Something Precious

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today was SOMETHING.

We had our usual Sunday morning service, then company came for dinner, and I’ve been reading a novel this evening. So I’m very late getting something written, but here’s my little verse:

I’ve heard exquisite music
some philharmonic’s played,
and been in great cathedrals
to hear skilled voices raised.

At times a passionate solo
brings a lump to my throat;
and my heart has been inspired
by a quartet’s rousing notes.

But so much more exquisite
are the tunes of our own crew
in the evening when we’re singing
those old songs tried and true.

There’s something so appealing
when childish tones ascend
to join with ours in melody;
as the evening hours end.

And “the night is filled with music”
as the long-gone poet said;
the home with joy keeps ringing
when we’ve all gone off to bed.

Hula-Hoop Flexible? Not.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today — which I’m so slow at responding to because of a trip to the city this morning — is FLEXIBLE.

A great word, and a great concept. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone were flexible, both in body and in mind. Not flexible with the truth, like saying black is white or “If it feels good, do it.” Just flexible enough to ponder new ideas and make the change when something better comes along.

Flex.OCArtBut my first thought in regard to the word “flexible” is how I used to be when I was young. Hula-hoops were all the rage and we used to writhe around all recess keeping our hoops moving around our waists. It wasn’t one bit hard, either, as I recall.

As fads recycle, hula hoops reappeared when my grandchildren were younger and I decided to try it again, for old times’ sake. (Those old times before I knew what arthritis meant.) There was something wrong with the way this hoop was made, though: it wouldn’t stay where it was supposed to. When I gave it that first spin and started gyrating to keep it circling, it dropped to the floor. Every time. I soon gave up. Either the thing was too rigid to twirl properly or perhaps modern plastic is just too heavy.

Ben Wicks and British History

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is ENGLISH

England.David Rock DesignAn ocean of ink wouldn’t cover this topic, but I’m going to tell you about several books I’ve enjoyed. When I was a teen Ben Wicks was a popular cartoon artist, drawing the life of the indolent Andy Capp and his long-suffering wife, Florrie. After he’d immigrated to Canada, Mr Wicks wrote or compiled a number of books centering around World War 2. Great for readers who are interested in British history through the eyes of those who lived it.

Wicks was a boy in London when World War II was declared and one of the evacuees, but made his way back home in time to watch the dogfights in the London skies during the Battle of Britain. He writes about his own experiences during those years, plus he has contacted and interviewed hundreds of other evacuees and shares their stories in his books, No Time to Wave Goodbye and The Day They Took the Children.

The English government feared—and rightly so—that major cities like London would be targeted for heavy bombing. If schools would be hit thousands of children’s lives could be lost. So the plan was hatched: as soon as war was declared all school age children, a number of teachers, also a number of young moms with preschoolers, would be evacuated from London and other southern cities.

It was fruit-basket upset. The children and their teachers marched to the stations one morning, given gas masks, loaded onto trains and shipped into the country. Many inner city children had never seen it before. Small town and country folks with a spare room or two had been ordered to take them in; at the train station it was “come and take your pick” from the weary, frightened lot that arrived. Cute little girls and big boys who could work were picked first. Siblings who clung to each other, refusing to be parted, and children with disabilities had to wait and wait, wondering if anyone would take them in.

I’ve read No Time to Wave Goodbye* and it’s a fascinating collection. The book is written in a positive note, but the stories are frank. Some children made friends for life, while others were starved, neglected, even abused. Some homes found themselves with slum children who’d never learned manners or personal hygiene; some children came from well-to-do homes and found themselves boarded with rustic families in cramped quarters. Many were evacuated to areas where they couldn’t understand the local dialect at all.
*© 1989 by Ben Wicks. My copy published by General Paperbacks, Toronto, ON

Promise Me You’ll Take Care of My Daughter* is another interesting book of experiences, this time those of War Brides who married Canadian soldiers. There were 48,000 women who came to Canada after World War II as wives of Canadian soldiers. Ben Wicks has managed to contact a good sampling of them and has sections of the different aspects of their experiences: meeting their soldier; the wedding day; the good-byes for home and family; coming across; the new home; meeting the in-laws.
*©1992 by Ben Wicks. Stoddart Publishing Co, Ltd., Toronto, ON

He also wrote Nell’s War and When the Boys Came Marching Home, the latter a book about the joy and turmoil returning soldiers experienced after the war was over.


The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is MAGIC

This bit of rambling can also be my response to Biff’s Whatnot Wednesday, over at biffsockpow, if he’s doing one this week.

Seeing the word MAGIC made me wonder if it’s related to MAJESTIC, since they sound so much alike. However, Merriam-Webster informs me that they spring from two different roots:

Magic comes to us via French, via Latin, via the Greek magikē, which in turn comes from magos, a sorcerer. This word, of Iranian origin is kin to the old Old Persian maguš which means sorcerer. A well travelled word indeed!
Majesty and Majestic come to us via the French majesté, from Latin majestat-, majestas; akin to Latin major, which means greater.

