Flash Fiction #199

Gazebo

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

I’LL HUFF AND I’LL PUFF

What’s this thing supposed to be, IF, and when we get it finished – a Gaze-Bow?? …. gah-zee-boe?

Easy to assemble. Up in minutes. Right!! Like the minutes of the last sales meeting – they weren’t finished till a week later.

Insert strut A into cavity 7. Where’s you get this thing – IKEA??

Aargh! I’ll hold that side down. Do you have any bricks for ballast?

We should have assembled this in the garage, and then just dragged it out.

It’s all your fault. You should have known better than to buy something made by the Big Bad Wolf Tent and Awning Company.

***

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

Friday Fictioneers

Flash Fiction #195

Wired

INFORMATION OVERLOAD

If I could just get them to shut up for a minute, I could think.

Input, input, input! The living room had begun to resemble the NYSE trading floor – everyone talking – nobody listening. I don’t know how those guys do it – a phone in each ear, and a hundred people screaming. Screw multi-tasking, I lose my place reading a book if the dog barks, outside.

The wife has an opinion. The daughter has an opinion. The son has a different opinion. All I suggested was going camping this weekend.

I’ll just lock myself in the den – and soundproof the door.

***

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

Friday Fictioneers

Flash Fiction #179

alone

PHOTO PROMPT © Renee Heath

A MAJORITY OF ONE

I’m glad the wives agreed to this weekend away.  They probably think we’re just drinking beer, and telling fart jokes.  I love my wife, but…. my ears were tired.  The average woman uses twice as many words in a day as a man.

It’s so nice to be out here all by myself with Nature, – uh, and you guys…. Whuh??  Okay!  I’ll be quiet.  I know how.  One time, as a kid, I almost starved.  Wouldn’t tell my parents I was hungry.  Pass me another beer, willya?  I think those beans we had for supper are startin’ to come through.

***

Click above to hear Eric Carmen extol his solitude, and go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

Flash Fiction #152

Winter Vacation

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW

Moving from job to job every few years, for a maximum of experience, had been a good idea when he was younger. He’d finally stayed with one employer long enough get a third week of vacation.

They’d had fun going to the beach or camping during the summers. He’d scheduled this one halfway between New Year and Easter.  What should he do during it?? – Absolutely nothing!  Stay inside.

Groceries were laid in. Water flowed.  Furnace worked.  Wrap up in a Snuggie and binge-watch Netflix with cookies and hot chocolate.  He’d shovel all that snow on Friday….Saturday, at the very latest.

***

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

 

You Want It, We Got It

Junk

The wife and I are Mr. and Mrs. Just-In-Case. Over the years, if there’s been some small, inexpensive thing that could make our lives easier, we’ve purchased it.  As I bitched about in my ‘Autumn Housecleaning’ post, the problem is that we never get rid of things we no longer use.

Living as we have, in the same houses for decades, we have accumulated the greatest collection of ‘stuff’, some of it fairly non-standard.  We lived for a couple of years beside a single mother with two young daughters.  She acquired a long-term boyfriend who was there for more than just the free sex.  Whenever he tried to clean up, fix up or paint up, she never had any/the right tools, so she would tell him to go next door, and ask Archon if he might borrow something.

A tree branch had grown over the driveway where he wanted to park his car. Would I have a saw that he could use to cut it off?  We used to go camping when the kids were young.  How about a small, light bucksaw? Perfect!

Later, he wanted to clear out a lilac bush which had overgrown a fence corner. Did I have a small axe or hatchet that he could cut out the sucker shoots with? See ‘camping’, above.  Weekend after weekend this went on, many requests common, some, not as much.  A circular saw, a hand drill and set of bits, a pipe wrench(?), tape measure, carpenters’ level, (3-foot professional, or foot-long home version?) a pry-bar, (standard crowbar or 8 inch window jimmier?) all quickly, freely provided.

