Tuesday, November 18, 2014

All Good Things . . .


                                                                             


Must come to an end.   After more than 250 posts, I don't want to start  repeating myself or posting photos of the flowers in my garden or the muffins I've baked.   I've enjoyed this venue for my literary expression and will leave it up for a couple of weeks before taking it down.   At some point it may appear in book form on Amazon along with the books I've written.

I'll see you out there . . . somewhere  . . . in the literary universe.  It's a wrap.





Saturday, November 15, 2014

STAND UP

From a prompt from my Writers' Group:

                                                               



People say you should stand up for what you believe in.   I like that sentiment.  It sounds virtuous . . . noble even.  Your actions can move mountains or at least persuade powerful people.   You hope.  History is replete with examples of those who stood up and loudly proclaimed their principles.  It didn't always end with praise and tribute.   Galileo comes to mind; his view of the solar system was unacceptable and somehow a threat to the establishment.

We don't  imprison people  for their beliefs and opinions in this country with a few exceptions such as if you are deemed to be trying to incite others to share your belief and accompanying hatred.  Instead, a person can suffer economically and be marginalized but our social safety net should keep them from destitution.

There exists something called slap suits.  Large corporations with money to burn, start civil suits against private individuals who have protested publicly and legally against their plans or actions.   That the civil action has no chance of success is irrelevant.   Its purpose is to intimidate the legally unsophisticated person  and cause sufficient concern about the ensuing costs that protests and complaints will cease.   

 An opinion can be an expensive possession.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A SIMPLE GESTURE

From a prompt from my Writers' Group:





These days everything has to be spectacular, even grandiose, to be noticed, Amy thought, as she found her way around the round table to the ivory place card with her name on it.   Weddings like these used to be for celebrities but now anyone with a sufficient outlay of  funds could spend their day like a celebrity or even royalty.

Eighty thousand dollars would not be an outlandish estimate for this celebration, she decided, which was hosted by her sister and  husband for their only daughter, her niece.  No detail was omitted:  the exquisite centrepieces on each table, the crystal champagne flutes, the silver ice bucket at each table with a bottle of Dom Perignon nestled in the depths.   For the toast to the happy couple, Amy assumed.

The wedding was the pinnacle of months of planning and celebrations which Amy, living several provinces away, had missed.  The engagement party, the bridal showers, the rehearsal dinner, the bachelorette getaway to Las Vegas.   As a favourite aunt, Amy had been invited to them all.

When it came to consideration of a suitable wedding gift, Amy decided that a simple gesture in the form of a large cheque might be welcome when the bills started to arrive.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Not my circus, not my monkeys

                                                                           




I have written before about idioms--those little sayings that somehow arise from nowhere and enter our lexicon for a short or long period of time.   They confound English Language Learners as the literal meaning has nothing to do with the message they are, by shorthand, conveying.   Some are more obtuse than others.



And now to the title of this post regarding a new idiom which has entered popular usage, at least among some.  The person quoting it was talking about some drama happening at the restaurant where she works part time.  It appears that she has learned at a young age not to take on the burdens of others and not to get involved with conflicts that don't involve her and that she can't solve.   It may well be that the antagonists don't really want the problem solve but, as it often the case, revel in the excitement.


There's a good lesson and I have already quoted it to myself on more than one occasion.  Besides, I like the sound of it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

PERSEVERENCE

                                                                               


An animal that exemplifies perseverance has to be the Pacific salmon.  Maybe a close contender would be a leaf-cutter ant trudging for kilometres with a burden many times its size.    Driven by some primal directive to return to the stream where it was hatched to spawn, the salmon suffers, endures and in more cases than you might think succeeds.   After spawning, it dies.   Hardly seems fair.

For humans, there is no guarantee that perseverance will achieve the goal.  On the other hand, not much can be achieved without it.   As hockey great Wayne Gretsky once said, "The harder I try, the luckier I get." 

Here are some interesting quotes that encourage perseverance to the point of stubbornness.  I like the ones by Confucius.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” 

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

Or Thomas Edison, of the thousand attempts to invent a lightbulb:

“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Here's something to inspire students who don't get 'A's:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
― Calvin Coolidge
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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Try to do something . . .


