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A-Z Blogging Challenge Special Edition



The Woven Tale Press

(c) copyright 2013 by Sandra Tyler

Editor: Sandra Tyler Author of Blue Glass, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and After Lydia published by Harcourt Brace; awarded MFA in writing from Columbia University; creative writing professor; freelance graphic designer and editor; judge of Stony Brook University’s national annual fiction contest. You can follow her blog at

Editor’s Note The Woven Tale Press is a monthly culling of the creative blogging web – too many well-conceived and artful blog posts are relegated to their archives too soon. Blog posts ephemeral, meant to be indelible. This month’s edition is dedicated to the 2013 A-Z April Challenge, the brainchild of blogger Arlee Bird. If you like particular posts, click on their URLs to visit the actual blogs. Thank you to all who submitted A-Z posts. With over a 1000 A-Z participants, consider this issue a small but notable representation of blogging creativity and diversity. If you did not make it into this edition, consider submitting to future issues of The Woven Tale Press. To submit a post go to the Submit page at:

What is A-Z ALL About? It all began with my post from Saturday March 27, 2010 when I set forth a challenge to all bloggers for the month of April: Can you post every day except Sundays during this month? And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z? Most of the time if you subtract Sundays from April, you then have 26 days – one day for ARLEE BIRD each letter of the alphabet. When April 1st lands on a Sunday, you begin on that day which will be the only Sunday you would post during that month’s challenge. Using this premise, you would begin April 1st with a topic themed on something with the letter A, then on April second another topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on until you finish on April 30th with the theme based on the letter Z. It doesn’t even have to be a word – it can be a proper noun, the letter used as a symbol, or the letter itself. The theme of the day is the letter scheduled for that day. Most of you are probably familiar with Sue Grafton and her best selling series of detective novels known as the “Alphabet Series” that started in 1982 with “A” Is For Alibi up to her most recent “V” Is For Vengeance. She has made a franchise with the series, and there have been other authors who have taken similar approaches. This Blogging From A to Z Challenge is in the same vein. I was inspired to put forth this challenge after reaching my 200th follower on March 26, 2010, and as I neared my 200th post later that week. Not one for contests and the like, I thought it would be fun and helpful to celebrate with my fellow bloggers in some special way. We know that blogging can be fun, and what fun we can have merrily blogging together with a common purpose – something where we can keep up with each other’s work and share in a common experience. 2013 A-Z has come to an end. Though next year again, I’m sure to take my stand! Be it the Game of Thrones or the Charlie Chaplin, Some facts about sea link and others about saplings, I entered a whole new world of blogging. New people, new views, a new phase of mind-boggling. Visited hundreds of blogs, while mine I supervised. Hopping and brushing, tumbling and searching, in the end I needed to improvise! To stop by each one would have been a Ninja act, The blog...the summers...all dust and sweat... Over a cup of coffee and a buttered-bread slice, I kept on rolling through blogs like a random dice – I laughed out loud, others rendered me extra-wise, Some I loved and others I wished to visit twice! A month-long journey and so many new friends. Insanely glad but my little did it bend. Ain’t no category – no first, second, third... For this mutual blogger plot, I’m grateful to Oh Sir Arlee Bird! (And thank you to the entire A-Z team)

Adam’s Apple and the Infinite Regress

The scent of decaying pages – thousands of legal proceedings long forgotten in bureaucratic purgatory – was mingled with that of fresh pages spewing from printers.The Federation’s Department of Universal Litigation and Lawyers (also known as DULL) had offices on every member planet. The office of Dyntaxi Prime dealt with the most grievous of crimes. When Adam Evans, a mid-twenties human male, was pulled from a relaxing bubble bath and handcuffed, he was shocked enough – until he arrived at Dyntaxi Prime: “You understand the severity of the charges,” Magistrate Bibble said, his eyestalks twirling wildly. In fact, most people who came before him in his capacity as Federation Magistrate collapsed from vertigo. The still-naked Adam shrugged as best he could, unable to gesticulate very well, his hands cuffed behind a metal chair. “Yes. Murder is quite serious. Unfortunately, only you would be crazy enough to charge me with murder under these circumstances!” Bibble leveled all three of his red eyestalks at Adam. “It won’t do well to insult the individual in charge of your fate.” Though many in Adam’s situation might play nice, incredulity wouldn’t allow that. “She stole my apple. It isn’t my fault she took a bite and choked on it. You can’t blame her death on me!” “The instrument that led to her death came from you. Your inability to prevent it from harming others makes you liable due to negligence,” Bibble said stoutly. “If it makes you feel better, Mr. Evans, we intend to file charges against Ms. Newt as well.” “But . . . she’s dead!” “Death does not prevent one from being incarcerated, Mr. Evans.” Bibble smiled. “In fact, a dead inmate is preferable to a living one. The food costs are greatly reduced.” Adam wanted to scream, but he fell back instead on sarcasm. “Well, if you insist on applying the law that way, there’s an Earth creation myth that traces all of human sin to the 1 theft of a single apple.”

