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.

Fellowship Of The Blog – Epilogue

 

Collecting My Thoughts

SDC10694

 

 

 

 

We had barely stepped from the car in Buffalo, when the wife found a bright, shiny, good-luck penny.  This pattern continued – five days, five pennies. We took it as a continuing omen.  Despite our Exhaustive and GPS adventures, all finally worked out well.  We brought the pennies home as a memorial of a fun trip, and used them to start an optimistic new collection for next year.

I gave the previous year’s coin collection to the wife before we started.  Women seem to be able to get rid of coins quicker and easier than guys.  She doled out a handful, including several pennies, to the young cashier at Cracker Barrel.  We explained that Canada had discontinued minting pennies.  She seemed to have a problem grasping the idea of round up/round down.

We told her that Canada had also changed its dollar, and two-dollar bills, to coins, and showed her one of each.  She cooed that she collected American coins, but had never seen these, so we gave them to her.

I was talking to a room clerk, and said that she must encounter lots of loud-mouthed assholes.  She told me of an afternoon when a man came in, with a cell phone jammed in his ear.  She already had several customers, and this guy was loud and obnoxious.  Apparently talking to someone about a girlfriend, every second word started with F…

When he stepped up to the counter, he was still ranting, and demanded a F…ing room.  She told him that she would deal with him when he was finished on his phone.  “I can F…ing handle booking a room.”  “Well, I can’t sir.  I’ll deal with you whenever you’re finished on the phone.”  Still bitching and F…ing, he stepped outside.  While he was still turning the air blue, another man stepped in, and asked to book a room.  “There you are sir!  Congratulations, you just got our last room.”  I can feel the Karma from here.

We took the wife’s laptop with us, because free Wi-Fi hotspots are now everywhere.  We could access the internet from our rooms, everywhere except in Buffalo, where we had to go to the office to connect, and sent emails back to the son and daughter.  We didn’t use the laptop, or request that Red Roof book us a room in Taylor (Detroit), and we were the ones who got the last room, and only because some guy phoned in and cancelled while I was standing at the desk, whining and crying.

After driving across the meadow in Ohio, when we were seriously lost, (it can be seen in a bird’s eye view on the map program, complete with cow shit) we suddenly came upon a hard right, 90° turn, which led us to Horst’s farmyard, house on the left of the road, barn and sheds on the right, and two teen boys playing in the road.

This track has run for 10 or 12 miles.  It can’t just be a farm lane! They looked at us like we were space aliens.  We had not seen another vehicle.  I don’t know what we would have done if we had.  This was the first spot big enough for two cars to pass, much less turn around to go back.  Peering past the boys, and a small knoll, we realized that the road took yet another hard left 90° turn.

Flying Saucer

 

 

 

 

 

I eased forward, and rolled down the window, and they approached the car.  “Excuse me; we seem to be really lost!  I’m looking for ‘Dog’s Body, Ohio.’  “Vell, vee arrr nut vrum arount ear.”  Of course you’re not!  I should have noticed the crop-circle landing spot in the pasture, for the UFO that I can zee see in the barn.  You’re the space aliens.  😯

SDC10696

 

 

 

 

Every Red Roof uses a decorative border of stones.  At each one, we picked up a small, interesting one as a memento.  Ohio’s geological range of rocks possibly exceeds Southern Ontario’s.  They all went into our decorative terrarium, sitting on the ‘singing sand’ we brought back from Myrtle Beach.

With the current collapse of oil prices, the cost of gasoline in the US ranged from a high of $3.89/gal = $1.13/liter, down to $2.81/gal =     Ȼ 81.7/liter.  When we returned to Canada, prices had dropped – all the way from $1.18, to $1.16/liter.

