Monday, September 9, 2019

The Monthly Read Link


September has always been my launch month. 
2019 is special, I have just become a pensioner – which is to say that I have reached sixty-five years of age. It has been five years since I launched Sixty Plus and that seems a good reason to move on and begin something new or at least a variation. I hope my readers have enjoyed my flash fiction weekly posts. They were fun to do and share. Starting in September, I-Write will have a monthly feature that will showcase short stories I have had published. 


For my first post I have chosen a pair of stories that were inspired by some quirky reading.  Chiffon Cake’s main character has a curious condition. She not only remembers things from her childhood, she experiences them or to quote the story - “Certain things that I saw once, (previous optical impressions is the term he uses) return in a sort of hallucination.” Add in a cookbook and a grandchild and an intrusive relative and voila – Chiffon Cake. This story was published by Half Way Down the Stairs in 2016.


The second story is Woman’s Battalion of Death, also published in 2016. Danforth Review featured this story in November – the month where our veterans are remembered. My source for this story was a book titled ‘Women writers from World War 1’. The writings were diary, letters home and reports – not what I expected but very interesting nonetheless. The report that became Woman’s Battalion of Death was bare-bones dry facts that I dramatized with imagined details and voice.


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Sharp on the Edges


 

 
Harvey likes to say outrageous things to her, amused to see his sweetie bewildered.  So Suzy isn’t surprised, when he sees the arrowhead collection her father bequeathed her, that he asks,
“Which of my ribs do you plan on driving those between?” 
She doesn’t answer.  Her silence sometimes is enough to make him stop but he persists. 
“Are you going to channel a warrior, do a rain dance?” 
He is teasing of course, she knows that, but her father made a bit of ceremony as he gave her the arrowheads, telling how he found them in the fields and the series of dreams he had afterwards.  Harvey mocks far too often and he shouldn’t mock her father at all. 
Suzy picks up one arrowhead, raises it above her head and begins to hum.  Almost of its own accord her mouth opens and a very passable, plausible chant erupts, her body follows in a parody of pow-wow dancing.  Funnily, in that moment she feels native, her white English Anglican heritage circumstantial. 
Harvey laughs; the signal that he is done with his joke, but Suzy continues to wail and dance.  Then her eyes became glassy and seem like they are seeing far beyond the objects in the room, even not focusing on Harvey.  He glances over his shoulder to see what she is looking at.  It occurs to Suzy that her performance is rather good, although it doesn’t feel like pretend.
“Quit kidding around.”  He tells her.  “Stop it.”  A different note is in his voice now, and Suzy reaches the point where she would let it go normally, but a new inflexibility holds her to the game.  The joker is on the other foot; she thinks as her vocals reach an eerie crescendo and a breeze comes from her twirling body even though she wears no fringes or feathers.  Harvey backs out of the room. 
“You’re crazy.” Harvey announces as he leaves the house. 
The door shuts behind him but Suzy’s thoughts follow her father’s enigmatic story about the arrowheads.  He told of spirit keepers and conduits.  She twirls, her arms spread like wings.  To possess them is to be chosen by ancient ones.  She keens again.  Then she grows still. 
She will put the box of arrowheads away except for one she will leave out as a reminder.  But which one?  She takes the box of arrowheads to the bedroom.   
She notices a something lying on their bed.  She picks the arrowhead up and a tingle bites at her finger.  But there is no wound and no blood. 
“Caution.”  
A breeze lifts her hair as a shiver runs down her spine.  They are sharp on the edges.   

 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Honey Bear


 
I’m gluing the cookie jar’s lid shut because anyone looking inside won’t find cookies.   

It’s this way. I’ve rearranged things. The wooden container from the funeral home is now a footstool; I’ve made a cushion top and it’s very nice. But I couldn’t rest my feet on it so my husband’s earthly remains went to a better place.  

The cookie jar is a cheerful affair, a squat bear with an always smiling face. I’ve never used an endearment for hubby before, but since he’s changed addresses, why not start now? 
 
Honey Bear. 

