Swallowed by Fog

We’ve been enjoying milder weather this past week, which has given us heavy fogs at night. We woke up this morning to a thick fog whiting out everything outside our yard. I thought I heard a train pass in the night, which gave me this verse — I believe this is called a tanka:

oh fog, how could you
swallow a whole freight train
in your opacity?
only the whistle escapes
to squeal on you

A Lively Drummer

Happy “First Day of Spring” to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere. Though it doesn’t look very much like spring here, a friend reports seeing a flock of Canada geese fly over. To celebrate the day, I’ll reblog this story from a few years back:

Once upon a time there was an old man and an old woman who lived in an old mobile home right next to the woods. This old couple had reached that phase of life so aptly expressed by the poet:
“Those difficult days have come and lit:
too tired to work; too poor to quit.”

One afternoon the old woman, ready for a nice nap, plopped her weary self into her recliner and closed her eyes. A few minutes later she heard a curious sound:

Scritch … Scritch … Scritch

Now this woman, in addition to being old and tired, was also hard of hearing. In this case her handicap made it difficult to judge where the sound was coming from. It seemed to filter in from some peripheral place — a hard-shelled bug tapping on the window, perhaps, or a bird hopping on the roof?

SCRITCH … SCRITCH … SCRITCH

Now it could be a student shut in one of the trailer’s back bedrooms rooms half-heartedly pecking away on a manual typewriter. It would take him years to get an essay done at that rate.

Then the old woman remembered she was hard of hearing. Was the source of the sound a lot closer than she first thought? Had some brave mouse ventured out to nibble at the cat food sitting on the dining room floor? Her eyes popped open and she looked toward the cat food dish in the dining area. No mouse.

Now all was silent, so she reclined and shut her eyes. Such a tiny sound she could ignore. Zzz..

CLANK CLANG CLANK CLANG

The old woman jumped from her chair. This was more like a chainsaw chewing rapid-fire through a drain pipe. She hurried through the trailer, checking every room, but saw nothing spinning or vibrating that could produce a sound like that.

Some madman must be chain-sawing his way through the trailer wall! What else could make such a racket? She rushed outside to let this fellow know he dare not mess with her. (Okay, a bit of fiction added to embellish the tale. 🙂 )

She saw no one, no reason for this awful noise. The only living thing she saw was a northern flicker on the roof peering down at her curiously. He was sitting on the chimney…

Oh.

The flicker, deciding she was a wingless, harmless creature, went back to his task of drilling a hole in the steel disc protecting their chimney, producing an identical CLANK CLANG CLANK CLANG

Perhaps the bird was excited about his ability to produce such a rousing sound, but the old woman had never been a fan of heavy metal. Offering a harsh critique of his music, she persuaded him to do his drumming somewhere else.

A Dollar Per Member

I’m happy to say my project for this winter — reorganizing my DropBox files — is well over half done now! All Articles they go the ART section, anecdotes in ANEC, book reviews in BOOKS, etc. Hindsight being better than foresight, I should have done this from the get-go.

I’m also working away at the “paper mountain” I’ve accumulated over the years, typing in all the snippets, articles, and scribblings I’ve saved in a “Deal With Someday” tub. Which means I’m getting a lot of little poems finished up and ready to post. And our shredder’s about worn out!

Here’s a little human interest item from the new ANECDOTES section in my Dropbox. This was posted March 2014, so very few of you will have read it yet.

One Dollar Per Member Per Month

When the mission work of the church began to spread in Haiti and small congregations became established, It was decided that each member should give a tithe of $1 per month toward the expenses of the national church as a whole. Money to pay the expenses of a general conference would come out of this as well as other administrative costs.

So everyone tithed their dollar a month and things went fairly smoothly, but you know how we people are inclined to procrastinate. Eventually the question came up at a yearly conference: how were some of the very poorest members going to pay this $12 per member per year? Many Haitians had very limited opportunities to earn; it was more than some could do to buy food every day. A $12 yearly “conference tithe” seemed impossible.

The issue was debated back and forth until one elderly brother rose to his feet and addressed the group. “I guess I don’t know what you people are talking about,” he began. “I don’t remember that we ever decided on a $12 per member per year tithe.”

Members looked at him in surprise. “Of course this was our decision.”

“No,” he countered. “Our decision was ONE DOLLAR per member PER MONTH. If you leave it until the year end and then try to come up with $12 each in your household, it will be a serious hardship. It will be a lot easier if each one just pays the one dollar per month. That’s not an unmanageable sum, is it?”

