Distance

brick road

by Canadian poet Archibald Lampman

To the distance! Ah, the distance!
Blue and broad and dim!
Peace is not in burgh or meadow,
But beyond the rim.

Aye, beyond it, far beyond it;
Follow still my soul,
Till this earth is lost in heaven,
And thou feel’st the whole.

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Multitasking Motorist Woes

Officer Chan Forbister noticed a car ahead weaving erratically and crowding the cars in either lane. Turning on his flashers he came up behind it and saw the driver writhing in her seat. A moment of panic hit him. “Was she having a heart attack? A seizure?”

But when he pulled alongside the other car, the woman straightened up in her seat and gave him an embarrassed smile. One of those multi-tasking drivers again. He sighed and signaled her to pull over.

Standing by her car, Chan eyed her critically. “Are you okay, lady?”

“Of course I am, Officer.”

“I thought you were having a seizure. What exactly were you doing?”

“This is so embarrassing! You see, I snagged my pantihose leaving the house and now I’ve a huge hole. I can’t show up at the office looking like this, so I was trying to take them off.”

“While driving?” Chan rolled his eyes. “May I see your driver’s licence and registration, ma’am.”

He walked back to his cruiser, spent a few minutes on his radio confirming the registration information, then returned, ticket in hand.

“I see you had another driving infraction last month?”

“Quite a minor offence, really.”

“Blowing up balloons while driving ten kilometers over the speed limit on a main street is minor? Now that’s funny.”

“They were for my granddaughter’s birthday party and I was running late.”

Chan put on his sternest cop face as he handed her the ticket. “From now on, lady, when you’re driving forget about multi-tasking. When you’re driving, JUST DRIVE! We don’t want to see you in the morgue.”

“Yes, officer,” she answered meekly.

He climbed into his cruiser and watched her drive away. Then he chuckled, remembering the reactions at last month’s staff meeting when Officer Vennie told them about the ticket he’d given this balloon-blowing grannie. Chan shook his head. Just wait ‘til the guys heard this one.

Books: A Scottish Holiday

A Scottish Holiday
by Sophie Mays

A short, light read, fairly standard-formula romance.

Adoptee Jillian goes to Scotland seeking information about her great-great-grands and James takes a liking to the attractive American miss when he meets her in line at a fish and chips shop. He offers his help in her search and a quick romance blooms, but no bedroom scenes.

Perhaps the author has been to the part of Scotland she writes about, but she doesn’t really incorporate much detail in her story. We don’t get many of Jillian’s impressions of this land she’s seeing for the first time ever. We meet the librarian and a few locals — but this is supposedly a whirlwind trip. So we get a bit of Scottish scenery and history but mostly scenes of James and Jillian spending time together — until an old flame turns up at a dance and throws Jillian into a frenzy of doubt about the sincerity of James’ affection.

One bit I found hard to believe: as a baby Jillian was supposedly left on a doorstep by her birth mother, who died young, yet she has her great-great grandparents’ names and the area they came from in Scotland. Other than that the story all hangs together and is well told, problems relatively simple, the characters uncomplicated, the writing clean.

Just A Clueless Tourist, Sir

Guilty As Charged

A writing exercise one day was: tell about an adventure you had while traveling, focusing on one particular scene during the trip. So here’s a scene from when I drove my daughter to Mississippi for a Teacher’s Summer Class.

Twelve years ago our daughter wanted to attend a week-long workshop for teachers — the event being held in Mississippi, no less. She didn’t want to drive all that way alone, so I accompanied her and did most of the driving. I was excited about the trip, having never been to the Deep South before. We were living in Quebec at this time, so had two long days on the road, entering the US at Detroit and heading more or less straight south on Interstates.

The second day found us somewhere in Kentucky on a nice four-lane highway and I was behind the wheel when we came up behind a line of about six cars, every one of them in the right lane, doing almost 50 mph. I found this curious, as the speed limit was 55 mph and the left lane was completely empty. I craned my neck and peered ahead as best I could, expecting to see some extra-wide vehicle causing this slower traffic. Nada. Just a line of ordinary-looking cars.

Now I was really curious. Had the speed limit changed and I hadn’t noticed the sign? Last thing on earth I wanted to do was get nailed for speeding in the States. I knew the chain gang was passe but I’d read some pretty awful accounts of arrests at gun-point and strip searches, etc. Not to mention fines and fees for a US lawyer.

A few minutes later we passed a sign: 55 mph. So why is everyone doing below 50? As the road went round a curve I got a better look at the lead car. A police cruiser. Aha! He was cruising along at a lower speed and the drivers behind were all meekly following, no one daring to challenge his authority. I joined the line and took it easy on the gas for another mile.

