Monthly Archives: July 2014

Like a Moth to the Flame – short story

Sometimes it is simple things that spark the imagination. A friend’s dislike of moths and  tales of an unwelcome night time visitor are to blame – sorry, thank- for this tale.

Like a Moth to the Flame

Startled by the sudden loud music, she sat up, momentarily confused as to where she was. It was the theme tune to her favourite TV drama series that had wakened her. Another episode that she had slept through the last twenty minutes of. Oh well, there was always catch up TV – again! Stretching, she glanced at the clock. It was almost eleven and past her usual mid-week bedtime. Hitting the power button on the remote, she stumbled off to bed. For the past week she had not slept well and it was taking its toll on her. Dreams of being watched had broken her sleep every night and several times she had switched on the bedside lamp to check that she was still alone in the room. Nothing but shadows filled the room every time but still she couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. At first, it had felt like someone was watching her through the window but that was impossible. She lived on the third floor and there was no balcony.

Her bedroom felt deliciously cool as a breeze wafted in through the open window, rattlling the blinds. Deciding to leave the window open, she climbed into bed and snuggled down into her soft white feather pillow, pulling the summer duvet up around her shoulders. Out of the corner of one sleepy eye she spotted something on the curtain. It was a large dark mottled moth. Quickly she switched off the bedside lamp before it decided to flutter around the room. If it stayed where it was, she could ignore it; if it started flying around, she would have to kill it. Despite her dislike of the creatures, she didn’t like killing anything. Gradually she was overcoming her fear of Lepidoptera which was just as well. The unwelcome visitor on the curtain was the third one she had seen in a week.

Without giving it another thought she drifted off to sleep.

 

Patiently the moth sat and watched her, just as it had done every night for the last seven days. Her familiar scent had attracted it in through the open window that first night. Hints of peppermint and honeysuckle mingled with wild rose. Tantalising. Gradually the sleeping beauty’s breathing even out and softened as she slipped into a deeper sleep. With a flick of its wings the moth was free of the curtain. With a second flick it materialised beside the bed in its preferred form. In an instant his senses heightened as his ears were filled with the rush of her blood pumping through her body; his nostrils flared at the metallic tang to her natural scent.

Could he? Should he?

Still admiring his blonde sleeping princess, he bit his lower lip hard, drawing a large bead of deep red blood. With his long pale index finger, he lifted the drop of blood and gently smeared it on her partially open lips. The tranquilising effect would buy him some precious thinking time, just as it had done twice before. Time to decide his next move once and for all.

By vampire standards he was young, barely a hundred years old. He had combed the world over the years searching for her and, finally, unexpectedly, he had found her. With a soft click he opened the case of his gold pocket watch and gazed upon the picture inside; a photograph he had treasured for a century. His only photograph of his young bride, needlessly killed by the vampire who had made him. In front of him now though lay an identical beauty. A live incarnation of his beloved Susannah.

All day he had followed her as she went about her daily routine. He had waited behind the gatepost of the building next to hers then walked silently behind her as she had gone into the café to pick up a coffee on her way to catch the bus to her place of work. It had been easy to hide on the bus among the other commuters and to mingle with the workers in her office. No one had challenged him as he had followed her into the office building. Erring on the side of caution he had only waited inside until she was seated at her desk before he slipped out unnoticed.

A rustling movement from the bed beside him brought him back to the here and now. Mumbling in her sleep, she had rolled over onto her other side, her long hair fanned out on the pillow behind her. An artery in her neck pulsed enticingly. The young vampire ran his hand almost nervously through his dark short spikey hair. It was now or never.

Silently he bent over the girl, bared his fangs and sank them swiftly into the ripe artery, drinking deeply.

A single drop of blood dripped onto the white pillow

Pale Oak Beauty Moth (Hypomecis punctinalis) male

credit to the owner of the photo – photo is tagged

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The Writers’ Retreat- where are you hanging out?

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I stumbled across “The Writers’ Retreat” cartoon on Facebook recently and it made me smile. (It also reminded me of my favourite jigsaw from my childhood but that’s another story….)

The picture stopped me in my tracks as I was transported back to late last December when I took the plunge and created this blog page with trembling hands.

Over the past seven months I’ve visited many of the “rooms” within “The Writers’ Retreat”.

For many years I’ve hidden in the comfort zone of the “Cave of Reclusive Genius” too shy to let the world enter my creative world and too scared to let it see what I was creating. My heart still pounds when I hit “publish” every week on each new post or page but it slows to a normal rhythm a little quicker each time.

