The Art Behind An Artifact

Fandango’s one word prompt today is ARTIFACT. I’ve always had a vague sense of what this word means, and have always associated it with archeology, but now that I’m to use it, I decided to look it up and be certain.

Artifact: same as artefact. Oka-a-a-y.

Artefact: something made by human beings. Nelson Gage says: “Anything made by or anything caused by human activity.” Hence my car, though a 2014, is an artifact. From the plastic and steel of the body to the vinyl interior and all the circuitry: 100% created by humans. (Albeit with naturally occurring raw materials.)

This word made me think of a song from my teen years: “In the Year 2525.” The idea being: the world was in such a mess in the 1960s, can man survive much longer? That song is an artifact now and we’ve survived an awful lot since. I read about US voters disgruntled with their current president; they can comfort themselves that the country will survive him, too. Our great-grandchildren will someday read about President Trump and other famous people of today in their history texts. Perhaps with pride; perhaps with pain, but a done deal.

They’ll hear about us and our lives in that same sense, and maybe a few of our artifacts will be displayed. Like when I pull out our faded hand-stitched quilt and say to my grandchildren, “This is the quilt your great-great grandma made.” My own grandmother made blankets, too, but very plain patches of whatever, quite dark and lacking any sense of art. My mother-in-law was skilled at handcrafts and I have a number to show the grands now.

I made an artifact the other day, and I have full confidence that it will survive in my family, “even unto the fourth generation.” My grandson came over and wanted to paint something, so I found a flimsy box, made of the lightest, cheapest wood, and let him go at it with my acrylic paints. I predict that box won’t survive even the first generation, but he had fun.

While he was painting that I found a small rock in my collection and started painting it orange. (I pick up smooth, bug-shaped stones as I happen to see ones I think are suitable for painting.) Later I drew black stripes for wings, dots for eyes, and likewise dotted the back. A mouth shaped like W. When I was done my grandson pronounced it “Neat” and took it home with him.

Someday when our civilization has turned to dust, some archeologist may dig up this area, find this funny-looking rock and say (in whatever language will be used here at that time), “Hey, people, look! A petrified bug! We’ve never discovered a fossil like this before.”

Then someone examine it, say hmmm… and send it for testing. It will be revealed that this is not a bug at all; it’s simply a rock covered with some kind of acrylic paint used extensively by the people of that ancient civilization.

In the year 2525 my bug may be unearthed and some news reporter — they never change, you know — may write up the article announcing: “Archeologists digging in the ancient ruins of a long-lost prairie village have unearthed the painted icon of some rare bug. They believe it was created by some ancient fossil.”

Almost Everybody

I wrote this fun piece in response to Fandango’s one-word prompt for today: ALMOST. Check out his blog to see the other responses, or add your own.
I was especially prompted to write this tale by Frank Prem’s not-quite-haiku, Almost a Cockatoo. You’ll see the link to his blog, Seventeen Syllable Poetry, listed among the others.  🙂

ALMOST EVERYBODY HAS A PAIR

“Mom, I need new running shoes.”

“So what else is new?” was Dad’s comment.

“You just got new shoes back in spring, Brandi.” Mom reminded her.

“That’s right,” Dad agreed. “And as I recall, they cost me a wallet full of bills.”

“Mom, Dad. Listen to me! The shoes you got me back in spring were El-cheapos. Now they’re like, RAGS! They’re decomposing with every step. I’m gonna get gangrene if I keep wearing them. I REALLY need new shoes.” Brandi stuck out a foot to show the evidence and wrinkled her nose. “I need something a little higher quality.”

Dad jabbed a finger in her direction. “The way you and your sister go through shoes, all we can afford are El-Cheapo brands. Do I dare ask how much ‘a little higher quality’ is going to set me back?”

Brandi rolled her eyes. “Oh, Dad. All you think of is money! You don’t understand how…how…ostracized I feel wearing Excess-Economy brand when all the other kids are wearing these cool new TECH-tonic ‘Earthmovers’. Kids who have ‘em say they really grip the ground and…”

“And all your classmates are wearing these?” Mom asked.

Brandi’s sister Trena nodded in agreement. “I’ll need a new pair soon, too.”

“Even some of the poorest kids,” said Brandi. “And they’re, like, $220 a pair.”

Dad’s eyes popped open. “Two hundred and…” He whistled. “And everybody in your class has a pair? Except some of the poorest kids, of course — like you two.”

