8
Feb

The Valentine's Day Chocolate Kiss

This is a repeat post, but always a good one when Valentine's Day is near.

We quarreled this morning. I threw his favorite blue cup across the room. It shattered when it hit the hearth. I screamed “I hate you!” and ran out the door. I kicked the tires on my car.

I was angry all morning. Every time the phone rang, I was sure he was calling to apologize. Why didn’t he call? I wouldn’t call him. He was wrong, right?

The afternoon dragged by. It’s 5:00 P.M., and I’m leaving the office. … The traffic is terrible and I’m anxious to get home. It’s not that I’m going to apologize. It was his fault that we quarreled, but it’s too tiring to stay mad. I want everything to be okay between us again.

The cars creep along the freeway and I check my watch.

He should be home by now, waiting for me, listening to music, probably drinking a glass of red wine. I’m sure he bought me flowers for Valentine's Day. I can’t wait to see what kind he chose.

It started to rain and the leaves swirl across the highway, gathering on the edge of my front window. The windshield wipers swish. They seem to say, “hate-shoo, hate-shoo, hate-shoo.”  I remember how I said those words and tears sting my eyes. I didn’t mean it. I reach for the cell phone in my purse and touch instead, a melted chocolate candy kiss. I lick the chocolate off my fingers and smile, remembering the night, not so long ago and his words, “This kiss signifies my love.”

Now I'm ready to tell him 'I’m sorry', even if he was wrong. I want his arms around me. I want his lips to caress my throat. I want us to be together.

I don’t see his car.  It must be in the garage. I know he heard me pull in the driveway, and even now, I can almost see him rushing to the door with a glass of wine and the flowers. In a minute, he will kiss me and whisper, “I’m sorry…”

I turn the handle on the front door. Why is it locked? I turn my key in the door and call his name. The room is empty. There are no Valentine flowers. Where can he be?

A gust of wind rushes in, slamming the door behind me. My eyes are drawn to a chocolate candy kiss as it rolls off the table. A single sheet of paper flutters for a moment, then settles to the floor...

****

Hope your Valentine's Day has a better ending. Don't let the day begin or end without saying, "I love you."   Elaine Faber

 

25
Jan

Cont. Chapter One - Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doings

See previous post, dated January, 2022, for the beginning of Chapter One. In summary, Agnes was rescuing her Siamese cat, from the apple tree when she fell... and....

Agnes hit the ground with a thud. Her head flung back and thwacked against the apple tree. Then everything went dark.

****

The story continues....

A voice called her name from far away. “Mrs. Odboddy. Can you hear me?”

Ow.” Her cheek smarted. Had someone slapped her? Another slap? Near dead, and now being attacked? What was the world coming to when an old woman couldn’t fall from an apple tree and die in peace? Agnes opened her eyes. Ling-Ling leaped from branch to branch and dropped lightly beside her hip. “Meow!

Her head lolled back against the tree. Now she comes down, after I risked my life to…  Several faces hovered over her. Godfrey’s face and two others.  Fireman? Why?

Katherine knelt beside Godfrey and took her hand. “Grandma. Are you alright?” She turned toward the men in heavy overcoats. “Did she break anything?”

“Hard to say, ma’am.” Barnaby Merryweather, the gray-headed volunteer fireman, touched the lump on the back of Agnes’s head. “She has some scratches and a sizable bump on the back of her head. Her doctor should check her over to be sure. She took a pretty good whack. Agnes? Do you know what day it is? Who’s the President?”

Ow!” Agnes swatted at the fireman’s hand. “Of course. It’s April 26, 1944, and Franklin D. Roosevelt is the President. Now, help me into the house.” Her hand dropped onto Ling-Ling’s back as she nuzzled under her arm. “I see the wretched cat managed to rescue herself.”

“If you’d asked my opinion before you risked your fool life, I would’ve told you she’d come down when she was darned good and ready, Grandma.”

“I called Godfrey. When he didn’t come, I thought I could get her down, myself.”

“Just see how well that turned out,” Katherine patted her grandmother’s cheek. “You could’ve killed yourself.”

“It takes more than a bump to kill an old bird like me.” Agnes touched the lump on her head and twisted her neck from side to side. “Ow.

“Give me a hand, Barnaby,” Godfrey said. One could always count on volunteer fireman,Barnaby Merryweather, a volunteer fireman, whether for a kitchen fire or a cat up a tree. Godfrey put his arm under Agnes’s shoulder. “Can you stand, sweetkins?”