I’ve meandered through “Plot Labyrinth” when my serialised tale “The Imp” took off (It can be found on the fiction-short stuff tab). From a one off piece, that was scribbled to relieve the boredom of waiting outside the school in the dark while Boy Child attended his Wind Orchestra rehearsal, the story twisted and turned and grew into a tale that I’m extremely proud of. Who knows, if I visit “Inspiration Overlook”, the imp may be back.

I’ve sat gazing into the “Reflecting Pool” many times as I debated with myself over which of my poems to share with the world, many of them deemed too personal to share.

The “Shrine to the Muse” has been photographed and acknowledged regularly as my larger “creative baby” has grown.

There have been several frantic visits to the “Emergency Idea Generator” as I’ve flapped about not having a blog post in mind for the week.

I’ve watched the sun set from “Magic Realist Pier”, whilst trying to avoid the siren’s call to “Cliché Island”, and kept my goals in sight, wholly appreciative of the massive challenge ahead of me.

“Procrastination Patio” has invited me to sit back and relax in the sun with a cold beer or a chilled white wine all too often of late!

Currently I’m enjoying the warmth of “First Draft Furnace” with the welcome company of three trusted friends.

Hopefully 2015 will see me visit “Publisher’s Roost” to celebrate the birth of my “creative baby” but, for now, I’m away to climb “Aspiration Tower” and drink in the view.

What room are you hanging out in?

 

 

 

 

credits to the owner of the cartoon

 

iPod Overload and the evolution of the ” Big Green Gummi Bear Friendly” Playlist

It’s no secret that I love my music and am rarely out of reach of my iPod so, as a treat to myself for surviving the first week back at work after Staycation 2014, I decided to treat myself to a new album. Having successfully purchased said album and added it to my iTunes library, I began to sync my iPod and got a message I’ve been dreading…

“Device full” or words to that effect. 

The time had come when I would need to cull some of the tracks stored on the beloved device. … But how to choose!

Now I know there’s a dozen different ways to solve my dilemma without unnecessary sacrifice, which I duly made use of, but it got me thinking – how do you choose your favourites?

To me, that has to be one of the most difficult questions in the world – closely followed by favourite books or favourite films. All three are continually evolving. All three, certainly for me, are mood/frame of mind driven.

With the storage problem resolved for now, I decided to try an experiment. I would create a new playlist of “mellow rock tracks” and kill two birds with one stone. I’d identify my current tracks of choice and, hopefully, create a playlist that was more acceptable to the Big Green Gummi Bear’s sensitive “pop” ears and limit the number of times I’m firmly requested to “turn that shite down.”

I began to trawl through the list of songs. I deliberately never set a limit to the number to be included but had soon compiled the playlist version one- some fifty plus songs. Upon reviewing the list “rock” was being used quite fluidly in respect of content!

So who made the cut?

Well artists included ranged from the obvious firm favourites (Alter Bridge, Slash, Shinedown, Halestorm and Black Stone Cherry) to The Quireboys, Five Finger Death Punch, Garth Brooks, The Black Keys, Metallica, Rival Sons, Bad Company, Alice In Chains, Steely Dan and Sevendust to name a few. An eclectic mix I’m sure you’ll all agree.

As I played it through I realised I’d missed a few favourites so cue version two and then after a further musical flashback version three.

For a few brief hours I was happy with it then I began to read the latest edition of Classic Rock magazine. It’s a special edition celebrating 200 issues and is a compilation of 200 interviews with everyone who’s anyone. Cue another venture onto iTunes in search of various songs over the years that had slipped through the net- Genesis, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Free, Jo Bonamassa and The Black Crowes found their place in the mix.

My “mellow rock tracks” playlist version four is currently 85 songs long running to some 6 hrs 42 mins.

