Field of Dreams

off-route and in for a slightly spooky night

Photo by Gabriel Hohol on Pexels.com

We were hours off schedule and hours from the nearest motel, or, frankly, parking lot. All we had was the vast empty of the highway. Dan’s insistence on following the schedule to a T was countermanded by his magnetic pull towards the world’s biggest anything. We can’t stop for an unscheduled snack, but we can sure detour a hundred bumpy backroad kilometres off course to visit a Biggest.

Dan’s love of the unique has its ups and downs. We have stopped at some absolutely spectacular restaurants, hidden gems tucked away down back alleys or on the side of the highway and disguised by their shoddy exteriors. We have also borne witness to the biggest mosquito, ball of yarn, goose and apple. The apple was full of pie, though, so maybe that one counts as a hidden gem. I would certainly not have expected good pie out of a giant fake apple.

I definitely considered this to be one of the downs. Marv’s Christian Family Fun Campground and Cabins. It was early October, and most definitely the off-season. I’m not sure whether I’d have found it less creepy if it was full of families who had chosen this campground above the other, presumably less Christian, campgrounds.

I suggested pulling over on a side road – after all, we are literally towing our house behind us – but Dan was adamant that the schedule had us at a place with showers, and this place had showers. Not to mention off-season pricing.

We pulled in at dusk, interrupting Marv’s dinner to get a key to the showers and an assigned campsite. He wished us a blessed evening, and not to go wandering this late at night while an 8 foot tall Jesus loomed menacingly behind him. The neon glow of the giant cross out by the highway gleamed in Jesus’ eyes. Who knew Jesus could have been in the NBA? Or a mob enforcer?

Dan went on a walk after dinner. I’d been invited, of course, but completely unrelated to the threat that seemed to shine from Jesus’ eyes, I decided to stay in and read. I got caught up in the story, and it was only when my bladder alerted me to its needs that I realized Dan had been gone for 3 hours. His phone rang from the drivers’ seat of our minibus, and I resisted the urge to leave a scathing voicemail about the utility of mobile devices when left immobile.

I pulled out my headlamp and the park map Dan had insisted he wouldn’t need, left a note on the door, swung by the washroom (a friendly giant Jesus holding a soap pump) and then set out. With my phone. We were the only guests at the park on a random Thursday in October, but I didn’t want to yell out and disturb Marv if I didn’t need to. It was the polite thing to do. Unrelated to the extra shadow-y giant Jesus at the first intersection I passed, arms folded disapprovingly.

I wandered along the main path down the center of the park, past wide open campsites and sparse vegetation. I trailed quietly through the cabins, calling softly for Dan at intervals. I came to a trailhead, and was ready to turn back down the next row of cabins instead – Dan wouldn’t be foolish enough to go on a forested trail in a strange place at night – but as I turned away, my light caught on a gleam of metal. I backtracked and picked up an old pressed penny, recognizably the one that Dan kept in his pocket to fidget with. He’d gotten it at one of his earliest Biggests – a catfish, in Alabama.

A giant Jesus held a sign board with a large trail map on it, his enthusiastic grin strangely sinister in the shadows cast by my headlamp. It showed a slightly meandering loop, and the trail was smooth enough to walk in the dark.

I shrugged and started on the loop, staying to the left as I had earlier in hopes that Dan, too, would choose counter clockwise.

I soon caught sight of what I presumed to be Dan, but which turned out, horrifyingly, to be another giant Jesus. Posed as though he was taking a stroll down the trail, just a giant man-shape looming out of the darkness.

I reassured myself that the kids probably got a kick out of their lord and savior joining them on a family walk. They probably didn’t look so foreboding in daylight.

The trail map showed it coming out into a large field, but it did not prepare me for what I found there. Hundreds of giant Jesuses (Jesi?), each with a slightly different expression and pose, all at least 7 feet tall. And Dan, his expression even more manically joyful than the time we saw the world record ball of rubber bands, wandering amongst them, headlamp casting eerie shadows.

