’17 A To Z Challenge – S

Challenge2017

ALONE AT LAST

For the letter

letter-s

I’m going to talk about Solitude

Maybe because most of the gregarious masses can’t handle it and I can, I like to think of myself as possessing greater moral and mental strength. Of course, that may be because just about everybody wants to be the hero of his own life’s story, even as I bashfully, humbly, insist that I would willingly be second banana, a supporting player – perhaps the third spear carrier on the left.

Most people, especially in the civilized areas of the planet, can’t handle solitude – are frightened by it. Lenin once said that, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”  He wasn’t referring to ‘God, and Jesus as Savior,’ he was talking about the sheep who huddled together in churches, to reassure each other that they were all the same.  If everybody thinks the same, somebody isn’t thinking.  He wanted them all thinking about him, and the new Russian nation.

When Jesse, The Body, Ventura was Governor of Minnesota, he cynically (but accurately, truthfully) stated that, “Christianity is a crutch.”  Of course it is, even if the faithful don’t want to hear that.  Like Lenin, he wasn’t talking about salvation or belief, but about the need of most people to be connected to ‘The Group.’  No independent action or thoughts allowed.

Archon says that smart phones are an affliction and an addiction. I’ve listened to some of the conversations in stores, and on the street – and they’re about less than nothing!  How strong, and pitiful, the urge is to be constantly connected.  It seems that nobody but me – and you – are capable of living inside their own head for any amount of time.

Before the alleged birth of Christ, Jewish men were alone much of the time – farming, hunting, herding sheep – in solitude.  When they went to the Temple, they wanted to be alone with their God.  It is small wonder that the women, used to nattering at children, and each other, were told that, “Women should not speak in the Temple.”  Silence!  Blessed silence!  🙂

Recently, a young man on a cave tour, was accidently locked in for 60 hours – from Friday afternoon, to Monday morning. He had a bit of food, and got water from seepage – but he couldn’t get any cell phone reception! He was SO happy to be back among his friends.  I’ll bet he didn’t develop or invent anything during that time.  Albert Einstein came up with the Theory of Relativity because he was alone much of the time in a German patent office.

(Some) people are nice. I just don’t want to be hip-deep in them all the time.  I want/need a little alone time, even if all I develop is a desire for French toast for lunch.  I have fallen out of my mind head and onto this blog-post.  You can welcome me back.  Comment away.  😀

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Another Challenge – Day 2

Another Challenge

#2 – How have you changed in the last two years?
I have not spent more than 70 years, getting my life into the optimum shape, doing the best I can with what little I’ve got, to go changing it at this late date.  Indeed, as my abilities and limits wane at an inverse rate to my age, I can’t afford to go changing things right now.  I am somewhat limited in chances to correct any poor decisions.  I don’t want to have to say, ‘Time’s awasted!’

The technological lifestyle thunders forward at warp speed, unchecked. I can barely keep up with what other people are changing on me.  I recently took the wife to the hospital, to register for her second knee-replacement surgery.  As her caretaker, I had to be able to be contacted.  The nurse demanded my cell-phone number, and was aghast and astounded when I insisted that I didn’t own one.  Hey, I’m all the way up to Windows7, what more do you want??

The Chinese have a curse which says, “May you live in interesting times.” ‘Interesting’, in that context, means frustrating, challenging, and perhaps dangerous. ‘Jackass’ is a show by, for, and about, young….jackasses.

#30 – What changed this month, and what do you hope will happen next month?

Things change every month, but I assume that this question refers to any significant change(s).  I made all desirable, big changes years or decades ago.  I’ll assume that a new brand of toothpaste doesn’t count.  I grow a little older, a little weaker, a little achier, a little poorer, a little more forgetful.  Next month, I hope for more of the same, but with less of an increase in all of them.

If we’re talking about “hope”, and not reality, then I hope that the son wins a lottery.  Maybe he could get enough money to send the wife and I away on trips, to get us out of his hair, or purchase a nice manor-type house with a granny-suite….probably with a bank-vault-type door between the two sections.

My number of published blog-posts changed upward this month. I hope that I’m still here next month, pushing my numbers up, but not pushing daisies up.  The only change I want, is change for a $20 – and I only gave the clerk a ten.   😛  Oh, and I want you guys to keep coming back to visit and read….but that’s no change.

