Architecture, Critters, Landscapes & Road Trips

[Edit:  I’m sorry but the formatting seems to be fubar today and I’m not sure why.  Thanks for your patience with it 🙂 )

 

Good Sunday morning, folks!

I hope this snowy morning finds you in better shape than I’m in today.  I am exhausted and battling a migraine.  A week ago today found me in the emergency room fighting a virulent virus that had me in its ever-tightening claws.  It was so bad that I’ve ended up with torn and strained abs (depends on where you’re looking) and I’m relearning how to eat.

Have to say I did a pretty good job eating yesterday though.  *laughs*  We attended a Thanksgiving dinner thrown by a friend of ours for her visiting American friend.  It was good.  Very good.  

NaNo isn’t going as well as I’d hoped but I WILL finish.  I’m at 42,643 words with five days left.  I haven’t had it go as smooth sailing as I would have liked but life never gives us what we plan on eh?  Very rarely at the least.   This month there has been the death of a friend, a late start, almost 2.5 days lost because of the trip to the printer, 3 days lost because of the virus and yesterday gone because of our little road trip.  My question here isn’t “Am I going to reach the 50k?”  but “Is the story going to be finished?”   Unfortunately, I think not.  And come December first I have to get started on editing HW2 and back into the writing of HW3.  

Well, we’ll see how it goes.  If it is a completed book by the end of the month I have a feeling the ending will be a little rushed.  I spent too much time on the first couple of months.

Now, on to the pictures, the reason for the weekend blog. 😉

Last weekend we brought the cat to the cottage with us for the first time ever.  It was also the first time he’s been in a car since we brought him  home.  He did that well.  But I let him wander outside, which was another first for him.

Terror the Explorer

This is my Terror.  He quite enjoyed his exploration.  So much so he slipped through a hole in the fence to check out the neighbours’ yard.  For this picture I set the camera on the deck, resting on my fingertips.  The only Photoshopping it got was the auto contrast.  All the colours are true here so I left them alone.

That was last weekend; lovely spring-like weather.  This is today:

My favourite workspace!

My favourite work space is officially closed for the season!  There is now just over an inch of snow on the tabletop.  It looks a lot like winter  outside today.

Of course it did yesterday too…

It’s our first snow of 2012.

It was also the first really crappy drive.

hmmm… a series of photos of “life through a windshield”?  … Nah… sounds like a country song.  *laughs*

This is shot through the windshield of the car.  The one above it was shot doing 90 kmph through the side window.  Both have had some touch ups for lighting – auto contrast then curves.  The snow storm was interesting.  It blew through this part of Ontario in ribbons.  From Grand Bend to Goderich wasn’t too bad.  From Goderish to Bayfield (the section of road these are shot in) was…well, you can see.  But Bayfield to Kincardine was the worst!  We had some white out conditions for a while there.

Oh!  Insta-distraction:

I got sidelined, as happens with migraine pain + exhaustion, and read an wee blog from NaNoWriMo that said their winners t-shirts are on unlimited sale right now.  Val has offered to buy me one.  Ain’t she sweet?  I think I’ve earned it this month.  Thank you Val!

We left home with enough time to stop and take pictures.  So that’s what we did.

It was a sharply sloped path down to this beach, about 10 minutes away from home. The beach below was wet and looked inhospitable.

As you can see, it was a long way down. The cliffs were being beaten up be the wind even… which, of course, doesn’t explain why I was standing there, on the edge of a cliff in 30 mph winds to take pictures!

I would have liked to have gone down there and I might have, if it weren’t for the fact that I seriously doubted my ability to climb back up!

 

 

 

 

 

So we got to our friends’ place and they have a big, happy black lab named Jessie, a smoky Siamese (I think) named Harley and two fish – an oscar and a catfish.  I had to take pictures of course, although I only have a picture of Jessie’s handiwork and not the dog herself.

Playful puppy! Strong jaws. Holy cow. I am a motley of bruises from knuckle to elbow and yes, I brought it on myself so no, I’m not complaining. 🙂

No! Please! Well… If you must…

“…I’ll give you my best side.” Harley is an awesome cat. Loving, smart, curious. And beautiful. With a tail! (Terror doesn’t have one)

 

What we have here is an Oscar fish. A BIG one. It’s a companion to…

This massive catfish! The dude is FAT. And they both hammed it up for the camera. Had to take several shots before I got ones that were usable.

 

 

We enjoyed ourselves yesterday and now it’s back to work today.  

Enjoy the last bits of your weekend!

Muah

Eclectic Collection

Happy mid-NaNo… er… November, everyone!