Every day he’s got a twinkle in his eye.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Reader


She thought quite marvelous things about herself after reading author bios. After reading a mystery she imagines herself to be the one clever enough to unearth perpetrator and solve the crime that all others had overlooked.  After a read of saint and psychopaths she uncovers both evil and holy pockets in her mind. 

She’s a reader that haunts the library, borrowing the maximum allowed. She trades in second-hand books. She has piles of books everywhere because she always needs something to read.

Who is she without the word?

The blank page.

Write something.

Quickly.
Before she has nothing to think about

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Wanting a Grandchild


Our former neighbors, still friends, Jack and Debbie are dropping in on Friday for afternoon coffee.  It’ll be great to catch up with them again. They were great company when they ranched out here. My husband and Jack good friends, as Debbie and I were.

The whole family is coming including their son’s new girlfriend Emily. Their son is no longer the young teenaged neighbor – he’s moved on too. 

“Getting closer to being a grandpa,” Jack says.  

I ask, “Is there an actual start on that project?” No marriage but no problem.

“Not yet, but I’m kind'a hoping they slip up.”

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The New Hobby


“It’s not a major catastrophe if you don’t get everything you need this trip.” I say, but he doesn’t even look away from his screen and keyboard. If it were paper and not online the catalogue at Leather Unlimited would be torn and tattered.    
“What is it you’re researching now?” I try again. He’s been here one hour and 20 minutes now.
“Rivets.”
Oh. There’s a language involved, he’s learning it. Stitching awls, saddle skirting, half-hides. The morning coffee has gone cold. We’ll leave soon for the city.
He’s needed to fill his time. A new hobby. Other than online shopping. 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Chenille Bedspread


 Why had she kept the old chenille bedspread when she bought so many other things new?  

She hesitates.  To throw it in the laundry might just be the end. Just let it happen, let it become torn and done with.  But her hand brushes down the tufted rows, like the rows of grain; like the corduroy that she used to make overalls for her toddlers; like wet combed hair showing the teeth of the comb.  The bedspread has been with her a long time, the care she had given made it last.

To remember or forget, that is the chenille question.    

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Kindle Confession


A woman’s recently purchased Kindle books disappear. Fix this, she tells herself. Don’t bring this to her husband’s attention, she adds. She keeps mum. She tries to Google the answer, she tries to restore the books. Days go by, and still her library is short $70 worth of books.
Then success. She’s a genius, is the report she gives her friend. But don’t mention it to her techno-phobic volatile husband.
Really?
The weight of this plan is considered.  It means stuffing another secret into the container of shame.
No more. She confesses what happened including why she kept quiet about it.

 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Soup


I bet the sun shining has something to do with my mood but what else? I like to figure the recipe out, when I feel good, in case it can be duplicated. However, I’m afraid moods are like my soups, which evolve as recipients of leftovers added, ends of two soups mixed together and there is no real recipe.

Speaking of soups, I have the duck carcass in the soup pot. It will be ready by lunch, with leftovers for tomorrow guaranteed. Perhaps the soup is the secret. I’m becalmed by onions, tomatoes, celery.  Perhaps this is today’s recipe for happiness.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Where is the Goose?


Our coffee time involved a historic review. How many years have we rented out the farm? Some memory work and dates are established. Why do you want to know this? I ask. It’s a simple question but I have to rephrase and guess at answers before my husband stops rambling around and answers my question.

He’s wondering about rental agreements and whether a three-year review is imminent. I find accurate dates in our records but inform him also that it’s our land - our choice. We don’t need dates to decide.
Thank you, I say, for initiating this wild goose chase

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Meeting Rex


We live in a curious culture.   We have been groomed to believe that if we do everything right, that no harm will befall us. Can we prevent anything from happening?  I wonder.
Our culture welcomes any physical diagnosis, over one that questions our sanity – chronic fatigue replaces bad nerves.  Chemical imbalances more acceptable than the crazy label. 
There’s a line in a song, that I’m fond of that goes like this.  “I’ve always been crazy but it’s helped me from going insane.” 
I met Rex.  He’s a dog. We talk about these things.  It seems perfectly sane to me.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Ten Minutes


Ten minutes have passed but Carmen hasn’t managed two minutes of work. She’s aggravated. Any second now she expects she will be interrupted again.

