Can’t Be Done?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is PUNCTUATE. Rather than going into details about commas, colons and semi-colons, I’ll share this bit of history and add a favorite verse.

During his sermon one Sunday our Pastor described the scene when the children of Israel faced the promised land. They’d spent enough time trekking through the desert, now they were eager to go in and take possession of the land. First they sent spies to assess the situation–and especially the opposition. Twelve men went a-spying and came back bearing the fruit of the land, huge clusters of grapes, sheaves of grain, etc. Yes, it was indeed a fruitful land.

However, ten of the spies fretted about the men of the land: huge, fearsome, well armed men of war. “We were as grasshoppers in their sight.” They’d have to conquer great fortified cities. When the ten spies were done giving their report, protests and plaints punctuated the air. “Giants! Great walled cities! They’ll slaughter us! We just can’t do this!”

Joshua & Caleb, the other two spies encouraged the group. “Yes, we can! No need to fear.” Caleb urged them, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it….If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.” (Account from Numbers 13: 25 to 14:40)

It Couldn’t Be Done

by Edgar Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he, with a chuckle, replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

Greats & Great-Greats

The Bloganuary question for today is: How far back in your family tree can you go?

Clicker-Free Vector Images — Pixabay.

By accessing the records of Ancestry. ca and My Heritage.com, I’ve been able to find the great-greats and more, on both sides. My Mom was a Harmon, her mom was a Falconer from Minnesota. Grandma Falconer’s grandparents came from Scotland as singles; I have record of their marriage in Philadelphia, PA. Grandma Thelma’s mother was a Working, from a family that emigrated from Germany and settled in Pennsylvania.

The James Welcome Harmon family came up to Canada from Minnesota to homestead here in SK. There were Wilson, Smith, and Sillsbe women married into that family. I can go back with that clan at least six generations, to the state of Maine.

I have records back to Great-great-great-grandfather David Vance who married Agnes Jones in Gallowayshire, Scotland. David’s four sons came to Canada; en route my gr-gr-gand married Sarah, the daughter of Samuel Allen in New York. The Allens go back to Plymouth Colony, now Boston.

Great-grandfather Samuel Vance was married to Mary Smith. No Smith family records, as her father, John Smith, was kidnapped by a press gang when he was nine. John worked his way to Ontario and married Ruth Dobson of Oxford County. Her family came from New Brunswick. I have record of great-grandmother Ruth’s parents and siblings.

My dad’s mother was the child of Alice Watchorn (her father Charles’ family came from central Ireland to Lanark County, Ontario) and William Turner. I can only go back to his father, my great-great-grandfather Charles and his wife Alice Doyle. He supposedly came from Ireland and married in Halifax Nova Scotia.

I find genealogy interesting, following all the lines reaching back into history, and would gladly connect with folks on the other family tree branches. But the effort would have a lot more meaning if I didn’t just have names and dates, if I could actually roll back the years for a few minutes and see the sort of people they were, how they met, etc.

Precious Things Lost

Bloganuary’s challenge for today is to tell about a treasure that’s been lost. It looks like 78 bloggers to this point have responded with various things they miss — or they think we all miss. These challenge could be taken either way: this could be something I’ve lost myself or something I think we as a society have lost.

Image: kalhh — Pixabay

One of the treasures I’ve lost is my HEARING. I started out with one hearing aid twenty-odd years ago; have had two for the past fifteen years. Marvelous little things! Without them I’d only have half the hearing capability of a normal person, if that. The hearing in my left ear especially is way down. Some of this was unavoidable, being due to allergies that cause fluid backup around the ear drums. Some I could have avoided had I known…

When I was in my early thirties I had tubes put in my ears, because of said allergies, and was given cortisone ear drops to put in my ears. I used them faithfully, being sure they went all the way into my ears. A dozen years later we lived in another place and I asked a doctor for a refill. He said, “You can’t use those long-term. Studies show that if they get through the tubes into the inner ear, they can damage your hearing.””

“Well, okay. Now I know.”

So it’s impossible to determine how much of my hearing loss was inevitable and how much was due to being uninformed. My dad and brother both got hearing aids, so some of my problem could be genetic. In any case, HEARING is definitely a treasure I miss.

As far as things we as a society have lost, I’ll say the teaching of HISTORY. Again–since this is one of my regular laments. Young people in our society aren’t learning enough history to give them a balanced perspective on current events. If we have the knowledge of what has all gone on before us, we can compare, we can learn.

Fact is, the world has seen times like this before — and much worse. We aren’t suffering more, or living with more fear, than anyone else in the history of the world. Mankind as a whole has survived tough times. Also, in the past this course of action has led to such and such consequences. Let’s avoid a repeat of the bad ones.

So there’s my view of treasures lost.

Image: Gerd Altmann — Pixabay

The Old Red Barn

The Bloganuary challenge today is indeed a challenge for me: What is the earliest memory you have?

You see, I have many bits and snatches of early childhood memories, but which one is the earliest? Impossible to say, so I’ll go with my memory of playing in Grandpa Forsyth’s old red barn. This one was built in 1917 when Grandpa and Grandma Forsyth came to the Melfort, SK, area to farm and it looked like a zillion others that dotted the prairies when I was young.

These folks weren’t really my grandparents, but because I was raised by Dad and Mom Forsyth, I refer to his parents as Grandpa and Grandma, though I never knew either of them. My birth parents (Dad Vance being a sister to Mom Forsyth) being dirt poor, lived in a small trailer on Grandpa Forsyth’s yard. I had a brother Jim, who was eleven months older than me, and we were inseparable. Donna, 2 1/2 years younger, would have been the baby.

