Maria’s Stuff: Life is stranger than Fiction Part two

This story might be familiar to some of you already.

 

Amadeo's house

Niall’s legs felt like lead as he walked the short distance to collect his car which he had left parked at the house his sister was minding. Two days of work with only travel time between jobs left him feeling as grey as the sky overhead.

Lost in this hazy greyness he failed to notice the tiny woman until she spoke to him. “Good afternoon.” Her soft voice had an authoritative air to it which made him stop before her.

He noted her pastel pink coat, soft nude coloured shoes and pink hat thinking, she is dressed like the Queen of England. Niall noted the package she carried was square, wrapped in a crimson glossy paper and sitting on top of it a perfectly formed golden bow. He looked around him and couldn’t see how she had arrived at this old house on the top of the hill. He wondered if she was an angel.

“I’ve been invited to tea.” Her crisp words brought a smile to his face.

Niall opened the gate and she, to his surprise, walked through. He followed and they walked towards his car.

“You must work here. Are you the gardener?” She stared at him closely. “I have come to have tea with Lady Louise.”

He wondered in what parallel universe did gardeners wear nifty suits and white shirts. But she reminded him of his grandmother, whom he missed, so he made no caustic comment.

“No, I don’t work here. I left my car with my sister who is minding the house while the owner is away and I have come to collect it. I don’t think there is anyone here.” He waited for her to digest this information.

“So I am at the wrong house. I should try the other big house on the far side.” She said with a nod which sent a ripple waving across her silver hair.

He opened the passenger door intending to leave his jacket on the seat when, to his astonishment she neatly slipped into the seat.

Her blue eyes flashed at him as she said, “That is good you have your car. It won’t take a minute.”

Niall smiled while inside he groaned. He had thirty minutes to get to Dublin for his last appointment, then it would be home for food and sleep. He opened his mouth then thought better of speaking. He shut the door carefully and got into the driver’s seat.

The house in question was a mere four hundred yards away. He drove slower than normal and arrived before the large electronic entrance gate.

“It’s shut.” His passenger said. “I’ll wait.”

Lucky for all concerned the gate opened and he drove through, straight to the front door.

Then without thinking he got out, raced around to the passenger door, opened it and when she alighted Niall gave a slight nod.

With a nod in his direction she sailed sweetly past him carrying her gift.

Niall didn’t linger. Tiredness evaporated as he got back into his seat, gunned the engine and got out of there before he was snared again. “I am not up to dealing with a double dose of silver-haired trouble today.” He said with a sigh of relief as he noted his passenger had gone inside.

****************************

I was reminded of this tale last week.

It was late, I was late.  And worse the automatic gate was playing up. The reason why became apparent when I stopped outside the gate and rolled down the passenger window. A ladies voice wafted in to me “Ah good I thought I was late.”

I frowned wondering if I, yet again, had got my wires crossed. I didn’t remember volunteering to drive an elderly lady anywhere.

So I leant across the seat and peered out the window. No, I didn’t volunteer to drive a stranger anywhere, especially to a committee meeting,  which I guessed was her destination judging from the clipboard and file she carried.

She was talking at a rapid pace. I remembered NIall’s encounter and wondered should I shut my window, lock my doors but her next words caught my attention, “It is kind of you Maureen to offer me a lift.”

“I am sorry I am Maria,  not Maureen. Are you sure you have the right house?”

She looked at me blankly then grimaced. “You are not Maureen”

I overlooked the disdainful look she shot my way. I smiled and agreed.

She didn’t look happy at all. “Where is Maureen?”

“One house over,” I said , thankfully at this point the gates clanged shut and I put my foot to the accelerator and left her to toddle into the house next door.

Like mother like son, I decided.

 

 

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Double Trouble for Constance Claus.

Double Trouble for Constance Claus.

Constance Claus loves Christmas as much as she loves her husband but, every year from November until December 26th a disaster happens. And at his tremendous age, Santa hated problems. Constance tried to plan ahead as, let’s be honest; most people like to have a trouble free life.

Last year it was the missing gingerbread recipe. The recipe was ancient, almost as old as the cook who had the job of baking five million perfectly formed gingerbread houses. Every inch of the North Pole was searched. This meant the elves were hungry, a lot more than usual and so Constance spent most of her days cooking and preparing meals. If, she often reasoned afterwards, if she hadn’t been busy feeding the hungry elves, then she would have solved the puzzle earlier.  She found it – under the cook’s hat. It had risen as high as his pastry and was stuck to the top of it.

