A Basketful of Bargains

A Basketful of Bargains
Life on Victoria Square #2

by Lorraine Bartlett

The book blurb says:
Iris Drake is an odd duck. She knows everyone at Artisans Alley arts-and-crafts arcade, but nobody knows her. When she walks into Gilda’s Gourmet Basket on Victoria Square, she’s a stranger there, too—but not for long. Yet she hasn’t to come to Gilda to buy her wares—she’s there to sell some of her own. All goes well until Iris’s secret is exposed. Should Gilda step in to make things right, or walk away from an unpleasant situation?

My opinion:
I just finished reading this neat little novella. Listed as 33 pages, it’s a quick read and well worth the effort. An inspiring story of the merchant who takes note of and befriends this strange lady with no money to spend and seemingly nowhere else to go. Totally out-of-date fashion-wise, it’s obvious Iris needs a friend. One day an incident in the store reveals why Iris seems so distant.

Advertisements

Never Mess With A Wooden Leg

The Young Entrepreneur

Al had been enjoying the park scenes for awhile and now sat down on a bench in the shade with his magazine. He relaxed and stretched out his two legs — one real and one wooden. He noted that his one sock had slid down, so he bent over to pull it up, pulling up that pant leg in the process.

A young boy, walking past right then, came to a sudden stop and stared at the funny-looking leg. Al chuckled to himself; his wooden leg had attracted the interest of many a child over the years. Most adults were too polite to stare outright, call attention to the odd appendage, or ask questions that might embarrass him, but not the boys he met.

This one couldn’t resist, either. “Hey Mister, why does your leg look so funny? Is it real?”

“Nah. It’s a wooden leg.”

“Really!” The youngster moved closer. “Does it work just like a real one?”

“Pretty much, if I’m careful how I stand on it and move it.”

Al rolled up his pant leg as far as he could and the boy came very close. Al guessed him to be about eight, just the age to be curious about everything.

The boy inspected Al’s leg for a minute, then reached out and gave it a little knock. “Does that hurt?”

Al grinned. “Not at all.”

The two of them exchanged a few more pleasantries about walking on wooden legs, then the boy turned around and dashed off. Al went back to reading his magazine. But before long the boy was back, leading several other, mostly younger children.

“Hey Mister, can you show me your wooden leg again?”

Al frowned. He didn’t particularly feel like being a circus side show. “You’ve seen it once. That’s enough.”

“Awww… can’t you show me again. Please. My friends want to see it.”

“I think you should just run along and play with your friends now.”

One of the younger children started to wail. “You promised! You owe me a quarter.”

“I want mine back, too,” another boy grumbled.

Al looked over his magazine and began to listen to this exchange.

One little girl marched up to the boy and glared.“Yeah, Fred.” She waved her finger in his face. “You promised and if you can’t get him do it, you need to give all of us our quarters back.”

Al leaned toward the delinquent Fred. “What’s going on here? Why did you take their quarters?”

“Please, Mister, can’t you just show us your wooden leg. I, uh, promised them you would.”

The assertive little miss piped up. “He charged us a quarter each to see it.”

Fred seemed sulky at the prospect of refunding his fee. “Can’t you show it to us for just a minute. Pretty please,” he wheedled.

“No! Now beat it or I’ll kick you with it!”

The thought of being kicked by a wooden leg was enough to send all of them running. “Kids!” Al grumbled as he went back to reading his magazine. But a minute later he chuckled. “That boy will probably go far in the business world.”

Al Capp, creator of the comic strip, Li’l Abner, lost his leg in an accident when he was still a boy. Going through life with a wooden leg led to some interesting situations, including this one. This story would be classed as creative non-fiction, something he related with a chuckle in an interview sometime in his later years.

Committed to Optimism

Arthur Tennyson, brother of the famous poet Alfred, developed cataracts in his later years and gradually went blind as a result. Nevertheless, his determination to look on the bright side was an inspiration to those who knew him. Discussing his loss of vision with a friend one day he said, “God has sent me to His night school.”

