A Second Spring
When every Leaf
Is a Flower.
~ Albert Camus
To every Time and Season
Of it’s Own.
~ Charles Dickens
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Love doesn’t Make
The World Go ’round ~
Love is what Makes
The Ride Worthwhile.
~ Franklin P. Jones
1.) Michael Kiev
3.) Michael Kiev
Sophistication can be tricky, especially in the art of deciding whether to arrive to an assignation on time, or fashionably late. But what is apparently quite unacceptable is the in-between tardiness that results from staring at a giant mushroom.
It wasn’t that this tardiness was found to be thoughtless or even rude, but unnatural. Delays involving traffic, bees, and runaway steamrollers have all been overlooked, but the fungus was deemed inexcusable as the Professors seem to be biologically opposed to all things mushroom. In fact, they didn’t seem to believe that Sister Madly saw the mushroom at all, which resulted in a frustration she hadn’t felt since Christmas Eve, when no one believed that Elvis was sitting on her neighbor’s balcony.
So after much discussion, the Professors came to the logical conclusion that Sister Madly would greatly benefit from a week-long retreat at the Trappist Monastery.
To begin with, Sister Madly doesn’t like how this particular monastic order contains the word Trap. No doubt that name exists for a reason, and she’s not too keen on finding out why. Besides, it’s not like she ate the mushroom, although she did form a bond with a hookah-smoking caterpillar over their mutual lack of height.
The Professors cheerfully overlooked these misgivings, determined that Sister Madly would embrace the simple life once she was not only aware of all the thrills…
“You can make creamed honey-”
…but moments of sweet meditation.
“-and fruit cake!”
Yes, very few graduates today realize that all of life’s predicaments can be rectified with a bakery and a beehive, as Monastic Fruit Cake Philosophy is only available on a PhD level. Sister Madly herself was ill-equipped upon finishing high school, facing the world with nothing more than knowledge of how to add and subtract papayas, that throwing tea into a harbor results in warfare, and that battery acid eats through shirts.* Had she furthered her education, she might not have been contaminated by Giant Mushroom Awe.
* The understanding of battery acid came about in a household setting rather than the classroom.
(Sorry about that.)
But why a Trappist Monastery? What about the monks who make cider? Why can’t she spend a few days with those fine gentlemen?
The Professors thought the reason was obvious enough: the Monks Who Make Cider live in a little place called The Other Side of the World, which was a wee bit outside of their ‘stay-for-free-but-donations-are-accepted’ budget.
“Besides, Trappist Monks are known for their silence.”
Well, that’s a comfort: the monks will be unable to tattle on Sister Madly when she engages in some very un-monastic rituals, such as swimming in the baptistery and putting toothpaste in the fruit cake. Surely nothing is more infuriating than a gossipy little monk.*
* Or a gossipy tall monk, for that matter.
But wait- would she also be bound by this vow of silence? Not that she’s a chatty little supernova, mind you, but Sister Madly has been known to talk to, with, and amongst herself on occasion. And of course, she simply must reply; not responding to oneself when speaking to oneself is most impolite. But this mandatory silence would be like giving herself the cold shoulder, and Sister Madly might take offense and not speak to herself for days.
“It’s not completely silent; after all, there is a confessor.”
If that is not the essence of ingenuity! No need for the monks to tattle; Sister Madly will be required to tattle on herself! Then she will sulk and call herself names, which will escalate to rumor-spreading and hair-pulling, after which Sister Madly will vow to never tell herself another secret again.
Well son of a biscuit, Sister Madly- you just uncovered the Trap of Trappist! This whole ‘retreat’ is just a ruse on the part of the Professors to thwart future high-jinks and delicious skullduggery, all of which takes a great deal of planning amongst yourself; the Giant Mushroom is just an excuse to implement it. They’re trying to make you just like them, all responsible and early-to-bed. You need to put a stop to this wicked agenda at once!
Professor- did you do something with your hair?