This year she began her anti disaster plan in July. The first thing she did was to make certain there was a copy of the recipe on her tablet. Next, she checked there was an awesome mountain of buttons for the Minion’s dungarees,then, enough paint for the rocking horses and on and on her list went. But she with the help of chief elf Enda,  worked their way through it.

So by the second week of November she was wondering if she could finally relax.

The workshop was thundering through the long menu of toys and electrical gadgets that needed to be made. The new computer department was turning out to be a great addition as the technicians had rigged up a mechanical serving belt which brought the food straight from the kitchen to the tables at lightening speed.

“Too fast for me,” moaned Santa as yet again he was too slow to collect his dinner off the moving belt and it whizzed on to Slim who snagged it.

But dear you are looking all the trimmer for it,” Constance said.

She was sitting before a pretty log fire with Summer, her cat, snoozing on her lap, when her walls began to shake and rumble. Strange, thought Constance. However, when the rumbling increased she jumped to her feet and went to investigate. Summer slid to the ground, shook himself and went off to find a more reliable less jumpy cushion to snooze on.

Constance wondered if Santa and the elves were playing a trick on her so she was a little wary of opening her front door. This was just as well, because when she opened it a chunk of snow slid off the roof and landed on her doorstep.

“This won’t do,” Constance muttered and picked her way through the mountain of snow.

Then she stopped and stared. She giggled because she couldn’t help it. The reindeers were playing dodge the snowball. And due to their very heavy appearance they were making the ground shake and groan under their hooves.

She frowned. “This is terrible, Rudolph you are looking a little chunky tonight.” She mused and then stopped and sniffed the air. He smelt of chocolate and something else. She stared at him.

“Is that marshmallow sticking to your coat?” He backed away and looked at her with huge sad eyes.

She went back inside but instead of sitting in her comfortable chair she peeped out the window.  She noticed some of the reindeer sniff the air and stroll off towards the elves living room. Constance decided to follow.

In the  elves living room she discovered the elves were having a snack. They had taken their shoes off and were sitting before a huge fire toasting smores. “Where did you learn how to do that?” She asked Santa who was managing to toast four at a time.

“Internet.” He said, “Try some. They are delish.”

She tilted her head to one side, “how long have you been doing this?

“Oh only a week or two. It’s just that we get so hungry with the extra work. It is a nice way to relax and we tell stories then head to bed.”

She looked around the room and noticed many of the elves were already asleep in their chairs. Just then the door opened and a young reindeer entered. He walked straight to a sleeping elf and very gingerly took the uneaten smore from the elf’s hand before moving to the next elf.

Constance did not want to be a spoilsport but she was worried. The reindeer needed to be fit and Santa, she knew would eat until his suit was close to bursting.

Over the next two weeks no matter what she did, the reindeer always found a way into the elves sitting room. She wondered if they were paying the elves to leave a door open. No, that is totally silly, she decided.

It was December and the workshop was producing toys at a frantic rate.

There was a “bang” followed by a “pop” and everything stopped. There was a shocked silence. Enda shouted, “lets find the fault.” An hour later they knew the problem. The generator couldn’t produce enough electrical power.

“We need to produce more electricity.It’s knackered.” Was the final statement from their workshop maintenance team.

“Right early lunch and lets chew on it.” Santa said.

Constance went for a walk. She always thought better when left to think by herself. Rudolph accompanied her, with Summer sitting on his back.

“I know you are trying to get fit and slim Rudolph but it is not working. You need a high intensity work out. Cross fit for Reindeers, I think.”

She let the thought rattle about in her head for a while and when she returned to the workshop she called the maintenance team to her.

Three days later the workshop was breaking all production records.

Enda said, “Thank you Constance for your brilliant idea.”

Constance beamed at  him. “You are welcome. I think almost everyone is happy.”

Enda grinned. “Well if Santa insists on eating so much then he has no choice. He can’t have it all his own way, even if his name is Santa.”