                                                                     
                                                                             



If you've read very many of my posts you know I have a special interest in the future health of the bees of the world,  especially since researching and writing When Bees Die.   So I always follow up on posts I come across on that subject.   On David Suzuki's site  (he's a well known Canadian environmentalist) is an article on this subject.  More government plans to introduce chemicals that are detrimental to bees and probably not too good for the rest of us.

I had to admire the easy way I could register my complaint with the government.   There's a ready made letter (which I could amend should I so choose) and I only needed to add my name and e-mail before pressing the 'send' button.   That's a smart way to do it.   Lots of people care but there are many causes and demands on our time.  

Asking people to sit down and handwrite a letter, find an envelope and a stamp and walk to the mail box likely deters a large percentage at some step in the process.    A couple of months ago I somehow had the time to call a large charity that I support from time to time with the suggestion that they explore other ways to make life easier for potential donors.  (It was suggested to me by a family member that I was on another one of my tilting at windmills exercises).   Nevertheless,  quite a few charities have had themselves listed as potential bills on my bank's website.   Donating is a matter of a couple of clicks.   I didn't get the impression after my telephone call, that I had been taken seriously.

But it wasn't just the greater expenditure of time and effort that concerned me.   It seemed to me that a charity should be run in a business-like manner.   They owe it to their donors.  And that includes staying current with technology and newer methods of paying bills and making donations. If not, it makes me wonder about the charity's overall efficiency and thoughtfulness in administering donations.   It's a little like seeing an overflowing inbox on someone's desk.   Somehow, you're not impressed.















If you support the cause of our declining bee population and are Canadian, take a look at the Suzuki Foundation website.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mass Extinctions


                                                                         
                                                                         


Mass extinctions of many species have happened before.   Five times, actually.   At the end of Permian era, 299 to 251 million years ago before the continents were formed, mass extinction led to  95% of all species being wiped out. In this situation it was naturally caused by extreme climate fluctuations.  You can get a little more detail here. The process of extinction took millions of years;  nothing happened overnight.

Species naturally come and go.  Some scientists have postulated that we are in a period of accelerated extinctions.  In the past mammals became extinct at a rate of less than two species per million years.   But in the past 500 years, 80 mammals out of 5570 species of mammals have gone extinct.  And that's a conservative estimate.   The fact that it can be attributed to humans and that it has happened so quickly is especially disconcerting.    Professor Anthony Barnosky, writing in the Huffington Post, tries to present a hopeful outlook.  Perhaps because, if we decide it's hopeless, no efforts will be made.  But it is critical.

Climate change, destruction of tropical rain forests, the market for trinkets made out of ivory and aphrodisiacs made out of rhinoceros horn are matters we may feel we have little or no control over and that other people are responsible.

One of Professor Barnosky's suggestions is to simply get out and enjoy nature; you'll come to value it.     For further reading, his book, Dodging Extinction is out this month.   As a review states, "Read this book and you will demand change."

                                                                  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Reviews Bite Back

                                                           




Reviews can be problematic.   They can have long lasting consequences whether they are  negative or positive.   More than one author has admitted to paying a service ($5 seems to be the going rate) to have thousands of cubicle dwellers half a world away  post a glowing review on Amazon.   It usually had the desired effect.  Sales expanded exponentially.

Then there's the reverse situation:   A negative, one star review, even by someone who hasn't purchased the book or admits in the review to never finishing it, can bring book sales to a screeching halt from which they never recover, not even months later.

Many people don't leave reviews, positive or negative. Just too much effort.  There's no reward and most people post their reviews under a pen name.   A comment takes time to draft;  you can't just say "I loved it!"   A certain number of words is required.    I post regular reviews on Tripadvisor.  Since I use the service it somehow seems my duty to provide my best version of a fair and balanced opinion.  I have read suggestions that reviews, especially when it is the only review that the writer has ever written, should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.   Could be a competitor or their employee.

Is everyone fair?  Trolls inhabit the internet and some form clubs or groups that lurch from topic to topic, apparently taking pleasure in swamping a book, restaurant, or hotel with reviews that have no basis in reality or their actual experience but provides the trolls with an amazing sense of power and group fellowship.   I've heard that some people demand a 'comp', a free meal or similar, in exchange for not  posting a negative review.

In response, more than one restaurant  has decided to bring out the heavy hitters.  A blogger here was fined because Google searches placed her negative review too high in the listings.   That plus the number of blog readers she possessed were to her detriment.   In another case,   lawyers were employed to track down the reviewer and threaten litigation if the review wasn't retracted.   A wedding venue had a term in the contract that the security deposit would be retained if one of the guests posted a negative review.

