Mix equal parts anthropologist, biologist, geologist, and artisan, stir and heat in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, sprinkle with a heaping pile of odd life experiences. Half-baked.
Dear Mom: Day 1 - I'm not sure this is the best place for me to "toughen up," as Dear Old Dad says. So what if I am a bit plump? I'm also short, are you going to put me on a rack to "straighten out" quite literally? So what if I prefer reading to playing sports? I think you're barking up the wrong tree. Speaking of trees, these are pretty creepy around here. Half are dead, and the other half have all kinds of vines hanging from them, like they're snakes or something waiting for you to look away before they strike. The first day of summer camp isn't the best time to pull out the word "ominous." I'm going to tell my camp mates stories tonight to keep them awake listening for those vines to slither down and strangle them. At least then their snoring won't keep me awake!
- Runner-Up in Ship of Dreams Challenge
The Box of the Captain's TableRunner-Up in Ship of Dreams Challenge
Madelaine was rummaging in the archives of the lower basement, like usual. Why sweat and work yourself to a lather in the field, when you can work in the sub-basement on the hottest day and still be cool? And she still got to unearth treasures. Sure, someone else had found them first, but then they were stored and forgotten after being itemized - if they'd ever been properly itemized at all. Forget being filed; things were just dumped hodgepodge in boxes and crates as they were donated. She'd gotten a small wall's worth of proper filing totes and a handful of markers, and would only re-emerge blinking into the sunlight at meals or quitting time. But things were finally sorted in a way to be useful to future researchers... especially if you liked ledgers. Chock full of ledgers, they were. The local small town banks had donated them all when the big city takeover was complete, with contents and assorted ephemera that they'd gathered from the corners and storage rooms. No complete inventory had been successful, but Madelaine was more determined than usual. Being the re-discoverer, as it were - and displaying or storing things properly - was so much more fun than arguing with arrogant know-it-all entities about just how significant the placement of the jar on the left or right side of the burial meant if it was male or female.
The Witch's Bottle
Is magic real? Every person has a different answer to that - sometimes many answers, or a stack of answers layered up like pancakes. I'll bet just reading that question has gotten the hackles up on many a reader, and I haven't even gotten to describing my project yet.
I just started packing for next week's trip. This one's a hard trip to prepare for - not just because there's a pandemic going on and I'm in the extreme high-risk category, but because I'm worried about what I've packed. Did I get everything I need? What did I forget? Did I buy too much? What if I got the sizes wrong, the colors wrong, the styles all wrong? What if I didn't get the right food in the right flavors?
My Family, My Teachers
To all the teachers in my family, and all the things you taught me - If you're very, very lucky, family are just friends you didn't get to pick yourself - they were already in place when you arrived, like the furniture and 70's shag carpeting. Unlike the carpeting, the teaching has stuck around for far longer, with far-reaching consequences that even my parents would never have guessed at.
Our Rescue Pup
My granddog is a rescue. Well, okay, scratch that. If we're being completely honest, my granddog rescued herself. The details about her alleged abandonment are sketchy, and I will make if generic enough that the original owner can't come after me for making them look bad. Suffice it to say, the owner moved, and Muffin was somehow left behind. There was some sort of abuse involved at the place puppers was left at, and one day Muffin had had enough, and took off at an opportune time to see if there was a better place in the world than where she was.
The Manacled Magician
He woke up screaming again. The bracelets locked on his wrists burned like iced iron, and he could feel the spell tapped into his magic channels like hot needles under the skin. Every time he moved, the sensations shifted - now at his fingertips, now at his knees, wherever his thoughts and focus strayed, the pain followed. Like a viper attached to his thoughts, it would bite wherever his mind's eye looked.
I found the first cypher in a dry-as-Sahara treatise on Victorian table settings. By the time I'd found the third, I'd scoured all the public libraries in the city, and was now methodically combing through each and every private library in each doge's residence - that is, their summer palace, their winter palace, and also their spring cottages and country camps and hunting lodges. And mistress' flats, and even some servants' quarters.