In case you wanted to know. 😉

Magic is definitely a popular theme in our day. Ancient tales give us to think that wishes might come true through supernatural, reality-defying means. I suppose lotteries cash in on this “Cinderella” dream, the magical win which makes a person suddenly rich enough to afford anything they wish.

Fairy tales and stories of magic can be an amusement for youngsters; to some extent they can be used to portray the great conflicts of life, good versus evil. The triumph of love and kindness over selfishness and cruelty. I believe C S Lewis created his Chronicles of Narnia with this in mind, showing Jesus as represented by the all-knowing, all-wise, just but gentle Aslan.


Children also need to understand that, in real life, things aren’t going to get done by magic. To raise happy, well adjust children, parents need to help them grasp reality as it is and deal with it as it stands. Things like math and spelling proficiency or an orderly workspace aren’t going to fall from a twinkling fairy wand; the child must work at them. Victory may involve a constant battle, but there’s “joy in the journey.”

Being watched in my early years by babysitters with no personal investment in my future, I’ve had to learn some of this the hard way myself. No sudden windfall from a long-lost uncle to fill our bank account; no little elves sneak in at night and clean up my kitchen for me. 😉

I remember my father years ago making a comment about prayer in the same sense. We were talking about prayer, how God hears and answers prayer, and great things being accomplished through prayer. Then he looked around and said, “That may be, but prayer isn’t going to get this floor washed. I’d better get at it.”

He was being flippant, but he had a point. Some things happen, people meet “coincidentally”, dangers are avoided by a few minutes, answers to a problem pop into our heads, in quite miraculous ways through divine intervention. But, as my Dad said, the basic work of life we usually have to deal with ourselves.

A Grandchild’s Worldview

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is RETIRE

My response will be this short fiction tale about a grandpa’s morning out:

Murray’s a grandpa a dozen times over and loves all his grandchildren. He especially enjoys being with the youngest ones before they begin their school years. He regrets not having had as much opportunity when the older ones were small, but those were his working years. He’s retired now, but still in good health and can enjoy some playtime hours with the little ones.

One day he was out with five-year-old Amanda, pointing out different interesting things to her as they walked to the children’s park. As they strolled along Murray noticed a cat cross the street in front of them. He pointed it out to Amanda and said, “I wonder where that cat belongs? It shouldn’t be wandering on the street.”

“Maybe that’s the one Grandma was looking for. Oh, Grandpa, we should catch it and take it to her right away, in case it is!”

Murray was puzzled. “But Grandma doesn’t have a cat.”

“That’s ’cause she let it out. I heard her talking on the phone before and she told the other person that she should have been more careful and not let the cat out of the bag. She said now somebody’s going to know about it and they aren’t supposed to. If we catch the cat, maybe everything will be okay?”

Amanda was so serious that Murray swallowed his chuckle and gave her a comforting answer. “I’m sure that’s not the cat Grandma let out of the bag. I’m sure that one is still in our house somewhere.”

“How come she was keeping it in a bag?

“You’ll have to ask Grandma that when we get home.”

“Cats don’t like to be put in bags, do they, Grandpa?”

“No, I don’t think they do.”

“We should tell Grandma she shouldn’t do that. And cats don’t like it when you put baby clothes on them and stick them in a pram, either.” Amanda nodded knowingly. “Our kitty jumped out and ran away. Then she got all tangled up and clawed the doll dress and Mom said I shouldn’t do that again.”

“Your mom’s right. You shouldn’t try it again.”

Soon they arrived at the park and Amanda rushed toward the swing sets. Murray helped her get seated and started pushing her, thoroughly enjoying himself. He grinned as he thought about the explaining Grandma would have to do when they got home — if Amanda remembered.

“Grandpa, I’m sure glad you don’t have to go to work like Daddy does. He can only take us to the park on weekends.”

“That’s one of the good things about being retired,” Murray told her. “I can go for walks and come to he park with you whenever you come over.”

“What’s retired?”

“It means you’ve worked long enough and earned enough money that you don’t have to get up and go to work every morning anymore. You can stay home and you get paid anyway.”

“My Daddy has to go to work all the time. I told him he should stay home with us, but he says he has to work ’cause we need the money to buy food and clothes and stuff.”

“Yes, your Daddy has to work some years yet before he can retire. I worked many years, too, before I got to retire. When your mom was a little girl, I had to go to work every day, too. That’s how it goes.”

“When I grow up, I’m going work just a little bit, and then I’m going to retire like you,” she said. “Then I can stay home with my children and we can all come to the park and swing every day. You and Grandma can come, too.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” Murray agreed. Oh, to be young and so blissfully innocent!