First Snow: Memories

Here’s my response to the Ragtag prompt for today: ZIP

FIRST SNOW

First snow flakes – angel-feather
innocence falling from heaven –
soften me in their gentleness,
the sincerity of their efforts to erase
the blemishes of my imperfect world.

My mind drifts back to childhood
memories of those first infatuations
with cold and white; those winters I’d fall
knee-deep in the wonder
of loving it all. How joyfully
I lifted my hands to catch
the dazzle of diamond dust.

The old torch glows again today,
that first-kiss affection for a childhood
sweetheart never quite abandoned,
as I watch the flakes drift down.
On impulse I zip up my winter coat,
don mitts and boots and go
out to play in the snow.

Of Snow, Hair, and Hot Pepper

The Word of the Day prompt is TACTILE

We have a soft, white world this morning, but it’s warmer: -8̊ C (18̊ F) instead of yesterday’s -18̊ C. I swept off the step at 7am and didn’t feel nearly as cold as yesterday, a deep chill that I didn’t want to experience for long.

Our cats, bored in this new house arrest, tend to annoy each other in lieu of exploring among the trees for furry little creatures. At times I toss small toy mice their way and they get enthused for a bit, but the fake ones just don’t have the same wriggly feel or the tantalizing squeak of real ones. Alas! Snow is all about tactile and cats have a natural abhorrence for cold and wet.

This prompt reminds me of a friend from years ago. She was manic-depressive — today they say “bipolar” — and very much into the sense of touch. When I went to the mall with her, she gravitated to displays of plush velvet or fake fur garments. She’d run her hands over the fabric, relishing the soft or silky sensations.

She told me this inclination got her into trouble the odd time, but she was so cheerful and smiley, she seemed to get by without serious consequences. No one could think of her as sinister. One day she was going somewhere by subway and the fellow sitting in front of her had a luxurious head of dark hair. She couldn’t restrain herself. She reached out and ran her fingers through it, exclaiming, “You have gorgeous hair!”

A shy type, he looked back at her and timidly answered, “Oh…uh…thank you.” Of course she was embarrassed afterward, but appreciated that he took it as a compliment and responded so graciously. These days she’d likely be called a creep and may even get charged with sexual harassment. But I think certain mental health issues do “settle down” as a person ages.

Tactile also reminds me of my experience with hot sauce. We have enough people in our church who have had contact with Mexican cuisine and developed a taste for tacos, burritos, tamales, enchilladas, etc. Hubby and I enjoy this kind of food too, but I’m really sensitive to hot pepper and can have only a little salsa or my whole mouth will burn. I like the taste, but not the fire after.

On Thursday a group of us did some cleaning at church and our lunch — burritos + salad + squares— was provided. I put on about a tablespoon of the salsa marked MILD, but soon found that even MILD was too hot for me. I said to the couples sitting nearby that I should have gone easier on the hot sauce, my mouth was burning. Then I was reminded of an old commercial and said, “For me salsa is like Brylcreem: a little dab’ll do ya.”

The two men (decades younger than I) looked at me, puzzled. “Brylcreem? What’s that?”

Oh, dear. Okay, I’m ancient.

I wonder how many of you can recall these ads from the 60s?
“That greasy kid stuff”
banished by Brylcreem
“a little dab’ll do ya,”
blown away by “The Dry Look”
back when hair care choices were few
and girls dared to “run their fingers through your hair.”

The Smell of Rain

The Ragtag prompt word for today is PETRICHOR
A word that neither I nor the Canadian Oxford Dictionary nor Merriam-Webster online have ever heard of.

However, Merriam-Webster, ever wishing to be helpful, offered me a dozen alternatives — just in case I was mistaken in my spelling somehow. And thus I learned a new word: PETRICOLE

Definition: A variation of PETROCOLE(S): an organism that inhabits or prefers rocky terrain

Something I am not. Keep your rocky hills; like the gopher and the sage grouse, I’m happiest on the prairie. Give me sunny Saskatchewan, where the passing cars all wave at tourists stopping to study their maps — if you read my last post.

Which reminds me of an old joke we prairie folk enjoy telling:
A prairie farmer visiting in British Columbia was asked what he thought of the Rocky Mountains. He replied, “Well, they’re all right, but they sure do get in the way of the view.”

