Not in the Job Description

It seems this week the plan for the Friday Fictioneers is to take a road trip somewhere, courtesy of Ted’s photo prompt. This picture has been chosen for us by our encouraging host, Rochelle Wiseoff-Fields. Please note: all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only.

Sad to say, last Thursday my cell phone fried its inner workings instead of properly charging. Since my cell phone has been my only connection to Friday Fictioneers — my computer refuses to visit Inlinkz — I was in offline mode and missed reading a lot of the responses. To make matters worse, in the process it cracked its Blue tooth so no data could be transferred, which means my icon was lost along with everything else. 😦

The good news is: on Tuesday I got this neat little Samsung phone with all the bells and whistles. 🙂
The bad news is: I still have to figure out how to use it.
The even better news is: along with my new phone I got a tablet! I’ve been wanting one for awhile now.
The bad news is: I still have to figure out how to use it. 😦

But I trust with one or the other I’ll be able to post my FF response, so here’s my tale. (I’m going to assume this photo setting as the on-ramp to a bridge.)

Photo prompt © Ted Strutz

The young husband frantically waves to the guard and indicates his wife, who’s obviously in serious distress.

The guard signals him to follow and dashes to his emergency vehicle. “Another one,” he calls to his partner as he jumps in and flips on the flasher.

His partner hops in beside him. “What’s with this bridge anyway that so many babies want to be born on it?”

“An easy landing for storks?” The guard glances in his mirror to be sure the couple is keeping up.

His partner’s looking pale. “Sure wish they’d pick a hospital roof. I don’t deliver well.”

Free Book: When Night Comes

When Night Comes: Free on Amazon for one more day.

When I got Dan Walsh’s e-mail on Sunday I wanted to quickly do a write-up and and tell you all about this great book that’s free on Amazon right now. Sadly, the days have slipped by and there’s only day left to get this fast-paced suspense novel.

The story opens with Sergeant Joe Boyd arriving at the scene of a possible homicide. “Check it out, Joe. It’s pretty strange,” patrolman Hank Jensen told him.

Homicide or not, they definitely had a dead body in that bed. There was no mistaking that familiar smell… Boyd guessed the boy probably died late last night, or in the early evening. He walked to the bed and looked down at the body, then at the kid’s face.

Yeah, that’s weird.

As Sgt Boyd was contemplating this mysterious death, Jack Turner was arriving in Culpepper, GA, as a guest lecturer at the invitation of his old history prof and mentor, Thomas Thornton. Jack, with his Master’s in Military History, was planning on giving a series of lectures on WWII.

Within days Jack has several bizarre dreams. It’s like he’s gone back in time to the scenes he’s been describing in his lectures, being part of the action as it unfolds. And Jack isn’t the only one having dreams. Two students are dead after experiencing bizarre hallucinations that seemed to drive them mad.

Forced into this puzzling situation, Jack wants to discover the cause of his strange dreams. He teams up with Rachel, an old acquaintance, now an attractive young teaching assistant at the university. Together they do some investigating — but someone’s determined to stop them.

For me this book is a keeper, one I can read over several times and still shiver with the thrill of the story. And it’s a bonus that Jack returns in a second and third book in the series.

Dan says in his e-mail, “The Kindle version of When Night Comes is absolutely FREE for the next 5 days. If you enjoy reading it, there’s a sample chapter for Book 2 at the end, and an Amazon link.”

And now there’s only one more day! So if this book sounds appealing, here’s the link to Amazon .com. And here’s the LINK to his BLOG.

The Two Sisters: A Tale of Perspectives

“Thank you so much, Carl.” Pearl took the box from her cousin’s arms and set it on the table in her hallway. “I feel so privileged to be entrusted with these heirlooms! You can be sure I’ll take good care of them.”

“Sure. Whatever.” Carl shrugged. “I still think we should just burn them. Why dredge up old bones? As I recall,  Mom had a lot of “old bones” she worked over.”

“Maybe.” Pearl smiled sympathetically. His mother, her Aunt Matilda, seemed too focused on bones of contention.

“But you’re young yet,” she said. “When I was your age the past was ancient history; I was out to remake the world. Since I’m retired I think more about our past and what we’ve inherited. I’ll try to be discreet, though, when I compile the Family History. If the Aunties wrote anything nasty about someone I certainly won’t record it. Maybe I should even tear those pages out of the journals?”

“Who cares? I’m sure most of the folks they wrote about are dead now. Anyway, suit yourself, I’d best be off.”

