Cat’s Eyes and Shooters #3

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Join us in this New Year as we peek into the life of Jack Evans in 1936 as he and his friends fill their days in the pursuit of the world’s finest marble.

Each week in Tuesday Tales, we write to a word prompt, or a picture prompt. This week we’re writing a picture prompt we’ve chosen out of several possibilities.

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

marbles_popeye

Rounding the corner on Main Street, the two lads spotted Jack’s uncle, Uncle Chester, in front with his cronies seated in the mismatched oak chairs that lined the front of the store. Jack thought he’d never stepped inside the mercantile without seeing at least two or three old coots outside swapping tall tales.

“Where ya headin’, Jackie Boy?” Uncle Chester called out. He swatted at a fly buzzing around his face, looking as if he’d grown into the seat he inhabited.

“We’re just looking. Our friend said Mr. Hanson had some new marbles.”

“You like marbles, do you?” He slapped his buddy on the shoulder and chuckled as if they had a private joke. “I used to play marbles. Back when I was a kid. Got some of my best marbles off this guy here.”

His friend hung his head and shook it back and forth. “How many years later and you’re still reminding me of that?” He tipped back in the chair, lost in thought, and tugged on his long greying beard. “This whippersnapper here, he not only took me for my best marbles, he went and snatched my girl away from me too. Right under my very nose. I went off to fight the Red Baron and came home to find he’d married Thelma Lou while I was gone.”

“Ha! If I’d have known she was such a nagging fool, I would have left her for you,” Uncle Chester laughed and pointed a gnarled finger in Jack’s direction. “Now don’t be telling your Aunt Thelma that I said that, Jackie Boy.”

“No. No siree. Not a chance. I know what side my bread is buttered on!”

Eugene’s voiced echoed through the tattered screen door, out to the wooden porch where Jack was chatting with his uncle. “Jack! C’mere! Mr. Hanson’s got some new boxes of Popeye marbles!”

Jack rushed inside and the boys examined every box of Popeye marbles that filled the surface of the counter in the back corner, along with all the loose marbles Mr. Hanson offered for sale. They held everyone up, holding it in the light, comparing colors and twists, which had the best corkscrews, which were the prettiest patches.

“Twenty-five cents?” Jack kept repeating. “Shore wish I had me twenty-five cents. Jiminy cricket, these are nice ones.”

Eugene held another one up to examine closer. “Maybe yore mom will give ya twenty-five cents.”

“Naw. Not a chance. Especially not for me to buy marbles with. She’d say I was being ‘frivolous’. You know how mothers are.”

Mr. Hanson interrupted. “I do have some sparklers in the back room for a nickel a piece.” “A whole nickel? For only one marble?” Jack’s eyebrows raised high on his forehead and his mouth dropped open in surprise.

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

Cats Eyes and Shooters #2

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Join us in this New Year as we peek into the life of Jack Evans in 1936 as he and his friends fill their days in the pursuit of the world’s finest marble.

Each week in Tuesday Tales, we write to a word prompt, or a picture prompt. This week we’re writing a picture prompt we’ve chosen out of several possibilities. This is the picture I chose.

TT_011320

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

“Yeah, I won it off Bobby after school. We were playing a game of ringer. For keepsies.” He pulled the marbled sphere out of his pocket and handed it to Jack. “He wasn’t happy about it.”

“Keen!” Jack held it up to the sky, examining it closer. “Look at those colors. That bright blue looks just like the eyes of Mr. Olson’s husky!”

“I hadn’t thought of that. Surprised that Bobby didn’t either. If we tell him that, he’ll really be sad that he lost this beauty.”

“Oh well. That’s his rotten luck. Winners keep, losers weep. If he thought he’d lose a gem like this, he should have played for fair.” Jack held on to the brilliant sphere, holding it up to the sunlight and admiring its beauty.

“Too late now.” Eugene held out his hand to get his new, prized shooter back.

“Where’d he get a nice one like this from, I wonder?”

“Bobby said he got it at Hanson’s Mercantile downtown. He said Mr. Hanson got a new shipment in last week.”

“Let’s go! Let’s go check it out. Maybe they have some new cat’s eyes.”

