An Impromptu Tea Party

Looking for inspiration, I rambled through my STORY files this afternoon and found this mini-fiction scene written ten years ago, in March of 2011. It was my response to my writing group’s challenge of that month: to use the words BROOM, FRIDGE, ALMOND and DOUGHNUT.

And I see Fandango’s One-Word Challenge today is IMPROMPTU, so here goes…

THE TEA PARTY

Spring fever attacked me full force that morning when my little girl begged me to come out and play. She said she’d baked a cake and we could have tea. Who could resist? I threw my “TO DO” list on the counter for “LATER” and gave myself to the sunshine, the little girl inside, and the little girl outside.

When I arrived at the playhouse she was sculpting her “Tea cake” that looked like a huge mud doughnut. Using her sweater sleeve as a broom, my gracious hostess swept off one of the chairs so I could sit down. I donated two elderly chipped mugs and a plate of real cookies to the celebration.

“I wish I had some nice sprinkles for the icing,” she sighed as she shredded some grass blades and tossed them on the cake. I had to agree: the green shreds weren’t very aesthetic.

“I have an idea,” I said, taking her hand and leading her to our flowering almond shrub. “Just a few,” I said, “for this really special cake.” How many times had I told her she mustn’t pick these blossoms because we wanted to see them blooming on the tree? They made lovely sprinkles.

She poured imaginary tea into the cups, then took a pitcher of “cream” from the cardboard box fridge and added some to the tea. “Would you like sugar, too?” she asked, handing me a bowl of ice melt granules.

“Yes, I’d love some.”

She gave me her biggest smile. “Mom, you should come for tea every day.”

I think of what older ladies have often told me: “Children grow up so fast; enjoy them while you can.”

“Well, maybe I should look over my To-Do list and see if I can fit a tea party in once a week,” I agreed. “If you’ll help me pick up the toys after supper every day.”

Her eyes sparkled as she accepted the challenge. We had a lovely tea party — one I’ll remember a lot longer than the folded laundry, the cleaned cutlery drawer and the emptied dishwasher that I did manage to do in spite of taking time out to play.

A Real Go-Getter

Have you noticed that today’s letter,

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leads us to many virtuous words? GRACE, GOLDEN, GENUINE, GENEROUS, GLORIOUS. And GREATEST of all is…

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Our children have a little table grace that goes:
“God is great and God is good
and we thank Him for our food
By His hand must all be fed.
Give us, Lord, our daily bread.”
Amen

There are those who maintain that God is a generic and not-so-reverent term; that God is referred to as JAWEH or Jehovah in the Bible. I have no problem with those names, but it’s not worth a big debate in my books, since we’d be challenged to give the exact original pronunciation. In French the word Lord is translated as L’Eternal, as in the Eternal One, which is also a beautiful term of address. I’m thinking that our Father in Heaven is more concerned that we do call on Him in reverence, rather than by what name.

Speaking of linguistics, it’s hard to know just why the letter G has gotten doubled in some words — STRAGGLE SNUGGLE, WIGGLE, GIGGLE, GOGGLE, HAGGLE, etc. — when it appears next to an L. The pronunciation isn’t affected at all, but that’s English for you.

Of course there are other not-so-great words that start with G, like GARBAGE, GHASTLY, GRIM, GRUMPY and GROUCHY, but I won’t get into those. I’ll rather go on about the Family Tree.

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Earliest records of the name are circa 1600 in the Shaftsbury and Wiltshire counties in England. Obviously originating before Standard Rules of SPELLING and due to the English pea-soup-fog over “OW + OUGH” , the name has morphed many times through the years. Here are some of our long-lost cousins:
Goodnow, Goodenow, Goodynow, Goodynowe
Goodno, Goodeno, Goodyno
Perhaps someone’s even been recorded as Goodnoh, Goodynoh, or Goodenoh
Goodenough, Goodnough, possibly even Goodynough

I shall end my ramble with this verse by Edgar Guest, entitled

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Life is but growth, at first in strength and size,
until at last is physical prime attained.
But there's a growth that's never wholly gained:
an inner struggle always to be wise,
to see things earthly with clearer eye;
braver to be when flesh is sorely pained;
a growth in spirit, constant and ingrained
which all the scars and hurts of life defy.