Smitty’s Loose Change #5

Smitty's Loose Change

Everybody’s always got something to add.
I recently saw this list of women’s names

Ann
Anne
Annes
Anais
Anna
Anni
Ani
Annie
Annika
Agnieszka

Ann is a good solid English name taken from the Hebrew Hannah, and means ‘kind, helpful.’ The French language insists that all nouns have gender, and makes Ann feminine by adding an ‘e’ to make Anne. Welsh speakers must think that there’s more than one, because, to them, it becomes Annes (annis). At least one Spanish-Cuban/French woman also pronounced her name annis, but spelled it Anais. Languages like German and Spanish have no silent letters, so the ‘e’ is pronounced, and Anne soon becomes Anna. Languages like Italian converted it to Anni, all except for the unfortunately-named, Italian-American singer, Ani DiFranco.  The construction rules of the original Latin say that one is an anusani means ‘many assholes.’ Some people can’t just leave it short and simple.  A landlady of ours had a son she wisely named Paul, but insisted on calling him Paulie.  I thought she had a parrot.  English soon had females named Annie. Languages like Swedish and Dutch can be poly-syllabic to indicate diminutive and feminine, and the name became Annika. Polish is a ‘busy’ language.  It took Annika, and married it to the similar Greek name Agnew, to create Agnieszka, which, aside from meaning ‘kind and helpful,’ also means ‘little lamb.’

***

Every time I open my mouth, some damned idiot starts talking.

***

After only 5 ½ years at this blogging thing, I finally achieved 1000 followers on April 22nd – and again on April 24thand, once more on April 25th.  WordPress has been doing some home redecorating, and the previous two weeks were inexplicably up and down.  I’d go to bed with 998, and get up to 997.  999?  No, still just 998.  😀  Finally, the magic number was reached.

I thanked and congratulated the gent who finally broke the bank….and got up the next day to 999 again. Twice more it happened before I got two followers in one day, and haven’t looked back.  I’d kinda like to know why.  Were my followers dying, – getting kicked off WordPress – or intentionally un-following me?  I know, don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to.

***

In my blog-post Words, I included the word ‘lagniappe’.  Recently, a little 10-page, throw-away community newspaper has added a food and cooking column.  The author has titled it; La Yapa –Bolivian phrase for that little extra gift given in gratitude by market vendors.  I noticed the common linguistic ancestor.  Did you?

***

For our ‘Good Christian’ friends, Mark Twain said that; It’s easier to fool someone, than to convince them that they have been fooled.

The English surname ‘Bullard’ means – son of a monk or priest.

***

Recently, at about 2:30 AM, my son’s cell phone vibrated to an incoming message. Sent from a phone with a number one digit higher than his, the screen read, “Hi, I’m your text-door neighbor.”  That’s one random way of meeting new people.  I think I still prefer the drunken butt-dial.

***

[Ouг ϲompany camе to the һealth center (which believeѕ that a resort), obtaineɗ cheϲked in, carried սpstɑirs and into οur room. I entered into HUGELУ large moo moo as well as craԝled into the mattreѕs … it waѕ actually meаns ahead of time to be in that bedrоom.Тime, ϲoming from this aspect on, apρeared to crаwl and also go bananas swiftly all concurrently. It crawled coming from facet from yᥱarning for the dаy to become over and also would like to bbe back with our little bit of guy again, as well aѕ it went bananas fast due to the fact that once points stаrted, there was no stopping!]

After insisting that I never receive any interesting spam comments, I downloaded the above, whose occasional strangely sized and shaped letters do not publish as they originally showed.  I fail to see how anyone would think that an excerpt from an illiterate account of a young family’s trip could induce anyone to open it, or access the site.

I won’t waste the time, but I could have some fun correcting all the spelling, punctuation and construction errors.  I do think that it would be a great prompt for a short-story post.  Anybody want to have a go at a Flash Fiction-type challenge and finish it?    😕

Get Up….And Go

vauxhall

For a couple of years during our teens, my brother worked pumping gas on the weekends for the snake-oil salesman who owned a local garage. I stopped in one summer Sunday to shoot the shit, and noticed a pile of tires with bright yellow chalk markings of NFG on the sidewalls.  In all my small-town naïve innocence, I asked, “What does NFG mean?” “Haw, haw, haw!!  Oh, you know what NFG means!”