That’s what she thought.
THEME SONG: Enjoy the Silence, Depeche Mode
Crows have been known to build fake nests in order to fool predators. Sister Madly intends to utilize this strategy the next time she goes camping by pitching a fake tent to fool her friends.
She might even make use of a papier-mâché Sister Madly decoy, which no doubt will go unnoticed for the first 36 hours.*
* Possibly 40, if special mushrooms are involved.
In a rational world, there are many reasons that one would camp out in the wild: to get out of the city, to go on an adventure, to hide a body, or to simply experience nature.
Oh there was nature, all right, in those outdoor adventures of yore…
Professor- was that a peacock?!
While the Professors heard her question, they apparently did not hear the distinctive, prehistoric squawk as their only response was a look suggesting that Sister Madly was treading dangerously close to butterfly-net territory. It would seem that not one of the Professors’ credentials included a PhD in birds.*
* Or anything useful, for that matter.
Furthermore, the Professors must have assumed that Sister Madly not only hallucinated the Peacock’s Song, but did so out of hunger as she was handed a bag of vegan cat treats.
For those unfamiliar with the species, ‘cats’ are those cuddly creatures that purr when happy and strategically hack hairballs into your shoes without the slightest bit of shame. There are kitties in the wild, this much is true: but they are awfully big kitties, Professor- seriously, are these Treats for the cougars?
“For the… Peacock.”
Now Sister Madly’s parents didn’t raise a fool- a darling rapscallion with latent psychopathic tendencies, perhaps, but not a fool. She was well-aware that when the word Peacock was spoken, it was italicized. So they didn’t believe there was a Peacock in the vicinity; so they were merely humoring her like a dim-witted child. So Sister Madly, in return, humored those hollow smiles by indulging in the Cat Treats herself.
However, it seemed that the Treats were intended for the Italicized Peacock after all, for no sooner did Sister Madly start munching on the Treats that the bag was snatched out of her hand with a serious reprimand.
“If you must eat, Sister Madly, then eat this.”
‘This’ turned out to be a most luxurious lump of something akin to the color grey, of which even the Italicized Peacock would be jealous. As the Italicized Peacock was unavailable, Sister Madly had the luxurious lump- which she ritualistically drenched in ketchup like a petulant 2 year-old- all to herself. The ketchup, however, was all in vain as the lump tasted like a near-death experience.
‘This’ was not something she should be eating. ‘This’ was something she should be playing Jacks with while sitting on the sidewalk, and Sister Madly became very depressed that it was in her mouth.
Sensing her dissatisfaction in the second-hand lump, the Professor engaged in a lofty dissertation on how oysters are a source of vitamins this and that, antioxidants, iron, zinc and oh, they can make pearls, Sister Madly! Isn’t that one of your birthstones? Aren’t you just tickled pink?
Sister Madly couldn’t help but be skeptical of any nutritional advice coming from someone whose daily serving of fruits and vegetables had, until recently,* consisted of whatever was garnishing a cocktail glass. But when she heard that oysters are also said to be aphrodisiacs, she began to suspect that the Professors had ulterior motives.
* This Professor had been a pescetarian for 4 days at this point, and would continue to be one for another 6- because, bacon.
But that’s ridiculous; when one is out of one’s element, one tends to be skeptical of anything unfamiliar. No doubt the Professor accidentally packed the Cat Treats instead of trail mix, and the oyster was simply overcooked. Of course the Professors had no ulterior motives; they were in it strictly for the adventure- that is why they insisted on that rugged fundamental: individual foot-baths infused with salt, rosemary and mint.
Face it, Sister Madly: there are ulterior motives at play. You are secretly being seasoned- what other possible explanation is there? Not even a pampered city slicker would insist on a salted rosemary and mint foot-bath out in the wild- isn’t all the sweat, dirt, and funky foot aroma part of the primal allure?
