My Favorite Tropes

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Writers, especially authors of genre fiction, love to discuss tropes. Tropes are those “commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.”

One of my author friends is completely hooked on trapped in a cabin during a blizzard with a stranger.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • rain/thunderstorms
  • first kisses in the rain
  • old houses
  • haunted houses
  • twins, especially evil twins
  • secret identity heroes
  • jazz
  • south of France
  • Tuscany
  • Greece
  • wine
  • food

What are the story hooks that pull you in?


Looking Out My Window

I love to sit on my living room sofa and look out the window.

I live a block or two from a city park that is atop a hill. I can see only a sliver of the park through the trees and neighboring houses.

The road wending through the park is no longer open to automobiles. Pedestrians only. That made it nice when the Chromos were young and we would would through the park to the other side and the statue of famous authors for whom the park is named.  Except, of course, for the dog poop and shattered glass. And the people who think the DOGS MUST LEASHED signs don’t apply to them and their pooches.  Don’t get me started.

Anyway, sometimes I’m startled by what appears to be a vehicle driving or a pedestrian walking on the ridge pole (roof peak) of a neighbor’s house. The house is just the right height for the ridge pole to align with the road. It took me a few times to figure out what I was seeing.

This particular neighbor also has numerous birdfeeders and may also spread birdseed on the ground. There are flocks of birds who hang out on the wires in front of the house who then swoop behind the hedges. Sometimes the flapping of all those wings is startling.  It’s Hitchcock-esque.




The Mommy Files: Green Grandma

Green is TV Stevie’s least favorite color. I’ve always been partial to it, but after we married, I limited green to foodstuffs. TV is partial to vegetables, so he was content.

Along came the children, who, being green deprived in the house and in their closets, both declared green to be their favorite color.

X-Chromo, I think, rebelled against all the pink and purple in which I swathed her.  Her love of green morphed into a preference for what I call turquoise.  Which TV Stevie insists is green. Men, however, have fewer color rods in their eyes, so he clearly knows not of what he speaks.

Y-Chromo took it one step further.  He invented his “Green Grandma.”

One evening at dinner, Y informed us he wanted to visit his Green Grandma. So I asked him about this person. “Oh, she lives in a green house. Her kitchen is green. Her curtains are green. The stove and refrigerator a green. There are green walls and green floors. All her furniture is green. I love it there.”

The kids wasn’t talking about environmentally correct stuff. He meant the color.



Movie: Zero Hour!

My husband is a movie addict. He loves TCM. Every once in a while he finds a gem he knows I’ll like. Such was the case with Zero Hour!

It turns out that Zero Hour! (1957, Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell and Sterling Hayden) is the original version of Airplane! While it is commonly assumed that Airplane! spoofs the disaster film genre, particularly the Airport series, parts of the script are verbatim from Zero Hour!  (Paramount owned Zero Hour! so it was  all perfectly legal.)

“Our survival hinges on one thing – finding someone who not only can fly this plane, but didn’t have fish for dinner.”

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.”

Yet Zero Hour! is not a comedy. It was a completely serious film.

If you get a chance to see it, you should.


Lookin’ Out My Backdoor

I love sitting on my patio. So many things happen in my tiny urban backyard. There’s a rabbit (or a series of bunnies) who has visited for years. The variety of birds is astounding. I love when I catch a glimpse of cardinals. Of course there is a contingent of squirrels. One of my neighbors leaves peanuts out for them. I find peanut shells on my sidewalk, half-buried in the tomato pot, and littering the basil.

I have parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (if you’re of a certain age, I’ll bet you sang along with that), basil. spearmint, peppermint, chives, lemon balm, and oregano.  The wisteria and iris have bloomed and gone, as has the azalea and peonies, but the daylilies are waiting to burst into blossom.

One of the things I love to watch are the butterflies. Once in a while, I will see a monarch flitting around, but mostly I have white-winged butterflies. They have a small black dot on their wings. They may be cabbage butterflies. I usually see two, but sometimes there are more. They return year after year, although I’m sure they are not the same ones. Maybe I have generations.

Here’s the thing. They flutter around and interact with each other. The poet in me sometimes views their movements as dancing. The cynic, however, wonders if they are not in fact battling each other.