“I think so. You’re right. I should have called the fire department in the first place.”

Barnaby and Godfrey helped Agnes into the house where they lowered her onto the sofa. Barnaby’s son, Benjamin, followed Katherine inside.

“Now I mean it, Agnes. Your doctor needs to check that bump,” Barnaby said. “It looks like it’s swelling up more.”

“Agnes knows what’s best for her, Dad. Maybe she doesn’t want to see the doctor.” Benjamin said. “It’s not your decision, old man.”

Barnaby scowled. “Thanks, Son! Where did you get your medical degree?”

“Just sayin’ she knows how she feels better’n you,” Benjamin snapped.

Barnaby, a long-term citizen of Newbury, had recently handed Merryweather Shoe Repair  over to Benjamin. Word was, they argued about replacing the heel on a shoe almost as much as how to run the volunteer fire department.

Agnes rolled her eyes at the two Merryweather men. “Stop bickering. I’ll contact the doctor later, if my head still hurts.”

Barnaby pulled the straps on his hat. ”Next time your cat goes for a climb, Agnes, stay out of the tree!” He and Benjamin turned and stomped out the front door.

Agnes glanced between Katherine and Godfrey. “Why were they here in the first place? I didn’t call them.”

Godfrey ducked his head. “I told you before, plum blossom. We needed their ladder to rescue the cat. Then, by gum, you fell smack at my feet. We should call the doctor. You never know about a head injury.”

Humph! Head injury, my Aunt Fanny. It’s just a little bump. Katherine? Can you fix me a cup of tea and bring me a headache powder?” Agnes stared at Katherine. Her mouth pulled into a frown. “Why on earth are you wearing that ridiculous hat?”

Katherine’s hands went to her head. “Hat? I’m not wearing a hat.” She glanced at Godfrey, then back to Agnes.

“My dear!” Godfrey patted Agnes’s hand. “You must lie down. I’ll get  an ice pack for your head.” He hurried toward the kitchen, paused at the door, and looked back. “I’m calling the doctor.”

“Whatever for? I told you I’ll be just fine… Katherine, would you be a dear and bring me a headache powder? My head hurts like the dickens.” Agnes swiped angrily at tears on her cheeks.

“Agnes, my sweet,” Godfrey said, his cheeks as pale as cottage cheese. “You already asked Katherine…" He sighed. "Never mind. I’ll get you that cup of tea.”

*****

. The three Mrs. Odboddy mystery/adventures are available on Amazon (ebook) for $3.99.

Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, and Mrs. Odboddy And Then there was a Tiger

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt.

16
Jan

Sneak Preview.... Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doingss

If you haven't yet met Mrs. Odboddy, you'll enjoy all her books, the last titled Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger where she attempts to save a displaced carnival tiger.

This is the beginning of her next adventure... Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doings... to be published soon.

Chapter One 

Agnes slung her leg over a limb in the apple tree and reached to grip a higher branch. “Hang on, Ling-Ling. Mama’s coming.”

“Meow!”

The cat’s shrill yowl announced her displeasure that Agnes should question her agenda to reach the top of the tree. Agnes’s boyfriend, Godfrey, peered into the branches. “Agnes! Come down this instant. What in tarnation do you think you’re doing?”

Agnes yanked her skirt down over her rump in an attempt to cover her chubby thigh and flannel stockings. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that I’m trying to rescue Ling-Ling. She’s been up here for hours and won’t come down. If you’d come when I called you over an hour ago–”

“I came as soon as I could, Lambkins, after I called the fire department and asked them to bring a ladder. Now, come down before you fall and break your noggin. Leave the climbing to the firemen. They rescue cats every day.” A siren shrieked in the distance.

“No need. I’ve almost got her.” Agnes loosened her grip on the branch to reach for the Siamese cat as she climbed higher. “Just a little more. Come to mama, baby.” Wasn’t that just like a cat? “You rascal. I have half a mind to leave you here, and let you starve. Come here before I…” Crack! Agnes gasped as the branch under her foot gave way. “Saints preserve–”

Godfrey sprang toward the tree as Agnes flung out her arms and grasped at branches to break her fall. Pieces of twigs and leaves pummeled Godfrey’s head. As she plummeted toward the ground, images and questions flashed through her mind. Godfrey’s image intermingled with her little ward, Maddie, and her granddaughter, Katherine. Would Shere Khan, the displaced carnival’s tiger, find a home without her help? It’s true. Your life flashes before your eyes just before you die.

