Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sepia Saturday 251: Three Tasmanian Coppers

Last week, my grandfather's horses were speaking to me from their photos. This week it's the police.  But I can pin the blame for my silliness on Marilyn for her Facebook suggestion that the cops were looking at Alan. 

 " you see that woman looking this way?" said John gruffly through his thick beard and moustaches. John's hirsute appearance matched his abrasive personality and he was visibly agitated. "That old cow is on the lam. I recognize her."

"Really John?" Charles said indifferently, thinking to himself that John's imagination was working over time again; even for an imagination inside someone else's imagination.  He understood it completely; afternoon street patrol in Hobart could get very, very slow.  Sometimes he felt that time was standing still. He folded his hands and observed with a faint smile, "Looks like an ordinary old sheila to me." 

"I'm telling you," said John with growing excitment, "I saw an ancient sepia colored flyer just the other day." He lowered his head and glowered into the dim light.  "It came in the postie from Manitoba. The RCMP have been after her for more than 50 years! Something about an illegal bonfire, smokin' and drinkin' under age and trespassing too. Done some real damage up there tromping through a field. Now here she is - thinkin' it's clear sailing cause half a century's passed." 

Harry, standing calmly by, harumphed at the absurdity of his mate's Clouseau-like allegations; he didn't bother to turn around and continued to stay focused on the street scene. John ranted on," Those RCMP blokes have no cold cases - they never stop until they get their man. Look at her, peering away at us just like someone with nothing on her conscience.  Bit of a brazen hussy."

Charles observed with a faint smile, "I think she's trying to read that boot sign over your head Johnny. Or the sign in the Chemist's window." He felt his head throbbing and somehow his world seemed to get alternately larger and smaller; larger and smaller. 

John was chafing at Charlie's casual attitude. "No Charlie," he said, " You're dead wrong! She's squinting at Harry's arse - that's what she's doing - no manners at all!" He paused and in a rare moment of thoughtfulness sized up the scene before speaking again. "Harry - at least you could move over to the left a bit and get your arse out of her sight!" Harry shifted to the other foot ignoring John which he'd learned was the wisest choice of action.

Raising his voice in frustration John asked, "Do we have no privacy here; is there no respect for the law? Let's get a warrant, reach in there and search her hard drive. Teach her a lesson for being so bloody nosy." 

"Too late Johnny," said Charles barely smothering a chortle, "She's figured you're onto her. Not as much of a drongo as you thought. Argghh...she's beat us to it and reaching for the publish switch. Gone, gone, gone - she's back on the lam again. And look at what she's done to us; left us standing here for eternity, framed."

Make a quick getaway to Sepia Saturday for more stories: Sepia Saturday #251

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Magpie Tales #42: Eau de Mothball

Magpie Tales #42 prompt - photo by 
My mother wore fur coats - not for fashion, but purely for warmth. In Winnipeg, Manitoba, winters are fierce and in the 50's we did not have the wonderful light weight and warm fabrics we can choose today. You stayed warm by wearing heavy thick clothing and most of the adult women wore fur coats, typically sheared seal or muskrat. The more affluent women in our city owned mink or even exotic skins, like leopard, but my mother's coats were practical garments, not status symbols. They weighed a ton and draped down to the tops of her boots. I can recall the feel of the soft fur on my face when I buried into her lap or stood under her arm.
My mother in fur with me
During summer months the coats were packed away in a cupboard downstairs which was spread liberally with smelly mothballs and kept tightly shut so the fumes would kill moths and their larvae. When the temperature dropped in late autumn, the cupboard was opened and out came the coats. Mom left them hanging outside during the day to air, but the smell never completely vanished. Most of our winter clothing had the whiff and it seemed to permeate everything. 

And so the prompt this week reminded me of my mother first but right afterward "Eau de mothball" - the perfume of Canadian winters.

For less moth-eaten reading head over to Magpie Tales

Monday, October 20, 2014

Closing the trapeze act

Although requests for performances continue to flood in, the Flying McHargues regret that their act has been retired. The Flying McHargues Fly no more!

