A Carful of Puzzles

A Bit of Local News

This week, just for fun, I planned a Puzzle Exchange evening at Silverwood Villa retirement home. Spring isn’t the best time for jigsaw puzzle exchanges, with folks starting to think of yard work, but the event gave the residents a chance to enjoy some evening company. I had a number of jigsaw puzzles I wanted to give away and I knew quite a few have been collecting at the Villa, done and put in storage. So I planned the event for yesterday evening and invited everyone who wanted to come.

The invitation was to bring puzzles to exchange, to give away, or just come and get free puzzles. I took a few of my African violets to give away as well. (They seem to multiply so rapidly at my house.) To top off the affair nicely, my books finally came.

On Jan 26th I ordered the first twelve print copies of Silver Morning Song, from Amazon. They were shipped — and never arrived. After a month of eager waiting, I wrote to the company and they said, “Sorry about that. We’ll send replacements.” So they shipped twelve more — and THEY never arrived.

I was getting rather discouraged and beginning to wonder if I should just abandon the project. I notified the company again and they were very good about it. They refunded my purchase price and the agent also instructed me to order again, requesting the fastest shipping, and he’d waive the extra charge for that. So I ordered forty books at the beginning of April — and was beginning to wonder why these weren’t coming, either.

I had an answer on Monday: they hadn’t been shipped yet. On Monday Amazon notified me that they’d shipped my books from Baltimore, using the DHL shipping company. They arrived in four days — pretty fast! So now I can tell the world, my book is AVAILABLE in a print edition and I have copies to sell. 🙂

Or you can order a copy of Silver Morning Song from Amazon.com, and e-books from either Amazon or Kobo.

Back to the puzzle exchange. I brought my puzzles; some other folks brought theirs; one Villa resident’s family contributed forty-some that he’s already done. We had the dining room whole table full, stacked several deep! But there wasn’t a large turnout; three local couples, three ladies, three Villa residents, plus ourselves.

Several people took home a few puzzles each and about half a dozen stayed at the Villa. As to the rest, we have about six boxes and a couple of bags in our car at the moment. I have an appointment in the city today, so will drop these off at Value Village. In addition I sold six books and five of my African violets found new homes.

A good visit was had by all who attended. 🙂

Personal Note:

For the past while I’ve been thinking of giving up blogging — maybe even giving up writing — for a time. Lately I’ve been drowning in a sea of recriminations. It’s taken me awhile to even identify what I’m feeling, but this is how I can best explain it. And I realize it’s nothing new; maybe it just goes with the terrain of OCD my mind is so often bouncing over?

Feels like being crushed under an mountainous “To-Do” list — or rather a mountain of “This should have been done last week, last month, last year, and wasn’t. How undisciplined! Never accomplish anything!” I’m supposed to be editing my book for teens, but stalled after Chapter 4. For sure I have no time to waste writing, so much other stuff must be finished first. Yet that doesn’t happen, either, when you’re feeling suffocated. Do any of you other readers have spells like that?

Anyway, I decided to just do simple blog posts until this dark cloud passes. I trust it will in time. First thing this morning I was contemplating all my failings in general when the line of a song came to me. “Jesus paid it all…” ALL can be forgiven. Precious thought! Like a lifesaver to a drowning person. I grabbed that thought and want to hang onto it. 🙂

Art’s Eternal Truth

Thanks to Rochelle and her commendable efforts as moderator of the Friday Fictioneers, another prompt has tumbled into my In-box. Many thanks also to Douglas MacIlroy for contributing the photo. Join this week’s Friday Fiction effort HERE.

It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed…and it may be awhile again… I’ve been in a general muddle lately! However, when I saw this prompt photo first thing this morning my muse nudged me and called to mind our clever sculptor friend, Marcel. Art Must be Flexible. She suggested this might be his concept of a bird-feeder. I chuckled, then decided to let the tale spin out and see how far it went. What do you think?

Photo © Douglas M. MacIlroy

ETERNAL TRUTH

“I’m calling this ‘Birdfeeder’,” Marcel told his friends.

“Birdfeeder!” Crombie exclaimed.

“My interpretation of man’s efforts to positively impact his environment.”

“How about ‘Gone With the Wind’?” Percy suggested, examining the creation skeptically. “It’s getting rusty.”

