Category Archives: Stories

The Mall

We have a variety of shops: cheese, socks, pie, underwear, candy, Cracker jacks, Three Musketeers, peanuts, toast, jam, fish balls, ice cream, chocolate, books, Gold mine stock, swamp real estate, Brooklyn Bridge, air, pet rocks, nails and screws.

What should we name our little mall? Should we open on holidays?

Gardening Traditions

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

Last weekend, the weekend of Mother’s Day, I gardened under blue skies and warm sunshine. I planted most of the flowers in the front garden—snapdragons, petunias, vinca, marigolds, and indigo salvia.   Last year I did the same thing.  Then the local rabbits then feasted on the tender seedlings.  Fat and happy, the entire Cottontail family flaunted their white tails at me and my dogs.  HMPH. And my front garden was much too bare when those flowers should have bloomed.

My mother and grandmother taught me to garden. They both fashioned cloches from milk cartons which dotted their gardens.  Neither one of them would have ever considered spending hard-earned money on a real cloche!

The first cloche I saw was Grandma’s made out of a milk carton. At that time milk cartons were made of card stock covered in wax.  Grandma cut off the top and the bottom, then used the middle to protect her plants.  Mom did the same thing.  When plastic milk jugs hit the grocery store, those were even better.  They cut off the bottom.  Those were ideal—just the right size and with a pre-existing vent in the top.

So guess who follows this tradition?   Each year I hoard my plastic jugs, cut off the bottoms, and protect my plants under the milk jug cloches.  In the past I have only used this for vegetables.  But I am weary of losing my flowers to these rabbits.  So this year my front garden is sprouting milk jug cloches.

Our neighbors stop by and ask us, “What’s with the milk jugs? Why do you do that?”  Then I explain the concept of a cloche and not spending the money on the real thing and thinking about Grandma when I garden.  And I feel connected to all those gardeners from generations past.

In a few weeks I will string all those milk jugs together, store them under the deck, and re-use them in the next season. I will enjoy spoiling those rabbits’ snacks.  Then when the flowers bloom, I will think about Grandma again, and how we used to tease her about saving money with the milk carton cloches. I also teased her about being a living yard butt. She used to  position herself bottom-side up in her flower garden, pulling weeds, loosening soil, and babying her flowers.  I smile as I think of that scene.  Then I bend over and pull a weed, my rear end high in the air, carrying on another great family gardening tradition.

What do you re-use around the house?

The Rock

Our last full day on the ship started in Gibraltar, a slip of land at the very south of Spain, just across the straits from Morocco, which actually belongs to Britain. It feels very British on the peninsula with the traditional red telephone boxes, London-style litter bins and even little bobble-heads of the queen in the souvenir shops.

We happened on a mental health rally, complete with drum corps in kilts and a spin class set up right in the middle of the town square.

With only an hour or so left before the ship sailed, we negotiated an abbreviated tour with one of the local taxi tour drivers. Of my own free will I went into the St. Michael’s caves (client has a photo as proof) and we rode over the top of The Rock to see the view and, of course, the monkeys. There are 202 monkeys currently; the government of Gibraltar keeps track of them via tattoos, feeds them and protects them. The monkeys certainly understand their special status, calmly posing for photos, catching rides atop taxis and attempting to hijack purses and photo bags.

Our tour driver had to wing his way down the rock and through traffic, but we made it back to the ship in one pieces – and just 5 minutes late. They pulled up the gangplank behind us!

Have you ever had a whirlwind tour?

5,000 Challenge

Trail Baboon?

I was thinking I wanted this blog to have a familiar title – something easy to recognize, but sly.  A turn of phrase that describes information that’s sent out solely for the purpose of observing the reaction of the audience. Something catchy but common.  However, somebody else has that title locked up, and so one must make do with the opportunity that one has.

Maybe “Braille Typhoon” would be better. “Teal Ballroom”? I’m open to suggestions.

This was how we started out 7 years ago – a rag tag bunch still mourning the end of TLGMS and following our favorite DJ into a new venture. Earlier this year we completely hijacked the trail and made it our own.

And as of yesterday, we have 5,000 followers to our little blog. Some days it feels quiet on the Trail, but even then we have many likes and probably a few lurkers.

I have a challenge today. If you are reading this blog, but have never commented, please put one quick comment out there.  One word or two or even a sentence is fine.  If you been here before you know we are a kind community and we’d love to hear from you.

For everybody else – do you remember your first comment on the Trail (or the Trial Balloon)?

Keep Your Foot Paste off My Keyboard

Today’s post comes from Clyde.

Trying to help my fingers type better, I ordered a new keyboard from Amazon, one that has raised keys that clack like a typewriter. I may not have it long; Sandy has keyboard lust.

It came with two things that did not arouse my confidence in the product. The first was the little white plastic object that is the header picture for this post. My son figured out what it is. I will leave it to you to guess. The second was the warranty card, which is in this photograph.

Been a while since I have received mangled translation like this. How delightful.  I await my three bags of after-sales service.

What have you lost in translation: linguistic, cultural, generational, or political?

Wandering, wandering

We had meetings all morning and by the time we were finished, it was too late to catch one of the shore excursions. But I’ve never been in Cartagena before and my co-worker, Shannon, had never been on a cruise and didn’t want to sit on the ship all afternoon.  So we headed out, grabbing a map of the city center on our way.

We wandered through the narrow streets, took lots of pictures and stopped at one point to listen to a guy playing the accordion. We ended up on the top of the hill overlooking Cartagena among some Roman ruins, including an ancient flour mill where they were installing large metal black widow spiders. I couldn’t remember the word for spider (“aranda” – I remembered it as soon as it wasn’t useful anymore!) but we asked the young men doing the installation “porque” (why).  We got nothing from them – just a laugh and a nod of the head.

Then we wandered down off the hill to look at a big church that we had seen from the top of the hill. It was locked but when we peered inside there was a man sitting in a folding chair at the back of the pews and he came over and let us in. My Spanish is just good enough for me to ask him the name of the church and he gave us the name “Basilica de la Caridad” and a little of its history.

After that we walked a bit until we found a current excavation of some more Roman ruins. It was fascinating to see how everything is put back together during this kind of work and it was very interesting to see the artist renderings of what the building and rooms looked like in Roman times.

By then we had just enough time to buy a t-shirt for Shannon’s son and then get back to the ship. I’m sure we had a better time than if we had done a canned bus tour.

When have you wandered?

Moving the Bed

Today’s post comes to us from Barbara in Rivertown.

We just got back from visiting my mom. Her room in the nursing home is pretty long and narrow, and her bed was in the farthest corner from both the entrance and the bathroom. She’s been after me for weeks – not every visit because she doesn’t always remember, but often enough – to rearrange so that the bed goes crosswise and is closer to both of the doors. I had gotten the OK from the appropriate staff, and Husband was with me Sunday, and so we moved the bed, a shelf, and a little table into new positions.

I can’t remember when she has been so animated, and pleased. She was thrilled that the arrangement makes the room feel cozier, and although the bed is really only a few steps closer to the above mentioned places, it FEELS closer to her, and that’s what counts. What I suspect feels the best is that she still has some say over one aspect of her life.

Is there any part of your life you feel in control of?