Even these years later, the arrogant stupidity of that non-answer still irritates me. If I ‘knew’ what NFG meant, I wouldn’t have asked what NFG meant.  A couple of years later, when I got out in the cruel, cruel (and often foul-mouthed) world, I found that it meant No Fucking Good.  Why didn’t he just say so?

One day he accosted me. “Whaddya doin’ next Saturday?” “Why?” “Wanna make 25 bucks?” That was the equivalent of a half a day’s wages.  Rather suspiciously, “Doing what?”

A couple of times a year, he would go to a used-car auction outside Toronto, bring home some lemons vehicles, fix them (almost) up, and sell them at a profit.  Oh, he wants another driver.  It’s reasonably safe, and almost legal.  I could use a little extra spending money.  Sure, why not!?

Five of us met at the garage at O-dark-600. He piled us all into a big old Mercury sedan.  He drove, with two guys in the front with him.  Remember those big old boats, where three could ride in comfort on the front bench seat?  Not ‘safely’ though, ‘cause they didn’t have seatbelts.

Two other gullible suckers and I rode in the back. Off we set for a 100 mile, 2-hour drive.  The car auction began at 9:00 AM and we arrived with time to spare.  Mr. Snake-Oil went inside, but, since we weren’t registered buyers, we had to remain outside.

We wandered around, bored, talking to each other and other teens who’d come with other dealers, searching for washrooms and maybe something to eat or drink. At noon, he came out, all smiles.  He’d bought five cars – one for each of us.

We made sure that they all started and ran, and had enough gas for the trip home, and formed up our little convoy. Since I’d previously owned a Morris, and currently owned an Austin, I was assigned a four-cylinder Vauxhall sedan, similar to the station-wagon my Father had recently owned, while the rest got 6- and 8-cylinder Fords and Chevies.

With the chief turkey buzzard leading the parade, we headed for home. I was in third position.  When we reached the 60MPH speed limit of the highway, we quickly sped up to 65/70….all except me.  It seemed that, no matter what I did (not much), the best I could do was 50/55.  Number 4 soon passed me.

A mile down the road, “the best I could do” suddenly dropped to 30/35.  Number five pulled out and passed, and Tail-End Charlie was breathing down my tailpipe.  Then, the wee beast speeded up again, if you can call 50 MPH, speed.

Another mile, and it faltered again. Soon I was number 6.  In a day before cell-phones for emergencies, I wondered what would happen if this thing died all together, as the last of them disappeared over a hill, a half a mile ahead.  I thought about just pulling it off to the side, and hitch-hiking back.

After a hundred miles of this, I finally nursed it home. As I pulled in, he yelled, “Where the Hell have you been?  Did you get lost?  The rest of us have been back for hours.”  25 – 30 minutes, maybe, but, gee thanks for keeping an eye out and worrying about me Boss.  “What the Hell kept you?”

I explained that I just couldn’t get any top-end speed, and that it would die off every once in a while. I said, “It feels like I was driving on three cylinders half the time, and the other half, only on two.” “Oh, you just don’t know how to drive!”  I took my $25 undeclared cash earnings and left. ‘See if I ever do that for you again.’

About a week later, I pulled in to gas up my Austin, and he swaggered over and stuck his head in my window. “Remember that Vauxhall you drove for me?”  I’d been trying to put it out of my mind, but, “Yeah?” “Know what I found?” A llama in the trunk?  Bubble-gum in the ashtray?  A complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica?  “What?”

“When I was working on it, I found that one of the spark plugs was welded closed, and one of the ignition wires from the distributor was loose. If it got bumped, there was no power going to that plug.  It was like it was running on three cylinders half the time, and only on two, the other half.”

Do I get a free tank of gas for diagnosing the problem for you? Of course not!  Not even a thank you or an admission that I was right, much less an apology.  What an arrogant, self-centered asshole.  When I went back to school after moving here to Kitchener, I met his then-divorced wife.  She couldn’t stand him either.  Later, his brother was elected President of the United States.

The Olde Philosophy Shoppe

philosopher

I have strived for years to absorb the wisdom of the ages, and all I wound up with was the ages – very little wisdom. Even my LinkedIn profile (under The Archon) lists my job description as ‘Sage’….more like oregano – or thyme.  Just as taxis are being pushed out by the likes of Lyft, or Uber, so too do I find my respected Adored Elder position of ‘disseminator of arcane knowledge’ being replaced by part-time amateurs.

