Flash Fiction # 129

Steampunk

PHOTO PROMPT © Jellico’s Stationhouse

EASY RIDER

Hurry up, already. We’ll be late for lecture.  Why don’t you buy an electric moped?

There was no use saying it out loud. It was always the same.  It took Lenny as long as it took, almost ten minutes.

In that amount of time, we could have walked across campus and got a coffee with the blonde twins.

I really don’t understand some people’s enthralment with Steampunk. What genius builds his own steam-powered bicycle, and carries coal around in his backpack?  Where do you even buy coal??

Finally, like the Little Engine – I think I can, I think I can….

***

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

Advertisements

Flash Fiction Redux

I am taking advantage of our Fairy Blogmother, Rochelle’s kind offer of a respite from composing Flash Fictions.  Hopefully, some of you missed this one the first time.

Fishing boat

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Georgia Koch

Walking On Water

Mischa had made his living fishing this little inland sea all his life, and his ancestors had done so for untold generations, back into the mists of time.

First the water had got thick, and saltier, then the fish had all but disappeared. Now it was the sea itself which was disappearing.  The little cottage where his parents had raised him was now half a kilometer from the new shoreline.  His fishing boat sat stranded on the mud flats.

He recently met a group of outsiders, “scientists”, studying the Aral Sea. One had taught him a new term – Global Warming.

***

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

Flash Fiction #92

Coloring Book

PHOTO PROMPT © Kent Bonham

KEEP CALM AND COLOR ON

Henry was a binary fellow even before the internet. He only had two settings about everything – on/off, good/bad, yes/no, light/darkness, black or white.

His wife got him to a therapist who urged him to add a little color to his opinions. Soon, Henry had learned to add the red of anger, the brown of sadness, the blue of serenity, the beige of apathy, the yellow of interest, the green of life, even the plaid of uncertainty.

Finally, Henry was a much more colorful person, only now; his life’s design looked like it was laid out by a drunken dung beetle.

***

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

Flash Fiction #35

Fishing boat

 

 

 

 

 

Walking On Water

Mischa had made his living fishing this little inland sea all his life, and his ancestors had done so for untold generations, back into the mists of time.

First the water had got thick, and saltier, then the fish had all but disappeared.  Now it was the sea itself which was disappearing.  The little cottage where his parents had raised him was now half a kilometer from the new shoreline.  His fishing boat sat stranded on the mud flats.

He recently met a group of outsiders, “scientists”, studying the Aral Sea.  One had taught him a new term – Global Warming.

 

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

Come Fly With Me

My grandson and his fiancée have gone to the birds – and I drove them.  They had a chance to attend an Introduction to Falconry seminar.  Both interested in exotic pets, she can use it toward a career as a vet’s assistant, or in an animal clinic.

Held in a tiny Ontario village, slightly smaller than Justin Bieber’s washroom, and just back of beyond, I volunteered to drive them.  Based on his original destination, I used MapQuest to give me a map and driving instructions.  It wasn’t there!  He called the night before, to confirm, and give me the correct address.  I beseeched MapQuest again.

It wasn’t till I’d printed the second set, that I noticed a note on the screen stating, “We can’t find the exact address.  This is an approximate location.”  I asked for 2133 Centre Rd.  MapQuest showed 967 to 1003 Centre Rd.  Then why can’t you find 2133?  Hello, Mr. Google.  Can you get me a map?  Sure!  And a street view, and driving instructions shorter by 4 Km. for not having to drive toward town, and then back out.  With the third set, we confidently set off.

They almost didn’t get to go.  With just a week left till the deadline, the group had only three registrations, and thought they’d have to cancel.  Suddenly the floodgates opened, and they ended with over thirty visitors.  The kids spent an enthralling day, getting all kinds of information, and visiting with the likes of a Kestrel, a Tawny Owl, and a Red Tailed Hawk.

I hadn’t even got out of my car before I learned a new word.  The car directly opposite me had custom licence plates that read Perlin.  A quick Smart Phone check, and the grandson informed me that it was a cross between a Peregrine Falcon, and a Merlin.  A car in the row behind me had “Peregrns” custom plates.

Aside from my car, there were four in the parking lot from Kitchener, a 40 minute drive.  Someone used a car-share vehicle to come another half-hour, from Bieber’s hometown of Stratford.  One car was from Coburg, almost 300 Km. to the east.  That was the longest drive.  There was a young woman from Thunder Bay, 1800 Km. north and west, but she flew down (in an airplane, silly) and was ferried by one of the club members.  Apparently interest in Falconry raises some strong determination.

