Reviews: Are You There, God, It's Me, Margaret

This is a classic young adult novel for girls of a certain age. I rather doubt that the fellows will be able to relate to it very well because it's all about being a girl hitting puberty, and not just the often awkward physical changes that come with that "wonderful" time of life. I first read this book when I was eleven years old. A lot of memories came flooding back to me listening to the audiobook version at the impossibly ancient age of 54.
The book is told from the perspective of Margaret, a likable eleven-year-old girl who is worried about appearing normal, about when her body will develop, and about what religion she should have if any. Margaret's father, Herb, is Jewish, and her mother, Barbara, was raised in a Fundamentalist Christian household. Barbara's parents disowned her when she married Herb. When Margaret was born, Herb and Barbara decided to raise her without any specific religion and to let her decide for herself as she grows up.
Margaret prays to God, asking for divine intervention in the issues that matter most to her. Her conversations with the Almighty serve to reveal her character and motivations.
When Margaret's family moves from New York to a suburb in New Jersey, she becomes friends with Nancy Wheeler, Gretchen Potter, and Janie Loomis. Together, the girls form a club called the PTS's or Pre-Teen Sensations. They make pacts with one another to buy bras, reveal when they get their periods, and keep a book listing the names of boys they like.
Although there are discussions of sexual issues as the girls speculate what the precocious Laura Danker supposedly does with boys behind the local store. The girls jealously assume that Laura, who has a more developed body than they do, must be promiscuous. 
During the course of the book, Margaret learns that most people are imperfect and that one should not listen to rumors or make judgments about others based on the way they look.
As a woman of a certain age who became a girl of a certain age in the mid-1970s, I can completely relate to the girls' feelings regarding the way menstruation was fairly well made into one long commercial by the books and films given to schools for sex education programs. These films and books were made by companies which sold sanitary products. 
I can also relate to the fact that no-one tells the girls about how periods feel. I was informed that it "doesn't hurt" and feels "sort of like peeing." While every girl's experience is different, there was no warning for me about the debilitating cramps and extremely heavy bleeding which would be my companion every three weeks for forty years to come, and I do believe I still feel rather salty about that. At least in the United States, there was an attempt to remove the stigma of "being unclean" from menstruation, but it was still shrouded in a certain degree of mystery and was not addressed in an entirely straightforward and realistic fashion. 
I will always love Judy Blume for the way she wrote her characters to seem like real girls, some being the kind one would want for a friend and some being the kind who try very hard to appear to be better than anyone else, often while hiding their own insecurities.
In some ways, it's disheartening to me to realize that we really have not come very far in regards to projecting the idea that only certain types of bodies are good onto girls. There is still a pervasive idea that only the "Playboy body" or the fashion model body are good bodies. When Gretchen gets her period, she is admonished by her mother that she now needs to be more careful than ever about what she eats because she "gained too much weight" over the summer. The seeds of an eating disorder are planted every day by mothers who obsess on the ideal of thinness at all costs and project this obsession onto their daughters. This is a problem that has not changed for the better in the nearly fifty years since this book was published.
"Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" is a timeless story for girls, including girls who are now closer to Margaret's grandmother's age than to Margaret's. While the story isn't very relatable for boys, it might give them some insight into what it feels like to be a girl. I recommend it not only for girls reaching puberty, but for fathers, brothers, and male friends of girls reaching puberty. Judy Blume did a remarkable job of looking into the minds and hearts of pre-teen girls.