It’s been a few weeks since I posted a photoblog and I feel bad about it.  I love the pictures I take and I love sharing them.  But, frankly, I have been so busy with NaNo I haven’t given my photography much of a thought.

Except for this one:

Interesting, eh?

I was making breakfast and when I sliced the banana into my cereal I noticed the pattern on it.  (“It was 6:30 in the morning!” is my excuse.  *laughs*)  I decided I needed to do a macro shot to share with you all.

Then when I sat down to write I was having some serious brain blockage so I thought to myself, “Self, what if we did a colour splash and the banana was the only colour in it?”  Myself thought back, “Self, I think you’re procrastinating but that would potentially be cool.”

Yeah, I talk to myself when I’m on writer’s block. *laughs*  I did the colour splash effect here and then darkened the non-mask layer so that the banana really stood out.  It almost seems to float on the Rice Chex here.  

As for NaNo and all the starts & stops, blocks and  struggles getting in my minimum word count I am at 34,000 words!  That is 68% done, folks, on the 17th.  And I’m only in March out of the year.   March is a short section though.  Two, maybe three chapters all on the same subject, then we are moving on to April and I might skip a couple months.  “A year in the life” doesn’t mean I HAVE to hit every month, eh?

This week’s pictures are in no particular chronological order (although I will try to make it make sense 😀 ) but they are the favourites from the last few weeks.  And all of them are Photoshopped.  I will try to say what I’ve done to them as we go along.  Sometimes it’s as simple as auto-contrast.  Sometimes it’s a lot more.  

We were driving to London one drizzling, ugly day and happened to see a rainbow.  The Boyfriend, being the wonderful guy he is, pulled over at a convenient-but-with-a-view spot so I could take a picture.  It took me a couple tries to get it – mostly because a car drove through my shot at the exact right timing to end up perfectly centered in the photo. 😀  It was great but frustrating.  

First, we have his view of the rainbow:

Peter’s view of the rainbow

He took it through the windshield, I’m the one foolish enough to get out into the mud and wet to take pictures.  Trying to remember what I did to this and I think it was a brightness/contrast thing.  The rainbow was a bright spot in the day and I wanted to show that.

My view of the rainbow

Oh my goodness!  I just noticed the vehicle.  *facepalms*  Ah well.  I liked the rainbow against the trees and structures and that’s what I was focusing my editing on.  I used the Curves option in Photoshop to make it darker here and lighter there in order to make the rainbow pop. A while ago I discovered, quite by accident, that you can move the line in Curves in at least two ways to manipulate the light.  I really do need a book about Photoshop 7 in order to understand everything I’m doing.  I just like what comes out.  

I have taken a few walks on the beach since Sandy.  The first one was within a day or two of the end of the storms.  I didn’t find as much glass as I had hoped but I did find some other interesting things.  Like this:

It was definitely a “wtf?” moment.

What, you may ask, on earth is a tractor tire doing buried in the sand a scant twenty feet from the water??   I have no idea.  There was an old white wall on the other side of the little causeway too.  This here is your basic auto-contrast tweak.  I have discovered too that I don’t like what auto-levels and auto-colour does to the colour of the sand most of the time.

The next two pictures are from the same day.  The first is on the way down to the beach.

On the way down to the beach.

I tweaked the green a little bit after an auto-contrast click.  I think I also toyed with Curves just to get that vibrancy.  But you see that wide swath of water and wet sand cut into the beach?  That’s from the street drainage pipe buried in the bottom of the hill.  It was still windy and wet out but the storm was passing.  

I went down the stairs and this is what I saw from the other side:

A lot of damage

Not as much damage as the east coast certainly but for our little part of the world here, where we only got a small portion of the storm, this broad of a causeway means a lot of water has carved its way through the sand.  At the back of the picture, middle-right, it’s a good 12-14 inches high.  

The following week I took this picture of a section of this very spot.  It’s well after the water had drained away and stopped running to that extent.  

Even knowing it’s sand, does it look like that to you?

I put this picture up on a couple of social media places and asked “Do you know what this is?”  Feathers and fur were the most popular answers. But no, it’s sand.  I used Curves on this picture to darken it a little and add some depth and texture.

However, for extreme depth and texture, I went another way.

Awesome, isn’t it? 😀

This is the same picture with high contrast.  It’s gone from looking like fur to wood.  It’s a little grainy (ha! I slay me! *Alf voice*) but I love the texture in this one too.

I took several other pictures on the same day, starting with the top of the stairs.  

It’s the perfect book cover… or the opening scene of a suspense/thriller movie.

Hehehe.

