Friday, April 9, 2010
Life long Cloverdale resident Bill Schuler of 22 Nightingale Lane, spent last week travelling up and down the American west coast scouting out new and interesting locations for his next tours to America. Bill is, as many locals know, the owner of Bill's Backyard Tours, specializing in down home adventures for those with simple tastes and pocket books to match.
Bill left Cloverdale on the Coastal Express to catch a plane at the International Airport. Flights out of the Confederacy depart every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Noon and 5:00 P.M. Bill was on the Monday, 5:00 P.M. flight. In his last email Bill reported he was trusted with the isle seat next to the emergency exit.
"I enjoyed the extra leg room," he wrote, "but the responsibility of caring for the exit in case of emergency kept me from sleeping, you know the stress and all, thus putting me in such a stupor that I nearly forgot to deplane when we landed!"
Bill is sending regular updates of his travels by email and asked that I post a few of the pictures to this blog in hopes of drumming up a buzz with the locals for his upcoming tour to America called "The Wet Coast Tour". He thought it clever to use the word "Wet" instead of "West"; a play on words using the common knowledge that the West Coast, especially in the northwest, is very wet.
I'm pleased to post a two of Bill's pictures today. The first you saw at the top of this letter. Don't fret. You're not seeing things. Bill found an American copy (and a poor one Bill says) of our very own Cloverdale.
This little sleepy town along the coast will be remembered for two things Bill says.
"They share the same name as our Cloverdale and two, I stepped in one of the biggest cow pies ever when I stepped out of the car to take the picture!"
I showed the picture of our American counterpart to the Lord Mayor. He seemed intrigued there was another Cloverdale on the planet.
"They could become our sister city!" he said enthusiastically.
"What could we possible do with a sister city populated by fewer than 100 people?" I asked.
"How about student goodwill exchanges?" he replied as he dialed the phone to get in touch with the Comprehensive School's Head Master. "We could learn from them and they could learn from us."
"And what are we going to teach them?" I questioned. "How to eat with a knife and fork?"
He wasn't amused....
This is another picture sent yesterday. Bill reports that this establishement will be a must for his "Wet Tour". He didn't include it's name or location fearing competitors would use the information and put his new discovery on their itinerary.
"I've got to protect my intellectual property," Bill wrote.
Bill will be coming home this weekend and plans on presenting a lecture of his travels to the American Northwest this next Friday at the Lutheran Church's Social Hall in Cloverdale. Coffee, tea and cookies will be served. It promises to be an educational experience for all.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
It was a grand night out for all last night at the Comprehensive School's Theater as people from all parts of the Shire gathered to listen to the locally renowned and nearly always on tune Banda Sinfónica from the Universitaria de La Laguna as they made their yearly tour through the Confederacy. Free tickets for the event went quickly and the auditorium was filled to capacity. It was good to see so many teenagers in the audience sitting with their families. Normally such an event wouldn't attract teenagers but such things can change when both the Middle School and the Comprehensive School's music teachers made attending mandatory for their students. The teachers were in the hall last night taking attendance at the doors. The teachers looked pleased with the turn out. I'm afraid the faces of the students in question didn't reflect that same blissful look.
Donation boxes were passed up and down the aisles just before the conductor made his appearance. I'm sure the villagers showed their gratitude for the symphony's visit by dropping adequate amounts of money into the boxes to cover the group's expenses. Local shops worked with Confederacy Rail to provide transportation. Local families hosted the players in their homes for the two day, one night visit.
At 8:00 P.M. exactly the lights went out bringing a rousing cheer from the audience. The concert was already thirty minutes behind schedule. The Coastal Express was very late pulling into the station and the truck bringing the instruments from the train station had a flat tire. A moment later the theater's lights came back on. The Drisdale's eleven year old son Albert found the lighting booth while returning from a bathroom run and starting playing "Star Trek" with the switches and knobs. Five minutes later the lights dimmed again.
"Albert!" a woman's voice called out from the dark.
"I'm over here," a young boy's voice was heard from the opposite end of the row. The audience clapped, knowing that if 11 year old Albert was in his seat then the dimming lights must be the sign that the concert was about to start. The Conductor walked out onto the stage. The applause grew in volume yet slightly tempered by discomfort. The Theater's chairs were in dire need of recushioning. He tapped his baton on the music stand and the night of music was off.
Cloverdale Weekend Television was on hand to broadcast the event live. CWT brought three cameras, two were focused on the orchestra and one was turned to the audience. The director hoped to fade in and out between shots showing the musicians playing the audience enjoying. Unfortunately, the school's concert choir and orchestra were in the lobby selling refreshments as a fund raiser. The prices were reasonable, and considering the tickets were free, the audience felt obliged to spend their money on concessions. The director soon grew tired of looking for anyone in the audience to broadcast that wasn't stuffing their face with popcorn, drink and homemade cookies and cupcakes. The audience camera was eventually switched off and the cameraman sent home.
