Friday Five: February 12

I’m back this week for the Friday Five. I thought it was time to try again. This week’s words:

retired bucket sit shout version

As always, Anthony knew his version of events would never be believed. It was the story of his life, but at this moment he didn’t care. He  drove cautiously  down the potholed roads, looking left and right, more for what might be following him than other drivers. There was no one else on the road. No one living, that is.  He saw the little house on the corner and pulled into the driveway. It wasn’t a fancy house. It was small with a front porch, and a small garage, and the driveway was little more than mud and scattered stones. He got out of the car and stood alert. In his left jacket pocket, was a root bundle.   In his right, a small mirror. His weapons. He also had a concealed carry permit and his gun holstered by the side, hidden under his jacket. No bullets in it. That was filled with rock salt. He didn’t want to look like a threat, but he didn’t know what he might be facing on this side of town. 

There was no sound. The sun was out. A face peered out from the screen door.

“Yes?” Said a woman. An older woman, with a brown wrinkled face, he could barely make out. She was half hidden behind a rusting screen door. He could make out a faded yellow housedress covering a rail thin figure.

“Is Principal Wright in?” He said. It sounded stupid to call the old man principal but everyone did. He had been principal at East Coverton High School for decades of East Coverton residents until he retired two years ago.

“He’s out back,” said the woman. Smiling. Trusting. People in this town were far too trusting, he thought. They didn’t know the dangers. As if smiles, and Bibles, and sweet tea could fight off the darkness. 

“Thank you,” he replied but the woman was already gone and the clang of the outer wooden door was the only sound.

Anthony went to the back of the house. It was a modest yard with a few plants. There was an abandoned chick coop of at the side. Sitting under the shade of a large tree was Principal Wright. He was idly whittling away with a pen knife looking at a child sitting in a sand box, scooping up dirt with a plastic bucket.  When was the last time Anthony had seen a child outside? He thought they all stayed in to play video games. 

“Principal Wright?” He said it loudly, almost shouting. 

The old man looked up. The sun reflected off his bald dome, he pulled glasses out of his pocket and put them on.

 “You don’t need to shout, son. My hearings fine. It’s my eyes don’t work right anymore.” 

“How are you today?” Anthony said lamely. Now that he was here, he wasn’t sure where to start. The little boy giggled. A butterfly flitted around the wildflowers. Principal Wright smiled up at him. This didn’t look like the scene of a haunting. It was a picturesque tapestry of a lazy spring afternoon and he’d brought a gun. He felt so ashamed. 

“Good, good,” the older man stood up. He squinted at Anthony and moved closer to his grandchild. Protective. 

“What seems to be the problem, son? .”

“You remember me?” 

“I remember the face. You were in the principal’ s office quite bit,” he tapped his head. “Now, I’m old but I known enough young people to know when there is a problem.” The old man was standing in front of the little boy now. Anthony thought about how he must look to them-driving up unannounced, six foot two, with a dark jacket, and the bulge of a weapon. And he saw the fear on theman’s face. It wouldn’t be a fight, but it was obvious that grandfather would do anything to give that little boy one extra minute of protection.

Anthony backed up several feet and dropped his hands to the side. This was all going wrong. He was here to protect them, not hurt them. He hadn’t been thinking.  

“Go ahead and call the police if you want. I’m not here to hurt you.“

Principal Wright  leaned over and picked up his grandson. The boy still held on to his bucket and looked up at Anthony. 

“I think something is after you, and I came to check on you.”  

“Something?”

This is where it got tricky. Few people wanted to believe that there was a ghost chasing them. And he wasn’t exactly the most reliable looking person. 

“I don’t think you’re safe out here. Why don’t you pick up your grandson and go inside. Your wife can help you.” 

“My wife’s been dead for fifteen years.”

“Well, whoever’s in the house.”

“No one here but me and the boy during the day,” Principal Wright said, looking confused. 

Then who is in that house? Anthony thought, reaching for his weapons.

Copyright 2021 Echo Ishii

to be continued…

A few of my favorite things

Stationary shops

I love notebooks, pens, and paper. I also love decorative tape. There is a store near the local grocery store that has ink pens, markers, colored pens, chalk, cardboard, construction paper, origami paper and handmade Japanese paper (washi).

Aquariums 

We only have a small one now for my daughter’s goldfish but I’d love to have a tropical fish tank. I used to have one many years ago. Tropical fish require care and it’s not easy but they were beautiful.

Electric carpet 

My home does not have central heat so I love my electric carpet. Since I’ve been working from home, it’s vital in the cold months. My cats also love the electric carpet so I have to share the space. 

Chocolate chip cookies

I love chocolate chip cookies. They are a fundamental part of my food pyramid. 

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a32772007/toll-house-cookie-recipe/

5 best places I’ve visited

I appreciate any place I visit, so it’s hard to narrow it down. I always like to visit my friends. When I graduated from college I went to visit one of my classmates who had a job working for the park service in Wyoming. It was the most breathtakingly beautiful places I’d ever seen.  It was one of the first times I’d ever seen an elk and didn’t realize they were so large. 