Finally, she wanted to reward him for the things he’d done around her place, by baking him a cake. For this, she wanted a spring-form cake pan.  “Go next door and ask (Mrs.) Archon if they have one.”  If it involves food, ‘Of course we do!’  As I handed it to him, he asked, “Do you guys have everything?”

I guess she didn’t understand the ‘spring-form’ concept. You’re supposed to unlatch the little clip on the side to increase the diameter and have the cake slide out.  Apparently she tried to remove it with a large butcher knife, ruining the non-stick, Teflon coating, and gouging the aluminum pan.  She felt badly, and bought a replacement at a Dollarama store, but it wasn’t the quality that the wife had found.

Loupe

Even now, there are things in our house that I’m sure few other homes contain. The son owns a jewellers’ loupe, that thing that you stick in your eye and hold in place with your eyebrow, which magnifies things 10 times.  He bought it from a local jeweller after he left high school, but can’t remember why.  I’ve used it often over the years to check the detail on some of the coins I’ve acquired.

Mortar and Pestle

Recently, the wife encountered a recipe that called for powdered ginger. We have fresh ginger root, grated ginger and dried, chunk ginger.  We also have a small, powerful little electric ‘thing’ useful for such tasks as grinding coffee.  It would quickly turn the dry chunks into powder, but the wife decided to go a different way.

(To the son) “Call your sister, and ask her if we can borrow her mortar and pestle.  She just bought one that she uses to crush herbs for cooking, home remedies and aromatherapy.”

The son replied, “Why bother her? When she bought the new one, I bought her old one from her.  It’s in my room.”  It now sits in pride of place, below the overstuffed spice rack in the kitchen, groaning under every spice known to man, and a couple only to Martians.  ‘Eat your heart out bland potatoes, Matt Damon.’

Into each life, a little weird must fall. It’s just that it falls a little harder and faster at our house.  😉

Flash Fiction #120

banishment

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

THE SMELL OF NAPALM IN THE MORNING

“So, tell me exactly how it happened.”

“I really have no idea. It’s all still just a blur.  She asked one of those IED-booby trapped, wife questions, like, ‘Does this dress make my butt look big?’  There must have been some extra Semtex.  I thought I was being tactful.  I should have just claimed a kidney imploded.  I’ve been banished to the couch for a night or two – but this??!”

“So, when do you think you will be allowed back in?”

“I don’t really know. I get good Wi-Fi reception out here, and I’m beginning to really enjoy the silence.”

***

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

Elementary

Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes – Elementary Dear Watson

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go on a camping trip, set up their tent, and fall asleep. Some hours later, Holmes wakes his faithful friend.

– Watson, look up and tell me what you see.

Watson replies, – I see millions of stars.

– What does that tell you?

Watson ponders for a minute. – Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.
Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo.
Timewise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three.
Theologically, it’s evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant.
Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?

Holmes is silent for a moment, then speaks. –
Watson, you’re an idiot, someone has stolen our tent.

***

You’re not going to believe this!

A woman got a problem with her closet door – it was falling every time a bus was passing by. So she called a repair man. The repairman comes and sees that indeed, the door falls out every time when a bus passes by. “OK, I am gonna see what is going on, just close the door behind me” and he steps into the closet.

At that time the husband comes home from work, opens the closet and finds the repairman.
Husband: “What the hell are you doing here?”
Repairman: “Well, you are not going to believe it, but I am waiting for a bus!”

***

Who am I?

Night.
A sleeping couple is lying in a bed.
Door bell rings.
The couple wakes up.
Woman: “Quick! My husband is back!”
Man jumps out of a window.
On the way down, he starts to think: “Shit, I am the husband!”

***

Shoe repair shop

Arnold and his wife were cleaning out the attic one day when he came across a ticket from the local shoe repair shop. The date stamped on the ticket showed that it was over eleven years old. They both laughed and tried to remember which of them might have forgotten to pick up a pair of shoes over a decade ago.

“Do you think the shoes will still be in the shop?” Arnold asked.

“Not very likely,” his wife said.

