TWO OLD BIRDS IN A PHOTO BOOTH… A Drabble
“Cheryl!!!” (said in a whisper)
“What???” (a whisper back)
“What am I supposed to do?” (still whispering)
“What the hell are you talking about, Ethel? Why are we whispering?” (a little louder)
“I’ve never done anything like this before. (still whispering)
“Stop whispering, dammit. It’s a photo booth for God’s sake!!! What did you think we were doing?” (increasing louder)
“I know it’s a photo booth, Cheryl! I’ve just never done it before. Where do I look?” (normal tone)
“Here, where it says ‘Put Eyes At This Line’!!!” (very loud)
“Now what do I do?” (normal voice)
a light flashes…
My Aussie pal Katherine is obsessed with photo strips. In fact so much so, she writes a fascinating blog called Photobooth Journal... which I just love. She asked me if I would create a story using one of her photo strips, and sent me the 2 photo strip above. Could the ladies in the strip be Ethel and Cheryl??? Who knows, but for today… they will be.
Now, I just got done reading a delightfully wicked story called Sebastian and the Night Visitors, at The Wizard’s Word. It was written for the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups. I checked 100WCGU out, and this week’s prompt just clicked with Katherine’s strip.
For my pals at Moonshine on yeahwrite… I got a notice from someone who commented on an old story of mine. I liked this one and thought I’d share it at today’s still.
I was honored to be a contributor to Katherine’s fascinating blog. I hope my friends will take a look and enjoy her work. If you have any old strips around, think about sharing them with her… and the world. Now I have to figure out how to tell Cheryl I did this… but judging by the first comments, I don’t think she will mind.
I thought I would share this reblog with my friends at The Still, to introduce them to a most interesting blog by a friend Down Under… perhaps you too would like to share with her… check out her blog, and start digging through those old forgotten treasures and share them with Katherine at Photobooth Journal
p.s. I have heard from Cheryl… she remembered the Rainbow Club and didn’t mind at all…
One of the more exciting, and for me, unexpected aspects of being a blogger is the amount of enthusisam and generosity that comes to my inbox out of the blue and from all around the world. I have recently started following a blog by Ted Strutz of Friday Harbor, Wasington State in the San Juan Islands, USA. The blog is called TedBook and has some very amusing conversational short stories that I encourage you to check out. Ted emailed me the above photos and the following history a couple of days ago –
When I lived in Chicago in the 80’s and early 90’s, there was a bar called the Rainbow Room. It was quite large with a big horseshoe shaped bar, booths, tables and a stage, maybe a dance floor. They played 33 LPs on a phonograph. Kind of an artsy place. There was a photo booth as well…
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MEETING THE WILD CHILD!
Not quite what I was expecting.
Well, actually that’s not true; I knew she would be beautiful (I’ve seen her photo), I knew she would be fit (she skis, plays competitive tennis… and dances, as we all know), I knew she would be interesting (I’ve read her stories and know she is writing a novel), and I knew she was tough (she’s a survivor). So I was surprised she was so tiny… well petite or svelte might sound better.
I flew into Denver with my daughter Krista so she could visit with her best friend, an actor who was starring in the musical Animal Crackers at the Denver Center Theater Company.
An accomplished actor and veteran song & dance man, Michael Fitzpatrick was playing multiple roles, as were the rest of the cast of this madcap zany musical, which first appeared on Broadway in 1928 starring the Marx Brothers. I knew of it as a movie and had no idea it had first been a play. While Krista and Michael relived their theatrical experiences and gossiped, I had other ideas.
I was on a quest to meet a special writer. She was the first to click like and comment on my initial foray into fiction writing on TedBook… in fact, it was more than that, it was the first time I had linked my blog to a group, and would be having strangers read my words (I think everyone will know the importance of that gesture… for someone scared to near-death for what they had just posted). I immediately read her blogs about kissing the Blarney Stone and seeing some frozen dead guy at a festival in Colorado. I liked her writing and instantly became a follower. I knew she lived near Boulder, which wasn’t far from Denver, so I wrote and invited her to lunch.
