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Alison Alexandra

A Novel That Took Five Years To Write

THERE WAS A TIME, OH PILGRIM, WHEN THE STONES WERE NOT SO SMOOTH

                                   THE END

                                 07 01 2022

595 pp. 174,838 words

Featured post

Alison Alexandra Tastes Humble Food From The Gods

Alison Alexandra does open the door. She is met with a barrage of deep and alluring odours. They are rich and fresh and smooth and piquant, and every one of them inviting.

“Take these.” Emma Alice hands her a small metal ladle and a pottery cup.

‘What do I do with these?”

“Sample.”

“Try them?”

“Yes.” Emma Alice laughs. “Though I mix metaphors – go hog wild.”

Emma Alice removes the lid from the first ceramic urn. It is full of rich white cream. Alison Alexandra dips the ladle, and pours a small portion into her mug.

“Oh, that’s rich.” Alison Alexandra takes a final sip. “Rich and mellow.”

“Creamy?” Emma Alice laughs.

“Yes – exactly.”

“Cream from Jersey cows,” says Emma Alice. “It is always smooth.”

“Will you be selling it?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“We use a lot of it here. It’s a favourite” Emma Alice puts the lid of the urn back in place. “But we will sell the rest. Or trade.”

“Trade?”

“Yes. It’s much easier and more fulfilling.” Emma Alice starts toward another urn. “You have what they want, and they have what you want.”

“So you don’t have to produce what they already can provide.”

“Exactly.” Emma Alice lifts another lid. “Nor they for what we make. Time and expense saved on both sides.” She points into the urn. “Now for something different.”

Alison Alexandra dutifully puts the ladle in and takes a small portion of liquid. She pours it into her mug and puts it to her lips.

“Wowza!”

“What a word.” Emma Alice giggles.

“What a taste,” says Alison Alexandra. “What a difference.” She puckers her lips. “It’s not poison, is it?”

“It serves its purpose.” Emma Alice replaces the lid. “It’s whey – the liquid remaining when you make cheese from milk. It is used in baking, to temper other tastes.”

“But still.” Alison Alexandra gives a discreet cough. “You are pulling a prank.”

“A bit” Emma Alice takes off the lid of an urn from a higher shelf. “It will make this buttermilk seem palatable.”

“Oh, I’ve actually had buttermilk,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Have you?”

“I think it was touted as being good for digestion.” Alison Alexandra stretches to put the ladle into the container. “I did not take it for very long.”

She pours an amount into her mug. She takes a sniff before she takes a sip.

“I’d make the same decision today.”

“The whey didn’t wet your taste buds?

“Not by a drop.”

“Well,” Emma Alice taps the lid back into place. “Enough of the bitter, now for the sweet.”

“I’m going to get a treat?”

“Fine Holstein milk.” Emma Alice paces across the floor. “Straight out of the cow.”

“I like the bulk of a Holstein,” says Alison Alexandra. “They seem more solid with their black and white markings. ‘Moo! Moo! Get outta the way!’”

“The train engine among cattle,” suggests Emma Alice.

“They emote more purpose,” says Alison Alexandra.

“See what you think.” Emma Alice lifts the cover off a large urn.

Alison Alexandra can tell from the rich, warm smell of the milk that a treat is in store. She puts her ladle more deeply than usual, and brings it back as full as full can be. She pours it into her mug without a drop sliding down the side. She sips in the same careful manner. She looks directly at Emma Alice and grins.

“Moo!”

“Taste buds calmed?”

“Yes.”

“Little Miss Muffet trauma removed?”

“Yes.” Alison Alexandra exaggerates a startled look. “Why – were there spiders?”

“There are always spiders,” says Emma Alice. “They foil the insects. But I think none will dangle by your tuffet.”

“Oh, that would be all right.” Alison Alexandra scoots out the last drops of milk with her little finger. “I actually like spiders.”

Alison Alexandra Attends A Party. & Starts A Novel. & Now I Gotta Edit Five Tears Worth

192771-131-00e5aa76

Alison Alexandra had asked her partner, with far more innocence than the result entailed, when people were going to pair off and head for the bedrooms. It was such a lackluster gathering she figured it would take quite a jolt to generate any interest.

And, she had asked her partner. It wasn’t as if she was angling for a tryst.

But, out of the blue – and out of other people’s boredom? – within twenty minutes or so, she had a woman sidle up to her. Drink in hand. Held at a professional tilt, though there was no raised pinky finger. Voice low, though not as low as the woman thought.

