(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Cute Neighbors Edition

We’ve had a lot more snow so far this month than I thought we would, and it’s been so nice. Graham’s been out in the yard snapping pictures (including the little bird from my last post), and I just had to share this one.

This family of deer lives in the woods behind our house, and they’re…not the best neighbors. They eat pretty much everything, including the blossoms from our fruit trees, and they often get stuck behind fences. We’ve had to rescue them more than once. But, be that as it may, they sure are cute, aren’t they?

Winter Bird (A Poem)

Little one,
the time is now
to sing your winter song.
From your ice-covered perch,
let it carry and fly –
over snow-covered fields
and windswept hills,
deep into the meadows and valleys.
Let the cold wind sweep it
far and wide.
Remind us all that
beauty lives
in frost and bloom alike.

Found Friday #41: Another for the (accidental) collection!

I haven’t written a Found Friday in a while, but I picked up a few vintage and antique items over the holidays, and I wanted to share one of them today.

So, I mentioned in a previous Found Friday post that I seem to have accidentally started a collection of antique and vintage ashtrays. Now, I am not a smoker. I never have been. But you know what ashtrays are good for these days? Holding crystals.

Or jewelry, or dried petals, or other various and sundries. Which, honestly, I’ve got a lot of. And I figure it’s much better to repurpose an old ashtray than to see it thrown out, if it’s generally sturdy, nice-looking, and worth a few extra dollars. I like the idea of taking something associated with a bad habit and giving it a better purpose. I’m really not fond of this new culture of quick construction and disposability that we’ve found ourselves in lately, and I love a piece with a story.

Cut to a random Thursday in December, just before Christmas, and I came across this little curiosity in a shop run by a friend of mine:

It’s cheeky, right? With the cigarette holder in the middle, and the leaf and vine embellishments. It was sitting on a shelf, sort of hidden, and I just happened to spot it. So of course I bought it and brought it home.

The friend who owns the shop suggested that it could be a good paintbrush holder, which I can definitely see. But unfortunately, I don’t paint, so I’m not quite sure yet what it’s use will be. That’s okay, though. I’m not quite sure what my use is some days, either. 

Announcing: The 2022 Short Story Challenge!

Last year, I challenged myself to write twelve short stories – one story each month – around a central theme. A few other wonderful writers joined me, and it became a really fun and interesting creative project. So, of course, I’m doing it again.

The rules are the same: Write and post one story each month of 2022. Posted whenever you/I want to (for me, that’s usually the end of the month), and written around one theme. And the theme this year is:

Folklore.

I thought about several options, but this one wouldn’t let me go. How does a story become folklore? What are the necessary elements of a folk tale? What drives us to share folklore? How long does it last? Why does it last, and why, sometimes, does it fade away? Folk tales and folk traditions tie us to our ancestors. They connect us to our cultures, and to each other. Folklore is powerful, and I want to dig into it and see what I can learn along the way.

And if you want to join me, that would be wonderful! If you do, when you post your stories, you can use the tag “2022 Short Story Challenge” and mention this post. But just reading is good, too, and I’m glad you’re here for this journey.  😊

I think 2022 is going to be a wonderful year for stories!

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If you haven’t read them, or if you want to revisit any of them, here are all of my stories from 2021. Some of them I really liked, some of them I didn’t, and some were certainly easier to write than others. But they were all worth writing, and they each taught me something (or, sometimes, a lot of somethings) about myself, the art of writing, and how to tell stories. I’ve put asterisks by my two favorites, though, because why not?

*The Roads

This Place

Talk Out the Fire

Quiet Neighbors

The Return

Old Friends

*Jesse’s in the Back Room

Just Like Magic

Stage Fright

Cloud Dwellers

Old Enough

The Making of Annie’s Auld Lang Syne

Enjoy, and thank you so much for reading!

New Light (A Poem)

Through the gate and
into the cold winter world,
the New Year comes to greet the Old.
Not to replace or relive,
but revive –
tired hands,
tired hearts,
tired minds –
and bring new light
to the darkest days.

The First Snow Day of 2022

What an utterly unexpected and incredibly lovely surprise!

And quite a nice way to start the new year, I think.

