wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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The Car Thief – a True Story

“The car sure is nicer to drive than my truck.” I relaxed into the velour seat back. “It’s like a luxury limousine.”

My mother-in-law smiled. “Harris loves his car. Keeps it in good condition.”

“He’s a real car buff, isn’t he?”

“Oh, yes. Always has been. Ever since we were married, sixty-six years ago,” Myrtle said. “He’s very fussy about his cars.”

“I’m surprised he let me drive it. But I guess he wants you to be comfortable .”

“That’s right. Now don’t take this the wrong way, but Harris thinks ladies shouldn’t have to ride in trucks, and I know you don’t have a choice.  But it is a long drive to Nanaimo and he thought we’d enjoy it more if we took his car.”

“It’s a treat to drive a car for a change. Feels like we’re floating along in a dream.” I was pleased that Harris trusted me to drive it. He had it all shined up on the outside and vacuumed inside. “You wouldn’t know it was ten years old. You still see lots of them around but not many in good shape like this one. It’s like a brand new car.”

“He spent hours on it yesterday,” Myrtle said.

“It’s our lucky day. Parking spot right by the door. Doesn’t look too busy yet either,” I said as I looked through the large plate glass window of our favorite bakery.

Lunch was delicious as always, and half an hour later, we came out of the bakery loaded down with bags of rye bread and buns.

“Hope I can still fit into some clothes after that lunch. Where would you like to shop first, Myrtle?”

“You lead the way. You always find good quality places to shop.”

“Hang on a sec,” I said. “Here. Can you hold the bread while I get the door for you?”  I fished Harris’s keys out of my purse. “I know one of these is for unlocking and the other is for starting the car,” I mumbled to myself as I fit one of the keys into the lock.

The door wouldn’t open. Myrtle stood by the car waiting patiently.

“Must be the other key. Don’t worry. I’ll have it open in a sec.” I flipped the keychain around and tried the second key. It too, was sticky going into the lock. “Maybe I had it upside down.” I turned it and again jiggled it in the lock. No luck. “That’s funny.…”

“Anneli. What does that man want?” Myrtle pointed at the bakery window.

A middle-aged man inside the bakery was leaning over the bench seat, banging on the window with the palm of his hand.

“I don’t know but he looks mad at us.  Why’s he pointing at the car?” I looked up at him with a puzzled frown.

“Now he’s pointing at himself.”

I looked at Harris’s keys, then at the angry man at the window. He was still pointing at the car and at himself. I turned to look at Myrtle and that’s when I saw it. Parked next to the vehicle I was trying to enter—Harris’s car.

*****

If you are interested in easy writing tips, please visit my other blog https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/


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Being Thankful

What do we have to be thankful for?

That depends on your perspective. We need food, water, shelter, and enough warmth for comfort. To varying degrees most of us have that and we are grateful for it.

But it is all secondary, if we don’t have our health. For those who are not in good health at this time, we can be thankful to live in the days of modern medicine for making our illnesses bearable. Without modern inventions and medical discoveries, many of us would not even have made it to adulthood. The smallest infection might have killed us in the days before penicillin, and appendicitis would have claimed countless lives before the days of operations and anaesthetics. Childhood diseases would have taken their toll.

This year’s Thanksgiving may be bittersweet. Actually, forget the sweet part – it will be bitter for those who have lost loved ones, many of them to Covid. But we have to muster a positive attitude and continue to strive to beat this virus.

This is one of the hardest times for some of my generation. We missed the World Wars and most of us were not affected greatly by the smaller wars that followed. We have lived fairly free of world scale disasters … until now.

At first everyone was extra careful about social distancing and wearing masks, using hand sanitizers and washing hands, but I see all around me that people are giving in. They are tired of being careful, tired of being isolated. But, as in any battle, if you stop fighting before it’s truly won, the backlash can be devastating.

We are almost there in the push to beat back the virus, so I hope that people will not become too cavalier about relaxing their precautions until we are clear of this pandemic. Take care, especially at times of celebration, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

One day soon this ugly virus will be eradicated, and we will truly have something to be thankful for.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, America, and take care to stay healthy.


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Composition isn’t Everything …

but it sure helps.

After the snow that, thankfully, stayed up in the hills, I wanted to take a picture of it. As always in photos taken from my house, the power lines ruin the composition for me.

I got thinking about the composition of photos and when I received this photo of my nephew, I had a chuckle over the post that seems to be growing out of his head.

Going way, way back to about 1975, I found this photo of when the Captain and I lived on the Queen Charlotte Islands. My parents came from Vancouver Island to visit us. At the beach,  my mother and I decided to take pictures of each other for posterity. It was one of those rare times when it wasn’t raining and the sand was relatively dry, so she sat on the sand and pointed her Brownie camera at me, and I lay on a log, posing as I prepared to take a picture of her. We laughed when we realized that with the cameras in front of our faces we wouldn’t get much of a picture so we had to take turns. In the photo you see I’ve lowered my camera while she took my picture, and then it was my turn to take hers. We had the giggles and I think that’s why she couldn’t hold the camera steady and ended up taking a picture of her own boots. (For the purposes of this blog post, I’ve taken out my face, but I was grinning a lot in the picture.)

