Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Update Page

Due to the number of story blogs that I have I decided to create an update blog.  Yeah, I know it sounds redundant but in reality I hope to make things less confusing and time consuming for readers.  Instead of having to subscribe to umpty dozen different blogs you can subscribe to Mother Hen's Story Blogg at http://motherhensstorytime.blogspot.com/ and get all of the updates in one location.

There is also a full listing of all of the story blogs on the right hand side of the page and several different subscription choices ... email, readers, google, etc.  Near future during the editing and clean up process I also hope to put a contact link so that if readers have any questions I'll get a direct email.  For now a comment on the blog should get to me.  I'm also going to finally get on that blog that will house all of the recipes that appear in the stories in one location.  I hope to tag those so that you can search them by ingredients, cooking methods, etc.

As always thank you for all of your encouragement.  It is greatly appreciated.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Updates and Announcements

In the coming weeks there is will lots of updates to my story pages.  I've looked back at some of the blogs and they need major editing including updating the "story list" and other links.  To get the whole ball of wax started I'm posting Rain, Rain, Rain.  The story is complete but was badly in need of proof reading so it is going to take me a day or three to get all thirty-something chapters posted.  But for those that would like to read it I have it started at http://rainrainrainelizabella.blogspot.com/

In addition to the current story list on blogspot I'll be posting some other stories that haven't made it to the blog-o-shere yet.  Some have been posted in line, simply at other locations, and some have never seen the light of day outside my computer.  I'll also be finishing some that are "in progress" in various locations.

Sorry I've been away so long but I'm baaaack and plan on completing some much needed story time housekeeping.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"Fel By the Wayside" is complete

The story Fel By The Wayside is now complete and can be found at http://felbythewayside.blogspot.com/

I am currently working on completing the stories one by one. "And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth" is an old one that I never finished and it is the one that I am currently working on. I will get it posted to blogspot as soon as I can and you will be able to find the link in my profile as soon as I do.

Thanks for everyone's patience. I had too many open threads in my hand at one time and working on all of them wasn't working so I've decided to work on them one at a time until it is finished and then move on to the next.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chapter 38

Chapter 38

I couldn't make out much when we arrived at the cabin; it was closer to two a.m. than midnight due to a slight detour we had to take around an old cattle gate that had failed and left an impassable gap prior to a bridge across a narrow but deep gully.

Carmine got out and looked it over before we bypassed it and the gully. "Looks like rust and not intentional destruction by human hands; but, rust can be manufactured using fairly simple ingredients. Stay on triple red until we are sure."

I was already keyed up driving into, what was for me, the unknown. It felt like I was back in the city or at SEPH ... triple red was my perpetual state of being. But there is a cost to living like that. It takes a lot of energy and focus and I grew silent and uncommunicative; and though Carmine talked I had a hard time responding. Soon he was as silent as I and after we finally pulled up in sight of the cabin - though sight isn't really the correct word since it was pitch dark outside - it seemed to cost us both to break the silence to plan our next move.

Quietly Carmine whispered close to my ear, "Time to reconnoiter. You right, me left. Stay low. Not just humans we need to check for. Any opening is a hole for animals to get inside. Last thing we need is to run into ..."

Slightly irritated I interrupted with my own whispered, "Don't try and teach this rat a lesson already learned. Let's just get to it."

I jumped but didn't squeak when he leaned closer and nipped my ear and growled a little though I didn't feel especially threatened. I turned to look at him and had to inch back to keep our night goggles from clacking together. Warningly he breathed, "Saloli ..."

Acknowledging the unspoken I told him, "You're sec, I'm rat. Give me some credit, I'm not green. I can follow, just lead already."

He relaxed imperceptibly. "No risks. Not worth it. If the place already belongs to someone else I have a few other places in mind."

I nodded showing I understood.

*********

Our concerns were groundless; it took less than thirty minutes of investigation to become completely convinced that the property remained as desolate and unused as it had been when Carmine had last been through the area.

Carmine and I were bringing in our gear from the solar wagon when he stopped me briefly and said, "You can be on my team any time. There are few I've see as sneaky as you."

I turned still wearing the goggles and some imp grabbed me as it seemed to from our first meeting. "You say the sweetest things."

He snorted. "No I don't and I'm not ignorant enough to miss that I singed your tail a bit back there. But while we've worked together before, and hunted together, we've never cased a place together. You can slither in and out of places that would be too small for me to even get my arm in good."

I sighed then decided it wasn't worth wasting energy being aggravated at the fact that sec boss wasn't just something Carmine did but it is a good part of who he was. "Practice. And I'm double jointed in a couple of places I keep limber." A bit wickedly I added, "I thought you had noticed that already."