I had to tell someone today that I no longer ride a bike because of Acoustic Neuroma related balance problems. Just for fun, I told her we stopped our trapeze act as well. There was a moment's hesitation and so for clarification I thought I should make an official announcement. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

ABCWednesday: O is for Oysters

An article appeared in the New Yorker magazine some time ago about freezing corpses for thawing in the future. The famous baseball player Ted Williams opted to be frozen in this way and sparked a huge controversy. The primary research into this practice was done on oyster embryos. Freezing and thawing; freezing and thawing. A former cryogenic researcher states that he pays $100.00 a year to keep two oyster embryos frozen; he has been maintaining them for 25 years. Somehow he just can't pull the plug on them - or let them thaw out and swim away, which he claims they will do. It fascinated me that a person could bond to, of all things, a frozen oyster embryo. Whenever I see anything about eating oysters I'm reminded of this researcher and his empathy for the bivalves we shuck and gulp down without a second thought.
Cruelest of all the stories about oysters is my childhood favorite, the narrative poem , "The Walrus and The Carpenter" from "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll. My father knew this poem by heart and used to enjoy reciting it for me with a glass of whiskey in one hand and a handkerchief for mopping up my tears for the poor little oysters in the other one. To this day, I cannot read the poem without feeling sad.

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done--
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead--
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"

"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head--
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat--
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more--
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."

"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?

"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf--
I've had to ask you twice!"

"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

Hop through the frothy waves and scramble to the shore of ABCWednesday for more "O" contributions.

Morph Suits Halloween

Hallowe'en again - time to think about a new morph suit. It's a fantasy of mine to attend an annual family event in a disguise that would render us totally unrecognizable. The hosts have no idea we'd show up. Mr. and Mrs. Checkerboard is kind of appealing. I think Richard could pull this off. 

 I could be Fat Man and the costume would cover some of my most recognizable features. I think I'd add a hat to this for complete coverage. And shoes.
But overall, my hands-down favorite is the Scary Clown suit which is so distracting it would make a perfect disguise for anyone of any body type. 

You can drink right through the suit, but you can also detach the head once the surprise is over
and you want to dig into the pumpkin cheesecake, the pumpkin creme brulee or the pumpkin ice cream.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sepia Saturday 250: Hector's Carvings

Hector Fortier - French Canadian Farm Art
I love the prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday - the colorized photo; the expression on the man's face; the tools; the clothing and in particular, the soles walking up the wall. The closest image I have is of my grandpa Hector seated with his carvings both in front and in back of him. 

My grandparents, Hector and Pulcherie moved from the farm to an average sized house and thence to a teeny tiny house on Alverstone Street in Winnipeg, the tiniest house they could find. I think they were just sick of taking care of things and this little house freed them from a lot of care. Like most couples, they'd never spent a lot of time in really close contact, both being busy people. When they found themselves in this little space, they got on each other's nerves. Grandpa had a little cellar below the house which became his carving room and his escape.  
The Fortier's tiny house
Hector was either a prodigious carver or my grandmother was really, really annoying because grandpa turned out hundreds of these funny little treasures, now considered Canadian folk art. He carved elephants, rhinos, horses and bears. He made quite a few mounties (RCMP), cowboys and many men with odd hats. One of my favorites was the bald, gold man - he had rhinestone eyes at one time; his lips were ruby red and he had a jumble of teeth. Grandpa probably thought it was a scary figure, but we kids never saw the gold man as menacing.

I regret that as a child growing up I didn't appreciate my grandfather's sense of humor. He didn't say much; he didn't hear well and my French was lousy, so communication wasn't great. Despite this fact, I felt his warmth; we smiled at each other a lot and I know he loved me and all his grandchildren. He was a kind and gentle man. 

Funny isn't it how life goes? Grandpa's motivation for carving wasn't to create art...he was escaping the company of my grandmother when he lodged himself in the basement working on these little figures. After all the things he accomplished in his life, it's ironic that these escape carvings remain as his legacy.  

