More Weather Woes

hurricane

The next morning did not look promising for our two foiled tourists. Raylene and Winnie stood by the window frowning as they watched the advancing storm drench the city.

“I don’t wish for the wind, but we could use some heavy rains like this back home,” Raylene commented as another gray cloud dropped yet more water on the streets below. “It would do the crops a world of good.”

“Don’t be silly, Raylene. If we got a rain like this back in Moose Knee it would flatten all the crops for a thousand miles around.”

“Not if it came at the right time, like in March before the farmers started seeding.”

“If it came in March, it’d freeze and the whole country would be one big skating rink.”

“I suppose,” Raylene admitted. “And we’d never want a wind like this.” They watched as another branch fell from one of the trees in the park beside them.

“I declare! They must not use enough fertilizer around those trees if the branches break so easily,” said Winnie. “I’m going to mention that to the Manager next time I see him.”

“Remember, this is a hurricane. It would take an amazing tree to stand up in this gale — and we’ll see a lot higher wind yet before the day is out. The Manager said the hurricane may knock out our power and we’ll be without until they get the generator running.”

“He’d better give us a discount for that.”

Raylene rolled her eyes. “It’ll only be for fifteen minutes or so.”

“ ‘Every penny counts,’ is what I always say.”

Right then the phone rang. Raylene picked up the receiver and recognized her daughter Naomi’s voice.

“Hi, Mom. How are you two managing down there? We hear Hurricane Celestine is moving into that part of Florida.”

“We’re watching its arrival right now.”

“And how’s Cousin ‘Thistle’ enjoying herself? She hasn’t blown away yet?”

Raylene sighed. “I wish…”

“Well, you knew…”

“I’d hoped…”

“For a miracle?”

“I guess.”

“Dream on! Cousin Winnie will never change. She delights in disaster.”

“But I thought…”

Winnie interrupted. “I wish; I hoped; I guess; I thought. Are you paying by the word? Long distance rates are too high for that kind of babbling. Say something sensible or hang up.”

“Cousin Winnie thinks we’re babbling and I should hang up,” Raylene told her daughter. “I guess neither of us are feeling very cheerful this morning. We may spend the whole day in this room watching the rain fall.”

“Poor Mom. I’ll have your martyr pin ready when you get home. Would you like it engraved? How about Semper fidelis or Veni, vidi, vici Florida?

“Maybe just Mea culpa.”

Naomi laughed. “Bye, Mom. Have a great time — once the storm is over.”

Raylene said goodbye and turned to her cousin Winnie. “Come on. Let’s go down to the lobby and see what everybody else is doing. We can’t just sit here and ooze gloom all day long.”

Winnie’s face brightened. “Maybe we can have tea with that nice widower from Hershey, Pennsylvania. Love his accent — I could listen to him all day!”

Raylene smiled. Miracles do still happen, she thought as went to her room to grab her purse.

Better Weather on the Way

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

Photo copyright: Sarah Potter

Many thanks to our gracious host and purple aficionado, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for giving us our weekly prompt here at Friday Fictioneers and to Sarah Potter for supplying the photo prompt. My initial response was zilch, having locked my muse in my sewing closet last weekend. However, she won’t stay there when a challenge like this presents itself. Today she popped up to remind me of dear old Whiny…Winnie.

Another vacation trial for the peevish Winnie and her long-suffering traveling companion, Raylene. To read the first part of their Florida adventure, click here.

GOOD NEWS

Winnie was staring out the window when Raylene looked up from the TV screen. “Are you happy now,” she asked. “That nice manager gave us a room with a better view.”

Winnie scowled at her. “But it’s still snowing in Florida, of all things. How will we manage Disney World tomorrow in this mess?”

Raylene hit the power switch. “I have good news for you, dear. The weatherman says there’s a hurricane barreling toward the Florida coast as we speak. Should hit here tomorrow about noon. That’ll wash away all this snow.”

Winnie eyed the outdoor scene. “Well. Thanks be!”

funny-hat-woman

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

—Winnie in Florida hoping for sun 🙂 —

Winnie’s Views

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot. This photo has been donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only and must not be used for any other purpose without express permission of the owner.

My contribution this week to Friday Fictioneers, a group graciously hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, open for anyone who wishes to contribute a hundred-word story in response to the prompt picture.

