Modern Times & Grandma

THE MODERN GRANDMA

The old rocking-chair will be empty today
for Grandma no longer is in it.
She’s off in her car to her office or shop;
she buzzes around every minute.
You won’t see her trundling off early to bed
from her chair in a warm chimney nook;
her typewriter’s clicking far into the night,
for Grandma is writing a book!

Our heroine never allows backward looks
to slow down her steady advancing;
there ‘s no baby-sitting for her anymore—
for Grandma has taken up dancing.
She isn’t content with her thoughts of old times,
with meager and second-hand knowledge.
So don’t bring your mending for Grandma to do
for Grandma has gone back to college!

🙂

I’ve Googled and found this poem listed as “Author Anonymous” in several books, with a few variations. I found this version in the 1976 Friendship Book of Francis Gay. None of them mentioned Grandma running for office, but modern grandparents are doing that, too.

Yes, the lot of grandparents has changed very much my grandparents’ day. We’ve lost some important connections and probably thrown too much wisdom “out with the bathwater,” as Grandma would say. But in many ways I’m very thankful for the freedom seniors have today.

At the Villa one day over dinner we talked about some of the changes that make it possible for handicapped people to get out and about, like walkers, motorized wheelchairs, sidewalk ramps. And then there are health benefits like cataract surgery and macular degeneration treatment to prevent blindness and various medications to regulate the heart and keep people active longer. So Grandma can go back to college. 🙂

I think of my Grandma, who went from home to home visiting her children, not often appreciated by the grands. She had basically no interaction with us except to reprove bad behaviour. The mentality back in her childhood would have been “children should be seen and not heard”; it was not for parents to have a rapport with their children.

One older man told his son, “I envy you that, that you young fathers are encouraged to be close with, and affectionate to, your children. When I was young, fathers were to represent Authority, be stern and dole out correction.”

Some widowed grandmothers a century ago were simply “taken in” by whoever of the children had the most room or time to care for her. I would—and I  think most grandmothers now would—far rather have their own small quarters in a senior’s residence than be the “fifth wheel” in a busy family.

The Signal Flag

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is BEACON

This word makes me think of a short story I could write sometime. The main character will be a young man whose horse stumbles and tosses him, so here he is, following a faint prairie trail one bitterly cold evening. His eyes search the darkness for one glimmer of light, one hope of rescue. He’s very close to giving up and accepting the fate of freezing to death when he sees the far-off glow of a window. A homesteader’s cabin! Shelter and warmth — his only hope! but what kind of people live there? What fate awaits him when he gets there?

Yes, someday I’ll write that tale. 🙂

However, today I’m going to give you another quick story. I read this years ago in the 1972 Friendship Book of Francis Gay and am retelling here in my own words. This doesn’t involve a beacon — at least the rector never intended to display one…

Years ago the rector in a small English town took a notion that it’d make a nice touch for his church if they had a flag — something they could hoist for on special occasions. He shared his idea with his flock one Sunday morning and different ones nodded in agreement.

One elderly woman had a flash of recall: wasn’t there one around her house somewhere? She went home and rummaged through her attic, thinking she may have seen the flag in her father’s old trunk. Ah! Here it was.

She took it to the rector, who laid it out and studied it awhile. The design was nothing he’d ever seen before, but it had a unique, pleasing placement of colours. Sure, why not use it as their banner for special-occasions?

Calling a number of folks to come and see, he attached it to the rope and ran it up the flagpole. Folks nodded. It looked attractive enough…and would be a nice touch for the Feast of Saint Somebody a few weeks hence.

The rector decided to leave the flag up for the day and went in to tea. Early that evening someone knocked at the manse door; the rector opened it and saw a sailor standing there grinning.

“Excuse me, sir,” the sailor began, giving the rector a hearty salute. “I come to see if I could be of some help, seeing you have an emergency.”

The rector was startled. “Emergency? We have no emergency here that I know of.”

“But I’ve just read the signal flag on your church tower, sir. It’s saying that you are in great difficulties and urgently need a pilot.”

Assorted Viruses

Good morning to everyone reading this. I’m writing this at 6:30 am and the dawn hasn’t touched our eastern sky yet, but our days are getting longer and warmer. The predicted high for today is +4 C — quite tropical for Feb in SK.

This has brought on a bout of SPRING FEVER in man and beast. Our cats wanted to go outside early this morning and see what’s happening. Once the sun is up they’ll want to be outdoors for hours.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is VIRAL, a word with several different connotations.

Spring Fever isn’t a virus but it affects a lot of people, for all that. There is much concern worldwide for the latest Corona-virus and the possible epidemic it may become. On the other hand, it may be just like other influenza strains that render a lot of people sick for a few days, but only those with extremely compromised immune systems will die from it.

There are the viruses that spread across the internet, fuzzing up our communications. Many users find their systems compromised or hacked into by some virus or other.

And there are posts that go viral. Do you wish you could write something brilliant that everyone wants to comment on and share with their own readers, their friends and relatives? Have you seen a post topic that went viral?

