Conversing About…

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was CONVERSATION
and it’s been awhile since I’ve had a conversations with you all. Though I guess a blog is more of a monologue. 😉

For the past month the general buzz of conversation here was about the lovely fall we’re having and how long the warm weather has lasted. Or how dry it’s been. Monday morning we woke up to an October wind and night-time temps have been dropping to -5 or -7 C. The water basins I set out had about an inch of ice on top this morning; I dumped them out, and those circles of ice have lain on the ground all day without melting. I refilled them again today but this task will soon be over.

The robins were still here last Friday morning, but must have gotten word that it was time to go. I didn’t see even one Saturday. Good timing on their part. We heard today there was snow coming in from a Colorado low-pressure system, but it seems the precipitation will mostly fall east of us. As I write this a light rain is falling and the ground is actually wet. Every little bit helps to settle the dusty haze we’ve been living with for awhile. We’re supposed to have warmer days again for the weekend, though.

There was a wedding in our congregation last weekend when Pastor Warren’s daughter married a young man from Alberta. A lot of families in the congregation were busy making food and/or hosting visiting guests, which is what we do when there’s an important event to put on. Everyone chips in.

A couple of weeks back an acquaintance called to tell me she had some puzzles for me. The seniors in her building do them, then pass them on–and I take some of ours for them. A profitable exchange. Last Friday we did some shopping in the city and I stopped by her apartment building to pick them up. She had bags and boxes full of puzzles for me–82 puzzles in all, but three were packs with four puzzles in each; one box was a pack of ten. So about 100 puzzles in all! Far more than our seniors at the Villa can put together this winter. I’m looking for homes for the excess now.

Since I’ve been painting I haven’t done any puzzles. One hobby that takes hours is maybe enough? But I’m not painting much lately, either. seem to be in a slump. The evenings are so soon so dark! I’m having a hard time switching my mind to winter mode and working after dark has no appeal. Can’t go to bed at 8 pm, so I mostly read for a couple of hours.

Can I plead that we creative types — writers, poets, artists, musicians. etc — are moody types? Last week I read an article about songwriter Leonard Cohen, including a conversation he had with writer Mikal Gilmore.

“Depression has often been the general background of my daily life,” Cohen told me. “My feeling is that whatever I did was in spite of that, not because of it. It wasn’t the depression that was the engine of my work. . . . That was just the sea I swam in.”

The brokenness was always there, but Leonard Cohen never submitted to it, Gilmore writes in his article, Leonard Cohen: Remembering the Life and Legacy of the Poet of Brokenness.

I found that thought encouraging. No matter how blue a person may feel at times, we needn’t succumb to it. We need to let a greater purpose motor us through, in spite of the choppy waters.

Me And My Water Pots

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word today is VESSEL

Not having a lot to say about fancy pottery or ships on the ocean, I’ll just write about my small vessels and the morning ritual I’ve been carrying out since June, when the local water sources — mainly sloughs — were drying up and there was no water for the birds.

My water containers sit on the wanna-be lawn between the house and the woods to the east. They are: a large round plastic dishpan, a mid-size enamel basin, like the old hand-washing basins of days gone by, and two flat pans about 14″ in diameter. If these are all empty, I quickly fill my pitcher and slip out to refill at least one container for the birds that are still coming regularly to drink and bathe in the early morning. They often seem to be waiting for me to show up. 🙂 Our October weather has been so warm and sunny that the robins are staying longer; I even saw a couple of meadowlarks yesterday!

Later, once properly dressed and fit to be seen by motorists passing by, I fill a vessel in the sink — a five-gallon plastic bucket and/or a one-gallon Rubbermaid pitcher — and head outside to replenish the total supply. Yes, I’m a sympathetic nut, but our prairie is just so dry now! I repeat the refilling at dusk. Some mornings I’ve found all four of my containers licked dry, so I know desperately thirsty creatures have come in the night.

I often wish I could get a glimpse of my nocturnal visitors but I’ve only seen a doe and fawn a few times, and their prints in the soft ground where water has splashed. One night I saw what I thought was a raccoon, and another time a fox (?) ran through the yard, but it was moving pretty fast for ID-ing it. Do these come to drink, or one just happened to run through?

A lot of work, you say? I like the birds and am happy to watch them having a good time out there. Also, I wake up very thirsty in the night sometimes and I don’t wish that kind of thirst on anything else. Deer can drink from cattle troughs, but smaller animals may not be able to, so I’ll keep filling basins as long as the weather holds. I hope and pray there will be at least some snow cover this winter — or our wildlife will really suffer.

And that’s all I have on the subject of VESSELS.

Autumn Splendour

The Ragtag Prompt word for today is SPLENDOUR, and it’s very fitting for the season we’re in.

Folks who’ve lived in this area for years say they’ve never seen the poplar trees clothed in such golden beauty. Maybe it’s because this fall the frosts have been quite minor so far, nippy mornings at times, but no real “killing frosts.” The leaves are ripening to a richer gold than usual and staying on the trees longer than they usually do? We have a row of young poplars along the west side of our driveway and they’re just stunning in the afternoon sun.

This is a beech tree, but you get the idea. 🙂 Photo by Hans Braxmeier at Pixabay

The robins that disappeared in August are back again and staying around until a deeper chill tells them to go. I’ve only seen a few small flocks of sandhill cranes and one large flock of snow geese came through a couple of weeks ago. Owing to the lack of serious frost I still have some hardier annuals like verbena blooming in my planters — that I need to deal with before the snow flies. If it flies. As dry as it’s been this year, I’m beginning to wonder how much we’ll see.

