Harbour Secrets

With thanks to our gentle and diplomatic Friday Fictioneers host Rochelle Wisoff–Fields, and to Fatima Fakier Deria for this week’s photo prompt. It was HARD but I actually told the tale in 100 words.

My computer is for some reason uncooperative, but at Rochelle’s blog you can click on the “Frog” and read the stories other bloggers have posted in response to this photo.

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

“I wonder how many ships down there are running drugs?”

Andy turned to the senior manager standing by the window. “What makes you…. Oh, hey. I’m sorry, Marv.”

Marv nodded and turned to go, icy anger replacing his usual grin. Exiting the office he suddenly slammed his fist into the door-frame.

The junior clerk looked up, shocked.

“Last week police found Marv’s grandson and fiancee dead in his apartment,” Andy explained. “That new street drug…the one cops are warning about…”

The clerk swore softly. A few minutes later he headed for the toilet…and flushed six white tablets.

O Molly, I’ll Never Forget!

Hello Everyone,

It’s been awhile. For those of you who don’t follow my main blog, I had my first round of chemo-therapy April 11th & 12th. Each day involved about six hours hooked up to IV. You can read about it here. By now I think I’ve mostly recovered; this week I’m starting to feel more energy and tackle more household tasks.

I may not be doing a lot of fiction stories for awhile, but I still get the urge be-times. Yesterday morning I wrote this scrap of poetry just for fun:

Molly O’Haggerty O’Rourke
my colleen from county o’ Cork
Oh, I’ll soon be sailing
and she’ll soon be wailing
My fortune I seek in New York.

Says Molly O’Haggerty O’Rourke,
“Your colleen from county of Cork
sure, you’ll be forgettin’
as soon as you’re settin’
your eyes on the girls of New York”

I says to her, “Love, don’t be clowned—
a truer love never was found.
I’ll send for you, sweetheart;
sure, we’ll make a new start
and light up the streets of York town.

The Castle of Blood

Once Upon A Time…

Trembling with every step, I made my way down the dim corridor of the castle. I knew what was ahead and I dreaded it, but one of the noble princes of our land had commanded me to appear there and I could not escape my fate.

At the end of the hall a woman waited, grasping in her bony fingers a long rubber band. I shuddered as I advanced toward her. She wanted my blood.

Where, oh, where, can my fairy godmother be staying these days? Why does she not swoop down to rescue me from this ordeal?

For me there has been no reprieve from this long corridor and this constant bloodletting. Oh, so many times I had to present myself to this woman with the sinister smile. So many times she reached out and took hold of my arm, drawing me into her room. So many times — yet it was never enough. All too soon she wanted yet more.

I cringed as she punctured my vein, laughing all the while. She would take my blood and spin it, twirl it, torture it. Would she love to do the same with my body, I wonder? Thankfully, permission has not been granted her to torture my flesh — and she is not allowed to pierce my jugular vein. So I have escaped with my life.

She drained enough blood to fill three pots, relishing the bright red tone. Then she released me and I fled that terrible enclave. Outside the castle door my knight in shining armor waited to carry me off to his mansion, where I might recover until the next summons comes and they want yet more of my precious blood.

As we walked back to our carriage, we heard a sound like a bull frog and turned to see what odd creature was lurking nearby. At last our eyes located the source of this unearthly sound: up in a pine tree beside the castle a raven peered down at us. No doubt he was disappointed there was no flesh for him to feast on.

My reply to today’s WordPress prompt isn’t quite a fairy tale, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

Making a Man of Himself

…………Two of a Kind………….

Perhaps you have heard this story before
but I’m sure you won’t mind if I tell it once more:
of a farmer who lived in a cottage so fine,
whose one major fault was his love of strong wine.

He’d leave all his work for the slightest excuse
and drive off to town with his team and caboose;
he’d drink till the close of the day was at hand,
then bring home a jug of his favourite brand.

The little brown jug was hidden away
on a shelf in the pen where the hogs used to lay.
One night while imbibing too freely of wine,
he dozed off to sleep in the pen with the swine.

The jug was upset; the pig drank the brew
and soon such a feeling no hog ever knew;
he ran ‘round the pen and he tried to jump out,
then playfully rooted the man with his snout.

The pig became dizzy and soon he got sick;
he laid on the floor and started to kick.
He hit the old farmer right square on the nose;
from the pain of the blow Farmer quickly arose.

“You miserable brute,” the old farmer said,
“If I had a gun I’d blow off your head.”
The hog said: “You see, ‘twas that jug on the shelf,
but I’ll never again make a MAN of myself.”

I thought you might find this poem worth reading.
It was written by Saskatchewan poet Roy Lobb, born circa 1892.

Walk Beside Me Awhile

Take A Few Minutes to Listen

In the course of bustling around the hospital ward, Nurse Edith came past the room of an elderly lady who’d been in the hospital for a short time, recovering from surgery. The old dear was starting to shuffle around again; now she was standing in the doorway and called to Edith as she went past. With a cheerful smile Edith stopped to see if the lady needed anything.

