Jazz Age Wednesdays 3 — Recipe Hunter

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

On Saturday, I was honored to be the guest of the enchanting Esmé — The Recipe Hunter.  I’m sharing that post today for Jazz Age Wednesdays.  I hope you’ll click over and say hello. Thanks again, Esmé!  That post is below.

Studebaker blue 1920s

***

It was a recipe for fun when I wrote Three Ingredients I — Murder at the Bijou.  Although, I’m afraid I was not all-together in my element at a cooking blog.  I used to think I was a pretty good cook, but that was years ago.  Now I don’t see myself that way. 

However, I thought I could cook up some fun! Recently, I launched my second “three things” pantser novel.  (Learn about them here.)

My readers drove the story by sending three things (or ingredients) that I included in the serial episodes.  Those random “things” drove every aspect of the stories.  Since the second serial was a culinary mystery, the things were ingredients.  People kept asking for the serials to be in book form.  Finally I’ve obliged… at least with the first two.

Since I’m not much of a cook any more, I’m brought the first chapter of Murder at the Bijou to share at Esmé’s blog instead of a cooking post.  As I said, it’s spontaneously told, and set in the Jazz Age.  Here goes!  

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

A culinary mystery with “ingredients” sent from readers everywhere.

Chapter One — Geoduck, Cilantro, Red Wine

Union Station Savannah, GA

Union Station, Savannah, GA (public domain image)

Several cars were already parked in front of Binghamton’s Bijou Theatre for the big local premiere.  I spotted an empty parking space and hit the gas to pull my grandmother’s Model-T up to the curb.  The car was old as could be, but Granny babied it like a child.  It looked brand new, all the way to the brightly painted yellow spokes at the wheels.  As I got out I made sure the sign she tied to the car door was straight.  It read Granny Fanny’s Goodies

My grandmother had become insistent that I mend my flapper ways and at least learn to cook.  Pops wasn’t about to refuse her when she decided I should leave Florida and move up to Savannah, Georgia to live with her.  “Until you become a passable cook,” my father said, and it had sounded like a prison sentence.  However, Savannah was a bigger city than I realized, and “Jazz Age” business was flourishing.  I secretly liked the town, but it wouldn’t do to let Granny or Pops know that just yet.

As I carefully stacked containers of fortune cookies I heard someone with a faintly British accent call my name.  “Over here Pip!” Alastair Wong called and waved cheerfully.

Blue Lucille Ball Stage Door Trailer

The Wongs immigrated to the United States from England.  Neither he nor his parents had ever been to China, though they dreamed of visiting and faithfully passed down family recipes, like the one for the enormous clams, the geoducks.  Alastair had helped the filmmaker locate an ancient and huge one that had been used in the making of the movie.  Though I couldn’t imagine how they made it look so gigantic, the things were certainly ugly enough to star in a monster movie.

Alastair’s family owned the local Chinese restaurant, simply called Wong’s.  His slogan proclaimed “You’re always right with Wong’s.”  I hoped he was right to invest in so much advertising for this movie.  The chefs at the restaurant were so busy making geoduckdishes that he’d asked Granny to handle the fortune cookies.  I chuckled to myself when I thought about the “fortunes” she wrote for them.

I helped Alastair and his mother arrange the fortune cookies and the geoduck items.  It actually looked inviting the way they’d prepared it.  But I still couldn’t make myself take a bite…  Mrs. Wong giggled at the expression on my face.  At least she wasn’t offended.  Soon we had the food ready for the guests of the premiere of “Night of the Killer Clam.”

People gathered around the food tables as soon as we were ready.  As they chose hors d’oeuvres they joked about eating the movie’s monster villain.  Then they started opening their fortune cookies and reading the carefully printed messages inside.

“Neither a whistling woman nor a crowing hen ever come to a very good end.”  (Be yourself.)

“Every dog should have a few fleas.”  (No one is perfect.)

“You’ll be happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.”  (Don’t worry about what’s happening.)

I blushed when Alastair Wong looked askance at me.  All I could do was shrug helplessly.  Granny Fanny insisted on writing what she thought of as proper fortunes, though they weren’t exactly … traditionally Chinese.

Mrs. Wong, Arabella, laughed out loud, startling me.  She usually had a sweet girlish giggle.  Alastair rolled his eyes heavenward.  At least they had a sense of humor about it.

Arabella poured goblets of red wine for us and we toasted the movie and good food.  We would miss most of the film’s premiere, but Mr. Binghamton gave all of us several free passes each, so knew I could come back.

crab monsters 2Posters of swooning a woman in the embrace of a shocked but dashing man decorated the Bijou’s entrance.  A little girl looked quietly at a poster of the monster clam.  Then she suddenly shrieked, pulled away from the woman who held her hand, and ran.  “Flannery!  Come back!  Wait,” the woman called and ran after the child.

The music began inside the theatre and everyone cheered.  I heard muffled dialogue, but I couldn’t make out the words.  I started helping the Mrs. Wong and her son cleanup and gathered Granny’s empty cookie containers.  Then I jumped when I heard loud screaming emanate from the Bijou.

