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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Toiling Tuesdays: Optimizing

Optimization in the Name of Productive Efficiency

Driving = Listening to audiobooks
Working = Listening to documentaries
Talking on the phone = Working
Cooking = Cleaning the kitchen

Some call it multitasking, I call it optimizing my time....

What do you do to optimize your time?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Miscellaneous Mondays: Meet Your Idol

Celebrities and Dictators

I recently attended an author event at the local library. The author, Terry Brooks, discussed his latest novels and how he became a writer. Without using the phrase, he talked about "the good old days." I rather enjoyed his firsthand account of his early encounters with writing/publishing. I have read about 10 pages of his 35 novels. I personally met him and he wrote an encouraging note in my copy of the Sword of Shannara (which I am in the process of reading). I liked meeting a noted author, however I would not sell soul and self to shake his hand. 

Many people, when asked who are they dying to meet, answer with a big-name celebrity or a dictator with whom they would like to have a word or two. My response is, eh whatever. I'm not a fanatic but I wouldn't mind a personal recounting of their life, how they went from no-name to big-deal. But then I figure, that's what documentaries and memoirs are for! 

To me it's the experience and the humanization of a celebrity rather than the bragging rights enabled that I like about meeting an idol/famous person. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Microsize Me

Our eyes are no longer bigger than our stomachs in America

Taking this to heart, as well as the obesity epidemic in America and the fact that portion sizes are out of control whenever I eat out, I go with the micro-size me policy. Instead of super sizing portions, going Xlarge/Venti/Super etc I ask for the kid's size or the smallest size. Ice cream? Small please. Coffee? Small/Tall please. Dinner size? I'll split it with my companion please.

It seems like everybody these days is on a diet. My "diet" consists of trying to eat wholeful foods, such as veggies, sweet potatoes, fruits, brown rice, and fish instead of all the other food options out there. However, good luck trying to eat on the healthier side when you go out. I have found that the majority of restaurants will resort to the cheapest food option or the food option that will appeal to your taste buds. Did you know that when you take excessive sugars and salts out of your diet you appreciate the natural taste of food more? Then you don't need sugar or salt added for 'flavor' because the dish has enough flavor for your taste buds. My new beef with eating out is 1. I can make it better in terms of healthy ingredients, 2. I can make it better in terms of what I like regarding taste about half the time, and 3. I can make it cheaper. That's why my favorite restaurants are ethnic, I can't make good Indian or Thai food.

My real issue is not what I eat but how I move, or rather don't. I like to sit. All my daily activities seem to involve sitting; driving, working, writing, reading. I dislike traditional exercise. My favorite form of movement was dodge-ball but I have outgrown that sport. Sometime in the near-far future I would like to start playing volleyball but in the meantime I have picked up one of my favorite pastimes as a form of exercise: dancing. I enjoy dancing because it is a challenge for me. It is exciting and fun. So far I am currently doing zumba. I'd like to find some hip hop classes and perhaps some belly-dancing classes as well.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Author Thursdays: Write from the Middle

I read or heard from someone that when writing you don't have to finish at a stopping point like at the end of the chapter. It is better to finish in the midst of an action so that when you start back up you have an immediate opening point and will be able to get right back into the action. If you have to start after a stopping point you may sit there twiddling your thumbs trying to think of where the story should go. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wildlife Wednesdays: City vs. Country

I have lived in many places. I have lived in Florida, Oregon and Washington. I have moved several times within those states. I have also stayed for bouts of time in New York (city) and Ohio. I would not want to live in a large city like New York, I felt like the air was toxic and the shops were crowded. I wouldn't necessarily say I want to live in the "country" but I love where I live right now. I live on the river in a cozy cabin. Jealous? If you look closely at the picture from my back porch you can see the elk crossing the river. I am right in the midst of nature, green grass, a racing river, and a  small pebbled beach. A 1/2 mile walk gets me to the gas station, tiny convenience store, liquor store, breakfast place, auto mechanic, and produce stand. I am only several miles from shopping centers, including the local Walmart and Costco. I live in the wild but close to civilization. As my dad would put it, "I'm living the dream."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Toiling Tuesdays: Business Cards

Who was that gal?

