The Look

Another Wednesday has come and with it the prompt for Friday Fictioneers, the rule of which is to gaze at the prompt until inspired, write our tales and trim them down to a bare-bones 100 words. Then participants shall post their stories and link our posts to all the others via InLinkz.

“Muchos gracias” to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this menagerie of writing talent, and today for also supplying the photo prompt. To read what others have written, or to add your own, you need to find and click on a blue frog. You’ll find one on Rochelle’s blog, but alas, I can’t get the things to survive on mine.

I like to write humor, but this morning’s picture made me think of something other. Since the basic facts here are true, I guess one would label this story Creative Non-fiction.

PHOTO © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

THE LOOK

Zanna stared into her mirror. “Lose another five pounds,” her photographer had said. “You can do it!”

This time she’d resisted. “Don’t men want women curvy?”

“Designers want spaghetti strands with a smile, sweetheart. Curves I can add digitally. Long and lean brings the best fashion shoots.”

At 5ft-11″ and 105 lbs Zanna could count every rib. I could start selling organs, she thought wryly, those that still work. She opted for skipping more lunches and jogging longer.

“She’s got the look.” The ad words struck her funny as she eyed her reflection. She laughed until she sobbed.

An Ode to Arthritis

Oh, Arthur, You’re Such A Pain

How can everything hurt
first thing in the morning?
When I should feel vim and vigor
my back dreads holding me up,
my knees seem inflexibly sore.

Shoulder muscles, tight, aching.
The curve in my neck reminds me
of too many younger days
spent curled up in a chair
with good books, terrible posture.

On mornings like this I lift up
my eyes, and think of Heaven,
with a special longing.

.

Another poem from my book, Silver Morning Song

The $2000 Crack

No, this isn’t the story of a drug deal — but it is the story of a BIG deal. Finding two grand is a fairly big deal at this house.

My tale started innocently enough Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church. I took my hearing aids out of the box — and dropped one. Usually they stand a bit of shock, but this one went on strike. Nose out of joint — or whatever.

On Tuesday when we went into the city I took the injured appliance back to the Sask Hearing Aid Plan office where I’d purchased it — and learned that this plan was phased out in the recent provincial budget cuts. (Now only children are eligible.) The steno checked my record, though: I bought these hearing aids in Feb 2012 and they have a five year warrantee. Do the math.

I took them to a private clinic that fixes this brand and she couldn’t get the thing working again. She phoned the Oticon company and they did the math. For $500 I can get the warrantee extended for six more months. Then I can send it to their lab, but there’s no guarantee that when they take it apart they’ll be able to fix it.

A new hearing aid will cost somewhere between about $1400 and $3000. To complicate things, I have two, synchronized to work together, and there’s no guarantee a new hearing aid would be able to work in harmony with the old one. “Quite often,” the receptionist told me, “people end up having to buy two.” Whimper!

This story will be familiar to anyone who’s needed to replace a hearing aid; they just are pricey little gadgets. Dropping one isn’t wise, but it happens. So since that fateful fall my mind has been contemplating payment options:
— If I were in good health I could sell a kidney but I’m keeping my arms and legs.
— If I were a prolific writer I could crank out twenty novels by the end of the year.
— I could make do with only one hearing aid. (Bob vetoes that idea.)
At any rate, I have an appointment at a hearing aid clinic tomorrow morning and we’ll see what conclusion we can come to with those folks.

What can you say? The older we get, the more it costs.

I’ve finished Silver Morning Song, my book of short stories and poems, and am waiting now for a business name registration and an ISBN. But I have a number of stories and poems that don’t quite fit this book so I’ve been compiling a second book. The items in this one— I’m calling it Wisdom in Whimsy— will be mainly just-for-fun stories and poems.

I didn’t have very many items for this book until this morning when I plugged in an old flash-drive and found quite a few more to add. I’m thinking of writing some more stories about Winnie and Raylene (see Winnie Plays Monopoly) and including them in this second book, too.

During the past several weeks I’ve been going through a book on depression by Pastor J S Park, as one of his beta readers. Entitled How Dark It Really Is, this book is well worth reading if you want to understand what someone with depression is going through and how you can best help them. And if you’re the one dealing with this affliction, it helps you to identify negative voices that want to drag you down. You can read it and realize you’re not alone, that others have felt this same pressure, hung on in the bad times and made it through.