“Wow!  That must be some scary movie!” Alastair commented.  Then a woman and a man ran from the theatre.  The Wongs and I looked at one another, puzzled.

Something was clearly wrong.  As I walked toward the entrance, I saw the door to the ticket booth was open.  I noticed a flashlight and picked it up, as I hurried toward the commotion.  Inside the theatre the screen showed what appeared to be a fifty feet tall clam, with a hundred feet long…  Applesauce, I didn’t know what to call it!  Something like an elephant’s trunk was slowly attacking a building.

I switched on the flashlight.  A small group of people were clustered below the stage.  When I drew near I noticed a trail of green bits on the floor.  Between the people, I saw a pair of wingtips with the soles facing me.  The green bits were all over the bottoms of those shoes — and the feet that wore them weren’t moving.  I pushed my way into the circle.  The man stretched out on the floor didn’t seem to be breathing.  I took a mirror from my purse and held it under his nose.  There was no fog from his breath.  One of the people started calling for a doctor, but I was sure the man was already dead.

Soon a man with a medical bag, along with the theatre owner — Mr. Binghamton, 

and a policeman pushed me out of the way.  I stooped down and touched my fingers to the little green bits the dead man had tracked on his shoes.  I shone the light on it and sniffed.  Cilantro.

***

End Chapter 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgNR-nAlWaw

I hope you enjoyed this peek into the world of my unflappable flapper, Paisley Idelle Peabody (aka Pip).  It was a pleasure for me to meet Esmé.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy a visit to The Recipe Hunter as well.  It’s pos-i-lutely fabulous.

I’ll be looking for you this weekend in Thistledown!  Hugs.

***

If you want to know more about this series, here is a review by Chris the Story Reading Ape of the first book. 

TSRA 3 Things Review

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story 

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Bijou front only 2

 Thanks so much for visiting.  You’re the berries!

 

 

Copyright © 2017

by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

No part of this book/text/blog may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

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Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 9

Thistledown Girl

Friday, September 8, 2017

About This Episode

We’re privileged to have another recipe for this episode.  When “agave” fluttered into my imagination I asked Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen if she had a drink recipe using it. (Right now, I have no idea how agave managed to get into my twisting mind. However, I had just finished Episode 8, and was already working on this one, when there it was — agave.)  

The creative wheels in Suzanne’s mind whirred into action!  She imagined things Peaches Dragonfly might gather to make a refreshing beverage, then she sweetened it with agave nectar.  Suzanne let me use the recipe and her beautiful photos for this post. Here’s the recipe.    

Sun n Moon Tea in jars Suzanne DeBrango

Sun and Moon Tea, by Suzanne DeBrango

Recipe:  Sun and Moon Tea

https://apuginthekitchen.com/2017/08/21/murder-at-the-bijou-teagans-book-launch/

1 tbs chamomile flowers

1 tbs rose hips

1 tbs red clover flowers

2 sprigs fresh mint

Place all of the ingredients in a 64 oz. glass jar, or two 32 oz. jars.  Pour in fresh filtered or spring water to fill.  Place lid on jar, and set outside in the morning.  Leave the jar(s) all day and night soaking up the rays of the sun and moon. Add agave syrup to desired sweetness, starting with 1/4 cup.  Stir until combined. Strain into a serving container or bottle and chill.

Thanks for the refreshments, Suzanne!  And now today’s episode…

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 9

Sun n Moon Tea w Agave Served apples

Sun and Moon Tea Table, by Suzanne DeBrango

Gone to the Dogs

Bright yellow flowers of the trumpet vine swayed in a warm breeze.  The vine ran throughout Thistledown.  It bore the local news.  River Mindshadow touched a petal awakening the vine.

Extra!  Extra!  Get the Thistledown Trumpet here!” the flower cried.  “Dull haze reported in random parts of Thistledown!  Take a leaflet,” the blossom added shifting to an encouraging voice.

“It says the haze leaves quickly, and that there’s no cause for concern,” River said as she uncurled the leaf to read the news.  “Considering your visions of a dull, colorless place, I find that haze worrisome,” she added with a shudder.

Monticristi_Straw_Hat_Optimo

“Well bless my eyes, Bedlam and River,” Pick Dragonfly said tipping his wide brimmed hat as he walked up.  “Bedlam, it’s nice to see you up and about.  “You know,” he began as if telling a secret.  “Your grand-uncle has been worried about you, even if he doesn’t let on.”

I smiled at the comment, but I doubted it was actually true.  River and I exchanged a glance.  My friend spared me by changing the subject before that conversation could get started.  She motioned to the unusual hat Pick wore.  It was white and made of fine, tightly woven straw, with a brim that was about a finger-length wide.  Pick traveled more and farther than anyone in Thistledown, so I assumed he got the hat in some exotic locale.

River darted up with just a thrust of her wings and grabbed the hat off Pick’s head.  She placed it on her own head and asked how she looked.  River shrugged at our surprised expressions and put the hat back on Pick’s head before settling back to the ground.

“These are popular way down in the southern lands where the sun is hot,” Pick explained, adjusting the hat.  “It’s not the only thing I brought back with me,” he added with a motion to the cart in front of him.