Instead of searching the neighborhood for friends to challenge to a marble game, the headed towards the few buildings that comprised their tiny little community on the north side of Kansas City. The six dusty blocks to town Eugene slowly walked his bike beside Jack, who was barefooted and kicked rocks all the way. They talked about school, their unloved teacher Miss White, Betty Ann who they thought was cute as a bug, and Harold, who was a fun friend but didn’t play marbles very well.

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

Cat’s Eyes and Shooters #1

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A New Year and a new story!  I know I didn’t finish the Christmas tale I was working on. But once Christmas is past, and after writing Christmas snippets for two+ months…it’s time to move on to a new tale.

Join us as we peek into the life of Jack Taylor in 1936 as he and his friends fill their days in the pursuit of the world’s finest marble.

Each week in Tuesday Tales, we write to a word prompt, or a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the word prompt ‘round.’

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

marbles

Cat’s Eyes and Shooters

Kansas City, Missouri, 1936

“Hey Jack, c’mon out and play,” Eugene hollered from out in the yard.

Jack slid his window up and stuck his head out from the upper story bedroom he shared with his brothers. “I’ll be right down.”

He dropped the window sash and glanced around the bedroom. His older brothers twin beds were made and their bookcases in pristine order. Neat and tidy – as usual. Not a thing out of place.

Until ones view hit the corner where Jacks bed and bookcase stood. The covers were pulled up – barely – the pillow edge peeking from the bedspread that didn’t quite make it way into proper place. His dirty shirt from yesterday had been tossed at the foot of the bed the night before and hadn’t made it to the laundry hamper yet. The books and toys on his shelves were in disarray. His schoolbooks lay in the middle of the rumpled bed, unopened and untouched since he’d dumped them there upon arriving home that afternoon.

With a shrug and a who-cares attitude, Jack pushed his dirty shirt and school books underneath his pillow and tugged the edge of the bedspread down to hide the awkward lump. Dashing down the stairs, he rushed through the kitchen and tried to make it through the door without his mother knowing.

He was two steps from freedom when he heard his mother’s voice calling out from the front parlor.

“Jack Evans? Where you heading off to? Is your room cleaned up?”

He stood poised by the door, feet stationary and hand on the screen door ready to push it open and escape. “Yes, Mom. All cleaned.”

“Don’t be gone all afternoon. I want you home by supper time.”

“I will be, Mom. I’m just off to go play with Eugene.”

“Don’t go too far. You stay close by. Hear?”

“Yes, Mother.

The screen door banged shut behind him as he hurried out to meet his buddy. “Let’s go play! I’m tired of looking at all that ‘rithmetic. We get enough in school. I don’t want to come home and spend all afternoon fretting over it too. Don’t tell my mom that I didn’t finish my homework yet.”

“I’ll never tell. Miss White’s an ole’ biddy anyway. Assigning us all that work right before a weekend.”

“What do you want to do? Want to go fishing?”

Eugene fiddled on his bike, twisting his front tire in the dirt, making a round circle. “Naw. I don’t want to go fishin’ today. Besides, it’s too late in the day to dig up some good bait. Let’s go see if Harold can play. We can play marbles and take some marbles off him. He’s a rotten marble player.”

A scowl quickly formed on Jack’s face. “I don’t know. Harold loses so much that the only marbles he has are stinky ones. Last time I saw his pouch I only saw lots of clearies and opals in there. Maybe a few slags.”

“But, I have a new shooter I want to try out,” Eugene protested.

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

 

A Stitch in Time #10

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For the next few weeks we’re jumping into the life of a fictional lady that I’m imagining might have sat and stitched this beautiful piece I discovered in an antique store. Join us for ‘A Stitch in Time’ as we travel to Minneapolis in 1928.

Each week we write to a word prompt, or a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the word prompt ‘year.’

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You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

“About that. Just long enough for the threads to toast to a lovely dark red. Then we’ll crush and infuse in the warm milk and melted butter.”

There wasn’t much chit-chat while the women worked companionably together in the kitchen, mixing the dough and rolling out the various shapes for the saffron buns. Astrid hummed as they rolled and cut and laid the shapes on cookie sheets, happy to have her daughter in house.

