Four Green Squares

the tiny little blog no-one will ever read

If this is what I find funny these days… April 23, 2012

Filed under: writing — FourGreenSquares @ 2:12 pm

Fellow copy editors, you know that moment when you’ve been editing so long that you forget how to spell your own name, and no matter what punctuation you use, it looks odd? I was on my third computer engineering ms of the day when I had a sudden panic over how to punctuate a sentence ending with etc. Or should that be etc.. And then what the heck do I do about the question mark: etc..? (?)!

So I turned to Chicago Manual of Style online and lo, found just what I needed. A good laugh. Definitely too punchy and time for a break.

Online Question: “How would I punctuate the end of a sentence that ends with an abbreviation? For example, “I attended a meeting at ABC, Inc.” Two periods don’t look right.”

CMS Answer: “For some reason, questions about periods have dominated the Q&A mail lately. Why the sudden confusion? Why, after a lifetime (I trust) of never encountering two periods in a row, do readers suddenly think this might be a good idea? In any case, here are some answers: Don’t ever put two periods in a row.”

They totally grok the state of mind into which people querying CMS on such a style point have descended.


New story published April 17, 2012

Filed under: writing — FourGreenSquares @ 6:30 pm

My story “Dark Doorways” is up on MicroHorror.

It is a very short piece, less than 400 words.

Check it out. 

Needless to say, let the title of the site be a warning, though my story isn’t gory at all.


Fluffy little bunnies will make it better

Filed under: the way it is — FourGreenSquares @ 5:41 pm

Oops. Another scar for life on the little one’s psyche. And–natch–I had such good intentions.

Though, btw, I think the problem with good intentions is not inherent per se but rather a reflection of the fact that if you’re thinking of your intentions then you aren’t responding to the situation itself, which creates a mismatch.

Anyway: books. The little one is now old enough that I though she might enjoy kids’ chapter books as opposed to picture ones. Things like The Little Princess, Swiss Family Robinson, The Twits, The BFG, the Little House series.

I decided on Little House in the Big Woods as the little one is quite obsessed with history and how things were different back “when the grown-ups’ days were kids.” The main character is about her age so, while I thought she might enjoy hearing about how another little girl lived, I still knew it would be a hard sell.

I didn’t wait until we were snugged up together for bedtime stories but brought it up on the way to school. I put on a big smile and said, “I thought that tonight, we could read a new, big girl type of story.”

No dummy, she knew if it was really that great, she’d be asking me to read it. So she bites her lower lip as her pale brows furrow. “Is this for school?”

I possibly sound too chipper. “No, no. This was one of Mummy’s favourite books when she was small. It’s about a little girl whose family live in the woods and they grow their own food and their Mummy sews their clothes and they help her make bread and butter.”

She sucks in the rest of her lip and I can see the thought process: A story about chores, great.

I fumble for a quick salvage. “You’ll love it. She has all sorts of pets: a cat, a dog, cows, a little pig…”

She perks up at that. “What s the piggy’s name?”

“We can find out when we ready the story. Sound good?” At this point, I think I’ve got it in the bag. My mind has wandered in to other things: do I actually have a copy or will I have time to get to the bookstore?

“Did she play games with the piggy?”

To expand on the wisdom of John Lennon: much as life happens when you’re making other plans, the truth is what comes out when you talk of other things. With my mind off trying to recollect the last time I read The Little Princess, I answered off the cuff. Honestly, though, in my own defence, I gave a 100% honest answer. No wonder it upset her do much. “No, she didn’t play games with it. They killed it. Killed and ate it.”

She makes a mangled noise that could be a gasp, could be a sob, or some hybrid of the two. Eyes wide, lower lip trembling, little hand tugging my sleeve. “Mummy?”

I realise what I’ve said so I try to lighten the bombshell by grinning inanely and letting out a chuckle. “Well, they did play games with the piggy.”

The lower lip relaxes into a still-wobbly smile. “Like catch?”

I rack my brains to recall the chapter. The pig ran wild into the woods until chop day, iirc. Then it dawns. “Yes, they play catch, kind of.”