A short drive, on a beautiful sunny day in the Rockies, found me in my second Colorado city searching for her favorite restaurant. I found The Mediterranean, secured a table in the garden and awaited the arrival of The Wild Child.
I was not disappointed.
For my friends not acquainted with Susie, she writes Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride. We had become fellow bloggers and more importantly friends. Every month she throws a party… drop by, say hello, and post a story you would like others to see… a great way to meet new writers.
I had only met in person two blogging friends, Debra Kristi who introduced me to Thor Worship, and Douglas MacIlroy who took me to the top of Mona Loa to tour the Keck Observatory. So the chance to meet someone else I admired, enjoyed reading and sharing with, could not be passed up.
After a delightful luncheon getting to know each other and discussing family, blogging, writing and writer’s workshops, she took me on a tour of the historic Pearl District, pointing out some of her favorite places.
I saw a fabulous bookstore, where I’m sure the book she is writing will be on display in the front window someday. That will be a book signing for which I will return to Boulder, and hopefully also get to meet Roxy the Dog, Soul-mate Danny, Snowboarder Extraordinaire Courtney and Hit DJ K Smash… subjects of many of her stories, willing or otherwise.
Susie returned to her home to do some writing and play in a tennis tournament that night… I returned to Denver to see a wild and crazy Broadway Musical, where Mr Fitzpatrick was at the top of his game, no doubt knowing his friend Krista was in the audience, and we laughed ourselves silly.
I had a fabulous time in Boulder and Denver, Colorado.
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Since this post is about blogging and writing… I thought I would share it with some fellow writers at The Moonshine Still…
Last week the Publisher of TedBook sent out the following letter to a recent guest author:
Today we received the following reply:
Her first assignment starts January 14th… Stay Tuned…
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Recent Posts by Miss Grace…
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I thought my friends at yeah write.me would like to meet the new Foreign Correspondent at TedBook. She leaves next week for a country not many Americans have visited. We are looking forward to her reports… internet availability willing. Here’s a few pics of past travels…
SUMMER IS… in 33 words
Summer is ‘The Mill’! Music in the air… everywhere. There are violins, guitars, flutes, harps, accordions, drums of all kinds, harmonicas, banjos, cellos, tambourines, horns, pianos, squeeze-boxes, cymbals, lots of singing and dancing!
The instructions for the Trifextra Writing Challenge this week were… “This weekend we’re asking you to describe summer in your own words. Thirty-three of them exactly, of course. Good luck!”
Each summer high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, somewhere near Yosemite, about 500 souls gather for a conclave of The Sierra Music and Arts Institute… more commonly known as Sweet’s Mill. The old timers just call it The Mill. For 60 years now, on the site of an old sawmill, a music and arts retreat takes place in the form of a giant campout. Musicians from around the world come together to share their knowledge and talents with others, and just plain perform. Artists gather to demonstrate their skills and teach others. There’s also drama taught, with two plays being produced. Do you want to learn how to belly dance, flamenco, tango or swing? Classes for that. At night on different stages, there are performances to show off new-found skills, and for old friends to get together and jam. And, lots of dancing!
I help out in the Arts Area. I don’t play a musical instrument, but I write stories and take thousands of photos. Here are two from last year. The photo of the young man playing the steel guitar got me a ‘Best of Show’ ribbon at our county fair, in its category. He was sitting at a table near the main stage practicing or maybe just playing… there’s a lot of that going on. It made a great still-life photo.
But my favorite photo of all, is this one of a woman playing the violin. For me, the story makes the photo, and I’ll tell how I came to take this one. I had gone up to the Flamenco Camp, because I had never been there. The Mill is over 200 acres, with different interest groups banding together in camps. There’s Gypsy Camp, Flamenco, Cowboy, Meditation Meadow, Old Timey, Bluegrass and on and on. There are still some I have to discover. So, one day I went up to the Flamenco Camp and watched a maestro teach a group of children the fine points to playing a flamenco guitar. Some women practiced dance to the music on a small stage they had made. As I was leaving, I heard the most beautifully haunting violin music. I went toward some tents expecting to see the violinist, but nothing. I followed the music up a hill through increasingly heavy brush, and finally in a small clearing I found a young woman playing a violin. I snuck a photo and listened to her play. She finally stopped, saw me and shyly smiled. I asked if I could take her photo, and she beamed and posed for me. They are nice photos of her facing me, but I like the first one I took best. So, that’s kind of two faces of The Mill. I’m leaving in two weeks… I can’t wait.
