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.”

Curiosity

Curiosity quote

On April 1st, 1899, thirteen-year-old Christina Young recorded the following in her diary:

Sara Murphy and I came near catching it today. She is one of my chums, but she lives one and a half miles from here. We sit together in school.

The teacher was standing with his back to our seat and we were seeing how close we could come to his back with a pin without his knowing it. Sara had the pin almost through his coat, and I didn’t hardly know I was going to do it, but all of a sudden I gave her arm a shove.

The teacher jumped about a foot high, and turned around and brought his strap down BANG on the desk. We were pretty scared, but he just looked at us pretty sharp for a minute, and then turned around quick and didn’t do a thing to us. We behaved after that.

 

Character-Building Coffee

Back when I worked at Fabricland, I happened to be the first one into the lunch room one morning so I made the coffee. As my co-workers drifted in and sampled it, their eyes popped open and they made remarks about the potency of my brew. When one of the managers commented about how strong it was, I told her I was going to follow the Canadian government’s advice.

“My coffee isn’t strong, it’s character-building.”

At the beginning of the 1900s the Canadian government had this vast tract of prairie land newly-opened up and they wanted it settled. But there were some issues. The present homesteaders were telling the folks back in the Old Country just how severe the winters were and how dry the prairies tended to be in summer. Hard to grow anything. A challenge to survive the winters.

“We can’t have this kind of talk,” the Dept. of Immigration decided. “Farmers will never be enticed to the area if reports like this circulate.”

The ad men of the day rose to the challenge. All hints of a cold,  dry climate were banned from Govt of Canada information brochures, distributed liberally in Europe to lure settlers to Saskatchewan and Alberta. Promoters were encouraged to substitute words that held more appeal. The climate of the “Northwest Territories” became invigorating and character-building; the severe winter winds were now bracing and great for the promotion of general good health. You could be a manly man in western Canada!

Our temperature this morning, -29 C, would be great for character building except that we’re wimping out and staying in the house where it’s warm. We’re very thankful we don’t have to hitch up our team of horses, drive ten miles to the river and chip through eight inches of solid ice to draw water. We actually thought it was a bit of a hardship when the back door lock was frozen this morning so we couldn’t open the door. Practicing prairie ingenuity, my husband defrosted the lock with my hair dryer.

Anyway, if my coffee pops my guests’ eyes open nowadays, I give the matter a positive slant: this is a rich, fervent brew. Invigorating and character-building, like our climate. Still, my coffee can’t stand up beside the pot a fellow who worked with a friend used to make.

How to Make A REALLY Aggressive Pot of Coffee

My coworkers grumbled about MY strong coffee and I used only about ½ cup of grounds. A friend was telling us about the way his coworker made coffee — if he got to the office coffee-maker first. (I understand his fellow office workers did their best to prevent that from happening. 😉 )

Here’s how he did it:
For a ten-cup coffee maker: put the little white paper filter into the basket as usual, then fill it level full with fresh coffee grounds (about 1¼ cups). Add the ten cups of water to the chamber and hit the ON switch. Dark, rich coffee will flow into the carafe. Full-bodied, you might say. (When your body is full of it your eyes will open wide.)

Try it sometime and let me know if your coworkers and guests find it invigorating.

Coffee

Bean me up, friend!

 

Janey’s Future

Time for another Friday Fictioneers tale and as usual, I can’t resist putting in my hundred words worth. In spite of the fact that Sandra Crook has donated the photo of a friendly looking old tree, there’s been murder and mayhem, death and accident in a number of tales this week. (Oh, and one hugging tree. Trust Eric to squeeze his alien in somehow. 😉 )

This Charge of the Write Brigade is being commanded as usual by Major Wisoff-Fields, DFFA, ATP. If you’d like to contribute your own tale hop over to her blog and click the Blue Frog, which will morph into a trusty charger on which you can ride into the fray.

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

JANEY’S FUTURE

“Wish he’d listened. Ditched that rotten ladder!”

Janey stared at the tree. “Chan never was one for taking advice.”

I looked around. “Can you run this place alone?” With two tykes and another due soon? Dumb, but what do you say?

She shook her head, overwhelmed. “I should sell.”

I reached for her arm. “I got an idea… You been a good wife to Chan, Janey…and a good mom. He was so lucky. I know I’m some younger than you, but…do you think…”

She considered me awhile; my heart pounded something awful.

