Invitation to Chip In

“She has the money,” Fred argued. “Her husband left her swimming in the stuff. She can’t spend it all, so why not give some to her daughter if she needs it?”

George clunked his empty mug on the table, scowling. “So you think it’s okay for May’s son-in-law to blackmail her like this? To forbid the grandkids to see her unless she forks over the dough for their mortgage payments?”

Fred waved a hand in protest. “I didn’t say that exactly.”

“The poor boys have to sneak out if they want to see their grandma. I think their dad’s a deadbeat if he’s expecting May to pay for their home. He needs to get out and find a job.”

“But people hit rough spots sometimes. Maybe he’s tried and there just isn’t anything right now? Besides, Nadine’s her only child. She’ll inherit everything when May’s gone. Why not give her some now? May’d never miss it.”

George stubbornly shook his head. No way were they ever going to agree on this issue.

Suddenly he sat back and looked Fred in the eye. “If you’re feeling so charitable why don’t you help them out? You sold your farm. You’re sitting on a pile of money yourself. You could pay off their mortgage and never miss it.”

Fred snorted. “Are you kidding? Why should I shell out to support that shiftless son-in-law of May’s? He’s not my problem.”

George recalled that old cliché. “The worm has turned! It’s always easier to solve a problem when the answer doesn’t come out of your pocket.”

Fred turned red, then glanced at the clock. “Gotta be going.”


Last night I recalled a conversation I was part of years ago. A dear friend of my dad was in this situation: emotional blackmail, you could say. Her nine-year-old grandson, being forbidden contact, would sneak away from home to see her. I listened as one party in the conversation presented Fred’s argument, which had some validity. My dad thought like George.

What about you? How would you advise May?

I gave the tale this ending twist to fit today’s Word Press prompt: invitation.


A Chinook Wind

Back when we lived in Moose Jaw, I awoke one morning and noticed right away that the air had an unusual scent. I took a deep sniff and smiled. A chinook was blowing.

This weather pattern is born in the air currents moving from northwest to southeast across the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Winds suck up moisture from the water’s surface and carry it along in billowing white clouds until the air mass crashes into the North American coastline. And there the air-land temperature difference causes the clouds to dump their payload on the hapless residents below.

In western Canada this means the British Columbia coastline, including Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria. Terrific rainfall ever year! But then the now-lighter air mass rises upwards over the mountain range leaving the clouds behind to dribble onto the coast. The interior of British Columbia is desert-dry a lot of the time.


L to R: BC, Alberta, Sask, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime provinces

These air currents climb the mountain peaks and pick up speed sliding down the other side into Alberta. Still warm from the Pacific this air blow across the southern prairies. The Indians called these winds chinooks. If it’s winter here, a chinook can melt a lot of snow in a day, picking up the resulting moisture and carrying it along at almost ground level until the wind plays out.

Under the map of Canada above I’ve listed the southern provinces that border the US. The Rocky Mountains, for the most part, follow that squiggly line between BC and Alberta. Because of the way the Rockies angle as they run along the border of the two provinces, the southernmost chinooks sometimes blow as far east as central Saskatchewan. Moose Jaw, dead center in south SK, gets the tail end of some, whereas Regina, 44 miles east, rarely ever feels a Chinook wind.

When one is blowing, we get that classic “chinook arch” along the western horizon. Our sky is clear except for an arc of grey cloud hovering at the western edge of our world.

It was this warm, moisture-laden air I got a whiff of that morning. In the dead of winter a chinook has a pleasing smell to it! Later, when I was outside, I saw the accompanying chinook arch. A chinook means a sunny day, a rise in temperature, melting snow. We get a tiny respite from frigid winter’s grip. We prairie folks love our chinooks.

Word Press daily prompt: Interior

Turn, turn, turn

Fellow blogger Stacey LePage shares her thoughts and feelings about life in general and how cancer has affected hers. When I read this uplifting post on her blog this morning I just knew my readers would find it an inspiration, too. thanks, Stacey, for letting me Reblog it.

In The Corner

“To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep”

I have always loved this song, by Pete Seeger, and well, kind of heavily inspired by the Book of Ecclesiastes. The words, I remember, were read by the Minister at both my parents’ funerals.  I didn’t really hear the words during the service for my Mom – but I sure did for my Dad.  A time for everything and everything in its time.

It is time… but for what?