Speaking of wildlife being larger than you expect, I also went to a sea turtle preserve off the coast of South Carolina. I had a summer job as a camp counselor but one weekend we got a chance to visit a preserve and learn about sea turtles. We traced the sea turtle tracks along the beach. 

I got a chance to take a short tour of Italy because it was work related. Some day, I’d love to explore more leisurely. I did get to visit the Colosseum and Pompeii. Pompeii was eerie. You saw a whole town stopped in time. As a history buff, I was truly amazed. There have been a lot of recent discoveries in Pompeii so I’d like to go again. 

My husband and I went to England for our fifth anniversary. We both wanted to visit a country we’d never seen. We did the tours in London, but Stonehenge was really special. I’d seen pictures of it all the time but it’s a whole different experience up close. 

This is a little closer to home. The Oshino Hakkai Springs World Heritage Site is a series of ponds and deep water wells. Its truly remarkable and last time we visited I got some lovely photos. Enjoy.

Friday Five Writing Prompt Challenge

This is a new challenge from Long and Short Reviews. There are words to use in a writing prompt. I’m a little late, because I just read some others, but thought I’d try something quick. I gave myself fifteen minutes and this is what I came up with.

deport, direction, deliver, distributor, sister

My sister stood in front of the customer and plastered on her best smile. She was much better at customer service than I was. For one thing, she was dressed in a cream colored suit, with flawless make-up, and a French twist bun. My hair and face had been under a work helmet all day and even I was afraid to see what I looked like.

“We work with all the best cybernetic distributors in the business,” she said. “I’m sure we can find what you need.” 

“You came highly recommended,” the new client said.

 This woman was one of the upscale cyborgs, with sleek silver suit and gold and pink wings. She was clearly designed for aesthestics more than war; though she’d probably been a private body guard at some point. She followed my sister to the direction of the conference room while I went back to work.  New customers got a one on one so that Gina could assess whether or not we’d take them on. It’s not so much that we couln’t work on any cyborg that came through the door; it’s that we wouldn’t. Our father and mother had built Drummond Cybernetics Services from the ground up and weren’t willing to take on just anyone. We served the only the best. Custom made security cyborgs and even military grades if they were from special forces. Off-world professionals who needed to customize their bodies for space travel. Occasionally, we even did an android or two. All the grunt soldiers could get cut-rate replacement parts delivered from anyone, so we didn’t really do those kind of cyborgs.

copyright Echo Ishii 2021

My Goals for 2021

Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge

I am trying not to get too wrapped up in goals, especially since last year. There were many big changes in work, so I had to adjust to the new realities of my job and keeping my family ok, and my child educated. Most of my year felt like survival mode. I have gotten much better at the work side of things, which meant learning a lot more new computer skills. And I absolutely loved spending more time with my family. Our family outing became bicycle rides and my husband repaired all our bikes and bought new tires. I treasure these times.

Health Goals:

Everyone always wants to lose weight. I do, but I’ve learned that the pick a weight loss number approach doesn’t work well. So, I decided to change my diet about three months ago. I have high cholesterol, so I want to get that under control. A local market sells locally grown produce (some organic) and has special sale days and recipe cards. So each week, I try to learn a new vegetable dish to make. So far, the one’s that were successful were ginger and honey carrots, roasted beets, and zucchini carbonara. I also found a place that sold more wheat and grain bread rather than plain white. Hopefully, with better eating habits an more family bicycle trips I can improve my health this year. 

Family and Friend Goals: 

I want to improve my contacts with writer friends. I hope to be better about blogging, but also about beta groups. Currently, I joined a Japan based groups for writers. We meet on Zoom an that was fun. 

Writing Goals: 

Last, my writing goals did not go as planned. I had a hard time with it. On the positive side, I read more craft books. I was making outlines, but I needed to learn how to make effective outlines for characters. I did get another book in my series published (Terran Attraction)  and I wrote two novellas. One of them turned out fairly well, so I’d like to try a follow up. My writing goal for this year is writing, writing, writing. I want to submit to a lot more short story anthologies this year.  Mainly, I want to stay positive and focus on my accomplishments rather than my failures. 

Rewatches/ Re-Reads:

Blake’s 7. At the Horizon fansite, they have just started doing group rewatches from Season 1, Episode 1. 

The Twilight Zone. I want to rewatch all of the originals. I have amazon points cash in, so maybe I will purchase the set. It’s a bit pricey for my region at the moment, but we’ll see.

Bugs. This is a somewhat obscure TV show (iTV?) from the 90’s, but I really enjoy it.

 I did my annual New Year’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy watch but haven’t read the books in years. Perhaps, it’s time. 

What are your goals for 2021? Large or small.

Favorite songs or musicians

Wow. This is a lengthy topic so I will narrow it down a bit.

I am a huge fan of music history and covers. One of my favorite podcast is Coverville, which does covers of different songs, performers etc.

 One of my favorite albums is Motown Sings the Beatles. I also like the Motown Christmas album which my parent still have the LP off.