I've really gotten into business cards. I started out making them myself when I was about 13. They advertised that I could crochet and babysit and they contained my phone number and name. Basically one step up from writing that information down on a napkin if I met someone who might want to use those services. In my last year of college I discovered Vistaprint and the online do-it-for you of business cards. Vistaprint is great and so far I've created three different business cards with them. Each time I make a better card. The first was very general, which is a bad idea and a good idea all wrapped into one that made it quite ineffective. This was a card that I could hand out at the library or on a bus but not during an interview for a position at an engineering company. I really should have left off the "For Hire" bit. The second business card I crafted was catered toward my author business, i.e. for my book. It was a free card and it is nicely simple but I have been told that the font is almost not readable. Perhaps if I had made the curlicues larger, the differences between letters would stand out more and it would work better overall. This card needs an explanation to go along with it though, which is why I developed the last card. It is a standalone card that if found on the street has all the information one would need to get the idea of who Rachel Barnard is.

Featured at the top of the blog post is the back of my current business card. The front contains an image of my first book's cover and title as well as a short description.

In my writing group: Snovalleywrites, my second business card prompted one of the members to get his own. I really liked how his looked and have taken some of his ideas to incorporate them into my third business card (portrait vs. landscape and putting the cover of my book on one side).

Monday, April 22, 2013

Miscellaneous Mondays: Gory Trigger Warning

Revenge of the Finger

One Friday night in late September Rachel was out playing dodge ball in Seattle. She reached out to catch a flying ball but missed. Looking down she noticed something was amiss. Her finger was crooked! Cursing her ill luck she left the playing field in search of ice and so begins the saga of the pinkie finger...
First X-Ray at the Walk in emergency clinic 11PM
Second X-Ray at the hospital around midnight
10/3 surgery wherein I get pins and wires and stitches

Note the stitches on both sides of my finger

First x-rays after surgery in January (view 1/3)
First x-rays after surgery (view 2/3)
First x-rays after surgery (view 3/3)

Second set of X-rays following surgery February (view 1/2)

Second set of X-rays following surgery (view 2/2)

Third set of X-rays following surgery March (view 1/3)

Third set of X-rays following surgery (view 3/3)

Third set of X-rays following surgery (view 2/3)

During second surgery 4/1/13 (view 1/2)
During second surgery 4/1/13 (view 2/2)

Fourth set of X-rays following 2nd surgery (view 1/2)
Fourth set of X-rays following 2nd surgery (view 2/2)

16 stitches in the "z" cut

All stitches taken out! Let the healing begin 4-15-13

Cut is getting cleaner, turning into a scar 4-20-13

X-rays 5-9-13 
X-rays 5-9-13
X-rays 5-9-13

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Socializing Sundays: Astrology

Are we destined by the stars?

I do not profess to believe in astrology. I like to think we all have choices and are not governed by the stars. A while back, however, I looked up my own sign and my "compatibility" with that of other signs and realized that the last three men I have dated all fell within the same sign. Was it coincidence? Do I even believe that you are who your sign is?

I am an Aquarius, born January 22nd at 12:21. According to the many astrological-oriented websites I am:

1. Friendly and humanitarian
2. Honest and loyal
3. Original and inventive
4. Independent and intellectual

However, I am also:

1. intractable and contrary
2. Perverse and unpredictable
3. Unemotional and detached

The best match for Aquarius is Libra but Aquarius also goes with Gemini, Sagittarius and Aries.
For more information regarding love compatibility based on astrological signs:

Here's a picture of a kitty playing with wrapping paper

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Seattle Specific Saturdays: Groundspeak!