And they all agreed. That wasn’t such an unmanageable sum after all.

Most major projects are a lot easier to accomplish when you take care of them swiftly and in small chunks.

The Envelope

Seagulls walk on days like this, I thought as the wind hustled me down the city sidewalk. I kept my mouth shut against the blender of dust, last year’s leaves, bird poo and bug bits swirling around me. I’d be glad to head home to supper and a warm shower.

A piece of paper — no, an envelope — twirled past me, tick-ticking as bounced off the concrete. I glanced over my shoulder to see if anyone was pursuing it, but it appeared to be unaccompanied on its outing.

At one point it flopped on the sidewalk, exhausted, but when I caught up with it the wind sent it sailing again, sweeping it over the traffic and into the next block. It didn’t have to wait for the WALK light like I did.

A queue had formed at the bus stop; there I noticed the envelope had landed again. A teen boy stepped on it, oblivious, working his thumbs on his cell phone. I heard the beep, beep of an electronic game. He looked up only long enough to board the bus and flash his pass.

I snatched up the envelope before anyone else could step on it, then looked around to see if anyone was running after it. Nada. I boarded, waved my bus pass at the driver and found a seat. As the bus pulled away I examined the envelope. No stamp, so it wasn’t mailed. But it was sealed and there was obviously a letter inside.

The insignia at the top left said “Delorme & Pederson, Attorneys at Law.” Hmm… Across the front, written in a neat script, was the name, Mrs. Amy Allen. That’s it.

I sighed a prayer. Lord, how can I get this back to Amy Allen? Would she be listed in the phone book directory? What if the phone’s under her husband’s name? Why couldn’t it be Kathy Klompenhaus or Gloria Ganucci?

Oh, well. Best return it to the lawyers — impressively stamped by a teen’s sneaker — and let them deal with it.

At home I set the envelope on the counter to drop off in the morning and set about making supper. My husband Kelly would be home in half an hour and needed a quick meal before his meeting this evening. And I’d promised myself a shower to wash off all this street dust.

I don’t spend much time on Kijiji; occasionally I skim through the Hobbies & Crafts column to see if someone’s selling scrap-booking supplies á la cheap. Alone this evening, I felt an urge to go online and see if there’d be any interesting offers.

I scrolled through the first page of ads and was on the second when an ad piqued my interest. For sale: six rubber stamps. Hmm… I clicked on the ad and read it through, then my jaw dropped as I read: Contact Amy Allen, 304-3622.

It can’t be the same one. I grabbed the phone and punched in the number.

“Hello?”

My words tumbled out. “Hi. I saw your ad for rubber stamps and I’m interested. But I also need to know…are you that Amy…? I mean…did you lose a letter in the wind today?”

“A letter? You found my letter?” She sounded shocked.

“I found one, sent from Delorme & Pederson, addressed to Amy Allen.”

“Oh, thank goodness! I was hoping and praying it would turn up somehow,” she exclaimed. “I picked it up at my lawyer’s office today, but it blew out of my hand and I had no idea how I’d ever find it again! I’m being called as witness in a lawsuit.”

“I didn’t know how I’d locate you, either, until I saw your ad on Kijij. Are you home this evening? I’ll bring the letter over.”

“Thank you so much,” she said. “I’ll put on some coffee, if you’d like some.”

“That would be great. Do you do a lot of scrap-booking?”

“Not so much lately. And you can have these stamps if you want them. They can be my payment for a SPECIAL DELIVERY letter. Thank you so much for grabbing it!”

Verses to Fall Asleep By

Sometimes when I can’t fall asleep, I like to read or recite easy poems; often I choose haiku. For some reason I find these short verses so relaxing; I can lose my daytime thoughts in the simple concepts and scenes.

For example this verse by Shiki:
blue evening sea…
from spring islands near and far
new lights are shining

English translation © 1958 by the Peter Pauper Press

I’m not one to read a lot of mystic symbolism into these verses, but can easily imagine standing on the shore beside this writer and looking across the darkening sea at those specks of light from the sleepy villages on those islands.

One problem of reading haiku just before bed is that pictures and ideas start coming to mind. Before long I have to go find a pen and paper so I can write them down.

Some of mine are melancholic:

oh, churning waves
return to the deep seas
take my tears with you

And some verses that come to me are amusing:

bemused cricket
crawling up the scarecrow’s pant leg
country back roads

Do you enjoy micro-poetry?