A New Challenge – SoCS

It’s full-on February, but yesterday’s high temperature was 60°f (16°c) or 70 degrees warmer than it was a week ago. I don’t like to complain about the weather, but this roller coaster ride we’re having with the thermometer is making me crazy. At least the bar is open and Cheryl is here with David and me as we relax, talk about the weather and wrestle with Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt:

“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is ‘heart.’ Use it any way you like. Have fun!”

If we were having a beer, you’d be interested in what I was reading.

“What are you reading, Dan? One of your own eBooks?”

“Not hardly, David. I read them so many times before I finally cut them loose, I’m not sure I want to go back there.”

“So, what’s that, then?”

“It’s The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens.”

“You’re reading Charles Dickens? That seems a little out of character.”

“You want to know what else seems out of character? You two have been here for several minutes and neither of you has asked for something to drink.”

“Well, I think I’m buying today, and I know I’m having a John Howell’s Special. Dan?”

“A nice cold Modelo for me, Cheryl.”

“So, Dan, why are you reading this story?”

“Yvette, over at her Priorhouse blog is running a Dicken’s challenge.”

“She ran one last year, didn’t she? In fact, I thought you were going to participate in it.”

“She did, and I was going to participate, but it ended on June ninth.”

“Here you go, guys. One cold beer, one bourbon, a snifter of seltzer, sheesh, David, this is getting old.”

“But there is more, right?”

“Yes, of course, a glass of ice and a few cherries.”

“Thanks Cheryl. Dan, am I correct in thinking that Charles Dickens also ended on June ninth?”

“You are, David. The challenge runs from February eleventh—the day of his birth—to June ninth.”

“I see. And of course from February eleventh last year until May thirty-first, you were writing, editing and preparing to publish your first book.”

“That’s true. And after I published my first book, I wasn’t really up for reading a book by an author who was much better at his craft than I am at mine.”

“No offense, Dan, but there are a lot of authors who are better at their craft than you are at yours.”

“When does the no offense part come in?”

“I’m just curious. Why Dickens?”

“This challenge is about reading his novellas. At first, they wanted us to read three. Then they changed it to one.”

“And you’re reading The Cricket on the Hearth.”

“Actually, I’m going to try to read three. I feel like I have to read at least two.”


“Well, each year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I watch umpteen different versions of A Christmas Carol. My wife always says none are as good as reading the book.”

“Did you ever read the book?”

“Yes, but a long time ago. So, I think I’m going to read it next.”

“You’ve written about Dickens before, haven’t you?”

“I did, I wrote about The Mystery of Edwin Drood, in a post about the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. I also feel like I have a connection to Dickens.”

“How’s that, Dan?”

“Well, as I mentioned in that old post, Charles Dickens visited Windsor Locks, Connecticut—you know, where I live. He even traveled on the Windsor Locks Canal.”

“That is interesting. Small town in the third-smallest state. Quite a coincidence.”

“There’s another coincidence, David. In my second book, one of the characters is held in what used to be known as Western State Penitentiary, outside of Pittsburgh. Dickens visited that prison.”

“You do seem to keep running into traces of Charles Dickens. Maybe you should read more of his work.”

“Would you like another beer, Dan? Perhaps you’d like some Gin punch or a Smoking Bishop.”

“Modelo, Cheryl. Modelo will be fine.”

“And another bourbon for me, Cheryl. Good luck with the challenge, Dan.”

“Thanks David.”

If you like magical realism with suspense, action and a bit of family sarcasm, you will enjoy these books:

The Evil You Choose
When Evil Chooses You

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  1. Hi Dan and everyone is at the bar today glad you are are all well! Charles Dickens is definitely a good author and he had an interesting life very much a man of his era though.
    Oh! Your wife is definitely right the films do not do his book of Christmas Carol , neither do the films of his other novels do any justice to the original books.
    Wow! Those photos are amazing, the scunk well he looks amazing and those shots of smokey especially running down the tree and the little guy poking his head out…wow! Not to mention the light and the views.
    Have a great weekend 💜💜😘

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Willow! I have read a number of books and stories by Dickens, but he’s definitely an author whose books are worth reading again at some point. I do think my wife is right (shhhh, don’t tell her I said that), so I will read at least two novellas between now and June.