Agnes hit the ground with a thud. Her head flung back and thwacked against the apple tree. Then everything went dark.

*****

What follows is a wacky adventure where Agnes struggles to find justice not only for the tiger but for the community, as she faces personal conflict and drama at every turn. Guaranteed, you'll laugh at her antics in every chapter.

Let me know if you wish to reserve an autographed copy. If you read on a device, all Mrs. Odboddy's adventures are just $3.99 (ebook) at Amazon.

 

8
Jan

The Funny Query Letter Contest

Writers hoping to acquire an agent to represent us and sell our manuscripts to famous publishers, must send the agency a ‘query’ letter to introduce our work. The ‘query’ letter should contain the following information: The general plot, the desired audience, explain why it would sell well, show our knowledge of spelling and punctuation, indicate the word count, and tell a bit about our qualifications as the writer .

Several years ago, a popular agency held a contest among its followers to see who could write the funniest, worst, query letter. The letter had to include the required information.

I submitted the following query letter to the contest.

Dear Ms. Writer’s Agent:
Since I won the 3rd grade spelling be and a composition contest in 7th grade, that why I’m qualified tobe a writer and giveing you the honor to be my first queery letter.
My book is about these two fat ladies who go on vacation ...at Saint Lucus Morturary and Day Spa.. "We fix your hair - coming and going." Kind of a mystery romance janrah, and therefore,lots of fat women will read this kind of book, so that’s how I know it would be well- received all around the world.
Your publish company was reccommended to me by my good friend, Lize Snotwittle, (my referral) who wrote you a queery letter last year. You sent her a nice letter but you didn’t publish her book. So I know you are a reputuble agency what wouldn’t do anything wrong.
My novel is 47,567 words long, up to page 102. I haven’t counted the words any further yet. Are you suppose to count “a” as a word the same as “zillionaire,” which is what one of my heroines is?
Should I quit my job and be a fulltime writer?.

Sincerely, Elaine Faber

I won their contest with my letter.

Even though the agency did not decide to represent me, I have successfully published nine cozy mystery/adventure novels. If you enjoy a good mystery with lots of laughs, hope you will consider purchasing one of the following. Amazon e-books are just $3.99.

Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot                     http://tinyurl.co/hdvzsv

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier                   http://tinyurl.com/jn5bzwb

Mrs. Odboddy And Then there was a Tiger      http://tinyurl.com/yx72fcpx

Currently working on the fourth Mrs. Odboddy adventure, to be published very, very soon! Keep watching!

 

 

9
Dec

The True Meaning of Christmas

The days grew shorter, the air crisper, the nights longer, and leaves whispering on the roof awakens each Christmas tree bird wrapped snug in their tissue paper in the attic. Something sang to them, called to them, until they wiggled with joy, crinkling their crepe paper walls. Soon, each Christmas bird ornament would be lifted from his crinkly paper bed where he slept since last Christmas.

As the year neared its end, the Christmas birds felt a thrill from their springy wire clips and gold porcelain bodies to their bright feather tails. The littlest Christmas bird lay warm and snug beneath Gold Bird. How he anticipated the coming holiday season. Soon he would be on the Christmas tree with his fragile glass friends and the others…the round ones with bright colored paint. They were not nearly as beautiful as his Christmas bird friends with their springy wires, delicate glass and pinchey clips that clasped them firmly to each tree branch. And though all his friends were lovely, he felt he was the most beautiful Christmas tree bird of all.

He closed his little red eyes and dreamed of Christmas Eve. From the top of the tree, he would look down on the family gathered by the fireplace. Being part of the celebration made him feel truly alive. “I’ve been thinking,” he whispered in a trembling voice. “You are lovely, Gold Bird, but, you know, I’m the most beautiful Christmas bird.”

Gold Bird’s tail feathers quivered. “Really? Blue glass bird was made in Germany with hand-blown glass and a blue feather tail. Antique bird is missing tail feathers, but so fragile, you can see right through him. We are all unique, and as beautiful as you.” His tail feathers shook as he scolded the young bird.

“It’s true,” said the saucy little bird. “But, the tree won’t be complete if I’m not right near the top.”

Gold Bird, being older and wiser, turned his head. “You obviously don’t understand the true meaning of Christmas. It would serve you right if you got left behind this year.”