I forgot to check beginning/end odometer readings for the trip, but gasoline receipts indicate that we traveled about 1200 miles.  This is about the same as BrainRants’ recent ‘Big Move’, but where he did it all in one nail-biting, nerve-jangling 17 hour dash, we took five days, although there were some nail-biting, nerve-jangling moments.  We completely circumnavigated Lake Erie, something we’ve never done before.

I am pleased with those who have accompanied us on our virtual voyage.  I am happy for those who have visited, and read, and liked and commented.  I am most happy with those who have shown polite restraint, and not lobbed over-ripe fruit and vegetables.  I hope that Jim Wheeler has seen some, or all, of these accounts, because he is intrigued with the social aspects of travel, but is a bit restricted.  Thanx to all!  New subject coming up.   😀

 

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Eight

Day 4/Part 2 – Satisfaction, or, The Eyes of Ohio’s Potatoes Are Upon You

After escaping from the Children Of The Corn, otherwise known as Stills R Us, we drove up the side road, and, on only the second attempt, parked in front of John Erickson’s house.  Without ever being there, BrainRants should recognize the improvements John has made.  Flak TowerJohn gave me his street number about a year ago, but I misplaced it, and had to rely on AFrankAngle to provide it again.

I’d actually hoped to reach here two days ago, but the muffler intruded.  I didn’t know whether either of them had any idea that we were coming.  At noon on a Saturday seemed a good possibility to find one or both home.  I had an explanatory letter, which I was going to leave if no-one answered.  I tentatively climbed the front stairs and pushed the doorbell, and heard human movement inside, as well as a worried dog.

Soon, a lady Munchkin appeared, opened the door, and stepped outside.  She looked at me quizzically.  To have someone ring their bell is unusual.  To have someone ring their bell, who is not part of their inbred, easily recognized community, was just astronomical.  I didn’t even have a beard, or bib overalls.

Hillbilly Couple

 

 

 

 

 

I told her that I was The Archon, John Smith, from the Archon’s Den blogsite, and I was here to see John E., if he was well enough to accept visitors.  Like John, she accesses several Sci-Fi sites, and the term ‘Archon’ made her wonder if I was someone that she should know, but, I’d asked for John.  He was at home, in fine fettle, and holding back the big dumb dog, to keep it from rushing out the door.  If I didn’t mind the dog, he would be happy to receive me.

We stepped in, and John looked up, puzzled, from a kneeling position.  The wife had let me in, but now it was his turn to wonder who this space alien from Area 51 was.  I let the dog quickly nuzzle me before I repeated the introduction, Archon!  Archon’s Den, John Smith, here to see him.

It was sublime, to watch the thoughts and emotions chase themselves across his face.  Who?  You?! Here?  Now?  Me?  Really?!  I would like to think that John was as pleased and impressed to meet me, as I was to see him.  He jumped up, and we shook hands like we’d never need them again.   Despite Frank visiting a couple of years ago, they just couldn’t believe that someone else would show up out here, in the wilds of Ohio, or that a coterie of other bloggers would worry enough to want me to.

Even worse than our 4 and 1, they have 7 cats, and the dog.  I did not feel that the allergy-laden wife would fare well inside.  In fact, John suggested that we step across the street to the basement meeting room of the church, which he has a key to.  I invited the wife to come along but, as shaken and sore as she was, she wished to remain in the now-stationary and comfortable car, knitting.

After an hour of solitary gum-flapping, his wife showed up with a piece of paper with all kinds of contact info, PO box, cell phone numbers, his and hers email addresses, for when the electrons started flowing again.  She told me that I had a darling wife.  While John and I huddled in the cave, she had spotted the wife, abandoned in the car, and came out and stood beside her, and the gals got to know each other.

Soon, we returned to the car, and photos were taken of various combinations of happy folks, and the front of the house.  John took me around to the back, which as you saw above, looks a little different.