Her tablet helpfully asks if she wants to go to where she left off. She taps the screen and is zipped to the half-finished sentence. What did she have in mind there? If she can’t remember…she’ll have to figure something else out.

It’s impossible, she wants to yell, but in the past, she has managed just fine. Today is just one of those days, with lots of interruptions. But ten minutes have passed, she could be writing. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Dizzy


If you woke to see your future it would make you dizzy. But when I woke dizzy for the second day in a row, I believed my future had come to see me.  

I thought I’d had a mini-stroke and next would be the ‘big’ one. I would have to adjust to being an invalid, my normal brand new. What would I do then? I couldn’t imagine. But then as I came into my day, I was fairly steady.

That is except for my wonky imagination. It kept spinning around in a mad little circle until I found myself quite faint.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Male at the Crossroads


 

 

He tells me that the teacher yelled.  Not at him, but at this other kid.  Then Cole starts bawling.  I guess this is one of the moments my daughter has talked about, where I’m supposed to teach him about life.
My grandson is small for his age, with spaghetti wrists and no frame to him that might give me hope.  Like his mother that way, delicate.  Sensitive.  He even has the same fly-away hair that Melissa had as a child.  No man in his life except for me.  I’m it.    
Growing up just happened when Melissa was a child.  I provided for her.  The rest never crossed my mind.  I pat Cole’s shoulder and wish I had bought that new game he wanted, so I could send him to play with that.  Cole has so much stuff that Melissa gave him the larger bedroom of the apartment’s two but his belongings are still everywhere. 
I spy his book bag on the wicker chair.   Homework.  That I can do, gratefully I remember how we work on math together, hit the Internet for research, good times.  Does he have any assignments for school?   His sobs take on new depths and wetness as though his lungs are full of sympathy. 
A game of cribbage?  I’m teaching him how to play.  No.  How about we build a house of cards?   Find a snack? 
He’s got chores that I should tell him to do but suddenly he flings himself onto me, his arms around my legs.  I sit down then and he crawls into my lap.      
I could promise him that his mother will help him when she gets home.  Melissa would know what to say to Cole, but what will I say to her?  I glance at the clock but I know it’s another hour at least before we can expect her. 
I try to remember what Melissa has said about her son and empathy – I had to look that word up in the dictionary but a definition didn’t help.  Think of one way you might be the same as the other person, she said.  But this?  Cole’s weeping because someone else got hurt.  The other kid is probably okay but Cole isn’t.  Is this too much empathy?  If he keeps this up, he’ll make himself sick. 
Melissa says I’m Cole’s male role model.  She said what I do and say will be the roots of what he becomes.  That can’t be right. What if my bewilderment of this moment when I don’t know what to say or do is the thing that is his example?  Will Cole then become someone who hesitates?
If I teach him to sluff this off, will he then someday, watch while someone gets beaten without intervening or at least calling the cops? 
Melissa seems to think this is exactly how it works, but that’s irrational.  If that were the case then we’re doomed.  Nobody gets perfect parenting.  There has to be some toughness, some survival instincts.  I stroke his hair and wonder if he isn’t running a fever.     
All I can do is share how it used to be.  It comes to me then, how I used to cry at nothing when I was his age.  Not that it did me any good.  Not that I want him to keep this up.  He’ll be bullied next.  He’s almost ten years old and he has to learn that big boys don’t cry. 
Only thing is, I feel my throat tightening from some corner that is still tender; still wants life to be fair.  It’s not.  When does he have to learn this?  How can I tell him that?  
So we sit chest to chest, like a pair of primates who cuddle in a corner of the zoo, not wanting to look at the humans peering in.  Not yet.  

 

The End

Saturday, June 1, 2019

On Wednesday


Lunch on Wednesday involved a couple of choices that were not successful. First the rye bread that we like is far better not toasted but until it popped out brown, warm and really dry and hard, that detail is forgotten. The soup had a tang of salsa, which is nice on its own but coupled with lemon dressed sardines topping the toast, left a weird taste in the mouth.

What really seems noteworthy is that the day before I asked ‘when is the last time that you had a bad meal?’