“Dan, what the hell!”

He trailed reluctantly out from amongst the shadowy figures. “I thought you didn’t feel up for a walk?”

I pointedly raised my phone and called his. Apart from the tinny tone of a phone ringing through my speaker, silence.

“Oh… sorry.”

“Are we here on purpose? Was this your plan?” I snarled, I could hear it, but I couldn’t change my tone.

“What? No! They don’t even advertise this! I mean, why don’t they advertise this? It must be the largest number of Jesus statues in one place, right?” Dan gestured wildly back at the crowd.

“It’s crazy,” I replied, unable to stop myself from panning my headlamp across the multitude.

“I know, it’s amazing!” Dan replied, exuberant.

Jesus’ assorted eyes gleamed erratically under the gleam of two headlamps, randomly catching figures in the far distance in surprising and disturbing ways.

Dan agreed to come back in the morning, thankfully. I could only hope they wouldn’t be so ominous in daylight.

**

I stared at the field in daylight. This is what I got for making assumptions. What could make a dark field of giant Jesuses less creepy than the daylight version? An EMPTY field. Not a single statue to be seen. The soap in the bathroom was on the counter, and no statues were along any route to the trail.

Of course I hadn’t taken any photos.

Dan paced the empty field, muttering and gesticulating for over an hour before we went in search of our host.

Marv gave us a strange look and politely explained that the statue at the entrance was the only one. “Otherwise, what would the kiddies think?” he chuckled, “That there’s more than one son of God? You know, the families that come here, they really just love this guy.”

On a more serious tone, he scolded us for wandering off in the dark like he’d warned us against – we could have gotten hurt stumbling around, must have imagined all that strange stuff with the shadows!

We declined his offer to have our picture taken with the one and only giant Jesus statue in the park.

As we pulled out of Marv’s Christian Family Fun Campground and Cabins, Dan weakly started describing a great little hole in the wall joint we could go to for brunch, only an hour or so away. He stared at the road for a long moment then said, “You know what? How about Tim Hortons.”

Buddy Jesus loves you & wants you to be happy
“Buddy Jesus loves you & wants you to be happy” by Chris Devers is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

PS – It’s fiction, it’s not meant to offend or insult any religions. If it upsets you, mentally replace it with Elvis… Marv’s Elvis Family Fun Campground and Cabins. Problem solved, you’re welcome.

A Trip through my own (Enormous) Backyard

I live in Canada, and have for most of my life.  I couldn’t possibly write all there is to write about its diversity – in people, culture, geography and weather conditions – because, frankly, I haven’t experienced very much of it.  I haven’t even made it to all of our provinces.  Some of those that I have been to, frankly, don’t count – I only have hazy memories of a childhood visit to the family farm on the border between Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

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on top of the broken bones my family thought I’d get from downhill skiing… i could have been suffocated by trees.

I made my first foray into British Columbia this winter.  I didn’t see much of it, I was skiing in the Okanagan region, and then driving to Calgary.  So really, most of what I saw was mountains.  But wow the mountains.  It amazes me that there are places as breathtaking as that in the world.  In my own country, for that matter.  Much as I love the forests in Ontario, nothing here compares to the enormity of the Rocky Mountains.

The lure of spending time in the mountains was enough to make me ignore my lack of coordination and agree to spend a week downhill skiing with friends.

We had a pretty fantastic view of the mountain from our rental unit.

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the hill in the distance is where we were downhill skiing… and about halfway between there and here is where we were staying – at the foot of the hill

Despite what my family was convinced would happen, I didn’t do any serious harm to myself while shooting down the hill.

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especially the tubing hill.. didn’t have any problem getting down that one 😉

I improved drastically while we were there.  I went from that “gah, the last time I went downhill skiing was nearly 10 years ago… and on an Ontario hill” stage to “Hey, if I go at my own (slow) pace and concentrate hard, I don’t fall down too much, and also don’t feel too too terrified.”