SDC10679

 

 

 

SDC10678

The mental image we have of someone we’ve never met, never matches the reality when we do.  From his gravatar, I’ve always pictured John as a short, squat, ugly, little garden gnome.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  He’s actually fairly tall….  😉

In fact, both he and his lovely wife, are intelligent, well-spoken, friendly, welcoming, down-to-earth people who are wasted on the fellow denizens out there.  I don’t know if he shaves any portion of his head, but he is completely bald, which explains the hats.  He is incredibly curious, and knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects, and his wife doesn’t give up any points to him, either.

If John and I hadn’t been ‘guys’, we might have hugged.  We drove away, sadly, all too soon, with a warm happy glow.  Compounded with the reception by Cordelia’s Mom, in Buffalo, we should be smiling all winter.  If you ever have the chance to meet a fellow blogger who is geographically close enough, observe on-line dating precautions, but go for it!

Virtually nothing can top the story of meeting the Windy City Wonderer, but we had another day on this trip, and I have a few occurrences and observations to relate, so there will be one more episode.  Stop back to read the story of the highway cop who didn’t arrest me, during a four-hour trek to Detroit.

Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Five

 

Day 2/Part 2 – Wheeling To Wheeling

When we last left our hero and heroine, they were dashing west, across the New York Turnpike, towards Erie, PA. Safely reaching there, they quickly turned south, for another 3 ½ hour drive, just past Wheeling, WV.  Being at the top of the rapidly narrowing panhandle, Wheeling is a place where you can be in three states in under a half-hour.  We did the same kind of thing a few years ago, on our way to Front Royal, VA, coming out of PA, across 18 miles of Maryland panhandle, and into Virginia.

Traffic was light, so I was running on autopilot. Soon though, we came up behind a minivan moving erratically – slow down, speed up, trouble staying between the lines.  I thought maybe someone was drunk or stoned, but it had a fish-shaped plastic sticker on the back, indicating that it was owned/operated by a “Good Christian.”  Drugs apparently are a big problem.  Signs all along the highway urge anyone with concerns, or information, to call #799.

When I finally felt it was safe to pass, I found it driven by a big-haired blonde, with a cell phone jammed in her ear. Way to go, bitch!  Obey church rules, but ignore State legislation against distracted driving.  It would have produced a very non-porn meaning to the phrase, “Oh God, I’m coming.”  I just didn’t want to be around for either version.

SDC10676

 

 

 

 

St. Clairsville, OH, where our Red Roof Inn was located, is at the western edge of the Appalachian Mountains, and the motel is perched almost at the top of a steep little hill. I missed the easily accessible, but unmarked side driveway, and had to drive down the hill, and turn and climb back up to the aerie.  At the bottom of the hill, I gunned the engine – and blew the entire back end off the exhaust system.

The wife was mortified by the roar, but the locals, in their Ford F250s and Dodge Rams never even noticed. They probably thought I was there to compete in the tractor pull.  You know you’re staying in YeeHawville, when the young man, carrying a baby, in front of you in line at the WalMart, adds a six-pack tube of Copenhagen snuff to his order, and the most often-shown ad on TV is for an on-line dating service – FarmersOnly.Com.

SDC10672

 

 

 

 

We checked in, and the room clerk told me that there was a Meineke Muffler shop somewhere in the plaza across the street. I said I’d walk over to check out opening times, after supper.  “Oh, it’s too far to walk!”  I could have seen it, if I knew where to look.

With roads hanging off the sides of hills, I walked a block down the hill, to the main road, and a block back up a hill, to the plaza entrance, then a block back down, into the actual parking area. I could have hit it with a thrown stone from the motel, but it was the best part of a mile to actually get there.

A clerk at the Kroger didn’t know of any Meineke shop, but one at the WalMart told me that it was really a Monroe Muffler shop, located in the farthest corner. The sign in the window said they opened at 7:30 AM, and I was there as the mechanic arrived.  Sadly, there were cars left for service, overnight, and people with appointments.  They would get to mine as soon as possible, perhaps by noon, perhaps by closing.

