A Cordial Welcome

OH, FOR MORE HOURS TO WRITE!

Good morning to everyone reading this post — and I’d like to say a special hello and welcome to my newest Followers. I appreciate everyone who takes time to read my posts and hope I can provide content that interests and inspires you.

As you can see from the Menu above, I am a creature of many moods and hop all over the board with my topics and genres. And since a number of bloggers have stepped into the role of Prompt-provider left vacant when The Daily Post moved out, I’m getting half a dozen new suggestions every morning. (If you’re interested in checking some of these sites, you’ll find the links in my BLOG ROLL under Writing Help.)

Oh, for more hours in a day! — the universal cry of mankind with stuff to do. However, I don’t want to flood my followers’ In-boxes with posts; I suspect most of us don’t have nearly enough time to read blogs as it is. I know I don’t. And summer always adds extra things to my to-do list — including just being out there enjoying it. 🙂

One of the things I have on my plate today is a sewing project. I wish I loved to sew. Think of all the lovely clothes I could make for myself!

OH, FOR MORE FERVOR TO SEW!

I did love to sew years back. Now it’s a very moody thing for me: when I’m in the mood, I enjoy sewing. Otherwise it feels like a mountain I have to — and don’t want to — climb. I’d rather be reading! Do you have any things like that in your day, things you know you MUST do — but then you just hate the task if only because you HAVE TO do it?

Once in a great while, however, the urge to sew comes upon me and I’m enthused, eager to start. So I act upon it, praying I’ll get whatever it is I’m sewing finished before the mood passes. And right now I’m enthused about whipping up a lightweight cotton dress for the summer.

And I’ve been rewarded! First off, because I’m working out a new pattern, designing it on paper first, adjusting it for my particular size — and it’s coming together nicely. When you’ve had breast cancer, it isn’t always easy getting a pattern to fit well.

My second reward came yesterday as I was sitting at my machine pinning pieces together. I’d opened my widow and could hear the twitter – twitter – twitter of the swallows in the nest outside, above and just to the left of the window. It dawned on me that all that noise must be the babies getting active. I looked out and sure enough, two baby swallows were trying to poke their heads out, fussing like siblings do when both want the window seat.

Finally one pulled back and the other took a gander at the big world outside — and saw me through the screen looking up at it. For a moment we both eyed each other, then I went back to my sewing. Soon, soon, these little guys will be out exploring, or lined up along the clothesline just below the nest. I love this time of year!

OH, FOR MORE MOSQUITO-EATING BIRDS!

We actually have three active nests of swallows tacked to the house, and a pair of barn swallows who’ve made their own nest in our yard. We’ve been very hospitable toward swallows, since they eat mosquitoes by the ton every summer. After this summer I’m going to be even more so, because I’m reacting so much to mosquito bites these days. I get huge bumps that itch for almost a week and often leave a scar when they finally subside.

Yes, our welcome mat is out to all swallows. And wrens. I’m really enjoying hearing wren songs from various spots around our yard every morning. And on that note I’d best end this ramble and get back to my sewing before the mood passes again.

🙂

RAGTAG Daily Prompt: HOSPITABLE

Mini-Showers of Blessing

robin larger

American robin

“Oh, for the showers we plead!”

When I looked out my dining room window first thing this morning, I saw a robin hopping around on the lawn, foraging, and immediately a song popped into my mind:
“There shall be Showers of blessing
Oh, that today they might fall!”

This was because Mr Robin was poking around in the circle left by the sprinkler yesterday. I could almost imagine him waiting and hoping for the shower to start falling again, as it did all afternoon yesterday from our little round sprinkler. The local birds were in raptures as they fluttered about on the edge of the circle. Our lawn is rather dry and patchy on the east side of our trailer, which meant a few little depressions between the tufts of grass were catching the excess. Small birds flopped into these and bathed to their hearts’ content.

Out here on our acreage our water comes from a well shared with several families, so we don’t water our lawn very generously. Our poor grass has to make it as best it can through the summer. And with the lack of rain these last two months, the sloughs around us have about dried up, so the birds are happy to come and enjoy the blessing of showers under our sprinkler. Robins, goldfinches, siskins, and yellow warblers are our most trusting bird visitors, but even the odd oriole was popping down from the nearby woods and spending some time in the cooling spray.

We have a forced-air, water-cooled radiator. In simple terms, our trailer is cooled on these hot days by circulating cold water through our furnace pipes. A fan blows this cool air into our trailer and our sprinkler is the outlet for the pumped-out water.

