Don’t you just LOVE that Brand New Year Smell?

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~~~~building across the street shot through frosted window.

Nope.  Not me.  Smells cold – icy, actually.  Winter temperatures have finally settled on Wisconsin.  Not the snow that everyone was hoping would fall in time for Christmas – just the cold.

Now, if I lived in a sane environment, like Florida (apologies to any Floridians I may have insulted with this statement…) the new year might smell more wonderful – like the salty-tang of the ocean spray…or the floral notes from your favorite blooming garden shrubbery…but it certainly wouldn’t smell cold.air hurts my face

Right now, it is 4 degrees.  With the winds up and ruffling everyone’s hair – the weather station says it feels like -10.

Brrrrr.

I certainly didn’t want to get out of bed this morning and make the trek through the freezer to work.  The cats didn’t want to see me go, either – they’d rather I performed the much more important task of comfortably settling into my recliner to be their warm-blooded furniture with hands that gently stroke the fur.  But…duty calls!

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last year, on my way to work, after a ‘light’ snow.

I really should be used to this by now – I’ve lived in the frozen Mid-west all my life – and every year it gets “Wow, that windchill is vicious!” cold.  Every year I re-acclimate myself to the heavy boots, the heavy coat, and gloves. Every year I leave the house a few minutes earlier than usual, so the car can have the 5 minutes it needs to warm up before I put it in drive and head to work.

But hey! – at least we’re over the sunshine dimming a bit quicker each year, and are on the upward swing toward more light each day.  In this kind of cold, you gotta take whatever little happy moments you can get.

New Year’s eve is presented as a time to ‘reset.’

lifegoal out old in new quirky phrase

Facebook, and other social media, are awash in everyone declaring how they’re going to be a better person once we toss the 2014 calendars, and hang new ones.

Oh…and in Wisconsin…we’re gearing up for the Beer-fest this evening.  Everyone spend the last few hours of the old year getting so sodding drunk you can’t remember the first few hours of the new one.

Have I mentioned lately that Wisconsin runs on hops?

So what are my resolutions?  I don’t have any.  I resolved quite a number of years ago to not do the New Year’s resolution bit…with great success, I might add.

What will come, will come…and I’ll ride the wave as I always do.

For whom the bells jingle

Here’s a creepy Christmas tale – what makes it so sinister is that you can clearly see it happening in the world.
Not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but far too soon for comfort, nonetheless.

underdogs bite upwards

Not ideal. I had to be a bit social and accept free booze under duress today. Still, the basic premise is there with hints of Panoptica’s life.

There will be errors still. I think I caught most of them.

Too late for Christmas unless some parts of America still have it, but anyway, it’s not for this year. This is a portent of Christmas Yet to Come.

Hope it’s worth it…  I’m afraid I am now very, very drunk…

For whom the bells jingle.

“I’m cold, Mummy.”

Dawn looked down at her daughter. “Shush, Willow. It’s only for a few more minutes. Stay silent and respect the trees.”

It was hard enough for Dawn to endure an hour of tree-respect while the snow fell around them. Willow was only seven. She must be freezing by now.

It had never made any real sense anyway. Why go out to the trees…

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Flash! Friday – Who Mourns the Dragons?

Rose lineup Flash FictionIt’s Friday again…you know what that means…time to head on over to Flash!Friday for another round of short fiction…

The photographer in me absolutely LOVES the shot she’s chosen for this week – there’s a lot of color and vibrancy to it – and the bokeh technique (very narIMG_0087row depth of field and quick shutter speeds with adequate light) is one of my personal favorites.  Here’s one of my first experiments with bokeh – and while a Basilisk is nowhere in the same family as the Chinese Dragon given to us in the Flash challenge, the technique to capture the shot is the same.

Onward!  To Flash Fiction~

Who Mourns the Dragon?

160 words

At every corner, wall and window, I am assaulted with images of my brethren.  Gaudy splashes of eye-watering clashing colors smeared thick on cheap paper mâché, the disfigured skulls festooned with ribbon and lace are obscene in their cheerfulness.  Disgusting how my race has been so distorted by those victorious in the war they initiated.

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One of my dragon-etched vases.

Sheep’s clothing firmly in place, I settle at an empty bench in the square, watching the genocidal maniacs celebrate the annihilation of my species.

Tiny heads garnish the table before me, and I call to mind the terrible tableau of our children slaughtered in their creche.  The blood, the torn bodies, all the promise of our species broken on the bones of the Earth.  It’s one image I will obsessively visualize until I inevitably pass into dust.  My memories are the only true recounting of our customs, passions, deep familial bonds, heritage, and, lastly, our extinction.

Who will mourn the dragon when I am gone?

Oops…I broke the Dawn!

Dawn Photos

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Dawn ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This week, the Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge is yellow.

This holiday season, we’re throwing you a photo challenge color curveball. Many of us around the world are ensconced in the holiday season. You may be surrounded with blue and silver if you’re celebrating Hanukkah; black, red, and green, if you’re celebrating Kwanzaa; or festooned with reds and greens if Christmas is coming to your house. With this week’s challenge, show us what yellow means to you.