Her eyes sparkled. “Yeah. I think.”

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

Historical fact:
It wasn’t a park but a prairie homestead, and the suddenly widowed Mary was riding home from her husband’s funeral with her single brother-in-law, who also lived on the farm. Seeing her desperate situation, he proposed marriage. She saw the wisdom in this; in those days he couldn’t stay helping her on the farm without raising a LOT of gossip. So they turned the team around, headed back to town, and found the preacher. Tough times call for some quick decisions.

Personal note:
I’m putting the finishing touches on a pdf of my book, Silver Morning Song, and would like to give some away in exchange for some honest feedback. (And hopefully generate a few reviews on Amazon or Kobo.) If you’re interested and have the time, please let me know. I can send pdf, mobi, or epub.

Silver Morning Song is a collection of poems and short stories that consider the delightful world around us and the trials of home and family as well as Christian life. In a voice sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, in short stories and parables, the writer tells of folks facing issues, decisions and temptations. These are interspersed with accessible poetic descriptions of the natural world and the changing seasons.

Book Review: Tangled in Time

TANGLED IN TIME

Miss Main Street Book 1
By Angela Castillo

Although the book description hints at a mystery, I found no suspense and not much tension anywhere in the story. The pace is day-by-day leisurely with lots of setting details. Romance isn’t the main focus of the book, either. I see this more as chick-lit or general fiction with a romantic interest and elements of Christian fiction.

The main character, Darcy, has inherited her grandmother’s antique store in Wimber, Texas, and is determined to make it a viable business. There first few chapters are full of description, as recalls past summer holidays here, settles into her new property and prepares for opening day. Thoughts about God, his plan, a scripture verse and/or prayer are mentioned now and then.

Mention is also made occasionally of her grandmother’s secret closet and Darcy’s determined to open it and discover the contents; I guess this is the mystery angle. Another is the annoying town merchant who causes trouble and worry to the new owner. But why? Plus Darcy has the general stress of getting her store up and running and dealing with past and present love interests.

I think she comes across as wimpy when she’s avoids breaking up with her LA boyfriend. She thinks “It’s over” and he should realize it, yet she doesn’t voice her thoughts, dodges the unpleasant good-bye, ignores his calls, then sends him a “break-up text.” When he shows up wanting to know what gives, she thinks he’s self-absorbed and rude — labels that could apply to her behavior as well at this point. However, all we learn about the men in the story is through her feelings about them. This is what makes me think chick-lit: events are told only through her eyes; no other perspectives are given.

The book is well written and edited; I found only three minor typos. As a bonus, this book brings to light some interesting Texas history. The story flows along smoothly, if rather slowly — which suits the small-town feel — and the conclusion is satisfying. It’s light, clean reading for those who don’t want a lot of drama, terror, or sexual details.

I was given a free copy of this book from the Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

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.”

“Going to the Dogs”

Today my mind has been tumbling bits and pieces of the latest news and all the implications, real or imagined, for our world today. A rather unprofitable pursuit, since my mulling makes not a speck of difference in the grand scheme of things.

But we do hear news that disturbs us. Then my mind went back to a song recorded in 1965, “The Eve of Destruction,” and I had to smile just a bit. We were in the Cold War years and someone pushing the button and wiping the world out with atomic warfare was everyone’s dread.

Back 52 years ago. Around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nam war, the KGB. We lived through all of that. We here in Canada lived through the Quebec Referendum and were not split into two nations. Then the world survived Y2K. About the time we thought things were going well 9/11 hit us all pretty hard. Air traffic around the world was frozen and we in the Western world wondered what would come next. Now President Trump is leading the US and I gather from recent reports that we’re on the Eve of Destruction again.

Yes, we’re facing serious matters one doesn’t want to take lightly, but I did think of this little poem. It pulled my mind out of the whirlpool of dark thoughts, so I decided to post it, hoping it will give someone else a glimmer of hope.

GOING TO THE DOGS

My grandad, viewing earth’s worn clogs,
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in his house of logs,
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in the Flemish bogs
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in his old skin togs
said things were going to the dogs.
There’s one thing that I have to state:
the dogs have had a good long wait.

Author Unknown

Dog worried.jpg