On the plus side, I’ve not been asked to turn it down all weekend 

Now to go and start the “Hard and Heavy” playlist……

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Staycation 2014 Week Two- Coffee, Coffee, Coffee and more Coffee..with a little added culture

Well, I made it! I survived Staycation 2014 – just…..
Fourteen days at home with, on the whole, stunning weather for the west coast of Scotland, no blood spilled and no tempers lost( that was a pretty close thing a couple of times this week).My sanity may be under question but, hey, that’s nothing new! 😉
Here’s the week two highlights:
Saturday – after my usual food shopping and laundry duties were complete, I spent the afternoon out in the sun writing last week’s blog post and reading my kindle/book. Girl Child disappeared off to the cinema and Boy Child went out with some friends. Peace perfect peace! After dinner my rock chick friend (the one with the birthday last week) text to say she was bored. Everyone in her house was watching the World Cup. Our house is a football free zone  One taxi ride later and she arrived armed with some red wine. We sat outside for a couple of hours chatting and sipping while listening to some loud music (sorry neighbours) until the midgies drove us indoors. Cue more loud music and wine and a fun evening was had by all – even the Big Green Gummi Bear joined us and only turned down the music once!
Sunday – was a remarkably quiet day. I was relieved to waken with a clear head after the vino from the night before. It was another beautiful day so more Vitamin D intake was required. The Big Green Gummi Bear packed his bags and left to head south for work for the week. He headed off around lunchtime. Early afternoon some friends dropped by for coffee with their two adorable children. All in,it was a chilled lazy kind of Sunday.
Monday – Rain – in perfect time for Girl Child starting her week of delivering newspapers (she was covering for a friend who was away on holiday). Having dropped her off in an unfamiliar part of town armed with a pile of newspapers, a list of addresses and Google maps, I headed off to meet some friends and a new baby over some coffee. Girl Child survived day one of her paper run and met me at my friends’ house looking for a lift home. We returned home via the vets to collect a prescription for one of my cats. Cue major low point of the week – I accidentally reversed into a wall in the vets’ car park and “dinged” car. (Suffice to say the Big Green Gummi Bear is still fuming) C’est la vie!
Tuesday – after a morning out in the sun writing, reading, listening to music and drinking coffee the peace was shattered by Girl Child’s screams. She’d lost the piece of paper with the addresses for her paper round! (point in the week where my temper teetered on the brink) After half an hour of teenage hormonal panic, her friend sent her a photo message with a copy of the missing addresses. Hallelujah! As I was taking her into town to the beauticians anyway, I gave her a lift to the start of her route then drove to the end and picked her up. Mummy Brownie points earned! Drama over for the day and, after the beauty appointment, I retreated to my parents’ house for a medicinal cup of coffee. Daughter Brownie points earned.
Wednesday – another beautiful sunny day. Mid-morning I went to visit a friend’s brand new house and shared a coffee with her in what will be her dining room, once the furniture arrives. For now her deck chairs worked just fine and we blethered the morning away quite nicely. In the afternoon I went to the garden centre with another friend and we put the world to rights over another very welcome cup of coffee. The rest of the day was spent out in the sun with my kindle/book and my iPod while I topped up the Vitamin D levels. I was spared paper run dramas as Girl Child’s “Special Friend” came to supervise that activity. The poor boy finally left here around dinner time with his nails painted pink and purple – I didn’t dare to enquire any further for fear of the answer……
Thursday – sun still shining! I’d arranged to meet up with my rock chick friend to visit a George Wyllie exhibition at the local arts centre. She had known the late sculptor and was familiar with his works. While I was aware of him and some of his more famous pieces I’d never really taken note of his other work and loved the quirkiness of the items on display. (For info see – http://georgewyllie.com/biography/) Of course there was more caffeine involved in this trip too 😉
The early afternoon was spent driving ”Mum’s taxi” again as I dropped off my little darlings and subsequently collected them again. I really should get that meter fitted… In between times I topped up the Vitamin D levels.
After dinner the Big Green Gummi Bear arrived home hot tired and grumpy after a long drive north with no air conditioning.
Friday – the last official day of Staycation 2014 and the Big Green Gummi Bear had the day off. While he went for a run in the morning I sat outside with a leisurely breakfast, fending off two of my cats who were both determined to steal my hot toasted cinnamon bagel and butter. Miracle of miracles – we ventured out as a family later in the morning and had an impromptu but very enjoyable family lunch at a local bistro. With the weather forecast predicting that the good weather was due to break, I spent a long leisurely afternoon outside writing. It is ridiculously difficult to write a snowy winter scene in hot glorious summer sun!
As the clouds rolled in after dinner our Staycation came to an uneventful end.