Seriously though, I loved the way this looked when I got there – the stark bare trees, with a smattering of leaves here and there.  The lone bench, the way the world just seems to fall over the edge where the stairs begin (they are steep).  And I thought, why not put it in grayscale?  So I did.  And then I lowered the contrast some to give it a film noir look.  

Oh so peaceful.

The water was really low and had created sand dunes, along with a convenient path to get to a couple of them.  I was standing on one such connected dune enjoying the soft lap of the water against the shore, the cry of the gulls and the otherwise almost perfect silence.  I used Curves just to get it closer to what I was actually looking at.  

As you may have figured out by now, I love the texture of sand especially when combined with wind and water.  When I saw what the elements had done to the sand in the water I had to take a few pictures of it.  

Reminds me of an 80s song. Can’t grasp the lyrics enough to figure out which one. I’d hum it for you but… you’re kind of far away.

These have been abandoned by the water.  I love the lines and the colour contrasts of the sand alone, never mind adding the pebbles. This is manipulated by changing the contrast and jacking it up to about +30 I think.  Everything appears so much larger than they really were.  

And that’s it for me today folks.  It is time to bury myself in Ari & Ren and they scum they’re about to take down.  They didn’t set out for this but now that they’ve found them it’s time to take them down.  And oooh… oh that’s a good idea.

I leave you with a song:  (but not the unidentified one in my head)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emotions, Printers and Reviews

Howdy folks!  

Last week I talked about gratitude and blessings, today I have one more to add to that list.  And I mentioned that I was going to see the printer.  Let’s talk about that first.  

The printer was an awe inspiring trip let me tell you.  Entire Imaging is a phenomenal place!   They were incredibly friendly and very hard working but that’s not what had Peter and I walking around with our mouths open.  Judy, the lovely wife of the owner, showed us around personally.  They have several mind-boggling machines but three things stick out in my mind the most and I shall tell you about them, from least to most impressive (although they are all very impressive).

First is the … well, Judy told us that these days pretty well everything is printed with the touch of a button.  All the ink colours are automatically mixed by computer but there is one thing, mostly one thing, that still requires the old fashioned touch, that guy who knows just how to measure and mix the ink and that is stationary. That’s right, letterhead and personalized envelopes.  Judy said if they laser print the papers we put in our inkjet and laser printers the ink will scrape off.  So the harried looking guy in the little room off to one side is the guy who does it all from scratch and by hand.  

Second is this HUGE printer that can print on anything!  It can print on things like carpet, cardboard or wood, virtually any hard or rigid medium.  If it has a surface, it can print on it and in just about any size.  The machine can be measured in *feet*.  Same with the one that does posters and stuff.  It’s called Megachrome Digital Colour Printing.

The singularly most phenomenal thing I have EVER seen – and Peter agrees –  is the 3D printing/rapid prototyping division.  We saw some

Image courtesy of Proto3000.com 

really, really cool things from the adjustable wrench that is always talked about to working resin bicycles to some serious (miniature) architecture.  We learned they can create these items not only in either powder or resin but in at least two different textures.  We saw a tractor tire (small *laughs*) that they’d printed, the rim was one, hard texture and the tire was soft and rubbery.  

It was just so (pardon my throwback to the 80s) COOL!  

And now, the thing that made me grin and get all teary at the same time:

This morning I found an email from a reader that went like this:

 

Hi Ms Bowman

 

I just finished reading your book which I bought from Amazon and it is AWESOME!! I read it in less than a day and went feverishly back on Amazon for your other works but alas nothing. It was barely through my disappointment that I saw that this book was released in Sept of this year. I am eagerly waiting the next book in this series, and I really hope that I don’t lose this feeling of anxiousness that I have now to read and be invested in your other books, to another author! Anyways just wanted to say I loved that book, it had everything in it that I love reading, not so much vampires etc but characters that I can identify with and who I can envision as my friends… they are that believable!! Thank you so much for saving us (I dare to speak for readers around the world like me lol!!)from childish dramatics, needless posturing to prove strength or worth, an alpha who is not afraid to love and be in love, a heroine who knows how to accept that love in spite of her hang-ups, strength in leadership, a plot that is sensible and easy to follow along, absences of numerous names and situation where ‘we’ need a pen and paper to keep up with them, knowing exactly what the characters did or say in the last setting so we are not scratching our heads and screaming wtf when it is repeated later…whew you get my drift.

 

Thank you again and I will be posting my review on Amazon.

Yvonne

 

Isn’t that AWESOME?  I wrote her back, of course, and through the course of our conversation she told me that she has 800 books on her kindle and I am the only one who inspired a need to express her appreciation.  

Needless to say I am touched.  Pleased.  In awe.  Amazed!  