The Christmas bird trembled. “That couldn’t happen, could it? It’s not that you aren’t handsome, but my tail feathers are fluffier than yours, and…my…paint is─”

Tut tut. Not…another…word.”

For several days, the little bird lay in his crinkly paper as the thought haunted him. “It would serve you right …” Not to be there on Christmas Eve? He could not bear the thought.

The days grew shorter and a soft sprinkle of snow blanketed the roof. The wind whistled past the attic and the dark days edged toward December. Early one morning, the Christmas birds heard footsteps on the attic steps. They held their breath, as their box was lifted from the shelf and carried down the stairs. “Soon we’ll be on the Christmas tree,” the little Christmas bird whispered to Gold Bird.

One by one, the Christmas birds were lifted from the box. The young bird heard his friends squeal as they were hung on the tree. He heard music and children laughing. He even smelled cookies!

“It’s almost time,” he whispered to Gold Bird. “It’s nearly my turn.”…but Gold Bird’s fluffy tail no longer tickled his nose. The ornament box was tossed into the corner; empty, except for the little Christmas bird. “What happened? I’m still here.” Overlooked, his comfortable bed was now a prison, his beautiful body still swaddled in crinkly tissue paper. He heard muffled Christmas sounds. A tiny plastic tear formed in his little red eye. “I was conceited and proud, and now I’ve been left behind.”

Christmas Day approached and he lay alone in the box. On Christmas Eve, the family gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Christmas tree bird imagined his friends hanging on the tree branches. “The round ones may not be as beautiful as me,” he lamented,” but they are on the tree, and I’ve been left behind.”

After supper, the family gathered by the Christmas tree. The little girl read from the Bible. “They wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and lay Him in a manger.”

“I’m wrapped in swaddling clothes, like the baby Jesus.” The little bird imagined the tiny baby sung and warm, lying in a manger, warmed by the breath of the surrounding animals. He heard the daddy tell how Jesus came as a tiny baby, and if we loved and trusted Him, He would take us to heaven and we would never be left behind.  The Christmas bird sniffed, “I know what it’s like to be left behind. How much worse it would be, to be left behind from Heaven.”

Then, the crinkling tissue paper in his box lifted and he felt the warmth from the fireplace. “Look, Mommy! It’s another Christmas birdie. He has a red tear in his eye. Can we hang him on the Christmas tree?”

Daddy raised her up and she hung the little bird near Gold Bird. The joyous Christmas bird felt the love as the family opened gifts. The spicy aroma of gingerbread drifted in the air. Christmas bird wiggled with joy as the family sang carols. At last, he was exactly where he wanted to be. Gold Bird swung around from a nearby branch. “Welcome to Christmas, little bird. Did you learn anything?”

The tear in his eye shimmered in the light from the fireplace. “I understand,” he whispered. “Christmas is not about who is most beautiful, who has the brightest springy tail. It’s not about carols or turkey dinner, or even about presents under the tree. The true meaning of Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus, God’s gift for us. When we accept His love and believe in Him, we will never be left behind.”

 

19
Oct

Harvest Jack's Rebellion - A Holiday Story

“If I’ve told you once,” Papa Red Warty Thing said. “I’ve told you a dozen times not to stray so far. Look at you. You’re already at the end of your tendrils and into the road. When the tractor comes, you’ll be smashed flatter than a fritter!”

Turning toward his parents, Papa Red Warty Thing and Sweet Sugar Pie, unruly Harvest Jack huffed, “I’d rather be a fritter than bored to death, lying face up in the sun like my cousins, Baby Boo, Wee-be-Little, and Jack-be-Little. They never stray past the first twist in their vines.”

Harvest Jack’s pumpkin cousins gasped. Such disrespect! Such defiance! And with Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner. Unheard of in polite Cucurbita Pepo society! They turned away from the disobedient cultivar and buried their tendrils and stems beneath their prickly leaves.

“That child shall be the death of me yet,” Sweet Sugar Pie declared. “How does he ever expect to become a pumpkin pie acting like that? It’s your fault. Your ancestors never looked like the rest of us. They were always rebellious.”

Papa Red Warty Thing shivered. “If the lad doesn’t change his attitude, he’s likely to end up gutted, with an ugly smirk carved on his face.”

Sweet Sugar Pie waved her sticky leaves in dismay. “Don’t even think such a thing. My family has a proud history of becoming harvest pies for the past 72 generations. Grandma Sirius Star would roll over in her mulch if she heard of such a vulgar future for one of our clan. I know that some of the Rock Star and Howden crew across the field plan to be gutted and carved up. Some even look forward to lighted candles stuck where their innards used to be. That’s not the future I want for our boy.” A drop of morning dew trickled from her stem, down her rounded middle, and plopped into the dirt.

