Friday, May 18, 2018

Blossoms everywhere

It was a long winter, but it's definitely over now.

White lilac

Honeycrisp apple

Crab apple

Purple lilac

I've taken a part-time job at a local garden center. It gets me out of the house and interacting with people. The traumatic part is transitioning from 20 years at a desk to 8 hours on my feet...ouch!

Wednesday was my first day off when it wasn't too wet to mow. Of course, nothing goes smoothly and it took a big chunk of the day getting the mower started. By then it was a bit like cutting hay, but the chickens enjoyed getting clumps of grass to scratch around in.

Haha - I just realized I haven't even put my winter coat away.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 22

Danny was waiting in front of the apartment building when Melody pulled up. On this rare occasion of them both having the day off, they were driving out to a state park to picnic, swim and hike. He felt a bit strange bringing peanut butter sandwiches on a date, but she had insisted it was what she wanted.

Instead of waiting for him to get in, Melody climbed out of the car and joined him. "Hi, can I say hello to your mom before we go?"

"Sure. She's working, but it's fine to drop in. You'll like Iris."

Once inside the apartment, Iris insisted they stay for cookies as she always did. Danny limited himself to one cookie; his mom had explained to him the importance of accepting hospitality but not taking advantage. "Did you ever picnic at the lake?" he asked their hostess.

"Once I remember, the church took us out on a bus. We each got an orange! I had never had one before and had to be shown how to peel it." Her face fell, "I was embarrassed because I had to wear a dress made from a flour sack and the children with proper clothes teased us. And my feet hurt because the shoes were my sister's and didn't fit right." Her expression became mulish, "I don't want to talk about that anymore."

When Susan nodded them towards the door, the kids politely said their thank yous and left. In the car, Melody sighed, "It's sad that she doesn't have happier memories of her childhood."

"I hope things don't get that bad ever again." A gas station sign caught his eye. "Do you think the president releasing the oil reserves will help?"

"My dad doesn't. He says it's one of those gestures politicians make for show. It's supposed to help the trucking and tourism industries, but the truckers have already been slammed by the retail depression and cheaper diesel is too little, too late. As for tourism, well, how many people can still afford to travel, even with lower gas prices?"

Danny nodded thoughtfully, "Plus, this is going to hurt everyone working in the oil industry, so that's even more possibly needing help."

When they pulled into the state park, they noticed a sign on the door where the park attendants worked. Danny hopped out to read it. Slowly getting back into the car, he looked puzzled. "The offices and all park facilities are shut down. No camping, electricity, water, sewage dumping or maintenance. Any park usage is 'at risk', whatever that means."

Melody chewed on her lip while thinking this through, "I guess don't expect to be rescued if we get in trouble. I wouldn't want to be here at night if they aren't keeping an eye out for parties. It might say 'no camping' but without enforcement, people will be here anyway and it's going to get trashed."

"What do you want to do today? Are you comfortable swimming?"

She flashed a grin at him, "I'm certified as a lifeguard. I'll have your back."

"You are? Why are you working at a pizza joint?"

"Ugh, being a lifeguard is the most mind-numbingly boring job imaginable. It's like being a babysitter to a mob of kids let loose and I'm not going to tell you about all the peeing."

Nose wrinkling at that thought, Danny laughed, "Okay, lets see if we can find some kid-free swimming."

The first beach they drove past had a few families splashing around, but they could see the toilets were padlocked shut. Exchanging glances, they both shook their heads. About half a mile further on they found a small, pebbly beach with no facilities or people and, putting the park shut down out of their heads, they enjoyed a morning of peaceful swimming.

Eating their sandwiches while leaning on the hood of the car, the warm breeze quickly dried them off. While discussing the hike they had originally planned, they both became aware of a low, rumbling noise growing closer. "Those are motorcycles," Melody identified with a frown. "I'd rather not find out if they're friendly out here alone. Do you mind?"

"Let's go!" Danny agreed with a sharp nod. As they drove to the park exit, he felt sorry for not giving the bikers the benefit of the doubt. His own grandfather used to ride out to Sturgis every year, but things felt too unsettled to take the chance now and he had no illusions about being able to protect themselves against potential trouble.

On the drive home, the brief adrenaline rush faded and they returned to discussing what they had discovered that morning. "Will your parents be able to find out what was behind the park closing?"

"I think so. Mom will be upset she hadn't heard anything before we left, so either it's just happened or someone has kept it secret somehow. And that isn't easy when it's a public use area. I'll let you know what I find out at work tomorrow."

Danny started to ask what she wanted to do with the rest of the afternoon when his cell phone buzzed. "I have to fill in at work. I guess it's good we're heading back early."

"I'll drop you at home so you can change. Even if it didn't go quite as planned, I still had fun."