It raises some other feelings too, at least among the females of the club.  One instructress had seven studs/rings in one ear, and five in the other, including lobe danglers with dime-sized discs, etched with her Screech Owl.  One had a Snowy Owl tattooed on the inside of her right bicep, and her Red-Tailed Hawk on the left.  A third had a full-sized tattoo of her Red-Tailed Hawk’s red tail feather from inside her left elbow, to inside her wrist.

This is horse territory, with two Dressage farms, and two ranches raising and training sulky race horses, trotters and pacers.  The property of the 1866 brick school, which is now the community center, backed up to one on the cross-road.  After the kids went in, I spent 45 minutes talking to a local resident who boards his horse there. A year younger than me, he came from up-country, not far from my home town.  We didn’t find anyone we knew in common, but did know villages and streets, shops and schools.

He’s not impressed with our local Mennonites, who often buy failed race horses, to use to pull buggies and wagons. These Children of God are well-known to starve horses, or drive them till they drop, or freeze them in blizzards, just to attend “Holy Services.”  He was complaining to another owner, up from Pennsylvania.  The puzzled visitor wanted to know what “Mennonites” were.  He thought for a second, and said, “Amish.”  The American said, “Oh yeah, ours do that too.”

There’s a lot of money in the area, evidenced by stone gates that probably cost more than my house, and houses that cost more than my entire neighborhood.  One manor house was so far back from the access road, that it couldn’t be seen.

It was a beautiful sunny, warm day.  There must be a bicycle-riding club nearby.  All day, hundreds of motorcycles and bicycles streamed by, up and down the gently rolling hills, including one racer-style tandem bike, being pumped along by a him-and-her team.  I never saw horses anywhere but on their farms, but, when traffic’s light, there was a sign showing that they use the main road for exercise.

The grandson paid for gasoline, and my time, although I donated that for free.  He offered me $10 if I wished to go somewhere to score a lunch.  I declined, having had a solid breakfast.  I needed fresh air to clear my lungs, some sunshine, and exercise to take off some of the excess I’ve already eaten.  While they hung out with some flighty characters, I went for a walk.

When the drivers/trainers take their horses and carts out, they often take along some “liquid refreshment.”  I wonder if you can be charged with DUI in a horse cart?  Not far down the road, I spotted an empty beer can in the ditch.  Worth a 10 cent refund in Ontario, I picked it out, stomped it flat, and jammed it in a back pocket.

I hadn’t gone a quarter-mile before I had to go back to the car for a shopping bag.  The pocket was crammed, and I now had 6 bottles.  I walked a half-mile to the next road, crossed over to the other side, and started back.  Halfway back I had to go to the car again, and dump the stuffed bag, so I could go back and collect a trove.  Later, shorter walks up each of the other three legs of the X gained me lesser amounts.

My “get exercise and clean up the environment” project netted me just over $15.00.  I turned them in at the Beer Store, at my end of the nearby plaza, and walked to the bank at the other end, and bought some more American cash for a hoped-for trip to Ohio in October.

It was a wonderful day for both the kids and I.  After my day-long sojourn in the sun, I returned to the house with face, neck and arms the color of a Coca-Cola can.  Yee-haw, I’m an honorary redneck.  I slathered on the silver-based burn cream the doctor insisted I needed, and woke the next day with no itch or pain, just the beginnings of a great tan, and lots of fond memories.

We’re Not QUITE Hoarders

I previously published a post titled Something For Nothing, where I listed several of the things I do to conserve or make a little bit of money, to help us, and others, in our retirement.  This one shows another facet, with some ideas some of you might want to think about, and maybe try, for a couple of reasons.

Less garbage = more money!

Reduce, reuse, recycle — and reap rewards. Really!

Hoarding gets a bad rap from many.  Some are joking, but many are serious.  Some of my behaviour could raise eyebrows among the non-frugal.  I even prefer to use the word frugal, instead of cheap or miserly.

I save or scavenge things like egg cartons, coffee cans, plastic containers, cardboard boxes and large envelopes. The difference between me and a true hoarder is that I use them, instead of letting them pile up — and they save me “a significant amount of money.”  In fact, such tactics save money in several different, interrelated ways.