For more thoughts on the prompt, visit Sepia Saturday and have a look around. 

Magpie Tales # 241: Reflecting on reflections.

Self-portrait, Vivian Maier 

“Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on.” – Vivian Maier

Dusty's Used Camera Shop
Somewhere, New York City

October 14th, 2014

Yo Vivian

Thanks for sending the self portrait - honestly, I can't believe anyone knew where I was!  I chuckled when I saw you chose to send me this one, out of all those we shot that day. There I am, front and center, hogging the spotlight as it were! And you were only partially in the picture! I have to admit I was so surprised to see my own reflection that I didn't pay close attention the rest of the shot.

Now that I look at it, I can see what genius was at work. The way you held the light; the reflection in the mirror of you and you and you and me and me and me; the way you can see both the front and back of you and me, but not completely. Only partial views - the way most of the rest of the world views us both. was such an honor to be held in your competent and talented hands for so long. What a team we made! Sitting here on the top shelf in the dust, my happiest moments are remembering our times together. It was a high point in my career that's for sure.

Again, thanks for the memories.....

Your pal,
Rollie Flex

Check out the other posts inspired by Mag #241

5 Sentence Fiction: Falling

After the cannon shot, as she was free falling through the air, dyslexic stunt woman Celia (Alice) C. Coyote chuckled to herself through her blackened teeth. She'd learned so much from cousin Wile E. and his desperate pursuit of Road Runner with implausible mail order gadgets like the Jet Propelled Unicycle and the infamous Spring Powered Shoes he ordered from the bastards at the ACME company. Hand on the parachute control, she gave it the final tap bracing herself for the engagement snap of the Never-Ever-Ever-Ever-Ever Fail Computerized Chute made by electronics giant, EMAC. As the ground came up to meet her she fell faster and faster finally smashing through the earth, leaving only her black silhouette behind, and realizing the slicksters at ACME had suckered themselves yet another Coyote.

Check out the rest of this week's stories at  Five Sentence Fiction!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

ABC Wednesday: N is for Nosy

New kitten - active nose
Although cats don't get as much information via the nose as dogs, my cats smell first with their little mouths open and ask questions later. Their mouths are open so they can expose air and aroma to their Jacobsen's Organ located behind the front teeth. Some people say cats are smiling when they have that odd look on their faces, but they aren't necessarily happy - just figuring things out.

We humans suffer mightily in the smell detection arena by comparison. Cats have between 80,000,000 and 100,000,000 odor sensing cells; dogs have over 200,000,000; we have a measly 6,000,000. My favorite canine sniffer is the blood hound. That lovable droopy face with all the saggy wrinkles serves an olfactory purpose. Aroma molecules dissolve in the sticky moisture that leaks from their eyes and gets trapped in the wrinkles, retaining more available smelly material  for the nose than dry-faced dogs have. The floppy ears provide an evolutionary advantage.  As it sniffs the ground the dog swings it's head from side to side and the dancing ears roil up odor molecules and waft them up to the nose.  An aroma we perceive as a whiff must be sensorily like a ten-ton truck to this animal's  nose.

In the end, the European Eel wins the smell detection contest, hands down. It has a sense of smell/perception so acute that it can detect the equivalent of a shot of vodka in Lake Erie. If you're looking for a bar on a rainy night you want an Eel wrapped around your GPS.

The average human can recognize up to 2000 odors. A trained person such as a "nose" in the perfume industry can learn to recognize up to 10,000.  I used to keep a vial of a flavor unfamiliar to me on my desk and "learn" it for a week, then change to another. I've retired this activity and now get my olfactory thrills from the garden and the perfume counter at Macy's where I spend too much time sniffing and not buying.