“Isn’t there a television room at the end of the hall?” the old lady asked. “Would you help me to go there?”

“Sure I will. But it will be such a long walk for you, dear. Let me find a wheelchair and I’ll zip you down there in no time.” Edith looked around for a chair.

“Oh, you needn’t do that. The walk will do me good. Just take my arm and I’ll manage if we take it slowly.”

So Nurse Edith took the woman’s arm and accompanied her down the hallway; the old dear visiting with her the whole time. When they entered the lounge Nurse Edith led her toward a recliner. “Here’s a nice comfy chair for you, dear. I’ll turn the television on if you like. Would you like a pillow and blanket?”

“Oh, I don’t plan to stay here. I’m not interested in watching TV really, but I’ve so much been wishing for someone to talk to. I’ve observed you tending to other patients and you seem like such a kind, friendly person I thought you would oblige me. But you can take me back to my room now.”

What could Edith say? Her heart went out to this poor woman recovering from a bad bout and just wanting someone to talk to. With a sweet smile she took the old lady’s arm again and they went back down the same hall, chatting all the way.

Have you lent a listening ear to anyone today? If so, I hope the Lord will give you a blessing for it.

Beware of Broken Bones!

My ONLY Chance!

We were living near Stratford, Ontario when this incident happened. It was a bitterly cold evening in January and we’d just finished supper when our thirteen-year-old daughter got a phone call. As she talked we could see by the gleam in her eye that someone was offering an enticing activity. We heard her say she would ask, and saw how excited she was as she hung up the phone.

It turns out some of the teens were going tobogganing that evening and wondered if she would like to go along. We frowned. “I just have to go,” she told us. “They hardly ever ask me.”

The temperature had been around -40 degrees that day — C or F, at that depth there’s no difference —and now it was dark. We had our reservations…

“Please,” she begged. “This will be my ONLY chance this winter. If I don’t go tonight, they may never ask me again!”

Reluctantly we agreed. After all, who were we to ruin our daughter’s social life forever for a few safety concerns? So friends who lived near us came to get her, loaded up her toboggan and drove to the hill where the activity was to take place; a number of thirteen- to seventeen-year-olds were already gathered with their equipment. One of their “sleds” was actually a tractor tire inner tube they sat on — and hung on for dear life —  as they flew down the hill.

The phone call came about eight-thirty — a friend who lived across from the hill called on his way to the hospital — saying he was taking our daughter to emergency. She and another girl were going down on this inner tube when they hit a bump and both went flying. The other girl was alright, but our daughter had been hurt. He didn’t think there was too much to be concerned about, but we’d want to come and check on her.

When the sun shines during the day and the temperature drops so low after sundown, the melted surface snow forms glare ice, rock hard. This was what she’d come down on, head and one shoulder first. She’d been knocked unconscious. The young people, not knowing what else to do, had grabber her arms and dragged her up to the top of the hill again.

Our friend told us that when she’d come to again, at the top of the hill, she was complaining that her shoulder hurt. Being dragged uphill by your arms would make for some hurts, but I immediately became concerned for fear she’d broken her collar bone. My Mom Forsyth was a St John’s Ambulance instructor for years and I learned from her that you must NEVER move a person with broken bones.

(Health fact: You can actually KILL a person by moving them when they have a broken collar bone. The broken bone can pierce the jugular vein and they bleed to death.)

Bob rushed to the hospital; I had to stay home because some girls were coming over — I forget why. He phoned later to tell me that she was still groggy and that an x-ray showed she had a broken collar bone. I fretted and fumed after the fact, alternating between thanking God she was still alive and wishing someone had known something about first aid.

It was indeed the last time that winter that she went tobogganing. It took a few weeks for her broken bone to heal. Also, we learned later that another woman, mother to some of the school children, had taken their class tobogganing that afternoon and had more or less the same mishap on a toboggan, flying off and breaking her collar bone. The owner of the property said, “Enough of this,” and closed that hill to tobogganers for the rest of the winter.

Yesterday was ‘Different’

These past two days have been unusual ones for us here. Yesterday morning we on the road to Saskatoon shortly after 6 am, as I was to be at the St. Paul’s Hospital Admitting by 7:15 am for a tympanoplasty.

I had tubes put in my ear drums twenty-some years ago, back in Ontario, so I wouldn’t suffer so much from fluid buildup and ear infections. The tubes remained in place for years until one by one they fell out, leaving little holes. The left eardrum was patched about eight years ago, now my ENT specialist deemed it wise to patch the right one as well. He planned to snip a bit of skin from the back of my ear and tack it over the hole.

As we were headed toward Delisle a snowy owl flew across the road ahead of the car. In the dim light it gives one a start to see this big white thing go flapping across your path!