      The skunk stopped me in my tracks. I wanted a picture, but I didn’t want to be any closer and I didn’t want to startle him/her.


    • Reading is a good thing, no matter what you’re reading. I’m glad the skunk is under that shed – it’s far from our house. But we might have one in our yard as well. We get wiffs that say one has been here.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As it happens, I am currently in the middle of “Pickwick Papers.” For about the thousandth time. I love Dickens’ sentences, though I know many don’t. Pickwick is my bedtime reading; I laugh out loud almost every night, and that helps erase the news of the day. Most of Dickens’ stories don’t make me laugh — just Pickwick. Two clever friends sent me “The Cricket” along with a brass cricket for my hearth. How great was that? I love your winter photos, and those, together with Dickens and just the touch of snark, started my day very well. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked this post, Maureen. I haven’t read any Dickens in years. I think it’s time. As for snark, the bar wouldn’t be the same without a little touch. The book and the cricket was a very cool gift.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great banter today, but Cheryl was unusually quiet.

    Glad that skunk decided to “play nice”. We have wiffs of the little buggers quite often. Hopefully there isn’t a condo of them under our shed.

    The little guy peeking out of his door looking to see if his dinner delivery came is so cute.

    Love the moon shot as well as the sun shining through the bare trees.

    Old Glory, with the sun as a backdrop, makes quite an impressive picture.

    Hope you and the Editor have a great weekend Dan. I’m enjoying this unexpected nice weather, but I still can’t help waiting for the other shoe to drop…or temperature!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t have time to check with Cheryl before writing this post, Ginger. Since she’s the other real person here, I don’t like to put words in her mouth.

      I stopped and was ready to back up and go the other way when I saw that skunk. We get wiffs of one in our yard. This was the first time I was glad Maddie wasn’t walking with me. She never bothered squirrels and bunnies, but she barked and lunged at cats. I’m not sure what she would have done, but I’m glad I didn’t get a chance to find out.

      The little squirrel in the hole is just the cutest thing. I don’t want to scare it by tossing peanuts in the hole, but I always put a few near the trunk.

      I’m going to clean up some trash that blew into our yard and replace some covers that blew off . I, too, am waiting for what February has in store. Or March, you can’t trust March. I hhope you enjoy this weekend.


  4. Holy Hannah, a skunk! There was a big (and brave enough that he wasn’t worried about a car and headlights) here a while back, but I never got a look at him.
    Good luck with your Dickens challenge, Dan. I used to read a lot of his work, but it has been a very long time. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, Dan, I commend you on taking up the Dickens challenge. I come up with self-challenges once in awhile, like reading and understanding Shakespeare, but then I realize it’s more work than time allows and I let it go.

    I haven’t read Christmas Carol, but I also watched about three versions over the holiday. The original 1938 version is the best, IMHO.

    I’m guessing you and the Editor still miss your redhead, but I have to offer more kudos for continuing the morning walks. It’s been difficult to walk outside around here until lately, since the weather has been warmer, but there’s also a large mall nearby and if I were really determined, I’d go there at 7 am and walk a few laps. Alas, mall walking and Shakespeare…not very good at either.

    Hope you have a relaxing weekend, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mary. I think the challenge will be fun. Going public with my intentions is my way of keeping the pressure up on myself so I don’t stop.

      Walking without Maddie is hard, but it’s getting easier. I smile a little every time I see someone picking up dog poop. I have to keep moving. It would be so easy for me to sink into a sedentary lifestyle. Then I fear I would add snacks and beer and…

      I hope your weather gets better for walking soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love the photos today, Dan, especially the squirrel peeking out of the hole and the moon next to it. Every time I read about Modelo now I think of the ghastly cost of the four my husband bought at the last 7’s tournament in LA–$75!! He didn’t realize when he ordered them from the guy walking around that they were so expensive. Needless to say, at the next tournament at the end of this month, there will be no beer!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Today’s photos are pretty wonderful, Dan. Very moody. The little guy peeking from the tree is so cute. You know, I don’t think I have ever seen a skunk in person. I was thinking it was a cat at first.
    “No offense, but” always puts me on the edge. Only a good friend gets away with it. Good old David. Enjoy the weekend, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve only ever seen skunks at night while driving. This was closer than I ever wanted to be. I didn’t even take a picture until it started moving away. We were too close for comfort when we first spied each other.