The sun may be gone for now but I feel relaxed – well as close to relaxed as I get – and am almost ready to return to the salt mine….. Happy days!
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Silently Watching – a short story

Pulling the laces tight on his well-worn running shoes, he glanced out of the patio doors at the reddening sky. Another beautiful summer evening for a long training run. With a nod to his wife, who was curled up on the opposite couch engrossed in a trashy TV soap opera, he slipped out of the front door, closing it quietly behind him so as not to disturb their sleeping children. Nestling his earphones into place, he pressed play on his iPod and set off down the hill at a leisurely pace. No sense in heading off too fast too soon since he had his sights set on at least twelve miles. As the hill began to level off he had a choice – go straight through more houses or take the right fork down a narrow single track road. The sight of a group of kids playing football in the middle of the road ahead made the decision an easy one and he turned off to his right into the immediate shade of the overhanging trees and into a cloud of midgies.
In front of him an elderly woman was walking an equally elderly looking terrier. He regularly ran passed them on his evening training runs and knew the dog wouldn’t give him a second glance, unlike the dog at the house next to the church. It would dearly love to sink its teeth into his tattooed calf! The old woman gave him a smile and a nod as he loped passed her towards the cemetery. Surrounded by crumbling dry stane walls, the village’s crowded cemetery lay a few yards further down the road to his left. At the first sight of the walls, he picked up his pace. Something about that short stretch of road sent icy chills to his very core, despite the warmth of the summer evening.
On the aged stone steps opposite the graveyard, the fallen angel sat hidden by the long evening shadows. She had heard his footsteps the moment he turned down the narrow road and had slipped out from the cool sanctuary of the ruined mausoleum that lay forgotten far back in the trees, to watch for him. For weeks she had observed him as he ran up and down the hill. It was the rich metallic scent of his blood mingled with sweat that had first attracted her. Resisting was becoming more of a challenge each time he was within her range. Once she had followed him as he ran down through the village and along the coast road towards the next town. Soundlessly she had flown just above the tree line until his route had reached the lighthouse. With no trees to shelter her and the risk that the lighthouse’s lamp would expose her, she had reluctantly flown home, tasting his scent in air as she retraced her path.
Tonight the air was perfectly still, no wind to rustle the leaves, and his musk was strong. It had been three days since she had last fed and the mere sight of the ripe veins pulsing in his neck as he ran passed her was almost too much. Licking her lips, she slipped further back into the shadows, deciding to wait for his return journey. She was patient; she could wait….for now.
Two hours later in the last dusky light of the day, he turned off the main street to run back up the hill, safe in the knowledge that a hot shower and a clean bed were waiting at the top. His muscles were screaming at him as he dug deep into the last of his reserves and powered his way passed the church. Loud rock music filled his head, keeping his mind from lingering on the hot pain that had crept into his right foot. Another blister was not what he needed.
The turn off to the single track cemetery road was just up ahead. If he took it the route was shorter but steeper; if he took the longer route he had to make it safely passed that nippy dog. Short and steep won. He turned off and was level with the gates of the cemetery when he spotted the old woman’s little dog sitting at the side of the road. There was no sign of its mistress. He paused to rub its ears, glancing round trying to spot the old woman in the fading light. A rustling from behind the walls of the cemetery suggested to him, in his tired state, that she may be on the far side paying her respects to a long gone loved one. Without a backward glance he picked up his pace once more and headed home.
In the graveyard the angel stood up, spreading her magnificent black purple tinged wings out behind her. Carefully she dabbed at her mouth with her long pale fingers, removing the last traces of blood from her full red lips. She had resisted the temptation of him for now. At her feet lay the drained corpse of the old woman, eyes vacantly staring up into the night sky.

Staycation 2014 Week One- loud music, cinnamon bagels, bees and blethering

One week down – one to go!

I have reached the mid-point of Staycation 2014 and no tempers have been lost and no blood has been spilled – yet! Not a bad achievement even if I do say so myself! 🙂

The thought of removing Boy Child and Girl Child from their respective bat caves, taking them out with WiFi range or their usual time zone didn’t bear contemplating so we are holidaying at home.

Here’s a brief rundown of Week One.

Saturday – I followed my usual shopping and coffee routine then rushed home to watch the MotoGP from Assen. The remainder of the afternoon was spent sitting in the sun reading my kindle, photographing the bees in my geraniums and dealing with the laundry schedule. My evening was music filled much to my delight and the groans of the rest of the household. I banished myself to the kitchen. By chance I found a livestream link to the Graspop Festival in Belgium in time to watch Alter Bridge take to the stage. They played a fabulous set which when it ended gave me just enough time to refill my wine glass before Metallica took to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Awesome! I crept up to the bed just before midnight (the rest of the household had sloped off to bed hours earlier) buzzing as though I’d just come home from a gig and with a smile on my wee face.

