2017 A To Z Challenge – B

Challenge2017

When I sieved out the following list of B-word prompts, I was struck by how many of them could apply to me.  Rather than choosing only one, here are some random thoughts about a few of them.

Bibliophile
blood
baggage
belief
bold
books
beach
barn
blog

Letter B

My home town is halfway up the East coast of Lake Huron, in Ontario. It has 3 miles of lovely warm, soft, white sand beach.  It has become a vacation haven, and tourism is a large part of its financial wellbeing.

The town to the south gets only 1 mile of shoreline. The tiny tourist village to the north sits in the center of 10 miles of sandy shore.  Access to the water is good, and the swimming is wonderful but, in both cases, the sand barely reaches above the water level, and their beaches are flat, hard and damp.

My mother constantly read to me as a child, and I learned to read quite young. I became a bibliophile, a lover of books.  I am also a logophile, a lover of words, but all the wonderful words are in the wonderful books, so we’ll discuss that later.

Ray Bradbury said, “Libraries raised me.” My tiny little town had a tiny little library, about the size of a medium house.  It was only open two days a week.  The volunteer librarian was a former teacher.  It was here that I learned early, the value of linguistic precision.

The fine for late books was 2 cents, biweekly.  The intent was for 2 cents, per book, for each of the 2 weekly open days.  I stood beside a man who went and got a dictionary to show the librarian that ‘biweekly’ also meant ‘every two weeks.’  He would pay 2 cents, but not the 8 cents that she demanded.

A local man became a mining engineer. He located an ore field in Northern Ontario, staked a claim, and sold the rights to a mining firm which would extract the minerals.  With the initial payout and ongoing royalties, he retired early, as the town’s richest resident.

He and his wife were great readers, but they never had children. When his wife died, and he was facing his own mortality, he donated a large portion of his fortune to the municipality, to be used to build a library in memorial to his wife.  We got a fairly large (for a small town) new library, right beside the Town Hall.  His bequest bought lots more books, and an annuity paid for hired staff.

When I moved 100 miles to Kitchener for employment, it was easy to pack my luggage. I had very little.  I also had to pack my baggage – my propensity for procrastination, my learning disorders, my neurological syndrome which causes poor physical control and lousy short-term memory, as well as my autistic-type inability to read social cues, and make and hold friends.

I am more methodical, determined, and tenacious; I would never be described as bold. Having survived an interesting, if not terribly thrilling life, now in the twilight of my years, I can put these thoughts and remembrances down, and publish them in my blog.   😀

 

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Flash Fiction #128

Paul Bunyan

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast

MINE’S BIGGER THAN YOURS

Texans bragged for years about being, and having, the biggest everything in the country – if you like dust storms and cactus.

Then they let Alaska join the union, and Texas was like Avis, “We’re number 2, but we try harder.” The biggest things about Alaska are the oil spills and Sarah Palin’s imagination that she’s a real politician.

Welcome to beautiful, green, open Minnesota, where we have room to be big.  This here’s a wheel off Paul Bunyan’s baby carriage, that Babe the ox pulled….

Wait…. Don’cha want to hear about the giant eagle dropping big fish to make thunder??!

***

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

 

On Top Of The World

Hans Haus

Hi!  This is Archon, your friendly tour guide/travel agent.  If you’ve been reading my stuff long enough, you’ll know that you’re all invited to Oktoberfest, Kitchener’s beer-bash bacchanalia, beginning Oct. 9, 2015.  That’s a long way off though.  If the Eastern section of the U. S. is accessible to you, and you have some free time and are looking for somewhere scenic to go this summer, I have a suggestion for you.

Skyline map

SKYLINE DRIVE 

Skyline trail

Skyline Drive is a part of the Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia.  It is a glorious 105-mile drive along the tops of the mountains.  There is a reasonable day-trip fee to enter the park.  The Drive is a twisty little two-lane paved road that dodges around this side of this mountain, and then swings around that side of that mountain.  The speed limit is 30 MPH, and nobody rushes it.  The views are magnificent.

Skyline panorama

We took the trip several years ago.  Like the Interstates, once you’re on, you’re committed.  There are only three access roads, one at each end, and one about halfway.  There are several pull-off places where you can park and enjoy the views – a couple with a westerly view, and a couple facing east.

Skyline outlook

At one of the outlook spots, I wandered over to the other side of the road, wondering if I could see any of the opposite vista through the trees.  I encountered several graves, with monument stones set flat to the earth.  I briefly wondered what money or political pull it took to be buried in a National Park.  A glance at the burial dates – late 19th/early 20th century – revealed that these were the resting places of Mountain Folk, people who had lived here, hunted and fished, lived and died, and were buried as close to their God as they could get, long before the Government created this Park.

Skyline Cabin

If you want to do more than a day’s drive-through, there are a couple of lodges, and a couple of sets of cabins that you can rent.  They are extremely popular, so you might have to reserve for next year, or even beyond.