Here’s one I wrote for Trifecta that I liked… I had a great time last summer listening to music and enjoying the creative camaraderie in our camp… and of course got some great photo. There will be no music at the ‘Mill’ this year due to the lack of rainfall in California.
Here’s another blast from the past for my moonshine grid friends… I wrote this for The Trifecta Writing Challenge last year, about one of my favorite obsessions… enjoy.
Amélie adjusted the strap and tried to stand still. She was getting tired, but more so bored. “Madame, please try to stand straighter. I’m almost finished. You will be the toast of all Paris soon.” She liked the painting, although not sure of the pose. And why did he dwell on the color of her skin so? She was one of the most sought after beauties of the day, and was looking forward to the Salon of 1884.
Varnishing Day came, and Le Gaulois had given John a favorable review. Fourcald called the painting “remarkable”.
She stepped from the carriage, dressed for the occasion. Congratulations and praise sure to come. But, that was not to be the case. For Painting #2150 in Gallery 31 was to be the cause of ruined reputations and changed lives that day. Instead of words like “superbe” and “magnifique” the shouts from the crowd were “détestable”, “clown”, “harlot”, “monstrueux”. Not at all what was expected, and the reviews in the days to come were scathing. All for a strap and the color of too much bare skin.
After the Salon, the artist did not show the painting publicly for 20 years. Madame Virginie Amélie Gautreau went into seclusion for the rest of her life.
Thirty-two years later, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, would buy one of the most famous portraits ever painted. Madame had died in Paris the year before. John Singer Sargent had become one of the most famous artists of his time. A stipulation of sale, was that the painting not bear her name, but be called “Madame X”.
One day, the actress took me to see Graceland Cemetery… I was living in Chicago, and she said it was a must see. It was a beautiful spring day, and we strolled the grounds… me snapping pics and she studying her lines for a play that was opening soon. Never one to miss a dramatic opportunity, she began posing with the statuary… giving me her reaction to each theme. When we came to the stone knight, she fell to the ground and played the ‘fair maiden struck down in the prime of life’. After she got up, I asked her if he had slain her. “Oh no”, she replied, “he stands guard, protecting her.”
The Crusader by Lorado Taft (1931)… Cemeteries are the perfect place for a history lesson. I learned a lot about Chicago history at Graceland. The place names I had seen around the city came alive with the dead. The men and women who created Chicago, or made her interesting, making their final stop at Graceland and the other cemeteries around town. Their gravesites were fascinating, not only for the artwork, but for how they wanted to be portrayed. Some erected huge mausoleums, and some preferred something quieter… like their name carved upon a rock. Victor Lawson got a Medieval Knight. Victor was the publisher of the Chicago Daily News, and the sculpture embodied his character. The monument does not bear Lawson’s name, but does have an inscription which reads, “Above all things truth beareth away victory”. At his brother’s request, Lorado Taft sculpted The Crusader out of a single block of dark granite.
Taft’s most famous sculpture also stands sentinel at Graceland… although of a different type… it is entitled Eternal Silence.
I thought of my photo, taken in 1988, while watching Game of Thrones last night. The knights protecting their charges… and some not with protection in mind.
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For my friends hanging out at the Still. Here is one I wrote a while back… I thought of it when I advised one of our yeahwriters (the girl in Chicago… do you know who I mean?) to visit Graceland Cemetery.
For my other friends, check out this week’s other stories at yeahwrite’s Moonshine Grid
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… Gone! Whisked 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.
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.
