Songs of Rejoicing

children balloons

by Edgar Guest

Songs of rejoicing,
of love and of cheer,
are the songs that I’m yearning for
year after year.
The songs about children
who laugh in their glee
are the songs worth the singing,
the bright songs for me.

Songs of rejoicing,
of kisses and love,
of faith in the Father,
Who sends from above
the sunbeams to scatter
the gloom and the fear;
these songs worth the singing
the songs of good cheer.

Songs of rejoicing,
oh, sing them again,
the brave songs of courage
appealing to men.
Of hope in the future
of heaven the goal;
those songs of rejoicing
that strengthen the soul.

From his book, Just Folks
©1917 by The Reilly & Britton Company

Happy Eclipse Day!

Monday mornings always inspire me. I like the feeling of a fresh start. A clean slate. A whole week to accomplish the things I wanted to do last week but didn’t get around to. Well, we’ll see about that one. 🙂

Today we’re looking forward to the grand spectacle in the heavens, 10:30am -1pm our time. It’s a glorious day here with clear blue skies, so we can expect a good views of the eclipse. Right where we live they’re saying it will be 70%.

If you’d fly over the Canadian prairies today, you’d see that harvest has begun in Manitoba. Around where we live the golden fields are waving in the breeze and farmers are greasing up their combines. Our goldenrod and Canada thistle are coming into bloom — the first signs of autumn. Our nights are cool. The hummingbirds are still coming to our feeders, but it won’t be long until they’re on their way to Mexico.

Blog-ographically, you are going to see some change here, too, more book reviews in the next few weeks. Over the past two years, while I’ve been recovering from my illness, I’ve read quite a few books. I know all writers appreciate a (hopefully positive) review on Amazon and Kobo so, since I’m writing them anyway, I’ll post them here as well.

“What goes around comes around,” they say. I’m hoping when Silver Morning Song goes live on the vendors’ sites folks will review it, so I should be ready to do the same for other authors. As I write this, my book of short stories and poems is being formatted for download to the net. I’m getting excited to see it for sale on Amazon and Kobo!

One thing I should mention:
If you do purchase any e-book from Amazon, be sure to read, or at least skim through, the whole book. Unless they’ve changed their policy recently, they don’t pay an author unless most of the book is read. If you’re paying them for the book it seems only right the author gets their share, even if the book isn’t that hot.

I’ll kick off with this review:
One star — but I’ll give the writer credit for having a terrific imagination.

510 Creative Writing Prompts: For Aspiring and Experienced Writers
by Jonathan Wright
Kindle edition sold by Amazon Digital Services

“To each his own,” they say, and this book of prompts is NOT my cup of tea.

Usually I can find something that interests me in a book of writing prompts but I skimmed through the whole book looking for what I’d call a normal scenario. Nada. These are all the sensational types. If you write sci-fi, horror, thriller, paranormal, zombies, etc, this book is full of prompts for you.

Gift From the Heavens

Our Friday Fictioneers prompt has popped into my In box again thanks to the efforts of our kind host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields over at Addicted to Purple. If you pop over to her blog you can click on the InLinkz blue frog and see other bloggers’ responses — and even add your own. Tossing a special thanks across the pond to CE Ayr at Sound Bite Fiction for contributing this unique photo.

Though I may find this a hard scene to do as a fiction tale, it’s going to be a breeze for me as non-fiction. The minute I saw this picture I remembered an unusual melon-sized rock our cousin Ron and wife Rose had sitting on their coffee table. It was such an unusual shape and color you had to ask for the story behind it.

PHOTO PROMPT© CEAyr

Circa 1928 Ron and his father were making hay in the field beside Old Wives’ Lake when this smoking ball streaked from the sky toward them. They watched in awe as the meteor splashed into the lake followed by a sizzling sound. A cloud of steam rose. Impressed, they went back to their task at hand.

Then came the Dirty Thirties; the shallow lake disappeared. One day Ron was cutting grass in the lake bed when he found this mottled black rock, seemingly spewed from a volcano. He hauled it home and gave it pride of place in their garden.