“Chip off the old block,” Pearl murmured after the door was shut. She looked at the stacks of books in the box and thought of the two sisters, Mabel and Matilda. Each of them had her own way of looking at life; each recorded her perspective in these journals.

The years had been good to Mabel and Matilda, both of them lived into their nineties before they passed away. Both women had kept journals most of their lives and after their deaths Pearl heard that all their journals were going to be destroyed. Hoping to write a family history book someday she begged permission to look through them before the grim sentence was carried out. Then her cousins decided since Pearl was the only one in the family with enough patience to pore through them, and prudent enough not to blab the contents, she could have the lot.

Pearl had breathed a sigh of relief; so much information would have been lost! Now the precious books were in her hands. She carried the box to the coffee table, set it down and started sorting the collection into years.

Skimming through Aunt Mabel’s slapdash version of the late 20’s, Pearl could picture her so clearly, a teenager eager for life. She smiled. Aunt Mabel would have been a flapper! It will be interesting to see how she coped during the Depression years, Pearl thought. Good thing she couldn’t see the future right then.

She set 1928 down and slowly leafed through the years to 1985. At this point Mabel was widowed and lonely at times, yet enjoyed outings with her children and grandchildren. Then Pearl picked up her journal from 2000 and noted that she still found interesting little news items to report every day. Perhaps a caller popped in or she took a walk. If Mabel couldn’t get out she wrote about the weather and other things she observed from her window.

Spring blossoms excited her; birds in nearby branches were noted in her books; she described in detail the trees turning color in fall. She mentioned the activities of her neighbors. She wrote with humor about the Y2K panic. Thinking back, Pearl could see again how Mabel’s eyes had twinkled when she talked about the disaster that was “going to put us all back in the stone age” and how it fizzled.

Yes, that was Aunt Mabel. Always interested in life and the people around her, always ready to visit and relate humorous little stories that gave everyone a chuckle. She stayed as active as she could for as long as possible and when she was too frail to get out family members stopped in to share her good cheer.

Then Pearl picked up one of Aunt Matilda’s 1990s diaries to read, but soon found herself fighting sleep. “Nothing much happened today” was the most frequent entry, coupled with complaints about the rheumatism which kept her from getting out or the fact that no one had called.

Pearl remembered Aunt Matilda telling her once, “I never phone anyone. They might be busy when the phone rings and I know how I hate that! I don’t want to be a bother. Anyway, if they want to talk to me, they know my number.”

Another time she complained, “Seems like whenever I do phone someone they’re quick to say they have something pressing and have to run. Folks these days are just too busy to talk.” Though Pearl was sympathetic and never contradicted, she got the feeling folks were eager to get away from Matilda’s rehash of all her woes.

As elderly widows these two sisters had lived together for over fifteen years, looked out the same windows at the same changing scenes, but one had seen beauty and one had seen monotony.

Pearl could remember Aunt Mabel grabbing her raincoat and umbrella, off for a walk in the rain while her sister sat by the fire with her sore joints and wouldn’t do handwork or read for fear she’d ruin her eyes. Mabel went out to search for life while Aunt Matilda expected life to come in and tickle her. Which seldom happened, sad to say.

Such a shame, she thought as she closed the bleak diary. She stood up and walked over to the window, savoring the bright morning. She watched a robin dashing in and out of the sprinkler spray.

“Now,” she said, “I know some people I should be calling.”

Party Time!

Celebrating 1500 Followers

I’ve been watching my “people counter” quite intently for the past few weeks as the number of blog followers has crept up. Now it’s time to celebrate the fact that my blog now has 1500 followers.
Smilies

I want to welcome my newest followers and say “Thank you so much, everyone!” I appreciate every one of you who has been reading and following my posts! I know numbers don’t say it all — but such a nice even number is surely cause for a little party, right?
Fireworks.pink

With great food…
Dessert minisCones ice cream

I want to say a special thanks to those of you who have left comments. As you know, the readers’ reactions and feedback, even when it’s the corrective kind, is important to the success of any writer.
Your Likes, encouraging words and critiques are the reason I keep on posting in this sphere where so many folks want to share their thoughts.

“A kind word will keep you warm for three winters.”
Old Chinese proverb

I think all bloggers feel the same: if any reader has an upbeat comment or helpful critique to offer to any writer, please take a moment and do that. Share the warmth; take a moment to say “Well done.”
writing.girl
And now an important announcement to all the followers of christinecomposes.com:

This blog, Christine’s Collection, is my attempt to combine my three former sites:
Christine’s Collection, Swallow in the Wind, and Christine Composes

Swallow in the Wind was deleted and the subscriptions to the other two blogs were beamed over here by the kind folks at WordPress. But the domain name christinecomposes.com will expire in August and I’m not going to renew it. Bit by bit I’ll transfer all the content to this site.

