Talents & Frustrations

Today is my dear husband’s 75th birthday. Quite a milestone! We celebrated officially last Sunday night after a church function, and are looking forward to a dinner out with the family tomorrow. Of course he blogs about it on his site, mentioning all the things that have changed since he was a boy.

What really scares me is the thought that the next twenty years will go by just as fast as the last twenty. Whatever happened to “old age, when the hours would drag by”? We find the flight of time incredible!

I can assure you that in his youth Bob was a studious lad just like the young fellow below. I don’t know if there was ever a “Willy Brown” in his school to be jealous of, though. Hope this poem gives you a smile.


My teacher says that I’m the best
And smartest boy in school;
I’m never careless like the rest;
I never break a rule.
If visitors should come to call,
She has me speak a piece,
Or tell what makes an apple fall
Or binds the coast of Greece.
You might expect that since my brain
Holds such an awful lot,
I’d be extremely proud and vain;
But, oh–I’m not.
For Willy Brown’s a cleverer lad
Than I could hope to be;
Why, I’d give anything I had
To be as smart as he!
He can’t recite, “Hark, Hark, the Lark,”
He’s not the teacher’s pet;
He never gets a perfect mark
In ‘rithmetic — and yet,
Could I be he, I’d waste no tears
On foolish things like sums;
For Willy Brown can wag his ears
And dislocate his thumbs.

Author’s name unknown to me.

Pookie: Our Feline Invasive Species

Right from our first encounter with Pookie, we knew he was a different sort of cat. We’d never laid eyes on him before we opened the door one night to let Angus in and this white Siamese-looking kitten walked right in, too, totally without an invitation. this was about three years ago — and he’s been here ever since.


Pixabay photo

We live on an acreage a quarter of a mile from the highway. So where did this little kitten come from and how did he get to our back door? And why did he walk right into a stranger’s home? Our first thought was that someone dropped him off, yet we could tell he wasn’t used to being handled. He moved freely around the house, he was friendly if we petted him, but he didn’t like being picked up.

Our stray kitten from the year before, Angus, had settled in nicely and grown up. Angus is all black, so I named him after the Angus cattle we see so much of, but he’s very Siamese in nature, nervous and yowly. Very much a one-person cat and I’m his person. He loves to be beside me or curled on my lap. He sits outside the bathroom door when i’m taking a bath, that kind of thing.

He also loves to go exploring in the woods beside up and is a great mouser, ratter, gopher-er. Anyway, the day Pookie came Angus had been out in the woods and I’d observed him watching something intently. Then in the evening he went out again and when we called him in, here came this kitten not far behind him.

It was a cool fall evening and the kitten spent the night here, but the next day he headed off to the next-door neighbour’s farm yard. He came back in the evening again and spent another night then left again for the day. This pattern continued for several weeks.

We knew this cat didn’t belong to our neighbours, but they told us they’d noticed a pale-colored Siamese-type mother cat around in the summertime, sheltering under one of their old farm sheds. So we concluded she’d had this kitten and he was visiting her in the daytime. But he knew a good thing when he felt it, so he came back here where it’s warm to spend his nights. Then winter set in and we had a really cold snap; after that Pookie stayed here all day. As near as we could tell, he never went back to the neighbour’s yard so we concluded that his mother had either perished in the cold or moved on to some warmer place.

We decided he’s got lynx-point Siamese genes and the characteristic blue eyes, but he’s very docile in nature. He was so pale and when I got up in the night for something he’d kind of drift along the hallway after me, so I took to calling him Spooky, but later we decided on an official name: Pookie. He liked to be near us or on our lap, but always on his terms. He did NOT like being picked up.

We were initially going to give him away after having him treated and neutered. (It’s pretty hard to give away an un-neutered cat.) But that didn’t happen; he just stayed and wormed his way into our lives and affection.

Pookie’s always been the quiet one of our three, never fussing openly with our other two. Still, every now and then our other male, Angus, will eye him suspiciously as he drifts by and next thing we hear this squawk and Angus is dashing off. Angus is a nervous cat to begin with, but Pookie is a sneak. Angus will be sleeping peacefully and suddenly Pookie pounces, nips at him, and Angus dashes away. Or off they both go. The peace between them is always tenuous, but it’s Angus that does the protesting.

Often when I’m sitting in the recliner after dinner, trying to grab forty winks, Angus, our black male, will get up on my lap and settle down for some quiet repose. But before long Pookie comes along and gets up in my lap, too, then proceeds to park himself in front of Angus and silently take over. He either shoves Angus over so far that Angus leaves, or Angus is nervous enough that he leaves for fear of being pestered by Pookie. Thus Pookie ends up with my whole lap to himself.