During the summer, I took the wife and daughter (more than once) to a couple of plant nurseries. Valuable tribal lore used to be passed by word of mouth, from older, experienced, veteran warriors, to green, wet-behind-the-ears youngsters, around the campfires at night.

I found that wisdom (and what passes for it) is now passed from smart-mouthed hipster Millennials, to plant lovers and random passers-by, via garden plaques. Here are a few of the ones I saw.  Perhaps you’d like to copy and save one or two, and pass them on, when the time is right.

philo2

philo1

philo3

philo4

philo5

smartphone-ignore

truth

no-humor

Ah well, you guys come here mostly for the humor….or is it just to humor me?  I’ve armed you well.  Go forth and be philosophical – and come back in a couple of days for some jokes.

Havin’ A Ball

Broken Window

A young boy was playing with a ball in the street. He kicked it too hard, and it broke the window of a house and fell inside. A lady came to the window with the ball and shouted at the young boy, so he ran away, but he still wanted his ball back.

A few minutes later he returned and knocked at the door of the house, and when the lady answered it, he said, “My father’s going to come and fix your window very soon.”

After a few more minutes a man came to the door with tools in his hand, so the lady let the boy take his ball away.

When the man finished fixing the window, he said to the lady “That will cost you exactly ten dollars.”

“But aren’t you the father of that young boy?” the woman asked, looking surprised.

“No,” he answered, equally surprised. “Aren’t you his mother?”

***

It is a dark night.
A man is riding a bicycle with no lamp.
He comes to a crossroad.
He stops because he doesn’t know which way to turn.
A tall pole stands near the road with a piece of paper on it.
It is very dark and the paper is too high – he cannot read it.
He takes out his box of matches and climbs up the pole.
There, he lights a match and then reads the following words on the paper:
“Wet paint.”

***

A female asked God that she wanted her all husband’s attention, she wanted that he should only look at her, keep her with him all the time and give her utmost importance in life….God turned that female into a mobile phone.

***

The Impact of a Job Change

One day, a passenger in a cab tapped the cab driver on his shoulder to get his attention.

The cab driver screamed, lost control of the cab, went up on the sidewalk and stopped inches from a shop.

The passenger apologized and said: “I didn’t realize that a little touch would scare you so much.”

The cab driver replied “Sorry it’s not your fault, it’s my first day as a cab driver, I’ve been driving a hearse for the last 20 years.”

***

On their way to get married, a young Catholic couple is involved in a fatal car accident. The couple find themselves sitting outside the Pearly Gates waiting for St. Peter to process them into Heaven. While waiting, they start to wonder: Could they get married in Heaven? When St. Peter shows up, they immediately ask him.

St. Peter replies, “I don’t know. This is the first time anyone has asked. Let me go find out.” He leaves. The couple sat and waited for St. Peter to return, but he never did. 9 weeks later, and the couple were still waiting. They started to wonder, if things didn’t work out, could they get a divorce in heaven?

Another month later, St. Peter finally returns, looking somewhat bedraggled. “Yes,” he informs the couple. “You can get married in Heaven.” “Awesome!” the couple responds enthusiastically. “But we were just wondering, what if things don’t work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?”

St. Peter’s face suddenly turned red with anger. He slammed his clipboard to the ground. Frightened, the couple asked “What’s wrong?” “OH, COME ON!” St. Peter shouted. “It took me three months to find a priest up here! Do you have any idea how long it’ll take me to find a lawyer?”

 

Flash Fiction #42

Barbecue

 

 

 

 

© Copyright – Rachel Bjerke

Thinking Outside The Box

Fountain, where are all the people?

I don’t know, Barbecue.  We used to be the center of entertainment.  They cooked meat and roasted corn on you, and splashed fingers and sailed little boats on me.  They had picnics.  They enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air.  They laughed, and talked, and joked, and played out here.

Now, the few times I see a person, they carry something in their hand that glows.  I hear them complain, “There’s no bars out here!”

I fear we’ve been abandoned.  Now they’re trapped inside, not merely the house but their heads also.  It’s not healthy!

 

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