Thriving Thursdays: Busy? Maybe That’s a Good Thing

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hello everyone.  Welcome to another Thriving Thursday.  I’m Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene here with a guest post for Chris Graham, the Story Reading Ape.  Click over to the “tree-house” and say hello — I’ve disabled comments here.

Thriving Thursdays: Busy? Maybe That’s a Good Thing

Lucille Ball and Bear

Too busy to be discouraged — but not too busy to thrive!  Here are some mindful words from my favorite redhead.

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore you faith in yourself.” ― Lucille Ball

Update: I have to revise this with a shout-out to Dan Antion at No Facilities*.  Dan mentioned a fact I did not know about my favorite redhead having a connection to Star Trek. If you want to know more, click here*.

Wishing you a thriving Thursday,

Teagan

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.

Three Things 25 & Character Recap

1920s Vaudeville Cats Postcard

1920s Vaudeville Cats Postcard

Welcome back to our whimsical version of the Jazz Age.  You’re just the cat’s pajamas for coming back to this flapper tale.

I hope the characters in this 1920’s serial have wiggled into your mind so comfortably that you have your own ideas of how they would look or sound.  However, I thought it might be fun to show you how I imagine them. So in no particular order, please meet the cast of The Three Things Serial.

Paisley Idelle Peabody

Better known to you as Pip

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

The moment I saw a picture of a teen-aged Lucille Ball she became my Pip. In my imagination the voice of a grown-up Lucy narrates The Three Things Serial, looking back on the adventures of her youth.

Pip might be a tad conservative, naive, or innocent as flappers go, but that allows her to take people as they are, without judgement.  Time and “things” will tell if that open hearted naïveté gets her into a pickle — or maybe a barrel of them!

The heart of a true flapper beats in Pip, and she is determined to be what she thinks of as a modern woman.

*

Pops

Pip’s Unseen Dad

Thus far I’ve done three incarnations of this “interactive” serial.  Pip’s father has been mentioned many times, and he’s made a phone call or two. However, he has never actually made an appearance. It started to remind me of the 1970’s television series, Charlie’s Angels, with John Forsythe phoning in as the never-seen Charlie.

John Forsythe 1958

John Forsythe 1958

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Mona the Movie Star

 Pip enjoyed giving everyone nicknames, usually based on their occupations or their aspirations.  Her friend and neighbor, Mona, had big dreams of being an actress, but little chance of seeing them come to fruition. Mona is something of a flirt, but you won’t see her “lead anyone on.” It’s just that people (particularly men) jump to do things for her.

 In my imagination, the original “It Girl” — Clara Bow plays Mona.

Clara Bow

Clara Bow

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Andy the Astronaute-man

Andy Avis

The “things” for Episode-2 required me to write about a ballerina, a fireman, a movie star, and an astronaut. Have I mentioned that I’m a research geek? I had to make sure the word “astronaut” was actually used in the 1920’s. I got conflicting information, but the greater consensus said “no.” However, I learned the term Astronaute was used in France at the time. So Andy Avis is also of French descent.

Willie Garson

Willie Garson

Andy is a science fiction writer, hence Pip’s nickname for him Andy the Astronaute-man.  Despite the heroic stories he writes, Andy is not the bravest bean in the bunch. Discretion is pos-i-lute-ly the better part of valor with him. To his credit, sometimes Andy overcomes his big fears and takes action. Doesn’t it take a lot more courage to do something when you’re afraid than if you are just naturally brave?

Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton

Right away I saw a younger Willie Garson as my Andy.  (You might know him from “White Collar” or Sex and the City.) I could see the friendship between him and Mona. Although unlike Stanford, Andy hopes the friendship will become a romance. On the other hand, Andy could easily look like Buster Keaton with those sad eyes.

*

Ca’ d’Zan

The Ringling Mansion

Although it is not truly a character the Ca’d’Zan mansion is an important part of this story. Learning about this amazing place was so much fun that I had to include it here. I hope you’ll do some research of your own about the home of John and Mabel Ringling.

Ca'd'Zan Mansion

Ca’d’Zan Mansion

*

John and Mabel Ringling

The Ringlings don’t play huge roles in the story, but they were important nonetheless.  Pip and company are invited onboard a yacht that they don’t at first realize belongs to John Ringling. Countess Bepa is old friends with Mabel Ringling.  The entire gang ends up at fabulous Ca’d’Zan where the mystery concludes.

Mabel and John Ringling

Mabel and John Ringling

*

The Fabros

Frankie Fabro and His Cousins

Frankie the Fireman and his cousins Flavio, Fedel, and Frediano. First we meet Frankie. He’s taller and a little bigger than his cousins, but all four of the young men look a lot alike. Elder brother Flavio looks out for twins, Fred and Fedel. Pip has a crush on Frankie. Flavio, like most men seems to think Mona is the berries.

Oddly enough I never had an image in my mind of Frankie the Fireman. So he is included here with his look alike cousins.

1920s 4 Look-alike Guys

*

Countess Bepa Babikov

The mysterious white-haired woman… turns out to be not only the grand mother of Boris the Ballerina, but a real life countess. It was after Bepa Babikov came along that I saw a photo of Countess Von Hartenau that was simply the vision of Bepa’s elegance, as well as her fierce determination.  She instantly replaced any other image I had of Bepa.

Johanna Loisinger; the Countess Von Hartenau

Johanna Loisinger; the Countess Von Hartenau

*

Boris Babikov

Boris the Ballerina

Retired from the Ballets Russes after a career-ending injury, Boris gives the occasional dance lesson to earn a living. Mona is infatuated with Boris, but also conflicted. She has some ways of thinking to outgrow.  Boris is the strong silent type. His friends have to work at it to get to know him. When I saw a photo of Fred Astaire, in a rather sulky pose, it made me think of Boris Babikov.

Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little break from the serial.  Next weekend I’ll be back with…. What’s that? Stop screaming so I can tell what you’re saying. No episode this week? Oh… Well if that’s what you really want.

