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. 🙂

Royal Wedding Discovery

Squirreled away under our flooring: A Royal Wedding

Back when we lived in Ontario we bought a home in the small village of Fullarton. This house was old, lived in by an old couple before us, and nothing had been done to repair it for years. We got it cheap and did a lot of renovations over the years.

The flooring, for example. In the small dining room and kitchen we had that old “battleship green linoleum” which was cracked in places — and there was one odd rectangular lump in the dining room. We assumed someone had tried to patch a hole with a thin board or something of that nature, but we soon got tired of walking over it and bumping the table casters over it.

One tribute I could pay to that linoleum: it was tough. It never cracked around that lump, though you’d think in time it would have. Nevertheless, the flooring was in pretty sad shape by the time we decided to replace it. Bob bought tiles one day and we started slicing and rolling up that old flooring. Good riddance!

And we finally found out what that lump was.

We found an old Star Weekly magazine, a souvenir issue with Queen Elizabeth II’s upcoming wedding details. There were pictures of the Bride-to-be and her Groom, all their attendants and a brief write-up about each one. There were also pictures and details of her dress, a write-up about the celebrant, Archbishop ? and photos of the cathedral, etc. A real treasure! Why on earth would someone stick it under the flooring about a metre in from the wall?

The magazine was fairly large, maybe 12″ x 18″ and half an inch thick — but for some reason whoever put it there folded it in half. Which would have originally made quite a lump! It wasn’t covering any hole, just stuck there for anyhow, as near as we could figure. Another of our house’s mysteries! I still have that magazine; it’s in fairly good shape for all that.

Cats And Their People

Verses Only A Cat-Lover Will Understand

winter morning
the cat curled up
in my office chair

our cats dwell above
our comfort zone
in the softest seats

we once had two cats
now we have our soft chairs
ah, spring!

I have a nice, comfortable office chair beside my desk, just the right height for me. Trouble is, it’s often occupied by one of our two cats. Yes, common sense would say, “Evict it,” but they look so comfortable curled up in a ball and I’m a softie. Also, if I do remove them, they persist in returning and I have to evict them every time I come back to my chair from doing some errand. So I keep a folding chair standing beside the computer to open quickly if I don’t want to work for long and don’t feel like evicting the cat.

When I came to the computer one morning, Pookie was occupying my comfortable office chair and I didn’t push him off. I took the folding chair, then when I got myself a mug of coffee fifteen minutes later, Pookie wandered out to the kitchen, too. I hurried back to the office in time to see our other cat, Angus, jump up and settle comfortably into the chair Pookie had just vacated. So I took the folding chair again. When I got up later to refill my mug, I returned to find Angus in my office chair and Pookie on the folding chair!

Many times Bob and I come into the office to find Angus in his chair and Pookie in mine. Usually both are evicted. There are limits, after all.

Pet owners will know that cats have a certain sense of entitlement built into their nature. They may claim you as their people, but they make it clear who comes first in the grand scheme of things. Whose comfort is of greater importance, whose not so much. When we had three cats, our aged Panda claimed the most comfortable recliner as her throne and would not be ousted.

Nowadays when I’m in the living room settling into the recliner Angus snuggles down in the other recliner and Pookie gets the sofa. Or vice versa. Often one’s in my lap. However, Pookie has discovered a spot under our bed right over a floor heat “warm spot” and often stretches out there on cold days.

Generally a house cat will want to be near their people. That is, if they feel like it — or if something interesting is transpiring. I had a cat years back that always came to watch me re-pot my houseplants. She’d have her nose right in the pot to get a close look as I scooped in the dirt and packed it down. She was Siamese, with a uniquely curious personality.

But now that it’s spring and the mice in the woods beside us are active again, we get our chairs back. A cat’s a cat for a’ that and a’ that.

Writer’s Clock

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“Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Oh, what a beautiful day!
The suns is so cheerily shining
and snowbanks are melting away.”

