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.

Child Critics

Being busy getting ready for a trip, and planning to do a mini art show soon after we get home, I’ve decided to re-publish a couple of quick tales from past posts.

Satisfying the Discerning Reader

One woman tells of how she summoned up courage, took the plunge, and became a writer of children’s stories. After all she read dozens to her three young children; she should be able to write them, too. So she penned a few and sent them off.

Joys untold! One of her short stories was accepted and published in a children’s ‘Annual.’

One evening not long after the edition appeared she took the book upstairs when the children were getting ready for bed, informing them she was going to read them a story she wrote herself. “And, see, it’s published in this book now!”

Her three youngsters listened patiently as she read. “Well, did you like it?” she asked after she’d closed the book.

They looked at each other and were quiet for a bit. She watched the wheels turning in their little minds and sensed all was not well. Then the youngest of the three answered, “Well, it was a really good story, Mom. But tomorrow night can we please have a real one?”

Why Isn’t It?

A grandfather took his little grandson to the art gallery one day. With program in hand they wandered through looking at the various displays. They came to one picture and both stood there silent for awhile, trying to make some sense of it.

“Whatever is it?” the little boy finally asked.

Grandpa consulted the program. “It’s supposed to be Sunset over the Lake,” he said in a doubtful tone.

The boy looked at it for another minute. “Well, why isn’t it then?”

These stories….
have been retold from old editions of The Friendship Book of Francis Gay, published yearly in England by D.C. Thompson & Co. There are many interesting little stories & poems in these books and you can often find them at Second-hand shops or used book sales. Current editions can be bought in most bookstores at the beginning of the year.

Rabbits

A humorous, familiar tale by Edgar Guest

Rabbits

Janet has a pair of rabbits just as white as winter’s snow
which she begged of me to purchase just a week or two ago.
She found the man who raised them and she took me over there
to show me all his bunnies, at a dollar for a pair,
and she pleaded to possess them so I looked at her and said:
“Will you promise every morning to make sure that they are fed?”

She promised she would love them and she promised she would see
they had lettuce leaves to nibble and were cared for tenderly.
And she looked at me astounded when I said, “I should regret
buying pretty bunnies for you if to feed them you’d forget.
Once there was a little fellow, just about as old as you
who forgot to feed the rabbits which he’d owned a week or two.”

“He forgot to feed his rabbits!” said my Janet in dismay.
“Yes,” I said, “as I remember, he’d go scampering off to play.
And his mother or his daddy later on would go to see
if his pretty little bunnies had been cared for properly,
and they’d shake their heads in sorrow and remark it seems too bad
that rabbits should belong to such a thoughtless little lad.”

“Who was the boy?” she asked me, and the truth to her I told,
“A little boy you’ve never seen who now is gray and old.
Some folks say you’re just like him,” but she looked at me and said:
“I won’t forget my bunnies! I’ll make sure that they are fed!”
And she bravely kept her promise for about a week or two,
but today I fed the rabbits, as I knew I’d have to do.

🙂

Image: Engin Akyurt — Pixabay

Why Mom?

Reading Dale’s response to Crimson’s Creative Challenge has inspired me to have a go at it as well. Like Dale wrote, it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these. You can read all about the CHALLENGE here, and this is the photo meant to inspire us:

https://crimsonprose.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/ccc122.jpg

And here’s my 150-word true-to-life tale:

“Mom, why’s that duck’s head and front blue? Did somebody dye it?”
“Why doesn’t the other have a blue head, too? Are they different kinds?”
“How come the one’s beak is yellow?”
“Why’s the brown duck’s feathers sticking up like that? Is it mad?”
“If they aren’t mad at each other, why aren’t they swimming together?”
“Why are the ducks only here in summer?”
“What do ducks eat when there’s no popcorn?”
“Where do ducks sleep at night?”
“If they fall asleep in the water, will they drown?”
“Why aren’t there any baby ducks? And why…”

Randi was trying her best to answer Frankie’s many questions as they strolled along the creek, but was feeling rather brain-strained when an older woman approached them on the walk.

The elderly lady gave Frankie a big smile and told Randi, “Someday you’ll think of this as the best time of your life.”

Not Home

papa opens the door
mama peers out the window
not home yet?

This was us last night.
The weather has turned mild and our little Tuffy is discovering delights in the great outdoors. Intrepid adventurer, but does he understand the dangers? Is he wary of swooping owls? Prowling coyotes & foxes? Potential pitfalls in the woods?

I was preparing supper at the Villa when he went out in the afternoon. He hadn’t come back yet when I got home at 9pm. Nor at at 10pm, nor 11pm. I stayed up to read, checking the decks again at midnight. No sign. Checked again at 12:20 — and there he was at the front door, none the worse for the wear. I cuddled him a bit, then I could go to bed and rest in peace. 🙂

He’s off exploring again the morning. The world is such an intriguing place!

Tuffy’s just a kitten — actually almost grown, so about “teenager” stage now. But this episode gave me a tiny taste of the worries parents feel when their young know-it-all, “I can take care of myself” teens stay out until the wee hours. So many evil lurk! So many dangers we’ve sheltered them from, and they have not yet built secure defenses against these!

Last night I found rest in the knowledge that God knows, that He sees every one of his creatures. Even when the little sparrow falls, He sees it, the Bible says. With his help there will be a way through the consequences: this is “the peace that passeth all understanding” that can steady our hearts and minds.

You know you can’t hold teenagers under your wing all the time or they’ll rebel. But how hard must it be to shut the door, go to bed, and trust that whatever happens, you’ll make it through. To trust that if you can’t walk through it your Father will carry you.

Whatever the reason, if you’re stressed about the future and what all might happen, I hope you can find hope in this verse:

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

I Peter 5:6-7