The little cart was hitched to two large dogs.  They wagged stubby tails when River and I walked over to them.  The short tails moved even faster when we paid attention to the dogs.

It was not unexpected to see dogs pulling small carts in Thistledown.  Most creatures enjoyed having a job to do, especially if they were rewarded for it.  I saw Pick hand the dogs treats.  However, what was unusual was the dogs themselves.  Most canines weren’t larger than knee-high.  These dogs were much taller and I had never seen such stubby tails.

“Yes, I got the dogs on my way back.  They needed a home.  I also brought back these agave plants,” he told us motioning to the spikey looking blue plants.

Agave_plant.jpg

I remembered the healer mentioning the tiny drop of nectar she gave me was from a plant related to agave, and described it to Pick.  He nodded.

“Agave is mostly used in making grownup drinks.  You two aren’t old enough for those yet,” he said to our protests.  “The potent kind of drink uses the heart of the plant.  But the nectar from agave is very, very sweet.  So I brought some to Peaches, and now I’m taking some nectar and plants to Belle Stargazer for the Starlight Saloon.  With Belle’s talent in hospitality, I know she’ll put them to good use.”

“Are you ladies ready to go?”  Pick spoke to the two dogs in an encouraging tone.

River and I chuckled when he called the dogs ladies.  But their stubby little tails wagged faster and faster until they seemed to spin in a circle.  Their bottoms lifted into the air.  The back feet of the dogs were barely on the ground.  The dogs shot ahead, pulling the little cart along.

“Hey!  Wait a minute!” Pick called after the dogs.  “You’ll bounce the plants off the cart.”

Pick unfurled his wings, but shook his head.  Apparently he had a leisurely walk in mind, not flying as fast as his wings could carry him.

“I’ll get them,” River said and zipped ahead, quickly catching the excited dogs.

Pick followed, only a heartbeat shower.

I was still grounded from my injured wing.  Even if it had been fully healed, Lavender Cozy had laid out firm instructions for me to rest after the shock of my most recent vision.  I saw Pick look back in my direction.  A moment later, River flew back with a bottle for each of us of the sweet agave nectar.

“He still wouldn’t give us any of the grownup stuff,” River complained as she touched down.

***

Sprig Yellow ben-moore-8884

Unsplash.com

My grand-uncle’s home was nestled in the branches of an impossibly broad and towering redwood tree.  My bedroom was in the attic, the loftiest room of all.  The healer and Uncle insisted that I get a lot of rest.  Let’s be honest ― they’d rather I was confined to my bed and completely unable to get myself into another mishap.

Ironically, I had never been fond of heights.  With my injured wing, I couldn’t glide down from my room, and the view from the top of the stairs was dizzying.  So, I was disinclined to leave.  Fate had conspired to force me to rest.

Fate must be a fiend, I thought.  I was wretchedly bored.  My only “entertainment” was the school books Uncle brought up, so that I’d have a chance of not having to repeat the last term.  You see, just before the end of the term, River and I had been suspended because of the uproar surrounding my vision.

Trying to read one of the books, I nodded off.  A light tapping awakened me.

Psst, Bedlam are you awake?” a quiet voice asked.  “Interrupting your rest isn’t a mistake I’d want to make.”

I could only see one eye and a fragment of the face that peeped at me from the side of my window.  However, the extraordinary long mane that lifted on the breeze was easily recognizable.  It graduated from blond, to blue, to green, to purple.  Only Rhymer Rainbow had such a head of hair.

“Rhymer?  There’s no need to hover outside.  Come on in.  I’d love to have company.”

“I know you’re supposed to rest, so I didn’t want to be a pest,” Rhymer began.  “But I came upon a lost bluebird.  Peaches uses them for messages, or so I’ve heard.  Then on its beak I smelled something odd, and I thought maybe it’s lost because it’s drunk.  So, I brought it up to your bunk.”

“Did it carry a peach blossom?” I asked and Rhymer nodded emphatically.

I took a close look at the bluebird as it clung woozily to Rhymer’s hair.  It did look like one of Peaches’ birds.

“That’s strange and worrisome.  I should go to the orchard.  Do you want to come along?” I asked.  “I’ll have to take the stairs, but I’ll be down in a moment.”

“Don’t worry,” Rhymer assured me.  “I’m in no hurry.”

Peaches Pond nitish-kadam-43351

Unsplash.com

The cottage belonging to Peaches Dragonfly was in the middle of a beautiful orchard of fruit trees and other delicious things.  No matter what the time of year, smoke curled from the twin chimneys of the cottage, because Peaches was nearly always baking something.

When Rhymer and I reached the cottage, we looked from the vine-covered roof, dotted with colorful berries, to the chimneys.  Peaches was still cooking treats in preparation for her Midsummer party.  She started baking well in advance of the holiday, but considering how much she planned to cook, she had to start early.  Our mouths watered as we breathed in the aromas.

I heard Peaches giggle.  Her head of fluffy pink hair bobbed into and out of view from the other side of the low stone wall that surrounded the cottage.  She was outside, apparently playing with something that she had to bend down to reach.  I heard a yip and knew it was the strange gray colored dog she found at the pond.  She had called him Pucker because a suckerfish was attached to his face when we found him.

