Flash Fiction #82

Sandbox

PHOTO PROMPT – © ceayr

SANDBOX

We put the gate up because people steal sand. We came home one day, to truck tracks across the lawn, and a hole in our beach.

The Sahara has lots of sand, but it’s the wrong kind, and it’s too far to ship. Sand to make glass needs lots of silica.  Saudi Arabia imports it.

The sand people steal is to make concrete for construction. We even had a small ship in our cove with a suction hose.  What used to be a shallow bottom is now deep and stony.  We called the Coast Guard, but they didn’t catch them.

***

While theft of sand may seem strange, it’s actually quite common, especially along California’s coast, and on the Hawaiian Islands. The pressure of providing for more and more development is fierce.  Dump-trucks with a bulldozer in tow remove tons of sand from popular beaches.  Sucker ships destroy the bottoms of small bays.  Subsequent erosion threatens the concrete supports of decks of beachfront homes.  Play in the sandbox is getting rough.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

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Flash Fiction #52

Chain

PHOTO PROMPT – © C. Hase

SHIFTING SANDS

I finished reading my book, and I’m bored.  I’ll have some crackers.

LINK!

I’ll make a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  The bread is small.  I’ll make two.

LINK!

It’s TV commercial time.  I’ll eat a few chips.

LINK!

Doctor says my cholesterol level is normal, but the weight is creeping up.

LINK!

Abdominal fat surrounds and presses on organs, adversely affecting them.  Phooey!  I’ll live forever.

LINK!

And so, like Ebenezer Scrooge, our chains of obesity are acquired.  So easily gained, forged one link at a time.  So difficult to divest ourselves of.

Cast off your chains.  Be healthy.

The above is a somewhat distressing, very personal account of the five years since I retired, still eating as I did when I worked, but no longer working.  I would not insult by pointing fingers and using the ‘Fat’ word, just a gentle reminder, and a wish for the best for all.

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

#465

Housecleaning Memories

This post will be a sort of guest post from Granma Ladybug.

Recently she has assisted me with our Fall Housecleaning.  She has been reluctant to do so, not because of the labor, or the allergies, but because of the need to divest ourselves of many things which bring back strong memories.

Some years ago, when she was downsized out of a job, she took advantage of a government grant to return to school and upgrade her computer and English skills.  To assess incoming students’ language abilities, the English teacher asked them to write a one-page essay.  She recently came upon a file with hers, along with some other submissions.

The prompt was, “Write about something which strongly affected you, hopefully pleasantly.”  Her mother died when she was only three, and she was raised by a succession of older sisters and an evil sister-in-law.  When we engaged, my mother took her in like her own.  Read how this affected her.

A SUNDAY AFTERNOON DRIVE DOWN THE
SOUTH SHORE OF LAKE HURON

“Welcome to Bruce County!”  This is a sign that, over the years has come to mean a homecoming to me.  Unfortunately, this spring my mother-in-law had a stroke that affected her short-term memory, and she had to be placed in a nursing home.

Every trip home means visiting my father-in-law, who still manages to live at home, and fitting in three visits with Mom over the weekend.  This trip home, my husband and I decided to take Mom out for a Sunday afternoon drive.

After getting Mom settled in the car, our first stop was The Chip Shop, for French fries which we could enjoy during the drive.  Our journey took us down the main street to Lake Huron, and a view of Chantry Island.  We then travelled along Huron Street, taking a right onto Adelaide Street, down to Lake Street, left on Lake Street past the tennis courts, and another right to Beach Street.

Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

At the end of Beach Street is Chantry Park, where the Long Dock was.  You can still see the rocks which made up the dock, stretching far out into the water.  We then continued down Front Street, which turns into Harmer Street, then becomes Harmer Road, paralleling Lake Huron.

Lighthouse II

 

 

 

 

 

The road winds along the shoreline, curving to accommodate Mirimachi Bay, where a lower water level reveals mud flats with pools of murky water that house bulrushes, and other aquatic life.  We pulled over to the side of the road and watched two sailboats rounding Chantry Island, the sailing conditions being absolutely perfect.

mini-railroad

 

 

 

 

As we continued down the shore road, the brightly shining sun made the calm water sparkle with diamonds….almost too brilliant for the eyes.  On we meandered, past the miniature gauge railroad tracks in the lakefront park, past Port Elgin’s marina, up to the main street and to the Tim Horton’s, to pick up Timbits for Mom and her roommate, Christina Eagles.

Returning Mom to the nursing home was very difficult for Mom and us; however, Christina was glad to see Mom, as she has become very attached to her, and is frightened to be left alone for too long.  We brought out the Timbits, which are Christina’s favorite treat, and had a small party to celebrate the end of an enjoyable day.