Bibble’s eyestalks went haywire. “Thanks for that information, Mr. Evans. I’ll be sure to look into that. Maybe I can file some charges in that incident. Condemning an entire race warrants the most severe of penalties.” All hope dissipated. Adam knew he didn’t stand a chance. “What’s my punishment?” “Mr. Adam Evans, you are hereby expelled from existence. You may keep your living body, but you have no name, no identification, and no sentient being is allowed to have contact with you under penalty of death.” Bibble aimed all of his eyestalks at Adam, and for the first time, he actually seemed threatening. “Have a nice day.”

Box of Tissues, Bottle of Wine and Bird Wings

(Excerpt from The Lemonade Year finished novel seeking representation)

When someone buys two dozen lemons, a box of tissues, and a bottle of wine at midnight, you have to figure something’s wrong. The wine is for the minute I walk into my apartment; the tissues, for my father’s funeral; the lemons, for losing my job. I’m a food stylist and photographer. One of those people who artistically arranges food and then takes pictures of the best damn cheeseburger or almond-crusted salmon with blanched baby asparagus that ever was. Pictures meant to inspire you, despite the knowledge that you’ll never be able to recreate the dish the way it appears in the book. It’s a ruse.

My publishing house has me working on 32 Ways to Make Lemonade, but I think my job may be in jeopardy. Right now I don’t have time to worry about that. It’s past midnight and I’m driving home from the grocery store with a bottle of wine strapped down in the passenger’s side, and standing in the middle of the road is a white owl. All the bird does is swivel its head around like that kid in the Exorcist and stare at me. I slow down, sure that at any moment the owl will lift off. It doesn’t. I fish-tail to a halt, and the front end of the car passes over the owl. He’s out of sight. I sit there gripping the wheel. Alone on the highway, nearly forty years old, my mar-


riage over, my long fought-over career slipping through my fingers, and my father’s funeral two days away. So far, I’ve been holding it together. But there may be a dead owl on the grill of my car. Something about a dead bird with its little hollow bones broken against the front of my car breaks me. If I’d just kept driving, perhaps the car would have passed over him as he stood there in the middle of the friggin’ road. Instead, I slammed on breaks, forcing the front end lower, as if I were aiming at him, for crying out loud. “Bitch,” I hear him saying to me. “Can’t a bird stand in a street anymore? What’s the world coming to?” I get out, slamming my door, wheel around to the front of my car. My headlights are blazing and I expect to find the owl crushed against the grill, wings spread—trying to take off in the last seconds. There’s nothing. I should be thrilled, but panic sets in. Where did he go? Is he under a tire? I kneel down to look under the car. Then whoosh! Up from beneath the bumper the owl rises and zigzags off, its wings clipping the hood on the way up and off into the black sky. A fluttering white speck headed for the safety of the trees. I sit down in the wash of my own headlights and cry.


We humans are a silly lot. We try so hard to control things that we have no control over. We like to be in charge. Then we can become anxious and aggravated. Life comes flying at us from all directions and we try to organize it. We plan; we schedule; we make agendas. We build houses and garages to keep organized, only to reorganize them on a regular basis. With our well-manicured lawns and geometrically-skewed gardens, we are forcing nature to conform to our obsessive need for organzation, for control. The thing is, the thing we seem to forget, is that the axis of life is chaos. It’s a messy business we’ve got going here – some our fault, some not. Regardless, it just is.


Somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten how to separate ourselves from the chaos. We’ve forgotten how to just be. A couple of weeks ago, I was scrambling to get things done. Construction workers across the field were making tremendous noise. I wanted to scream. Then I had this vision of my life as a hidden objects game; I can drive myself insane looking for objects buried in a picture. So I have to remind myself that if I just stop searching so hard, sit back and take in the picture as a whole, sometimes it’s easier to spot those hidden things I’m looking for. Chaos. You don’t have to be part of it. Take time to sit back and just be.

Original black-ink pad design by the author 4

Dresses in Miniature The fun of miniatures is making things that

look real, but are much smaller. There’s is something amazing about seeing a fancy ballgown or dress in miniature:

Here are some simple sundresses I’ve made, and I hope to try my hand at some fancier dresses yet.


Eiffel Tower Replica in Texas

In the early 90s Babcock & Wilcox Company built an Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, Texas, using volunteer parts and labor. This metal structure replaced an earlier wooden version that was destroyed by a tornado. Unlike other Eiffel Tower replicas around the USA, the city of Paris chose to add a touch of “yee haw” to their “ooh-la-la” by topping their tower with a bright-red cowboy hat. Looks pretty spiffy!

At 65 feet, the replica is pretty teeny compared to the original Eiffel Tower in that other Paris. It also looks a lot like an oil derrick, but, hey, this fits right in with the Texas side of things.