For example:

  • The less waste  you generate, the fewer garbage bags you have to buy, and the lower your  disposal bills might be.
  • Buying in bulk  to reduce packaging waste means you get a lower cost-per-unit price.
  • Putting  leftovers into a pickle jar or bread bag reduces the need for foil,  plastic wrap or food-storage containers.

Repurposing used to be common. Outgrown clothes were cut down for younger siblings or reborn as quilt patches. Old buildings were torn down to provide lumber for new projects. My mother poured homemade jam into peanut-butter jars (which used to be made of glass) and sealed them with wax.

These tactics work

In a post on the Silent Springs blog, Vincent Smith suggests that “more thoughtful living” could greatly reduce waste. Why do we throw away an old shirt but buy cleaning rags?  Whether your motive is saving money or saving the planet, slashing waste is a giant step in the right direction.  We do things like buying in bulk to eliminate individual packaging, packing a lunch to cut down on fast-food waste, and bringing our own water and coffee containers.  You don’t need to contribute to that trash can outside Starbucks, overflowing with single-use paper cups.

I do many of these things myself and can attest to their cost-effectiveness. A roll of aluminum foil can last us a couple of years.  A used piece is often not “dirty.”  Wipe it with a damp cloth, to clean and flatten it, and fold it, ready to hold the next sandwich, or piece of pizza. Produce and bread bags get re-used until they shred.

We repurpose empty jars for storage, buying things like spaghetti sauce in Mason-mouthed glass jars, which later hold things like bulk cornmeal.  Wide-mouth plastic jars which held cheap crackers when we bought them, now hold bread crumbs and potato flakes, for cooking.  Not that we attend them anymore, but I have found Tupperware in the free-box at yard sales. A pile of reusable shopping bags lives in a plastic shopping basket in the car trunk.

We buy in bulk when we can, and choose large sizes the rest of the time. We make our own jam (sometimes using foraged fruit).  I’ve mentioned about buying condiments like ketchup and mustard in gallon cans or jugs, and repeatedly refilling the small squeeze bottles, for a fraction of the cost.

Adding less to the problem 

Not that I’m a green saint, mind you. For example, we drink a lot of Pepsi, and buy individual yogurts, both for the wife, who has a small eating limit, and for the son to pack in his work lunch. However, we do recycle the cartons and the plastic containers.

The municipal recycling committee recently complained about the cost of sending around a truck to pick up “air.”  I stomp flat, any plastic bottles or other containers.  As three adults, we often put out less than a Blue Box full of recycling.  The two adults, and two small children next door put out three, or even four boxes every week!

Recycling is not mandatory here in Kitchener, but I can feel it coming.  All allowable organic matter goes into our composters, but the Committee is also bitching that residents are not putting out enough in the City-issued Green Bins, to cover the cost of the disposal contract, so I guess I’m not the only cheapo in the city.  Compost includes tea-bags, coffee grounds and filters, citrus rinds and banana peels.

Bananas contain magnesium.  It’s good for you, and good for plants too.  The tea and coffee contain tannic acid, which also feeds plants, and breaks down the paper to produce good, rich loam to be used in the gardens.  We buy unpeeled shrimp (when we can afford a bit), for considerably less than pre-peeled.  The wife peels them and the casings also go into compost.  As the Indians taught the Pilgrims, seafood makes rich plant food.

We use cloth bags where we can, because local cities allow stores to charge five cents each, for plastic bags. We used to use those in the cupboard-door-mounted garbage container, but recently purchased a new model, and the wife prefers to use the ones specifically intended for it.  I save bags from trips to stores and vendors who do not charge, and use them for kitty litter waste, or carrying newspapers to the crazy cat lady for flooring in her kennels.

Clean ones are flattened and folded and given to our bookstore lady, to cut down on the number of new ones she must purchase.  Soiled or torn ones are accumulated and put out with the blue box, so that someone else can melt them down and re-use the plastic to produce new products.  One of our shopping bags has a little sign on it that says, “I used to be a milk jug.”

While I don’t kid myself about saving the planet single-handedly, there is a fair amount of satisfaction in not adding to the problem any more than we must. Also, it’s nice not to have to shell out cash for things like more aluminum foil, or sandwich bags, and reduced retirement income goes a little further.

Funny Bone

I’m really proud of BrainRants being what he is, and doing what he does to preserve our way of life.  He has reasons for spending almost half his life in the U. S. Military, reasons he’s admitted to himself, reasons he’s given to others.  For those of you who wonder, on June 14th, it was all explained.  These are David Letterman’s                     TOP 10 Reasons To Love Being In The U.S Army.