In other words, if you are currently only a follower of Christine Composes, you should rather follow this blog by clicking on the button in the sidebar to continue receiving my blog posts after August 1st. The old site, christinecomposes.com, will become a private blog at that time. So please take a moment to check that you’re following the newest site. Thanks very much

 

Unique Father’s Day Verse

Back when my birth father was still alive I searched, often in vain, for appropriate greeting cards to give him, a man I hadn’t spent that much time with in my life. So nothing like “How much you mean to me,” seeing as, in all honesty, our relationship was mainly an acknowledgement of a biological fact.

These special days are a challenge for those of us who’ve had almost no relationship with the man who contributed to our existence. No “You were always there for me” or “You were always a shining example” kind of sentiments. A shining example he wasn’t and I think he’d be the first to admit it.

And you want to be honest about it. A friend told me she’d bought her mom — with whom she’d always had a distant relationship — a really sentimental card one year for Mother’s Day. When her mom read the verse, she said, “Well, this is nice. It isn’t true though.”

So you buy a blank card, scribble “Happy Father’s Day,” and give it with a box of chocolates. Then one day I decided to write a verse for offspring who haven’t had the greatest relationship with their fathers. This is what I came up with:

Hi Dad,

It doesn’t come through very well
to the younger generations
why grownups do the things they do–
those unseen motivations.
And sometimes kids get so upset,
stubborn, rebellious, too.
At times we clench our fists and swear
we’ll never be like you!

But Time has ways of teaching us,
then we look back and see
things more from your perspective
how you hoped that life would be.
Some times are precious memories;
sometimes were really sad;
sometimes I didn’t understand–
but now I thank you, Dad.

—C.G.

What would you write?

FATHER

by Edgar A Guest

Used to wonder just why Father
Never had much time for play;
used to wonder why he’d rather
work each minute of the day.
Used to wonder why he never
loafed along the road an’ shirked;
can’t recall a time whenever
Father played while others worked.

Father didn’t dress in fashion,
sort of hated clothing new;
style with him was not a passion;
he had other things in view.
Boys are blind to much that’s going
on about them day by day,
and I had no way of knowing
what became of Father’s pay.

All I knew was when I needed
shoes I got ‘em on the spot;
everything for which I pleaded,
somehow Father always got.
Wondered, season after season,
why he never took a rest,
and that I might be the reason
then I never even guessed.

Father set a store on knowledge;
if he’d lived to have his way
he’d have sent me off to college
and the bills been glad to pay.
That, I know, was his ambition;
now and then he used to say
he’d have done his earthly mission
on my graduation day.

Saw his cheeks were getting paler,
didn’t understand just why;
saw his body growing frailer,
then at last I saw him die.
Rest had come! His tasks were ended,
calm was written on his brow;
Father’s life was big and splendid,
and I understand it now.

From his book, A Heap O’ Livin’
© 1916 by The Reilly & Britton Co.

Book Review: Blue Hydrangeas

BLUE HYDRANGEAS: An Alzheimer’s Love Story

Novel written by Marianne Sciucco
Published by Bunky Press (April 2013)

It’s apparent to Jack that his wife has gone beyond “a little forgetful.” Their doctor is talking about Alzheimer’s and suggesting 24/7 care is needed, but Jack’s convinced he can care for her in their home. He has a negative image of nursing homes and dreads the idea of putting the love of his life in one of them.

This is an awesome tale of love, devotion — and stubbornness — as Jack grapples with the Alzheimer’s disease that is slowly stealing his wife’s mind. We can relate to his efforts to help her remember, his fear and panic when he turns his back for a moment and she’s gone. The story draws the reader into the thoughts, emotions, and desperation that many people feel who have loved ones affected by dementia.

All through the book I sensed the darker undercurrent of truth here: Alzheimer’s can hit anyone. In an informative, encouraging way, Blue Hydrangeas introduces the reader to the possibility of dealing with this disease, should it strike someone near and dear to us. And the take away point is powerful: a couple should enjoy each day they have together.

This isn’t the newest book on the shelf but well worth reading. I received an advanced reader copy of Blue Hydrangeas from the Story Cartel in exchange for an unbiased review. If you’d like to help an author and are willing to do book reviews, do check out the Story Cartel.