Would it surprise you if I mentioned here that I can be a rebel at times? As I drew near yet another 55 mph sign, I wondered,  “Am I going to poke along at 50 mph for an hour in deference to the whims of those officers? Can they arrest me if I don’t just meekly follow? Have they got any reason to stop me for driving at the speed limit?”

Nope. At least I sure hope not! So I pulled into the left lane, sped up to 55 mph, and slowly overtook the police car, making very sure I wasn’t speeding. If I was indeed committing some other social faux pas, I trusted my Quebec license plate would tell him I didn’t know any better.

They say about sheep that when one sticks his head through the fence, the others will surely follow. People are much the same. When I was some distance ahead of the cruiser — we didn’t have cruise control so I kept one eye glued to the speedometer the whole way!— I saw in my rear-view mirror that other cars had pulled out and were also passing the cruiser. I suppose they’d been anxious to see if I’d get into trouble and when no lights started flashing they decided they could get away with it, too.

Now I can say I led a mini-coup — a social rebellion of sorts — in a foreign land. I can just imagine those policemen sitting at the doughnut shop later and chuckling about it, just as I am now.

What would you have done?

A Willing Heart

The six-year-old girl eyed the young man sitting next to her in the church pew; she’d never seen him in their church before. In fact, his few words of greeting to her father before the service started revealed a different accent than the little Scottish girl was used to hearing in their town.

She was eager to “show herself friendly” as the Good Book said, and make him feel at home. But how? In her mind she rehearsed the words “Welcome here. I’m glad you’ve come,” but she was too shy to actually say it. Still, might there would be some way?

Right then a hymn was announced, number 489. She saw the stranger pick up a hymn book. On impulse she slid over toward him and whispered, “I’ll help you find it. I know those big numbers can be hard to sort out.”

“Thank you so much,” he whispered back. “I can manage alright until 100, after that it gets tough.”

So she helped him locate hymn #489 and he offered to share the book with her. She smiled up at him and they sang the verses together, the Scottish lass in first grade and the Englishman with a Degree in engineering.

Quote of the Day:

If nobody ever said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth.

– Sir Allen Herbert

(Anecdote retold from an account in and old Friendship Book of Francis Gay.)

The Ages of Women

Another Friday Fictioneers prompt has come around and I’m cheating a bit this time. I’ve had this story in mind ever since I read about the three ages of women. No, I can’t claim credit for this bit of wisdom. it apparently comes from a Scottish grandma — whose name I of course can’t locate now when I want it. 😦

I realized lately that my new cell phone has no frowny faces, only variations of Happy-face. Is this a giant plot by a multinational corporation to force callers to make cheerful replies?

Anyway, with a happy smile I want to thank Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this multi-aged group of writers — and for this week’s photo prompt as well. If you wish to join the gang in responding to this prompt, check out Rochelle’s blog, Addicted to Purple. (Does someone care to offer a countering “Three ages of men” version?)

Photo prompt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The Three Ages of Women

Helen squeezed Hazel’s arm. “I’m so glad you decided to join me on this trip. Travel’s much more enjoyable with a friend.”

“Well, I had been thinking I should stay home. Thought my children might not be able to manage without my helpful advice. Older and wiser, you know. Then a friend enlightened me on the three ages of a woman: ‘Muddle age, middle age, and meddle age’.

Helen’s laughter echoed in the narrow passage. “I’ll remember that one.”

Hazel grinned. “So I decided I’d better get some new interests in life before I slip into that last one.”

The Scenic Route

Blazing A New Trail

For some reason this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt inspired me with another take on this scene, so I hope you’ll all bear with me.

In our early married life — back when GPS hadn’t entered its inventor’s dreams yet — my adventurous husband eschewed maps. As we wandered our way through new territory he would occasionally quote Daniel Boone, which went something like:
“I’m never lost. I may go for weeks not knowing where exactly I am…but I’m never lost.”

I’ve created another driver with the same adventurous soul — who took a wrong turn somewhere.

Photo © Ted Strutz

“Well, Dan’l Boone,” Dot Kentucky-twanged as their car pulled into the ferry crossing line behind several others. “New territory to explore?”

Jay frowned. “I’m not lost. Maybe somewhat misplaced at the moment.”

Colton, their youngest, stared over the back seat. “We’re going on a boat? There’s never been a river on the way to Grandpas before.”

“This isn’t Route 85, either,” Clark added. “When will we connect with that again?”

“A little miscalculation. Hang in there, guys. We’ll get there.”

“Okay, you two.” Dot threw them a quick glare-and-wink. “Dad’s taking the scenic route this time. Let’s enjoy the view.”