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The Christmas Kitten

For my sister: here’s the story you didn’t get last week. For everyone else…sorry. It was pretty fun to write, and only made me want to throw up a little.  😉

The Christmas Kitten

There wasn’t a note because it wasn’t a baby. There was a basket though, the covered kind Belinda used to take on picnics when she was a little girl.  It had a fist-sized rock from the garden border on top of the wicker flap. Belinda frowned over at her flower bed. The missing rock was a pink one flecked with black mica and bits of white quartz, one of her hand-picked favourites. It had clearly been out on the step for a while; the rock had a fluffy cap of snow.

The rock bounced a bit, disturbing the snow. Something was trying to get out.

Belinda put down her snow shovel. She had been about to shovel the steps for the post man. She had only recently learned that his name was Pat; Postman Pat. Wasn’t that a lark? He wouldn’t be around for a few days, it was Christmas Eve, but she liked to get the snow done before it got too deep.

The basket lid was still moving. Belinda took off the rock and set it aside. The little black kitten inside immediately tried to scramble over the lip of the basket. Belinda scooped it up and looked around.

“Who in the world…?”

She held the kitten at face level.

“Who leaves a kitten on a doorstep at Christmas? Hmmm, kitty? In a wicker basket, too. You’re the biggest cliché ever. Yes you are.”

Belinda looked around again. Two of the little girls next door had come outside, bundled in snowsuits and trailing a toboggan behind them.

Belinda had lived in the little house for several years and hadn’t really gotten to know any of her neighbours. The couple next door had a gaggle of girls of various ages, and an overindulged son who had broken her window playing baseball last year. The couple had been suitably mortified, and immediately insisted on paying for the window. The son showed up a few hours later to bashfully apologize, but Belinda hadn’t given the ball back, and instead she had stowed it in her junk drawer to gather dust.

“Hey. Girls,” she called. “Do you girls know anything about this kitten?”

“Kitten?!” they squealed together and rushed over. The toboggan was forgotten on the driveway.

“Can I hold your kitten?” the youngest one asked. She had blue eyes and that kind of fly-away blond hair that turned brown eventually.

“It’s not mine,” Belinda said as she handed it over. “I just found it.”

“Awwww…cuuuute.” The older one said. “What’s it’s name?”

They clearly weren’t listening, because they were too busy fawning over the kitten.

“It doesn’t, have a name. And it’s not mine.”

“You should name it Whitey,” the younger girl said authoritatively.

“Noooo Lissy,” the older one frowned, “she should name it Holly. Because it’s Christmas.”

It seemed like a good name.

“Holly. It’s a good name for a Christmas kitten,” Belinda agreed. “Do you think your parents would let you have a kitten?”

The girls gasped in delight. The younger one jumped up and down.

“Our dad has to work late, but we can ask our mom!” Lissy said, and they ran back home across the lawn.

Belinda knew it was pretty shameless going through the girls like that, but they already had one cat. They’d have the supplies they needed to get them through until the pet store (and the animal shelter) opened again. Belinda took the kitten inside and closed the door.

Inside the house, Belinda put the kitten on the floor to explore. She looked at the little tree that she had set up on the side table. Holly batted at the ornaments and jumped back when one fell, but soon lost interest in the tree and wandered around, nosing in the corners and under the chairs.

“Poor little muffin. All alone at Christmas.” Belinda sighed. “Me too.”

Belinda thought about her family, who all lived down east. She’d seen them in the summer, and they had exchanged colourful cards and cheques through the mail, but it wasn’t the same. There was a tentative knock on the door and Holly skittered under the chesterfield. Belinda opened the door.

It was the woman next door and all six of her children, even the window-breaking little boy. She held a box in front of her.

“Uh, hi,” she said, “I don’t think I’ve ever introduced myself? I’m Karyn, from next door?”

Karyn had limp brown hair and everything she said ended on a high note, like a question. The kids jostled and elbowed each other, trying to get a look inside at the kitten.

“Lissy and Greta said you found a kitten? Well, we can’t keep it but I brought you some cat food and cat litter until you can get some of your own?”

Darn! Belinda thought. It was a good try.

“Thanks,” she said out loud, taking the box Karyn offered. She looked at the children at the door. “They can come in and see the kitten, if they want.”

Belinda looked up at Karyn as the children rushed in around her. She looked harried, and tired.

“Do you want a drink?” Belinda asked, raising an eyebrow. “You look like you need a drink.”

Karyn smiled, and followed Belinda inside. Outside, the lights twinkled across the quiet snow.

192

Christmas Comics Roundup is the Best Thing Ever.

Christmas can be stressful. This year culminated in my kitten being fitted with a cone of shame, after my old bag of a cat attacked him. And that’s on top of the regular family, and holiday spending related worries. So, what better way to lighten the mood than with holiday themed funnies?

Let’s start with everyone’s favourite stick people, xkcd:

Tests

If you’ve never experienced xkcd, I highly recommend it for all around nerdly humor and strangeness.

