90 Dislodged Words – The Tease – February 2016

February 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a work in progress.

His tiny frame unfolded as he struggled to stand on quivering, equid hocks. Drips and glops of decorticated sludge stained the hay and stained the air with the scent of blood and honey. And then those two magnificent appendages began to unfold from his wet, sticky back like a butterfly escaping its chrysalis. Is this normal, for him anyway? What are new wings supposed to look like? What will the veterinarian say? What will the church say? What will Papa say?




Writing 101 – Day 16 – Muse Splash

My tag cloud inspiration.

I chose my blog’s tag cloud (muse splash) as a prompt for the latest writing 101 assignment. Conjunctions have been provided to protect the innocent and their sanity. See how many tags you can find, then turn your computer upside down to discover how many I employed. (Or just glance to the right to see if you found them all).




A Life Shared.

We were as random a romance as Limbaugh and Obama, but that didn’t keep us from floating down life together, like Autumn leaves on the Little Spokane River. We portaged our dreams from Spokane to The Netherlands to Argentina to Brazil to Portugal to South Africa to San Francisco to Germany to France to Seattle to Italy to Chile to Costa Rica to Snoqualmie Falls to Mt. Olympus to Mt. Spokane.

The World Cup was our oyster.

We played football (soccer) like Chelsea and debated politics like Congress. Travel was our photography, nature was our prose. We slept on beaches like turtles and watched the Perseids drop into the ocean. We hiked through history in the EWU libraries and carved our fiction like October pumpkins.

Autism thieved our hope. In the democracy of our fears, we hid from holidays like dogs hide from fireworks.

Avalon retrieved our humor. She chased waterfowl through rivers and wetlands like a Christmas puppy deep in the snow. She embedded herself in our lives like taxes and the national debt in a tea party speech.

Then we rediscovered books and characters, Spain and Hemingway. We attended Get Lit! and NaNoWriMo, gulping down writing like coffee.

And even as smoke fills the panorama of our lives, we still hold hands while watching the meteors fall into the sea.


Answer: 6/



Writing 101 – Day 15 – Asgard Live!

Have you ever wondered what Dr. Phil’s show would be like if he did a remote from Asgard?

My guess is, you haven’t, but thanks to my Writing 101 friend, Melinda ,this nugget appeared in my mind. She suggested a post about the Æsir and Vanir tribes of Norse mythology. My first thought was, now that’s a dysfunctional group, which led to my second thought, where’s Dr. Phil when you need him?

[Applause] Thank you and welcome to this special Norse edition of Dr. Phil. Now, we’ll get to these gentlemen and gentleladies in the horned hats in a second, but first, I just want to read a couple lines written by a woman known only as “the Völva”. She is a woman of the Vanir tribe that has done some journaling on the feud between these two clans. And let me just say to those of you watching at home, if you find yourself in the middle of two warring god gangs, lightning bolts flying back and forth, it really helps to get your feelings down on paper. Just keep that in mind as I read this …

“Odin shot a spear, hurled it over the host;” [Dramatic pause] “that was still the first war in the world” [Applause]

Yes, I agree, very moving. But beyond the artistic wording, the Völva is really pointing to the heart of the matter, isn’t she? Instead of reaching for his phone, Odin’s first instinct is to reach for a spear. Now, I know the Æsir and the Vanir have their differences, but epic battles never solve anything. So, everybody just lower your swords, take off your helmets and let down your hair. Yeah, that’s it Thor. Just like that. So, in the next hour, let’s explore this conflict and then hopefully begin some saga-sized healing. [Applause]

[Voice Over] Stay tuned for more Dr. Phil and don’t miss tomorrow’s show … Giants-Why do they think everyone is beneath them?


Writing 101 – Day 13 – Editing with a Scalpel – or – Peppermint is the New Menthol


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe tips the ashtray. Stale butts roll out like coffin dowels. Funny, they smell so damn good, when first lit. Breaking the chains of that sweet, seductive addiction requires a resolute chisel, one forged by her newborn eyes. He plunders confections until foil fills the ashtray.

Peppermint is his menthol now.


Writing 101 – Day 10 – Trash Day

Trash Day

George is a terrible name for a Scotty. That’s why the man named his Edinburgh. Eddie for short. Eddie’s favorite day is garbage day, and so, today is his favorite day.

They stroll along the wet, windswept sidewalk, over pastel leaves pasted to the cracked cement by last night’s rain. Eddie’s feet chug like the side rods on a steam locomotive, then halt. They have arrived at the next garbage can. Sniff, sniff. His head, down at first, slowly rises, black eyes to the side, his nostrils flaring and clenching, flaring and clenching. And then, just as quickly as they stopped, it’s time to move on.

He knows that Eddie knows what’s inside every can, but the tales those contents ignite are his and his alone. A storyteller’s brew of fact, fiction and speculation is mixed into every brown tub introduced to the curb on trash day. One can is open, its lid unable to close over a large cardboard box, warping in the damp. Someone got a promotion, and therefore, a new big-screen. Another can harbors bottles, clinking with every gust as they roll around the bottom of an otherwise empty tub, rocking with the sweet acid stench of rum and loneliness. Yet another is clearly oversized, not even a third full. There was a time when its weekly burden overflowed, but not since the week the widow lost her husband. And yet another holds reams and reams of manuscripts, ink running through the paper-clipped bundles, transforming the fonts into lightning strikes of failure. One page lifts in a gust and lands at Eddie’s feet. He sniffs briefly and then trots on, adding a muddy paw print to the only words on the page, the end.