There’s a special story behind this very yellow sunrise, that I’m going to share today.

Many years back, I hated cameras.  They were the very demon of artistic people everywhere.  I so completely eschewed cameras, that the only photos in existence of my kids growing up are ones taken by other family members.  I did not save, request, or otherwise have any pictures taken.

I do have a few shots, professionally done, of the kids in their formative years…as well as the dreaded school photos – so I wasn’t COMPLETELY anti-image…just anti-layperson-image.

My mother has boxes and albums and boxes and albums and boxes of photos.  Every Christmas, Birthday, Halloween, Reunion, Wedding, Funeral, and Vacation was recorded with mathematical precision.  Every gift was Kodachromed.  Every pumpkin carved and outfit created was captured for posterity.  Every wedding lineup snapped, every sunburn documented.

And 90% of these were the same – Look here, hold up the item you just tore the wrapping paper off of, and smile for the camera!

Line up, tall ones in the back, short ones in the front – Dang-it, Karl!  I can’t see your face!  Anne, stop putting bunny ears in back of your sister!  Now everyone smile and say “Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese!”

To this day, I still HATE stilted, posed shots…so much so, that I can’t pose a person or compose a shot with a group without having it look extremely wooden.  My childhood disgust at such cookie-cutter imagery is transferred through the electronic medium.

A few years before Dawn was photographed, I was forced at semi-gunpoint to procure a digital point & shoot for some stuff I was trying to sell on Ebay.  In defense of the money I was spending on this thing…I bought one with a bright pink plastic housing, so the husband wouldn’t take it, make it his own, and then lose it somewhere within the confines of the accumulated junk in our house.

The Pink Menace took the product pictures as requested, then was promptly banished to my sock drawer.

I dug the Pink Menace out again when I took a vacation by myself, and took one of my youngest son’s army dudes along. I’ll admit – taking the little plastic army dude with me, posing him, and taking shots was fun…and got me some strange looks.

Picture 013 Picture 028 Picture 039 Picture 046No…I am NOT a ‘foodie.’  Sorry to disappoint.  I just figured that my youngest would appreciate that I was feeding Army Dude on our vacation.

After I moved out on my own, the Pink Menace came with me…a stow-a-way sandwiched between pairs of argyles.  After the move, my mom requested pictures of what the new living space looked like, as well as Waukesha’s current look, about the same time I organized my socks.  Finding the Pink Menace was considered a happy coincidence.

I wandered about that winter, took shots of the downtown area, my building, and my tiny shoebox-in-the-sky studio apartment.  Duly posted them on Facebook so everyone and sundry could have a look.  The Pink Menace was not banished back to the sock drawer, but rather had earned a space on top of the dresser.

In the spring, I started walking the Riverwalk behind my building.  A studio apartment is, first and foremost, small.  Fun happens outside the limited space.  Lucky for me, my studio was in the heart of downtown Waukesha, and there was a lot of fun stuff just outside my door.

For yucks, I carried the Pink Menace, and shot off a few captures of the ducks, the flora, the river, etc.  It started to feel less of a burden, and more natural, to carry a camera.  The Pink Menace was worming its way into my heart.

Then came the Dawn shot.  It wasn’t the one I went looking for (that one didn’t turn out) but it was the one I found…or it found me.

Once I pulled that image up on my computer, and saw what I’d captured, straight out of the camera…well…let’s just say the Pink Menace was no longer so named.

I found I had a photographic eye…and that I could capture art…even with a cheap plastic point & shoot camera.

For the first time, I thought of myself as a hobbyist photographer.

Have a Festive SeaKwaHoliChrisKkah (Now Go Forth and Shop!)

Shop-zilla copy

Shop-zilla in its natural habitat

No matter what you call this month-plus of celebratory gluttony, your original reason for the recognition of this special day/week/month has been out-sung by one Goliath with deeper pockets and blood ties to Big Advert:  the retail industry.  In fact, Shop-zilla’s demands (to go forth, spend a lot of money on useless crap your friends, family and/or co-workers don’t really need, in order to receive the same said back) have over-ridden any other (read:  petty, in Shop-zilla speak) considerations for this last month of the Gregorian Calendar Year.

Shop-zilla will go on to implore you to not forget the gift receipts, so all that stuff can go BACK to the store and exchanged for the cash that it has spent a lot of time and effort to make the average consumer consider gauche to give in the first place.

Shop-zilla is not completely heartless, though – it did work on a very positive PR campaign for gift cards in lieu of cash, to the tune of ringing cash registers everywhere, a few years back.  It was considered a claws-down success.

After-Holiday sales are just as crucial as the before-Holiday ones for feeding Shop-zilla.

I want to personally remind you to wish everyone the Happiest, Merriest, and most awesome-ist of this special celebratory time while fighting over that close-to-the-door parking space, or the only remaining in stock item of the electronic gizmo-of-the-year.

The sad part of this celebratory season are the number of people lately taking egregious offense at someone wishing them THEIR version of this special season’s well-wishes, instead of the ‘offendee’s’ own, which they make no effort to disclose prior to that chance-meeting out in public.

