Inquisitive

A Hearty Vintage

Our neighbor down the street’s a hoot
an early 30’s vintage,
witty, spry and curious
despite a little shrinkage.

She’s tasted drought and war and loss
no life of ease was given;
that hasn’t slowed her down a bit
she says life’s for the livin’.

Her husband was the sort to dwell
on everything that’s missing
and thought the world’s a sorry place,
while she claimed life’s for kissing.

She keeps track of the latest news
hears all the gossip cooking;
some folks say she’s seen it all
but she says she’s still looking.

She’ll Scrabble you with awesome words
at touring she’s a pro;
no lazy days in rocking chairs —
she’s off to Mexico.

Funny Hat Woman

🙂
I wrote this poem last Wednesday when the Ragtag Daily Prompt word was VINTAGE, but never got around to polish & post it.
Today I’ll be lazy, give this a tweak and post it as my response to the prompt from Your Daily Word: LAZY.

Passing Over Us

Silver Blue Day

Many-toned layer of clouds
envelope the sun this morning
shield it from the unrefined
eyes of rustics who beg
a display of its beauty.

Like a prince it rides in silver
and blue coach over the land,
not inclined to offer friendly
waves, not feeling to scatter
gold coins to peasants today.

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

 Daily Addictions prompt for July 18: REMOTE

Ragtag Daily Prompt word for today: CLOUDS

Poetry That’s OPEN

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word for today is OPEN

For some reason this started my mind down the trail toward the meaning of poems. You know how some poems are so open, it’s easy to follow the writer’s thinking? These are called ACCESSIBLE poems — I suppose because the reader can access the poet’s meaning.

Which, in my mind, is a great idea!

Once in awhile I come across a poem I simply can’t make heads or tails of. (Okay. That’s a cliché. I’m old-school.) I’d read the words over a few times and they seemed so random, like the poet jotted down whatever phrases came into his head re: a certain topic. They say this gives ample room for the reader’s interpretation, but I’m lazy that way. I don’t want to have to interpret — I want to understand. To each his own, I guess. (Another cliché?)

Anyway, I set out to write an example of an inaccessible poem, I fear I’ve failed? What do you think? Can you access the meaning in this poem?

Seagulls shrieking, swooping
above the sun-washed sands
where we stand awhile
dreaming among the swells
too bright, too bright.

This spot we claim today,
hope to see our future roll in—
with riches from a far land—
but the bank shifts beneath our feet
like the gulls can’t be restrained,
nor tamed, but drifts away
too soon, too soon!

Scores of scavengers hover,
searching out the debris
we leave behind when we go,
fragments exposed by erosion
we break and are broken on,
too sad, too sad!

The endless breakers wash over
the footprints we leave behind,
still we hurry through this world
of foamy dreams — this beach
we’re tossed upon but once —
too naive, too naive!

Book Review: The Nose Knows

A Bugle Boy Crime Caper (Duane & Bugle Boy Book 1)

by DeForest Day

Bugle Boy, a clever bloodhound pup, was put through the TSA Canine Training Center in San Antonio, TX, and graduated at the top of his class. He became part of the TSA airport security team, able to sniff out a many different narcotic and explosive substances on a baggage carousel.

However, Bugle Boy was not trained to distinguish between average citizens and politicians. So when he saw a man trying to slip past the security screening, Bugle Boy howled about it. And further, he notified his handler about an illegal drug he was sniffing in the man’s pants’ pocket. The fellow turned out to be a Republican congressman; he was outraged and demanded the handler be fired and the dog euthanized.

A higher-ranking security officer was called to deal with the complaint. Alas for the congressman, the officer was not only a stickler for the law, but a Democrat to boot. When he insisted on a strip search, the Republican congressman pulled a baggie of marijuana from his pocket and tossed it at him.