They both looked over at the line of reindeer waiting their turn to get on the exercise wheel. Beyond the exercise wheel there was another line of reindeer happily munching on smore flavored hay.  Santa walked alongside the reindeer. A giant pedometer declared, “well done Santa just 5,000 more steps to earn a whole smore this evening.”

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Santa wasn’t too worried as he had a date on the 25th with a dog called Bob who was currently stashing marshmallows in his Christmas stocking in exchange for jelly babies.

 

 

 

Dear Father Time,

Can I slow Time?

We didn’t know Bob when he was a pup but I imagine him as a cool super pup like this guy,

young pup elkhound

Full of life and fun.

He came into our lives when he was 2 and a bit.

Got itA bundle of trouble as every follower knows. He ate everything in his way, pipes in drains, remote control unit for the electric gate, the tube covering the wires for the gate itself, shoes, boxes, flower pots the list is endless.

He wasn’t always so laid back, he would almost jump into my arms if a gate rattled as we passed it. He didn’t like big dogs, and still views them suspiciously. He always loved people, big and small. We are a constant source of amusement to him.

However, lately we are becoming aware of his age. Walks take longer, stopping to pee is more frequent, a slight limp is evident on some days, as arthritis creeps in. His meals are prepared with care, adding fish oils, no need to worry about fruit and veg as he loves both and snacks on carrots, steals strawberries, raspberries and blackberries straight from the plants. He has learnt that if he rubs off the apple tree some apples will land at his feet and they are sampled as well.

He ambles after me and will sit watching me as I garden, do housework or write but after five minutes his snoring fills the quiet space between us.

Take today for instance, I suggested a walk and was subjected to the following looks. I took them to mean,

sdr

Am I hearing you correctly?

dav

Is she for real?

 

dav

If I pretend I am tired then all will be well.

He is 12 years of age and I want to stop his aging. Has anyone any helpful tips regarding arthritis etc with older dogs?

As usual all answers will be gratefully received.

 

Strange things happen in Summer

Irish Summers mean many things to many people but in this house Summer makes dogs do unusual things.

And we seem to attract them in all sizes and shapes,

This one loves….

sdr

Wheelbarrows

dav

And some are a mystery, in this case  a wet pup

dav

His missing sister solved the puzzle of how he got wet

sdr

It was bath time,

which explained why Bob was last seen

dav

Running!

Yes strange things happen in Summer

Giveaway – Freebie Book for young readers

As posted on Mudpilewood.com:

Technically a giveaway in return for reviews could be questioned as not being a giveaway, but that is the deal.  I will post, to three readers, a copy of my book in return for their review. I will leave the giveaway open for two weeks.

I considered many complicated ways of holding this competition but decided simple is best.

Posted below is the first chapter of my book. The names of everyone who answer the following question will be put in a hat, (beanie) and three pulled out.

runaway_schoolhouse_cover_Latest_151031

Chapter 1

 

John and Sara Buggy were twins who didn’t look alike. They didn’t think or act alike either. In fact, they were complete opposites. Sara was a quiet, studious type while John was a messer who hated school and spent his days there playing practical jokes.

One blustery, grey Monday morning, they trudged their way to school, all set for another run-of-the-mill day in the tiny two-classroom building.

“Why are we walking so fast?” Sara asked John.

“I have something to do,” he replied, with the begining of a smile tugging at his mouth.

She knew that look but instead of pressing him further, concentrated on stretching her short legs to keep up with his longer stride. There was a six-inch height difference between them and while John had a head of smooth, dark brown hair, Sara was stuck with a headful of tangled red curls. This didn’t sit well with her.

“School is the oddest place because most of what we learn is pretty useless in the real world,” John was saying, as they walked through the main door.

Sara considered her answer for a moment.

“You may think you’re right but I like learning new things and it’s always so cosy in here.”

***

Once they were seated,  Sara started to worry about what trick John was about to play on their teacher. Mrs Brown, she noticed, kept sniffing and clutching a hanky to her nose. Sara wondered if she were ill. She glanced at John who winked at her.

“Not long now,” he whispered.

“What have you done?” she hissed back.

Suddenly, Mrs Brown sneezed. John giggled. Sara turned her attention back to their teacher who sat in her chair with her nose twitching like a rabbit. She sneezed six times in succession, sending her glasses bouncing onto her desk. Eventually, she managed to stop long enough to hold her nose and shove her glasses back in place. Getting up from her desk she walked to the door and said very quickly, “Carry on with your maths.” This short statement was followed by more sneezing as she left the room.

