Conversing About…

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was CONVERSATION
and it’s been awhile since I’ve had a conversations with you all. Though I guess a blog is more of a monologue. 😉

For the past month the general buzz of conversation here was about the lovely fall we’re having and how long the warm weather has lasted. Or how dry it’s been. Monday morning we woke up to an October wind and night-time temps have been dropping to -5 or -7 C. The water basins I set out had about an inch of ice on top this morning; I dumped them out, and those circles of ice have lain on the ground all day without melting. I refilled them again today but this task will soon be over.

The robins were still here last Friday morning, but must have gotten word that it was time to go. I didn’t see even one Saturday. Good timing on their part. We heard today there was snow coming in from a Colorado low-pressure system, but it seems the precipitation will mostly fall east of us. As I write this a light rain is falling and the ground is actually wet. Every little bit helps to settle the dusty haze we’ve been living with for awhile. We’re supposed to have warmer days again for the weekend, though.

There was a wedding in our congregation last weekend when Pastor Warren’s daughter married a young man from Alberta. A lot of families in the congregation were busy making food and/or hosting visiting guests, which is what we do when there’s an important event to put on. Everyone chips in.

A couple of weeks back an acquaintance called to tell me she had some puzzles for me. The seniors in her building do them, then pass them on–and I take some of ours for them. A profitable exchange. Last Friday we did some shopping in the city and I stopped by her apartment building to pick them up. She had bags and boxes full of puzzles for me–82 puzzles in all, but three were packs with four puzzles in each; one box was a pack of ten. So about 100 puzzles in all! Far more than our seniors at the Villa can put together this winter. I’m looking for homes for the excess now.

Since I’ve been painting I haven’t done any puzzles. One hobby that takes hours is maybe enough? But I’m not painting much lately, either. seem to be in a slump. The evenings are so soon so dark! I’m having a hard time switching my mind to winter mode and working after dark has no appeal. Can’t go to bed at 8 pm, so I mostly read for a couple of hours.

Can I plead that we creative types — writers, poets, artists, musicians. etc — are moody types? Last week I read an article about songwriter Leonard Cohen, including a conversation he had with writer Mikal Gilmore.

“Depression has often been the general background of my daily life,” Cohen told me. “My feeling is that whatever I did was in spite of that, not because of it. It wasn’t the depression that was the engine of my work. . . . That was just the sea I swam in.”

The brokenness was always there, but Leonard Cohen never submitted to it, Gilmore writes in his article, Leonard Cohen: Remembering the Life and Legacy of the Poet of Brokenness.

I found that thought encouraging. No matter how blue a person may feel at times, we needn’t succumb to it. We need to let a greater purpose motor us through, in spite of the choppy waters.

Seal of Approval

Are you old enough to remember this corny knock-knock type joke…
What goes “ark ark” at Christmas time?
Answer: A Christmas seal.

Even though “snail mail” is rare these days, Christmas seal are still around. The idea started in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1903, when… “a benevolent postmaster named Einar Holboell was inspired to create the stamps to help children with tuberculosis (TB).”

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word today is SEAL, which brings to my mind the thought of real seals as well as royal seals…and of course Good Housekeeping’s Seal of Approval. Did they ever use a real seal in their ads?

Googling, I discovered that the first Good Housekeeping Seal was issued in 1909. You can read about its history here According to their website…
This is Good Housekeeping’s LIMITED WARRANTY: If any product that bears our limited warranty Seal proves to be defective within two years from the date it was first sold to a consumer by an authorized retailer, we, Good Housekeeping, will refund the purchase price or $2,000, whichever is less or, at Good Housekeeping’s sole discretion, repair or replace the product. This policy covers you, the consumer, whether you bought the product or it was given to you (by the buyer). Products that bear the Green Good Housekeeping Seal have been assessed by Good Housekeeping in accordance with Good Housekeeping’s environmental criteria and are also subject to the limited warranty if proven to be defective.
Read more details here.

People who believe the Bible know there’s an all-important Royal seal God places on a believer, one that says, “This is my child.” This seal admit his children to enter those pearly gates someday.
Simplifying Ephesians 1:10-14:
“we have obtained an inheritance..who trusted in Christ…in whom after ye believed, ye were sealed by that holy Spirit of promise…until the redemption of that purchased possession…”
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Eph 4:30

Autumn Splendour

The Ragtag Prompt word for today is SPLENDOUR, and it’s very fitting for the season we’re in.

