Three Things Serial: 19 – Comfortable Home, Happy Disposition, Vex

Jane Austen's "power" in Hollywood c...While I was browsing around the New York Times, I stumbled upon “The Janeiac Quiz.”  Since I’ve always enjoyed Jane Austen‘s books, I took the quiz — and failed miserably.  I’m sharing it because many of you enjoy those classics.  Emma is probably my favorite of Austen’s works and it is also the source of today’s Three Things.  I’ll take them from the first sentence of the book.

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.”

As always, you can do catch-up reading where the complete serial lives on the Three Things Serial page.  And now, three Emma things.

Comfortable Home, Happy Disposition, Vex

Ringling-Zalophus-Ca-d-ZanI told myself not to feel vexed with Mona for acting silly with Flavio.  Then I told myself again.  When I told myself the same thing for the third time Frankie chuckled.  There was no telling what kind of expressions had gone across my face.  He raised his eyebrows and made a mock-hopeful puckered face.  I grinned at him and said, “Sorry fella, the bank’s closed.”

“Dr. Banting said to make ourselves at home.  Why don’t we look around?  I don’t know about you, but I doubt I’ll ever be inside a yacht like this again,” he said with a smile.

He was right.  And I needed to get back to business.  Where was that microscope?  We left, Mona and Flavio still giggling.  The next cabin we came to was open, but Frankie knocked on the doorframe just in case and called out cheerily.  The fireman really did have a happy disposition.  I squeezed past, under his arm.  Frankie actually was a very nice height.

Then I spotted it sitting on a table in the corner, all brass and shiny – the microscope.  It was hard not to look at the beautiful estate in the painting that hung above the device.  The place looked like a Venetian palace, and the yacht moored there looked like the one we were on!

Frankie gave a low whistle.  “That looks like a… comfortable home.”

“You’ve really got a gift for understatement,” I agreed.  The house in the picture was huge and in a beautiful setting.  “That place is the berries all right.”

I took the ornate but bent key out of my purse and carefully placed it under the microscope.  However, I couldn’t make out any words – and I was afraid to move any of the settings.  I could only guess how expensive the thing was; scientific things were always pricy.  The engraving looked like it might be just a pretty design, but with the damage it was hard to tell.  I held my breath and barely moved one knob on the microscope.  A word came into focus, but it was hard to make it out amid all the swirls of the engraved pattern.  “Ring… Ringing?  No.  Ring-ling.  Does Ringling make any sense?”

“Ringling?” Frankie repeated in an incredulous tone.  “As in circus?  That Ringling?”

“Applesauce!” I exclaimed in an awed whisper.  “Do you think this key is for the Ca’d’Zan mansion in Sarasota?”

Our speculation was interrupted by the sound of a scuffle.  A man’s voice boomed.  “You’ve got what you wanted, now be off with you!  If you ever think to pull a stunt like that again, it will be your last!”

We hesitantly peeped out the door in time to see two men leaving right after those ominous

John Ringling

John Ringling

words were shouted.  There was a man in the doorway of a cabin, shaking his fist at the departing backs of the men.  Then someone shrouded in an old quilt pushed past the man.  I heard a muffled sob.

The man lowered his head and said, “Don’t worry.  They aren’t going to hurt anyone else.  We’ll see to that.”The quilt covered shape turned toward him.  The tattered covering fell back to reveal an older woman, who was still elegant despite her somewhat disheveled appearance.It was the white-haired woman.

Three Things Serial: 18 – Punctilious, Train, Diary

Provincial Lady sent three words that were very picturesque to me.  So I’ve gotten on many a tangent looking at images to go with this episode.  But that’s part of the fun.

As always you can do catch-up reading on the Three Things Serial page.  I hope to get lots of fun “things” from you in the comments, to keep the story going.

Punctilious, Train, Diary

Hornby Clockwork Train AdA beautiful phonograph stood in the corner.  It was surrounded by a little track with a clockwork train.  Frankie stooped down to investigate the train.  It was painted red with yellow trim, and the coal car had a Hornby logo.  In a second Frankie had it chugging around the little tracks.  His eyes lit up like a child’s.  He blushed in a cute way when he realized I was watching him, murmuring something about the workmanship.