“Are you the one who asked if we are going to start to go to bed?”

Alison Alexandra, used to fine drink since her university days away, knew the lady’s finely-tilted glass was but a prop and barely touched. The scent of whiskey came solely from the glass. As for the lady herself, butter would freeze in her mouth.

“Is it making the rounds?”

“Do you want to make the rounds?”

“That was not my intent – no.”

“Then I don’t know if you are successful or not.”  The glass touches teeth. “Your question is making the rounds with alacrity.”

Alison Alexandra likes the word “alacrity”. It sounds like its own action.

“Have there been any answers?”

“Not to me.” There is a fleeting melt of the ice that is not in her glass. “Not that I’ve asked.”

“Have you made a head count?”

“I have not pointed and gone ‘eeny meeny miny moe’ – no.” The woman leans closer to Alison Alexandra, her lips now a conspiratorial distance from an ear. “But I do keep a select few in my vision.”

“Has there been movement?”

“There has been – if not corralling – some sidling up beside, with a ‘nicker’ into an attentive ear.”

“Anything for a pair of knickers, perhaps?”

The woman straightens with enough speed to lose a few drops of her conversational whiskey. She looks at Alison Alexandra in surprise and appreciation. A translucent mask is peeled from her face. She is animated. Her eyes are expectant.

“You are new here.”

“You’re the observer.” Alison Alexandra smiles.

“But I never say what I really see.” The woman finally takes a real drink. “None of us do.”

“But you come up to me – with your observations.”

“In truth -”

The woman stops. She realizes how rarely she tells the truth. She is startled that she is about to do so. She is apprehensive.

“In truth, it is on a dare.”

“Someone has dared you to ask me?”

“Actually, a number of people have put money in a pot to see if this will happen.”

“To approach me?”

“Yes.”

“How much am I worth?”

The woman raises her glass and laughs. “A bottle of Scotch.”

“Good Scotch?”

“Not really.” The woman is apologetic, yet she laughs. “It’s not that caliber of party.”

Alison Alexandra can see a friendship in the offing. So much more important than a partner for the night.

She takes the glass from the unprotesting woman and has a drink.

“Better than this?”

“Not even as good as.”

“Then no one is going to get me out of my knickers.” This does not stop Alison Alexandra from taking another drink. She hands the glass back to the woman. “There. I’ve had my limit.”

“That surely won’t get you into bed.”

“I’ve been looking around.” Alison Alexandra looks slowly around again. “Not even a bottle will accomplish that.”

The woman looks at her glass. It is still nearly full. She takes a deep drink.

“I am not so pure.”

“Oh – purity has nothing to do with it.” Alison Alexandra does take a bit of care with her next sentence. “But I am very picky.”

(image)  https://cdn.britannica.com/300×500/71/192771-131-00E5AA76.jpg

When The Perfect Tuxedo For The Bride Makes The Perfect Wedding

iconic-women-in-tuxedos-600x338

I would have said the strangest thing I have researched – and written about – for one of my novels, was the chapter in my first Onion novel, where my characters built a bridge over a river in 3rd Century Italy.

Alison Alexandra was destined to edge me even further.

In There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth, I was writing about a wedding ceremony where the bride is dressed in a tuxedo, as are all her attendants.

She is a fashion designer, and creates a line of female tuxedos.

She unveils them at her own wedding.  

Peaked vs. shawl lapels – to say nothing of all the colours.  

One aspect of Alison Alexandra – rarely alluded to – is that in her teens and early twenties, she was a fashion model in Europe. She left the job from boredom after five years, but it is from this enterprise she gained enough sustainable income (via investments) to be left alone, and live the life she lives.  

However, her mentor – the fashion designer, Bellissima Isobella – has called her back to do a favour.

Bellissima Isobella is getting married, and has created a line of tuxedos for herself and all her attendants. What better way to promote them?  

There is an aspect of the tail wagging the dog in this research.

And, let me tell you, the Internet is awash with photos of ladies in tuxedos.

Oh – yes.

Alison Alexandra will be in red

Liven Up A Dull Party And Start A Novel

Alison Alexandra had asked her partner, with far more innocence than the result entailed, when people were going to pair off and head for the bedrooms. It was such a lackluster gathering she figured it would take quite a jolt to generate any interest.

And, she had asked her partner. It wasn’t as if she was angling for a tryst.

