Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Does Not Suck: Rolladens, Bees, and Super Humans

Houses in Germany have metal slats that close all the way down to shut off all light and seal off your house from heat, cold, bugs, everything. They are pretty amazing for a place that does not build houses with AC's.

Sealed in my comfy 70-degree or so house while it raged 115 or so outside (that was predicted temperature, I never ventured outside to check for myself), was quite nice. Midori took a long nap as well so I put in several hours outlining the next book I intend to write.

Ignoring that book entirely now that my outline is finished, I'm brainstorming now about an unrelated futuristic novel where the world actually hasn't gone to sh-- like all the cliches. Well, to be precise, it did, but the few humans who survived are now crazy strong. This came on after I had a thought about bees today, or specifically the 10-20% or so left in the United States after Mosanto and its neonicontinoids have wiped the rest out. Heaven forbid the government finally make them stop using the stuff and save the final 10-20% bees strong enough to survive thus far. I got to thinking that when the bee populations come back afterward (if they come back...) they might feel somewhat boosted in their now neonicontinoid-free environments.

What if the same were true of post-appocolytic humans? With all the endless toxins in our environment, foods, drinking water, 'safe' levels of background-level radiation, dioxin, Teflon, etc., those of us who have survived so far seem 'normal' but are actually far stronger than any humans thousands or even a hundred years ago would have been. We'd have to be, or we'd certainly be dead by now.

Now fast forward to 30-50 years after the Armageddon 'event' that destroys most of the population, infrastructure, and way of life. The Earth resets, purging toxins as it regrows the trees. There would be no more background radiation (TV, cell phones, wi-fi), and all foods would pretty much organically grown or hunted. Would surviving humans be boosted in this pollutant-free environment and actually be something more like super humans you might read about in a comic book?

That's the gist of the idea I'm kicking around. They wouldn't have comic book style 'powers' no, but they would naturally be stronger, have more energy, be able to survive with less food, less sleep, less stress. They would also live quite a bit longer than current humans, easily up to 130-150 years.

BUT, with no natural predator, it is unlikely humans would stay so strong over subsequent generations. They would breed like rabbits, become fat and lazy, build up cities again, and history would only repeat itself. I need something out there hunting my super humans, keeping them sharp, slim, and in the zone. Any ideas?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What? No! Ack! That can't be the end!

A Thanksgiving Day basket of thankfulness to National Novel Writing Month for kicking my lazy butt into gear and getting me back into the awesome addiction of writing! Happy times were had for 22 days while I pounded out the last 116,000 words of my newest, latest and greatest. While overly long and in desperate need of a slimming down, I must say I'm rather pleased with how it turned out. Now onto the brutal edits!

More importantly, now that its all over, and I cannot possibly extend the epilogue another page (Please, no more, Laurie!), I find myself with itchy fingers and the mighty mighty neeeeeeeed to writing something more. Anything more. Pick something! Just pick something! So lo and behold, there was this blog! You could get away with writing anything here, seems to me. No outline, no need to separate past tense from present, offset dialogue with quotation marks... any of it! You could write whatever you want! Amazing things, these blogs, no?

But what to write? Stuff about me, blah blah blah, maybe a little something about my out of control tea addition? (Shout out to Celestial: LOVE the new holiday blends!) Or perhaps... Bwahhaha! An interview with the fictitional characters of my new book! Yay!

