Before It Gets Dark

 

” This road looks dangerous, doesn’t it. ” he said.

She was walking slightly ahead of him, a woman in long fitted  black fur jacket trimmed along her collar and wrists with light gray lace shaped like  feathers.  Her head  was protected from the cold and the fog by a fluffy brown scarf.

” I mean, it’s a good thing there’s still daylight. Wouldn’t want to be out here when it’s dark. Look at the shape of this pavement, broken to bits and full of ice. It’s dangerous in full daylight. In the dark, well, one false step and whump. Down you go.”

“I’m wondering.” he asked without expecting her to answer, in fact he preferred she keep quiet- for now. ” Do you know  there’s a lake off the path here. It’s pretty deep, I’ve heard. Nobody knows exactly how deep it is. Anything could be down there. You could hide anything down there and keep it hidden pretty much forever.”

She continued to walk in the same measured stride and she continued to not pay any attention to him.

” Yes, daylight is the time to be out here. Before the temperature  drops and the fog rolls in and not only can’t you see but you can’t even walk fast let alone run if something came up on you. Something not friendly. Because. Whump. Down you go.  You could be hurt and alone all night- providing you lasted that long.” He paused. ” In this cold. Well. ”

To his satisfaction- no- to his pleasure he saw her adjust her scarf and she slowed down. Just a little. But that was enough, that was all he needed. He felt positively warm inside and it made the palms of his hands sweaty.

” This little park is no where to be walking alone, especially when it’s cold and the dark and the fog rolls in fast like it is right now. Once daylight is gone, that’s when it’s worse. That’s when the ground opens up and the monsters come out. At night when  you’re all alone.”

She stopped and he saw her drop her scarf  back with shaking hands on either side of her head. He was delighted to see little puffs of her nervous breath frozen and drifting over her shoulder towards him because they had nowhere else to go.

Those small gestures excited him to the center of his bones.

” Are you sure about that? That the monsters only come out at night.” she asked as she turned around carefully so as not to slip on the icy path. ” Are you absolutely sure about that?

 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Inspired By The Australian Advent Calander: The Bunyip

Glittery Cards and Edible Bugs

Yesterday I found a sealed  box of unsent Christmas cards in my pantry.

On the front of the card was a cute little  Golden Retriever Puppy covered in glitter snow sitting in front of a crooked wooden fence with his head tilted to the side.

He was wearing a scarf.

Glitter and country road  fence aside the dog was cute, but let’s face it.

The cards never got sent.

However this year, I found the perfect cards to send- thank you Mysterious Package Company!

I’m sending the cute dog cards to some of my friends and family and I’m sending these to the others.

I wonder which  list will have what names on them.

At this point, I see some worried people heading to their mailboxes ( do people even USE those anymore ) because I always manage to get it wrong when it comes to really knowing what is going on inside of the heads of the people I know.

Mysterious Package Co Christmas Cards HERE

Last year I really tried to deck the halls and get into the swing of things- but I’m notorious for getting Christmas gifts that suck and that nobody really likes- I mean if you want to know how to screw up gift cards as presents, just ask me.

It’s not like I’ve given out voodoo dolls or edible bugs, shrunken heads or those little plush toys that look like germs,  maybe I should. Maybe that’s what people expect from me and when I drop the ball and go traditional , maybe it’s a let down.

I don’t know.

Until this minute I hadn’t considered that.

Now there’s a thought.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

This Christmas season I promised myself I would read some Victorian Era Ghost stories ( check ) I would do something creative everyday ( check ) oh and I haven’t done any baking yet but I have eaten some great store bought treats so ( kind of check ).

Do you know what I haven’t done?

Stressed out over the holidays- but I think that finding those cool cards- which I’m using as story prompts so fair warning, got me off to a good start.

So if I can get through this Holiday  without wanting to walk around with a blanket over my head ( as my dog likes to do, for his own reasons ) I would consider that a win.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Now here is a little Christmas music for you to enjoy for you to enjoy as you maybe write out some cards or toss back a cookie or two- or you know A LOT of cookies.

But whatever you do, make sure you do it in your own unique way.

amm

Inspired By Made In Australia Advent Calendar: Christmas Letters From Australia

Confectioner On Deck

A few years ago I stopped baking and I stopped cooking full meals.