Walking across our yard I see small white flicks as tiny hoppers spring out of my way. Too bad the birds don’t eat them! We’re going to have a good crop, looks like. We’ve just come through a wet cycle, almost ten years cool, rainy springs, which decimated the grasshopper population — thanks be! But give us a few dry springs like this and they’ll be thick again.

Scott Bailey’s one-word prompt for today was Native and the Daily Addictions prompt word today was Abundant, so I’m covering both in this short description of my native land, the western plains or “short-grass prairie.” The soil right where we live, on the Canadian Soil Map, is classed as “dune sand”— sandy straight down. Water doesn’t lie long on our yards and fields; we never get gumbo or greasy mud after a rain. But the water table is quite high here, thanks be!

Our most common native tree is sage or silver buffalo berry — Shepherdia argentea; you see it in every pasture. And chokecherry bushes. Poplars and willows spring up anywhere where a ravine or large slough collects a summer supply of water. And of course the first settlers planted trees, especially during the years of drought. This land really blew once it was broken by the farmers’ ploughs!

I checked the thesaurus for synonyms of ABUNDANT, which were ample, bountiful, generous, liberal. Well, we have not had abundant rainfall. In fact we’ve had precious little this month.

Dark rain clouds blew up Sunday afternoon and we thought we might get something. But we only felt a few sprinkles and the clouds blew around us to the north. When we gathered at church Sunday evening we heard that folks north of us got 1 ½ to 2 inches. My next-door neighbour laughed and told the blessed recipient, “Well, we’ll know where to come in fall when we get hungry.” Last night there were storm clouds all across the western sky and a storm definitely rolling in. But, again, it rolled around us.

Interestingly enough, other synonyms are : enough, sufficient, adequate. (Which goes to show how elastic our English words are.) Nevertheless, I’d best not complain because the crops are green and growing, not heat-blasted and parched. Which means that though we haven’t had any outpouring, there’s still sufficient moisture for our needs — and water in our well for us and our bird friends.

Yellow warbler fc option

Yellow warbler

Hold Still!

by Margaret Penner Toews

Wee little hummingbird, caught in a wire,
Halt, little bird, or your wings will tire:
In your little-bird world your plight is dire!
Hold still, wee bird, hold still!

Wee little hummer, don’t flail, don’t fight!
If you’d stop your frenzy you’d be all right.
It’s the flailing that causes your awful plight.
Hold still, little bird, hold still.

Is your wee little scream a little bird prayer?
How can I tell you, wee bird, I care?
You pause at last and numbly stare.
Don’t be afraid! Hold still.

Spent, despairing, you rest your wing.
I reach. I touch. What a fragile thing,
The delicate body quivering,
A hummingbird, holding still!

In my palm you tarry a little bit,
Then shake, and away like a breath you flit.
I stand astonied at the thought of it…
A hummingbird, holding still!

How tiny the feather you left behind!
…And then of a sudden there comes to mind
The truth God wanted for me to find:
“Hold still, my child, hold still.

“Stop your frenzy and rest in Me.
It’s the flailing that hurts you, don’t you see?
Whate’er your predicament, trust in Me.
Hold still, my child, hold still.”

.
From her book FIRST A FIRE
© 1993 by Margaret Penner Toews

Imagination

by Edgar Guest

The dreamer sees the finished thing before the start is made;
he sees the roses pink and red beyond the rusty spade,
and all that bleak and barren spot which is so bare to see
is but a place where very soon the marigolds will be.

Imagination carries him across the dusty years,
and what is dull and commonplace in radiant charm appears.
The little home that he will build where willows bend and bow
is but the dreamer’s paper sketch, but he can see it now.

He sees the little winding path that slowly finds his door,
the chimney in its ivy dress, the children on the floor,
the staircase where they’ll race and romp, the windows where will gleam
the light of peace and happiness – the house that’s still a dream.

You see but weeds and rubbish there, and ugliness and grime,
but he can show you where there’ll be a swing in summer time.
And he can show you where there’ll be a fireplace rich with cheer,
although you stand and shake your head and think the dreamer queer.

Imagination! This it is the dreamer has today;
he sees the beauty that shall be when time has cleared the way.
He reads the blueprint of his years and he can plainly see
beyond life’s care and ugliness – the joy that is to be.