The little dog was gray from his twisty tail to his squished black face.  Even his tongue was gray.

Rhymer called out, “Peaches!  We brought your bluebird.  I think his eyes were blurred.  I found him before he reached Bedlam.  So, we both came, in case you were in a jam.”

“Hi Rhymer.  Bedlam, I’m sorry I sent for you.  I didn’t know you were supposed to stay in bed until Lavender Cozy told me a moment ago,” Peaches apologized.  “Come inside.  You can try my new recipe!  It’s for sun and moon tea Isn’t that perfect for my Midsummer party?  I’ve been gathering chamomile flowers, red clover, and mint.  I’ll sweeten it with Pick’s agave nectar.”

Peaches was always enthusiastic when she thought of a new food or drink creation.  The tea sounded refreshing and delicious.  A different thought occurred to me.

“Erm… Did Pick leave you some of the grownup kind of agave?” I asked.

“Yes, for the solstice party,” she answered.  “But we aren’t to have any of it.”

Mountain_Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird, Fort Rock, Oregon

“That’s not why I asked.  But I think your bluebird may have had a nip,” I commented and pointed to the little bird that still clung to Rhymer’s multicolored tresses.  “She’s too tipsy to fly right.”

“Oh!” Peaches exclaimed with wide eyes as she fluttered up so Rhymer could hand her the bird across the wall.  “You silly thing,” she told it.  “I was experimenting with making some ice pops with the potent kind.  I splashed some onto the windowsill.  I remember seeing her investigating it.  She must have drunk some!”

“Luckily Pick had left an agave plant here for the healer.  Lavender stopped on her morning rounds to pick it up, so I asked her to take a look at Pucker.”

Rhymer seemed confused when she started to speak, “Look at pucker?  Your mouth couldn’t… pucker?”

Remembering that I couldn’t use my wings, even for a bounce, Peaches invited us to come in at the gate.  Two brick columns were topped by arched white latticework.  Flowers of every color climbed the columns and wove across the arch.

As we walked, from her side of the wall, Peaches told Rhymer about the day we found the dog.  We came to the gate and I heard another yip.  When Rhymer and I set foot inside the blossom filled garden Pucker barreled into me, knocking me onto my bottom.  It was so sudden that all I saw was his squished black face and the pink tongue that licked my face.

“Hey!  His tongue is pink, not gray!”

“Yes, that started yesterday,” Peaches began.  “his tongue turned pink.  It was so different form the gray that it scared me.  Then his gray fur…  That’s why I wanted Lavender Cozy to look at him.”

“If he’s gray that’s all in your head.  That dog is red,” Rhymer tried to insert when pucker jumped over to her.

“He’s not gray!” I exclaimed finally seeing more than Pucker’s face.

The dog’s curly tail wagged as he bounced around at Rhymer’s feet.  As his tail moved, Pucker’s fur changed from red to a sky color.

Pug Yello

“A dog that changes hue!” Rhymer enthused.  “How wonderful ― now he’s blue.”

Indeed, Pucker was suddenly blue, and then yellow, and then green.  Though his face stayed black, the rest of his fur continued to change color as his tail kept wiggling.

“That is what I was so worried about, when I sent the bluebird to you,” Peaches replied.  “But the healer said he was fine.  Lavender said it might be from a change in his environment.”

Peaches and I exchanged a significant look.  I was sure she was remembering the thicket that had developed at the pond, the shadows, the brown suckerfish, and the eerie feeling of the place.  It reminded both of us of the colorless world of my vision. 

Had the little, formerly gray dog come from that other world?

***

The End

New mystery folk revealed this time are Belle Stargazer — Marjorie Mallon and Rhymer Rainbow — Christy Birmingham.  I hope you’ll visit all their blogs and say hello.

Toasting you with a refreshing cup of tea.  Hugs on the wing!

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 6

Heron flying pond Tim Price

T & L Photos

Hello everyone — I’m delighted that you’ve come back to Thistledown for another episode of my serial.  I have another special guest today.  Some of you know him.  If not, then let me introduce Tim Price.  Tim takes marvelous photos, with a “focus” on things and people in the southwest.  There are great examples online at T & L Photography, Inc.  If you click on any of Tim’s photos here, it will take you to a related post at his blog.

What you might not realize is that Tim is also a fantastic storyteller.  You can see that at his blog, Off Center & Not Even, where he often combines an entertaining narrative with his photo post.  I recommend you check out the tab for “Tales from My Youth.”  If you’re an animal lover you’re really in for a treat with plenty of pictures of the kitties and parrots who own him and his wife Laurie.

About This Episode

Tim had several photos that reminded him of the colorless world I described for the other faery-verse.  He kindly agreed to let me use them.  He describes one as “The Undertaker and the Cranes” at his blog.  It’s a fun post. I hope you’ll take a look at it and others when you visit him.  Naturally it inspired me, but the image took me to my own story.  

However, we begin this episode with a more colorful scene.  It also introduces new mystery folk.  So click on the links to reveal the people who named these characters. 

We now return to Thistledown…

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 6

Boreray_rams

Boreray Rams

Powderpuff Sheep and Cranes

Update: I had to include this wonderful creation from Robbie Cheadle. I’m honored that she was inspired by this story.