“Now. dear. Don’t carry on so. The season isn’t over yet. It’s just growing pains. I’m sure he’ll come to his senses when he matures a bit.”

Papa Red Warty Thing was wrong, for by now, Harvest Jack had wandered into the road and lay directly in the path of the giant tractor grinding its way down the road, swooping up all in its path, and dumping the unfortunate ones into a hopper to be carried off to an uncertain future. Sweet Sugar Pie shrieked, “It’s coming! Beware!”

Harvest Jack heard the engine and turned toward the sound. “Uh Oh!” The seeds in his belly shook in terror. Papa Red Warty Thing was right. He was about to be crunched into a fritter.

A raven swooped down and landed on his stem. “It serves you right for wandering into the road. Papa Red Warty Thing warned you.”

How he wished to be alongside little, white, cousin Baby-Boo, or little cousin Wee-be-Little’s tiny, orange body. Their future was assured. They would become cute little decorations, perched alongside a costumed vampire doll in the middle of a mantle, or maybe in a wheelbarrow surrounded by harvest leaves and acorns and a couple Rock Star or Howden’s. Even his distant cousin Lil’ Pumpkemon with his white body and orange stripes might end up on the front porch with his larger cousins.

Directly in the path of the tractor, Harvest Jack’s future was destined to be ground into pulp.

Suddenly, he heard guttural, humanoid sounds reverberating through his stem. Harvest Jack felt himself lifted and then felt the cool earth beneath his bottom. What happened? He was lying just inches from Papa Red Warty Thing and Sweet Sugar Pie. Somehow, he’d escaped the wheels of the tractor and was back in his own row of cultivar cousins. “Oh, Papa Red Warty Thing! You were right,” Harvest Jack cried. “I’ll never disobey again. I promise I’ll grow up and become a Harvest dinner pie, but… do I get to choose which kind of pie I want to be?”

“Of course you can, my dear,” Sweet Sugar Pie cooed, stretching her loving tendrils over her son. “Your great aunt was a pumpkin streusel pie with a gingersnap crust, and your great-grandfather was a pumpkin cheesecake.”

“Good! When I grow up, I want to be… let me think! I know just the thing. I want to be a cherry pie!”

Sweet Sugar Pie glared at Papa Red Warty Thing and shook her sticky leaves in anger.

“What’s wrong,” Harvest Jack cried. “You said I could choose what kind of Harvest pie I wanted to be.”

“My dear, you can’t be a cherry pie, because you’re a pumpkin.” Papa Red Warty Thing patiently explained.

Sweet Sugar Pie screamed. “According to today’s media, if the lad wants to be a cherry pie, then he’s a cherry pie! It’s your fault, Papa Red Warty Thing. You were always too lenient with the lad!”

 

8
Oct

A Halloween Story - Jenny's Shopping Trip

Jenny’s shrieks followed Tom as he skipped down the sidewalk to his 57’souped-up T-bird parked at the curb. Like many times before, when his girlfriend’s grew tiresome, he’d walk away. Women were like shoes. When the shine wore off, you got a new pair. Women always expected commitment and Tom wasn’t the committing type.

Tom checked his rear-view mirror as he ran his hands through his carrot-red hair. Not to worry. He’d have another girlfriend within the week. He stomped the gas and sped away.

****

Jenny clutched her black cat to her breast, “I should never have allowed myself to care so much.” A brown Maltese, a golden-eyed, pure white cat, and a tan blue-eyed beauty with Asian ancestry, hunkered nearby, commiserating with her sorrow.

Reflections from the high window bounced off Jenny’s wine glass and cast a rainbow across the far wall. She took a sip and lifted her head. “Lord knows, an orange one won’t make me feel any better, however…” A faint smile twitched her lips. “On the other hand, perhaps an orange one is just what I need.”

The black longhaired cat in her lap gazed into her eyes and yawned. “Come on, guys, let’s get a snack. Then, I’ll go shopping.” Her feline menagerie followed her to the kitchen.

Jenny gazed at the four cats hunkered around a pile of Friskies like four spokes of a wheel; black, brown, white and tan. Didn’t Tom have a lunch meeting today at a little restaurant on Main Street? Jenny whispered. “Let the games begin.”

