Monday, June 25, 2018

Cuba part one

Welcome to Summer here on the Coast of Illinois. This season I am trying something new. Mondays will be a fiction post, inspired by the Sunday Photo Fiction bloghop, a group dedicated to 200 word fiction inspired by a photo. I may be pushing the 'boundaries' slightly. I am hoping to make each post story-like, but Big Picture, I am shooting for a serialized story based on characters from an old fiction piece that I have yet to finish but hope to one day. 
A little background on this - Egypt- was a story I started years ago through an on-line writing group. It is a romance/mystery/adventure sent in Cairo in the 1930's during the beginning of what would become WWII. Initially I had hoped for this to be a stand alone story but as I worked on it more and more I found it lent itself nicely to a series of stories founded on the main characters love of playing 'hide and seek'. But as adults, seeking a greater good. 
Sounds heavy but I assure you, it is not. It is the sort of story I want to read in the summer, heavy on romance but exciting and adventurous. Not in that bodice ripping harlequin manner but more of a Casablanca, The Mummy (Brendan Frasier version)way. 
To help maintain the 200 word limit, and avoid too much more explanation let me introduce the main characters.
Celia - the female lead, a photographer.
Grayson - her brother, the instigator of the game.
Miller - a special forces sort of agent, Celia's love interest.
Al'Rhoubi - Grayson's right hand man.

I hope you enjoy the series. 
And if fiction isn't your thing, check back towards the weekend when more of a 'sailing' theme will prevail.

And now, without further adieu...

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding, from Sunday Photo Fiction

part one

Every town has one, she thought as she stepped through the door into the cool pale darkness. Questionable cleanliness, so much graffiti carved into the beams it was a nod to the a higher power that they still held. She took a deep breath, but rather than clearing her head, the dense smells of stale beer and old seafood sent memory spinning.
From a shadowy table in the corner, Miller waved her over, bottle in hand. "Just as hot as Cairo, but much better beer." He slid an opened bottle across the scarred surface towards her. "Any word?"
She took a drink.
"None yet." She turned her chair, angled between the table and door. "We wait. Like always." The waiting was the worse, both tedious and exciting. Drug-like.
"Wouldn't it be easier to just tell us what crusade we're on?" he knew the answer before the question left his lips.
"No. It's not how Grayson works. Never has been. Never will be." She stretched, remembering. "You think those kids will be okay?" The faces of the brother and sister waving from the train as it sped on to Lisbon haunted her.
"as sure as..." Miller's reply trailed off as the light from the open door was eclipsed by broad shoulders of a broad man.
In the stranger's hand was a white envelope. Even from their place in the corner, the writing on its face familiar.
"Well, here we go." Celia stood. "Senor?"

Who is the mysterious stranger? What does the letter say? 
Come back next Monday for more.....Cuba....

For more posts in the SPF click here:

(Sunday Photo Fiction or SPF links can be found here: )

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


It is 6am here on the Coast of Illinois and the temperature is already near 80, humidity in the triple digits. (Yes, triple digits. That's when it is so humid you can actually watch the moisture squeeze onto plants...)
look closely. you can actually see the droplets forming. even in a still picture...
Just two months ago we were complaining about the cold and lamenting the fact that summer would never arrive.
We were fools in that earlier time.
never thought we would see these again...
Now, older and sweatier, we understand.
Summer is here. If not calenderly, then at least in a temperate manner.
can't you hear them singing...Hot Hot Hot.....
I, for one, am thrilled.
There is nothing better than sitting on the deck in those early morning moments, eating breakfast, sipping coffee – which still manages to get cold despite the thermonuclear power of the rising sun – watching the cat melt into the deck as the squirrels desicrate the bird feeder.
I long to absorb every once of humidity, every bit, until my hair is so frizzy I can barely fit through the door. I delight in the dampness on my skin from the sheer effort of turning the page of the book I am reading. I consider it a free cleaning when my glasses fog to opacity when I exit the air-conditioned space of home to get to the car and then, in reverse from car to house.

Because in just a few short months it will be winter again and that person who lamented the slowness of summer only to immediately bitch about the heat and humidity, will return to their giant puffy coat and whine about heating bills.

Enjoy the moment!
to me, nothing simultaneously says cool shade and pourable humidity like these leaves.
(this brief, slightly griping post brought to you by a little too much sun exposure while reading in the sun...)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Almonds for Breakfast

Sitting here, late on Saturday morning, regretting the peanut butter graham crackers I ate at 2am when I couldn't sleep but really needing a little something to accompany the acidic, delicious coffee I am drinking.
It has been a funk inducing week. Family stuff – everyone okay, but still worrisome. Work stuff – superbly annoying to the point of resume searching.
But, the weekend is beginning and I will not let the week win.

Nectarine, Parmesan, Marcona Almonds. Would never have eaten this for breakfast 40 years ago.
But reading Provence 1970, and remembering our trip to Switzerland...

My go to weapon against this funk...

Now settle down. I know 'eating your emotions' is not healthy.
But, eating good food is a totally different treatment.
And good food doesn't mean fancy. Or expensive.
'Good food' triggers a sense of well being – safety and love from tomato soup and grilled cheese as a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons; excitement and laughter shared over a ridiculously large bag of whip cream served with key lime pie, closeness only good friends have shared over a glass of wine....

The second question to the family, after 'are you feeling okay' has been, what can I bring for lunch, dinner, snacks....
The powers that be at Work have fed us daily with lunches, snacks, even candy in areas where we aren't suppose to have candy...
There is nothing I love more than to cook a wonderful dinner for family and friends. Yes, it's a lot of work. But it's also therapy, creativity and ultimately an opportunity to create a shared experience.
And it's those memories of shared experience, triggered years later by that spicy salsa or that gooey breakfast biscuit which remind us of good times and provide hope for the future.

Food can't solve everything. But, sharing food, even the most modest meal, can sometimes be the most powerful medicine.

~Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life.~
Anthony Bourdain

(I don't like 'jumping on a bandwagon' but I also feel an obligation to use this medium for good. Suicide is a devastating act. It's effects reach much farther than just the victim. If you feel alone and need help, don't be ashamed. If you have a friend or family member you are worried about, don't hesitate. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255). We all need a little help every once in a while.)