It just seemed easier to toss things in the microwave or to order pizza or to just go out and have someone else do the work- and I’ll put it out there with all of my heart- teachers and cooks and chefs do NOT get paid enough.

My point is this: after years of cooking for my family I am OVER the experience.

Sometimes though- when it snows or the weather is bad and I look out the window and wonder what to do, I turn an eye to my kitchen and I bake.

Sometimes I bake from scratch – which to me feels like I’m working in a lab with dangerous chemicals or test tubes full of malicious life forms just waiting for you to make one false move, to add just a smidge too much of this or not put in enough of that and by that carelessness – kaboom.

Yes.

I do love baking from scratch.

It appeals to my inner Abominable Doctor Phibes.

What I love about baking and what I miss about baking are the smells- the scent of vanilla and cinnamon,the beautiful aroma of mulled spices that make their way into warm apple cider and the intoxicating  aroma of cooling pies and cookies.

I made a deal with myself- if the sky is gray and there is a bite in the air this weekend I think I might go a little mad scientist and do some holiday baking.

I have some standby recipes like shortbread- I make a mean shortbread and if it involves fruit and white chocolate I’ll give it a try. And of course I guess I’ll do some Christmas cookies because I’m not a total wet blanket.

Besides, I like to listen to Christmas music when I bake and to double the fun ( for me and to the deep concern of my dog when I do this ) I wear a Christmas Sweatshirt and make my dog wear his Christmas Tree Tiara and I sing along  at the tops of my lungs

Photo A.M. Moscoso

For some inspiration I might try a few of these from The Soul Food Café 2003 Made in Australia Calendar because there is a recipe for a treat where Rice Krispie cereal is called Rice Bubbles.

Rice Bubbles.

Like I’m going to walk away from that!

This month is supposed to be about adventure and experimenting with new ways of doing things and creating things with my own two hands ( as opposed to clicking an icon on my laptop with my own two hands that looks like a shopping cart and sending for it )

I suppose my kitchen is just as good as any museum or symphony hall or poorly lit icy street to embark on this quest.

I just hope I remember to pull the battery out of my smoke detector first.

Kidding.

I’m kidding.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

amm

Inspired By Made In Australia 2003 Advent Calendar: Six White Boomers

Twenty Six Reasons

Photo: Bob Doerr

At this time of the year, for various holiday related reasons, we are reminded that we should take the time to reflect on the things that we are grateful for.

That’s a great idea, so I’m going to do that right now.

Today’s prompt in the writing adventure calendar that I am working on each day suggests I identify 45 things that I am grateful for, 45 things worth life itself, but no matter what I write down these 45 things are actually tied to 26 things in my mind.

Of course I mean the alphabet.

( English Gothic Alphabet )

Greek Alphabet

( Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics )

Without the alphabet music couldn’t be written down, recorded and performed.

Without the alphabet, our ideas and stories and thoughts might be memorized, but the voice of the person who brought those things to life would be lost.

Without the alphabet I wouldn’t be able to write- I wouldn’t be able to do the one thing that I was ever good at.

So tonight when I settle back and read a ghost story or two ( it’s winter time- it’s perfect for that sort of thing ) I will be reminded of what I am most grateful for- 26 things to be exact-and I shall cherish each one of them.

Speaking of:

Below find some great short stories that are PERFECT for reading on a dark and chilly night:

Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad by M. R. James (1904)

A Strange Christmas Game by I. H. Riddell (1863)

Between the Lights by E. F. Benson (1912)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

“The Mummy’s Foot” by Théophile Gautier

 

For your edification:

Ghost stories: why the Victorians were so spookily good at them

Inspired By Made In Australia 2003 Advent Calendar: Eureka Stockade

Dwelling

Photo: Luis S Moscoso

Homes are delicate places.

They’re not made to last forever, but we expect them to behave as if they will and we hope against hope that this delicate place will protect everything that matters to us from the world outside.

I decided to start a visual journal- I’m not sure what I’ll put into it yet but I’m sort of excited by the prospect.

Will I practice my drawing there? Keep little reminders like pictures or postcards of things that mattered to me in the moment?