Geocache MEGA event at Groundspeak

In case you were not aware there is an amazing event going down right here in Seattle! Some of us are so very super duper close to this event that we do not have to plan months in advance and book a hotel and a plane in order to attend. We can hop in the car and wiz on down to Groundspeak HQ in Seattle. 

It's the 2013 Geocaching block party at N 47° 38.943 W 122° 20.931 from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on August 17th

Mark your calendars because Seattle is the place to be for geocachers! Also, check out the Geocaching Mega-Event on Sunday August 18th

My very first geocache find! Micro magnet that took "2 hours to find"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Author Thursdays: Library Dates

Author Thursdays: Library Dates

One of the greatest resources available, in my opinion, is the public library. How cool is it that I can read/listen to/watch so many different books/audio books/movies for FREE! Libraries have so many more resources than just books. They have a great nonfiction section, magazines, newspapers, computers, etc. They also schedule community events and programs for children. And it's all FREE!!!! Not to mention, there are so many libraries throughout the whole country. 

As an author, the local library is an invaluable resource and I plan on and have been using it as much as possible. I have developed a plan to utilize all that the library has to offer through what I have decided to call "library dates"

Here is what my typical date consists of:

1. Read the bulletin board 
2. Go through the pamphlets and check out the available programs
3. Read the magazines (I suggest Writer's Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, The Writer, and the Horn Book)
4. See what books are given special attention and a special placement on the shelves
5. Browse the categories and familiarize myself with the level and type of books in each category (especially relevant for children's books as there are multiple categories)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wildlife Wednesdays: Cover Your Cache

Wildlife Wednesdays: Creatively Camo Your Cache

The other day I told my friend I was cruising Amazon for fake poop. Not only would it be a great gag but I was intent on getting some as creative camouflage for my geocache. Other ideas I can think of are fake chewed gum to cover those tiny magnets that are placed under park benches. 

Here are some of the more creative cache camo's I have found. The crab was on the beach and the container was attached to its underside. Clever and I was afraid to touch it at first because it was semi-realistic. 

This is one of my favorites and quite clever. I actually met the owner of this cache. 

 Though not a natural covering, I liked how this one was decorated.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Toiling Tuesdays: The Follow-up

Toiling Tuesdays: The Follow-up

Everyone tells me how important it is to follow up after an interview or after you have sent in an application. I  have tried this method. So far it has not gotten me anywhere. Frankly, nothing I have done has gotten me anywhere but here is my trick. I have been applying to restaurants recently because I feel out of all the jobs (hopefully) out there I am perfectly qualified to get one of these jobs. My trick is to spend an hour or so in the actual restaurant and buddy buddy up to someone who works there and then follow up with direct communication with the hiring person(s). For example, I had an interview for a restaurant I had never been to and after my interview I hiked my butt all the way down to one of the restaurant locations to check it out and show my commitment  Not only did I show how dedicated I was about getting this particular job, but I also got to see if it was the type of environment and restaurant I wanted to be working in. 

For other jobs where they only want me to send in a resume or fill in the lengthy online application I try to find a number of the hiring person or simply the business's number and give them a ring. This ensures that they received the application/resume and can direct me to someone in charge of the decision process. Perhaps I will be given an email of the person I need and then can send my resume directly to their inbox. I have done this on several occasions (to no avail of course). Sometimes I can find out if the position has already been filled or if I'm not what they are looking for so that my hopes can be dashed right away, instead of hanging on to the hope that I will win this lottery we call job hunting. 

Other times I have even sent handwritten letters thanking the person who gave me an interview and explaining why I'm perfect for the job and what I thought of their particular establishment. 

Sometimes I think it is all a waste of time but I'm sure I will send a card to that one person who says, "You know, out of all the candidates this one took the time to send this card. She must be really dedicated. I want someone motivated like her to be working for us." 

Soon there will be a phrase, 'You're more likely to be bitten by a shark/struck by lightning/win the lottery than get a job.'

