I know this story sounds like a fairy tale, but I swear, it’s real history! King You of Zhou ruled China in 780 BC. Everything was fine until he met a girl. King You was already married, but he fell head over heels for Bao Si, and he brought her into the palace and kicked out the queen. The king’s new girl was hard to amuse, but he tried and tried. One day he pulled a prank by sending smoke signals to call his nobles to arms. The nobles thought they were under attack and they rushed to the palace armed for battle. The king’s girlfriend thought it was hilarious! The king repeated the prank a couple more times – he wanted to keep his girl in a good mood. Soon, though, King You’s father-in-law, angry that his daughter had been kicked out of the palace, mounted an attack. (You can see where this is going.) The king called his nobles and, of course, they didn’t come and guess what happened next! (Thanks, http://www.MissouriQuiltCo.com)
There’s a lesser-known fairy tale than some more familiar ones in which a sweet young girl shares a cake with an old woman she meets at the well. Turns out that the old woman has magic powers (of course she does, it’s a fairy tale) and is so grateful for the young woman’s generosity that she casts a spell so that when the young girl breathes, roses fall from her mouth and when she walks violets spring up from the ground.
It’s a lovely fairy tale but I’m a wysiwyg kind of person. You know, what you see is what you get. I take things literally. So all I could think when I first heard the fairy tale, was: flowers everywhere?
Don’t know if I’d care for that, no matter how well-intentioned. I mean, wouldn’t you get tired of the same old flowers all the time? And the same scents, day in and day out?
And doesn’t it sound kind of messy? Just imagine trying to pop into a store quickly for a jug of milk and hearing “clean up on aisle 9” every single time!
I’m thinking the poor girl ended up living alone in the forest, away from people who surely chased her there when their houses, yards and streets were buried beneath all those flowers.
And I suspect she’s still there, waiting for her Prince Charming to come, kiss her, and release her from that witch’s spell.
After all, it is a fairy tale.
As a writer, I know words are important. I also know that language evolves and words change. Still — shouldn’t a berry be a berry? No matter the year, the century, the country or the language, shouldn’t a person be confident knowing that something labled ‘berry’ is actually what the label says?
Nope! Doesn’t happen!
Avacados are technically berries. When I read that, I couldn’t believe it. I looked it up. Then I looked up the definition of a berry. And that’s when I learned that everything I thought I knew about berries was wrong.
According to the scientific definition, a berry is a single, round fleshy fruit with a seed or seeds that’s produced from a single ovary.
So — grapes are berries. So are tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants and bananas.
What are NOT berries? Strawberries. Raspberries. Blackberries. Mulberries. In spite of their names, none of them are technically berries.
How did things get so screwed up? Who named everything, anyway? And why didn’t they check (like I did) before getting carried away and coming up with names that were all wrong?
Oh me, oh my! My life will never be the same.
After all, I’m a writer and words are the coin of my business and I just learned that some of those words are — well — wrong.
I’ll bet whoever named those non-berries wasn’t a writer.
I’ve been learning about cats. I’ve had a cat for eleven years now so you’d think I’d know a bit by now. I did end up making one a major character in my novel, A Very Black Cat. But these strange critters never cease to surprise me. Anyway, I ran across a few cat facts and here are five of them:
- There are over 70 breeds of cats. That seems like a lot of different kinds of cats. And each cat within each breed is an individual with its own personality and its own quirks, which means there are a lot of interesting animals out there. Meet my cat and you’ll see what I mean.
- It is estimated that there are 200 – 600 million cats alive on Earth. That’s a lot of cats but cats live everywhere on Earth from the coldest mountains to tropical paradises so I can understand the huge numbers. After all, they are truly adaptable critters.
- Cats are the second most popular pet in the U.S., second only to freshwater fish. Hey, what happened to dogs? Okay, maybe there are more cats than dogs because often pet owners have only one dog but it’s pretty common to have more than one cat. That’s my guess, anyway.
- There may have been instances of domesticated cats as early as 7,500 BC – that’s 9,500 years ago! No surprise there, but I wonder whether people domesticated cats way back then or whether it was the cats that domesticated us. I mean, look at us today. We take care of them, love them, give them toys, and what do they do in return? Look cute and that’ s enough and I suspect they were smart enough to figure that out all those years ago.