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Photo A.,M Moscoso

What will happen to my journals, once I’m gone?

They’re not made to last forever and they are delicate and susceptible to the elements and bugs and rodents and poorly placed  bottles of water and cups of tea.

Will anyone except for me ever look at them? Or will someone find them and take it apart, using the little bits and pieces I’ve saved there for their own journal, or maybe gift wrapping or maybe they will use it to prop open a door or window- if there are such things a long time from now.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

I guess I am hoping that my little bits of art and examples of my creativity will be safely housed in this delicate home I’ve built for it.

The world outside is so overwhelming and its full of monsters and endless nights of rain.

I’m not sure this will be enough to keep safe paper and ink and glue.

But I hope against hope that it will be.

Photo: Luis S Moscoso

Made In Australia Advent Calendar: The Man From Farther Out

Betsy Takes a Drive

 

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

” This place really is a ghost town”  Victor said to Betsy.

They were standing next to Betsy’s car on that hot, dusty August afternoon, in a town that used to be called Milton.

Betsy was holding a water bottle full of warm water but she drank it anyway because it was wet and her mouth was full of grit. ” Yeah, well it’s dead alright. Dead and as dry as an old bone. ”

Victor shook his head when Betsy offered him a drink from the bottle that was now full of floating bits of whatever had made it’s way into Betsy’s mouth when the air conditioner in the car decided to stop working and she rolled the windows down for some moving air. ” Really Betsy?”

” Your loss.”She put the cap back on the bottle and tossed it back into her car. ” Yep. ” This is a ghost town alright. I wonder when it, you know, keeled over as it were.”

” Don’t know, don’t care. Let’s just take a quick look around and get back on the road. It’s not getting any cooler out  in case you haven’t noticed.

Betsy wondered what time it was. Betsy always wondered what time it was because she never wore a watch.

Betsy thought she could hear the dry dead grass creaking and popping against the warm dry breeze but that might have been what she thought she should be hearing.

As Victor  had pointed out, this was a ghost town and she had a hard time imagining any part of it- even the light brown grasses and weeds had ever been alive.

” What do you think this place was like, when it was alive.”

Victor stopped, with his back still to Betsy and she could see his shoulders hitch back a little. ” Have a hard time picturing it, do you” he said.

” Well yeah, I mean look at it. It’s like it never took a breath.”

Victor stopped and faced Betsy. ” You must be one Soulless creature to not be able to picture something ever having been alive. You have no imagination,do you? That’s a sure sign of having something wrong with you. Not being able to comprehend anything outside of your own head is not a sign of well adjusted human being.”

In one quick step Betsy was almost nose to nose with Victo. ” I got plenty of imagination. How do you think we got here?”

They both looked down at their feet and the smooth slightly raised mound of earth below their feet.

” It’s a puzzle to me Betsy, how I got here.” Victor said looking down into her face, into her eyes that were as dull and flat and lifeless as the Ghost Town around them.

Betsy smoothed a little patch of dirt with her foot and something  white and slightly  pitted appeared under her toe. ” It’s a puzzle to me too.”

Then the ghost town shimmered in the heat and it blew away on a blast of warm air.

Betsy and Victor and her car were on an empty road and above them was a fiery red sky and ahead of them was a blood red horizon. ” I don’t know why you’re here Victor. But I know why I am. I guess I should be going now.”

Victor nodded and Betsy  started to walk to the driver’s side of the car and she stopped. ” I guess you want to see where I’ll end up.”

” I think I know Betsy.”

Betsy looked up into a sky full of falling stars. ” I think I know too,  Victor.”

Inspired by the Soul Food Café Prompt: Bad Girl On The Block

 

 

Hallow Me

 

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

When I was a child I was inspired by Halloween.

I was moved to create art- either on a pumpkin or by drawing Halloween pictures ( which were pretty horrifying because I couldn’t draw and anything I did draw ended up looking like a disjointed mess ) or by putting together ideas for costumes.

I always wanted to be a dog or a space alien or a monster but somehow I ended up compromising with my Mom and my Paternal Grandmother by wearing one of my Easter dresses. Coupled with  little makeup I was  transformed into a last minute ‘princess’ or I’d get one of those costumes in a box that were all the rage back in the early 1970’s.