John was given many high fives and claps on the back as his mates asked how he did it.

“A master never reveals his secrets,” he grinned.

Sara was not impressed.

“Someday Mrs Brown will get really mad at you and…”

“And what?” John demanded. “Writing a hundred lines is nothing I haven’t done before. Now, come on, it’s break time.”

Suddenly a shadow fell across his desk and Mrs Brown said, in a sharp tone, “Let’s try five hundred lines on the whiteboard today John, not on your tablet where you are a master at copy and paste. The line, I should not play pranks on the teacher, is to be written at lunchtime.”

Mrs Brown then turned to Sara adding, “And John is to do it on his own.”

“Yes, Mrs Brown,” Sara said.

***

At lunchtime Sara slipped back into the classroom to help her brother but found him staring at the whiteboard.

“You haven’t written many lines,” she said. Sara noticed a message written across the board – and it wasn’t in John’s handwriting.

School is a useful tool for life, John and Sara.

Sara read the words aloud and looked at John.

“I didn’t do it.The board was clean when I began and then it just appeared. It’s wrong anyway, school is stupid.”

He wiped the message away.

“Perhaps it is magic?” Sara said in a wistful tone.

“Huh, there is no such thing,” John sneered. “If there was I would click my fingers and the board would be full of lines, just like this.”

Turning to face Sara he clicked his fingers but noticed her smile fade as she pointed back to the board.

There before them, more lines of the same sentence appeared. They watched as they scrawled, with no sign of a marker, in neat, tidy rows.

Sara counted the lines.

“There are twenty rows of twenty-five lines.” She looked at John. “Did you do this? Do something else!”

“Two packets of crisps,” John shouted, then clicked his fingers and waited. Nothing happened.

Sara was busy staring at the board again. She read the message aloud.

You have enough lunch to eat in your schoolbag.

“I don’t like this. Is it a ghost? ” Sara whispered and jumped further away from the board.

John was curious and moved closer. “Rubbish! Ghosts don’t exist.”

“I wonder why it happened today?” And no sooner had she said it but the words changed and she read aloud, Today is my birthday, I am one hundred years old.

Gathering all of her courage Sara said,  “Happy Birthday to you but who are you?”

I am the schoolhouse you are standing in and my name is Clearie.

“Clearie, what an awesome name!” John said.

The words on the bottom changed once more and they both read the message.

Clearie means minstrel and scholar in Irish.

Suddenly, the ringing of the bell announced the end of break and the arrival of the other children back into the room, prevented Sara and John from finding out more.

Sara did notice the last message was wiped clean before Mrs Brown arrived back to her desk but she instinctively knew it wouldn’t be the last of them.

In the meantime, there was John’s lack of lines to worry about…

 

*******

What was the first message to appear on the board that was not written by either John or Sara?

Bob’s Diary: On the road – again.

You think you humans would learn. Somethings will never change,

roads will stay busy,

car on road

Dogs will always love trees no matter the shape or size,

ipp

And some dogs will always love walking, leading

bob on road

But this Bob will always, prefer,

IMG_9231

being at home for tea.

 

The Tattoo

 

I’m staring at my arm. I blink. Blink again, in the hope that I will wake up. I have to be dreaming. The painful, carefully drawn dragon that I paid good hard earned cash for some days ago, has vanished.

It began this morning. While showering, I noticed that the ink was fading.
I attempted to reason the hows and whys of this happening. Had I been conned? Money exchanged for a simple cheap tacky job. But no, I couldn’t call it either tacky or cheap and it hurt.

The tattoo was to mark the turning point in my life. I was free from him. My husband. This was to be the start of my new life and to mark it I went out and did something incredibly stupid. I got a tattoo. I had always said tattoo’s were pointless and not for those over thirty. But here I was at thirty eight complete with tattoo.

Except for one small puzzling fact. It was disappearing.

dragon

Dragon by Sara M.

I decided to return to the scene of the crime – the tattoo shop. It was small, crowded and busy.

A fact not to be ignored given that thousands of us (Irish people) rant and rave about taxes and the loss of income, many of us compound our misery by acquiring a tattoo.