From his book The Lights of Home
© 1926 by the Reilly & Lee Company

The Lily Bulb Rescue

My story started at the end of February 2010, a few weeks after our local Walmart received a shipment of spring bulbs. The bulbs had been packed in wood shavings and sealed in plastic bags with small air holes so they wouldn’t mould. The bags came in colourful display boxes so customers could admire the potential flowers and hopefully purchase the bulbs.

But it was still winter. Those bulbs should have been stored in a dark, cool place for another two months, but when they arrived at Walmart they were put on display in a warm, light environment. After a week or so they decided it must be spring and started sending out shoots.

Around two weeks later I happened to be in Walmart and wandered over to the display. A mental alarm bell started ringing, warning me to keep away from anything living – like plants. I already had a couple of African Violet “rescues” at home blooming their hearts out. But, drawn by the appealing colours, I yielded to temptation and checked out the lily bulbs.

I picked up several packages and examined them. This is a no-no for me, because I know what shape Walmart seasonal plants are often in: sadly neglected and suffering. And these definitely were.

By this time the shoots were from three to six inches long and reaching for light in whatever direction it could be found, hampered by those tiny bags. Some stems had grown a few inches, hit the end of the bag and turned around in a U. Some snaked like an S. They’d all grown as far as they possibly could and their topmost leaves, crammed up against plastic, would soon start to rot. It amazed me that the store hadn’t discounted them yet.

Seeing things like this always irks me. In most of these huge marts plants have a certain time to sell – a time when some effort is put forth to keep them alive – but after that initial period if it lives it lives; if it dies it dies. (Which is why I came to carry home some bedraggled looking African violets another day.) I know it’s business as usual, but these are living things. They need some care. And if things start to go south, put the plants on sale and move them out as soon as possible. Rotting leaves don’t make for an attractive display.

Okay. I have a soft heart and/or a weak mind. I searched through the plastic bags and found the bulbs with the longest, kinkiest, shoots, the ones most in danger of being hopelessly deformed. I did limit myself to three bags, though – three dozen bulbs – and carried them to the cashier, wondering all the while if I should get into therapy. When I got them home I immediately opened the packages to give the poor leaves a reprieve from the threat of mould.

Now what? It would be at least another month until I would even see the garden (now under four feet of snow.) I couldn’t leave the bulbs sit until then. Fortunately I had a bag of peat moss on hand and half a bag of potting soil, so I got a basin and mixed up a batch of soil, hunted up some old plastic pots and planted the things. When I ran out of pots, I found a stack of disposable plastic tumblers in the cupboard, and employed them in my rescue operation.

It wasn’t very easy to plant the bulbs, as kinky as their shoots were. I had to weigh down some of the pots so the heavy shoots hanging upside down over the edge wouldn’t pull the whole pot over. But I planted all thirty-six and set them in our wide, cool windowsill where they’d get the morning sun.

A couple of weeks went by and the shoots slowly reoriented themselves toward the light. Some remained a bit kinky at the base, but most of them straightened up nicely. About eight weeks later I planted them in the garden, wondering how they’d take the chilly spring nights. They held up well; every last one survived and grew into a nice, upright plant.

In July they bloomed – and they were gorgeous! I took a bouquet to the seniors’ home and the folks marvelled at their beauty, their colour and scent. One lady who was visiting there the next day called me to ask what variety they were. She thought I must have purchased some really special collection.

I told her, “Yes, in fact I did.” And she laughed when I told her about their “upbringing.”

Word Press daily prompt word: Reprieve

Diners on My Driveway

Mourning doves, prim and proper,
strut along, poke among the pebbles
for windblown seeds.
Their muffled cooing
mellows the morning air
while a jaunty flicker nearby
jack-hammers ant homes.

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

May Doings at Our Place

The tree swallows have been back for several weeks and are busy building their nests now. One pair has found our bathroom exhaust fan vent to their liking again so we’re hearing tiny scratching noises in the cavity. A few mourning doves have returned and I think I’ve seen some wrens in the last couple of days, as well as different warblers and the first goldfinches.

A couple of days ago a small flock of thrushes landed in our yard and have been foraging in our garden and on the driveway ever since. There are three kinds of thrush that come through here: hermit thrush; Swainson’s  thrush; gray-cheeked thrush. These are either Hermit thrush or Swainson’s, but it’s pretty hard to tell from pics in bird books.

They are still scattered around the yard this morning. Such cute birds with their pudgy white tummies, speckled at the throats, white eye rings. They won’t stay around; their nesting grounds are in the pine forests farther north, but I enjoy seeing them passing through every spring and fall.