Hello December

In honour of the winter season upon us I thought I should change my header image. Scrolling through Pixabay I found this girl and knew she’d be perfect for my blog.

We’ve been having postcard-type winter scenes these days, as the weather has blessed us with almost a week of fog and barely a breath of wind. The poplar and other trees surrounding our year — and every yard— have been transformed into “white pine.” We have a single strand of black chain-link “fence” encircling our little lawn in front of the church building, and I noticed last night that the posts have grown white moustaches at the top. Looks cute!

We’ve been having a series of revival meetings at church this week, starting last Friday evening, so that has kept us busy every evening. Also, I’ve been working on two songs for the school children. The one I’ve written the words for, using the tune, “Sing A Song of Sixpence.” I’ve called it “The Pizza Order.” Children are asking “Sis” to bring home pizza, first one, then two — listing all the toppings they want. Then they decide to invite their cousins “for a pizza jamboree” and want a third pizza. Finally Mom says, “Pizza costs too much… Just bring home buns and weiners and we’ll do a barbecue.” And everybody groans.

The second, which I’m working on now, started with the tune to an old English Christmas folk-song, “The Boar’s Head Carol.” Do any of you know this one? I’ve paired it with the “Canadian Camping Song”, an 1880s poem by James Edgar. It’s taking me some time and effort to adjust the music to fit the words of the verse — and to suit my taste in melody ups and downs. 😉

I cooked supper at the Villa last night and am on for dinner today, then in the afternoon we’re to go to the Christmas supper put on by the Veterinary Clinic staff. Bob’s part-time bookkeeper there. There’s church this evening and I’m cooking dinner at the Villa tomorrow. So this weekend is a busy time for us.

I wonder how many of you others have already started with Christmas preparations and events? I admire folks who get their preparations done ahead of time; I’m such a last-minute type.

I’ll end with this humorous little incident I read years back. I think you’ll get a chuckle.

Baby’s Arrival Call

Three-year-old Molly was spending a few days at Grandma’s house and had invited her cousin Jill over for a tea party one afternoon. As they were setting the table, Molly told Jill, “My Mommy’s gone to the hospital to get a baby. But I don’t know how she knew it would be ready to go.”

Jill, a year older and wiser, explained the process. “Oh, that’s easy. When the baby feels like coming it just phones your mom and says ‘Come and get me’.”

Ads and Fried Termites

Word of the Day prompt this morning: IMAGINATION
Merriam-Webster’s word of the day: AUDACIOUS
Fandango’s One-word-challenge: TRAP

I posted this article years ago, but will post it again this morning, as it fits the above prompt words.

As you all know, a writer’s mind is a constantly swirling inkwell. I see, hear, read, experience things – and my mind traps this new info, wanting to turn it into stories or articles. It’s in my genes; I come from a long line of storytellers. After all these years I’m still trying to decide if this swirling process is pearl or peril. Is God sending these inspirations, wishing to speak through me – or is it that “muse” some people speak of that’s made chaos of what could have been my well ordered life? 🙂

I have dear friends whose minds seem to turn in orderly rotations around the fulcrum of “clean and neat.” It’s deep in their genes and I admire the results they achieve in their homes. Many times I’ve decided to give up writing in favour of having a sparkling house like some others. I may spend hours editing, trying to achieve “clean, neat, and in order” in the articles I write but this doesn’t leave me time to give my physical surrounding that same care. ☹

Some women look at the world with their eyes, where I tend to see the world with my mind or imagination. For example, if I walk through my house and see light shining in the windows, I might think about doing an article on light versus darkness; my friends will see that the window needs cleaning and get to it. Or they make a mental note to do it later–and remember.

I make notes, too, but they get lost somewhere. (The fate of many of my literal lists as well.) Then there are times when some really brilliant or audacious idea pops into my head, but I can’t drop what I’m doing. I try to snatch a moment to rush to the computer and type in a title –and maybe a few lines– before I forget it. When I’ve finished what I’m doing, I’ll get back to that file and let the creative juices flow. If I remember.

A few weeks ago I noticed a file in my hard drive entitled “Ads, ads, and termites.” I stared at the screen for a minute. What kind of ads was I thinking of? Kijiji, perhaps? But why the repeat? And how do termites fit with ads? I was mystified and didn’t bother to open the file.