Me: Hello Reske, take a seat. Thank you for coming. 
Reske: Hey, no problem, glad to be here!
Me: So how does it feel finishing another great story arch?
Reske: Ha ha, I could really ask you the same. Seriously, though it feels pretty good from my end. I mean, the journey you sent us through this time was a little bit difficult emotionally, but richly rewarding because of it. Or so I thought anyway.
Me: Hey, let's hope our readers see it that way. It seemed a bit... over the top at times. I'm worried they'll take it poorly.
Reske: Ahh. We'll they'll be much more emotionally invested this time, that's for sure. But knowing how things turn out in the end, I'm sure they'll agree it was a necessary ill.
Me: Er, let's change the subject lest we reveal too much. This is first book of the newly rewritten series that features a point of view other than your own. How did you feel about this departure?
Reske: Heh, loved it!
Me: ...Wait, really? But you're the main character!
Reske: Are you kidding me? I got to slink around doing all sorts of sneaky things behind the scenes with nobody the wiser! Trust me, this is going to be epic!
Me: Hmm, all right. But do you think Keagan hogged too much of the limelight?
Reske: Ha! If anything Morid hogged too much of the limelight. He sort of took over this book, didn't he?
Me: Er, I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about. Getting back to Keagan again, do you think showing the events from his perspective will add to the enjoyment of the book or detract from it? Don't tell him I said this this, but compared to you he can be sort of dull at times.
Reske: Compared to me everyone is dull.
Me: Ah, good point.
Reske: What I'm more worried about is readers actually believing his skewed version of events and making me out to be some spoiled child or something. Seeing myself through his eyes like this... Does he really think I'm that whiny and immature?
Me: *cough* Oh, look at the time! Time to move on to our next guest! Keagan, welcome. Thank you for coming! ...Er, Reske, that's his chair now.
Reske: Okay, I take it back. Keagan does hog all the limelight. Am I seriously done already? You barely even asked me anything! I'm the main character, aren't I?
Me: What was that about being whiny?
Reske: What? That is so unfair!
Me: All the same, get lost. Thank you, that's right, move along. Ahem. Anyway, sorry about that all Keagan. Please have a seat.
Keagan: Heh, it's really no problem. That's just Reske for you.
Me: Right? Ha ha. Thank you so much for coming!
Keagan: Thrilled to be here, thank you.
Me: So wow, this was your big break right? Your official introduction was in the last book true, but way to throw yourself out there, get recognized, carve yourself a piece of the Call of the Raven pie!
Keagan: Ha. I'm not really out for the glory or anything. I'm just happy to be a part of something like this.
Me: True, true. Thanks for stepping up then. Now, I happen to think your perspective as a newcomer on the scene --not to mention you being the polar opposite of Reske himself-- will add much depth to characters and events we've only seen through Reske's eyes so far.
Keagan: I'm flattered that you think so. It was an honor to be asked.
Me: Right. So one big thing that really came of you being the eyes of this book was the level of insight you picked up in the forest. I threw a lot of teasers and foreshadowing your way, and even if you didn't grasp their significance at the time, you made sure to bite at every little morsel. Thank you for that. I really appreciate it. Reske pretty much walks through life oblivious to everything but cookies, so it really makes my job a whole lot easier to have someone who pays attention for once.
Keagan: Ha ha. I wish I knew what you were talking about, but okay.
Me: Heh, next question. This book involves a very emotional scene of particular significance to you. How did you feel about the way things went down this time around?
Keagan: Well, it's hard yeah, I'm not going to lie. But I knew it was coming, so I think that helped. And I had a lot of support from Reske, Morid and the others. Oh wow, I can't believe I just said Morid. I'm meant...
Me: Morid did help you out a lot this book, didn't he? That was very kind of him.
Keagan: Uh, more like he was everywhere this book, wasn't he? I'm not sure I could have avoided him.
Me: Ah ha ha, I'm sure you exaggerate.
Keagan: Perhaps. I totally get why Peter confided him in that time though.
Me: Right? He's makes a good listening ear. Morid knows everything. He's so brilliant.
Keagan: If you say so. Probably a catch in it somewhere though. Now I owe him my soul or something.
Me: Ha ha ha! That's really funny Keagan. And oh hey! Speaking of Peter, why here he comes now. Thank you for coming today, Peter.
Keagan: Oh. Am I done? Should I leave now?
Me: Well, there's kind of only the one chair. I didn't think to bring more.
Keagan: Sure, no problem then. Enjoy your interview, Peter.
Peter: Thanks, Keagan. Hmm, so this is the internet is it? Nice place.
Me: Oh. Um, yeah. I guess it would be a first for you. But we're actually here to talk about the new book.
Peter: Oh? Did you write one too?
Me: Um, duh, you were in it!
Peter: That's interesting. Huh. Well, good for you then.
Me: Wait, you're saying you wrote a book too? What, for NaNoWriMo or something?