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going downhill at high speeds… and not being able to see very far ahead. great!

Thankfully my focus on getting down the mountain alive wasn’t enough to keep me from paying attention to the scenery.

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We also got in a day of snowshoeing…

... in which we couldn't manage one single shot of us all jumping at the same time.  jumping in snowshoes is hard!
… in which we couldn’t manage one single shot of us all jumping at the same time. jumping in snowshoes is hard!

And crosscountry skiing.  I’m quite sure that crosscountry is my favourite winter sport!

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Driving back through the rockies to Calgary was great – we saw so many mountains and had a chance to stop and take pictures all along the route.

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Now I just need to figure out where in Canada I want to explore next!

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Haven

This post is a response to Write on Edge’s Write at the Merge # 6 (stained glass, and the lyrics to Fun’s “Some nights”), and Trifecta’s word (Path – 3a : course, route  b : a way of life, conduct, or thought).

If you’re looking for some great short stories, I highly recommend checking them out by following the links below and reading a few of the other submissions.

Concrit always welcome, I hope you enjoy!

“Our path should take us through the high pass. That’s what all the records indicate.” Ruby alternated scowling down at the grubby map in her hands and the weathered building before them.

“I’m telling you, this is it. This is where it lead.”

“The map is supposed to take us to a Haven.” Ruby’s voice cracked and Jim moved to put a hand on her shoulder, only to have it slapped away.  “You must have read it wrong.”

“Let’s just go and check it out.”

“Fine.” she strode across the boulder-strewn yard and through the arched doorway, Jim trailing behind her. Halfway down the aisle, she snapped, “See, nothing but a church from the before-time.”

Jim walked past her, entranced at the sight of the stained glass mosaic rising up from the shadowy hall, lighting the motes of dust in fiery hues. “It’s fully intact! Can you believe it?”

“What are we supposed to do now, Jim?” Ruby barely glanced at the glass.

“How could it’ve survived for so long, unbroken? I mean, Ruby, have you ever seen anything like it?” Jim felt a painful squeeze at his heart, understanding now what his mother meant about the exquisit pain of seeing something truly beautiful with your own two eyes. “It’s just so much better than that picture in Mrs Em’s book, y’know?”

Ruby smacked Jim in the head. “You know what’s better than a bunch of glass? Surviving. How about you come back out of the clouds and focus in that, huh?”

“But Ruby -”

“We’ll find the right path in the morning. Do something useful for a change and break up some of those chairs for firewood.”

Jim sighed as his sister stormed out into the dying light of day.

“… how could stained glass still be whole without protection?”

“How, indeed?” The man at the pulpit had a cruel gleam in his eye.

The church doors crashed closed.

“Ruby?” Jim whispered, backing away from the red-lit man.

Foreign Dogs

No.  Not an insulting term for people of a different nationality than me.  Just to be clear, I mean Canines.  Canines in Foreign lands.  Frankly, I think it’s an improvement on my working title of “Mexican Dogs”.

I was lucky enough to spend a week this winter in beautiful Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.  Gwynn also spent a week at the beach – just one in more northern climes.  He visited a friend of ours at her cottage while we were gone, a week straight of snow-frolicking and wrestling with her two dogs, and picking up a few bad habits along the way.

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Dogless, I redirected my usual doggy time to observing everyone elses pooch.  I’m not sure why I was so surprised to see so many people walking their dogs down 5th street in the evening.  I know dogs aren’t limited to Canada, US and Europe.  I just tend to imagine them being far less pet, and far more work elsewhere.

I think most cultures have, to some extent, a sweet spot for our furry friends.  And the differences in their treatment of dogs is one of the things that stands out most to me about being in a strange country.

