Sunday, June 28, 2015

After 800 Metres ...

Not long ago the Cowboy, Babe, & I attended a family wedding near Vancouver, BC. Our GPS was very helpful that wedding day. In fact, we counted on that confident female voice telling us where to go as we navigated unfamiliar streets.

But on our 13-hour drive home through the mountains it wasn’t necessary. We knew where we were going.  So it came as a funny surprise to suddenly hear that confident female voice break in after 200 kilometres of complete silence. 

“After 800 metres, go straight ahead.”


I started giggling. Partly because it was such a shock after 2 hours of nothing, but mostly because there was nowhere to go BUT straight ahead.

After my little chuckle I started thinking … sometimes it’s nice to have confirmation that you’re heading in the right direction. And sometimes it's not until you hear confirmation that you realize you needed to hear it.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Follow An Author Home

Every so often on this blog, I intend to post a short (as in tiny) story I've written. Usually it will be the kind of story prompted by .... a prompt.  

What happens with a writing prompt is you are given some kind of instruction and then a time limit. You write like mad for that time limit and what ends up on the page ends up on the page.

I have done several of these prompts with my fellow writers in our writing group and they are fun and challenging at the same time. They also spark all kinds of creativity. Sometimes there is time for a short edit - like correcting spelling or grammar - and sometimes there isn't.

Following is my first offering:  

The prompt: Choose a person who interests you.  Write about following that person home.
(15 minutes, plus 10 for edit)

P.L. TRAVERS (Helen Lyndon Goff) - Author

That day in London I saw her leaving a cafĂ©.  I recognized her from the newspaper pictures – her attendance at the premiere of Mary Poppins, in Hollywood, California.  I hadn’t yet seen the film but her books … well anyone who could come up with such surprising and fantastical adventures, let alone a character so enchanting …  I was in awe of that kind of brain.

I quickly paid for my toast and tea and followed her down the street – at a safe distance, mind you.  I’d heard about her crisp and haughty manner with people.  I didn’t want an interview or even an autograph.  I guess I just wanted to see how she moved, where she went, who she saw. Try to figure out in these short moments where those clever and original stories came from – how they came to be.

Her heels clicked decisively on the sidewalk.  Her back was erect. The skirt of her pink tweed suit barely swished with the slight swaying of her hips. There was something so regal in her bearing – almost the way I’d pictured Mary Poppins herself and yet, the way she held her handbag with both hands clasped in front of her made it seem like she wouldn’t let anyone “in”.

She did stop briefly, to talk to a dog – a little Yorkshire terrier.  She never loosened her grip on the handbag held in front of her, but bent primly at the waist, her attention entirely focused on the terrier and completely ignoring the person at the other end of the leash.

“Hello little pup.  I hope you are enjoying your stroll.  Good day to you.”

Straightening up, she nodded curtly at the dog’s owner and carried on down the walk, her heels clicking.

In the middle of a long row of attached cream houses, she turned and marched up the five iron-railed steps to a peacock blue door.  She removed a key from her bag, snapped it shut, and put the key in the lock.  As she opened the door she turned towards me. Her brilliant blue eyes caught mine – and I knew I had literally been caught.  She had known all along that I was following her.

I opened my mouth to say something but all my stunned self could produce was a tiny squeak.

She responded with a raised eyebrow and stepped into the house.  

“Hello House,” she said, just before the door clicked shut.


Sunday, June 7, 2015


Once when I was a newlywed I watched my grandmother boil potatoes. Because I was new at being wife and chief cook I was trying to learn all the tricks of the trade. So I asked Grandma what she turned the stove burner down to, to keep the potatoes boiling - but not boiling over - once they had started.

“Six,” she replied.

From that time on, whenever I boiled potatoes I turned them down to 6.

Or tried to.

The problem was that 6 is not the same on every stove. 

And we moved a lot. 

Every new home had a different kind of stove. Some stoves didn’t even have numbers. They had high, medium, medium-high, low. What would Grandma have done in that instance? What if the setting I picked didn't equal the 6 on Grandma's stove? Oh the humanity!

Eventually I learned that as long as you have water & potatoes boiling in a pot, there's not much that can go wrong. And Grandma's 6 was a good guideline.

I’d like to think that sticking to “6” was not only due to the fact that I am a meticulous rule follower, but also because of my deep respect for my grandmother and her life experience. 

I believed that someone who had lived as long as she, had learned the right way to do life. 

And earned the right to have others emulate her.

I am not yet the age my grandmother was when I was a newlywed, but I have passed the half century mark.

I thought I would know more by now. 

I certainly don't feel as though I know enough to be imitated. I probably never will. 

I guess if a younger person ever asks for life-advice all I can say is this is what worked for me. Then they can take that "six" and use it as a guideline.

And if anybody's interested, these days I turn my burner down to 4.2 when I boil potatoes.