This suspicion was confirmed by the horror displayed when Sister Madly absolutely refused to washed her feet, and no amount of cider could make her comply. It doesn’t take a genius to pick apart your dastardly plan, Professor: a trail of Cat Treats leading from the woods to a rosemary and mint-marinated Sister Madly* smorgasbord, thus satiating the cougar appetite and calling a truce between the civilized world and the wild.
* A free-range Sister Madly, of course.
“Those aren’t Cat Treats, Sister Madly; that’s eggplant and tofu jerky. It’s been marinated in beer. Aren’t you allergic to hops?”
Eggplant, tofu, and hops.
Eggplant and Tofu…
Definitely utilizing that papier-mâché decoy during the next camping trip.*
* The Italicized Peacock agrees.
If only she were the Pizza Boy…
This Sister Madly lamented as she sulked outside the gated community that refused to let her in. Nobody, but nobody would refuse admittance to the Pizza Boy; he has access to some of the most exclusive, if not luxurious, districts in the world!
But if the truth be told, the only reason she wanted to intrude upon this neighborhood was that she simply wasn’t allowed, which resulted in a spectacular fit. However, it was this tantrum that led her to the INFO Box containing the Association’s bylaws, should Sister Madly wish to settle down in the community as there were several building sites available…
A few days later, Elitist Gated Community found themselves subjected to a new set of bylaws, as those in the INFO Box were replaced by
Sister Madly persons unknown, with the Manifesto outlined below.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
SUMMARY OF RESTRICTIONS
FOR ARKHAM ACRES SITE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION
1. Each unit is limited to one single-family residence. Home occupation is permitted subject to requirements set forth in the bylaws, wherein doomsday cults are prohibited without prior written permission from the Association, as additional fees are required per month until the pre-determined day of damnation.
2. Written approval by the Association is required for the following: outbuildings, flag poles, Zen gardens, bunkers, picnic tables, hammocks, spider webs, and pools.
2.1 Only kidney-shaped pools are permitted.
3. Construction and landscaping plans must be approved by the Association. If such plans are not satisfactory, the Association will takeover the construction and landscaping designs for the resident.
3.1 Houses made of stucco, stones, logs, cedar siding, aluminium siding, ice, sugar cubes, or gingerbread are prohibited.
3.2 Rose bushes, once approved by the Association, must be absent of thorns at all times.
4. Garage doors are to be kept closed at all times, except that which is reasonably necessary to gain access to and from any garage. Violators are subject to an HOA fine and a surly note from the Condo Board President, Great Cthulhu.
5. Signage is not permitted. This includes but is not limited to: hunting restrictions, trespass notices, bio-hazard warnings, billboards, and celebrations banners. The Community Newsletter, quarantine warnings, and foreclosure notices are exempt.
5.1 No political sign may be displayed during election years, unless and only if signs supporting all major candidates are displayed side by side, without showing prejudice or partiality to any one party in particular.
6. No animals, fish or fowl may be kept or maintained, except dogs, cats, Deep Ones, and ferrets, which may be kept in reasonable numbers are pets. The Association prohibits the stray wanderings of animals kept as pets, unless and only if the pet is the same or similar design, color and texture of the residence.
7. Recreational and commercial vehicles may not be parked, stored, used, looked at, or thought about without the prior written permission of the Association.
7.1. Zeppelins are exempt and may be used on the property at your leisure, subject only to the requirements set forth in the Association’s bylaws.
8. Trees, fences, gates, or dandelions cannot be located closer than 33 feet from the center line of the private road.
8.1 The center line of the private road is prohibited.
9. No accessory building may have more than 50.32 square feet, and must have the same or similar design, color and texture as the residence.
9.1 Outhouse accessory buildings are to follow Association guidelines, with the addition of the mandatory last quarter moon on the door. First quarter moons are strictly prohibited.
10. All garden hoses are to be coiled in a counter-clockwise spiral when not in use.
11. Parking vehicles in the driveway is not permitted, unless and only if the vehicle is the same or similar design, color and texture as the residence.
