That Beautiful Blank Page!

All set for my response to the latest writing prompts:
Ragtag Daily PromptFRESH
Word of the Day ChallengeRESOLUTION
Fandango’s One-Word ChallengeADORN
Your Daily Word ChallengeRENEW

Image by StockSnap — Pixabay

Doesn’t everybody love New Year’s Day? That sense of leaving the past behind — especially past failings — and starting fresh. The blank sheet on which we hope to write this year’s goals –and later adorn the list with check marks for “DONE.”

Be more patient. Reconnect with someone. Lose weight. Be more faithful in posting on the blog. Paint that picture. Finish that book. Renew memberships. De-clutter the house. What are your goals for 2021?

Last week I announced one of my goals: having scrolled through my Amazon account and seeing all the books I either haven’t read yet or read and forgotten, without adding stars or writing a review, I’ve resolved to go through the list and deal with each one before I BUY ONE MORE BOOK. I’m happy to report that I’ve read one and almost finished the second. I deleted the first; it was 3-star Okay, but I’ll never read it again so why let it clutter up my e-reader.

Another goal I’ve been working at: go through my e-mails, check out the ones I haven’t yet opened and delete last year’s unimportant e-mails.

Last night I contemplated giving my blog a fresh new look, so I checked out the themes offered by WordPress. But when all was said and done, I decided to keep the one I have for the time being. Some wise soul once said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’ll go with that. I’ll rather adorn my blog with a new Home Page, header and background color.

Although I’ve already erred by leaving a rather political comment on Mr Bump’s blog this morning, I’ve resolved to avoid political discussions and not offer my two-cents’ worth re: same. There are lots of positive things to write about. Politically, the world is going to wrack and to ruin. Do I need to say more on that subject? 😉

Yes, I have a book I want to finish — several, in fact. And ones I want to write. Will this be the year? There’s also my tub of miscellaneous scribblings waiting to be keyed into computer files. And sewing projects to finish.

One of my biggest dreams is to paint. I’ll never do anything beautiful, but even if I can squeeze some paint onto a canvas and swirl it around to resemble some abstract sort of flowers, I’ll be happy. In 2019 I bought a couple of canvases and acrylic paints — but painting didn’t happen. Will this be the year, or will there always be too many other things more pressing?

I’d better quit… My blank page is getting full! Let’s see what all I get checked off in the coming twelve months. 🙂

Glimpse Into The Future

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is the question: What next?
The Word of the Day Challenge: HOPE
Of course we all hope that what comes next will be good. 🙂 I hope better days and many joys come to you all in 2021.

WHAT NEXT?

There’s an ocean-depth of possibility in this one! What next for today? For this week? Next year? My next goal or project? Health issues? Future moves?

For today my goal is to tidy up the house and continue my shuffle through drawers and closets, ferreting out things I don’t need or want anymore. That will be my week’s goal as well, plus I have a couple of shifts at the Seniors’ Home.

Long term NEXT? My thoughts have been going to health issues lately, particularly since I read Texas Writer’s blog post: REFLECT about dealing with his mother’s dementia and his own Parkinson’s. He admits that he’s facing a gradual decline, but has a commendably upbeat attitude.

When I was twenty-seven I discovered a walnut-sized, rock-hard lump, and the diagnosis was quickly made: CANCER. My future plans evaporated. You know, when you hear the C word it usually goes with fatal. Women regularly die of breast cancer. And when I thought I was going to die, my what next looked pretty grim. But the doctors acted fast: I was in surgery within a week, followed by a heavy dose of chemo-therapy, so it wasn’t “Goodbye cruel world” after all.

I had the same experience about six years ago when the doctor told me I had leukemia. Bam! Right out of the water. Leukemia is a killer! I didn’t know there were different kinds, so was hoping I still had a few months to put things in order.

When my mom turned seventy, she died of a massive heart attack. My younger sister had a heart attack a dozen years ago – and thankfully survived. My sister Rose, five years younger, died of cancer a year ago. Far too young!

And reading Texas Writer’s post reminded me of my birth father’s last years. Dad was an incredibly healthy little fellow. Worked hard all his life; even into his seventies he could easily walk the seventeen miles between Moose Jaw and his sister’s home at Belle Plaine. But his arm started to shake – I remember how, in time, it twitched uncontrollably. Parkinson’s. I remember holding his hand just to keep it from shaking for a few minutes — and wondering if this genetic flaw would someday affect me, too.

What’s next? I think COVID has tossed this question into most of our lives. Not that we expected to die, but it’s brought home to each one of us how suddenly everything can head south. Not just our own life, but humanity as a whole can almost come to a screeching halt.

