Green Thumb, #FridayFlash, 06/02/2013

“I’m telling you, microwave ovens make poison!”

Tony was our trainer and when it came to working us out hard, there was no one better. But when he got onto one of his hobby horses, it was another story.

“One of my friends, he boiled water in the microwave and put it on one plant and took plain old tap water and put it on another one and the one that had water from the microwave put on it withered and died.

Bob looked at me and rolled his eyes.  I shrugged back. This was old ground for us.

Jeff, the new guy, shook his head. “Hey, it wasn’t a fair test.  Did he try boiling water the regular way? Boiling changes water.  It doesn’t matter how you do it.”

Tony glared at him narrowly. “Doesn’t matter. Lazybones! Up and give me three sets of ten burpees, no rest.”  As he watched us and did the “Marine DI” thing in our faces, I heard him mutter, “Wouldn’t make a difference. Nossir.”

Somewhere between set two and set three, the little kid in me that loved doing impromptu science experiments in my backyard decided to find out.

* * *

I set my parameters and picked up three seemingly alike basil plants from the produce department at Giant Eagle the next time I went in.  To do it properly, I should probably have grown my own, but I didn’t want to take the time.

The next day, I started.  The water went in identical glass mixing bowls – it was the only thing I could think of that could go in a regular oven and a microwave.  Who knew what having plastic or metal could do? I set them to boil and chill until they were the same temperature as the tap water. (Hey, I was something of a “science geek” once upon a time – what can I say?) All three plants were watered the same amount within moments of each other.  And the experiment was off!

* * *

I have to say that for a couple of weeks, it looked like the most boring experiment since Archimedes sat down in the bath.  All three plants grew a little, but there wasn’t any amazing deficit on the part of Micro (guess which plant that was), and Macro (the “regular” boiled water plant) and Control (tap water) weren’t substantially larger.

The next week in our training session, Bob and Jeff let me have it when I told them what I’d done.

“You’ve got to be kidding.” I thought Bob was going to drop his dumbbells.  Jeff shook his head.  I shrugged – not because that was the only way I knew to communicate, but because we were doing dumbbell shrugs and I had 10 more to do – 9 now.

“You’ll see,” Tony said, when Bob couldn’t resist kidding him about it. “You’ll see I was right and then you’ll stop microwaving.” When Bob snorted, Tony snapped, “And now, do 10 more shrugs.”

* * *

 It wasn’t until the second month that there was any difference between the plants.  Ironically, the smallest of the plants was Control, which made no sense to me. To my amused and only semi-interested eyes, it seemed that Control was shying away from the plants on either side of it.  I could almost see it trembling.

Day by day that week, it seemed to me that Control was losing leaves, although I couldn’t see where.  Finally, a week later, I decided to have the others over after our workout so I could show Tony how his friend’s theory had fallen through.  I was putting the finishing touches on some healthy snacks when the doorbell rang.

I opened the door to find Tony, Jeff and Bob.  They headed towards bottles of water, fresh veggies and dip.

“So what did you want to show us?” Jeff asked, around a mouthful of cauliflower.

“In here.  The one in the middle got tapwater, the one on the left got microwaved water and the one on the right, just plain boiled water,” I announced, and waved them into the kitchen. They preceded me – and stopped suddenly. I pushed my way through the three suddenly still men.

There was movement from the windowsill.  Micro unfurled a tendril from nowhere, pulled a leaf off of Control, and ran it through the remnants of the dip in the mixing bowl I’d used to prepare it.  Two leaves on its stem curled apart, revealing needle-sharp teeth and a tiny, dark-green gullet. Gulp. The leaf was gone.  Poor Control.  Macro followed suit from the other side and I swear I heard the smallest of squeaks from the scraggly little plant in the middle.

Bob idly crunched on a baby carrot.  “Well, you were right, Jeff.  Boiling water certainly does change things.”  He brushed a crumb off his coat and turned to leave.  “And Tony, I swear I’ll never water a plant with boiled water, ever.”

As he passed through the kitchen door, he turned to look at me.  “Just a question.  How do you plan to get rid of them?”

The rest of us exchanged glances. It looked as though I was going to be boiling water for a long time to come.

Three Word Wednesday, 11/16/2011


Impetus, Solace, Vindication

(Author’s note: This is the inevitable result of reading too many Mills & Boon/Harlequin romances)

She’d just turned the corner when he came out of the building ahead of her unexpectedly. She held her head up – under no circumstances would she give him the satisfaction of seeing how badly he’d hurt her.  Never again. Her pride gave her the impetus she needed to keep her face bland and uninterested.


His voice, warm and sensual, struck through to her core.  She wobbled. It’s just these stupid killer heels. I’m not affected by him, not at all.

“Jean-Paul.” Her eyes met his, calmly, she hoped, afraid he might see through her pretense. He’d always read her emotions far too easily.

“Why did you leave?”

“How can you ask that? After what you did?” She made a futile effort to yank her arm away from his restraining hand.

“You didn’t see what you thought you did. Only what Prunella wanted you to.”

Ursula turned away.

Jean-Paul pressed on. “Think about it! Nom d’un nom d’un nom! Would I want her when I could have you?” He sought her eyes, sought vindication.

Something broke inside her then. “Are you telling me the truth, Jean-Paul? Did you really not –“ Ursula couldn’t continue.

He pulled her into the solace of his arms. “Mon Dieu! I swear it, bien-aime!”

Their lips met in a passionate kiss, and the pink covers slammed shut.

“Ohhh, I knew she’d believe him! That Prunella!” The reader put The Frenchman and the Innocent Secretary aside and picked up The Nanny and the Spanish Prince. “I just love these books!”