12. Swing sets, bird baths, plastic flamingos, and lawn ornaments are strictly prohibited. Violators are subjected to severe penalties by Great Cthulhu.
12.1 Garden Gnomes are exempt.
13. All leaves must be raked into no more than 3 piles. While one large pile is prohibited, 2 piles are ideal, but three is permissible.
13.1 Orange leaves are not to be mixed with yellow leaves, nor are they to be mixed with red leaves. Red and yellow leaves may be raked together, however, as red and yellow are the primary colors that create the singular color orange, thus creating two piles of orange leaves.
13.2 Brown leaves are prohibited and cannot be mixed with any other color leaf at any time.
13.3 All leaves are to be off the trees by the first of November.
14. Lawns must be mowed from left to right, and only on Thursday afternoons.
15. Barbecues or other Outdoor Celebrations without the prior written permission and the invitation of Great Cthulhu, as well as the active participation of the entire neighborhood, are prohibited.
15.1 Propane grills are strictly prohibited as the Association has decided that these grills are harmful to the ozone layer. It is pertinent to understand that the Association is environmentally-conscious as it retains its own militant EPA officer 24 hours a day.
15.1.2 Ozone is strictly prohibited.
16. In regards to the holidays:
16.1 The carving of pumpkins into unsightly, unfriendly, unhappy and otherwise unattractive faces is not permitted.
16.1.1 Pumpkins carved in honor of Great Cthulhu are exempt, as His beauty comes from within.
16.2 Exterior decorations are prohibited, including but not limited to: holiday lights, wreaths, inflatables, snowmen, snow angels, footprints, and holiday trees unless and only if the decorations are of the same or similar design, color and texture of the residence.
16.3 The salutation of ‘Merry Christmas’ amongst residents, guests, and postal servicemen within the Association is strictly prohibited as there are many who do not celebrate this holiday. Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, International Day of Disabled Persons, National Bouillabaisse Day, Wear a Beard of Bees Day, and Upper Volta Independence Day also fall in the month of December, and you are reminded to greet all persons with the salutation of ‘Seasons Greetings’. Violators are subject to devouring by the very liberal Great Cthulhu.
17. See Restriction 19.3
18. While gluten-free pizza is permitted, its delivery by persons in vehicles outdated by 5 years, in vehicles whose electrical system is thoroughly un-American, or in vehicles held together by rust, duct tape, or cheeky bumper stickers is strictly prohibited. Gluten-free pizza must be delivered in discreet, unmarked vehicles and only by certified gluten-free pizza persons.
18.1 The safety of all Certified Persons participating in the delivery of gluten-free pizza cannot be guaranteed, even if that Certified Pizza Person follows the guidelines set forth in the bylaws, as Great Cthulhu has an appetite for Pizza Delivery Persons.
19. Numbers depicting the street address of the residence must be placed in a visible area no more than 4 inches from the left side of the door.
19.1 Only polished brass numbers are permitted. Numbers that have been exposed to the elements, thus causing a rainbow discoloration, are forbidden.
19.2 Missing numbers are prohibited. Violators, first time or repeat ones who somehow got away with it in the first place, are subject to the swift and terrible judgement of Great Cthulhu.
19.3 This restriction is intentionally left blank.
20. All mailboxes must be of the same or similar shape and design. Mailboxes depicting birds, flowers, rust, or those shoved heartlessly into a large-mouth bass, are prohibited.
20.1 Due to privacy concerns, mailboxes will not display the resident’s name or street address.
20.2 Mailbox keys are limited to one per residence. For security purposes, mail keys cannot be duplicated. Keys will be mailed to each resident by the move-in date.
21. A yearly Association fee of $0.03 is required of each residence for the upkeep of the community, including trash removal, landscaping and general maintenance. A monthly fee of $666 per person, per residence is required for no reason in particular.
