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A contest – that little beige house up the street

September 4th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments


What does this painting tell you? Is there a story in it? Want to share? If I like your story/explanation, you will win one of my small original paintings. Post your story here on my blog in the comments or on Facebook, using a link to this blog page and this painting.

Does the sky make you joyful? Sad? Is it foreboding? What does the crow see?

Your prize will either be one of the small crow paintings or a post card sized cat hand painted and signed by me.
I am looking forward to hearing from you. The deadline is September 10, 2010

If you click on the painting twice you can see it larger.

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  1. September 10th, 2010 at 15:22 | #1

    He watches. Black wings folded along his back, rustling as he hops from one foot to another. There, on the ground, in front of the yellow place, something glints. Shiny. Bright. He wants it. A wind brushes past him. The rusty gutter under his claws squeaks. A door closes, a car starts, a dog barks. He watches.

    Bright. Shiny. He must have it! But there, in the grass by the fence, there. See? Long tail, twitching. Whiskers, moving. It watches him. It watches and hungers and taps its tabby paws against the ground, waiting. He watches it, it watches him. He looks back to the shiny thing.

    It’s gone! No – the wind whooshes past again and there it is, shiny, bright. He will put it in his nest with his other shiny things. His mate will be pleased. Pleased by this new shiny treasure, pleased that it is theirs. Theirs. But see that tail, still twitching in the grass, waiting for him. Waiting. It will pounce, it pounced before. Pounced when he was busy preening his feathers, preening for his mate, who likes bright shiny things. Who likes his feathers to be bright and shining, clean and tidy. It pounced, and there went three beautiful bright shiny tail feathers, gone! It took his feathers, and he flew back to his nest and his mate was not pleased, not pleased. He must not lose more feathers. He must not be caught! But he must have this bright shiny object, bright things for his bright nest and his shining mate. He must have it!

    He watches, ruffles his feathers. The wind whispers past once more. A siren in the distance, another closing door, a lawnmower. The tail in the grass twitches lazily, waiting. He watches. He ruffles his feather and he watches.

    And then, he swoops.

  2. Sian Hoskins
    September 10th, 2010 at 00:08 | #2

    Maisie loved everything about early mornings, particularly those of the encroaching autumn when the day is still undecided about the weather. She would wake to the alarm clock of pure silence, a reassuring silence but one that would make others uncomfortable. But for Maisie it was confirmation that, for the first half hour of the day, she could submerge herself slowly but surely into the day ahead.
    She shuffles the corner of the curtain slightly to one side. Today there are thin veils that jig across the sky flirting and teasing each other. Maisie imagined them dancing around the trees in the distance behind her little beige house that she loved so dearly – but the crisp edge of autumn prevented her from stepping outside to see, as she would have done two months before.
    Instead, with a rush of fortitude and an irrepressible desire to taste the morning air, she jumps up and flings open the front door. The air trips her up and all her senses come to life. Jumping back into bed, bunching her knees to her chin, wrapping the covers around her into a warming ball, she breathes deeply edging the curtain further to one side. All is still. A moment frozen in time disturbed only by the crow on her neighbour’s roof sharply adjusting its stance. Stillness is resumed and they stare at each other in perfect silence and mutual solitude. A perfect morning.

  3. admin
    September 9th, 2010 at 08:56 | #3

    There is just one more day for entries. The judge(s) will be presented with all the stories without the names attached. Contest winner will be announced on Monday.

  4. Barkleys Mommy
    September 8th, 2010 at 17:53 | #4

    Six year old Mabel loved this time of the morning, the not-light, not-dark moments just before dawn. Her mother had worked the graveyard shift at the mill and was snoring quietly on the couch. Her little brother was snuggled in his crib, surrounded by tattered stuffed animals with no eyes. She peeked through the curtains, eager to see what the day would bring. As she sighed with joy, she wrapped her threadbare sweater around her thin body, and quietly opened the front door. The crisp morning air tasted like grass and it was so silent and still that she imagined she could hear the dew drops falling from the lush, green boxwood bushes. She smiled the smile of an innocent child as a friendly crow cawed “good morning”. “Today will be a good day,” she whispered to the world.

  5. Ayn
    September 8th, 2010 at 17:34 | #5

    It was a late afternoon in autumn. One of those days that you could walk outside and smell the rich, smoky haze of burning leaves and the crisp tang of ripening apples and pumpkins with the faint acrid taste of faded roses and earthy mushrooms providing a little depth to the season’s perfume.

    Arabella slowly shuffled down the sidewalk towards her house. She knew that if anyone was watching, they would assume that she was simply an elderly arthritic woman making her way home after a day at the Senior Center.

    “If they only knew”, she snorted to herself.

    The sidewalks on lining either side of Spruce Lane were marble and Arabella was sliding her feet along the marble, marveling at the satiny smoothness under her feet. As a child she had roller skated up and down these sidewalks much to the chagrin of Mrs. Baird who would chase her down to the next block waving a broom and shouting that Arabella was a hoyden, a terror and a bad girl who would come to no good end. Mrs. Baird was the one who had paid to have the marble sidewalks put in but she had been a silly woman if she hadn’t thought about the fact that marble was marvelous to roller skate on, and bike on, and draw on with chalk.

    Arabella loved the sidewalks on Spruce Lane and had vowed that one day she would own them. And now she did. She had, in fact, bought Mrs. Baird’s house. It was a small house, tucked back from the road and surrounded by a dense pine woods. It was a pale yellow, a sunwashed color, that seemed to glow even on the dreariest days, although on days like today when the sunlight was watery and weak and storm clouds filled the sky, the house absorbed the light, taking it in, storing it up for the darker days of winter.