Image may contain: 1 person

Poppy Songbird called my name.  I heard her loud and clear, but I didn’t see her.  She chuckled when I turned a full circle looking for her.

“I’m up here, Bedlam,” she called from high atop the stone wall.  “I have to mind the powderpuff sheep.  You’re free aren’t you?” she asked, pushing her flower-shaped spectacles back on her nose.

My face flushed.  Everybody in Thistledown must know that I was suspended from school.  Poppy seemed to realize where my thoughts had gone.

“Oh…  Sorry, Bedlam.  I didn’t mean anything.  It’s just that I have to deliver a message, but I got stuck minding the sheep.”

The extra fluffy sheep on the other side of the wall bleated.  I knew it was a big responsibility to tend them.  When the direction and velocity of a breeze was just right, powderpuff sheep could get airborne.  Unfortunately they had no ability to control their flight.  The wind might take them anywhere.  Looking after them required a strong weather sense, to pick up on minute atmospheric changes.  If a powderpuff got into the air, retrieving it took a very dexterous flyer who could anticipate changes in the air current.

“Don’t worry, Poppy.  I understand.”

“How’s the wing?  It looks like you’re still grounded, huh?”

“My wing is getting better.  It doesn’t hurt now, unless I unfold my wings in a breeze.  So, what’s going on?” I wanted to know.

“I met up with my cousin Holly last night while she was on her way to her next gig.  She asked me to take a message to Carver Eastdoor.  Holly is coordinating with him for her grand entrance for her Midsummer performance at the orchard,” Poppy explained.  “I promised I’d get her message to him first thing this morning, but I didn’t know I was going to have to tend the sheep.”

My friend Peaches was excited that Holly Songbird, and her band Dragon’s Nest, would perform at her solstice party.  So of course I agreed to deliver the message.  Poppy dropped a paper folded in the shape of a bird and it floated to my hands.

Poppy said that Carver was planning something spectacular of his own as an introduction to the musical performance.  I knew that Carver had the talent to shape trees as they grew.  I couldn’t imagine what marvel he might create for the Midsummer party.

DCF 1.0

Little-Fairy-Girl, Janny Sandholm

I headed toward the home of the Eastdoor family.  It would be fun to see their baby daughter.  The last time I saw her, she was toddling around, using her tiny wings for balance.

The problem was the Eastdoor home wasn’t exactly close, and with my injured wing, I still couldn’t fly.

A foreboding feeling, caused by the dull colored fish and the dank thicket Peaches and I saw the day before, was still partly on my mind.  However, it caused an inspired thought.  If I cut across the orchard near the pond, it should save me a good deal of time.

As I neared that area the sky began to darken.  It’s a good thing Poppy stayed with the powderpuff sheep, I thought, although bad weather was not expected.

Uncle hadn’t said anything about a storm being on the way.  My grand-uncle’s ability as a seer included the weather.  Gazing heavenward, I realized that there were no storm clouds.  It was more of a thick haze.  That happened, although rarely.  However, when that kind of haze came to the sky it was usually at the end of summer.  We had not yet reached Midsummer.

Assuring myself that there was no storm about to break, I moved into the heavier vegetation.  Quickly I found a deer trail.  I knew it would lead toward the pond, near where Peaches and I found the odd little dog she called Pucker.

The snapping of a twig caused me to stop and look into the brush.  After a moment I spotted a pair of tall sandhill cranes.  It seemed so odd that the cranes should be there that I decided to follow them.

There was even less light away from the trail.  I could tell the tall birds knew I followed them, but my presence didn’t seem to make them nervous.  After a while the ground became wet.  I walked in ankle deep marshy water.  The area reminded me of the thicket that had formed on the east bank of the pond.  However, the direction I walked should have taken me beside the pond, not into it.

The sandhill cranes walked up to a gray heron that poked its long beak into the shallows, looking for food.  It stretched a sinuous neck to look at me.  Something seemed to pass between the heron and the pair of cranes.  All three looked back at me, and then moved to dry ground.  They looked over their shoulders as if expecting me to go with them.  I followed the large birds to a patch of sunlight.

Heron n others Winter Tim Price

A tall, lanky man stepped out from behind a tree.  On thin stalk-like legs, the heron walked up to the man to have its head scratched.

To say I felt uneasy was a vast understatement.  However, I relaxed when the man turned his face toward me.  Nothing in his manner was like the man I knew, but the face I saw was Catseye Glimmer.

The fleeting smile left my lips when I realized something was very wrong.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” he told me.

Royal Chimera!” a woman’s voice called from far away.  “Where are you off to now?”

The man turned at the sound of the odd appellation, but apparently it was his name.

“Coming,” he called in return.

“You should not be here, Bedlam Thunder,” he told me with a frown.  “Find your way back home.  You’re a creature of color and sunlight.  Leave this place before it’s too late,” Royal Chimera warned.

The gray heron stood to his full height and extended amazingly long wings.  The beat of the large bird’s wings had a hypnotic effect.  With the rhythmic movement of the heron’s wings, the air pressure surged and receded.  Light blared and then went dark again.  The sensations repeated, making me dizzy.  It continued until I could no longer stand.

