’18 A To Z Challenge – J

 

Challenge '18
Letter J

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re sorry.  The blog-site that you are currently attempting to connect with, is temporarily out of service…. because we’re on a

JOURNEY

If you’re reading this, it means that my unpaid assistant has done his unpaid job, and clicked ‘Publish’ for this post, which I left queued-up for him.  I am not sufficiently tech-savvy to be left unsupervised with a ‘schedule post’ program.  In fact, only recently, Bell Canada insisted that I give up my rotary-dial telephone.

It was the last one in my telephone exchange area, and they couldn’t afford to maintain my ‘clickety-click’ system, along with the new beep-beep boop-boop one.  I guess they can’t blow the dust out of the new fibre-optic lines, the way they used to with the old electrical ones.

If we merely go to Detroit for some weekend shopping, should a medical situation arise, it’s a quick trip back across the border into socialized-medicine land.  For a week away, 12 hours drive from the nearest Canada, we will be purchasing out-of-country medical insurance from CAA, AAA’s little brother.  Please, nobody mention ‘giddy’ as a pre-existing condition.

We’re not allowed to bring anything toxic back, so we’ll stay away from all Tweets.  We might get close enough to the White House to hear that twit Trump, trumpet.  We might even get to see him playing bocce ball on the front lawn with the North Korean Rocket Man, using nuclear warheads.

We’ll be staying west of DC proper, just left of where Donald Trump hangs out these days.  Of course with Trump, pretty much everyone is to his political left.  Someone should censor him by slipping him a placebo smart-phone, that only looks like it’s actually working.

It’s a good thing that there’s a 140 character limit on Twitter.  Can you imagine how many people he could offend with 300?  He should be put on Twitter-Lite….only 14 characters.  He has surrounded himself with quite a few characters, some of whom last longer than others because they can say, “Yes, Mr. President.  You’re absolutely right, sir.”

This journey is the ‘We’re Going To Rants’ and ‘Sisterhood Of The Blog’ trip that I’ve been threatening you with for months.  We’ll be out of our minds the country for about a week, so, there’ll be no new posts for a while, and likely damned few responses to comments, so feel free to talk about us among yourselves for a while.

I’d suggest that, after reading this post, you get some rest, because I’m sure that I’ll have a shopping bag full of fun facts and photos when we get back.

‘Journey’ is an ‘80s, San Francisco rock band.  If you click, they’ll tell you how much I Don’t Stop Believing that this is one of the greatest adventures of my life.  I’ll see you back here soon, with a big smile on my face.   😀  😎  🌯

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Flash Fiction #164

DC Tour

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

DAY TO DAY GRIND

We visited a couple of friends in Washington, DC, for the first time.  I left our tourist itinerary in his capable hands; a day to see the White House, a day at the Washington Monument and the National Mall, a day to explore the Smithsonian, a day to marvel at the Pentagon.

He warned us that there would be a lot of foot-travel.  Anything in DC worth visiting, is on a walking tour.  He urged us to, “Rest up; by the time we’re done, you’ll be worn to a nub.”

I just thought that he meant from the bottom up.

***

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

’18 A To Z Challenge – Flood

Challenge '18

Letter F

Unless the Mayan calendar apocalypse comes to pass, my little home town, situated where a river meets a lake, will never have a flood.

Lake Huron’s levels are closely monitored and controlled by the St. Lawrence Seaway commission, the geography is stable, and it would take something larger than a falling Chinese Space Station, to cause a tsunami.  The land quickly rises, so that most of the town is 50 feet above water level.  My birthplace house is more like 70’.

The closest thing to a flood is the spring ice-breakup in the river.  It starts 3 miles upstream, below the little rapids.  The thin ice breaks, pushing downstream against the thicker and thicker layers, partly impeding the water flow, until finally it lets loose.  Suddenly, thousands of tons of ice blocks, 2 – 3 – 4-feet thick, and as big as buses, thunder down the canyon, scour the harbor docks, and spew into the lake.

I’m told that it is an awe-inspiring sight and sound, but silly little things like education and employment have never allowed me to be present.  In late fall, the docks are cleared.  Ladders for swimmers and boaters are unbolted.  Fishing boats are winched onto the concrete, and placed well up on the banks.  After the cascade, ice that’s in the way is bulldozed back into the water.  Blocks that aren’t, are still melting beside the little park, well into June.