Anyway, the door bell jangles as I enter. He looks up. Squints, at me, which should have been off putting given his employment asks for keen eyesight.  He scowls, then flicks the cigarette butt into a can sitting on a shelf and grunts. The current victim sitting in the chair is young, pale faced and clutching a tin of alcohol. I grimace, turn from him and face my problem.
“Lo.” He grudgingly acknowledges my presence and waves his implement of torture at me.
“I….” Clearing my throat I start again. “We have a problem. The tattoo you gave me is disappearing.”
He smiles. This is not a pleasant smile. It is a horrific metal smile. Cool and ugly.
“I want whatever you are on.” His throaty reply brings a squeak from the boy in the chair.
“Can I have some? Does it make the pain go away?”
I ignore the artists latest victim and focus on my problem.

I stare at him but he is staring at my arm. I l discover, that once again, I have a tattoo of a dragon on my arm.
“I think you should go for a sleep and relax. It looks like a nice clean job, swelling has already vanished. You will be fine.” He dismiss’ me and turns away.
I am staring at the dragon and feel the blood drain from my face. ” It’s back.” I whisper ignoring the giggling of the other occupants. I leave as quietly as I can.
However two minutes later, cutting through the park, I glance down. No tattoo. This is madness. I head for a park bench.
“I must be crazy.”
“You are not but I wouldn’t class you as being un-crazy either.” The voice is pleasant, elderly but pleasant. I look around and see nothing. Not even a cat lazing in the bushes or a bird tweeting in a tree.
Now I know I am losing my sanity.
I feel a tweak of heat on my arm and I glance down. The dragon stares up at me. He is approximately three inches tall and is breathing fire at an amazing rate.
“Please don’t do that.”
“Why? I’ve lain amongst the pages of that blasted book for ever and now that I’m free, why not?’
I shrug my shoulders and consider my answer. To give him his due I can understand his need to escape. “But it’s my arm and I would rather not be burnt.”
He smiles at me . “I’m George, by the way.” As he speaks the fair hairs on my arm are singed.

Grimacing with pain, I lean over and pluck a leafy twig from the nearest shrub. “Try this.”
He does and is happy with the result which is a black shriveled up mess in my hand. How do I know he is happy? Because he begins to dance, tap dance by the amount of pain he is inflicting on me, all the way up and down my arm and finally moves along the seat I am sitting on.
A shadow looms above me and I look up. The park keeper is standing glaring at me. “Why would you do that?”
“What?” I am really puzzled.
“Set a twig on fire.” He has yanked off his cap and is mopping his brow. His bald head is a shining example of cleanliness.
“I didn’t..” I begin.
“It was me.” George explains as he jumps onto the arm of the bench. To re inforce his point he lets out a bellow of fire that catches the end of the park keepers hanky that protrudes from his hip pocket. It goes up in smoke. He looks at me and at George. He faints, landing on the ground with a nice thud.
Standing up, I step over him saying, “looks as though life has lost its boring factor. How would you like to meet my ex husband?”
George smiles and I leave the park with him sitting on my shoulder.

Story originally posted on CC as part of a weekly challenge. – Maria.

 

 

Bobs Diary: A New Year means

Happy New Year to everyone far and wide,

bob high viz 1

A New Year is the same as a blank canvas for this dog.

My resolutions should read like this:

I will lose weight by walking more and eating less

I won’t laugh at Maria’s chicken legs

I will not canvas for fans at a barbecue

I will not stop while walking and wait for kids and little old ladies to pet me.

But the truth is:

I hate walking and don’t see the point in it. The world tends to come to me. and I like riding in hot carsdaisybob in car 2

You got to laugh at something, besides she laughs at her own legs too.

When you have crowd appeal why not use it?

pic559418_thipp

And besides you should always obey traffic signs:

Bob at Play

 

 

Bob’s Diary: Christmas Fun

It is really Christmas now! The internet is working and Maria can post these pics of me, Ellie and our Christmas Eve surprise.

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A new house!

She of course had to try it out first,

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I played it cool.christmas 15 for blog 006

Because I knew this was only the start of it!

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Better, tastier things were yet to come,

christmas 15 for blog 013christmas 15 for blog 012 and I got help to open my tripe parcel with pigs ears.

But they still tasted delish!christmas 15 for blog 015

Happy Christmas everyonechristmas 15 for blog 017