She said she was surprised I answered personally and I said that I’m not so big yet that I don’t have time to answer the (so very few) emails that come my way from readers.  She told me I better figure out the form fan letter soon because I’ll need it!  *laughs*  I like her.  Not just because she was stroking my ego – Dad said he’d be over to widen my doors *laughs* – but because she’s intelligent and well read.  Makes her comments all the more meaningful.  

I will be putting a portion of her reviews into HW2’s finished product.  It’s just too wonderful to not include.

Thank you for making my day Yvonne!

 

Blessings and Gratitude

G’day eh!

I wanted to take a few minutes to take note of a couple things.  Namely, things I am grateful for and my favourite parts of NaNo thus far.  

First of all, my gratitude.

First to The Boyfriend who, with no small amount of bemusement AND amusement, sticks with me through allll the crap that goes with being an author who writes by inspiration and instinct.  He is part of the reason my nano book exists.  It was something he said in July that made me go “Oh! oh! oh!  What if Santa was…” And we went from there.  He is a big part of the reason that I have the courage to do what I’m doing with HW1.  I have only just begun to take the first step  in that regard.  So far it’s been baby steps.

Second, to Val who bullies, cajoles, pushes and encourages.   

Third to Eshe, my artiste de couverture.  Without her I would not have such a beautiful cover, or any of the swag art.  

To my chosen Family, who read damn near every word and love it but also tell me when they don’t.

And to finally, but mostly, to my Dad.  Dad is doing such wonderful things for me.  He got an incredible deal for me with the printer he works with and they are doing some awesome things on my behalf.  I don’t know where this belief in my writing came from, or in me, but I am in awe.  On Friday, The Boyfriend and I are going up to visit the printer where, as Dad put it, I am getting the red carpet treatment as the star writer.

It makes me giggle.  “Star writer.”  

Dad also found someone to create a website for me and he’s paying for the domain name.  

He rocks.  

I am grateful for all my blessings, which include my children who, albeit reluctantly, help with the chores when I can’t and my ex-husband who does bigger things, and some little things.  I occasionally do something nice for him but he doesn’t expect it.  Doesn’t want or need it.  

Yesterday my baby sister got me tickets to go see The Nutcracker.  For no apparent reason, she just did it because she knows someone who could and would do it.  She also must have known that I’ve always loved the show and wanted to see it in person.  When I was talking to that man on the phone, because he called me to tell me about it, he said “It sure is raining [blessings] on you, isn’t it?”

Yeah, it is.  I don’t know what it is or why but it is.  There was a huge loss in my life in the last little bit, a source of mammoth grief for myself and those in Scotland, and it reminds me that gratitude must be expressed.  The love you receive must be shared.  I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it, to receive all these blessings and I’m not going to ask.  To ask would make me seem ungrateful and while I’m curious I am most definitely NOT ungrateful. 

So here I am, throwing my gratitude out to the universe.  And my promise to continue doing whatever it was that earned me this place so I can take these things and build upon them.  

 

NaNo.  

NaNo is going beautifully!  I am 16,048 words into it on day seven!  That leaves me with 33, 952.  And no, I didn’t do the math. *laughs*  When you update your word count, it tells you automatically how much you’ve done, what your daily average is (2,292) and how much is left.  

My favourite parts so far:

Context: You all remember in the prologue that Eugene Van Massenhoven’s entire family was killed, except for the little girl.  Ari and Ren went to visit Kirsten and her grandparents:

Keith turned and smiled as Kirsten held her arms out to her Papa.  She held a soft stuffed monkey by the arm in one hand, her grip so tight the knuckles were white..  “Come here, Kissy.  You remember Detective Valerie don’t you?”  The wee girl nodded and Keith went on.  “The men behind him are your Daddy’s bosses.  They brought you donuts.”

Tears filled the girl’s eyes and Keith hurried to sit down with her, cradling her in his lap.  “It’s ok, Kissy, it’s okay .  They just want to talk a little bit, alright?” 

When she shook her head Ari approached, pulling a chocolate covered donut out of the bag.  He knelt beside Keith’s chair and smiled at the girl, turning on the Santa charm.  “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk to me.  I’m going to talk to your Grampa though, okay?”  He held out the donut to her.  “Do you like these ones?”

She nodded her head and held out her free hand.  When Ari gave it to her she “fed” the monkey the first bite then took one of her own.  He backed away from her and sat in a nearby chair to give her some space.

Ari listened as Ren spoke to Mary but he was busy watching grandfather and granddaughter.  He watched as Keith spoke soothingly to the little girl but she never said anything in return.  She answered his questions with a head shake or a nod or a shrug.  When Keith finally looked helplessly at him Ari smiled.  “Mind if I try?”