We never stop smelling - we can rest our other senses; put in ear plugs, close our eyes, shut our mouths. But we can never stop breathing. We smell each other and the world around us, breathing in 20,000 times per day and in every breath from 200,000 to 2,000,000 microscopic bits - stuff that's constantly floating around in the air: clay, ash from forest fires and volcanoes,  soil, fungus viruses, bacteria, rusts, molds, algae, spores to name only a few. Fortunately we "adapt" to aromas and once the brain has gotten the necessary information, it switches off and gives us a break. When you walk into a freshly painted room the impact of the smell is overwhelming but it soon eases off and disappears unless you focus on it. In the food business when our noses adapt, we sniff the inside of our arm (a part we keep unlotioned) which re-calibrates the sensory mechanism and gets the nose going again. There's nothing particularly magical about the's just handy (arggghh). In the perfume business, they sniff coffee beans. In fact, a couple of minutes of fresh air will do it, but you often can't do that when you're busy evaluating products and you're in an office building.

When we perceive aromas our limbic system is involved. Although it's a very complicated response, you could say that this area is the seat of memory and emotion. Aroma perception is very direct - we sniff and the limbic system gets the message directly - no complicated neural transfer like happens for instance with sight. This is why aroma is so evocative and can instantly arouse emotion....the aroma of something cooking, a perfume, the new car smell.  That wonderful whiff.

For more "N" stories, visit the site at:
ABC Wednesday

Friday, October 10, 2014

5 Sentence Fiction: She was always right!

The prompt for this week is the word "horizon".

The motorcycle engine was revving ominously outside on the driveway when he heard her striding down the hallway, boots clicking on the hardwood floor. She walked into the room and announced in a tone of savage bitterness,"That's it - I'm out of here!" He turned toward her voice and wiping the sweat from his forehead asked brokenly, "Is there nothing I can say; nothing left I can do?" She spat back at him with barely controlled rage, "No - just don't see anything!" and slammed out the door. In a state of shock, he stood shakily, leaning on his white cane, listening to the motorcycle roaring to the horizon.

Got a minute? For more very short stories head to Five Sentence Fiction

Thursday, October 09, 2014

ABC Wednesday: Mmmm Mmmm good

The M prompt for this week moved me to stop in the soup section of the supermarket where I was surprised at the array of logos and colors used on the Campbell's products. Based on past working experience with companies on new products I'm almost certain a series of marketing managers has come and gone, each one declaring that "The first thing we've got to do is change the packaging". How many times have I heard that? Happily they've left the original soups alone. I'm so mired in the past that I have to admit I was saddened when "Mmmm Mmmm Good" as their advertising tag line hit the dust.

All the newish stuff is quite different. The one product that stands out as typical of the au courant marketing strategy for everything (i.e. sell the experience of using the product and less the product itself) from houses and cars to soup and nuts is this one pictured below.  "Campbell's Go" ready-to-eat soup with the hipster face on the front in a kind of selfie pose, saying "Gimme some grain!"  Don't you think it would be funny if he was saying, "Mmmm Mmmmm Good!"

But no, times have changed - the model sports the demographic-appropriate ( millenials aged 18 - 34) two-day beard growth. Life is uncomplicated for this guy. No problemo! Right, it is no problem if you've got $2.99 to spend on soup for which it seems the millenials have even though they're under-employed. They're the dine-out ready-to-eat generation and willing to spend for quality. And convenience. You microwave this soup in the pouch - and pour into a bowl to eat. Heating on the stove is a secondary instruction which conveys the idea that the soup was formulated specially for microwaving. I like the fingerprint on the sides showing where you grab it once it's hot.

Canned soup sales are steadily declining and Campbell's has to do something. It will be interesting to see how these products fare.

Swing by  ABC Wednesday  for mesmerizing vignettes, stories, photos and poems featuring the letter "M".

P.S. Even if you love this packaging when you look at the art or the slick photos taken for advertising, you'd probably change your mind when you see it in the marketplace. From the top shelf looking down at you, the faces are distorted by lighting and crinkling and look almost menacing. And the price at our Albertson's is $3.99. That's a lot of dough for soup. In my opinion.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Sepia Saturday 249: Am I losing it?