One time a blogger and his wife were having a baby and he posted about their process of choosing a name. Should they give their child a traditional name or go with something trendy? That post got hundreds, if not over a thousand, comments. Readers everywhere were either offering suggestions or writing about the unique to just-plain-wacky names they’d encountered.

Johnny Cash was right with his song, A Boy Named Sue. When you give a child a weird name, you raise a fighter. As I read that post I felt so sorry for children who have to live with some of those names, like Mainline, Heroin, Cocaine, Kleenex.

Some parents have taken a normal name or word, and given it a twist, like Orangejello and Lemonjello, pronounced O-RAHN-je-lo and ley-MAHN-je-lo, Male and Female pronounced MAH-lay and FAY-MAH-lay. It was mentioned that these names come from immigrant parents; their grasp of English is poor and in their own language the words sound quite pleasant. However, their child will have a lifetime of correcting every single person who ever sees their name and pronounces it the way it’s spelled.

Some parents decorate their child with a name, while other names originate in a parent’s personal statement to the world. Like the girl named Breathe — because the mother wanted her daughter to not rush through life, but remember to stop and take a deep breath. By the same logic, Think, Breakfast, Smelltheroses and Agoodnightsleep could pass — but please don’t! And please, no political statements like Impeachtrump.

I suspect these parents never had to live with going to school day after day and hearing classmates snicker about their name. Yes, we’re supposed to live in an enlightened, no-bullying society where everything’s accepted; in reality kids still mock what they see as “weird.” As Johnny Cash sang, “I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named Sue!”

Anyway, it was a very interesting and enlightening post; you can see why it went viral. So many names; so many opinions.

By now the sun is up and I shall go and deal with the Spring Fever at our house.

That Elusive Picture

Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt is PAREIDIOLIA, the gift of picturing some design in ink squiggles, random dots, wallpaper flowers, clouds and such.

Or, as the Oxford Dictionary says:
The perception of apparently significant patterns or recognizable images, especially faces, in random or accidental arrangements of shapes and lines.

This word comes from the German Pareidolien, descended from the Greek combo of para, beside or adjacent to, plus eidōlon, an image.

Here’s my little Paint3D-crafted example. However, if you’re one of those who can’t see the colour green, this will make no sense. (Image by JeonSang-O — Pixabay.) What picture can you imagine in this field of clover?

Clover.JeanSan-O
Clover.JeanSan-O

An Ungraceful Visitor

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is GRACEFUL

Which immediately makes me think of SWANS. Don’t they always look so graceful when they’re floating serenely in a stream?

Swans my webst

Other birds just don’t have the knack.
Duck down. Alexas Fotos

🙂

Which calls to mind an rather ungraceful visitor we had one morning some years ago.

Great horned owl.Pexels
Image: Pexels — Pixabay

On the wing, a great-horned owl can be a very graceful bird. I’ve read that the owl has a feather construction and placement that allows the predator to fly without a whisper of sound, swooping down with no warning on its prey.

Its efforts on the ground are another matter, rather ungainly, as we were to learn one day.

We’ve often heard a great-horned owl in the woods beside our yard and in the evenings we’d see one flying over the pasture behind our acreage. We’ve heard them and have seen le Grand Duc, (Grand Duke) as the French call it, many times in the tallest bare trees, surveying their domain or looking for some unsuspecting morsel of lunch. One evening we saw two owls in the treetops hooting back and forth to each other, discussing prospects.

One September we could hear a screech or squawk and decided that this noise was coming from a young owl. Then we went away on a five-day trip to visit friends in mid-September, and early on the first morning at home I let our long-haired black cat, Panda, go outside. A few minutes later I was hearing this funny loud peeping or squawk outside, so I glanced out the window and beheld a fascinating sight.

A great-horned owl chick was sitting in our driveway near the car shelter, staring toward the house with its big golden eyes and letting out a screechy sort of peep about once a minute. Fluffy and cute with its pointy “ear tufts,” this young owl looked almost white to me. Our huge black Panda, about the same size and shape, sat silently on our deck eyeing the owl with her big golden eyes.

Were they curious about this odd specimen in front of them? The way it was peeping, you could almost think the chick was lonely and thought Panda might be another owl for company. Or were they sizing each other up, wondering who should eat who? Perplexed as to what should be done about this strange white cat – or black bird, depending on whose viewpoint you took?

I decided not to take any chances, so I let Panda in and the owl soon got bored sitting there. It proceeded to make its way down the driveway and back again, snapping up grasshoppers as it went. Its “running” was quite amusing and anything but graceful — a kind of waddle-and-hop from side to side as well as forward.

For a couple of hours the owl chick stayed around our yard, entertaining us and eliminating some of the many grasshoppers we had that year. It did the rounds of our garden and lawn, flying up to roost on the clothesline post in between. We never did see it fly away, nor see it again. My husband guessed the chick had made itself to home in our yard while we were away; it must have decided not to come back when people were around.