#1liner Weds: The Nose Knows

Have you ever been drawn to something that your normal logic tells you should repulse you? Scare you even? But you just can’t explain it. And you just can’t help yourself…

The Nose Knows- a flash fiction tale

The smell hit her in a wave of nausea as she slid into the driver’s seat. He’d done it again! Smoked a cigar in the car, ground it down into a stinking ball, and left it there it in the ashtray overnight. Left it there for someone else to clean up. She gritted her teeth, opened the window, and drove off, her hands tight and tense on the steering wheel.

On the highway, exhaust fumes from the car in front of her made her gag, so she closed the window again. With her indicator on, she managed to overtake the car and continue to the offramp where she turned into the mall and into her usual parking bay. She noticed a dark patch of oil on the tarmac next to her as she pulled in- someone else’s oil leak. Its petroleum stink, hot in the late morning sun, rose to meet her as she stepped out of the car. The nausea nearly overwhelmed her as she locked the car behind her and headed for the salon, the doors sliding open as she stepped into the entrance.

The smells of the salon– peroxide and acetone and all the things for nails and hair dyes– was stifling, and the stink of hair being by fried by extreme heat made her feel dizzy. The receptionist was understanding: “It’s no problem, Mrs Arends. Rather just go home if you’re unwell. Just phone us when you feel better, and we’ll be happy to reschedule today’s appointment.”

Stepping into the house, the smells of aerosol polish and oven cleaner reminded her instantly that today was Wednesday, the day the cleaning service people came in. Walking quickly up the stairs to her bedroom, she could tell that there would be no peace up here either– the entire upstairs level smelt of linen washed in too much detergent (she had asked them previously to adjust the amounts), and of the overpowering, artificially floral scents of fabric softener hanging in the air. Opening the door to the ensuite bathroom, she collided with the harsh stink of household bleach stinging her nostrils, her eyes, her throat.

She was walking towards the far end of the homestead grounds now, far from the main house, where the air was cool and soft and smelt of greenery and of the bark of the surrounding trees. She’d walked this way exactly once before: years ago, when they had first moved onto the property. Now she made her way past the simple stone and brick cottages that belonged to the farmhands and other workers on the property. It was peaceful, and very quiet- nobody home during working hours. Ahead of her was a simple stone wall, not very high, and some distance behind the wall was a cottage made of yellow bricks, a bit bigger than the simple cottages that the farmhands occupied. She recognised it as the home of the groundskeeper and his wife. There was a small garden adjoining the cottage, with rows of ripening mielie cobs, a few spinach plants, and five or six red and white hens scratching about. She kept walking.

The smell was like nothing she’d ever experienced: gamey and pungent and almost overpowering. It was the smell of something rotting, but with a strange, almost-freshness to it: organic and nearly edible. As she approached the wall, she saw that it was one section of a square enclosure, its height reaching just above her waist as she leaned over. The pigs continued to grunt contentedly as they chewed and slurped and sucked– the slops and kitchen leftovers being churned and pushed and pummeled by their round, flat, fleshy snouts as they grazed. As she stood and watched, the thought of humus came to her: stuff of the earth, and mushroom compost or maybe manure. She thought about the vegetable garden they had kept briefly when they first moved onto the property. It hadn’t really worked out– he’d wanted pavers– and the project was finally abandoned. She stood and watched the pigs, admiring their snouts, how busy-busy and agile, and imagined them rooting in the roots, hunting for truffles in the dirt (it was pigs that did that, wasn’t it?), their nostrils alive with the sweet smell of decay. Imagined then grinding their snouts into the dark earth, the stuff of life. She imagined them sniffing out and hunting down those hidden treasures, till, finally, success- their noses caked in dirt, and the precious thing, the strangely shaped nub of fungus, now within reach.

When he at last found her, she was lying on her back on one section of the wall with her knees bent, gazing calmly up at the early evening sky. She had one hand on her stomach, gently caressing the small mound there: 16 weeks exactly, give or take a day or two. He vaguely heard her say something about not coming back tonight. About being just where she needed to be.


Written for One Liner Wednesday at Linda G Hill

(Not always) the sweet smell of success.’


 Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

Photo Challenge #437: The Sentinel

Do you believe in sacred spaces? The power of the unknown? There are things we meet from time to time that are maybe better left alone….

The Sentinel

‘What’s this here?’ He was poking at the ground with his foot, indicating the point where the strange, blackened stump protruded from the sand.  

