Catching Up With Ourselves

Good morning, everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything about our activities so for those who are interested, here’s a brief review of the past week’s comings and goings.

Spring has come to our land for sure. The woods around us are getting greener by the day, more of our summer-nesting birds are showing up every day. Our neighbor told me about seeing orioles a few days ago; they’ve since been over to visit our trees too. Yesterday she saw a hummingbird at her feeder. I’d been planning to get out my feeders so when I heard that, I cleaned out our two feeders — for hummers and orioles — and hung them outside yesterday evening.

Our farmer neighbor seeded the fields around our acreage yesterday while Bob mowed the grass for the first time.

Last Friday morning we left for an overnight trip to Moose Jaw. We stopped for dinner en route and drove out to the Belle Plaine area, east of MJ, to visit an elderly friend who was Best man at our wedding. Joe’s 91-years-old now and somewhat crippled by arthritis, needs a cane, but his spirit is as vital as ever. He’s kept going all these years, refusing to let arthritis immobilize him. This week he was loading up and hauling about 20 head of cattle to the Swift Current market, about 150 kms away. He’s finally giving up feeding cattle.

We drove through Belle Plaine, the town where Bob and I met. He ran a grain elevator for UGG — a company that no longer exists— while my folks bought the local café when I was thirteen. Needless to say, things have changed a lot, especially in the past 20 years. We had trouble figuring out what was what anymore; the café ha disappeared completely. And how can fifty years go by so fast?!

We saw a small herd of antelope on the way to Joe’s home, and I spotted a group of cormorants at a dug-out right near Belle Plaine. This dug-out was made when we lived there, when dirt was needed to build the overpass over the train tracks. So it’s quite a large body of water and there were a number of waterfowl.

We had supper with Bob’s cousin Dennis and wife; in the evening we met my sister Rose for coffee at a Tim Horton’s. All of these live in Moose Jaw.

We stayed night at a motel across the street from Crescent Park and the Public Library + Art Gallery. All day Saturday we attended a writers’ conference at the Library. Met a few people we know and heard various speakers, including a retired Regina police officer. He spoke about how a homicide investigation is REALLY conducted. As you can imagine, he detests all the nonsense shown on TV cop shows. Two other speakers were romance writer Ellie Lynn and mystery writer Gail Bowen.

We came home Saturday evening and attended church as usual Sunday morning, then were invited to our son-in-law’s folks for an extended family Mother’s Day dinner: their three children who live here and in-laws like ourselves.

Tuesday morning our son-in-law and daughter very kindly drove us back down to Moose Jaw to attend the funeral of Bob’s cousin Julia. She’d celebrated her 94th birthday in early February; in the funeral service we heard how she’d enjoyed a long, love-filled, productive life. Her five children have all done well and their descendants seem to have, too.

After the funeral we met and visited with my sister Donna for half an hour or so. It’s been too long since we last connected! I last saw Donna — and only to exchange a quick hello — at our nephew’s funeral at the beginning of Sept 2010. She’s been living in Regina for years and only moved back to Moose Jaw last summer. Hopefully we can connect more often now.

When we got home Tuesday evening around 8pm, we all noticed how much the trees around our yard had greened up just while we were gone. And they’ve continued to leaf out in yesterday’s heat.

Today is cloudy and cooler — and we’re off to Saskatoon later to have coffee and a gabfest with several other writers who live in this area. We’re only about eight who like to touch base now and then — but try to find a date and time when everyone’s free!

Tomorrow we’ll stay home and catch up with some work that’s been neglected while we gallivanted. 🙂 Now I’ll end my “catch-up” post with this short poem by an unknown writer:

The slightest word of comfort
to help us on our way,
the slightest smile from someone
to brighten up our day;
the slightest act of kindness
to lessen care and such
all these cost so little,
but they mean so very much.

Of Books and Titles

Hello Everyone. This morning I’d like to tell you about author Dan Walsh and one of his books, The Deepest Waters. I’ve read a number of Dan’s books, including this one I’d give a five-star rating. It is one REALLY good read, both for the story part and for the historical angle, being based on a true incident. Here’s part of his blurb on Amazon.com  :

“What began as a fairy-tale honeymoon in 1857 for John and Laura Foster aboard the steamship S.S. Vandervere becomes a nightmare when a hurricane causes their ship to sink into the murky depths of the Atlantic. Laura finds herself with the other women and children aboard a sailing ship while John and a hundred other men drift on the open sea on anything they could grab as the Vandervere went down… Laura must face the possibility of life alone and meeting her new in-laws without their son if she ever reaches New York.”

As he says on his website, the publisher has recently returned the rights to his book and he’s just re-released it as an indie e-book. For the next five days, until MAY 1ST, you can pre-order a copy for only $2.99; after that the price goes up to $3.99.

Now for a personal note:

Since free books abound…and I want to promote my own writing and my books as well… I’ve been considering putting out a another book of short stories — mainly flash fiction tales I’ve written — and putting it out there as a free e-book. For the past couple of days I’ve been trying to come up with a title for this book and decide which stories I want to include in it.