They make it back to their driveway just in time to see the garbage truck’s mechanical yellow arm squeeze, lift and dump their own can. A week of their life, tumbling into the bed of the truck like a lost phone number. Eddie rolls on his side and starts chewing on a cherished stick he discovered weeks before.

The man watches his dog gnawing the twig’s end and decides, we are defined as much by the things we discard as we are by the things we keep.


Writing 101 – Day 9 … Recharging

Writing and not writing, taking a break from typing, not from observing.

pa070343Our day nine assignment for Writing 101 is to create a post about what we do when we are not writing. I consider these “breaks” to be a separation from the keyboard, but not a complete divorce from the process of writing. All the inputs for written pieces are gathered as we live our lives.

Hemingway was very adamant about not writing when you were done for the day. Put it away. Recharge for the next go around. I agree with that sentiment. Hemingway likened this act to allowing a well to fill back up with water after being emptied. The image that works for me is a snow cornice hanging on an alpine cliff in a blizzard. It builds until the next time I’m typing, ice piling up, moaning, creaking, cracking, but holding on, until I re-open that document file, then crash! It all comes flowing out.

Putting writing aside serves two purposes. One is the aforementioned recharging of the creative batteries. But the other, observation, is just as important. Stepping away from the piece you are working on allows you to observe the world around you. When I’m involved in anthropocentric activities, I never miss the opportunity to people watch. I gather mannerisms, pick up dialogue, remember names.

Yes, I can be a real nosy bastard.

But even more enjoyable for me is getting away from people. My free time is often spent on the trail with my four-pawed friend and companion, Avalon. She loves water and so our adventures usually involve a lake or river. Time in the backcountry also presents unique opportunities for observation and gleaning new settings.

No matter how you spend it, time away from writing can be as important as the writing itself.




X Marks the Post.

Writing 101 – Day 8 entails writing a letter. Mine is for the letter X.

When given the assignment of writing a letter to someone, why not make that someone a letter? And what letter is more deserving than the letter X?

Dear X,

You never cease to amaze. I love your skill in replacing other letters. Like when, instead of Christmas, people use you to write X-mas. You replace six letters and a deity without even breaking a sweat. That right there should get you into the Letter Hall of Fame.

But there’s more. You allow us to refer to former lovers with one simple letter, X. No guilt, no drama. Just X. That kind of understanding is what makes you a stand up letter. (Well, that and the way your lower structure is uniquely balanced to hold up the rest of your font.) And you’re entertaining as hell. X-box, X-games, Super Bowl XXXX, treasure maps, tic-tac-toe. We wouldn’t know what to do with our free time without you, X.

Let me just say thank you.

And, of course, XOXOXOXOXOXO.

Sincerely, X Fan Boy.

P.S. I love the way you work with O to do that hugs-and-kisses thing. That’s another wonderful thing about you X, you’re a magnanimous team player.


Writing 101 Assignment Six

Writing is where the heart is.

I don’t really have a favorite writing place. I write in many places, my desk, my bed, my car, libraries, coffee shops. Although I write in different spaces, what is consistent in those settings is my gear. I must have my laptop, pen with notepad, I-pod, flip dictionary and Wi-Fi. Everything else I need is in my heart.

Along with the setting and tools, a writer needs ideas, which also happens to be part of this assignment. Please feel free to leave ideas for subjects to write on in the comments section below. Thank you.


Sometimes a rock is just a rock.

Writing 101’s assignment number 5 conjures Hemingway.

“The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The sharks are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

Papa famously reacted to explanations about symbolism in his writing as evidence of someone who did not understand  his writing.

In the end, only the writer knows what their symbolism truly represents. But what others guess it to represent is also part of the effect of any written piece, intended or not. I often introduce weather in my stories. It’s generally not symbolic, but I could understand if someone inferred such intent because weather often effects the mood of a scene. It’s not a huge leap from mood to meaning. At the least, they intertwine in context and change each other. If a thread sewn into the pattern of a blossom is pulled from a quilt, is it still a flower, or just a thread without guidance?

Only Hemingway knew if his sharks represented anything more than sharks, and he took that secret to the grave, but “The Old Man and the Sea” wouldn’t have been a classic without them.



Assignment three of Writing 101 is a prompt exercise. My choice, abundance.

It’s November, the prompt is abundance. Naturally, my thoughts go straight to cornucopias and rotund relatives napping on couches, turkey gravy dribbling from the corners of their grateful mouths, everything we already know about Thanksgiving. But this is supposed to be a prompt, not an exercise in groupthink. If I wanted to conform, I could just watch “Dancing with the Stars” or wear skinny jeans and grow a really ugly beard. Cool can be cruel.

So, instead, I study the word with greater urgency, hoping to spot a seam that reveals a trapdoor. And then it emerges. Dancing pastries.


My prompt has evolved from tired holiday introspection to a celebration of yeast choreography. A King’s Hawaiian Roll jubilee with arching crescents, leaping Lefse and, of course, dancing buns. A worthwhile prompt that will lead me down a literary buffet line I have yet to visit. A proper prompt. And for that I’m truly thankful.