Let’s get a wiggle on and round out this character recap with Episode-25.

25.  Kitten, Fake, Comfort

My eyes strayed to the Art Deco pottery jug into which Ringling had casually dropped the bent key. 1920s  Ben Key Had he been a little too offhanded when he did that?  What if his nonchalance was fake?  I shifted my gaze to the circus millionaire and found him looking at me.  I knew it might be foolish of me, but I couldn’t stop myself from blurting out my thoughts.

“That’s no ordinary key,” I said.  “It might be to Ca’d’Zan, but it’s no door key.”

Everyone became silent, except for Pear the hedgehog, scrabbling inside his lunch pail carrier.  I turned to Countess Babikov.  By the expression on her face, I knew the direction of my words didn’t give her any comfort.  It was obviously meant to be a distraction when she turned to Mona and indicated the tin lunch pail.

“Dear!  What have you in that box?  I hear a tiny creature moving around.  Is it a kitten?” she asked Mona.

It was a feeble attempt at diverting me and the white-haired woman must have realized that, because she blushed and glanced over at me.  However, I was not diverted.  My mind went to that very eventful night when the hedgehog in handscountess was abducted, and later the group of us returned home to find Boris’ place being burglarized.  I remembered the broken vase and speculating that a key might have been hidden inside.  At the time I wondered if Boris had a key to match the bent one that was dropped from the getaway car.  Once again I considered the same idea — and I voiced the thought.

Ringling and the countess looked at each other in a silent exchange.  She drew an unsteady breath and looked up at him from her spot on the beautifully upholstered sofa.  “John, I am more worried than ever for my grandson’s safety.  If these young people can tell us where to find him…  Can you bring him here?  Please?”

I couldn’t imagine anyone refusing the tortured look in the woman’s eyes.  The circus magnate was not immune to her gaze.  Frankie shifted his feet in a nervous way.  Mona sat in silence.  She licked her lips and looked from the fireman to me.  After all, these people were strangers to us.  Boris kept us at arm’s length, but he was our neighbor and a friend, if not a really close one.  We had already concluded that he was in some kind of trouble.  But did these people have his best interest at heart?  And why did my friends seem to want me to make that decision, I wondered in dismay.

***

Tune in again next weekend. Same flapper time, same flapper channel. You’re pos-i-lute-ly the cat’s pajamas!

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Three Ingredients: Character Recap

Hello friends — old, new, and as yet unmet! Welcome to this character recap of the Three Ingredients serialDog-Cat-Cooking_dreamstime_s_24255835

I feel huge gratitude for all of your comments and encouragement. The Three Ingredients is the second storyline we’ve done in this “interactive” format. For new reader-friends, I call it interactive because the story is moved forward by the inspiration I get from the “ingredients” (things) you send.  The story is un-plotted, “panster” fun — because of you!

We started this interactive format with the previous serial, The Three Things. There you gave me three random things to drive the story. That allowed the “things” to directly drive every aspect of the plot, setting, and even the characters.Grannys teacup

When The Three Things concluded, I asked you readers for input on what sort of story you wanted next, and I settled on our current “culinary mystery” theme.  So this time, we have The Three Ingredients, with food-related interactive offerings from readers. However, that means the “things” you send have a less direct impact on the tale, but they still guide and inspire everything about the story.

That said, I can’t be sure how close we are to concluding this particular storyline.  However, I can see it somewhere on the horizon of my writing crystal ball.  So I’m offering up a pictorial review of the characters your ingredients inspired.

veil_of_sky_open_1 copyOften I write stories, intentionally leaving part of the physical descriptions of characters vague. I do that because I want the reader to supply part of what they want the character to be for things like race. The last thing I want is for someone to fail to identify with a character just because of how I happened to imagine their appearance. That is something I very intentionally did in writing Atonement Tennessee.  With the setting of a small (and Twilight Zone-ish strange) town, I wanted it to fit with anybody’s idea of that kind of place. I described hair color to help identify and differentiate characters, but I deliberately left most of the rest up to the reader.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I’m sharing with you some images that either directly inspired, or later came to represent the various characters to my imagination because I realize illustrations are helpful to many readers. If your mind supplied a different look for a character, I hope you will keep your idea.

I have omitted a few characters with especially small “walk on” parts. However, I hope I’ve developed a bit of personality even in those. Just so they don’t get left out… in alphabetical order:

  • Cotton the Poodle
  • Eunice of Eunice’s Uniforms
  • Godfrey Gilley of Gilley’s Groceries
  • Hortense Houston, the Kingston housekeeper
  • Alastair Wong the elder, an old flame of Granny’s

Now, I hope you’ll enjoy this review of the characters that developed from the ingredients you’ve sent.

Cast of Characters

Pip

Young Lucy as PipThe Three Things gave us Pip (Paisley Idelle Peabody) the narrator of both storylines. I was so fond of Pip, a flapper and aspiring “modern woman,” that I kept her around for The Three Ingredients. I added her grandmother, Granny Fanny, and the fledgling catering business so that we could have the culinary mystery theme.  The rest of the story is inspired by your ingredients.

The moment I stumbled upon a photo of a very young Lucille Ball, I imagined the voice of grown-up Lucy as Pip, telling the stories of her youth.

Granny Fanny

Margaret Sanger as GrannyFanny Idelle Peabody.  The ingredients haven’t given me the opportunity to go there, but Granny is actually a “Pip” too.  Her given name was Phanny Idelle, and when she married into the Peabody family her initials became P.I.P.  However, everyone kept spelling her name with an “F” and she eventually went with the flow.  (Granny would like the phrase “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” She didn’t mind the misspelling that much.)

Writing this post put me on a mission to find a picture that I thought of as Granny Fanny.  I had a vague image of her in my mind, a woman with delicate features, but a backbone of steel. However, the photo that resonated with me looked different from my initial mental image. In pictures of Margaret Sanger, I saw Granny’s kind heartedness, firm resolve, and spunk.

