Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Songs of Norfolk Southern

We live on the wrong side of the tracks—or at least, too close to them. Our local rail line used to be  sleepy underfunded Amtrak, finally starved to death by the geniuses in Congress who don’t think passenger trains are necessary anymore—now that they all have their big black SUVs, air travel at the taxpayer's expense, and lifetime employment, all guaranteed by black bag lobbyists--plus a little attentive gerrymandering.

Now, I do like trains, and have spent a fair amount of my life living in close proximity to tracks. (Draw your own conclusions.)  I’m a believer, as far as transport goes, in these efficient movers of both freight and people.  I'd like to see the US recommit to railways again.

Despite all this friendly feeling, I must report that in the middle of the night my local Norfolk Southern regularly awakens me by conducting loud conversations. Their wee-hour prehistoric hoots, grunts, snorts, wails, and shrieks could put T Rex and all the rest of his ancient super-sized kinfolk to shame.

Around 2:30 a.m. and off and on for the next 24 hours,   ;)   I hear what I believe is signaling, perhaps when an eastbound train sidetracks, waiting for the westbound to pass. These communications eventually morph into a noisy, complex composition I'm dubbing Jet Engine Metal.

 I think I’m even getting to know the engineers too, in a way. Some of them must surely be frustrated musicians. At least that’s the conclusion I’d draw from all the back and forth, the rattle-the-windows staccato rending the air in an apparently endless series of short blasts, as if the engine suffers from a terminal cough. There are sustained hoots, followed by sudden roaring discords, as if someone has lowered a gigantic fanny onto an electronic keyboard and depressed all the keys at once. 

Finally, while I lie listening, the sound at last begins to die away in a bluesy Doppler effect. Cretaceous vocalizations diminish to pianissimo as the freight lugs another load on its way East, toward The Big City.

~~Juliet Waldron

Historical novels, fantasy, series romance:

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Friday, September 15, 2017

The Fuller Brush Saga

Those Were The Days, 1970

I’ve brushed my hair with this model -nylon handle, hard nylon bristles—since the 50’s. Over the years, I’ve bought replacements from Fuller local distributors--in Connecticut, in Tennessee and later, in Pennsylvania. The last Old Reliable came from The Vermont Country Store catalog. This, however, should have given me a clue that the unthinkable which was about to happen. 

A few weeks ago, when I went to order a new brush from Vermont folks, I found that they were no longer pictured in the personal care section of their catalog. I called them—no dice. They had my old 520 Half Round Brush, but when I inquired further, I learned that this 520 ain't the same as the old one. Now the only available "Model 520" has a wooden handle and soft boar bristles.  That sort of thing won’t even go through my hair. I may be old, but I still have hair. 


To clean a hair brush it must be soaked in a hot soapy solution and then combed out, rinsed and sun dried. The old time boar bristles could stand up to such treatment, but the new cheap-o ones go from soft to softer—my balding husband has one of the wood + bristle versions, so I know. Moreover, you shouldn't soak wood. If you do, results will be dire. 

So now the search begins--either for Old Faithful--which may be waiting for me in a dusty warehouse somewhere, or in the remainder stock of some disgruntled Fuller Brush distributor I've yet to locate. I hope to get lucky and find one, but the chances, even with the 'net, are slim.

I've learned in my searches that Fuller has been sold, or more like "sold out." The industrious distributors, some of whom spent their whole lives working for the company, have been shucked off without the recompense they were originally offered.  Now they are just another set of victims of our steal your way to the top culture.

Sorry to digress into an oldster's gloom-and-doom rant about nowadays, but, damn, I'll sure miss having a good hairbrush. The current one is now beginning to lose bristles, and I dread the day when it finally has to be retired for good and all.

~Juliet Waldron

All my novels, all available publishers & formats:

Mozart's Wife
A Master Passion
Roan Rose
Black Magic
and many others

Fly Away Snow Goose, a story set partly in the Canadian Residential Indian Schools, is a December 2017 release from Books We Love, Canadian Brides