“That’s it! I’ll call it ‘Eternal Truth’. Like ‘Dust to dust; ashes to ashes; iron to rust’…”

His friends groaned.

A woman rushed over. “It’s brilliant,” she exclaimed. “I must have it. How much?”

“Three thousand,” Marcel quoted.

As she signed the cheque Crombie nudged Percy. “There’s gotta be an eternal truth in here somewhere.”

Percy winked. “Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.”

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.

Sympathies To Humboldt Folks

Another Funeral Today

I haven’t mentioned anything about our provincial tragedy yet, but thought I’d post something today and offer my sympathies to the families and community of Humboldt, SK.

Funerals have been ongoing this week — one is starting as I post this — for the ten Humboldt Broncos hockey team players, their coach, assistant coach, statistician, team therapist, a broadcaster and the bus driver who died as a result of a major road accident. If I have it right, ten other team members are still in hospital, two in critical condition.

Last week Friday the team was on its way to a game in Nipawin, SK. The bus was passing through an intersection when a loaded semi approaching from the side ran the stop sign and crashed into the front of their bus. The photos of the accident scene showed the bus on its side with its whole front end totally destroyed.

This morning we watched to a replay of the vigil held Sunday afternoon in Humboldt, where the Teams chaplain delivered an evangelical message. He spoke about the need to connect with God and walk with Him through this dark valley of death. The Pastor wasn’t glib or full of soothing words. He asked, “Where Wwas God? and where is God now?”

The Pastor had been driving his own kids to watch the hockey game and he arrived at the accident scene a few moments after the crash. He went along to the hospital, seeing first hand the suffering of the dying, the survivors. One sad part that came out in the news was that the injured were so battered, the father of one team member, an ER doctor, couldn’t identify his own son.

When news of the accident hit the media, President Donald Trump sent a message of condolence to Prime Minister Trudeau and the families involved. Anti-Trump media may perhaps find some fault, but we Canadians appreciate the kind gesture. That a US President, with all he has on his plate, would take note of an accident here in western Canada and send a note of sympathy, shows a compassionate side to the man.

The recording camera caught a few shots of Justin Trudeau, sitting in the crowd gathered in the Humboldt arena for the service. A number of prominent Canadians attended this service to pay their respects and show support. Team members who’ve died were between 16 and 21, the youth of the community. This is a major blow, with so many homes suffering a direct loss and ten more where health issues will be ongoing. We feel with them in their loss.

When Cloud Banks Come Together

June 30, 1912

Citizens of Regina, Saskatchewan, a growing city on the Canadian prairie, sweltered in the sultry 100̊ F afternoon. The flags on display for the Dominion Day celebrations the next day hung limp on their poles. Folks sat on porches fanning themselves, longing for some ripple of breeze.

Some young folks and couples were spending the Sunday afternoon in Wascana park, or padding canoes on Wascana Lake a few blocks south of Regina’s business district. A flock of faithful Anglicans were gathered at St Paul’s Church listening to sermons by their local Bishop and Canon Hicks from London, England. Some women fainted because of the intense heat and humidity in the auditorium.

By mid afternoon storm clouds appeared in the south. Folks watched the cloud banks rolling toward each other, one system coming from the southeast and another from the southwest. At 4:30 pm the clouds were moving rapidly toward a collision. Folks began hearing rumbles of thunder; the sky took on a strange green glow; blue and red lighting bolts flashed along the ground. This phenomena was something prairie folks had never seen before. They had no idea what was coming.

The storm systems crashed into each other over the Saskatchewan Legislative Building beside Wascana Lake. There was a roar like two freight trains overhead and a colossal smoke-colored funnel dropped from the clouds. Packing a 500 mile-an-hour wind, skipping around crazily, the twister plowed a six-block-wide swath of destruction right through town, including the business district.

Reading in the book Great Canadian Disasters, © 1961 by Frank Rasky, one particular paragraph in the “aftermath” caught my eye:
Survivors today, with their varied memories, differ strongly on just about every aspect of the tornado’s aftermath: the degree of the onslaught, whether the government was generous (to victims), …the precise number of people wiped out by the catastrophe.

