That Old Thief

Good morning everyone. Cloudy, drippy day here in south-central Sask. Not rain, but the heavy mist that rolled in during the night has made everything damp. I think everyone’s wishing for a day of good steady rain, especially the farmers.

The seniors in our church decided to have a potluck supper yesterday evening and we were among the number enjoying the delicious meal. We were about 25 in all and every lady brought one large dish, so no lack of food.

Some ladies were asking me what I plan to do today to celebrate my 66th birthday. I have a specific goal — my birthday present to me: I want to work on Seasons of Gold until it’s done and ready to be published Saturday. My son-in-law has uploaded an improved cover image to KDP, so now I need to add the manuscript, then can view it all. Then let it sit a few days; there’s always some last minute, “Oh, I’d better add /change …”

Actually the whole file is put together except for maybe a few more images, and to go through and check the spacing of the lines. I don’t know what prompts Kindle Create to do what it does, but it tends to toss extra spacing in here and there. Not a whole extra line, which would be obvious, but .19 of an extra line. Enough that if you look close you can see this poem is a bit farther apart from its follower than the follower is from its follower. If you follow me. 😉

Re: images. I really like the little hand-drawn illustrations in some of my haiku books. Birds, cherry trees, all very old-Japan looking. You know the type:
Birds-abstract

However, I have often used images from Pixabay to illustrate my poems and want to use the same type for my e-book. I’m doing about one small image and three or four poems per page.

Having a sense of humor, I’d like to stick this one in, along with Bobby Burns famous words. I don’t know if I dare be this silly in a book of Japanese-style poetry, but a wry look at human nature is what senryu is all about. In fact, I suspect this picture would have given Issa a chuckle.
Eggs + RB Quote

The Ragtag daily prompt came through at 9:30 pm last night, giving me lots of time to think about a response to the prompt word THIEF. As I consider all these years that have slipped by and wondered, as so many others, “where the time has gone,” I thought of this verse, written by Scottish poet Harvey Scott:

I saw the old thief, Father Time,
Come hirpling down the road;
He had a sack upon his back,
Lost minutes were his load.
He opened it and showed to me
Not minutes, but a host
Of years, decades, a century
And more of minutes lost.
“I want to buy year,” I said,
“And I shall pay you well.”

“If this earth’s mould were finest gold,
To you I would not sell,
For I have minutes stolen from kings,
From Milton, Shakespeare, Bach.
How could you buy such precious things?
Your common gold is trash!”…
He tied his sack and said, “Farewell.
Young man, I’ve got my fee,”
For while I tried to make him sell,
He stole an hour from me!

Early Morning Haze

For some reason I woke up just before 4 am this morning. I was having a dream of some kind, though I can’t remember anything now. Maybe that woke me up or maybe it was the soreness in my back from lying too long in one position. At any rate I decided I needed to get up and move around — and it has definitely helped.

Of course our two cats wanted to go outside and see what’s happening in the yard, so I went out with them, stepping out on the small deck by our front door and enjoying the atmosphere. The moon’s just over half full right now, so was shedding a fair bit of light on our earth. The heavens above us were clear and the stars brilliant. A jet was heading somewhere, leaving a trail in the sky over by the moon. I speculated for a moment what important trip this jet and/or the people on it would be taking, to be off before 4 am.

The temp was about 0 C. It’s great to be able to stand outside and enjoy the scenery without needing a jacket! We’ve had such warm weather this past while our snow’s about all gone, and today is supposed to be another warm one with a high of 14 C / 57F.

I checked my incoming WordPress e-mails and saw that the Ragtag Daily Prompt had arrived. Today the prompt word is HAZE. It didn’t apply to my world at that moment, but by 6:00 a fog was starting to roll in and there was a haze around the moon. I checked again fifteen  minutes later and am amazed at how fast the fog has enveloped our countryside; it’s 6:30 now and our yard is surrounded by a grey fleece.