Peter: Hmmm. Let's just say 'wrote a book,' and leave it at that.
Me: Really? That's... awesome I guess. What's yours about?
Peter: Ah, sorry. I probably shouldn't say anything about it until its published. Then you can just pick up a copy and read it yourself. Should be on the shelves by this time next year.
Me: What? No way! You got a book deal already? Who's your agent? Do you have an agent? A publishing house contract? What?
Peter: I publish under a fairly popular pen name so I'd rather not say in this forum.
Me: But... No fair! I so hate you right now!
Peter: I'm sorry...? What was this interview about again?
Me: My book! The one I just wrote...? You had your big introduction and did all sort of useful, foreshadowy things...
Peter: Excuse me, but did you just say, 'Foreshadowy' things?
Me: Yes! I relied on you quite extensively to drop hints all over the place for Keagan.
Peter: Are you sure this was even me? That sounds like a pretty careless thing for me to do.
Me: You're a flighty, careless person. That's how I wrote your character.
Peter: Is it?
Me: Yes!
Peter: Huh. If you say so. You being the fancy writer and all.
Me: Did... you just snort?
Peter: Nope, not at all.
Me: . . .
Peter: Was there anything else you wanted to ask me? If not, I sort of have to go. I'm running late to another interview with the Known World equivalent of Time magazine.
Me: Th-here's no such thing!
Peter: Oh, have they never contacted you then?
Me: Bah, just go already! And call in our next guest on your way!
Peter: Take care then.
Me: Oh thank goodness, somebody sane! Talon, thanks so much for coming today!
Talon: Um sure. Not exactly sure why I'm here though. This is an interview about your new book, right? I wasn't even in this book. Not once.
Me: Er, that's true, but you were referenced a few times. And there's that very mysterious dream sequence you might very much have been a part of. TBD of course.
Talon: I don't see how dreams could possibly count, even if they are my little brother's.
Me: Yes well, speaking of your brother, how did you feel about Reske's rather significant character development this book? You must be pretty proud of him right about now!
Talon: I have no idea what you're talking about. I haven't seen my brother in months, remember? I've been at the capital all this book, trying to keep our realm in good standing at court.
Me: Sure, but you have to know something about it by now, right? Surely they told you, or... your father said he sent messages, didn't he?
Talon: If he did I haven't gotten to them yet. Look, I've got to get back. There's a ton of work to do before Asoren and I leave for the realm. I don't mean to blow you off, but court really is a full time job.
Me: Oh, okay, Talon. Sorry to take up your time. Hey, I'll make it up to you in the next book okay, with a nice, long vacation. Ooh! I think I know just the thing too!
Talon: If you say so. But the realm won't run itself, remember that.
Me: Noted. Hey, can you send the next guest in after you? Do we have another guest?
Talon: Uh, the only one I saw back there sulking around was Morid but... Are you seriously expecting him to sit here and answer interview questions?
Me: Of course! Morid likes me.
Talon: Writing that out doesn't make it so, but okay. I'll tell him you're ready for him.
Me: *Squee!* Morid! You came! You really do like me!
Morid: What is this? Is this a joke? Who the hell are you?
Me: I'm... your writer!
Morid: Writer? What the hell is that supposed to mean?
Me: Uh, I sort of created you.
Morid: . . .
Me: Heh, please allow me to rephrase. I have been given the great honor of chronicling your passage through the lives and times of my other characters.
Morid: What? When was this? Given by who?
Me: Woah! Calm down! I didn't mean anyone specifically! Er, that is, I was hoping you would grant me this great honor.
Morid: No.
Me: Wha...
Morid: Not a chance.
Me: . . .
Morid: It's too late isn't it? Take me back out.
Me: Ack! But Morid, I can't take you out now! Do you realize what all that would involve? Hours upon hours of work and...
Morid: Don't care. I'm serious. Take me out. I'm not going to be in your crummy books.
Me: But... No one even reads my books! Morid, they'll never even know you were in them! Please let me let you stay?
Morid: No. No way. I'm serious. Take me out now or I'll destroy your books.
Me: What? But that's so cruel! Aww, you don't understand! The books would be total and complete crap without! Morid, you are my books! Reske's the main character on record sure, but you're really the one who...
Morid: I seriously don't care. Are you really going to push this?
Me: Eep! No! ...Maybe? Please don't kill me!
Asoren: Morid!!! 
Morid: Ow.
Asoren: Oh, I hope I'm not too late, writer lady! I came as soon as I could! Morid, I didn't know you were be here too! Isn't this exciting? We're going to be in a book, Morid! Just like characters in, well, a book! Ha ha! I know its technically the fifth book already --of course there were the others before that-- but well, each new book is just so exciting, wouldn't you agree? A whole new saga, a chance to forge our destinies anew! Oh thank you, thank you writer lady for giving us wings and letting our stories take flight!
