Dehydrating Food Is An Art

Dehydrating food caught my interest. After viewing many dehydrating machines, I selected one that has nine trays, stainless steel shelving, digitized timing and heat selections. And of course this machine also had to meet my budget. There are many different price ranges and purchases of trays that can drive up the cost. Luckily I came upon one that provided everything in a bundle.

My first attempt at dehydrating fruits was interesting. Upon reading the manual,  I discovered that the dried food in the grocery store has preservatives and this gives it the color. And it tastes different too. At first, I did not have the proper cutting tools and sliced the strawberries very thin. After watching a video one woman suggested an egg slicer to cut the strawberries so I will be trying that out! Although, slicing the strawberries thin makes a great crackle topping to yogurt. The bananas that I purchased were old bananas at discount and very wet. Next time I will just purchase bananas that are ripe and believe that it will dehydrate better, less chewy. The organic pears were delicious and now that I have an apple, potato core hand machine, the slices will be consistent and should dehydrate better. A few days before dehydrating I picked some organic parsley from my garden box and sandwiched it in-between two paper towels for drying. I decided to place the parsley onto a tray and into the dehydration machine and it was amazing how it turned out. I just picked up a handful of organic parsley and it crumbled right in my hand to a very rich consistency. So far I am very excited about trying out other herbs, fruits and veggies and creating fruit rolls. As I explore this dehydrating process it makes sense to share my experiences storing food and dehydration tips on the blog. Hope you enjoy it. Pictured below is fruit crackle on top of yogurt and the fresh organic parsley from my garden box. Dehydrating Food is another form of art where you can be creative!

 

FREE or TRASH

Free or Trash – by Elizabeth McLaughlin

Upon my return trip from the antique store by bicycle at the curb was a tattered cardboard sign that read ‘Free or Trash’. The printing appeared fine but strong. The message caught my interest, therefore, I took a capture, and decided to write a short tale on how I thought it ended up on the side of the road-side. Unfortunately, nothing remained related to the sign, though about a quarter of a mile on the opposite end of the street, I discovered a blue vacuum cleaner and receiver. . .

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It was a beautiful summer day, however, Mark could not see the bright blue sky, puffy white clouds, wild-flowers, green forested trees swaying in the breeze or listen to the sparrows chirping in the thickets. Mark’s mind was fogged and raced in a multitude of directions. He lost his executive sales job at the pharmaceutical corporation over two years ago and financially it became impossible to make ends meet. Mark worked long hours to provide a luxurious home with customized rock masonry pillars and black iron fence that his wife Darcey dreamed about owning. Both held career jobs and became able to pay off a good deal of the mortgage and thought that life would be a breeze. They decided to take out bank loans to improve the estate by adding a swimming pool, luxury patio for outdoor private parties and a pool house attached to the four car garage. Even though their friends lost jobs, Mark and Darcey continued to live with a false sense of being. Only until it happened to them, the economy along with their lives rattled to reality. The American dream became a busted nightmare. The last straw for Mark happened when he sold his luxury automobiles and then the antique Ford pick up truck with tools. He resorted to using his mountain bicycle to make trips to the grocery store. And then the taxes on the property devoured any savings along with the purchasing power to fulfill the basic necessities such as food, electricity, water and insurance. As each month went by the family was slowly being stripped of possessions, automobiles, family heirlooms and even clothing. The trips to the food pantry became embarrassing to Darcey. “This is not fair and criminal. We worked so hard for twenty years to be comfortable but now it’s impossible to purchase a gallon of milk.” Darcey said. Mark was not in the mood to listen, jumped on his bicycle and snapped back, “Remember, you had to have the oval shaped, tiled, swimming pool and were just thinking about yourself and not the needs of this family.” The bicycle disappeared down the long black-topped driveway and Mark could hear Darcey screaming back, “I looked everywhere for a job doing anything, so don’t talk to me about not trying!” At this time, nothing made much sense to the impoverished couple. Luckily, their daughter, Trish attended an international college at the United Kingdom and had no idea about the situation that faced her parents. Mark and Darcey always explained away the holidays to the fact that they would be traveling for business or taking a cruise. Yes, they took every effort to conceal their financial collapse even from Trish. At the end of the driveway a silver Mercedes pulled up to greet Mark and out stepped Dana, a very popular successful realtor from the village with Country Club connections. Her elegant fragrance was familiar to Mark. She confidently planted a exotic leather, high healed, designer shoe firmly on the ground . The scent was Dana’s trademark, and she used this to perfection as a tool to seal the deal. “So sorry the house did not sell Mark, care to relist? We could surely find a buyer of this fine property with another reduction in price. All the realtors and their clients really adored your French Tudor Manor.” said Dana. She paused, with shapely flirting leg in place, for a response from Mark and then reluctantly, slowly, pulled the bright yellow sign from the picturesque landscaped lawn, placed it into the car trunk and drove off leaving her alluring scent wavering in the air. Mark knew that even with a drastic price reduction, the upgrades, excellent desirable location, people could not afford it. And, they have run out of time. Dana brought around bargain hunters, wanting a pre-foreclosure preview or shuddered at the thought of paying such high property taxes. Obviously, they were out of market and miss-marketed for this upscale piece of real estate. Across the road Mark could see their neighbor, nodding his head back and forth, silently pruning his royal red rose bushes. Usually, Spencer, a retired physician was friendly, generally waved but instead he continued to snip at the thorny stems as if Mark did not exist on planet earth.