What I don’t like is that I never know what time it is!  What season is it?  The calendar will tell me it is winter – and…

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Thanks Alice

I’ve been following Stuart’s blog for quite awhile and find all of his posts interesting. He has a gift for relating life’s experiences; his stories engage and entertain readers as well as sharing valuable insights into human nature.


I sipped the watery coffee and unwrapped my egg biscuit. Hitting the highway early and with another hour ahead of me, I’d pulled off to go through the drive-thru window of a lone fast-food place surrounded by woods. Nice, I thought. I’ve always found eating in my car preferable to the noisy interiors of those restaurants. It was quiet and peaceful with no kids screaming.

“Mommy!” the kid screamed.

It was a little girl. She and two other kids stood with their backs flat against an old beat up car parked a few spaces away.

“Mommy!” she screamed again. A little more panic in her voice this time. All three kids looked around in different directions but never moved from their spots. Puzzled, I stopped eating and watched for a minute as I tried to understand. That’s when Mommy appeared from the woods with a baby on her hip and…

View original post 720 more words

Crumbs From The Feast

English sparrow at the bird feeder
scratches through the offering
chooses from the smorgasbord
only seeds that most appeal
tosses the unwanted hither and yon.

He pauses to twitter, disgusted
that someone would include all this
stuff he would never eat,
making so much extra work for him
to get a proper meal.

A cowbird on the ground looks up
watches the sparrow sorting
and rushes to snatch falling seeds.
Never a complainer, she
welcomes crumbs from the feast.


The Incredible Semi!

The Incredible Semi

Today’s Word Press prompt asks about our punctuation quirks.  Of course the proper use of punctuation is a must.  According to all the rules given out between Grade Two and the priciest university writing courses, punctuation is essential if you want people to understand  your meaning clearly.  Know what you want to say, punctuate it properly, and you’ll get your message across.

Commas are marvelous things that serve to divide sentences into bite-sized pieces for the reader’s brain and no one will dispute the value of the periods, question marks, etc., that end our sentences.  However, my thought today centers on one sadly neglected key: the semi colon.  And we can’t ignore its upper case version, the colon.

The colon is the more straightforward of the two.  Most folks will remember from Grade 5 or 6 Grammar that a colon begins a list.  It is useful in three specific ways: it indicates that I’m going to give you several reasons, examples, or items; it eliminates the repetition of the conjunction; it aids in the making of smiles — albeit sideways. 🙂

Alas for the almost-forgotten semi-colon!  It’s such a useful tool; surely it could be revived?  It divides two related phrases of equal value into munchable sentence bites. It provides a stop–but not an end. It unites two or three important thoughts but prevents them from running together in a blabbering way.

Consider it’s usefulness in the following ways:
— it eliminates run-on sentences
— it eliminates a string of short, choppy sentences
— it divides items in a list
— it eliminates the need for the conjunctions and, for, because, & but.  (Where word count matters in a manuscript this is a real plus.)

Let’s consider a few examples.
Peter asked to go to the ball game but his mom said she couldn’t drive him because Dad had taken the car this morning but if he wanted to catch the bus that would be all right with her and he should for sure take his little sister though because she’d been asking to go all week.
Just as bad:

Peter asked to go to the ball game.  His Mom said she couldn’t drive him.  Dad had taken the car this morning.  If he wanted to catch the bus that would be all right with her.  He should for sure take his little sister.  She’d been asking to go all week.
(Sounds like machine gun fire!  Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat…)

Peter asked Mom to take him to the ball game.  She said she couldn’t drive him; Dad had taken the car this morning, but if he wanted to catch the bus that would be alright with her.  He should for sure take his little sister, though; she’d been asking to go all week.

Replacing but:
The man has lost the use of his eyes but he makes up for this with his very keen hearing.

The man has lost the use of his eyes; he makes up for this with his very keen hearing.

Replacing because :
A camper needs to be very careful in the park because it hasn’t rained all month and the forest is tinder dry.
A camper needs to be very careful in the park; it hasn’t rained all month and the forest is tinder dry.

As I said, the clauses on each side of the semi-colon must be equal; each must have a subject and verb of its own.  However, use a comma to divide a principle clause from a subordinate clause.

Not:  When the sun shines again; then we can go to the park.
But:  When the sun shines again, then we can go to the park.

Not:  As we drove across the bridge that morning; we saw a pair of swans in the water below.
But:  As we drove across the bridge that morning, we saw…

I could give further examples galore, but this will suffice; I trust I’ve made my point.  In your future writing endeavors, remember the incredible semi.  It’s a great tool!