From personal experience I can say this reality check is at the same time a horrible and a wonderful experience. We’re stopped in our tracks and reminded how precious – and how fragile – life is. How quickly living can turn to dying.

And Stats Mean ZIP

According to the Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Stats, in 2018 there were 1,922 Canadians killed in traffic accidents. In a population of 37.06 million, this was a very small per-centage. However, statistics are small comfort if your loved one was one of them. You have been made brutally aware that all our plans for the future can end in a second. Likewise with people who’ve lost family members to COVID. The fact that, of the 560,000 diagnosed cases in Canada so far, 470,00 recovered isn’t worth much, if you’re one of the 15,264 who didn’t.

So… What waits down the road? For me, maybe a heart attack? Or cancer? Another round of leukemia? Parkinson’s? A car accident? My 100th birthday celebration? I have many hopes and expectations, but who can know? Here comes my kitten. I’ll cuddle with him and enjoy today. 🙂

What next for us ALL? Here are my own goals, including concepts the dreaded Virus has taught humanity so far:

Enjoy today. Look around. See whatever beauty there is.
Enjoy the fresh air. And let’s do whatever we can to keep it fresh for others.
Love life – but don’t over-plan.
Visit a nursing home. Check out that “the last door of life” for most folks.
Get rid of the things that clutter your world. (Well, I’m trying. 😉 )
Try harder to forgive, make friends, smile more, get out for that walk.
Love your people – but know that you can’t hold them when they have to go.
As much as you can, set your house in order. We’ll all be moving on someday.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Galatians 6:7

End of Year Shuffle

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is SHUFFLE, and a very fitting one it is. Two weeks after Christmas find me shuffling a lot of stuff — organizing, tidying, hopefully boxing up some things to be donated. “Out with the old and in with the new. Or, as FlyLady says, “If you aren’t using it, give it away so it can bless someone else’s life.”

When you have so and so much space and it’s already full to overflowing, then Christmas gifts come in, something’s gotta give. So we shuffle through cupboards to see which things we should part with to make room for the new. Hopefully by the first week in January most objects have all settled into the best place for them.

This morning I went through my stack of jigsaw puzzles. I collect and distribute to the folks at the Villa and other friends who like to do them, but somehow they come back in greater numbers than they go out. I spread them out on the bed and sorted out the ones I still hope to do someday myself, then piled the rest into laundry baskets. I took these — about thirty puzzles — to church, sending a WhatsAp message around for anyone who wants puzzles to help themselves. Now to say a prayer that they will all disappear. 🙂

Books and puzzles are best circulated; they get musty sitting around waiting to be opened and used.

Which reminds me that I did a shuffle in my closet last week and pulled out a dress I haven’t worn in awhile. It’s been a little..ahem..snug. It has — or had — elastic at the waist. But the moment I stretched it out to look at the dress, the brittle elastic just disintegrated. Ah, yes! There really is no point in storing clothes that don’t fit, either, because if elastic isn’t regularly washed, it dries up and crackles like the autumn leaves. (Ditto with the elastic in sheets that have been stored.)

Things are not made to be hoarded. Ornaments can sit around and the worst that will happen is they will fade — unless they get broken. But I’ve learned that most fabrics and paper, like food, can’t take continual non-use/storage and stay good-as-new.

Resolved Reads 2021

This morning I got an e-mail from Goodreads. Titled Christine’s Year in Books, it’s a summary of my reading in 2020 — that they know about. Kobo and library books I’ve listed as READ, as well as books on my Kindle reader which show up automatically when I’ve finished, since the two companies are connected. According to their count, I’ve read 102 books this year. Probably 110 would be closer, as I’ve re-read half a dozen or so without registering that fact on Goodreads.

My average book length was 206 pages; the longest was a collection of Penny Powers stories — 1760 pages in all. Right now I’m reading and almost done Jake and the Kid, a book by W.O.Mitchell set on the prairies. Then I have a couple more e-books started that I hope to finish shortly. Are you one to start more than one book at a time? Or are you one of these self-disciplined sorts who always finishes one thing before you start another? 😉

I enjoy a variety of genres and authors, but when I get into a series I’ll usually read the whole works — and if I really enjoy the characters, I’ll read the books more than once. Like Diana Xarrisa’s mild mystery series featuring the Markham sisters and their bed and breakfast in “Doveby Dale.” These novellas come in alphabetical order and I’ve just bought the last one, The Zachary Case, but I’ve re-read most of the others.

