Tuesday, 30 August 2016

My Back Pages - August




Are you ready for this? I ripped through 12 books in August. Everything from detective novels, to fantasy fiction to a couple of autobiographies, including - believe it or not - Willie Nelson.

I've yet to come across a detective yarn I haven't liked and that includes the three-book bundle by Janet Ivanovich featuring a woman FBI agent and a high-prize con man who team up to catch the bad guys using elaborate deceptions.

The Two Minute Rule is the first Robert Crais novel I've read not featuring Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. It was enjoyable too.

The rest was quite an eclectic collection of hard-cover and e-book tales but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out two highlights in particular.

The first was the Neil Gaiman collection of essays, addresses and book introductions called The View From the Cheap Seats. This man clearly loves literature; reading it and writing it and it comes through clearly between the covers of this book.

The other great read this month was The Illegal by Lawrence Hill about a marathon runner who escapes, although not entirely, from persecution in his home county.  Hill says it took him five years to write this book. Seems a little unfair I whipped through it in two days.

Here's the rest of what I read. If you're interested in a review click on the books icon at the top of my blog.


The Sentry - Robert Crais ****
The Heist - Janet Evanovich ****
The Chase - Janet Evanovish ****
The Job - Janet Evanovich ****
Our Kind of Traitor - John le Carre ****
The View From the Cheap Seats - Neil Gaiman *****
The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury *****
Shoe Dog - Phil Knight ****
The Illegal - Lawrence Hill *****
It's A Long Story: My Life - Willie Nelson ***
The Two Minute Rule - Robert Crais ****
Lud-In-The-Mist - Hope Mirrlees ***

This makes for 37 books I've read this year. Getting closer to my goal of 50 for 2016.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Double Your Pleasure



Mary and Bob were doubly blessed. They were the parents of twin boys. But maybe blessed was a bit of an overstatement. Oh they loved their two children, to be sure. But they were a bit of a challenge. Right from the moment they were born they demanded a lot of attention. Waking during the night. Demanding to be fed. Not napping during the day. Poor Bob and Mary barely got a moment to themselves.

First came nursery school and then grade school and you'd think they'd have a moment's rest while they went to class, but shopping, errands and chauffeuring took considerable time out of each day. And the two boys loved sports. Soccer, baseball, football, hockey, basketball. You name it, they wanted to play it. They often were on different teams playing at different venues. But Mary and Bob were devoted to the two and gave them every opportunity.

Now many little boys are full of energy. it was the same with the twins. They'd run around the house, yelling, teasing one another. There was hardly a quiet moment. Mary and Bob would often wonder aloud to each other just where they got their energy.

One day, in a rare quiet moment when the boys were at a sleep-over, Bob whispered to Mary "Hey, do you hear that?" "Hear what?" said Mary. "Exactly" said Bob. "It's been so long I didn't recognize it. Silence!"

"You know the twins are so boisterous, " said Mary. "Did you ever stop to think how life might have been if the twins had been girls?"

"Girls" mused Bob. "I know all about boisterous. But I tend to think 'girlsterous' would have been completely different."

The folks at Studio30+ went with boisterous/rowdy as a prompt this week. Click on the link to see how rowdy the rest of the writers were this week.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

About Donna



Did you ever experience something, well, inexplicable? I have. And this is one such tale.

I was on my way to work. I'd left my car in the public parking lot and was walking the remaining several blocks to the office. It was a cool October morning. So much so I could see my breath. The sidewalk was crisp and a little slippery with frost. And the leaves on the trees, where else, were a cavalcade of fall colours.

My fellow commuting pedestrians rushed by, their noses deep in their smart phones. I wondered to myself how they avoided bumping into each other. I laughingly thought maybe those things had guidance systems that warned them of oncoming people.

Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye that didn't fit with this picture. It was a ragamuffin of a little girl sitting on the sidewalk, her back pressed up the wall of an office building for support. I stopped and stared at the girl who couldn't be any more than ten years old and wondered what she was doing out on the streets at seven o'clock in the  morning.

My curiosity got the better of me and I sat down beside her. I said hello, as did she. I asked her her name and she told me Donna. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was on her own; that her mother had died in a car crash and he dad had pretty much gone to pieces and started to drink a lot. We talked for about half-an-hour and as she bent her head and stared at the sidewalk I gave her $20, even though she wasn't begging and told her to get herself some breakfast, she looked as though she could use it. She looked at me with a beatific smile and gave me a wink.