I swayed.  My eyes blurred.  Finally I was able to focus.  The birds and Royal Chimera were gone, but his warning rang in my ears.  I turned back to face the marshy bank.  I found three doors where the marshland had been.  In that nearly colorless world, the doors glowed with blue light.

Am I to choose a door and enter? I wondered.

Overwhelming ringing filled my ears, just as had happened at the cottage where Peaches Dragonfly lived.  I stared at the doors, trying to understand what I should do.  The ringing was so loud, I became dizzy. 

Large black spots danced before my eyes.  I knew I was on the verge of losing consciousness.  Although I wasn’t sure why I would move forward or turn back, I stumbled blindly toward the doors.  My fingers met the cool surface of a metal doorknob.

Not knowing which of the three doors I touched, I turned the knob.

3 Doors BW Blue Tim Price

***

The End

The new “mystery folk” revealed in this episode are Sally Georgina Cronin of Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life and Dan Antion of No Facilities.  Please visit their blogs and say hello. 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 5

Thistledown Girl

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the fae world of Thistledown.  I have a special guest today.  Many of you will know her because we’ve done several collaborative posts in the past.  If not, then allow me to present Suzanne DeBrango of A Pug in the Kitchen

Suzanne is a multi-talented woman — chef (and great photographer of her foods) and blogger.  And if you’re ever in need of property in New York, this “Brooklyn pug gal” is also an award winning real estate agent. 

She was inspired by the fae magic Pick (the cousin of the character she named) when he coaxed cherries off the trees and they rolled to him, rather than being picked.  Then, lucky for us, she found beautiful sour cherries at her farmers’ market.  Here’s Suzanne to tell us about the recipe she’s sharing here today.

I was thrilled to find sour cherries at the farmers market and snagged a few containers to make my favorite jam. Refrigerator jams and pickles are one of my favorite things to make. It’s so easy, you can make one jar at a time.  There’s no need to go through the canning process.  Just, make sure you sterilize your jars, or at least run them through the dishwasher before using them. 

I want that sucker fish to help pit those cherries — oops, you’ll meet them in this episode!  If you have ever tried to pit sour cherries you know it’s a lot of work.  They are soft, small, and getting that little pit is difficult.  It is a labor of love though, and the resulting jam is worth the effort.  

I definitely identify with the faery character, Peaches Dragonfly and her name.  Teagan, thank you for Peaches Dragonfly, and fantastic story.  You are amazing. I hope you all enjoy this recipe.

Sour cherry jam tart Suzanne DeBrango

As you see, I made both sour cherry vanilla and gooseberry jam.  I have to say they are wonderful with scones and creme fraiche. 
2 cups pitted sour cherries
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
Use a non-reactive, medium saucepan, adding the cherries, sugar and salt.  Cook on medium high heat until thickened.  It took about 45 minutes total cooking time.
To test to see if it is going to be thick enough place a spoon in the freezer.  Spoon some of the jam on the freezing cold spoon.  If it gets nice and thick, then it’s done.
Pour the hot jam into very clean preferably sterilized jars, seal and let cool on the counter. The jam will seal, but because it is not processed in a water bath, it must be stored in the refrigerator.  It will last for a long time refrigerated. 

How could I be anything but inspired after Suzanne’s words?  Thank you, Suzanne.

Writing Process

Suckerfish attached to diver

At this time I think I should remind everyone that  characters, names, places, and incidents are used in a strictly fictitious way. The actions of a character do not imply anything about the person who named the character.

I allow myself some artistic license, especially since this serial is a fantasy.  I’ve added to the flora and fauna of Thistledown.  This time you’ll meet some fun fish, living in a pond. 

I’m pantsering this story so I don’t know if these faery fish will live in both fresh and salt water, or just the one pond.  However, I imagine them as looking partly like a remora (salt water) and partly like a suckermouth catfish (fresh water).

Without further ado, here’s the next installment of the serial.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam

Sprig Yellow ben-moore-8884

Ben Moore, Unsplash

Pucker Up

A pale yellow patch of sky was framed by green branches.  Doves cooed peacefully.  I saw two perched on a limb outside my bedroom window.  One appeared to try and give the other a tiny flower.  Or perhaps one tried to take the blossom from the other.  Who could say?

I glanced downward from my dizzyingly high vantage point.  My grand-uncle built his spacious home nestled in the branches of a massive redwood.  Uncle taught us to nurture the primeval tree just as it enriched us.  However, I had never been fond of heights.

He probably thought to encourage me to practice my flying skills by installing me in the attic bedroom, the loftiest room of all.  Many faeries would have been envious of the room, for the fun of gliding down hundreds of feet to the ground.  I however, often took the stairs.

Beyond the huge evergreen, I glimpsed Willow Stargazer flying past.  Her purple hair stood out against the morning sky.  She always wore an orchid tucked behind one ear.  Willow gave a quick wave.

1 Butterfly wing

I yawned and stretched, knowing I had slept late.  By the time I left the reflection pool, I had been exhausted.  In a short time, a lot of troubling ideas had wriggled into my mind.  First among them my horrible, frightening vision.