This was apparently legal, but not apt to be well tolerated should this revelation come to the ears of his rather conservative Idaho voters. Charges and counter-charges were quietly dropped. The politician did insist the hound be fired, but Bugle Boy was officially a Federal Civil Service employee and you can’t fire a civil servant without a public hearing — which was apt to adversely affect the senator’s popularity at the polls. So Bugle Boy found himself part of a package deal — a new SUV being the other part — shipped off to a tiny Pennsylvania town with a three-person police force.

Here he was partnered with Duane, a local cop who perhaps wasn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but did well at catching speeders. Bugle Boy’s bored after the excitement of a busy airport but when they get called to a shooting of sorts he finally gets his chance to sniff out some local excitement. Which gives the police chief some anxious moments in his campaign for re-election.

I enjoyed this story, a rather short one as novels go — Amazon says 42 pages. I liked the small-town setting and gentle spoof on local characters, politics and politicians. It was never uproariously funny, more like chuckles all through. The language is mild for the most part; there are a few expletives, off-color jokes and insinuations.

I got this e-book for free with the idea that I should write an honest review. If you’re interested in reading it, right now this first-in-the-series book is free on both Amazon and Kobo.

This book review is my response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt word: SPOOF

Rethinking the Woodpile

Firewood pile

Fandango’s challenge for today: ACCOMPLICE
Ragtag Community Daily prompt: GROOVE

Which brings to mind a short tale I once read, one that goes back to the days when every rural home had a wood stove in the kitchen, a tree stump that served as a chopping block for splitting logs, and a pile of firewood near the house for easy access in winter.

The Seventh-grade boys put their heads together at recess one afternoon. They were feeling kind of bored and wanted to think of something fun and different they could do sometime. Several ideas were advanced and vetoed.

Then someone offered the suggestion: “Why don’t we get together after dark some night over at old man Haskell’s place and play some trick on him.” This suggestion piqued the interest of the others.

‘Old man Haskell’ was their community’s equivalent of Oscar-the-Grouch. Living just out of town, gruff, abrupt, and somewhat crippled, he didn’t have a lot of patience for young boys. He grumbled when they cut through his yard to go fishing and if he saw them hanging around town he’d scold them for being idle. They should be working hard like he always had to, and so on.

At school the boys sometimes mimicked his mannerisms. Grabbing a stick for a cane, hunching over and hobbling along, they’d turn and scowl at the other boys just like old man Haskell would. They never let teacher catch them at this, though. Teachers were pretty strict about respecting your elders.

“But what trick could we play on old man Haskell? Upset his outhouse?”

“Nah,  that’s old hat. But I have an idea,” said Len. “Let’s un-stack his woodpile.”

The others looked at him curiously. “We can scatter his firewood all over his old yard,” Len explained. ” I think that would be a great trick to play on him. He’d have to pick it all up. That’d keep him busy for awhile and he wouldn’t have time to gripe at us.”

One of the other conspirators beamed. “Yeah, let’s! Wouldn’t that be fun – and serve him right for being such a grouch.”

The fourth conspirator, Rudy, scuffed his toe in the dirt. He didn’t really see the fun in tossing wood for hours, but did see possible consequences. “What if we get caught,” he asked. Much as he wanted to be part of the gang, it niggled at him how his dad would react if he heard this? Rudy had been taught to respect older folks and other folks’ property.

“It’ll be dark,” Len retorted. “Old man Haskell will never see us. And for sure he’ll never catch us — you know how slow he moves. What do you think, guys? Let’s meet in front of his place at nine tonight and have some real fun.”

That evening four boys crept away from their respective homes. Just after nine o’clock Len and his three accomplices slipped into Haskell’s yard and began tossing firewood off the pile. It became a game to see how far they could throw it. Still, there was an undercurrent of tension. They worked quietly, glancing often toward Haskell’s shack to see if the curtain moved or the door opened, though they knew he was hard of hearing.

With four pairs of hands working, the woodpile was soon scattered all over the yard. When they were done, Len rubbed his hands on his pants. “Okay. Let’s beat it, guys.”

“Won’t it be a joke when old man Haskell gets up in the morning and sees this mess? Wish I could be here to see his face. Ha ha!”