Winnie’s View

Winnie frowned. “Deplorable view.”

“You didn’t want a spectacular view. You asked for the cheapest room,” Raylene reminded her. “Anyway, we’re not staring out that window all day, we’re touring historic Tallahassee. We’ll see gorgeous views aplenty.”

“That travel agent said it never snows in Florida and the day we arrive they get snow squalls. False advertising. However will we manage?”

“We’re used to snow. What a pretty orchid!”

Winnie sniffed. “Plain white. Goes with the cheapest room, likely.”

“Come, let’s order our breakfast. Don’t want to keep the others waiting.”

“It’s starting to drizzle. Wish I’d brought my umbrella.”

Hey! Do I Know You?

quebec-city-202152_640I’m strolling along the quiet alley, soaking in the summer sunshine and glancing into store windows as I pass. In a lot of them I see the same stamped t-shirts, carvings, and miscellaneous ‘Made in China’ key-chains hawked to tourists on every commercial street in every city. We have a few shops back home in Swift Current where I could likely buy the same thing.

But, hey, I’m a tourist here, so why not pick up a few trinkets? I enter one of the tourist traps and come out again with a key-chain for Mom and a stuffed mini-beluga whale for my seven-year-old sister.

If truth be told, I’m not actually a tourist. I came here to Québec City as a summer student after finishing Grade 12 and my primary goal is to become fluent in French. Back in spring I went online and discovered a neat little academy here offering eight week crash courses so I showed the site to my folks.

They were enthused, too. “Learning French will open doors,” Dad said. “If you stay here in Swift Current, knowing French may not be such a big advantage. But if you want to work somewhere else, land a government job, or travel, it’d be a handy thing to have.”

quebec-815376_640So my folks shelled out for the course and lodging, I emptied my precious bank account for spending money, and here I am. I may not be able to afford t-shirts and souvenirs for all the folks back home, but atmosphere is free. So today I’m absorbing the ambience of this historic old town.

Being it’s Saturday and no classes, I decided to come downtown and just mingle. See how much I can pick up from the conversations around me. Get a bit more of a tan on this beautiful summer day. Feels like time to take a break now, though. Sit awhile and sip on a cool glass of iced tea.

I’ve already passed half a dozen little restaurants along this street, with their neat outdoor tables. I come to another with appealing colours — and appealing prices on the posted menu by the door. I get in line and request a table on the patio; soon the hostess leads me to one and I sit down, tossing my shopping bag on the chair.

I catch the eye of the girl sitting alone at the next table and smile. She looks about my age. I wonder if she’s from Québec City or maybe some other part of the province? She definitely looks French. I contemplate starting a conversation, but what if I can’t understand a word she says? Would she be willing to bear with me and help me out if I get stuck?

I suppose a bit about the weather shouldn’t be too hard. I open my mouth, but then shut it again when the waitress shows up with her drink. Anyway, she looks a bit worried. Maybe she has something more important on her mind and hopes I’ll mind my own business?

Then she looks over at me again and sends me a shy smile, like maybe she does want to talk. Oh, dear! What if I really can’t understand a word she says? Come on Emily, I tell myself. Crank up your courage and give it a try.

I begin with “Bonjour. Il fait beau aujourd’hui.”

She nods. “Oui, c’est ça. Est-ce que vous êtes d’ici?”

No, I’m not from here, I mentally answer. Her French doesn’t sound local. Maybe she’s a tourist from some other country? Maybe she’s hoping to make the acquaintance of the locals and here I am trying to take up her time. I’d better tell her the truth.

“No. Je ne suis pas d’ici. Je viens de Swift Current Saskatchewan.”

“Swift Current!” she squeals. “Well, hi! I’m from Moose Jaw.”

“That’s terrific! So close to home,” I exclaim. Then add, “My Aunt and Uncle live in Moose Jaw. I wonder if you know them?”

(Note to non-Saskatchewan folks: Swift Current is about 174 km—108 miles—west of Moose Jaw.)

Using Word Press prompt: precious and Word Press prompt: street

Travel Tales to Tickle Your Fancy

Since a number of you who read this blog are travellers, I think you’ll want to hear about a new book that’s just gone live on Amazon.com: Travel Tales from Exotic Places Like Salford by Vancouver resident (and Brit ex-pat) Julian Worker. I was asked to write a review for The Story Cartel and here’s what I’ve said:

You need to take your time with this book, savoring it like chocolate truffles, and it’s set up in sections so you can do that. Rather than using chronological order the writer divides his book geographically, describing spots tourists would most likely want to visit and giving directions on how to get there, as well as some encounters he’s had with the locals.