From this point, I’ve listed the characters in order of their appearance in the story.

Alastair Wong

Sessue_Hayakawa_as AlastairThe very first ingredient (geoduck in Episode-1) was the inspiration for Alastair Wong.  The Wongs immigrated to the United States from England, and Alastair has a faint British accent.  Neither he nor his parents had ever been to China, though they dreamed of visiting and faithfully passed down family recipes used at Wong’s Chinese, their restaurant. Alastair is a talented businessman and chef.

I have a small crush on Alastair, so his prolonged absence from the serial should show you that it really is guided by your ingredients.    :o)  

I think a vintage photo of Sessue Hayakawa could be Alastair — if I could find one of him in a less somber, brooding mood. Alastair certainly has a serious side but he also has a beautiful, ready smile.

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Arabella Wong1920s Vogue red hat

Alastair’s mother, Arabella also appeared in Episode-1 and she is mentioned a few times afterward. However, the ingredients haven’t led to a larger part for her… At least they haven’t yet. Only the ingredients can say!

A vintage Vogue magazine cover made me think of Arabella’s graceful elegance, though there has been little opportunity to describe her.

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Byron and/or Bradley BinghamtonNiven as Binghamton

The Binghamton brothers are actually “walk on” parts.  However, at the moment, I’m not sure where the ingredients might take them. So I’ve included them, just in case.

Byron is the owner of the Bijou theatre (Episode 1). That setting is where our storyline began, when “the dead man” was found.  Bradley Binghamton, Byron’s lookalike brother is seen much later (Episode 22).  They have been minor characters, but might be necessary to the story just the same.  Something tells me that there might be some sadness in the history of the brothers, and this shot of David Niven in “The Bishop’s Wife” could be either of the lookalike brothers.

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Cracker Jack DaddySpeakeasy_Stories-July

Jack Daddy was a minor character who was fundamental to the storyline. His nickname was Cracker Jack because he was a skilled safecracker and a mobster.  But he must not have been 100% bad if he was Cracker the Parrot’s “daddy.”  He entered the story in Episode-1, but we didn’t identify him until Episode-9.

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vintage bunnyCinnamon Bun

When I received “cinnamon” as an ingredient for Episode-3, we got Cinnamon Bun, a Flemish Giant Rabbit with reddish fur.  The veterinarian, Vincent Vale gave him to Granny Fanny. She adores the oversized bunny, and so does Cracker the Parrot, who often brings Cinnamon Bun treats.

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Dabney Daniels

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adEpisode-3 also introduced Detective Dabney Daniels of Savannah’s finest. The moment I saw a vintage ad for Arrow shirts, I had an image for Dabney. He has known Granny Fanny for some time, and helps her with heavier work around her cottage. Dabney seems to take an interest in Pip, letting her ride along for part of the murder investigation and work at cataloguing evidence. Is Granny trying to push the two together?

Detective Daniels has been patient with Cracker, even thought the parrot bit his ear. He shows concern for Granny, and for his fellow law enforcement officers. Though he seems emotionally distant to Pip’s way of thinking.

 

Vincent Vale

Christopher Timothy as Vincent ValeEpisode-3 also mentioned our veterinarian, but Vincent Vale didn’t appear until the next episode.  He has broad knowledge and training for a veterinarian of that era, including acupuncture.

Vincent seems like a gentle soul. He rescued both Cinnamon Bun and later Cracker.  Together, he and his wife Veronica built an impressive medical facility for animals of all types.  Who else would I imagine as Vincent Vale but “All Creatures Great and Small” actor, Christopher Timothy.

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Cracker

Parrot in flightThe ingredients for Episode-4 included “graham cracker” and of course that gave us Cracker the parrot.  Granny Fanny resisted liking that “nasty bird” for quite a while.  But Cracker’s unexpected devotion to the injured Marshal Moses Myrick won Granny over.

Cracker is a most unusual and clever bird. The one thing we can expect from this parrot is the unexpected.  Cracker learned many things related to the various mysteries in this storyline through her association with Cracker Jack Daddy, her late owner. When Vincent Vale examined her, he said Cracker was about 40 years old, so we can only guess at the scope of the parrot’s life experiences.

She definitely has opinions about the humans in the story. Cracker took a dislike to Dabney Daniels, perhaps associating him with the death of her “daddy.” But she loved Moses Myrick and the rabbit, Cinnamon Bun from the very start. It took her a while to win Granny Fanny’s affection, but she did. Cracker seems to like Pip and the poodle, Cotton. And she at least tolerates Hank Hertz.  However she shakes her foot as an expression for her disdain of “The Joker.”

Veronica Vale

1920s woman scientist-microscopeEpisode-6 brought us the wife of Vincent Vale.  Mrs. Veronica Vale is an accomplished medical doctor and surgeon who has traveled widely. She is the most accomplished woman Pip has ever met. At Pip’s determination to be a “modern woman” Granny introduced her to “the real deal.” Veronica’s intelligence is matched by her good nature and sense of humor. Both the doctors Vale are caring, generous people.

She performed emergency surgery on Marshal Myrick after he was ambushed by the bootleggers. Vincent is a veterinarian, rather than a “people doctor” but he proved his skill too during the operation. Granny revealed yet another skill, acting as surgical nurse.

 

Marshal Moses Myrick

Barrie Craig adventuresOne of the ingredients for Episode-8 was “peas”… and we got Moses Myrick.  Pip was distrustful when she unexpectedly learned that he’d known her grandmother for a long time, and apparently quite well. So her first reaction to Marshal Myrick was less than positive, “He was very polite and all, but I couldn’t help thinking what beady little eyes he had.  Green eyes… like little peas!

I saw an ad for a vintage detective story, and thought the man could easily be Moses Myrick. He wins Pip over, and Cracker likes him right away. He seems to have an affinity for the parrot… and a history with Granny Fanny.