I wanted to rib him about it so bad that I had to bite my lip to stop myself.  Frankie was really the cat’s meow, but I hadn’t known him that long, and I wasn’t sure how much teasing he could take.  So I played it as seriously as I could manage.  “Yes,” I agreed.  “The attention to detail is quite punctilious, isn’t it?”

Frankie tore himself away from the model and stepped over the tracks to get to the phonograph.  The fireman gave the handle a few cranks and the sound of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” filled the air.

Flavio was sitting next to Mona on the chaise lounge, whispering things that brought gales of giggles from her.  Frankie looked over at me and I made a derisive face at the other two.  This shindig was going to give Mona plenty to write about in her diary.

Three Things Serial: 17 – Associate, Challenge, Reality

Mary is not just a writer — she’s a brave woman to throw me a word like “Reality.”  There’s no telling where I might go with that!  These three things took me in directions I didn’t expect, but that’s the point of this serial — to let the words all of you supply drive the plot and characters.  By the way, you are most welcome to leave your own three things in comments.  Hint-hint…  🙂

And now, another episode of our little 1920’s story.  Remember you can do catch up reading at the page where the full story lives, the Three Things Serial page.

Associate, Challenge, Reality

1920s Dance PartyThe flapper in the sequins bounced away, the fringe of her dress dancing as she went.  She turned back, smiled, and waved to someone behind me.  She called, “Hey Doctor Fred!  Come on and Charleston with us!”  Then she looked at me and rolled her eyes.  “Those scientist types…”

Doctor was a title that I associated with dignity and age.  I found it hard to imagine any “Doctor” doing the Charleston.  However, a moment later a man in his thirties, wearing a tuxedo hurried past me.  “Good morning, Miss, and pardon me.  Please make yourself at home,” he said in a Canadian accent and motioned toward the yacht.

How could I resist?

I had never been on any vessel bigger than a fishing boat.  I certainly had never seen inside a luxurious yacht.  I spotted Frankie; then I saw Mona and Flavio.  I called out and motioned for them to come to the yacht.  It was a challenge to my patience, but I waited for them before boarding the gorgeous craft.

When Mona reached me her eyes were as big as saucers.  “Pip, I think that man was Dr. Fredrick Banting.  He won a Nobel Prize, and he’s the youngest to ever win it for Medicine!”

“That’s absolutely ducky,” I said with an impish grin.  “I bet there really is a microscope in there.”

They all looked at me like I was goofy.  I held up my pocketbook, even though they couldn’t know what was inside.  “Remember that key?  Maybe I can see what’s engraved on it with a microscope.”

Clara Bow***

Sure enough, the yacht was ritzy.  Mona plopped down on a chaise lounge, pouted her lips, and peered up at us from beneath her eyelashes.  She looked for all the world like Clara Bow.

Flavio grinned and bowed over her outstretched hand. “Just remember, toots,” he cautioned.  “This is all a fantasy world. ”

Mona sighed dramatically.  “But I want it to be my reality.”

Bubbles of What-If

Bubbles 3D

Bubbles 3D (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s past time I was getting organized for this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)… and I’ve not done a bit of planning.  I’ve been working so hard at trying to make life in general better, that right now I just can’t imagine expending the huge effort NaNoWriMo took last year.  I am not feeling at all inspired.  So I started brainstorming with me, myself, and I by looking at pictures, and doing Internet searches of phrases, hoping something would make me think, “What if…?”

What if?  Is a game I like to play, when I can find a free-thinking person.  The rules?  Take an outlandish notion and say “What if…?” relating to part of that crazy concept, as if it were actually possible.  Then just keep it going farther down those whimsical trails.

Yes, the online images combined with “What if?” did give me a couple of ideas, but they aren’t suitable for a novel.  So I’m going to use them to lure you into the game.  All of you are free-thinkers, with creativity of one kind or another in your souls.  So let’s play “What if?” right here in the comments.  I’ll start:

What if when the world was created, God had been a small child blowing bubbles, and the bubbles became planets.  The people of earth could traverse their planet by riding on bubbles.

What sort of what if can you add to that?  Come on – I know you’ve thought of something.  Leave a comment and let me know.

Bubble on!