What troubled me most about that vision was the fact that it felt prophetic.  That must be why it upset the fae of Thistledown so much when they heard of it.

I had seen a bleak, unhappy world.  There was sunlight sometimes, but often the sky was murky.  The place was dark in every other way as well.  Bad things happened there all the time.  Negativity saturated the place — disasters, disrespect, corruption, violence, and hatred.  Even the elders and leaders were continually exposed as corrupt and even insane.

In the vision, it seemed like the people saw and experienced those things continually.  Each day they thought it couldn’t get more absurd, insulting, or hurtful.  Yet it did.  They became used to bizarre and harmful events.  They accepted it as just another part of their day.  There were highly placed people who could have remedied the situation.  Yet they did nothing.

The attitudes and actions of the people reflected the darkness of their world.  Even the clothes they chose to wear were in dark, dull colors.  The girls I met in my second vision seemed like rebels of a sort, daring to wear a splash of bright colors in their clothes or hair. 

Worse, I suspected the fae there had no wings.  My grand-uncle once told a scary story of a group of faeries without wings.  Did the darkness that saturated that world cause them to eventually lose their wings?

One of the doves on my windowsill fluttered away, dispelling my reverie.  The one that remained still held the tiny flower.  I realized it was a peach blossom.  Then I knew it must be a message from Peaches Dragonfly.  I took the flower from the dove.  Oddly it was wet.  My body mirrored the posture of the dove when she tilted her head to one side curiously.

“A wet peach blossom?” I murmured to the dove who answered with a coo.  “Oh!” I exclaimed in sudden epiphany.  “Peaches must want me to meet her at the pond.”

The dove bobbed her head forward and back, and then flew away in the direction of the orchard.

I unfolded my injured wing to apply more of the ointment Calico Rainbowforest gave me.  Even my grand-uncle had to admit I wouldn’t be practicing my flying for a while.  Since Peaches sent a dove to bid me visit her, she must not be in a rush.  If there was any hurry, she would probably have sent a zippy hummingbird.  I considered borrowing Uncle’s unicycle, but I knew I would end up painfully unfurling my wings to catch my balance.  I’d have to settle for my own two feet.

I must be the clumsiest faery in Thistle down, I thought with a loud sigh.

***

Peaches Pond nitish-kadam-43351

Nitish Kadam, Unsplash

“Bedlam, thank goodness you’re here,” Peaches Dragonfly said once I arrived at the pond.  “I could really use a hand.”

Her pink hair was wet, but only around her face.  Beside Peaches were four pails of water.  I noticed an oddly shaped purple fish swimming in one.  When I asked about the fish, my friend said it was a suckerfish.

“They absolutely love the pits from sour cherries,” Peaches explained.  “I have buckets overflowing with sour cherries from the far side of the orchard.  I’m going to make jam from them, but the pits have to be removed.  Those cherries are tiny, and it’s a lot of work to remove the pits.  So I had the idea to use the suckerfish to take out the pits.  With a little fae coaxing, they don’t bother the flesh of the cherries at all, and happily suck out the pits!”

“What an amazing idea!” I complimented Peaches.  “But I don’t see any other fish like this in the pond.”

Peaches gave me a wry look as she knelt at the edge of the pond.  I had a bad feeling that there was a tangle in her brilliant idea, and that I was about to get caught in the middle of it.

“There are several suckerfish in the pond.  They usually stay at the bottom, but they’ll come to the surface if you call them,” she told me.

I thought we were about to get to the tangle.  A hopeful look from my friend suggested I was right.  I expected to regret it, but I asked how one went about calling the suckerfish.

“It’s easy,” she told me with a bright smile.  “You just put your face into the water and make kissing sounds.  The suckerfish will come right to you.”

“What happens when they get there?”

“Well, if you aren’t quick enough in grabbing them, they’ll suck your face.  They’re very affectionate.  Don’t worry,” she added upon seeing my expression.  “It doesn’t hurt.”

Face in water blue

Genessa Panainte, Unsplash

I cringed so hard that I went to my knees.  Peaches took that for agreement and pulled my shoulders down toward the water.  I watched as she made kissing sounds into the pond.  Two purple suckerfish quickly swam to her.  One of them appeared to give her a kiss on the cheek.  With lightning reflexes, Peaches caught one fish in each hand.

“See,” she stated as she put the fishes in a pail.  “It isn’t that hard.”

Taking a deep breath, I agreed to give it a try.  I made kissing sounds into the water.  A fish swam to me so fast that I didn’t even see it.  Peaches had quick reflexes and grabbed it for me before I possibly could have gotten it.  Emboldened by the fact that I hadn’t had to even touch the fish, I put my puckering mouth back into the pond.

After two or three “kisses” I saw two tiny purple fish approaching from the left.  They were much smaller than any I had seen at that point, so the prospect of them touching my face did not upset me.

What I could not see was a suckerfish as large as my arm rapidly swimming from the deepest part of the pond.  Suddenly something forcefully hit my mouth.  Thankfully it was soft, or it would have really hurt.  I fell backward to the banks of the pond.