This begging went on for years with those two.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thought I’d share this with the Moonshiners this week. One of my first tries to combine a 100 word flash fiction story with a photo essay. I had been in Friday Fictioneers less than a month, and had only written one fiction piece for Quill Shiv. Actually, this is more of a vignette or memoir piece, what would you call it. But, this was the first time I expanded to write some kind of essay afterwards. Tune in next week to see what happens to the truck.
Thanks Natalie for keeping the lights on at the Still.
I just started reading ‘The Victorian Chaise-Longue’ by Marghanita Laski… it has been a long time coming.
I first encountered this little book, when the title caught my eye, while looking through a Persephone Books catalog about three years ago. I had seen ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’ at the Palace Theater, which I absolutely loved… such a delightful story and with Frances McDormand and Amy Adams, what’s not to love. I liked it so much, I went back the next night, and while walking to my car, I saw the book in the window of Griffin Bay Books. When I went back to buy the next day, it had been sold… apparently someone else liked the movie as much as I. GBB ordered the book and I was soon enjoying Winifred Watson’s delightful story.
Persephone Books of London, reprints neglected classics by 20th century (mostly women) writers, like Watson’s 1930 story. I ordered their catalog and that’s where I saw ‘The Victorian Chaise-Longue’. They currently have 95 books listed, and they are beautifully made. The end papers feature a fabric print from the period the story takes place (‘the shiny cream curtains printed with huge pink roses’ p. 3). And a bookmark germane to the story (‘berlin-wool cross-stitch embroidery that sprawled in bright gigantic roses over the shabby felt’ p.13). Book #6 is described as a very scary story. It looked interesting. I tried the library… I tried the Inter-Library-Loan… I tried Amazon.com. Nowhere could I obtain the book. It was not available. So, over the last few years, when I would go to Amazon it would pop up sometimes (but never in stock… oh, there were some used copies somewhere for 35 or 40 bucks), as something I was interested in, you know, those helpful reminders. I get a new Persephone catalog twice a year, and this time I couldn’t take it any more and ordered it… it was only ₤12 plus 6 shipping, for a total of ₤18... I had no clue what that would be in $, but didn’t care and hit PayPal… it was $27.00.
‘The Victorian Chaise-Longue’, starts in 1953, and is the story of a young woman of means, who is suffering from tuberculosis and confined to bed. She is finally well enough to be allowed to move into the parlor and lay upon a chaise-longue she had purchased in an antique store right before she became stricken. She falls asleep, and when she awakes, she finds herself in a dingy gas-lit room in 1864, on the same chaise-longue… although newer looking… being cared for by a brusque sister she does not know. She thinks herself in a dream and keeps trying to wake up. When she finally realizes she is awake, the terror sets in. I’m now on page 50 of 99… my head is drooping, I’m tired, time for bed.
Now, I’m in a dream. I have never had one like this… not my usual ‘Waiter’s Dream’ where I keep forgetting to wait on my tables, and then can’t find them… or the ‘Actor’s Dream’ where I forget to go onstage. No, this one is too real. It is hard to keep going and I force myself to wake up. I realized, that near the end of the dream I had started to analyze it as if writing a blog. Great, now I’m writing in my sleep… even organizing photos.
This dream starts out as a secret report on an Eastern European war-torn country, there is a triangular flag on the cover, I think red, green and yellow. Soon it shifts to Africa… the unnamed country ends in ‘ia’… and I am thinking Ethiopia. There is a rebel encampment, and in this dream a group of aid workers are lined up before the leaders. I am not there, but looking at this through newspaper or magazine photos. One photo shows them sitting in a row and the next is the same photo, but now they have a dot on their foreheads. They have been shot, and I am wondering if they will fall backward or forwards. What will the next photo be. It was terrifying. I wake up. It was 2:30 a.m., and it took a long time to go back to sleep. As I lay there thinking about this strange dream, I realized it had happened to my family. My daughter’s husband’s sister was killed in Somalia, when a bullet struck her as she was riding in a convoy to deliver aid to a remote village. Valerie was a 23-year-old nurse, from Dublin, working for an Irish aid agency called Concern. A photo of her laughing, surrounded by Somali women and children hangs in Ashley and Declan’s front room. Her senseless death in 1993 was of major importance to Ireland, with the President attending her funeral. It had put a face to the tragedy of what was occurring in Somalia.