Jenny lifted a dusty box from a garage top shelf and removed a black hat sporting a long black feather. She ran her fingers over its velvety texture, from nib to tip. “This will do nicely.” Dust rose from the feather and disappeared in a wisp of breeze.

In her closet, she found a black pantsuit. The height of 1980’s fashion with shoulder pads in the jacket and bellbottom pants. She shook the wrinkles from the jacket and frowned at the tiny moth hole in the left sleeve. Had it been that long since she got the last one? She could have sworn it was just a couple years before. It was definitely time for a new one.

Jenny donned the pantsuit and the black feathered hat and topped off her ensemble with a bangle bracelet and a lion head medallion necklace. She nodded, satisfied with the image reflected in her hall mirror.

Jenny drove downtown and parked a half-block from Marvelous Marvin’s Magic Shop, next door to the restaurant where Tom was having lunch.

She stood outside the magic shop, staring at the items in the window. In a few minutes, Tom strode down the street, his head held high, his bright red hair blowing in the wind. He spotted Jenny just as she dashed into the magic shop. Once inside the door, eerie shrieks and squeals of organ music, enough to chill one’s soul, blared through an elaborate sound system.

Startled to see her there, Tom followed her into the store. “Jenny, is that you?”

Jenny hurried through the darkened aisles toward a dimly lit corner piled high with boxes, capes, and baskets heaped with assorted Halloween decorations and magician’s paraphernalia.

Tom followed her into the furthest dark corner, where the black light overhead reflected a neon aura off the logo on Magic Marvin’s Magic Shop black shopping bags.

Tom’s gaze followed the drifting feather on Jenny’s hat, caressed by the air conditioned breeze. “Jenny? Are you headed to a costume party?” His gaze stayed locked on the swaying feather.

“No,” Jenny whispered, “I was waiting for you.”

“For me? Don’t be tiresome. I told you… We have nothing more to talk about.”

“Oh, yes. I think we do.” She tapped her long red fingernail three times on the stack of black Marvelous Marvin’s Magic Shop bags and whispered, “Dinkle, Dinkle, Catzenwinkle.”

Tom disappeared. The top shopping bag now displayed the a vivid orange-striped cat with glowing eyes, staring wildly from its paper prison.

Jenny laid the bag on the counter. “I’ll take this one.” She paid and left the store.

Back home, Jenny poured another glass of wine, and filled a plate with crackers and cheese, and set the shopping on the floor. “Come my lovelies,” she cooed.

They came from under the table, from the top of the sofa, from under the bed, off the fireplace mantle, stretching and yawning. Like four spokes of a wheel, black, brown, white and tan, they circled the shopping bag decorated with the vivid face of the cat with glowing eyes.

Jenny sipped her wine and tossed each cat a bite of cheese, grasped the shopping bag and tipped it upside down, “This is Tom,” she said.

Out spilled a carrot-orange striped cat. He gazed wildly around the room, his big round eyes filled with horror… The four cats nibbled their cheese and glared at the newcomer with amusement.

“Tom has come to live with us. Welcome your new changeling companion.” Jenny tossed Tom a bite of cheese, folded the shopping bag and shoved it into the trash .

21
Sep

Guest Post - Vidya Shergil - A Day at the Beach

A Day at the Beach -                Vidya Shergil

My friend, Vidya, grew up on the island of Fiji in the 1950’s. She attended a private girl’s high school. She is working on an autobiography. This is one of her memories and an essay she wrote about her experience.

 

For our annual hostel picnic, Miss Hodge, and the team, took us, by the bus loads, to Saweni Beach. Nothing like a day on the beach with 50 or so girls. We had only a few hours, but we made the most of it. Any amount of time by the ocean is a treat. The simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a banana, and water on the beach seemed like a gourmet feast.

Another time, they rented a flat-bottomed freight boat called a barge to ferry us across the shallow waters to a nearby island. Our music teacher played the tapes of ‘The Viennese Waltz’ for us. ‘The Blue Danube,’ which is the English title of a waltz by the Austrian Composer Johann Strauss, takes me to that trip every time I hear it.

Just imagine listening to those beautiful waltzes while gently gliding through calm and serene waters. Heavenly!

That island, like many others, is small, low lying park-like and generally not habitable because there is no fresh water source. If you try to drill a well you simply get salty sea water. But these islands are great for a day’s outing.