Until yesterday, forecasters predicted this fast-moving snowstorm would go south of us, but here it is. And I am so happy.

I hadn’t planned a busy day today, anyway – Graham’s off of work until tomorrow – but I think I shall officially declare today a Snow Day, and spend it reading, drinking tea, generally lazing about in my pajamas, and gazing out on this beautiful and fleeting winter landscape.

Yes. Perfect.

Sunday Supper #5: Happy New Year!

Hello, 2022! It’s lovely to meet you, and I hope you’re kind to us. Like, seriously. Please.

That’s pretty much where I am today. We had a lovely Christmas, and a very low-key New Year’s Eve and Day, and this evening, I’m mostly just pondering possibilities and wondering what this newest of years will bring. I’ve not made any Very Big Plans, though I have jotted down some goals, especially in regards to my creative work. More to come on that, and I think it’s going to be exciting.

But for now, I’d like to leave you with wishes for a wonderful, fulfilling, peaceful, exciting, creative, memorable, and most of all, a happy New Year. I hope you do cool stuff, make mistakes, learn, grow, draw, paint, dance, cook, eat, sing, read, write, and just generally live the best you can. And if you ever need a cheerleader, know I’m here, in your corner, even from the other side of the world, and I think you got this, whatever it is. Make 2022 a good one, y’all, and I’ll do the same.

Oh, and for supper: Taco Bell. Don’t judge. What’s a good year without a few tacos? 😉

The Making of Annie’s Auld Lang Syne (A Short Story)

First thing’s first: I think this is a silly idea for an essay. I’m only writing it because Mrs. Vernon said I’d get a big fat zero if I didn’t. And so help me, Jordan Nunley, if you make those weird faces while I’m reading it out loud, I will throw my pencil at you every day for the rest of the year. It’s only December 11th, buddy.  

I think this is a silly idea for an essay for two reasons. The first is that we’re twelve. We’re just going to do what our parents tell us to do on New Year’s Eve. The second is that there’s a stupid virus going around that’s keeping us from having too much fun anyway. Chances are, we’re all just going to sit at home and watch TV and eat snacks.

So, yeah, that’s “What I’m Doing on New Year’s Eve.”

But I’ve only written three paragraphs, haven’t I? And I’ve been told I need to write at least five to get a passing grade. So in the interest of my report card, here’s some more stuff that I’m making up to take up space and prove that I can make sentences and choose good vocabulary words.

My sister and I only like each other about half the time. My mom tells me this is very normal, and that we’ll be closer as we get older. Alice and I have our doubts.  

On New Year’s Eve, sometime in the afternoon, Alice will walk into my room and say: “Are you really going to spend all night in here reading?”

She’s not supposed to come into my room without knocking, but she always does. So I’ll already be kind of annoyed, and I’ll say: “Yes.”

And then I’ll go back to looking at the stack of books I’ve got fanned out in front of me, because I’ll want to choose the optimal one to end the year with. A mystery? Or a romance? Or maybe a fantasy. But I’ll take the choice very seriously.

And she’ll look at me with that face that she makes when she thinks I’m being pedantic, and she’ll say: “You’re so boring, Annie.” And then she’ll laugh and walk away.

My sister laughs a lot. Mrs. Vernon knows, because Alice was in this class four years ago, and Mrs. Vernon sent a lot of notes home to my parents about how she’s “disruptive.” She’s always laughing or talking, and she’s always busy, and I sometimes think she’s exhausting. So it never bothers me when she laughs at me, because I laugh at her, too, but only in my head. And there’s no way on earth I’d want to spend my New Year’s Eve hanging out with her and her friends, doing…whatever it is that they do. I’d rather be boring.

Except I don’t really think I’m boring at all. I write a lot of stories, and I read a lot of books. I get to live in new worlds almost every day. That’s why I’ll make sure that the book I choose to read on New Year’s Eve is the perfect choice. Isn’t that cool? I can go anywhere in any world to end the year. Alice will probably just go to the park down the street and drink something gross. To me, that’s boring.

Anyway, I’ll choose a book and start to read, and in about an hour, I’ll probably get hungry. I used to keep a bag of chips in my bedside table for just this problem, but my mom started worrying that we’d get mice. So now, all the food stays in the kitchen. So I’ll walk downstairs and while I’m looking for just the right snack, my mom will be working on dinner, and she’ll warn me: “Don’t ruin your appetite.”

