Digest This, SoCS 1

The rules for this prompt were made for me!  It’s how I write 99% of the time – no plan, very little editing, and stop whenever you feel like it!  So here you go.

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Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “digest.” Use it any way you’d like. Have fun!

My grandma, bless her heart and all the memories she left us with, was a big fan of the Readers Digest magazine.  She subscribed to it for years and years.  It was a great way for someone with a short attention span to learn a little bit about a lot of things. I liked the reader submitted “jokes” even though most of the time they weren’t even remotely funny.  When grandma was in her late eighties she was still getting renewal notices from the magazine and decided it was time to sit down and write them a letter.  She asked them if they thought a woman of her age should still be getting magazines in the mail and would renew or not renew her subscription in accordance with their opinion on the matter.

The reason we know the contents of her letter is because she gave it to mom to mail, and mom thought she’d better open it up and check what grandma was telling them, just in case.  You had to know grandma to appreciate the wisdom of this decision.

I don’t remember what happened next exactly, although I do recall thinking the readers digest people weren’t likely to agree that she was indeed too old to be giving them her money.

Is Readers Digest still around?  I could submit this for their “Life’s Life That” category of unfunny jokes.  Probably too many words though.  They were always such sticklers for brevity.

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Rainy Day Read

the husand's secret

What?  Husbands aren’t supposed to have secrets, are they?  I read the book in the middle, according to my Kindle, but I quite like the cover with the butterfly in a jar.  I also love balloons, especially red ones.  So given the choice,  the middle cover is the one I would be least likely to purchase.  In case you were all wondering about that, now you can sleep tonight.

I’ve read “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty, and have “Big Little Lies” downloaded and ready to go, and now I’m looking at “The Hypnotist’s Love Story”, thinking that one could be next.  So it’s obvious I like this author and her stories a lot.  Sometimes my Goodreads star rankings are based on how quickly I finished a book, two days or less making four and five stars much more likely than if I had to slog through something or couldn’t force myself to care how it might end.

Well, so far, this is a rather stupid book review, but trust me, there are stupider ones out there.  I gave this book four stars.  It is a good readable story, well written, with interesting characters and plot, and a fantastic epilogue.  Every book should have an epilogue exactly like this one for us readers who don’t like endings which leave us wondering why all the questions haven’t been answered in a satisfactory manner.  Especially when the answers we come up with on our own are seriously lame.

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .(from Goodreads)

I was a little surprised at some of the negative reviews I read, which contained words like predictable, shallow and dull.   A one-star person said she didn’t have the patients to read more than 25 pages.  She also misspelled bullshit.  So let’s not take that one too seriously.  There are many five-star reviews too and I’m more inclined to agree with those.

I read this book in less than a day and a half.  I liked it.  And I know how to spell big words like bullshit and patience.  I hope that’s a good enough recommendation for you to give this author a go.

Write A Letter

Cin’s Feb Challenge Day 11:  Write a letter to a friend and mail it.

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All my life I’ve been a writer of letters – the old-fashioned, real-pen-on-real-paper kind that nobody bothers with much anymore.  I have saved random letters written to me, and written by me, and written by old dead relatives, (but don’t worry, they were still alive when they wrote them.)  My sister saved some of the letters I wrote to her when we lived in the NWT, and then she bundled them up and sent them all back to me years later.  I read them and hardly recognized myself.

Now I think it’s time to voluntarily retire myself from this practice partly because it’s becoming a lost art, but mostly because I tend to say some pretty crazy things off the top of my head.  There is no back spacing or cutting and pasting or spell checking with ink on paper.  It’s so much easier to dash off heavily revised e-mails to people and then hope they have the sense to delete them once they’re read.

Way back in the 1950’s and 60’s we were not only taught penmanship, but also proper letter writing skills in school.  I often think it would be nice if kids today learned better e-mailing and chat board and texting skills.  Including things like spelling and grammar and proof reading.  And checking to see what strange things have been auto-corrected before they hit send.

I still remember some of our great lessons in communication back in the day.  You just don’t see stuff like this anymore:

Dear Alice, How are you? I am fine.  What are you up to these days?  Nothing much is going on here…..

and so on, until one or the other of you dies from boredom.

A post card would always be some variation of these sentiments:

Dear Alice, greetings from Timbuktu, having a great time, wish you were here. 

