Memory Lane Visits

The Bloganuary question yesterday, which I never got to, was “Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?”

The Bloganuary question today is “Describe the happiest day of your life.”

Visits to Memory Lane seem to be immanent in these questions. IMMANENT was the Ragtag Daily Prompt word this morning. Not to be confused with IMMINENT, this word immanent means INHERENT or INDWELLING. Synonyms: essential, ingrained, intrinsic. A new word for me!

As to the first question, I thought of Avon Windjammer cologne. When I first met my husband and we were getting to know each other, he had this maroon furry pullover jacket, and he used Windjammer aftershave. I remember laying my head on his shoulder in that fuzzy pile and smelling the faint trace of Windjammer. I think I’d still recognize that scent.

As to the happiest day of my life, it would be hard to pinpoint because there have been many high points of joy along the way. Christmases as a child, carefree summer holidays spent with my siblings. The day our daughter arrived. One red letter event, of course, was our wedding. August 1970. And here’s one little memory snippet from that day.

Are you old enough to remember fluffed facial tissue flowers? We’d cut out a big cardboard heart to put on the front of the best man’s car, and the daughters of friends fluffed Kleenex flowers for days before the big event. In the morning we pasted them onto the cardboard, which our best man attached to the grill of his car. And of course we didn’t have quite enough, so my bridesmaid and I spent an hour or so that morning fluffing more tissue flowers.

We drove away from the church in style! Then sometime after the service but before the reception we got a nice little shower, just enough to water our flowers. 🙂

The Gift of Peace

Today’s Bloganuary question: What is the most memorable gift you’ve received?

Back when I was twenty-one, married and a mom, I was living the life of a good Christian, relatively speaking. We attended church faithfully, I taught pre-school Sunday school, we attended Bible study classes, I was part of a prayer cell, even handed out Bibles in our town.

Then one day someone gave me a pamphlet to read that made me stop and think. I got the impression that something I was allowing myself was wrong. Initially, I wasn’t so much troubled, brushed it aside as someone’s take on the scripture. I studied the verses several times looking for loopholes. Some kind of exemption for the day I was living in. Couldn’t really find one, but still… Surely God didn’t expect, in this day and age…or would He?

One day, several months later, it seems the Lord laid His hand on me –much like a parent would — and said, “This is enough.” It came clear to me that I was doing something that displeased him. I dithered over this all day and discussed it with several people, not finding peace. That evening I decided I just couldn’t give this up. I actually told God, “If this is what You’re asking of me, I won’t be your child anymore.”

For about five minutes I had a feeling of drifting in darkness, without a lifeline. Feeling the depth of my separation from God, thinking of a dismal life apart from His love and guidance. Finally I decided nothing in this world is worth that. I asked the Lord to forgive my stubbornness and told him I’d do whatever He asked, no matter what. I’d give this thing up if that’s what He wanted, if only He’d make me his child again. And He did just that. I knew I was accepted again. I received the most wonderful gift in my life: I was flooded with an indescribable peace and joy.

It was truly the gift that keeps on giving. That same peace has carried me through many things since. In Psalm 23 David says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me….” I’ve walked through that valley several times in my life, faced breast cancer in 1980 and leukemia in 2012. He’s gone with me through the valley, comforting me, assuring me that He’ll be there no matter what the future holds. There’s no greater gift than the peace of God.

Image by Pexels — Pixabay

The Old Red Barn

The Bloganuary challenge today is indeed a challenge for me: What is the earliest memory you have?

You see, I have many bits and snatches of early childhood memories, but which one is the earliest? Impossible to say, so I’ll go with my memory of playing in Grandpa Forsyth’s old red barn. This one was built in 1917 when Grandpa and Grandma Forsyth came to the Melfort, SK, area to farm and it looked like a zillion others that dotted the prairies when I was young.

These folks weren’t really my grandparents, but because I was raised by Dad and Mom Forsyth, I refer to his parents as Grandpa and Grandma, though I never knew either of them. My birth parents (Dad Vance being a sister to Mom Forsyth) being dirt poor, lived in a small trailer on Grandpa Forsyth’s yard. I had a brother Jim, who was eleven months older than me, and we were inseparable. Donna, 2 1/2 years younger, would have been the baby.

