The Little Home

by Edgar Guest

Image: Pexels  — Pixabay

The little house is not too small
to shelter friends who come to call.
Though low the roof and small its space
it holds the Lord’s abounding grace
and every simple room may be
endowed with happy memory.

The little house, severely plain,
a wealth of beauty may contain.
Within it those who dwell may find
high faith which makes for peace of mind
and that sweet understanding which
can make the poorest cottage rich.

The little house can hold all things
from which the soul’s contentment springs.
It’s not too small for love to grow,
for all the joys that mortals know,
for mirth and song and that delight
which makes the humblest dwelling bright.

From the book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co


The Day of Small Things

Hello Readers and Fellow Bloggers,

I’d like to welcome all the new readers and followers of this blog, and say a big “THANK YOU” to everyone who’s taken the time to come visit and read my thoughts on various subjects. I appreciate you all!

I’m taking a break from blogging this month. However, I’ve posted lots of quotes, poems, articles and stories over the past eight years and I hope you’ll browse around and read some of them.

And here are a couple tidbits of wisdom for you to ponder today.

“For who hath despised the day of small things?”
— Zechariah 4:10a

Image by ArtsyBee  —  Pixabay

Another One Coming Down

It’s time for another Crimson’s Creative Challenge
Every Wednesday she posts a photo (the one below) and bloggers can respond with something CREATIVE:

  • An answering photo
  • A cartoon
  • A joke
  • A caption
  • An anecdote
  • A short story (flash fiction)
  • A poem
  • A newly minted proverb, adage or saying
  • An essay
  • A song—the lyrics or the performance

She gives only two criteria:

  • Your creative offering is indeed yours
  • Your writing is kept to 150 words or less

I’ve read various reports lately about statues coming down because of their association with past evil. While I understand this principle and don’t find fault with it, I recall what a wise man often told his children back in the early 1900s. Once people get started, will they know where to stop? Which gave the “seed” for this tale:

Another One Comes Down

“Here by this door,” Alix pointed. “Great place for another charge.”

Tonya eyed the structure. “Isn’t this overdoing things? I mean…”

“No way! These temples of opulent indulgence were built on the suffering of starving peasants, slaving to pay crushing rent to greedy lords. And think of all the wars plotted here…the blood shed to defend this place.”

“True. But still…the tourist revenue.”

“Money has triumphed over human rights too long,” Alix declared. “Just think of the debauchery that went on behind these walls. Lecherous nobs forcing themselves on helpless servant girls; wives enduring philandering husbands; unwanted babies hustled away to a nunnery; thousands of daughters pressured into wretched marriages to forge political alliances. And tourists are worshipping all this evil!”

“Not exactly. It’s the history…”

“Right! All these castles are coming down.”

Tonya shook her head. Didn’t Grandpa always say, “There’s no moderation in the human race”?

Confessions of an Inured Earthling

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is INURED

Traveling through northern Ontario by train years ago, I’d get whiffs of the putrid sulfur fumes spewing from paper mills along Lake Superior. The joke in those places was, “You don’t need to put meat in your sandwiches. Just open your slices of bread and close them over that rich aroma.”

I felt sorry for the poor folks who lived and worked there. Wouldn’t it be great if these smog-belching, mercury-dumping factories were shut down? But then… Hold on here! I read books, magazines, catalogues. I use printer paper, paper towels, tissues, toilet paper… On second thought, keep on spewing, guys. (Try to contain the mercury, though.)

This morning I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee, which came from plantations in South America, harvested by laborers there and shipped here by boat. The beans are then roasted and packaged in Canadian factories – in foil packages made in other factories – then trucked to my local supermarket. I may grumble about pollution from factories, but this might seem hypocritical if I’m the one buying their products.

I spread my toast with margarine made from canola oil (once commonly known as rapeseed oil.) I know something about canola – it’s grown in the fields around us. In the spring our water pressure goes through some dips during seeding as our farmer neighbor fills his sprayer in preparation for seeding. Then he gets into his factory-made, fuel-consuming tractor and roars off to seed his grain.

To get good crops, and thus feed the world, farmers may use fertilizers, pre- and post-emergent herbicides, insecticides. In the case of canola, the use of desiccants at harvest is common. I like to wear cotton, but I understand cotton’s a heavily insecticide-sprayed crop. I am concerned about the effects of all these chemicals on our poor old Earth, but I also want to eat and wear clothes. And growers want to earn a living. So what’s the answer?

One day shortly after a power outage here, I was talking with a friend in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario and we discussed how we’d ever survive without electricity. She assured we that we could if we had to – we just would. “But how?” I asked. She answered, “We’d just have to leave the city and go back to the land.” And I thought, You don’t know what you’re saying!

“Think of the hundreds of seniors in your apartment building alone,” I told her. “And the millions of people in your city. Our lives are built on having a reliable source of power. Heating, air-conditioning, traffic control, gas pumps, street lights, water purification and circulation, all depend on power. You just can’t move city dwellers back into the woods, have them build log cabins and expect they’ll survive.”

The fact is, without a fairly steady power supply millions of people across our country would die. Sorry about the pollution, but keep those hydro-electric generators running, churning out power.