I always wonder what influences dreams. Sometimes it is obvious. I don’t really have nightmares… more annoyances really, like the waiter’s dream, although those can be a bitch. Did the story taking place on the chaise-longue start this terrifying dream? I don’t know. I had not thought of Valerie in a long time, although I know Declan does. And I’m sure she was terribly missed at the Christmas Table when they were in Dublin this year.
So, I’ll finish the story of the young woman on the Chaise-Longue today, only 49 pages to go and hope I am dream free tonight.
Here is where you can find a wonderful catalog… PERSEPHONE BOOKS
The photographs of Valerie were taken by John Trotter, a writer for the Sacramento Bee, while on his second trip to Africa in 1992. They were taken in Mogadishu during the first food distribution. This was important, because the people were now able to prepare their own food, and not have to rely on feeding centers to cook it for them. Valerie was in charge of the operation. There were thousands of people there for food that day. The photo with the boy, he liked, because her love showed thru her hands, and that had meaning. The children at the center said those hands came from Ireland to help them, and they loved her and trusted her. She was killed the following year on the way to help people.
Dec. 27, 2013
I always liked this post and thought I would share it with MOONSHINE at yeah write weekly writing… I wrote this almost two years ago. Persephone Books now lists 104 titles in their catalog. I finished the story. It was heart-wrenching, terrifying and very disturbing. I was not disappointed I had finally read it.
You know how one thing leads to another? Well, yesterday my sister Mariya gave me some snow peas from her garden. I thought ‘what in the hell am I going to do with these’, and then remembered that I liked snow peas in a stir-fry. So I went to the grocery store and picked up some veggies to go with them. I forgot to get some tofu, and that bummed me out when I started cooking, remembering I liked tofu in my stir-fry. I used to do a lot of stir-fry!
See, when I was in the middle of my mid-life crisis in the late ’70s I figured out that a great way to score with women, was to invite them to my house and cook them dinner. I wasn’t wrong. Unfortunately I only really knew Mexican and German cooking and they were not showy or sexy enough to impress. So, I took cooking classes. (also a great place to meet women) I signed up for classes at William Glen in Sacramento. A gourmet food and cookware/lifestyle store, they held classes in a kitchen/classroom at the back of the store. Those guys were no dummies, as after class you had to pass all the merchandise to get out of the store… no easy feat to escape the cash register. The instructors were first-rate… I took Italian from Biba Caggiano and Chinese from Martin Yan. I decided that Chinese would be showy and Italian sexy. My first class was Chinese taught by a young woman just arrived from Taiwan. She lived in Chinatown in S.F. and came to town to teach the class. She was very shy but a good teacher. The recipes she gave the class were hand written and I still have them.
I always served warm Sake (I know, not culturally correct) with Chinese and red wine with Italian. And, always Ambrosia for dessert. (I didn’t dress as a chef for my dates… I know you are thinking ‘What a Dork’) A funny thing… years ago after I moved to Friday Harbor, a friend invited me to dinner at her house and did a stir-fry with tofu and stole my heart. I’m thinking the tables were turned… had she heard my secret?
So yesterday I dug out my wok (which I bought on the way out of William Glen after my first class). I don’t think I have used it for 10 years and was very unpleasantly surprised to find that it was all rusty. And I don’t mean a little rusty… I mean a lot rusty. I was ready for a little cleaning, but I ended up having to sand the rust out. An hour later I had a clean if unbroken-in wok. I paired some grilled chicken with a sesame orange glaze and the meal was a success. Next up… The Mongolian Fire Pot!
So, it guess woking is a little like riding a bicycle… although I don’t remember as much food on the floor.
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Back when I was new to blogging, and writing anything, I posted this… it was my 5th story. I thought my friends at the Moonshine Grid could use a little food.