“It’s worth a try,” Arnold said, pocketing the ticket. He went downstairs, hopped into the car, and drove to the store.

With a straight face, he handed the ticket to the man behind the counter. With a face just as straight, the man said, “Just a minute. I’ll have to look for these.” He disappeared into a dark corner at the back of the shop.

Two minutes later, the man called out, “Here they are!”

“No kidding?” Arnold called back. “That’s terrific! Who would have thought they’d still be here after all this time.”

The man came back to the counter, empty-handed. “They’ll be ready Thursday,” he said calmly.

***

It Beggars the Imagination

“Can you spare some change?” a beggar asks a passerby.
“No, I know you’re going to spend it all on vodka.”
“No, sir, I don’t drink.”
“Then you’ll gamble it away.”
“No, I don’t gamble either, sir.”
“Well then, you’re going to spend it on women.”
“No, sir, I don’t spend money on women.”
“Okay,” the passerby finally agrees, finally. “I’m going to give you $100 if you come with me. I want to show my wife an example of what can happen to a man who has no bad habits.”

CANADA D’Eh?

Canadian Flag

July 1 is CANADA DAY!

In celebration, I slept in till after noon….wait, that’s my regular schedule.  In any case, it took me a while to get my mind firing on all three cylinders, steal research the following fascinating information about my great country, and get it out to all my foreign followers.

ARE THE STEREOTYPES ABOUT CANADA TRUE?

It’s always winter here

False. There is, almost always, a stretch of several weeks between the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the start of curling season when it is warm enough for mosquitoes to thrive. This is when we go camping. In fact, according to Environment Canada the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada was on July 5, 1937, when it reached 45 C in Midale and Yellowgrass, Sask. You know where else it reaches 45 C? The Sahara desert. Saskatchewan: the Morocco of the North.

We say “eh” after every sentence

False.  A lot of sentences end with “Stanley Cup,” “puck,” or “sorry.”

We’re all very polite

See previous item. Actually, a poll by Angus Reid last year found that 56 per cent of Canadians reported using profanity on a regular or occasional basis, higher than both Brits (51 per cent) and Americans (46 per cent). But are we more profane or are we just less likely to hang up on pollsters? In fact, Canada had 554 murders in 2010, according to Statistics Canada. That’s 1.62 homicides per 100,000, compared to 4.8 in the United States, 13 in Russia, 18 in Mexico and 78 in Honduras, the deadliest country in the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

We all play hockey

False. There is a rumour that several people somewhere in the Metro Vancouver region do not play hockey or understand what offside and icing are, and the relentless mocking of neighbours and co-workers has so far failed to convince them to pick up some skates and get with the game. According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, Canada is the hockey-playingest nation in the world, with 572,411 registered hockey players, male and female, which amounts to 1.68 per cent of the population.

We drink a lot of beer

False, it seems. According to statistics compiled by Ranker.com, Canada pulls in at 21st among beer-swilling nations, swigging a meagre 68.3 litres per capita annually. That’s well behind Hungary, at 75.3 litres, and just ahead of Latvia, at 68 litres. Czechs more than double the pitiful tippling of Canadians, downing 158.6 litres of beer per capita per year. Ireland wins silver in the quaffing World Cup, at 131.1 litres per person. Per capita consumption of beer peaked in Canada in 1981, at 99.69 litres, says Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

We hate Americans

Wrong again. We share a language, a culture, a lot of television shows and 8,891 kilometres worth of border across land and water. We have the largest bilateral relationship of any two nations on Earth, and aside from the beer thing and burning down the White House in the War of 1812, we get along quite famously. According to Statistics Canada, they’re our best friends and we, theirs. The federal agency says more than 24.5 million Americans came to Canada to say “hey” in 2010, compared to 4.5 million visitors from other countries, and almost 20 million Canadians went to the U.S. to say “eh,” compared to the 1.4 million Canadians who went to Mexico, our second bestie.

