The Elusive Wren

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was STALK

THE WREN

I stalk him in the lilacs
and round the poplar tree,
that elusive little wren
who sings so cheerfully.

House sparrows, on the other hand,
I toss them out some seed
and they're my friends forever.
They greet me eagerly.

The little wren is patient;
he waits the morn's first light
to harvest on my doorstep
the insects fried last night.

Many’s the time I’ve tried to get a look at the wrens in our yard and only saw a fluttering and movement in the leaves. But first thing in the morning, sure enough, here’s the wren cleaning off our deck, feasting on bugs that got too close to our porch light.

Image by Naturelady from Pixabay.

Books 2021: A Finale

As I write this, I suppose some of you will be toasting the New Year, some may even be seeing the first morning of 2022. I’m wishing for all of us that this coming year will be more encouraging and upbeat than the one we’re leaving behind.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was FINALE – and last night I finished the last book in my 2021 GoodReads reading challenge. At the beginning of last year I set a goal of reading 80 books in 2021, and I accomplished that. In fact I surpassed it, as the book I just finished was #125. Mind you, some of these were simple children’s books – but every book counts.

The shortest book was 32 pages, a children’s book called MAC & CHEESE, by Sarah Weeks, a tale about two cat friends. “Macaroni and Cheese are best friends, yet they couldn’t be more different! Mac likes to pounce and bounce and jump, but Cheese just sits there like a lump.” But one day Cheese has just the answer Mac needs for his problem.

The longest book is actually a three-volume set, Apple Orchard Mysteries, 639 pages in all. A quick easy read with characters who are ditzy and wise-crackers rather than clever. If you’re looking for a good mystery and MC’s with some sense, forget about these and go for Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple + Hercule Poirot, or Dan Walsh’s When Night Comes (#1 in the Jack Turner Series.) In 2021 I reread almost all Diana Xarissa’s Markham Sisters, very mild cozy mystery series. Funny that I liked these so much and her Isle of Man series featuring “Aunt Bessie” not that much.

Book #125 may have been my last read, but I gave it five stars. DON’T EAT THE PUFFIN: Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life by Jules Brown, is delightfully descriptive, written with humour and respect for the environment, the locals and their customs. He’s even embedded You tube links in a few of his stories so readers can get a glimpse of the sights he saw. In his last chapter he pays a warm tribute to his brave, open-minded father who lived in 47 countries and visited thirty more. I read it one chapter at a time over several weeks, savoring all his adventures – though not all the food he consumes. It was well worth the journey!

Brown, a travel writer by profession has written several travel books and blogs at https://julestoldme.com where he recounts his many adventures abroad. He writes for a travel company, but has his own book publishing company, Trust-Me Travel, his own You Tube channel, and posts on Facebook @ JulesBrownWriter. His next book, likewise sharing some common sense travel advice is NEVER PACK AN ICE PICK.

Now I shall close, wishing you good health, blessings and comforts in the new year.

Delight + Dismay

Monday Morning Catch-Up

Delight: A beautiful sunny morning. I saw a hummingbird at our feeder at 7am.
Dismay: I’m missing the swallows. Used to be, morning and evening, I’d see a dozen swallows swooping and diving, cleaning our yard of pesky mosquitoes. So far this month I’ve seen two tree swallows and, twice now, a lone barn swallow.
Some people regard barn swallows as pests. “Dirty little birds, dropping mud here and there. Wish I didn’t have to clean up their mess.” Never considering how swallows clean up our air, devouring thousands of mosquitoes and other bugs every single day.

Delight: All kinds of birds come to my watering/bathing dishes all day long.
Dismay: Can they ever splash, especially the robins! Dishes need refilling several times a day. I don’t mind, actually; the show is worth the effort.

Delight: I’m finally getting another blog post written!
Dismay: I’ve lots I’d like to write – and posts I’d like to follow – but I’m having a hard time disciplining myself to get at it.

Delight: Last week I finished different painting projects and varnished half a dozen. They’re ready to go now.
Dismay: This new hobby takes time and money. On Friday I left another generous sum at Michael’s for more paint and canvas.

Delight: Someone encouraged me to sell them and even suggested a selling price!
Dismay: Perhaps no one will buy them? I’m not a pro, you know.

