Some Types of Folly

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was FOLLY

Merriam-Webster defines folly as a lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight, a foolish act or idea, or an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking.

Some acts of folly bring a chuckle to those who hear of it. Like the young man who thought he’d rob a local pharmacy and get away with drugs — and hopefully some cash. He attempted to gain entrance to the building after the store closed Saturday evening by crawling in through an air vent — but he got stuck. A unique way to spend the weekend! When employees opened the store Monday morning they heard him calling for help, and called the police.

There’s bureaucratic folly. I considered it a bit of folly on my government’s part when they sent me not just one, but TWO letters telling me they’d overpaid me (in my pension) by $1.40 and that I should pay it back by cheque ASAP or they would “deduct the entire sum from your next pension cheque.”

I guess the notice was computer-generated; no human looked at it and said, “You know, it’s going to cost $1 for the stamp to send her this. And logically, is she going to spend $1 for a stamp and whatever for the cheque fee to pay us back? Will she suffer that much hardship if she gets $1.40 less on next month’s cheque? Should we just file this?”

Which is what I did with it. Common sense should prevail, don’t you think?

Today my thinking went to a different kind of folly. We each have one of our own, perhaps? I’m a pack rat. Would you call that a type of folly?

When we moved my mother-in-law in with us over twenty years ago, I inherited a lot of her smaller things, like the handcrafted item she’d made over the years. Mom crocheted and embroidered card table cloths, made doilies, etc., and I’ve kept these stored away, wanting to keep them nice. Thinking someday to pass them on to the grand-daughters.

But what happens to things stored away? They may fade, the fabric threads weaken along fold lines, creases form that never can be ironed out. Fabrics get musty; elastic may disintegrate as soon as it’s stretched, after being stored for years. So many stored things get damaged by smoke, storm, or insects. And then, when you go to pass them on, you realize that the younger generation has no memory of the great-grands who made those things. Mom’s things are precious to me because I knew and loved Mom.

Some things are worth storing and passing on as antiques, but I’ve realized it’s folly for me to store these things for years, seldom using and enjoying them myself for fear of stains or wear. Our children have more than enough things of their own to store.

Image by Annie Spratt — Unsplash

The Elusive Wren

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was STALK

THE WREN

I stalk him in the lilacs
and round the poplar tree,
that elusive little wren
who sings so cheerfully.

House sparrows, on the other hand,
I toss them out some seed
and they're my friends forever.
They greet me eagerly.

The little wren is patient;
he waits the morn's first light
to harvest on my doorstep
the insects fried last night.

Many’s the time I’ve tried to get a look at the wrens in our yard and only saw a fluttering and movement in the leaves. But first thing in the morning, sure enough, here’s the wren cleaning off our deck, feasting on bugs that got too close to our porch light.

Image by Naturelady from Pixabay.

Shires and Such

Hello again. Here I am, sitting at my desk and working on my newly updated and fully functioning PC. Tra la la! But it wasn’t cheap. Anyway, I can access both my G-mail accounts now and the hard drive has had an upgrade that speeds it up a lot. So I’ve decided to give it a real test by posting tonight, something for my readers who love words and their etymology. I’ve been learning a few new ones myself.

I’ve been working my way through this book about the old Scottish and border kingdoms, from the earliest traceable Celtic people to the invading Roman legions, marauding Britons, Saxons, Jutes, Angles. There’s a lot of military history detailing all the cross-border warfare that went on amongst the kingdoms of northern England and all these invaders. I learned that Wales isn’t at all the local name; and they don’t refer to the rest of England as such. The Welsh word for England means “the lost lands.” With good reason!

He mentions well known figures like the victorious Authur — Moffat thinks he was a general rather than a king — and Merlin. He gives highlights of better-known Northumbrian rulers like Aedan, Aethelfrith, Edwin, Owen. He also details the expansion of the Catholic church in England. Thankfully the ancients weren’t illiterate and a few of them, such as the priest Bede, did set down the facts they’d seen or heard, so that a rough picture can be drawn.

The Faded Map: Lost Kingdoms of Scotland by [Alistair Moffat]
This author has done a thorough research on his subject.