Forced by A to Z Challenge, Man Loses Job

New Delhi: In a shocking development, a seasoned software engineer was handed a termination letter after his boss caught him writing articles during office hours for the third time. Akhil Kalsh was immediately relived of his duties after his manager reported the matter to higher authorities. When contacted, his colleagues commented on the condition of anonymity: “Akhil was always a really creepy guy, never talked to anyone and just kept to himself. The last few days he barely got up from his desk and kept scribbling furiously in his notepad and on the computer. We thought he was going for some exam or something, but then the boss caught him a few times writing articles for some dumb challenge. Why was he working so hard when there is no prize anyway? Stupid two timing jerk.” Akhil, a SQL DBA with around three years of industry experience, was devastated by the events. “I never thought it would come to this, god knows why I took this bloody challenge in the first place. I couldn’t concentrate at the office, was always looking for the next alphabet or some new idea. Even when my manager warned me twice, I couldn’t stop myself from writing one more paragraph, you know, just a few more words, get the load off my head. Now I’ve got the whole day at my disposal.” Meanwhile other bloggers from all over the world have come to his support. Alisa, a fellow blogger from the US released this statement on her blog: “The dude is practically blind from Keratoconus. He wears painful contact lenses just to barely see what’s going on. Still he is working in a full-time job and trying to write some articles. Give him some break, will you?” 7 His fellow blogger Ayush Chauhan was distraught and heart-broken: “We were just get-

ting started, we were gonna go on our own domain and then start making thousands of dollars online, just like the spam comments said. Now it’s all down the drain. That poor bastard is unemployed. I guess he feels like a real writer now.” he said, taking a long drag on his bong. Inside sources tell us that Akhil’s long time girlfriend immediately broke the relationship after the news spread. When contacted she said: “I can’t live my life with Mr. Wannabe Shakespeare who dorks around on his laptop all day. I need a real man with a real job.” When asked about his future prospects, Akhil replied: “No other company would take me, what do I do now? I am not a professional writer, or I wouldn’t be blogging for free, would I? Should I continue with the challenge? I think now I have some material for the word J like “Job Hunt” or maybe even W like “Writing can get your fired” or something. I gotta write that down.” He ran away looking for a piece of paper.

Global Street Art

Global Street Art is both a gang tagging and graffiti phenomenon that has evolved into an art form. There are some amazing and talented people out there with spray cans of paint. These creations range from 3-D effects on flat walls and streets, to utilizing building or wall features to interact with their surroundings. Some of these artworks are still in search of their artists, and the Global Street Art website has posted numerous pictures of these unclaimed works – works from all over the world, from the UK to China, Spain to Russia, Australia to Brazil.


You can visit https://www.facebook. com/globalstreetart for more examples or go to my Global Arts page. All pictures belong to their respective photographers and are found on the Global Street Art Facebook site with locations where the artwork was done.


Hephaistos 440 B.C. Athens, Greece Parthenon Mnemosyne

An excerpt from a YA trilogy, “The Essence of Memory” I flew back to the Parthenon and perched on the armor-clad form of Athena, her marble arms reaching out beyond the imaginary plane of the east pediment. With a birdseye view, I spied Daedalus below, sculpting feverishly on a figure of Hephaistos, the great Olympian God of fire. Daedalus is a direct descendent of Hephaistos, his daring skills having often been compared to the Smith of the Immortals. Daedalus’ creations exhibited such realism, they were thought to come alive and flee their stone encasements. I suspected darker talents at work. “Outshine the legend of Athens, will he!” Daedalus spit, projecting a barrage of hateful words at his masonry companion. “I took him in, that ungrateful wretch! Now Talos is the golden boy – the finest craftsman Phidias has ever seen! Can you believe it? And to think I took the gutter rat under my wing out of pity. Would you not avenge me, mighty Hephaistos? Amend the atrocities I’ve endured? My reputation ruined by my own flesh and blood! I’d love nothing more than to see his promising career take flight – right off the top of this towering temple!” Daedalus failed to notice the effect his vehement rantings were having on the sculpted forefather. I watched, horrified, as the long, marble fingers of Hephaistos clenched into a fist. 10

Ice Queen

My theme for this challenge is fractals, fractal art, everything fractal up to and including my new book Fractal Dreams: Iterations: Basically that means repetitions. When the mathematical function is submitted to the fractal generator, you can tell it how many times to repeat itself, using the previous result as the basis for the next iteration. This is, in fact, what makes a fractal a fractal. Depending on where the point stops for each iteration, various forms/shapes become visible. Generally, one uses iterations in the thousands to tens of thousands to infinity. Inside: as the application makes these iterations, each point will be either inside or outside the original fractal shape.The coloring of a fractal can be based upon whether points are inside (usually black) or outside (many individual colors). The coloring, however, is totally in the control of the person making the fractal. There are numerous formulae and gradients that one can use to actually “color� their fractal. Infinity: a fractal can be set for an infinite number of iterations, or capped at certain levels. This choice is directly related to the shape and coloring of its fractal. The fractal for I is ICE QUEEN:


Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil is perhaps one of the best known cryptids in the United States. The creature draws in quite a few tourists to New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, as people who are curious about the legend attempt to sneak a peek at it. In fact New Jersey’s hockey team, the New Jersey Devils, is even named after the Jersey Devil. But what makes this cryptid so fascinating? To start off, the creature has been spotted by so many people, some of whom were famous in their time. Witnesses include Napoleon Bonaparte’s older brother Joseph, Commodore Stephen Decatur, and hundreds of people throughout the 1800s and into the 20th century. The legend of the creature’s origin is interesting, to say the least. The story goes that Mother Leeds was expecting her 13th child, and,13 being an unlucky number in her mind, she said that her last child would be a little devil. It was rumored that Mother Leeds was a witch and had slept with the devil, which is why, when the baby was born, it looked nothing like a human. Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, January 1909

Before anyone could catch it, the baby killed the midwife that delivered it and then flew out of the house through the chimney. Talk about gratitude....