"If two men are on a horse, one has to be behind." Shakespeare

When I looked at the prompt this week I immediately saw that the two white horses were sizing up the two passengers and comparing notes. And I could imagine what they were saying.....

"Will you look at those horses asses fooling around with their hats? I'm glad we're not working for those clowns. Sorry for rolling my eyes so much, but the guy with the beard is an idiot!"

"Yeah, well as if that's not enough -  we've got the real horses asses on our right! I swear they smell like they've been eating sauerkraut all day. You'd think Harry would have a little consideration. After working all day, he could have picked out a better parking spot for us."

If my grandfather's horses talked, I'm sure they would have made some disparaging remarks on this auspicious day in the photo below, when they moved the house from one farm to another. Curmudgeonly horses from neighboring farms were helping out. Might an equine conversation have gone something like this?

"We're going to move this house??? Right. What the hell was Hector thinking? These Fortiers go from one nutty scheme to another. Last week it was the paperless cigarettes! 

Oh well, lean in boys - we're here now. Let's pull hard and get this over with."

Not content with moving the whole house, Hector moved the smaller buildings to the new farm one at a time and the horses were pretty much fed up with it all.

"Not Again? What are we - Bekin's Moving and Storage? Seriously, is this in our job description? That's what you get for a job well done. Another job. Oh well, at least we're in the front this time."

And finally we have my grandfather on an ordinary day in his hay wagon with his beloved team, Blacky and Blaze, who appear to be having a chat. I've discovered that once the horses start talking in your photos, there's no shutting them up! 

Blacky (on the left). "I'm telling you...if he sings that song one more time, I'm going to scream. Pulling this hay wagon is tough enough without HIM bellowing out those dumb farmer songs all day."

Blaze (on the right). "And you think I'm enjoying it? If it weren't for the hay at the end of the day, I'd make a run for it. Argghh..please just a little peace and quiet. Silencieux Hector, s'il vous plait!"

Am I losing it? ....or did I have a little too much "Mr. Ed" in my teens?

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.
Go right to the source and ask the horse
He'll give you the answer that you'll endorse.
He's always on a steady course.
Talk to Mister Ed.
People yakkity-yak a streak and waste your time of day
But Mr. Ed will never speak unless he has something to say.
A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And this one'll talk 'til his voice is hoarse.
You never heard of a talking horse?
Well listen to this: "I'm Mister Ed". 

This song was originally posted at:

For more stories inspired by this photo and assuredly more mature than mine, head for Sepia Saturday.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Magpie Tales #240: The Getaway Dress

Guacamole Gulch Fashion Catalog
"Clothing for the unimaginable" 


ON SALE $59.95 (includes shipping and handling)

Exclusive to us, our getaway dress is made with hand ground dyes specially chosen to match your escape requirements. Comes in asphalt grey, concrete grey, desert sand, camouflage and ochre.  The tightly woven non-flammable fabric resists pilling, snagging and blood stains. Skirt buttons can be worn open for fence climbing and wall scaling or modestly buttoned up, once on the other side. Goes well matched with running shoes or hiking boots. Gathered pocket neatly conceals a hand gun and box cutter if desired. Drop flat on the ground wearing our dress and disappear into the landscape. Machine wash; dry on low setting and it's ready for your next adventure. 

Magpie Tales is a blog dedicated to the enjoyment of poets and writers, for the purpose of honing their craft, sharing it with like-minded bloggers, and keeping their muses alive and well. Read other submissions inspired by this prompt here Magpie Tales

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Gone Girl

Richard dropped me off at the box office and went to park the car. Through the glass enclosure, I requested two seniors, sliding my $20 under the glass. The young girl attendant, hair swinging in her pony tail passed me back $4 with a big smile. She turned back to her text book, marking it furiously with a yellow highlighter. I noticed her fingernails were painted a smokey blue color which matched her eye shadow.

