Leap Day

Leap Day turned out to be a surreal, warm, perfect day (65 degrees!). Such an occasion DEMANDED a walk along Clear Creek Trail after work. Do you know those times when the sky and air and sun are just too perfect to bother getting out the camera and fussing over the framing of a shot? I hope you do.

While I know that I really ought to be gravely concerned that we’ve had a winter that was MUCH to warm while people in Europe are freezing to death, it has been a very enjoyable winter. So what if the globe is warming and allergy season lasts through February!

Of 2011

As a policy, I never make BIG plans or resolutions on New Years because I like to think that I’m empowered to make those big dreams, decisions, and plans at any moment in time. There is something about this time of year though. The days are darkest now, a time for quiet introspection. Some observations on 2011:

  • I’m tough; WAY tougher than I thought. I never would have known this if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone. To those who helped, encouraged, or shoved me out of that safe zone, whether personally or professionally: thanks again.
  • I’m a sap. Yeah, I KNOW. So. Uncool. *sigh* But there’s no use denying any more how much I adore kittens, underdog stories, and watching Love Actually. I’m a total hopeless romantic. And, given that this sappiness is not going to go away, no matter how much I try to ignore it, I refuse to feel guilty about it anymore. I will no longer feel compelled to have to wait until Christmas to watch Love Actually. THERE.
  • I’m internalizing other people’s B.S. far less. It’s about time.

In 2012, I wish for you a discovery. A big one. The kind that realigns your understanding of yourself or your relationships or your community. The BIG discoveries are sometimes–in fact, usually–scary (2010 was a doozy for me). After some time, you realize that the discovery can either be something that weighs you down or sets you free. I hope that in 2012, I’ll have a chance to pay some of my good fortune of 2011 forward to others. Cheers.

The Jackal Girl (trailer fragment)


The steady breathing of a large animal is heard as it races through the forest underbrush, weaving in and out among the trees.


Some things should not exist.


Ramona, 21, plain, tall, and slender, walks down the dark hall in her pajamas.  She slowly pushes open the door to her grandmother’s room. The lit bedside table lamp reveals an old woman lying in her bed, dead.

The door opens further to reveal the dead woman’s ghostly form standing beside the bed, staring down at the corpse. The ghost turns from the bed and reaches an incorporeal hand toward Ramona.


Some things exist whether we choose to believe in them or not.


A rental car with out-of-state plates is pulled off onto what little shoulder there is of the forest road.  Two men exit the car: Eamon, a large, red-headed man appearing to be in his fifties, and Ciarán, a tall young man appearing about twenty-five.

(inhales deeply, shutting the driver door)

She’s close.

(eyes unfocused, listening as if with a sixth sense)

I can feel her.

In the forest, the large animal lets out a whine, its breath more labored now.

(eyes coming back into focus; quietly)

She’s frightened.

Written for the writing prompt, The Movie Trailer.

Copyright © 2011 Jennifer A. Liss

Bagel run

I’m a light sleeper but I’m convinced that I learned this behavior.

Dad is an early riser. If I wanted to join him on his Sunday morning bagel run, then I needed to be up early. For some time, I wouldn’t wake up until I heard the sound of the sun catcher rattling against the glass of the side door, followed by the click of the lock—too late!

Eventually, I trained my body to wake up at sound of the shuffling of bare feet on hall carpet. After the bathroom door closed, I had about thirty minutes. Generally, I’d go back to sleep for a few more minutes before getting up, getting fully dressed, and waiting for the bathroom to be free.

Then Dad and I would climb into whichever car Dad was driving at the time—Aries/Blazer/Jeep—and cruising through the pre-dawn morning, up 73 to the family-owned bagel place in Marlton. The way back was a less direct route: a leisurely drive past Cherokee High School to Kettle Run Road, which wound through pine lands and lakes, to Taunton Road and back to Berlin. No matter what the weather, these drives are always beautiful.

The key though, was hearing those footsteps in the hall.

Written for the writing prompt, Footsteps in the Hall.

Copyright © 2011 Jennifer A. Liss

Dry leaves. Dust. Sunshine.

The red, patterned carpet on the short flight of stairs leading down to the front door isn’t as worn here as it is in other places in the house. The sun coming through the glass door warms the entry way. The gray slate floor of the landing releases a  warm, vaguely wet smell. I crouch down on the middle stair, hiding from those up on the main floor. Dust fills my nose as I watch the legs of aunts and uncles move from the kitchen to the dinning room, readying the table.

My sister reaches down through the black wrought iron bars of the handrail and pokes me. The quick movement of my head brings the smell of dry leaves—earthy remnants of an earlier walk in a neighbor’s woods. I growl at her, thrusting my face up against the bars. As I inhale quickly to snarl at her again, the hard, metal tang of iron collects at the back of my throat.

The smokey smell of turkey, which has lingered about the house as it cooked throughout the day, intensifies as the bird is carved. Someone corrals young and old into the dinning room. The room gets close as warm bodies settle and crowd around around the table.

Later. A game of cards around the same table extends far into the night. I practice shuffling the deck, the waxy smell of the coated cards puffs into my face with each successfully executed bridge.

I nuzzle into faintly floral-smelling sheets and blanket, no longer able to keep awake enough to whisper to my sister in the dark.

Written for the writing prompt, Focusing on Sense of Smell.

Copyright © 2011 Jennifer A. Liss

Autumn Excursion

Appropriately enough for the first weekend of October, the weather was clear and crisp and the sky was the kind of shocking blue color that makes you slow down and breathe a little deeper. THIS was the weekend that I would finally see Spring Mill State Park village when it was actually open. Tim wanted to see Saint Meinrad Archabbey, which is a hour past Spring Mill, so we decided on a road trip.

Tim pointed out that I take very few pictures of people when I travel. It’s TRUE. I’ve always been that way. I have no explanation to offer. However, I can offer a few landscape-oriented photos featuring aforementioned shockingly blue sky. I may have gone a little overboard with the HDR toning in Photoshop (the photos really didn’t need it; the blues and reds and greens really were that vibrant) but perhaps collecting photos exhibiting flagrant HDR abuse is precisely your cup of tea! In any case, enjoy. Click an image for the 1920 x 1200 wallpaper. I’m happy to share but please observe the license below.

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This work by Jennifer A. Liss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.