Sunday – again the weather in the morning was kind to me and I spent it sitting out in the sun with my coffee and toasted cinnamon raisin bagel reading my kindle. (I was devouring Nicky Wells rock romance trilogy) As the clouds gathered in the afternoon, the ironing mountain beckoned so I spent a few hours tackling that before driving Boy Child to and from the cinema. Again Glastonbury provided my musical entertainment for the day. Dinner was cooked while watching Dolly Parton and the ironing was finished off while I watched The Black Keys. I had been eagerly awaiting their set all day but was left a little disappointed and mentally crossed them off my list of “need to go and see live” bands.

Monday- the day dawned gloriously hot and sunny. After a productive morning sitting out in the sun with my laptop (I wrote up one album review and the lastblog post – ok I also read more of my kindle/book)I went for a walk with Girl Child and my camera. We headed along the beach path not far from the house and enjoyed a leisurely hour meandering with fields on one side and the beach on the other. Bliss!

Tuesday – cue more glorious sunshine! I spent the morning doing a little emergency food shopping in town and enjoyed a strong black coffee and a fruit scone in the company of Boy Child and my parents. (Girl child had refused to crawl out from under the duvet and was duly left at home) As I drove home I was full of good intentions to sit in the sun and work on my “bigger creative writing project”. I managed to partially achieve the objective – I did sit in the sun but that rock romance trilogy was calling on me again! I sat out in the sun until I had finished it. 🙂

Wednesday – no sun! This was probably not a bad thing as by now I was a tad pink and burnt around the edges after four days of Vitamin D overdosing. The morning was spent in a mad frenzy of “Oor Wullie” cleaning (where everything gets flung away out of sight under the metaphoric “bucket”) and vacuuming before a friend ( yet another of my friends’ who is allergic to cats) came over for lunch. Lunch was a simple laid back three hour affair involving coffee and empire biscuits among other simple pleasures. After waving goodbye to my lunch guest mid -afternoon I finally settled down to do a few hour’s work on my “bigger creative writing project”.

I also purchased some concert tickets for a friend and I. Watch out Blackberry Smoke, we’re coming to see you in Glasgow in October. 😉

Thursday – a bit of a mixed day weather wise. First on the agenda was coffee and a fruit scone with one of my fellow rock chick friends (the same friend who gave me the Slash photo for my birthday). This time it was my turn to give her a birthday gift albeit a day early. With the world suitably put to rights we went our separate ways. The sun came out during the afternoon and I headed off to the garden centre, armed with my camera, on a mission to purchase a butterfly bush (otherwise known as a buddleja). I got some strange looks from the elderly clientele as I took photos of the beautiful blooms on display, especially the ones occupied by busy buzzy bees. It took me a while to decide on what colour of butterfly bush I wanted but eventually I selected a dark fuschia pink one. Here’s hoping it attracts some butterflies who are willing to pose for photos.

My evening’s online chat was rudely interrupted by more Mum’s taxi runs (Sorry, girls. We will get that three way blether yet!)

Friday- plans had already been made to meet fellow rock chick writer friend, Karen Soutar, in Glasgow for lunch. I had planned to head into the city early with my camera. When I opened the curtains first thing, I was met with a grey dreich morning. Not to be thwarted, I set off as planned and managed to get a few photographs of some of the beautiful architecture in the city centre and the Commonwealth Games preparations. After a short while the rain sent me scurrying in search of a hand drier in a ladies room to dry the raindrops off my camera lens! Cue more odd looks from a couple of elderly patrons. I had arranged to meet Karen at noon at the Hard Rock Café. Lunch was filled with girlie chat as we caught up with each other’s news, compared notes on a certain Mr Kennedy and generally put the world to rights over a burger washed down with a Corona complete with lime. Due to a lack of Corona (yes – they ran out and we only had one each I promise!) we moved on and wandered through a few shops. The rain quickly drove us to seek sanctuary- we just happened to retreat to another pub where we continued our catch up armed with another beer. (Yeah- Waxy O’Connor’s had Corona). We ended our afternoon in a rather more civilised coffee shop in Frasers department store. Cue more blethering over coffee and shortbread then we went our separate ways to catch our trains home. The rain chose this moment to pour its heaviest drenching both of us.

Despite the soggy end to a lovely chilled week I now feel ready to tackle Week 2 of Staycation 2014. Wish me luck!

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