With a lot of exclamation marks.  Never mind if you don’t really mean any of it, the important thing is to be polite and vague.

Okay, it is possible that I missed a few classes.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been watching “The Good Wife” on Netflix and if I’ve learned anything at all from this series it’s that things you are foolish enough to write down on paper can be taken out of context and used against you in a court of law, and that important pieces of police reports are always going mysteriously missing.  The same thing happens with letters.  If you make a statement on one page and explain it on the next, you had better hope that second page stays with the first.  Or future generations will be questioning your intelligence and/or sanity.

The picture above is of the pages of a letter I wrote to my sister from Cambridge Bay in January of 1976.  It states quite clearly that I have stopped wearing my wedding ring because I am thinking of having an affair.

See, you can say shit like that to your sister and she will get the joke and maybe even think it’s funny.  Because she knows you are living in a climate so dark and cold that the only reason you leave your house is for groceries and even then you think long and hard about it.  She knows you have an incredibly active little 17 month old daughter who wears you right out.  And most importantly she knows that you are eight months pregnant and therefore not in your right mind. The next page goes on to explain about puffiness and swelling in my hands and feet and having to grease my fingers to pry the ring off before it cut off my circulation.  No one looks good with a blue ring finger.

But what if that second page got lost?  Oh well, I did say I was only thinking about it.  It’s not likely that I’d send out announcements if it actually happened.

The only other vaguely interesting thing I wrote in that letter was that my daughter liked to wander into the baby’s room, grab hold of the bars on the crib and screech at the top of her lungs while shaking it as hard as she could.  I should have put a stop to this behaviour before her brother was born, but I didn’t.  So if he reads this letter he will know that my daughter and I are responsible for his disrupted sleep patterns if he has any.

See the kind of trouble you can get yourself into?  So I will not be writing a letter to a friend today or quite possibly ever again.  The notes and lists I scribble and leave all over the place will be enough to keep any hoarder descendants I might have deep in thought for a long time.

Or they could just have a big bonfire.  That would also be fine.

Dear Frankie

Dear_Frankie_movie_poster

Last night I watched the movie “Dear Frankie”, a 2004 British drama available on Netflix.  That was the easy part of the “watch a movie” challenge for today – and the hard part is writing about it without giving away the entire plot.  So SPOILER ALERT!  I’m just going to go ahead and give away the entire plot.

Frankie is a 9-year-old deaf and mostly mute boy on the run with his mother (Lizzie) and his grandmother from an abusive father.  Frankie doesn’t know what they’re running from or the truth about his psychotic father (whose physical abuse is what caused Frankie’s hearing loss as a baby) (but we don’t find that out until much later) because his mother has been encouraging him to write letters to his absent da (Davey) and fabricating letters back in which the dad describes his exciting life at sea.

Well, no good can come of this kind of deception in the end, right?   Frankie becomes convinced that his father is taking a break from his exotic adventures and making his way back home to Glasgow, and that he is going to surprise them with a visit.  So Lizzie must make a tough decision: find another way to pacify Frankie’s desire to meet his father or tell him the awful truth.

With the help of a new friend Lizzie concocts a scheme to hire a man to impersonate Davey, and in walks Gerard Butler.  Well.  Who doesn’t love Gerard Butler??  I can’t think of anyone.  Lizzie gives him the letters after he accepts what she can pay him and he agrees to spend a day with Frankie.  Then both of them decide to spend a second day together, this time including Lizzie. It’s awkward, fun, strange, and a little heart wrenching in places.

When Gerard at the end of day two asks her how her husband could ever have left the two of them, Lizzie explains that she is the one who ran away and tells him the reasons why.  Lizzie has all kinds of self doubt about her decisions, saying she has kept up the letter writing thing because it’s a selfish way for her to ‘hear her sons voice’,  but Gerard says he thinks she’s a great mother for protecting her son.  Lizzie and Gerard share a kiss goodbye, and when he walks off down the street (with Frankie waving from an upstairs window) Lizzie discovers he has returned her payment envelopes, slipped into her jacket pocket.

Then Lizzie learns that the real Davey is terminally ill, agrees to visit him, finds out he’s still a complete asshole even though he’s dying and what’s the point, but she has a good enough heart to give him a picture of his son and a note and a picture that Frankie has made for him after being told how ill he is.  The real Davey dies.