I barely had time to walk back to the motel, when the phone rang. The guy with the 7:30 appointment hadn’t stopped in.  They had looked at my car, and he rattled off a list of items which needed replacing.  For the mere sum of $358.79US ($400 Can), I could have the car back in time to attend the knife show.  Did I wish to proceed? Did I have any choice??!

But, these are tales of tomorrow, to be told in the next episode, when the car moves much faster, not having to drag all that heavy cash around. Y’all come back now!   🙂

Tony’s Cell Phone Info

Phone
__________________________________

4 Things you might not have known about your Cell Phone

These are things that you can do with it: For all the folks with cell phones. (This should be printed and kept in your car, purse, and wallet. Good information to have with you.) There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things you can do with it.

FIRST (Emergency)

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you

find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile

network and there is an Emergency, dial 112 and the

mobile will search any existing network to establish the

emergency number for you, and interestingly, this number

112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

SECOND (Hidden Battery Power)

Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys

*3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve

and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery.

This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell

phone next time.

THIRD (How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone? )

To check your Mobile phone’s serial number, key in the
following digits on your phone: *#06#.

A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is

unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it

somewhere safe. If your phone is

stolen, you can phone your service provider and give

them this code. They will then be able to block your

handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your

phone will be totally useless. You probably won’t get

your phone back, but at least you know that whoever

stole it can’t use/sell it either. If everybody does

this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile

phones.

And Finally….

FOURTH (Free Directory Service for Cells)

Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more

for 411 information calls when they don’t have to. Most

of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle,

which makes this situation even more of a problem. When

you need to use the 411 information option, simply

dial: (800) FREE411 or (800) 373-3411 without

incurring any charge at all. Program this into your cell

phone now. This is sponsored by McDonald’s.

This is the kind of information people don’t mind receiving, so pass it on to your family and friends.

No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG – http://www.avg.com/
Version: 10.0.1430 / Virus Database: 2639/5576 – Release Date: 02/02/13

 
Tony has returned after almost a year of an illness so serious, he almost died from it, and is passing out helpful information again.  Archon is so old fogey-ish, he can’t even turn on a cell phone. All above claims should be (taken with a grain of salt – taken with two aspirin, and call me in the morning, if your phone works) verified.    🙂

Liz

The couple of recent posts about cookies have reminded the wife and me about an ex-neighbor.  Far from stupid, she just suffered the all-too-common affliction of not noticing and not thinking.  A stay-at-home mother like the wife, she sometimes visited back and forth.

The first odd thing we noticed about her was strange eating habits.  She claimed to be Scottish, but no Scots ever acknowledged her.  Scots are frugal, for they’ve not got a lot to be frugal with.  One of her favorite snacks was to burn, not toast, two slices of bread.  Then she would slice pickled beets, and make a sandwich of them.  Maybe this treat had originated because of a need to consume food which would otherwise be wasted.

Perhaps a precursor to today’s entitled generation, she wanted what she wanted, Right F**kin’ Now, without the bother of work, or study.  Long an accomplished gardener, the wife had the entrance to our house nicely landscaped.  Liz complained that her place was so plain and bare.  The wife instructed her how to prepare a garden area, and told her to plant flowers in it.  She and her 14-year-old son prepared the bed, then she picked up some marigolds at a local nursery and planted them.

When the son came home from school, his first question was, “Mom, where are the flowers’ legs?”  She had buried them in the ground, up to their little chins – stems, leaves and all.  The little garden looked as if someone had plucked the blooms off and strewn them on the earth.

Next, she decided that she wanted a hanging basket like we had, and another neighbor went with her to the nursery and helped her pick out a nice one with petunias in it.  The nursery staff instructed her to pinch off mature seed-pods, to encourage continued blooms.  She complained to the neighbor that the stupid flowers bloomed at night when she couldn’t see them.  Turns out, she’d been pinching off all the ready-to-bloom buds.