Mr Worker gives some historical background as well as thorough details of the area he’s writing about. By the time I was done reading about some of these places I was ready to pack my bags and go! His description of the soccer/football match had me cheering, too, though I have no interest in that sport. And his last few pages about his trials with customs inspectors and linguistic misunderstandings made me chuckle. There are no accompanying pictures, but most places mentioned will have internet ads and websites if a person wishes to take a look.

I found this book intelligently written, well crafted and well edited. The writer shows due respect and sensitivity to various cultures and customs. If you enjoy visiting other countries or reading about others’ travels, you will really enjoy this book.

My Trip To England

I just got back from a trip to England, and let me tell you, I enjoyed every minute of it!  Exploring the many lovely formal gardens, smelling the wild heather as I hiked along hillside trails that overlooked lush farming valleys, winding my way on slippery stone paths alongside waterfalls.  England was wonderful!

My traveling companions were a teacher and her architect husband from Minnesota.  All along the way she made comparisons between what she was seeing and the landscape from her growing up days in Iowa, flat and bleak by the tropical English cottage garden standards.  She was enraptured by the beautiful flowers and bushes in various private gardens.  Thankfully these are open to the public at certain times of the year and we took in as many as possible.

Early one Sunday morning we took a small back road to the tiny village of Piddinghoe, intent on observing the Lewes Sheepdog Society trials.  These were being held on a grassy meadow in the Sussex Downs.  Finding the place was a challenge with only a couple of hand-painted board signs to guide us.  But watching the dogs in action herding sheep at the whistled commands of their trainers was well worth the half-hour drive on a narrow grassy lane up a steep ridge.

Mind you, not every part of our trip was pleasant.  Not used to the damp English climate, we were chilled to the bone in “economy class” English hotels, with their tiny rooms and “shared bath” somewhere down the hall.  Beware of letting some US travel agent book you into budget beds in Britain!  But after several miserable lodgings, we splurged and stayed at one luxury hotel in London with a super view overlooking the Thames.  Talk about posh; this place would rank with the Waldorf-Astoria!

outline-man readingI travelled with this couple on half a dozen trips actually.  The wife said she’d always longed to go by boat, but toured a huge liner at the dock in New York one day and decided that no, romance of sea travel notwithstanding, she never would stand the long trip over the ocean.  So we experienced the hustle and bustle of Heathrow every time.

The most exciting part is that my travels cost me only $1; my hosts paid for all the rest.  Can you believe it: $1 bought me all this adventure!  Since this is the season to count our blessings, let’s give thanks for those writers who, through their vivid word pictures, can take us along with them in their travels, make us shiver in their chilly accommodations and rhapsodize with them at the floral displays.  And also that their writings can be found at the Used Book Sale for only $1
🙂
Christine Goodnough,  October 2010

The book is My Love Affair with England – A Traveler’s Memoir
© 1992 by Susan Allen Toth, Published by Ballantine Books

Reblogged from Christine’s Collection

Guilty As Charged, Your Honor

Our exercise on The Write Practice (see link at right) today was to tell about an adventure we had while traveling,  focusing on one particular scene during the trip. So here’s a small part of our adventure when I went with my daughter to Mississippi for a Teachers’ Prep Class. Hope it gives you a smile.
(Hope I don’t get a very belated ticket in the mail. ☺ What’s the US Statute of Limitations for driving offenses?)

Back in ‘95 our daughter wanted to go to a week-long workshop for teachers — the event being held in Mississippi, no less — and she didn’t want to drive all that way alone, so I accompanied her and did most of the driving. We were living in Quebec at this time, so had two long days on the road, entering the US at Detroit and heading more or less straight south on Interstates.

The second day found us somewhere in Kentucky on a nice four-lane highway and I was behind the wheel when we came up behind a line of about six cars, every one of them in the right lane, doing almost 50 mph. I found this curious, as the speed limit was 55 mph and the left lane was completely empty. I craned my neck and peered ahead as best I could, expecting to see some extra-wide vehicle causing this slower traffic. Nada. Just a line of ordinary-looking cars.

