I Donate A Book

I see five days have past since I last posted. Lost interest in Bloganuary, for one thing: so much self-analysis. And I’m not ill – in fact I’ve been been feeling well enough. I’m rather spending time editing a book I wrote eight years ago. I’d like to get this done just in case the day comes when I feel too blah. I’m not expecting that, but you never know.

When my oldest grandson was in school and enthused about Hardy Boy mysteries, I offered to write one for him. At least along those lines: teens facing a challenge from criminals. However, I’ve chosen to make these young men Christians, which means a different response than chasing after bad guys and a lot of biff-sock-pow. I did one edit in 2018; now I need to polish it.

How times have changed since this series first saw the light! Both Hardy Boys got equal billing, one time you’d hear Joe’s surmising about a suspect, then Frank would be puzzled over a clue. Descriptions were limited and rarely did the writer pen more than a sentence or two about their feelings. Rather a lot of action and dialogue. I used that style; now those critiquing my story are complaining there should be only one main viewpoint/character and half as much dialogue–needs more scenic description. Sigh.

A few days back I read a post from Brian called The Power of a Children’s Book. Take a minute to read this interesting article. It brought to mind my childish effort to get other children to read what I thought was a great book.

Back when I was in Grade One I got THE UGLY DUCKLING as a present and I liked it so much. Today we’d say, “It resonated with me.” I loved how the rejected ugly duckling morphed into a beautiful swan! I wanted every child to be able to read this story, so I told my mom, “I want to give my book to the library where others can read it.”

She probably hid a chuckle and I remember her asking, “Are you sure you want to?” But I was determined, so she took me to the library and I handed my precious book over to the librarian. The lady accepted it graciously–though, come to think of it, she probably had two or three other copies of the same. If she thought I was a queer little girl, she never let on but accepted the book in the spirit with which it was given and did whatever with it to make it a library book.

I went on to make good use of the other picture books in her library–and many other libraries through the years.

Today we were at a used book store in the city and I picked up a Hardy Boys book to refresh my mind on the style. I’ve read this one before, so will donate it to the local library–if they need a copy. Or to my friend who has a Little Library set up in her front yard. Good stories are for sharing, right?

Image: MabelAmber — Pixabay

No More Coddling!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is CODDLE. We ladies had a little discussion in Sunday school yesterday about “How much to do for your children,” which fuels my response to this prompt.

NO MORE CODDLING!

Jake tapped the corn syrup bottle in disgust. “Mom, I want the maple syrup, not–”

His father interrupted. “If you want maple syrup, get it yourself.”

Mom was already half way out of her seat when Dad grabbed her arm. “Sit down, Nancy.”

She protested. “I can get it for him, Dan. He’s probably tired from all his building yesterday.”

“Oh, yeah. I’m exhausted!” Jake added a weary sigh for effect. He looked from one parent to the other, waiting to see how the ball would bounce.

Dad put an arm on Mom’s shoulder. “If you continue to coddle him, he’ll want you fetching and carrying for him when he’s thirty-five. When he and Tim were working on their tree house yesterday, he was carrying wood and pounding nails for an hour. He can manage a syrup bottle now.”

Jake rolled his eyes, got up and shuffled to the fridge. He grabbed the syrup and plunked it on the table, dropping into the chair again with a martyr’s sigh.

Mom watched her eight-year-old boy pour syrup on his pancakes and wolf them down. Tears picked her eyes. Would the time come when he didn’t need her at all – for anything?

A moment later Jake slipped off his chair. “Some of the guys are getting together at the school to play scrub. Is it okay if I go?”

Dad grinned at him. “After you put the syrup back in the fridge, and help your mother clean off the table.”

The Old Red Barn

The Bloganuary challenge today is indeed a challenge for me: What is the earliest memory you have?

You see, I have many bits and snatches of early childhood memories, but which one is the earliest? Impossible to say, so I’ll go with my memory of playing in Grandpa Forsyth’s old red barn. This one was built in 1917 when Grandpa and Grandma Forsyth came to the Melfort, SK, area to farm and it looked like a zillion others that dotted the prairies when I was young.

