Buckwold House

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Photo credit: J Hardy Carroll

With thanks to our gentle and diplomatic Friday Fictioneers host Rochelle Wisoff–Fields, and to J Hardy Carroll for the © photo that’s prompting us to spin our yarns this week.

Buckwold House

We’ll have to appropriate it. We can’t have this monstrosity spoiling our new subdivision.”

“Does the owner say why she won’t sell?”

“Sentimental reasons. Years back Buckwold House was a rehab hospital for war veterans. She nursed here, met her sweetheart, but he never recovered enough to leave the place. I gather she visited him faithfully until the day he died. Later she inherited a bundle and bought the property. She’s been here ever since — refusing all offers.”

“Well, you can’t fight City Hall.”

Next day’s news headline read: “Buckwold House spinster dies of heart failure.”

The battle was over.

Day By Day Deeds of Kindness

An interesting thing happened one day at the Doughnut shop where I worked some years back. there were a few derelicts that came in from time to time, usually just to ask for a drink of water. One of them had come in and was standing beside a table when a car pulled up to the drive-thru window.

I had taken her order; now I handed the thirty-something woman in the car the coffee she’d requested. As she handed me her money she included another $1.50, pointing to the derelict and saying, “Give that man a coffee, too.”

I doubt if she knew him at all, just noticed his poverty and thought a cup of coffee might soothe it a bit. I also doubt he would have had the money to buy himself a coffee. He was very grateful when I called him over to the counter and handed him the beverage. Her small act of kindness happened in a minute’s time, but it touched me deeply and has stayed with me for years. Probably because it reproved my own attitude, my unwillingness to share with down-and-out types.

“Remember that the opportunity for great deeds may never come, but the opportunity for good deeds is renewed day by day. the thing for us to long for is the goodness, not the glory.”  F.W. Faber

Winter Whimper!

It was c-c-c-cold here this morning. When I checked the weather at 8am it was -37 C in Saskatoon with a wind speed at 16 kmph, which gives a wind chill factor of -50 C.
Translation for our Yankee friends:
A temp of -34F with a 10 mph wind makes it feel like -58 F.

Of course the weather was one subject we discussed over dinner at the Villa. (I’m cooking there today.) Wilbert Esau is living at the Villa again for a few weeks as he recovers from his broken hip. At the dinner table he talked of one morning up in the Peace River country when it was extremely cold.

He and his dad had taken the team of horses to town and the temp was -73 that day. Thankfully there wasn’t even a puff of wind! He said the horses’ puffed along and their breath just hung in the air like little white clouds, much like the jet streaks you see in the sky. All the way home again they saw these little clouds just hanging motionless in the air.

A Winter Night
by Sarah Teasdale

My window-pane is starred with frost,
The world is bitter cold to-night,
The moon is cruel, and the wind
Is like a two-edged sword to smite.

God pity all the homeless ones,
The beggars pacing to and fro,
God pity all the poor to-night
Who walk the lamp-lit streets of snow.

My room is like a bit of June,
Warm and close-curtained fold on fold,
But somewhere, like a homeless child,
My heart is crying in the cold.

Get The Facts Straight

“Where were you when the lights went out?”

Remember that question, popular in the early seventies? Do you remember the incident it stems from? Do you remember the Beegees’ song “When the Lights All Went Out in Massachusetts?” Hey, you’re as old as I am!

One day my mind went back to that long dark night, so I asked some friends these questions. They’d never heard of it. Yes, they’d heard that question, but had no idea what it referred to. Tsk, tsk! A whole generation has arisen (maybe even two already) who don’t remember when the lights all went out in Massachusetts.

But what year was that again? And what caused the power failure? And which states did it hit? I was pretty sure I remembered, but when I googled it, I found that I hadn’t gotten the basic details straight at all. All these years I thought the Yanks were to blame, but it actually started when Canadian electrical workers used the wrong size of wire. (Blush!)

One book I refer to at times and enjoy reading just for the fun of it is Jack M. Bickham’s The 38 MOST COMMON FICTION WRITING MISTAKES (And How to Avoid Them)  © 1992 by Jack M. Bickham

Chapter 20 in this book is titled: “Don’t Assume You Know; Look It Up”

This is invaluable advice.

I’ve written before about his saga of the Colt single-action “Peacemaker” revolver. He handed this pistol to his hero in a novel set in 1868 and sent him off to the printer to make his mark in the realm of westerns.

As soon as his book hit the shelves a revolt erupted. Wild western history buffs got a posse together to shoot it out with his deplorable ignorance of firearms. This gun was not patented until 1872. How dare he! His mailbox smoked for weeks and letters from irate readers were fired through the slot.

I felt a little bit like those buffs when I read a book for teens, one that was situated in my own beloved Saskatchewan. The writer, a West Coast gal, tells us in her acknowledgments that she’d been to Moose Jaw and sat with farmers at a local coffee shop and they’d told her all about farming in that area. Very well.

Common sense would then dictate that if you have info about farming in the southern part of the province, you should locate your story in the southern part of the province. We live in a short-growing-season land and crops are selected for the number of frost-free days they are apt to have. A crop that grows around Moose Jaw may not grow much further north because the growing season is somewhat shorter and cooler.

In one episode the writer sets the scene thus: a hot day at the beginning of July. Scant rainfall for weeks, everything is tinder dry. Her main character is spending a few weeks with her farmer aunt and cousin on a farm near Humboldt (two hundred miles north of Moose Jaw.) Then this writer has the aunt burning flax straw.

AHEM!

First off, farmers around Moose Jaw grow flax, but I have never seen it grown much farther north. (I’d have to check that out.) Second, there won’t be flax straw lying around to burn until after harvest–in mid September. Third, flax straw burns fast and hot. To send someone out to burn flax straw on a dry July day anywhere in Sask is asking for a furious fire that will consume miles of grass and crops.

By all means get your facts straight and verify them, as much as possible, with people who actually do live in that area. Even if you’ve lived through the time yourself, read up on the events again to refresh your memory.

I read once that the human brain can hold more information than what is found in all the volumes at the US Library Of Congress. (Or is it the Congressional Library?) No wonder we get data mixed up sometimes!