Brandi stuck out her chin.“Well, yeah. Do you want us to be scorned by the whole school? Mocked on Facebook because our shoes are rotting on our feet?”

Mom looked at Dad and raised her eyebrows. Dad looked at Mom and raised his eyebrows. Somehow they both managed to maintain a ‘bank-manager-considers-loan’ sobriety.

“We’ll see.” Mom said. “Now that I think of it, Carrie’s cousin volunteers at school Thursday mornings. I’ll ask her what she thinks of these news shoes everybody’s wearing. You called them Earthmovers?”

Brandi nodded, squirmed, and sent her sister a desperate glance. “Well, almost everybody. At least five kids in my class have a pair. But the rest are getting them as soon as…”

Dad grinned.  “As soon as they can talk their folks into saving them from mocking and scorn?” He winked at Mom.

Brandi and Trena gave each other a meaningful look and rolled their eyes as if to say, “Parents. They’re so…archaic!”

Getting the Scoop

Many thanks to Rochelle for hosting this Friday Fictioneers group and faithfully sending us prompts to set our computer keys a-dancing.  CLICK HERE to join the fun. This morning before I even saw the prompt I was inspired to write something this time. Now how can I resist with such an opportune prompt?

This unique photo was submitted by Connie Gayer — possibly taken at her peril. At least I wouldn’t want to get that close to anyone with a shovelful of mud. I suspect the subject here will need a bath in more ways than one after this week is over. 😉

Photo c Connie Gayer

Book Review: Getting the Scoop

In this fabulous book gardening guru Russell Gayer gives valuable tips on growing everything from soup to nuts. Readers will be impressed by the list of awards he expects to win.

Full color illustrations throughout. In this photo he demonstrates how to plant peanuts, a underground crop. According to Gayer, the deeper you plant them the more peanuts you’ll harvest.

He does warn readers, though: “Before working the soil you should verify with your city engineer’s office just how deep the sewer lines are installed in your area, if you want to produce nuts and not soup.”

New Culinary Cozy Mystery

A few days ago I wrote about P G Wodehouse and his quirky characters, his humorous turns of phrase. Well, as chance would have it…
A week or so ago I downloaded a mystery through Book Bub and finished it last night. The author has created a main character, Chef Maurice, reminiscent of Hercules Poirot and humor that echoes tones of Wooster and Jeeves. Zany, delightful, and a mystery right to the end!

Chef Maurice. and a Spot of Truffle
a Chef Maurice Mystery

by J. A Lang

I’ve heard of truffle-snuffing pigs before, also temperamental French chefs. When Ollie, the local forager and mushroom supplier doesn’t turn up with the needed omelet ingredients one day, Chef Maurice goes to collect and discovers in Ollie’s fridge, in the guise of potatoes, some rare and precious mushrooms. And they carry the scent of an English woods. Where did Ollie discover these? Are there more nearby just waiting to be unearthed?

Chef Maurice adopts Hamilton, a micro-pig who proves himself well able to snuffle a truffle, and they check out the local forest, with good friend Arthur along to temper the exuberance of the chef. Searching for this valuable variety they come across Ollie’s body.

Now they need to know if Ollie’s death was the result of a secret truffle turf war. Or was it because Ollie had a little business on the side selling another species of mushroom to local teens?

With his up-beat, well mannered disposition, Hamilton is a hit with the staff. Everyone is horrified when he’s pig-napped and the Chef receives a package of shrink-wrapped bacon and a warning note.

The only minus point, which may bother some readers: clues aren’t all revealed up front. On the last day Chef Maurice does some investigating, the results of which remain unknown to readers until that evening when he explains his conclusions and reveals the guilty party. I didn’t mind this — it made the ending more of a surprise. I couldn’t guess before he actually named that person, who it would be.

This is one case where you really can judge a book by its cover — kudos to the artist. When you see Hamilton’s jolly grin you know the story is going to be funny.

Clunky Old Shoes

The day is cloudy and chilly and I’m not feeling any great inspiration, so will post this poem again. It appeared on my blog back in Jan 2013 and, like the shoe fashion it describes, it can reappear. 🙂

OLD GRANDMA SHOES
Author Unknown

When I was very little
All the Grandmas that I knew
Were wearing the same kind
Of ugly grandma shoes.
You know the kind I mean. . .
Clunky-heeled, black, lace-up kind,

They just looked so very awful
That it weighed upon my mind,
For I knew, when I grew old,
I’d have to wear those shoes.
I’d think of that, from time to time
It seemed like such bad news.

