Hi Mom!

“We love you!” Quentin appears below. He wishes you’d pose with him too. He sends his “Happy Mother’s Day” wishes from the moon.

Contest Entry

This is my entry to a contest over at this link:

http://www.myouterspace.com/index.php/Community-Home/Planets/Creatia/609-Martian-Summer-Flash-Fiction-Contest-250-Words-Max-Official-Entries-Here.html

I figured it couldn’t hurt to re-direct some traffic over there.
My hope is that by the time you get there the incorrect entry will have been deleted.
Here’s a challenge and a puzzle to solve.
This version of the story is correct and how I’d like it to appear. The first version posted at the link has one incorrect word that is wrong – so wrong it changes the whole story and throws it off.
The entries were limited to 250 words – almost the exact length of mine.

The “ants” go marching two by two.

He saw them and saw the landing live behind his eyes roughly 15 minutes before those who sent the martian probe knew.

Those explorers cheered the Phoenix landing – a spacecraft sent to find geologic history of water and planetary habitability.

Monitoring from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, their applause greeted the spacecraft’s transmission confirming safe touchdown.

“The Phoenix has landed, welcome to Vastitas Borealis!” said an exultant flight controller.

They saw tan landscape.

A tan man in a swimming pool saw it inside his head.

A flash behind closed eyes.

No lag.

No 15-minute wait.

And life – tiny forms filled with life leaving the landing site well before the spacecraft came. His extended mind viewed past and present before the explorers knew success.

And it would be years before they knew what he saw.

Screams of laughter echoed around the pool as one child yelled “Marco” and others replied “Polo.”

Tan man slid from his float and into the pool. He cringed. His sunburned belly stung.

“Crazy. I’m going crazy,” he thought, pulling his float between two kids yelling “Polo!” again in response to the shout of “Marco!”

He rubbed himself clean with soap and showering water.

He tried recalling the images. He reviewed them but couldn’t go forward – just play a loop in his head of speeded-up events mixed with consciousness of life – but no confirmation.

He quit.

From outside came a noisy splash and shouts again.

“Marco!”

“Polo!”

Alyssa’s turn

I’m permitted to write about my daughter once more as long as I publish her works.

Here goes.

Poems  by Alyssa

Up on the shelf, a piece of  chocolate awaits me.

I know waits for me to eat it, but it is very high up on the shelf.

I try to get it but my hands get sweaty.

I ask my dad for it.

He gets the chocolate granola bar, with me waiting right next to him.

The end.

Pondering the Positive of NPR’s Music Offerings

Where do they get their stuff?

At the moment, I’m going through my backlog of National Public Radio’s “Song of the Day.”

Enjoying Etana’s reggae “People Talk” and thinking of forcing my 9-year-old daughter to listen to it.

Such a lovely, positive, empowering anthem.

http://www.npr.org/2011/04/07/135209455/etana-reggae-positivity-classic-and-contemporary

There’s a key phrase in the lyrics, “live your life and be free” that sent me meandering over to Loggins and Messina’s “Be Free.”

It has nothing to do with gossip, but everything to do with the omnipresent yearning inside me to get out into the wilderness experienced in Texas and Idaho and away from D.C.

Here’s a version on youtube with photos from the John Muir Woods and Big Basin in California:

http://youtu.be/itDf4JIZni8

But back to NPR and the playlist.

I’d say Eisley offers a bit of positive cynicism in “The Valley” although NPR’s reviewer classifies it differently as seen in the link below.

http://www.npr.org/2011/04/04/135114995/eisley-a-daze-of-heartbroken-uncertainty

Marcia Ball’s “Everybody’s Looking for the Same Thing” took me back to my days in Austin where I once saw Lou Ann Barton perform.