We speak French

Mais oui. Un peu. In the 2006 federal census, 17.8 million Canadians identified themselves as speaking English and 6.8 million as speaking French, while 98,625 said they spoke English and French. Almost 300,000 others said they spoke English and/or French and another language. Overachievers.

Igloo

We live in igloos

We wish, because igloos are very cool, but the truth is that the igloo is the ingenious invention of the Inuit people of the Arctic. While Inuit traditionally used hide tents for their summer homes and sod homes in winter, they also built igloos for shelter when they were out on the land in winter. Igloos are built of blocks of snow stacked one atop the other to form a dome. They’re easy to construct and warm inside, offering fast and secure shelter in one of the harshest climates on Earth.

Modern Inuit – of which there are more than 50,000, according to the 2006 federal census – have settled in permanent communities throughout the North and live in houses like their southern Canadian cousins, but many continue to keep their hunting and fishing traditions alive.

We ride dogsleds

While riding public transit at rush hour can certainly evoke feelings of being at the mercy of a pack of rabid dogs, there are some subtle but important differences.

One: Sled dogs are actually quite well-behaved, or they wouldn’t be sled dogs. They would be dogs who chew shoes and chase Canada Post employees.
Two: Public transit smells bad, and while sled dogs themselves aren’t exactly a breath of fresh air, you do have to be out in the fresh air to be driving a dog sled.
Three: A dog team can run up to 32 kilometres an hour, says the International Federation of Sleddog Sports, while buses at rush hour rarely reach those kinds of speeds.

There are many differences but most importantly, mushing is a rural sport while riding public transit is a predominantly urban sport, and according to the 2006 federal census, of the 31,612,897 residents of Canada in 2006, only 6,262,154 of them lived in rural Canada. The same explanation stands for canoeing, although many Canadian city dwellers do venture outdoors, ignoring their common sense and overcoming childhood memories of summer camp to undertake such foolhardy activities as camping in tents, swimming in non-chlorinated natural formations and kayaking. A survey by Statistics Canada found that in 2004 alone, 13.6 million trips were taken by Canadians to visit national and provincial parks, and 8.2 million trips were taken to go boating, including canoeing and kayaking.

We all wear toques

Much to the chagrin of Canadian fashionistas, this one is true. And when the mercury drops into frostbite territory, many go full-out voyageur and pull the toques down over their ears.

Canada Kicks Ass

#475

 

Flash Fiction #18

campfire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Leave-taking

The summer, which had seemed so long in coming, now seemed so quickly over.  Tomorrow they would have to close up the cottage and drive back to the city.  Tuesday, the kids went back to school.  But right now, they had promised themselves one last campfire.

Before long, the neighbors joined them, and even folks from around the lake.  Children played, and built S’mores.  People sang campfire songs, and the adults relived the happy season.  Eventually, silence reigned, and people quietly contemplated the leaping flames.

Finally, the fire burned out.  Somberly, but not sadly, everyone departed, looking towards next year.

 

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

 

Choo-Choo

Before the summer ends, I thought I’d take you all on another virtual vacation trip with my parents.  After we had bought that bank-vault on wheels, we took it camping in a variety of places.  One summer, my Dad decided we would concentrate on the area near Bracebridge, Ontario.  Since that fateful summer so many years ago, Bracebridge has installed a theme park called Santa’s Village.  Nowhere near as large and all-encompassing as the all-Christmas, all-the-time town of Frankenmuth, MI., but it still draws its share of tourists.

We pulled into town and located the tourist camp.  The town is on the edge of the Canadian Shield, so there is lots of rock.  The camp itself nestled along the edge of a river at a big bend.  Projecting above the campgrounds was a vee-shaped, hundred foot high, stone outcropping.  After we got set up, my younger brother and I went for a walk.  About a block back, where we entered the camp, the rock sloped down so that you could drive about half-way up the steep grade, and climb to the precipice.