“I don’t … Yeah sure.”  Keith was tired.  His heart hurt, his head hurt.  He didn’t know what to do with his granddaughter in this state.  He didn’t know whether to get her therapy or just wait it out.  The nightmares were the only time she talked and then it was only to scream four words:  Mommy, Daddy, her brother’s name, Tommy, and the word no.  Over and over and over again.  He had begged the cops at the door to get them ear plugs but they could still hear it.  He would hear it until the day he died.

Ari smiled at Kirsten, letting the Santa shine through.  Even Keith suddenly relaxed and smiled.  “I know you,” he said.

Ari’s eyes flicked to him but refocused on the little girl once Keith had quieted.  “Hello Kissy… May I call you Kissy?”   When the girl nodded, Ari continued.  “Do you know who I am?”

She nodded again, this time hard enough to make both Ari and her grandfather think she might hurt herself. 

“Can you tell me who I am?”

Kirsten opened and then closed her mouth again and shook her head, mouth turned down at the corners.  Keith slumped in his seat.

 

Chapter Eleven

 

Ari smiled that megawatt smile all the mall Santas tried to emulate.  “That’s okay Kissy.  You’re five aren’t you?”  He smiled as she nodded again.  “Do you like to play dress up?”  Another nod.  “You dress up like a princess I bet.”  He knew the answer full well.

A head shake with a half a smile. 

“No?  Do you dress up like a monkey?”

A small smile and a head shake.

“Do you dress up like a banana?  Let the monkey glom on you?”

A bigger smile and another head shake.

“Do you like to dress up like an alien with a monkey side kick?”

A small giggle escaped her and she shook her head.

Keith sat very still and stared at her in shock.  Mary stopped talking and began to come over.  Only Ren’s hand on her arm kept her from interfering.

“I know!  You like to dress up like a… pirate, right?”  Ari smiled conspiratorially, dropping his voice to a whisper on the last two words.

“Yes!”  The word and a giggle burst from the wee girl and she immediately stuffed the monkey into her mouth, eyes wide.

“It’s alright, you can talk to me.  You know you can trust me, right?”

Kirsten slowly removed the monkey from her mouth and tried the word again.  “Yes.”

Ari held out his arms.  “Do you want to come sit on my lap?”

The little girl pressed closer to her grandfather for a moment then slipped from his lap and approached Ari.  She let him lift her onto his knee and stared at him solemnly for a long moment.  Suddenly she hit him in the chest with a tiny fist.  Then she dropped the monkey and hit him with both fists, screaming in rage.  

Everyone in the room but Ari jumped in surprise and Keith leapt from his chair.  Ren moved quickly and gently pushed him back into the chair as Ari shook his head.

It wasn’t long before she wound down and started crying.  It was the first expression of emotion anyone had seen from her while awake.  Everyone from the detective to Keith stared at her in shock as Ari held the tiny girl against his chest and stroked her hair.  “It’ll be okay, Kissy, it’ll be okay.”

“You dint come. I was calling you.  You dint come.  The man hurt them.  You dint come.”  She sobbed uncontrollably, repeating those three words over and over again.

At that even Ari’s eyes burned with tears.  Mary’s breath caught and she pressed both hands to her mouth to keep from saying anything.  Valerie bit the inside of her cheek trying to control herself and Keith rubbed his face with both hands.  Ari rocked her in the chair and kept stroking her hair.  “I’m sorry, Kissy.  I am sorry I didn’t hear you.  I am sorry that man hurt your family.”

A tiny growl cut through her cries.  “He was a bad man!  He looked like a nice man but then he was a bad man!”  She hiccupped then said, “He looked funny.”

Valerie’s attention was snagged and she shifted into cop mode.  She opened her mouth but Ren shook his head so she settled for taking out her notebook. 

Ari kept rocking the girl though she shook his hand off her hair.  “He was funny looking?”

“He had eyes like this,” she took her hands, put them on the corners of her eyes and pulled back.

“Like this?”  Since she was facing him and not everyone else, he put his fingers in the corners of his eyes and pulled back until he had almond shaped eyes.

“Yes!  He was a bad man!”

“Was he dressed like a pirate?”  Ari asked the question even though he could see the man in her head.

The angry, talkative little girl scoffed.  “No! He was dressed like one of the men Daddy brings home for dinner with Mommy sometimes.”

“He was wearing a suit?”

“Yes!”

“Was he tall like Daddy?”