Rudy had been quiet most of the evening, his conscience stirring uneasily. He made his way home again, hoping he could slip in without his parents hearing him? But could he face his Dad in the morning? His dad was pretty sharp.

He tried to not make a sound but his father heard him come in and questioned why he’d been out so late on a school night? Rudy was evasive, but finally revealed the prank. “But old m…I mean Mr Haskell is such a grouch. We thought he deserved it.”

“Yes, Mr Haskell does seem cranky, but you boys don’t know what he’s been through in life and what he’s suffering now with his health issues. It’s going to be extremely painful for him to gather up all that wood and put that pile back together.”

Dad looked at him quietly for a few minutes and Rudy blushed under his silent disapproval. Suddenly Dad stood up. “So let’s us play a good prank now — and a joke on your school mates at the same time. Come on. Let’s get your brothers up.”

Dad called Rudy’s two brothers and he and his three accomplices went back to old man Haskell’s place. Working in the light of the moon for several hours, they not only put his woodpile back together, but stacked all the wood much closer to the house so he wouldn’t have so far to go to fetch his firewood come winter. They were enthused about the task and made good time once they got in the groove. When the job was done, they surveyed the neat yard and exchanged satisfied smiles. Near as they could tell, Mr Haskell never heard a thing.

“Now, boys,” Dad said, “Isn’t a prank like this a lot more fun than just making trouble for an old man? When Mr Haskell gets up in the morning and looks out, instead of seeing a huge mess he has to clean up, he’ll see his woodpile has moved twenty yards closer to his door.”

“Oh, yeah. Wish I could see his face when he gets a gander! That’ll be a neat joke,” Rudy’s younger brother said as they turned toward home again.

Rudy’s older brother nodded. “One he’ll appreciate right well, I reckon.”

Rudy grinned as he thought of Len’s reaction. “Len’s eyes are going to bulge right out of his head when he hears about this.”

“Let’s not tell anyone we did it though,” Dad cautioned. “Let them keep guessing who came here after they did.”

“That’ll be the best joke of all.” Rudy imagined the shock the other un-stackers would get when news got around. He knew Mr Haskell would never keep quiet about his walking woodpile.

Swallows and Sweet Rolls — A Different Morning

Hello Everyone.

Ive had an unusual morning, the hours dappled with duties and naps.

I allowed a vision of fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast to lure me from my bed at in the wee hours. I noticed some for sale Sunday evening where I bought my milk and the thought of fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls buzzed around my mind all day yesterday. When I woke up at 4am the temptation to have some for breakfast overcame sleep.

This lure had an ally in our overflowing laundry hamper. I imagined having a couple of loads done and dried before the day got hot — a pleasant thought. Here in central Sask the air ALWAYS cools off overnight, a real blessing in the hottest summer days. By noon the trailer where we reside is toasty, being in the sunshine, un-dappled by overshadowing leaves. So it takes a fair bit to keep the place comfortable. Plus you don’t want to add to the indoor humidity by drying clothes. The earlier in the morning I can do the laundry, the better for us.

Upshot: by 4:30 am my bun dough was rising in the oven and a load of laundry was chugging away. I let the cat out, left the door open, and stood on our deck enjoying the fresh morning air. But a few minutes later the male barn swallow swooped past several times, quite close, twittering frantically. It’s rare he’d get that close; something must be disturbing him.

One thing about swallows: they know who their friends are. I find them friendly birds; if you pay them quiet, kind attention they learn to trust you — and will even come to you for help. I’ve observed different times when something is amiss, they fly almost by my nose, pleading for help in their own way. At the Villa one time a pair sat on a post right by the door, twittering in distress when a pair of English sparrows — a thousand curses on the species! — were invading their nest. Here, too, the swallows swooped around us to enlist our aid when those wretched sparrows stole their nest. You can’t mistake their little cries of “Help! Help!”

So I grabbed some shoes and went out to check their nest to see a cat or some other bird got into the building where they nest. Thankfully they’ve chosen a secure place. But there were several magpies — notorious nest-robbers — nearby in the back yard. Must have been what was bothering him; I chased them off and never heard anything more from the swallow.