But, out of the blue – and out of other people’s boredom? – within twenty minutes or so, she had a woman sidle up to her. Drink in hand. Held at a professional tilt, though there was no raised pinky finger. Voice low, though not as low as the woman thought.

“Are you the one who asked if we are going to start to go to bed?”

Alison Alexandra, used to fine drink since her university days away, knew the lady’s finely-tilted glass was but a prop and barely touched. The scent of whiskey came solely from the glass. As for the lady herself, butter would freeze in her mouth.

“Is it making the rounds?”

“Do you want to make the rounds?”

“That was not my intent – no.”

“Then I don’t know if you are successful or not.”  The glass touches teeth. “Your question is making the rounds with alacrity.”

Alison Alexandra likes the word “alacrity”. It sounds like its own action.

“Have there been any answers?”

“Not to me.” There is a fleeting melt of the ice that is not in her glass. “Not that I’ve asked.”

“Have you made a head count?”

“I have not pointed and gone ‘eeny meeny miny moe’ – no.” The woman leans closer to Alison Alexandra, her lips now a conspiratorial distance from an ear. “But I do keep a select few in my vision.”

“Has there been movement?”

“There has been – if not corralling – some sidling up beside, with a ‘nicker’ into an attentive ear.”

“Anything for a pair of knickers, perhaps?”

The woman straightens with enough speed to lose a few drops of her conversational whiskey. She looks at Alison Alexandra in surprise and appreciation. A translucent mask is peeled from her face. She is animated. Her eyes are expectant.

“You are new here.”

“You’re the observer.” Alison Alexandra smiles.

“But I never say what I really see.” The woman finally takes a real drink. “None of us do.”

“But you come up to me – with your observations.”

“In truth -”

The woman stops. She realizes how rarely she tells the truth. She is startled that she is about to do so. She is apprehensive.

“In truth, it is on a dare.”

“Someone has dared you to ask me?”

“Actually, a number of people have put money in a pot to see if this will happen.”

“To approach me?”

“Yes.”

“How much am I worth?”

The woman raises her glass and laughs. “A bottle of Scotch.”

“Good Scotch?”

“Not really.” The woman is apologetic, yet she laughs. “It’s not that caliber of party.”

Alison Alexandra can see a friendship in the offing. So much more important than a partner for the night.

She takes the glass from the unprotesting woman and has a drink.

“Better than this?”

“Not even as good as.”

“Then no one is going to get me out of my knickers.” This does not stop Alison Alexandra from taking another drink. She hands the glass back to the woman. “There. I’ve had my limit.”

“That surely won’t get you into bed.”

“I’ve been looking around.” Alison Alexandra looks slowly around again. “Not even a bottle will accomplish that.”

The woman looks at her glass. It is still nearly full. She takes a deep drink.

“I am not so pure.”

“Oh – purity has nothing to do with it.” Alison Alexandra does take a bit of care with her next sentence. “But I am very picky.”

Not A Ghost Of A Chance In This Time Of Pandemic – Rum Necessary

My crew of characters in my novel, “There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth, have been with me for about five years. When COVID hit, they decided to stay together in one dwelling. To pass the time, they decided to tell Ghost Stories.

Since 29 09 2020, I have been writing nothing but Ghost Stories. Seven all told.

In affect, I have written a complete book of short stories, all stand-alone, for the past seven months. Each story was true to each individual character, but that was not important to the stories themselves. It was important to the novel.

This has been a unique situation ofr me, to wander off in the midst of a novel to do something else. It has been exhausting.

When I returned to the actual novel, my characters had to deal with the Pandemic. They (and I) have been dealing with the Pandemic for over a year. I think I am four or so ‘ordinary’ chapters away from the end of the novel.

Each ghost story was followed by a short chapter where my characters commented about the ghost story they had just heard. This is in part to keep the novel in the forefront, and the type of thing people would do. They always had a meal and and an exquisite tot of rum.

“BOO!” to all

When You Sink But You Don’t Have To Swim

Alison Alexandra Ponders Whilst Under The English Channel

The London platform is abustle, though, in reality, she is boarding a train to take her to a train waiting in Calais. Still, it is under the umbrella of the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express, and she is happy to board and take a very cushy seat.

Two hours and fifteen minutes to Paris. Nice scenery at either end. A glass of Bellini, in a champagne flute, before the actual undersea part. Nothing could be finer.