My mom’s a good cook, and I think she’s actually enjoyed having some extra time to learn new recipes. We made cookies together before Christmas, and they were probably my favorite cookies ever.

My dad will hear us over the sound of the TV, where he’ll probably be watching some show on Netflix for like the fifth time, and he’ll walk in, too, and he’ll say: “Where are you going tonight?” And he’ll wink, because he knows I’m not “going” anywhere.

I’ll say: “Decided to go back to Narnia, at least for a while. Might stop by Hogwarts later.”

And he’ll say: “Safe travels. Chess when you get back?”

My dad loves to play chess. He’s been teaching me for the last year or so, and I think I’m getting pretty good. I even win sometimes, though I’m never sure if it’s because I’ve figured it out, or because he lets me. Either way, it’s a thing we can do together, which is cool.

I’ll say: “Sure!”

And he’ll say something dumb, like: “The challenge is accepted. I must prepare for battle.”

My dad’s such a dork.

Last year, we decided to have a fire in the back yard and make S’mores, but this year I think we’ll probably plan to stay inside. It’s been a rainy winter so far, and I don’t think any of us wants to get our hopes up. Except Alice, anyway, because she’s crazy, but I already talked about that.  

I’m already almost out of material, which is something my dad says when he’s trying to be funny. But I guess it’s a real thing, because it’s happening to me right now. Seriously, how do you write an essay about your plans when your plans are basically to do nothing?

Okay, so I’ll have chosen my book, and gotten some chips, and talked to my sister and my parents. Next, I’ll probably head back up and read for a while longer. I don’t know if I’ll actually choose The Chronicles of Narnia or one of the Harry Potter books, but I bet I’ll pick something adventurous. And it’ll probably be something I’ve read before, so it’s a sure thing that I’ll like it. And I guess I’ll eat dinner with my parents at some point, too. I’m not sure what my mom is planning to cook, but I am sure that whatever it is, it will be delicious.

At dinner, I bet we’ll talk about our New Year’s Resolutions. My parents both like to make New Year’s Resolutions, because they say you should always have goals. I haven’t decided yet, but I think my goals for next year are going to be to read twenty books, write ten stories, and start learning to play piano. I bet you’re surprised I want to learn piano, because I’ve never talked about it before, but I do. My mom’s been playing since she was little. If I do chess with my dad, it would be cool to also do piano with my mom.

After dinner, I’ll read for a bit more. And then at about 9:00, my dad will probably beat me at chess. And I bet that by then, he’ll have started a fire in the fireplace. Aside from chess, I think that’s his favorite thing. Alice will probably come home at about 10:00, because that’s her curfew, and we’ll just all sit there together until the ball drops.

My mom always cries a little right at midnight. She says they’re happy tears, and that she’s just really glad that we’re all together. I am, too, even though I can’t wait until Alice goes to college and gets out of my hair for a while.

And right after midnight, my mom will sit down at the piano and play “Auld Lang Syne,” and we’ll all sing. Which is the one thing Alice is good at. And then, we’ll hug and say goodnight, and I’ll get ready and go to bed. Or, to read. My parents always let me stay up late on New Year’s Eve to read.

And that’s it. That is probably “What I’m Doing on New Year’s Eve.” Unless an asteroid hits Earth or my parents win the lottery or something. Then I guess my plans might change.  

See? I told you this was a silly idea for an essay. And don’t think I don’t see you, Jordan. I hope you like Number 2 pencils.

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Thank you for reading! This is the last of the twelve stories I’ve written as part of my 2021 Short Story Challenge. Twelve months, twelve stories, and the theme this year was: Home.

Here are the first eleven stories, if you’d like to read them: 

The Roads

This Place

Talk Out the Fire

Quiet Neighbors

The Return

Old Friends

Jesse’s in the Back Room

Just Like Magic

Stage Fright

Cloud Dwellers

Old Enough

Stay tuned for an announcement regarding my 2022 Short Story Challenge. I’ve got some good ideas, and I hope you join me in writing some amazing stories. But just reading is good, too, and I’m glad you’re here. 😊

Happy New Year!