Later she sent me the photo and I laughed all over again. Not the greatest composition, but it was unique.

My mother died in 1982, and this bad photo of her gumboots is one of my special treasures because of the happy memories it evokes.

Don’t forget my other blog, anneli’s place, if you are interested in informal writing tips.


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Railway Travel Once Upon a Time

Several years ago I went back for a visit to Dawson Creek, where my family arrived in a railcar like this one in 1953. I was shocked to think that the railcar was now a museum piece.

What did that make me?!!

Below is a picture of my older sister and one of my brothers (being goofy) as we cross Canada from Montreal to Dawson Creek, B.C. in 1953 in a railcar like the one above. The man on the right is no one we know.

Notice the very uncomfortable-looking bench seats!

This year on the way home from the snowed out trip to Montana, I saw a railcar that made me re-assess what “old” really looked like.  I don’t know the vintage of the car below, and I presume it carried something other than people – possibly grain, but not livestock, as I don’t see any windows to allow animals to breathe. In the background on the right, are other “old” railcars, some of which might have been passenger cars.

By rail was the way to travel in those days. No driver’s licence needed. You didn’t have to watch where you were going, unless you wanted to. Possibly, even the conductor had a snooze for a few minutes while crossing the many miles of prairie.

Have you traveled by train? What did you think about it?


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Remembering

In the fall of 2014, a blogging friend and I exchanged seeds through the mail. She sent me hollyhock seeds and I sent her poppy seeds. We looked forward to the spring when we would plant each other’s flowers.

I was sorry to hear that the poppy seeds didn’t sprout for her that next year, but her hollyhocks grew for me.

In November of 2015, she died of cancer. I was shocked because she had been such a positive person. I never would have guessed that she would lose that battle.

I planted the hollyhocks in my vegetable garden because I go there every day, rather than in a flower bed I might rarely visit. Year after year, I think of my friend fondly, yet sadly, almost every day  when I watch her hollyhocks grow, from the earliest leaves to the huge stalks loaded with flowers. It’s as if she’s saying hello whenever I go out to my garden.

If you would like to visit the blog of Barb Beacham, and browse back in time over some of her posts, here is the link: https://salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com/ 

She was a wonderful person and I still miss her. I’m so glad I have her hollyhocks in my garden.


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The Islands

Vancouver Island is surrounded by many other smaller islands. It’s an easy boat ride to go for an overnight picnic on one of them. With our troller and the sporty boat of our friends, we did just that. Here we are snuggled up together.

The aluminum skiff is handy for ferrying us to shore for some exploring and picture taking.

So many plants and shells are different from those on most beaches of Vancouver Island.

Our friends’ dog may have been a bit nervous at first, but he proved to have sailor’s blood running in his veins. He had a great time and was as good as gold.

Dogs and people all got along fabulously and had a good time.

More on this outing next time.

*** Again – a reminder that all my novels are half price until the end of July. The Wind Weeps remains FREE. See my webpage for more info: www.anneli-purchase.com

 


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A Big Birthday

Some of you may remember a post I did about my mother-in-law, Myrtle, about a year and a half ago telling about her amazing walking achievements. In her 90s, she still walks about three miles a day and does all the  exercise programs available in her retirement home. To read the post, in case you missed it or want to refresh your memory, here is the link:

https://wordsfromanneli.com/2016/07/29/walk-across-canada/

Today, Myrtle is 96 years old and still going strong. She knows that the secret to staying young is to keep moving.

Here is a photo of her outside her residence door just before Christmas 2017. I think she looks great.

Happy birthday, Myrtle.

96 years young today.

 

 

 

 


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Vintage Books and Glasses

When I visited my sister recently, I had forgotten that she has been the guardian of some of the old family treasures from long ago. It was a pleasant surprise to see the items being kept safe behind the glass doors of a china cabinet.

The small blue liqueur glasses and decanter were perhaps bought in our first few years in Canada, more than half a century ago. The small wine or martini glass with the yellow swirls and the spiral stem is from a set that came to Canada with my parents back in 1953. This one is probably all that is left of the set.

When I saw it, I thought of my tongue. Odd, you might think, but memories that involve the senses can be very strong and long lasting.

My parents used to bring out these special yellow swirly glasses at Christmastime and pour a little egg liqueur from a bottle of Bols advocaat. We children were too young to be allowed alcohol, but once in a while, and because it was a festive season, we were allowed to lick out the last bit of advocaat from the yellow swirly glasses. Kind of gross, in hindsight, but as kids, we were thrilled.

So you can see that the yellow swirly glass holds special memories for me — not only the taste of the advocaat, but the smell of Christmas baking, the beautiful Christmas music, the coziness of the house and the love given to us by our parents.

Some might say these glasses are just inanimate objects, but they hold the key to a gold mine of memories.

Under the shelf with the glasses, two books leaned against the back of the cabinet. The old copy of Forever Amber, which I read when I was 16 (and that wasn’t yesterday), and another of my favourite stories, Little Black Sambo. The bigwigs now say that this book is racist, and have banned it, but I loved reading it and never once felt anything negative towards people of another race from that experience. My family and I simply loved that story.

