Friday, May 17, 2019

A Short Story

I had an interesting dream last night, bordering on a nightmare. When I woke up, I decided it would make a good science-fiction short story. So here it is. 

All In A Day's Work

Nineteen year old Gary Winstead arrived at the auto garage at 7:30 a.m., as he always did, to get ready for the day's work of fixing cars. He had just graduated from Pierpoint High School a couple of weeks earlier, and he was looking forward to working another summer for Charlie Clarkson, the auto mechanic who had, over the past few years, taught him a lot of about cars, car engines, and everything else a good mechanic needs to know.

Was Gary going to college in the fall? He was already making pretty good money with his car repair work and doing a few other jobs around the neighborhood, so he was in no hurry to leave his hometown to go off to college for four years. His girlfriend Mandy would agree with that.

He unlocked the tool cabinet and got the parts trays out and cleaned them. He cleaned and shook out the blankets they would drape over the car fenders to prevent scratches while leaning over into the engine.

Gary went over to the car that was first on the list of that day's work schedule and noticed that a small piece of paper had been tucked under the driver's side windshield wiper. Gary lifted the wiper, pulled out the note and unfolded it.

In his own handwriting, the note read: Do not trust your future self. Take the money if you need it, but don't do what he says. Your other future self.

Gary looked at the note, stared off into space for a moment, then just shrugged it off as something truly bizarre and put the crumpled up note in his pocket.

A minute later, after opening the big garage door and turning on the "open" sign in the office window, Gary turned around and saw himself standing in the shadows, holding a briefcase.

It was definitely himself, but looked somewhat older. Gary blinked. He walked a few steps closer to his future self,  but remained wary.

"Hey, thought I'd help you out a little. I know this is a tough time for you, a lot of decisions to make, stuff like that," the older Gary told the younger Gary. The older Gary put the briefcase up on the workbench between the grease gun and the set of wrenches. He opened the briefcase, and the younger Gary could see it was full of money.

"One million dollars, a gift from your future self. Yours to enjoy. All you have to do is have the contents of this jar chemically analyzed and patented. It's a new kind of fuel. Amazing breakthrough. Made of bio-degradable ingredients, but a better fuel than anything before. And you invented it, or you will invent it. Just take the jar, analyze it, get it patented, and you're good to go. Here's a copy of the chemical formula, all written out." The older Gary smiled, patted the side of the briefcase and placed the glass jar full of green fluid on the workbench.

Then he faded into thin air. The younger Gary was left with the jar and one million dollars in cash sitting on the workbench.

He turned and went into the office and began making a pot of coffee, the strong kind that Charlie liked to have as soon as he comes in.

As soon as he finished with the coffee pot, Gary went back to the workbench to look at the briefcase full of money and the jar of green fluid. There was a small piece of paper folded up, lying next to it.

He picked up the paper, unfolded it, and read the note, again in his own hand-writing.

"Do not do this. Destroy the jar and the stuff in it. It is extremely toxic to the environment. It can cause massive amounts of damage to every living thing on the planet, screws around with DNA viability. Enjoy the cash, though, while you can."

Gary put the note down on the workbench. He stared at the jar. He stared at the money. Then he sat down and wondered what he should do, particularly how he should get rid of the stuff in the jar.

A moment later, there was a sparkle in the air behind him, and there he was again, his older self, holding another briefcase. He looked older than before, and perhaps a bit more haggard, but he was smiling weakly.

"What a morning this has been... for both of us," he said. "Okay, here's the deal. I brought you another briefcase full of money, another million dollars."

He put it on the workbench next to the first one.

"And you need to know there may be some question as to the safety of the stuff in the jar, some environmental issues. I am working on getting those fixed. For now all you need to know is that you will make a lot of money with this new kind of fuel, and I mean a lot of money. So don't worry. Get it patented and as soon as I can work out a better formula I will get it to you."

Then the older Gary once again vanished.

The younger Gary started at the new briefcase, opened it up, and found inside another million dollars in cash.