Now the answer to that question would be ‘On Wednesday.’



. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

So Boring


Cassie wonders if being a little bit bored could be compared to being a little bit pregnant. They are the same in one way; eventually something will pop.

She should write that down. She will, if she can find her journal.  Where did she leave it? Oh, right. She hid it, between the mattress and box spring where her mother would never look.
But she might not be looking at all, but cleaning and discover it.  Better not write ‘a little bit pregnant’ even to compare it to boredom. Her mother always jumps to conclusions; sound the alarms.
So boring. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Aunties with Niece


 

 

 

“Land sakes alive, the good Lord created more unusual creatures than you could imagine, and there’s the proof you need right there.  In the firmament and in the heavens, you is as unique as a snowflake in Louisiana!  You is!  Now let me see what we are going to do with you.  You got real nice cheekbones, what say we gives you some nice rouge and make ‘em pop.  Then if we gives you a rinse of color for your hair, fluffs it up and updates your wardrobe, why you’d be a stunner.” 

 

“This is so wrong!  You need to be happy in your own skin.  No boyfriend can give you that, and believe you me, they skitter off the minute you get that needy thing going on.  You are special and he’s just a boy, they come along like a bus, one every couple of minutes.  In the city that is.

 

“But I want Steve so bad.  He likes blondes and he likes funniness and he is always the center of a laughing group.  Just let me practice being funny, just get the ball rolling and then he’ll take a look at me too.  After that, I won’t need nothing from life, if I just can be with him.” 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

He Chugs Beer


She’s overlooked crucial data.
He’s on his third beer and chugging it. A dribble escapes his mouth to reach his chin. He uses his sleeve to wipe his mouth. His biceps make her gasp. He gives her a lopsided grin, and brushes back a wave of glossy hair. He could model for a living and never touch a greasy wrench again.
A friend said they’d make a cute couple. But hers is a different world and he wouldn’t suit. For if he fits there, it means she doesn’t.
She sips at her wine. Takes a second look. Her knees feel weak.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Smoothly


She reads about the smooth transition between mental activity and physical activity. Reading is more cerebral than action based, but in her defense, she is figuring things out. A procrastinator needs to have a plan of action. She’s working on that.
The phone rings and the caller asks what she is doing. She can’t answer planning, so instead she says she was reading a book.
“Good. You have time to help me clean out my garage. I’ve put it off long enough.”
She says yes, after all, this request came smoothly and she wasn’t really doing anything.
Oh.
That’s so true.

 

 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Written in the Stars


“Congratulations, you have won a free consultation.” A heavily accented voice tells me that he’s calling from Montreal’s Astrology Center.
 How unusual. "Where?"
“The Astrology Center. I will transfer you so that you can receive your free consultation.”
“Thank you but I am not interested. Have a good day.” I hang up.
But I wonder. Have I turned down a mystic message? What would my consultation have revealed? How quickly would I have been asked for money or information?
My phone displays the call came from Ontario. The Astrology Center is not in Montreal, their stars cannot be trusted. Too bad.

 

 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tea Leaf Reader


I read tea leaves.  It’s an old art; a simple form of fortune telling. There is one definite rule. Don’t leave people without hope. Sure, there’s memory work to do but often it’s a matter of reading the people not the tea leaves. Their body language, or their own words, they give it away.

I’ve never been mean. I’ve always made sure that I’ve softened the blow if it looks like I’ve struck a nerve.  People have enough burdens without my adding to them with a bleak reading.
Wouldn’t you like a cup of tea? Is something is on your mind? 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Rita's Bear


Rita sees the bear. It checks the mirror on the truck like a paramour concerned about their hair before a date, then drops to all fours.

It’s her first bear sighting. As a newcomer to the wilderness community the event is also an initiation; her reactions will be noted. Wonderfully, she’s excited but not afraid. This surprises her, she had worried.  

Across the street someone spots the bear and darts back inside as though their heart had stopped but their feet sprouted wings.

Rita hadn’t done that. Her first bear story is how she saw the bear before it saw her.   

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Shaving Mirror


Catherine looks into the shaving mirror that is in Herb’s drawer.  He hadn’t used it for years.