As Astrid brushed the forms with an egg wash, Ola carefully placed raisins into each swirl, as task she’d completed so many times as a child she could almost do it with her eyes shut. “Mama, I can’t believe the year is almost over. Here we are, preparing for Saint Lucia, then will come Christmas and before we know it, we’ll be ringing in the New Year. It doesn’t seem possible that we’re only a few weeks away from 1929.”

“Yes, a new year – a new beginning. Do you and Jeffrey have any grand plans?”

“To celebrate at midnight? Or plans for the year in general?”

“In general. I know for myself, when the old year is ending, it always seems like a good time to think of the future and what you’d like to see the New Year bring in.” Astrid placed the last tray in the oven and plopped down in the chair. Wiping her hands on the flour dusted apron, she chuckled. “But then…I usually just give the house an extra duty cleaning and go on about my business as normal.”

Ola glanced around the room as if looking if anyone else was about. She lowered her voice and almost whispered to her mother. “I do have one hope for the coming days.”

Furrows formed between Astrid’s brow and she sent her daughter a perplexed look. She wondered why the lowered voice and the secretive manner. “Oh? What would that be?”

“Jeffrey and I have been talking…and we’re both hoping for a little one soon.”

Astid’s furrowed brow was replaced by an immediate look of joy and delight. “Oh? Do you-“

“No, Mama. Not yet. You know if I had news like that to bring you, I would have rushed over here upon finding out.”

“Well, phooey. And here I was all set to start knitting some baby booties. I suppose I’ll have to keep on with my current project.”

“What are you working on? You usually show me whatever you’re creating, but I don’t recall you sharing anything with me lately.”

Astrid rose and began puttering around the table, placing dirty utensils in the pan of soapy water, returning the butter to the icebox, and opening the oven door to check on the baking buns. “Now…if I thought it was any of your business…don’t you think I would have showed you? You know, Missy, not everything that goes on is your business. A mother has to keep some secrets up her sleeve.” She turned to wink at Ola, lest her daughter get offended, thinking she was serious.

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

A Stitch in Time #9

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For the next few weeks we’re jumping into the life of a fictional lady that I’m imagining might have sat and stitched this beautiful piece I discovered in an antique store. Join us for ‘A Stitch in Time’ as we travel to Minneapolis in 1928.

Each week we write to a word prompt, or a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to a the prompt ‘gift.’

TT_saffron

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

“…on this, the longest night of the year, as winter began and the people prepared for Yule, Lussi set of on a Wild Hunt. She ventured through the countryside, punishing those who had not finished their work before the festive time of Yule. People in the villages stayed awake on that long night, clutching their axes in preparation to protect their homes in case Lussi came down their chimney. And children were frightened, because if they’d misbehaved throughout the year, Lussi might capture them and spirit them away.”

Ola clutched her cup of hot cocoa, her eyes wide and listening intently to the story as much as she had when she was a young girl, hanging on her mother’s every word. “I always remember being scared and hoping that I’d been good enough that Lussi wouldn’t come get me. Because if she captured me, then I wouldn’t be home with my family.” She stopped to giggle before confessing, “But, mostly I didn’t want her to take me because then I wouldn’t get any gifts.”

Astrid laughed, thinking of how many things she was now finding out that the children were older and grown. “Ha! More afraid of not having presents, then of losing your parents, I see.”

“But Mama, you said the longest night of the year, which is later in the month than December 13th. And how did Saint Lucy get mixed up in that story?”

“Ach! You ask me? Your poor simple mother that didn’t have as much schooling as you?” Astrid waved her hands in the air, dismissing what she often felt was a lack of scholarly knowledge. “Something or other about the calendar changing, somewhere in the past. December 13th used to be the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. But when the calendar changed – I don’t remember when or how – then the solstice date changed to December 21st. But by then, the Saint Lucy’s tradition had been a staple of our country for a long time on the 13th, so it continued. Saint Lucy, or Lucia, died a martyr for her belief and was later canonized. She was known as the bearer of light. In a land cursed with winter darkness, the promise of the return of longer days after the winter solstice deserved a celebration. And there you have it. And we all still celebrate this joyous day.”