Frankie turns out to be a lot smarter than the adults have given him credit for with all their deceit and little white lies.  He writes another letter, this time with the things he says letting his mother know that he has been aware for awhile that the stranger was not his real dad.  He lets them both know he will help his mother to get over her sadness, talks about school and his friends and football, and then closes the letter by saying he hopes the stranger will visit them again sometime.

And that’s how it ends, with Lizzie and Frankie staring off into the sunset.  Well, not really.  They’re sitting at the end of a pier looking out to sea.

Now all you need is a trailer to fill in the blanks and you can say you’ve seen the whole thing since I’ve effectively done it all for you.  You’re welcome.  Watch a movie for me sometime.

For Cin’s Feb Challenge/Witchy Rambles

A Gutsy and Daring Fish Story

Daily Prompt:  There are 26 letters in the English language, and we need every single one of them. Want proof? Choose a letter and write a blog post without using it. (Feeling really brave? Make it a vowel.) 

With an air of foolhardy spunk, I pick what’s missing in AIOU.  I am tardy and a day past prompt, but still I think this is worth a look. 

Foggy Fish

Foggy Fish (Photo cr_dit v_rsag__k)

Al says, “I want to go fishing. How about you, my darling girl?”

“No way”, says Anna. “I’ll pass.

You won’t catch anything at all in this soup of a fog.

That’s a full day thrown away.”

“I’ll catch a galloping goliath!  Word of honor! Just you wait.”

“Crazy old coot”, says Anna. “All right, go! Shoo!”

So Al is on his own. Off and away in his half ton truck.

Stops in a foggy mist at a babbling brook.

And now it’s all about sitting for hours and hours in his old half worn out boat,

rod in hand, watching and waiting, nodding off.

Was Anna right? Damn.

But wait – what’s this?

Whoa ho!  What a hit!

A crazy fight, a long-haul skirmish, and at long last,

Following much ado and many a splash,

Blissful, joyous victory!

Man oh man!

Just look at this colossal monstrous trout!

Al is truly jubilant and can hardly wait

to put his catch into a sizzling hot frying pan

and scoff and laugh at Anna’s words.

“HAHA! I told you so!” says Al.  “And you said I couldn’t do it.”

“Stubborn old fool”, snorts Anna,

 hiding a happy grin.

fish & chips

fish & chips (Photo cr_dit: David Asch_r)

A Letter From Rimbey

English: Blindman River, near Rimbey, Alberta

English: Blindman River, near Rimbey, Alberta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rimbey, Alberta, June 12, 1936

Dear Margaret,

I received your letter on Tuesday and was certainly glad to get it.  Its the first one for over a month and it does me good.  We only get mail delivery twice a week here.  If I’d stayed in Nanton I would have got it some time sooner.  It was a dandy too – everything in it was interesting.  Well I’ll try to go on from where I left off last time.

We finished our job on the Thursday at noon the day you got my letter and we just bummed around town for the rest of the day and part of Friday, then we decided to come up here.  We got to Calgary as you’ll know by the card I expect you received.  We fooled around there looking at the city until about eleven o’clock, then pulled out to the top of a hill to sleep.  We didn’t get up till the sun was high up in the sky next morning, and then got going again.  We arrived here Saturday evening about five o’clock.

On the way we saw a good many fields of stooked grain that had never been thrashed.  The hail had shelled it so badly it wasn’t worth thrashing.  That’s the kind of country this is, very undependable.  I’ve been driving six and eight horses at a time – it’s quite nice for a change.  I feel as if I’m doing something.A field of stooked grain

As I said before, we arrived here on a Saturday.  Well I sowed grain on the following Sunday and ploughed with six horses on Monday and several days hence.  Oh!  I mustn’t forget to tell you I was given a government job shortly after I reached Alberta.  I was on the road surveying and cutting brush for a few days.  Isn’t that getting up in the world, working for the government?

I was ploughing about two and a half miles from here today and a thunderstorm came up without much warning.  I turned toward the old barn and just got there in time for the hail and rain started to come and did it come!  The hail was no ordinary size either.  I couldn’t get the horses to go around to the side of the barn where the door was because the storm was blowing so hard.  They just stayed in shelter beside the barn.  Of course I had to stay and watch them, and got sort of damp.