“Leave this drawer alone.” He said. “These are my things.”

His tone is not to be argued with, but she had not dreamt his gruffness was about a secret. Beneath a couple of cuff-link boxes and his passport is a bundle of letters. 

She stops. It’s Pandora’s box. A secret lover, a second set of children, a relative whose favor he tried to cultivate, his birth mother, all reasons for a secret correspondence.

The face in the shaving mirror is no one Catherine knows. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Bardo the Between

This newly published story was a decade in the incubation stage. It is based on a real enough situation but my skills weren't up to the task to write the story until now. I hope you enjoy Bardo the Between published by Switchback the Journal of the MFA in Writing program at USF (University of San Francisco.)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Your Sister


For the sake of your son, do not divorce. The courts would favor Catherine and your good influence would be lost.  Catherine is devoted to him and it would devastate a boy his age to be shuffled between parents. You aren’t the first person to regret their choice of spouse. I understand. Many times, I have wished for my big brother’s ear, but we are both grown now and can muddle through if we have to.  Remember that I am only a couple of hours away and I would meet you at any time if you needed me.  

Love

Your sister.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Moderator


“Would you say that to your mother?” Jolene asks the computer screen and the answer obviously is no. As moderator for her town’s Buy and Sell social media page, she conscientiously checks the site often. The personal message waiting today is particularly nasty; a vicious venting that makes Jolene cringe. 

She bites her tongue as diplomatic phrases come to her fingers. Two or three exchanges might be necessary, but in the end, she has the power to ban posts, so she believes this squabble will be short-lived. She encourages co-operation in this online world, calming, negotiating, being the sounding board. Moderating.

 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Life is Interesting


Life is interesting. Catherine’s philosophy is gained after years of wishing for something different, of bemoaning her lack of money, of her work load and the difficulties of her marriage. She has considered either murder, or divorce and for a few dark moments suicide but she’s in new territory now. Her end is near but she could still have an interesting life.  It includes the widowhood factor. Loveless or not, she had been a wife. Now she is not. 

“This is an interesting thing,” she says out loud but the words fall on an enormous emptiness that echoes alone, alone, alone. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Story is Published

It's not April yet, but Spadina Literary Review has their April edition online. A short story of mine is featured, I hope you enjoy this tongue in cheek slice of reality- Hyde & Sons - how to sell a bull. For those of you who like a peek into process, the voice of this character came first - inspired by a few different stockman that we dealt with in our cattle raising years.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Our Time


The work of retirement is to fill those 9-5 non-working hours. One day I initiated a conversation with my husband regarding the time I spend with my writing. I’m in the room with him but also in a world of my own.
“It’s not a problem dear.”
“Okay”, I say, “You realize that I would be bored out of my mind if I didn’t write.”
“Just like hunting is for me.”
By now he’s walking out of the room, but he turns back at the doorway and asked me if there was anything else.
We’re apart and we’re together. Time passes.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Troll Fable


Littlebit scowls, her teeth are covered with the sticky gumdrop she’s eating. The package of candies is almost empty.
She was going to eat one piece each day; at 3:00 in the afternoon; when she needs a little pick-me-up. How easily she agreed with the idea but now she knows it is the troll’s plan. He’s a pipe-dream whisperer, the tempter that won’t let her control her weight.
The troll knows his stuff. 
But she has the gumdrops anyway, so why doesn’t she just finish them?
No.
Well…okay.
Who said that? Why would she say that?
The troll lives in her. 

 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

An Old Beau


 “When your mother first came into the community, she was so friendly. And happy, really happy.” Old Bill Johnston nods his chin in remembrance of when he was one of her first suitors.
Happy? It doesn’t seem possible. I’ve known my mother’s life as miserable.
“What happened?” This is out of my mouth before I could stop it.
“She got married.” He answers quickly but then realizing what that must sound like he adds, “then right away she had a big family and lots of work.”
I wonder. What if she’d married him?  
I see this question in his face too.   

 

 

 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Silence or Sighs.


I open my mouth and hear his sigh. Nothing I say is the type of truth he will listen to or enough of a lie to entertain him.  It’s no surprise he doesn’t understand me when I tell him I’m unhappy with our marriage. 

