Best of Seven

Prompt: Should


Hello Wednesday!

Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

While “please” and “thank you” are magic words, “I should have”, “could have”, “would have” are words of doom and regret. Or anyway, of wistful longing or face-palming annoyance.

This past week my brother has been visiting, just as winter finally struck the valley. He managed to drive up during a break in the cold and snow— a weather window— and while he was here the winter temps and wind conditions grew more and more precipitous. He wasn’t able or prepared to stay for a month, so how to best judge the right moment to climb into his snow-tired vehicle and brave the mountain passes for six hours?

He could stay on an extra week no problem, but the forecasts for later in the month were for even colder, more wintery weather which might not break until March. So we collectively decided that today, Wednesday, February 13 was The Day, the weather window. No snow predicted, clearer skies, warmer temperatures.

As an aside, the snow here in our valley has been of the light, sparkly, twinkly, powder kind, not the heavy wet dump of mountain communities or the coast. So there was the element of leaving the safe, pretty snow for the dense, dangerous kind.

There is no surprise ending. Aside from navigating through the briefest of blizzards half an hour after his departure, brother had no problems and drove through the mountain passes and highways and byways without much problem, although he passed countless abandoned cars and trucks in the ditches, remnants of yesterday’s storms. This morning the drivers of those vehicles could be heard throughout the land, cursing: “I shoulda waited until Wednesday.”

Unrelated to winter driving conditions but to today’s prompt, “should”, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon should crap

cartoon solar coolercartoon best of seven


Wherever you are, enjoy your weather windows (even if they are only of the looking-through kind)!

~~FP

Indoor Cat

Prompt: Treat

 


Dear Wednesday,

What a treat it was to have bright sunshine, clean powder snow, and boys playing hockey on a makeshift frozen-lake skating rink (It’s hard to get more Canadian than that)! Warmer temps are forecast for later in the week, and it will be a shame when the snow turns to grey mush… but for today, a treat!

Our back patio reveals all the surreptitious guests we’ve had over the past few days, because of cat paw prints, quail prints, and mystery creature prints in the snow.  I hope the timing was such that none of them were making prints at the same time (I believe in indoor cats precisely because wild birds are so vulnerable).

Anyway, not related to treats but related to cat paw prints, is this small collection of favourite feline cartoons, which I present to you now:

cartoon two lions


cartoon indoor-cat


cartoon perfect dog


I adore dogs, but I respect cats!

~~FP

Blessing

Prompt: Compass

pecans

Isabel didn’t like lesbians, but that didn’t stop her allowing them to join the Union. In fact, she had developed a degree of sympathy with their rejection of men; she longed to marry and have more children, but if given a chance, would happily strangle her ex-husband to death.

In any case, the lesbians buttressed up the Union, which now stood at forty-plus girls and recruitment was still and always a priority. Before long, they might control over half the prison population.

It was necessary for Isabel to make her way through her daily routine with an entourage, not just for personal protection but because there were always errands, persistent supplicants, spontaneous ideas that needed recording; and, of course, to maintain the aura of authority among Union members and potential recruits. In this crumbling castle with plaster walls the colour of ice-crusted leaves, where the shrillness of voices was amplified by wide empty hallways and panic, and where dullness and soul-destroying monotony were dutifully embraced, the sight of Isabel with her brightly dyed red hair and completely illegal red fingernails, surrounded by hand-picked and deferential subjects, all looking well-fed and alert and alive, was memorable and aweful.

The guards tolerated her with good grace and by the convenience of bribes, usually drugs or favours, but sometimes too because they were no more immune to spectacle and the mysticism of hierarchy than the girls were.