Again, we asked for and got the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a banana and plenty of water. The sandwiches were made from thick slices of crusty, sourdough Fiji-bread.

In the few hours there, we were able to walk around, barefoot on the sandy island many times. It was practically all beach, but ringed by many coconut palm trees. After lunch, a bunch of us lay around under a cluster of these trees and snoozed away.

In one of my college English classes, we were asked to close our eyes, to visualize a special day from our childhood, and write about it in a timed assignment. I recalled those two high school picnic days on the island and here’s what I wrote:

 

SEA OF LIFE

When life’s hurried pace gets you off track and you feel caught up in a whirlwind of strife, what could be better than a leisurely stroll on a wide expanse of a sandy beach? Better still would be lying on that beach napping lazily as the sunbeams melt your cares away.

You slide into a delightfully hypnotic state, listening to the endless breaking of the waves on the shore, centered and completely at ease. It’s time to relish the fact that solitude is not synonymous with loneliness.

Intermittent sprays of briny mist coupled with sea-kissed breezes cool and soothe both mind and body as you watch the delicate swoops and dives of the seagulls, the living kites, playing out an improvised ballet on the coast below.

You sit up for a moment to gaze at the ocean, an implacable azure entity, heaving and recoiling tumultuously as if to flex its impressive muscles in arrogance. Surely, a subtle reminder from the mighty Neptune of our place in the hierarchy of things.

A day at the beach is all one needs for a renewed zest for life. The seemingly endless ocean could well be a testament to man’s mortality. A feeling that life needn’t be simply about existing, but rather about filling one’s sails with enough passion to successfully navigate the ups and downs of life’s temperamental seas.

 

 

Isn’t it fun to look back on the thoughts of a teenager raised in a different culture than our own? Perhaps I’ll publish some of her other experiences as a teenager in Fiji during the 1950s. (Elaine)

 

26
Aug

A Chance Encounter = A short story

Rolling thunder drowned out the clanging church bells across the street. Lightning zig-zagged across the sky. Fear clutched my heart as Mother Nature crashed around me. Was this reality, or had I been caught up in a time warp that transported me to another place–magical, ethereal, and terrifying? Stay calm. It’s just a sudden summer storm. A torrent of water rushed down the Austrian cobbled street, threatening to overflow the gutters onto my feet. Were the bells warning of some disaster? Had war been declared? Had someone assassinated the President? Did Austria even have a President?

Cold spines of rain stung my face and bounced off the pavement onto my legs. Another clap of thunder and a flash of lightning made me jump. I pulled my sweater tighter around my chest and huddled closer to the wall beneath the narrow, striped canopy. And then a man stepped beneath the awning and tilted his umbrella over my head. “Do you wish to share my umbrella?”

“Thank you, how kind.” His presence soothed my fear. My pattering heart slowed. “The storm came up so quickly, it caught me quite unawares.”

“Sudden storms are not unexpected at this time of year.”

We stood side by side beneath the canopy, watching the ribbons of lightning zigzag across the afternoon sky, chatting about bells and clouds and weather. I tilted my head toward the church towers. “Why are they ringing the bells? Is there an emergency? The street is flooded.”

“The priests ring the bells to frighten the storm clouds toward the next village.”

I suppressed a smile, doubting that bells could drive away the clouds. “If that’s true, I’m sorry to say, it’s not working. It’s been raining buckets for twenty minutes.”

“Oh, it’s working fine.” A smile lit up his face. “But, the next village also rings their bells, and the storm clouds get confused, so they drift back here again. From village to village they drift. Soon they will find a quiet place where they can rest.”

I was pleasantly amused, but did not wish to dispute his quaint belief in the magical power of the bells. As we talked, we stood shoulder to shoulder. His scent comforted me–a woodsy manly scent, strong and secure.

A train whistle pierced the air. At the sound, he turned. “My train... I’m sorry, I must go. You will be alright?”

“I’ll be fine. Thank you for sharing your umbrella and for the secret of the bells.”

He caught my hand and lifted it to his lips. “It’s been a pleasure. I wish we had more time to… Good-bye.”