No one knows exactly, she said. It’s been there ever since I can remember. I’ve heard people talking about it over the years. It seems to be a bit of an icon. Definitely a landmark around here.

Well, it’s going to have to go, unfortunately, he said. We need to clear this area as per the contract agreement, and this… whatever it is… is right in the middle of where the new road will be. I’ll just get my guys to lift it. It’ll be a quick, painless job.

She smiled. He frowned. Does that seem strange to you? he asked. It’s a burnt-out piece of wood, not so? Really not complicated.

Have you had a proper look? she asked. It’s not burnt, and it’s not even wood. Take a look.

He leaned in closer to the strange object, narrowing his eyes and rubbing his palm along the surface. He pulled his hand away. Okay, I see that, he said. There was a tone of surprise in his voice, and an annoyance at being caught off-guard. It’s made of stone or something. What is this thing anyway? Some kind of fossil, or what?

As I said, nobody seems to know. I’ve heard stories, though. About its ‘special powers’ and other things. The locals say that it’s been here since the beginning of time. I’ve also heard them say that people have tried to remove it in the past and that some of those individuals… well… things didn’t go well for them in the end.

He was staring at her now, his mouth twitching as he held back a laugh.

You don’t expect me, surely, to buy into that kind of superstitious nonsense. Are you really asking me to take this seriously?

I don’t know, she said. I’m just letting you know what I know. What I’ve been told. Some of the history and folklore of the area. You asked me about the object and I’m telling you what I know. She smiled, not condescending, but with a suggestion of patience that was starting to wear a bit thin.

Well, as I see it, a commitment is a commitment, and we have a job to do here. He turned his back to her then and started to walk in the direction of the vehicle that was parked a short distance away, calling out as he went: Okay guys, we need some heavy artillery over here, please; something that can cut through stone. Pronto.

She watched him walk off, talking loudly to his three teammates as they got out of the vehicle and started unloading their tools from the container at the back. From the corner of her eye, she glimpsed a small movement on the ground just to her right. She looked down and saw a small animal, a hedgehog, rooting about amongst the short tufts of grass there. She stood quietly, not wanting to disturb the little creature as it scratched and rummaged around, probably looking for something to eat. She watched it, admiring its pretty face with its dark-button eyes and nose, and the small round ears. The sun emerged from behind the clouds at that moment, and a ray glanced against its small, bright eyes as it lifted its head to look at her. And although it was obviously just a trick of the light, it really seemed for just a moment, that it was winking at her.  

Image credit Denman Prospect Village

Instructions for today’s prompt: ‘Use the above image as inspiration for a poem or short story.’

Why Walk? Well, it’s good for body and mind

I love walking in my neighbourhood at this time of year. It’s early summer here in South Africa, and the city and surrounds of Johannesburg is a fabulous display of trees, shrubs and vines in flower and fruit, notably the Bougainvillea and Jacaranda trees which light up the horizon as you look to the distance. The best time to be out walking now is early morning- things start heating up from about 8.30, so I go out well before then for a fast walk, usually with my hand-held 1kg dumb-bells. I’m usually out for a half hour maximum, depending on which route I take. I don’t always walk daily; it depends on what else is lined up for the day, but I know that for me to feel ok, I need to move and to feel mobile and to know that blood is circulating freely through my limbs and organs! Luckily, I have plenty of tricks and tools of the “fitness trade” that I’ve collected over the years. I practiced and taught Hatha Yoga and Pilates, one-on-one and group classes, for about fifteen years, and the things I’ve learned through direct experience and much repetition over the years have not left me in a hurry. I know how to pack a lot into just ten minutes of exercise a day, such as with a few simple pilates moves, or a few rounds of Surya Namaskar aka Sun Salutations. And dance! The radio station I listen to on Friday mornings plays a non-stop routine of fifteen minutes of dance music if I feel like a change.

This post was partly prompted by Brian here, where he talks about his efforts and challenges in returning to exercise and a healthy eating plan. Here are three small suggestions I can make for others in his situation, especially the over-50’s:

  • If you’re not sure what’s right for you at your age and stage of life and health, talk to your GP or to a professional in the health and fitness field, preferably someone who has worked with individual needs on a one-to-one basis.
  • a little every day or second day is far better than trying to burn up the track once a week.
  • Weight-bearing exercises benefit the muscles, bones, and joints. Try including some of these in your exercise regime or build them in along with regular walks. Take advice on things like squats and lunges (many benefits to be had here!), especially if you are overweight or have knee troubles.   