That made him "harrumph" a bit like he was trying to hide some embarrassment which only made me grin. He briefly took his goggles off so he wouldn't have to see my toothiness, feigning the need to clean them, and I had to turn away myself to keep from laughing. Carmine is a really big mix of bold and bashful and I get a kick out of tweaking him about it some.

By the time we had brought the last in that we meant to bring in at that point, moved the wagon into what remained of the garage and covered it with a camouflage tarp, the light was just creeping into our world and we were both dead dog tired.

We took shifts the rest of that day and our first night, both of us needing to recuperate from the move and being out in the cold. Carmine insisted on taking the first watch and I wasn't going to argue with him; I still didn't feel one hundred percent no matter how I tried to keep that to myself. We started with two on and two off, moved that to three on/three off throughout most of the day, and then when the sun set four on/four off for the remainder of the night.

While one of us slept the other would be quietly looking around and working. I woke up to breakfast and a fire in the main fireplace and our water barrel refilled and sitting in the kitchen. Carmine woke up to find I had started to clean the main bedroom upstairs and both the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms though they were far from sparkling. They were the "green" composting bathrooms that had become mandatory in all new construction after the turn of the decade and needed more sanitizing than I could do in the time I had.

It was my time to thankfully lay my head down again and when I woke up next he'd managed to rid the bedroom of what was left of the mattress and old box spring, no easy task as he had to cut it up in place and toss it out the window, and when he took his next turn at sleeping I finished the bed and cleaned the walls and had moved into the kitchen area after putting a pot of stew to cook in the fireplace.

We moved as silently as possible so the other could rest and it wasn't until the evening that we really talked. We were both in front of the main fireplace sitting on the bear skin to keep the cold from the floor from creeping up our backs. Carmine asked me, "What do you think Saloli?"

"Rich man's play house," I responded agreeing with his first assessment way back when. "Well built. Expensive materials. Seems to have weathered well inside and out structurally so whoever did it, did it right ... or so it seems. But they filled it full of useless frou frou that hasn't stood up as well. What a lot of geegaws and useless knick knacks. Now the antique furniture pieces seem ok except for two or three spindly tables that ain't anything but decorative anyway, but the stuff out of particle wood is falling to pieces. I tried to move a dresser in that room beside the kitchen and it just about fell to sawdust in my hands."

"Umph," he agreed around a bite of hot cornmeal dumpling. "Servant's room ... like a maid or cook or sumpfing. Whoo, this is hotter than it looks ain’t it.” Smartening up and blowing on the next bite before it went into his mouth he added, “There's a shed that the saplings have grown up around about 50 yards behind the garage that has a similar room in it, but in worse condition. Dresser listing to the side from water damage, couple of rotten chairs, but the built in bunks should be salvageable for something."

I told him, "Found some mice skeletons in the kitchen cabinets and in an upstairs closet but not too much damage. There's more dry rot than stuff destroyed by gnawing. And it doesn't smell infested which kinda surprises me."

Carmine nodded. "Surprised me too last time until I found how well the house had been sealed and then laced with poison bait. From what was left of a container in the garage it looks like the poison was laced with something that caused mutations and then infertility in rodents. Probably killed off the more immediate population of mice and the local predators keep the rest of them in check."

A reminder of SEPH, backwards though it may have been, I did not want so I passed over that bit of info. I told him, "Most of the stuff in the cedar chests and cedar lined closets looks salvageable if a little more decorative than practical ... satin sheets won't stand up to washing too well. What can't be salvaged - there's a couple of pieces of shattered silk in one of the chests - we can use for stuffing and maybe get another pillow or some batting to make a summer weight bed cover. Bet them furs are going to be too warm come late spring time."

"Thinking long term about this place? That easy to leave the other one behind?"

In the firelight I could tell he was teasing, but only half way. "The other could have been good but it was getting crowded. Your family is all right Carmine but you are the only person I have ever been able to be around for more than small doses."

"What about Asa?"

“What about him?” I asked a little irritated that he had brought it up again.

“You went off with him and …”

“Ok Carmine, let’s hash this out once and for all. I made a mistake with Asa. I know I made a mistake. I've admitted it out loud more than once. Will you stop tweaking my whiskers over it? What more do you want? It got to where Asa was gone so much I didn’t even realize I didn’t have to look for alone time because he was just flat out leaving me alone because he couldn’t stand to be around me. What is this about or are you just trying to find a way to say that maybe you feel like you’ve made a mistake and …”

I was getting wound up and hated it. It meant that I felt something beyond what I had control over feeling. But I didn’t even get to finish because Carmine did that swooping thing that only big men seem to be able to pull off and I went from standing with my hands on my hips to sitting on his lap in a grip that told me that I realize he wanted to make tighter but had too much sense to try and lock me to him.