Thanks to Luanne Castle https://writersite.org/2017/11/02/magical-bowls/

for the nudge to trot out old memories.


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Gourmet Dining

This is a post from several years ago. It’s a bit long, but I hope you can find the time to read about this fiasco. I changed the names, but everything else is absolutely true.

table-setting1

“This was a good idea of yours, George,” Carmen said. “After two weeks of camp food, I think we’re all ready for a gourmet meal.” The six friends who congregated in the entrance of the small town’s only hotel restaurant, nodded in agreement.

George craned his neck to look into the dining room. “No hostess. I guess we just go ahead.” He rushed in to claim the only available table.

Carmen looked around for a waitress. Still no one in sight to say, “Hang on a minute and we’ll clean the table for you first,” so the campers settled into their places and stared at the mess left behind by the previous diners. Bits of mashed potato and blobs of ketchup, the pepper shaker lying on its side, and leftover cutlery littered the table.

“How’re y’all doin’?” The waitress—Jackie, according to her name tag—was a friendly young woman wearing a uniform one size too small. She shoved the remaining cutlery to the center of the table and attacked the food dribbles with a stained, sour-smelling cloth. She wiped the table, leaving behind little beads of gray dishrag juice. Before it was dry she slid a water glass in front of each of them, rim side down.

Carmen glanced at her husband, Bill, and muttered, “No water for me today.”

Jackie reset the table using the cutlery from the heap in the center. No place mats. Carmen surreptitiously pushed the used pieces aside while the waitress finished the settings across from her. She noticed that Bill, George, and Millie did the same. “Could we please have new forks and knives?”

“Hnnf! Sure! No sweat.” She shrugged and turned to get more cutlery from a side counter.

“Anybody feel like a glass of wine?” George asked.

Five voices eagerly agreed. “Good idea.”

Jackie brought a tray of wineglasses already filled. Again, the six friends exchanged looks. Whatever happened to pouring the wine at the table?  Carmen sighed and wiped the rim of her glass with a napkin. The others followed her lead.

The glasses were filled to within a half inch of the top. No way you could swirl the wine or toast with your neighbour without spilling.

“I filled yer glasses right up.” The waitress beamed. Apparently wine etiquette was all about quantity. Quality was not a consideration.

Jackie took out her writing pad. All but Carmen ordered steaks and were asked if they wanted gravy with their mashed potato.

“Yes,” they all said.

“White or brown?”

“White or brown what?

“Gravy! Y’all want white or brown gravy?”

Five sets of eyes rolled as they answered “brown.” Carmen imagined the cook reaching for food colouring according to the order.

After Carmen ordered her chicken parmigiana with pasta, Jackie smiled and said, “Y’all help yerself to the salad bar.”

Carmen looked around. “Bill? Do you see any plates?”

“Must be those bowls at the end of the counter.”

“I thought those were cereal bowls,” she said, “…for children.” Dish in hand, she looked over the choices in the salad bar. The huge bowl holding the main ingredient, pale iceberg lettuce, was nearly empty. Dribs and drabs of sliced mushrooms, beans, pickled beet, and other additions meant to liven up the plate, were almost gone, but the six friends managed to scrape together a tired-looking salad.

“Meager pickings, eh?” George said.

Hunger took over and the campers cleaned their plates.

“You guys were sure hungry, eh?” Jackie said. “Don’t worry. I’ll have yer orders up in a jiff.” She layered the empty salad bowls up the length of her arm, apparently oblivious to the blob of mayo that smeared yet another stain on her bespattered white blouse.

Carmen looked forlornly at her dinner. She touched the edge of her well-worn, glass plate. Ice cold. Maybe she should have had the steak too? The spaghetti was cold. She put her finger into the middle where the white chicken breast lay on the white pasta. Lukewarm. She eyed the splash of colour on the side of her plate with dismay—the contents of a can of tomato paste—and one spoonful confirmed that it, too, was only heated to lukewarm. She had opened enough cans of the stuff in making spaghetti sauce to know how it looked and tasted. But pure tomato paste as a sauce? Nothing added, nothing taken away.

“Gross!” she muttered. Bill gave her a sympathetic glance.

A piece of white Wonder bread toasted on one side and slathered in margarine—she knew that smell—teetered on the edge of the plate. “Now I know why they call it Wonder bread. You wonder how anyone can eat it.”

The group made half-hearted stabs at conversation that coincided with half-hearted stabs at their food.

“I should have had steak like you fellows did,” Carmen said to the group.

“You didn’t miss a thing,” George said. “My jaw is tired from trying to chew that flavourless piece of rawhide.”

Jackie had disappeared. Under the circumstances, Carmen thought she would have done the same.

No offers of tea or coffee. No question of dessert. Only the bill already tallied, slapped onto the table. “Y’all have a nice evenin’ now.”

Leaving the hotel, Carmen said, “Ice cream and brandy at our place?”

“Yahoo!”

“Now you’re talking.”

“I feel better already.”