Friday, March 30, 2012

Flash FridayFictioneers… Lost Opportunity!

She’s gone!!!
I came across her… sentinel on a country lane… green mottled skin slowly rusting to a different hue. 

I was conflicted in my feelings toward her.  First surprise, then awe at her beauty.  

But so many questions.  Whose? Was she afraid, tucked away in the woods beneath a blanket of leaves?  She looked so forlorn in her abandoned state… yet, somehow majestic in her loneliness.  

I was in love.  I wanted to paint her.

I would always take a moment to visit.

Then today… GoneWhisked away by an alien starship, the ground dusted for prints and wiped clean.


It’s Friday, and time for 100-word Flash #FridayFictioneers… 
Flash Fiction over at Madison Woods

When I saw Madison’s photo, I knew exactly what I was going to write about, except I didn’t know how I was going to do it.  After all, this is supposed to be fiction, and I had been kind of cheating lately with the memoir thing.  I think this may be a combo.
matthew dollahite

I was on Kanaka Bay Road one day (and no… this Island isn’t
Hawaiian) and came across this old truck, parked next to the road.  It was beautiful, sitting in the shade, and I thought it would be a great subject to paint.  I love paintings of old abandoned things.  My friend Matt, had painted one recently and I thought he would be the perfect guy to do the job.  He may have been in his Hay Bale Period by then, because I begged him to do it and he wouldn’t budge.  But in his defense, he really would rather do boats, and he is very good.  Next, I begged my friend Jill, but she was more into crows and nature.  I tried to explain that there were trees and things, but to no avail.  Lately she is doing landscapes and has just done a rooster that I think is wonderful.
jill trear
This begging went on for years with those two.

jaime ellsworth
San Juan Island is blessed with many fine artists, and one of my favorites is famous for her dog paintings.  I should have asked her, but Jaime has moved on to bigger animals now and would most likely not be too interested in my truck.  I might have been able to con her daughter, Jennifer, into doing it… she did a tractor design on one of her County Fair T-Shirts one year… wearable works of art.

dianne poinski
I, of course, am far too insecure to try to actually draw or paint the truck myself, although I fully intend to hand tint a black and white photo I made.  I once took a course in hand tinting B&W’s, from Dianne Poinski in Sacramento.

christopher young
jaime powell sheppard
I was walking through the Sacramento Airport a few years ago, and was stopped in my tracks, just like with the truck, by a photo of The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.  That building is another obsession of mine.   It was part of a display of Dianne’s works.  I copied the info, and ended up purchasing a hand tinted photo… it is one of my proudest possessions, right up there with the sketch Christopher Young did for me, of Madame X (another passion), at the Met in NYC.  And a favorite photo of the State Street Subway Entrance, that I had used so many times in Chicago, taken and printed by Jamie Powell Sheppard.  So, I guess I could have done the truck, and still will someday.  When I took the course, Dianne gave us prints of her photos, on special paper, to learn on.  She is a pretty good teacher, because I thought one of my efforts came out pretty well, and I love the photo.
dianne (& me)
Two days ago, I went back out to Kanaka Bay.  I had not been on that road for about six months, and was looking forward to seeing the truck again.  But, it was gone.  I wasn’t sure I had the right place, but it had to be, since the old fence with the weathered ‘No Trespassing’ sign was there.  There was not a trace of the truck to be found.  I was amazed and a bit disjointed to have lost an old friend.  Perhaps someone is restoring her beauty somewhere… and I will get to visit again.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


                                        1959… Modoc County, California
Cruising down a rutted farm road. Clinging for dear life to the hood of a ’48 Mercury… engine purring, one of those Moon footprint gas pedals on the floorboard.  Searching for rabbits... frozen in their tracks by the blare of the headlights piercing our way through the darkness.  I’m scared, cold, excited and have never seen ‘so many stars come out at night’.
There’s one!!!
I blast away with the 10 gauge… it’s a wonder I don’t fly off the Merc. I didn’t hit any that night.
What else would you expect from a city slicker?
This story is a contribution to Friday Flash Fictioneers… see what it’s all about @  Madison Woods and read the many takes on her photo prompt.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

俳句… HAIKU BOMBERS #3... Watchmaker's Car

young Watchmaker's girls,
home from school patiently pose,
in clothes neatly pressed.

so long ago watches cleaned,
only buck fifty the fee,
but, gassed up the car.

little black Austin Bantam, 
family of six fit inside,
they must have been squished.

Once again, it's Haiku Time.  This week's prompt from Quill Shiv, was to find a photo of children and be inspired...

I chose this family photo, from I would guess 1928ish.  My Grand father was a watchmaker, jeweler, optician, and railroad watch inspector in Sacramento.  This was the family car and I've quite a few photos of it.  My grandparents had 5 kids,
and my father would drive all the kids to school in it.  As you can see, it is quite small.  When he was in high school, as a prank, his friends carried it up to the stage before an assembly, and left it there.  My aunts Laura and Emily post above with the Austin Bantam auto, and my grandfather Theodore is below, probably repairing a watch or two.