10:  You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten rehydrated beef brisket.

9:  You get to visit exotic places, like Trenton, New Jersey.

8:  No can opener??!  Just run over it with a tank.

7:  Sir, you’re never unsure how to begin and end a sentence, Sir!

6:  Cutting edge technology, like our machine that controls the weather.

5:  I really, really, really, really enjoy pushups.

4:  In an Apache attack helicopter, you tend to have the right of way.

3:  Always have an answer when some fool says, “You and whose Army?”

2:  Camouflage brings out my eyes.

1:  Working among the most talented men and women this country has to offer….and the free haircuts.

Geriatric Care

An old lady goes to her doctor and says, “I have this problem with frequent gas.  Fortunately, when I pass them, they never smell and are always silent.  As a matter of fact, I’ve passed gas at least ten times since I’ve been here, and I bet you never even noticed!”

The doctor says, “I see.  Take these pills, and come back to see me again next week.”

The next week the old lady comes back.  “Doctor” she says, “I don’t know what you gave me, but now my silent rippers stink like the dickens.”

The doctor says, “Good!  Now that we’ve cleared up your sinuses, let’s get to work on your hearing.”

Eco-Savings

While grocery shopping, a budget-watching, and environmentally aware university student comes across toilet brushes.  “Wow!  What a great idea!’ he thinks to himself, and buys three of them.

Two weeks later, however, after much pain and aggravation, he goes back to using toilet paper.

Spring Training

A rookie pitcher was struggling on the mound, so the catcher walked out to have a word with him.  “I’ve figured out your problem.” he told the young pitcher.  “You always lose control at the same point in every game.”  “When is that?” asked the rookie.  “Right after the National Anthem!”

Wine And Dine

Two older people were flirting at a seniors’ singles bar.  After a few drinks, the old man asks the old woman, “If I took you out for a full night of wining, dining and dancing, what would you wear?”  The old gal replies shyly, “Depends….”

“Depends on what?” he asks.  “On my butt….where else?”

Three Hymns

One Sunday, a pastor asked his congregation to consider giving a little extra in the offering plate.  He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns.  After the offering plates were passed, the pastor noticed that someone had contributed a $100 bill.  Extremely grateful, he wanted to personally thank the generous person in front of the whole congregation.

A quiet, elderly widow shyly raised her hand.  The pastor asked her to come to the front. He told her how wonderful it was that she gave so much, and asked her to pick out three hymns.  Her eyes brightened as she pointed to the three handsomest men in the congregation: “I’ll take him, and him, and him!”

Oh dear!  This isn’t working out well.  That’s the third old codger story in this post.  I’m like the guy from Pompeii who knows 500 lava jokes.  Distraction – distraction, I know, let’s poke fun at airheads.

Charmed

The pretty young lady had sharp pains in her side.  The doctor examined her and said, “You have acute appendicitis.”  She replied, “That’s sweet Doc, but I came here for some medical help.”

First Class Act

Kim Kardhasian boarded a plane from New York to L.A with a ticket for coach, because that was all that was available and she wanted to get back to the coast quickly.  Once she boarded, she marched up front and chose a seat in First Class.  The flight attendant checked her ticket and told her to move back to her assigned seat.

She immediately did everything except stamp her feet, hold her breath and turn blue.  “I’m Kim Kardhasian, and I’m going to sit right here, all the way to L.A.!”  Never having been exposed to a celebutant’s temper tantrum before, the flight attendant is flustered.  She goes to the cockpit and informs the Captain.  The Captain goes back and briefly whispers something in Kimmie’s ear.

She immediately gets up, gives the Captain a quick hug, and rushes back to her seat in the coach section.  The flight attendant is amazed, and asks him what he said to get her to quietly move.  “I just told her that the First Class section isn’t going all the way to L.A. today.”

And, to end on a technological note:

Clean And Reboot

The cleaning lady was tidying up for the wealthy computer-whiz.  She commented that he had a nice-looking PC.  He looked frustrated, and said, “Yeah, it’s top of the line, but with this new operating system, I can’t seem to get any of my programs to start up today.  Maybe I should let you have a look at it and see if you can figure it out.”

She replied, “I’m sorry sir.  I’d love to help you, but I don’t do Windows.”