***

When we made our pitifully few visits to the lower United States for vacations, we were usually fixed on getting to our destination as soon as possible, and took the Interstates.  Humming along steadily for hours, at 110Kmh/70MPH, the extra distances were made up for by not having to follow some farm tractor, or stop at every stop sign and red light in every goober little town.

The time we took our On Top Of The World trip, we decided that we had the time, not to go 100 miles from Buffalo to Erie, PA, to get on I-79.  Instead, we took State highways down and back, from Buffalo, through Pennsylvania.  The entertainment and education justified the decision.

We passed through Du Bois, PA, named after W.E.B. Du Bois, a 19th century Negro civil-rights pioneer.  Both names are pronounced ‘due–boys’, rather than the French ‘due-bwah.’

We found a small PA town that clings to a mountainside so steep, that the northbound lane of the highway/main street, is 8 feet above the southbound lane, with a guardrail to prevent cars from falling in.  The industry in another Pennsylvania town was a Weyerhaeuser paper mill.  We could smell that one 3 miles before we got there, and 3 miles after we left, and rolled the windows down to clear the stench.

Rolling into one town we were faced with 6 or 7 truck-docks, at the back of a large plant.  Each dock seemed to be a different color, red, green, orange blue, purple.  When we got closer we found that it was a Pittsburgh Glass plant, and what we’d seen was hundreds of pounds of broken bottles and other glass, all sorted by color, which had fallen below the docks as it was being brought back in for melting and reuse.

As we were coming back north, we reached a spot where a secondary road met the highway at a T-intersection to our left.  Suddenly, in the middle of Nowhere PA, miles from any town or city, I was faced with the first roundabout I’d ever seen.

Like the 1942 song That Old Black Magic says, “Down and down I go.  Round and round I go.”  Round and round the roundabout I went, missing the northbound, uphill highway.  Instead, I continued ‘round, and exited onto the westbound, downhill road.

Six miles this steep, two-lane blacktop weaved its way down and down, with not a sign of a turnoff, another side-road, or even a farmer’s lane, to turn into to turn around.

Finally, after losing hundreds of feet of altitude, we reached a sign that said, “Welcome To Johnstown PA”.  Johnstown??  Like in the Johnstown flood??  Sure enough, there was the Conemaugh River, before we started our long trek back uphill.

In 1851 a dam was built 14 miles upstream, to provide water for area industries, and for a barge-canal system.  Later, trains replaced barges, so the dam was sold to a railway company.  The Railway Company wasn’t in the ‘dam’ business, so they didn’t maintain it, even removing and selling piping that could lower water levels behind it.

In 1889, a ‘Century Storm’ dumped 12 inches of rain in the mountain valley in two days.  The dam finally failed, and the flood roared through several small towns and Johnstown.  It caused $17 million 1889 dollars worth of damage, almost $500 million today, and killed over 2200 people.

I quietly drove back up to the highway and home, to compose this happy tale for you.  Stop back again later, when we visit The Rockies and talk about avalanches.  😯

A LARGE DROP IN THE BUCKET

Hero

I am agog – not to be confused with a fool, a nerd, or a nosy parker – although I’ve successfully been all of those. I have been within 8 feet of Queen Elizabeth.  I have seen and touched Her Royal Yacht, Britannia, when it put into the harbor at my home town for fuel.  I had a brief, 5-second conversation with the singer, Roger Whittaker, and I got a hug, and a kiss on the cheek, from the female Canadian Minister of the Exterior.

These all pale into insignificance. I recently got an invitation from BrainRants, to come and visit him and his wife this summer.  Actually, all that happened was that he made a casual inquiry as to whether the wife and I intended to be in his area this year, and when – but I’m treating it like a Royal Summons, and it snowballed from there. I’m So Excited (click to hear the Pointer Sisters tell you how much)

He’s the one responsible for unleashing me on an unsuspecting blogosphere, but don’t blame him for that. He was distracted at the time with saving the world and the American Way Of Life.  It was the Law of Unintended Consequences.