“No!  But he hurt them anyway.  He wanted to hurt me, Santa.  But I escaped.”  She looked pleased with herself.  “I hid until Papa came.”  Then her face fell again.  “Is he going to try to hurt me?”

“He might.  That’s why we’re going to move you and Grampa and Gramma somewhere safe.”  Ari nodded at Ren who seemed resigned but pulled out Ari’s iPad.  “Would you like to see my house?”

Valerie objected.  “Sir!  You can’t take them from here!  We’re in the middle of-“

“If you want them to be able to testify when you catch this man, you need them to be safe.  You’ll be able to talk to them anytime you need to.”  Ari’s voice was chilled. 

“I… but… Yes, Sir.”  Valerie thought of her Chief’s reaction and shuddered.

“Don’t worry I’ll make it right with your Chief.”  Ari turned his megawatt smile on Kirsten.  “Would you like to meet my wife first?”  Then he leaned close and whispered in her ear.  “And Ren over there is my head elf; he has a daughter you can talk to too.”

Kirsten looked at Ren in surprise then whispered back, loudly.  “But he’s so tall!”

Ari chuckled as Ren handed him the iPad.  “But it’s true.  Do you know what Skype is?”

She nodded.  “We talk to Daddy on it when he goes far away.”  She looked up at Ari, eyes clouded.  “Will I be able to talk to Mommy and Daddy and Tommy on Skype now?”

“No, I’m sorry, Pirate Kissy, they are waiting for you somewhere Skype doesn’t reach.”  He dialed his wife and smiled as she came on screen.  “Mien Liebling.”

“My husband.  I am glad to see you.  Who is the angelic waif you have in your lap?”

“This is Kissy the Pirate.  I was hoping she and her grandparents could come and visit.”

Heidi’s eyes shifted from Kirsten’s face to Ari’s.  He nodded in answer to the question in her eyes.  The sadness passed over her face quickly then she smiled brightly and quickly made Kirsten adore her.  “Well, Pirate Kissy, I am Heidi. I am pleased to meet you.”

Context:  

Ari and Ren are in Chicago at Tootsie Roll Industries.  A board meeting of sorts.

“A catchy tune doesn’t sell.  No eighties redux.  New products require a new approach.”  Ari looked down at the reports.  “Accounting.”  He looked back up and looked at each of them in turn.  He reached two women sitting side by side and looked back and forth between them.  “Janie and Jessie.  I hope you ladies are well.”

“Yes Sir.”  Janie nodded.

Jessie’s voice cracked on her first try and she cleared her throat.  “Just fine, Sir.”

“Would you explain where three million, two hundred and forty-two thousand, six hundred and seventeen dollars went?”

As one the rest of the executives turned to the pair.  They both blushed furiously and Jessie slouched in her chair.  It was Janie who answered.  “No Sir, we cannot answer that.”

“Why not?”  Ari’s gaze was sharp on them both as he rifled through their heads.

“Because we really don’t know.  We’ve been looking for it everywhere.”

“Why are you blushing?”

“Uh… Sir… You did just make a spectacle of us.”

Ari nodded.  “Fair enough.  I want you two to find that money by the end of the week.  Whomever has taken it will be dealt with.  I am satisfied that neither of you has done it.  You may have whatever resources you will need.”

Jessie straightened up.  “We need two more accountants to help comb through the divisions; preferably fraud examiners, at the very least CPAs with experience in forensic accounting.   Whoever is doing this is very good.  And has access to at least half the company.”

“Bring in whoever you need.  Ren, be sure they have the budget to spend the hours.”  He looked down the table at the two.  “Ladies, this is your only assignment.  I want this money found.  No one steals from SCE.”

“Yes Sir.”  The spoke and nodded simultaneously.

“Get started.”

As they rose, Ren spoke up.  “Try Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  They have some good accountants there.”

They looked at him and blinked.  “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern… Aren’t they dead?”  Janie offered the observation.

Ren grinned at the reference and Janie grinned back.  “Only according to Tom Stoppard.  I assure you, they are alive and well.”

“Yes Sir.”   The two gathered their things.

“One more thing, if I may.”  Ari stood up and reached into his pocket.  He walked down the length of the table and handed them a small box.  It hadn’t been there in his pocket until he wanted it.  “When you have completed this assignment, take three weeks off and go get married like you want to.  Use these.”

The two opened the box and gasped at the contents.  Ari looked at the rings and smiled.  “Platinum bands set with small rubies for the passions you share.  Rest assured that your positions with SCE will be here as long as you wish to be here.”

They looked from the rings to each other and then threw their arms around him.  “Thank you! There are no words for our gratitude!”  Jessie’s voice was choked up.