My review for Audible:
I first read this classic story when I was 11 years old in 1976. Listening to it again now that I'm closer to Margaret's grandmother's age than to Margaret's, I remember all too well the insecurities of being a girl reaching puberty. I related very closely to Margaret's thoughts and feelings, the worries about whether I was "normal" or not (in my case, the answer is a definite 'no'), the fear that I wasn't developing in the "right" way, worries about what boys thought of me, and speculations about religion.
Unlike Margaret, my religion was decided for me. I was raised Catholic. However, she and I had conversations with God in common. 
Throughout the course of the book, Margaret learns to take neither people nor rumors about people at face value. She also learns that most people have insecurities, and some of them will go to great lengths to hide theirs.
Sadly, not much has changed in the nearly 50 years since this book was first published regarding social issues such as girls believing that beauty falls within a very narrow range and that only the "Playboy" body type of the fashion model body type is acceptable. Girls are taught early on to obsess about their weight and to attack rather than support each other.
I am not sure if sex education has improved much in regards to menstruation. In the United States during the 1970s, there was a push to get away from the archaic idea that menstruation was "dirty". However, I fully related to the girls' cynicism regarding the presentation given by the lady in the gray suit. Information about menstruation seemed like one long commercial for period products.
I was glad to reunite with my childhood friend Margaret. I listened to this book in one afternoon and remembered the girl I once was. I've always been a bit hard on her. An old favorite story reminds me to treat her with a little more compassion. The compass she was given was broken. She did the best she could.
By the way, I hope that Margaret's life turned out wonderfully. I would love to read about her adventures as a lady of a certain age.


Carpe Diem Summer Challenge 2019: Shadow

Photographer unknown

blue autumn skies
folded into mountains
purple shadow

blue autumn skies
stretching endless before me
skies blue like your eyes

folded into mountains
a felled giant lies sleeping
dreaming of the past

purple shadow
falls over eyes which can't cry
I have seen too much

Jane & Cie

such a hot day
my shadow needs to cool down
under the willow

such a hot day
sun beats down unrelenting
upon troubled earth

my shadow needs to cool down
it steals away and leaves me
muscles wracked with pain

under the willow
I find trouble waiting there
in the form of thought

Kyoshi & Cie

The "sleigh" of the first Troiku was created by Jane Reichhold (1937 - 2016). The "sleigh" of the second Troiku was created by Kyoshi Takahama (1874 - 1958). I wrangled all the horses.
I have chronic, widespread, low-grade pain from fibromyalgia and am constantly hot and easily fatigued due to my various endocrine problems. The summer is not my friend.
Grover and Clem aren't bothered by this weather, seeing as Grover is a ghost and Clem is a mutant Cactus Man, or maybe a Man Cactus.

Kestril's Rhythms and Groove: Matcha, Hot: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 27

Kestril's Rhythms and Groove: Matcha, Hot: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 27: “When the going gets tough, the tough go to tea.”  ―  Js Devivre,  The Tea Traveller's Constant Companion: Oregon Art brewed in the blood

Cie Says:

The only true art is art brewed in the blood.
I find it sad that often the stories I love best are the ones I get to work on the least often because I know they have no "commercial appeal."

Carpe Diem Summer Challenge + The Tuesday Platform: Midsummer Rain

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

A prairie rainstorm
In the middle of summer
Slow and lumbering
Meanders across the land
Shrouded in dark cloud cover


This poem is part of the Grover series, honoring the first place I've ever felt like I could call home since childhood. I don't feel like a temporary tenant when I'm there, I feel like this is where I live.
Please visit me, Ghost Town Grover, and Cactus Clem at the Good Stuff From Grover website!

This poem has earned the Cactus Clem Seal of Approval!
Cactus Clem sez: "I shore do like when it rains! As a Cactus Man or may be a Man Cactus, I am always thirsty!"

Carpe Diem Summer Challenge 2019: On the Porch

The back porch area at the Grover Hotel

Much work to be done
Before we have a good porch
For relaxation


This was not a classical Haiku--sorry! But it is where my mind is. Mike from Construction Guru starts his work tomorrow. Then the electrical work begins, then the plumbing. At that point, there's still a lot to be done, but we can start moving in. I will be happy about that. 
These 250-mile round trips to go to the site and then come back to Lakewood are very stressful. I'm seeing myself coming and going and feel like I'm neglecting other areas of my life. This starts to make me feel very critical of myself, and not very good at all about my creative work. More about that later.

Even though this poem failed as a classic Haiku, it has earned the Cactus Clem seal of approval. In fairness, Cactus Clem doesn't know the first thing about classic Haiku. As Clem says: "I ain't know much about poem writin', but I know what I like, and this here is a poem I like!"

