Cutting the Mustard

Good morning everyone. The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is MUSTARD — and yesterday’s prompt was HORN. I’ll touch on the two in one quick sweep.

I wonder how many prompt followers will think of the old song, “He’s Too Old to Cut the Mustard Anymore.” Probably not many, as this song was popular before I was born. I only dimly remember it, and my mom singing snatches of it around the house sometimes. In this song a fellow is blowing his horn about all the things he could do when he was young…but the frailty of old age has set in and his mobility is limited. Once the girls were all eager to spend time with him. Now “they push you around in a four-wheeled chair.” If you’re interested, you can read the lyrics here.

My Dad Vance would have identified with this song. Always a physically fit and active man, when he was in his seventies he’d walk the seventeen miles from Moose Jaw to Belle Plaine to visit his sister, no problem. But his one hand was starting to shake — the beginnings of the Parkinson’s disease that finally immobilized him. He hated the thought of being tied in a wheel chair, but for him it became a reality because he couldn’t get up and walk by himself.

Of course there’s the MUSTARD plant…and wild mustard. This is canola country and wild mustard, a close cousin to canola, is a real nuisance if it infests a canola field. Wild mustard seeds remain viable in the soil for many years, they sprout mid-spring, plants establish quickly, and anything that will kill it will kill its cousin, too. Worse, here in western Canada it’s developed a resistance to most weed killers. This picture is from Cornell University’s Agricultural Weed ID site.

For comparison, here’s a Pixabay photo of canola in bloom:

Image by GayleenFroese2 — Pixabay

I think that’s enough about old age and wild mustard. Monday morning laundry is waiting for my attention. Have a great week, everyone.

Some Days You Feel Like…

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is RESIDUE, a word which means that which remains.

Image by adege — Pixabay

Residue comes to us, along with many cousins, from the Middle French sedentaire and ultimately from the Latin verb sedere, meaning to settle. Through the years we’ve made much of this verb, stretching it out into words like dissident, sedition, preside, reside, sedentary, sediment, session, and even subsidy.

Reservoir, coming from reserve, refers to an extra supply held back, kept in store for future use. Sometimes when we feel fatigued, we are still able to draw from a reservoir of energy to give that last boost that helps us complete the task.

I’d like to have a full reservoir of energy, the oomph to accomplish tasks, especially now that it it’s spring, but with my CLL, my energy level feels more like the last bit left than an extra supply.

Image by Couleur — Pixabay

Spring Clusters

Good morning everyone! I’ve been more-or-less away from blogging for a couple of weeks, just popping in occasionally while we had a week of meetings at our church and I’ve had a few medical appointments to get through, but now I’m ready to get back into life’s normal routine.

It’s a cloudy Monday morning here where we live, and yesterday was the first day of spring, so I decided to celebrate the new season by changing my Header image. The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is CLUSTER so I searched on Pixabay for a nice cluster of snowdrops. I came across this picture of crocus, another spring flower. Doesn’t this make a nice soft, seasonal Header?

And here’s the cluster of snowdrops I found. They’re such hearty little flowers, braving the chill to pop up in early spring despite the snowy ground around them.

Image by pasja1000 — Pixabay

We’ve had about five days of spring that did a lot to reduce our whiteness, and yesterday we got a soft steady rain to further reduce the shrinking snowbanks. So nice to see water in the ditches again — a good beginning for replenishing our water table, so drought-stricken last year. However, endeavoring to chip away at the ice buildup on our sidewalk Thursday, I strained my right knee and am still hobbling a bit while it recovers.

I was feeling quite tired in January — an abnormal fatigue, I decided — and starting to get night sweats again. So I called the doctor to ask about my last blood test. He confirmed what I suspected: my white cell count is going up again. In other words, my CLL is coming out of remission and making itself felt.

For my newer followers, I was first diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL in May of 2013 and needed six months of chemotherapy treatment starting in March of 2016. That time I had chemo by IV, but my oncologist says this time she’ll give me pills. Much preferable!

I did a phone-call visit with my oncologist on Thursday and she isn’t very worried yet; the white cell count isn’t that high yet and the other blood counts are quite normal. My family doctor told me last Monday that my lymph nodes are still good. As cancerous lymphocytes build up in the body they tend to cluster in the lymph nodes, which hardens them.