These folks weren’t really my grandparents, but because I was raised by Dad and Mom Forsyth, I refer to his parents as Grandpa and Grandma, though I never knew either of them. My birth parents (Dad Vance being a sister to Mom Forsyth) being dirt poor, lived in a small trailer on Grandpa Forsyth’s yard. I had a brother Jim, who was eleven months older than me, and we were inseparable. Donna, 2 1/2 years younger, would have been the baby.

Apparently before I was four, Jim and I were left to pretty much run free on the farmyard. I still remember that one of our favourite things was to run into the barn and into the part aside which was the chicken coop. Here the ladder to the hayloft was hung. We’d climb up this ladder and jump down from the big doors of the hayloft, get up and do it again. I can’t tell you the exact distance to the ground, but it had to be a drop of at least a dozen feet (3 metres). I don’t know what Health & Safety would say these days about 2- to 4-year-olds leaping from barn lofts, but we survived and had great fun.

At least until Dad and Mom Forsyth moved to BC when I was four and took me with them. We came back to the farm later, but then moved to the city when I almost six. After that my connections to my siblings were limited to summer and Christmas holidays. Folks visited the old farm for a number of years –in summer to gather the orchard fruits– and I still remember the old red barn.

All Those Lovely Gifts!

AS IT GOES
by Edgar Guest

In the corner she’s left the mechanical toy,
  on the chair is her Teddy Bear fine;
the things that I thought she would really enjoy
 don’t seem to be quite in her line.

There’s the flaxen-haired doll that is lovely to see
  and really expensively dressed,
left alone, all uncared for, and strange though it be,
  she likes her rag dolly the best.

Oh, the money we spent and the plans that we laid
  and the wonderful things that we bought!
There are toys that are cunningly, skilfully made,
  but she seems not to give them a thought.

She was pleased when she woke and discovered them there,
 but never a one of us guessed
that it isn’t the splendor that makes a gift rare– 
 she likes her rag dolly the best.

There’s the flaxen-haired doll with the real human hair,
there’s the Teddy Bear left all alone,
there’s the automobile at the foot of the stair,
and there is her toy telephone;

We thought they were fine, but a little child’s eyes
   look deeper than ours to find charm,
and now she’s in bed and the rag dolly lies
  snuggled close on her little white arm.

From the book Just Folks by Edgar A Guest
© 1917 by the Reilly & Britton Co.

Firecracker

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was CONNIPTION. In response I’m going to post one of the stories I wrote awhile back, and read at the POETRY NIGHT two weeks ago. I’ll embellish it a bit for today’s prompt.

Image from Pixabay

Firecracker

See that handsome young rooster? That’s Firecracker. Raised him from a chick, I did, fed him, fussed over him, gave him lots of TLC so he’d be nice and plump come fall. He was a cute little guy back then, especially when he started following me around the yard. I’ll admit, I’m going to miss having him tagging along after me, but now that he’s full grown, he’s going to be the star of our Thanksgiving table.

He wasn’t very old when the grandchildren named him Firecracker — and we thought it was kind of a cute name, so it stuck. I’ll tell you why he got that name. Oh, yes, he can make enough noise when he wants to, like at 5am when you’re wanting another hour of sleep. But you should hear him explode when he catches sight of a mouse or rat around the chicken yard. One day the grandchildren were in the yard fussing over him like they do, when he spied a mouse in the grass nearby. They said he went off just like a firecracker and went dashing over to do battle.

He’s been really good that way. Every time he sees a rodent he goes after the thing, calling all his ladies to come help him. He has a certain kind of squawk that says, “Enemy spotted!” and the hens come running. Our dog, Duchess, dashes into the action, too, when she hears that sound. Between them all, they make short work of rodents. And what a conniption if the intruder manages to escape into a crack in the wall!

I’m thinking old Duchess will miss Firecracker. The hens will, for sure, but he’s destined for our Thanksgiving table. One can’t be too sentimental about these things.