In France, dogs are permitted in restaurants and cafes, and generally most places. If someone had their dog very well trained – chances are, that dog wasn’t on-leash.  And I’m talking about Paris, not some very rural community where leash laws are kind of ignored.  Dogs there are welcomed into far more places than they are in Canada – but they also have higher expectations placed on them, in my opinion.  It’s very much a society of “You are welcome here, but you’d better behave yourself.”  Another big difference I noticed was in equipment – simply put, male dogs in France still have it.  A British woman I walk with on occasion was baffled at the North American predilection towards neutered males.  Her female dog is altered, but her male is fully equipped.

The downside I found when I was in France was an apparent lack of responsibility on the owners’ part for dealing with business.  You know… business.  Charming cobblestone streets, beautiful treelined paths – it’s PARIS, and P is definitely for Picturesque… but also for Poop.  Watch where you step.

A friend recently returned home from a two year contract teaching English in Vietnam.  She told me about how many street dogs and street cats there were.  We have wild cats – in fact, we have a wild cat problem in Toronto – but wild, roaming, dogs is outside my realm of experience.  She told me about how many of these animals found homes with the temporary immigrants who came for limited-time contracts in Vietnam.  While it is possible to bring your beloved Vietnamese pet home with you at the end of your time there, after vet bills and vaccines and all the hoops you have to jump through, it comes out to a very expensive second plane ticket home.  A common occurence there is for more newly-arrived friends to adopt departing friends’ animals, passing that creature on when it’s time for them to depart as well.  I’m frankly not sure if I could bear the idea of parting ways, but I find it sweet that people make such a point of finding their street-dog or street-cat a replacement caregiver before they leave.

I found Mexico to be a bit like Canada, and a bit like France, and a bit all its own.  All the male dogs I saw were fully equipped, and stores didn’t seem to have a problem with dogs coming into them with their owners.  The streets were spotless.  Maybe it’s because I was mostly in areas where lots of restauranteurs and shop owners were basically right out in the street, watching you , or maybe it’s simply that the dog owners of Mexico believe in not leaving a mess behind (after my own heart).  Whatever the reason, the streets I went down in Playa Del Carmen were cleaner than my own neighbourhood, when it came to dog business.  Possibly because most of the places I saw dogs in were quite busy, most people had their dogs on-leash.  Very different from Canada, nearly every dog I saw was a naturally short coated animal.  Makes sense, considering that, visiting in the middle of their winter, I experienced the warmest of Toronto’s summer conditions.

Afghan Hound With Short Hair
Even the Afghan hound I saw there had his hair cropped shorter than this, to deal with the heat

It’s when I travel that I wish Gwynn were more travel-sized.  I miss him immensely when I’m gone, and feel a bit of irrational jealousy of people just going about their usual day with their dogs at their sides.  I love it, though – seeing those commonalities between myself and the people whose country I’ve travelled to.  It really doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll always find someone out for a walk.

Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil.

Gone for a Wander

You may have noticed that there were no short stories up this week.  You’ll notice that again next week, too.  As of yesterday at roughly midnight, I’m in fabulous Moncton, New Brunswick on vacation.

Before you warn me about mentioning vacations before I get back from them… know that I’m travelling solo, and the house is still quite occupied.

Writing this ahead of time means I can only make assumptions.

I’m pretty sure the flight will be horrible – any travel that involves me interacting with security people and plane staff at midnight can’t be good.  Let’s just hope that I emerge with all my luggage, and what shreds of my sanity I can hold onto at well-past-my-bedtime-o’clock.

I’m positive that I’ll be spending a fun-filled week catching up with my aunt and uncle, all my cousins, and my cousin’s 8-year-old son, who I haven’t seen since he was 4.  I’m hoping this time he’ll be out of the shy-cling-to-parent stage, and we can say hello to each other.

I suspect that it will be colder than here.  By a lot.

I really hope for there to be seafood.  Lots and lots of seafood.  My uncle married a wonderful woman, all around, so it’s really just a bonus that she’s Acadian, and thus a goddess of seafood.  Last time we went camping out there, she taught me how to dismember a cooked lobster after showing me what she looked for in them at a fish market right at the dock.  Since then, I’ve ordered lobster at a restaurant once… and i was thoroughly disappointed that they had cut it in half down the middle, eliminating the entire dismembering process.