Counselling? Are you freaking insane?

No. Actually I’m not.

He looks at me like I’m an alien that’s landed in the back yard.

You’ve a bee in your bonnet! Why? Menopause? Empty nest? You’ve hatched some idea that will cost me money? No. Over my dead body.

He isn’t sighing.

I’ve got the right to remain silent.

 

 

 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Some Treatment Doctor


My chiropractor, who I haven’t visited in 20 years, is doing a little catch up with me as might be expected. I’ve been writing, he’s just back from his dog trial championship win.

I’m face down on his bench and he’s twisted me in preparation. Crunch. Done.


“This is just the same problem you used to have, when you were working like a dog.”


I immediately wonder what other disrespectful ideas did he have.  Farmwives work but I was no one's dog. It will take time to move past his words. 

And to think that I paid him for this treatment!


 
 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Publication of Short Story

My marketing efforts from last week paid off in several ways.
  1. I got word of a story being accepted for publication.
  2. I got chastised for simultaneous submitting to a market that wants exclusivity.
  3. I got a team of editor response to a story - they all had a reason why they didn't like the story I sent them.
Sometimes marketing is actually just a way to create mail. 🔁

Follow this link to read Silence in the Morning at Pif Magazine. My story is second under Macro-Fiction

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Typing Skills


I tell my father what I said in creative writing class about ‘showing not telling’ complete with examples. He expands on what I’ve said, and corrects me on points I didn’t make, as if all of this writing business is easy. Anyone can do it. He says. It’s funny. Sad. Annoying. Incredible.

Later that day he receives an important email and he asks for my help with the response. My typing skills are better than his, he says. Typing skills. Better than his. Really?

Then I suggest that he show me what he wants me to type. Clearly. In written form.

 

 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Scene of the Crime


The scene seems ordinary: an upholstered chair beside the little table, a lamp perched on top.  What more can be told? There are a few crumbs, a used napkin, the remote control for the television. The sunlight would hit the area in the morning if the blinds are not drawn.

There is a notebook, pen, pencil, thumb drive and a small computer that is plugged in to recharge. A stack of books, ‘Writing as a Sacred Path,’ ‘Word Savvy,’ and ‘The Elements of Style’ by Strunk and White, provide telling clues.

This is a writer.

What have they written?

Nothing today.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Dog Owner


Mimi tugs on Folger’s leash but the dog resists. The leash slants in a taunt line as he tries to get away.  
She should find the bootie by retracing her steps. It can’t be lost, she checks his feet often; but there is nothing red on the path.
Folger yips. Mimi stops. He lifts his bare paw as a stream of urine drills a hole in the snow. He’s done.
“Come on.” She yanks Folger’s leash.
Why did she get a pet? The bootie is somewhere on the path, right beside her patience and the daydream of a companion dog. Lost.    

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Plan


 
Number 8. I will attend spin classes.

Number 9. Every day I will read one chapter from my self-help library. I will change.

She pauses as her teeth worry at her bottom lip. Then in bold stroke capital letters she adds something.

Number 10. I WILL CONTROL MY SHOPPING HABITS.

She felt like phoning someone to share her good news. This is a good plan and it is going to work. 1 to 10 in black and white. Black and white? Frick, that’s boring. Not creative like she is.

“I’m buying colored papers and pens.” She said. “To do this right.”

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Published Here - Odor

This is something new for me in two ways. First I have been having some fun with very short flash fiction projects. Second I don't intend to seek publication for them in the marketplace. I thought I would just share them here. New year equals a new idea. Hope you like it.



Odor

 

The manor is cramped and Catherine’s husband often stumbles on the strategically placed furniture. He doesn’t like anyone, and unhappily isn’t interested in any of the provided activities. 

He complains he can’t even fart in private; not that it mattered before.  But he’s extremely gassy and when he dies two months later at 77, Catherine believes she should have known.   

It is said he had a good run even if he wasn’t a ripe old age.   

Riper than you would believe. Catherine collapses in laughter that leaves her wiping her eyes. 
 
If the end can be smelled…she sniffs the air.