Grades

G2020

Germany

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” ~ Albert Einstein

Ashley stared at the quote he found once he had solved the last puzzle the evening before. Albert Einstein was Grandpa Grant’s favorite. Learning German had been a fun distraction during museum visits. Cultural feast as Grandma Grant called it: tenors, impressionists, music, and entertainment.

Intelligence suggested that he put the quote aside. Four possibilities on how the next riddle would go. Four possible ‘homework’ assignments to revisit the past. At least two dozen combinations on the order. At least he had Uncle Jerry to help this time.

Time. Ashley wrote out the ‘items’ of the feast and then chuckled as he saw how it confirmed one possible option. If his hunch was correct, he had a broken clock to fix.

Folding Solutions

F2020

Florida 2

“The moon looks upon many night flowers. But the night flowers see but one moon.” ~Jean Ingelow

“They included a puzzle card inside the dust jacket of the books mailed. When they were in Florida, there was a story about a NASA Physicist who became an origami champion. He helped solve a challenge later.” Ashley held up a paper flamingo. “That story inspired them to up the puzzle game.”

Evan watched, amused as the stacking of books brought back memories of a youth long gone and college. “Are you sure it would be worth a trip to Florida if the only thing you’re going to be drawn to is the stars?”

“You know me, Space Cadet and proud of it.” He rearranged some piles. “Constellations! The secondary code is in the stars! Now, which one in the menagerie gets to be untangled…?

Emerging Mystery

E2020

Edinburgh

“It is impossible to repent of love. The sin of love does not exist.”
~ Muriel Spark

Evan Gordon reviewed the first few shelves before he picked up a copy of Sherlock Holmes. “There’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask,” he said before joining Christina and Ashley at the puzzle table. “How in the world did you pass your geography tests with a deck of literature cards? It’s been ticking off my little sister for years.”

“It’s Papa Gordon’s doing,” he said. “Whenever we did the whole flashcard game when we were younger, he always framed my questions as ‘where in the world.’ Edinburgh was my favorite. Covered every genre.”

Christina shook her head. “No wonder your answers never made any sense to me. Which Nonni pair set you up for that, first?”

He shrugged. “Sharon had a hand in it, too. I stared at that sketch and every single one I could find in my collection. There’s another puzzle there and I can’t seem to find it.”

“You’re trying too hard, Ash. How do you think Watson would handle it?”

“Dig down into the facts, look for the hidden layers beyond the obvious and-.” He bolted up from the table, knocking edge pieces onto the floor. “It was right there. It was right there when she…”

He returned with a stack of the most recent letters from Grandma Emery. “Of course! Question is, what did I do with those cards?”

Christina glanced at the letters. “It’s all Greek to me.”

Evan picked up the letter, only to see the last line written in another language. He tossed it Christina’s way. “What are you up to, Ash?”

He returned with a couple of baggies filled with pieces of cardboard in them. “Her last line has been the same for the last… ‘Remember the cards. Remember the combos.’ She gave me these mind game pieces years ago. Then, Grandpa Emery gave me some more a few years later. Christina, what are the first numbers drawn in the margin?”

Detours and Discoveries

D2020

Denver

“The Rocky Mountains realize – nay, exceed – the dream of my childhood. It is magnificent, and the air is life-giving.” ~Isabella Bird

Christina ran her fingers over the numerous puzzle boxes on the top shelf. “Pity no one knows what you like,” she said. “So, what’s the story?”

Ashley set the lunch tray on the large table. “If you ever find yourself stuck in the house with the kids and want something to do, you can borrow any of those astronomy or book designs, or-.”

“Was it Nonni Grant or Nonni Emery who led you to your bibliophilia?”

“Both. They had a competition of who could get to the most indie bookstores during any given trip. Definitely stand by the independents, they always said. One time, they were all in Denver, Colorado, and found themselves in the same store, different branches, just one block over. The fun they had over that.”

“Did they ever call a truce?”

“Of course. Once they tracked who knew what could be found where it became a new game. I think I have some of their bingo cards in the office. I forgot how many other players in the game there were.”

Christina glared at him. “How did you get this recipe? How did you get Biddy Bird’s Blueberry pie recipe?”

Ashley leaned back. “If Mama Gordon ever asks, I never gave it to you.”

Castles

C2020

Copenhagen

“Why should we strive, with cynic frown, to knock their fairy castles down?” ~ Eliza Cook

“Bonpa Grant fell in love with castles the summer he explored Copenhagen,” Ashley said. “He fell in love with poetry and fairy tales, too. Claimed that’s what helped him settle on a major in college – literature.”