Meantime, please enjoy some of the photos I took while walking in my neighbourhood yesterday. On this occasion I left my weights behind and took my phone along so that I could snap up some of the local scenery. The Jacarandas will have dropped all their blossom within the next few weeks, and I didn’t want to risk missing that window of opportunity. Sometimes you have to strike while the oven is (still) hot ;).

Photo of Feet Walking: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com.

All other pics by me (Amanda) on my modest Samsung J7 phone camera….

#SoCS: The Happiest Place

Is it that thing we all seek, where when we find it, we want to return again and again? The place that we keep in our hearts, where we feel at home and at peace when the world at large is wearing us down? Yes, it is, and maybe more besides. Can a place, a physical and geographical space, experience happiness? Do non-human entities experience happiness and other qualities that we normally associate with humanness, with the experience of being human in this world? If you could ask a place what would make it happiest, it might well tell you it would be happy if there were no humans in it…..

Spirit of Eden: Those two worry me. Getting a bit too sure of themselves round here. I can tell you now that pretty soon they’re gonna be sprouting a bunch of mini-me’s and start taking over the place.

Serpent: They seem nice enough. Not causing any harm that I can see.

Spirit of Eden: Yes, they are nice- always friendly and smiling. Not too bright though. I just don’t trust what’s coming once the offspring start arriving, all running about looking for food and shelter and the like. For now they seem happy in their little tree house, but in no time you’re gonna have droves of them all vying for access to the trees with the best view, and cutting branches off to build porches and family rooms and things, and it will just get worse from there, I can tell you. I just don’t trust them. You wait- soon they’re all gonna be running around in their numbers, pushing us around, acting like they own the place.

Serpent: Ok, So what next?

Spirit of Eden: We get them out. Before the damage starts. And here’s where it’s over to you, my fine friend. I’ve seen Miss Evey passing by under this very tree a few times lately, and she looks up into the branches and gets a certain look on her face- maybe she’s after one of these nice ripe apples, or maybe it’s your natural charms that put the sparkle in her eyes these days….

Serpent blushed a bit. You’re too kind, he said. So, tell me…. what’s the Boss’s feelings about all of this? I mean, he’s the one who bought them here in the first place.

Spirit of Eden: Well, I haven’t had a heart to heart with him about it, but I do check in with the old guy on occasion. He hasn’t said much but I suspect he’s beginning to share my concerns.

Serpent: Ok, so what do I do?

Spirit of Eden: You lead her astray, o charming one, by whatever means you deem necessary. And once the Boss sees that she’s been flouting the rules, well, he’ll take it from there.

Serpent: Ok, sounds like it could be fun. So, I’ll just wait up here then, shall I? Maybe I’ll just shed another layer while I wait- make sure my skin has that irresistible glow going on. I’m sure she’ll be along sometime very soon…..

#SoCS Writing Prompts, Sat 15/10/22: “Happy Place.”

Picture of Eve from Pexels

In My Garden: it’s Springtime in the South

September is Springtime down here at the very tip of Africa. Been hanging out in my garden a lot, enjoying the slow shedding of the last bits of winter, and the happy signs of summer popping up everywhere:

Beautiful Indigenous Clivias: happiest in the cool of the shade

Potted Strawberry in flower: always worth the wait…..

From the lemon tree, up a slope full of shrubs and succulents, to the cottage-on-stilts behind…..

These two little eggs belong to a family of Cape Robins who set up nest in our garden shed a few weeks ago!

Cape Gooseberries: Sweetly tart and delicious….

Apple blossoms with backdrop of leafy green almond tree

Bulbanella succulent surrounded by ornamental grasses.
The leaf of the plant exudes a gel with many skin healing properties.

And more……

And so turn the seasons! wishing you all a beautiful week ♥

Because today is Earth Day

sunflower during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“For we forget our origins; in our towns and cities, staring into our screens, we need constant reminding that we have been operators of computers for a single generation and workers in neon-lit offices for three or four, but we were farmers for five hundred generations, and before that hunter-gatherers for perhaps fifty thousand or more, living with the natural world as part of it as we evolved, and the legaccannot be done away with.” From “The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy”, by Michael Mccarthy.