As I read, I learned the origin of the word SHERIFF. This was once two words: SHIRE REEVEthe administrator of a royal shire. According to Lexico the Old English word scirgerefa. is composed of the Old English scīr ;‘care, official charge, county’, Germanic in origin, and the OE refa. In English and Welsh counties, the SHERIFF is the chief executive officer of the Crown, having various administrative and judicial functions. Some English towns still have a SHERIFF, an honorary officer elected annually. In Scotland a SHERIFF is a judge.

Another thing I learned concerns the area where my ancestors came from: Penninghame in Gallowayshire. Ham is the old English word for home, the “ing” denoting beside. So Penninghame are the homes beside the Penn. If I knew the topography of southwest Scotland I’d know what that means. 🙂 And nearby KIRKCUDBRIGHT is named after St Cuthbert, famous missionary-monk and later leader of the early Northumbrian Church. Kirk is church, so, Saint Cuthbert’s Church. You need to hear a local pronounce the district name, Kirkcudbrightshire — I’ve been told it doesn’t sound anything like it’s spelled. 🙂

And that’s enough meandering in the murk of word origins. It’s great to be back at my old desk, though. Take care everyone.

This Week Chez Nous

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve been having a good week? The past couple of days haven’t been so great at our house, what with a pain in the arm as well as severe pain in the wallet and chaos in the office. Hopefully we’ll recover; my arm injected with the Covid booster (Moderna) on Monday, is already improved, but it was very sore yesterday. I felt light headed, listless, and had several long naps; hopefully the effects have worn off and I can resume normal life now.

I wasn’t hearing the latest news, but Bob was telling me that the Premier of Quebec just announced there will be a tax levied on residents who have declined to be immunized, since these folks are giving half the cases straining provincial hospitals now. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” I guess?

I cooked dinner for the residents at the Villa on Sunday, inviting two couples to join us and the residents. (For those of you who know folks here, they were Wendel & Heather and their four sons — Heather brought dessert & corn — and Ben & Lucille.) Usually when families are invited for Sunday dinner at the Villa, they bring some part of the meal, which is very helpful for the cook!

Monday we up-heaved the office some when I took my PC to the computer doctor in Outlook before going for my booster shot. Remember the old expression, “slow as molasses in January”? I’d turn it on and wait and wait! So it needs an upgrade, and the repair man is also fixing a few programs that don’t work. It will be great to have my mail G-mail account accessible again, but I may probably cry when I get his bill. I’m still whimpering over yesterday’s shell-out.

Yesterday, while I was taking life easy at home, Bob went to the city. Among other things, he got a replacement for the key I lost last week. Beware, everyone. These high-tech keys may be small things, but a replacement costs plenty — in the neighbourhood of $700 CDN!

Worth their weight in gold?

When he got home from the city a package had come in the mail: a mounting bracket for his monitor. Now he can adjust the height. However, to install this, he had to empty and remove a shelving unit that sat along the back of his desk, which means the office is in chaos this morning. (One used shelving unit for sale. What offers?) Chaos can actually be good in the long run, seeing how things never used can so easily get stored away and become part of the decor until you have to move them for some reason.

Our “severe cold spell” is past and we’re into a “severe” mild spell now, though I doubt the weatherman would ever call it that. The temp went above freezing yesterday; it’s -4 now at 10 am; the ice has melted off our windows. Out cats are acting rather squirrelly and are eager to go outside. Stepping outside now, it feels like spring — but we’re not deceived 🙂

Feeling Oorie on a Lowering Day

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was OORIE – Also spelled OURIE, says Lexico.

Never heard of it, but it’s supposedly a word Robert Burns used in one of his poems. Since I think a lot of Bobby Burns, I won’t knock it. I frequently quote his ”The best-laid plans of mice and man gang oft aglay.” The story of my life, it seems. 😉

Lexico’s definition of OORIE: dismal, gloomy, cheerless, miserable (as a result of cold, sickness) Nowadays we’d say, “I’m feeling rotten.”

Yesterday I was definitely feeling OORIE. At times my brain seems to be firing neurons at random, which makes every task feel overwhelming and the general outlook gloomy. Haven’t painted for six weeks. Nor written much; maybe I should give up blogging indefinitely? It didn’t help that I lost my car keys the day before.

We had our belated Christmas dinner with our children and grands on Sunday. Chewing on a caramel candy after dinner, the best-laid plans of mice and man went aglay when I bit on something hard – which turned out to be a piece of my back molar. Leaving a jagged hole for my tongue to rasp against. On Wed I was finally able to get to my dentist and have that smoothed down to bearable and “let’s leave well enough alone for now.