When one of the other cats is eating and Pookie isn’t, he’ll sniff at the other cat’s dish, closer and closer, until he has his head into the dish. Panda, our Queen Bee of the cats, a hefty 14-year-old black Maine Coon, won’t tolerate Pookie’s invasive moves, and he knows he can’t push her around. But poor Angus lets himself be shoved out and wanders off. Pookie likes to go out hunting as much as Angus does, but I’ve observed he’s apt to snitch Angus’s mouse rather than get his own.

And when he is left outside, he never cries or scratches to be let in. He sits quietly waiting until you notice him. Bob says he accomplishes his requests by mental telepathy. He sits and looks at the door and you get the message to open it for him. 🙂

Perhaps the way Pookie most makes a pest of himself is by hogging my office chair. I may only leave the computer long enough to make a cup of coffee, but when I come back Pookie’s curled up in my chair. I may dump him off a dozen times in an afternoon and he makes no protest when evicted — but quietly leaps back in the minute I get up and makes a furry puddle of himself on the chair until I get back again.

Anyway, now that I have my chair back again for awhile, I’ll post this about him.


I learned something new today. An expression that means something amazingly different from my expectation.

I received my Merriam-Webster “Word of the Day” e-mail and today’s word is billet-doux.

I’ve rarely encountered this word, so never pondered long about it. However, I know that doux in French means soft and automatically giving the word billet my English understanding — a room, a bed or cot — I assumed a billet-doux would be something like a soft bed.

Out to lunch, as they say. Actually billet in French means ticket, bill or note. So I was rudely awakened from my soft bed of linguistic befuddlement. A billet-doux is a love letter. One more hill I’ve climbed in the battle to comprehend this polyglot that passes for English.

Now to share another tale of false assumptions, this one involving a soft bed in Oxford, England, that some Yank wanted to take home with him. Talk about Great Expectations!

An American tourist was strolling around the grounds of Oxford College. While visiting this historic site he couldn’t help but admire the landscaping, the flowers, and especially the lush green lawn.

After a bit he noticed one of the gardeners busily tending the shrubs, so he stopped to chat. “Beautiful place here. And what I wouldn’t give to have a lawn like this on my property back home.” He rocked back and forth on the soft sponge. “Nice! What would I need to do for mine to grow like this?”

The gardener eyed the tourist. Ralph Lauren and all that—the man’s probably worth a mint. So he replied, “I’m thinking you’d probably need some of our fertile English soil, sir.”

“No problem. I can arrange to have a few tons shipped over by boat. What else?”

The gardener mentally rolled his eyes. Yep. Awash in a sea of filthy lucre, these Yanks. “The right kind of grass seed, of course. Don’t know if you can get our varieties over there.”

“I’m good with that. Tell me what brand and I’ll order it. Is that all?”

The gardener thought for a moment. “Well, the ground must be absolutely level so it can be rolled easily. You need to sow the seed in autumn, then when spring comes you cut and roll your grass. You have to repeat and repeat the mowing and rolling.”

The American beamed as he looked around, anticipating having beautiful lawn like this someday. “It all sounds doable to me. And for how long do you keep up this mowing and rolling?”

“If you want your lawn to look just like this one, I’m guessing you’ll have to keep at it for several hundred years.”

Word Press daily prompt: expectations


This little story was included in an e-mail one day from a friend in Missouri.  Not sure where he got it, but I’ll pass it on in case you haven’t heard it yet.

It was very early in the morning and we were transporting horses to a show in our horse trailer.  Weather was nasty; rain was falling.  I pulled into a gas station at 5am to fill up.

Another traveler at the next pump inquired,  “Where are you going with those horses?”

“To the horse show,” I answered.

“You horse people must be crazy, going to something like that in this kind of weather,” he commented.

“What brings you out so early on such a nasty day?” I asked him.

“I’m going fishing,” the man replied in all seriousness.

Word Press daily prompt: seriousness


Personal note:

I’m closing down my blog, Swallow in the Wind, where for several years I posted poetry and anecdotes like the one above.  For the next month, while I’m occupied with my spring sewing, I’m going to be reposting these here.

Important to Know

Lotte Lehmann became a famous opera singer just before WWI and performed a total of 93 roles in her career. She retired from the opera in 1951 and became a music teacher for over twenty years.

One day she was visiting with an up-and-coming young soprano who remarked sympathetically that “It must be terrible for a great singer like you to realize you’ve lost your voice.”

“Not at all,” the older lady replied. “It would be terrible indeed if I didn’t realize it.”