It was the last day that Darcey and Mark would spend in their luxury paradise gone wrong. Boxes of stuff lined the circular driveway and down to Cardinal Way. They had many yard sales, and at Dana’s suggestion even hired a professional to manage it but no one had the money to spare to spend on frivolous items. Many were found in the same situation and also lost their homes to the bank or County. Mark took out a black, fine pointed tipped pen from his camel-hair coat pocket, printed on a piece of torn brown cardboard, the words, ‘Free or Trash’. With the usual traffic the sign ended up floating in the gentle breeze, landing face-up, at curb-side. Holding hands the couple stepped back to take one last look at the house where they had years of cherished memories and then promptly vaulted into Darcey’s sisters Jeep. They would live with her until a job could be found. Mark tried to be optimistic but knew in his gut they would end up seeking living an alternative lifestyle. The household items sat for weeks with people passing by the opportunity to pick-up unique artifacts, expensive, furniture, lamps, carpets and fixtures. Then groups of poorly dressed locals from surrounding towns arrived to consume metal for scrap. Eventually the neighbors asked a town road-side crew to clean-up the weathered mess. One worker did see the worn out cardboard sign, he glanced down at it, sighed, flipped up his broom and walked away. And this is how ‘Free or Trash’ sign ended up on the side of the road.

Fed Up Moving

Fed Up Moving by Elizabeth McLaughlin

The other day while out on the road with the bicycle taking in nature, I stopped at a crossroad and looked to the side and there scattered on the ground was a blue vacuum cleaner and stereo receiver unit. How horrible it is to find such stuff just tossed onto the side of the road.  Again, it became another interesting road-side display that I could craft into a short story on how I think it ended up on the side of the road.

Tracey worked for a local retailer in a small town and diligently kept the specialty gifts immaculately clean and appealing to upscale shoppers. She enjoyed her job, especially when the owner would permit her to use new concepts for featured displays. In order to make ends meet Tracy worked long hours and also had to bounce from one job to another  to make living costs to cover rent, food, car payments and toddler support. Tracey lived on a quaint old street, lined with established maple trees. Her favorite tree on the street had huge roots that bulged up above the gray granite stone sidewalk. It had such a unique appealing natural quality, a smiling face etched in bark. The neighbors were great and Mrs. Teabody, a retired school teacher took care of Thomas during the day and into the early evening. It was the perfect situation for a working single mother to find these days. After all the nightmares experienced in renting apartments and juggling expenses, questionable day care centers, Tracey finally found an affordable cottage in the back of the Peterson’s huge soft green painted Victorian mansion with bright white trim. A lovely family that did not take advantage of people in need of housing. Here she could feel a strong sense of security and stability that she already benefitted from for two years. Upon moving in Tracey eagerly white washed the wooden clapboard on the front porch and loved finding at local yard sales decorative antiques that added a warm inviting comfortable touch. She always wanted a garden, and planted beautiful bright blue, purple, red and yellow flowers from the local garden nursery. It looked like the perfect tiny home that one would find in a Country Magazine. Thomas also had his own nursery, decked out with a French antique wooden crib, dresser, toy box and shelving for all of his plush stuffed animals and story books.