He handed Christina a copy of The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories. “That was one of the gifts he sent me when Nonni would send me a different book each month. Almost always fairy tales from wherever they were at.”

“Wait a minute – you refer to them in so many different languages. Why?”

“Ah. Well, he and Bomma were the ‘good dad’ and ‘good mom,’ respectively. She took pride in sharing that bit of Flemish with me, sort of our little linguistic secret. Of course, my father figured out what that meant, and I had to stop using it almost immediately. How I got away with the Italian version, sparingly, was a mystery or a fluke.

“They loved languages. Sometimes, I’d get the original versions of some stories and I’d spend hours trying to work out the meaning before finding a translation of it. My Great-Aunt Sharon gave me six bilingual texts when I was younger. Saved me the research time.” Ashley pulled a book off the upper-most shelf, then handed it to Christina, with the book opened to the title page. “She was quite the artist, too.”

“Wow! This explains where your doodling talent came from. Did she ever have her work featured in a gallery or anything?”

He shook his head. “Only a select few of us have those sketches. When she married, the jerk-who-shall-not-be-named destroyed most of her dreams, determined to have a Stepford Wife. Utter nonsense. Sharon could draw, sing, dance, debate… Kind of like Heda Lamar or Shirley Temple-Black – so much more than meets the eye.”

Christina brought the book closer, before grabbing the magnifying glass behind her. “Well, there’s definitely more here in this castle in the sky sketch that what you first saw, I bet.”

Beaches…

B2020

On the Beach postcard

Beaches

“All love that has not friendship for its base, is like a mansion built upon the sand.” ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

He held a pocket-watch in one hand and a postcard in the other. “A funny thing about Grandma – she loved the water but didn’t like to swim. No matter where they ended up at, she had a way of finding the most magnificent views involving water.” Ashley smiled as he handed Christina the postcard. “They could be in Montana or Nevada, and Grandma would always, always find the water.”

“Pity we couldn’t test that theory driving through Death Valley,” she quipped. “How did they meet?”

“At a boat show. Her parents had a business and they were one of the main vendors there. He happened to take a detour through town on a whim, or so he says. I learned over the years to take some of his stories with a grain of salt.

“There was one story he told me, when I was little, that he was a descendant of Captain Ahab. I believed him. Then, there was the time that he said he was a descendant of Jules Verne. And then there was that guy in Jaws, the one who ran his fingers down the chalkboard – that was based on one of Grandpa’s uncles.”

“Hook, line and sinker, huh,” Christina said, shaking her head.

“Every time. One thing he shared with me, while we were out fishing on the lake one summer, was – ‘whomever you decide to spend the rest of your life with had better have had a firm foundation of friendship first.’ Obviously, this means you know I’m spending the rest of my days as a bachelor and so-.”

“Oh, there’s still time, if you wanted to. However, given how well you’ve concealed that heart of yours, I don’t think even Houdini could break it out into the open.”

Ashley smiled. “About that fella, Grandpa once said…”

Advice…

A2020

Let the madness begin…

Camp NaNo & Blogging from A to Z equals… Snippets from this year’s story, complete with postcard images.

 

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What Adventures Await?

“Honesty saves everyone’s time.” ~Anonymous

“It started with Alaska,” Ashley said as he gave Christina his copy of Call of the Wild. “Grandpa and Grandma Emery vowed that they would visit all fifty states before they had children.”

“How far did they get?”

“Forty-four states before Uncle Mike was born. They missed the whole New England corner. That was where we were going to go, the three of us, when…” He stared at the book. “You can keep that one if you like.”

Ashley knew she could, would head slap him if he didn’t move fast enough, so he stepped towards the other side of the library. “Look, if your daughter’s serious about majoring in geophysics, the least I can do is spoiler her with a good book or few to read in between assigned work. Call it paying it forward.”

He leveled his gaze to her hands and watched as she opened the book. “Let’s call it evidence to have you evaluated. Are you nuts? This is a first edition copy!”

He shrugged as she walked towards him. “Then she’s set for her Ph.D. Look, there are some other titles she might like and-.” He sighed as Christina took his hand and led him to the window seat. “What?”

“You tell me. What’s really going on? I mean, let’s be serious here. Honesty saves everyone’s time.” She smiled. “And maybe a life, or two.”

He smiled back; her smile was infectious. “So, you’re telling me I get to have my own ‘1001 Arabian Nights,’ eh? Do you want the postcard edition, the trinkets edition, or the monthly book gift edition?”

“Surprise me.”