Like our Chiropractor, her favorite cookies were ginger snaps.  She had to go to hospital a couple of times for extended treatments, and the wife visited with a can of cookies for a treat.  She pulled several of them from the tin, and stacked them within her fingers, like poker chips, all the same size and perfectly round.  She looked at the cookies, and then at the wife.  “I hate you.”  Like me and my Jeep parts, when you’ve made three-quarters of a million of them, you get consistent.

The wife instructed her how to make them, at our house.  After a miserable failure at home, she accused the wife of leaving out some ingredient or preparation step, so the wife agreed to visit her place the next time she wanted to try.  The mixing proceeded nicely.  Then she took out one cookie sheet, because that was all she had.  The wife has four aluminum sheets used only for cookies.  They are so clean and shiny that you can use them as mirrors.

Her only sheet was steel, and had been used for everything from baking squash, to roasting meat.  It was about the color of the dark-chocolate cookie buds.  Oh dear!  Well, if that’s what we have, that’s what we have to use.  When the oven came up to heat, the wife opened the door to insert the pan, and looked at the single rack.  It was down as far as it could go.  “Of course!  That’s where the heat is!” says Liz, and still didn’t understand why she had burned all the previous variously sized/shaped cookies.  The only baking she had done was to make Angel Food cake mix, and that is always baked on the bottom rack.

Her second husband was a police officer.  He went to work at 11 PM on a winter’s Sunday night.  At about 12:15, he got a radio message to call home.  Before cell-phones, he plugged a quarter in a pay-phone and called her.  She told him that the house was getting cold, as were the three kids.  She thought something must be wrong with the furnace.  He asked, “Did you check the fuse-box?”  She answered, “Oh Gord, don’t be stupid!”  He managed to locate a technician who made emergency calls, got him out of bed, paid him almost a week’s salary, and sent him over to the house.

For the week’s pay, the guy took her fuse, and screwed it into her fuse box.  “But Gord, it’s a gas furnace!  How was I supposed to know it ran on electricity?”

When pre-aged, stone-washed jeans were the rage, he decided he wanted some, but the store he went to was sold out.  How a mere man might know, is a mystery.  Perhaps one of his drug informants gave him the info.  You can pre-age bright blue jeans with bleach.  He bought two pairs of very expensive pants in regular finish, and gave them to her with the instruction to soak them with “a bit of bleach.”  She put both pairs in a large pail, poured an entire gallon of Javex bleach on them, and left them for a week.  He got back wet, pale-blue Kleenex.

A fun friend, and a nice companion to my house-bound wife, she was also the source of considerable unintentional humor.  When they sold their house up the street, she told the kaffee-klatch that it had gone to “The Curries.”  Oh, you know their names already?!  We discovered some unexpected racism when she explained, that was another term for “PAKIS– duh!”  Both families have moved several times and we have lost track.  The wife and I are still trying to decide if that’s a good thing or a bad one.

Let Me Think About That

I recently took my daughter, and one of her friends, to a Free Thinkers luncheon.  One of the male attendees had on a tee-shirt imprinted, “You never see a bunch of atheists stoning a gay to death.”  The president of the local association came fifteen miles down from the town which is the center of the area Mennonite community.  He brought with him a thirty-ish Mennonite female, dressed in a floor-length, shapeless, dull-patterned cotton dress and veil-fabric, hair-modesty, yarmulke-like snood.

This is strange!  The more intense a religious sect is, the less likely they allow any thinking, much less free thinking.  Mennonites are strict.  There are many sub-sects, some much stricter than others.  She explained that she had developed free thinking on her own, but kept her opinions to herself, so that she could continue to associate with her friends and family.  Like the Catholic Church’s *excommunication*, where the faithful were not allowed to speak or deal with a heretic, the Mennonite faith has *shunning*.  She had heard of the Free Thinkers, and found that the local teacher was a leader, and convinced him to bring her to the freedom of a meeting.  I don’t know how she explains not being at church with her clan.