He took a long deep breath, thinking it might be best if he just took the money and poured the fluid down the drain. He closed the briefcase, and saw that a new piece of paper had appeared behind it. He reached over, picked it up, and unfolded it. It read: "Don't do it."

The note was in his own handwriting. He looked at the two briefcases and the jar. Then he picked up the jar, went over to the sink, and poured the fluid in the jar down the drain.

He put the empty glass jar down on the counter. Almost immediately, a new piece of paper appeared next to the sink. Gary picked It up, unfolded it and read it.

“You idiot. We are doomed. When I said don’t do it, I was telling you not to pour it down the drain. Now it’s gone down the sewer, into the river, into the oceans and around the world. Everything is lost.”

Gary stared at the note. Then he stared at the two briefcases full of money. Perhaps he and Mandy should take some kind of trip together. From the front of the garage came a yell, “Morning!” It was Charlie. He had arrived and was already pouring himself a cup of coffee.

Gary picked up the two briefcases and carried them out to his car, putting them in the trunk, out of view. As he was walking back to the garage, he noticed a piece of paper, folded up and stuck under his windshield wiper. He got it and read it. It said: “All is good.”

“Hey, what the hell!” came a yell from the garage. It was Charlie’s voice. Gary ran into the garage and saw Charlie standing in front of the sink. The entire sink bowl and pipes under the sink had been removed and were gone. The glass jar was also gone.

The rest of the day went relatively well. At the end of the day, Charlie asked Gary what he had decided about college.

“Well, I think I might study physics, or chemistry, or quantum mechanics as it relates to time travel,” Gary said.

Charlie looked at him. “Well, that narrows it down,” he said.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Time Museum

Passing through Jefferson, Texas, recently, I stopped in to tour the Museum of Measurement and Time. It featured more than 500 clocks, but not only clocks but old phones, maps, typewriters, record players and even old computers.

Click on the images to make them larger. 

There were clocks of all kinds. 

Ornate Clocks

Wall clocks, mantle clocks...

Novelty clocks...

Grandfather clocks, specialty clocks...

Seth Thomas clocks, as well as Avon Collectible Cologne Bottles, more than a hundred salt and pepper shaker sets...

The owner is a retired surveyor, so there were a lot of surveying instruments, antique rods and chains all the way up to laser sighting devices. Plus a great collection of old maps. 

This Planters Clock not only told you the time, but also the best dates to plant certain type of vegetables.

A fine selection of old Victrolas...

Hand grinder organs and cylinder music boxes...

Beautiful sounding disk music boxes...

Even old novelty phones and early computer systems

A classic wall phone

Other old phones

Admission to the museum is free of charge, and the owner and his wife Johnny and Edith Ingram give you a personally guided tour, explaining the various types of clocks, even making one or two strike the hour so you can hear the chimes. 

He was especially proud of one clock that kept track of not only the time, but also the months and the dates of the month as well as the days of the week. 

All in all, it was a great tour of time pieces dating back to far before the turn of the 20th century.  

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Abita Springs/Mandeville Property Flowers and Trees

This is a video I made showing the azaleas, magnolias, and blueberry bushes on our property between Abita Springs and Mandeville. Thinking about putting the nearly two acres up for sale. 

Click on the play triangle to see the video. 

Once it is playing, click on the brackets  [ ] in the bottom right corner to see it full screen.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

French Quarter Map - 2019

I just finished drawing a detailed French Quarter map. It shows every building in the New Orleans Vieux Carre'. The copyrighted map will be used by A.G. Crowe on his website to promote local businesses. Click on the image to see a larger version of the map. 

To see it on the ShopLocal website, CLICK HERE. 
Once you get to the new page, click on the plus sign (+) in the upper left corner to see better detail. 

Here's a video of the various stages of production. Click on the play triangle in the center of the image, and then when the video starts playing, click on the double brackets [ ] in the lower right corner to make it full screen.


Old Postcard of French Quarter Courtyard Scene

The odd thing about doing this map was the memory I have from the third grade at Live Oak Elementary School in New Orleans. Our class took a field trip to the Cabildo at Jackson Square, and when we got back to the classroom, we wrote about our experience. 