 

Queenie WetsonJoan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

The Queen of Clubs is introduced in Episode-12.  I was looking for a vintage queen of clubs card, when I found celebrity playing cards. Guess whose picture was on the queen of clubs?  Joan Crawford. From that moment, there was no other choice for Queenie Wetson.

As of this writing, Queenie has not showed up in person, but I’m pretty sure she will soon!

Hank Hertz

Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-BurtWhen we came to Episode-13, I faced a challenge. I try not to put restrictions on your ingredients, but one of the items was microwave. I knew it was meant as the microwave ovens we use today, but as I suspected, my research showed they had not been invented in the 1920’s.  However, scientists had long known about microwaves. That gave us a new character, Hank Hertz.

Our Hank is the fictional grandson of Heinrich Hertz, who proved the existence of radio waves back in the late 1880s. So the “microwave” ingredient gave us Hank, who is a wizard with the police radio. It also led to more layers in the mystery — Since the gangsters were using  open radio transmissions (microwave brought us to radio waves) they used code names.

As I visualized Savannah’s youngest policeman I thought of a TV actor who could easily play Hank — a slightly younger version of Hugo Johnstone-Burt who played Hugh Collins on “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”

Daisyvintage queen of the may

In a planned (or technically correct) story I would not add new players so late in the tale.  However, Episode-21 unexpectedly led me to new characters — including Daisy.  Also called The Dainty Dish, Daisy was the second Mrs. Henry Kingston. Her story was a local legend, according to which she was given to him as a payment for a gambling debt, but Kingston fell madly in love with her. Daisy died mysteriously.

Pip also met a young woman named Daisy at Eunice’s Uniforms.  However, at this writing, we shouldn’t get into that. Besides, who can say where the ingredients will lead?

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Mr. Farceur

The domineering major domo was also introduced in Episode-21.  At first I saw him as a stodgy old Black Butler 2man… but then the ingredients suggested that he could be an interesting complication to the story.  That’s also when his name came along.  Maybe his name, Farceur, is significant, or maybe it’s a red herring — only the ingredients know for sure!

For a moment he had been a nameless butler. When a classic anime character pinged into my mind, I indulged myself with the image of “Black Butler” Sebastian Michaelis.  How could I resist?

***

Keep sending ingredients, please.

I don’t think the “ingredients” all of you supply will lead to any more new characters this far into the storyline… but only the ingredients know for sure!

Please continue to leave ingredients for future episodes. Even when this storyline concludes, there will be another “interactive” serial.

I hope you’ll keep dropping in to visit, read, and comment.

Hugs,

teagan

 ***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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.

 

 

 

 

Three Ingredients Serial – 7: Burner, E. Coli, Marmite

Episode 7 cat-n-tombstone

I hope I haven’t kept you waiting too long for the next installment of the Three Ingredients SerialThe “ingredients” for Episode 7 are from Spock’s Sister.  She’s an extraordinary mix of creative and scientific knowledge — so these ingredients are far from ordinary!  Working them into our culinary mystery was great fun.

However, I hope she’ll forgive me for tampering with her ingredients.  She sent “microscope,” and I failed to find a way to make it food-related (but at least I added it to the mix last time in Episode-6).  Since I used one ingredient early, I’m throwing in an additional “science-food” related ingredient with Bunsen burner — letting “burner” be one of the ingredients I used for this episode, in place of microscope.

Remember, the food-related ingredients you send to me inspire each part of the story.  You’re welcome to leave your own three ingredients in a comment.

7.  Burner, E. Coli, Marmite

Doc Vale’s jalopy puttered outside Granny Fanny’s cottage.  I ran out to the car to save him the trouble of1927cadillac2-m ad coming to the door.  (Besides, Granny was chasing Cracker the parrot with her broom again.  Last time I saw the bird, Cracker was flying through the kitchen with a pair of Granny’s undies in her beak.  I took the excuse to beat a hasty retreat!)  Anyhow, the doc’s wife, Veronica had invited me to spend the day and offered to teach me about some of the scientific things she used in her work.  Their place was just west of Savannah.  They had built an animal hospital next to their home, as well as a facility for horses and other large animals.

“I hope I didn’t put you out of your way, Doc,” I told the veterinarian, feeling a twinge of guilt at being chauffeured.

“Not at all Paisley,” he began and I drew breath to beg him to call me Pip.  But I let it go.  I hated to correct anybody who was that nice.  Vincent Vale seemed to have a very… proper manner about him and tended to address everyone by their given name, rather than any nickname.

“Actually, Mrs. Peabody’s cottage was right on my way home.  I’ve just come from a meeting with Detective Daniels.  He received permission for Veronica to do an autopsy on the unfortunate man who died at the Bijou theatre,” Doc Vale informed me.

I knew Veronica would be delighted to put her medical research skills to work on the mystery of how the man died, so I was pleased for her.  Then another idea struck me — an unpleasant one.  “Applesauce!” I exclaimed in horror. “She doesn’t mean for me to help her with that does she?  I was excited to learn about the kind of work she did in 1920s PhotoPlayLondon, but I don’t think I could watch anybody dissect a dead person!”

The doc chuckled.  “Relax Paisley,” he said reassuringly.  “They won’t bring the body until later today.  There will be plenty of time for Veronica to show you her lab.  You certainly would not be expected to observe the autopsy, unless you just wanted to do so.  Veronica said you could come again whenever you want, since this came up unexpectedly and might cut your visit short.

When we walked into the kitchen I could smell tea brewing, but I didn’t see a teakettle.  Vincent smiled and shook his head.  “She’s brewing tea in her laboratory again.  She’d have a fit if anyone else did that.  I’ll make a little snack for us.  Have you ever tasted marmite?” he asked picking up a jar containing something dark.  When I looked at the jar skeptically he said, “Folks either love marmite or they hate it, so don’t feel like you have to eat it. Veronica got a taste for it1920s Marmite ad when she lived in London, and I guess you could say she infected me with it too.  I’ll fix some for all of us and bring it back in a jiffy.  Veronica’s back there,” he said motioning to a door.