    She loved her house, the lace curtains in the window, the prim front yard. Her house was like she was, private, a little plain at first glance but once she let anyone inside, then it was a completely different landscape. The backyard ran riotous as English Garden flowers competed with masses of wildflowers that crowded the herbs and vegetables that tried to climb up the fruit trees. Where there was no room to plant things in the ground she had hung pots and stacked containers full of every flower, herb or vegetable that was known to grow in a Northwest Pacific zone and a few that weren’t supposed to.

    She turned up the front walk of Number 3 Spruce Lane, home again. She opened her door, and set her shopping bag inside on the deacon’s bench and stooped to pick up the mail from the floor. As soon as she had opened the door, she heard the harsh “haw” behind her. She looked at the clock over on the wall. 4:15 p.m. She had to give him that, he was always on time. She knew that she had 15 minutes and there would be 200 crows clamoring for their supper.

    But this one, she knew him. One day in the early summer she had turned up Spruce Lane and had been greeted by a deafening roar as every crow in the state seemed to be lining the telephone lines, roof tops and fences. As she hurried towards her house wondering what had upset them so much, she saw why they were upset. A young crow had somehow landed on the fence, not gotten a firm perch and had slide down so his neck was caught between two fence palings. He had been beating his wings against the fence and scrabbling with his claws because there were gouges in the wood and blood on the paint.

    When she saw him and ran towards him, the crows, who had been screaming bloody murder suddenly as one voice stopped. The silence was eerier than the screaming had been. She could see that he had exhausted himself and was simply hanging there. Even though he was young, he was still a large bird and he had a strong looking beak but Arabella knew that the crows were expecting her to do something. After all, wasn’t she the one that had fed them through the harshest winter in 20 years? 40 pounds of cat food a week as well as scraps from the butcher and leftover vegetables from the school cafeteria where she worked as librarian.

    So Arabella had walked slowly up to him, talking nonsense in as soothing a voice as she could. Then taking off the scarf from her head, she wrapped it around his wings. There was nothing to be done but just do it and she reached over the other side of the fence and putting her hand just under that hard black beak, she very carefully lifted him up, one hand under his head, the other under his body by his claws. He did not struggle. It still amazed her that he had known that she was trying to help.

    After she had lifted him free, she carried him around to the back deck, with what seemed like 450 crows silently following them. She had placed him on the wooden deck and unwrapped the scarf. She wasn’t sure what to do next. She thought that if she took him inside or tried to take him to the vets there would be a re-enactment of The Birds, and she looked nothing like Tippy Hedren and hopefully crows were smarter than sea gulls. After a minute of sitting there, another crow flew down to him, from the soft quarking that it was crooning, Arabella thought it might be one of his parents. After the other crow had smoothed a few of his feathers and talked to him, they suddenly both flew up onto the roof.

    But after that, he would come sit on the ground while she was working in her garden and every afternoon he always showed up 15 minutes earlier than the others. Sometimes he would talk to her, a couple of times he had dropped leaves and once a shiny pebble on her. Arabella just figured that it was his way of saying thank you and that she was now a member of the family. And sometimes she tossed peanuts or other tasty tidbits back at him.

    As she closed the front door into her private world, she heard the sound of a murder in her backyard. And again, for the bzillioneth time she thought how much she loved her little home on Spruce Lane.

  6. September 8th, 2010 at 06:54 | #6

    “Comere, India, comere,” says little Marcus ahead of me on the ladder. He is the only one who can coax that gem of a crow back into the fold of our home. She was rescued by the kids as I mowed the lawn in the mid-summer. Now, as fall approaches, she wants to escape just like the kids on the bus to school. Taking care of Aunt BinaBelle across the street in the early morning hours I glimpsed the children with the rescue plan. Auntir released me for a moment to accompany Little Marcus up the ladder with pieces of stale white bread (What white bread isn’t stale?). And I can see from this perspective that Auntie’s little home looks a bit shabby, somewhat stale itself, and in a little in need of opening up even to this ‘weathery’-looking day.

  7. BuniGrrl
    September 6th, 2010 at 11:02 | #7

    Lazy labor day
    Fog shrouds the late summer sun
    The crow looks at me

  8. Lola
    September 6th, 2010 at 10:37 | #8

    It was a lovely day, sun shining, birds singing, you know the lovely days that just make you smile the minute you wake up. Well should have known it wasnt to last, the sun went in behind the clouds, the air became cold and eerie. A lone bird stands and watches, whats he watching you ask, well he is watching the Barnstale house. Everyone knew the strange things that happened there, horrible screams in the night, weird moaning, but sometimes laughter and happyness. The house was definatley a strange one, as the bird stood watching the door slowly creeped open………..

  9. Esmeralda Mudd
    September 4th, 2010 at 21:07 | #9

    After a glorious day of sunshine, the clouds have gathered at dusk. A joyful wedding party has just left to take the bridge and groom to the airport. One of the revelers had been carrying the left over cake and dropped it as he merrily sang along with the other attendants. He ran inside to gather implements to clean up but the others called out to him to hurry and in his haste he forgot to close the door.

    A crow sits poised as she prepares to swoop down to claim the crumbs of the wedding cake. Her nestlings will certainly enjoy the feast.

  10. Esmeralda Mudd
    September 4th, 2010 at 21:04 | #10

    It’s a dreary dank day. A raven sits dolefully on the eaves of the house across the way. The little beige house up the street has been broken into.

    A broken-hearted widow sat alone each night until she finally roused herself and went to the casino. She won $33,000. The people at the casino gave her 33 piles of hundred dollar bills and guns drawn, escorted her to her cart. Little did they knew she had been followed. The burglars robbed her and when she lunged at one of them, he shot her in cold blood.

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