When I read fellow blogger Judy D-B’s response to this prompt, mainly the lines about “…the factories smudging the skies with their waste…,” I had to admit my guilt. Paper mills, cotton mills, steel mills – I buy the products of these factories. I use planes that probably pollute the atmosphere. Why, if it were a free trip I might even like to check out one of those fuel-guzzling, pollution-generating behemoths a.k.a an ocean liner. (Just once.)

I can do without flyers, go totally to e-mail, cut back on my purchases. But at our age, I hope we never have to go back to a log cabin in the bush, use candles or kerosine lamps, pump water from a well, chop firewood, wrap up in lots of blankets in winter, hitch the horses to go to town, or use an outdoor biffy where autumn leaves serve as T.P. What about you? Are you willing to give up cell phones, travel, new clothes and paper products in order to save the environment?

Because we seem to really like the life we have now, I don’t see any end to growing practices or factories. (And I really don’t support shutting down factories here, putting our own people out of work because pollution controls are too costly, then buying from countries that produce cheap goods because they ignore pollution issues.)

I do want to be aware, to curb my hunger for “the latest” and not be wasteful. But I don’t see many options, so in the end I go with common sense and have probably inured myself somewhat to how the earth suffers for my sake. As the saying goes…

“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Respect + Self-Respect

The Word of the Day Prompt this morning was RESPECT.

To me this is such an inspiring, healthy, upbeat word that I want to write something about it before my day is done.

I was thinking about a fellow Canadian we have a lot of respect for: journalist and author Conrad Black. When he writes, his articles are informative and what my husband and I consider to be a fair and sensible take on his subjects.

This evening, however, I’m thinking of one particular aspect of his life: the experiences he had during the time he was an inmate in one of Uncle Sam’s jails.

A bit of background:
Conrad Black once owned a chain of newspapers in Canada, some in the US, with shares in the Telegraph group in England and a couple of newspapers in Australia. He was living and working in the States when he was arrested and according to Google, “convicted in July 2007 on three counts of mail and wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice”
Mr Black spent 29 months in a Florida prison before being granted bail. When his case came before the Supreme Court, the Court declared the statute under which he was convicted to be unconstitutional. Charges against him were dismissed and he returned to Canada. However, the case against him is not relevant to the direction of this post.

So what does a journalist do when he’s incarcerated? He writes about it, naturally. I read several articles he wrote while he was in prison, and one in particular has stayed with me. That’s where I want to go with this post.

While he was in prison, he just didn’t sit around writing articles. He spend a fair bit of his time teaching other prisoners to read and write — and in giving an education, he got an education. In interacting with the other prisoners, he got a better picture of the workings of the US justice system. In particular, how it works for poor, illiterate men.

Needless to say, he didn’t come away with a high regard for the education system where so many underprivileged children fall through the cracks. This isn’t always the fault of the schools; sometimes there’s just no encouragement from home — no home even. But it’s sad to see that North American schools have been abandoning the basics in favor of the fluff and passing on those who really need help. Illiteracy among Canadians born and raised and schooled here is shocking.

Mr Black, after listening to his fellow inmates, concluded that if you haven’t got the smarts to defend yourself in a court of law, your chances of being convicted are definitely higher. I’ve read a few stories about poor illiterate blacks who barely understood the proceedings being falsely convicted, especially in the South. I don’t think this is so very rare.

He also wrote that if you haven’t got a basic education so you can get a job and earn a decent wage, your chances of ending up in jail are a lot higher. And re-offending. No news there.

Which comes back to my point about respect. Respect for others comes from learning about them as real people. Self-respect, the ability to stand up and face the world, to get ahead, comes from learning, too. It’s pretty hard to keep your head above water if you don’t have a solid rock to stand on. Like basic “Readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic.”

I’ve seen this. I’ve a cousin who can’t read her bank statement or a business letter, and couldn’t begin to understand this post. Medical issues are total confusion. When her purse was stolen she didn’t report it because she’s scared of dealing with the police, in case they ask her questions she can’t understand. Lack of remedial classes and a poor home combined to hinder her schooling.

I respect Mr Black for his efforts to work with these men and to give them the basics — and the self-respect — they’d need to build a life outside the prison walls. And I respect and applaud all the folks out there who have taken the time to teach, to mentor, to work with, folks who need a helping hand. They are a mighty army, working unseen.

Which brings me to my friend Margaret’s poem. I’m using it with the confidence that if my dear friend were alive, she’d give her permission. She and her husband Milton were just such people as she describes here.

Quiet Folk
by Margaret Penner Toews

Some folks there are who, quiet, go about
Unseen, unheard, unknown
sowing kernels
digging wells
building bridges
picking stones
raising altars

…planting poignant thoughts in ordinary talk about His Presence,
…dig, and leave no signature, while others draw and drink,
…building bridges over chasms, deeply cut by hate and color, creed and prejudice
…removing stumbling stones of cruelty, indifference and scorn along the road, so those who walk in darkness will not fall
…erecting altars by their hearths, in secret closets, or on busy thoroughfares.

Quietly these folks ‘deliver cities’ (Ecclesiastes 9:14-15)
but no one knows
and no one will remember…
(most certainly not they themselves)

…Except for God…and He will never be a debtor.
He takes a leisurely eternity to give rewards.

From her book, First A Fire
© 1993 by Margaret Penner Toews
Available from PrairieView Press