I walked into the large pristine room Veronica used as a laboratory and found her using a blue flame to heat a glass container. After greeting me warmly she explained laughing.  “Oh, when I was young I had these specially made on a whim,” she said indicating the odd container and cups.  “I thought it would be fun to use the Bunsen burner to make tea!  After all these years I still get a kick out of it.”

Lucy 3 funny facesHer husband came in with toast spread with that dark… whatever it was.  Horse feathers! I was expecting it to be some kind of jam, but it was salty.  I nearly dropped my plate and it took all my self-control not to spit it out.  I made an awful face despite myself, but Veronica just laughed.  With encouragement from both the Vales, I tried a little more, and it seemed to grow on me.

It seemed like I hadn’t been there any time at all when Detective Daniels arrived with two other men rolling a gurney.  Holy Hannah, they had brought the corpse.  I don’t know why I reacted at all, because I realized they were coming.  But knowing what was about to happen gave me the heebie jeebies.

I watched in surprise as the Daniels deputized Veronica Vale.  The copper told me that he wanted to make sure whatever Veronica discovered would be admissible in court.  “Ah-ha,” I thought.  I just knew the detective had been keeping something from me about the dead man.  He must have a pretty strong hunch of one kind or another.

As I looked on in fascination, Veronica pulled the cover back from the body.  She pinched his skin then looked at the underside of his eyelids, poked, sniffed and examined the body before she ever moved to pick up a surgical instrument.1920a TB ad

She looked up at the detective.  “It may or may not have been what killed him,” she said with a concerned expression.  “But I expect we will find that this poor man suffered from severe effects of E. coli.  Did you bring his shoes, as I asked?”

Detective Daniels nodded and removed the shoes from a sack.  Some of the cilantro still clung to the soles.  Veronica picked up a shoe and looked closely at the sole, and then sniffed of it.  “That’s cow manure.  I hope we don’t have an E. coli contaminated dairy farm somewhere.”

Daniels groaned.  He started writing in the tiny notebook he carried.  Ripping out two sheets, he turned to the men who had brought the gurney.  “Head out to these addresses and see if you find any sick people or animals.  I’ve got a hunch Doctor Vale is right,” he told them.  “This could be serious.”

***

Okay… I know this is not marmite — but reading about that “love it or hate it” spread made me think of the Lucy skit and I couldn’t resist.  Enjoy!

Video:  Vitameatavegamin

Spaghetti with Marmite

Recipe Credit: Nigella.com

Ingredients

12 oz spaghetti

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon Marmite   (or more to taste)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese   (to serve)

Method

1.  Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions.

2.  When the pasta is almost cooked, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the Marmite and 1 tablespoon of the pasta water, mixing thoroughly to dissolve.  Reserve ½ cup of pasta water; then drain the pasta and pour the Marmite/Vegemite mixture over the drained spaghetti, adding a little reserved pasta water to amalgamate if required. Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.

For vegetarians replace the Parmesan cheese with a vegetarian alternative.

***

Oh what the heck… Here’s a bonus video.

Video: How to Light a Bunsen Burner

Thanks for visiting.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Three Things Conclusion: Part 3

Here it is, everyone — the conclusion to this storyline. Forgive me for making this episode a good deal longer than usual, but I New Movie magwanted to do it justice. After all it’s the conclusion to our Three Things Serial.

I don’t kid myself that this serial is literature. From a technical standpoint it hasn’t had the structure for that.  However, I was determined to let the things all of you sent drive every aspect of this story — the characters, the setting, and the plot.  So naturally there are jumps and jitters in the plot — it’s the nature of writing the story in this “interactive” way.

It has been a great pleasure to have everyone contribute.  I sincerely hope you will do the same with the next incarnation of “three things,” whatever form that takes.  Your participation is the most important thing.

Now hang on to your hats because here we go!

Three Concluding Things Episode 30, Part 3

Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx

I tossed and turned in restless dreams before I finally awoke in the “wee hours of the morning,” as my granny would say.  The one that woke me was disturbing.  Throughout the dream I heard the music of the harpsichord.  Boris stood in front of a huge version of the carved medallion I had seen inside the ornately decorated instrument, the emblem of a dragon resting above a shield showing banners with crosses. In the dream it was all solid gold.  I clasped Frankie’s hand in a grip so tight that my fingernails dug into his skin, but something pulled him from my grasp.

Life Flapper BatA knight in armor wearing a priest’s collar (bizarre yes, but you know how dreams are) entered the room to give someone last rites.  The dragon climbed down from the shield.  I was afraid it would breathe fire and kill us all, but it opened its maw and consumed everything, including Boris and Frankie, in its giant jaws, even the room was gone. Only the knight, the gold shield, the harpsichord, and I remained. We were at the far end of the rose garden.

I cowered beneath the harpsichord and watched as the knight-priest gave the dragon last rites.  Then the knight dropped a large gold pyx on the ground.  The pyx opened and the dragon shrank down and got inside the receptacle.  The knight parted the vines of the climbing roses and disappeared, taking the pyx with him.

Then I woke and sat up in bed.  I paced my room, trying to shake off the dream.  From my window I could see the rose garden in the moonlight.  A light flashed in the distance.  It flashed several more times, in what seemed to be a pattern.  This unexpected sight only added to my unease.  A number of people lived on the property.  I told myself that it was likely just someone who’d been out late at a speakeasy.  However, I knew I wouldn’t go back to sleep.  So I slipped into my robe, lit a candle, and headed downstairs, meaning to go to the kitchen and make some warm milk.

I walked into the dark music room as a shortcut to the kitchen.  Maybe I was still unnerved from the 1922 Sat Postdream, but when I heard a door open I blew out my candle and ducked under the first thing I saw that was big enough — the harpsichord.  “Just as I did in the dream,” I thought with a shudder.