Alison Alexandra assumes that a quaff of peach infused Prosecco sparkling wine is to ease the anxiety of anyone going not only underground but also undersea. She appreciates the glass of – expectedly – high-toned champagne regardless, but she does not need a drink to assuage any fears, for she has none.

She has always enjoyed the thought of actually moving under streets and buildings and cars and people and parks and dogs and folk in restaurants spooning soup while other folk high up in business towers give power point presentations about the fluidity of market shares or the expert way to niggle a wire into an explicate brain to stop one form of behaviour or to restart another. Thousands of snips of humanity and civilisation wending their way over her head as she wends her way from one underground station to another.

And then – to add the volume of the sea – well, what now floats overhead? How many fish and how much plankton and seaweed and eels and lobsters and oysters and snails and perhaps even whales swimming and eating and probably eating each other in the liquid beauty which is the water which is the ocean which is the sea that slaps against the cliffs that she watches from her prow-of-a-ship windows when she is on the other side.

And the ocean that slaps the rocks at the base of her cliff is full of fish gurgle and whale song and lobster clatter and crab scuttle and perhaps even the mermaids singing. And then there is the screw screw screw of all the propellers of all the ships carrying crew and passengers and cargo of all sorts and conditions, from cases of the champagne she is drinking to the host of automobiles like the Black Ghost that Gabriella drove when she shared some champagne delivered by ship and not aged on the delivery truck two cities over.

And other cargo, floating and steaming over her head, food and drink and oil and bourbon and stiletto-heeled shoes and prayer books and cotton and smart phones and insulin and jet engines and books and railway ties and sheep dip and textiles and spices from the Far east and tongue dispensers and sugar and steel beams for steel bridges and fishhooks and guided missiles and holy missals and buttons and bows and those tiny umbrellas for fruit punch cocktails and things that Alison Alexandra doesn’t even know exists but she has her suspicions.

All over her head and moving the waves and making whales sing their cautionary songs to warn other whales to get the hell out of the way or they will get bumped on their noggin. And they do. Get out of the way.

Alison Alexandra finishes her underwater pilgrimage and pops above ground in France. And although Alison Alexandra has been somewhat offended by having to take an actual bus shuttle under the actual English Channel, she still shouts “Alors!”

Death And Satan Are So Often Holding Hands

Even though my current novel is a picaresque, and *relatively* care-free. it goes to other places, as all life must. So, with Alison Alexandra about to go a round with Old Nick, I resurrect this following segment from There Has Been A Sighting, my first Satan novel.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mr. S. unexpectedly takes her arm, and begins to lead her along a winding, flagstone path. She has never seen such large pieces of the stone, and they glisten as if polished. 
      The path skirts a small stand of black spruce before it continues to the river. He stops her at the mouth of a gravel walkway leading through the trees.
      “Let’s pop in here.”
      “Your little acre of the Black Forest?”
      “Hardly an acre.”
      “Precision.” Breeze laughs. “Whatever would my father think of you?”
      “Does any father think well of any man when his daughter is concerned?”
      “Probably not.”
      “No,” agrees Mr. S. “So not to worry.”
      “He would think even less of someone leading his daughter down the garden path,” observes Breeze.
      “That would be before he saw what I am about to show you.” 
      Mr. S. holds her arm tightly, and guides her onto the gravel walk. It leads directly to the base of a tree, then makes an abrupt curve between the largest of the spruce. 
      One of the boughs is so low Breeze ducks her head. She has the sensation of being in the midst of a forest, for the heavy branches obscure the surroundings.
      “If I may be permitted a moment of drama.” 
      Mr. S. covers her eyes and speaks softly. 
      “Will you turn to your right, and take a few steps?”
      Even though he had asked, Breeze is startled as he gently eases her forward, and she feels a slight urge to resist him. Her steps are more cautious than the gravel walkway demands, and the press of his body is noticeable. She counts her footsteps under her breath. She is surprised when they stop at half a dozen, and he quickly removes his hand.
      “She’s beautiful.” Breeze stares, open-mouthed.
      “Yes.” Mr. S. is pleased. “I think so, too.”
      “An angel in the woods.”
      “The angel of peace.” Mr. S. walks her around the statue. “Not at all bad for a knockoff.” He pauses behind the wings.
      “A knockoff?”
      “A reproduction.” He puts his foot on the pedestal, and leans forward. “I don’t really know how old it is. Certainly last century – possibly before.” He points to the blue folds. “I’ve had the paint cleaned and touched up. Is it too garish?”
      “It … it stands out.” Breeze hunts for a word. “Let’s call it vibrant.”
      “They said it was probably close to the original colour.” Mr. S. walks around the statue and again halts beside Breeze. “Since she stands in so much shade, it’s for the best she stands with lots of colour.”
      “Do you believe in angels?”
      “I’ve just had a night-long fight with Satan. I have to believe in angels.”
      “Does she have a name?” Breeze leans forward to inspect the angel’s outstretched hand.
      “I’ve never given her one.”
      “That’s one of your suspicious half answers.” Breeze grins.
      “When Mother Ursula spoke to her, she called her `Pet’.”
      “Pet?”
      “`How are we today, Pet?’ `You got a soaking last night, 
Pet’.” Mr. S. glances at the statue’s face. “That sort of thing.”
      “Oh.” Breeze also decides to look at the angel’s face. “It’s not what you’d call a Christian name.”
      “Ursula would get a laugh out of that.” Mr. S. smiles slightly. “And so would the angel.” He turns toward Breeze. “And so do I.” He takes her hand. “Which is probably your intent, so I won’t again slip into the past tense when talking about Ursula.”
      “She’s not dead yet.”
      “Her living will gives the machines seventy-two hours.” Mr. S. looks at the angel. “I suspect it’s a wry Christian reference.”
      “So if she rises on the third day, we won’t be surprised.”
      “You have more optimism than even the Sisters.” He glances at her. “And they tend the machines.”
      “Machines have their place.”
      “Yes.” Mr. S. releases her hand. “But so does death.”