Now I was really curious. Had the speed limit changed and I hadn’t noticed the sign? Last thing on earth I wanted to do was get nailed for speeding in the States. I’d read some pretty awful accounts…  Right then we passed a sign: 55 mph. So why is everyone doing below 50?

As the road went round a curve I got a better look at the lead car. A police cruiser. Aha! He was cruising along at a lower speed and the drivers behind were all meekly following, no one daring to challenge his authority. I joined the line and took it easy on the gas for another mile.

Would it surprise you if I mentioned here that I can be a rebel at times? As I passed another 55 mph sign, I asked myself, Am I going to poke along at 50 mph for an hour in deference to the whims of those officers? Will they arrest me if I don’t? Have they got any reason to stop me for driving at the speed limit?

Nope. At least I sure hope not! So I pulled into the left lane, sped up to 55 mph, and slowly overtook the police car, making very sure I wasn’t speeding. If I was indeed committing some other social faux pas, I trusted my Quebec license plate would tell him I didn’t know any better.

They say about sheep that when one sticks his head through the fence, the others will surely follow. People are much the same. When I was some distance ahead of the cruiser (one eye glued to the speedometer the whole way!) I saw in my rear-view mirror that others had pulled out and were also passing the cruiser. I suppose they’d been anxious to see if I’d get into trouble and when I didn’t, they decided they could get away with it, too.

Now I can say I led a mini-coup — a social rebellion of sorts — in a foreign land. I can just imagine those policemen sitting at the doughnut shop later and chuckling about it, just as I am now.

What would you have done?

Winter For Sure!

Winter has arrived in our parts in full regalia. Sailing ships of snow clouds arrived yesterday afternoon and have already worn out their welcome. 🙂

We took a short trip this weekend, left Saturday morning and travelled to the south part of the province, then east on the #1 Highway almost to the MB border, where we visited Bob’s cousin south of Moosomin. Sunday morning we drove southeast just into Manitoba and attended church in Sinclair.

We left for home again just after 4pm. En route we got a call from our children saying “It’s snowing here.” Thankfully we made most of the trip without seeing a flake of snow, but when we did encounter it from Kenaston and west, the road was slushy and we had to reduce our speed more and more as we travelled toward Outlook. The north-south highway from Outlook to home was really bad and we had to stop a few places for complete white-outs. If this were March, we’d definitely say it came in like a lion!

So our world is totally white this morning; the city of Saskatoon got a lot of snow and many plans for the day have been cancelled because of icy roads, including our scheduled His Imprint writers meeting.

My cats are not happy. They keep wanting me to open the door so they can look out and see if that awful white stuff has gone away yet. Alas! It’s -6º C (21 Fº) right now and temperatures are expected to stay several degrees below freezing all week. I saw a flock of geese winging southward this morning. They maybe think they stayed too long in these parts.

A rather interesting scene came to mind soon after I got up this morning. This likely came to me because we had a Sunday School lesson involving Jonah and the “great fish” yesterday and I’d be glad if you’d share your thoughts on what I’ve posted.

I thought of Jonah being tossed into the sea (see Jonah Chapter 1) and I noted that he left behind his suitcase. He went into the water with nothing but the clothes on his back; any earthly possessions he may have brought with him from home stayed behind and sailed away with the ship. When he met God in the whale’s belly, he had nothing to contribute to the situation. Or maybe you’d say the only thing he brought along was his unwillingness?

Our congregation is going to have revival meetings soon and we hope to meet the Lord in a cleansing, refining, way. So will I come “empty” to be filled by the Lord or try to bring my baggage? Or maybe hang onto my home-made life preservers? Things like past experiences, accomplishments, noble intentions, acts of charity, etc.

This picture of Jonah going into the sea impressed me that all these other things have to stay behind on the ship when I come into God’s presence seeking restoration. (He is well able to sort them out and take care of them.) I can sing, “I surrender all…” but have I really? Revival meets are a great time for a spiritual reality check.

I’m hoping to touch base soon with my account manager at Friesen Press. I sent my finished manuscript a month ago and haven’t heard a word from them since – so I can tell you all when it will be ready. Maybe it has gone into a l-o-n-g queue? Better get at my next one!