My head bumped against the underside of the harpsichord.  “Ouch!” I thought. “That didn’t feel like wood.”  I put my hand to the spot and my fingers met cold metal, a round shape.  However, I didn’t stop to think about it, because I heard footsteps.

From my hiding place I saw a large pair of feet and I recognized Frankie’s shoes.  I felt like a silly goose for hiding — it was only Frankie!  I thought mischievously about popping out to scare the stew out of him.  But something held me back.

More footfalls brought a familiar voice.  Flavio.  “We’ve looked everywhere else,” he said to Frankie.  “It has to be down there.”

“We’ve already checked that hidey-hole from top to bottom,” Frankie said in an exasperated tone.  “The Priory must have moved it.  Or laid out all this as a red herring,” he added as I watched his feet shift.  “Do you really think it could heal the dead, like the story says?”

Flavio snorted.  “Of course not.  But it’s made of solid gold.  All the legends say so.  Our Order in Europe would pay a king’s ransom to get their hands on the gold Pyx of the Knights Hospitaller.  Their grudge against the Russians goes back to the Pyx1600’s.”

“The old woman wouldn’t give up any information,” Frankie said.  “I told you it was wrong for us to grab her. I don’t think she knows anything, despite the Order saying the old count’s grandfather inherited it.  That was a long time ago; anything could have happened to it,” Frankie added and stepped closer to my hiding place.

He came right over to the harpsichord.  Frankie sat down on the bench, causing it to creek.  I scrunched up into as small of a ball as I could manage and held my breath.

I heard the sound of Flavio moving toward the doors that opened out onto Mable’s rose garden.  “Boris knows; I’m sure of it.  But he’d die before he told the Order anything about the Knights Hospitaller and especially about the solid gold pyx,” Flavio practically spat.  “It’s ‘protected by a dragon’ and that’s the only dragon we’ve found.  Come on.  We’ll check one more time.  Fred and Fedel are already down there.”

Silent Detective Movie coverFirst I thought of the dragon in my dream.  Then I remembered the one on the carving in the harpsichord.  The shield also had a knight’s helmet.  “It’s protected by a dragon,” Flavio’s words echoed in my mind as the French doors opened quietly and the two men went outside.

Their footsteps sounded on the path.  I knew they must be going to the hidden spot where I’d watched them disappear behind the climbing roses the day before.  I thought about all that mysterious talk about the Order and the Knights Hospitaller, and I remembered the odd tattoos I saw on all the Fabros when they were fishing.

Applesauce!  What the devil was going on here?  My heart rejected what my head had figured out.  With an icy knot in my stomach I knew that Frankie and his cousins were responsible for the break-in at Boris’ place, and worse — the abduction of Countess Babikov.  No wonder they found the bad guys so fast.  The two men they brought for Ringling to hand over to the G-men were either expendable associates, or another group that was after the valuable gold pyx.

I gulped, feeling sick.  I crawled out from under the harpsichord and ran out into the rose garden.  My slippers weren’t made for the outdoors, but at least they didn’t make any sound as I hurried toward the climbing roses.  In the light of the full moon I could see a gate beneath the vines.  I pulled the latch and cringed when it squeaked.  I took a deep breath and stepped beyond the gate.  Then I felt an arm around my waist and a hand over my mouth.1920s Cosmo Feb

My muffled scream hardly made a sound.  I heard “Ssshhhh!” and it had an oddly familiar sound.  “Shush, Pip,” Andy whispered.  “It’s me and Boris.  Now you’ve got to be quiet, okay?”

I nodded and he moved his hand and let go of me.  I turned accusing eyes on the two men.  Boris shook his head “No.”  In a voice so soft I could barely hear he said, “This is dangerous Pip.  You don’t understand what’s happening.”

With a sigh I told him that I actually did know what was going on.  “At least some of it,” I whispered.  “But where is the dragon?”

Boris looked shocked, but Andy gave a little smile.  “I told you she was a smart cookie,” our little Astronaute man told him.

In answer Boris switched on a flashlight and shone it upward.  The beam of light revealed a small windowless stone building.  Above the door was an emblem of a dragon.  He turned off the beam but motioned toward the door.  “Your friends are part of a group that followed me across Europe.  They think I have a valuable artifact.  It does not belong to their…” Boris hesitated, probably looking for the right word in English.  “It doesn’t belong to their group, but they desire it none the less.  It is a feud, you see?”

When I nodded he continued in hushed tones.  “My ancestors were part of an organization, a priory.  Your friends, their maiden-n-knightancestors were in an opposing group.  But their group still survives.  They are not nice people.  They think I can lead them to this artifact.  I would have given it to them, or anything else they asked to save my Babushka when they abducted her.  But I did not have it.  I don’t know if it still exists.”

“The pyx,” I said.

Boris tensed and looked at me suspiciously.  Andy drew a sharp breath.  “I heard them talking just now,” I said feeling annoyed by their distrustful reaction.  “I wouldn’t be out in the night wearing my robe and slippers if I were meeting up with a bunch of crooks now would I?” I said dryly.

The Russian breathed and relaxed.  Andy smiled and put his arm around my shoulders in a little hug.  “Did you see any more of them coming?” he asked Boris.

“No.  It doesn’t seem that anyone else will be joining them,” Boris answered.  “The back door is secured?”

Andy gave a smile so wicked that it surprised me.  “You bet-cha,” he said.

Then Andy and Boris lifted a heavy iron bar out of the vines and dropped it across the door with a loud G-men Posterclang.  Shouting ensued from inside the little stone building.  Boris calmly stepped back into the rose garden and used his flashlight to signal toward the mansion.  Then a big commotion came from Ca’d’Zan as a dozen of Ringling’s men hustled toward us.  In the distance I heard a whine that soon became the wail of sirens.  So, the police were on the way too, I realized and the sick feeling returned.

I thought about the young twins, and Flavio, and especially about Frankie.  This was not something I could bear to stick around and watch.  I told the guys that I was cold and turned to go back inside.  But I looked up at the dragon above the door and something fell into place in my mind.