I’ve read most of the Miss Marple stories by Agatha Christie. Another series I’ve followed is Elizabeth Lemarchand’s mysteries solved by Inspectors Pollard & Toye of Scotland Yard. These are police procedurals as are Emily Brightwell’s Victorian mysteries featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Witherspoon and his housekeeper, Mrs Jeffries. When a murder is committed among the toffs in London, Witherspoon is sent to find the guilty party. Acting as a team, his staff and friends quietly get involved in turning up and sharing pertinent information. Finally Mrs Jeffries sorts it all out in her mind and figures out whodunit and why, then tips off the inspector so he can arrest the perpetrator. I just read the newest, Mrs Jeffries and the Alms of the Angel, #38 in the series.

A much milder series I follow is Nicholas Rhea’s Constable series, which rarely involve serious crimes, just day-to-day policing among the farms and small villages in rural England circa 1950. The Miss Read stories about Fairacre and Thrush Green are likewise sent in the 40s in rural England.

But now I’m pondering my next year’s reading plan and making a New Year’s Resolution. I’m considering all the books I’ve bought waiting patiently in the “To Read Soon” pile. I’ve read that other folks load their e-readers with books that don’t get read — and I am definitely guilty! But there are always intriguing new ones! As a friend quoted lately: “So many books; so little time.”

I rarely ever make definite New Year’s Resolutions because I know they are so hard to keep when temptation sings its siren song, but I’m resolved that in 2021 I WILL NOT BUY or BORROW ANY MORE BOOKS until I’ve gone through those 280 books on my Kindle and read the ones I haven’t yet. (If possible.) Plus write reviews for the ones I have read — if I haven’t already. Any new ones that pop up during the year and specially appeal to me can go on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list — along with the 190 already listed there. 😉

Can I keep this resolution? Or is this an impossible dream? What do you think?

The Pro

Ragtag Daily Prompt: PROCRASTINATE
M-W’s Word of the Day: IDIOPATHIC
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: ADROIT

We have some really interesting prompt words today! Yes, that P word. One of my worst flaws. That little moth that eats holes in the fabric of our lives.

Procrastination stems from a misjudgement or mismanagement of time, I suppose. A person entertains the perception that there will be more time later to do a thorough job. You use up precious minutes doing insignificant things, but then one day you wake up and realize you missed the opportune boat. It’s sailed and you weren’t on it — and there may never be one with “more time” leaving from this dock.

Idiopathic, according to Merriam-Webster, means “arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause.” Like when you have every good intention to get at something as soon as you have a bit more time, but delays arise from an obscure source, and while you’re coping with them, someone pushes the hands of the clock ahead. Sometimes years ahead.

Idiopathic also means “peculiar to the individual.” I don’t think procrastination is peculiar to me, though I’m quite adroit at procrastinating under normal circumstances. And later chiding myself because of the thing not yet done.

And this past week hasn’t been a normal one for me, as I’ve been feeling “under the weather.” Sinus and bronchial congestion, limp-noodle energy, napping often. Procrastinating in regard to posting on my blog, too, you may have noticed. I believe I’m on the road to recovery now, but it’s been a long spell of the blahs.

“I write to be remembered…”

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is WRITE
And maybe if I WRITE fast enough, I can be the first to respond!

All because I’m up in the wee hours — sinus problems just wouldn’t let me rest in peace — so thought I’d see what’s going on in the world. So here’s a little verse that came to mind when I saw the prompt and no responses yet:

By hook or by crook;
I’ll be the first to write in this book.”
This is a slight adaptation of a verse someone wrote in an autograph book of mine years ago. It actually went like this:
“By hook or by crook
I’ll be the last one to write in this book.”
The girl who wrote it signed on the inside back cover, so no one could beat that. 🙂

I wonder how many of you can remember those old autograph books we handed around to our family and friends, asking them to write a verse so we’d have a memory of them for our old age? I’m pretty sure I still have one of mine, dating from about 1963-65. My husband also had one and collected some interesting verses of his own.

The idea was to write some sort of good wishes, a verse, an inspiring quote, a bit of song, and then sign and date your entry. This poem was written by one of Mom’s siblings:

“How nice it is to have a friend
who always plays the game,
knows all the faults that you possess
and loves you just the same.” 

This bit of wisdom, maybe a forerunner of the “How to eat an elephant” line, was given to Bob by his Dad. It’s often encouraged me when I feel overwhelmed by many To-Dos:
“Little and often makes a heap in time.”

Here’s another encouragement my third-grade teacher wrote for me:
“May your life be like a snowflake;
leave a mark, but not a stain.”

Verses could be silly, like these written by two of my friends:
“I saw you in the ocean; I saw you in the sea;
I saw you in the bath-tub. Oops, pardon me!”

And here’s a last, very humble verse to end my post with — and by now I may not even be the first in the queue. 🙂

“Some people write for money,
some people write for fame;
I write to be remembered
so here I’ll sign my name.”

Have a great weekend, everyone!