Other people claim the Jersey Devil has been around since well before Mother Leed’s time. Apparently Native American stories tell of an ancient creature that roams the Pine Barrens, calling the place “Popuessing” or “The Place of the Dragon.” Swedish settlers called the creature a river dragon. Exactly what the creature looks like depends on who claims to have seen it. it has bat-


like wings, cloven hoofs, a goat-like head and a forked tail. Some witnesses claim it has glowing red eyes. Most people have seen it flying through the sky, including Commodore Decatur’s men, who fired upon it with their artillery but missed. The Jersey Devil has even been seen flying over Philadelphia and other large cities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. What is the Jersey Devil? That’s the question everyone wants to answer. Some people claim it is just a legend that has caused people’s imaginations to run away with them. Other people claim it is a misidentified Sandhill Crane, which are common in the area. Other people think it might be a creature that is leftover from the age of the dinosaurs. And then there are those who think it is supernatural, perhaps even a real demon or some other vile creature, which explains why remains have never been found.


Nooot quite. There are five species of kiwi bird: Brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli), Rowi (Apteryx rowi), Tokoeka (Apteryx australis), Great spotted kiwi or roroa (Apteryx haastii), and Little spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii); all five are found only in New Zealand. Kiwi are ground-dwellers and so have very small wings, but very strong legs. They also have hair-like feathers and no tail. Their unique feature is their nostrils at the tip of their beak, which they use to search for invertebrates in the soil and leaf litter. 13

Kiwi mate for life and are strongly territorial. Females are larger than males in order to support the development of their large eggs.

The eggs are up to 1/3 the size of the female, looking something like this (below):

A kiwi is about the size of a chicken, but it lays a much larger egg. Eggs are usually incubated by Dad, and hatch after 70-85 days. It takes approximately five years for kiwi to reach maturity and they can live from 25-50 years, depending on the species. Kiwis are largely endangered. The rowi and Haast tokoeka are the most endangered, due to their small populations. Next highest threatened are the great spotted and brown kiwi. The little spotted kiwi is classified as “at risk (recovering).� Kiwi continue to face risks from habitat loss and invasive predators, but the New Zealand government actively supports their conservation, as kiwi is considered a treasure to the entire country. 14


When you live in the country, you know to seek cover when a storm approaches, but you also know that lightning can be your friend. When I was a little girl, Grandma would warn us about getting caught out in a storm. When you have acres to roam and they’re in a big valley, you don’t always see the storm coming. So we learned to be vigilant; if we heard thunder, we beat feet for the house or the barn, whichever was closest. If the barn: Stay inside, don’t peek out because “lightning balls roll right off the barn roof onto the ground,” Grandma would tell us. There is such a thing as ball lightning. It’s rare. I think if Grandma saw it even once in her life, it would have been enough for her to warn us about it till the cows came home. And she did. All that aside, have you ever wondered why it is that in spring, when the world is still winter-brown, that after a good thunderstorm, the world turns green overnight? It does, and is nothing short of stunning. The neatest part? There is science behind what the old-timers have known through simple observation for centuries. A bag of fertilizer is made up primarily of nitrogen because nitrogen is so very necessary for leafy green vegetation. So what does this have to do with lightning making the world turn green? Lightning “fixes” nitrogen in the soil into a useable form. Your soil could be full of nitrogen, but if it’s in a form that a plant’s roots can’t absorb, it may as well be tiny plastic balls. What happens when lightning strikes is a plant lover’s alchemy. It turns the nitrogen into a usable form. The plant roots gobble it up and it goes to work – that fast! A lawn can turn green overnight after a spring thunderstorm.


Photo of lightning caught with my cellphone.

Magellanic Clouds

Magellanic Clouds are known as the Large and the Small Magellanic Clouds – dwarf galaxies which may be orbiting our own Milky Way. There is some thought that both galaxies were once barred spiral galaxies (There are three types of galaxies, two of which have further subdivisions).



Here is another spectacular view of both galaxies (far left) taken by ESO’s (European Southern Observatory’s) very large telescope in the Chilean Atacama desert.


Netting Narwhals

For the longest time, I thought narwhals were like unicorns of the sea. As in, they were fun to think about but actually nonexistent. Turns out, they really are like the unicorns of the sea, only they’re real. Seeing a narwhal then is a possibility, but since I don’t like cold and have no plans to scubadive in arctic waters, and they don’t like warm and have no plans to come get drunk with me on my patio, the narwhals and I will probably never meet. And, well, unicorns? Virtually impossible. Same thing with my dreams – my hopes and desires. They’re all, technically, possible, but the likelihood of my ever actually achieving them is less than that of my children volunteering to scrub the toilet. This doesn’t stop me from living my life thinking “what if,” actively planning fantasies about what would happen if whichever dream I’m focused on right now actually did happen – a kind of narwhal unicorn. For example, I want, desperately, to buy a fixer-upper house and fix it up, then live in it. (By the way, in my unicorn brain, I’m Bob Freaking Villa, and will intrinsically know how to create tongue-and-groove joints, miter cut tile and reinforce joists). Due to my lack of available amounts of cash, buying a fixer-upper is not in my immediate future. Except I was perusing the real estate section of a very small monthly newsletter to find that three different properties were being sold “as is” to the highest bidder, potentially for very little. Obviously, my narwhal started swimming around frantically. I made my husband (2.0) drive by the house with the most criteria that met our needs and started talking crazy talk about him submitting a really low bid, in hopes we were the only bidders and therefore ended up buying a house for like $1,000. I didn’t stop there. I mentally gave the house more curb appeal, since the front was all I’d seen; plotted the pretend layout in my head; started looking at fabric swatches and color schemes online; priced the delivery cost for drywall; and researched the tax rates. Yeah, for real. Did you know that narwhals are hunted by the Inuit people of Canada and Greenland 18