This isn’t as easy as it may seem, since I have to do a check on Amazon for similar titles. Flash Fiction Stories and Tales from the… have been used so many times a person would have to scroll through dozens before they came to my book. Whereas some other titles I check out bring up books with the same title, but sometimes a quite different genre.

I like birds. How about The Wandering Tattler? 🙂 I like the word Kaleidoscope — indicating a variety — but then so did a dozen other writers. I could borrow from Dan’s title and call my book, In the Shallow Waters, but it doesn’t really grab me. Does anyone have a great title suggestion for a few dozen non-themed flash fiction tales?

Meanwhile, it’s spring in our land. The grass is beginning to show a green tinge and the trees are budding. Our early birds all got the memo at the same time; last Friday I saw robins, snow geese, and sandhill cranes one morning; Saturday I saw an avocet at one slough, two great blue herons at another. That really surprised me; you don’t often see them at all around here. These days snow geese are constantly flying over in flocks of several hundred, and making the fields white where they settle. I think we prairie folks live for spring!

Spring Morning

Kisses of Spring

Meadowlark singing on fence post,
ducks dabbling on the slough,
the cry of a pair of Canada geese
overhead, as they hurry on through.

The woods beside us now waken
with sound at first morning light;
I spy a flock of some kind of birds
silent and northward their flight

These are the kisses of springtime,
the sights and the sounds that delight.
Oh no! While I’m here rhapsodizing
our landscape is fast turning white.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Good Morning from our house. The dawn was rather misty when I first looked out and I saw this flock of birds winging over the field beside us. Small ducks, maybe? I let the cats out and sat back to enjoy the coming of spring.

A pair of Canada geese have been around for a week; the ducks and meadowlark we saw Sunday on the way to church. I could hear small birds twittering in the woods yesterday as I went out for a walk. Sunny days and south winds have melted most of the snow in our yard. Last week the driveway was muddy, but by yesterday it had almost completely dried off. Oh, the joys of warmer weather!

As I enjoyed my morning coffee this morning a poem came to me, so I fired up the computer and started to write. I hadn’t quite decided how to finish off, though — until I looked outside again and saw the air full of snow. Our poor cats huddled on the back step, turning white along with everything else.

A sad surprise indeed. Poor little birds! And no wonder that flock was winging it in such a hurry, probably looking for a place to shelter. Oh, well. I shall carry on with my sewing project, a dress for myself, and forget about taking a long walk in the sunshine.

A Lively Drummer

Happy “First Day of Spring” to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere. Though it doesn’t look very much like spring here, a friend reports seeing a flock of Canada geese fly over. To celebrate the day, I’ll reblog this story from a few years back:

Once upon a time there was an old man and an old woman who lived in an old mobile home right next to the woods. This old couple had reached that phase of life so aptly expressed by the poet:
“Those difficult days have come and lit:
too tired to work; too poor to quit.”

One afternoon the old woman, ready for a nice nap, plopped her weary self into her recliner and closed her eyes. A few minutes later she heard a curious sound:

Scritch … Scritch … Scritch

Now this woman, in addition to being old and tired, was also hard of hearing. In this case her handicap made it difficult to judge where the sound was coming from. It seemed to filter in from some peripheral place — a hard-shelled bug tapping on the window, perhaps, or a bird hopping on the roof?

SCRITCH … SCRITCH … SCRITCH

Now it could be a student shut in one of the trailer’s back bedrooms rooms half-heartedly pecking away on a manual typewriter. It would take him years to get an essay done at that rate.

Then the old woman remembered she was hard of hearing. Was the source of the sound a lot closer than she first thought? Had some brave mouse ventured out to nibble at the cat food sitting on the dining room floor? Her eyes popped open and she looked toward the cat food dish in the dining area. No mouse.

Now all was silent, so she reclined and shut her eyes. Such a tiny sound she could ignore. Zzz..

CLANK CLANG CLANK CLANG

The old woman jumped from her chair. This was more like a chainsaw chewing rapid-fire through a drain pipe. She hurried through the trailer, checking every room, but saw nothing spinning or vibrating that could produce a sound like that.

Some madman must be chain-sawing his way through the trailer wall! What else could make such a racket? She rushed outside to let this fellow know he dare not mess with her. (Okay, a bit of fiction added to embellish the tale. 🙂 )

She saw no one, no reason for this awful noise. The only living thing she saw was a northern flicker on the roof peering down at her curiously. He was sitting on the chimney…

Oh.

The flicker, deciding she was a wingless, harmless creature, went back to his task of drilling a hole in the steel disc protecting their chimney, producing an identical CLANK CLANG CLANK CLANG

Perhaps the bird was excited about his ability to produce such a rousing sound, but the old woman had never been a fan of heavy metal. Offering a harsh critique of his music, she persuaded him to do his drumming somewhere else.