He smiled with relief at her understanding. "Me too."

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

More chick news

I hatched 23 chicks out over the weekend. All perfectly cute, of course.

I decided to trade them for these Americaunas, because the two I currently have, Pippy and Poppy, are older and no longer laying. Not only will these bring more blue eggs, but also those adorable muttonchop whiskers.

Writing is slow again. :(

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Oh boy, more snow!

My friend sent a picture of her kids tunneling in the snow drifts. I can remember playing in the snow, so why isn't it fun anymore?

Instead it's just a chore to get through to reach the chickens and firewood. And those would have been some great drifts to play in!

For the record: I haven't even begun to dig out my car. Chickens = vital. Transport = whatever.

Possibly more snow on Wednesday. Hopefully they are wrong about that.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 21

Susan slid the pans of banana bread into the oven while listening to the murmur of Iris and Mrs. Perkins chatting in the living room. "Grace. Grace. Grace."

"Yes, Susan?"

Susan jerked upright in surprise, finding a smiling Mrs. Perkins standing behind her. Feeling silly, she explained, "I was practicing. I've gotten into the habit of calling you Mrs. Perkins and since you asked me to use your given name..."

Her friendly neighbor laughed delightedly, "What a clever idea. Now, can you come join us? Iris is telling me about her childhood."

"Let me finish washing the mixing bowl. Banana dough seems to turn to cement on me if I don't deal with it quickly." A few minutes later, Susan settled in with her latest crochet project and prepared to travel back in time with her companions.

Iris was reminiscing, "In a way, I had it easier because I was born in 1929, so I couldn't remember a time before the depression. With six older brothers and sisters, of course I heard about the good times, but they were like fairy tales. My father was a clerk in the bank before the crash. He wasn't one of those speculating on the stock market; even then there wasn't that much spare money to invest. I didn't understand what was happening, just that one day he didn't put on his suit to go to work; instead, he went to work at Grandfather's shop."

She paused to peer at Susan, "You won't know what a setback that was to him. Working at a bank was a good position with prospects. Having to ask his father-in-law for a job was a blow to his pride. I don't think he ever fully recovered from that. My sisters told me he used to tell jokes and dance around the kitchen with our mother. I never knew him like that."

Susan watched her blink sadly; her eyes seeing people that had been dead for decades. She had noticed before that Iris seemed to recall long-term memories clearly, but had no concept of current events. Grace, on the other hand, acted as a bridge between the generations; old enough to share some of the same experiences as Iris, her keen mind was still interested in today's news. She spoke, "I was born in '34; not a good time to be adding to the family. Family legend has it that when my mother found out she was expecting again, she sat down and cried; worried sick I would be another set of twins. Sometimes I wish I could go back and reassure her that it would all work out and happier times would return."

"That would be nice," Iris perked up. "I could tell Gladys not to marry Harvey, but knowing her she would have found someone else just as dreadful."

"Are you both the last of your families?" Susan asked.

Grace shook her head, "My youngest brother, Benjamin, lives in Canada. He was always my favorite; nothing could stop him from living the life he chose. When he was sixteen he told our parents that he loved his best friend and they threw him out. He came and lived with Ned and I until he finished school. Then, in 2005, Benji and Matthew flew us up to celebrate their wedding. Imagine waiting fifty years to be able to marry the person you loved!"

"I think I could have been a lesbian," Iris offered wistfully. She sighed softly, then looked over at Susan, "Are there any cookies left?"

Pulling her startled thoughts together, Susan nodded and went to fetch a snack; wondering if they would ever hear more about that story. This was becoming their comfortable routine, with Grace stopping by mid-morning for a visit while her husband joined his friends at a diner for coffee and gossip. Susan had made doilies for Iris's chairs and was working on a table runner now. In the afternoon, Iris would doze while watching soaps until Susan returned to make supper.

Smiling as she arranged cookies on a plate, Susan wondered if Iris was really as dotty as she seemed or if she dropped conversational bombshells for fun. Either way, she wasn't boring.

Part 22

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Long Winter

That's certainly how it feels. About a week ago I looked out at a robin sitting on a bare lilac branch as the snow fell and thought the caption would read "The travel agent lied!" Today, there he is again; same branch, more snow....poor thing.

Wasn't it the old tradition that potatoes should be planted in March? Ha! It's April and the ground still hasn't thawed. I'm suffering from gardening withdrawals.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Stories Tab

I've added a new tab with another story I'm currently working on. This one is completely unrelated to my Errant Thoughts story which will continue to be posted on the Main blog page.

I hope to convince my son to be a co-author as an experiment with bringing in more action; as opposed to my normal character driven writing. It will be trial and error so another adventure!