(totally legally, so don’t send the game wardens north, people)? Guess who my Inuit hunter is? Yeah, 2.0. What with his insistence on keeping our heads out of clouds and spending our “productive” time actually being productive about things that are actual factors in our lives. I told 2.0, after he reminded me for the eighteenth time that I wasn’t a carpenter, that he was a dream killer. He replied that that was the meanest thing I’d ever said to him (which, if you knew us at all, would be saying a lot because I’m vicious when I’m pouting, and I pout whenever my narwhals are netted by the Inuit)…and then I felt bad. 2.0 supports my goals. He also happens to have a really annoying habit of living in reality. I’m sure he wants all of my dreams to come true, even if only so I’ll stop nattering on about unicorns. Which is problematic for him, this reality-dwelling person I share a life with, since he doesn’t want to crush my soul, but also doesn’t want me to constantly be disappointed because my Crazy Town-unicorn brain decides to only desire things that are virtually impossible to achieve. This could be why he spends so much time encouraging the more likely of my random and assorted dreams: the narwhals versus the unicorns, if you will. “Oh, you want to make dining-room chairs, a huge project we don’t own the tools for, and one you’ve never attempted before? Uh, sure, that sounds reasonable. Have at it.” Being a permanent resident of Crazy Town, I have no real idea what it’s like for someone like him – someone who wants his partner to be happy, but who doesn’t have the ability to plan life around a bunch of unlikely scenarios. His goals are, well, kind of boring, really. Who really wants to save up for a crisis, a year’s worth of emergencies expenses, when they could be counting on the stars aligning and a magical 50 million dollars falling into their laps? I mean, let’s be serious. Narwhals and unicorns are way, way more interesting than, say, bunnies and kittens.





The Big O

Letter O is for Orthography. For those of you unfamiliar with the word, orthography means spelling. It’s a big O because to spell incorrectly is to change meaning, if ewe no what eye mean? I may not always know the correct spelling of a word, but I can tell when something is wrong. For example, one of my students wrote a story about a girl in a...

...satan dress. Muah, hah, hah. I envisioned fiery-red flames shooting from the character’s waist while devowering everyone she ventures into contact with (dress sketched on my ipad): Definitely not school appropriate as devil horns protrude from her evil skull.

NADA. The little girl’s story involved cute little bunnies hopping around colorful egg-filled baskets. Could she have meant satin?

The big O also stands for “Oh, no!” 20

Piece of Pie

Partial Parable: Like any sane young girl, I was out seeking meaning to my existence. Looking for pleasure in awry expanses and off-centered destinations, but stumbing upon a variety of snags and pits. I was wandering about like a partially written parable seeking completion and a happily ever after. Panoramic Pastures: Along came someone who called himself “the devil.” He was wandering in some meadows, looking for his lost soul. We shook hands to see if we could be friends. Somehow our hands melted, and while watching a sunset together over a meandering river we became one! He found his soul and I found mine. He was a devil, all right, because he lifted me up, took me and never let me go. Profuse Peaches: I was relishing playing a soulmate to someone when suddenly someone bumped me off the high plane and talked me out of my dream. He said it was time for me to move on. “But this is just all right – it fits,” I said. My plea was rejected and I found myself onboard the railroad to matrimony. Yes, this is how it happened. They said, we heard and hence. However, it was not at all as weird as imagined. We both blossomed further like peach flowers in Eden. Profitable Proceeds: Among the confusions and deliberations of our new life, and a whole lot of pestering from the adults in the family, I stood my stance as a woman to fulfillment – a mother. For a long time, I was unsure I could bear the responsibility of another living person. I struggled to make peace with the decision and finally leapt for it. A perfectly pink-and-peach colored princess descended, and softly placed her imprints on my lap forever. Piece of Pie: Blessed as I was, I became a new me too. I was given a new start; as much as I made a daughter, she made me a mother. My partial parable was complete. Panoramic pastures were green again and peaches appeared everywhere. My profits were enveloping me into an embrace, so warm. A simple “I love you, Mama” and I am sold forever. Yet, this is simply a single piece of the pie. Many more pieces to relish. And 21 of course! A happily ever after.

Q is for Quetzalcohuātl (Part of a serial story about a mysterious woman found at the base of an Aztec pyramid.)