Stony Man

At about the ¾ mark, heading south, is Stony Man Mountain, featured in a set of books I used to read.  I’m glad those arrows hang in midair, or I might have missed it.  Finally pulling off the Drive, we headed west to drive back north up the valley between the two chains of mountains.  We decided that we would pull in somewhere to get food and drink.  I’ve often heard that you should never eat at a place called “Mom’s.”  Apparently many others had also heard this admonition.  Mom’s was closed and boarded up.  The Cracker Barrel in the next town was an acceptable alternative.

Moms 1

Moms 2

We came down from the north, and stayed in Front Royal VA, a small city featured in another series of my books. You can go from high to low, because there are also several caves and caverns in the area, that can be toured.  Just south of Front Royal, near the park access road, is Skyline Caverns.

Skyline caverns

It’s a 2.1 mile underground walk in an almost figure-eight, except the cross point doesn’t touch.  Long before it was opened up, a portion of the roof collapsed, creating a vacuum, and crystals found nowhere else on earth.

Skyline crystals

Among several other caves in the area is Luray Caverns.  This is a 2.2 mile stroll in a helix.  At one point along the edge of a large grotto, there are three levels of the path, 10/12 feet above each other.  An organ was hauled down and assembled, and a caver with perfect pitch wandered the place for days, tapping stalactites with a mallet to hear the note each gave off.  Then little rubber hammers with actuators were attached, and connected to the organ.  Nowadays they have been disconnected to prevent damage, and what you hear is a recording of the final performance, still, it’s awesome.

Luray organ

I’d never heard of Skyline Drive until my plant supervisor told me about it.  I’m not so much interested in any compensation from these sites or the area tourist bureau.  I will be more pleased if only one or two of my readers are the back-to-Earth types who can enjoy what we have experienced.  Happy holidaying!  😀

#456

Flash Fiction #37

Mansion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Grace Under Pressure

Once, it was enough if you could sing, dance or act.  Those who did it better than others became stars.

In the turbulent, rebellious ‘60s, Elvis Presley became a superstar, not for his less-than-stellar abilities, but because of those of his agent, who promoted the Hell out of him.

Paul Simon, another performer with perhaps as much talent, but less marketing, sang of going to his mansion, ‘Graceland.’  Decades after he died, Presley’s estate still makes more in a year than I did my entire life.

And so I am here, willingly, foolishly, adding my money to theirs.

 

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

 

Flash Fiction # 24

Patio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loss Of Innocence

“It was a long drive, all the way from the prairies, down here to Ottawa. On the last nice day of autumn, it’s nice to be able to sit at an outdoor patio, having a coffee, right across the street from the Parliament Buildings.”

“I wonder what all those Mounties are doing??!”

“They’re chasing that guy!”

“Looks like he’s got a rifle!”

“Don’t be silly. This is Canada – people don’t run around with rifles!”

“DAMN! They’re shooting!  Quick, get inside!”

“Must be a foreign tourist! How would a tourist get a gun?”

“I’m going back to Calgary, where it’s safe!”

 

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

 

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Two

 

Jailbird

 

 

 

 

Before I set even one foot onto the WordPress savannah, to begin this meet-the-bloggers safari, I found that I was being treated like a criminal – an alleged criminal, a might-be criminal. What’s worse is, I have to admit that it’s valid.

The first stop on our trip will be a short visit with Cordelia’s Mom, in the Buffalo area. Like me, she had Cordelia, a daughter who already had a blog site.  Like me, her daughter pushed her in front of a blog-bus on the information super-highway.

Since Shimoniac and I are both about as dangerous to anyone, male or female, as a stuffed Tickle Me Elmo doll, I naively assumed we might meet at the home of one or the other. Not so!  We’re online daters, not to be trusted till we prove we can be.  We will wisely be met at a very public place.

As CM noted, “It’s not as if the writer of a long-established blogsite would turn out to be an axe-murderer.” but there are other disturbing possibilities.  I realise that it’s just as true for us.  If Shim and I follow Hansel and Gretel into the gingerbread house, we might end up being sold to white slavers.  If so, it better be by the pound.  If I cease posting, you’ll know that colonoscopy thing was just for practice.

Actually, since this trip is planned to last five days, I won’t be posting anything till early next week. Don’t despair, and please return then.

After most of a day and a night in Buffalo, we plan to wend our merry way through the Amish Paradise of eastern Ohio, to the country mansion of the Baron of the Blogsites, John Erickson. John has been off the air since about the middle of July.  Repeated emails from both AFrankAngle and me have produced no response, either from John, or his wife.  We fear the worst, but hope for the best.

While I don’t have permission to just show up, I still plan to stop by his place unannounced, to see if we can get some information. So John, if you’re reading this, that’s not the Fuller Brush man, or Avon, knocking on your door.  Failing contact with J.E. or Mrs E, I have a letter I plan to leave, telling of all our love and how we miss him, and urging him to rejoin our community.

