Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Brown Toppers Gather for a Photography Mystery.

Cloverdale’s Public Library replaced its summer photography series with another photography display titled Riddles in Photography. Riddles in Photography is a series of photographs depicting common household words and phrases in photographic form. The viewer is asked to ponder on the photograph, write what they believe the photographs represent and surrender the educated guesses at the circulation desk for review. All correct entries are placed in a drawing. The winner will be given a copy of their favorite photograph from the series.

Word of the event spread throughout the village's intellectual upper crust, who pride themselves on their intellectual prowess, their ability to outwit an opponent , and their uncanny talent of talking themselves out of traffic tickets.

The Cloverdale Brown Toppers, as they like to call themselves (The Upper Crust seems too boastful, considering over half the members are Christians) arranged to meet at the Moss Wonderland Bakery at noon on Saturday for a sticky bun, milk and a quick series of mental problems and riddles to limber up their mental acuteness before walking to the library to solve the mystery. This gathering of Cloverdale’s finest minds attracted unwanted attention. The small bakery filled quickly with the curious and others who innocently wandered in off the street to indulge their sweet tooth in a decadent caloric intake. Retired Professor Fitzsimmons of Cloverdale Community College realized that once word leaked that the Brown Toppers were going to the Library to break the photographic code, a circus of the curious would descend on the library.

"Omfra owa on we eakspa igpa atinla osa etha illagersva annotca erstandunda and enceha illwa otna ollowfa," he said to his fellow Brown Toppers in Pig Latin. The Brown Toppers understood and effortlessly switched from English to Pig Latin. Soon the curious lost interest in the gathering, made their pastry purchases and left the shop. One hour before the Library's closing time the Brown Toppers left the bakery, primed and ready to take on the challenges of all challenges, at least for that month.

The Brown Toppers walked with purpose, two abreast down the sidewalk. Hardly a word was spoken between them. Each was completely focused on the deed at hand. It was like the quiet before the storm. Neighbors whispered across picket fences as they watched the silent parade march by. Some gathered their children and followed. Professor Fitzsimmons tripped on a small raised section of the pavement. He stumbled, nearly falling to the ground before catching himself.
"Damn," he thought, realizing his concentration was compromised. That stumble unfocused the professor, thus opening the door for others in the group who's minds nearly paralleled the Professor's in wit and associations, to be the first to submit a winning entry. The Professor refocused as he straighted his glasses, hoping to reenter the zone in a timely manner.

The group reached the library, opened the door and walked through the entryway and children's section before reaching the Little Theater. The photographs hung on the walls before them.

"Attention, may I have your attention please," the Professor said in full voice. The sudden noise pierced the quiet of the library and drew a quick "Hush" from the librarian at the circulation desk.
The Professor continued in a whisper, "I'm giving each of you a tablet and pencil. Please take your time as you ponder the challenges before you. Write your educated guesses and submit them to the front circulation desk. Are there any questions?" No one said a word. The contest was on. The Brown Toppers fanned out before the photos.

The room's silence was disturbed periodically by the occasional grunt or sneeze or sigh. Pencils scribbled guesses as the grandfather clock in the corner chimed each quarter hour. At 6:00 P.M. the librarian rang the closing bell and called for all books. The Brown Toppers finished writing. Each filed before the librarian to enter their guesses into the competition. The wining entry would be drawn at the end of the display in a week's time.

The following pictures are from the display. Can you guess what they mean? The first one is done for you. The other answers will be released on Monday.

Answer: Whole Milk


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cloverdale's Optimists Meet at Miss Libby's Bed and Breakfast

The Cloverdale Optimists Club meets every second and fourth Thursday in the dining room of Miss Libby's Bed and Breakfast on the Station Road. Miss Libby founded The Optimists Club twenty seven years ago with a vision to improve the emotional well being of Cloverdale's residents. One of the club's goals is to inspire people to see the good in everyone. Another goal is to motivate people to reach beyond themselves in a spirit of giving.

The village council approved the club's long standing request last month to hang motivational signs throughout the village's town centre as long as the club received permission from the building's owners. The signs were designed and created by students from the village's two secondary schools, The Comprehensive and St. Bartholomews.

The sign above hangs on Station Road above the Miss Libby's Bed and Breakfast. Having set the example, Miss Libby hopes others will take her lead and give their permission for signs on their property.
"I'm optimistic," she said with a twinkle in her eye.

In response to this soon to appear tidal wave of 'good' a small minority of residents gathered at the Kicking Donkey Pub to form a counter club to the Optimists. They call themselves the SunDowners of Cloverdale. They will meet directly opposite the Optimists at the Pub and enjoy a good pint while they share stories of misfortune and all around bad luck.
Wait........... Isn't that pretty much what you hear in a Pub anyway?