Fool’s Gold

Part One

“Where are we now, Skipper?” asked Will, an old prospector on his way back to the gold rush in the West. Right then he felt like talking to someone and was glad to see the boat’s skipper standing alone on deck.

“See those two piles of stones up on the hillside and the big cross beside them?” Skipper pointed toward the left riverbank. “They mark a cemetery and when we see those, we’re close to the Louisiana border. Have you never been down the Mississippi before?”

“Nope. Grew up in Ohio and headed west by wagon train. Gold fever hit me somewhere along the way and I’ve spent most of my life panning the small streams in the Sierra mountains. Now that I’ve spent the winter visiting my family in St Louis, I’m headed back to California. Thought I’d try going by Panama this time but I likely won’t ever see these waters again.”

“Had much success gold panning?” Skipper asked. He glanced at another passenger who wandered by right then and paused to lean against the railing nearby. Will glanced at him, too; the fellow seemed to be studying the swirling waters.

Then he turned back to the skipper and looked him in the eye. “I’ve found my share of gold – and spent most of it, too. I still have enough with me to pay my fare and buy another stake when I get to California. I hope to find a lot more yet before I die. From what I gather a lot of the fellows here are in the same straits: enough left to pay their fare home, maybe enough to buy provisions when they arrive. And big dreams.”

Skipper tugged at his ear. “Well, I wish you all luck. It’s good for the shipping business if this gold rush pays off.”

His eyes twinkled as he added, “Sometimes I get a touch of gold fever myself. But my wife threatens to dose me good and proper with sulphur and molasses whenever I bring up the subject. You know how a woman is: feet planted in her own garden. My Pearl won’t be parted from her home and family to sit for months in a lonely log cabin somewhere.”

Will contemplated the drifting clouds overhead, thinking of the family he was leaving behind, faces he may never see again. “Well, you know, that’s not such a bad thing, neither. Being near your kinfolk is worth something – maybe worth even more than gold.” He watched a pair of gulls swoop down over the water. “To each his own, I guess.”

Skipper laughed heartily and slapped Will on the back. “You’re right there. Now I’d better go join our pilot in the wheelhouse. Sun’s going down now; the mist is starting to rise on the river. There are a few rocks and a wreck or two lurking in the waters ahead and we want to miss ’em all.” The Skipper turned and headed across the deck.

Will was going to say a few words to the fellow nearby, but he had slipped away, too. Will had taken note of him before and wondered why the man wasn’t more sociable – but then, some folks weren’t. And that was their privilege. To each his own. Will sat down on the deck, his back propped against a wall, to ponder life, love, and this mad pursuit of gold.

Fifteen minutes later there was a jolt and some scraping. A splintering sound came from the bowels of the boat. The paddle-wheeler had struck something. The ship’s horn sounded an alert and men poured out onto the deck from every quarter.

As Will jumped to his feet he felt the boat list to one side. She seemed to settle lower in the water. Crew members dashed over to the lifeboats and started lowering them. Well, I’ll be hog-tied, he thought. Now we’re in hot water.

A booming voice came over the bullhorn. “This is your Skipper. We’ve hit a wreck and it’s torn a hole in our hull. Into the life boats, all those who can’t swim. Those who can, dive in and swim for shore. Leave everything behind but your skin or you won’t make it.”

To be concluded tomorrow

(This tale is based on an actual riverboat incident.)

I Tour the Scottish Lowlands

“Let’s go, shall we?  Just the two of us?”

This opportunity was too good to miss, so I packed my flight bag and was off to visit “the lowlands.”  We stayed at some lovely “bed & breakfast” spots, fared sumptuously –even ate at a place Bobby Burns frequented– and toured the shops, castles, craigs and kirks of bonny Scotland.  Liz Curtiss-Higgs was my awesome guide on this journey and I enjoyed every minute!

Liz has written a number of historical romances set in the southwestern part of Scotland; in My Heart’s in the Lowlands she invites you to accompany her on a tour of Dumfries and Galloway. She vividly describes castle ruins, ancient churches, Bobby Burns’ home town, local accommodations, food, shops and customs.

I enjoyed this book very much when I read it the first time but when I discovered later that my Vance ancestors came from Galloway, the travelogue took on a whole new meaning for me.

My Heart’s in the Lowlands – Ten days in Bonny Scotland
© 2007 by Liz Curtis Higgs, published by WaterBrook Press.