Three Things Serial: 16 – Microscope, Sewing Machine, Dog

I’m pleased to tell you that today’s three things are from a “science nerd turned quilter who lives near Bristol UK” – known to bloggers as Spockssister.  For the sake of this blog’s header (which is not at all cooperative with me) the things are sort of abbreviated.  However, in the serial I’m using them as she sent them:  microscope, a hand cranked Singer sewing machine, and a large, stupid, but affectionate dog.

Microscope, Sewing Machine, Dog.

Hand crank sewing machineAs we headed down to the swank party we were greeted by a large, stupid, but affectionate dog.  He bounded up to us, tail wagging and tongue lolling.  Then he tried to take the torn piece of quilt from my hand.  Mona was quick to take the scrap from me, rolled it up and tucked it into her bag.  Frankie picked up a stick and gave it a strong throw, which sent the dog happily in pursuit of the game.

Flavio watched as Mona put the memory square away.  Like most men, he was mesmerized by the movie star’s every move.  “That reminds me of a quilt my ma’s been working on,” he began.  “She’s been whipping up all sorts of things since she got this hand cranked Singer sewing machine.  Ma called it a ‘double wedding ring’ quilt.  She said she’s going to make one for each of us when we get hitched.”  Flavio shot a quick hopeful look at Mona.  She looked away just as fast.  It wasn’t as awkward as it could have been, I guess.

Mona was a thoroughly modern Millie for sure.  Men threw themselves at her all the time.  She wasn’t above using that, to some extent, but she never took it to extremes.  Like getting the fire department to loan her the truck.  It wasn’t much of a risk with two of the firemen in charge of it.  And she genuinely liked Flavio.  But he didn’t have her heart.  Nope, her career had her heart.  And maybe Boris the ballerina – if she’d stop being so darned conflicted about her feelings for him.

Poor Andy the Astronaute, I couldn’t help thinking.  He was so smitten with Mona.  Andy had real talent as a writer.  Maybe one day that really would bring them together.  Then I remembered Boris again.  Mona’s potential futures were enough to give me a headache, so I put the thoughts away for another time.

When I brought my thoughts back to the present I gasped.  “Applesauce!  This shindig is incredible.”  It was almost a carnival.  It was huge, spread out along the banks of the sound.  There was a band stand, and a wooden floor was set up where dancers did the Charleston.  I saw balloons everywhere.  Tables with white linen and silver were clustered beneath a brightly colored tent.  In other places blankets were spread for picnics.  Everywhere I turned there was something else happening.

Then I saw it.  The yacht.  It was breathtaking.  I knew there was no way it would happen, but I really wanted to see the 1920 Fuji Microscopeinside.  I must have been drooling over it because a flapper stopped and giggled at me.  “Be careful if you go in there, hon.  Dr. Fred might put you under that microscope of his.”

I tried to ask the girl what she meant, but she was already gone in a flash of fringe and sequins.  Then an idea occurred to me.  I clutched my pocketbook and felt it still inside.  The bent key.  I never had been able to make out what was engraved on it.  Was there really somebody on the yacht with a microscope?  Maybe they could read it.

Three Things Serial: 15 – Tattered Quilt, Memory Squares, Quilting Bee

St. Joseph Sanitarium, Albuquerque, NM; 1920's

St. Joseph Sanitarium, Albuquerque, NM; 1920’s

Finally I’m posting another episode of our 1920’s serial.  These three things come from the most “crafty” lady I know — Joye in Albuquerque.

Since I didn’t do a mid-week post, you might need to refresh your memory of the serial.  You can read all the episodes at the Three Things Serial page.

Pip finds interesting things before the group even gets to the gate of the big shindig.  Read on as the mystery deepens…

Tattered Quilt, Memory Squares, Quilting Bee

Flavio bent closer to inspect the bullet hole, which was in the crease where the fender met the body of the car.  “I’m amazed that you spotted it,” he told me.

Frankie looked around uneasily.  One of the chauffeurs stopped his idle polishing of the limousine he drove and looked our way.  “We should get going,” the fireman said, with a significant nod in the guy’s direction.

He took my arm, but I pulled back.  What was that inside the car?  I sighed.  That chauffer was still looking at us.  “Mona, be a doll and distract that mug for a minute, will ya?  Ask him for something for Pear to eat.”