Yesterday I saw it again and the fog started clearing. “Ads, ads” wasn’t advertisements; this stood for adjectives and adverbs. I was thinking about adverbs and adjectives, then read something about termites, and somehow a comparison popped into my head. I’d been reading a missionaries’ letter –they are working in Cameroon– and they wrote something about termites. But what? Sigh…

I opened the file; here’s what I’d typed in:
Adjectives, adverbs, and fried termites. (Fried termites?)
The almost-pure-white butterflies flipped and flopped in lazy circles over the crisply sun-burned lawn, searching for a choice bit of vegetation on which to lay their tiny greenish-yellow eggs.

I know adjectives and adverbs have fallen into disfavour these days. You’re supposed to cut back on them and rather choose strong nouns and verbs. Like “The ivory-coloured butterflies winged figure eights over what once was lawn, searching for some living green on which to lay their eggs.”

But what does that all have to do with fried termites? Whatever the case may be, I fear they will be forever trapped in some crazy mental link-up now! Whenever I hear termites, I’ll think of ads.

Much like the incident my mother-in law told me about. One day while she was still a girl at home her brother Jake asked her a question: “When you see a falling star, do you ever think of onions?”

“Onions! No, never,” she answered.

“You will from now on,” Jake said with a laugh.

Oh, brother! she thought, but she told me his words have proved true: after that day, every time she saw a falling star she was reminded of that dumb joke. And since she told me, I’ve thought of that silly “onions” joke, too, every time I see a falling star.

So be warned. It’s possible that, from now on, every time someone mentions adjectives and adverbs you may find yourself thinking “fried termites.”

Perhaps I’d better find that letter, read it again, find out what my comparison was and tell you, too. Right now the letter is buried somewhere in a pile of correspondence we received, but if I’d clean my house once…

I’m Recommending

The Ragtag prompt for today is RECOMMEND

An accessible, practical, delightful word.
I love recommending.
Doesn’t everybody?
Lecturer

I could recommend all kinds of things.
Places to go, things to do, books to read.
Today I’m going to recommend something to you fellow bloggers.
You see, for the sake of a better blog, I’ve just broken my #1 November Rule.

One thing I have consistently recommended to fellow Canadians is:
IGNORE ALL THIS BLACK FRIDAY STUFF!

We don’t have “Black Friday” in Canada and I hope we never will. Consumers hear enough hype about Boxing Day Sales—but in our day they stretch out from Dec 26th to 31st. Then on Jan 2nd businesses start on their New Year’s Super Sale, followed at the beginning of Feb by their MID-WINTER BLOW-OUT sales. Then we’re into the MARCH MADNESS sales and then…

Any reason for a till-ringing money exchange, right? I don’t totally blame Canadian retailers for trying to get into the action on some pre-Christmas sales, but we already do have “Pre-Christmas” and even “PRE-Boxing Day” sales. When I read what Black Friday has degenerated into south of the border — from family-gathering, blessing-counting gratitude on Thanksgiving Day to the grabbing, shoving, stomping greed on Friday — we can do without it.

But I sat up and took notice when I saw this morning’s e-mail from WordPress advertising a Black Friday sale: 30% reduction on the price of all upgrades. For some time now I’ve wanted to get rid of the ads on my other blog, Tree Top Haiku. An upgrade that would do this cost $60 CDN, so I’ve put it off. Today, seeing the price drop down to $40, I sprang for it.

I may not like the idea of “Black Friday” but I don’t like ads on my blog, either. I get blog posts from other writers still using a .wordpress.com address and there are always ads underneath the title and brief except. Some of these are video-type ads; I find the motion annoying.

It’s your blog, your money, your call…
but I recommend getting rid of the ads. And 30% off is a pretty good deal
— even if it is connected to that “infamous sale day.”

Oh…and I recommend getting your free e-copy of Silver Morning Song this weekend. 🙂

Reading

Pixabay photo

You Gotta Want It

Fandango’s challenge for today is HAPHAZARD

Which makes me think of a certain used bookstore I’ve been in a few times. The senior gentleman who runs it has thousands of books. He’s purchased an old commercial building and has it piled floor to ceiling (think 12 foot ceilings here) with books.