Three Word Wednesday, 6/8/2011

Alter, Fond, Tranquil


“Pray don’t alter yourself in any respect, my dear.”

“What’s with the bad Jane Austen impersonation, Bill?”

“Well, women are supposed to like her. I think I’ve seen you read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ a couple of hundred times since we got married. And you’re always watching that Colin Firth guy.”

“Yes, I’m fond of the books. It must have been a more tranquil time, in many ways. But that doesn’t mean I want you to turn yourself into Mr. Darcy.”

“I –“

“Stop sighing, Bill. What is it?”

“I thought you’d like it if I was a little more romantic.”

“There’s ‘romantic’ and ‘romantic’.  Pray don’t alter yourself in any respect, my dear.”

“Oh, great. Wipe that Cheshire cat grin off your face, will you? I’m never going to hear the end of this, am I?”


Like April, Only It’s May

[Thanks to @ReginaldGolding on Twitter who thoughtfully let me borrow his blog title as a writing prompt.  I’m not sure this is what I had in mind when I started, but here it is anyway]

Jim wrote something in the family checkbook register, then stopped abruptly and flipped it over, looking at the calendar on the back. Then he flipped it over again, puzzled.  “What’s today’s date?”

”Hmm?” came from his wife, Anne, who was stretched out on the couch, reading.

“The date.  Today’s date. What is it?”

She thought for a moment, turned the page, and said, “May 20.”

“You’re sure?”

Anne stopped reading and looked at him over the book. “Am I sure? Yes!”

“Not April?”

The book got closed and tossed onto the coffee table. “Is this some kind of joke, Jim?  Are you feeling all right?”

“No. And yes.”

“It’s late May.  Almost June. What’s this all about?”

“I had the weirdest feeling – was convinced it was April.”

“Well, I suppose that could happen.” She reached for the book again, uncertainly. “I had an aunt who would put the previous year on her checks into June, some years.”

“I don’t think I’m that bad.” Jim smiled wryly. “It was just strange, that’s all.” He jiggled the iced tea glass by his calculator and it answered with a rattle of ice. Empty. For a moment, he debated asking Anne to get him a refill – she’d settled back down with the paperback – and decided it wasn’t worth the lecture.

Just as he was about to open the refrigerator, he felt a little unsteady and the room blurred around him for a moment.  What was that? Vertigo? A minor earthquake? He shook his head and opened the refrigerator door without looking. Reaching in for the pitcher, his hand closed on empty air. He glanced around the door and saw that the iced tea that had been there not an hour ago was missing.  There was a large bowl of stew covered in plastic cling wrap in its place.

Jim opened his mouth to call Anne, closed his mouth and decided to look again.  Stew.  No iced tea.

He padded back into the living room.  “Anne, where’d the iced tea go?”

“Iced tea? In April? Especially one this cold?”

Annoyed, he snapped back.  “Okay, very funny.  I admit I made a mistake, but I don’t think you need to rub it in.”

“Mistake? Jim, what are you talking about?” Anne raised up and looked over the back of the sofa at him in astonishment. In place of the paperback she’d had when he left the living room, she was holding a small piece of cross-stitch in a hoop.  And instead of the light t-shirt and knit slacks she’d been wearing, she had on the fleece set he’d bought her for Christmas.  Beyond her, outside the windows, it was snowing.

Jim landed in the nearest wing chair with a thump. The glass in his hand landed on the carpet unheeded.

“Jim! Honey, what’s wrong?”

The room trembled for him again. This time, when he opened his eyes, Anne was back in the t-shirt and slacks and robins were playing near the daffodils on the front lawn.

“I’ve finally lost it.”

“Jim, you’re scaring me.”

“I was just in the kitchen and there was stew where the iced tea had been and I came back in here and you were in your fleece doing needlepoint and it was snowing –“ He stopped at the look of dismay on his wife’s face.  “I am not making this up, Anne.  I swear.”

I think we need to call Dr. Willoughby.”

“We can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I saw him in town yesterday.  He said he was taking the train to Serling this morning.”


He watched her as she sat, perplexed, a worry line between the finely-drawn brows. Then it happened again, and he was back in April.  Again, and he was back in May. Again, and this time he seemed to be in both months, with two Annes staring at him in fright and snowflakes and flowers dueling for window space.  It was all too much for him and after one last spasm, the room went black.

* * *

The author sat back from the computer and thought.  I just don’t know what makes sense
here …

“Got a problem?”

She looked at her husband wryly.  “Well, yes. I can’t decide about the setting for this story.”

He shrugged. “Flip a coin. Unless there’s some pressing reason why it has to be one way or the other. At least you’ll make up your mind and be able to finish.”

“Okay.” She reached for her purse and took out a quarter.  “Heads, it’s April, tails, it’s May.”

She flipped the coin and it spun in the air, shimmering in the sunlight from the nearby window.

Three Word Wednesday, 10/06/2010

Hint, Lust, Sheen

Herbert’s hand trembled and he reached out, a victim of unbridled lust.  He’d never seen such a delectible sight; so much on display, so much offered. Each one a temptress, each one enticing.

Should he choose this one? Or that? He sniffed the air delicately, to catch a hint of their seductive scents, and it made his choice even harder. The feelings mounted, and a sheen of sweat gathered on his upper lip. Oh, what to do? How to decide?

The counterman’s brusque voice cut through his reverie: “Hey, bud! I got other customers.  Which is it gonna be? The broiled fish, the salisbury steak or the grilled chicken?  Hurry it up, will ya? I aint got all day!”