If you're wondering where will it end, this article  only provides more questions.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Travel light


                                                   




Airlines seem to have a constant need for revenue.   Perhaps it's tied to the price of jet fuel.   Raising fares is a last resort, it seems, as customers have shown a reluctance to pay more and various search engines, like Kayak, facilitate finding an airfare by price alone.   Some countries have passed legislation requiring airlines to state the full, all-inclusive price of an airfare including taxes and surcharges.   This seems a positive move; previously the final price could be almost double the listed price.

But then there are the optional charges which are not required to be listed in the fare price.  Because they are optional and presumably avoidable, they are seen as fair game in the attempt to extract more revenue from travellers.  In a way it is similar to the included fixtures in some homes for rent or purchase in other countries.   North Americans might expect that appliances like a stove and refrigerator should be de rigeur but that just isn't the case.   So it is that food, especially on domestic flights, is not provided, headphones for listening to the on-board entertainment must be purchased, and, more recently, checked luggage attracts an additional charge.

As a longstanding  carry-on traveller I have researched various ideas and methods that could be used to avoid checking your suitcase.   Some are amusing, some border on ridiculous and some seem downright clever.    Families can box up and send their vacation clothing to their tropical destination via UPS or some other carrier.   If you are staying at the same resort for one or two weeks or more this can save you money.   Four or five family members, each checking a suitcase would amount to $250.  ($25 each way x 5).   It seems it is cheaper to ship a box or boxes back and forth as long as you don't need to travel beyond your shipping destination.

Then there's the suggestion of travelling with a carry-on bag (probably packed with your underwear) and upon arrival heading immediately to the nearest thrift store or charity shop.   For considerably less than the check luggage fee you and your children can purchase enough clothing to last a couple of weeks.   This reminds me of the character in Lee Child's book, whose title name escapes me, who bought a set of clothing, wore them for several days and then discarded them.  His busy life, tracking down notorious criminals, did not allow for time at the laundromat.

Tim Ferriss' blog (of 4 hour Work Week fame) which you can look at here   is pleased to provide a unique idea for avoiding ever checking luggage again:  Leave caches of clothing and even food at hotels you frequent. Seems to me it might require a large tip.

What about wearing all your clothes?    Check out this website, Jaktogo, for tips on how to wear all your clothes on your body when you fly.   Better hope the air-conditioning is working.  A more conservative version of this involves reversible clothing.   I suppose even the pants that zip off to become shorts and jackets that have sleeves that zip off to reveal a vest, reduce the amount of clothing required.

Will the day come when we pay our airfare by our body weight?  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

HAIKU IN PRAISE OF CHERRY BLOSSOM TREES








Alas, too soon they're gone
Those delicate pink blossoms
Close my eyes and dream




Brave, even foolish
Those pink harbingers of Spring
Trembling before harsh winds

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Interpreting value

Part II

How do we decide what an item is worth?   A quick easy answer would be that it is worth the price on the tag.   But prices change in response to . . . what?   Consumer demand, or lack of it?   Cheaper methods of production, volume discounts?  Perceived worth is certainly factor.

I recently came across a post from the writer of a 47 page or 16,900 word book of short stories on the Community posting section of Amazon's kindle boards.  She wrote that:


My book has been up on Amazon sites for two weeks now and I have not made a single sale! When and how do the sales happen? Will customers come?



Helpful suggestions were not slow in coming:


Change the cover;  it doesn't look eye-catching.   Change the price to $0.99--that's all people will pay.   


But  at that cover price, the author will receive $.0.35 in royalty.  Is that sufficient?   I paid $0.40 for a large carrot at the vegetable market a few days ago.  A red pepper was double that price.   Why?  If the author sells 30 copies she will be closing in on one hour's work at minimum wage.   Will that be adequate compensation?




Suggestions are made by others that effort be expended to ensure grammar and spelling are impeccable.   That apparently increases value, but to what?  Books are not unique, of course, in having flexible prices.   In my youth I worked briefly for a ladies clothing store.  Clothing was marked up 100% or more, for example, from $50. to $100.   That allowed room for discounting but still allowed a profit.    Would that work with books?

Perceived scarcity increases desirability, and thereby price.   E-books are in unlimited supply generally and the total number of books, e-book or otherwise, has greatly increased in the past few years.   