My brain is starting to feel a bit hazy, too — as if I got up three hours too soon. By now it’s time either for a nap or another cup of coffee. Before I go, here’s another haiku, this one drawn from an observation a few days ago:

the old dog watches
sparrows foraging nearby
live and let live

Books: The Perfect Christmas

I picked up this book at Value Village just before Christmas, and only just now got around to reading it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it very much.
This two-tale book is well written, as are all of Debbie Macomber’s books, I’ve found. The first and longer tale, The Perfect Christmas — © 2009 — is one of those non-romantic romances where two people meet and don’t like each other. However, the author does this in a realistic way with no phony melodrama, no spitting nails at each other, such as you often see in modern anti-romances. The characters and dialogue are believable, professional, and respectful. The idea of paying that much money to find a spouse is the only thing I found incredible — but I don’t live in big city USA.
Seeing as the dating scene hasn’t delivered her dream spouse, Cassie Beaumont takes a friend’s advice and hands over $30,000 to a professional matchmaker to find her a well-matched mate. Rude and abrupt Simon Dodson may be, but she has to go along with his programme if she wants results. Determined to find the man she can live with, and have a family with, she can’t afford to have Simon, the psychologist running this business, get upset and refuse to work with her.
He proposes three character tests for her — and these are real jewels in themselves! I really enjoyed the realistic experiences Cassie has and what she learns as she works in these situations Simon has set up for her. Hats off to the writer for an excellent job on this part! She passes the tests and Simon promises to deliver the perfect spouse for her. But a wrench lands in the gears…

Can This Be Christmas? is an older, shorter story (© 1998) the writer has added as a bonus, yet it’s worth buying the book just for this one. Focusing on five characters needing to join family for Christmas, this morphs into a heartwarming human interest account of strangers stranded in a train station by a winter storm. None of them want to be here, but the Christmas spirit softens each one individually and melts them together as friends.

I rarely give a book five stars, but this one deserves them all.

The Mind

by Edgar Guest

The mind is that mysterious thing
which makes the toiler and the king.
It is the realm of thought where dwells
the nursery rhymes the father tells.
It is the source of all that gives
high color to the life he lives.
It starts the smile or shapes the frown,
it lifts man up or holds him down.
It marks the happy singing lad,
it marks the neighbor kind and glad,
and world wide over this we find —
a man is fashioned by his mind.

How strange it is that what we see
and seem to cherish tenderly
is not the outward garb of clay,
for all are formed the self-same way.
Not in the hands and legs and cheeks,
not in the common voice which speaks,
lies man’s identity on earth—
all these come with the gift of birth.
But love and friendship and delight
lie in a world that’s hid from sight.
The mind of all is master still
to fashion them for good or ill.

So men and women here are wrought
by this strange hidden power of thought
and each becomes in life the thing
the mind has long been fashioning.
Man’s body moves and eats and drinks
and but reflects the thoughts he thinks.
His every action leaves behind
merely the prompting of his mind.
Bad men have arms and legs and eyes.
That which we cherish or despise
and shapes each individual soul
is wholly in the mind’s control.

From the Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

A Story in Slivers

Yesterday we attended an all-day writing workshop in the city, put on by a national Christian writing group based more-or-less in Alberta. We heard half a dozen different speakers, mostly motivational. A lot of thoughts on the need to write, and why we need to write.

A few minor things stuck in my mind, one of them being a comment one of our speakers made to an attender who’d just finished publishing his parents’ life story. Sheila Webster, the speaker, congratulated him, then reminded him & told us all about the nudge she’d given him when he wasn’t finding the time to write this. They’d done a quick calculation and figured that if he’d only write 47 words a day he could get the memoir done in such-and-such a time.

I’m not certain of the exact numbers, but the point was clear. A writer may wish for hours to write, with thousands of words whacked out every day. However, even writing in silvers — 10-15 minutes a day — you can actually get a book finished and edited. I don’t know about you, but if I have my scene thought out and sit down to write, I can easily do 500 words in 15 minutes.

This reminds me of another done-in-slivers project I heard about one day. An older woman who sews all her own dresses was advising some younger ones, busy moms, who claimed they couldn’t find time to sew. “If you sew just one seam every day, you can get a new dress made for yourself in a month.”

Marla Cilley has made her fortune as the FlyLady, telling people the same thing about house-cleaning. In her book, Sink Reflections, she writes that no matter how disabled or how depressed a person is, almost everyone can work at a task for 10-15 minutes.

Facing the immense task of rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem after it had been destroyed by the marauding army, the prophet Zechariah says, “For who hath despised the day of small things?” Zech 4:10 A plan was made and the work was organized, each family given responsibility for a part of the wall.

Both Marla & Sheila do stress one point:
YOU NEED TO HAVE SOME SYSTEM. A ROUTINE IS YOUR FRIEND.

That’s what I need to work on. 🙂