His aisles do not look like this:
Books

No, his aisles look very much like this:
Book stacks

With barely enough room to walk through the tunnels between the stacks, this is not the place to hang out if you suffer from claustrophobia. (Or from allergies.) You’ve got to really want that book!

I don’t know if he buys many new books, but he has many old, rare books, and he usually can tell you about which part of which aisle you’ll find the one you’re looking for. Or the author you want to read. Agnes Sligh Turnbull for example, or Ralph Connor.

So you go to that area he indicates and start perusing the shelves and stacks. Perchance you’ll see exactly the book you’re looking for.
Books in stack

My thanks to to the folks at Pixabay for all the free photos. 🙂

The word HAPHAZARD means “determined by accident rather than design.” It can be stretched to indicate possible danger to the person engaged in something haphazard. Such as a tower of books landing on your head. But our used book seller’s wares seemed to be stacked securely enough.

His merchandise does, however, suffer from the usual fate of many books crammed in a small, poorly ventilated place: they’re musty. And I’m really sensitive to must or mould, so I have to air my purchases outside for hours every day over several days, turning the pages every half-hour or so, before I can read the thing.

For those of us who appreciate books, his store is a real treasure trove of possibilities. someone doing historical research for the 1900s would be in their glory. Sad to say, though, there’s a limit to how useful out-of-date information is. He apparently has a mail-order business, yet I do wonder how many books he actually sells in a month.

Looking through a multitude of used books, or seeing the millions of e-books and print books available today, I recall the never-so-true words of Solomon — supposedly the writer of the Bible book of Ecclesiastes:

“And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Ecc. 12:12

Of Chemicals and Consumers

Fandango’s prompt today: CHEMICAL

I wonder if this word, for most of us, doesn’t bring up negative connotations? We have a love-hate, relationship with the things. Like the old English song about the wife, “You can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.”

Pollution of land, air, sea, and body — this all stems from chemicals, right? They’re keeping us alive longer and at the same time making us more sickly. We want our strawberry ice cream to be pink, our blueberry jelly to be blue, our white flour to be white. Which means we are, by default, consuming dyes and bleaches.

Even with death, we prefer the chemical version. When my birth mother died here in Saskatchewan the family opted to have her cremated. Our family doesn’t really do death and funerals well, so the children opted against having a viewing, so there was no cosmetology used. But I was coming from Quebec and my sister from Alberta, and neither of us had seen her for a good while — in my case it was over fifteen years — and we wanted one last goodbye.

So the funeral home prepared her for viewing that morning. When my birth father heard that I was going to view the body, he decided to go, too. We got there and looked down in her in the coffin they’d put her in, and she looked…well…dead. Her skin tone starting to degenerate in the way dead skin does.

My Dad was okay with it and so was I. He patted her hand and said his good-bye. But I made the mistake of saying in front of my sister, “I guess this is what the Bible means when it says, ‘From dust thou art and to dust though shalt return’.” And my sister burst into tears.

If given a choice, most of us prefer attractive to plain, enhanced to reality, bleached white paper to the natural colour that would come off the rollers in paper mills. But we fuss about pollution and climate change. Over the years we’ve come up with a delightful — at least to the employed — alternative. Companies in North America have shipped their manufacturing jobs to countries where pollution control and worker safety concerns barely affect the product or its cost.

We buy cheap; pollution, wages — or lack of — and safety issues are someone else’s problem. What’s not to love?

The trade deficit, you say? Forgot about that. (Thankfully my own country, Canada, has natural resources to sell, so our deficit isn’t so bad at present.) Immigrants flowing in the front door while jobs are flowing out the back could be an issue, too. However, I’ve heard some people emphatically deny that there’s a lack of jobs for the incoming crowd.

Which brings me to the dilemma I see in North America today: should consumers insist on buying items produced here in our own countries and pay the price — pollution control, wages, company pensions, and public safety costs included? Which means doing with fewer choices and a LOT less stuff. Or shall we continue to support overseas production and let those countries deal with the consequences? (And keep on borrowing from international money lenders to cover trade deficits.)

A person’s answer may well depend on what income bracket they are in.

And I have wandered far off the prompt topic of chemicals.

As I type this, I have bun dough rising in a warm spot. Yeast is a bacteria, not a chemical, so I can’t exactly call dough rising a chemical reaction. But the effect of warm cinnamon rolls on the human palate could maybe be explained as a chemical reaction.