So true of any major event. Our own experience, our perspective on the scene, our general world-view, our position in society — all these make a lot of difference in how we process what’s going on, and later describe what happened, what helped, what hindered.

I’ve sometimes liken the Women’s Movement forming in the late 1800s to the two storm systems coming together over Regina. They came from different angles, when they united they formed a powerful force, and that force blew apart a lot of the status quo of their day. For better or for worse? Witnesses and historians don’t all agree.

I’d call one group the fore-mothers of the feminist movement as I knew it in the 1960s. Their agenda: universal suffrage; equal rights for women, including equal job opportunities and equal pay.

A lot of these women had graduated from women’s colleges in the Eastern States. They were sick and tired of the taboos of their day and did their best to prove these ideas false. I’ve lost my notes on this, but I recall that a number of these ladies met in Buffalo, NY in the late 1890s to form a group, establish their goals, and decide on a course of action.

Some of the misconceptions of their day were rather ludicrous. When trains were first invented some people raise the objections that women could never ride on a train because if women were to travel at speeds over 30 mph they would go insane, or mad with lust. Some “experts” of their day claimed girls’ educations should be limited to the basics because delicate female minds would shatter if forced to handle difficult mathematic equations. (I’m almost sad we lost that one — I’ve never been that good at math. 🙂 )

Some said physical training for girls was out because strenuous exercise would ruin their bodies and especially affect their ability to bear children. (That group should have rather taken a good look at the long term effect of wearing corsets.)

When you start setting up theories that can be so easily proven wrong, you can count on it that someone’s going to want to knock them down.

The other merging ‘cloud system’ was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. As I’ve already written, this group sprang mainly from a Protestant Evangelical base. They had embraced the ‘Social Gospel’, which basically translates as ‘How Christians should fix the world.’ Their agenda: stable homes; healthy, happy families; reduction of crime; no more war. Each and every one a worthy goal.

As these ladies looked at their society, they concluded that laws were needed to ensure these goals. Thus voters were needed so political pressure could be put on to get those laws passed. Which meant their launching point was getting women the right to vote.

Meanwhile, over in merry old England, feminist suffragettes took a more dramatic approach. Up against a more rigid and long-established social structure, their struggle for the right to vote was long and bitter. They chained themselves to posts, went on hunger strikes, were force-fed.

They also adopted what they referred to as the politics of the broken window pane. Genteel-looking ladies would appear on business streets during a busy afternoon and station themselves in front of store windows. At a given signal they’d pull hammers from large handbags and start swinging. The damage was done before anyone could react and the ladies would make themselves scarce, leaving merchants sobbing.

I don’t know how much the WCTU influenced the women’s movement in Britain but I rather doubt Prohibition was ever a serious goal. In Europe and Britain so many women accepted social drinking and drank socially themselves. Also Protestant Evangelism was never as large or powerful in Europe as it was in North America.

To be continued.

Theories Can Crash and Burn–2

“We The People”
(Okay, Maybe 30% of Us)

A few days ago day blogger Jill Dennison posted an “Open Letter to Congress” dealing with a number of issues of relevance to the American people today. I’m going to snatch one of her thoughts as I continue my article about the Women’s Movement in North American and its fiery, hugely successful campaign for Prohibition.

Along with a requests to reign in President Trump and/or his policies, Ms Dennison asks Congress to do something to restrict the sale of firearms, a hot topic in the US these days:
“We The People have made it clear that we want stricter control over firearms in the hands of civilians. We want a ban on assault weapons, waiting periods, and stronger background checks that are actually enforced in all venues.”

Probably some — maybe a lot of — elected representatives agree with these “We the people” and would be ready to do something to prevent the mass shootings happening too often in the US these days. The trouble for politicians is, “We the other people” have to be appeased, too. Restricting access to firearms would involve a showdown with the NRA, a group with a powerful lobby in Congress. If I understand rightly, after the recent shooting in Florida, the National Rifle Association strongly resisted the idea of setting any age limitation for the purchasers of firearms.

And there are a lot of US citizens who cling to the Second Amendment as their only hope of defense, should a modern King George send his Redcoat army— now bearing powerful automatic weapons — to try taking over the US. Or should a Hitler-type dictator arise within the US and take control of the military.