So yes, I was moved to create some kind of art at Halloween but I just was not very good at it.

The funny thing is, it didn’t stop me from trying every single year to ‘get it right’.

I never really did and at the end of the Halloween Holiday I was always left with the feeling I had spoiled my own fun.

But then one day I started a blog at the Soul Food Café and before you could say ” Grave Robbing Ghoul” I was celebrating Halloween like a crazy person all over the internet.

I wrote stories, posted pictures and read tons of material that other writers were posting on line and then I took it from the web and I went out and looked at Ghost Tours and Haunted Houses with fresh eyes and got to experience the Halloween fun all over again.

I was inspired by Halloween to try my hand at creative endeavors AGAIN and this time I got it right.

So if I were to give my muse a name I guess it would be  ” Halloween” and if I were to give it a face- well…what do you think of this one?

Inspired by the SFC  prompt: Inside The Sea Shell

Fun In A Frame

A couple of years ago I decided to try my hand at photography.

It’s been hit and miss composition wise and sometimes I try to shoot one thing and end up with something else. I’ve also tried photoshop and I’ve tried different apps to alter and enhance my pictures.

I’ll be the first to say, photography is a struggle for me but much like Poetry I have so much fun doing it that I really don’t care about being perfect or polished or concerned that anyone will be impressed by what I produce.

Sometimes you just have to let yourself play and every once and awhile you get something great out of it.

These pictures  are the first pictures I took when I just decided to go out and shoot some frames to see what I would get.

I think I’ve learned a few things since I took these a few years ago, but regardless I’m proud of them.

Plus I had fun taking them so it was a win all around for me.

amm

Inspired by the SFC Chocolate Box Prompt: Creating with the heart of a child.

Photo A.Moscoso

Photo A.Moscoso

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Photo: A.M. Moscoso

The Greens

I used one of the Soul Food Cafe’s story starter prompts as today’s Writing Challenge.

For this challenge I just sat down and wrote without stopping for twenty minutes. I liked the idea that popped up so much I might go back and clean it up for a Halloween story.

It’s based on  the SFC PROMPT: FLIES

 

Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

The name of the family that lived on Davenport Road before it abandoned and forgotten by the town and then the rest of the world was Green.

The Greens were a Father, a Mother and their four children.

Somebody at a Fourth of July picnic shared over the pie table  that Father Green may have served time in jail and Mother Green may have had something to do with the disappearance of her baby brother and two of the family dogs when she was a child but that was just talk.

Still- none of the Green Children looked like either one of their parents and all of them had the odd habit of always appearing at the corner of your eye- or you’d see them scuttling away from you and around a corner or through a doorway before you could ever really get a good look at them.

One less then charitable resident of Fletcher- which was the name of the town Davenport Road was part of- compared the way they Green Children scurried around as being rodent like.

Mrs. Parker who was helping at the picnic that day said under her breath to that observation, ” They scuttle around like bugs. Those children give me the willies.”

Everything started to go bad in Fletcher right after the 4th of July picnic- the houses got moldy, the plants and trees and the lawns either dried up and died or they simply rotted.

In addition to that unfortunate state of affairs,  six cats, four dogs, a horse and three children and two infants went missing, the corn caught some sort of blight and was wiped out before you could say, ” what the hell is eating at the crops?”

No one living in Fletcher had it in them to get angry or suspicious or to even pack up and run.

That’s because they simply stopped doing anything except for maybe blink when something hit their eye and some of them coughed when dust ( it was just dust, right?) drifted up into their noses and mouths.

They just stopped where they stood on the day the Sun turned blood red and so did the Moon.

Some of people- like the people at the Pie Table at the picnic were sitting at their kitchen tables or in their cars.  Some of Fletcher’s residents who had an inkling that something was going very wrong  were hiding in their attics or basements when they too, like everyone and everything else just stopped.

They could see a hear a little, some could see and what they saw where the Green Children- scuttling and scurrying, tasting and touching and eating everything and anyone who caught their eyes.

Some of the people, who patiently waited their turn for a visit from the Green Children wondered why they only ever saw four of those children- there were so many of them.

Hundreds of them.