Happy Friday, everyone, see you in September!

Gone Campin’

There is nothing I love so much as being in the woods.  The prospect of a trip north leaves me giddy and making lists, even if it’s just for a weekend.  Since Gwynn is back up north with my family, it’s doubly exciting to go up.  After all – what’s better than the woods?  Seeing one’s pooch for the first time in a week.

It might just be one of the most wonderful things… to be greeted with such absolute love and happiness.

This trip, I drove up with some friends of Doodle’s (and mine).  One advantage of this is that we actually got some photographs of the drive up!

Another is that K has a fancy camera, an artistic eye, and an enjoyment of taking pictures.  Any pictures with unusual colouring are definitely hers.  Other pictures, it’s probably equal chances being from my camera or hers.

Fiddling with colours…

… and artistic 🙂

It was considerably chillier up there than it has been most of the summer.  And rainy, though we lucked out with clear skies friday night, saturday morning, and sunday morning.

I’m kind of in love with her camera’s selective colour options

K & S … Doodle had to work on Sunday, unfortunately, so she missed out on hiking shenanigans

Gwynn found some puddles after all that rain

He’s very good at recall lately, and we practice a lot… still, on trails in this kind of woodland, I let him drag the long-line for short stretches, and call him back often.

We had a great trip, even with the rain.  Less fun… the trip home.

two lane undivided highway + Sunday afternoon cottage traffic + an accident closing the southbound lane = usually 4 hour drive extended to nearly 7… shoot me now.

a better picture to leave you with… sometimes Gwynn chickens out after he gets up on the rocks. Or his ‘getting up’ point is too close to a very long drop for my sanity.

Shiver


This week on Trifecta, the word is:

flight (noun)

1a : an act or instance of passing through the air by the use of wings

b : the ability to fly
2a : a passing through the air or through space outside the earth’s atmosphere

b : the distance covered in such a flightc : swift movement
3a : a trip made by or in an airplane or spacecraft

3b : a scheduled airplane trip

Follow the link to Trifecta to read more prompt responses or to submit your own!

This is a continuation of story, you can see the last one here.  Feedback is welcome – not to mention, opinions on whether you want to find out what’s next, or, please, for the love of all that is holy, Lexy, please move on from this trite and blah storyline, it bores me.

The picture below is… well… nothing like I’d really imagine in an old english house, but it is so cool and dark and just the right kind of ominous.  Even better, it’s probably the kind of staircase 99% of people walk past without seeing, but this guy saw the potential in it.  It’s a photomanipulation by artist Jakub Kubica from Poland.  Check him out on DeviantART, or his blog, there are some really great photographs, altered and unaltered.  Poland is officially on my ‘places to visit’ list – there are some very cool looking buildings and bridges there, though for now I’ll settle for seeing them through the lens of Jakub Kubica.

Rachel jerked her hand back from the smouldering wood, surprise breaking through the remembered terror of the dream and dousing the fire.  Chelsea’s eyes were wide and frightened, pressed against the wall.

“I-“ an icy spray of water hit her square in the face.  The tousle-haired boy playing fireman proceeded to douse her chest and arm in the attempt to put out the banister.

Chelsea choked back a noise that sounded suspiciously like a snicker.  “You can probably stop now, Reggie.”

Rachel glared in silence at her attacker, trying hard to keep in mind that this other cousin was about 10, and therefore an inappropriate audience for the swearing she wanted to do.  Some of it must have come across in her eye, however, because he snatched a towel to hold out, half peace offering, half barrier against her wrath.  The showerhead vanished with a guilty clatter.

“So… how was your flight?”  The scrawny boy peered at her, sparrow-like, shifting his feet as though prepared for flight.

Rachel shifted her weight with a squelch of carpeting, and carefully pushed some damp hair out of her face.  Her lips twitched as she struggled against the laughter that bubbled forth.  She dabbed her face with the towel, and replied, “It was good.  I didn’t expect England to be so wet, though.”