Trouble is, elected leaders who turn into dictators usually are initially popular and successful. By the time things start going south, a lot of the potential resistance had been disabled. It takes time to organize an effective counter-assault — especially when part of the people don’t agree that it’s necessary or that it will work. And then, who will lead this resistance? That can be another battle!

Historians say Hitler was initially quite popular and had an appealing agenda — at least appealing to large group of German voters. Some people got nervous about what he was saying, but he was successful in turning the depressed German economy around. Our parents say his scheme even appealed to a number of German North Americans, some of whom packed up and moved back to Germany to be part of his new order.

The Americans have always referred to the US as a “melting pot,” but those of us looking on see some large lumps in the sauce, factions that could give problems, if push came to shove. Factions that may make a united defense difficult to organize.

Here in Canada, most of us understand the different factions that make up our people and the potential for division. The general “East versus West” sentiments; more particularly Eastern bureaucrats and manufacturing interests against Prairie Folk with an agriculture-based economy. (Though this is changing.) Some folks in British Columbia threaten to pull out and form their own country; Quebec has some strong voices for independence. And then there are various ethnic groups within the whole, not necessarily divisive, but having a voice and capable of taking sides.

When you start out on a political platform, it’s important to understand that you are NOT “We the people.” You are part of “we the people.” And “we the other part of the people” may see even the main issues in a totally different light. This was a reality the WCTU, comprised mainly of Protestant evangelical church women and their supporters, seemed to not grasp when they began their campaign for Prohibition.

They thought they were speaking for all women. When they finally realized that a lot of women wanting the vote were of a different mind-set, or world- view, the movement was headed in the opposite direction than they had envisioned.

To be continued.

Blogger’s Blue Moons

Once in a blue moon…

— I feel like I’ve nothing much to say.
— I wonder if anybody’s really interested in hearing what I have to say.
— I decide that with so many others wanting to have their say I should just be quiet for awhile.
— I sense my mind just isn’t working properly these days anyway. (Alzheimer’s? Dead brain cells? Scrambled circuitry?)
— I’m overwhelmed with the despair that I’ve never accomplished anything worthwhile in my life and I may as well quit trying to be creative.
— I’m really anticipating spring’s arrival and the temp plunges to -22̊ C, dragging my enthusiasm down with it.
— I’m celebrating some super event in my life, like a 65th birthday, and not taking time to write anything.
— I get so enthused about something else, like reading a good book or my sewing projects, that I neglect my blog altogether.
— I have so much I’d like to write about that I don’t know where to start.

Every now and then all these blue moons come together, as they have this week, and really cloud my ability to write. Do you others have spells like this?

In spite of all these emotions rolling over me at times, I did have a very good birthday week. Our children took us to Montana’s Cookhouse restaurant for supper. Then my daughter threw an impromptu birthday party Wed morning (Mar 28th) and eight ladies from our church came bearing flowers and gifts, to wish me a happy birthday.

This week Tuesday we were in the city and I purchased a few gifts with birthday money given:
— a lovely 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle I found at a book store
— a 300-piece puzzle that took me only an hour or so to finish
— an oblong ceramic baking dish

I also signed up for Kindle Unlimited, a borrowing library from Amazon for which I pay $10 a month. I borrowed two books and have read one already. Browsing through their selection, though, I see so many authors I’d like to read, like Emily Brightwell, haven’t put their books into this system. And of course none of the “classics” like Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. So I wonder how beneficial it’s going to be for me in the long run. How many of you readers have subscribed to this and have you found it worthwhile?

At long last the urge to sew has come over me! Last week I finished one dress I had cut out, so I cut out and started sewing another. Yesterday I cut out a third. I’ll be working on those two today. Strike while the iron is hot! (A very useful cliché. I don’t know what I could replace it with. “Swing while the ball’s in your court?”)

Another cook at Silverwood Villa has asked me to take her place doing supper there tonight, so that will take a bit of time out of my day. Right now there are only three men residing at the Villa and the big meal served at noon; supper won’t involve a lot of time and effort.

Some parts of the province had record low temps one day this week and we hear the southern part of our province experienced a severe winter storm yesterday that caused accidents on major highways. So I’m glad that all we had was a sharp wind and frigid nights. How we wish for spring! I must say, though, I really appreciate the longer hours of daylight we’re enjoying now.