“What is it?” Andy asked, noticing the strange expression on my face.

I tilted my head as the epiphany dripped through the crannies in my mind.  “They said ‘It’s protected by a dragon’ and this,” I pointed to the dragon above the door, “is the only dragon they could find.  But there is another one.”

By then the men from the house reached us.  They parted to let a man with a hat and a badge through.  So, one of the Feds was already there.  Apparently Mr. Ringling or Countess Bepa, or both had their own suspicions.  “You folks should go back up to the house,” he told us.  Then he seemed to recognize Boris.  “Your grandmother is very upset.”

Boris looked like he would protest.  I looked at him and Andy.  “Well, personally, I don’t think I can bear to see this,” I said.  I didn’t know I was crying until I felt a tear fall from my cheek to my neck.  I brushed at the tears, irritated that I would cry about something that never was.  “Frankie in with these kidnappers?  I must be a stupid bimbo.”1920s PhotoPlay

Andy took my elbow and Boris limped at my other side as we walked back to the mansion.  I didn’t look back.  I just couldn’t.  Inside the music room we found the Ringlings, Countess Bepa, and Mona.  The women were in their dressing gowns, but Ringling was dressed.  I had a hunch he was ready for what happened.  He was pretty darned shrewd.

A gunshot rang out.  Then several more cracked the predawn silence.  “Frankie!”

Boris caught my arm to keep me from going outside.  Ringling had a gun in his hand and he moved to a place where he could see farther into the rose garden.  He squinted into the moonlit shadows.  The sound of feet pounding the path was followed by the voice of the Fed.  “The big one got away.  I’m not sure if I hit ‘em.”

I was too stunned by everything that happened that night to know what to say or do.  I stood mutely looking into the darkness. Frankie on the lam from the law! I wondered if he had been shot.  I wondered how he could betray all of us.  It was clear that he and Flavio had gotten close to Mona and me just to have access to Boris.

“Pip, this is serious business,” Boris said in his accent.  He looked at me intently, making me bring my chaotic thoughts to the moment.  “What were you saying about there being another dragon?”

The comment caused Bepa and Ringling both to start.  “The harpsichord,” I said.  “Look at that medallion inside it by the pastoral scene.”1920s Style Book

“That’s very observant of you dear Pip,” the countess said.  “But there is nothing behind that.  I have already checked.”

“Not behind it,” I said.  I took the flashlight from Boris and I crawled under the ornate instrument.

The light revealed a metal circle where I had bumped my head earlier.  It had the look of a sort of maker’s mark, like something the craftsman might have put there.  But it also looked like…  If I were to twist it just so… that it would come out.  So I gave it a little twist.  A moment later I crawled out from under the harpsichord with a round box, decorated just like the carving inside the lid, with a shield and banners.

I held out the solid gold pyx.

It was heavy and obviously worth a fortune.  It was hard to believe that men would plot and hurt one another for hundreds of years over something like the object in my hand, no matter how beautiful or valuable.  However, Boris and Countess Babikov were pursued halfway across the world by men trying to find the gold pyx.

I shook my head thinking about everything that had happened.  There were just three things that I knew for sure.  One – I was dog tired.  Two – I didn’t want to have any more weird, and maybe even prophetic dreams.  And three…

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

There would always be at least three things to keep my life interesting.

***

Prelude to a Three Part Conclusion

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

Now that I think about it, I believe this conclusion idea started when Provincial Lady included “dragon” the last time she sent a group of things.  Then my imagination running down a most unexpected path.  To do this set of things justice, and to keep you from having to read a really, really long episode, I’m going to divide the conclusion into three parts.

Cast of Characters

Things You Couldn’t Know

You’ve seen images that I thought suited some of the characters, but not all.  I shared a photo of a very young Lucille Ball, although it didn’t look anything like the Lucy we know and love.  However, the moment I saw that photo, I heard the voice of Lucille Ball as Pip — all grown up and narrating the story of her youth.

Willie Garson n Carie

Willie Garson, Sarah Jessica Parker

Ultimately all the characters in a story are “played” by the image in the mind of the reader. That’s a good thing, because I’ve never had a clear image in my mind for strapping Frankie the Fireman.  But I’ve been Buster Keatonsharing my other ideas with you as the serial progressed.  One image I did not share, because it did not come from that era, was “Andy the Astronaute.”  Right away I saw a younger Willie Garson.  (You might know him from “White Collar” or Sex and the City.) I could see the friendship between him and Mona. Although unlike Stanford, Andy hopes the friendship will become a romance. On the other hand, Andy could easily look like Buster Keaton with those sad eyes.

You’ve already seen these photos. Don’t ask me how episode 21 (Underwear, Tasteless, Limestone) took my imagination to a Russian Countess, but it did just that. It was after Bepa Babikov came along that I saw a photo of a real-life countess that was simply the vision of Bepa’s elegance.  It was just her.  Then Fred Astaire, in a rather sulking pose, made me think of Boris.

Johanna Loisinger; the Countess Von Hartenau

Johanna Loisinger; the Countess Von Hartenau

Astaire sittingMona, as you know, looks a lot like Clara Bow, who was the original “It Girl.”

Clara Bow

Clara Bow

Now… where will this little 1920’s story go from the previous episode?

Three Concluding Things Episode 30, Part 1

Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx

I looked down at my clasped hands and told myself not to fidget.  My eyes wandered absently around the amazing rose garden of the Ca’d’Zan mansion.  I was vaguely aware of the cold bench on which I sat.  Even at that time of year some of the roses still bloomed.

Mona said something and I jumped.  I was so preoccupied that I didn’t even notice when she walked up.  “Why so glum, Pip?” she said with the smile that made everyone like her.  Mona the Movie Star sat down and put her arm around my shoulder and gave me a little hug.  “You and Frankie have a little spat?”