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It was a quiet Wednesday evening, and Tracey was preparing Thomas for bed. Rocking in the chair, reading fairy tales became a cherished moment that they could gaze into each others eyes and cuddle. The phone rang at the downstairs kitchen wall telephone and Tracey gently placed Thomas into his crib to sleep. She dashed quietly down the narrow carpeted stairs and picked up the mellow yellow colored telephone. “Tracey it’s Liz, sorry to have to call this evening but I was wondering if you could open up the store tomorrow. I really need your help because my daughter Betsy has a doctor’s appointment.” Tracey sat on the Costco red metal kitchen stool and replied, “Yes, don’t worry, not a problem, I understand.” As soon as she hung up the phone it rang again. Tracey picked up the receiver slowly and answered, “hello.” On the other end she could hear static noise. “Hello, hello, stop calling here or I will call the police”, Tracey said. For weeks that phone would ring at odd hours of the night but no one responded.

The next morning Tracey woke up at the crack of dawn to prepare for a very hectic day of work. She walked down the gravel driveway toward the main street to collect the mail that she neglected picking up the previous day, and the thoughts of the extra work money would come into handy savings for emergencies. After sifting through the mail she noticed a hand written envelope with just her name on it. Upon opening the letter she read two printed words, HELLO, HELLO. “Now this is going beyond a prank phone call and the person knows where I live.” she cried. The mail collected dropped to the ground and scattered onto the street. Stacey fumbled to gather it up and out of nowhere a speeding car screeched by only to disappear into the thick morning mist. And, all she could notice seeing was a dull black sedan. The Peterson’s bedroom light partially lit up the front lawn and Mr. Peterson opened up the large pained window and screamed. “Are you okay Tracey? That car sounded like it hit you!” Tracey responded, “I have no clue Mr. Peterson, perhaps it was a kid trying to be smart. I will talk to you later and have to get to work early.” The window slammed shut and all that Tracey could think of was not to have created any bad feelings with the Petersons. After making Thomas his favorite oatmeal breakfast and dropping him off at Mrs. Teabody’s, Tracey drove her cream-colored van down main street to the early period stone clad store. A black and white police car was parked at ‘The Flying Flamingo Cafe’ and Tracey could view Vince through the window making his to go order at the front counter. Little did Tracey know, Vince was attracted to her when he places his order to her at his night shift and was still seeking the courage to ask for a date. Tracey drove to the back parking lot of the store where employees parked, walked up to the back entry only to find the metal door not locked. She decided to enter and flipped all the light switches on and proceeded to the front of the store by walking to the main reception room. Footsteps creaked the floor boards coming from the second floor and Tracey froze. A muffled familiar whistling tune filled the air, and then Tracey relaxed, yelled up the stairs, “Jasper is that you!” Jasper responded, “yes mam, just finishing up waxing the floors for Ms. Lizzie.” “Well that is a relief, I thought you were a break-in”, said Tracey.

The morning hours flew by because it was unusually busy with customers. The director of the Women’s Rotary Club made an outstanding order for the groups Derby Days luncheon benefit and show! Tracey worked hard to complete the order as directed and knew that Liz would be pleased with the sale. Liz arrived at noon and before Tracey could explain about the sales, she headed up to her office with a look of distress on her face. Within ten minutes the intercom telephone buzzed at the main sales counter and Liz asked Tracey to come up to her office for a meeting. Tracey closed the register drawer, handed over a customer purchase and headed to the elegant pine staircase that led up to the office. Liz sat at a massive intricately carved cherry wood partners desk and directed Tracey to have a seat. The veins in Liz’s neck began to bulge as she blurted out as if in pain, “Apparently I had a very disturbing encounter this morning with Wendy, the director of the Women’s Rotary Club. She explained to me in detail about the unprofessional shopping experience received today at the shop. Please tell me how this could possibly happen in my shop?” Then there was a brief silence and Liz continued, “I was totally mortified in front of a lot of people. Tracey, I assured her that this type of service cannot be tolerated and I would ask that your service be immediately terminated. I will have Jasper bring your things and paycheck.” Tracey’s mouth quivered and she could not believe what she was hearing. As soon as she opened her mouth to speak Liz lifted up her hand and raised a trembling finger to her lips. At that point Tracey got up, walked out of the room, closed the office door, quickly ran down the stairs and past a startled waiting customer. All she could hear in the distance was a sobbing crazed woman.