Apparently before I was four, Jim and I were left to pretty much run free on the farmyard. I still remember that one of our favourite things was to run into the barn and into the part aside which was the chicken coop. Here the ladder to the hayloft was hung. We’d climb up this ladder and jump down from the big doors of the hayloft, get up and do it again. I can’t tell you the exact distance to the ground, but it had to be a drop of at least a dozen feet (3 metres). I don’t know what Health & Safety would say these days about 2- to 4-year-olds leaping from barn lofts, but we survived and had great fun.

At least until Dad and Mom Forsyth moved to BC when I was four and took me with them. We came back to the farm later, but then moved to the city when I almost six. After that my connections to my siblings were limited to summer and Christmas holidays. Folks visited the old farm for a number of years –in summer to gather the orchard fruits– and I still remember the old red barn.

Great Balls of Fire!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is FIRE IN THE SKY
and the Word of the Day Challenge is UNPREDICTABLE

First I should say that all bloggers are welcome to join in and write a post in response to the prompts. So if these prompt words give you an idea for a post, just click on the names (links) above for more details.

sundog-4454929_640
Michael McGough — Pixabay

A person could give various responses to the image of “fire in the sky.” A blazing sunrise or sunset would qualify. Here on the prairie we see some amazing sundogs, partial rings or halos on one side or both sides of the sun.

Of course one of the main displays of fire in the sky is lightning, which reminds me of a couple of stories I once heard.

My husband’s mother spent her first eight years in Manitoba and apparently the electrical storms there were furious and unpredictable back in those days. She says every time there was a thunderstorm her parents would gather the children all around in one room. After moving to Saskatchewan, they did this during the first few storms but soon decided our storms here didn’t pose a threat, so her parents quit this practice.

Visiting friends in Manitoba once, there was a wild thunderstorm, but no serious damage. In the morning they recalled another storm they’d had where ball lightning fell from the clouds and they watched balls of fire roll along the road by their place. So we understand why Grandpa & Grandma Letkeman took the precautions they did while they lived in Manitoba.

Weather patterns have changed a lot over the years, maybe due to settlement and many trees planted here on the prairie. Records show and old timers talk of wild storms, blizzards and heat waves like we never see these day — thankfully!

Lightning can have really unpredictable consequences. We read an account where a farmer had just built a new barn, the door of which had the standard Z of brace-boards across the back to fortify the vertical door boards. Nails holding this all together were evenly spaced all along this Z.

Soon after, an electrical storm passed over their farm. The next morning the farmer went out to do his chores and when he slid open the barn doors, the wood all fell in a heap at his feet. A lightning bolt had hit the barn and just jumped from nail to nail along the door, sizzling every one. One tug on the door and the whole thing gave way.

 

Only One Who Got It

The Discover prompt today is STREET

I’ve told this tale at some point in the past, but will retell it as my response to this prompt:

I got married after I finished Grade Eleven, so never did get my Grade Twelve. About twenty years back I decided to write the GED test to get my General Equivalency Diploma. This certificate proves to employers that you have the equivalent of a Grade Twelve knowledge.

I did it just for anyhow. In retrospect it was a more of an interesting diversion than anything, because what you need to know to pass Grade Twelve now was about what we knew in Grade Ten when I went to school. And to top it all off, when I did get my certificate, the printer had spelled “Congratulations” wrong!

Anyway, I signed up for the GED test prep evening classes, about ten in all, held at a school not far from where we lived. There were at least twenty people, almost all under 30, I’d say, and we had an enthusiastic and very patient instructor, a teacher about 35 years old. We all enjoyed him.

He and I had a few interesting exchanges in the hall before or after class, not so much about religion, but some leaning that way. You know how sometimes you meet a person and somehow sense that the two of you are on the same wavelength? I knew he was a modern Catholic and felt somewhat of a kindred spirit from him; I think he felt the same.

But the particular class incident that still makes me smile is the one where he announced to us that he was going to tell us a joke. Everyone sat up and listened, eager for the joke and of course the punch line. This was a very clean joke, he assured us. (I later learned that this is an old joke but it was new to me that evening, too.)