The answering grin on her cousin’s face was cut off abruptly as he looked down the staircase.

Chelsea brushed past her.

“Caleb!” she squealed, throwing her arms around the neck of the gorgeous newcomer.  His golden brown hair fell across a California tanned face with twinkling blue eyes and an easy grin.  His smile grew broader as their eyes met over Chelsea’s head.

“You must be Chelsea’s cousin from over the pond?  I hope you didn’t swim all that way.”

Rachel smiled in response, tamping down the swell of irrational terror.  Jet lag must be kicking in for those beautiful eyes to have seemed so very cold for a moment, leftovers from the dream

Luck, Omens and Portents

I went out-of-town for a wedding this weekend.  Standing in the elevator (already running late for the wedding, of course), mentally counting the bing of the elevator as it passed each floor (doesn’t everyone do this?), my thoughts ran something like this:

Hurry up.  Hurry hurry hurry. 

Bing.  Bing.  3.  4.  Bing…

Huh, the bings wouldn’t work to tell a blind person which floor it is, because it only binged 13 times for my floor. 

Oh, never mind, the elevator computer voice is telling me the floor number.  Makes more sense than making people count constantly. 

Hurry, hurry hurry hurry hurry.

Room 1401 – no, not room – a suite!  With a king sized bed I could sleep on any which way, arms overhead, and never touch the edge.  Not only did it have a living room and kitchenette, but the washroom was divided into the toilet-and-shower room, and the mirror-filled sink-room.

I don’t stay in hotels very often, and it’s usually with the whole family packed two to a “queen” (why do they lie so much about sizes?  How is your queen sized bed narrower than my double?), with one on cushions on the floor.  A king sized (actually!) bed, and only one roommate for the night is mind-blowing.

The wedding was… giant.  6’10”, and 6”3, to be specific.  The new Mr. And Mrs. make me look like a small child, standing next to them.  Their wedding colours were orange and blue, which makes me love them all the more.  Congrats to my dear friends, may you live happily ever after, and may your future children not get taller than me until at least the age of 8.

Outside after the wedding and before it rained, a man just happened to be walking his giant blue macaw parrot.  Oddly not the first (or even the second) time in my visits to London in which I have encountered people out and about with their avian buddies.  The only reason I bring it up this time is that this bird matched the wedding party.  I’m sure it’s a sign that the marriage was meant to be, not that there was any doubt.  Or proof that birds of a feather flock together.

Calling it 14 is good luck
like this!

Back in the elevator after the wedding, I realised why there were only 13 bings.  The elevator pad has the Lobby, floor 1, 2, 3… 11, 12, 14.

I have to wonder whether people who have Triskaidekaphobia feel safer on the 13th floor, if it’s called the 14th floor instead?  Does the bad luck really come up to the floor, pause, baffled, and move along?  Perhaps casting a suspicious glare over its shoulder as it goes about its business?  Should I feel luckier that I’m in room 1301 (now that sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel!), disguised as room 1401?  I think they should maybe have added an additional bing in there, just to ensure the bad luck is thoroughly bamboozled.  I’ll leave out the fact that some cultures have a serious hang-up about anything containing the number Four.  Perhaps that bad luck is wilier, and realises that it’s actually the 13th floor.

black cat
“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.” – Groucho Marx
… a great quote the photographer of this particular shot included in the description!

Apparently some hotels simply choose to leave the 13th floor numbered as is, and fill it with maintenance facilities instead of guests.  Seems like a bad idea to fill a bad-luck cursed floor with ladders and brooms and heavy machinery.  Maybe a better idea than putting a black cat sanctuary in, I suppose.  I slept like a babe, on my full-bed-sized half of the most comfortable bed ever, in room 1301.

Don’t worry about the black cat crossing your path.  He isn’t black.  I’ve decided he’s ombre. Or perhaps, dusky grey. 