Apparently before I was four, Jim and I were left to pretty much run free on the farmyard. I still remember that one of our favourite things was to run into the barn and into the part aside which was the chicken coop. Here the ladder to the hayloft was hung. We’d climb up this ladder and jump down from the big doors of the hayloft, get up and do it again. I can’t tell you the exact distance to the ground, but it had to be a drop of at least a dozen feet (3 metres). I don’t know what Health & Safety would say these days about 2- to 4-year-olds leaping from barn lofts, but we survived and had great fun.

At least until Dad and Mom Forsyth moved to BC when I was four and took me with them. We came back to the farm later, but then moved to the city when I almost six. After that my connections to my siblings were limited to summer and Christmas holidays. Folks visited the old farm for a number of years –in summer to gather the orchard fruits– and I still remember the old red barn.

A Small But Mighty Word

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is SOLSTICE. When I got up the temp was -35 C, so you can believe we’ll rejoice in any upward trend. Even one or two minutes more daylight will be a welcome change.

And my word-of-the-day this morning was YOKE. A small but mighty word, if you’re the one that’s in the yoke. It all started with a comment…

I named one of the characters in my WIP novel Joel. He and his brother Layne are riding in the back seat of a club cab pickup* and, as teenage boys will do, Joel leans over and teases Layne. Layne gives him a shove in return. “Keep on your own side, Jokel.”

The nickname “Jokel” being Layne’s invention, a combo of Joke and Joel with a hint of “Peasant!” (yokel) thrown in. This word confused one poor critique-giver; he’d searched for it in several dictionaries and not found it.

His comment this morning, plus my curiosity about word etymology, led me from joke to yokel to yoke. Yoke is a well travelled word! From the Tower of Babel, across the steppes, the seas, plains and mountains of Europe, even into the Nordic countries.

The original meaning of YOKE was JOIN, as a team joined together. From the Indo-European jugom it entered Latin and became jugum – from whence jugular & subjugate are derived. The word appears in Sanskrit as jugam, in Czech as jho, in Finnish as juko. Ancient Germanic borrowed it from the Finns and it became jukam, which evolved into the German joch and the Dutch juk.

The original Indo-European compound form jug- and joug-, meant joined to (like conjugal.) This evolved into the Latin jungere from which we get our words join, junction, conjunctive, etc. The Sanskrit word for union became yogaunion with the universe – which we’ve adopted as written.

According to Lexico, a yokel is an unsophisticated person from a rural area; a country bumpkin. Origin uncertain. Since feudal serfs, farmers, were once bound to the land and landowner, it’s not hard to see that connection.

  • Some critiquers say I don’t need to say “club cab pickup”; I should just give the name of the truck and everyone will know. Clueless me, I Googled it. 😉 If you’re into makes and models of pickups, this was a 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 Extended cab– since this story took place circa 2010. If it turns out that Joel & Layne need their own doors, I’ll have to extend it again to a Crew Cab model. 🙂

Ginny’s Adventure

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was MORASS — rather like a cross between a MARSH and a MESS. 🙂

This prompt led me through trees to a low, muddy spot where spring runoff collected and stagnated until the June sun evaporated it. There I spied a young lady lost in this unfamiliar land and heard some of her plight. I sat down and whacked out this story, but then we went to town and I never got it posted. Now here I am finally with my response to the RDP.

Ginny’s Adventure

Ginny wandered through the scraggly poplar woods for hours hoping to find a trail, but all she found was a morass of mud and rotten leaves, a low spot where winter snows had made a shallow pond. She realized the only way around it would mean fighting through willow and dogwood thickets. These had sprung up over the years as birds and beasts, attracted to the spring pond, had dropped around it seeds from their fur or feathers.

Sadly she turned back to the dry ground she’d just traipsed through, then decided to try circling part of the quagmire. Another time when she’d been with her brother when he’d taken his oxen to a pond for a drink, he’d pointed out a trail through the woods. He explained how deer and other animals made trails like that to watering holes. “But beware,” he warned, “because wolves use these trails, too.”

Perhaps animals had made a trail to this pond. She gathered up her long skirt again and began to make her way around the clumps of brush. It didn’t take long until she did discover a narrow trail. She thought about those wolves. Or even deer.

“Mother deer can be very protective,” Herb had said. “You don’t want to pester one guarding her fawn, or you’ll feel her sharp hooves.”

For a moment she gave in to the despair she felt about this her whole situation. Anger flared, too. It was beastly of father to gamble away everything they had! Now mother was in a pension for impoverished gentlewomen and she’d been shipped off to Canada, a nuisance to Herb and his new wife. And now she’d made things worse by getting lost in this forest.

She considered her options: turn back and keep wandering, lost, through the woods until they came searching for her–or some animal did her in. Or she could take this trail and pray it would lead her out of the woods and she’d meet no vicious creatures on the way. She felt the urge to try. She had no clue where it would lead her, but at least she could walk on the path’s packed ground instead of crunching over layers of leaves and twigs. Hopefully it would lead her out of these smothering woods.

Following the trail for what seemed like an hour, she reached a clearing. Some homesteader had cut down the trees here for his stove; only the stumps remained. Part of clearing his 160 acres. And father on, she could see a green field, maybe his very first crop coming up.

Ginny threw up her arms in a gesture of rejoicing, and resolved to never go wandering in these woods again. She may not like being here in Chesterville, living in a four-room house with her brother and his wife, but she wasn’t ready to die, either.