Peaches gasped, but rapidly detached the big sucker from my face.  I fitfully spat, and spat.  And spat some more.  I’m not sure why.  It wasn’t as though I tasted anything.  It was just the idea of being smooched by that fish.

“I’ve never seen a suckerfish this big.  The pit removal should go extra fast with this guy helping!” Peaches exclaimed.  “Nice work, Bedlam.”

We both looked up as a shadow passed over.  A blue heron swooped low, gliding toward the eastern bank of the pond.  I was awed by its beauty, with its broad wings and smooth passage, and plumage the color of a thunder cloud.  It sailed to the eastern bank of the pond.

I realized something looked different than I remembered about that side of the pond.  Peaches explained that an underground stream had come to the surface.  She thought that under or above ground the water eventually made its way to a small lake near Catseye Glimmer’s home.

Curious about the change to the landscape I wandered to that side of the pond.  I could see a thicket.  In the shadows I could barely make out the water of the stream.

“What’s that sound?” Peaches asked.

At first I didn’t hear anything.  After a moment, soft whimpering came to my ears.  To my astonishment, Peaches jumped into the pond.

“It sounds like a dog!” she cried as she swam.

I jumped in after her.  We soon realized that end of the pond was shallow enough that we could walk to the thicket.  That was a relief, since my swimming wasn’t any better than my flying.

The whining grew louder.  Peaches moved to the edge of the thicket.  When I looked at the place, an inexplicable shudder traveled through me.  The shadows were dark.  They were gray and unnaturally, densely drab.

“Peaches, wait!” I called and fearfully extended a hand, but she was out of my reach.

It was a relief when my friend emerged from the shadows with a small dog in her arms.  To my surprise she chuckled.

“There’s a suckerfish stuck to his mouth.  Help me get it off him,” she told me.

We walked through the water to the near edge of the pond and climbed out.  I helped Peaches up to the grass because her arms were full with the little dog.  I expected her to stop right there, but she hurried over to where we had been catching purple suckerfish.

She detached the suckerfish from the little dog’s mouth.  Rather than purple as it should have been, the fish was a dull brown.  Peaches gently placed the oddly colored fish in a pail separate from the other fish.

With the fish removed, I could see the dog’s face.  He was easily the oddest looking pup I had ever seen.  He had a tightly curled tail.  His coat was dull gray, but his little face was black.  It was also squished flat.  He looked at me and licked his nose with a little gray-blue tongue.

When he looked up at Peaches, his screw-tail wagged enthusiastically.  She set about drying the dog with a towel.

“I wonder who he belongs to?” Peaches pondered.  “His coloring is so unique,” she added with an uneasy glance at the strange brown suckerfish.

We both gazed nervously toward the shadows of the thicket.  Then Peaches leaned down to look closely at all the fish in the pails.

“I’ve never seen any fish that color,” she commented in an uneasy voice.  “It makes me think of how you described the place in your vision as colorless.”

“I doubt he belongs to anybody in Thistledown,” I whispered.  “What should we do with him?” I asked as I cleared my throat, trying to bring my voice to a normal volume.

Peaches took another look at the thicket and shivered.  The dog’s dull coloring indeed reminded me of the dark place where I met Rotten Soulfire and her friends.  How could they bear to live in such a place?  I swallowed hard.

“I’ll look after him,” Peaches stated in a determined voice.  “I think I’ll call him Pucker.”

The dog barked a yip at his new name.  Pucker’s tail wagged so hard I was surprised it didn’t cause him to fall over from the force of it.  He put a paw on Peaches’ shin and she bent to get him in her arms.

Vintage Pug painting

***

The End

The new “mystery faery” for this episode was Cecily of Cecily’s Writings.  I hope you’ll say hello to her.  

Stay tuned for the next episode of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.  We will see the counterpart of Catseye Glimmer in the other faery-verse and more photos from T & L Photography.  

Hugs on the wing!

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

 

 

What’s Next? New “Interactive” Serial

Cooking kittyThree Ingredients Serial

What’s next?  Thanks to everyone who sent “votes” on what you wanted to do next – now that we reached a conclusion in the Three Things Serial storyline.  It was a three-way tie, appropriately enough!  So I’m going with the one that is the biggest challenge for me.  (Yes, I’m just twisted that way.)  Also I think I chose the tie-breaker that will give you, the reader more creative ways to send “things.”

To break the tie, I chose to do a culinary mystery.  This subgenre was new to me.  If you’re not familiar with it, here is a goodreads link to several such novels.

Our next reader-participation-driven story will be The Three Ingredients Serial.  I’m putting you back in the driver’s seat.  The “things” will become ingredients.  This time I’m asking you to send three ingredients, which is not too different from sending three things.  Now, those ingredients can be all sorts of food related things – not just recipe ingredients.  Or if you’d rather — you are welcome to send a recipe that I would feature at the end of the post.

So please leave comments, telling me your Three Ingredients!  I’m excited to see where they take me.

Can’t wait to hear from you,

teagan

PS:  The illustrious Alexandra of The Scholarly Skater has just nominated me for two awards. The “Internet hugs” abound, and I’m delighted to participate.  So please take a look at her very interesting blog.  Thank you Alexandra — mega-hugs to you.