We were just in time to meet morning shift workers en route to the potash mine, too. Between Delisle and Saskatoon there are two big potash mines; if you happen to pass by at the right time you get to see just how man people work at them. Between 6:30, when we got to the second mine’s turn-off, and 6:45 we passed a solid stream of headlights coming our way, for several miles.

Bob dropped me off at the hospital and had lots of time to do his shopping and whatever else, as my surgery was scheduled for 10:15 and didn’t happen until 10:45 am. Since it involved a general anesthetic I was out for several hours, waking a few times just enough to let the folks in Recovery know I would make it yet.

I did get up around 2pm and had a very belated breakfast. By 3pm the nurse said the doctor would be around to see me and then I could go, so I called Bob. He got there before 3:30 and we waited…and waited…and waited.

By 5 pm the nurses decided to page the doctor, just in case he forgot—and learned that he was at home already. The nurses explained that he’d had an emergency to deal with in the afternoon; after that he did forget all about me and just went home. So he told them that, yes, I could go home, too.

The doctor had packed some padding into my outer ear canal to hold the patch in place and I had to stop and pick up pain medication, so we had some supper as well. By the time we’d left the hospital I was feeling a headache-earache-jaw ache combo that made me think he’d sliced about 1/3 off the side of my head – all because of one little patch of skin. Had good reason to think of the apostle Paul’s words about when one member of the body suffers, all the members suffer with it!

While I was safe in the hospital the north wind was growing stronger, so by the time we got on our westward way home it was a force to be reckoned with–especially where the highway went up in the air over the train tracks. There we really felt the wind give us a sideways push! Even though there was no fresh snow, the wind was blasting what snow there was across our path in white-outs wherever there were open fields beside us.

The wind apparently broke previous records Saskatoon, with gusts up to 115 kmph (or 69 mph.) It blew out a big office window downtown and blowing over a cell phone tower, among other things. But the temperature was warmer, thankfully, only 7.5̊  C. (45.5̊ F)

When we crossed the railway tracks just west of our little corner of the world, an owl flew up. I thought maybe it was the snowy owl again, but Bob said it was too grey. Must have been the Grand Duke himself. (Great-horned owl.) As we drove in the yard we saw some white stuff rippling in the wind and realized it was weatherproofing plastic that had blown off our garage and caught on the caragana bushes. (We need to put proper siding on our garage one of these days.)

In the evening I checked out my 49 new e-mails and generally puttered. Got a phone call from the forgetful-but-apologetic doctor. Then I slept awhile, went to bed after midnight, then got up at 3am this morning and started the laundry. (Overdose of sleep yesterday, I guess.) At 4am it was only -2̊ C and the cats were wanting to be outdoors—for about ten minutes or so each time.

This morning I was doing some more online genealogical research and learned that three of my great-grandfather’s brothers married Margarets. Can you imagine what family gatherings that would give? I noticed in the marriage records that a John Vance married a Mary Smith. I sure hope that wasn’t Gr-Grampa’s oldest brother, seeing as Gr-Grandma was a Mary Smith, too. No wonder family tree roots are so hard to untangle!

I’ve been thinking about my blog(s) for a long time and wondering how to sort out all the things I like to write. “According to the experts,” a blog should have one principal topic and this one has so many! That’s why I started the blog for poetry and a separate one for haiku. My cousin has the Family Tree research taken care of in Vance-Turner Connect. Maybe I should start one just for fiction stories and writing tips, too?

I’ve been contemplating doing one letter a week just for personal news, for the folks that know us and our church group here – and could do this on another blog rather than posting it all here. What do you think?

As you know I’ve been posting a royal mix—writing tips, fiction, devotional articles, personal stories, poetry—on here, but perhaps some readers don’t care for that at all? Do you enjoy, or dislike, this mixture? I’d appreciate hearing your opinions on what would make my blogs more appealing to you as readers.

And by the way, a BIG WELCOME to all my new readers. Hope you will find some of these articles inspiring and thought-provoking.

Fractured Phrases

Note from me:
Lilly has come up with a good list of what NOT to say in the way of consolation.

A p r o n h e a d -- Lilly

159 - Copy

It’s only money

is easy to say when you have some.

This too shall pass

only applies to the things that do, not the things that don’t.

Get over it

is harder to do when you feel flat under it.

Cheer up

is hard to master when you are down.

I’ll be praying for you

is only good when it is real and not just a God bless you after a sneeze.

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Antiquarian Anabaptist

There are things that I wish that I would have understood better when my parents were suffering with dementia.  Above all, I wish I could have understood that even though their personalities had changed and their memories seemed to be gone, the father and mother that I had once known were still there, though unable to communicate.

I am beginning to understand how important it is to talk to such people and demonstrate our love in other ways, even though we see no sign of understanding and response.  And in some way that is unfathomable to us, God is still able to communicate with people with dementia.

Yesterday I attended a volunteer appreciation tea, put on by one of the hospitals in Saskatoon, for those who are involved in the Sunday morning chapel services.  The conversation got around to how important it is to older people to hear the familiar…

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