      The tree squirrel gets the cute award every time.

      “No offense, but” is guaranteed to be followed by something you don’t want to hear. But, I have to let David get away with it.

      I hope you have a nice weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my, sunrises and a moon shot too! 👏🏻👏🏻We were required to read and set up a scene from Great Expectations in my 8th grade literature class. That book was bleak in so many ways. Clearly he had experience with scorned women. I think we had to read A Christmas Carol but not sure anymore. Happy reading, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Don’t know what I like better, the skies or the critters. Skunks are such cuties! I wish they weren’t so pungent. Of course, if they weren’t, people would always be scooping them up and snuggling them. As for the Dickens novellas, I’ve read them all, but may join the challenge and read them again. Dickens is one of my imaginary literary boyfriends.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve a bunch of classic novels, including Dickens… which I haven’t read yet. You’ve just given me a nudge. Methinks I shall put one for my next in line :) Love images as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I haven’t read Cricket on the Hearth, nor have I read A Christmas Story aka Marley’s Ghost which I am reading now. I too am going to try and read three of his novellas before the June 9th deadline. I hope you finish your goal of reading two of his novellas as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A skunk! I’ve been too close to those, too often. And I escaped unscathed. How wonderful to know that you were walking on a path that Charles Dickens once walked. That gives me chills. I felt like that when I was in England. Shakespeare. Canada is too young.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, we’re too young, too but he came here and rode one of the canal boats. I don’t know why, they didn’t carry passengers as far as I know. But knowing that he was there does. make me feel good.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I always feel close to John Steinbeck when we drive through the Salinas valley and see all the farm workers. I’m amazed you got close enough to the skunk to get that shot. I’ve heard they’re photo shy!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. In college I read books by Dickens but haven’t revisited any of them as a more seasoned adult. I like the idea of doing so, but like Damyanti Biswas said above, I also realize my view of him now might be less than favorable. Still…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A Dickens challenge, huh? I’ll have to think about that one. I especially love your close up of the — I’m getting lost on how to describe it — the chain with the note “looking out over the fields.” So beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Congrats on joining in on the Dickens challenge. It’s been decades since I’ve read a Dickens book. I hope you enjoy the challenge. I just finished reading a beta version of a novel by one of my blog’s followers, that was fun to do. Your photos this week are fun to see the signs of spring. The sun’s glow on the flag is beautiful at that time of day. Yeah, good thing you weren’t walking Maddie – she would’ve been quite interested in the skunk and a dog sprayed with skunk scent is NOT fun to deal with! I hope you have a great week and enjoy the Dickens tales!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I bet in a way you’re thankful to read Dickens to take your mind off your next book – somehow re-reading something from the past helps our brains build on their creativity. I’m sure you’ll find much joy in the experience.

        Ah, yes, she is grateful. I’m happy I’ve handed it back too. I’m every word and punctuation kind of reader so hopefully, the few that I found will help her book become even better. 😊 On my bookshelf photo this past week are two copies of Other Me’s. The beta version which I helped read/proof and a copy of the final release. Yikes…sorry to ramble on!!!
        Have a great week, Dan!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Dan – well I think I need to shadow along … better get down to the library and order up one or two of his novellas … thank you for increasing my education – or should I thank Yvette for challenging you and her participants … I’ll check in – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I haven’t read Dickens in for-ever, but I do love me A Christmas Carol as both a book and the Alastair Sim movie. Your picture referencing how the sun would soon be blocked…that got me thinking about all of the views we have during the winter that indeed are completely hidden from us for half a year. Nature pulls back the curtain, and then rebuilds it anew.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hey Dan!
    Your posts are so masterful because if the way you use dialogue to get across so many little things!
    And I had no idea of the coincidences and connections your area has to dickens
    Even though I do know a little about his American visit and the nuances with it
    / like Ralph Waldo Emerson made fun of dickens after he spoke – it after he orated – and I guess it was so over the top (dramatic) that folks in the audience chuckled
    That was likely one more small thing that added to dickens negative experience in the US
    Anyhow – we are so glad to have you join this year
    We have a separate website in the works that will have podcasting and maybe we could read a passage from your book
    Let me know if you are up for sending me an Audio track
    It would be a great way to share about the challenge and your clever ideas in the books

    Liked by 1 person

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