I included a drawing I did of Andrew Jackson riding his horse like on the statue. The teacher, Mrs. Folse, liked the drawing so much that she asked me to draw it two more times for other projects. So I was well acquainted already with drawing Jackson's statue in the middle of Jackson Square. That led to an appearance on the local television program "Know Your Schools," in which I was interviewed about our class field trip. 

During that interview they asked me who was the man represented by the big statue at the bottom of the staircase at the Cabildo, and I had no idea. Finally they said it looked like Bienville, and I agreed. So then on I started paying more attention when people were telling me historical things that I should be remembering. I was only 8 years old at the time, so I didn't feel too bad about the lapse.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

New Orleans East Map 2019

A new cartoon map of New Orleans East has just been completed. It took me just over a week to draw it, and it is shown below. Click on the image to make it larger. 

I lived for a time in Gentilly, right off Chef Menteur highway, so producing the map of the area was like a trip back home. Of course, New Orleans East today is slightly different than the New Orleans East of 65 years ago. Hurricane Katrina really did a number on it. But the area is now home to numerous parks, lots of charter schools, and interesting businesses, not to mention the shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain.

Lakefront Airport is a treasure in itself.

Dedicated on Feb. 9, 1934, Lakefront Airport was originally called Shushan Airport. The Art Deco terminal was New Orleans only commercial air hub until 1946 when Moisant Field opened. The terminal was restored to its original grandeur after flood waters from Hurricane Katrina damaged the structure. Classic wall murals were saved.

For many years, the marshy areas of eastern New Orleans went undeveloped, except for the higher ground along the Chef Menteur ridge and also along the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline. 

Early settlement took place along Bayou Saurage, which provided the only access to Fort McComb. The industrial canal, completed in 1923, hindered eastward progress for years due to limited bridge crossings, though Lakefront Airport, built around 1930, brought considerable aviation activity to the Seabrook area.

Major early efforts to develop the area failed, but around 1960, the LaKratt Corp. brought rapid development to the heart of the area, known as "Lake Forest," having purchased 5000 acres from the widow of Joe. W. Brown, who had donated 60 acres to the city for a park. 

When new drainage and swamp reclamation became feasible, they finally opened the area for widespread use. The new Interstate 10 High Rise and other road and bridge improvements helped provide access as well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Cajun Gold New Edition

I just published a new edition of my novel "Cajun Gold." Written under the pen name of Cliff Madison, it's about a Cajun who finds 200 pounds of gold buried in the woods near his house. Lots of laughs as he tries to hide it from his neighbors, his wife, and the local news media. As the cover says, finding that gold kind of "messes up his plans for the weekend."

To order a copy of the book, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Ruth's Roots Retreat

On a side street behind the Hancock County Courthouse in downtown Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, is "Ruth's Roots," an island of tranquility in a place that is already pretty tranquil. The plot of land, almost adjacent to the train tracks that cross the bay, offers a wide variety of flowers, animals, paintings, and best of all, places to sit and enjoy it all. It is a community gardening opportunity that has lots of friends and supporters.

Here are some pictures of the hidden retreat, but enter at your own risk. The overwhelming sense of nature and and peace of mind might just make you forget your cares and worries for a while. 

Click on the images to make them larger. 

Painted doors serve as part of the fencing

There are a variety of flowers

There's even a dragon in the middle of it all

A chess board awaits

There are chickens and rabbits

A waterfall

A large seating area for informal meetings

A water-carrying statue

A very colorful alligator

Sidewalk paintings of sea life

A portrait of Ruth in the center patio

Butterflies and bees

And then, there is the wildly-painted piano 

HERE's A LINK to the Google Maps location of Ruth's Roots.

Ruth's Roots Facebook Page

According to the Facebook page, Ruth's Roots is a community garden that can serve the community’s youth through enrichment and is located at 130 Court St in Bay St Louis, Mississippi. Teenagers who need to provide community service hours are used in the maintenance of the garden, and various community service organizations also take part in the care of the place.