Sadly, another forest fire is raging and the air currents have brought the smoke down our way today. There’s a grey haze over the land that ressembles a fog lying over the countryside. Not pleasant to breathe!

I’ve mentioned before that I get e-mails from Marla the FlyLady, advising me what I should be cleaning this week. Her monthly projects for October is PAPER CLUTTER. Go through and file or get rid of all those loose papers lying around. So I’ll likely be posting some of my random scribbles as one way of filing them. 🙂

And here’s a sprinkle of sage recently rediscovered:

Image from Oberholtzer Venita at Pixabay


Welcome October

Hello everyone.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was STILL. And since there are still a few hours left in this day, I’m going to write a few sentences at least, to let you know I’m still here, still relatively healthy, and still have noble aspirations about being a more faithful blogger. I want to say a hearty thank you to those who are still following me and reading what I have to say, when I do get around to saying it. 🙂 I’ve thought of many things to write about, but my musings would make awfully long articles!

I’m also still painting and enjoying it, though it feels like maybe the initial infatuation with my new hobby isn’t as keen. Hopefully the passion will settle down to a quiet and steady love in my life now.

I got back into doing some genealogical research in Sept and discovered that one of my Allen ancestors was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1632. That’s twelve years after the Mayflower landed and four years after the Confidence brought the Goodnow-Goodenow (etc.) family to America. Interesting to speculate whether my ninth gr-great Allen may have known my hubby’s thirteenth gr-great Goodenow.

He’s been reading the book Hillbilly Elegy by J D Vance. Vance writes about growing up in a depressed area, a hopeless setting that he was able to find his way through and out of. I gather the conversations have been repeated just as spoken and are littered with the colloquial obscenities.

I’d like to compare Family Tree roots with that James Vance someday. His ancestors possibly came to the US back in the 1700s and were well settled in Kentucky before the Civil War. My Vance ancestor and his three brothers came directly from Scotland around 1830. They obviously passed through New York state, where Joseph met and married Sarah Allen on his way to purchase land in Ontario. Whatever made her follow this widowed Scottish stranger with a small son? I hope they had a good life.

I’m reading the book Call the Nurse, by Mary J MacLeod about a forty-ish couple who were bored with their humdrum life in southern England and decided to pay a visit to the Hebrides island of Papavray, the place his father had left as a teen. They went for a holiday (in the 70s?) with their youngest two boys, fell in love with the remote isle and bought an impossibly run-down shack. Mary had been a home care nurse, so found more than enough work immediately. In this book she tells about the years they spent there, as well as the situation and culture of the people. It’s very interesting reading so far.

Another STILL in our world: it still doesn’t rain. Interesting cloud shapes drift over and catch the eye of this artist, but maybe only a few drops of rain fall once a week. I still put out water basins every day for the wild creatures. The robins seemed to be long gone from this land until a couple of weeks ago; suddenly there are lots of them again. I see them bathing every day in my tubs. At night some other creatures come to drink, mainly deer I’m guessing. I thought I saw a raccoon in our yard one night. Deer can drink from any cattle watering troughs that may be around, but smaller animals can’t, which may be why some mornings all four basins are licked right dry.

Well, enough for this time. I’m going to try again to post daily, even just a few lines. As FlyLady says, just fifteen minutes a day–that’s the key. Yesterday I conquered Mount Wash-more and today I’m chipping at the Ironing Hill. 🙂

Frost & Flame

Prairie Blues

I’m feeling on the blue side this evening, owing to some changes in the air, literal and social.

For one thing, it was a really windy day and the September wind had a bite. When the sky clouded over in the afternoon it was downright cold. Reality blowing in; summer’s gone. 😦 This evening the wind has died down, but the weatherman is predicting frost tonight: -1C should finish off most of our lovely blooms. I’m not rushing out to cover anything, as they’ve been looking straggly for awhile now. They seem to know their season is over.

Here's a poem I wrote long ago about the September Wind:

Damp September wind whistles
through an early August day, chilling
our summer-browned bodies.

Ever the schoolyard bully, it cuffs us
with an almost icy hand.  "Remember!"
It mocks our shivers, our calendar

consultations.  Dismayed, we grab
for hours as they bounce away, August
days slipping out of our lives forever.

With sighs we hunt for sweaters,
check the pockets of our coats,
while we’re at it, wash our gloves.

© Christine Goodnough, August 2012

My husband tells me that, as of tomorrow, here in SK we’re back to wearing masks when we go shopping and to gatherings. THAT is disappointing! When you wear two back-of-the-ear hearing aids, as I do, the last thing you need is elastic getting tangled with the hearing aid’s plastic tubes. But so many people haven’t gotten their COVID vaccination that our province is experiencing another surge in COVID cases.

After a couple of months mask-free, this feels like a giant step backwards. There’s to be a wedding reception Saturday at our church and it just won’t be the same with everyone masked. Another rule will be that you have to provide proof of vaccination before you can dine in a restaurant.

That said, we enjoyed a nice visit with friends from Quebec who came for lunch and stayed awhile this afternoon. And tonight we have a blazing sunset, with a brilliant ring of fire in the west and southwest to brighten up our world for half an hour before dark.

I spent four hours yesterday, give or take, painting another picture; today I submitted it to the Artist’s Atelier on Malcolm Dewey’s website and got some valuable suggestions for improvement. I started doing all my pictures on canvas, but these days I like to paint a “trial run” on watercolor paper and see how it comes out. I always find some changes and improvements I want to make before committing the final picture to canvas.

Well, enough griping. Wishing you a great weekend, everyone.