In moments of leisure I’m sewing seven-inch squares of fabric together for blanket tops for our Sewing Circle to use. And reading of course — currently an Austin Freeman Collection of books and short stories written in the early 1900s. The author was a doctor himself and didn’t skimp on medical details as his main character, Dr Thorndyke, solved mysteries by clever forensics. Just finished THE EYE OF OSIRIS, which was compelling in spite of long details about the human skeletal structure.

Stumbling around YouTube yesterday, searching for books by D E Stevenson, I came across the channel of a woman who was recommending her favorite books by Scottish authors and/or stories set in Scotland. Books by Josephine Tey, O George, Nancy Mitford, Jean Shaw, Alexander McCall Smith. She gave them such good reviews — now I have more books on my “TO READ SOMEDAY” list!

I’ll leave you now with a few more CLUSTERS to inspect.

A cluster of blue butterflies –image by Hans Braxmeier
And a cluster of Christmas cookies –image by Jill Wellington.

Ready to Face It?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is READY. A very useful word that should give oodles of responses.

“Are You Ready to be Well?

The Gospels relate an incident where Jesus met a man who’d been a cripple for many years. Jesus stopped in passing and asked the man, “Wilt thou be made whole?” In other words, “Do you want to be well?”

The man was lying by a miraculous pool where an angel troubled the waters occasionally and the first one in after the turbulence was cured of their affliction. Many folks had gathered there, hoping for a cure, and this particular fellow had been lying there for years. He explained to Jesus how he could never get to the pool fast enough when the water started roiling. Someone else always beat him to the cure.

Jesus question seems very odd, but I see a number of undertones here:
“Are you ready to be well? To face the real world?”
Are you ready to leave behind all these friends you’ve been commiserating with for so long?
Will you give up the sympathy and charity of folks who pass by and start earning your own living?

There are many kinds of sickness and dependency in our world, and perhaps physical ailments are probably the easiest to say good-bye to. It may be hard to see the sympathy of friends dry up, but how wonderful to be able to move and breathe and function. No wonder people who’ve been cured are ready to sing and dance for joy.

Folks can get in a rut that’s uncomfortable or painful, but what they can see over the top looks pretty scary, too. One day a friend was lamenting her dependence on tobacco. She admitted that it was a costly, controlling habit. “It’s got your life,” she said. “I just can’t make it without my smokes.” Being a believer in prayer, I asked her if she’d like me to pray with her that God would give her the strength to quit. “No, I guess not,” she said. Either she didn’t believe God could help her leave this habit — or she was afraid He really would!

I think Jesus’ question is as relevant for us as it was back then. If medical science could come up with an amazing drug that could instantly cure people of substance dependence — replace all that dopamine the body’s lost so the person could truly start fresh — how many would accept the cure? Leave their old life, their friends? Or would the real world be too scary? As fellow blogger Martha K said not long ago, “You can’t get a person into rehab. If they don’t choose to go in of their own free will, it won’t do them any good.”

That First Step

We all have issues we put off as long as possible because they’re hard and will likely have unpleasant consequences. But finally we’re ready. We’ve circled this hill too long. Crossed the bridge emotionally dozens of times and still aren’t over. So we grit our teeth, square our shoulders and march forward.

Health issues. Quitting a habit, starting a diet and sticking with it. Undertaking a new and possibly risky treatment. Deciding what to do about your parent or child in a coma. The doctors are pressing for a decision.

Moving. All that packing and loading, unloading, rearranging! Moving away from home, having to stand on your own two feet, maybe having to support yourself financially. Moving elderly parents. Sorting out a lifetime of stuff. Moving an unwilling elderly parent. Facing the prospect of physically removing a parent with dementia from the home where they think they’re coping perfectly well. Taking away Dad’s driver’s license and/or car keys.

Tackling and finishing a project. Mending a fence when you know someone’s upset with you. Making that apology you know you should make. Backing up. And so on.

What “first steps” have you taken lately?

Beauty and The Beast

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was The Extraordinary in the Ordinary.

The idea behind this prompt was that there’s beauty in the simplest things and I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve been amazed at times by the petals of a flower, the iridescence of a bug, the symmetrical shape shape of a tree, the strength in a mechanic’s hands as he twisted a wrench. But today my thoughts have gone in a different line.

Innocence
Beauty
Murderous

Last Sunday morning my sister Donna lost her life to drugs.

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.