Wiki helped me out with PETRICHOR.
Apparently it’s the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. It involves some complex blending of oils exuded by certain plants during a dry period and some bacteria emitted by wet soil.
Google defines it as “a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.”

Here in SK we may not have as much petrichor as some other places, because we don’t have as much rain, nor the kind of plants that produce the rich smell. We’re usually overjoyed when rain falls after a period of warm dry weather, especially if it fall in July, in time to give the crops a boost.
But there’s a limit, eh? Like another old joke goes:
A fellow from Saskatchewan moved to BC because the climate, but he moved back because of the weather.

Just like my Uncle Fred. During the winter he’d go stay with his son and family at Surrey, BC, on the coastal plain, but after a few weeks he was so disgusted and depressed by all that rain he’d head home to SK again.

Speaking of which, we had a dusting of fine snow in the night and Saskatoon temp was -12 C at 7am (10 F). Predicted high -10; predicted low tonight -18 (0 F). The milder BC climate does have its appeal — if you can handle week-long stretches of clouds and rain.

I’m sure the petrichor in the mountains is fabulous. Our neighbour to the north-west has been cleaning out his dairy barn this week and spreading manure on his fields. We’re right in line, wind-wise, to enjoy that particular aroma.

Ten More Days in Review

Or: Life in the “I-Can’t-Keep-Up” Lane

Skipping the “time flies” lament, I’ve been occupied with several projects lately: turning the office upside-down — dear Hubby did most of that — emptying and refilling bookcases, and cooking at the Villa.

Last week I did Monday dinner, Tues & Thurs supper, Wed, Sat & Sun all day. Just one of those “seasons.” I only have three more single meals and one full day during the rest of the month. But when I am working so much, the place tends to occupy me even when I’m not there officially. One morning I did some grocery shopping for the place, plus I like to spend time helping the folks to put together jigsaw puzzles. When I go to the city I hunt for more puzzles for us to work on, mainly at Value Village. 🙂

As I said, Bob shifted some furniture around in our office. This started last weekend when we had hot water heater woes. Our hot water tank being in a cubbyhole inconveniently right beside where my desk sat. Desk must be moved. Then we decided to empty the one office bookcase and put it in the living room. Which meant removing the quite small bookcase I’d just put in the living room, and then moving the six-foot one four inches over, so the office one would fit in the newly-made space.

By the time this was done we had books piled all over. While rearranging the office, Bob decided to move his file cupboard (actually another bookcase) to where the office bookcase had once stood, then move his 2-drawer filing cabinet to that newly-vacated spot. The new small bookcase went where the filing cabinet was and my desk was given a quarter turn. On Friday, my day off, I decided to clear out some shelves in yet another narrow bookcase/cupboard because we have more books than places to put them.

During all this and between shifts at the Seniors’ Home, I managed to squeeze in six loads of laundry plus misc. housekeeping & food prep tasks. I also attended Sewing Circle Tuesday morning. Totally fell behind with blogging — and sometimes wondered if I should just take a long break. I decided to “light one candle” this morning and see how far I get.

Nanowrimo started Nov 1st at 12:01 am, but I’m giving it a miss this year. An e-mail acquaintance wants to see his book in print; I was brought into this project by a friend who asked me to edit it. I did that last year, but the book is stalled and I’ve been asked to see that it gets into print via Amazon Kindle Direct, like I did mine. I now have the manuscript, author bio and illustrations, so need to get working on this.

I’ve submitted two of my “Winnie and Raylene on Vacation” stories to the Critique Circle and they’ve been well liked, for the most part. Now I need to polish a few more, write a few more, and post them on CC. I’m finding it interesting, through critique comments, how some words call to mind certain pictures for readers.

For example, in one story I’ve posted, a couple of teens have stolen a car and, chased by police, crashed into a garage beside a residence. Police were at the crash site directing traffic. One writer couldn’t figure how it was crash site because crashes happen on roads. Another critique writer couldn’t get it that a high speed chase would ever go through a residential area. High speed chases only happened on busy city thoroughfares. I wrote “garage” and some people are asking, “Like a service station? What’s a service station doing in a residential area?” So I’m learning to be more precise. 🙂

One question really made me laugh. I’d written that the weather was abnormal in FL and “The odd snowflake was falling when Winnie and Raylene got off the plane in Tallahassee.” A critiquer from Hawaii asked, “What was odd about the snowflake?”

