September Bully

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was BULLY.

Frost was the bully that came last night. It stomped through my flowerbed, punching down the fleshy stemmed balsam plants and blackening marigold leaves. They’re hanging sadly bedraggled as I write this. We had warning and carried into the house some of the prettiest tubs & baskets. I left out the pots of pansies and they were crisp this morning, but have cheered up some. And here’s a poem I wrote some years ago about the bullying wind:

SEPTEMBER WIND

Damp September wind whistles
through an August day, chilling
our summer-browned bodies.
Ever the schoolyard bully, it cuffs us
with an almost icy hand. "Remember!"
It mocks our shivers, our calendar
consultations. Dismayed, we grab
for hours as they bounce away, August
days slipping out of our lives forever.
With sighs we hunt for sweaters,
check the pockets of our coats,
while we’re at it, wash our gloves.
Image by David Strong — Pixabay

Hand in Hand

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is SERENITY

My firs thought was about the Prayer of Serenity we often see on wall mottos and such. It’s a terse but profound statement: if we could just accept some things that can’t be changed, then get with it and change thing we know we could change — how much better this old world would be! And then the crowning touch: the WISDOM to know the difference!

But my response will be this homey little verse by Edgar Guest. For those of us who’ve crossed the bridge into ‘Seniors’, I think this illustrates serenity very nicely:

Hand in Hand

All the way to age we'll go
hand in hand together;
all the way to brows of snow
through every sort of weather.
Rain or shine, blue sky or gray,
joy and sorrow sharing
hand in hand along the way
we'll go bravely faring.

All the way to sunset land
we'll walk down together
side by side and hand in hand
held by Cupid's tether.
Once we danced in early May
steps we'll long remember;
so we'll trip the miles away
even to December.

Let the years go fleeting by!
Gray old age shall find us
still recalling smile and sigh
long since left behind us.
And though feeble we may grow,
worn by wind and weather,
all the way to Age we'll go
hand in hand together.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

 

 

 

Mom’s Draconian Rules!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is DRACONIAN. I’ve concocted this tale as a response. I’ll admit that, like Tanelle, I’m still learning this lesson. 😉

Tanelle sighed into her cell phone. “I can’t go to the rink this morning, Marnie. Mom says I gotta clean up my room first.”

“Can’t you just tell her you’ll do it after you get home. I mean, she has to be reasonable. You aren’t a little kid anymore.”

“She says work has to come before play.”

“You can’t come roller blading because you have to clean up your room? That’s like…archaic! That’s a draconian rule!”

“Yeah, well, that’s where it’s at. I better go now. Talk to you later.” Tanelle clicked off her phone and went into the kitchen to grab some breakfast and maybe try one more pleading session.

“Marnie’s really choked that I can’t come this morning. She thinks, too, that I could easily clean up my room when I get back.”

“No doubt she does,” Mom replied. “Great minds think alike, right?” She grinned at Tanelle.

Tanelle grabbed a box of cereal from the cupboard. “You realize that my friends are all going to think your rules are draconian.” She poured some cereal in a bowl and got the milk from the fridge.

Mom was quiet for a minute. “Okay,” she said, “Let me ask you something. Imagine a young lady living on her own, in her own apartment, let’s say. And she has all these bills to pay: rent, electricity, maybe heating and water. Plus she has to buy groceries, maybe furniture and clothes. If she has a car she’ll need to pay for gas and licence; if not, she may have to buy bus tickets. Would you call it “draconian” that she has to pay all those expenses?”

“Of curse not. That’s just life.”

“Suppose she spends her money on fun things. She may want to pay her bills, but there are so many fun things waiting to be done and the money doesn’t last. So the bills pile up and credit card companies start calling, demanding payment. She hasn’t paid her rent, so the landlord is ready to kick her out of her apartment. She has no money for gas so she has to walk. Would she be in a big mess? Would she find her situation depressing?”

“Probably.”

“Wouldn’t it be smart for her to pay her bills first, and then use what’s left for fun things?”

Tanelle heaved a sigh. “I think we’ve had this conversation before – or something just like it.”

“So work and play need to balance, just like income and outgo. If you spend your time at play, the work piles up. Learning this lesson is part of growing up and becoming responsible for yourself, your space, your messes. You may say, ‘I’ll do the fun thing now and work later,’ but there will always be some fun thing calling to you. The work left for ‘later’ piles up and in time you don’t know where to start. Like a stack of unpaid bills, the mess will finally depress you.”

“Mom, I know all this!” Tanelle protested.

“Then why is your room in such a mess?”

Tanelle got up with a huff and carried her bowl to her room where she could eat in peace. Tossing yesterday’s clothes off her chair, she plopped down at her desk and cleared enough space for her bowl of cereal.