Folks who’ve lived in this area for years say they’ve never seen the poplar trees clothed in such golden beauty. Maybe it’s because this fall the frosts have been quite minor so far, nippy mornings at times, but no real “killing frosts.” The leaves are ripening to a richer gold than usual and staying on the trees longer than they usually do? We have a row of young poplars along the west side of our driveway and they’re just stunning in the afternoon sun.

This is a beech tree, but you get the idea. 🙂 Photo by Hans Braxmeier at Pixabay

The robins that disappeared in August are back again and staying around until a deeper chill tells them to go. I’ve only seen a few small flocks of sandhill cranes and one large flock of snow geese came through a couple of weeks ago. Owing to the lack of serious frost I still have some hardier annuals like verbena blooming in my planters — that I need to deal with before the snow flies. If it flies. As dry as it’s been this year, I’m beginning to wonder how much we’ll see.

Sadly, another forest fire is raging and the air currents have brought the smoke down our way today. There’s a grey haze over the land that ressembles a fog lying over the countryside. Not pleasant to breathe!

I’ve mentioned before that I get e-mails from Marla the FlyLady, advising me what I should be cleaning this week. Her monthly projects for October is PAPER CLUTTER. Go through and file or get rid of all those loose papers lying around. So I’ll likely be posting some of my random scribbles as one way of filing them. 🙂

And here’s a sprinkle of sage recently rediscovered:

Image from Oberholtzer Venita at Pixabay


Giving Disease A Jab

Hello and welcome to SEPTEMBER! Did anyone see SUMMER as it whizzed by?

Leaves are starting to fall, most of our pretty birds seem to have zipped off, harvest is underway — except that the rains we were praying for in July have finally come. I’m glad I’m not a farmer! Mind you, quite a few crops were cut and baled last month because there wasn’t enough grain in the heads to be worth harvesting.

As for me, I’ve started digging up my one large flowerbed. I left it uncultivated in spring because it was so dry; now that it’s been raining I’m getting it ready for winter and for planting next spring.

I’ve been digging around in my family tree roots lately, too, and discovered a family tragedy. One that was quite common back in those days. I can’t imagine how devastated great-great-grandfather Charles must have been when…

– his wife Ann, passed away on Dec 3rd, 1863. She was about forty years old and her youngest child was just a toddler.
– his father, John Watchorn, died on Jan 1st, 1864 at the age of 68.
– his daughter, Ellen, died on Jan 14th. From the records, it looks like she was in her early teens.
– his six-year-old son, Charles Jr, died a few weeks after Ellen.
Ann and her children are buried in one grave with a common headstone.

At one time I made a note in my records that gr-gr-grandmother Ann died of smallpox. An epidemic of that sort would account for the number of deaths in one family in such a short period of time. It’s odd that I can’t find any death records for any of these people. Were they lost in a fire or in transit to the Dept of Vital Statistics, or were there so many smallpox deaths in the area at that time that they weren’t recorded individually? Perhaps a local newspaper of the time would give me a better picture?

Of course I wondered if there was no smallpox vaccine available in their day, so I did some research. Yes, smallpox vaccine was available then. However, there was apparently a lot of fear and resistance, or just plain indifference, to the idea of vaccination. According to the Museum of Health Care at Kingston website:
“Smallpox vaccine was used widely in Canada during the early 1800s, although it soon became neglected. Low immunization levels led to persistent outbreaks…”
The Montreal area experienced the worst outbreak in 1885 when 3000 people died from smallpox. The epidemic spread from there into parts of eastern Ontario.
“Anti-vaccine sentiments mixed with religion and French-English political tensions helped fuel the crisis.”

Sigh… Do things never change?

Well, yes, they do, thankfully. In 1924, a Doctor Heagerty writing about smallpox, lists the terror people felt when the menace was mentioned and all damage it has done in the past, leaving so many people dead, crippled, or scarred for life. Then he writes:
“Vaccination has altered this, and forgetful or ignorant of the appalling ravages of the disease in other days, we now scarcely give the subject of smallpox a thought.”

Small pox, whooping cough, diphtheria, polio. Immunization has dealt a death blow to these scourges our ancestors feared. In more recent years measles, rubella, hepatitis, chicken pox, meningitis, pneumonia, and various influenza vaccines have made life easier yet. We’ve conquered a lot of killers.

So it puzzles me when I hear people who are alive today because their grandparents, parents, and themselves have been saved from these once common killers, now opposing COVID vaccination. I guess some things never change.