The route along a country road to home was picturesque maybe calming. The cream-colored van swerved around corners and then Tracey decided to pull over, get out of the vehicle and just run through a field of tall grass until collapsing. Hours went by and only upon hearing black birds cawing from a baron tree did Tracey come to her waking senses. There was no doubt that Thomas was waiting to be picked up at Mrs. Teabody’s but he would have to wait because it was important to stop off at the Peterson’s as promised. Tracey decided to pick some flowers from the front garden to make a bouquet for the Peterson’s. She knocked on the door, bouquet in hand and was greeted by Mrs. Peterson. “We were worried about you this morning, Tracey, and I think it is time that we had a chat.” she said. Tracey could only think about the horrific meeting just experienced with Liz and her knees started to tremble. Mrs. Peterson offered Tracey a cup of tea and thanked her for the lovely bouquet and proceeded to explain that Martha their only daughter was about to enter Med School. She described a great financial burden and said, “Today the costs are extremely frightening for Martha to attend a private institution and unfortunately we have to double the cottage rental.” Tracey said, “Mrs. Peterson, you know that it is impossible for me to afford such a high rent and I will have to move.”

Tracey picked up Thomas and explained to Mrs. Teabody her misfortunes for the day. Mrs. Teabody offered to inquire with friends about finding a new rental and not to worry. She said, “Just take some time off and rest dear, tomorrow is a new bright day, things will fall into place.” It is easy for people to say but to Tracey it seemed like a far off dream. At least she still had the job at The Flying Flamingo Cafe! A few weeks passed and by a small miracle so did the mysterious phone calls and a yard sale to eliminate most stuff. She decided to take Thomas with her for the drive down Route 206 to the local dump. It was quite expensive for garbage disposal and undeniably unaffordable for a single mom working part-time. Tracey came to an intersection stop and opened up the back door to the cream-colored van. The sight of Liz moving her finger to lip brought up anger as Tracey glazed over at the black receiver and blue vacuum cleaner. Tracey picked it up, tossed both items violently to the side of the road and guiltily drove off. Later that evening Vince appeared to make his usual order to go at The Flying Flamingo Cafe. He said, “Tracey so sorry to hear about your job loss, the shop closing and Liz loosing her daughter to illness. I know it’s not the right time but it sure would be nice to take you out to a fabulous night out on the town!” Tracey stood there feeling like a played fool, caught her emotions, and replied with a yes.