I saw a news article (well…someone called it news) on a woman who was so incensed over a cashier wishing them “Happy Holidays!” instead of ‘Merry Christmas!,’ that a fisticuffs broke out.

I really wish I was making this up!

I have a special left of reality solution for this rampant “I’m so keyed up I need to take offense at semantics.”  Three solutions, actually, which I am prepared to share with the world – completely, totally, and absolutely free of charge.

Shop-zilla comment

“Free?????” howls Shop-zilla…

Idea #1

If you wish to have the greeting of your choice uttered within earshot -and specifically TO you- by perfect strangers in the midst of the busiest shopping event of the year – you must have said greeting tattooed on your forehead.  This must be in plain sight, and not hidden by any caps, scarves, or hair.  The largest font available to fit your forehead is recommended.  I would suggest the color scheme be composed of glaringly-clashing hues, to further heighten visibility.

Not into ink?  An alternate would be to wear a banner, a beanie, a ball cap, or another brightly-colored and easy-to-read article of apparel that is, again, in plain sight.  LED lights should be stitched into the fabric and set on a high rate of flash, to really draw the eyes of everyone.  The goal here is:  You HAVE to let the world – every single random stranger you could possibly meet – know exactly what your preferred greeting IS.

I would also suggest multiple languages be considered, just in case someone you come across does not speak your native tongue.

This should hold humanity over until a proper virus that imparts telepathy to the population can be developed and released.

Idea #2

Alternately – how about we switch the official greeting of this celebratory season to what it REALLY is in the eyes of the world:  “Go Forth and Shop.”  This, if you haven’t already guessed, is Shop-zilla’s favorite…

I can see it already:

new Season's Greetings

Simple.  Logical.  Perfect.  And highly recommended by four out of five Social Programming Specialists.  Fisticuffs, ambulance rides, and ER visits REALLY get in the way of over-spending.

Idea #3

We all, as a species, learn to accept well-wishing greetings in the spirit they are given, rather than focusing on (and getting pissed over) minute differences in culture.

Yea…you’re right…#3 will never work…

Now…Go Forth and Shop, everyone!  Shop-zilla is counting on you!

Flash! Friday – Calling All Cars!!!

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Flashy little Origami Flowers…

One place I’ve made a digital home is over on Flash! Friday.  They offer a weekly flash fiction contest.  Not that I play for the distinction of ‘winning’ something (in this case a bit of electronic bragging rights) but for the challenges it offers the Queen Muse, the chance to read, read, read some other writer’s work, and the opportunity to have other writers offer any criticism, encouragement, or suggestions.

Welcome to networking in the new millennium…no actual physical contact needed.

Today’s flash fiction prompt is a shot of a Santa doll in front of a police line-up board – and the absolute first words that crossed my brain for this challenge ended up both title, and opening line.  After that – things got creepy.

Enjoy – and be Nice! (or else…)

Calling All Cars!

157 words

“Calling all cars!  Calling all cars!”

Every year, we get the call.  Every year, we respond.  Every year, our department fails to close this decades-old case.

“Person of interest male, white, late 70’s, portly.  Full facial hair, white.  Last seen wearing bright red suit and hat with white fringe, black belt, black knee-boots.”

My hands curl around the steering wheel, mentally preparing for the yearly bloodbath.

“Suspect get-away vehicle tiny sleigh pulled by 8 animals of reindeer origin.  No plates evident.”

My partner and I lock eyes, knowing …HATING… what’s coming.

“Ocular trauma to multiple victims.  Eyes replaced with charcoal briquettes.”

I yank a cigarette from the pack on the dash.  “Shoulda been nice…” I whisper, even as my partner mutters  “It’s always the naughty ones…”

“Suspect 3.75 inches tall.  Last known locations… “

A string of addresses follow, blanketing the car in a wall of sound.

“Public Enemy number one…” I growl, flipping on the siren.

How to Be a Ladyperson at the Holidays: 10 Important Tips

I have to thank the author so much for this – I now get an extended holiday period whilst I Iambaste away on unemployment because I took your ‘pants are for suckers’ as inspiration to run down the main aisle between the cubicles at work after removing said garments and shouting your statement.
Seriously – I haven’t had this good a laugh in quite some time.

I Miss You When I Blink

Straight from the ad pages of your favorite magazines, here’s your guide to being a girl in December. Take notes.

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1. Stay cozy. Wear a baby.

wear a baby If you play your cards right, your sensitive, goateed dad/boyfriend/professor will reward you with a pair of socks made out of his extra sweater sleeves.

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2. Flaunt your complexity.

Embrace all your many dimensions. Think: "I'm an heiress and an Italian professor at this upscale tropical funeral." Show off all your many dimensions at once. When planning outfits for your holiday soirées, think: “I’m an heiress and an Italian professor at this upscale tropical funeral.”

* * *

3. Represent feminine softness in a hard masculine world.

coach All around you are skyscrapers made of bricks and iron and glass and ouchy things. They’re all pointy and hard. But not you. You’re a soft pink flower in a gentle haze of light. Everything around you is blooming, because you breathed springtime into winter. You’re a superfresh candypants sugarblossom.

 * * *

4. If you’re truly hot, you…

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