Ghost Town Grover says: "Can't say as I know nothin' about writin' poems neither, but I reckon this here poem is purty good."

Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation #94: Crow

Photographer Unknown

as evening comes on
a crow pauses on a branch
contemplating night


Inspired by Matsuo Basho 

Carpe Diem Summer Challenge 2019: Ice Cold Beer (With Grover and Cactus Clem)

Image Source

When the contractors
Make the old place livable
We are moving in
My son will brew his own beer
We will enjoy with new friends


The stars are finally right and the contractors are going to be able to start working to make the Grover Hotel ready for our move! 

My son is going to help the excavator pull down this rickety extension which a previous occupant erected on the property. It has no real support, and the excavator needs it out of the way to be able to expose the foundation for the structural engineer.
Once we are able to get settled in, among other projects such as growing both outdoor plants and indoor salad greens using hydroponics, my son wants to start brewing his own beer. Fortunately, we already have a couple of volunteer taste testers!

Ghost Town Grover was a miner during the Colorado Gold Rush. He was born in a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail on the fourth of July, 1840. He settled in the Grover Hotel in 1910. One night while he was out exploring the prairie grasslands with his shovel, inspired by a bolt of White Lightnin' to start a new gold rush, Grover was sadly mowed down by a train as he stood on the tracks gawping in awe at...

Nobody knows exactly where Cactus Clem came from or just what he is aside from, in Clem's own words "a cactus man, or maybe a man cactus," but the words "mad scientist" have been tossed about regarding his origins.

Image by ErikaWittlieb from Pixabay
A mural featuring Dr. Schitz graces the Research Laboratory at Hell's Pass Hospital and Research Center on the outskirts of Nightmare Heights

Although he was three sheets to the wind on the night in question, Grover distinctly recalls hearing "what I thought was a train with engine trouble," and then seeing "a blue box-lookin' thing set down next to the track, and three fellas got out. One of 'em had on a white coat, one of 'em had on the craziest-lookin' getup I ever seen, and I couldn't quite see the other one in the shadows."

The Story of Cactus Clem
Ghost Town Grover
So there I was, standin' there starin' at the weirdest sight I ever did see and swearin' off the White Lightnin' for good. The feller in the crazy clothes was English or somethin', and he said: 'are you sure it's all right to leave your experiment here, Dr. Schitz?'"
The feller in the white coat said: "ja, ja, it is desert and he is cactus. Not to vorry." This feller sounded a lot like my old friend Slim Svensson from back in the gold rush days, but it wasn't him. Slim wasn't no scientist, though he sure did like to blow things up!
So then them two fellers went back in the blue box and I heard that weird noise again and the box disappeared. The third feller was standin' there across the track, and he said: "Howdy, Partner! My name's Clem, and I'm real thirsty. Do y'all have anything fer a feller to drink?"
Well, I said: "c'mon back to the ole hotel with me an' I'll git you somethin'. I don't trust this here white lightnin'. It makes ya see weird things."
I started to cross the track, but then I got a load of Clem, and I stood there gawpin'. That was all the time it took fer a train to run right over me. When I come to, I was standin' on one side of the track and my body was layin' on the other. Clem was swiggin' down the last of the White Lightnin'. He looked at me and grinned.
"This stuff is purty good!" he said. "It really hit the spot!"
Well, I didn't have much to do fer a long time, 'cept haunt the ole hotel and hang around on the lone prairie with Cactus Clem. I learned that he was some kind of scientific experiment made by that nutty Dr. Schitz feller. Clem don't eat nothin', but he has to drink a lot. So I know he's gonna look forward to tastin' the homemade beer when the Ornery Old Lady and her son git moved into the Grover Hotel! Iffen y'all stop by sometime, you might be able to have yerself a beer too, and maybe play some cards an' recite some poetry!

Yer ole pal,
Ghost Town Grover

Closing Comments on This Blog

At this point, this blog is only a place for sharing links, and the only comments I've been getting are comments like the following fro...