When he didn’t say anything but hold me I finally had to ask, “What gives Carmine? If you’re sorry I … I need to know.”

He grumbled something unintelligible and then said, “The only thing I’m sorry about is having brought it up in the first place.” He sighed. “I don’t want you thinking I kidnapped you and brought you out here so you can’t escape … can’t get away from me.”

I thunked him a little harder than was strictly necessary with my shoulder and told him, “Look, if I didn’t want to be with you I wouldn’t be. I mean you’re really great at the … er … sleeping buddy part of this.” I could have been more graphic but I didn’t want to push my luck and make Carmine go all turtle on me. “But I hope that after SEPH and everything else I’ve got more sense than to think that is all that there is supposed to be. I may not be worth much but I’m worth more than trading sex for food and a roof over my head. I’ve never done that, not even when it would have made my life some easier, at least for a while. I could have made a place for myself in the adult gangs if that was all I wanted.” Carmine blanched. For all his tough guy exterior and for all the fact I knew he could be deadly, there were still bits of him that had too much honor to take what I had experienced with equanimity.

Gruffle he said, “Don’t know what the problem is. Open mouth insert foot every time I get a chance on this stuff.”

I punched him again but more lightly this time and told him, “No you don’t. Which is why it is so weird when you do it. Let it go Carmine. Asa is a history that never went anywhere for me. A mistake that I didn’t have to really live with or die over. If I think about it too hard it still chaps me that … forget it, I promised myself I wasn’t going to wallow in it. There’s no sense in it ‘cause I don’t intend on ever making that kind of mistake again. I’ve got you now and … just don’t go there no more. If you have something to say, just say it.”

He pulled me to him and rested his chin on my head. “Keep waiting to wake up from this and have you go running to … I don’t know … someone else …”

Starting to see it I said, “Well, I ain’t your first wife. I’m your this wife. I’m sorry your first one hurt you and soured you a bit and made it hard for you to think that when things don't turn out just so I'll go running. I’m even sorry she died the way she did if that makes any difference. But she’s gone and Asa is out of my life in that way and won’t ever be coming back. And I sure as heck ain't Chandra and if you even think about comparing me to her we really will have problems." Take a breath I plunged ahead. "I don’t know about you but looking back only gives me a headache and acid indigestion. We can't change the past, only live with what it was. And the past comes back to haunt us all on its own enough, let’s not go looking for it all the time. I’m sorry our little cabin in that town wasn’t what we expected. I’m sorry to have to leave the apple trees too. I’m sorry for all the work that got wasted. There’s things about leaving there that would be easy to get angry about but maybe Some One is looking out for us and putting us in a better place … some place that is just right for you and me. Can’t we just look at it like that and not bicker about the why and the how comes?”

“Just like that?” he asked me.

I nodded and said, “Just like that.”

After a moment Carmine sighed and tightened his embrace for a brief moment before letting me go. “It is a mite bit hard for me to turn loose of but I’ll try. I got some angry I ain’t worked off yet. I’m tired of being pushed down the road. When and if we left I wanted it to be on my … our … timetable and not because we were having to rush into anything.”

I shrugged and put the last of the stew in his bowl having already had my own fill. “Running is all I remember. I want shed of it too, but I don’t feel like coming out here to look over this cabin as really running.”

The stew had grown cool enough that he didn’t have to blow on it. Around a bite of venison he asked, “And then what would call it Saloli?”

Thinking about it, wanting to phrase it just right I finally answered, “A strategic reevaluation of our location.”

He almost choked on the last cornmeal dumpling. It took me pounding on his back before he could draw a good breath and then he spent it laughing. “You something else Gurl, you surely are.”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Update ...

The following stories are now complete:
A Will To Survive
Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men
Forsaken Harvest (completed as of 11/14/11)
Over the Mountain and Through the Fire
This Is Me Surviving

Stories Currently in Progress:
All Roads Lead Somewhere
Carry On
Gurl
Mom's Journal of the Zombie Years
To All Things There Is A Season
Il Agita Di Amore
And the Geek Will Inherit the Earth

I plan on a very short break and then will begin to try and complete another story. I hope to have at least two more completed before the end of the year.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Just a quick note ...

