Eau de Newfoundland

copyright G.L MacMillan

copyright G.L MacMillan

Eau de Newfoundland

Stanley keeps tiny bottles of water from everywhere he’s visited, but he only ever opens one. He collected it on the beach in Griquet, Newfoundland. Smelling the salt water brings him back to that wild land of rock and trees, where moose roam and majestic icebergs float silently by the shore.

It’s not the nature he misses though. He left her there somewhere, that sandy-haired Newfie beauty he met by chance inside a Viking hut.

He keeps opening the bottle because if he listens closely, he can almost hear her, like the voice of an outport angel.

“Whaddya at, b’y?”

I feel this story needs some explanation for those who have never been to Newfoundland. I grew up there and although I have not been back in many years, it will always be home to me in many ways. So, for the curious, bored, or otherwise inclined, here are some links to peruse.

The inspiration for the title

L’Anse Aux Meadows

Griquet

Greetings

outports


Paid to Blog

As you may know, I teach English for a living. Actually, I work in the Intensive English Program at Upper Iowa University, which helps university students from other countries raise their English proficiency before they enter undergraduate classes.

UIU peacock

Go Peacocks!

It’s a great job for many reasons, including that I get paid to blog.

Not paid additionally, unfortunately, but one part of my busy day is running the blog for our program. It used to be over at Tumblr, but honestly I’m not a fan of Tumblr, so I just recently brought it here to WordPress. The new address is intensiveenglishuiu.com

I have a lot of ideas for this blog. As you might see, the main one before was putting up pictures of our field trips. I’ll still be doing that, but also I will be writing short grammar explanations, vocabulary posts, video of campus, etc.

Are there any aspects of English grammar that you want me to explain or address? If so, mention it in the comments or email me at intensiveenglishprogram@uiu.edu and I will write a post about it.

click the picture to see more

click the picture to see more

 


The Man with the Basilisk Eyes

The Man with the Basilisk Eyes

I tow my stone dog carefully up the ramp in front of Precinct 45, the rear wheel of the red wagon squeaking with the weight. A woman holds the door, trying to smother her amusement.

Squeak, squeak, squeak. All the way to the desk sergeant.

“Hey Sarge, I want to report a crime.”

He peers over at me. “You don’t say? How old are you?”

“Ten. What, ten year olds don’t have any rights?”

“Touché. What’s the crime?”

“A man in the park turned my dog Scruffy to stone. I was playing fetch with him and Scruffy ran over by this man with real yellow eyes, like a basilisk, like in Harry Potter. Scruffy gave a yelp and ran back, but he started running slower and slower like he was caught in molasses. By the time he got back, he was like this.” I tap the stone dog in the wagon.

“So . . . you want me to arrest this ba-zo-lisk eyed man?”

“Of course! He killed my dog. Ain’t petrification a crime?”

“Here’s the thing.” The sergeant leans over. “My buddy over at Precinct 28 told me a kid came in last week with a stone dog and the same story.”

“Well, if you can’t get justice one place, you go somewhere else,” I say, but it’s clear I’m getting no sympathy there. I wheel ol’ Scruffy out to where Brad is waiting.

“Any luck?” he asks. I shake my head.

“Let’s try 51. I hear the sergeant over there is a fantasy nerd.”

“Okay,” Brad says, “but let’s hurry. Mom’s going to be pissed if she notices her lawn ornament missing.”


Arctic Abaddon

copyright Dee Lovering

copyright Dee Lovering

Arctic Abaddon

The moment I was created in that frozen cloud crucible, I knew I was a killer. I spun my six blades and my war cry joined that of my tens of millions of brethren. I fell like an arctic Abaddon, ready to destroy everything in my path. A fleshy digit was thrust out below me and I prepared to slice it to pieces.

“Look, a snowflake!”

A killing warmth surrounded me. My six daggers melted away as I puddled.

*        *        *

The moment I was created as a tiny water droplet on a little girl’s finger, I knew I was a life-giver . . .

 


Pattern Recognition

copyright Sandra Crook

copyright Sandra Crook

Pattern Recognition

I turn the corner and let out a primal scream. Then I take off my shoe and hurl it in rage. People look at me but then realize I’m a tourist and ignore me.

My girlfriend walks up. “What the— oh, it’s that pattern again.”