He hugged them back then released them.  “You’re welcome. Get the job done, ladies.”  He went back to his seat as they left.  “Next?”

“Why don’t we try the new flavours, Herrani?”

One of the men leapt up from the table at Ari’s nod and brought him a small plate of the bite sized tootsie rolls.  “We are trying some cocktail flavoured rolls to try and regain the older market.”  He began pointing at each of them.  “We have strawberry daiquiri, long island iced tea, apple martini, tequila sunrise, baja gold, bahama mama, rum and coke and pina colada.”

Ari eyed the technicolour candies.  “That’s a lot of flavours.  What on earth is a baja gold?”

The man’s eyes lit up.  “Quite nice actually.  It’s pineapple juice, Añejo tequila, triple sec, sweetened lime juice and the juice of half a lime.”

Ren looked skeptical.  “That does not sound pleasing at all.”

Ari promptly picked that one up and broke it in half.  He handed one half to Ren.  “Here you go.  On the count of three.  One… two…”  He chuckled as Ren made a face and opened his mouth.  “Three!”

They popped the candy halves into their mouths at the same time and chewed.  Lime and tequila flavours exploded in their mouths.  Bottles of water and a small plate of baguette slices were set between them.  Both of them looked surprised at the flavor.

Ari swallowed.  “That’s actually pretty good.”  He sipped the water and put a half a baguette in his mouth.

Ren finished chewing and agreed.  They did not like the daiquiri or the apple martini but approved the rest.  The rest of the new flavour ideas trickled in from the departments.  They disapproved of the raspberry mint Andies with Ari saying in an aside to Ren, “Why is everyone trying to put fruit and mint together? It just doesn’t work!”

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

Finally the last department came forward.  The woman cleared her throat as she set the plate down between them.  “With the zombie apocalypse thing such a rage right now we thought we’d tailor back on the vampire teeth and big lips to offer these.”

On the plate were several wax fingers that looked like they were rotting.  The fingernails were cracked looking with dirt and blood under them; pus coated the knuckles and it looked like the skin was tearing off.  There were two sets of wax lips with teeth.  They had torn, cracked lips and rotting, twisted, dirty and bloody teeth.  It was all somewhat cartoony but still looked like zombie fingers and mouths.

Ari picked up one of the fingers and studied it.  It was hollow for a little way and he managed to wriggle the tip of his pinkie finger in it.  The whole thing was about three inches long.  “This is ingenious!  It’ll fit most children’s fingers?”

“Yes Sir.”  The woman glowed with the praise.  “We used the children of employees to check.  They seemed to really like the idea, even the girls.”

“Phenomenal!  How do they taste?”

“We have cherry, cola, vanilla and we received permission from Dr. Pepper to make the red portions that flavour.”

“You put all those flavours in one finger?”

“Of course, Sir.  We felt it shouldn’t all be one flavour and the research proved it.  We chose the flavours carefully for compatibility.”

“Herrani.”

“Yes Ren.”  Ari continued studying the finger.

“Those are just this side of being incredibly disgusting.”

The woman beamed.  “Why thank you, Mr. Yutai.  That’s exactly what we were going for.”

Ari picked up a second finger and handed it to Ren who looked at it in revulsion.  “Must I?”

“Absolutely,”  Ari said with a grin.

The woman was enjoying herself immensely.  She took great pleasure in her work.  “Do try the fingernail, Mr. Yutai.  It’s the best part.”

That last bit was TWO favourite parts in one.  I love what Ari did for Janie and Jessie and the zombie wax figures.

I don’t know where this stuff comes from, I really don’t but I do so enjoy the reactions it gets.  😉

Enjoy the rest of the day folks!

Muah.

Welcome to NaNo!

Yesterday was the kick off for NaNo but I didn’t write a word.

I had a visitation to go to for the father of my oldest friend.  And the night before there was a death in my chosen Family.  Thursday was a horrifically painful day all the way around.  But since the one most closely affected with the death is writing and we were challenging each other, (with some serious boasts all around *laughs*) I began today.   At 5:45 am.  With some serious violence.

Prologue goal: Kill off the COO of Asian Commerce for S. C. Enterprises.

Warning: Serious lack of editing.  Don’t hold it against me.  If you’ve got The Boyfriend on hand, THAT you can hold against me.

Prologue

December 20th

Masaru Miyagi was a tall Japanese man standing around 5’10”, it was a natural fact that he cultivated in order to appear intimidating.  He dressed in business suits and most often wore the pants and shirt even when he was at home.  He was always well groomed, nothing seemed to faze him.  The man never relaxed.  And right now he was fuming and looked like a wild man. He had run his fingers through his hair so many times it was standing on end, his tie had been loosened fractionally and his shirt was rumbled.