The ACID JAZZ MAN

The Acid Jazz Man
by Elizabeth McLaughlin
Phillipe studied with the best that Paris had to offer. Dodging from night clubs to smoke-filled lounges, sneaking back stage and performing among the greatest. He had the talent of translating everything into cool and in demand by the coolest entertainment personalities globally. Everyone loved his groovy pitch black dyed goatee and fedora green velvet hat. It added to his intoxicating addicting persona. This Thursday afternoon was practice and after catching the red-eye from London to New York City his hometown, Phillipe was preparing for a special jam. His antiquated warehouse roof top sandwiched in-between brick apartment buildings transformed into a well-known hot spot for musicians to gather and gig. A loud horn honked and door alarm buzzed. Phillipe ran across the wooden loft floor to open up the steel framed window and yelled down to his new band to take the freight elevator over to the left and that he would meet them up on the roof top. The group of  disheveled musicians piled out of a renovated dark grey cargo van, grasping black musical instrument cases and headed for the huge rusted freight door. Phillipe finished his lemon plunge martini over lunch while the band unloaded equipment and then headed for a spiral staircase over by his front door and ascended up to the ceiling and swung open a silver aluminum roof top hatch.
There Yvonne da Bomb Bomb greeted him with a long huge wet kiss on the lips and sultry hug. Yvonne da Bomb Bomb was just that a Bomb and known for her smooth vocal tones, tribal linguistics and animal tones to blues, funk and soul. Her afro bounced up and down along with every mechanism a woman would love to achieve developing at a local spa. Yes, Yvonne, capital “Y” for short possessed it all, therefore, her stage name. The “Y” was from Nairobi, Africa and very gifted by ancestry. Aiko another vocalist but from Japan, known as “love child”, smiled and gently tugged on Phillipes ear and whispered something wild but quiet. Lucca shouted over to Phillipe, “hey man when you can break away, show me where to set up the drums, we gotta get this beat going.” Phillipe dislodged his grip on both girls and joyfully flipped his arms upward and said, “man, over by the water tower stage, is where we will be setting up.” Skinny Bean, a clarinet player offered to assist Lucca with the bulky drum set-up. Skinny Bean was known at his home town, London, as Skinny and in the New York City jazz circles, Bean. Hence, the combination suited his physical appearance as well as geographic playing location perfectly. Skinny Bean and Phillipe go back many years meeting at the .famous Blue Note Club in London. Skinnies  parents originated from the Caribbean, he grew up on the ghetto streets and as a young boy would street play for tourist dollars over at Piccadilly Circus. He performed at the best under-ground jazz club caverns where it was quite common for famous musicians to make surprise appearances. Some clubs even closed, its doors but Skinny would never take a closing for granted. Skinny would stand outside the padlocked doors and still perform for undying clubbies and fans, collecting tips all night long until the club reopened under new management.
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A one two, a one two, three, four, and with a nod of his head Phillipe pursed his narrow lips up to his horn. The rest of the band chimed in as neighboring pigeons began to take roof top flight and circle above the stage. That is until there was an abrupt door slam and out shuffled Pete, late as usual, rolling his keyboards along his side. Phillipe turned and fingered for Pete to come to the stage, “hey man, don’t ever do this to me again or your out.” Pete travelled from New Orleans, Louisiana, and his resume offered a one time musician for the great Elvis Presley. After the Presley experience Las Vegas was usually his gig town but he never fit in with the country band scene and longed to do more free style creative work. Phillipe met Pete while performing at a Las Vegas lounge, found him stooped over a whiskey filled glass and the rest is history. They somehow bonded as musicians do and Pete was offered to show off his stuff and then to play in a new upcoming acid jazz band. It was the break that Pete needed, especially after a turbulent divorce from his wife,  and business associates.  The two girls did a dagger glare stare at Pete as he approached them to set up, side stage. Phillipe once again signaled for a start and the band harmoniously clicked as if apart but one. “Y” – opened up with soothing bird noises and the roof top was transformed with a following of flute, horns, base, and drums.
It became a ritual for the neighborhood and as word got out on the street that a gig was in place., people of all ages began to fill up the roof top with heads bobbing, clapping and break dancing bodies spinning against the polished wooden dance floor. Legs and arms tightened and contorted to the beats. Sweat began to pour from Phillipes face as he blew his horn, thoughts wandered into a different emotional plane that transformed into the perfect blend of music. It was the genre of music, calling him to transform, distort, reach, familiar notes into something quite unique. Notes repeated and then glided off into a higher extreme, the crowd loved it and Phillipe then knew that his band was in the gold. Skinny grabbed the mike, de, bop, de, de de, bop, bop, bop as “Y” wrapped her long legs onto the silo stairs and snaked up to the top of the air conditioning units. In the distance old iron fire escapes offered groupies the perfect balcony view.  Lucca looked up at “Y” and repeatedly sang, “hey babe I’m gonna kiss you tonight, hey babe, hey babe” “Y” pointed down to him and teasingly responded with, “hey babe, who do you think you are, come on over and try.” And then she screeched out a loud leopard noise. Everyone cheered  and laughed while continuing to hold the beat. Then the melody changed very quickly as it first started. The beat changed and so did the vocals,  In a high-pitched voice, Aiko proceeded to anchor the crowd in harmony singing “Sisters, Brothers, we are all together.” Scratching noises were produced from a turntable, as “Y” took to the cowbell. Horns blared in the background. Phillipe yelled, “It’s all about the beat babes, the beat, the beat…” (to be continued)

It Was Not From This World …

UFORED

Lino Block Print by Elizabeth McLaughlin, Title ‘UFO’