“It’s stalking me!” I wail. “It’s not argyle, it’s not plaid but I keep seeing it. The socks, the wallpaper, the hipster’s vest, that one Pinterest page, and now . . . this!”

“Just go ask,” she says.

I finally find an English speaker. “I don’t know its name,” the woman says. “We just found it on Pinterest.”

 


The First Time

The First Time

The Tower Bridge had always had good connotations for Robert before that night. He was waiting nervously by the north tower, as they had agreed, when the woman emerged out of the evening fog and walked towards him, high heels clicking confidently on the pavement. She was prettier than he had imagined from her voice on the phone. She walked past him a step, then paused and waited for him to fall into step.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“A café near here I use for this sort of thing.”

“In public? What if someone notices?”

She gave him a mocking smile. “This your first time? Trust me, no one cares.”

She led the way to a small café and took a corner booth. She held up two fingers to the waiter and two espressos appeared as if by magic.

“Now,” she said, leaning forward. “What have you got for me? Come on; the first time’s the hardest, but it gets easier.”

“I saw my neighbor, Gavin Henry, reading an anarchist newsletter,” he mumbled. “He holds meetings at his house sometimes. Here, I have photographs.”

She held up a hand. “No need for evidence. We’ll find our own. You’ve done a great service to your country. You should be proud.” She took out a thick envelope.

Robert pushed it away. “Actually, I was hoping that you could give me information on my daughter instead. She was arrested five months ago. I can’t find anything about her.”

The woman grimaced. “Next time. For now, take the money.”


Poisonous Mushrooms

Here is the second guest blogger story, written by two of my Mexican students in our fiction class.

Poisonous Mushrooms

by Amelia Victoria Nava and Karina Rodriguez

San Miguel de Allende was a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico. The main food in this place was mushrooms. People included mushrooms in all their food, like the potatoes in America or tortillas in Mexico.  Most people in San Miguel were farmers and they harvested mushrooms to eat or sold them to the nearest cities. One day, all of a sudden, people got sick. At the beginning of the illness the symptoms were headache, fever and diarrhea, but later it changed to red spots on their skin. If they scratched them they started to bleed. The worst thing was, people died after a couple of days in the advance stage of the illness.

People did not know what was happening at that time. The first person with those symptoms was Mrs. J. She was a very healthy person and always helped people. She was a happy and friendly person in that town. You could see her every Sunday in church.

When Miss K realized that her friend Mrs. J had gotten sick, she went to the clinic and talked to the doctor. They talked for hours and hours about the problem but the doctor told her that Mrs. J was going to die and all infected people too. It must be a secret because nobody knew that the virus had no cure.  Mr. A was a young, very smart man. He did research for the world in medicine. Unfortunately he had a problem. He was schizophrenic.

Six weeks later, you could see the town empty. No more kids playing in the parks, no students in the school and no people walking in the streets. Miss. K was very worried. She did not know why most people got sick, her friends, her family and her boyfriend too. There was no difference between her and them. Except the food. She ate all type of food but no vegetables. She started to notice this difference and started to talk to her relatives and asked them if they had done or eaten something different before they got sick.

She thought that the only thing people had in common was the food. All of them prepared their dishes with mushrooms and they were infected. Nobody knew, only the doctor.

Miss. K looked for help because she really wanted to assist the population. She planned her trip to the nearest city and talked to a group of scientists.

A month later, that group came to San Miguel in order to analyze the epidemic. Hundreds of people had died. The group did not explain why. The town had an expert in those cases, Mr. A.

Mr. D, who was the leader of the group, talked to Mr. A about the situation. The doctor only said viruses did not have a cure but gave people pills and serum to make them feel better. Mr. D was not convinced by it and started to make a vaccine to stop the epidemic but Mr. A did not help him.

One day both were in the laboratory and Mr. D found a file with all the information about the virus’s formula. But he did not say anything at all. He continued working on the research and later talked to Miss. K about the problem. He made a vaccine with the information he found. The result was that water contained a strange substance and people watered vegetables with it but only mushrooms reacted negatively. Both started vaccinating people in the town while Mr. A was on a trip.

Finally, when Mr. A came back to town, he was taken to the mental hospital. Unfortunately it was too late to save innocent people who believed in him.


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