Haiku Challenge 252 Tinker / Tumble


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Calloused hands tinker
on tumbled and twisted pots
strike a cheerful tune

share a simple melody
give pleasure for those at work

                                          -cj holm

Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge 252 Tinker / Tumble

Prompt words: Tinker & Tumble
Haiku Tanka in 5-7-5 7-7



Prompt For Ronovans Writing Challenge #12

February 5th is National Wear Red Day, or Shower With a Friend Day. There are much more serious International Days the 5th is set aside for, but the challenge at this point in its growth is not a place to explore those quite yet.

Not sure if this qualifies as flash fiction or maybe it’s just self-delusion, but it is one of my favorite stories from childhood and does involve a shower with friends.

“Wunnerful, Wunnerful”

Just prior to our sophomore year in college, my brother and I both were working for Mac Crawford, the owner of Crawford’s Café. Crawford’s was located in the heart of downtown Valley City. Eugene was the assistant manager and I was a fry cook/dishwasher. At night, we both cleaned the floors. Since we were “men of position”, we came to the conclusion that we should move out of our parent’s home and rent our own apartment. After an extensive search of the city, we found our dream home; Apt #315, near the top floor of Zac’s Rudolf Hotel. It was apparent we were a couple of young businessmen preparing to live high in the hog.

Zac’s was not the newest building on the block. In fact, it was built around the turn of the century and had been unsuccessfully remodeled a number of times. However the building was sound and the fire escapes seemed solid. Our apartment was in the interior and had a perfectly lovely view of the buildings airshaft. Heat, water, and electricity were included in the rent along with furnishing that looked the same as anything we had seen in some of our friend’s rented trailers.

Now you would think that our parents would be glad to see their youngest children move on with their lives and strike out on their own. You would think that it would be a special time with perhaps a speech or two about the beauty of birds flying the coop. But, apparently we caught our mother on a bad day! I think she may have had a problem with our bragging about our fine apartment and what a wonderful time we would have there. Apparently, she thought we were not sincerely thankful enough about the care we received during the preceding 19 years of our lives. Or the idea we were dropping out of college to work full time for Crawford’s Corner.

Luckily, our mother’s temper seemed to cool. She started helping us gather up our belongings. Unfortunately, we realized much too late that her “help” meant all of our possessions were thrown on the lawn in front of our house. It was clear she intended to jettison all of our possessions, including old baseball mitts, school annuals, tennis racquets, basketballs along with the contents of our dressers and closets to the lawn. It was to be a clean sweep for my parents and an entertaining sequence of events for the neighbors to observe.

We collected two truckloads of belongings and move them all to our new abode. There we sorted through the sum of our existence, placing them into “keep” and “throw” piles. Within an hour the deed was done, we were organized, lean and mean.

There was only one small problem, although the apartment was furnished, we still had no dishes, sheets, towels and the other various little things that make a room a home. Luckily our old neighbors had witnessed our exit from our family home and noticed what with us or, more importantly, wasn’t with us. In a very neighborly show of support, they went through their basements and put together a package of old towels, dishes, and silverware. Although the towels didn’t match and we had, at least, seven different patterns of dishes, we were grateful for their generosity.

Even though our beginning was humble; we still managed to impress our friends with our gracious manners. For our female friends, it was candlelit dinners for two, featuring sloppy joes, green beans (French cut of course) accompanied by grape popsicles for dessert. For the guys, there was always beer and cards if they brought the beer.

And who could forget our famous sauna parties; twelve people standing in our bathroom with the hot shower running full blast with the electric floorboard heater set on high. For a really special occasion, we had a can of evergreen room freshener that we would spray on the towels. We spared no expense when it came to our guests.

We also organized night time excursions; these trips were renowned, including our famous “Bummer Festival”. Eight people locked into the spacious confines of my brother’s 1972 AMC Gremlin, drinking beer, listening to Lawrence Welk on the eight-track player while cruising city streets and back alleys. These were truely “Wunnerful, Wunnerful” times.

Because we worked at the restaurant we did not store much food in the apartment. That was fortunate because it became apparent that we were not alone in space. Late at night, we could here skittering in the kitchen.  When we snapped on the lights, small shadows disappeared under the counters and cracks along the floor.

Once I went down to the lobby to pick up a newspaper. The lobby contained a check in counter for the customers. It was also where cigarettes, newspapers and snacks were stored always available for sale to the traveling salesmen who frequented the hotel. While talking to the night clerk, a large brown bug, about an inch and a half long sporting long antennas came sauntering out of the wall. The insect didn’t seem to be afraid of the clerk nor did the clerk appear overly concerned about the bug; the creature just continued to walk along the counter top, past the newspapers, candy bars and finally went under an old display case. Neither I nor the clerk mentioned the visitor. I just handed him a quarter and he gave me my change along with a newspaper.

While we lived in relative luxury on the top floor, Zac’s also provided a home on the lower floors for an odd assortment of single “retired” men. They had seen a lot in their lives and had drunk even more. Now their journeys took them only as far as the wooden chairs surrounding the lobby. They occupied these from afternoon until early morning, with a few breaks to obtain and share some spirits with their friends.