The concert ended at 10:02 P.M. Everyone left feeling culturally uplifted and seriously over sugared. Many comments were heard in the parking lot praising the orchestra. Some even hinted they would return next year for the Banda Sinfónica's next visit.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Last year sixteen year old Natalie Pillerly Strep stepped forward and answered the Council’s call to challenge Boris’s decade long reign. Her credentials were impressive. She was the holder of Dibley in the Down’s Grand Master title since she was thirteen. Her style was to viciously slaughtered all opponents both in chess and verbally at every village school monthly competition. It seemed fitting then that she would be the one to challenge Boris. His defeat would propel her to national fame and possible fortune with lucrative sponsorships coming from chess board makers and the makers of the game timing devices.
Boris was delighted to learn of Natalie’s challenge. Her reputation for playing barbaric chess matches intrigued him, being of a gentle nature himself and never one to belittle an opponent during a match. Posters of the match were distributed throughout the Shire and tickets to he event sold out quickly in door to door sales.
Boris spent much of the three weeks leading up to the event playing himself in the Great Hall of St. Bartholomew’s Parish Church. He won nearly every match; I say nearly because of a near draw on a game held after Mass a fortnight ago. The spectators, freshly released from worship, gathered around his table, chair and mirror to watch. Their hovering created a distraction which caused him to lose focus while playing white. That momentary glitch in his mental operations gave black the advantage. Luckily he caught himself, asked the priest to invite the parishioners into the adjoining room for coffee and biscuits, and finished his game with a win.
Both Boris and Natalie quickly sent all their opponents packing on the day of the competition. They were like two freight trains coming at each other at breakneck speed along a single ribbon of track. Finally, at 6:00 P.M. they sat facing each other.
“So, we meet at least,” Natalie spoke first, thus breaking the silence.
“It is my pleasure,” Boris spoke second, hoping to disarm his young challenger with kindness.
“You’re a has been Boris. You’ve had the Shire Championship for ten years. It’s time to surrender and give it to someone younger with new ideas and fresh perspectives on the game,” Natalie said while unwrapping a fresh piece of bubble gum. She found the popping of bubbles was a factor in throwing her opponents off their game.
“Chewing gum?” Boris questioned.
“Got a problem with that do ya?” Natalie shot back before his voice inflected the question.
“Not if you’re OK with my pipe,” Boris responded. He produced a pipe and a tobacco pouch from his satchel, filled the pipe and lit it - all to Natalie’s horror. She objected to tobacco and immediately jumped to her feet and cried foul to the judges. The judges conferred and politely asked them both to conceded to the other. Natalie would removed her gum and Boris would extinguish his pipe. Natalie popped one last bubble and Boris blew a lung full of smoke into Natalie’s face causing her to choke several times and nearly inhale her gum.
The challenge was joined and the pieces advanced forward into battle. Both were regular in their taking of pieces. Natalie felt pressure, her Queen was in danger on several occasions. She had to go on the offensive but found it difficult to penetrate Boris’s flawless defenses.
“Don’t think you’ve got me Boris,” Natalie whispered just loud enough to be heard by her opponent only. “I’m on to your game. I’ve got you in twelve moves.”
Boris looked into the face of this precocious sixteen year old and considered his position as a gentleman. Her look of disdain convinced him that the best course of action was to fight a two front war, one on the board and the other with words.
“Natalie, I know how difficult it is having chess as your only companion through high school. I can’t imagine the loneliness. Additionally, you must feel so self conscious about your obvious problem with acne. How sad, one so bitter and bad tempered as you who must also deal with a face that looks like someone it was washed with a cheese grater.” At the end of the last syllable Boris made a move that he soon regretted. He’d opened the way for his own Queen downfall, that is IF Natalie was coherent.
Natalie exploded in anger, spewing a string of adjectives describing Boris and his method of play in words usually reserved for those working the docks at Tamworth on Tide. The audience gasped. Children were rushed from the room and the cameras of Cloverdale Weekend Television darkened as the network went straight to commercial without comment.
It was more than the judges could bare. Natalie was disqualified for poor sportsmanship. She protested but because it was her word against his, Boris’s words couldn’t come back and stick to him. Boris was crowned and given his eleventh title.
Natalie is preparing for next year’s challenge. She plays herself at least daily and attends anger management classes. Boris continues his daily routine. He’s up at 6:00 A.M. eats breakfast, walks to his accounting practice, works until 5:00 P.M. walks to St. Bartholomew’s, plays a game of chess with himself in the mirror, then walks home to spend the rest of the evening with his wife, cat and dog.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Classics ReMix is brought to you on Cloverdale Weekend Television by Miss Violet Pierce. Miss Pierce has been teaching piano in Cloverdale for over forty years from her cottage on Whispers Close near the Toppem Bridge. Her students have gone on to play piano for local churches and bands. Some have chosen to continue their musical studies at Cloverdale Community College, hoping, but not counting on, pursuing careers in composition and performance. Her rates are reasonable, with monthly lesson plans to fit any budget.
Miss Pierce specializes in teaching 'problem players', those with little to no musical talent. Because of her advanced age, her hearing isn't what it use to be. A handicap for some but a blessing for Miss Pierce. Miss Pierce explains that patience is a by product for hearing loss when it comes to the musically challenged. She can turn down her hearing aids and easily make it through lessons marred by the ungodly combinations of notes.