(With apologies to the original songwriter.
And thanks to Pixabay for the ClipArt Vector)

A week ago spring came back to our land and has settled in so pleasantly. Today I even saw half a dozen Canada geese overhead. Mind you, they were going south, and might have been some who wintered over down by the dam. But still, it’s the principle…

It’s been a few days since I last posted — not that I suffer from WRITER’S BLOCK so much as WRITER’S CLOCK. That is, not enough time to sit down and write everything I’d like to, especially now that the days are so spring-like and the house needs a good cleaning.

Our cats definitely have spring fever and want to be out…in…out…in…out… all day long. Our lawn is slowly appearing and the gravel road by our property is nice and firm for walking on now, though the driveway is still slushy and spongy.

Wandering the internet for awhile this afternoon, I discovered another online haiku journal, the Wales Haiku Journal. Interesting! In fact I even dared submit a few of my newest verses. Perhaps with a nod to my gr-gr-gr-grandmother Jones from north Wales. Having a Jones from Wales, John Smith from London, and John Turner, an Orangeman from Ireland, among my forebears, I feel very standard-issue. 🙂

This past week I’ve been working quite a bit on my book of haiku, have transferred it to Kindle Create and set it up. I’m inserting some pictures now. Soon, soon…!

Monday night I hit the silliest glitch: I could not insert the copyright symbol. I tried every which way and listened to a couple of instruction videos supposedly explaining in detail how to create a Kindle e-book. Alas! They both slid through the front matter in a few sentences.

I enjoyed watching the one young fellow wave his hands around, though — in real life he must play a piccolo. Several times he said, “I’m sure you’ve all worked with this type of program before and know all this,” and I wanted to yell, “Would I be listening to you if I had?”

Note to wannabe self-publishers: If you’re doing your book on Kindle Create — and it really does work well — it’s best to have the Title page, Copyright info, Dedication page, and Preface or Foreword, all written up the way you want them, as well as the actual book pages, before saving your e-book document as a pdf that you will transfer to Kindle Create.

At any rate, I discovered that it’s really very simple to add that little © — once you know how. 😉 Actually, so many things in this old world are so simple once you know how!

This includes tossing out. As part of my spring cleaning urge, yesterday I opened a cupboard that I haven’t looked in seriously for a long time — and bravely threw out all those 5″ floppies and 3.5″ hard disks I squirreled away about 7 or 8 years back, when I got my new computer. You know the rationale: “A person never knows when this new flash-drive system might break down and we’ll need to go back to these…” NOT!

I hope you are all enjoying lovely days, too, dear readers.

Thieving Wind

that thieving wind
has robbed another clothesline
the flowers all pink

I posted this account 18 months back, but my new followers may enjoy it so I’ll post it again.

Does anyone remember this old song?

“I was strolling through the park one day
…in the merry, merry month of May
…and I got a strange surprise…”

Back when we lived in Moose Jaw, SK, my husband and I were strolling through Crescent Park, located right near the heart of the city, early one morning. And we did indeed get a strange surprise…

In the center of the park is a cenotaph, a memorial to those soldiers from Moose Jaw who were killed in action in the two world wars. This marble pillar with its bronze plaques was encircled by a flower bed in the shape of a big star. So think five points of the star planted to flowers and between the points lush green grass. This flower “star” was encircled by a sidewalk round-about, with several lanes or paved paths going off to the south, west, and north, leading to other park attractions.

As I said, we took our walk soon after sunrise — and it was early spring, so the bedding flowers hadn’t been planted yet. Thus the points of the star were bare black earth awaiting the bedding plants. Bob and I had come up the south path and were following around the main circle when we stopped, amazed.

There, nicely laid out in one of the star points was a pale blue nylon nightgown.

We stood there eyeing it for awhile, contemplating the possibilities. It obviously hadn’t been just dropped there; rather, it was spread out as if on display. Across the street from the park were several three- to five-story apartment buildings. Had it blown off someone’s balcony when they’d hung a few things outside to dry?

Or was this someone’s idea of a practical joke?

I stepped into the flowerbed and retrieved the nightgown. It had a few spots from its tumble on the dirt, but was fairly clean for all that. I held it up. It was sleeveless and double-layered, the outside being sheer nylon, the inside opaque. Not bad. I took it along home and washed it; the fabric proved to be in good condition with hardly a snag.