While it was pleasant to take Mom out for the day, it brought to mind past years when Sunday meant putting on a roast and loading the car with grandparents, parents and children, to take a tour of the Bruce Peninsula.  We have, in past years, gone to the flea market at Mar, seen the spring and fall colors at Lion’s Head, and investigated many, many garage sales that dot the countryside during the fine summer weather.

Outings that were taken by the Smith family include a litany of small town names such as Chesley, Tara, Allenford, Wingham, Oliphant etc.  These were memories in the making, something to bring out later, and to let the remembering heal the hurt that adverse changes can bring.  To make pleasant memories is a very important detail.

This was the bitter-sweet last time we were all able to enjoy such a get-together.  Mom remained in good physical condition, almost until her death from a virulent case of flu when she was 92.  Soon after this day though, the mental light in her eyes faded, and there was almost no spark of who she’d been.

While we may be forced to jettison some of our physical things, we hold our memories dearly.  They remain almost as bright and strong as the days they were created.  They take no room to store and, not only can we pull them out and enjoy them at any time, but we can share them with others.   😀

Jesus Loves You

I have a brother, almost three years younger than me. When I was seven and eight, he was only four and five, and almost a full-time job for my mother. In the summertime, in my little town, even full of tourists, I was free to get out from under foot, and go wherever I wanted, as long as I didn’t get into trouble, and was home for supper.

Roll out of bed in the morning, pull on a bathing suit instead of underwear, shorts, tee-shirt, runners, a towel around my neck, and I spent large portions of my days at the beach. With almost two miles of warm, white sand, I attended different sections on different days. One day, about two blocks off the main street, I saw something intriguing. Six or seven twenty-somethings marched out onto the sand. Two of them were toting a pump-organ. The rest had shovels, bamboo poles, a rolled-up banner, and a bunch of books.

Watcha doin’? They were a Christian outreach group for youngsters, labelled C.S.S.M. – Children’s Special Service Mission. We’re having a meeting. Go gather up all the kids. Me like a damned fool, I did it. They put up the banner on the poles, dug trenches and piled the sand behind – instant pews. Got a kid to pump the organ. Evangelism lite – handed out songbooks – a few hymns, a bit of sermon, believe in God, obey Jesus, a little homily. 40/45 minutes, we were done, same time, same place tomorrow.

The seeds of individualism already growing strongly, along with cynicism, I didn’t see this as missionary Christianity. I was just fascinated with the social aspects. The next day, and the next – two weeks on the beach, I put up poles, strung the banner, dug the pews, pumped the organ, and helped them carry stuff to and from the beach.

Soon there were afternoon get-togethers – hikes, scavenger hunts, badminton games. Although we had a net, and acres of sand, apparently volleyball had not been invented. I learned discriminatory thinking. An item for ten grains of sand in the scavenger hunt didn’t mean only ten, very carefully counted, grains. Lean down and pick up a handful – there must be ten grains there!

Then, before the town got all pissy about them, we cleaned the driftwood off the beach, and had evening campfires and sing-alongs. Silly camp songs, a few hymns, an uplifting story, roast some marshmallows, a quick benediction prayer, and off home you go kids, it’s getting late. I was part of a group!

Next year, they came back. Same hymn, different verse. I was ten, and it wasn’t a bad way to spend two supervised weeks. The following year, they returned again. I was eleven, they were nice, and I was learning interpersonal relation stuff.

On the day they left, I had my Dad drive me to the cottage they used, to say goodbye. At a time when two dollars would gas the car for most of a week, my Dad dug out and donated $5.00, to help repay for all the things they’d done for me and given to me. By the time they returned the next year, my Dad said that he should have put his hand in his pocket, and just left it there. They had spent $10 on paper, envelopes and postage, beseeching him to donate more, and more, and even more.

The next summer, I was 12, going on almost mature. I hadn’t even thought about them coming back. I headed downtown one July Saturday. I was just in front of the Baptist Church we infrequently attended, a block off the commercial district, when a sedan and a station wagon rolled in and parked in front. Out piled most of my old faces, along with a couple of new ones.

Hi! How are you? How was your winter? You’re looking good! Hail-fellow-well-met! These people remember me. They missed me. They love me! We’re so proud of you! Oh, what for? Well, we heard that, over the winter, you were baptised here at the church.

There were three Smith families in town, no two related. One had an only-child son, with the same first name as mine. They religiously (every pun intended) attended the same church we occasionally hit. It musta been the other “John Smith” – and the shades came down, and the lights went off. They couldn’t dump me on the sidewalk fast enough.

If you’re donating money, they can’t get enough of you. If you jump through all their strangely-shaped hoops, recite their magical words, and make their particular mystical gestures, you will be adored and supported. If you have the temerity to tell them that you have opinions about other ways of living your life, these Good Christians will treat you like a fur-ball the cat hacked up, and Jesus will be the only one who loves you.