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Socializing Sundays: Simple Dates

Socializing Sundays: Simple Dates

I keep a list of dates in my "to do" list not because they are things I need to do but I like to keep the ideas written down where I can find them. Recently a guy told me that in his younger days he didn't date much because he was poor, i.e. he couldn't AFFORD to date. I believe that this is a very incorrect statement. You don't always have to invest a lot of money on a date. You can invest time and effort instead. Sure, a lot of conventional dates cost money (bowling, movies, restaurants) but dating doesn't have to always consist of the expensive things or out-of-your-budget things. Occasionally you can plan on a conventional date and save up the necessary funds but in the meantime you don't have to stay home and stare at the wall. Here is a preliminary list of ideas for you lug-heads:

1. Cook something intricate together
2. Plan a personal wine tasting (Wine can be as cheap as $3-$4 a bottle)
3. Karaoke (Some restaurants host karaoke and you can spend minimal amounts)
4. Geocaching picnic adventure
5. Or just geocaching.
6. Flashmob (free dance class and awesome memories)
7. Costco (samples are free and hot dogs are still $1.50 and you can do your grocery shopping together)
8. Hiking
9. Free community events (Craigslist is where I found flashmobs, dodgeball, and writing groups)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Prison Series

Foodie Fridays: Prison Pasta

- Pasta
- Green beans
- Tomato soup

Step 1: Boil pasta
Step 2: Heat up soup and green beans
Step 3: Combine
Step 4: Eat
Optional: Add pepper for added flavoring