Then a new favourite of mine Scandanavia and the World:

Merry Disney Christmas

This comic’s gentle political humor and generally bent sensibility adds up to pure win. Check out a Dane’s view of Canadians (and keep the eyewash handy).

Awwwww…thanks for the warm fuzzies Cyanide and Happiness:

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic

Thanks the Oatmeal, you always know just what to say:

How different age groups celebrate Christmas

*See the rest here.

And a classic from the Far Side:

Merry Christmas! Or whatever. Don’t you feel better already? Whacked Christmas comics are the best thing ever. Better than fruitcake anyway…

ivory

Microwaving Ivory Soap

Wheeeeeeee-haaaa! From chemistry.about.com via Make comes the knowledge that you can microwave Ivory soap, and it will blow up into a huge foamy mass (which you can still use as soap). I read this to my six-year-old and she said, “Let’s do it right now!”

And since that’s the kind of person I am, I said, “Yeah! Let’s microwave some soap!”

So here we are microwaving soap! Behold its majesty:

Ignore me cackling like a mad thing…
hollyking

Flash Friday: Holiday Weirdness for Yule

Holiday Weirdness won out by one whole vote, and I didn’t even have to cheat. So here is some Yule-type oddness for the holidays. Enjoy them (whichever holiday you might be celebrating)! And look at me, it’s even still Friday by about ten minutes. It’s a Saturnalia miracle!

Tom Holly was feeling the cold in his bones and his beard had already turned completely white. Fat lazy snowflakes fell on the grass but didn’t stick. He stared out the window, watching the little brown birds come and go, took a thoughtful sip out of his Coca Cola, and rested the bottle on one knee. It was in one of those little glass bottles, the way he liked it.

Tonight was the longest night of the year: the night of the sacrifice. The days would get longer with or without it, but that’s just how things worked when you’re the king of the forest. Tom looked at the massive quiet trees outside his window. His little helpers were out there somewhere tending the trees. They were so diligent – always working. He’d miss them when he was gone.

Tom wasn’t meant to survive this night, he never had before, but this time he had a plan.

It was time to go; Mother Spring would be waiting. Tom pulled on his long red coat, and went out to his car. As he pulled out of the garage, he looked wistfully at his sleigh. It just didn’t snow enough anymore to run the darn thing. Maybe, if his plan worked out, he’d move somewhere colder. Maybe Finland.

Mother Spring smiled when she opened the door and saw Tom. She had a riot of curly hair, and sparkling eyes, whose colour he couldn’t quite pin down. Not green, nor brown, nor blue either. She grabbed him by the shirt front and pulled him inside, slamming the door behind them.

* * * * *

Mother Spring towered over him, gloriously naked, with her ceremonial knife raised high over her head. Tom was crouched on the floor beside the bed, with a sheet wrapped around his waist, and his arm thrown over his head protectively.

“Wait! Listen!”

Mother Spring curled her lip, and lowered the knife down to shoulder level.

“We don’t need to do this,” Tom said, breathing heavily. “Not anymore.”

“Your blood brings the return of the sun, Tom. Crops grow, animals multiply, my humans prosper for another season. This act is fixed. You die, the world gets reborn. That’s the deal.” She spoke the last three words slowly. Distinctly.

Tom lowered his arm, and looked out over his hand. He swallowed.

“The seasons take care of themselves. We know that; they always have. The crops and the rain are out of our hands. This doesn’t help anyone.”

“What do you propose?” she asked, sounding overly formal. She had retreated to her official capacity as Mother Spring.

Tom sighed. This always happened.

“I propose to do something tangible for your little people: I can bring them gifts. Presents to everyone in the entire world. I am the king of the woods, after all, and back in my forest I have all the help I need. I mean, I need some time: three or four days maybe, but I can do it. For them and you.”

He paused.

‘You know I can do this.”

Mother Spring narrowed her eyes.

“How do I know you will do this? That you won’t leave and hide out in your forest?”

“You know I will. I always come here, every year, knowing what’s going to happen. Knowing what it feels like to have my throat cut a thousand times. I’m here now.”

She pursed her lips, then took a deep breath and tossed the knife onto the floor.

“Deal,” she said. Then:

“Put your pants back on.”

 

Flash Friday: Tell Me What to Write. I Am Your B!tch!

Update: I closed the poll at 9:40 Thursday morning (December 20th). Otherwise I won’t have time to write anything. Holiday weirdness won out 6-5 over Traditional Christmas story. So we’ll see what I can pull out of my…er, hat by tomorrow!

I know it’s Saturday. But here it is anyway! It’s something odd in honor of school being almost done for the holidays…BTW I think next week should be holiday themed. But I’m  trying something new: a poll. Let me know what you want me to write. Unlike that snooty George R. R. Martin, I am your bitch!

