Road Slush

We had a mini blizzard Monday night. Didn’t get that much snow but the wind was serious and there was a lot of drifting. For some reason I’m fascinated by blowing snow and watched it for a good while before I went to bed. By now our nice white world has disappeared. 🙂

pristine snow
turns to muddy tire tracks
the human footprint

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?

Things that Crepitate in the Night

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was CREPITATE.

Never heard of it? Well, perhaps you’ve encountered some of its relatives:
CREPITANT – making a crackling or rustling sound
CREPUSCULE – Twilight
CREPUSCULAR – relating to or resembling twilight; active during twilight

DECREPIT – worn out or ruined by age or neglect
DECREPITUDE – the state of being decrepit
DECREPITATE – roast a substance such as salt to cause crackling, disintegrate audibly when heated – rather the opposite of popcorn. 🙂

CREPITATE and its cousins originated from the Latin verb crepitare: to crackle or rustle.

And now to use these crinkly words. Last night I read a short memoir from the winter of 1919-1920, one of the most severe on record here in western Canada. The writer told of how a family spent it in a log cabin near Olds, in the southern Alberta foothills. Ill use some of her memories as seed for my story.

Winter hit us early that year; snow came in October and stayed. Hit us hard, too; when it got cold, it stayed cold. Worse yet, we as a family had to move to an abandoned shack twenty miles away after a chimney fire damaged our home. We arrived on our wagon with our smoke-smelly belongings just before sundown and looked at the decrepit cabin that was to be our home this winter.

“Doesn’t look the best right now,” Mother said, “but hopefully it’ll be snug. It was home to another family just two years ago.”

Dad put his arm around her. “We’ll get a fire going and warm up the place. And we’ll do what we can to make it livable.”

My seven-year-old brother Willy and I eyed the steep hill not far from the house, thinking with delight about the sledding days we’d have.

The Rockies loomed in the crepuscule as we moved in, crunching through the deep snow with our stuff. While the last things were being unloaded, Mother began shifting the kindling wood beside the cook stove with the thought of making a fire. Crepitant sounds came from one corner and Father had to evict the first of our tiny tenants.

“We’re apt to see a few crepuscular critters come out tonight,” he said. “Skunks and raccoons move into an abandoned place pretty quick.”

Our problem didn’t come from skunks, thankfully. But once the house was warm we did hear smaller creatures crepitating under the floor boards and wondered what they were. A couple of days later as we were finishing our supper Willy dropped his spoon on the floor and forgot to pick it up. The next morning as I helped Mother set the table I noticed we were short a spoon. “Hey Willy, didn’t you pick up that spoon last night?”

He groaned and scrambled under the table to retrieve it. A moment later he held up something small and dark between his fingers. “Look! The spoon’s gone, but see this. An arrowhead. Wow!” He was thrilled with his find.

“Pack rats,” Mother pronounced. “Likely that’s the rustling we’ve been hearing. We need to be careful not to leave anything shiny laying around.”

A lesson we learned the hard way. Buttons, bottle caps, and other small objects left lying would disappear overnight and we’d find small, pretty stone in its place. We’d nod and say, “Our pack rats are trading again.”

Dad worked at making the shack as cozy as possible and Mother made it as homey as she could. Willy and I had great fun on that hill. It proved perfect for our sled and we the abundance of snow softened our tumbles when we rolled down. Near the top of the hill a poplar sapling stuck out of the snow and Willy decided one day to carve a big W in the white bark.

In spring we moved back to our house that had been “in the fixing” all winter. While we were happy to be home, we thought about the old cabin and one day in June we all got on our wagon and went to have a picnic on the hill there.

When we got to the cabin we were amazed to find there was no hill. Rather, there was a big slough full of cattails where the hill had stood. There were smaller trees around the slough, but the poplar we thought was a sapling turned out to be tree twelve inches around the base of the trunk. We knew that must be our tree, because Willy finally spotted his W – 25 feet up the trunk.

We spent all that winter playing on a huge hill of snow!

This Week Chez Nous

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve been having a good week? The past couple of days haven’t been so great at our house, what with a pain in the arm as well as severe pain in the wallet and chaos in the office. Hopefully we’ll recover; my arm injected with the Covid booster (Moderna) on Monday, is already improved, but it was very sore yesterday. I felt light headed, listless, and had several long naps; hopefully the effects have worn off and I can resume normal life now.

I wasn’t hearing the latest news, but Bob was telling me that the Premier of Quebec just announced there will be a tax levied on residents who have declined to be immunized, since these folks are giving half the cases straining provincial hospitals now. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” I guess?