There was supposed to be a dance in Bluffton tonight and I suppose we would have gone only the rain made the roads so muddy.  You see they don’t gravel the roads in the pioneer district and they certainly get greasy with very little rain.  The soil is mostly clay.

I guess by the time this reaches Ontario you’ll be home so I’ll address it to Turners.  How was our Blanche when you last saw her?  I guess I’d better write to her, I do so enjoy her letters and I guess that’s the only way of getting one.  That certainly is interesting about the colt and the calves, that’s what I’d call real news.  It’s much better than a lot of idle gossip.

I hope you’ll forgive me kid, something tragic happened to that letter you sent and I only had a chance to read it once.  The boss’s wife says she noticed an envelope in the sweeping but thought it one of her old letters, so it went into the stove.  I guess that’s what happened.  I remember you saying you didn’t want to go out and not enjoy yourself.  That’s swell of you because I feel the same way myself.  I’ve also met a lot of people, of course some very nice girls too, but they’ll have to go some distance yet to come up near the mark of a little girl I know in the east.

We’ve almost decided to go to the coast in July for the jubilee there.  What do you think of that?  Then when harvest is over we can go back home if we don’t land a job here or something.  I think it will be much nicer travelling in July than late in November.  There ought to be more to see while the jubilee is on.  I’ll try to take a swim in the Pacific Ocean.  Won’t that be something.  Of course I’ll send you some cards from Victoria and Vancouver.

King George-VI

King George-VI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I asked Harold if he could think of any news.  He said King George died and King Eddie is now on the throne.  He says to threaten you that he might write to you sometime.  Well kid, my brain is beginning to go hooey again.  I know you’ll be thinking I’ve neglected to write but I couldn’t get it away any sooner anyway, so I guess you’ll just have to wait.  You can keep sending my mail to Nanton because I’ll likely be going back there before long.  I’ll be looking for a letter before long kid, so I’ll be signing off.  I wish I could think of more to write to the best girl in the world, but seeing it’s impossible –

I’ll be thinking of my darling until I hear from her,

with love,

Your Hank.

Letter to Newton

Between my dad and his older brother Newton there was a gap of six years.  Dad wrote this letter in 1937 when he was twenty-three and needed some advice from someone older and wiser, with more life experience.


Port Elgin Ont

Dec. 5, 1937

Dear Newton –

I was informed that you wished I’d write once in a while.  I know for myself that I should but as usual am not prompt at anything.

I was informed also some time ago that Carl Gingrich is figuring on buying lot 8 and I’m keeping clear of it.

While cutting wood we came upon a nice little patch of birch.  What would you charge a cord for it.  It isn’t a very big strip, maybe twenty cords.  There has been several asking me if you would sell poplar by the acre and of course I didn’t know. 

I suppose you heard my old flame Alaine got the knot tied.  It makes me feel old all these kids getting married.

I am sort of contemplating the subject but it sort of frightens me.  What if I get the wrong woman or something?  Of course there have been several applicants but the job has not yet been let.  I’d like to get the advice of someone who has tried it.  There has been a lot of people heard I was getting married.  In fact one man wanted to make a deal with me to take over his farm in the spring.

It’s great weather for cutting wood now if it only lasts another couple of weeks we will have a nice little pile put up.

I suppose you have lots of snow up there.  Do you ever go over to visit Santa Claus?  I’ll bet he’s busy right now.  How’s Marie?  or I mean Mrs. McArthur because I shouldn’t get so familiar with one I haven’t even met.  Anyway, give her a kiss for me, unless it keeps you busy doing yourself justice.

Well I don’t know what else to say so I guess I’d better get ready and go to McConkey’s.  Write soon with information.

Hank

The letter was sent to Northern Ontario where Newton was newly married and teaching school.  McConkey’s refers to his oldest sister May and her husband for whom my dad was working at the time.

Perhaps on one of their family visits during the summer to our farm Aunt Marie or Uncle Newton brought this letter back to my dad.  It was mom who kept it in amongst her precious papers all those years.  I wonder what advice Newton gave my dad so long ago?  It was five years after writing it that he finally decided he was making the right choice and married my mother.

All his life my dad respected and admired and loved his siblings.  They were spread out all over the province, but it never stopped them from being close.

These little snippets of history, showing us who they were, help to keep the memories alive.