Restoring Grandpa’s Clock

Colleen frowned at her brother. “I still think you should just ask her for it instead of trying to steal it. I can’t see how you can help but get caught, Eli. Is that clock really worth so much to you that you’d stoop to theft?”

“It’s the principle of the thing, Sis. Auntie just claimed all Grandpa & Grandma’s stuff and took it home with her, just because she lives close. And she’s going to hoard it until the day she dies. All the stuff they wanted to give us will be passed on to her children.”

“But still…”

“You can’t really call this theft exactly; it’s more like a restoration of our inheritance. I know Grandpa wanted to give me that clock; he told me several times. One day when I was there he chiselled my name on the back so everyone would know. I’m sure Auntie’s not blind — so she’s just keeping it. And I want it back.”

Colleen shook her head sadly, remembering the Lone Star quilt Grandma promised her that she wasn’t going to get, either. But she wasn’t going to go steal it. “And when she sees it’s missing? If I’m there right at that time, how can I help but be implicated?”

“She won’t even know it’s gone. You know how cluttered Auntie’s house is. You could lose a Saint Bernard in there.” He had a point. Auntie’s house was bulging now that it held so many of her parents’ possessions as well as her own.

Eli ran his hand through his hair and outlined his plan again. “I’ll be driving the company truck. You know the old lane to the pasture, not far from Auntie’s place. There’s a that clump of chokecherry bushes; I’ll park behind those and take the path through the woods. When you see my truck sitting there, you just go ring her doorbell and chat her up.”

“I hope she won’t guess how nervous I am.”

“Relax. Ask her about her garden; get her to show you her perennials, like women do. You’ll be with her the whole time, so she’ll know you didn’t take it. If she sees my truck and guesses I was around, I’ll say I was doing a job nearby.” He concluded his plan with, “She has no right to have that clock. It’s mine and I want it.”

The next afternoon Colleen pulled into Auntie’s driveway at the designated time and took a deep breath. Her nerves jittered like a swarm of grasshoppers and she felt a tension headache coming on. She’d caught only a glimpse of the Apex Roofing truck as she passed the old lane; Eli had hidden it well.

As she got out of the car she sighed a prayer and made up her mind. She would come right out and ask Auntie for the clock Grandpa had promised Eli, even if doing so might implicate her if Auntie found it missing later. She could hardly bear to think of her brother stealing it, heirloom or not. This decision gave her courage as she walked up to Auntie’s door and punched the door chime.

Auntie opened the door a few moments later. “Colleen! How nice you came. I was just about to have a glass of tea.”

“I… I was driving by and thought I’d stop for a minute,” Colleen began. “I know we haven’t been together since Grandpa’s funeral and I was thinking it’s high time.” The word “time” chimed in her conscience like a grandfather clock.

“Well, I’m so glad you’ve come!” Auntie gushed. “Come join me for an iced tea. Yes, when the folks died I was so overwhelmed with it all, all the arrangements. I’d never been a executrix before… So much legal stuff to look after. Then I had to have the house cleaned out within two weeks.

“You did?”

“Yes, it was sold privately, you know, and the new folks wanted possession right away, so I just gathered up all Mother & Dad’s stuff and brought it here. I’ve finally gotten up courage to sort through it. I was so happy when I discovered a list Mother had made.” Auntie grinned. “She’d rolled it up in an old slip in her undies drawer. First place you’d look, right?”

Colleen laughed “Well, no. And yet, somehow that sounds like something Grandma might do.”

“It’s a list of all the things they wanted each of you grandchildren to have — and I see you’re to get that Lone Star quilt she made years back. Now that you’re here I can give it to you.”

“And the clock Grandpa carved…?”

“O, that has your brother’s name on it. Dad said several times that it would be Eli’s someday so I’m planning to give it to him next time I see him.”

“Wow, Auntie, That’s super. You know, he came along with me today, sort of, but he wanted to…was going to…wander through the woods a bit. But I’ll give him a shout. He’ll be so happy to know he’s getting Grandpa’s clock. Maybe you could pour us both a glass of iced tea while I go find him.”

