Blissful Retreat

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was BLISS. And Frank Prem writes about wanting to attend their annual Rainforest Writing Retreat. What a blissful thought!

Actually the thought of any retreat where you can kick back and relax with friends/fellow writers sounds great, especially when their official website invites you to “Escape reality with your fellow writers in Australia’s lush mountain rainforest at O’Reilly’s in Lamington National Park!”

Yes, BLISS! Just a continent and a small fortune away. Sigh. Frank laments that he can’t go either now, because of new COVID restrictions in their area.

RETREATS: An Absence of Real-World Temptations

Twenty-five years ago I knew a lady in Montreal who went on several retreats. Not the blissful kind, though. Over time she paid out what amounted to a small fortune to spend time at a holistic health retreat in the country, where she did nothing but NOT EAT. For $70 a day she was given a tiny room with a bed, a dresser and not much space to move, where she spend several weeks at a time just resting, supposedly cleansing her body of toxins, reading, meditating, praying. She could walk around, but there was no encouragement to exercise; folks were there to purify their bodies.

She felt this effort brought her closer to God, but she also had practical motives: lose weight and quit smoking. Someday I’ll write more about her episodes, but suffice it to say, the plan didn’t work in the long run. Living only on water and juices, of course she lost weight. Back in the real world food and nicotine tempted her as always. Coming home after a retreat one time, she ordered an extra-large pizza — and ate the whole thing. Then her body was suddenly overloaded and she suffered. In all that enforced deprivation, she’d let self-discipline slip away.

So I shall forgo rainforest retreats until my ship comes in. Even being in a gorgeous, low-stress setting, surrounded by all those good vibes, won’t guarantee that a person would spend the time in her seat writing every day once she’s home again. The enthusiasm and inspiration would be a boost any writer would enjoy and you’d come away with fresh inspiration. However, it still takes self-discipline to keep pounding the keyboard when those temptations to skip off and play come beckoning. 🙂

Pixabay image

An Impromptu Tea Party

Looking for inspiration, I rambled through my STORY files this afternoon and found this mini-fiction scene written ten years ago, in March of 2011. It was my response to my writing group’s challenge of that month: to use the words BROOM, FRIDGE, ALMOND and DOUGHNUT.

And I see Fandango’s One-Word Challenge today is IMPROMPTU, so here goes…

THE TEA PARTY

Spring fever attacked me full force that morning when my little girl begged me to come out and play. She said she’d baked a cake and we could have tea. Who could resist? I threw my “TO DO” list on the counter for “LATER” and gave myself to the sunshine, the little girl inside, and the little girl outside.

When I arrived at the playhouse she was sculpting her “Tea cake” that looked like a huge mud doughnut. Using her sweater sleeve as a broom, my gracious hostess swept off one of the chairs so I could sit down. I donated two elderly chipped mugs and a plate of real cookies to the celebration.

“I wish I had some nice sprinkles for the icing,” she sighed as she shredded some grass blades and tossed them on the cake. I had to agree: the green shreds weren’t very aesthetic.

“I have an idea,” I said, taking her hand and leading her to our flowering almond shrub. “Just a few,” I said, “for this really special cake.” How many times had I told her she mustn’t pick these blossoms because we wanted to see them blooming on the tree? They made lovely sprinkles.

She poured imaginary tea into the cups, then took a pitcher of “cream” from the cardboard box fridge and added some to the tea. “Would you like sugar, too?” she asked, handing me a bowl of ice melt granules.

“Yes, I’d love some.”

She gave me her biggest smile. “Mom, you should come for tea every day.”

I think of what older ladies have often told me: “Children grow up so fast; enjoy them while you can.”

“Well, maybe I should look over my To-Do list and see if I can fit a tea party in once a week,” I agreed. “If you’ll help me pick up the toys after supper every day.”

Her eyes sparkled as she accepted the challenge. We had a lovely tea party — one I’ll remember a lot longer than the folded laundry, the cleaned cutlery drawer and the emptied dishwasher that I did manage to do in spite of taking time out to play.

Mini-Wow

 A lively little pooch, we say,
 a silly scalawag
 with ears that never will stand up
 and plumy tail to wag.

 Considered all the normal names,
 then called him Mini-Wow.
 Because he's always in a rush
 to go somewhere, somehow.

 Shenanigans he's into
 would make the saintly bawl!
 And mother's moue was fearsome
 for that dead rat in the hall!

 He's carried off Dad's papers
 and battered Missy's doll;
 he's chewed my nicest slippers
 and punctured Tommy's ball.

 He’ll tear around the table,
 dash through an open door,
 chase his tail, plague the cat – 
 why don’t his feet get sore?

 "If I had half his energy,"
 Dad frequently exclaims,
 "I'd face each day with zoom and zip
 and join in all your games."

Ragtag Daily Prompt: MOUE
Fandango’s FOWC: SCALAWAG

We Witness a Drive-By Shouting

At 7:30 last night I was just finishing up my shift at the Villa, the seniors’ residence where I cook a few meals every week. My husband, who was waiting for me to finish my work, asked if I could hear a siren. He’d already alerted the residents that something unusual was going on outside, so they were all watching from the large picture window that faces the car port.

We saw a Fire Department vehicle, sirens blaring and lights flashing, drove into the Villa parking lot. A moment later we had the opportunity to witness first-hand a Drive-By Shouting.* We were forewarned that this would happen, but it was to be a surprise for the residents.

Two of our seniors had birthdays yesterday; Melvin turned 86 and Wilbert 91, so their families, together with the Villa board arranged this birthday party on wheels. Wilbert’s great-grandson and a friend drove up to the carport in a sort of dune buggy with flashing lights; they jumped off and fastened a large banner between two pillars on the outside of the carport, facing the picture window. “Happy Birthday Melvin & Wilbert,” it read.

Then they led a long procession through the carport, the two men’s families, Villa Board member and a number of others from the congregation. Our guess is at least twenty vehicles passed through our carport, with passengers honking and waving — much to the delight of the two “birthday boys.” Many vehicles were decorated with signs and balloons; in the back of one pickup two young people held up a large plywood sheet with Happy Birthday painted on it.

As they say, “A good time was had by all.”

Actually, we later heard that the local Fire Department had been involved in an earlier drive-by shouting, together with friends and family, for a Mrs Smith who turned 95 yesterday.

*I don’t know how widely used this term is, but a Moose Jaw reporter recently wrote about “the increase in drive-by shoutings” in that city, so I’m borrowing it. When folks are supposed to be self-isolating, they find creative ways of interacting. And there’s no ban on drive-bys.

I’m happy to say that our residents — and most residents of seniors’ & nursing homes in the province — have escaped the virus thus far. The stats I’ve heard today for Saskatchewan are: 301 diagnosed with Covid-19; 187 recovered; 4 deaths. So we’ve much reason to be thankful to date.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is BAN

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.