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It Was Not From This World . . .
by Elizabeth McLaughlin
Times were tough, there was even the talk of war, extreme hardships. Weather also became an enemy to the small town of Waverly. Winters became harsh and summer winds whipped up heat that created forest fires across the nation. People were on edge, no employment in sight for millions. It was the era of errors among disputing corrupted politicians. But the people of Waverly grew stronger each day with the community forming
support groups that planned for multiple scenarios of crisis. They wisely managed their precious resources.
Aggie knew how to be prepared, she read everything about how to plan for disasters and became the go to queen on the topic. Neighbors constantly called her seeking advice and a need for even the basics of living. The family pitched in, Sandy, Tom and husband, Phillip. All helped with boxing groceries to be dropped off at the local food bank. That morning, mid March she would never forget the cloud that formed over her beloved town. It was early morning when she clicked on the weather station, Sandy and Tom munched on honey coated coconut granola cereal at the marble kitchen counter with eyes opened wide to the flat television screen. An alert siren screeched broadcasting emergency news, tornado like winds, flooding, snow, and even possible deadly thunderstorms. This combination will be expected in our location within an hour! Aggie picked up her cell phone and dialed for Phillip. His assistant answered her call and explained that due to emergency weather related circumstances that he was in a shut down security meeting at NASA headquarters. “Sandy, Tom get your bug out bags and let’s go, NOW!” she ordered. With no questions asked the two robotically grabbed their gear and headed toward the black SUV. Aggie called for their pit bull-dog Prince and off they went to the town shelter. The sky was swirling a massive deepening stomach churning darkness as she drove, taking side roads instead of the highway into town. “Buckle up tight kids because it is going to be a rough ride, this is no drill” she screamed! Trying to keep her composure, Aggie turned on the radio to be updated about any impending doom. One hand nervously maneuvered the steering wheel while the other grabbed the stick shift, putting it into high gear. Instantly the wind picked up and trees were thrashing back and forth, bending and breaking limbs.

The conditions intensified as towering strong trees began to uproot and parts of a field tractor became missile projectiles that could saw a barn into two. Heavy snow started to fall as if it could be the blizzard of the Century. Lightening pivoted in every imaginable direction accompanied with thunderous booms. Aggie knew that the town shelter would not be possible to reach, and remembered that The McAllister Farm was a mile down a gravel paved drive. There the McAllister family have a decent underground storm shelter that Phillip recently contracted and completed its construction. Wham! A tree collapsed in front of Aggies SUV and the car hit it like a bullet and ricocheted over the farm fence. The SUV miraculously landed on all four ultra high performance tires. But all that could be heard was the howling, thundering wind. Aggie felt a nudging and licking upon her cut up face from Prince. She was able to turn and view that Sandy and Tom were still strapped into their seats. However, both were in shock but fully functional. Prince whimpered and displayed his sprained paw. Thump, thump, thump, the SUV bounced up and down as if it would take flight.

The McAllister family and ranch hands reached the heavy thick steel door leading to the shelter and proceeded to file into a massive elevator to descend into the comforts of their underground residence. The shelter was partially housed inside a concrete silo that
embellished every modern amenity. A fully serviced gourmet kitchen, sauna, steam showers in two full-sized bathrooms, a living room adorned with thick brown leather pull out sofas, equipped with every electronic entertainment gadget, six bedrooms and a mess hall that included living quarters for their staff. Exterior cameras gave them all a complete spectrum of the ranch. A console that came right out of NASA technology was at their fingertips thanks to Phillips engineering skills. Little did they know that their neighbor Aggie was in such danger and heading to the ranch for shelter until Andy McAllister junior
spotted on the surveillance screen their neighbors SUV in the field. “Well I’ll be darned, what the heck”, Andy blurted out as he scratched his head in bewilderment. They all gathered around the screen while Andy zoomed the camera in for a closer view. With the latest technological software, Andy was able to remove layered storm elements and focus on the automobile to see the family trapped. Swoosh, the twenty-foot silo door smoothly rose and a bright yellow snow caravan emerged to make its twenty-minute trek.

Aggie bundled up Sandy and Tom with woolen blankets. Prince nestled in-between the two for added warmth. The front windshield was partially missing and the cold wind was blowing almost uncontrollably inside the vehicle. Then there appeared a yellow hazy dot moving towards them and with a partial sigh of relief Aggie knew that help was on its way. Back at the underground shelter Mrs. McAllister was preparing a hardy beef stew dinner. Everyone was settled in after unpacking, taking showers, chatting about the storm and expressing their dramatic experiences. Aggie had a fresh bandage wrapped around her head and the children appeared to have lost all signs of trauma after playing computer games. Prince was asleep on a pillow. The New York cheese cake, brightly colored cupcakes for desert and frothy mocha drinks ended the night. After-all, it was a life threatening long day. They all decided to call it a good night. Aggie lay in bed under two white down comforters staring up at the luxurious cedar paneled ceiling trying to sleep. For hours she tossed and turned until the bare silence in her bedroom broke. It was a stifling, deafening, sharp metallic rippling sound that echoed throughout the shelter. She jumped up from her comfort zone and ran directly to the living room where everyone met at the console to view the screen display. The storm had stopped and a bright blue sky appeared framed inside a huge funnel of puffy white clouds. Out in the storm laden field over by the black SUV sat a very strange object, and it was not from this world. … (to be continued)