Colleen hurried outside and headed down the path to the woods. But before she called Eli’s name, she looked into the heavens and waved her grateful thanks.”

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

This story was initially posted on Christine Composes in Aug 2014. I plan to include it in my upcoming book, Wisdom in Whimsy.

 

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

The $2000 Crack

No, this isn’t the story of a drug deal — but it is the story of a BIG deal. Finding two grand is a fairly big deal at this house.

My tale started innocently enough Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church. I took my hearing aids out of the box — and dropped one. Usually they stand a bit of shock, but this one went on strike. Nose out of joint — or whatever.

On Tuesday when we went into the city I took the injured appliance back to the Sask Hearing Aid Plan office where I’d purchased it — and learned that this plan was phased out in the recent provincial budget cuts. (Now only children are eligible.) The steno checked my record, though: I bought these hearing aids in Feb 2012 and they have a five year warrantee. Do the math.

I took them to a private clinic that fixes this brand and she couldn’t get the thing working again. She phoned the Oticon company and they did the math. For $500 I can get the warrantee extended for six more months. Then I can send it to their lab, but there’s no guarantee that when they take it apart they’ll be able to fix it.

A new hearing aid will cost somewhere between about $1400 and $3000. To complicate things, I have two, synchronized to work together, and there’s no guarantee a new hearing aid would be able to work in harmony with the old one. “Quite often,” the receptionist told me, “people end up having to buy two.” Whimper!

This story will be familiar to anyone who’s needed to replace a hearing aid; they just are pricey little gadgets. Dropping one isn’t wise, but it happens. So since that fateful fall my mind has been contemplating payment options:
— If I were in good health I could sell a kidney but I’m keeping my arms and legs.
— If I were a prolific writer I could crank out twenty novels by the end of the year.
— I could make do with only one hearing aid. (Bob vetoes that idea.)
At any rate, I have an appointment at a hearing aid clinic tomorrow morning and we’ll see what conclusion we can come to with those folks.

What can you say? The older we get, the more it costs.

I’ve finished Silver Morning Song, my book of short stories and poems, and am waiting now for a business name registration and an ISBN. But I have a number of stories and poems that don’t quite fit this book so I’ve been compiling a second book. The items in this one— I’m calling it Wisdom in Whimsy— will be mainly just-for-fun stories and poems.

I didn’t have very many items for this book until this morning when I plugged in an old flash-drive and found quite a few more to add. I’m thinking of writing some more stories about Winnie and Raylene (see Winnie Plays Monopoly) and including them in this second book, too.

During the past several weeks I’ve been going through a book on depression by Pastor J S Park, as one of his beta readers. Entitled How Dark It Really Is, this book is well worth reading if you want to understand what someone with depression is going through and how you can best help them. And if you’re the one dealing with this affliction, it helps you to identify negative voices that want to drag you down. You can read it and realize you’re not alone, that others have felt this same pressure, hung on in the bad times and made it through.

For no specific reason I was feeling rather blue myself last night, so I went for a walk. Need to do this more often. And I and saw a bobolink — first one I’ve seen in a long time. This afternoon at our finch feeder a mottled, odd-looking bird attracted my attention, being much larger than the pine siskins plastered on it these days. Got out my binoculars confirmed my initial guess: it was a young male rose-breasted grosbeak. A rare summer visitor.

Last week at a birthday party I was telling the ladies I hadn’t seen a gopher all summer. This is the prairie; gophers usually abound. So where are they? Have these last wet years taken such a toll on the gopher population?

Be careful what you wish for, they say. Yesterday I let my black tom, Angus, out and fifteen minutes later he came back with a full-size dead gopher dangling from his teeth. Hoping to bring it inside and eat it at his leisure. 😦 Nope — not a chance! But now I know why I never see any gophers around our yard.

Others don’t think it’s been very wet here, but it seems to me we’ve had a lot of thunder-storms and tornado alerts in the past six weeks. The sloughs along our road are drying up now, though.

And that’s another glimpse of life at our house. 🙂

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