A Short Trip

The Red Writing Hood prompt this week was to begin with the opening line:

“It was a rainy night in Dusseldorf…”

500 word limit.

I’m continuing from a previous response, which you can find HERE.  Go over to Write on Edge to add your link, or read the rest of the submissions.
Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
It was a rainy night in Dusseldorf, the streets empty except for the mail coach.

“We be packed in here right tight, eyah miss?” the jovial farmer across from her gave her a gap-toothed grin.

She mustered a wan smile in return, wishing he’d chosen someone else. “Like sardines in a can.”

“You’d know more’n me on that, from the shore, eyah? Plenty fishing out that way.”

“What?” her entire body tense, she spoke more sharply than she’d intended.

“Eyah, I travel t’market at Breda regular like, hear plenty of accents.” He tapped the side of his nose, a merry glint in his eye. “I’d bet my best heifer, you’d be from somewhere about Breskens, eyah.”

Her heart fluttering like a humming bird’s wings, she plastered a pleasant smile on her face. “Nieuwesluis.”

“Eyah!” he slapped his knee in triumph. “Last I was at Breda, I heard they had a witch a while back. Dealt her the water test. You heard ‘bout that?”

She twined her fingers in her skirts, trying to hide the tremble of anger that arose at the memory. “I heard the girl drowned – doesn’t that mean she wasn’t a witch?” She paused and pulled on a mask of indifference before adding, “Though I was not there at the time.”

The farmer’s gossipy smile faded somewhat. Dead witches were entertainment, dead girls, less so. “Huh, well that’s a right shame, that is – them witches be wily devils, eyah. Where be you headed, so far from home?”

“Oberentersbach.” The man had such a rambling manner about him, she hadn’t even paused to think about the answer. All this effort to stay hidden, and she would give herself up in exchange for sleep.

The farmer frowned. “In the black forest? There are witches there! What would bring a young girl alone to such a forbidding place?”

“An apprenticeship.” Exhaustion burned her eyes.

“Better to settle down with a nice young man in a good profession.”

A strike her own people had against her.

“I read about the position in the paper, wrote to my new employer,” she lied.

“Huh” he grunted disapprovingly. “Girls writing. Not proper.”

Strike two.

“Of course,” she snapped. “We wouldn’t want women to be educated, would we? God forbid they think for themselves!”

As with the people from her village, she read it in his expression. Witch.  Good Christian girls don’t talk like that.

She regretted losing her temper, regretted the loss of a seat on the carriage.

“Sleep!” she commanded.

The old farmer’s eyes widened in surprise at the outburst before drooping closed. The coach was filled with light snoring.

When the coach rolled to a stop, the reins slack, she hopped out into the rain. She flicked her second finger sharply against the pad of her thumb. The downpour continued unabated, the drops avoiding her.

“There’d damn well better be witches in the black wood,” she muttered, slogging down the road. “After all the trouble it’s taking to get there!”

Ready, Jet-set, GO!

I am super excited for my trip to NYC in just a few short days.  Thursday, we’re driving down to Buffalo, and from there, we’re flying out to New York City, and staying until early on Monday morning.  While I am hugely excited about this trip, I figured I’d tie it back into my abandonment of Gwynn, because I have a bit of experience in pet-abandonment when it comes to vacations.  Things like camping and trips to see relatives might be appropriate vacations on which to bring your dog (or your cat, I’ve seen cats in camp-grounds), but most vacations aren’t really pet-friendly. 

He’ll be looking morosely at my suitcase when I pack, and he’ll mope around the house a few days when he realises I’m not coming back at the end of the day.  He’ll get lots of walks from my family, lots of affection, and lots of time to romp in the grass.  He will be kind of sad the entire time I’m gone (or so my family tells me… he‘s always happy when I see him), and when I come back on Monday, I’ll take him on a big long walk, and he’ll forgive me for abandoning him. 