Some people say barn swallows are so defensive they’ll attack people who come too near their nests. I haven’t found them that way. Or the birds here on the prairie haven’t learned to fear people? I go check their nest frequently these days to see if the little ones are cheeping yet and my presence distresses the parent birds a bit; they flap around some, but they’ve never dived at me. And it’s so sweet to see the little ones peeping out at you!

Anyway, the dough was rising, the laundry washing, the swallows settled, and I was free to check out the daily one-word prompts other bloggers have so kindly provided. I chose to use the following in this tale:

Daily Addictions: RESIDENT
Fandango’s FOWC: LESSEN
Ragtag Daily Prompt: DAPPLED
Word of the Day: DEVIATE
Scott’s Daily Prompt: PACKAGE

However, when you deviate from the tried and true, the normal routine — okay, I don’t exactly HAVE a normal routine, but for the purpose of this tale — you sooner or later have to make a course correction that will bring you back into the program again. If you lessen your hours of sleep in favor of sweet rolls and clean laundry, by 8 am when you’re ready to sit down and reply to the daily prompts as you usually would at this time, your eyelids become heavy and you start to nod off.

So I had a short nap and woke up in time to bake my buns. Which turned out very well. Wish I could send along a waft of cinnamon for you as you read this post.

By 8:30 am the buns were cooling on the counter and the second load was drying. Sweet!

I had an errand to do at the Villa, the seniors’ residence where I occasionally cook, so I packaged up half a dozen cinnamon rolls and took them along in case today’s cook might like to use them. I found one elderly gentleman walking down the hall and gave him a couple for his breakfast. did some sorting of recipes after I got home; I’d noticed quite a few in my Recipe box that I never use. “As you get older your tastes change”, they say. Truth is, as you get older you’re lean toward the old familiars.

Around 10 am I sat down to read, but soon fell asleep. As I said, less hours of sleep can play havoc with your schedule, but I think I’m awake now. I’ll reply to these prompt words, then I want to bake cookies.

Another deviation from routine: our church is holding Summer Vacation Bible School every evening this week and I’ve put my name down to supply four dozen cookies for tonight’s refreshment break. I’ll take my package of cookies over to church this afternoon when my husband gets home from his one-day-a-week book-keeping job in a nearly town.

Ah, I just got a pop-up from WordPress, offering to help me install a payment button! Hmm… You all know that you’re welcome to donate anytime, right? 🙂

Have a great day everyone.

Letter from the Tropics

This letter is my response to various one-word challenges for today.

Beach scene

Dear Mom & Dad,

Not much doing here this evening so I thought I’d write you a letter — by battery-powered lamp-light, if you can believe it. My room-mate’s doing exercises to burn off the calories from last night’s feast. We were supposed to be lying on the beach enjoying a sunlit sea but they can’t schedule the weather here anymore than we can at home. Good thing our hotel puts a couple these lamps in every room. Now if only the air-conditioning would work!

Hope you like the postcard I’ve enclosed. Yesterday at the market I bought a bunch to send back to the folks at work with the usual, “Wish you were here.” Now I’m debating: should I leave them to envy me, thinking I’m having a wonderful trip? Or should I tell them the truth: we’re in the grip of a tropical deluge, wind and rain like you wouldn’t believe! And no power. 😦

Hurricane

There’s a beautiful sandy beach in front of our hotel just like you see in this photo — at least it was there yesterday — but it’s been evacuated because of the storm and the huge breakers rolling in. Hopefully the sand will still be there when this storm ends, not all washed out to sea.

The power went out at noon. You’ll be thinking, surely the hotel has generators? Yes, and the management got them running within half an hour. But by 2pm they ran out of gas. The shortage was investigated and we heard the janitor’s assistant was sacked when management found out he’s been selling gallons of gas to his poor relatives on the sly. They’ve ordered a delivery of more gas, but it hasn’t arrived yet, so we’re sweltering in this heat and humidity. Oppressive, our Prof says, for lack of a longer word.

