More For-Fun Haiku

mission accomplished
Henry the Hereford rests in the shade
bull dozer

Local farmers plan their herd’s “seasonal activities” well. In the pastures around us now we’re seeing the offspring from last summer’s mating season. Though around here the cattle are almost all Black Angus.

Also noticed on a recent walk:

poplar shoots
punch holes in our driveway
a hostile takeover

Writing its memoir?

flick of my finger
sends the spider flying
scribbling its last line

The Bank’s Broke

In the past few days I’ve been doing more study on how to write haiku, so my mind was in poetic form yesterday on our trip to the city. Here’s another “just for fun” verse, reflecting our want of a good rain:

streaks in the west
someone’s getting rain
no socialist cloud banks

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Farming practices have changed so much over the years that you seldom see dust blowing off bare fields, but I did see one small bare patch of ground yesterday where the ground was being swept away in the strong wind. In the mall parking lot bits of dirt whipped in my face when I walked west.

The crops and gardens are all greening up here. We’re glad for the light showers we’ve had so far this week, but would gladly take another few inches. The sloughs around us are pretty much dried up already.

ducks search for water
to wet their toes
a dry spring

 

Thrift Store Finds

Here are a few writers and titles books you might watch for if you’re in a used book store. I highly recommend all of them as good reading:

Three Came Home, by Agnes Newton Keith © 1946, 1947
Published by Little Brown and Company, Boston, MA, USA

When the Japanese army took over Borneo in May 1942, Agnes and Harry Keith and their 18- month-old son were taken prisoner along with others from the British colony there. The men were put in one prison camp; women and children kept in another. This insightful book reconstructs the scene immediately before the invasion, the two years and four months they were interred, and their trip home.

With clarity and charity Mrs. Keith details life in the two prison camps, their ways of coping with abuse and starvation rations. She describes guards, prison commanders and interpreters as well as her fellow prisoners. In her opening she says, “The Japanese in this book are as war made them, not as God did, and the same is true of the rest of us… If there is hate here, it is for hateful qualities, not nations. If there is love, it is because this alone kept me alive and sane.”

She has also written WHITE MAN RETURNS, BAREFOOT IN THE PALACE, and LAND BELOW THE WIND, which describes their life in Borneo (an English colony in the South Pacific) before the war.

Hot off the press…

HOT APPLE CIDER, © 2008
A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider
, © 2011
A Taste of Hot Apple Cider  © 2014
Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon  © 2015
Christmas With Hot Apple Cider © 2017

These “Stories to stir the heart and warm the soul” have been compiled by N. J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles and published by That’s Life! Communications, Markham, Ontario, C anada. Each book is a collection of stories by Canadian writers, sharing experiences of divine guidance and comfort, short fiction, and poems.

And three interesting books about the Depression years in Canada

THE WINTER YEARS by James H Gray
Published 1966 by MacMillan of Canada,
reprinted in ‘66, ‘67, ‘68 and ‘72

James Gray, born in Whitemouth, Manitoba, was working as a clerk for the Grain Exchange in Winnipeg during the Twenties. They were good years; credit was easy and work easy to find. He married, bought a home, and in the late 20’s he left the Grain Exchange to go into business on his own. Several things he tried didn’t pan out, then he started up a mini- golf business in 1930. This shut down that fall and he found himself in debt and out of work.

In February 1931, almost out of food and fuel, two months behind in their rent, with a wife and daughter plus his parents to support and absolutely no hope of finding work, he finally swallowed his pride and took that long walk down to the Relief Office. No one dreamed that this depression would last eight years!

Mr. Gray shares his own personal struggles; he also gives the overall picture of what was happening on the prairies and in Canadian society in general during those years. As the back cover says, “The Winter Years is a story of hobos and housewives, radicals and aldermen, farmers and judges. It’s a moving tribute to the courage and resourcefulness of the human spirit.”

The Great Depression
©1990 by Pierre Burton, published by Anchor Canada

This is an overall analysis of the 1930’s in Canada, starting in 1929 and going through the decade year by year. As well as covering the overall political scene, the author gives very interesting personal experiences, details about weird weather, plagues of insects, families applying for relief, prejudice and deportations, etc.

Apples Don’t Just Grow
© 1956 by Maida Parlow French

Widowed at the beginning of the Great Depression, with three small boys to raise, Maida Parlow found her earnings as an artist didn’t pay the bills. She chose to leave Toronto and take her sons back to the abandoned farm her grandparents had owned. It was still in the family, the old apple orchard sadly neglected, the house totally run down.  Still, she was determined to bring it back into production and sell apples.

Before she left the city a friend advised her to keep a diary of this new adventure. Years later she published it as this book detailing the highlights in their day-by-day struggle to survive and all the mistakes she made trying to grow and sell her produce. A compelling memoir!

“You Have Won A Free Trip”

This is an old news item, but hope it gives you a smile this morning:

An Iowa farmer received a suspicious phone call one morning—from his own cell phone.

A few hours earlier he’d been sorting hogs to take to market that day. During the process he took a few minutes to call the house and check if there were any messages for him on his answering machine. After getting the message, he stuck his cell phone back in the top pocket of his bib overalls and went back into the pig pen to continue his task.

The phone must have fallen out of his pocket and into the pen as he climbed over one of the fences. Later, when he was back in the house his phone rang. He said, “Hello?” and voices at the other end said, “Grunt, grunt, squeal, squeal, snort!”

Evidently his hogs had found the cell phone and managed to hit REDIAL. They say pigs are really quite intelligent creatures. Maybe they were complaining about the conditions in their pen, squealing on on unruly pals, or ordering in more chow?

But the farmer interpreted the message as:
“You have won a free trip to the barn, followed by a lively treasure hunt.”

Winter Has Its Blessings

Another “character-building” winter day is dawning here in Saskatchewan. Thermometers in the city of Saskatoon are showing -29C / -20F at 7 am with a bracing wind chill equal to -37 C/ -34 F. (Actually the wind is only 8 kms per hour, but at this temp it doesn’t take much wind to give you an invigorating bite if you think of standing around outdoors.) Forecast high today is -21C / -6.

My heart goes out in sympathy to folks who normally live on the street and I’m so thankful there are organizations like the Salvation Army and various street missions that open their doors to the homeless and give them a warm meal. And I’m thankful for my own warm home. It’s a great day to build something at my sewing machine.

During the past few weeks I’ve been going through some scribblings, keying poems and what-not into my computer so I can toss out some of my space-absorbing paper collection. Here’s one silly poem I’ve saved for an especially chilly winter day.

Yes, there are some advantages to a deep freeze.

Ode to a Prairie Pest

What can the use of a grasshopper be?
Not even one purpose occurs to me!
Do you think that God in his great wise ways
has a reason for you on hot summer days?

Or are you guys here to help us know
the blessings of the soft fluffy snow
and cold that freezes those little chins
to keep you from eating the grain in our bins?

So I’ll give thanks for snow a-crunching
that deadens the sound of insects munching.
And now that I think it’s grasshopper free,
how very beautiful heaven must be!

Tuesday Tales

Hello everyone! I’d like to give a special welcome to all the new readers who have “Followed” me this summer and fall so far. I hope you’ll find some enjoyable and interesting articles, poems, etc., here.

Time has moved on and fall has definitely arrived in our area. Most of the fields have been harvested, now golden round bales of straw sit in what were once wheat fields around us. Sandhill cranes have returned, stopping to glean for a few weeks on their way south. They are particularly fond of the field across the road so we often see them and their glub-glub-glubbing fills the air. It’s amazing how such big birds can sound like bullfrogs!

Our weather has been terrific for the farmers; today we’re having the first rain in over a month. My sympathy to those of you who have been swirled and tossed in storms and had the Caribbean Sea dumped on you. I hope you’re getting some sunny days so you can dry out and pick up the pieces. We, on the other hand, are hoping for enough rain to fill our sloughs again; a lot of them have been bone dry for several weeks now.

Our children and grandchildren came over for Sunday dinner and afternoon — always an enjoyable way to pass the time — and in the evening we went to listen to the young people singing at the Villa retirement home where I used to cook. This they do on the third Sunday evening of every month and it’s inspiring to sit and listen as they sing a dozen songs or so. I spent a couple of hours there this morning, too, visiting with one senior lady having coffee and helping do a jigsaw they had on the go.

I haven’t been doing much book promotion since Silver Morning Song went live on Amazon and Kobo, but I did join Goodreads last week. Today I listed my books in their author promo program. Trouble is, visiting all these helpful sites like Goodreads and LinkedIn takes time, especially reading over the valuable discussions on how to write and market your work. I find lists of great books others are reading plus other authors like myself who are eager to have someone read and review their book. So I volunteered to write a review for one book through Goodreads and one through Story Cartel.

Speaking of book promotions, Pastor J S Park sent out an e-mail saying that since this was Suicide Awareness Prevention Month, he was giving away his book about depression: How Hard It Really Is. Check his blog for details:  Book on Depression free this month.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s also National Literacy Awareness Month in the US. I’m thinking we finally won’t have enough months for all the special events that want to have one of their own.

Yesterday we took a trip to the city and I walked down the aisle at the Dollarama seeing all the Christmas decorations on display already. By now the Halloween stuff is almost passé. This does get a little ridiculous. 😦

I asked a question on a Goodreads forum this morning; now I’ll ask it here as well. I’d like to study some good examples writing in the omniscient point of view. That is, a story told as if by a “narrator” watching the drama, describing the scenes, making observations about the characters and what they’re thinking, but not as a character in the story. Do you have any suggestions of novels written this way?

So what are your goals for the next few months? Leave a comment and tell me what you have planned.

Breaking the Land

It’s time for another Friday Fictioneers post and today’s prompt inspired me with a poem of sorts. Many thanks to our patient and inspiring host, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, for shepherding our FF group through green pastures teeming with tales, and to Danny Bowman for the challenging prompt. I see the various muses have been productive even given this barren landscape to write about.

Speaking of productive, I’m delighted to tell you all that my book is published and now live on Amazon! (Fireworks and cartwheels 🙂 )  Silver Morning Song is a collection of poems, short stories and fables. I plan to publish it on Kobo as well; I’ll likely spend today doing that, plus setting up an Author Account on Amazon and generally telling the world. And as all authors will say, I’d really appreciate reviews. 🙂

On to today’s prompt:

Right now we seem to be in a world of unprecedented water and storms; eighty years ago it was unprecedented drought. I’ll dedicate this verse to all the poor inexperienced homesteaders who came to these Great Plains and were advised to deep-plough their fields every fall. Took the ‘Dirty Thirties’ to prove agricultural advisers of the day so wrong. Farmers today practice “no till” farming.

PHOTO © Danny Bowman

BREAKING THE LAND

We said we’d break this land
with hope and bare essentials.
Our ploughs cut deep
furrows across its face —
then we couldn’t catch it.

The wind owns this land,
had we only known!
Tore the dirt from our fields,
dumped it five miles east,
then threw it back at us
in the next west wind.
Our seed grain went with it;
clear to oblivion.

The land froze us in winter,
baked us in summer,
dried us like tumbleweeds in fall
and the wind blew us away.
Through long ragged years
tried to break this land,
‘til the land broke us.