“Does the piggy catch the ball with its nose?” Her head bobs, demonstrating.

I’m congratulating myself on my save, so again, the truth slips out: “Uh, they make a ball out of the pigs bladder.” For some reason, a biology lesson strikes me as important. “The bladder is a pouch inside your body, like a stomach, Sweetie, and play ball like that. It makes a sort of balloon.”

Ashen faced, freckles standing out like scorch marks from unshed tears, she doesn’t say anything for a long moment, just shakes her head slowly, a subconscious cleansing motion. Her eyes squeeze shut, trying to erase the mental image.

Finally, she speaks. “Uh, Mummy? I think that is a book for you, not for me.”

Great, now my child thinks I enjoy reading pig snuff books. But I quit while I was only slightly behind and that night, she picked out The Littlest Ballerina instead. Her dreams were safe another night.

Until I get hold of Watership Down, that is…


Not another way to waste time on the internet April 10, 2012

Filed under: the way it is — FourGreenSquares @ 1:06 pm

So I discovered Pinterest.

So I discovered I love Pinterest.

All those random scraps and snippets that I don’t quite want to blog about yet want to do more with than announce via a fleeting Tweet have now found a home.

I’ve never considered myself much of a design/decorator person–too many years in grad school shaped my tastes–until now. Gulp. Time to sell everything on eBay and in with the new.


Well, it’s an un-mined niche I suppose April 8, 2012

Filed under: writing — FourGreenSquares @ 6:31 pm

So the new story wants to have a Gothic slant: the possibly hallucinatory ghosts of long dead mothers beseeching from secret corridors of fog enshrouded ancestral ruins type thing. But the other part of it wants to be a high-action farce.

The dissonant tones will be tricky to meld; c’mon, muse. April Fools was last week.


Not the way to start the day April 6, 2012

Filed under: the way it is — FourGreenSquares @ 6:07 pm

Yesterday’s incident brings my lifetime tally of near-death experiences to five.

Not NDEs in the sense of being exhorted down a glowing tunnel away from a failing body (well, only once). More like brushes with death. But we’re not talking barely discernable arm-grazes with the grim reaper either.


I’m either doing something very right or extremely wrong.


And yet, once more April 3, 2012

Filed under: the way it is,writing — FourGreenSquares @ 7:03 am

The new story feels less like it’s being written than somehow…accreting around a theme.

I don’t normally write this way so I’m enjoying it more than I would have thought for a story  I’m still not sure I know anything about.

Pity my poor crit group, who’ll have this sprung on them unawares instead of the next chapter of the novel.


perfectionist pie April 1, 2012

Filed under: recipes — FourGreenSquares @ 12:45 pm

I came back from the market laden with too much nice produce. I couldn’t bung it all in one big meal so I decided, it being brunch time, to start eating my way through the bounty in the order it would go off. Hence, spinach, top o’ the list.


This is my creation of the day:


Scrambled Eggs Florentine (serves two)


  • 4 medium eggs
  • a cup of washed, de-stemmed, shredded fresh spinach
  • a splash of milk
  • ½ tsp of cumin and turmeric
  • one small onion, diced
  • half a cup grated cheese, cheddar and/or feta


  1. saute the onion in olive oil for a few minutes, until starting to brown
  2. add the cumin and turmeric and stir for another minute
  3. add the spinach and let cook for a minute or two until wilted, stirring occasionally
  4. break the eggs into a bowl and add the splash of milk, mix with a fork
  5. add the egg mixture to the pan and stir
  6. when eggs are nearly cooked, add cheese
  7. stir until eggs are cooked and serve.
  8. Add fresh black pepper if desired.


I suppose it goes without saying that if you don’t stir the eggs after you add them to the pan, you’ll have an omelette.  Which is fine, if you want an omelette. I have enough stress in my life without omelettes triggering my perfectionist guilt. Make the most of a situation where the path of least resistance works out just as well.


This is lovely served with granary toast or half a bagel.