With A Few Repairs

The Ragtag daily prompt this morning was VACANT
And the Word of the Day challenge was OCEAN

Here’s my response:

With A Few Repairs

“Now this second property, as I said, is more in the price range you’re looking at. At least, I’m pretty sure if you make the owner an offer, he’ll seriously consider it. I assure you it’s structurally sound, but it has been vacant for a few years and needs a little work to bring it up to par.”

house-3039127_640

The salesman waited for the young couple to recover from their initial impression before launching into his sales pitch. “I’m sure you’re thinking it looks a little run down, but the repairs needed are simply cosmetic, replacing windows, flooring, wallpaper, and so forth. The beams are in good shape, floors are level, doors and windows all hang straight.”

He pointed up. “The roof has no major leaks and shouldn’t need replacing for a few years yet. As you can see, the outdoors needs serious work done, but I can see you’re an ambitious young couple; you’ll soon have things under control. Considering the size of this property, in time you could have a lovely flower garden surrounding the house: roses, hedges, fruit trees, flower beds. Can’t you just picture it? For, say, $300 grand?”

He glanced at the young couple to see if they were buying the dream. Their mouths had dropped open and their eyes were glazed. He’d better try another angle. “There’s one more really great feature of this property: you’ll get an amazing view of the ocean within walking distance. See the trail that goes over that hill.” He pointed toward it. “Just a kilometer farther along it ends beside a little bay. I can assure you that the view is spectacular, especially at sunset.”

“Is there a dock,” the wife asked. “Could we keep a boat there for our use?”

“Err… well… I imagine you could, though you might have to be careful launching it. There are a few rocks in the bay.”

Sunset.bay

The young couple wandered over to the house and he gave them a few minutes to consider it. “So what do you think? Does this look like a project you’d enjoy?” He tried to keep his tone neutral. “As I said, it is in your price range. Or shall we look at the third property that’s a possibility?”

The couple exchanged a silent look and the husband finally spoke. “Perhaps we should check into how much money we’ll can afford to spend on repairs before make an offer. We, uh, weren’t expecting real estate to, uh, involve quite so much work. Our jobs, you know. How much time can we spare?”

“Well, everything costs money these days. The more you can do yourselves, the more you save, but you can have a contractor take a look and give you an idea.”

“Yes.” The wife sounded relieved. “Excellent idea! We’ll definitely think about all this.”

The realtor sighed as the couple walked back to his car. He could read them like a billboard: no way were they buying this place. Like everybody else, they wanted a fully-finished property for the price of a fixer. Just as well they didn’t see the bay.

He glanced back at the house one last time. Would he ever find anyone who’d take this derelict off his great-uncle Norman’s hands?

Constable About

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was MICROCOSM

This is a word I’ve never really understood and never used—I find it hard enough to spell — but I dutifully checked it and came up with “a miniature representation” of a greater thing, “a little world” unto itself that typifies a greater society, or  “a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger one.” (The last being from Merriam-Webster.)

I suppose you could say that “Amazon authors are a microcosm of writers the world over.” And I hope I’m using it rightly in the following example.

I’ve started reading another of Nicholas Rhea’s “Constable” books. I read this delightful series twenty years ago, when Bob’s mom lived with us. I borrowed them for her, along with the Miss Read books, from the local library. Simple fiction stories divided into cases or incidents, replete with amusing, mild and friendly characters, though some are a trial to the poor constable and his colleagues.

The Yorkshire village where Constable Nick Rhea lived and worked was a microcosm of village life in counties all across England in the 40s and 50s. There are a number of books in this series, which, I understand, was made into a British TV series in the 60s:
Constable Goes to Market
Constable on the Prowl
Constable Over the Style
Constable Versus Greengrass (An amiable “opportunist”, poacher & general layabout)
Constable at the Dam
Constable Under the Gooseberry Bush
And more

Prize-winning gooseberry bushes that must be protected feature first in the Constable in the Dale book I’m reading now. This is followed by the vicar’s successful, if sometimes embarrassing, porker-producing enterprise starring the lovely “White Lily.”

