Leaving Every Day

A short story for Sunday

The train was there again, on the sidetrack, by the water crane. Steam escaped with sighs of relief. Molly watched from her perch as the fireman loaded the tender’s water tanks. Coal-black clouds swirled when the fuel bunker filled.

LocomotiveWateringShe knew the fireman would soon disappear into the locomotive’s cab to stoke the firebox. Thick black smoke would curl idly through the fire tubes, into the smokebox, escaping through the stack. One long whistle by the engineer meant the boiler was back to pressure, followed by an enormous belch of steam and smoke and cinders, and the train would move.

It would build speed again, each steamy huff arriving sooner than the last, and Molly would wonder, as she always did, where the train was going. She would try to imagine what that place was like, how it felt to be on the train, going somewhere other than Clay County. She’d been to Iola, and to Louisville, the County seat. But she knew there was more than Clay County.

The train disappeared over the horizon, the only reminder a ragged stripe of dark grey puffs swirling in the summer breeze. Molly sat while her imagination finished its journey to all the places she knew she would never see. She roused, slowly returning to Clay County, and started the long walk from the hill overlooking the railroad tracks to the chores that waited for her on the family farm. She’d come to the hill tomorrow, to let her imagination travel again.

[Author’s note: this is a stab at short fiction, it came in at 250 words. Feedback?]

Spring Forward

We moved our clocks ahead this morning, those that didn’t move by themselves. Here in North America, in the areas that do so, we began observing Daylight Savings Time. Many areas around the globe have adopted this shift in time. Not all agree on when, or if, it should happen, or on how long it should last. I’m certain that there are some peoples in some regions of the world for whom Daylight Savings Time comes and goes unnoticed.

Stonehenge_with_farm_carts,_c._1885
Stonehenge, before Daylight Savings Time

My phone knew what to do, probably from the nearby cell tower. So did the little wireless weather station, the one that talks to the temperature sensors installed outside the kitchen window and in the garage. I think the satellite network told it when. I forgot to tell the coffee maker, so it wasn’t ready when the rest of us were this morning. Maybe I should tell it about the satellites.

 

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Long Divisions

Why we’re still Us and Them

Mankind has been dividing itself for millennia. We are so divisive that it is wired into the more primitive areas of our brains. Some of the oldest areas of the human brain, those that we probably inherited from our progenitors on the evolutionary tree, are the parts that deal with distinguishing who looks like us and who doesn’t.

Pithecanthropus_alalusWe are so good at this that the primitive areas of our brains can make the call in milliseconds. We are hard-wired to discriminate. It’s a survival strategy that evolution adapted for in time immemorial. We needed to know in a heartbeat whether to keep on eating or to hotfoot it out of there!

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Talkin’ ’bout my Generation

A short and unscientific history of generational labelling

I popped open the Reader today and saw a post here on My Friday Blog that was an open letter to Millennials about generational labels. I know the post was just some lighthearted ribbing (it was lighthearted, right Josh? Right?) but it got me thinking about the labels that we have come to use to describe different generations of (mostly) Americans. So I wrote my own “open letter” to Millennials. With the utmost respect to Josh.

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Quote-a-Palooza

Some of my favorite quotes

Oh gosh! I do love me some quotes! Today the Daily Prompt from the folks at the Daily Post asked me if I “have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?”

Comício_republicano_(1908-06-28),_à_esquerda_do_orador,_Eusébio_LeãoBut, I have so many, so I thought I would share a few of them, along with what moves me about them. Many are somewhat (somewhat!) political in nature (I was doing a little political writing at the time I collected them), and I don’t want this to devolve into political pie fight, so the political ones I may just explain the politics at the time the author made the quote and let you draw your own conclusions.

So, here we go, with rudyblues’ Quote-a-Palooza! Oh, btw, the quotes revealed and the opinions expressed are those of the authors and in no way reflect badly on me, WordPress, or anyone else. Come on, it’s just for fun. Lighten up!

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Positive Optimism and Resourcefulness

The MacGyver gene

The Daily Prompt from the folks at the Daily Post asked me to tell them “about a time you used an object or resolved a tricky situation in an unorthodox way.” But I was confused. They wanted me to tell them about being resourceful, which I define as successfully using objects or methods for other than their intended purposes. But they tied it to the proverbial phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This phrase is about being optimistic and positive in the face of adversity or misfortune.

Marshall_Wilder_crop
Marshall P. Wilder – World’s First Lemonade Salesman

So I pondered a little on the relationship between resourcefulness, optimism, and positive mental attitude, and whether all three had ever been present at the same time in any situation I had encountered. Had I ever found myself in a pickle, where I suddenly became optimistic and positive, and then resourcefully used an object or a method in a way that no one ever imagined?

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How to Make a Teen Idol

A short history of the teen idol

We probably all know of one. Maybe we’ve even been caught up by one. The teen idol phenomenon in popular culture is a relatively new one. But as the phenomenon has developed, it has often been co-opted by marketers and promoters to create idols that are not all that genuine. Let’s consider a little of the history of the teen idol.

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