I’m lucky in that respect, that I live at home, and can ask my family to take care of him.  Even if I didn’t live at home, but lived in the same general area as my family, they would probably agree to let him move in with them for a few days.  Or Tall Sister could move into my place for a few days and take care of him.

I figured I would mention some of the options people have when going on a trip, since, in my neighbourhood I am one of those options.

Pet-sitter

This is the ideal situation for caring for your pet while you’re away.  Your animal doesn’t get stressed out by being relocated to a strange place, and the pet-sitter is also caring for your house, mowing your lawn and taking in your mail.  For a dog, I would say the pet-sitter should absolutely be staying over at your house.  For one thing, your dog needs to be let out regularly, and for another, they aren’t nearly as independent as cats.  Your cat won’t like that you’re gone either, but he is used to doing his own thing and can use the litter box. 

When we had cats, we often had this arrangement with our neighbour – She would come over in the morning and evening to feed them, and she would spend time there in the evening giving them attention, cleaning the litter boxes, watering plants and bringing the mail in.  There were two of them, so they could keep each other company, and my neighbour spent a lot of time cuddling them and giving them affection.  They were still very unhappy about being left behind, and very very happy to see us when we came back. 

The dogs I house-sit (staying overnight) are ecstatic to see their owners return.  There is a huge difference between the greeting I get and the greeting the dog’s owner receives after being away for a week.  What I’m trying to say here is that there is no substitute – your pet wants you.  Even if you‘re gone for a month, or two months, when you come back, your pet will be SO HAPPY.  He also might have peed on your chair, chewed your favourite shoes, or yakked in your slippers while you were gone, as retribution. 

Vet

A lot of vets offices board pets, and it means that the person who is most knowledgeable about your pet‘s health is the person taking care of him.  Gwynn has stayed two nights at the vet, but not because I was going away.  When he was getting fixed, they required that the dog stay the night before, in order to get accustomed to the veterinary office and give them a chance to do blood work prior to the day of.  They require that the dog stay the night after, because it means that he has all of the drugs from surgery out of his system, and it gives them a chance to make sure he‘s not suffering from any complications.  He is just as excited to go to the vet‘s office now as he was before we ‘abandoned‘ him there- very excited.  I don‘t know if this is common, but he loooooves the vet.  He was excited to see us, but according to the vet-tech, he was a sweetheart, and not terribly concerned about being surrounded by strangers and in a strange place.  Your vet will make sure to exercise the dogs properly, though only in very secure areas (no park-time for fido) – my vet has a dog-run out back where they walk the dogs on-leash.  Your cat will likely be given a chance to stretch his legs a bit, and get some affection. 

Kennel or boarding or doggy daycare

Having never used this type of service, I can‘t say much about it.  Make sure the place you‘re signing up for pays attention to the health of the dogs they allow to stay.  I got hired last-minute by a couple whose dog was going to spend a week at a kennel, but came down with a cough.  Nothing serious, but it was enough for the Kennel owners to say that he couldn‘t stay there.  This kennel also had him over for a day a few weeks prior to his owners departure, to determine what his temperament is, and establish whether he was a dog that would play well with other dogs.  You‘ll find that at doggy daycares as well – they don‘t just let any dog in, they want dogs that socialize well with other dogs.  The doggy daycares will take your dog for a day, or overnight.  The advantage I could see with a doggy daycare is that, if your dog already stays there a few times a week, he will already have lots of friends to play with (and be fully distracted by) during the day.

Regardless of what method you choose for your pet, the most important thing is that you feel confident in the people who will be caring for your pet.  You want to make sure you trust the pet-sitter, because they not only have your pet, they have your house-keys, and know when you‘ll be back.  You want to make sure that the kennel is respectable, safe, clean and responsible. 

A lot of writing, and I’m sorry about that, but I hope it‘s gotten you to thinking about how you‘ll care for your pet when you‘re off somewhere fun without him.

I will feel guilty about leaving Gwynn for my trip, but I know he‘s in good hands and will recover from his mope-iness when he hears the beep of my car door locking in the driveway.