Why do they have the ticket process set up with that awkward slit to pass money and tickets through? I doubt they ever have more cash on hand than say a 7-11 store.

I waited in the foyer listening to the popcorn popper aka money machine, almost swooning from the smell of exploding corn and deconstructing butter. The snack counter reputedly takes in more money than the box office in a typical theatre but there's no security there. I started to go for the popcorn  when Richard came in and the spell was broken. 

Inside Theatre1, it was darker than a coal mine. I could not see my hand in front of my face and in the dark I teeter around (no visual references for ground zero) and frequently lose my balance.  Richard propped me up and nudged me along, half-pushing me into a aisle seat at the back. It was a temporary seat until our eyes adjusted to the light - but wonder of wonders, as we acclimated we realized the theatre was pretty full. From the back we could see the silhouettes of heads hovering above all the good seats on the aisle. We stayed put.

Our timing was off; we were way too early. We try to avoid the dreaded coming attractions during which the sound is deafening (unless you're already deaf) and the walls shake. Three films are coming: basically all the same fantasy action things - 80% special effects/animation. Raptor-like monsters shrieking and screaming swoop down on scantily clad women; rows and rows of armored creatures swing swords and clubs. Yawn. Also upcoming is Fifty Shades of Grey which pretty much describes the Fallbrook early bird film audience. Another yawn...the two characters appear (to me) to have zero perceptible chemistry. As you couldn't scrape up a teaspoon of either estrogen or testosterone from that theatre audience, the snippets of heavy breathing and moaning were falling on deaf ears.  At last, on comes Gone Girl and OMG I can't hear any of the dialogue. Gone sound! The principal characters meet in New York at a trendy party. The sound mix was horrible and background noise obscured the speech, just like in real life! I wasn't the only one squirming around straining to hear. Sound was bad through the whole thing; Richard, with 100% of his hearing intact, agreed. 

Nevertheless the film was entertaining and because the author also wrote the screen play it was true to the story. My guess is that most of the audience had read the book and most of us knew what was going to happen. On film, the violence is more, well, violent. Smack of slaps, smash of heads and gushing blood for various reasons; all this is easier to read (for me) than to watch.  The abandoned shopping center, so spooky in the book, hardly makes an appearance in the film and when it does, you'd be hard pressed to figure out what it is. No problem, except for those fond of dystopian visuals, because the main character is spooky and crazy enough to keep everyone engaged. Rosamund Pike is perfectly cast. 

Two films kept crossing my mind for similarities - Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (no surprise, same director) for the fearless female character and Rosemary's Baby, except in this film it's Ben Affleck's baby. 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Magpie Tales #239: Pumpkinville

Autumn-in-madeira jacek yerka

April stared through the windshield at the patchwork wall in disbelief. The light was faintly orange.

"We really shouldn't have tried driving home." she mumbled shakily.  "That last cup of hot mulled wine did me in. I'm really dizzy." April wiped the sweat off her forehead. "How did we get up here?"

"I followed your directions like an idiot." he replied angrily. "Why did I turn left even though I could see this is a giant, fucking pumpkin! What kind of dolts drive up a pumpkin?"

"Plastered idiots. That's who." she replied. "God, it wouldn't be quite so bad if we didn't have these costumes on." She wiggled in her seat and pulled at her crotch, uncomfortable in the too-short tights. "We're toast if someone around here calls the police. Like the people that own this patch. A couple of senior citizens dressed as Batman and Robin and half crocked to boot? Goodbye drivers license! I told you we should have dressed as the Nixons like always."

David collected himself and started the engine. "Oh stop horribilizing it all. I'll try backing up - maybe we'll get a little traction going in reverse." He pulled the cape away from his shoulders and started inching the car downhill when the back end sunk into the pumpkin goo right up to the axle. He gunned the engines and the car sunk a little deeper. The air smelled like pumpkin pie and she got even dizzier dangling as they were at a precipitous angle. The next thing she heard were the familiar sirens heading their way; she struggled to get her black wig and columbine off. 