We looked deep into each other’s eyes and in those few seconds, as his lips brushed my fingertips, I was whirled through another time warp. In that instant, surrounded by the lightning and the chiming of the bells, it was as though we shared a lifetime together, infinite days and endless nights of love. I heard the blare of a hundred marching bands, saw the night sky explode in a fifty years of New Year’s Eve fireworks, felt the coolness of a thousand springtime rains, the color of a hundred rainbows, and an untold myriad of golden sunsets…

The rain stopped as he released my hand, waved a final farewell and strode toward the train. As he disappeared into the station, the blare of marching bands…became the tinkling bells around the cow’s necks in a nearby field. A final streak of lightning…replaced the image of fireworks in the night sky. The sun came out…and cast sparkling rainbows through the dewdrops dripping from the awning.

His scent lingered, but as I reached for the place where he had stood, the memory of his touch melted through my fingertips. I ran toward the station, “Wait! I don’t even know your name. Wait!”

The whistle blew and the train clacked down the track. The magic spell was broken. Was it a crack in time and space? Was it another lifetime of love that two strangers shared in those few moments, or was it just a dream caused by the magic of the bells and the storm clouds?

****

Years have passed. I’ve had the best life one could hope for–marriage, a satisfactory career, and children. But, every time I hear church bells, I close my eyes and remember a summer storm in a faraway land.

I am reminded of church bells echoing from mountaintop to mountaintop, as the storm clouds scramble from village to village in their frantic search for a silent, peaceful place. Finally, they drift onto a quiet hillside where the only sound is the tinkling of cow’s bells, as they amble across the meadows and disappear into the mist…. and I remember the man I loved who was only a dream.

*****

If you enjoyed this story, please go to Amazon and look for my eight cozy mystery/adventures ($3.99 e-book) and an anthology of 'cat' stories ($2.99).

 

 

30
Jul

The Restoration Project

My husband, Leland, likes to tell one of his favorite adventures as a boy scout. In 1953, Leland was about eleven years old and lived in Satsop, Washington, with his uncle, Frank, the Scoutmaster for the local Boy Scout troop, That summer, the eleven Boy Scouts made a two-day trip into a nearby region to reforest a field with tree seedlings given to them by a local Forestry Agency.

The boys rode to the planting site in the back of the assistant Scout leader’s truck along with their camping gear and 3-4 flats of pine seedlings in little cups. They set up camp near a river and prepared for the project at hand.

First the restoration site had to be cleared of natural brush or branches, which was gathered and stacked on the far side of the planting site. Leland also remembers picking up litter, bottles, and refuse left by previous campers.

The Forestry Agency provided the scoutmaster written directions of exactly how the tree planting process should take place. The scoutmaster used pre-measured strings to measure approximately 15-20 feet and drove a stake into the ground to indicate where each seedling should be planted.

The scouts followed behind across the grassy field. Natural grass and weeds was cleared about 15” around each stake. This allowed the sunshine to warm the seedling and prevented weeds from encroaching.  The scouts dug a hole with a hand spade and tapped in the seedling, then progressed to the next stake. Over the next  two days, the scouts planted several hundred trees.

Prior to the trip, Leland’s Aunt Emma had made a batch of homemade root beer for the scouts’ camping trip. Not having enough coke bottles to bottle the root beer, Leland and his cousins approached a local tavern owner, who loaned them a case of brown stubby beer bottles, requesting the return of the bottles after the camping trip.

During the bright summer evening following a hard day of planting trees, the boys sat on the side of the hill above the road, laughing and joking and drinking Aunt Emma’s root beer bottled in the brown stubby beer bottles.

Drivers on the road below saw the Boy Scouts, still in their uniforms, laughing and rolling around on the hill, apparently drinking beer. One driver called the local authorities when she got home, scandalized that the local Boy Scout troop should behave in such an unseemly manner.

As the case of root beer dwindled and the boy’s behavior became more rowdy, the sheriff drove up, responding to the call of drunk and disorderly Boy Scouts drinking beer up on the hill.

The scoutmaster explained that the root beer was bottled in borrowed stubby brown beer bottles. The explanation was sufficient to send the sheriff on his way. However, it is unlikely that the jubilation that followed was the satisfaction of the scouts' hard work planting trees, or their amusement at the sheriff thinking there was real beer in the brown bottles. More likely, their hilarity was the result of Leland’s cousin adding raisins to Aunt Emma’s crock of homemade root beer, making it a light alcoholic drink. The following year, only soda bottles were used and Aunt Emma kept a closer eye on her crock of root beer.

The story of the tree planting and the homemade root beer was a closely guarded secret, told only around subsequent campfires where bottles of store bought root beer was the only type of soda allowed.

If you enjoyed this story, please share some of your own childhood memories that resulted in misunderstanding or humorous outcomes.

 

 

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