Friday, March 16, 2012

俳句… HAIKU BOMBERS #2… St. Paddy’s Tacos

          Quill Shiv has a new Haiku writing prompt... A photo of Saint Patrick.  
My result:
                         You can make your own 
                         corned beef, cabbage and salsa
                         at the taco bar.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos… In 1986, back in my Restaurant Days, I went to work for Jerry Franco.  Jerry was a bit of a culinary impresario on the Sacramento restaurant scene.  He had just reopened The Town House on 21st Street, down the block from The Sacramento Bee newspaper.  The Town House had been a Mexican Food tradition, and had been sitting empty for a few years after the owner retired.   Franco had opened in a blaze of glory, courting the news hounds and the denizens of California State Government. Having just left a job managing The Fabulous Fifties Cafe, I was ready to mingle with and serve adults.  So I went to work for Jerry as a waiter/bartender/manager.

It was a fun place to work, and we did some crazy promotions to try to make the The Town House a success.  Big lunch business, big after-work bar business.  He kept a few Mexican items on the menu, along with the 'Upscale Designer' dishes he came up with.  Each Happy Hour, we featured a Taco Bar, where the patrons could make their own tacos, to wash down with their Martinis and G & T's.  For me, that taco bar was a pain in the ass, since I had to leave the bar and run back in the kitchen to replenish the supplies.  But the tips were pretty good as long as the food held out.

Saint Patrick's Day was coming up, and The Town House, along with every other bar and restaurant in Sacramento… no, in the United States… was looking for ways to make some money off one of our more important Drinking Holidays.  I had the bright idea to put corned beef and cabbage on our Taco Bar for the day.  Jerry agreed that it was a brilliant idea, and gave me full credit, in case it bombed.  Getting free publicity was not too difficult, since we always made sure to 'take good care of' certain writers from up the street.  Low and behold, we saw some nice mentions in the gossip and the What's Going On In Town sections of the Bee the day before, and our Happy Hour was packed that St. Paddy's Day.  In fact, two guys drove down from Hangtown at lunch time to try the CB&C Tacos.  I had to plead with the cook to make some for them.  At Happy Hour, the idea was well received, lots of new people came in, and best of all... Mr. Franco even stuck around to help stock the Taco Bar.

So, when I saw the photo prompt for this week's Haiku... for some reason, I thought of those Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos, and working at The Town House.

About 4 months later, I left for the Neon Restaurant Lights of Chicago.  I later heard that the Town House had closed and that Franco was the chef at a seafood joint in Cape Cod.  Last time I was in SacTown, it was a gay bar.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


She was just a girl, but she had managed to break the magician’s code. As she entered the cinderblock building, Pan almost chocked on the bile produced, not only by the smell, but the fear that was beading the sweat on her forehead. She knew her job, now she just needed to find the container. They had said it was in the shape of a bucket, that she should not open it. Barely seeing, more like feeling, Pan searched. It would have been nice to have had a torch, but then batteries cost a lot these days.

It was hard to concentrate, with one ear looking toward the door, the other searching the room for any sense of movement. The floor was greasy and made for slippery going, but at last she found a stack of what felt like buckets. Just one was needed, she was surprised at how easily it lifted.

Once outside, after adjusting for sunlight and checking for any eyes that might be about, she examined her catch. Yes, a dirty blue, as described, with just a swish of liquid inside. The others had been as easy to heft, so she had assumed they were all the same… this wasn’t just an empty bucket.

But then, her little-girlness got the better of her, and Pan had to look. Carefully prying the lid, she was almost knocked over by the giant spider shooting up through the crack at the edge. Like a Whirling Dervishe, it started rising in the air, trailing a thick web behind. The web grew so fast it finally was like a huge blimp tethered to the ground, and when the screaming inside started, she ran as fast as she could… wondering what she would tell her bosses.  

Another photo prompt… this one for Flash Fiction Faction, by Quill Shiv.   Thought I’d at least give some fiction a try.  This is what I made up after looking at the photo.  I can’t think of a title.  I now have a title… thanks to a kind comment by Quill… it helps to know a real writer, and I am shamelessly using her quote.
And this is what started this fiction madness… maybe you would like to try…  FLASH FICTION FACTION

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Friday Fictioneers #1… SEMI-PRECIOUS GEMEMOIR

The brilliant orange stone in the glassine envelope is a Padparadscha. It is man-made, as are the other stones in the photo, I suspect. The size and quality would indicate so… if natural they would be in paper packets. This photo resets many memories… from a lifetime so long ago.
The countless hours spent studying colored stones at the G.I.A. on the way to a Gemologist Degree.
The hours spent buying and selling gemstones.
For some strange reason, when I saw this photo, I thought of the day when I opened the jewelry store, to find our safe lying on it’s back with the door open…
It's funny how one thing leads to the other... I was looking at some creative writing sites, and a photo caught my eye.  Having worked in the family jewelry store, before leaving to 'find myself',  I read with interest.  It appears the photo was a prompt to inspire writers to create a story 100 words long.  Apparently they do this on Fridays... hence the name of the group FridayFictioneers.  The Headmistress is Madison Woods.  She posts a photo with her story, and her followers add theirs.  I enjoyed reading the different stories 'prompted' by the photo.  She invited me to try, so I  sparklers...did, even thought I'm not a Fictioneer.  Do see Madison and check out all the different stories suggested by the pretty sparklers...