I explained that “the odd —“ is a colloquialism. (Only in Canada?) For us, odd means unusual, but it also means infrequent. “There was no crowd; only the odd person showed up at the Grand Opening.” Or, “She took the odd afternoon off to visit her mom at the nursing home.”

Is this an odd (i.e. strange) usage where you live?

More than the odd snowflake is falling today. We definitely have winter with a powerful wind from the north plastering us with fine snow. Our cats have ventured outside the odd time this morning, but only for a few minutes. They come in dusted with snow and are generally NOT happy.

Well, this is enough rambling for one post. Have a good week, everyone.

God Made This Day For Me

by Edgar Guest

Just the sort of weather
and just the sort of sky
which seem to suit my fancy,
with the white clouds drifting by
on a sea of smooth blue water.
Oh, I ain’t an egotist
with an “I” in all my thinking
but I’m willing to insist
that the Lord who made us humans
and the birds in every tree
knows my special sort of weather
and He made this day for me.

And the breezes from the eastward
blowing gently on my face,
and the woods chock full of singing
till you’d think birds never had
a single care to fret them
or a grief to make them sad.
Oh, I settle down contented
in the shadow of a tree
and tell myself right proudly
that the day was made for me.

It’s my day, my sky and sunshine
and the temper of the breeze—
here’s the weather I would fashion
could I run things as I please.
Beauty dancing all around me,
music ringing everywhere,
like a wedding celebration—
why, I’ve plumb forgot my care
and the tasks I should be doing
for the rainy days to be
while I’m hugging the delusion
that God made this day for me.

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

My response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt: SUBLIME

A Skunk, by any other name…

The Word of the Day Challenge yesterday was IMPRESSIONABLE — and I missed it. I had a nice response figured out, too, but we took a trip to Moose Jaw to visit relatives and I didn’t have time to post it. Oh, well…my thoughts will keep for another day.

A fog blanketed the land yesterday morning when we started out, rather unusual considering how dry it’s been, but after an hour or so we were able to leave it behind us and enjoyed lovely warm sunshine for the rest of our trip. We had lunch with my sister, then stopped at the Public Library, and later visited with Bob’s cousin and wife. A good day!

The Word of the Day prompt this morning is: MEPHISTOPHALIAN

A huge word I will never have much use for, especially seeing it’s fictitious. Nevertheless, a bit of education never hurts, so I looked it up in Merriam-Webster online. Their definition:
Mephistophelian:
– of, or pertaining to, Mephistopheles
– wicked; fiendish
Mephistopheles:
– a chief devil in the Faust legend from the 1500s
Faust:
– a magician of German legend who enters into a compact with the devil
Faustian:
– of, relating to, resembling, or suggesting Faust
– especially: made or done for present gain without regard for future cost or consequences

Though I’ve never heard the word before, I’m too familiar with the concept. I’m sure every human being has been guilty at one time or another of doing something for present gain regardless of future consequences. For example, so-called little white lies get you off the hook at the moment, but you’re in for it when the person finds out the truth.

When you look up a word with Merriam-Webster, they kindly give you a list of several other words listed before and after the one you’ve looked up. Curious, I clicked on two of those other words, and discovered:

MEPHITIC:
– having a foul odor
MEPHITINE:
– of, or relating to…
Skunk.2nd

Bingo! Now here are words I can throw into a conversation from time to time, because we have seen indications of mephitine activity around our property.

If I get a whiff of skunk, now I can say, “There’s a mephitic odor lingering about our yard this morning.”
Or, “There’s evidence of mephitine harrassment in the night. Some predator got a deterrent drench.”
Or maybe, “Judging from the mephitine vapour wafting over the road, Monsieur Moufette has met his Waterloo.”
(Mind you, “met his Waterloo” has likely been branded as a cliché, along with “bit the dust.” I think “He’s toast” is still acceptable.)
But if I did make such high-brow statements, most of my friends would ask for a translation. So I might as well say that someone hit a skunk on the road last night.

Perhaps a person could put up a sign?
WARNING:
To all who wander around in the twilight bent on mischief. There is a risk of annoying one of the crepuscular creatures that pass through this yard. If you do, you may well receive a severe mephitine drenching.
(Squeezing in the RAGTAG daily prompt for today: DRENCH)

That ought to make tricksters think twice.
Skunk