Bodies grow old and furrowed with the years
and show the marks of all that lies behind
but souls that have experienced much growth, kind,
and gather understanding from their tears.
Wiser in life, with tenderness they view,
as did the Master, much that mortals do.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
Published 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

Inspiring Verse

I wonder if this verse was Mr Guest’s answer to Rudyard Kipling’s famous verse, IF? Read IF here.

DUTY

by Edgar Guest

To do your little bit of toil,
to play life’s game with head erect;
to stoop to nothing that would soil
your honor or your self-respect;
to win what gold and fame you can,
but first of all to be a man.

To know the bitter and the sweet,
the sunshine and the days of rain;
to meet both victory and defeat,
nor boast too loudly nor complain;
to face whatever fates befall
and be a man throughout it all.

To seek success in honest strife
but not to value it so much
that, winning it, you go through life
stained by dishonor’s scarlet touch.
What goal or dream you choose, pursue,
but be a man whatever you do!

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

Saying Adieu to a Prince

My husband, after reading the news online this morning, informed me that Prince Philip has passed away. I can’t let this special and sad occasion go without offering comment and condolences to the people of Great Britain on the loss of a great statesman, a talented diplomat, and a truly regal gentleman. Plus a loyal, discreet husband and beloved father.

The Queen has referred to him as “my constant strength.” When I think of all the ups and downs the Royal family has been through in the years I’ve been old enough to know much, she has definitely needed such a pillar to lean on. Internationally he seems to have always been quiet, sturdy, tactful, an example of the “old school.” A Royal carrying out his duties to the best of his ability without spilling his feelings and complaints all over the media.

We bid you a fond adieu, sir.

Click here to read the CNBC news release.

“Fight the Good Fight”

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The Letter F takes its place and stands tall amongst all the other letters, for it starts many a great and noble word. The feisty F has proven itself quite useful for alliteration, too.

Some folks are FOOTLOOSE and FANCY FREE
Others talk of FREEDOM, FIDELITY, and FRATERNITY.
They rally round their FLAG and FIGHT what they consider to be the FORCES of oppression. (However, opinions on “oppression” differ.)

The Apostle Paul urged the followers of Christ to

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The flexibility of the letter F is also useful for this cute
little verse my mother-in-law liked to quote:
A flea and a fly were imprisoned one day in a flue.
Said the fly to the flea, “Let us fly!”
Said the flea to the fly, “Let us flee!”
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

F can stand for FIRST. And this week I’ve seen some first-class spring signs:
the first butterfly
the first robin
the first meadowlark

But watch your step, because F can also begin:

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As in this poem I’ve called “FOLLY”

Fools are always rushing in
where another fool’s already been,
the path well trodden by the feet
that think temptation’s end is sweet.

The Essential E

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and conclude that the letter E holds pride of place in the English language.

You can’t SUCCEED, PROCEED, or even ENTER without it! Yes, the lowly E is NEEDFUL, REQUIRED — the KEYSTONE, EVEN, for most English words.

Fans of cryptograms can tell you that the letter E, and the combo of

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are the first things they look for when setting out to solve the puzzle.

That said, did you know “English” started out milleniums ago meaning a fishhook?

The Angles, a West Germanic people who immigrated to the British Isles, hailed from the Angul district of Schleswig, which is just south of modern Denmark. Their homeland, part of the Jutland peninsula, was shaped somewhat like a fishhook so its inhabitants used their word for fishhook to refer to their country. When they sailed across the sea they brought this name along, plus the words angler and angling. They weren’t the only Germanic people who came and decided to stay; the squeezed-out locals tarred them all with the same brush: Anglo-Saxons.

An Ethnic Legend:
We have a friend whose parents immigrated to Canada from Denmark. When she was young, her father told her that the original inhabitants of Britain couldn’t talk; their only communication was grunts and squeaks. He claimed the Angles were the ones who taught the British how to talk. I’m not sure where he learned this bit of history, but we took it with a grain of sea salt.