If you like a touch of rural England that’s both nostalgic and a great picture of human nature, do check out these books. I’m delighted to discover that the e-book versions are all free on Kindle Unlimited.

The Travels of Two Fleas

Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is PONDER
Word of the Day challenge is ZERO
Daily Addictions prompt word: TROPICAL

And here’s my response, a just-for-fun tale…

THE TRAVELS OF TWO FLEAS

Two fleas went hopping on a mat,
having disembarked the cat
to have a moment out-of-fur
and once escape that thunderous purr.

Their tropical resort gets hot,
with itchy dandruff and whatnot;
sometimes they hunger for fresh air,
to see the world outside that hair,
so they opt for a walkabout.
The mat gives them a good workout.

Some minutes pass; their wandering zeal
is quenched by urge to have a meal
and so they seek their host again —
but puss has moved along by then
which leaves them with an unfilled yen.

And worse! The housekeeper now sees,
has zero tolerance for fleas,
so scoops the mat up from the floor
and shakes it harshly out the door.
They tumble off into the grass
and land together in a mass.

They sort themselves and find some shade
behind the thickest grassy blade
to soothe their bruised elbows and knees
and ponder life’s uncertainties.
So now two fleas hide in the grass
in hopes that some new host will pass.

Faces

Faces

The Ragtag daily prompt this morning was THINGS WITH FACES.

An intriguing prompt! I’ve turned it over in my mind, thinking of the many objects that have — or could have — faces. Toys…pictures…paintings…book covers… AH!

What better place to find faces than in a book store or library? As you walk in the door you’re greeted with numerous book covers set on display to entice you. And in the library there are many magazines with faces from the current news, sports and Hollywood looking back at you.

Wander into Adult fiction section. Have you noticed that it’s uncommon in our day to find actual faces; for some reason the current fad in book covers seems to be someone walking away.

The Girl from Ballymor

In the mystery and thriller section and you may find classics like Hercule Poirot detecting on the Orient Express. In recently published books you still find a few faces peeking at you.

I'll Walk Alone: A Novel by [Clark, Mary Higgins]

Check out the romance section and you’ll see the faces of sweethearts — and dozens of millionaire bachelors of all shades — looking back at you hopefully, wistfully, defiantly. What is it with millionaire bachelors nowadays that they’re swamping the romance section? Albeit a good catch.

Her Awkward Blind Date with the Billionaire (Billionaire Bachelor Cove) by [McConnell, Lucy]

In the History and Biography aisles you’re apt to see faces you recognize instantly.

King.Gordon Johnson.png
Gordon Johnson – Pixabay
non-violence-1158316_640
John Hain – Pixabay

Cookbooks often have the cook’s face smiling at you, holding their latest culinary masterpiece.

The section for teens features a selection of ordinary faces, high-school types trying to navigate the problems of today, plus the graphically rendered faces of superheroes and the gruesome spectres of vampires, zombies, etc.

ZSA teen sad

In the children’s section, especially among the old favourites, you’ll see rather unusual faces.

MaryP.ChaminaGallery
Chamina Gallery – Pixabay
Lion.Oberhoster Venita
Venita Oberholster – Pixabay

Flip the books over and read the back cover blurbs, where you’ll usually see the face of the writers, hoping with all their hearts you’ll get hooked on their books and read — or better yet buy — everything they write.

Stroll up to the archives and you’ll see the face of anyone who’s ever been someone in your area.

Yes, libraries and books stores are great places to find faces new and old.

The Irascible Agatha Raisin

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener
Agatha Raisin Mystery series #3

By M C Beaton

I read the first book in the Agatha Raisin Mystery series, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, and one other short story tacked onto that one. Now I’ve finished the third book in the series and have had my fill. Actually, though I hate to quit before the end of any book, I was ready to toss this one several times before I discovered whodunit.