Isabel’s first feat of magic was the curtains she negotiated/ battled for in the main toilets, a victory she insisted was successful because of the support of certain fellow inmates, the girls whom she dubbed the Union. And as she continued to serve her time, she struck a secret deal with Armando, a senior guard, for the safe and consistent import of various narcotics, the most popular of which was not cocaine or heroin but Xanax, and the siphoning of profits to an external account. She set up an inmate-controlled medical emergency system, so her girls would not die of the drugs she smuggled. She petitioned small, independent operations with the prison walls to amalgamate with her Union, less by threat than by luxurious coercion.

You would almost, Miss Fisher said of her one day to her friend Wendy, believe that Isabel had been a powerful businessperson and negotiator in the real world. Perhaps her crimes had been of the corporate variety?

Oh no, Wendy had told her. Wendy was intimate with Tricia, who was one of Isabel’s closest aides and confidantes.

Isabel was the daughter of illegal immigrants who were deported, though not before they abandoned and entrusted their child to the care of a friend, who turned out to be a notorious madame, Wendy told Miss Fisher, who raised Isabel to be a pampered and prized virgin ready for auction, until Isabel was raped by her English teacher and subsequently booted from the brothel.

Homeless for years, Isabel fell in with a pleasant and shy man who imported cocaine from Colombia. They married and had two children before he turned federal witness, at which time they were banished to a small town in Minnesota, where he continued to import cocaine with a new set of suppliers until he was arrested again. Isabel and the children moved to Miami but as homelessness loomed and she was unable to otherwise support the children, she began a short-lived career as a drug mule.

Her husband divorced her while she was in prison; and after being released again, he took custody of the children and moved them to the American Virgin Islands, where he continued to live as a roofing/ drug importer.

“Fascinating,” said Miss Fisher. “It would make quite the story, if true.”

“Even if it isn’t,” said Wendy. “Anyway she’s always had to scrabble and scrub for a living. She had nothing yet lost everything. Hardly a corporate or any kind of power.”

“She wants my blessing,” Miss Fisher said. Wendy wasn’t sure if Miss Fisher was still talking to her. Sometimes her aging mind wandered, these days.

“Your blessing?”

“Oh yes, for her Union. She imagines I have some kind of influence,” said Miss Fisher.

“She wants you to join?”

“She does, indeed. And you too. And all my little friends.”

It was a Sunday afternoon early in November, but so sun-lit and warm that they’d removed their old woolen coats and scarves and basked in the unexpected glow. Their bench backed against the stuccoed utility building and faced a tall chain-link fence, beyond which was a sparse forest of spruce and fir; the closest to a view location that was available anywhere on the grounds.

“She could probably source some pecans for you,” Wendy said. She leaned back and closed her eyes, pretending for a moment she was enjoying a supple, warm day anywhere else.

“Do you think so?” asked Miss Fisher.

Wendy nodded, hoping Miss Fisher was watching. She felt deliciously drowsy, and probably could have dozed off, if she hadn’t felt the pierce of a frozen droplet on her forehead.

She sat up. The sun still shone, but the air had turned bitterly cold. Miss Fisher was pulling on her jacket again. All around her the air was filled with ice rain— tiny sharp pellets of ice that sparkled in the sunlight like shards of tinsel.

“Amazing, isn’t it,” said Miss Fisher. “How things can change in an instant.”

Superpowers

Prompt: Criticize

cars-buried-in-snow-2-1

Fred Mullen was not the handsomest man. He was of very average height, with a slight paunch, and a face that was chronically hard to shave, who was greying in a decidedly unromantic way, and whose features were anything but symmetrical.

He was not the smartest man. No one encouraged him to go to college; they could see as clear as the moon on a cloudless night that Fred’s talent was to be mediocre.

But Fred Mullen was a loyal man. When people were kind to him, he returned the kindness with an unwavering loyalty. If people treated him with respect, he repaid that respect with trust and fidelity.

So, he sat in the driver’s seat of his green, 1994 Volvo 960 sedan and watched the man who lived at 339 Havenridge Crescent. He took pictures of the man with his cellphone. When the man got into his own car, Fred followed him a discreet distance behind.