You’ll see I’ve picked a postcard with the quintessential beach scene. Prof’s word for today. I told you in my last letter about Professor Hoffmeyer, one of the men who bought this holiday package deal. Of course we call him Prof-meyer. A lover of big words. “Oxford-educated and he can’t speak English,” Kyle says.

Kyle and Caylee are a young couple from Philadelphia. I doubt either of them is more than eighteen. Kyle has Grade Eight, he says, but I’m sure it’s only because teachers can’t fail anyone nowadays. Grew up dirt poor in some tenement slum — been together for a couple of years now. Two months ago they happened to pick the lucky ticket and won a two-million dollar lottery. Wonders never cease.

First thing Kyle did was buy Caylee an engagement ring. You should see that rock! They’re planning to tie the knot at some special place on this tour.

Of course as soon as their relatives heard the news, they all came to “borrow a bit” for some sudden emergency, so K & C knew they’d better make themselves scarce or friends and needy relations would bleed them dry. Smart move. A tropical holiday may not have been their best first choice but family can’t follow them here and we’re trying to help them acquire some dollar-and-sense smarts.

They seem like good kids, really. They’re ready to spend, but we plead with them to be careful. It’s amazing how fast money can disappear and none of us wants to see them flat broke a few years from now. One of the men on this tour is a retired banker and he’s taken them under his wing, giving some fatherly financial advice — something they’ve likely never had in their lives. The important thing is, they’re listening and learning.

Anyway, they don’t see eye to eye — or should I say tongue to tongue? — with Prof-meyer’s highbrow English. He means well, but he just can’t talk in one-syllable words. Yesterday when we hit the local outdoor market — where I bought this postcard, by the way — Prof looked over the scene and exclaimed, “Ah, the quintessential local market!” Kyle looked blank for a moment, then said, “It looks pretty typical to me. We have these in Philly, too.”

The rest of us grinned and adopted “quintessential” as our new buzzword of the day. We’re making a game of sticking it in wherever we can. And once we got our money changed to the local currency, Prof-meyer announced that he was going to “sally forth to acquire the accouterments of the typical tourist.” (Accouterments will have to be our word tomorrow.)

Kyle was stumped for a bit, then said, “Not us. We’re just gonna buy some stuff to show the folks back home where we been.”

“Be very careful, kids,” Prof warned them. “Folks here aren’t very conscientious with the truth about market prices.”

Kyle and Caylee looked blank until another tourist whispered, “He means they’re apt to fleece you if you don’t watch it.”

“Oh, that I understand,” Kyle told him. “We’ll be careful.”

Of course, before long we were surrounded by the quintessential haggling merchants and starving waifs begging coins, with the quintessential ‘Artful Dodger’ mixed in. And the usual gregarious sorts wanting to welcome you to their island with a hearty embrace while an accomplice slips your wallet out of your pocket. Prof lost his, but it held nothing of special value. Guess he’s traveled a lot in his day.

As we were leaving the church bells started ringing and Prof-meyer started spouting about the felicitous tintinnabulation. A few of us who heard him rolled our eyes and shook our heads. My roommate and I were behind Kyle and Caylee and heard him whisper to her that ‘Tabulation means counting, my math teacher told me once. So I think the Prof’s wanting to count the ting-ting-ting of the bells.” That gave us a chuckle.

Hey. The lights just came back on! The fuel truck must have made it through. Good thing, because they say this storm is supposed to last all through tomorrow as well. SIGH! So much for our tropical holiday — “palm trees waving in the breeze,” etc.

Anyway, I hope you’re having a good week. Wish you were here. 🙂

Love from your drenched daughter,
Contessa

Fandango’s FOWC:  QUINTESSENTIAL
RAGTAG Daily Prompt:  EMBRACE
Your Daily Word:  TINTINNABULATION
Word of the Day:  GREGARIOUS
Daily Addictions prompt: PLEAD