Though I travel to work along that sidewalk every day I've never seen her again. And I've looked up and down the street and around corners but no such luck. One day, after about a month of searching, I spied a gentleman across the street on a bench sipping coffee. I crossed the street, sat down on the bench and after exchanging Hellos asked if he'd ever seen a little ragamuffin of a girl sitting on the sidewalk across the street. I described her down to a "T", including her age.

"That sounds just like my Donna" said the man. "But that can't be because Donna and my wife died in a car crash fifteen years ago" he said.

I was stunned. Fifteen years? I asked him how long he'd been working across the street and he told me he had applied for the job exactly a month ago and that it was funny how, during the interview, he'd been thinking of Donna who would be 25 about now. Then he turned to me with a beatific smile and gave me a wink as he rose to cross the street.

Gamine/Ragamuffin was the prompt from Studio30+ this week. Click on the link to see what others wrote about.


Thursday, 11 August 2016

Wow, I Coulda Had a...


I remember in high school some buddies and I took our lunches across the street from the school grounds so that we could all smoke while we ate our lunch.

One thing led to another and we started telling jokes and acting silly until one of us, Pete Nolan as I recall, laughed so hard he blew his chocolate milk out of his nose.

Well, that was it. The rest of us, mouths empty of such liquid, laughed our heads off as we rolled around on the ground. Back then we didn't have the pretend ROTFL, let alone computers, hand-held phones and the like. Nope. We had the real thing. And we put it to good use that day.

Later on in life I experienced the real thing blowing such things as milk, juice and Coke out one or both nostrils. Messy stuff that. Now that I'm older I don't blow stuff out my nose anymore.  I'm too old for that. And I guess I don't find things as funny as I once did.

I think the last thing I blew out my nose was beer. Everything seems funnier with beer.

But you know what? I never did blow V-8. Am I starting to prattle?

Well the prompt from the folks at Studio30+ was bloviate/prattle this week which, come to think of it, I pretty much do every week so the prompt was a natural for me. See what the rest of the folks came up with by clicking on the link.



Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Not So Long Goodbye


Meet my friend Doug. Well, my former friend. See, Doug's a dialysis machine and he was my good buddy for the last six weeks. Six weeks, three times a week, 4 hours each session.

The good thing about Doug was he never once complained throughout those four hours when I'd read and not talk to him. Or when I drank my morning coffee without buying hime one. Nope. And he still supported me.

But all that changed today and it's a day I'm gonna remember for a long time. See, today Doug and I parted ways. Yep. That's right. I stopped needing Doug or any of his many friends because today I stopped needing dialysis.

Many of the nurses dropped by today to express their best wishes and some told me it was rare for people to come off dialysis. So Doug, you done good. And I'm sorry if I rushed out after my blood work without saying goodbye. But once the doctor pulled that line out of my chest I wasn't gonna stick around and press my luck.

So, fewer trips to the hospital. No longer getting up at 6:30am. The end to imposing upon my dear, dear wife to chauffeur me to  and from dialysis sessions, to bring me my breakfast and coffee while Doug and I were one with the universe, to initially push my wheelchair and later prop me up when I no longer needed one from the hospital entrance to the dialysis unit.

I'll miss the wonderful doctors and nurses in the dialysis unit. But that's a loss I'm willing to suffer . And I know that they'll understand.

And so, because I relate to so much in my life through music, here's a special little tune...






Wednesday, 3 August 2016

EE-I-EE-I-OH!




Betty and Barb were quite pleased with themselves. After three years of Agriculture College they were ready to put their studies to the test. Who said blondes weren't smart.

They first applied to a pineapple farm but thought the work was too prickly.

Then they tried working on a vineyard but quit expressing sour grapes.

Two openings were found on a vegetable farm but after a while they felt they'd bean there done that.

They then went to work on a banana plantation but soon felt it didn't have enough appeal.

They got really excited when they learned of jobs on a fig farm but then got disappointed they couldn't get any dates.

They placed ads for a job harvesting corn but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Then Barb told Betty of jobs she'd come across that she was sure they'd succeed at. Betty wasn't so sure.

"These jobs are tailor made for us" she said. There's a couple of sweet openings on a sugar beet farm."

"What makes you think we'll last in these jobs?" inquired Betty.

"Because it's an all girl work force" replied Barb. "They're looking for people to work in their chicanery."


I'm back.  This week's prompt from Studio30+ is fraud/chicanery - much like this post. But I mean that in the nicest way. Click on the link and see what others came up with this week.

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