For no specific reason I was feeling rather blue myself last night, so I went for a walk. Need to do this more often. And I and saw a bobolink — first one I’ve seen in a long time. This afternoon at our finch feeder a mottled, odd-looking bird attracted my attention, being much larger than the pine siskins plastered on it these days. Got out my binoculars confirmed my initial guess: it was a young male rose-breasted grosbeak. A rare summer visitor.

Last week at a birthday party I was telling the ladies I hadn’t seen a gopher all summer. This is the prairie; gophers usually abound. So where are they? Have these last wet years taken such a toll on the gopher population?

Be careful what you wish for, they say. Yesterday I let my black tom, Angus, out and fifteen minutes later he came back with a full-size dead gopher dangling from his teeth. Hoping to bring it inside and eat it at his leisure. 😦 Nope — not a chance! But now I know why I never see any gophers around our yard.

Others don’t think it’s been very wet here, but it seems to me we’ve had a lot of thunder-storms and tornado alerts in the past six weeks. The sloughs along our road are drying up now, though.

And that’s another glimpse of life at our house. 🙂

Editing My Book

Lesson From A Weed

Entombed by four-inch asphalt,
frozen for months,
how can this weed know
it’s spring? That light is up this way
when not a pinpoint guides it?
How does it see that it must
conquer this blackness
and reach for life?

How can its leaves, salad-soft,
struggle so fiercely for their freedom?
Paper-thin, yet they pierce
like relentless tiny jackhammers
until their tips burst through
to claim their place in the sun.

Yet we humans, beset by foes
and woes, will so agreeably
roll over
and die.

TODAY AT OUR HOUSE:

We’ve been enjoying beautiful sunshine and mild temps today. Bob did some mowing, now he’s installing our window air-conditioner for the hot days ahead. And I’ve begun  working on the final revision of my book, Silver Morning Song.

About five years ago I started compiling this book of short stories and poems, including the poem above. My son-in-law, bless his dear heart, designed a lovely cover for it. Then leukemia came along and threw me into a completely different format. This spring I decided to revise the manuscript and include some new stories I’ve written since.

My book has been a back-burner thing since chemo treatment, while I was getting back onto my feet, then starting this new blog and doing some sewing for summer. But now it’s time to get Silver Morning Song propelled into circulation via that famous launching pad, CreateSpace.

Rik Hall of WildSeasFormatting.com has agreed to put my manuscript into e-book format and has the time right now, so I’d best get on it — and I’m quite excited at the prospect. Feels like this particular weed has finally broken through the pavement. 😉

Stay tuned for more details. And if you remember any stories or poems you’ve read here and think should be included in my book, please let me know in the comment box below.

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.”

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.

Since Jessie Died

by Edgar A. Guest

We understand a lot of things we never did before
and it seems that to each other Ma and I are meaning more.
I don’t know how to say it, but since little Jessie died
we have learned that to be happy we must travel side by side.
You can share your joys and pleasures, but you never come to know
the depth there is in loving ‘til you’ve got a common woe.

We’re past the hurt of fretting — we can talk about it now:
she slipped away so gently and the fever left her brow
so softly that we didn’t know we’d lost her, but instead
we thought her only sleeping as we watched beside her bed.
Then the doctor, I remember, raised his head as if to say
what his eyes had told already, and Ma fainted dead away.

Up to then I thought that money was the thing I ought to get
and I fancied, once I had it, I should never have to fret.
But I saw that I had wasted precious hours in seeking wealth;
I had made a tidy fortune, but I couldn’t buy her health.
And I saw this truth much clearer than I’d ever seen before:
that the rich man and the poor man have to let death through the door.

We’re not half so keen for money as one time we used to be;
I am thinking more of mother and she’s thinking more of me.
Now we spend more time together and I know we’re meaning more
to each other on life’s journey than we ever meant before.
It was hard to understand it! Oh the dreary nights we’ve cried!
But we’ve found the depth of loving since the day that Jessie died.

From his book, Just Folks
©1917 by the Reilly & Britton Co.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m doing something unusual today: publishing two posts back to back. I read an excellent post by fellow blogger Kathleen Duncan about what to say to someone who has lost a child, be it through a miscarriage, stillbirth, accident, disease, suicide, or crime. She’s given me permission to Reblog her post so I’ll do that next. I think it goes together well with this poem. one of my favorites from Edgar Guest.