Quetzalcohuātl III stared into the mirror, bored with his beauty. His magnificent feathers were such a pain to maintain, and his iridescent scales just didn’t have the luster they should. If his stupid father hadn’t forced him into this lame space expedition, he would have never missed the shining season when the second sun would have baked his scales to perfection. “They will be bowing before you, Master,” his advisor, Vincent, said greasily. “I’m bored with bowing and groveling,” Quetzalcohuātl complained, pouting. “The Earth savages will entertain you. You shall see. If not them, then the gold tribute will. Plus, you honor your father in doing your duty on Earth, as he did those three-thousand and some Earth years ago.” “You and Father only ever care about gold, don’t you?” Quetzalcohuātl petulantly plucked a red feather out of the stripe of purple nearest his scaled belly. “And what is it you care about, Master?” Vincent asked, barely keeping the scorn out of his practiced voice. “Love, Vincent. Love, and doing the right thing. Two things that Father wouldn’t even know about.” Vincent hid his laughter in a feigned regurgitation of the bones from last night’s supper. “Of course, My Lord.” “Show me the humans again,” Quetzalcohuātl demanded. The technology crew immediately began a replay of Quetzalcohuātl ‘s favorite satellite footage from the tagged Earthlings so far. “There she is, my Francesca. Such a caring girl. Yes, go follow your mysterious Jane Doe. She’ll lead you right into my…oh, how I wish I had arms, my love…” 22


(A–Z Penelope adventures) Penelope decided to take the mile-long road to salvation alone. Actually, I’m joking. She’s off to the store for snacks. And at best the distance from here to there is 3/4 of a mile :D



Sirens.The beautiful, the terrifying. Vicious, but seemingly opportunistic creatures who lured sailors to their deaths with their captivating songs. Whether the stories of these creatures were the surviving sailors’ attempts at explaining their near-miss shipwrecks, or warnings for those leaving to ensure their fidelity to the women they were leaving behind, is unclear. Considered the daughters of Achelous (river god), and blamed for the death of many sailors, sirens were not, however, sea deities. They have sometimes been called muses of the lower world, their sad song causing the bodies and souls of those sailors to fall into fatal lethargy. In early myths, a siren was part bird and woman, with a large female head, body covered in bird feathers, as well as scaled feet – in later myths, a female figure with the legs of a bird, but no wings, and playing a musical instrument, usually a harp. There are a couple of specific myths involving sirens where those fated to die survive. One is of Jason, in Argonautica: Chiron (respected centaur and oracle) divined that Jason would need Orpheus (legendary Greek musician) on his journey. When they passed the sirens and the songs commenced, Orpheus pulled out his lyre and played a melody that drowned out their song, allowing Jason and his argonauts to continue home from their quest for the golden fleece. Odysseus’ myth is probably the most well-known, especially to any high schooler forced to endure The Odyssey (though I found it much easier to digest than The Iliad). 24

**** Heeding Circe’s (daughter of the sun god, Helios) warning, Odysseus had his sailors plug their ears with beeswax, ensuring that the sirens would hold no power over their fate. Curious, however, as to the sound of their song, Odysseus had his men strap him to the main mast – sans protective beeswax – and commanded they not untie him, no matter how much he begged or ordered them to do so. There he remained until their vessel passed out of earshot of the sirens, suffering the pull of their song, but unable to heed its call. It was said that the sirens were fated to die if someone heard their melodies, but they escaped unharmed. And, when Odysseus passed, the sirens, purportedly, flung themselves into the water.


Thermal Pooland Tossing the Dwarf

(Part of Chronicles of the Dragon Cave) Hello, I am Tassin, and I am here to show you our wonderful Thermal Pool, where dragons, muses and dwarves come to swim and relax.

ticed at the cave, Toss the Dwarf:

You can’t swim today because there are no lifeguards – we are all off on our minion duty and this is just a recorded message. However, you may schedule a visit after the challenge. If you do so, you will also be able to learn a unique sport prac-

In the beginning, Father Dragon used to toss the dwarves over the treasure, but they didn’t bounce well. Now they are tossed into the pool. (Please do not try this with your own dwarves at home.) The Master’s research proves tossing dwarves is both therapeutic and good for health. It reduces stress, strengthens muscles and improves oxygenation.The cave is hosting the first Toss the Dwarf Championship next year. The only requirement is for competitors to bring their own dwarves, duly approved and certified for tossing. The highest record of Dwarf Tossing in the human category belongs to Sir Jeff Hargett, at Strands of Pattern. You can see him in picture above, during his first training session. Some say it was Sir Jeff who gave the Master the idea to make a sport of this. I am not authorized to deny or confirm that rumor. Yet, Sir Jeff did send a picture that gave Father Dragon “that” look on his face when he is up to something. For information on dwarf tossing lessons please call: 01-800-FATHERDRAGONNEEDSMOREDWARVES. Your call is important to us. 26

USP – Unique Selling Proposition

My favorite of all USP acronyms is Unique Selling Proposition.