We walked up and stared down at our tiny trailer.  In today’s world, there would be steel railings, high mesh fences, air-bags at the bottom and so many warning signs, that you couldn’t see the magnificent view.  Back then there was common sense and self-reliance, and a hundred foot drop.  Having seen what was to be seen, we felt we should return to camp.  Most people just went back down the middle, but we wandered around one edge.  The front was so sheer that only a professional climber with pitons could ascend.  Around the side, where it was merely 90 feet high, the wall was only an 80 degree slope and had cracks and little ledges.  “Do ya want to climb down?”  And down we started.

We made it down safely, although we could have walked back around and got home sooner.  At the bottom was an eight foot pile of scree, which angled down to the edge of the road.  I stepped off onto it carefully, but my brother dropped the last couple of feet into it, and lost his footing.  He tumbled into me, and the two of us rolled right down onto the road, and nearly got run over.  The fact that it would have been ironic wouldn’t have made the hospital visit any better.

The next day we packed the trailer back up and headed further north.  I asked Dad where we were headed, but he just said, “You’ll see.”  We didn’t exactly get lost, but we didn’t get where Dad wanted to be, and had to turn around and go back, and then onto a different road.  Back before GPS and computer maps, I’m surprised that anyone ever got anywhere.  Without Sacajawea, Lewis and Clarke would still be in the parking lot at a Wal-Mart in Montreal.

We finally turned off the paved road, and headed into the bush.  After a couple of miles, the dirt road T-ed out.  Do we turn left or right?  Dad finally decided on right, and started to drive.  After a while I noticed that there were steel rails not too far off the road.  Dad finally admitted that he had heard from someone, that there was a miniature railway back here, which connected two lakes.  We drove for another mile or so and came to one of them.  The tracks went right out onto a concrete dock.

Apparently, by getting lost, we had come at this railroad from the wrong side, and should have turned left at the T-intersection.  If we had gone the other way, we would have reached a nice little campground and village.  On this end there were a few houses and a tiny general store.  Because we drove the extra miles, we had run out of daylight.  The sun was going down.  No time to drive back through the bush to the other end.  Dad talked to the store owners.  They were heading for bed, but told us we could park on the tiny lawn at the end of the building.

There was no room to open the trailer, so we decided to just sleep in the car.  Fortunately it was a station-wagon.  We hauled the stuff in the back out, and Mom, Dad, and my brother slept (?) in the back.  I jammed my feet under the steering wheel in the front.  We had no mosquito netting and it was way too hot and muggy to roll the windows up, so it was doze, slap, doze, slap all night.  I don’t want to say that the mosquitoes were big, but I saw two of them molesting a seagull.

We were out of the car at first light, and down to the lake with soap and wash cloths.  These little lakes sit in hollows of solid rock, and their average temperature is enough to make penguins order take-out.  The store finally opened at eight AM and we got some coffee and hot chocolate for breakfast.

The tiny train was sitting right across from us, so we went over to have a look.  Unless it got lost when Mom died, we have a photo of me, as a twelve-year-old, stretching up to lean on the walk-rail around the front of the steam engine.  Re-watch Back To The Future III to see Doc Brown, and how big the full-size model is.

Finally a couple of guys came from the nearby cabins and started the boiler on the train.  By ten o’clock it was ready to make its first run of the day.  A locomotive, a fuel tender, (I don’t remember if it burned coal or wood.) three flat-bed freight cars and a passenger car.  The two lakes were only four miles apart, but, to get from one to the other by water, was over fifty miles.  The little railway had been put in to haul lumber, small boats and other freight.

Off we went for a lovely ride through the woods.  When we got to the far end, there was a two-hour hiatus before going back, but at least there was more civilization to wander around and look at while we waited.  Finally, we huffed and puffed and chuffed our way back to the car.  We drove back to Bracebridge and stayed at the same camp for another day to recuperate.  Wrong turns and giant mosquitoes and all, it was an adventure I’m glad I didn’t miss.  I hope you’ve enjoyed rummaging through my fading memories.