- The heaviest known cat weighed nearly 50 pounds. And I thought my cat was big. Wow. That’s all I can say about a 50 pound cat. ‘Wow.’
I always thought of flowers as delicate and fragile. And some are. But not all. Some of the loveliest are some of the toughest.
Lotus flowers, for instance, begin life in the yucky, muddy bottom of a pond where they struggle until they grow enough to reach the water’s surface where they finally have fresh air and sunlight. They don’t give up. Good for them!
Poppies don’t have it easy, either. Their seeds lie dormant in the dirt for a long time. Years and years. You’d think they don’t exist, with people walking carelessly all over them. That continues until the ground is disturbed and then they begin growing, suddenly, surprising people who’d forgot they existed and turning all that broken ground into a field of color. Remember the battlefields of Europe during WWII? How poets spoke of the poppies that sprang to life there? It’s what they do because they are tough.
The purple mountain saxifrage is a tiny, sweet flower that grows at higher altitudes than possibly any other flower on earth and brings a touch of color to the harsh landscape found at the top of the world. The top of the world! A place of cold and lack of oxygen and thousand-foot cliffs that scare people like me to death! But for these flowers, it’s home.
Every day, when I water my own picky blooms, I remind them how fortunate they are to live in my yard where everything is provided and all they have to do in return is be beautiful.
I don’t think they listen.
Because they know their only job is to be lovely.
I saw this list of facts on a minion site and laughed myself silly:
1.You are reading this right now.
2.You realize that is a stupid fact.
4. You didn’t notice that I skipped three.
5. You’re checking now.
6. You’re smiling.
7. You’re reading this even though it’s stupid.
9. You didn’t realize I skipped eight.
10. You’re checking and smiling again because of how you fell for it again.
11. You’re enjoying this.
12. You forgot there are only supposed to be ten facts.
If you aren’t laughing now and you are normal, you are at least smiling and everyone knows that a smile is the forerunner to laughter!
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are all set to tie the knot. I love a royal wedding, and I love wedding cake — okay, I love any and all cake and I have a special love of the kind of bakery cake that is normally used at weddings, don’t know why, there’s just something about that kind of cake — but I have to admit that even I am not sure about the royal wedding cake pieces that are being auctioned off as a way of getting people even more ‘in the mood’ for this particular royal happening.
I mean, I’m not sure that even I, the cake lover of all time, want a piece of 37-year-old wedding cake. But it’s out there! Really. Yes. It is.
Shortly, Julien’s Auctions will auction off several slices of wedding cake from previous royal weddings. If you’re into really aged royal wedding cake and have very deep pockets, you can purchase pieces from William and Kate’s wedding in 2011, Charles and Camilla’s in 2005, and Charles and Diana’s in 1981.
Seems that guests at those weddings have been saving them in the freezer so they should be good enough to eat. Still, I think I’ll pass on mummified wedding cake.
Maybe I’ll stop by the local bakery, buy a white cake with white frosting and chow down while watching Harry and Meghan tie the knot on TV. Or maybe I’ll pass on the show and just enjoy the cake. Or nibble away while working on my next romance because — think about it — romance involves weddings and weddings involve cake.
Is that why I like cake so much? Don’t know.
I just know that I do love cake.
More about black cats:
A black cat’s color is genetic. There are three variants of the black fur gene (solid black, cinnamon and brown. If a cat has a solid black hue that overwhelms other gene colors or stripes, heavy exposure to the sun can make the pigment in its fur break down to reveal those once-invisible stripes (another potential cause: nutritional deficiency).
What was once a black cat is now a rusty brown cat.
I think I’ll keep my cat out of the sun because I like his coat the way it is. And I hope Becky knows that about her black cat, Little Guy, because I’d hate to see his beautiful coat turn brown. On the other hand, he lives in the forest so that’s not likely to happen unless he decides to visit town a lot. Which is something he does, much to Becky’s chagrin.
Get A Very Black Cat from Amazon.