There was at the time a small paper put out locally, called “ The Shopper,” full of ads anyone could place for free. We decided to give the owner a chance to claim her lost property by placing an ad in this paper, but Bob suggested giving the ad a humorous twist in case the whole thing was a joke. So we sent in the following:
Found in bed (flower) in Crescent Park: one blue nightgown. Free to the person who can come up with the best explanation of how it got there.

Nobody answered the ad. Seeing as the nightgown fit me just fine…I decided, “Finders keepers.”

Of Puffer fish & Willpower

after weeks of
cleansing fast  a large pizza
her puffer fish act

Another haiku with a story behind it.

Twenty-some years back I met a lady in her mid-forties; in time she became a dear friend. Was it because of her dysfunctional childhood, or the accident she was in that left her in a coma for twelve days, or maybe some of both? At any rate, you’d have to say she was emotionally unbalanced — and had been attending a church where emotional responses were often stirred and encouraged. She was cheerful, likeable, outgoing — but not very disciplined or stable.

At some point she had accepted the concept cleansing fasts, and even discovered a retreat in the country where she could go and cleanse her body of all the impurities tainting our modern diet. In addiction to the physical benefits, she felt that fasting brought her closer to God and told me that one time she had actually fasted for 40 days, just like Jesus. However, I suspect the dream of getting back to a slimmer figure hovered not far in the background.

My dear friend had a couple of weaknesses that affected her health. Like most of us, she was fond of tasty food — which included baking and other sweets. Plus, she smoked — a habit she didn’t like at all. So she viewed going to this retreat for a month or so, where she neither eat nor smoke, was a blessing four-fold: she could relax in a no-pressure environment, lose weight, crack the nicotine habit, and gain spiritually.

We visited her there a couple of times. It appeared she had nothing much to do at this retreat except relax, read, meditate, and detoxify in the small room she was given. There were a number of other guests, with a nurse present 24/7 to make sure no one suffered serious health problems because of the regime. When my friend’s fast was over she was put on a juice diet for a couple of days to re-adjust her body to food. Then she paid the rather hefty bill — this place was into making money as well as healing bodies — and went home.

This “coming back to the real world” got me involved one day — and my involvement brings me to story behind the senryu I’ve penned.

Early one morning my phone rang; my friend was telling me she needed watermelon and could I help her out? Could I buy one and bring it to her apartment? (She didn’t own a car.) She explained that she’d just got home from spending several weeks at the retreat and her body was reacting negatively to food. She needed watermelon to “flush out the salt” being retained in her tissues.

I didn’t know much about what fruits & veggies have diuretic properties, but she mentioned a few and was glad to help. I picked up these foods and went over to her place, where I heard the facts of her current health issue.

When she got home from her fast she’d been so hungry, she ordered an extra-large pizza and ate the whole thing. Her body was reacting big time to the sudden overload.

Reading history I’ve learned this isn’t an uncommon reaction for people who’ve been starved for a time. Their brain registers FOOD! and common sense is lost among the impulses. Their hands automatically start stuffing and people may even eat themselves to death. For my friend, all that salt in her pizza spread through her system, causing her tissues retain fluid until she was uncomfortably bloated.

Maybe puffer fish is an exaggeration, but the simile came to me and I thought it an interesting comparison.

In time my friend discovered one long-term side-effect of those prolonged fasts: starving drains your bones of much-needed minerals like calcium. One day she tripped going down some stairs and broke her leg. Her doctor, after seeing the x-ray, told her, “Your shattered bone looks just like corn flakes.”

It seems self-discipline and will power are rather like muscles. If we don’t use them, they become limp. Bypassing self-discipline in favor of complete abstinence, she short-circuited her willpower. Later, faced with the same temptations, she caved. Food and cigarettes became chronic problems. I won’t say that fasting is either wrong or harmful, in moderation, but nothing can build up the muscles of self-control, or deliver us from our vices, like the day-by-day exercise of resisting temptation.

Sad to say, my friend didn’t live long enough to reap the benefits of all that system-cleansing, either. Shortly after she turned 65 she was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and died a year or so later.

I think of her often, and miss visiting with her.