Me: Heh. Glad somebody feels that way. Uh, thank you for coming Asoren. Funny, I don't remember actually inviting you to this interview today. I mean you were hardly in the book at all this time around, right? Just there at the beginning, so I didn't feel it really necessary to call you all this way out here to...
Asoren: Don't be silly! I don't mind at all! Luckily Talon mentioned his interview today or I wouldn't have known to come! Silly Talon! He made it sound like he could hardly take time out of his oh-so-busy schedule to make it, but I told him he was just being selfish. This isn't about us at all, is it? It's about our fans, past and future, who make our stories come alive as they read them! Why, without the readers we are all just words on page, are we not? A fleeting pitter-patter of little typed words heard only by the ears of the typer. Oh! How tragic! I think I just made myself cry!
Morid: Please don't.
Asoren: Oh Morid! I'm so glad you're here too! You understand what I'm trying to say, right? If no one ever reads our stories, how could they possibly find out about us?
Morid: I don't want anyone to find out about me. I'm an assassin, remember?
Asoren: He he, of course you would say that. You're so funny, Morid! Oh, I'm so glad you came too!
Morid: So you've said.
Asoren: So writer lady, what would you like to ask us today?
Morid: Us?
Asoren: Of course! You're here answering questions too, aren't you? That's why you came, silly!
Morid: . . .
Asoren: Go ahead, writer lady. Ask away!
Me: Er, right. Well, uh, I guess since I have the two of you here, why don't we discuss topic of your own ah, relationship? That is if we dare to call it that at this point... No? Heh.
Asoren: Oh. Ha ha. You want to talk about that? It's not really... Well that is to say... Oh! Let's talk about little Sephy instead, can't we? I think she was absolutely delightful this book! Ahh! I can't wait to meet her again in these rewrites! I think she's simply divine this time around, and so sooooo perfect for my little brother! Don't you think so too Morid? Oh! You actually got to meet her this book, no fair! Now I'm so jealous! Was she delightful? Was she simply divine?
Morid: You already said she was.
Asoren: I knew it! I knew that she would be! She always is! Oh I can't wait to meet her again! Can our glorious reunion be next book, writer lady? Pleeeese?
Me: Uh, we'll just have to see. There was potentially a certain nice, long, heh really long vacation I mentioned to Talon, but I'm not sure I can work it back in yet without...
Asoren: Yes! Oh my god, yes, yes, yes! You HAVE to work it in! You must! That would be so perfect! Yes, yes, yes! Morid, wouldn't that be so... Oh wait, you weren't in that part! Promise you'll come this time though, Morid? Writer lady, promise he can come too? You'll love it there Morid! It's beautiful and wonderful... and full of lots of things for you to kill!
Morid: Eh?
Me: Ahem. Well, you see, it's been pointed out to me that perhaps I might be including Morid a little too often of late. I'm really not sure I can afford to change an entire...
Morid: What makes you think I wasn't there last time?
Me: ...Wait, what?
Asoren: You were? Oh my god! Of course you were! Why wouldn't you have been? You're always coming along secretly to protect us, aren't you? Aww, now I'm disappointed not to have noticed you last time! Ah! And you would have been so adorable like that too!
Me: See, that right there is how I know you weren't there, Morid. There's no way you would have lived it down! Ha!
Morid: You actually think I would have let myself look like whatever you're picturing?
Me: Ha, now you're stealing a Talon moment too so, no. No can do. You're out. Sorry, but I can't just let you can't hyjack the rest of my series however you please. Didn't you say you wanted to be left out of my books anyway?
Morid: . . . 
Asoren: Oh Morid no! No you didn't! Please say you didn't! The books wouldn't be the same without you! No! No! No! Don't listen to him, writer lady! I'm sure he didn't mean it! Tell her you didn't mean it, Morid!
Morid: . . .
Asoren: I'm serious, Morid. Tell her the truth or I very honestly think I'll cry! The writer lady only ever tries her best you know! She truly means well, I'm sure of it! So you mustn't say such cruel things to her anymore, promise you won't! Now, say you're sorry Morid!
Morid: . . .
Asoren: Now!
Morid: Geeze, all right already. Just can the tears, would ya? You know I can't stand it when you do that. Sorry, writer lady, okay? I'll be in your stupid books. There. You happy now?
Asoren: Aye. Thank you, Morid.
Morid: Whatever. This interview over yet?
Asoren: Don't be silly Morid, she hasn't even gotten to a good half of her...
Me: Actually, why yes it is! Thank you both for coming today, and another big thank you to our previous guests! And to our readers out there reading this, I sincerely hope you'll enjoy my newest book Guardian Prince, from the Call of the Raven series. Look for it someday hopefully soon in stores and web retailers near you!
Asoren: Aye, goodbye nice readers! Thank you for reading! I'm glad I got to be a part of your life, even for a moment! I'm sure in real life we'd be the very best of friends! I just know it! Goodbye! I hope to meet you again soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Day I was the Parent