Ball brings the boogie woogie on here:

http://www.npr.org/2011/03/31/135011047/marcia-ball-a-witty-way-with-an-old-cliche

Turning to positive pop, I wondered if one of NPR’s music critics – Ken Tucker from “Entertainment Weekly” wasn’t a bit harsh on Paul Simon’s “So Beautiful, So What?” when he said the whole album doesn’t provide as much spiritual nourishment as the classic “Bridge over Troubled Water” penned during Simon’s pairing with Art Garfunkel.

Tucker’s review may be heard here:

http://www.npr.org/2011/04/04/135112880/paul-simon-back-in-graceland-with-so-beautiful

The video to a live performance of Simon’s “Rewrite” off of the “So Beautiful” album can be seen here:

http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi3118177561/

I can identify with the song and enjoy it.

It moves more concrete and with a beat than “Bridge” does to me and is as nourishing in it’s own way when pondering changing life for the better.

And finally, with a positive look at blues that may not exactly uplift yet will definitely unburden, comes the delightful “Threadbare” by Hoots and Hellmouth.

Though it came to me as the NPR “Song of the Day,” I enjoyed listening at the link here:

http://hootsandhellmouth.bandcamp.com/track/threadbare

Music gets me through my day as I frequently put on youtube while answering e-mails where I work.

NPR’s suggestions help me widen my musical knowledge and provide enjoyment as well.

Quiet return

My quiet return hopefully will go unnoticed.

This makes a nice place to access from anywhere a journal of sorts that I’d like to keep.

Can’t do that with Word. Probably can use Google somehow but this proves the easiest method.

So many things have happened during the past two years in my little life and the Big lives of the children I care for who no longer want to be named in my blog.

The life-saving cat and companion were taken away.

Both children have moved in with me.

Heard my daughter and I could stay where we lived but my son had to go stay with his mother.

We all moved out.

We all moved into another place to be described later.

I began to read books again.

My daughter and I continue to fight for her imagination.

Job applications continue to turn into rejections with the “You were good – you were just not the BEST candidate” comment.

God and I still talk. He doesn’t say much.

I thank Jesus for his sacrifice and resurrection but still fail to fully comprehend the events.

On the whole, my life is being resurrected too.

It’s getting better all the time.

Feline calls for help

Oreo, a black and white cat, has become our hero thanks to his loud-voiced warning my daughter faced danger.

Thursday, July 23, I picked up my daughter, 8, and son, 11, from their summer daycamp and drove them to their mother’s home.

My son went right to sleep.

Alyssa began to play.

I began to clean up after frenzied cats that had scattered hot chocolate mix and a bag of catnip around the third-story apartment the children’s mother recently moved to.

Alyssa went out to play on the balcony. Since my attention was needed toward cleaning, I told her to come in.

I went into the living room that features a wall of windows looking out onto the balcony. I turned to the television.

About a minute later, Oreo began screaming. The noise the cat made could not be described as anything else.

It was loud enough to wake my sleeping son.

It was loud enough to draw my attention to the cat.

It was loud enough to draw everyone’s attention to the cat. Then I saw why the cat was screaming.

Oreo was against the window screaming at my daughter. My daughter was climbing over the balcony railing, stretching out, reaching her hand toward a small tree limb and risking a 35-foot fall to a sidewalk below.

My yell of “No!” froze my daughter, then she climbed down.

Oreo saved the day and probably my daughter.

My daughter explained she had been trying to grab a leaf off the tree and didn’t realize she might fall.

I explained to my junior botanist that there are safer ways to collect leaves.

We all gathered around Oreo and smothered him with affection.

He looked a bit puzzled before he reclined and purred with gratitude.

On sabbatical

On Sabbatical.

Not sure if I’ll make it back to where I am now.

I like this definition:

http://world.std.com/~jegan/def.htmlSabbatical year

1. among the ancient Jews, every seventh year, in which, according to Mosaic law, the land and vineyards were to remain fallow and debtors were to be released

 2. a year or half year of absence for study, rest, or travel, given at intervals, originally every seven years, to teachers, in some colleges and universities. – Webster’s New World Dictionary

Won’t take that long to write, I suppose.

But self-editing may limit my prose.