Miss Pierce's students also have access to her famous "Sweety Bowl", a large bowl made of carnival glass that sits atop her upright piano. Miss Pierce is known throughout the village for her one weakness - candy. She is a frequent patron of Humbugs Fine Confectionery in Cloverdale. Her "Sweety Bowl" is filled with the finest Humbugs has to offer. All students who successfully play the pieces assigned the week before are allowed two items from the bowl as a reward for their diligence.
To arrange piano lessons for yourself or a loved one please contact Miss Violet Pierce at
Sunday, April 4, 2010
It is Easter Sunday in Cloverdale. Much of the village will be in the community’s churches for morning worship. Normally our extended family would attend our Mormon Sacrament Meeting held in Cloverdale’s Seventh Day Adventist Church but today all Mormon’s in the Confederacy will be staying home to watch the Church’s General Conference over Cloverdale Weekend Television. CWT is kind enough to broadcast the entire A.M. service. We must watch the P.M. service over the internet, which is why we are happy the village finally has high speed connections thanks to our recent switch over from dial analog service to digital service and push button phones! Cloverdale, our little village nestled between somewhere and nowhere finally joins the modern world of communications.
A Cloverdale Easter is just not Easter without a stop at Humbugs Handmade Chocolates and Fantastic Sweets near the Village Square on the High Street. They have the finest selection of sweets in the Shire. Humbug’s candy is guaranteed to have the highest quality. Of course you pay more for your sweets at Humbugs but when one considers the importance of Easter one realizes that such a special occasion requires only the best.
Yesterday I stopped at Humbugs for my Easter shopping while walking home from the train station. My journey on the Coastal Express from the Other World to the Confederacy and Cloverdale was pleasant; a satisfying start to a week away from school and camp for our Spring Vacation. I was nearly comatose from the gentle rocking of the train and the sound of the metal wheels on the tracks by the time the train reached Cloverdale's station. The conductor was kind to awaken me or I would have slept through the stop.
I sat my suitcases outside the front door of Humbugs and stepped through to the delightful smell of chocolate. The shop was crowded with Easter shoppers, each filling their baskets with various assortments of chocolate and confectionary fantasies. Children were gathered at the far end of the store completely enthralled by an impromptu magic show given by the shop’s owner, Nelson Tweed. Mr. Tweed wore a pair of rabbit ears, as did everyone else working in the shop. It was the shop's Easter tradition.
At the other end of the shop one found samples of Humbug's newest confectionery creations. I was tempted to wait for a sample of the new caramel cream with peppermint egg but was too tired from my journey. I took a shopping basket from he doorway and proceeded to gather the necessary items required to make an unforgettable Cloverdale Easter. The magic show was a distraction, causing me to nearly forgot my Cadbury’s double yoke chocolate eggs, a big mistake which would have required another trip to the shop later that day had it not been for the watchful eye of Mrs. Tweed at the cash register. She knew Cadbury’s eggs were my one weakness (among many) and made a gentle reminder before she pushed the ‘total‘ button for the sale.
I gathered my purchases and walked for the door. A very kind Humbug employee opened the door and held my purchases while I rearranged the contents of one suitcase to make room for the package. A gust of wind nearly separated his rabbit ears from his head.
I walked the remaining three blocks down High Street before making the turn at the canal. It was good to be in the village again, even though the sky was dark with clouds and the wind was blowing in the smell of a cold rain. My joy just couldn't be dampened.
Today’s Easter Egg Hunt will start once the bunny (me) has time to sneak outside and down to the village green to find enough dry spots to hide the eggs. It has rained off and on throughout the morning making my job difficult, but not impossible with a bit of creativity.
There were other families on safari when I arrived so I waited until their eggs were collected before laying mine. I found something unusual sitting motionless a park bench near the south end of the green - a very tired Easter Bunny. I heard snoring coming from behind his mouth and whiskers. The snoring gave away his identity. It was Old Buster Perkins, Cloverdale’s Santa for hire at Christmas and Easter Bunny for hire at Easter. He was taking a well needed break before his next engagement.
I had a brilliant idea. I could use this sleeping giant rabbit for my own designs. I layed plastic eggs, each containing a small amount of coinage, in a line from his feet to the nearby green entrance. The children would be arriving soon and wouldn’t they be surprised to find the Easter Bunny waiting for them at end of their hunt!? I started feeling guilty while I waited for the children to arrive. I was using his services without payment. I decided to rescue him and offer a nice financial reward after he was awoken by the children.
I’ll end this note now. The cars are starting to arrive and I must have camera ready.
Cloverdale and Surrounding Areas
This Easter, as in year's past, Spring brings light rain through the Shire. Cooler temperatures will accompany the rain, carried by stronger winds in the afternoon. The air will be fresh and crisp. Easter Egg hunting will be better in the A.M. as P.M. wetness may affect the Bunny's temperament. Expect showers throughout the evening. Umbrellas and jackets are a must for all Church goers.Our Song of Praise comes to us from St. Bartholomew's Parish in Cloverdale. On behalf of everyone at Cloverdale Weekend Television we wish you all a very happy Easter.