{Image} https://pictures.abebooks.com/LAWBOOKEXC/30356379021_3.jpg

Alison Alexandra Ponders Whilst Under The English Channel

The London platform is abustle, though, in reality, she is boarding a train to take her to a train waiting in Calais. Still, it is under the umbrella of the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express, and she is happy to board and take a very cushy seat.

Two hours and fifteen minutes to Paris. Nice scenery at either end. A glass of Bellini, in a champagne flute, before the actual undersea part. Nothing could be finer.

Alison Alexandra assumes that a quaff of peach infused Prosecco sparkling wine is to ease the anxiety of anyone going not only underground but also undersea. She appreciates the glass of – expectedly – high-toned champagne regardless, but she does not need a drink to assuage any fears, for she has none.

She has always enjoyed the thought of actually moving under streets and buildings and cars and people and parks and dogs and folk in restaurants spooning soup while other folk high up in business towers give power point presentations about the fluidity of market shares or the expert way to niggle a wire into an explicate brain to stop one form of behaviour or to restart another. Thousands of snips of humanity and civilisation wending their way over her head as she wends her way from one underground station to another.

And then – to add the volume of the sea – well, what now floats overhead? How many fish and how much plankton and seaweed and eels and lobsters and oysters and snails and perhaps even whales swimming and eating and probably eating each other in the liquid beauty which is the water which is the ocean which is the sea that slaps against the cliffs that she watches from her prow-of-a-ship windows when she is on the other side.

And the ocean that slaps the rocks at the base of her cliff is full of fish gurgle and whale song and lobster clatter and crab scuttle and perhaps even the mermaids singing. And then there is the screw screw screw of all the propellers of all the ships carrying crew and passengers and cargo of all sorts and conditions, from cases of the champagne she is drinking to the host of automobiles like the Black Ghost that Gabriella drove when she shared some champagne delivered by ship and not aged on the delivery truck two cities over.

And other cargo, floating and steaming over her head, food and drink and oil and bourbon and stiletto-heeled shoes and prayer books and cotton and smart phones and insulin and jet engines and books and railway ties and sheep dip and textiles and spices from the Far east and tongue dispensers and sugar and steel beams for steel bridges and fishhooks and guided missiles and holy missals and buttons and bows and those tiny umbrellas for fruit punch cocktails and things that Alison Alexandra doesn’t even know exists but she has her suspicions.

All over her head and moving the waves and making whales sing their cautionary songs to warn other whales to get the hell out of the way or they will get bumped on their noggin. And they do. Get out of the way.

Alison Alexandra finishes her underwater pilgrimage and pops above ground in France. And although Alison Alexandra has been somewhat offended by having to take an actual bus shuttle under the actual English Channel, she still shouts “Alors!”

(Image) http://www.jpellegrino.com/img/eliot-mermaidssinging.jpg

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