Cutting the Mustard

Good morning everyone. The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is MUSTARD — and yesterday’s prompt was HORN. I’ll touch on the two in one quick sweep.

I wonder how many prompt followers will think of the old song, “He’s Too Old to Cut the Mustard Anymore.” Probably not many, as this song was popular before I was born. I only dimly remember it, and my mom singing snatches of it around the house sometimes. In this song a fellow is blowing his horn about all the things he could do when he was young…but the frailty of old age has set in and his mobility is limited. Once the girls were all eager to spend time with him. Now “they push you around in a four-wheeled chair.” If you’re interested, you can read the lyrics here.

My Dad Vance would have identified with this song. Always a physically fit and active man, when he was in his seventies he’d walk the seventeen miles from Moose Jaw to Belle Plaine to visit his sister, no problem. But his one hand was starting to shake — the beginnings of the Parkinson’s disease that finally immobilized him. He hated the thought of being tied in a wheel chair, but for him it became a reality because he couldn’t get up and walk by himself.

Of course there’s the MUSTARD plant…and wild mustard. This is canola country and wild mustard, a close cousin to canola, is a real nuisance if it infests a canola field. Wild mustard seeds remain viable in the soil for many years, they sprout mid-spring, plants establish quickly, and anything that will kill it will kill its cousin, too. Worse, here in western Canada it’s developed a resistance to most weed killers. This picture is from Cornell University’s Agricultural Weed ID site.

For comparison, here’s a Pixabay photo of canola in bloom:

Image by GayleenFroese2 — Pixabay

I think that’s enough about old age and wild mustard. Monday morning laundry is waiting for my attention. Have a great week, everyone.

Family Then & Now

It’s a lovely sunny day today; the temp started at -16 this morning and has climbed to -11 C. Which doesn’t sound awfully warm, but the sun is condensing our banks of snow and putting a hard crust on the surface. Forecast for tomorrow is +1 C; Monday -10. Exactly the kind of up-and-down temps we’ve been having so far this year.

I talked to my sister Wilma last night; still no definite plans for our sister Donna’s burial and the family get together for a Celebration of Life. A lot depends on what sentence the judge will hand out to her youngest son when his court case comes up in a few weeks. The other boys definitely want to wait until he can be there. They’ve no idea what he’s charged with, so are quite much in the dark as to how long he’ll be in custody.

Because a few people in my family have expressed interest in our history, I’ve been posting on the Vance-Turner Connect blog again. Starting out with some of the aspects — and trials — of doing family research. Like the duplication of names. On my latest post I used the heading, Joseph the son of Joseph the son of Joseph. That’s exactly how it was: the oldest children were named after the grandparents, then the uncles & aunts. Then to sort them all out…

It’s a good thing, yet a danger, that subscribers to a genealogy program like Ancestry or MyHeritage can access other genealogists’ family trees and borrow research. I’ve learned that you MUST be very careful to double check before you import data or you can get really mixed up. Birth & baptism registrations, marriage certificates, census records, all help a lot re: whose child is this.

Some researcher has listed an Alexander in our family tree, as the youngest brother of our gr-gr-grandfather, but the birth registration says his father was Robert, not David. I discovered yesterday that someone lists gr-gr-grandfather as Joseph Collville Vance — someone he never was — and go from there to add descendants our gr-gr-grand never had. Grafting their branch onto the wrong tree, you might say. Now a few others have copied that researcher’s error, skewing all their data as well.

For me, following all these lines is like doing a jigsaw puzzles, and I enjoy putting them together. I cooked supper at the Senior’s home last night and one couple were working on a 1000-piece puzzle — a painting of the Last Supper. They were having a hard time getting it together. I have younger eyes, also a very keen sense of color and can detect slight differences between two shades of, say, sky blue, gray or creamy marble, so I helped them and we got quite a bit put together before I left.

Well, enough rambling. I’m doing a bit bunch of laundry today and best get back to it. 🙂

I Can’t Find It

Word of the Day Challenge: MIND

Which brings to my mind an incident my daughter told me about:

I’VE LOST MY MIND

My daughter was doing her cleaning job at a local nursing home when she noticed one of the elderly residents wandering around, obviously looking for something. Every now and then he’d mutter, “I just can’t find it.”

Finally our daughter thought maybe she could help him find it, so she touched his arm and asked him, “What are you looking for, sir?”

“I’m looking for my mind,” he told her. “I’ve lost my mind and I can’t find it.”

She suppressed the urge to laugh, for the Alzheimer patient was quite serious. Right at that moment he had enough sense to realize he couldn’t grasp the information he needed and this was prompting him to search for his missing marbles.

One lady from our church began getting mixed up and forgetting things, when she was in her mid 60s. She realized this and was dismayed because she could see what was coming; Alzheimer’s was in her family genetics. And the disease did come. She lived about ten years without her memory, though a few flashes came through now and then. She lost her power of speech later on; during her last few years she was bed-fast and helpless.