They on occasion would share sage advice as the other patrons entered and exited the building. Some of the advice might have been described as “caustic”, the rest, especially as the day became late, was just plain incomprehensible. One particular resident named “Sarge” had style! Although his suits could have done with a cleaning, it was apparent that they were expensive at one time. He favored woolen double-breasted pin-stripped suits and most of the time carried a walking stick, which steadied his gait. Towards late evening, Sarge held the stick with both hands and planted it firmly on the carpet, as he leaned his back against the wall, no doubt reinforcing the building. If Sarge had a very good day, his hold on the building would release and he would weave his way back to his room to sleep. On most days, he would just crumple into a chair and remain there for the night.

It was on one of those nights, that I and a friend entered the hotel with two young ladies we had brought back to the apartment from a party. My friend and I had started drinking beer very early in the day and these girls wanted to be sure we had gotten back to the penthouse safely. As we passed, Sarge stirred and eyed the young ladies. He turned to us and said very loudly, “Boy! You’ve brought home a couple of ugly ones tonight!” I realized Sarge might not be as drunk as he seemed and that I might have been the one who had too much to drink that night.

All good things have to end and so did our stay at Zac’s. Eugene went on to Chef’s School and I soon returned to higher education. While the stay at Zac’s was short, it will always hold a special place in our memories for a first home away from home.



Prompt For Ronovan’s Friday Fiction Challenge #6

Challenge This Week: Write about a family gathering. No Word Count limit this week, just no book lengths please.

Sunday Papers Spread Across Saturday’s Floor

Sundays are special!  We considered them a day of rest from the normal farm chores, other than milking and tending the animals. Sundays included driving to Fingal for the parish service and returning home to sit down to a meal. Mom and my sister worked long hours preparing the best meal of the week. Next Sunday was going to be extra special. Our parish priest, Father Koehler, would be coming to our farm to spend the day.

Father Koehler’s house keeper told us that he was coming. That simple statement ignited frenzy in my family’s world. There was no greater honor, than hosting the priest for a meal. A Sunday Dinner was more than mom could have imagined.

Everything would have to be perfect. We would be eating in the dining room, with the table fully extended. We brought Great Grandma’s white linen table-cloth out of the cedar chest and ironed it to perfection. The family polished the silver along with a laundry list of chores given to every member. No detail of the preparation was left to chance.

The boys washed windows, dusted lights, and polished wooden furniture. Dad caught, dispatched, plucked, and butchered three spring chickens. We dug fresh potatoes, snapped string beans, and brought canned red beets out of the cellar. Everything had to be perfect!

Saturday arrived with one last major project to be completed. The linoleum covered kitchen floor. For those not familiar with that old floor covering, it was a hard brittle surface that showed scuffs and always needed a fresh coat of wax to avoid looking dull. It was a three-hour chore that no self-respecting woman would omit. So just after lunch mom put water on the stove to heat (We had no indoor plumbing) and moved the kitchen table and chairs to the hall.

With hot water, lye based soap, and back-breaking strokes mom scrubbed and waxed the floor. To protect her work she spread newspapers all over the linoleum to keep dirty foot prints at bay. God help the man who would accidentally blunder off the newspapers and leave a track.

The day of Father Koehler’s visit had arrived. Mom’s day of rest began at sun up, with fresh pies in the oven and white bread rising on the mantle. Dad and the older boys went to milk the cows and feed the animals. An hour before mass, we did our final clean up and put on our Sunday Go-to-Meeting clothing. With the meal set to low, all eight of us loaded into Buick. We drove the five miles to church where we march down the aisle to our pew. We stood taller knowing that so many in the church knew that Father Koehler was coming to our farm after church today.

After church we hurried home to set the table and make sure the meal was ready.  Eager to be out-of-the-way, we boys waited outside for Father Koehler arrival. Our mouths watered just thinking of the food inside. We also knew that after the meal, we would clear the table to make room for the Royal Rummy Game and the piles of pennies we would bet.

Father Koehler spent the entire afternoon and most of the night laughing, talking and playing cards. By the end of the evening he had successfully cleaned out our penny supply and deposited them into his coin bag. He laughed as he thanked us for the donation to his cause that he stuffed in his jacket. It was his standard joke; everyone knew he used the money to fund the summer bible school.

Our family waved goodbye as father’s car drove down the prairie road back to Fingal.

Life on the farm was hard, but pleasant recollections stand out the best. Good food and good times are always the best memories.

-Clarence Holm




Little Princess (I’ll Be Home)

Little Princess

Lovely daughter on the wall
Daily problems block your view
Little girl just learned to crawl
Couldn’t be there – you’ll get through.

Little princess wait for me
If your willing pause today.
Grow up slowly just for me,
I‘ll be home soon come what may.

You always say there isn’t time
The child you love is here today .
Check your watch and take some time
Or miss the smiles sent your way.

Little princess wait for me
Daddy’s work is in the way
Happy thoughts are my decree
Hope they work in my place today.

As my girl grows up so soon
She’ll find others to fill my place.
I shouldn’t wait till it’s opportune
Early memories will soon erase

Little princess wait for me
Piles of work are in my way.
I’ll be home just wait and see
I’ll finish work and we can play.

– Clarence Holm