I thought John, and perhaps his wife, might like to accompany us to the knife show just to his south, and possibly over to see the Y-shaped bridge in Zanesville, and a couple of strange S-shaped bridges nearby.

Y-bridge

 

 

 

S-bridge

 

 

**

The best-laid plans never survive the first contact with reality. The greatest chance of any success is to adapt, as much and as quickly as possible.

The son booked all three of his weeks of holidays in the summer “shutdown”, when it’s really hot in the plastics molding plant. He asked for a week of leave-of-absence for this trip.  In previous years, others have asked and were quickly granted.  After five weeks of no answer, he was suddenly told by the plant super, that they are just starting a new, large contract, and his leave was denied.  The curse of being indispensible.

In all previous references to Shimoniac, and subsequently, please read, Granma LadyBug. The wife is stocking up on antihistamines and accompanying me for an abbreviated trip.

The day we wish to leave, Cordelia has an unbreakable business meeting. We will be met instead by Cordelia’s Mom, and her mother-in-law.  While BrainRants says he’d like to meet, he has urgent family affairs to handle this weekend.  Perhaps another time….  We can only hope to find the reckless recluse, John Erickson.  This thing is coming apart faster than wet Kleenex.

We’re about to leave, carrying another $3.18 in orphaned American coinage, but promise to return with fabulous tales of genies, and Rocs, and flying carpets…. wait, that’s already been done. Whatever stories I return with, they’ll be brilliant.  See you soon.   😀

Canada For Dummies

Lord, I hope Canucks in other countries don’t show themselves as dim-witted as some of the visitors to the great country of Canada.  They probably do, but, at least I don’t have to see it.  I can understand folks from Europe, Asia or Australia not being cognisant of details of Canadian culture, but I get a little short with Americans.  C’mon guys!  You live right next door.

Americans want to know things like, “Who’s the old broad on the money?”  She’s the Queen, and no, she doesn’t “rule” Canada.  “Does the flag come in any other colors?”  And, why don’t we celebrate the Fourth of July?  Because we’re not Americans.  Our Independence Day is July 1.

I strive to be a little more accurate in this post than Ann Landers once was, when she told a Colombian tourist that Boston was not the capital of the U.S.  “It’s always been Washington,” ignoring the fact that the city didn’t exist before 1791.

Other than D.C. there have been 15 capitals – actually 8 different cities, NYC – 3 times, Philadelphia – 5 times, as well as Baltimore MD, Lancaster, PA (for one day), Princeton, NJ, Annapolis, MD, Trenton, NJ, and Leesburg, VA for a short while in 1814, during the War of 1812, when the Canadians ambled down and sacked Washington.

Take the Detroit auto-worker, (please) who drove across the Ambassador Bridge for years, to work at a Ford plant in Windsor.  One day a Canadian co-worker suggested that he move to Windsor, to save the commute.  No!  He couldn’t do that.  It’s too cold to live in Canada.

A Bed and Breakfast in British Columbia got an email reservation from a couple from England.  They were to arrive on a Saturday, and spend most of the week.  On the Saturday, the BnB got a phone-call.  Could they hold the room?  The couple was delayed and should arrive late Sunday.  They would pay for the week, but wanted to guarantee the room.  Sunday came, and another phone-call.  The concerned proprietors asked what the problem was.  They’d got off a flight in Halifax, and planned to drive to B.C.  They had got as far as Toronto in two days.

Many people just don’t understand the vastness of Canada and the U.S.  If you get in a car in England, and drive for ten hours including the Chunnel crossing, you’ve gone through three countries.  Only Russia, with seven time zones, beats North America’s six, including one for Hawaii for the U.S., and a strange little half-hour Newfoundland one for Canada.

A Vancouver, B.C. newspaper has a travel department that you can email with travel questions.  The following are some of the questions they’ve received, with country of origin, and frustrated answers given.

Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow? (England)
A. We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.

Q: Will I be able to see polar bears in the street? (USA)
A: Depends on how much you’ve been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto – can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it’s only four thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada? (Sweden)
A: So it’s true what they say about Swedes.

Q: Are there any ATM’s (cash machines) in Canada? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax? (England)
A: What, did your last slave die?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Ca-na-da is that big country to your north… oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is north in Canada? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we’ll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada? (England)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is…oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Vancouver and in Calgary, right after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Do you have perfume in Canada? (Germany)
A: No, WE don’t stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Where can I sell it in Canada? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? (USA)
A: Only at Thanksgiving.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gathers. Milk is illegal.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of big horse with horns. (USA)
A: It’s called a moose. They are tall and very violent, eating the brains of anyone walking close to them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.

Canada welcomes all visitors.  Feel free to join us.  Bring some more questions….and lots of money.

Addendum:

After White Lady In The Hood posted pictures of her back porch, I took a couple of shots of my back deck.  I’m about as far south in Canada as it’s possible to get, and we had a bit of a thaw last week.  First of March, and this is what’s left.  See the yardstick??    😦    I’m ready for spring now.     😀

SDC10522                    SDC10526