The Day I Was the Parent

The day I was the parent still gives me a heady rush
“I could do better” ‘s what I thought, Mom sneezed, then gave a huff

“I don’t wanna cook!” she fussed, throwing down the loaf of bread
Her lower lip began to quiver, her eyes were turning red

“Mom,” I scolded harshly, not willing to appease her
“You have to cook. How will we eat? Please pull yourself together!”

But Mother threw a tantrum then, with kicking, crying, screaming
I didn’t know quite what to do. Just what was Mother scheming?

Father came home grumpy too, threw his keys down to the floor
I ordered him to pick them up, but he stomped out, slammed the door

Dinner still not cooked I tried as best as I was able
To warm some soup and place three bowls upon our dining table

“What is it?” Mom demanded. “Eww, I’m not eating this!”
She took a big sip anyway than spat it in the dish  

“Come back here now!” I yelled to her; that sneer invoked my wrath
But Mother hid all night from me, didn’t even take her bath

My father too, refused to eat, bathe, or pick up keys
But just when I could take no more, there came a low, faint sneeze

“That’s it! You two are grounded for a year –No, make it two!”
Excuse me?” Mom poked out her head. “I hope I didn’t hear you!”

Copyright 2011 Laurie E. Still

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Day We All Sang What We Spoke

The Day We All Sang What We Spoke

The day we all sang what we spoke was interesting and new
I hummed to school, when I arrived, the rest were humming too

The teacher burst into a song while handing back our work
I stared amazed at what she thought a grade of C was worth

She sang the revolution next, first Washington then Adams
It made our history come alive, patriotic as an anthem

Science was a lively tune, then art, and then mathematics
All put to rounds, or clever chants by musical fanatics

It didn’t stop there though, no, lunch was much the same
Along the line of steaming food, the servers scooped and sang

My friends made up their own songs, to ask about my day
Or wonder if the rain would stop in time for them to play
They harmonized the chorus too, it seemed like no big deal
I found myself very impressed; this fad had great appeal
Even on the bus back home, the students sang their lines
The drivers too in cars we passed, all giving it a try

The foreman and his quartet crew, with power tools in hand
The mailman and our neighbor Sue, a duet on the lawn

I ran inside the house singing my own dramatic score
My mom and dad just stared at me, then Mom said, “Close the door.”

Copyright 2011, Laurie E. Still

My Baby's Flute

A nursery rhyme I wrote for a contest a while back. No, I didn't win anything.

My Baby’s Flute

High note
Low note
A twittering teasing tune
My baby played a wooden flute
Whittled upon the moon

Whenever the moon was shining
We came to hear her play
A lovely song
A lonely song
A lullaby
A lay

All the stars would gather
All the crickets too
Forest critters
Eyes a-glitter
Creeping into view

My baby played a sad song
While wolves around her howled
Then a ditty
Short and pretty
Saw bobcats strut and yowl

Frogs croaked deep with sonnets
Mice with love songs squeaked
Baby kept pace
With infinite grace
Even as barn owls screeched

But before very long
Baby'd played the last song
A ballad her own hand had penned
The stars whispered warning
Soon it’d be morning
Our concert must come to an end

Night creatures flee
So do Baby and me
We know now is the time to scoot
But tomorrow night’s new
This time you should come too!
To hear Baby play songs on her flute

Copyright 2011, Laurie E. Still

Saturday, October 22, 2011

See What I See, Hear What I Hear

This was another short piece of fiction for my creative writing class. In addition to the bit below, there is rewritten version of events in journal format from the revisions portion of class. It adds more to the story but is written in the uncensored vernacular and not for sensitive eyes. If you choose to read it anyway, you may click on the "Read more under here" link at the bottom of the post.