The dictionary defines it as:The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product. USP can be applied to people as well as to “brands,” who can sell themselves by projecting their own unique traits.You must have faced this question quite often in interviews: “What is your USP?” Once an interviewer asked me if I did anything different from others during our college farewell party. I replied that one of the organizers and I had the idea to gift framed photos of favorite movie actors to the girls, and of actresses to the boys. The interviewer then asked, “Was the idea unique?” I replied that it was. “Did someone implement the same idea before?” “No.It was a new idea and our seniors were happy!” The fact was, I didn’t know whether anyone previously had implemented the same idea or not. I did get the job. But the interview got me thinking: Which is more important? Being completely honest about an idea perhaps not having been so unique, or faking by projecting it as the most unique idea? Many project their ideas as if they are most unique. But depending on the circumstances, at times perhaps we must fake that uniqueness. The USP gives us an uninterrupted power supply for facing the world, for surviving the competitive, and even for tackling day-to-day chores; my mother’s USP is her homemade masalas which help to simplify her cooking. For example, her rasam powder and khopra (coconut), Mirchi (red chilli powder) and a garam masala paste can be 27

readily used in various cuisines. My mother’s USP never fails to impress us. As well, she paints and does sand art. One of her nib paintings

Sand art

As for me, I am not very creative beyond decorating my hall with Angry Birds, and past pencil sketches. Below is one, though I’m not sure drawing is my USP:

Everyone has their own USP. I’m just still trying to decide what mine may be.


The Vole and the Vampire “VHAT do you VANT,” said the VAMPIRE to the VOLE. “What?” said VICTOR the VOLE. “For a start off, those are not V words,” said VICTOR. VICTOR the VOLE was very good at words and knew all his VERBS and VOWELS. The VAMPIRE was very displeased because he was being criticized by a little VOLE, and he shouted “I VILL bite VOU and VURN VOU into a VOMBIE, VES a VILE VITTLE VOMBIE.” “A VOMBIE,” said the VOLE. “Surely you mean a Zombie.” “VOMBIE VOMBIE VATS VHOT I VED,” said the VAMPIRE, who was VERY angry; so angry he bit VICTOR the VOLE on the neck. “I VARNED VOO,” said the VAMPIRE. And VICTOR the VOLE said “I suppose you VINK that’s VUNNY.” And they both laughed hysterically as a cow jumped over the VOON. The VEND.


To The Weirdos

Dear Weirdos of the World:

Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s freaky and I like it, for the most part – some of you are absolutely terrifying. Here are a few brief letters to my favorite and least favorite weirdos with whom I’ve had the pleasure/misfortune of noticing/interacting: Dear Elderly Woman Walking Around Downtown, Whispering to a Pet Chicken a Stroller: It’s messed up. It’s also kind of cute. Yes. I like it. I don’t get it, but I like it. We all need to love someone, and if that someone is a chicken, I’m still all for it. If it were of the Kentucky-fried variety, however, I would be concerned. But this makes me happy. There is genuine love in your eyes and it moves me a little bit, like a really messed-up abstract art installation that I don’t understand but really, truly, appreciate. Dear Man Who Chased me With an Orange Screaming, “I love you! I Don’t Have Flowers, but Take the Orange!”: No. No. NO. I don’t want your orange, I don’t want your love, and I REAAAALLLY don’t want you running after me down the street. Sincerely, No Way in Hell I’m Telling You My Name Dear Couple at Drugstore Who Asked Me if I Were Interested in Egg Donation: The answer was NO, but I still, I was touched that you “want your child to look like me.” Actually, that’s very creepy, and your approach was not the best, but I do think you’re quite nice anyways, and I wish you two the best of luck. Also, I’m insane, hopelessly klutzy, and my hair does freaky stuff, so maybe you dodged a bullet. 30

Dear Gentleman who Came into my Office Once a Week and Could Recite my Last 30 Nail-Polish Colors IN ORDER: What? I mean…WHAT? I mean, thanks…for noticing? I will say that I’d feel a bit guilty, though, if you forgot some actually important things because you used all your brain space to memorize what nail colors I’ve worn.

So I would just…you know, take it easy on that if you like.


Xenodocheionology… Say What?!?!

Xenodocheionology means you love staying in hotels. I suppose this means I am an xenodocheionologist – I love staying in hotels. I’ve been traveling since before I could roll over, and my first hotel was in Bermuda, when I was only a couple of months old. That was back when parents could toss their babies in the overhead compartments while they smoked cigarettes and rang the flight attendants for booze. The couple of years I worked in Florida before moving back to Boston, I traveled a lot – maybe pre-scheduled meetings in Jacksonville, hopping a flight to Miami. The security attendants in the Tampa airport actually began to recognize me; I always parked my car in approximately the same row in the parking garage. With all this traveling came lots of hotels. I became a hotel snob. No free bottled water upon my arrival? Shame on you. No chocolate-covered strawberries waiting next to the directory? You have got to be kidding me. I scooped up all the free products and brought them home. I accumulated a big shopping-carrier bag full of shampoos and soaps from The W (oh Bliss products!), Four Seasons, Omni Hotels and so on. When I moved back to Boston, I dropped all these off at a local women’s shelter. I certainly hope they are enjoying the Bliss lotion, my favorite! All the hotels also came with some interesting experiences. Once after a long exhausting day, I grabbed my key from the frequent-guests turnstile in the hotel lobby, to open my door only to discover someone else already in the room! Apparently, the hotel had double-booked and it was nothing a quick switcheroo couldn’t fix, but it certainly woke me up. And it definitely made me grateful this person wasn’t in a compromising position. Those days are all gone now that I only have to run to the 7th floor to get a job done. Now, staying in hotels is again a special treat instead of a way of life. I can’t say I miss the constant flights, but I do miss having someone make my bed for me every morning.