Ola sat her mug down and picked up the saffron jar sitting on the table. “Speaking of celebrations, I believe the oven is warm enough now to toast the saffron. You have the cookie sheets out already? How long in the oven? Ten minutes?”

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

A Stitch in Time #7

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For the next few weeks we’re jumping into the life of a fictional lady that I’m imagining might have sat and stitched this beautiful piece I discovered in an antique store. Join us for ‘A Stitch in Time’ as we travel to Minneapolis in 1928.

Each week we write to a word prompt, or a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to a picture prompt, so posts are limited to 300 words. This is the photo I chose to write to:

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

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“You want to hear about Lussi, instead of Saint Lucia?” Astrid pulled two mugs off of the shelf and sat them on the table and then rummaged in the pantry in search of the cocoa tin.

“Oh, I know all about her and what she stands for and why we celebrate her every December 13th. But, Lussi….” Ola shuddered and she clasped her arms around her chest. “I remember nights where I was too afraid to go to sleep after hearing the story and thinking that we could be carried away in the night. I want to see if I still tremble at the thought.”

“I can’t persuade you? You don’t want the story of young Lucia?”

“No. The story you used to scare Sven and I with, when we were little.”

Astrid’s hands fiddled with the cocoa making process, but her mind was far, far away. She felt a dreaminess overtake her and a warmth filled her heart as she remembered the days long past when a young Ola and Sven would snuggle against her on the sofa, freshly washed and wearing clean pajamas, anxious to hear a bedtime story. As Astrid told the tale of Lussi, the two would clutch their hands tightly together and press in closer to their mother, eyes opened wide and their breath held until the end. One would think a frightful tale at bedtime would keep them awake much longer than a parent would like. Most likely the first year it did, but once it became a yearly tradition, after the initial suspense of the story, they both drifted off to slumberland with no delay.

The small pings of the milk beginning to bubble in the saucepan brought Astrid back to the present day. She spooned the cocoa powder into the simmering mix, then poured the frothy concoction into two mugs. Settling down at the kitchen table with steaming mugs in front of both mother and daughter, Astrid began repeating the story her children knew by heart.

“Once upon a time, long, long ago, in the forests of Scandinavia, there lived an evil creature. There was no one in the land more evil than her. She was a female demon named Lussi, and the people and the children lived in terror when she roamed the night…”

A Stitch in Time #6

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For the next few weeks we’re jumping into the life of a fictional lady that I’m imagining might have sat and stitched this beautiful piece I discovered in an antique store. Join us for ‘A Stitch in Time’ as we travel to Minneapolis in 1928.

Each week we write to a word prompt, or a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to a picture prompt, so posts are limited to 300 words. This is the photo I chose to write to:

TT_120919.jpg

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.

Ola breathed in deeply, filling her lungs with air. “Ahhh, I can almost smell the lussekatter now. And it’s not even mixed and baking yet. Wait till our hands are wrist deep in the yeasty dough and flour is flying about the kitchen. Then it will truly smell magnificent. Did you toast the saffron yet?”

“Not yet. I didn’t want to warm up the oven for naught. I thought I’d wait until you got here. When it’s in the oven getting crisp, we can sit and have a cup of hot cocoa while we wait.”

Natten går tunga fjät…” Ola began singing as she tied an apron around her waist.

“The Night steps heavily…I didn’t think you remembered the words to Santa Lucia in Swedish.”

“How could I not, Mama? As many years as we sang it growing up?”

“And Jeffrey? What does your new husband think of our old customs?”

“He’s excited about it. He hasn’t been to a St. Lucia procession, nor celebrated it. But, growing up he had enough Swedish friends in the neighborhood and at school that the festivities are not completely foreign to him. He’s looking forward to joining the family tomorrow night. Of course, I’ve raved enough about your saffron buns that he can’t wait to try one himself.”

“I was thinking, since this is Jeffrey’s first celebration with us, we’d make the buns in many shapes this year, instead of the one or two that we usually make.”

Ola clapped her hands together, her merriment twinkling in her eyes. “He’d love it. And we can tell him about the symbolism of all the shapes and what they mean. And the fable, Mama…you will tell me the tale about Lussi while we sip our hot cocoa, won’t you?”

You can find more delightful tales from the Tuesday Tales authors here.