The same someone reminded me that we have other artistic sorts here who sell stuff and they aren’t PROFESSIONALS, either. Sign makers, candle makers, soap makers, bakers — we all do the best we can and it’s up to buyers if they want what we offer. So I’m encouraged to try.

Delight: Last week I studied online about the art of “paint pouring,” the different methods used, etc. And then I gave it a try!
Dismay: For the first picture I used some old Mod Podge I had sitting around as a pouring medium. Not so smart. The picture’s fine, colour-wise, but the texture is like someone sprinkled sand on the canvas.

Delight: On Friday’s trip to the city, I bought some proper pouring medium and a few more canvases. Mixed up some paint, several colours separately in cups, and gave it a try. Actually, I mixed up too much paint, so did a second picture.
Dismay: The second picture being an afterthought, I hurriedly mixed up more paint and it wasn’t mixed as carefully as the first cups. So the result had a few lumps.

Delight: Hey, the pictures were okay. The second one, on a 9″ x 11″ canvas, came out looking like six pink flowers spaced out nicely in a beige and turquoise flowerbed. This would have been a perfect illustration of Friday’s RDP prompt: Not a pair. 🙂
Dismay: One important instruction about pour art: When you leave your pictures stand overnight to harden, be sure the surface they’re on is level. Otherwise the picture may shift; paint may flow off the canvas one way or the other and you may see a much different picture in the morning. I could say I spent $25 Friday night to discover that the desk in my sewing room isn’t quite level. My “flowerbed” now looks like a dipsy tulip. Artists, beware!

Delight: I’m not giving up anyway. 🙂 I’m so enthused about my new artistic hobby!
Dismay: Much as I’d like to – I can’t spend all day painting. 😉

Delight: My operation was a great success and I’m pretty much back to normal in my activities.
Dismay ?: It’s time to catch up on all the housework and pull weeds in the flowerbeds.

Delight: Though the spring was drought-dry and dust was flying, farmers seeded their crops in hope. Now some badly needed rains have come to replenish our land. The seed is germinating and we’re all hopeful again.
Dismay: June is half gone already!

Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: SEED

The Naughty Mite

An Old-Fashioned Caution

A naughty termite eyed a house
and said, “I’ll make you fall
with a little chomping here and there.”
So it chose a sturdy wall.

The house was made of robust beams
“I’ve stood a century!
Could stand a hundred more,” it bragged,
“Built from the strongest tree.”

Yet the old house shuddered softly;
what a sprightly mite might do!
And wished someone would squash the thing
as it commenced to chew.

The insect chewed both day and night;
the onslaught seemed quite small
yet the termite had colossal dreams
of seeing this house fall.

He chomped with such a fervent haste,
carved tunnels all around,
’til weakened finally, the wall
cracked and came crashing down.

The house, deprived of its support,
groaned sadly, then it buckled
and as the roof on the garden fell
that wicked termite chuckled.

So might some petty jealousy
though minuscule to start,
bring down a home, split dearest friends,
or break a tender heart.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: ROBUST
Word of the Day Challenge: SPRIGHTLY
My response is this adaptation of “The Ant and the Rubber Tree Plant.” 🙂

The Penumbra of Covid-19

Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is PENUMBRA
Word of the Day Challenge: SAD

I’ll admit, I’ve never heard this word, so looked it up to discover that it refers to an area of partial shadow, either literally or figuratively.

Some of Merriam-Webster’s definitions:
– a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light
– a surrounding or adjoining region in which something exists in a lesser degree, like a fringe
– something that covers, surrounds, or obscures, like a shroud

So it means not completely in the dark, but shadowed;
one thing or area overshadowed by another.

In that sense, we could say that 2020 was largely spent in the PENUMBRA of Covid-19. We weren’t shut down completely, but definitely our daily lives were darkened by this menace. Commerce carried on as best it could, shopping done more online now than in person.

One example given was when Europe was coming out of the Dark Ages. Columbus had proved that the Earth wasn’t flat; Galileo had invented the telescope and peered into space; superstition was slowly giving way to scientific truth. The printing press was invented and literature began to inform those who could read.

We might say “SAD” is also a sort of PENUMBRA. The shorter daylight hours in northern lands can bring on a kind of depression of spirit the medical world now calls Seasonal Affective Disorder. One wonders if Antarctic penguins are feeling sad while we here in the North are enjoying long summer days?