It's enough to make one long for the non-consumer era.   But then we'd have to figure out values by barter.  The medieval monks who lived here built their own homes from the island's stones and caught their own food.   They didn't have much but everything was priceless.



                                                        

Saturday, October 11, 2014

FAIR PRICE?

                                                                 

I had a quick glance at this post about falling milk prices in the U.K.   The factoid that gave me pause was that farmers are only paid twenty-five pence (about forty cents) for a litre of milk.   It seems to me I paid close to $3.00 for the last litre I bought at the local supermarket, although not in the U.K.  There is a problem when the producer of the product, the one whose labour--okay, give some credit to the cow--makes the product possible, receives such a small percentage of the price the consumer pays.   After all, the cows must be fed, preferably healthy and sufficient food, and then there are vet bills and housing expenses.  I realize that the supermarkets have their own expenses and then there are the trucks that transport the milk from the farm but even without knowing the particulars, I'm left with the impression that the farmer is being cheated.

My speculations led me to comparisons with the music and film industry.   I've read in the past of some artists who despite earning millions from their music seemed poorly compensated.   Didn't Paul McCartney end up on a farm in Scotland for several years with little to show from his Beatle years?   Somehow others benefitted from his talent.   In the author autobiography of the James Herriott veterinarian series, also produced on television, James Alfred Wight relates that he was regularly approached for donations to animal causes but the reality was that it took years before his royalties amounted to much.   He disclosed that about 80% of his royalties was taken as tax payment and remember that the typical royalty payments to authors are only between 8% and 15% of the cover price.    He was one of the few authors who maintained British residency due to this;  most moved to Jersey or Guernsey or a similar more sympathetic tax regime.



                         

Some apple farmers in the past have chopped down their trees in protest at the small share of the final consumer price their toil received when they sold their products.   This problem has led to marketing boards that guarantee a price and thereby give some security to the farmer.   But not everyone is pleased at this either.  Shoppers cross borders to obtain cheaper products and change their eating habits.   Is an apple a day still happening when apples cost a dollar each?   There's no easy solution.

More on this topic next time.





Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why Agatha?


                                                                           



Agatha Christie is the third best selling writer of all time, only exceeded by the Bible and Shakespeare.   Her novels have been made into movies and television programs and her Poirot Mysteries have been excellently interpreted by the actor, David Suchet.   I watched a program, The Mystery of Agatha Christie, narrated and featuring Suchet, wherein he attempts to trace how she became a writer and where her ideas came from.    As a writer and a reader of Agatha Christie I was interested in this.

Suchet was given access to her childhood home, interviewed her grandson and studied photographs, diaries and documents never before seen outside the family.    Agatha herself attributed her desire and success at writing to growing up in a happy family.    Her family was well-to-do and money doesn't appear to have been a problem.   Agatha worked as a pharmacy assistant in a hospital during World War I and thereby gained a knowledge of pharmaceuticals, including poisonous ones.   It seems in about half her novels, death was by poisoning.  I've always thought that it helps to write about a locale or topic you have some passing familiarity with.

There are many small details and other worthwhile information so watch the forty-five minute program if you are at all an Agatha Christie reader or a mystery writer.  There's no saying, though, that her method can be duplicated and even Ms. Christie's venture into romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott did not receive the same critical or public favour.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Are we becoming like goldfish?


                                                                   




The title of this post comes from an article by McLean Greaves in Zoomer Magazine's September issue entitled 10 Reasons Why Almost Every Internet Article is a List.   A point permeating the reasons is the decreased ability  of readers to stay focussed today, according to Greaves.  He goes as far as to say that the human attention span is less than that of a goldfish.



I remember someone telling me once that we shouldn't feel sorry for the pet goldfish, stuck in a small bowl with basically nothing happening all day, save the daily drop from the sky of edible products, hopefully tasty.  The goldfish brain is so small that by the time it completes the circuit around the bowl, its minuscule brain has already completely forgotten what it saw the last time around.   In effect, it is delighted anew with the sights and decor each time.  I don't know if some legitimate scientific experiment was conducted that led to this finding or whether it was the creation of a guilty goldfish owner attempting to assuage his conscience over a tiny bowl. 