See What I See, Hear What I Hear

I was dead.  There was no other explanation.  All the same, I opened my eyes and sat up.   My eyes wouldn’t focus, or maybe they finally did, but the images they registered seemed meaningless at first; colorless, lifeless mounds of ash, heaped together, sculpted into things familiar.  Bricks of ash, stacked on top of one another, formed buildings on either side of me, and beneath me, the ash had been packed into the hardness of pavement. 

I could really use a drink right now. 

Ignoring my thirst, I found my feet.  Walking was automatic, cost nothing.  It took several steps before I registered what really drove me, and then the alley seemed to go on and on forever.  The pressure that urged me on, that bid me “Run!  Hide!” rose steadily behind me, and I sensed the ensuing heat and light would be my destruction.   I spotted an entrance to the city’s sewer system I dove for it, fumbling awkwardly with grate until panic fueled unnatural strength and I ripped it from the ground.  The pressure faded behind me, balked by the darkness that enveloped me.

I sat there in the cold, wet darkness, marveling that it was neither cold, nor very dark.  Everything had taken on the dull, grey pallor of ash, even the water that flowed beneath my feet.   It was liquid ash.

God, I could really use that drink right now. 

I shook my head to clear the urge and started moving again.  I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but sensed I would know it when I saw it.  I rounded the corner and stopped.  There, ahead of me in the tunnel, shining as bright as if it were lit from within, was a rat the size of a house cat.  It lifted its rat-shaped head and sniffed the air, but deciding there was nothing there, it went back to rooting through the solid tangle that had caught its attention. 

Fascinated by the rat’s glow and the thought of whatever must have caused it, I didn’t notice at first how my thirst had intensified.  But it caught up to me soon enough and I was soon frantically looking around for something that would sate it.  Desperate, for a moment I even considered the liquid ash, but it repulsed me.  It was dead.

Thud thump, thud thump, thud thump.   The sound drew my eyes back towards the only thing in this place that wasn’t dead.  Liquid poured through the creature with each beat, liquid life that my throat ached for with such intensity that I was hurtling towards it before I’d made the conscious decision.  The rat, hearing the noise of my splashing, turned and scampered down the tunnel, but I was faster and snatched it up.  Hair, skin, and a thin layer of flesh weren’t in my way long, and as the liquid I craved so badly pumped into my burning throat, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, the first breath I’d taken all this time. 

Copyright 2011, Laurie E. Still

Trip to the Backyard

This is another older piece of writing, a non-fiction project for my creative writing class earlier this year. It was written in April I think, when Midori was only about 2-3 months old.

Trip to the Backyard

I’d waited all winter for it to be warm enough. Grinning over at the baby in my arms, I stepped into the yard.  The light breeze made her squint and I thought for a minute she was going to fuss, but she didn’t.  Picking my way across dog droppings in the yard (I made a mental note to remind the hubby to pick these up), I reached the swing set.  “See?  This is your swing set, Midori.  It is blue,” I said, and then because that seemed anticlimactic somehow (I'd pointed out that much from the upstairs window), I added, “and made of metal." Clank, clank, clank, I proved with my knuckles across the hollow steel.  When we reached the first terrace, I squatted on the steps so she could see the light peach-colored flowers, quivering in the breeze.  To my delight, a bee buzzed up, and since we’d already been discussing bees and their noises from books like Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree and Mr. Brown Can Moo, I enjoyed this chance to point out a real-life example in the brief moment it hovered in her vision.  The tree was next, where I pointed to buds that would soon be leaves.  Its bark felt rough against my skin but there were no sharp edges, so I held her hand out to feel the same.  She pulled it back, fighting my tug, and I sensed that she just wanted to look, not get involved.  Ignoring this, I squatted amid the gently-swaying daffodils. positioning her so that her face nearly touched one.  “This is a daffodil,” I informed her.  “It is yellow.  It smells nice.”  She struggled to track its movement with her eyes, blinked often, and squirmed, finally growing frustrated.  Safely nestled in my arms once more, we examined Daddy’s grill; the orange, clay chimney, the black, messy innards.  The clay had absorbed the afternoon sunlight and I risked her irritation again to place her hand against its heated surface.  Sunlight broke through the clouds warming the grill once more and making her tiny fingers glow white.  “Time to get you inside, little girl,” I said, remembering she didn’t have any sunscreen on.  My baby girl, content with this decision, took it as an opportunity to learn what the living room contained instead.