“Why do moms have to nag so much,” she wondered as she finished her breakfast. Looking around she admitted that, yeah, her room was a tad messy. Then she remembered she needed to find that Style magazine and take it along to show Marnie. She’d been looking at it late last night; it was probably under the bed.

The scene her mom described flashed through her mind. She pictured this really messy apartment with a stack of bills on the table and the landlord pounding on the door. Gross! Well, that wouldn’t be her. She was smarter than that.

The SQUISH Heard Round the World

“Online Outrage”

That’s the phrase that jumped out at me as I read an article online this morning. An American couple made a family decision, posted the fact on social media, and now face a storm of outrage from all over the world.
Then I read something else online and my muse immediately started to spin and weave the two stories together, finally giving me the odd title for this post.

Fellow blogger Judy-Dykstra Brown posted this morning about the hornworms that live on her Virginia creeper vine, hornworms being the larva of the hummingbird moth. We had a hummingbird moth visit our flowers one summer and I thought it was cute. Judy decided to move them elsewhere rather than leaving them to eat her vine or squishing them. I trust she won’t get a lot of online outrage from objectors. People’s reactions are unpredictable.

I Decide to SQUISH

Let’s say I decide to plant a garden and post the story of my efforts, essentially inviting the whole world to oversee my my project. Some people think I should put my garden in the east corner of my yard, near the trees to gain the benefit of their shade; some think I should put it in the other corner where there are no trees to rob the plants of moisture.

People in Timbuktu may have their ideas about what kind of fertilizer I should use. Gnu dung works best, or maybe antelope. People in Australia think I should lay in pipes for irrigation while Ontario gardeners tell me I should put in lots of drainage because in Ontario it rains so much a garden would be flooded unless it’s well drained. (Well, not quite, but you get my point. This isn’t Timbuktu, Australia or Ontario.)

So I grow my garden, posting online pictures of the resulting lush veggies. One day I find this caterpillar and do a video of it climbing on my pepper plant. Then I SQUISH it. Will I be subjected to online outrage by environmentalists? Will save-the-planet types vilify me on Facebook? Prairie bloggers may give me the thumbs-up and say, “Good for you. I hate those things!”

Because I’ve involved them, people in far-flung lands who know zilch about prairie pests or our ecology will still feel they have an investment in my decision. My followers in Timbuktu, Ontario, Brazil and Australia may denounce me online because I squished a worm. After all, am I not guilty of decimating the number of creatures on the planet and depriving some bird of its rightful diet? Facebook pages may decry my foolish decision.

Yes, this is a silly comparison, but when we invite people all over the globe to peek into our lives, we face consequences. People all over the world have two things in common: they have opinions and they like to give advice. It’s universal.

Social Media as International Opinion Poll

When we put our lives “out there” on television, Facebook, You-tube, and invite the whole world interact, it’s like inviting the global community to be our parents and older siblings. If they spend time following us, they will want to help us along. If we have difficult decisions to make, some of our followers will understand and support our choice, while others will disapprove – maybe even be insulted that we didn’t ask their advice. Get enough people involved and you may get a storm of online outrage.

The article I read tells how, through a foreign adoption agency, a couple adopted a toddler. Three years later, after dealing with various health and behavioral issues that have overwhelmed them and their other children, they’ve made the painful decision to surrender their child over to foster care. And a lot of readers think that’s terrible. “If it were me, I would never do that.”

While this isn’t an unheard of situation and other adoptive parents have faced the same dilemma – I heard of one case here in our province where the baby’s health issues proved more than the new parents could cope with – since this couple put their whole story on YouTube, they now have thousands of people criticizing their motives and their decision.

But my heart does go out to the couple, especially when I read that they’ve actually received death threats, even vicious threats to harm their other children, because of this decision. Seeing that, I had to shake my head. How can people get so involved in the life of complete strangers that they’ll go so far as the threaten the lives of people they’ve never met?

Peace of Mind Versus Media-Generated Outrage

Years back when Nicholas Sarkozy, Prime Minister of France, married Carla Bruni, an Italian singer and former supermodel, my French penpal wrote, “I hate him. I hate both of them.” I asked her, “Have you ever met them? “No, but I hate them.” Her feelings were 100% fueled by the media.

I understand how the media works and why. Competing with an audience steep in television dramas, they need sensational news. They need to – and want to – provoke strong emotions. Getting people emotionally involved in a story is what sells news and channels public opinion in the direction they want it to go. From what I can tell, the emotion the media does best is outrage. Journalists and reporters have proven very able to orchestrate news that will stir up public outrage.