Arthur lived to be 85 and, though his sight was gone, he used his other senses to observe his surroundings. He was enjoying a walk one spring morning when he met up with a friend, to whom he expressed how excited he was by all the joys of spring he could hear and feel around him.

Modern medicine has done wonders to increase the pleasure of our older years, but nothing beats a positive outlook.

Summer Children

children balloons

THE SUMMER CHILDREN

by Edgar Guest

I like ’em in the winter when their cheeks are slightly pale,
I like ’em in the spring time when the March winds blow a gale;
But when summer suns have tanned ’em and they’re racing to and fro’,
I somehow think the children make the finest sort of show.

When they’re brown as little berries and they’re bare of foot and head,
And they’re on the go each minute where the velvet lawns are spread,
Then their health is at its finest and they never stop to rest,
Oh, it’s then I think the children look and are their very best.

We’ve got to know the winter and we’ve got to know the spring,
But for children, could I do it, unto summer I would cling;
For I’m happiest when I see ’em, as a wild and merry band
Of healthy, lusty youngsters that the summer sun has tanned.

Life Goes On

It’s time for another Friday Fictioneers prompt. Many thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, for hosting our group and choosing our prompts, and thanks to Roger Bulltot for this picture he has submitted, the ruins of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital.

I thought of life-and-death battles fought here. Smallpox has been subdued but now cancer is the dreaded foe. Tuesday we attended the funeral of a grandfather who fought a battle with leukemia (CML) and yesterday I made an appointment to have my blood counts checked again. My muse, awash in a wave of blue, delivered this 100-word tale. I hesitated to post it as my F.F. response, but hope you’ll tell me if it sounds too melodramatic or soppy.

NOTE: All photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only, and should not be used for any other purpose without express permission. 

LIFE GOES ON

Contemporary fiction

“Thanks for bringing me to this peaceful spot. Let’s stop awhile. You’re tired of pushing me.”

“Never!” Pearl braked the wheelchair and kissed Grandma’s cheek.

“See those doves nesting up there. The people have passed yet life goes on here. That comforts me. You grandchildren will find mates, build your nests and our family will continue on.

“Let’s not…”

“I’ve been so privileged to see you all grow up, now I get to enjoy these goodbye days. So many don’t.”

Pearl’s eyes teared up. “Don’t give up, Grandma. Another round of chemo…”

“Take me home now, dear. I want to rest.”

Stroke of Bad Luck

Levi groaned and shifted in bed. Groggily he opened his eyes. Man, the light hurt! Then he was jolted awake by the realization that someone was lying beside him.

He turned to see who it was and his eyes opened wide. Who was SHE? He sat up and looked around the strange room. Was he drunk? Why did his head feel so funny? He rubbed his face with his hands and noticed…a wedding ring!

Whoever she was sat up and kissed his cheek. “Morning, love.”

He rolled out of bed and stood, gripping the corner of a dresser. His glance fell on a studio photo, a wedding picture. Him and her. When? Why couldn’t he remember? He touched the picture. “Uh, how long have we been…married?”

He heard a little gasp. “It was two years last month. Levi, are you okay? Is your headache worse?”

“Headache?” he echoed and shook his head.

“You went to bed with a headache last night, remember?”

He felt no pain now but something wasn’t right. Nothing in the room looked familiar. He eyed the picture. At least he’d picked a pretty wife. Her voice was nice, too. What was her name?

He glanced out the window and the whiteness startled him. “It’s winter!”

“Maybe you should lie down again, Honey.” She sounded hesitant, worried.

Carefully he turned toward her. “My parents? Where are they? I need to see them.” Were they even still alive?

“Dad will be leaving for work about now, but Mom’ll be there at home.” She stood up and looked at him, her dark eyes reflecting her fear. “Sure. Let’s go see her. And maybe you should see a doctor, too?” She grabbed a robe and left the room.

Levi found the bathroom and had a shower. Then he hunted through dresser drawers to find clothes. He picked out some familiar ones and put them on.