David, sweating under his mask, turned to her with a know-it-all smirk and barked, "April, take off your make-up." What? Or was he saying, "April, Wake up! Wake up!" Ever so cautiously, she opened one eye and saw the patchwork quilt bedspread under her pounding head. And in the thin morning light, she could just make out the big pumpkin perched near the front door where they'd set it up last night. Were those tire tracks across the front?


Magpie Tales is a blog dedicated to the enjoyment of poets and writers, for the purpose of honing their craft, sharing it with like-minded bloggers, and keeping their muses alive and well. Read poems and more vignettes at Magpie Tales Blogspot

Friday, October 03, 2014

My Ears Hung Low

When I saw the prompt, I thought back to my very few days wearing a uniform, to wit when I belonged to the Canadian Girls in Training or CGIT. My father used to call it "Cutest Girls in Town", embarrassing me to no end. The organization was an alternative to Girl Guides and a Christian (Protestant) program intended to improve a girl's moral character.
I'm front on left, Linda Wiebe is front on the right.
Our uniforms were white and blue middy blouses. One year and one year only I went to the summer camp. My girlfriends all participated too and as I recall, we had fun swimming and learning some crafts like wood burning - everyone etched their names into signs. Looking at this photo, I don't look very happy - probably just got a chunk taken out of me by one of the billions of mosquitoes. There was never a dull moment because in the Canadian woods there's always mosquito swatting and bite scratching to while away the time. I believe we had a few leech situations as well (didn't I throw that in casually?). Sleeping away from home for a whole week was challenging and we got very homesick; I remember that week seemed like a month. If someone got a care package, it was a big deal.

One camp song stands out in my memory:

 "Do your ears hang low".. Here are the lyrics although I'm guessing almost everyone has heard them.

Do your ears hang low?
Do they wobble to and fro
Can you tie them in a knot?
Can you tie them in a bow?

Can you throw them over your shoulder
Like a Continental soldier,
Do your ears hang low?

I googled the song to see if I could find anything interesting about it, because that's what Sepia Saturday drives you to do, and I was shocked to read that the original version was a soldier's song and the lyrics were slightly different. My father was a WW1 veteran and I'm thinking he probably knew this nasty version of the song. I wonder what went through his mind when I came home from camp singing this song over and over again. 

Soldiers' version

The lyrics of the World War I version of "Do Your Balls Hang Low?" are recorded as
Do your balls hang low?
Do they dangle to and fro?
Can you tie them in a knot?
Can you tie them in a bow?
Do they itch when it's hot?
Do you rest them in a pot?
Do you get them in a tangle?
Do you catch them in a mangle?
Do they swing in stormy weather?
Do they tickle with a feather?
Do they rattle when you walk?
Do they jingle when you talk?
Can you sling them on your shoulder
Like a lousy f------ soldier?
Do your balls hang low?

Here's a cute children's version (the clean one)  if you want to hear it.

Children's Song

And I'll add my favorite photo of someone reading the Saturday Evening Post just because I like it so much. After viewing, march quickly, without looking over your shoulder, to the other posts on Sepia Saturday for more interesting stories.
Library of Congress photo.

Mr. Cashew

We have a new family member, Mr. Cashew, who joined us this week. Poor little thing was neutered and then had a long trip. He's five months old and starting to look more like a cat than a kitten. For the first few days he was under the bed, but he's gradually gotten used to us and now has half the house to wander. Pink, the older cat looks at him through the screen door and doesn't seem to be too upset by hissing or screaming. I think they're going to get along just fine.

Here's a photo of his Dad, Blazing Red...a champion Somali. We don't care about pedigree, but most people who own Somalis show them, thus the fancy photo.

I have a photo of Cashew's litter mate...she's very dainty and girlish. She went to a home in New York. I think she'll have a lighter coat than he has. There were only two kittens in the litter.
Mr. Cashew's sister.

Mr. Cashew's Mom as a kitten.