The movie star wriggled over to the first driver, and within seconds the other two were clustered around Mona and the tin lunch pail that housed the little hedgehog.  Flavio looked on with a hint of a green monster lighting his eyes.  I barely controlled the urge to tease him about being jealous.  The chauffeurs seemed to have completely forgotten about the rest of us.

I stealthily opened the car door and pulled out a piece of fabric.  I had to give it a good yank, as it was caught on some metal under the seat.  Then I eased the door closed again.  “What is it?” the Fabro cousins asked in unison.Vintage Quilt ad

“A tattered quilt,” I began.  “Or rather a torn off piece of one.  I think this is part of a memory square.”

Cotton batting clung to the bit of fabric.  I turned it over and saw part of an embroidered word was cut off at the tear.  It must have been a name.  I looked past the swirly print design and at the white muslin below it.  Frankie touched the print.  “Hey!  It’s Paisley, like you,” he kidded me about my given name.

I turned the bit of quilt this way and that to make out the stitched word.  “B-o-r… could that be part of the letter ‘I’ maybe?” I wondered aloud.  “Holy Hannah!  Boris!”

A reddish brown stain marred the white muslin, covered more embroidery.  The spot was caked and stiff.  Holding it close to my nose I detected a coppery odor.  Blood.

Frankie bent closer to have a look.  “That ain’t from the average quilting bee.”

Three Things Serial: 14 – Finger Waves, Shoe Horn, Cummerbund

Today’s “things” are from an innovative thinker in Albuquerque.  I think they help bring life to the story and our characters — a glimpse of their day-to-day life.

Remember, if you need to catch up, the full story lives at the Three Things Serial page.

Finger Waves, Shoe Horn, Cummerbund

The old fire engine roared up to the party at Santa Rosa Sound, streamers flying and bells ringing.  Frankie was driving.  Mona kicked off her shoes do she could stand on the highest point, arms raised and holding a flag in each hand, Flavio held her steady to make sure she didn’t fall off.  I just enjoyed the ride, our grand entrance, and the utter wonder of extravagance that was spread before my eyes.

1920s Bebe DanielsThe partygoers were dressed in all manner of attire, from elegant daywear to party duds I wouldn’t have expected to see ‘til after five, but everyone wore the latest fashions.  Women in nice dresses stood talking to others in beaded flapper gear with expensive jewels in their sleek bobbed hair.  Some men wore bowties and straw hats while others wore tuxedoes complete with cummerbunds.

I decided to take off my hat.  It wasn’t really fancy enough for this party or for my dress.  I cautiously touched my finger waves to make sure my hairdo was okay.  “Don’t worry,” Frankie assured me.  “You’re the cat’s meow.”

So was he.  I smiled at the fireman as he looked for a spot where he wouldn’t get blocked in, and parked the old fire truck.  I looked at all the nice cars.  There were a couple of chauffeurs idly polishing limousines.  I did a double take.  My eyes were pulled back to an ordinary car.  It was familiar, though I was sure it didn’t belong to anyone I knew.

Mona had definitely gotten the attention of the crowd, though it only lasted for a moment.  Wow.  That group was hard to impress.  I thought she’d be the first one down from the truck, but when I looked around, Mona was struggling with her shoe.  In a jiffy Flavio had a shoe horn and carefully helped her, like Prince Charming with Cinderella.  He kept his hand on her foot for rather longer than necessary.  Mona gave me a sideways look and then batted her eyes at her new beau.  I rolled my eyes at her and let Frankie help me down from the truck.

Something was nagging at me.  I turned back to that car, tilting my head as I looked at it.  “What’s up Pip?” Frankie asked.

For an answer I motioned for him to come with me as I headed toward the source of the nagging.  That car.  Frankie wanted to know why I was so interested in an ordinary car, nice though it was, when there were many more luxe vehicles.  I walked all the way around the car.  Twice.  Then I stooped and ran my hand across a fender.

“There!” I exclaimed quietly.

Mona and Flavio had just reached us.  Everyone came closer to see what I was doing.  “It’s a bullet hole.  Right there.  It’s almost hidden,” I said.

“That’s the car from the Nickelodeon, isn’t it,” Frankie said and took a quick look over his shoulder.  “The one that old woman got dragged into.”Hedgehog apple

Mona gasped.  “Are you sure Pip?  It was pretty dark,” She said.

I nodded in answer.  Pear scrabbled in his lunch pail eating his snack.