22. Units 49 and 50 are exempt from the requirements set forth as they are, unfortunately, pre-existing units.
ARKHAM ACRES IS AN EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF USED CAR SALESMEN; HELL’S ANGELS AFFILIATES; THE UNCIVILIZED; CONVICTED FELONS; AND CLOVE-SMOKING, FEDORA-WEARING, VEGAN-ATHEIST-CROSSFITTING YUPPIES WITH WEBBED FEET.
Complaints, Comments, and Words of Worship are to be mailed to the Office of Great Cthulhu on the back of a $50 bill.
Office hours of Great Cthulhu are kept from 1 PM until 2 PM, with an hour off for lunch.
* Re-post from 2014
The road to Hell is not paved with good intentions.
Unless Good Intentions is the riffraff the state uses to fill the potholes.
You see, Sister Madly has her moments of generosity, cheerfully obliging the appeals of her peers ranging from Knock it Off to Get Lost. In her lifetime, she’s knock so many things off of other things that one of those things must be the ‘it’ that was inferred, and has gotten lost so many times that she is running out of places that constitute as ‘lost.’
But there was one appeal that went largely ignored:
Go to Hell.
This one was not often requested of Sister Madly, but it has been known to follow her late-night victories over the Professors at darts- which, admittedly, is not very often: the Professors need to be drunk at the time, while Sister Madly needs to be sober, awake and actually playing darts for this to happen. Still, this perfect storm has been fashioned on occasion, and the least she could do was honor one of those requests.
Thanks to the music industry, getting there was a cinch.
Sources indicate that the concept of Hell (derived from Old English Hel; Helle) developed around 30 CE, but this is in error: Hell came about on October 13, 1841 when settler George Reeves was asked what he thought the town should be named. The moonshine-loving Mr. Reeves graciously replied with “You can name it Hell for all I care!”
Sister Madly wasn’t certain what she’d find along the Road to Perdition, but according to most religions she would encounter the damned (political candidates) lost souls (telemarketers) eternal punishment (asparagus) and of course, fallen angels (Canadian Geese).
She would later find out she was right about the Geese.
As for the terrain, literature has promised her anything from a Lake of Ice to a Lake of Fire; instead, Sister Madly found a roadside attraction that was unapologetically kitschy! The main stretch is a little more than a dirt lot between two buildings (the County Store/Post Office and the Gift Shop/Ice Cream Parlor) with the Dam Site Inn a little further on down the Road Paved with Good Intentions- somewhere around the 5th major pothole.
It is here in Hell that the position of Mayor is retained only for a day. Sister Madly briefly considered this second honor for one of the Professors, but when she realized that they would not be amused, the urge became almost irresistible- almost. You see, Sister Madly has employed the Get Lost request on occasion, and while the Professors have yet to do so, their sense of humor once strolled off into the darkness one moonless night, and has yet to return.
And one’s duties as the Mayor of Hell begins at 5 AM.
Yes, it was all too tempting…
For those of you who may find themselves wandering through the Abyss, allow Sister Madly to provide you with a few fun facts:
– Hell does, in fact, freeze over
– It does break loose, as it did on June 6, 2006
– Round trip from Hell, MI in the Lower peninsula to Paradise, MI in the Upper is 666 miles (from the edge of one town to the other, utilizing shortcuts, private roads, trespassing and quite possibly, teleporting)
– The Post Office is more than willing to set fire to your mail
– Took several years to build a Miniature Golf course
– Mini Golf is now complete, but never seems to be open
– Painted a picnic table to entertain you while you wonder why the Mini Golf is never open
– There are Canadian Geese
And while you are sitting there wondering why the Mini Golf is never open, some mysterious stranger- who looks a bit like a werewolf in mid-transition- just might hand you a little card that reads:
And the Lord saith unto John: “Come forth, and ye shall receive eternal life.”
But John came in fifth, and won a toaster.
THEME SONG: Highway to Hell, AC/DC
All Images from Tumblr except:
6) getty images