I cooked dinner for the residents at the Villa on Sunday, inviting two couples to join us and the residents. (For those of you who know folks here, they were Wendel & Heather and their four sons — Heather brought dessert & corn — and Ben & Lucille.) Usually when families are invited for Sunday dinner at the Villa, they bring some part of the meal, which is very helpful for the cook!

Monday we up-heaved the office some when I took my PC to the computer doctor in Outlook before going for my booster shot. Remember the old expression, “slow as molasses in January”? I’d turn it on and wait and wait! So it needs an upgrade, and the repair man is also fixing a few programs that don’t work. It will be great to have my mail G-mail account accessible again, but I may probably cry when I get his bill. I’m still whimpering over yesterday’s shell-out.

Yesterday, while I was taking life easy at home, Bob went to the city. Among other things, he got a replacement for the key I lost last week. Beware, everyone. These high-tech keys may be small things, but a replacement costs plenty — in the neighbourhood of $700 CDN!

Worth their weight in gold?

When he got home from the city a package had come in the mail: a mounting bracket for his monitor. Now he can adjust the height. However, to install this, he had to empty and remove a shelving unit that sat along the back of his desk, which means the office is in chaos this morning. (One used shelving unit for sale. What offers?) Chaos can actually be good in the long run, seeing how things never used can so easily get stored away and become part of the decor until you have to move them for some reason.

Our “severe cold spell” is past and we’re into a “severe” mild spell now, though I doubt the weatherman would ever call it that. The temp went above freezing yesterday; it’s -4 now at 10 am; the ice has melted off our windows. Out cats are acting rather squirrelly and are eager to go outside. Stepping outside now, it feels like spring — but we’re not deceived 🙂

Feeling Oorie on a Lowering Day

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was OORIE – Also spelled OURIE, says Lexico.

Never heard of it, but it’s supposedly a word Robert Burns used in one of his poems. Since I think a lot of Bobby Burns, I won’t knock it. I frequently quote his ”The best-laid plans of mice and man gang oft aglay.” The story of my life, it seems. 😉

Lexico’s definition of OORIE: dismal, gloomy, cheerless, miserable (as a result of cold, sickness) Nowadays we’d say, “I’m feeling rotten.”

Yesterday I was definitely feeling OORIE. At times my brain seems to be firing neurons at random, which makes every task feel overwhelming and the general outlook gloomy. Haven’t painted for six weeks. Nor written much; maybe I should give up blogging indefinitely? It didn’t help that I lost my car keys the day before.

We had our belated Christmas dinner with our children and grands on Sunday. Chewing on a caramel candy after dinner, the best-laid plans of mice and man went aglay when I bit on something hard – which turned out to be a piece of my back molar. Leaving a jagged hole for my tongue to rasp against. On Wed I was finally able to get to my dentist and have that smoothed down to bearable and “let’s leave well enough alone for now.

Bob’s car key clicker (automatic door opening button) wasn’t working well, so at one stop I gave him my keys. He gave them back once we were in the car and I must have put them in my coat pocket, thinking he’d need them again. We went to the food court at a mall for dinner. Walking out afterward, I couldn’t find my keys. Went back to our table. Nope. Emptied my purse. Nope. Checked the car floor. Nope. Phoned the mall lost & found. Nope. They’d gone aglay big time.

Today feels more hopeful, in spite of a grey sky. For one thing, it’s warmed up a lot – relatively speaking. It was -33 yesterday, only -23 this morning, and now, at 2 pm, the temp reads -18. Our cats are even wanting to step outside, where yesterday the frosty breath of winter discouraged them as soon as the door was opened a crack.

I also woke up this morning with a cheerful chorus running through my mind: “I want to leave this things behind me, want to climb to higher ground…” Great plan, don’t you think?

Some fine snow again today. Our grandson plowed our driveway for the second time this week. We wanted snow – now we’re getting it — almost daily since Christmas Eve.

Speaking of the weather brings to mind the word LOWERING. With the long oh sound (as in go), lowering means coming down; to lower something is to put it down. But with the ow sound as in flour, we get the second definition:

Lowering, also spelled louring, means dark and threatening. Cloudy, hazy, heavy, overcast. At least I’ve only ever seen it referring to dark menacing clouds.

Which makes me wonder if LOUR and OURIE spring from the same linguistic fount.

And then there’s GLOWERING, again with the ou as in flour.
An angry or brooding look. To look or stare with sullen annoyance.

These words all came into England from Scotland – so might they be cousins? The word GLOWREN has been in use in Scotland since the late Middle Ages. Originally referring to staring intently or in amazement, the meaning shifted to stares of annoyance or anger rather than astonishment.

Beyond that, etymologists have determined that glower is a distant relative of Middle Low-German glūren, which means to be overcast, and of the Middle Dutch gloeren, meaning to leer — the origin of our word GLARE.