“There was once a very rich man who was on his death bed. He wanted to go to Heaven, but he just couldn’t bear to leave all his wealth behind. So he begged God, “Can’t I take some of my money — even a little?”

Finally God relented. “Okay, I”ll let you bring ONE suitcase. You can bring as much wealth along as will fit in that one suitcase. But that’s all.”

The rich man was delighted and converted his cash into gold bars enough to fill the suitcase. He had it by his bed when he died.

Now he gets to those pearly gates lugging this heavy suitcase and St Peter’s waiting there. “Hold it. You can come in, but you can’t bring that suitcase in. Nothing of earth enters in here.”

“I’ve talked to God about this and He’s given me permission to bring one suitcase.”

“So what’s in it,” St Peter asks. “Open it up and let’s see what you’re carrying in.” The man opens the suitcase and proudly shows him all those gold bars gleaming.

St Peter appears bewildered, and says, “You’ve brought pavement?”
🙂

Our teacher paused for us to get and respond to the punch line. I got it. I laughed.

It feels funny to be the only one in a group of over twenty who gets the punch line. But all the others sat there as bewildered as St Peter and the teacher had to explain that, according to the Bible, the streets of Heaven are paved with gold. So this rich man had brought more pavement. Get it? No wonder St Peter was stunned.

The class smiled politely, but the kernel of truth — all this stuff of earth, even the most precious of commodities, is worth nothing on those “Streets of Gold” — was lost to them. The joke had fallen as flat as the pavement.

I still think it’s funny — and yet so true. We’re so inclined to hold onto, to hoard. These days we’re even hoarding toilet paper and sanitizer. Heaven must laugh!

An Ungraceful Visitor

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is GRACEFUL

Which immediately makes me think of SWANS. Don’t they always look so graceful when they’re floating serenely in a stream?

Swans my webst

Other birds just don’t have the knack.
Duck down. Alexas Fotos

🙂

Which calls to mind an rather ungraceful visitor we had one morning some years ago.

Great horned owl.Pexels
Image: Pexels — Pixabay

On the wing, a great-horned owl can be a very graceful bird. I’ve read that the owl has a feather construction and placement that allows the predator to fly without a whisper of sound, swooping down with no warning on its prey.

Its efforts on the ground are another matter, rather ungainly, as we were to learn one day.

We’ve often heard a great-horned owl in the woods beside our yard and in the evenings we’d see one flying over the pasture behind our acreage. We’ve heard them and have seen le Grand Duc, (Grand Duke) as the French call it, many times in the tallest bare trees, surveying their domain or looking for some unsuspecting morsel of lunch. One evening we saw two owls in the treetops hooting back and forth to each other, discussing prospects.

One September we could hear a screech or squawk and decided that this noise was coming from a young owl. Then we went away on a five-day trip to visit friends in mid-September, and early on the first morning at home I let our long-haired black cat, Panda, go outside. A few minutes later I was hearing this funny loud peeping or squawk outside, so I glanced out the window and beheld a fascinating sight.

A great-horned owl chick was sitting in our driveway near the car shelter, staring toward the house with its big golden eyes and letting out a screechy sort of peep about once a minute. Fluffy and cute with its pointy “ear tufts,” this young owl looked almost white to me. Our huge black Panda, about the same size and shape, sat silently on our deck eyeing the owl with her big golden eyes.

Were they curious about this odd specimen in front of them? The way it was peeping, you could almost think the chick was lonely and thought Panda might be another owl for company. Or were they sizing each other up, wondering who should eat who? Perplexed as to what should be done about this strange white cat – or black bird, depending on whose viewpoint you took?

I decided not to take any chances, so I let Panda in and the owl soon got bored sitting there. It proceeded to make its way down the driveway and back again, snapping up grasshoppers as it went. Its “running” was quite amusing and anything but graceful — a kind of waddle-and-hop from side to side as well as forward.

For a couple of hours the owl chick stayed around our yard, entertaining us and eliminating some of the many grasshoppers we had that year. It did the rounds of our garden and lawn, flying up to roost on the clothesline post in between. We never did see it fly away, nor see it again. My husband guessed the chick had made itself to home in our yard while we were away; it must have decided not to come back when people were around.