I never was a rebel,
I wore saddle shoes to school,
And next came ballerinas
Then the sandals, pretty cool.
And then came spikes with pointed toes
Then platforms, very tall,

As each new fashion came along
I wore them, one and all.
But always, in the distance,
Looming in my future, there,
Was that awful pair of ugly shoes,
The kind that Grandmas wear.

I eventually got married
And then I became a Mom.
Our kids grew up and left,
And when their children came along,
I knew I was a Grandma
And the time was drawing near

When those clunky, black, old lace up shoes
Was what I’d have to wear.
How would I do my gardening
Or take my morning hike?
I couldn’t even think about
how I would ride my bike!

But fashions kept evolving
And one day I realized
That the shape of things to come
Was changing, right before my eyes.
And now, when I go shopping
What I see fills me with glee.

For, in my socks and Reeboks
I’m as comfy as can be.
And I look at all these little girls
And there, upon their feet
Are clunky, black, old Grandma shoes,
And I really think that’s neat.

An Interesting Home

Happy Birthday to our son-in-law. As they say, “The big 40!” Picnic supper planned for family and friends this evening at our school.

This morning I came back down to earth from the whirlwind I’ve been caught up in for the past two days. I’ve been turning over ideas for the title, cover, content of my next book, but now have recalled all the other projects that need to be finished first. 🙂 I’m still enthused about compiling a second book of flash fiction stories, but will work at it little by little over time rather than trying to do it all in a rush.

One thing I remembered is that I want to start posting on Tree Top Haiku again, and so have scheduled a week’s worth of posts, to start next Monday.

We were sitting at the dinner table enjoying some moments of peace and quiet after our meal when what to our wondering ears did appear but the unique tweeting of tree swallows. I can scarcely believe the first ones have returned already. Only a few, though. I have yet to see the main migration, but my impression has been that fewer are coming back nowadays. Last year we didn’t have nearly as many as in the first years when I started putting up nest boxes for them, but this may be part of a cycle. I hope so; I really enjoy their friendly chipping.

And now, here’s one quick non-fiction story from years ago that I plan to put in my next book.

The difference between a man’s perspective and a woman’s can give us a real chuckle at times.

When we sold our home in Ontario, our realtor, Paul C, told us about another house he’d been asked to sell. He says he walked up to the living room window and looked in — there being no glass to interfere with his view.

The house had running water of a sort. There was a large hole cut in the kitchen floor; as he looked down he could see an open well about twelve feet below. The owner had hooked up an old washing machine motor and pipe beside the hole so they could pump water into the kitchen sink.

Paul mentioned a few other “unique” features that I forget now. He was delighted when someone actually came forward with an “as is” offer on the place. The day he took the paperwork over for the owner to sign, the sad fellow sat there for awhile after accepting the offer, then threw his arms out in despair and wailed, “I can’t figure it. All this luxury and she left me!”

Paul was all sympathy. “Yep. There’s no understanding women.”

I asked him, “And did a bee fly in the window opening right then and sting you?”

He laughed. “Well, maybe it should have.”

At that moment we understood each other perfectly.

Art’s Eternal Truth

Thanks to Rochelle and her commendable efforts as moderator of the Friday Fictioneers, another prompt has tumbled into my In-box. Many thanks also to Douglas MacIlroy for contributing the photo. Join this week’s Friday Fiction effort HERE.

It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed…and it may be awhile again… I’ve been in a general muddle lately! However, when I saw this prompt photo first thing this morning my muse nudged me and called to mind our clever sculptor friend, Marcel. Art Must be Flexible. She suggested this might be his concept of a bird-feeder. I chuckled, then decided to let the tale spin out and see how far it went. What do you think?

Photo © Douglas M. MacIlroy

ETERNAL TRUTH

“I’m calling this ‘Birdfeeder’,” Marcel told his friends.

“Birdfeeder!” Crombie exclaimed.

“My interpretation of man’s efforts to positively impact his environment.”

“How about ‘Gone With the Wind’?” Percy suggested, examining the creation skeptically. “It’s getting rusty.”

“That’s it! I’ll call it ‘Eternal Truth’. Like ‘Dust to dust; ashes to ashes; iron to rust’…”

His friends groaned.

A woman rushed over. “It’s brilliant,” she exclaimed. “I must have it. How much?”

“Three thousand,” Marcel quoted.

As she signed the cheque Crombie nudged Percy. “There’s gotta be an eternal truth in here somewhere.”

Percy winked. “Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.”