“How can S.C. Enterprises be so big!  And what do you mean you failed to find the man who owns it?  It is Christmas for those Western heathens!  He should be at home with his family.”  He jabbed the cigar he was waving around in the direction of the man on his knees in front of his desk.

Haru pressed his palms together at his chest and bent low.  “Please forgive me Miyagi-san but he does not appear to have a home.”

“A man with no home!  Impossible!” Masaru said several swear words in English and paced as he thought.  He gnashed on the end of his cigar until it was a pulp.  He paused at the western wall of his office.  He fingered the ancient katana and smiled with satisfaction as he heard clothing rustle.  When he had turned around Haru was prostrated on the floor, arms stretched along his sides, forehead pressed to the floor. 

Masaru indulged himself in the extreme supplication before he appeared to relent.  “Oh get up, that behavior is beneath you.  I have a new plan.”

Haru rose to his feet, bowing once more from the waist.  His arms were pressed to his side and he bent just shy of forty-five degrees.  “Domo arigato Miyagi-san.  How may I be of service to you?”

“In Sacramento, California, there exists a man named Eugene Van Massenhoven.” Masaru stumbled a little over the Dutch name. “He is the Chief Operations Officer for the Asian commerce portion of SCE.  Kill him.”

Haru did not look surprised by this command.  “Is there any particular way you would like the man to die?”

“Hmmm…  Now that you mention it, there is…”  Miyagi detailed the plan.

On December Twenty-fifth, Mr Van Massenhoven’s in-laws arrived at their daughter’s home to a grisly scene.  The lights were all on in the house but no one was opening the door.  The chimney had a faint trail of smoke and through the window, his father-in-law could see just a hint of his daughter’s head sitting at the dining room table.  He could not imagine why the would not open the door to his wife’s insistent bell ringing.

Keith bashed the door in and a sickening smell rolled out.  The two of them gagged and Mary sat down on the porch swing with her glove covered hand over her nose and mouth as she dialed 911.  Keith ran in held his breath until his eyes watered.  What he saw when he hit the dining room would give him nightmares for years to come. 

Tied at the head of the table was his daughter.  She was strapped into her chair with her body supported by ropes around her shoulders.  Her eyes had been taped open and they stared unseeingly at the horrific mess on the table.  The eldest child was tied and taped similarly.  Their throats had been slit and their clothing was stained red with blood.  It was obvious that some of their blood was part of the scene on the table.

That’s what had Keith’s attention riveted next, despite his will.  Laid out on the table, tied spread-eagled, was Eugene.  He had been eviscerated, his guts spread out over the table, portions of them on his daughter Caity’s pretty white, red and gold Christmas dishes.  The annual table setting had been placed in the center of Eugene’s empty body cavity.  Eugene’s mouth was frozen open in what looked like a scream of pain.

It was only when Keith managed to tear his eyes away from the body that he noticed slack ropes from the place his granddaughter usually sat at.  He took in a deep breath, gagging again on the smell of shit, vomit and blood, and called for his granddaughter.  “Kirsten!  Kirsty! It’s Grampa!  Where are you?”  He looked under the table and went into the kitchen calling for her.

It took several minutes before he heard a small movement from the downstairs bathroom.  It was a three piece bathroom between the garage and kitchen, across from the pantry.  The little girl had wedged herself into the cabinet beneath the sink. 

Keith crouched down and opened the cabinet door.  He used the pet named she’d earned at birth when her brother couldn’t say Kirsten.  “Kissy, come out.  It’s Grampa.  It’s safe now I promise.”  He could hear the sirens now.

As soon as the door opened, he got squirted in the face with body was.  “Argh!”  He grabbed blindly for a towel.  “Kissy!  It’s Grampa.  You’re safe, it’s okay.”  It would never be okay again but right now, it was as right as it could be, his favourite little girl was alive.  He would mourn his daughter the rest of his life but at least he had something of her left.

“Grampa?”  The petite six year old peered carefully out of the cabinet.  As soon as she identified him she launched herself at him.  “Grampa!”

That was the last word she said for a month.

It took the police several attempts to get into the dining room.  Even the most experienced of detectives among them kept retching when he approached the room.  The medical examiner’s office finally had to smear the upper lip of the crime scene guys with Vick’s Vapour Rub and stuck filtering masks over their faces so they could go in and take the photos of the bodies.

Several days passed before the news of SCE’s COO of Asian Commerce reached the owner of the company.

Prologue goal: Success.

Off to pack for the weekend and clean the place up.  I still have some writing to do for the day but I’m feeling good about it.