Here is another brand new character. Yareme is a female animal guardian from Harmony Valley. She has a nice quality any busy mum would want! FULL NAME: Yareme Squirreltail DATE OF BIRTH: 7th Green of Earth PLACE OF BIRTH: Harmony Valley FAMILY: Mum, Dad, three sisters, one brother and 25 squirrels FAVOURITE BOOK: The Lady who Travelled on the Eagle FAVOURITE COLOR: Green FAVOURITE FOOD: Rose-and-daffodils salad with quail egg And now let’s try to get to know her better with the following questions: Me (Franny): Hello Yareme! Welcome to my blog! So you have many hobbies or things you like doing, am I right? Yareme: Oh yeah, I love attending Jumping Flowers competitions, cooking, riding my personal squirrel, reading books (I regularly borrow books guardian-size from one of Sunbeam libraries. People here think I’m a bit weird on this). I mind my nephews and nieces and I work with the best vet of the village to learn the job. Me: Wow, this is really a lot! Where do you find the time to rest? And we were saying you have a nice characteristic anybody would want! Can you tell us more about that? Yareme: Well actually it is pretty tiring indeed and now that I think about that I have loads of things still to…ah ah achoo! Me: Bless you! Yareme: Thanks!


Yareme2: Thanks! Yareme: We were saying that my characteristic is – Yareme2: Oh Hi! Who are you? Yareme: Shush, I was talking, you go and do something to help instead…I still have to give food to the sick field mice! Yareme2: All right, all right, but don’t sneeze anymore! I’m not in the mood for teamwork today! (The second Yareme goes into the next room and attends to the sick mice) Me: Ok so, this is your characteristic, then, you sneeze and you split! Is that right? When does it happen? Yareme: Well, yeah, excuse me! Yeah, I split when I’m very anxious or I’m under pressure! Me: And how many of your doubles can you split into? Yareme: Dunno, I think the record so far is four. I was very busy then, like today for example! Ahhhh, no…. achoo! Yareme3: Oh no! Did you do it again? Yareme! Yareme2: Don’t start arguing. Come and help me here! And by the way, your record is 34

five! Yareme: Oh all right five! Yes, you go there and help her! Me: This is becoming very confusing. So when you split are your doubles like you or what? Yareme: It depends why I split and what I need most at the moment. They can be more and more nervous as we go further or more anxious. Sometimes they just have different personalities! Once I came out with a boy version of me because I was very stressed by an argument with the vet. Me: And are they staying around long? How does it work? Yareme: No, they usually disappear when I relax a bit. Eventually I’m the original. They can only come off me anyway! Yareme3: Oh yeah, lucky we are! You exploit us and then you relax! Yareme2: Stop moaning, will you? I need help here! Me: Ok, thanks Yareme… Yareme2 and Yareme3! You really should give nicknames to your doubles! Anyway thanks for your time and I hope to see you around soon! Yareme: Yeah me too! Thanks and goodbye everybody! Yareme2: Bye…you savage girl say goodbye! (Yareme3 grunts something) So folks, there’s Yareme, my latest character for you!


Zany Zzyzx Zoning

Source: Christopher Mann McKay on Wikipedia

If you happen to live in Southern California, and have made the drive to Las Vegas as so many of us SoCalies have done, you may have noticed a sign for Zzyzx Road. The oddly-named sign appears to lead to nowhere and is surrounded by miles of nothing but desert, mountains, and the I-15 you’ll be driving when spotting the sign. So what’s the deal with Zzyzx? Zzyzx is a name that was made up in 1944 by a man named Curtis Howe Springer, who claimed that it was the last word in the English language. Up until Springer took 36

“possession” of the settlement, it was known as Camp Soda, or Soda Springs. It was originally federal land, but Springer created the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa there after filing mining claims for 12,000 acres surrounding the springs. Springer then began bottling water from the springs, providing drinks for travelers as they made the long drive through the exceedingly hot desert, which can reach almost 120 degrees Farenheight (that’s 49C)! He also imported animals from all over the country just to attract more visitors (and their donation money) to his ranch. He made claims that “his” water and other tonics could cure people of all their ills. The land was later reclaimed by the government after the U.S. Marshals arrested Springer in 1974 for food-and-drug-law violations, and he was evicted from the settlement for the misuse of federal land. He did not own the land or have the correct permits for use of the land under California’s zoning laws. The government did not change the name back, however. It officially became Zzyzx, California in 1984, and is part of San Bernadino County. Instead of the spa, the settlement is now the home of the Desert Studies Center, which is a field station of California State University (CSU). Also located at the site is Lake Tuendae, which was an artificial pond used as part of the spa. Mudhens and the Mohave tui chub were introduced there, possibly after the Mojave River flooded into the pond, which now serves as a refuge habitat for the endangered chub. There are miles and miles of hot desert preceding the settlement when driving north on the I-15, but the closest town after passing the sign is Baker, California, which is about 7 miles farther north. The closest large city to the site is Las Vegas, which is a good 100 miles after that. Zzyzx is truly in the middle of nowhere!



For information about future A-Z Challenges go to: 37


The Woven Tale Press #3  

A special A-Z Woven Tale Press edition. A small but notable representation of the blogging creativity and diversity of this annual April cha...

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