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Author Thursdays: Ch1

Author Thursdays: Chapter One

Once upon a time in a homely village high up in the mountains there was a well. It wasn’t a wishing well. It wasn’t a well that was used for water. For good or for bad this was a well full of anger, the town’s anger to be exact. Every month the townspeople gathered in the ragged clearing behind the cemetery to purify themselves with the well. Over the years the well had seen murderous thoughts, petty thievery, greed, jealousy, and many, many tears of spite.  And over time the well had grown black with the mold of disgust that crept slowly up its smoothed stones.
Zos held his mother’s hand tightly.  He was afraid. He could feel a terrifying pit of darkness coming from the well. It called to him, saying, “Zosimos, come close and peer into my depths. I want you. I need you.” Zos tried to back up but he was still connected to Chalysta, as if the lifeline between mother and child still existed. She scowled and yanked on his arm,
“It is time, Zosimos. You too are not exempt from anger. The town must be cleansed and you along with it.” She pulled him forward as she spoke.
They were standing in a line, waiting for the rest of the townsfolk to take their turn. Zos shuffled his feet and sucked in a breath of cold air. Even the air tasted black with turmoil. Zos felt lightheaded and dark-feelinged. He wanted so desperately to run off into the forest. It was right there, just beyond the well. His legs were short but if he took off his mother would be too surprised to run right after him and he could make it. He was just about to risk abandoning her when she yanked again on his arm and there they were.
“Zosimos.” The well whispered his name.
Zos ignored the call and instead concentrated on his task. He knew what he had to do. He gathered all his negative thoughts and imagined them traveling from his extremities inward to his torso and upwards through his body until they reached his head. He gathered himself and leaned over the well to expel them.
“Zos-“ He heard the well begin to pull him forward. “-imos.”
“No.” he whispered back as he tumbled into such a torrid place of anger that even closing his eyes couldn’t shut out the nightmares of 50 years’ worth of crippling energy and blinding fury.
Zos couldn’t see how his mother grappled for his arm again but in her haste and the well’s hurry, his hand slipped through hers. The townsfolk stepped back in fear and confusion. In all the months and in all the years, no one had ever fallen into the well.
For several moments too long Chalysta, the mother of the fallen child wailed and for several moments too long the people of the town stood still and watched. Then, even Chalysta was silent, and then they waited. A great fog began to roll in unannounced and smothered the feet of the onlookers, coiling around shoes like untied laces. The sky began to darken. In that moment there came a sound from the well.
“Help.” Zos yelped, the tears from his tightly shut eyes creeping down his face. Miraculously he felt no broken bones or hurt of any kind on his skin. His body felt stronger than it ever had. However, his mind felt in turmoil, a great blackness attempting to sheath his thoughts and overpower his self. “Help!” He cried louder. He opened one eye and barely spotted the light at the top of the well, worlds away from him. He didn’t want to be consumed by the darkness. “Help me.” He whispered feebly and shut his eyes once more, wishing it were just as easy to shut out the well.
Chalysta sprang into action. Her baby was hurt but he had spoken. He was alive! He must be rescued. She looked right and left in a panic. Rope. This was an abandoned well, not a place one would find usable tools. She spotted the mayor of the town, sliding backwards on his heel. His unease plain on his face. She turned to him, like a lion cornering a rabbit.
“We need rope.” She spoke, her words succinct.
“C-certainly.” He chattered back with a false smile. What went into the well was not supposed to come back out, ever.
One of the older children shouted, “I’ll get rope.” And took off.
Chalysta ran back over to the mouth of the well.
“Zosimos!?” She called down, careful not to touch any part of the rock or even the moss blackening its surface.
“Mother!” Zos cried feebly. He felt weaker and less able to block the well’s efforts. It was going to win. It would have him. It needed him. He could feel it. Its presence was overwhelming and its negative energy reeked of power. How could he stop it?
Rope was tossed at Chalysta’s feet. The boy peered at her apologetically and then hurried back several feet. They were all wary of the well but it was her baby down there! “Help me!” She implored the citizens of a town without anger, without depression, without antagonism. They stared at their toes in shame but stayed in their places, well away from the terror in front of them.
Then one small girl, no more than five, the minimum age to begin the ritual, came forward.  She held out a hand and chalysta hesitated only a moment before handing the end of the rope to the tiny girl. The girl, though petite, in that moment seemed strong. She was assured of herself and of doing what was right. She hadn’t noticed the petty actions of the townspeople. She was pure and good.
The rope uncoiled downward. The well tried to expel it but gravity was a powerful master and the rope eventually came to rest on the boy’s head. He did not know what had touched him but he felt that it was a power that matched the well’s and he grasped its end. The rope whispered to him now, much like the well had done, only the words were of encouragement and not ownership.
“Tie me around your waist.” The rope instructed him and he obeyed lifelessly, for he was lost in the foils of his own mind, being put to sleep by the command of the well. He didn’t hear the desperate pleas of his mother, trying to tell him that she loved him and would save him and that everything would be alright. He only felt a sliver of goodness trying to poke at him from the fibers of the rope but his body had tightened against any assault of goodness. He had been taken by the well and marked by it. He was now and forever its embodiment, its face.
Chalysta yanked on the rope and felt resistance. She indicated to the girl that all was ready and slowly they began to heave up on the rope. Chalysta was in tears, fearing the worst and hoping for the best. He must be conscious. He must be well. The girl, Alcina was her name, was pursing her lips in effort. She pulled with all her undeveloped muscles. She felt sorry for the poor distraught mother.
Alcina’s mother was also distraught. Her child was close, too close to the well and the same disaster that had befallen Chalysta’s child could befall her own dear girl. She wanted desperately to leap forward and grab Alcina in a great bear hug but feared getting too near the well herself. Instead, she stared with fear at her daughter.
An eternity passed as the rope crept slowly out of the well. Finally, Zos appeared, his eyes still shut tightly. He wasn’t moving and didn’t try to climb out of the midst of the well. Chalysta pasued for a moment but forgot her fear of the well and grabbed for her son, brushing her hands against the soiled surface of the well in the process. Dark tendrils of dirt leapt onto her hands like static electricity. She paid it no mind but pulled Zos into her arms, the rope still trailing off his waist. He was covered, head to toe in dirt that coiled around his body like veins. Alcina dropped the now useless rope in her hands and stepped back to give mother and son space. Alcina was snatched from behind as her own mother gathered her up. Alcina felt comforted. Her mother felt differently, she wanted to keep her daughter away from the boy. She had a bad feeling about him. It was more than the dirt that caked his skin, he was now soiled on the inside.
Now that the incident had passed, the townsfolk carefully finished up their monthly ritual, each person in turn taking a turn and spitting into the well. Unlike before, they did not feel like they were ridding themselves of troubles and ill will alike. The anger still clutched to their minds and bodies. They felt uneasy. What had occurred here today? Would life return to normal tomorrow? The mayor certainly hoped so. He did not want to be the mayor of a town in turmoil. That was not his job. His job was not to reconcile differences or to act as a mediator in the middle of conflict. There was no conflict! At least, there wasn’t supposed to be.
Slowly the mob of villagers drifted apart to head back into town. There was much to be done and the ones who had not made it out would also need to make the lengthy trek to the edge of town for the monthly ritual.
Chalysta half-carried her child. He plodded along methodically beside her, not seeing what was in front of them, not caring. Chalysta was worried but also frightened as the realization of what had happened hit her. She was not unlike the villagers in her founded fear of the well. It was a sinister pit that must be regarded carefully and yet Zos had touched its heart and she its outer extremity. She looked at her hands, the dirt almost as much a part of her skin as the angel kisses that dotted her arms. In that moment she felt desperate to wash herself and rid herself of these marks. She reached over and picked up Zos. She had never struggled to carry him before but he was heavier than she remembered, more solid and real. Whenever his sickness had overtaken his physical body in the past, Chalysta had to carry him home and care for him. It was different this time. She was holding him for comfort and he was letting her hold him because at the moment he was indifferent. Chalysta sensed that he did not and never would need to be carried again. Somehow he had found his manly strength, in the span of that one incident, and had grown up.