Good luck to Cloverdale's Optimists and Sundowners. And to all our kind readers, its not whether the glass is half full or half empty. It just the fact that there is anything in the glass at all.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Frugals. Cloverdale's Newest Residents

The Cloverdale Welcome Wagon Committee is please to announce the arrival of the Hyrum Frugal family to our community. The Frugals are from the Other World's Other World, meaning complete social outcasts. Hyrum, realizing his children had no hope of a semi normal life considering their genetic handicap, applied for resident visas to the Confederacy for himself, his wife and his seven children.

The visas were approved by the Confederacy's Committee for the Hopeless. They were mailed to the Frugals along with train tickets to Cloverdale and the keys to temporary housing until Hyrum find's employment in the village. The Frugals arrived last week aboard Wednesday's Coastal Express. They were met at the station by the village's Welcome Wagon Committee and presented with a basket of food. Mrs. Tuttleson, Chairwoman of the Committee, spoke on behalf of the people of Cloverdale when she welcomed them to our village where even the inbred and socially retarded can find a respect and peace. Mrs. Martha Frugal began crying, which caused two of her seven children to start crying. Soon everyone at the station was crying. The Frugal's arrival reminded everyone at the station of the day they first stepped foot in this sanctuary of Cloverdale.

The family gathered up their suitcases and started the long walk down the high street toward their temporary home. The children appeared frightened and refused to return people's greetings. Mr. and Mrs. Frugal begged forgiveness for their children's rude behaviour.
"They never left the house in the Other World so they don't know how to properly behave," Martha explained.

Confederacy Elementary School's Headmistress stopped the family as they walked by the school and invited them in to enroll their children and take a tour.
"Our children are home schooled," Martha replied. "The raising of our children is our responsibility not the job of strangers. That's the way we were raised by Grandma, right Hyrum?"
Hyrum nodded. He seemed distantly focused on a bird in flight. The headmistress recognized that look. It was adult ADD. A bad sign for the rest of them.
"You were raised together then?" inquired the headmistress.
"Cousins. We're first cousins once removed I believe that's what they call it but we're not sure. We just fell in love and the rest is standing right here before you, these seven wonderful handsome children."

The headmistress nodded her head and slowly backed away from the family, never turning her back to them. The family continued down the road until they found their new home.

The Frugals have settled in and are ready to immerse themselves into the social life of Cloverdale. The homeschooling lessons started on Monday. Hyrum spent most of the weekend disconnecting the house from the village's electrical grid.
"We prefer simple," he explained as the neighbors watched in shock as the home's toilet was set out on the curb. The oldest boy was out back digging the pit for the family's outhouse. The Dish Network's rooftop dish was taken down and turned into a bird bath on the front lawn. The washer and dryer were out on the curb with a sign inviting anyone interested to take without guilt.

Citizens of Cloverdale, we present the Frugals. You may stop by for a visit anytime between 5:00 and 8:00 P.M. (the time the family goes to bed every night). Hyrum suggests you bring your gun. He does so enjoy cleaning guns when he has company.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Matthew Riddlehousen and Cloverdale's Silver Surfers.

Matthew Riddlehousen recently moved to Cloverdale from Dibley in the Downs to open a franchise of Silver Surfers, a computer tutoring service for the elderly, feeble minded and technologically challenged. You may see him from time to time in his 2003 Nissan MiniVan making house calls. ‘Silver Surfers‘ is written on the driver’s door. Above the words is a picture of an elderly man struggling to remove his computer mouse cord from his cat's teeth. The van's passenger door reads “MotherLoad Pizza”. Matthew subsidizes his income by delivering pizza in the evenings.

“I know computers inside and out,” Matthew said during my recent interview with him over lunch at The Hairy Lemon Pub. I discovered Matthew to be the dictionary definition of ‘Nerd’. He was shy and wouldn’t talk. I spoke and he listened as we ate lunch. Interviews aren’t suppose to flow that direction. It made for an uncomfortable half hour. I asked him if he’d ever tried a pint of Scrumpy, Cloverdale’s very own local beer. Instead of a verbal “no” he shook his head in the negative. I ordered one pint for him and a fizzy lemonade for me. He downed the Scrumpy in record time. He ordered another. He started talking after the second pint.

“I’m a real people person,” he said. I responded by nearly choking on my lemonade. A people person he wasn’t. In fact, I am of the conclusion his parents purchased the franchise in Cloverdale and gave him their car just to get him out of their basement and village. “I’m also really good with old people. My mother was 50 when she had me and my Grandmother Riddlehousen was really old also. She had gray hair, a cane and had accidents - if you know what I mean.” I nodded and quickly erased the mental picture.
“Everybody thought I’d be born retarded because of my mother’s age but I surprised them. Mind you, I’m not good with the ladies and I don’t understand religion or quantum mechanics but when it comes to computers you’d be hard pressed to find someone who understands them as well as me.” He smiled, sat back in his chair, closed his eyes and took a mental inventory of all the reasons he was satisfied with his life. I say that because he kept mumbling and counting things off with his fingers.