And similarly, from marine biologist and human being truly in love with nature, Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring first ignited the Environmental Movement back in the 1960’s: “Our origins are of the earth. And so there is in us a deeply seated response to the natural universe, which is part of our humanity.”

International Earth Day 2021 is today: 22/04/2021

Prompted by Linda’s #1LinerWeds Challenge: 21/04/2021 : Random

Being an eco-considerate neighbour (despite the neighbours)


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Out on the street, on the pavement at the driveway entrance of my neighbour’s property, water is flowing out unchecked from underneath a municipal water main’s cover. This has continued unabated for weeks. Our precious natural resources flowing down the street– wasted, unharnessed, unused. This particular neighbour and I have been trying to get the matter resolved: endless calls to the Municipality (COJ), some of which have gone unanswered; and most recently my calls and emails to our local Councillor who, with his own particular frustrations in being able to influence the matter, was yet hopeful that it would be resolved by last Friday 02 October. But still nothing. I have posted messages on our street’s Whatsapp neighbourhood group, suggesting that others jump in to call COJ and put pressure on them there. My thinking is that if others get involved, we may have a better chance of expediting a positive result. Continue reading

A quick post about a quick garden soup.

Freshly picked garden greens


I haven’t blogged about my garden in a while, and there is no time like the present as here in the global South we move steadily into Summer with temperatures in Johannesburg heading into the upper 20’s, and the first of our wonderful seasonal thunderstorms making an appearance. For me there is nothing that shouts Summer like  those lovely soothing Highveld rains, bringing moisture and nourishment to our thirsty gardens, and that unmistakable fresh earthy tang to the air. One of the tasks that I set myself as we go into our summertime here, is to try not to let anything go to waste, although our home grown compost heaps take care of any surplus anyway. Nevertheless, I like to make full use of all that we grow, so that it ends up on our plates as far as possible, and not on the compost heap. I grow a lot of Asian Greens here in our garden in the winter time. They grow beautifully here, in the relatively protected area under the branches of the  almond and the apple trees, safe from the harshest of the cold and the threat of overnight winter frost. But come the first weeks of the warmer weather, typically from late August and beyond, the greens will rapidly go to seed, with little yellow flowers appearing on long stems which suddenly ‘bolt’ almost overnight in the warm, dry weather before the rains come. Continue reading

How to bring Mother Nature to your door

tilt shift photo of two white bird eggs on a nest
Photo by Maurício Filho on Pexels.com

Outside the window to my left there is a nest in our mulberry tree. Both parents are back and forth constantly, carrying wormy morsels for consumption by two tiny, hungry baby birds. I have been watching this beautiful process for about three weeks now, starting when I noticed the two adults putting the final touches to their compact little nest, right in front of the glass doors at one entrance to our house. If I wanted to I could clear the distance between the entrance and the tree in two or three strides, stand on the bench just beneath it, and reach up and touch the nest. At first I thought I was surely mistaken: why would they build so close by? Had they not noticed that there are people living here, using this very entrance several times a day? Not to mention our cat (okay, he’s elderly and has never climbed that tree, but he’s often in the area), and that all things considered they had best find another spot? Continue reading

My mid-summer garden: Circa January 2019.

In my garden: Cucumber vine (early stages of fruiting)


My garden has breathed a sigh of relief, following some impressive afternoon thunderstorms, so typical of Johannesburg at this time of the year. Many a seedling wilted and died last month, after weeks of unrelenting, frustratingly rain-less heat which rendered even the toughest of our garden plants (aloes and crassulas) gasping for relief. January 2019 has offered some rainy respite, bringing with it a sense of fresh renewal and the garden has responded accordingly. Not that we haven’t had some failures: seeds lovingly planted have mysteriously not produced (I have learnt to accept that this sometimes is just so), seedlings have shriveled and expired in the heat, and our lovely lettuce was set upon by some bug or worm with a very large appetite. In this case I have been determined not to use chemical insect repellents, and thankfully our preferred organic alternatives are slowly making an impact.

Please enjoy the pictures to follow. Each one snapped by me earlier today:



Borlotti Beans



Perfectly ripe red apple


Comfrey, red Salvia and Origanum


Tree stump and Bulbanella



Agapanthus and bee, with white Alysum in background



Cycad (new growth in centre) with pond in background




Vietnamese Coriander: pungent and delicious


Our garden angel, with Rose Quartz. Pond reeds in background












Continue reading