Like every other religion, there are divisions, and sub-divisions, and sub-sub….until there are tiny little groups, all convinced that they, and only they, are correct.  There are Old Order Mennonites, who use horses and buggies.  They will not allow zippers, or even buttons on their clothing.  It is all tied closed.  They refused to put the glass-crystal, triangular, slow-vehicle signs on their dark buggies, because they eschew any adornment.  It took several late-night, coming-home-from-prayer-meeting collisions before the government convinced them that they were not *adornment*, but legally required safety devices to keep them and cars and drivers safe.

New-Order followers buy black or dark cars and trucks, but painted any chrome black, until the government again convinced them that this was another visibility/safety feature.  New New-Order buy colored cars, but still wear black hats over zippered and buttoned clothing.  I worked with a young new-new-new….whose worship group was about fifteen people, meeting in some guy’s warehouse, because they couldn’t build, or even rent a meeting-house.

It’s like a child’s game of How Much Can I Get Away With?  Many of these people are businessmen, building and selling furniture, equipment, farm produce, etc.  They shun the secular world, but are forced to interact with it for commerce.  They have preachers who tell them that they cannot be connected to the fallen.  (That’s you and I.)  Yet they must buy and sell goods, arrange shipments, check specs, etc.

When I worked at the steel warehouse there were three farmers who also ran a fabricating shop.  Two of the farms were side by side on one concession road, and the third butted against the common border over on the next road.  They built a little weather-proof box, and paid Bell Telephone to install a phone where the three farms met.  Any one of them could give the horses a rest and make a call, but the phone wasn’t in any of their houses, so it was allowed.  If you had to call back with information, you were given a specific time to call.  One would be waiting by the phone at exactly 10:00 AM.  If you missed your call, you missed an order.  I wonder how they tell time.  Are watches prohibited?

The mullahs can’t keep up with technology.  Cell-phones don’t “connect” them to the secular world, so half the Mennonites have them.  Similarly Wi-Fi computer connections from outdoor posts or the nearest urban hot-spot are not specifically banned so Mennonite boys can get porn just like the rest of us.

I recently took the wife fifteen miles out to a Mennonite butcher in a village.  As we drove into town, the wife spotted some plants near the edge of the road, with a for-sale sign.  We stopped on the way home.  The wife was interested, but wanted to ask some questions, and wondered if we should knock on the door or if someone would come out.  The answer to both was, no.  I spotted an Honor Box.

They put various items out at the side of the road with prices marked, and it’s up to the honor of the customer to leave money.  Some even leave money out in the open.  You can make your own change if necessary.  This one was a large, heavy (?) aluminum box with a slot in the top to insert cash.  It would be possible to walk away with the entire box, but probably not un-noticed in the village full of nosy neighbors.

Farmers on the highway put out corn, potatoes, apples etc. and an honor box.  Farms where you have to drive in to the house have signs saying, “No Sunday sales”, but the honor boxes can sit out seven days a week.  If you wish to stop and remove some produce and voluntarily leave some cash, that’s your business, but if they’re not sitting there accepting filthy lucre, they’re not Doing Business, so it’s moral.

The wife worked for an insurance company for ten years.  I find that Scotsmen and Jews have nothing on Mennonites for being cheap.  They want everything that’s in the contract, whether they qualify or not, and then they want some free candy off your desk for giving you the business.  The young lad I worked with must have asked at least six times in disbelief, if I was sure I wanted to give my excess foreign coins to his immigrant wife for her collection, at no charge.

I think it’s silly to worry about violating, not God’s rules, but some narrow-visioned man’s rules.  They think they can remain religious hermits, and still be business-men in today’s society.  I think the mental and moral gymnastics are silly and amusing.  They think up new ways to circumvent the lifestyle they claim to revere.  Look out!  Here comes the future!