One thing I’ve been happy about is how good Firecracker behaves when the grandchildren come over — maybe because they’ve fed him grain and other tidbits ever since he was just a spring chick. Roosters can sometimes be cantankerous, but not him. And you know how kids are: as soon as they get here, they rush out to see Firecracker. He usually comes running when he hears their voices, to see what treats they might have for him.

Maybe we shouldn’t have let them spoil him quite so much. When I told the youngest grandchild last week that Firecracker is going to be our Thanksgiving dinner she got all sober and sad-looking for awhile. I probably shouldn’t have said anything. I guess she’s going to miss seeing him around.

One of the grandsons must have heard about this, too, because he phoned a few days ago and asked, ” Grandma, are you really going to cook Firecracker for our dinner?”

“Well, yes. We can’t eat him raw.” I was trying for a little levity but by the gulp I heard from his end, I guess he didn’t appreciate my humor. So I gently explained to him how Firecracker has had a good life and now it’s time to say goodbye, because he belongs on our Thanksgiving table. That’s what Grandpa and I raised him for. This is life on the farm.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve got the bread cubed and in the freezer for the stuffing. On Tuesday my husband’s going to dispatch Firecracker. I’ll tell you, plucking that bird is going to feel pretty odd — he has such beautiful plumage, you know. Oh, hang on a minute…my phone’s ringing. Call display tells me it’s my oldest son.

“Hi, Jason,” I say. “How are things going? Glad to hear it. By the way, I wanted to let you know we’re planning to have our Thanksgiving dinner at 5pm this time… What do you mean, you’re not coming? … Are you saying NONE of you are coming? But why? I have this huge meal planned…

“Your kids are all refusing to eat Firecracker. Can’t you just explain that he’s part of our Thanksgiving meal – that’s why we raised him. What are we supposed to do with him if… What!?”

I tell Grandpa about the call and he shakes his head. “What a conniption!”

“The grandchildren have all emptied their piggy banks and they want to buy Firecracker. They want to keep him as a pet, of all things, and we can just let him live here. The family is offering to bring fish for the meal—Jason says none of them know any fish.”

“If that doesn’t beat all! Guess he’ll live to a ripe old age then.”

“I’m not especially sentimental,” I tell him, “but I’ll admit I’ve gotten rather fond of old Firecracker myself. And for sure the hens will be more content having him about the place. Even Duchess will be happy if Firecracker lives to chase more rodents.”

“Guess we can do this to make the grandchildren happy,” says Grandpa. “But next year we’ll buy a bird from the store and not let them see it before it’s cooked and on the table.”

Grandma’s Story Mat

Good morning everyone. We’ve been looking out at a snowy yard for the past couple of weeks, I thought I’d better change my header to reflect the change of scenery here. Found this wintry image on Pixabay, by photo artist Picoflop.

Time for a tale — and today I’m going to respond to two prompts. the Ragtag Daily Prompt word this morning is VOLUTE. Think SPIRAL:

Or think of Jane Kenyon’s verse about “the involute rhubarb leaf, like a mad red brain, thinks its way up…” She wrote some great verses!

I’m also going to respond to GirlieOntheEdge’s Six-Sentence prompt, where the prompt word is ETERNAL.

Grandma’s Story Mat

How fondly I recall the times we sat by Grandma’s rocking chair, on this same volute mat; I’d rub my fingers over the scratchy surface and find comfort in knowing Grandma made it with her own hands. Every month it was a bit rounder as she continued to braid and attach new coils – telling us it was a good past-time now that Grandpa was “resting” and she didn’t have him to look after anymore.

The mat lay near the hearth, so the warmth of the fireplace toasted my back as Grandma wove her stories for us. Only later did we find out what she was up to, and were all amazed when a book written by our grandma appeared on Amazon one day.

Seems she had an eternal fount of stories in her mind, tales of ages past that she’d learned as a child, stories from her own life; she entertained us for hours while Mom was off doing the daily shopping.

When I was ten, sitting by her hearth, feeling the comfort of her love and listening to her tales kept me from despair when Dad was in the hospital – palliative care, they called it – and Mom was spending most of her time with him, sharing their last days as best they could.

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Rope mat Image by Andrew Martin — Pixabay