Alley Cat

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Alley Cat by Elizabeth McLaughlin
He usually hung out perched on top of a worn white washed wooden fence in the backyard facing a kitchen window, crying every morning. Until one day that old man Flanigan picked up his hard worn leather shoe and threw it at Alley. The cat was owned by Marcy, a young woman who rented a room in the downstairs basement apartment. It was a foreign environment for Alley because he was used to being a barn yard cat and living on a prestigious horse farm. One day the feed truck pulled up to the stately designed colonial to drop off the paperwork for final delivery and the driver left his side door wide open. Alley jumped in and the metal door slammed shut and life was never the same. The truck zoomed away down the long topiary tree-lined driveway, onto the main highway, and headed back to the processing facility. Feeling very much alone, Alley started to cry which prompted the delivery man to toss the poor cat out the door and onto a cold damp city street. Nothing looked familiar to Alley cat, even the noises were frightening so he ran very fast to the nearest shelter found under a pile of lumber in an alley-way.
Marcy loved to paint and this is what attracted her to SoHo in the city of New York. The room was expensive but affordable, close to museums, trendy cafe, chic boutiques, transit and the bartending job at Mercer Kitchen on Prince Street. It was a go to restaurant by affluent hipsters for drinks and eats, they tipped heavily and helped support her main objective, creating art. catphotoSunday was usually a light day for Marcy because she worked the brunch shift. This made it possible to meet up with a friend she met from work at MOMA. Chad was also a struggling artist, but a musician at night, he generally performed in the neighborhood circuit. A highly talented and an extremely likeable personality attracted Marcy to Chad. After a short yellow cab ride to Mid Town, Chad could be seen standing at the modern stylized entry. Quickly they approached the museum collection of cubism, Henri Matisse, and Claude Monet’s Water Lilies that enhanced the blank white museum walls. The day passed like a flash and this was a good sign that it was a mutually exceptional time. Thunder could be heard in the distance as the brief bouts of lightning flickered and danced against the tall skyscrapers architectural facade. Marcy decided to save the cab fare and take the long walk back to SoHo. The street lights reflected off of rain slicked streets and the intervals of awnings from construction projects helped to keep her dry. She approached a funky violet tiled concrete entry and a painted red wrought iron gate which led to the stair-well of her basement residence. All of a sudden a faint unsettling cry could be heard coming from the dim alley-way.
Alley was a tough cat, could take on the fiercest raccoons and muskrats that invaded the barn. However, he was now in a new surroundings and for many weeks trembled with fear. His aging nerves prevented him from movement, afraid to venture from the pile of lumber because of intense police sirens, discharging buses and booming music.  Weak from lack of food, Alley remained helpless and lost. Marcy ventured over to the cries, stooped to the ground, and pried apart a wooden board to find Alley near death. She quickly took off her rain coat and gently pushed Alley onto it and slid him out from the rubble of wood. After many weeks of care Marcy decided to give Alley his famous name. They became close and even Chad upon his first visit commented on her cool find. Chad gifted Marcy with an antique bell to adorn the old cats neck. Alley inspired Marcy to paint his portrait, depicting a grumpy old cat. As time went by the painting faded, tattered and torn, lives grew, flourished and ended but his picture remains.

Cycle Trails

mephotowordpress‘It is an absolute necessity for me to cycle trails. It is a similar experience to a drive through movie but more interactive because the bicycle is in constant transit and you get to commune with natures screen.’

Local communities often have meet-up groups for singles and people who just enjoy the same interest. Luckily a trail is within a stones throw from where I reside and today I took a short spin to enjoy the sounds of a babbling brook. It was quite peaceful and serene. The cycletraillinoprintwordpressground still casts some snow cover but it is melting because the weather is changing to a more enjoyable comfortable climate. People are starting to venture outdoors with dogs in tow to enjoy some fresh air and I spotted a few. The woods still appears bare but tranquil. Babbling brook water is crystal clear from snow melt as shown in the short video posted below.

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