I'm trying to finish up Forsaken Harvest. I hope to do that no later than tomorrow so you might want to check out the two chapters that I've already put up over there.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chapter 37

Chapter 37

Traveling in the winter is nasty. In the city I used what cover I could but sometimes there was no help for it. Water, sanitation, and food … the first year or two on the street I didn’t intellectually realize what I was doing but let instinct lead me. I knew that if I didn’t get out I would freeze in place. Traveling in the wagon with Carmine was better but still no piece of cake.

After being forced to dig the wagon out yet again Carmine finally threw a man-sized fit, kicked a little snow and said, “That’s it. We’re done for the day. Let’s look for a likely place to hole up until tomorrow.”

I’d been seeing the signs for the last couple of miles and finally decided that he was far enough gone that he might let me help. “You’re tired; I napped before first light for a while. Why don’t you let me drive for a bit.” As he tried to hide his surprise and reluctance I told him. “We’re going slow. If I can drive in the woods to check the trap lines and not get us stuck, I can certainly drive through here. Besides I need the practice. We’ll be able to get more time on the road, charge the solar generator while we do it, and the wind will blow away our tracks.”

I wasn’t overstating the fact that Carmine was tired. He tried to hide it but he was nearly shaking from fatigue and lack of a warm, solid meal since we’d gotten on the road. “I must be crazy.” He scratched his head and said, “All right. But if you run across anything that does look like a good place for the night go ahead and stop. We’ll need to in a couple of more hours anyway. You may be fresher than me but not by much. We both need some food in us that isn’t like chewing on icicles.”

We switched places and though he tried to fight it Carmine was asleep within five minutes, the light droning of the wagon adding to the weight already forcing his eyelids closed.

There was a fine layer of ice on the road bed of the old highway we were on but because I was going slow and the wagon and trailer were so heavy it broke before it could cause me to slide around. The wind added some danger to our travels but was also a Godsend as it blew away the sign of our trail. My concern was the solar batteries in the wagon that were charging and discharging.

Temperature has a strong effect on solar batteries. It takes extra power to charge when batteries are cold and less when it is warm. Solar panels are the opposite; they give more output when cold and output decreases as the surface temperature of the panel increases. So long as the wagon was moving under input straight from the panels we would be fine; but, if we had to switch to batteries things would get rotten pretty fast. That was the main reason we were going to limit our night time travel even though it would be the safest as far as not being seen.

I drove for about two hours and then came to a crossroads. I hated to do it but I nudged Carmine awake and he was instantly alert. In a gravelly voice still tight with fatigue he told me, “Shouldn’t have let me sleep like that; you didn’t have anyone to cover you.”

“Are you kidding? You wake up even faster than I do. Stop grousing and help me figure out which road to take from here. None of the roads go the direction I want to head.”

He snorted but not in a cranky way. “Detour. You can’t see it but … yeah … head up that way. Through that pass is the remains of a little one-horse town. Hardly anything left of it but after we pass through there a couple of miles on, there is a road that turns off towards an old dude ranch. After that we’ll be back into the hills again and should be able to find a place to pull off that isn’t too exposed … if we can make it that far. Has it been blowing like this the entire time?”

I nodded and pulled down the road he’d indicated. “Gusting steady. There’s no real snow in it, this is all just stuff the wind has picked up from the ground and is throwing around.”

“Well that’s something I suppose.”

Those were the last words he spoke until I woke him up again right after I pulled into a tunnel. “Yo … sleeping beauty.”

I was on my last dregs of my fifth or sixth wind I’d caught or I might not have been quite so terse. After Carmine finished pitching a man-fit I turned it around on him and told him thank you for the compliment since I must really drive well for him to have slept so hard. He opened his mouth to say something and then snorted and told me to trade seats with him.

I did with absolutely no problem and I began to doze as I felt Carmine cover me with our trusty buffalo hide. Next thing I remember Carmine saying was, “Come on Saloli, wake up and drink some of this tea before it gets cold. The tunnel protected the fire from the wind but it is still cold as an old maid’s heart out there.”

I sat up and realize the only light was from the fire right in front of the wagon. Carmine had gotten into the wagon to bring me some tea. I mumbled from inside the mug, “What time is it?”

“About nine. Can’t tell if this wind is the forerunner of a storm or if it is just blowing to blow. Last time I was up here I couldn’t find this tunnel … I think it was under a bunch of snow.” I was sipping the tea and trying to get my brain to turnover and go when he reached out and brushed the curls out of my face. “Good job getting us this far. Looks like we might have cut nearly a whole day off of the traveling time I figured. You must have been driving lickety split.”

“Uh uh, you said slow and steady so that’s what I did. I just stayed on the highway rather than try and take any detours. Anything off the road looked too level and I knew there had to be uneven places. I didn’t want to spend time digging out again.”