A moment later he opened his eyes, took another gulp of Scrumpy, wiped the foam from his face and glanced out the window above our table.
“See that old duck over there,” he said pointing to an elderly woman walking her dog. She looked to be in her early 80’s with thinning white hair and bent back.
“I’m guessing, based on my extensive knowledge of petrified humans, she knows just enough technology to dial a phone, operate her furnace thermostat, and turn on her oven and light switches. I sense she struggles with her television remote but manages, considering remote controls came out in the 70’s. The buttons are a challenge and heaven help her if she gets Satellite TV but at least she knows enough to watch her soap operas and the news.”

I recognized the woman when she turned to cross the street. She was the education reporter for Cloverdale’s local newspaper. I had her cell number. I knew she liked to text responses to calls to avoid long phone conversations. I had to have some fun with this so I reached for my cell phone, found her number and asked Matthew to continue listing his fool proof methods for reading what an old age pensioner can and can’t understand about electronics while I texted her a question concerning an upcoming meeting I was having on Wednesday about computers and the elderly. I put my phone away and watched from the window. She stopped to adjust her rain cap with her gloved hands while her dog did his business against the Indian Curry Take Out’s front steps. A moment later she reached for her purse and produced an iphone. She read my text and responded with thumbs flying.
“Matthew, she has an iphone," I said while faking shock. "Do you see that? She's texting someone!” Matthew looked shocked.
“Send me to Shame,” Matthew mumbled. He reached over and closed the blinds. “Well, most of them are not like that, take my word for it.”
“Oh, I do Matthew. I do,” I replied.

I asked Matthew if I could accompany him to his afternoon appointment at the Nearly There Home for the Elderly and Infirmed.
“I was going to suggest that, considering I’ve had a bit too much Scrumpy,” he slurred. I helped him into the van, buckled myself in and set course for the home. We found his clients asleep in a corner of the Day Room. One of them was at the computer. The computer’s disk tray was open. She had her cup of coffee perched in it.

“OK Silver Surfers, Up and At’em,” Matthew shouted. One nearly fell out of her chair. The others clung to their arm rests as they waited for their hearts rates to slow from the sudden shock.
“This kind gentleman would like a picture of me with you before we start surfing,” Matthew said while organizing them in some kind of order. I snapped the photo and prepared to take a second when Matthew interrupted, reached for his bag and pulled out several Hawaiian button up tourist shirts.
“OK surfers, let’s get into our Surfing Attire.” He handed each a brightly colored shirt with bold floral patterns. The residents helped each other with the buttons . He plugged in his boom box, pressed ‘play’ and started the class with his car wreck of a rendition of the Beach Boy's famous hit, ‘Surfin’ USA’. Of course he sang “Surfin in Cloverdale” instead. He shot me several thumbs up as he sang. I noticed the orderlies closed the Day Room’s doors to prevent the music from reaching the other inmates. The old ducks hadn’t had their afternoon meds and the Home’s staff didn’t want to risk a violent reaction to the music.

The lesson started after the warm up song. Matthew explained how electricity was produced and how it got into the plug on the wall by traveling along copper wires from the local coal powered power planet outside of town. He pulled out a small hand wound electrical generator from his bag of tricks. He wound up a good charge then selected a 'volunteer' to stand up and place her finger on the receptor. His selected 'volunteer' was prescreened earlier to ensure she wasn’t equipped with a pace maker. She jumped back the moment her finger came in contact with the wire. It was a nasty shock. The top layer of her heavily sprayed hair stood on end. She’d recently returned form the beauty parlor where she’d had her hair done for a great grandchild’s wedding. She shuffled from the room very upset to make a call for a respray.

Matthew apologized, shrugged his shoulders and contined the lesson. For the next fifteen minutes Matthew covered plugging in and unplugging the computer After the lesson he had each student demonstrate understanding by taking turns getting up and plugging and unplugging the computer. Once everyone mastered the concept they gathered for a team spirit cheer and the collection of Matthew's fee. We left shortly afterwards.

I urge Cloverdale’s elderly to consider using the Silver Surfers Computer Tutoring Service only after trying the following.

  1. Ask yourself if you really really have a need for a computer.
  2. Offer to pay family members for help (if they won't do it for free).
  3. Contact neighborhood kids and offered to pay them to help you.
  4. Read “Computers for Dummies”.
  5. Take local community education courses on computers.
  6. Call the computer maker's hotline.
  7. Call 911 for help.
If you’ve done all the above and still don’t understand your computer, then call Silver Surfers.

Mr. Williamson

Cloverdale Weekend Television. The Gregorians.

The Confederacy's Very Own Gregorians of St. Bartholomew's in Cloverdale sing The Sounds of Silence. Join them at St. Batholomews every Sunday for Mass.