I also have very bad driving anxiety. So in order to calm myself I listen to the Priscilla: Queen of the Desert soundtrack and or Monty Python Sings! Yes. I know it’s strange.

Anyway, I am also a fan of music history and tidbits. One of my favorites is Hound Dog. Although most widely known with the Elvis version, it was originally recorded by Big Mama Thorton a few years early. It was her biggest commercial success. And even after her version, there were a few more blues, R& B, and country versions release before it became the runaway Elvis hit.

My next one is Fever. Most people now know the Peggy Lee version(1958) because it was her signature, but the original was by Little Willie John (1956) and a Billboard best seller. Music in the 50’s and &0’s was strictly segregated, even in radio play, so it’s not surprising that many of the early blues, soul, and R&B versions were pushed out of the mainstream music history. 

I also have very bad driving anxiety. So in order to calm myself I listen to the Priscilla: Queen of the Desert soundtrack and or Monty Python Sings! Yes. I know it’s strange.

I also like an African musician named Wiyaala who does a cover version of ABBA.

And of course, the weird YouTube finds. Because everyone needs a medieval tribute to 50 Cent.

How I decide what to read next

This is the worst nightmare for a person as addicted to reading as I am. I agonize over it; especially if it’s Christmas and I’ve gone a bit crazy with my holiday reading purchases. I usually have a series I’m reading, so next in the series gets priority for orders. I finished THE CALCULATING STARS by Mary Robinette Kowal which I loved, so now I have book 2 of the Lady Astronaut series on order. I am also eagerly awaiting the next Vera Stanhope book, but it won’t  be out until next Fall. 

Sometimes, I’ll choose a book based on mood. I loved reading the Song of Ice and Fire, but after that I was craving fantasy that was a bit lighter, ie. less rape and murder; more elves and fun. 

Which reminds me, book with sexy Elves always gets moved to the top. Haven’t found a good handsome elf hero in a while. Must remedy that. 

I balance out my mystery books. If I read a darker mystery/crime like Ian Rankin; I have to balance it out with a Stephanie Plum. If I read a dark romance, I balance it out with a romantic comedy. 

Sometimes, especially with non-fiction, I’ll read it immediately. Usually because I watched a movie or went to a museum or lecture or something that triggered and interest in a topic. I’ve done a lot of castle visits lately, so I’m slowly building up a library of castle and sword related books. (Those I can afford.)

Topics I Never Get Tired of Talking About

Books. Well, I like books. I like talking about bookstores and used bookstores and libraries and museums. 

Star Trek, but I have to remember not everyone wants to talk about it. I can also talk about Blake’s 7 or Babylon 5 for variety. 

I just finished reading all the A Song of Ice and Fire books, so now I am dying to talk about it with someone.

History. I love museums. I read and collect books on African American history. My grandmother was a part of a historical archive project and I found a three hour interview with her online! It was a real treasure to hear her voice again.

Science. I don’t know as much about science as I like but I enjoy learning about it.

Food. I enjoyed reading everyone’s post about food because I love to try new cuisine.

The truth is, I’m fairly open about what I will talk about. I am a shy person, but when I get a chance to meet someone new, I try to listen and get to know about them. The only things I don’t talk about with people I don’t know well are sensitive topics like politics or religion. I also hate office gossip. As soon as the office gossip starts in the break room, I leave. I really don’t want to be pulled into it.

I don’t much like talking about sports but I’m trying to more open about that. I had so much fun watching World Cup Rugby last year, I think I’m actually beginning to like it. 

The strangest things I’ve eaten

WednesdayBloggingChallenge-copy

 

One thing I’ve learned is that what is strange to me, may not be strange to anyone else. I used to think Vegemite was strange. So, I thought I’d mention some of the more unusual foods I’ve tried.

Japanese food is very different from western food. I took me a while to get used to rice, tofu, seaweed, miso as basic to a daily diet. Nowadays, lots of people around the world eat Japanese food so I don’t think it’s so odd for younger people. Cuisine had gone global rapidly in the past few decades.

Dandelions_042514_3

One of the unusual foods I enjoyed were dandelions. On this site, there is a recipe for sesame spinach and dandelions. (AndreasRecipes.com) I had no idea they could be eaten, but one of my  Japanese friends made it for dinner. I’ve never tried to make it on my own.

bamboo-rice-takenoko-gohan-III have fallen in love with bamboo for cooking. One of my absolute favorites now is bamboo rice. My husband and his friends too me to pick fresh bamboo. The smell of it cooking is absolutely wonderful and I look forward to it in season. There is a wonderful recipe on (Just One CookBook.com.)

On the odder end, I did try snake soup in Hong Kong. Eels took some getting used to, but now I don’t mind it so much. I actually like grilled eels.

Locusts, however, were not something I could really get used to. I did try fried locusts. It was…crunchy. Bugs are a food source in many parts of the world and many eco-friendly activists are advocating eating bugs as better for the earth.There are online recipes for honey and miso locusts, grub granola, and grasshopper tacos.  It is also believed to be a way to solve the growing resource problem. One SF series I like by Becky Chambers, had her crew members eating bugs and this is a real possibility for colonies and space travel.