He nodded. “Good eye. As cold as it is out I doubt anyone is going to be moving around too much but I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’ve had a good long rest. You sleep some more and then in a while I’ll wake you up and we can trade off. Sound good?”

“Mmm,” I told him right before I buried under the buffalo and went back to sleep. Carmine didn’t have to wake me because nature did. I saw him by the fire and when I got out I jerked my thumb back down the tunnel to let him know where I was going.

“Careful. Couple of slick spots where water has dripped from the ceiling. Ain’t gonna tell you how I found out. Man’s gotta have some dignity after all.” The humor of the picture he’d intentionally painted blew the last of the mully grubs from my brain just as the wind blew my nether regions cold while I took necessary actions.

I walked back to the fire in search of warmth and told Carmine, “I’m good if you want to go lay down in the wagon and grab whatever warmth is left in the covers.”

“Sounds good. Would be better if you were in them covers with me.”

I just smiled as I knew while the sentiment was true that it wouldn’t be happening. I took my sharpening stone out and grabbed the box of pits and pieces that I’d been collecting. Carmine asked, “You gonna tell me what you’re doing yet?”

“Throwing blades if these turn out as planned. It will give me something to do.” He just looked at me, shook his head, and went to go get in the wagon.

My watch was mostly uneventful and I had a breakfast of warmed over fry bread and stew waiting for him when he woke up. I told him, “Wind tried to die down around three in the morning but it picked right back up an hour later.”

“Bad? Sounds nasty.”

“Sounds worse that it looks. I think it is the wind blowing across the tunnel opening. And there were some dogs or something last night too. I got one and the rest …”

That torched his tail feather and I got a long dissertation on proper communication as we went out together to take a look. A large canine carcass … or what was left of it … was about fifty yards from the tunnel mouth. Something had been eating on it. “Mixed breed,” Carmine muttered.

“Thought so. The few wolves I’ve dealt with have a lot more sense nor do they run away like coyotes at a few pellets from a sling shot.”

“And just when have you had anything to do with real wolves?!”

I had to laugh, but it wasn’t exactly pleasant. “Haven’t we had this conversation already? Where do you think all the zoo animals went when the cities were abandoned? Those that could adapt did. Wolves are highly intelligent and took over the parks and overgrown places. Mostly they attacked animals but during lean times they would take out sick or weak humans as well. It’s their nature and I don’t blame them for it … but I’m not looking to be a meal either.”

Carmine sighed, “Don’t mind me. Stupid must have found me in the night ‘cause now that you say it I remember we did talk about this; I just didn’t know wolves were part of it. I would have liked to have seen that … from a safe distance of course.”

My smile turned real as I told him, “They were beautiful. I heard that the ones that lived in the city where I was taken were being bagged and tagged and returned to the wild places. I hope that is true and some nitwit didn’t just go around killing them for sport.”

“Strange words from a street rat on the bottom of the food chain.”

I shrugged. “Maybe there was a little human in me too … at least enough to appreciate what the wolves were and their place in nature. Eat your stew before it gets cold while I finish this pot of tea and put it in the thermos.”

“Yeah, yeah Granny Squirrel.”

Carmine’s vim, vigor, and vitality was obviously back. I let the fire go out and sprinkled a little snow on it and then dug out the dead coals and put them in galvanized bucket. We had some wood in the trailer to get us started – sadly we had been forced to leave so much of our wood pile behind – so the coals would come in handy for the next fire.

We made good time that day. “What time tomorrow will we make it to the cabin?”

“I’m not gonna jinx it … but …”

“But …?”

“If nothing bad happens and we drive some into the early evening … and barring any detours and road hazards … we could be there by midnight.”

I yelped, “Midnight?! As in tonight?!!”

“Easy on the ears Saloli,” he laughed. “Yeah, midnight tonight. Driving as far as we did and making good time really helped. Horses or on foot would have taken much longer. I was only hoping to make it as far as the dude ranch but you got us into the pass before stopping. This wind blowing the roads clear hasn’t hurt either. But we aren’t going to have the highway for much longer and I’m thinking that at some point we are going to be driving into the wind which will slow us down considerable. See that little town up ahead?”

Seeing the remains of what looked like a couple of buildings at an intersection I told him, “Yeah.”

“We’re going to get off the highway there and head up into the hills. Forest has been taking over and that tells me that there aren’t too many people through here if any. That’s good for us; it’ll mean plenty of game and no neighbors to worry about. Feel a little cut off but right now that’s what my instincts are calling for.”