The mayor hurried back into town. He was anxious to check the town records. This incident was unprecedented for all that he knew, but he had only been the mayor for a few short years. Perhaps something like this had occurred in a previous mayor -ship and he could reference the records to figure out how to proceed.
“Back so soon? Is everything alright?” The mayor’s secretary leaned over her desk to peer at him.
“I need the Book of Incidents, Marina.” The mayor said curtly in his best no nonsense voice.
“A new incident? That hasn’t occurred in over seven months!” Marina stood up in shock. Her hands shook as she skittered out of the entranceway and to the back room. She had all but forgotten about the ritual. She had stayed behind from the main cleansing but she only had until sundown to make her way out to the lonely well. If she waited too long, it would be all but deserted and she did not fancy finding herself alone with all that evil.
The mayor settled into his plush chair and stared up at the grandfather clock that graced the mantelpiece. If he concentrated he could hear its faint ticking. The sound was unnerving so he tried to distract himself by thinking about the last mayor.
The last mayor, like all the mayors who had been elected before him, had been an excellent ruler. He was lauded by all the townsfolk, a man to look up to. He ruled the town through a great and lasting peace.
“Here Mr. Mayor.” Marina set the overly large tome down on the mayor’s desk.
The mayor opened up the book with awe and an appropriate level of respect. This book set the guidelines for any future precedents. Whatever had been the ruling for previous incidents was taken as more than just advice for any future similar or same incidents.
A small spider came scurrying out from between the pages and ran to the edge of the mayor’s desk and disappeared over the side.
First order of business was to document the incident that had just occurred. The mayor pulled out his quill and paused, poised above the page. He must write it out just so. Future mayors might read his report. Finally he scribbled down as precisely as he could, what had occurred,
February 22nd
Incident occurred at the well
Incident occurred at approximately 10:30 in the morning
Zosimos, son of Chalysta fell into the well. Chalysta and Alcina retrieved him using a piece of rope. Zosimos appeared conscious after retrieval. Evaluations of his physical and mental well being to be completed by tomorrow afternoon.

Zos traipsed dirt through the house. Caked pieces fell off his body in specks. He walked down the hall and bumped into the corner in his daze. He left a smudge mark on the wall but that didn’t faze him and he continued on his way to the back of the house. He went into the bathroom and turned on the water. 