Angel, Karen, and the Saucers

The couple was sitting together on a blanket spread over a grassy hill, watching the sun set pink and yellow against crudely drawn black trees. A girl in a skirt was running stiff-legged over the grass. Past the hill in the distance were several skyscrapers bent at odd angles. In the sky, three lenticular black clouds hovered in a triangular formation. Underneath, in uneven primary printing, was the name Angel.

Ms. Hill unfolded her stapler and put Angel’s painting next to Andrew’s picture of three ambiguously gendered children playing on a swing set over Kelly green grass. The children’s pictures all hung in neat rows along the art wall.

Ms. Hill went back to her desk and picked up a file folder of the class’s artwork. She shuffled the pages, frowned, and then pulled out a sheet of thin construction paper. On it was a drawing of a tall figure outlined in hard black crayon. The figure had stringy hair and angry red eyes. Floating over the figure’s head was the label, “Karen.” Underneath it read, “This is my friend, who looks in my window at night.” It was calm and matter of fact, as if it were describing something mundane, normal. Again, at the top of the page was the name Angel.

On the wall around the room were similar pictures. One was captioned, “This is my bicycle.” A leggy brown blob was labelled, “This is my dog, Chester.” On the opposite side of the room, taped on one of the row of windows was another of Angel’s drawings. It showed a small figure, presumably Angel, in front of a huge TV with a video game controller in hand. On the TV were geometric figures that represented who-knows-what. Underneath, in a jumble of capital and lowercase letters, was this story:

“I dreamed that I woke up in the middle of the night. There was a new game on the TV. I didn’t know what it was called, but Karen told me to play it anyway. I told Karen I didn’t know how to play, but I beat the game after fifty tries.”

The bell rang. The students started to file back inside from recess, shedding their coats and chattering loudly. Ms. Hill closed up her file folder and sat it back on her desk to finish later. Her students wandered into the classroom in groups of two and three.

A stocky boy with a shaved head tugged at her hand. He looked up at her hopefully.

“Ms. Hill? Is it computer time now? I want to play computers.”

“It’s free play for the next few minutes, so you can use the computer if you want,” she answered, putting a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

The boy skipped off toward the computer centre. Ms. Hill looked around the room for Angel. She had already come into the classroom without her noticing. Ms. Hill crossed her arms and leaned back against the desk to watch. Angel was thin and had wispy blond hair that tended to stick up. She was crouched beside the classroom’s oversized dollhouse with another girl and a boy, sending a helicopter full of soldiers to invade the upper bedrooms.

legend_of_zelda___hylian_christmas_ornaments_by_yukizeal-d5h53ou

Nerdy Christmas Ornaments are the Best Thing Ever

I’m not fond of Christmas. It’s stressful and expensive and doesn’t involve a lot of dressing in costumes or eating tiny chocolate bars. And it happens in one my four least favourite seasons – winter. The whole thing stinks like Xmas, if you know what I mean…

But here’s something that makes it much more to my liking – nerdy ornaments!

Add a new design

Video game console ornaments. They bring up fond memories of consoles past…*sniff* I miss my Dreamcast. Sadly these won’t ship in time for Christmas, but I still really want them. There’s always next year, after all. Unless that Mayan thing comes true…

Star Wars Holiday lights via ThinkGeek. Cool you will be, if these lights you have!

Product View

Damn it Jim! I’m a doctor not an ornament! Apparently Hallmark has done an extensive collection of Star Trek ornaments over the years. You can get your hands on older out of production ones here.

Awwww yissss! Awesome Legend of Zelda Ornaments. Photo via DeviantArt, and sadly no longer available via Etsy. But you know what? I think I could make these, with a little glitter paint and a stencil…

ONE Minecraft Creeper Christmas Ornament

Minecraft Ornaments! Hehehehehe. You know you want these. They’re available at Etsy.

One you really can make yourself. Doctor Who DIY fabric ornaments via Spoonflower (home of amazing custom nerd fabric).

Do you not just love these? I do. Nerdy ornaments are the Best Thing Ever!

Keeping Busy in the Frigid Canadian Winter: Gryffindor Scarf

Okay, so it isn’t actually all that cold right now, but with my Doctor Who scarf finished I need something else to do. I decided to do this:

Gryffindor wallpaper

No, I’m not going to run away to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. What I mean is I am going to do this:

Harry Potter movies costumes wardrobe

No! I’m not going to do Harry Potter! What is he, like 11 in this picture? You guys are pigs. >:-/ What I’m trying to say is I am going to make a Gryffindor scarf. See? Totally appropriate…

I personally like this style better:

Gryffindor House Scarf and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Photograph

But I found some self-striping yarn in Gryffindor colours:

Harry Potter Scarf

The colour is off on the yarn on account of I’m a crappy photograph-taking type person. What I’ve learned so far is that I hate self-striping yarn. It doesn’t make a clean transition between the colours. :/ It may be that I need the correct amount of stitches to make the stripes work. If so, I’ll probably rip it out and start over…maybe I’ll even use knits AND purls! I’m adventurous that way.

Also, this: