Snow This Morning

Fandango’s word for today is NUMBER

Well, the number here first thing this morning was zero. As in 0̊C / 32̊F. My cell phone tells me it’s +1̊ now, and my eyes tell me the ground is turning whiter by the moment, as a fine snow sifts down.

Our cats are not amused. They’re pacing around the house, bored, wanting the door open every little while so they can see if conditions have improved. The petunias in my big planters by the step are being buried in white — official end of season. A bit sad, I think. The snow will likely be gone once the sun gets out of bed and does its job; however, we’re not apt to see it shine through this dense cloud cover.

Better today than yesterday. Yesterday we, together with Daughter and Son-in-Law, drove two hours west to visit Bob’s cousin and wife, Paul & Vivian Letkeman. We haven’t seen them for a l-o-n-g time. Oh, we’ve visited at family funerals a few times since, but I think the number is 7 or 8 years since we’ve been to their place.

For close to 40 years they’ve had a ranch on the South Saskatchewan River near Leader and raised cattle. In later years they opened a few cabins and turned it into the Leaning Tree Guest Ranch. Now they’ve reached their upper 70’s and have retired from that, still have cattle and horses. Still very fit people. We had a great visit and they drove us around to see their acreage and the Texas longhorn herd Paul is building up. They aren’t ready to sell and move to the city yet.

On our journey yesterday we saw a lot of waterfowl migrating. A number of acres white with snow geese and/or dark patches of Canada geese. Some places the sky seemed full of small and large flocks winging south, or joining their kin in some newly harvested field. As we passed one creek I noted a large flock of migrating yellow-headed blackbirds that had settled on the cattails.

Today and tomorrow I’m supposed to be cooking at the Villa, but the numbers there are really few. The one couple is heading for a wedding in Alberta, which leaves one resident to feed. (Ben, a former resident, has moved to a nursing home in Outlook.) I’ll have to see if I can find some company to join us three for supper this evening. Tomorrow the resident’s son & D-I-L are coming to take him out, so I’ve no one to cook dinner for.

The numbers will be few in church as well, because one of our families’ sons got married in Michigan and the reception will be at another congregation about a four-hour drive from here. This is where the young couple will make their home, so quite a few families from here want to go. Including our own children and grands.

I’ll end this post with a few numbers from Saskatchewan history:

— In Feb of 1947 southern SK was hit by a ten-day mega-blizzard. All the highways into Regina, our capital city, were blocked. Train officials said conditions were the worst in Canadian rail history; one train was buried in a snow drift one km long and 8 metres deep.
— The winter of 1955-56 brought a 129-day cold snap, with recorded temperatures in several SK communities staying below -10C during that time. Perhaps this is why we heard, back when I was in school (circa 1960), that scientists were predicting another ice age ahead.

We were very sad to hear that the area around Ottawa-Gatineau, on the Ontario-Quebec border, was hit by a tornado yesterday. Our sympathies to all the folks and families affected.

I’ve been working on this awhile; by now we have a thick blanket of snow covering all the imperfections of nature, but the wind has come up and is tossing the tree tops around. Maybe I should bundle up and go build a snowman?

Whatever your weather, here’s wishing you all an upbeat weekend.

The Scottish Lowlands

Fandango’s one-word challenge for today: GUEST
As my response I’ll tell you about a travel book I once read:

My Heart’s in the Lowlands – Ten days in Bonny Scotland
© 2007 by Liz Curtis Higgs, published by WaterBrook Press.

“Let’s go, shall we? Just the two of us?”

With this opening, Liz invites the reader to be her guest and travelling companion on a jaunt through the Scottish lowlands. This is the place Liz loves to visit, the setting for her novels.

Through her vivid descriptions, she allows us to experience the sights, the cuisine and the ambiance of Dumfries and Galloway. She tells of castle ruins, ancient churches, Bobby Burns’ favorite haunts,  local attractions, bed & breakfast accommodations, shops and customs.

Liz has written a number of historical romances set in the southwestern part of Scotland and has made a number of trips to the region in the course of researching her stories. This makes her a great tour guide; you’ll enjoy the role of  a good friend as she chauffeurs you around and explains the history behind the places you’re seeing.

I enjoyed this book very much when I read it the first time but when I discovered later that my Vance ancestors came from Galloway, the travelogue took on a whole new meaning for me. I’d love to visit the area from which my great-great grandfather, the widower Joseph Vance, set off to seek his fortune in the new world.

He left Scotland around 1835, traveling with his young son and his three brothers. En route to their future home in Ontario these four brothers passed through New York, where Joseph won the hand of Miss Sarah Allen, daughter of Samuel Allen, originally from Vermont. Joseph & Sarah settled in Oxford County and produced a family of six boys and one girl, Sarah Jane. My great-grandfather, Samuel was one of the youngest.

As I read Liz’s book, I realized what a contrast the tall maple forests of southern Ontario would have been from the windswept moors the Vances left. What brave souls they were!

Even if you have no family tree roots in this area, do take the tour with her if you can get your hands on a copy of her book. She’s such a pleasant travelling companion; I’m sure you’ll find it a pleasure to be her guest for a few hours of reading enjoyment.

 

HOPE: Our Life’s Anchor

Fandango’s one-word  prompt yesterday was ANCHOR.

When I saw that word I sat down and let my mind — and fingers  — contemplate the subject. I came up with this writing before we left for church, thinking I’d have time to post it sometime during the day — but then our day turned out quite full. Anyway, here are my thoughts.

And now I can work in Fandango’s latest one-word prompt: FRAGILE,
An anchor cannot be a fragile thing. It hooks among the seabed rocks close to the shore and holds on for dear life. The anchor, and the line that holds it to the ship, are responsible for the lives of all those on board. Anchors and ropes are tested to be sure they’ll stand the strain.

When I saw the word ANCHOR, I immediately thought of that line in the old hymn, Whispering Hope.
“Hope, as an anchor so steadfast….”

Isn’t that the truth! Often the quality of our life is wrapped around HOPE:
the sick live with the hope of better days ahead,
the depressed carry on in the hope of brighter times to come
the poor live in hope of finding financial stability
the destitute live in hopes of a home, or at least a safe location
those who believe in a merciful Creator hope for an eternal reward
the grieving embrace the hope that their loved ones are in a better world now, or at least no longer suffer
and almost everyone lives in hope of finding and maintaining love, friendships, family ties.

Like an anchor keeps a ship from drifting off course in a storm, so hope keeps us heading in the direction of our life-goal, keeps us from being blown off course by gales of circumstance.

Hope anchors most of our actions; without it our days turn into a pointless, emotion-driven meander. Should our hope be a fragile thing, should it break as soon as adversity comes, courage usually fails and our ship might be tossed on a wild sea before we land in a quite spot again.

In extreme cases depressed people curl up in a fetal position and die. Mentally, people crawl into a shell when they’ve lost hope. Physically they cease to take care of their bodies and often fall into substance abuse.

An ANCHOR we need in this turbulent world
— and HOPE is a vital part of that anchor.

When Jesus walked this earth, He offered this promise: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls…” (Matt 12:29) He knew that finding this “rest for your souls” — peace of mind, freedom from guilt and fear — is one of humanity’s greatest needs. One of the best anchors in life.

He didn’t come to offer a guilt-riddled set of rules. (For some reason we humans naturally tend to gravitate towards religious systems that offer heaps of Dos and Don’ts.) Neither did He come to promote the freedom to do whatever we want, without conscience, using and stomping on other people to fulfill our own desires.

On second thought, He did give us some rules:
Turn the other cheek. Go the second mile. Forgive. Don’t hold grudges. Freely give. Respect your elders. Show kindness to the widows, orphans, and strangers among you. Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t make rules for other people that you can’t even keep yourselves.

Most people seem to know that these are good rules. that they’ll give folks a happy, stress-free life such as we all hope for.

One more thing about HOPE: It’s one of those beautiful “multiplying” qualities: a person can freely offer their hope to others without diminishing their own supply.

Has someone shared HOPE with you lately? Have you shared yours?

Senior Travelers

My husband will vouch for me in this regard. 🙂

With a cheery wave of farewell
we’re off! Adventure lies ahead.
A rosy dawn, a beckoning road,
the time and courage to explore
new spectacles, new vistas grand,
intrigue beyond each bend.

We rumble along, anticipating
amazing sights we’ll see en route,
as we wind through sunlit valleys
and quiet hamlets where
folks behind closed doors
begin another day’s chores.

Arid lands we may encounter
with highway grey, the bushes tawny,
wildlife staring as we pass.
We’ll admire the fertile fields we see,
crisscrossed with tractor trails,
and marvel at the forests rich.

So full of life, so full of pep —
and two cups morning brew.
How soon will we be stopping
for a washroom break?

The sun is bright, the car is warm,
the tires on the pavement drone.
My eyelids start to blink…
twas early I left my bed.
Wake me up when we get
somewhere…
zzz…

Fandango’s one-word prompt today: HIGHWAY

Notices + Absences

I notice that the Ragtag Prompt word for today is ABSENT
and Fandango’s one-word prompt is BOUND
so let’s see what I can build on these words.

I’ve noticed the lack of visitors to the hummingbird feeder this morning and had just concluded that our three lingerers must have left us when one zipped by the window. I am surprised. I was sure they’d be bound for the sunny tropics by now.

Yesterday morning my husband flew away, bound for a committee meeting in Québec. I will confess I don’t sleep well when he’s absent; so many things seem to go bump in the night! And last night more things than usual were bumping because a thunderstorm blew in about 1 am. A few good cracks penetrated my deafness, keeping me on my toes instead of on my pillow. One boom woke Pookie, who leapt to his feet, startled, around 2am. That didn’t help me to relax! Good thing this is just a short absence — and I’m thankful to know our neighbours are looking out for me.

This morning I got an e-mail notice that the haiku I submitted to an e-zine aren’t going to be used. I was actually a bit relieved. Now I can go ahead and  post them on my blog — which is really why I wrote them. I’ve read some terrific haiku in the various e-zines, but at this point poetry and haiku are just enjoyable sidelines to my main focus as a fiction writer. I’m happy to pen some verses but don’t want to direct my efforts toward becoming known as a poet.

Another writer of short verse, Frank Prem, calls his blog Seventeen Syllable Poetry, saying he doesn’t want to restrict himself to the traditional haiku form. Not limiting yourself to one poetic form definitely has advantages.

He also has his main blog where he shares longer poems. One of his collections is about his backyard tenant, the Eastern blue-tongued lizard, or skink. I enjoyed these verses about his resident lizard so much that I wrote one of my own — with apologies, Frank. 😉

Frank had a skink that lived neighbourly
Frank watched the skink
and wrote poetry,
poems of love and poems of war
day-to-day skink life at Frank’s back door.

A skink self-sufficient, with no one to thank,
content in his solitude —
intriguing to Frank.
Poems aplenty from this versatile bard
inspired by the neighbourly skink in his yard.

And now I must go on and do some work “while yet it is day, because the night cometh” when I hope to actually get some sleep. 😉

Due to Start Soon

Fandango’s prompt for today: DUE

Oh, what a flexible word! I was to the library yesterday and borrowed a couple of books that give drawing and sketching lessons. This is due to my continued curiosity about art and my hope to someday produce some. My books are due back — must be returned to the library by — Sept 18th.

Due to my continued interest in writing practice, I’ve subscribed to The Write Practice. Sad to say, I don’t often find the time to do the assignments, but I get their posts. and their Fall Contest is due to start soon; participants must enroll before Sept 14th. Do check it out.

I’ve also come to enjoy haiku & senryu, both reading it and writing it. Humorous, serious, sometimes a bit wry. Like this one I wrote after visiting Value Village, a second-hand clothing & housewares store:

seniors’ day
at Value Village
Volvos in the parking lot
😉

If you hop over to Call of the Page, you’ll see their haiku and senryu classes are due to start Sept 6th. If you enjoy this form of poetry, do consider these classes; I think they’re going to be a lot of fun.

Our hummingbirds are perhaps overdue to fly south. There were three twittering around here yesterday evening, and one came to the feeder this morning at 5:45 am. A new version of “the early bird gets the worm.”

And now I’m due to start my day with a quick visit to the Seniors’ Home where I work. Then back home to work on a writing project long overdue.

Heads up, everyone. Owing to — or due to — continued worldwide interest, NaNoWriMo will be starting again November 1st. Time to start thinking about our next Nano writing projects.

What A Seed Can Do

Here’s my response to Fandango’s prompt word this morning: INGENUITY

What A Seed Can Do

A seed fell one day
in a most hapless way
on pavement where no seed should be
but it found a small track
in the asphalt so black
and ventured to make a tree.

Yes, that seed settled back
in the tiniest crack
and put out the slenderest thread
which grabbed, on its trek
at some mouldy-leaf speck
and dug for itself a small bed.

It rained in the night
to the rootlet’s delight;
it drank in the droplets. Such blessing!
Then it reached out yet farther
and soon came another;
the process was surely progressing.

Now, this asphalt was meant
to entirely prevent
any seedling from ever amounting,
lest a weed in the way
spoil their parking display,
but the pavers weren’t ever accounting

for the way that a seed
given water and feed
can make for itself a nice living,
and to their dismay
saw a tree spring one day
from that asphalt so dark and un-giving.