I shook my head and gulped.  Why did I want to cry?  Why should I?  There had never really been anything going on in the first place.  Mona hugged my shoulder a little tighter.  “Go ahead and cry if you want to, Sweet Pea.”1920s PhotoPlay

That name made me smile.  It was what most people called my grandmother.  Sometimes they called her Pip too.  We both had P.I.P. as our initials.  I brushed away a single tear.  “No, we didn’t fight.  I’m just feeling out of sorts.  I thought Frankie liked me, but all through the trip here, he acted like I practically didn’t exist.  It really doesn’t matter,” I said with a sniffle.

Mona handed me an embroidered handkerchief and I dried my eyes and blew my nose.  A window was open, and somewhere inside we heard the happy voices of Countess Babikov and her friend Mable Ringling.  “Please won’t you play, Bepa?” our hostess asked.  Then I heard charming music from a harpsichord.

“It sounds like those two are having fun,” Mona said.  “Why don’t we join them.  It’s a little too cool out here.  This bench is freezing my bottom!”

We stood to go inside.  Movement caught my eye at the far end of the huge rose garden.  It was one of the Fabros.  However, all four of them looked so much alike that it was hard to tell them apart from that distance.  He pushed back a thick leafy climbing rose and seemed struggle briefly with something.  He looked over his shoulder and motioned to someone out of my view.  Stepping forward he disappeared into the vegetation.  Then two more Fabros followed, and finally a larger man that I recognized for Frankie.

Before I knew what my feet were doing, they were taking me quietly down that path.  Mona grabbed my elbow, but followed.  I made a shushing sound when she asked what was going on.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “But I want to find out.”

 Stay tuned for more of these three things (Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx — especially Pyx) in part two of the conclusion.

Three Things Serial: 4 – Gelato, Aerobic, Thunderstorm; and 5 – Slate, Waterfall, Devious

Our “interactive” story continues with two sets of “things” from amazing friend, Provincial Lady.  But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook — be sure to send me your three things!

I’m trying to control my editor-brain with this story, partly because the intention is to quickly write whatever comes to me the moment I get your “three things.” That said… I promise not to back-track to change things ever again, after this… Pip’s (aka Paisley) line of work is no longer private eye — palmistry adds a lot more elasticity to this exercise, which has to be very flexible. Also, “Mindy the Movie Star” is now Mona.  That name suits her much better, don’t you think?

As always, the full serial (to date) lives on the Three Things Serial page.

Three Things Serial, Continued

4:  Gelato, Aerobic, Thunderstorm

1920s Girl Hat 2

A teenaged Lucille Ball — Surprised?

Clouds gathered ominously, so twilight came early.  I worried that Frankie might be early too – and I wasn’t ready yet.  However, the face in the mirror winked at me, or I winked at it, whichever.  I smiled and applied some rose colored rouge to my cheeks, and “helped” my lips into a Cupid’s Bow with careful use of some plum colored lipstick.

I had run into Boris a few minutes earlier as he was finishing what he called his aerobic exercise.  He was limping some as he came up the stairs.  A bad knee injury caused him to give up his career with the Ballets Russes.  Before the sky had even clouded, Boris insisted that I take an umbrella with me to the movies.  He was sure there would be a thunderstorm.  “The knee,” he said, “it never lies.”

Just as I put my lipstick away I heard a man’s shoes pounding up the stairs.  Then came three quick knocks to my door, tap tap-tap.  I practically skipped across the room, and when I opened my “office” door I saw Frankie’s smiling mug.  He looked at the frosted glass inset on the door for a minute, at the new sign I was so proud of, “P.I. Peabody, Palmistry.”  The only other time he’d seen my door he was there as a fireman, because of a small fire in Mona’s kitchen down the hall.

“Hey, maybe you can read my palm some time.  My grandma reads tea leaves,” he said by way of a greeting.

“Hello to you too,” I said dryly.

Frankie looked abashed enough that I let him off the hook for his lack of manners.  Then he held out a brown paper bag that was damp with condensation, finally looking at me.  “Wow!” he said with quite a gratifying drop of his jaw.  “You look swell, Pip.”

“Why, you’re dudding up pretty well yourself, Frankie.  Come on in for a sec.”

When I looked at the bag he exclaimed, “Gosh, I almost forgot!  I brought you some of my grandmother’s gelato, but you’ll have to eat it now.  I mean if you want.  Uh, I mean…”

It was good to know that I could make him stutter.  I stepped into my little kitchenette and got two spoons.  “Only if you help me,” I said, digging my spoon into the softly frozen treat.  “Oh, holy Hannah, this stuff is delicious!”

5:  Slate, Waterfall, Devious

Everybody piled into Andy’s jalopy.  He deviously made a big deal of helping Boris, whose limp had become more pronounced, into the backseat.  Then he made over Frankie, being as he was our newcomer, seating him as well.  Naturally I’d be expected to sit with the fireman, since I’d brought him into the group.  So that left Mona to share the front seat with the little Astronaute-man, as he obviously intended.

Poor Andy, he was so transparent.  Mona the Movie Star rolled her eyes at me in an exaggerated way, but she was a good sport about it as he handed her up to the Studebaker’s running board and then the seat.  Andy tucked a slate-blue plaid blanket carefully around Mona’s lap.  She protested that the night was too warm for the blanket, but she didn’t remove it.  Then he carelessly tossed a matching blanket back to the rest of us, and nearly knocked off my hat.Studebaker

As the Studebaker puttered up in front of the Nickelodeon Theatre the bright lights reflected off the waterfall in the fountain.  The star billing for Fatty Arbunckle was mirrored in squiggly letters in the water.  Boris the Ballerina looked at the theatre entrance with a sharp intake of breath.

“You okay, Buddy?” Frankie the Fireman asked, having been told about the Russian’s bad knee.

Boris muttered that he was fine.  But that little gasp didn’t sound like pain to me.  It sounded more like shock laced with fear.  Boris looked intently at the people going inside and murmured in his accent,  “I thought I saw someone.  But is not important.”