I’ve met some very Spiritual Christians, loving, forgiving, inclusive, acceptant. These weren’t them! Sadly, I’ve met many of their compatriots over the years. Christ drove the money lenders from the temple, but the “business” of religion marches on.

Archon – The Early Work Years

My mother worked every day of her life, both as a mother and wife, inside the home, and later, as a fellow-wage-earner, outside it.  This was before automation, and often before electrification.  She instilled in me early, a strong work-ethic.  Between ages eight and twelve, I had three paper-routes for two different newspapers.

The first job I remember her having was as a waitress at the lunch bar/dining room of a local hotel.  Since she worked from 11 till 3, my brother and I ate our lunch where she worked.  I remember a lot of hamburgers and fries, or hotdogs and fries, and the reduced cost of our meals came out of her earnings.

She eventually developed a circle of people she cleaned homes for, both year-round residents and summer visitors.  She was requested to do more than just clean.  She cooked food for soirees, and served as waitress.  A tiny woman, there were often things she wasn’t strong enough to do.  From 12 to 16, I occasionally worked with her, taking down shutters or storm windows, putting up screens, cleaning out garages or storage sheds, mowing lawns, trimming trees, and sweeping or shovelling sand off sidewalks and driveways.

One customer my mother had, was a grumpy old fart who owned a convenience-store and eight cabins near the beach.  He made most of his money during the summer months.  Since my birthday was in September, and I had to be 16 to get a summer job in a factory, she arranged for me to work for him in the summer of 1960, for the lordly sum of 50 cents/hour.  Nothing difficult or complex, a retail clerk.  I took money, made change, directed customers to product, kept an eye out for shoplifters, stocked shelves, swept up and hand-dipped ice-cream cones.

One slow, hot afternoon, I made myself a cone.  The old man came in the back door just as I was putting money in the till to pay for it, and asked me what I was doing.  When I explained, he told me of the girl he’d had the summer before.  She just about ate him out of house and store.  Pop, chips, candy bars, ice-cream cones, and never thought to pay for any of it.  He was impressed with my honesty.

The next year, my father arranged a summer job at the R.C.A. Victor plant where he worked.  For the first week, I moved raw material, sanded some edges, and wiped dust off cabinets about to be packed.  For this, I was paid $1.27/hr.  After last summer’s 50 cents, I was rich.

They moved me to the spray-finishing department.  TV and stereo cabinets came in on rollers from a half a dozen assemblers.  I was to take them off the rollers, and place them on large trays which would carry them by chain-drive through the spray booths.  One of the sprayers came over to tell me that, I could probably move the individual TV cabinets by myself, but the five and six-foot long stereo cabinets needed two people to move safely.  While they liked a mix of big and small on their line, he told me to accumulate several big ones at the end of the rollers, and call him or one of the other guys, who would help me load up a batch at a time.

While I got an hourly wage, these guys were paid piece-work.  They lost money every time I called them.  About the third day, a little light went on.  I walked up the line, and gave the next empty tray a pull.  Sure enough, the drive pin to the chain wasn’t attached, it was merely pushed.  I could pull a tray forward till it touched the end of the previous one, and it would just sit there till the drive caught up to it.  This gave me lots of time to swivel one end of a big cabinet out, and place it at one end, then move to the other end and safely repeat the process.

About the end of the next week, my spray booth guy suddenly commented that the cabinets were randomly mixed and I hadn’t requested any assistance.  When I explained my process, he was thrilled.  They could do it that way when they didn’t have an assistant, and could teach next year’s intern.

Next year I worked there again, just not in that department.  The wage scale had increased to $1.34/hr.  I was rich as Croesus.  Good thing too, I had a car to support.  The plant shipped most of its output in train cars.  I and another young lad were given the job of loading the boxed cabinets into the cars.  The work was sporadic.  A batch would be inspected and packed and sent down a delivery belt, to a set of rollers.  It was our job to roll them out and stack them in the car. 

Often we would finish one lot before another came down.  Since the shipping department was right outside the office, it would not do to have us standing around.  The shipping foreman told us that, if we weren’t loading, we were to be in one of the cars.  He said that we could eat, read, play cards, go across the street to the store, even sleep, but when he stuck his head in to say there was another shipment, we’d better be there, and ready.

My assistant got a case of the runs one day, and was gone for a lonngg time.  Another batch started and was piling up on the delivery belt.  I used the same system I had the year before, only vertically.  I pushed a row against the wall, then another row in front, then lifted the next one up by one end and pushed it back.  Put another row in front and pushed some more up, then repeat, using layer two to lift layer three.  By the time he got back, I had packed the entire lot myself, and the foreman never even knew he was missing.

I was just too damned dedicated.  If there was a job to be done, I was the fool who done it, but I think it made me a better me, and helped me get jobs later in life when I badly needed one.  I feel my work ethic shone through.