Humans have a much greater capacity for memory and attention but suffer from a surfeit of choices. We barely begin to engross ourselves in a lengthy article or novel before a certain restlessness  or sense of time pressure inexorably draws our focus away.  Is the next thing more worthwhile of our attention?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Everything evolves

                            




It is interesting to watch the  evolution of the English language.   I shouldn't be ethnocentric;  I'm sure all languages evolve.  But who is the person who comes up with the new word?   In France, I believe, they (the government) wants to preserve the integrity of the French language.   So the almost universal computer is called l'ordinateur.   Similar words are invented for other new technology.   Marathon was a small town in Greece before it was a long distance endurance race with an official distance 42.195 kilometres or 26 miles and 385 yards.  It is usually run as a road race as opposed to multiple times around a track.

Athens was fighting the Persian Empire prior to the time of Alexander the Great in one of the endless stream of conflicts from that era.  They sent a most capable runner on a long journey to Sparta to ask for help as a battle was anticipated.   Exerting himself beyond human capabilities the man gasped out the request, which was refused, and then dropped dead (whether from exhaustion, shock or disappointment is not known).   The location of the ensuing battle (which Athens managed to win even without the Spartan reinforcements) was called Marathon.

Maybe we should have remembered instead the name of the unfortunate long distance runner who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Click bait

                                                                       




A new and pithy phrase has entered popular usage,  click bait:  website content that is aimed at generating advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy and  relying on sensationalist headlines to attract click-throughs.  I've seen examples which are written in superlatives:   The sexiest dresses ever, or written with periods after each word:  Read. This. And. Cry.  Forever.   Inevitably, when the reader clicks through the dresses are nothing exceptional and the cry worthy story may involve a dog finding his  home after being lost.

The writer of the on-line blog may receive payment from the click through site.  The newsmagazine editor or news distributor may hire the journalist or writer for future articles depending upon how many people click through and perhaps read the article behind the click bait.

Even less desirable for the reader and even for society, if that is possible, is when the click bait is an outright deception and after clicking through that would be obvious to everyone.    A title that states:  Obama loves KKK turns out to be about the President eating a donut which is identified as a Krispy Kreme Kruller.  Wouldn't you feel used and sheepish if you clicked through that one? 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

VANISHING FLOWERS

An excerpt from an upcoming Jaswinder Mystery novel:





“I don’t like to say anything, Jaswinder, but . . .”

Jaswinder resisted the urge to close her eyes and settled for a quick glance at the ground.    Conversations that commenced like this never ended well.   She took a deep breath and gave herself a mental pat on the back for not turning and running into Summerland Dental office where she worked as a clinic receptionist and occasional dental assistant.  Freda had scooted over to her car door before she’d even managed to close it behind herself.

Freda, who managed the bookstore three doors down, seemed unaware of Jaswinder’s inner angst and continued.   “Don’t look so worried, Jaswinder, I’m sure you had nothing to do with it.   But I remembered hearing about your brilliant detective work last year and I figured this little problem would be a piece of cake for you.”

That’s it, Freda, lay on the charm and compliments.  Works every time.   Problem was, Jaswinder could already feel her curiousity superseding her initial trepidation.

“You’ve noticed the way the mall management has planted all these daffodils and tulips in the planters on this side of the mall?   Nice of them to make the effort, I have to say.”

As an employee, Jaswinder had nothing to do with the expenses involved in running Summerland Dental; paying bills was in the realm of Bev, the office manager.  But she had noticed the improved outdoor d├ęcor and more than one patient had commented favourably.   “Yes, they’re lovely.”   Hopefully, the detective work Freda had mentioned didn’t involve knowing the species of flower.   They were daffodils and tulips as far as Jaswinder was concerned.

Freda hadn’t seemed to notice Jaswinder’s nodding silence and she stepped closer, her face bearing the expression of one who was about to disclose a confidence.   “Someone’s stealing them.   Can you believe it?”   She stepped back to let the full impact of her statement register.

“Someone’s stealing the flowers?”   Jaswinder turned her head quickly and scanned the nearby planter.

“Not just the flowers; the bulbs as well.   Look!”   Freda nudged Jaswinder closer with a gentle elbow.

Sure enough there were a couple . . . no three . . . gaping holes where once bulbs and their attached blossoms had presumably resided.     “But, who would do that?”