When he found his way to the kitchen later he saw a laptop on the table, open to a screen headed “Signs of Stroke.” He pondered that word. Is that what had happened to him?

Writer’s note:

The dialogue is fiction, but a friend told me about a 30-year-old neighbour of hers who had a stroke in the night and five years of his life’s memory banks were completely wiped out. Not only had he gotten married a couple of years before and bought a little house, but he’d also started a business. Life can hand you a real whammy sometimes.

Enlightening Book On Depression

BOOK REVIEW:

How Hard It Really Is: A Short Honest Book About Depression
by J. S. Park

This book was written for folks who are seeking answers about this major problem. it’s for those wrestling with depression themselves and for those who want to understand what the sufferer is going through.

Pastor Park isn’t preachy; he offers no pat answers. No “Trust God, have more faith, count your blessings.” No “Think positive, just cheer up.”  No “This vitamin formula, yoga position, or new drug on the market will cure you in no time.” In fact, these pat answers make him angry because they tend to add yet more mental anguish to the sufferer. He knows. He’s been there.

“My hope here is to give a voice to those who have been depressed so they can share in their own words what they have found helpful and what they have definitely not.”

You’ll read about others — even doctors — who’ve been in, or are in, the same battle. Knowing you’re not alone can give you courage. Knowing that winning is possible is empowering. Seeing how others have climbed out of the darkness can give you courage to keep trying.

If you have a loved one who is dealing with this issue and you want a little better picture of the enemy, this book will definitely clarify some muddy waters.

The best thing we can offer each other is…our set of experiences, our voices, our ears, so that the tunnel is less intimidating and the light is not as distant as it was… It’s in sharing what we go through that we are empowered to make it through together.

The first few chapters contain a lot of basic facts; I found it rather heavy reading. This is where the writer discusses some theories behind depression, past and present, and different approaches that have been adopted in treating it.

I found the later chapters the most engaging, where he shares his own experience of being knocked for a loop, the treatments he tried, the help he found, the friends who stood beside him and made a difference, the way he finally managed to climb back out of the deep well he was in.

Sometimes there are obvious social and economic factors that trigger depression, but the writer also tells how suddenly it can hit a person:

“(It can be) …a simple punch in the face with no complex reasons, no social complexities, no biological build-up — just a sudden shock to the system. Depression can occur by a crisis event or situation and, like a face-punch, will spin you around and leave you surprised and reeling.”

He discusses the role culture plays in how we talk about and deal with this affliction. Is depression only “the white man’s disease” as some cultures say?

The section I’m Here gives some valuable tips on how we can reach out to a friend who’s struggling with depression. It’s a lot easier than you think. One thought that really impressed me: we don’t need to grab a microphone and make a rousing speech or say just the right thing to get this person through the darkness. Rather we need to give the depressed person the mike and listen. Let him share what he’s going through and how he feels. To be there is often the best gift a friend can give.

“Something powerful happens when we reach across the dark…
Fear starts to shrivel the moment it is exposed.”

The section, Who Am I Without You? deals with being so dependent on the approval of others that we crash at the smallest hint of rejection. The writer urges us to get to know ourselves, our own likes and wants. How necessary it is to stop being a people-pleaser — needing, clinging, then devastated when they feel suffocated and walk away. He tells how he learned to love others more and need them less.

In the last chapter, Elijah, By Bread and Water, he relates the account of the Biblical prophet Elijah, who had his greatest victory on Mount Carmel — followed by a vicious threat to his life that knocked him right into the cesspool of depression. Pastor Park shows us the gentle method God used to pick Elijah up and set him on his feet again, an inspiring story.

“(God) is bigger than your situation and closer than your deepest hurt. He’s not mad. He is cheering for you and rooting for you this very second. He’s okay about all the things before. He sent His Son for that very reason.”

The book’s Appendix lists different treatments for depression and hot-lines readers can call to get help or a listening ear when needed.

Amazon US Link

☆☆☆☆☆
5 stars from me.