Bob’s car key clicker (automatic door opening button) wasn’t working well, so at one stop I gave him my keys. He gave them back once we were in the car and I must have put them in my coat pocket, thinking he’d need them again. We went to the food court at a mall for dinner. Walking out afterward, I couldn’t find my keys. Went back to our table. Nope. Emptied my purse. Nope. Checked the car floor. Nope. Phoned the mall lost & found. Nope. They’d gone aglay big time.

Today feels more hopeful, in spite of a grey sky. For one thing, it’s warmed up a lot – relatively speaking. It was -33 yesterday, only -23 this morning, and now, at 2 pm, the temp reads -18. Our cats are even wanting to step outside, where yesterday the frosty breath of winter discouraged them as soon as the door was opened a crack.

I also woke up this morning with a cheerful chorus running through my mind: “I want to leave this things behind me, want to climb to higher ground…” Great plan, don’t you think?

Some fine snow again today. Our grandson plowed our driveway for the second time this week. We wanted snow – now we’re getting it — almost daily since Christmas Eve.

Speaking of the weather brings to mind the word LOWERING. With the long oh sound (as in go), lowering means coming down; to lower something is to put it down. But with the ow sound as in flour, we get the second definition:

Lowering, also spelled louring, means dark and threatening. Cloudy, hazy, heavy, overcast. At least I’ve only ever seen it referring to dark menacing clouds.

Which makes me wonder if LOUR and OURIE spring from the same linguistic fount.

And then there’s GLOWERING, again with the ou as in flour.
An angry or brooding look. To look or stare with sullen annoyance.

These words all came into England from Scotland – so might they be cousins? The word GLOWREN has been in use in Scotland since the late Middle Ages. Originally referring to staring intently or in amazement, the meaning shifted to stares of annoyance or anger rather than astonishment.

Beyond that, etymologists have determined that glower is a distant relative of Middle Low-German glūren, which means to be overcast, and of the Middle Dutch gloeren, meaning to leer — the origin of our word GLARE.

Books 2021: A Finale

As I write this, I suppose some of you will be toasting the New Year, some may even be seeing the first morning of 2022. I’m wishing for all of us that this coming year will be more encouraging and upbeat than the one we’re leaving behind.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was FINALE – and last night I finished the last book in my 2021 GoodReads reading challenge. At the beginning of last year I set a goal of reading 80 books in 2021, and I accomplished that. In fact I surpassed it, as the book I just finished was #125. Mind you, some of these were simple children’s books – but every book counts.

The shortest book was 32 pages, a children’s book called MAC & CHEESE, by Sarah Weeks, a tale about two cat friends. “Macaroni and Cheese are best friends, yet they couldn’t be more different! Mac likes to pounce and bounce and jump, but Cheese just sits there like a lump.” But one day Cheese has just the answer Mac needs for his problem.

The longest book is actually a three-volume set, Apple Orchard Mysteries, 639 pages in all. A quick easy read with characters who are ditzy and wise-crackers rather than clever. If you’re looking for a good mystery and MC’s with some sense, forget about these and go for Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple + Hercule Poirot, or Dan Walsh’s When Night Comes (#1 in the Jack Turner Series.) In 2021 I reread almost all Diana Xarissa’s Markham Sisters, very mild cozy mystery series. Funny that I liked these so much and her Isle of Man series featuring “Aunt Bessie” not that much.

Book #125 may have been my last read, but I gave it five stars. DON’T EAT THE PUFFIN: Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life by Jules Brown, is delightfully descriptive, written with humour and respect for the environment, the locals and their customs. He’s even embedded You tube links in a few of his stories so readers can get a glimpse of the sights he saw. In his last chapter he pays a warm tribute to his brave, open-minded father who lived in 47 countries and visited thirty more. I read it one chapter at a time over several weeks, savoring all his adventures – though not all the food he consumes. It was well worth the journey!

Brown, a travel writer by profession has written several travel books and blogs at https://julestoldme.com where he recounts his many adventures abroad. He writes for a travel company, but has his own book publishing company, Trust-Me Travel, his own You Tube channel, and posts on Facebook @ JulesBrownWriter. His next book, likewise sharing some common sense travel advice is NEVER PACK AN ICE PICK.

Now I shall close, wishing you good health, blessings and comforts in the new year.