A couple of years ago, when we were doing the ‘Doctor Ericson, I presume’ tour, I asked if we might drive down for a quick visit.  Rants was preoccupied with a son going off to college, and a few other pressing domestic situations, and said ‘no,’ but not necessarily “NO” forever.

Last fall, I asked again about the possibility of an eventual visit, just to know whether or not to remove it from my bucket list. Rants took this as an indication that I wanted it to happen soon.  Apparently not a lot of people make plans years ahead, especially old geezers like me.  It’s happening sooner than I anticipated.  Rants and his lovely wife are welcoming us this summer.  Not only are we visiting, but we are being put up in a guest room to save motel costs –and, Rants is booking some well-earned and needed vacation time to be with us for several days.

I asked if it was some kind of competition between him and his wife to be nice to us, but apparently this is what kind, intelligent, generous people do. Aside from visiting my parents for weekends while they were alive, I have never been a house-guest in my life. Dear Miss Etta Kett; How do I conduct myself??

It is well that the wife’s birthday is in mid-Feb. This year she had to renew her Ontario Health Card, and her driver’s licence. One of three photo ID options recommended to do this, is a passport.  When I dug hers out and she was transferring information, she realized that both our passports had expired.

Apparently the bureaucrats do not send an email renewal reminder, and since we didn’t travel outside the Province last year, we had not noticed. It would have been a catastrophe to make all these delicious plans, and be turned back at the border for incomplete documents.  We had the time to get them reissued.

I am so giddy that I’m twirling around the house like a little pixie….or maybe a wolverine on meth. We’re going to Rants’! We’re going to Rants’ I’m taking along our digital camera, but there’s no promise that any photos will show up here on the blog-site.  I’ve already had to sign a non-disclosure security document, and a black helicopter will pick us up at the Virginia Welcome Center.

Surprisingly, the wife warmed to the idea quite quickly, to the point that, if we can’t put aside enough to pay for the trip in the next couple of months, she’s willing to raid her cache of Loonies and Toonies coins that she’s been stashing away for years.

If she’s warm now, just wait and see how warm DC is in August. We may drive past the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Pentagon in an air-conditioned car, but this visit is all about meeting two people who have been so very nice to me for years.  We can do that with a shady back deck and some cold beer.

More to come, I will reveal all as much as I can.  Be happy for me….and maybe a little jealous.   😎  🌯

‘17 A To Z Challenge – W

Challenge2017

letter-w

WTF!

Out of the pile of ‘W’ prompts that I downloaded, including the WTF one above, I’ve decided to choose Word Count.

I sometimes (Okay, often) tend to get a bit verbose, so I’ve chosen to keep this little epistle to a maximum of 250 words.

I could watch and wait, as long as I don’t do it too close to my snacks.  Then, I would have to watch my weight, something that you could do from the next county.  When I sit around the house, I really sit AROUND the house.

I downloaded both the word wrench, and the word wench.  While they may seem very similar, they are both quite different in meaning….although, if you played your cards right, both of them would tighten your nuts for you.

I’ve never had wanderlust.  I’m quite satisfied with, wherever I go – there I am.’  With me, it’s more like wander lost??!  Even with the few vacation/sightseeing trips I’ve taken, my poor GPS unit is seeing a counsellor.

Now that the wife is recovering from her second knee-replacement surgery, the physiotherapist suggested that she get more exercise, to build up her strength and stamina. The wife is pushing me to go with her for a walk around the block each day.  I said, “Why??  I’m already here….and I’ll still be here when you get back.”  I am such a wimp.

Oops, this thing is running a bit long. I’d better check my word…..

 

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.

 

Flash Fiction #146

Trump

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

ROUND AND ROUND

I don’t want to go on a round-the-world cruise. By the time you get there, you’re back here.  Besides, it might pass perilously close to North Korea.

Still, it would be nice to get away from Trump for a while. The two most inflated things about The Donald are his ego, and his Twitter account. Those are the only things that I want “blown up.”  Are there any cruise ships without Wi-Fi?  It might be worth it to pay extra for some political peace and quiet.

Unlimited booze and food??! I’d come back with a figure like Frosty the Snowman.

***

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