With dementia it seems like the brain connections become loose and the current doesn’t flow through anymore. Once in awhile there will be a spark travel from the eyes or ears to the brain and make connection; they’ll recognize a face or a familiar song will touch a chord. The person who maybe hasn’t spoken for years suddenly joins in and sings along. A moment later they can’t remember where they are, or even who they are.

Last spring a relative, who was fine when her daughter saw her that day, went to bed as usual and died in her sleep. Her daughter thinks death was caused by an aneurysm, but the mom got her wish to go quickly and with no fuss, never a burden to anyone. Which is the way we all want to go: in fairly good health and with a clear mind.

Book:Seniors and High-Tech

One day my husband brought home a book he thought I’d enjoy — and it did give me many chuckles, especially as I remembered our own days of learning how to operate this new-fangled device. If you’re young and tech-savvy you can read it and sympathize with computer sales & support people who must patiently explain what a byte is, how to control a mouse, or how far you should back up when your computer gives the order.

My Senior Moments Have Gone High-Tech
© 2016 by Karen O’Conner,
published by Harvest House Publishers in Eugene Oregon

My Senior Moments Have Gone High-Tech by [Karen O'Connor]

Consists mainly of anecdotes about golden oldies who take up using a computer in their senior years, these amusing tidbits have been gathered from learners, teachers, and fixers. As well as humor, the writer offers hope for those who feel their offspring are tossing them into the sea of technology without a life jacket.

Like the woman who set her mouse on the floor, thinking it should work like her sewing machine foot pedal. Or the irate fellow who ordered tech support to come out and see why his printer wasn’t working. The company rep dutifully showed up, checking things out, and asked how long the printer had been unplugged.

This reminds me of my first attempt at using our computer. Bob had purchased one three weeks previously, so he and our daughter (who worked at a computer store) were babbling in this strange language. Which made me all the more determined not to touch the thing. However, we’d been on a Family Reunion trip to Boston and I wanted to write up a long letter to his mother plus several penpals. Rather than hand-write all those pages, I typed it into the computer.

Starting with “Dear Mom, We had this great trip to Massachusetts…” I went on for eight pages giving her all the details. Then I hit PRINT. Nothing happened. I hit it again. Nothing happened. After the third try I called our daughter at work. She asked, “Are you sure it’s plugged in?”

I checked. It wasn’t. I plugged it in. Out came the eight pages. Then another eight. I couldn’t stop the thing! I unplugged it again, then plugged it back in. Out came another eight. I’m thankful my two penpals didn’t seem to mind an eight-page letter that started with “Dear Mom,” accompanied by a handwritten note of explanation on top. And when hubby got home, he showed me how to cancel a PRINT order. 🙂

My husband is talking now of updating our cell phones. Gulp! I still mourn the obsolescence of my old cell phone. It worked so well; to answer a call, you just flipped open the lid.

Anyway, I think this book would be a great Christmas gift for the senior on your list.

The Constant Sea

Image by K Moser — Pixabay

The salt smell of the sea, the foamy breakers, the incessant screaming of the gulls in their wild play. These familiar sights and sounds soothe old Matt as he walks along the beach. When life is out of kilter he wanders down to the beach again to watch that constant rolling reminder that life goes on. There’s something solid about the sea. The thought makes him smile. It’ll be here ’til the end of time.

He delights in recalling the days of long ago when he worked with his uncles on the Doughty Daisy before a vicious storm tossed her on the rocks. He sees again the line of fishing boats heading out to sea, imagines the wind, the spray, the thrill of it all when, as a young deck hand, he was part of the crew harvesting the sea.

He thinks of the wild storms that held them in port for several days – or worse, swept down on them while they were filling their nets. All hands on deck back then, fighting to ride the waves and keep the equipment – and each other – from washing overboard. Those were the days when you worked, boy!

The fishing isn’t good now, the new crews tell him. Too many fish harvested by the factory ships; stocks haven’t had a chance to replenish like they should. Cod are about gone, they say, and rarely do you find the big tuna anymore.

He turns to watch the gulls wheeling, ever on the lookout for some tasty gift from the sea, and squabbling over it when they find it. Ah, now they’ve spotted something further up the beach. A couple of gulls have landed beside it, one’s carefully inspecting it while the other argues “finders-keepers” with his mates in the air.

“Now what do you suppose those birds have found?” Matt slowly makes his way over to the spot. By the time he gets there the gulls have flown away. He looks down and laughs. A tube of Paradise Suntan Lotion – Economy size. Just what he needs. He sticks it in his pocket; there’s a trash can up along the walkway.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: INCESSANT
Your Daily Word Prompt: SUPPOSE