Over the course of two weeks, just hanging out at 339 Havenridge Crescent on his off hours, Fred got to know the man’s routine. The man mostly worked at a run down auto mechanic shop, breaking down old vehicles into salvageable parts and scrap. Fred half-suspected that the cars he worked on were stolen. But that was not his business, not right now.

The man was paid in cash daily for this work.

The man was younger than Fred, and average height, just like Fred, but much thinner, though on weekends Fred followed him to the community gym, set up in the basement of the high school. Fred used his powers of invisibility to follow the man inside the gym and also peeked into the dressing room. These powers were not supernatural: Fred was simply a nondescript, forgettable, middle-aged man of no apparent consequence.

The man used the weight equipment to build up his triceps and biceps. So while he was a bit of a scrawny person, his arms were strong and well-developed. He had multiple scars on his back. Fred took a picture of the man and his back, while seeming to be talking on his cellphone.

A red-headed woman sometimes came to the house at 339 Havenridge Crescent, and sometimes stayed for several days. At the beginning of the second week of Fred’s casual surveillance, the woman moved out of the house, strapped to a stretcher and carried off in an ambulance.

Fred took pictures. It looked like she’d had a bad accident.

Fred found out the woman’s name, by speaking to the EMT driver, who was on the same bowling team as Fred.

One snowy afternoon, when Fred’s Volvo proved again to be a match for winter conditions, he was calmly observing the man’s house when two dogs appeared. One looked a little straggly, but curled up on the porch. It looked a bit like the dog Fred had occasionally seen tied up in the yard during previous visits.

A short while later an old man and a teenager arrived at the man’s house and had some kind of altercation with him at the front door. One of the dogs bit the man in the balls. Fred had to wince. He didn’t interfere, but he took pictures with his cellphone.

He put his notes and printed-off pictures into a clean, new manilla folder, and the next time he had a shift in the regular part of the prison, he left the folder under the pillow of Miss Fisher’s bunk, while the inmates were taking exercise in the indoor courtyard. He liked Miss Fisher. Always had.

Footprints

Prompt: Footsteps

stock-photo-footprints-in-deep-snow-and-a-tree-on-horizon-winter-landscape-45808432

I opened the curtains of the window that overlooked the small city park. It was covered in the dense snow that had fallen overnight. Once-tall grasses bent low with the weight. It was early, barely light, and I thought I might crawl back into bed, when I saw a lone woman approach the park.

For some reason I felt compelled to watch her. Maybe it was the way she looked around before she entered the park. Maybe it was her coat, so obviously oversized, or her old-fashioned rubber boots.

She walked carefully in the snow, leaving clear, deep footprints, and made a slow half-circle which took her to the center of the park, where there was a very small, now dry, fountain. Once there, she stood very still for a moment, then began to walk backwards in the precise same footsteps that had taken her there. She held her arms out straight beside her as she carefully backtracked into the footsteps. Slowly, almost losing her balance but righting herself just in time, she reached the footprints at the entrance to the park. She eased backwards into the steps just before they veered off the sidewalk.

She looked at her handiwork. As the sun rose, shadows were cast inside the footprints and they were distinct, tracing a curved path to the fountain where they… disappeared.

Pedestrians might pass and think someone had walked into the park and been taken up into the sky.

She pulled up her collar against the cold, and continued walking down the street. I watched her until she turned a corner, out of sight.

Winter Wonderland and Mud

Ever wonder what it is like driving through the Rocky Mountain passes in winter? Here is a very short sample of our drive back to the interior of British Columbia from Vancouver, after Christmas:


Road conditions were actually good, since there was no ice and decent visibility on this trip.

The highest point of the Crowsnest Highway between Hope and Princeton is Allison Pass (el. 1,342 m or 4,403 ft), which is in the middle of Manning Provincial Park.

Weekly Photo Challenge Prompt: Seasons
Share an image evocative of the weather or represent the current “season of your life” in metaphor.