“You okay in there?” Chalysta called from the back room. 

Zos opened his mouth to shout back but no sound came out. He strained his vocal cords, fighting with some inner beast. 

“Fine.” The word blurred with the effort he put in to get it out. It petered and died but Chalysta was still able to hear it.

“I’ll be in the kitchen making dinner, just holler if you need me.” She called back, her words stretched with the strain of a mother worried about her child. 

Zos didn’t bother fighting with that inner demon to reply. He checked the water temperature cascading in the shower with the back of his hand. It felt fine but reflexively he stuck a foot into the waterfall. Again, reflexively he turned down the temperature and without waiting for the temperature to change he stepped in delicately. 

Steam erupted out of the top of the shower. Zos maneuvered the shower head and tilted his head back, letting the cascade of water flow down, sticking his hair to his head. The water pooled around his feet, a dark and murky puddle. Zos grabbed the loofa mchanically and squirted some of the liquid soap into it. He scratched at the remaining dirt clinging to his body in swirls and patterns. Zos scrubbed harder, digging the loofa angrily into his skin, now trying to cleanse the memory of sitting helpless in the well, covered in the soot of thousands of unhappy people. The etched lines of filth wouldn’t come off his skin. Zos frantically threw down the loofa and clawed at one of the rivulets on his arm. A droplet of blood erupted like a miniature volcano, mingling with the water that continually washed over him. Zos grasped his other arm and held it up to his face, peering at the lines noodling in between his soft arm hairs. The dirt was seamless with his skin, like it was a part of his coloring. But it wasn’t. Zos rubbed the spot and felt no bumps or eruptions. This was his skin, felt like it, even smelled like it. Yet, like sidewalk cracks, his skin was now swirled with an ashy brown coloring. 

Chalysta began preparations for dinner. First, she brought out all the ingredients and herbs and pots and pans she needed to make the meal. She had almost forgotten to wash her hands! She had just been all over town and had even touched that blasted well, her hands were most likely riddled with germs. She went over to the sink and turned on the water, wetting her hands. It was then that she noticed the deep lines slinking across the palms of her hands. In her life Chalysta had worked hard and her hands reflected her ethic. They looked ten years older than she did, darker and more wrinkled than they should be. However, Chalysta thought that the lines were more pronounced, darker even. She poured some of the heavy duty dish soap onto her hands and rubbed them together. She wondered how Zos was, he must be extra cowed after his experience earlier. He was always a sickly child and had only recently begun to fill out and grow taller. Chalysta reflected on Zos as an infant as she scrubbed her hands and rinsed them off. She shook them solidly and then turned them toward her to inspect her work. 

“What in the...!?” Chalysta shouted in surprise. The lines had darkened, like all her blood vessels along the fault lines of her palms had burst under her skin. She gingerly poked at one of the lines but felt only the normal amount of pressure. It wasn’t blood then, or a bruise. It wasn’t dirt, eithor, for her hands were now clean. 

Zos turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. He shivered as the cold air hit his body, even though oddly he didn’t feel cold at all. He grabbed a towel and brushed off the droplets of water, letting them catch within the fibers of the grey towel. Zos shut his eyes and shook his head and then tousled it firmly in the towel. He dropped the towel on the floor and grabbed for the clean set of clothes his mother had set on the shelf. He dressed quickly and then brushed his hair. He stood in front of the mirror as he always did but the mirror was fogged from the hot shower he had taken so he couldn’t see his reflection. He stared dully ahead and was able to make out the outline of himself through the condensation. 