The setting in interesting; the plotting, pacing and writing are excellent, but the main character is so disagreeable. Back in London she was a hard-nosed — and pretty much friendless — business owner and she carries this personality into her retirement years. She may want to make friends in her new home town and does mean well — at times. Overall, though, she’s self-centered and defensive. I was hoping to see Agatha mellow in this peaceful Cotswold village as the series progresses. She doesn’t.

Pugnacious and mulish are the adjectives the author often uses to describe Mrs Raisin. Belligerent and snarky would also fit. She lies constantly, swears, staggers home tipsy from the village pub, insults almost everyone, and has a real temper. In one story she invites the neighbours for a Christmas dinner, but bashes one lustful old guest over the head with a Christmas pudding.

Always competitive, she cheats in village contests. In The Quiche of Death she’s newly arrived and wants the acceptance of the villagers. She sees her chance when she discovers there’s to be a village baking contest. Culinarily-challenged herself, she buys a quiche from a great little bakery in London and submits it as her own creation. Unfortunately someone adds a bit of poison and serves it to the judge. So the truth must be confessed.

In this third book she wants to impress certain gardeners and win the local flower show, but she’s hopeless at growing things. Supposedly she’s learned her lesson with the quiche, but weakens and buys a nursery-grown rose to enter as her own. Forgetting to take off the tag. Again her deception is exposed, but village folks are amazingly tolerant.

One big plus for Agatha is that she’s made friends with Mrs Bloxby, the curate’s wife, who is a saint for sure. Sanguine, welcoming, accepting, charitable, always thinking the best, she saves and soothes Agatha’s pride several times in this story. Agatha is also friends with her bachelor neighbour James, a retired army colonel — on whom she has a serious crush as this story starts. (I gather they work together in several stories to figure out whodunit.) However, Agatha insults him, too, petulantly calling him a male chauvinist pig when he scolds her for throwing a lit cigarette into the tinder-dry grass.

Like all amateur sleuths in all cozy mystery stories, she’s nosy. When the local CID inspector Bill Wong, who has taken a liking to Agatha, tells her to stay out of the investigation, she slips on her halo and nods a meek “Yes.” As soon as he’s out of sight, she and James are off hunting for evidence and interviewing suspects. In this book she’s trying to find out why a lovely divorcee, Mary Fortune, a newcomer and enthusiastic gardener, has met a sad end in her conservatory.

Because this is fiction, the writer is able to say that in spite of Agatha’s abrasive character she’s well liked by the villagers. Some characters testify that “Mrs Raisin has many good qualities.” In real life this would be highly unlikely. I know a woman much like this: not as insolent or combative as Agatha but just as self-centered and flexible with the truth. Her friendships and relationships are all short-lived.

I have some sympathy for Agatha Raisin because she is so lacking in interpersonal skills, but find her lack of conscience hard to take. Since the villagers of Carsely are stuck with her it’s a good thing they like her. And since it’s such a popular series — as I gather from the reviews — a lot of readers are willing to tolerate her faults, too.

Ragtag Daily Prompt word: Evidence
Word of the Day Challenge: Sanguine

Other Side of the Bars

Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt word is KNACKERED.

I’ve been feeling a bit like that myself lately. 🙂

Actually, this is a word I’ve rarely heard here in western Canada, but have come across it in books by British authors. Enough that I get the picture.

Panda.Andrea Bohl
Photo by Andrea Bohl — Pixabay

The Other Side of the Bars

Oh, don’t those creatures wear me out! A constant stream of them parading past my part of the forest all day long making weird noises, snapping fingers, coaxing me to do tricks as as if I were a monkey! They litter my cage with peanuts and popcorn, as if I’d eat the stuff they eat. The short ones are the worst for squealing and wailing, especially when they come in big groups, guided by a few big ones.

By mid afternoon the sun is so hot and I’m so knackered I want to sleep for hours. But the gawkers keep calling and whistling at me. Thankfully, towards evening all those creatures disappear and a blessed hush falls. Even those noisy hyenas shut up for the night. I can finally relax, munch some comforting leaves, then stretch out and have that sleep I’ve been wanting all day.

Tomorrow morning it’ll all start again. What a life!