But if I allow the media – or anyone else — to influence me to hate someone, I’d better not criticize the Germans who allowed Hitler to inflame them against the Jews. We all hate the havoc this one man wreaked, but cool common sense has to guide our feelings and actions, or we’ll be ripe for another type of Hitler to come along and use our hatred as his tool.

For myself, I don’t want to hate anybody. Not Trump…or Trudeau…or whoever. I may guess, but I can’t possibly know how they think, feel, react, or what their motives are. Also my own peace of mind is precious to me. Hate and outrage are draining. I like to know what’s going on in the world, but refuse to let my peace be shattered and emotions shredded by the actions of politicians. I may be concerned about different things our Prime Minister says and does, but I don’t hate him.

I’m saddened that a couple with initial good intentions have had to go through this devastating experience, but I can offer neither support nor censure, seeing I haven’t walked a mile in their shoes.

Block-Ed + Poetry–A Trial Run

I won't let Block-Ed frustrate me
I'll practice 'til I'm proficient
So here's a bit of poetry
to see if I've learned sufficient...

I see that Sheryl at Your Daily Word Prompt 
is having her trials switching to the new Block editor,
too. Her word for today is FRUSTRATE.
A CHOICE
by Edgar Guest

Sure, they get stubborn at times;
they worry and fret us a lot,
but I'd rather be crossed by a glad little boy
and frequently worried than not.
There are hours when they get on my nerves
and set my poor brain all a-whirl, 
but I'd rather be troubled that way than to be
the man who has no little girl.

There are time's they're a nuisance, that's true
with all of their racket and noise,
but I'd rather my personal pleasures be lost
than to give up my girls and my boys.
Not always they're perfectly good;
there are times when they're wilfully bad
but I'd rather be worried by youngsters of mine
than lonely and childless and sad.

So I try to be patient and calm
whenever they're having their fling,
for the sum of their laughter and love
is more than the worry they bring.
And each night when sweet peace settles down
and I see them asleep in their cot,
I chuckle and say: "They upset me today,
but I'd rather be that way than not."

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

Conclusions:
Selecting the Verse block and writing poetry works better with this editor, since single line spacing is automatic; I don’t have to hit Shift + Enter to get that, like I would otherwise. On the other hand, I now have to count Categories & Tags to be sure I don’t exceed the WordPress limit of fifteen. And poetry is automatically italicized.

PS: Now that this is posted I see I’m not so proficient after all! 😦
Now, how to fix it!

Deceiving Lights

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is DECEIVING

Sleep eluded me at the crack of dawn this morning; I woke up at 4:30 and my muse wouldn’t go back to sleep. I began thinking about an article I want to write soon and lines and phrases started coming to me. That for sure took my sleep away.

I wandered into the kitchen and looked out the east window, wanting to see how much daylight had conquered the darkness at this point. There was a glow on the eastern horizon, but what got my attention was the amazing sight in the heavens. I actually went outside into the driveway to get a better look.

The moon was a glowing sliver, but I could see the shadow of the whole moon. And there was this huge, brilliant star to the right of, and higher in the sky than, the moon. Was it the planet Jupiter, so brilliantly shining? Or was it a close satellite deceiving me into thinking it was a planet? Looking around I saw a larger reddish star and wondered if it was Mars. I’m familiar with the birds that fly through our skies, but have never made a special study of the planets to know one from the other on sight.

In any case, I stood outside for awhile just watching, as the glow of dawn slowly crept up to meet the moon. I had to think of the star the wise men saw announcing the birth of “the King of the Jews.” Did they actually follow it all the way, as some Bible stories say? Or was it simply a signal and they proceeded to Jerusalem because, where else would one look for the King of the Jews?” Was the star as brilliant as the one I saw this morning — or even more?

Another “natural phenomenon” I witnessed yesterday evening after I got home from doing supper at the Villa. This sight was out the west window. I noticed a lot of tiny chattering and whirring; when I glanced out I saw several humming birds whizzing around. And a couple more came. And a couple more came. Were my eyes deceiving me?

We’ve had five around our feeders lately, but some others must have come in from elsewhere. I counted for sure seven, probably eight. (Hard to count zipping whirling bids as they chase each other away from the feeders!) And they were all at the two feeders by the side door. It dawned on me the feeder by the front door must be empty, so they were all crowded around these two. At one point five little hummers settled in a circle, slurping away at the bigger feeder.

Tanking up for their long journey ahead. Oh, I will miss them!

Thinking of our birds going and seeing the crops ripening reminds me that winter will be here all too soon. So I’ve decided that this week my special project is going to be fitness & exercise. Less hit-or-miss; more proper bends & stretches; getting up early in the morning and going for a walk — hopefully before the mosquitoes wake up. 🙂

Wish me courage. I really want to do this — and I hope I’m not just deceiving myself. 😉