Zos opened the bathroom door and felt drawn to the front door. Mechanically he reached for the knob and turned it slowly. He heard his mother talking in the kitchen but ignored the confusion in her voice. Without a sound he let himself out and closed the door behind him. The sun beat down, threatening to make him sweat. The morning clouds from earlier had passed and there was no gloomy fog in town. Zos stared up at the sky, an unusually bright shade of blue. The sky was perfectly blue in fact which made Zos frown. A sour bile crept under his tongue and he swallowed, making a face. The sun was too direct on his skin and he felt himself burning and so hurried into the shade of a neighbor’s tree. He felt compelled and his feet seemed magnetized. Zos did not bother trying to resist but instead scuttled from the shade of one tree to the next until he had made his way deep into the heart of the village. Presently he passed the barber shop and the butcher shop and started to see the other villagers out and about as well. 

Yuridia was exiting the butcher’s when she saw Chalysta’s boy. She let out a gasp of horror and surprise. She dropped her basket and stared as he walked passed. She turned to Mara, who happened to be nearby.

“Do you see him?” She tapped Mara nervously on her shoulder.

Mara’s head swiveled first to look at Yuridia and then quickly outward to see what she was so anxious about. She spotted Zos immediately. 

“Oh my goodness! What horror!” She cried in a whisper. She felt that she did not want Zos to notice her or look there way. It was just too unpleasant. The two ladies crouched into each other, trying to blend in as they whispered uneasily to each other about the boy walking unknowingly past.

Zos felt eyes on him but ignored the feeling. He concentrated on his feet. There were no more trees and he was wholly exposed to the rays of the sun. He was sweating now, and he was more than simply overheated. The sun’s rays were like infinitesimally small rays of lightning and his skin was on fire. This was why he did not at first notice how the other villagers were openly staring at him. When finally he picked up his head and looked around him he saw them watching him with more than horror. They was unabashed unleashed anger in their faces. 

“Monster!” Cried one man.

“Detestable thing!” Cried another. 

Then the villagers began to creep forward, gaining power in their unity.

“Devil of a child!” 

“It’s evil!”

“It must be killed.”

Zos did not feel the sun anymore. The rays of hate from his neighbors’ eyes bore into his skin now but he was not afraid. Zos began to feel what he had never felt before. He began to feel angry, powerfully mad in fact. His chest puffed out. He had stopped where he stood. He stared back at the people and they took a collective step back. When he did not do anything else, they took a step forward and their insults grew louder. 

Suddenly the crowd hushed and made an opening that the mayor stepped through. Sweat trickled down his face as he regarded the boy who was no longer a boy but had not quite grown into a man. 

“Leave this town!” The mayor shouted from ten feet away, loud enough for all the gathered villagers to hear. “Your evil is not welcome here. Your anger does not belong among the Freyans.” His voice was steady and booming. 

Zos’s anger boiled inside, and the heat from the sun on the outside of his skin met with the fire raging on the inside of him. The veins of dirt that was no longer dirt blackened, turning onyx black. The crowd gasped and squeezed tighter together, seeking solace and protection in each other. The mayor frowned and held up a hand,

“Stop! You are not welcome here any longer. Zosimos, you are hereby banished from the town of Frey!”

The mayor took one step forward, stomping down in the dirt for emphasis. Zosimos regarded the mayor and townsfolk testily. He turned his head up to the heavens and roared out of every pore. Black blood dripped out of the blackened lines that creased his face and hands and legs. Droplets fell onto the ground, staining the dirt. 

Then Zosimos was gone, with the speed and agility of a terrorized predator, leaving behind only the small spot of sullied earth.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wildlife Wednesdays: A hike

Wildlife Wednesdays: Wilderness Creek Trail

My friend can attest (quite heartily in fact) that I am notoriously bad with directions. I have gotten lost in buildings, parking lots, and whilst driving. Finding the Wilderness Creek Trailhead was no different. The little parking lot was tucked away and not very visible to either side of the road. However, I was quite proud that I only passed the entrance once. 

I quite liked how this trail was ripe with miniature bridges such as this winding one and the more standard one pictured below.

There were also many choices for side trails. The only thing the trail lacked was a spectacular view from the top. There was an indicated "end" or top but the trees were too tall to see anything spectacular. There was, though, a geocache just waiting to be found at the two benches you can sit on while trying to peer between the massive branches of the trees.