Flying on Air China from Lhasa to Kathmandu, we saw Mt. Everest from the plane window. Everyone on the "wrong" side (that would be the other side) rushed over to our side to take pictures and get a good look. Richard's sunglasses got pranged in the melee and we feared the plane would tip! When you're in this part of the world, seeing Everest is a really big deal. People pay a fortune to come here and unfortunately some fail to even catch a glimpse. Either you're lucky or you're not. We were lucky.

We stayed in luxury at the Hyatt Regency.  We knew there would be much discomfort to endure on this trip but the one thing we could assure was a decent night's sleep and an edible meal if we stayed at over-the-top (for us) hotels. This place was about a bubble in the middle of noisy, colorful, crowded, smelly, wonderful Kathamandu.

Dining room - Hyatt Regency
Everything in Kathmandu seemed more vivid than elsewhere: colors, happiness, sadness, anger, love, religious rhapsody, festivals. As you walk through the markets and the streets you see a little of everything and it's a feast for the senses. When the vendors come at you with necklaces (seems to be a specialty in Kat) they wheedle, they hard-sell and soft-sell, they negotiate; some beg and whine, they argue with you, they do almost anything to start an exchange! Great sales people, they operate at the nitty-gritty level with one clear purpose: to separate you from $5.00. Of course, we bought too much and purchased totally inappropriate things we'll never wear, having been talked to death - talked into submission.
Our guide was excellent and every minute of our time was thoughtfully scheduled. There are few surprises when you travel this way, but we got plenty of stimulation; our days were full of delights and we didn't have to worry about schedules or spend time getting lost, juggling maps or figuring things out. I would not even think about attempting "doing it yourself" in this madhouse of a city. The guide did it all and he would adjust things depending on traffic - a huge consideration in Kathmandu. 

Madhouse electric poles
Some of the highlights:

Monkeys playing in their own swimming pool. These monkeys were absent restraint or fear of any kind, leaping from rocks high above the pool into the water. They'd twist and turn mid-air doing all sorts of fancy dives. Never seen monkey business like this anywhere before.

On the "diving board" working up their nerve.

Walking around the city seeing the markets and various ancient sites dodging the traffic - rickshaws, cars, motorcycles.

Strolling along a village path seeing people at work, doing laundry, working in the fields, waiting for the bus, visiting with neighbors, was a delight. Almost everybody has a marijuana plant in their yard - maybe that's why they all seem so happy. 
Everyone pitches in for weeding. 

A brand spanking new electric crematorium has been installed in the city and was going to start operating the day after we witnessed the old-style cremations, probably the last ones performed this way. Families will have far more privacy with the indoor equipment but much of the human interaction and the earthiness of it all will disappear. They're installing the new equipment because of environmental concerns, not to change the customs.

People are cremated the same day they die in Kathmandu. While we were at the site, three or four cremations were on-going. Crowds of relatives and friends were there, some participating in anointing the body with colors or with flowers; some washing the corpse with holy water; some overcome with grief. Emotions are pretty raw, as people have barely time to comprehend what has happened to their loved one before he or she is ablaze and into the river. I found myself in tears of sympathy for one family; the dead person was very young and looked to have a head injury - probably wiped out on a motorcycle. Driving any kind of vehicle is very dangerous on the over-crowded streets.

Monkeys waiting to move in after the cremation and snatch the offerings, often fruit. People sit in a kind of gallery and watch the proceedings. 
Family, friends getting the fires going under the corpse. 
Debra gets a blessing.

Young dead man, very sad. Being washed and anointed. 
Kids having a swim 30 feet from cremations. 
Life goes on, as shown by the contrast between the cremations of the dead and these super-alive, vigorous kids playing in the water about 30 feet away from the cremations, oblivious to the suffering and sadness.  Or accepting of these emotions as a part of the life cycle. The fake/real holy men (can't really tell them apart) hang around here because the tourists pay the for pictures. Something for everybody!
Holy man at cremations. I've seen his photo in many travel articles about Kathmandu.