“That’s what I’d like to know.   Flowers aren’t cheap, you know but, really, how low can someone go?   It’s not like they’re a necessity.  I did think I saw that funny old woman who always dresses in bright red and purple—you know who I’m talking about, don’t you?   She’s one of your patients, I think.”

Jaswinder gave a shrug, knowing all the while that Freda had described the eccentric but kindly Hortense Harrington.

“I saw her hovering over the flowers last week . . . with a shopping bag on her arm, mind you.”   Freda glanced over her shoulder.  “Well, I’d better get back in the bookstore.”   She gave Jaswinder a last encouraging look.   “Keep an eye out; you probably have a good view out your window.   Catch the criminal in the act.”

Make the world a safer place, Jaswinder added mentally, giving Freda a noncommittal smile.   Like she didn’t have enough to do.  Ten minutes after entering Summerland Dental Clinic the conversation was all but forgotten in the swirl of dental receptionist duties.  Thoughts of Hortense Harrington were put aside.

Several days later when checking the appointment book in preparation for making the usual tedious reminder telephone calls, Jaswinder noticed that Mrs. Harrington was coming in the following day for a recall appointment.   One of her few remaining teeth had been bothering her and she was coming in for a small filling.   Jaswinder remembered Freda’s suspicions.   She couldn’t possibly ask the elderly widow if she had taken the flowers, bulbs and all.   Was Mrs. Harrington in such dire financial straits that she was reduced to stealing?   It was true, her boss, Dr. Al  let Mrs. Harrington and some other patients spread out the payment of their dental procedures.   Had Mrs. Harrington had to choose between relieving her dental pain and beautifying her garden?   

Maybe there had been some sort of mental decline.   Jaswinder had always thought of Mrs. Harrington as eccentric with her Red Hat club involvement and her over-indulged Yorkshire Terrier, Herbie, that she carried with her everywhere in a blue doggie tote bag.   Despite admonitions about bringing a dog into the dental clinic, Mrs. Harrington persisted and now, by some silent mutual consent, everyone ignored the situation.  But she really was a sweet old lady, Jaswinder decided, and it would be sad if her mind had deteriorated to the point where eccentricity ventured into larceny.

As Jaswinder made ready to leave at the end of the day, she decided that she would stop in at the garden shop that was on her way home and buy a potted daffodil plant for Mrs. Harrington.     Having received her income tax refund the previous week, Jaswinder was still feeling ‘in the money’.   Surely, it wouldn’t cost more than ten dollars.  Then there would be no need  for her to resort to thievery.

The following day, Jaswinder kept looking out the front window by the reception area as the time neared for Mrs. Harrington’s appointment.   Fortunately, the lady could be spotted at a distance in her red three-quarter length red trench coat and purple slacks.   The aqua blue tote bag was the unneeded accent piece.   As Jaswinder watched her approach, Mrs. Harrington slowed her pace and stopped by the planter located on the sidewalk between the bookstore and dental office, abloom with yellow daffodils and sky blue hyacinths.   She leaned over the latter and inhaled deeply and Jaswinder found herself muttering, “Don’t take any, don’t take any. . .”   She realized it would hurt her to discover the kindly woman was a thief.

Now Mrs. Harrington was holding up her blue tote bag with the mesh grill opening at the front which Jaswinder had noticed previously was to provide fresh air for Herbie.   Had the dog, being treated more like a person by his owner, acquired an appreciation for floral displays?  Yes, Jaswinder could see some movement in the tote bag.   Or was that Mrs. Harrington stuffing more filched flowers into its depths?    She craned her neck to see but then was thwarted when Mrs. Harrington caught her eye, straightened up and headed her way.

Jaswinder flushed as the overhead entryway bell tinkled and Mrs. Harrington entered the clinic.   Had she caught the elderly woman in the act?   Should she say something or try to find an excuse to look in the tote bag?   Did Mrs. Harrington even know what she was doing?  

Mrs. Harrington gave Jaswinder a broad smile before taking a seat in the reception area.  Jaswinder steeled herself and decided to open the investigations delicately by bringing the potted daffodils over.

“For me?   Oh, my dear girl, that’s so sweet of you.   You’ve probably seen me admiring the display outside your office.   Herbie finds the smell of the hyacinths intoxicating for some reason—can’t get enough of it.   But I’ll have to keep these inside the house.   Squirrels, you know.  You’ve got the same problem here, I see.   They’ve taken some of your bulbs clean out of the dirt.   Cheeky little things they are."



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