A Story in Slivers

Yesterday we attended an all-day writing workshop in the city, put on by a national Christian writing group based more-or-less in Alberta. We heard half a dozen different speakers, mostly motivational. A lot of thoughts on the need to write, and why we need to write.

A few minor things stuck in my mind, one of them being a comment one of our speakers made to an attender who’d just finished publishing his parents’ life story. Sheila Webster, the speaker, congratulated him, then reminded him & told us all about the nudge she’d given him when he wasn’t finding the time to write this. They’d done a quick calculation and figured that if he’d only write 47 words a day he could get the memoir done in such-and-such a time.

I’m not certain of the exact numbers, but the point was clear. A writer may wish for hours to write, with thousands of words whacked out every day. However, even writing in silvers — 10-15 minutes a day — you can actually get a book finished and edited. I don’t know about you, but if I have my scene thought out and sit down to write, I can easily do 500 words in 15 minutes.

This reminds me of another done-in-slivers project I heard about one day. An older woman who sews all her own dresses was advising some younger ones, busy moms, who claimed they couldn’t find time to sew. “If you sew just one seam every day, you can get a new dress made for yourself in a month.”

Marla Cilley has made her fortune as the FlyLady, telling people the same thing about house-cleaning. In her book, Sink Reflections, she writes that no matter how disabled or how depressed a person is, almost everyone can work at a task for 10-15 minutes.

Facing the immense task of rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem after it had been destroyed by the marauding army, the prophet Zechariah says, “For who hath despised the day of small things?” Zech 4:10 A plan was made and the work was organized, each family given responsibility for a part of the wall.

Both Marla & Sheila do stress one point:
YOU NEED TO HAVE SOME SYSTEM. A ROUTINE IS YOUR FRIEND.

That’s what I need to work on. 🙂

FACES

by Edgar Guest

I look into the faces of the people passing by,
the glad ones and the sad ones, and the lined with misery
and I wonder why the sorrow or the twinkle in the eye;
but the pale and weary faces are the ones that trouble me.

I saw a face this morning and time was when it was fair;
youth had brushed it bright with color in the distant long ago
and the princess of the lovely once had kept a temple there,
but the cheeks were pale with grieving and the eyes were dull with woe.

Who has done this thing, I wondered; what has wrought the ruin here?
Why are these sunken cheeks and pallid where the roses once were pink?
Why had beauty fled her palace; did some vandal hand appear?
Did her lover prove unfaithful or her husband take to drink?

Once the golden voice of promise whispered sweetly in her ears;
she was born to be a garden where the smile of love might lurk;
now the eyes that shone like jewels are but gateways for her tears
and she takes her place among us, toilers early bound for work.

Is it fate that writes so sadly, or the cruelty of man?
What foul deed has marred the parchment of a life so fair as this?
What has wrecked this lovely temple and destroyed the Maker’s plan,
raining blows on cheeks of beauty God had fashioned just to kiss?

Oh, the pale and weary faces of the people that I see
are the ones that seem to haunt me, and I pray to God above
that such cruel desolation shall not ever come to be
stamped forever in the future on the faces that I love.

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

Speak On These Things

by Canadian Poet Edna Jacques

If there be faith and love and charity,
The shining wonder of a bluebird’s wings,
If there is joy and beauty in your life,
Speak on these things.

If there be trust when all men seem to doubt,
A lullaby that some young mother sings,
A neighbour on whose goodness you rely,
Speak on these things.

If there be majesty and truth and grace,
A happy message that the postman brings,
The welcome visitor who comes to call,
Speak on these things.

If there be goldenrod, like tapers lit,
An old gray wall where coloured ivy clings,
A garden where tall lilies scent the air,
Speak on these things.

If there is beauty in a world of ill,
A quiet valley where a church bell rings,
Where there is faith and love and little homes,
Speak on these things.

Edna Jacques,
1891- 1978

Paper Airplanes & Haiku

Good morning everyone!

I’m up before the sun today, but it’s slowly getting out of bed. Our weather’s been up and down for most of the winter, but the forecasters are telling us now that we’re in for a spell of -20 to -30 C, such as you’d expect in February here on the prairies.

A great time to stay home, but our comfy conveyances are so handy nowadays. Not like in Grandma’s day when the rare trip to town meant piling into the old sled (sleigh?) with warm stones at their feet and bouncing across frozen fields. These cold snaps were when moms and grandmas circa 1900 darned the socks, patched clothes, wrote letters, and got their quilting done.

But here I am this morning, hopping around the globe via the internet to pop in on poets in Australia, Mexico, Britain and the US. I’ve read Frank Prem’s new book of poetry and his request for pre-pub readers and reviewers, then shared a fishy limerick with Kristian.

Now I’ve finished an interesting article on Objective Hokku written by David from I-assume-the-US. He explains that Objective Hokku is simply a reflection, via the poet, of what it there, making no comparisons, offering no personal opinion or interpretation. I’ll take a stab at it:

Winter morning.
The cat curled up
In the office chair.

You get the immediate picture and some sense of coziness. This verse doesn’t tell you that the office chair is mine and I should be in it, that because I’m too soft to dump the cat out, I’m sitting beside it on a hard-seated folding chair typing this. 🙂

The poem below is haiku, because it definitely leads you to a conclusion about my reading habits. 😉 Actually it’s more of a senryu, a haiku which makes a wry comment on human nature.

all the books
I hope to someday read
paper airplanes

And this even more so:

high pressure system
distant cousins arrive
family picnic drenched

Even though I’m not into the deeper significance of haiku and hokku, I do enjoy these “snapshot” verses. I hope you do, too.

The Best of Friends

To An Old Friend

by Edgar A. Guest

When we have lived our little lives
and wandered all their byways through,
when we’ve seen all that we shall see
and finished all that we must do,

when we shall take one backward look
off yonder where our journey ends,
I pray that you shall be as glad as I
shall be that we were friends.

Time was we started out to find
the treasures and the joys of life;
we sought them in the land of gold
through many days of bitter strife.

When we were young we yearned for fame;
in search of joy we went afar,
only to learn how very cold
and distant all the strangers are.

When we have met all we shall meet
and know what destiny has planned,
I shall rejoice in that last hour that I
have known your friendly hand.

I shall go singing down the way
off yonder as my sun descends
as one who’s had a happy life,
made glorious by the best of friends.

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

A Light, Enjoyable Series

Over the Christmas holidays I discovered a new series and have been reading through them one after the other. This is the Markham Sisters series by Diana Xarissa, who also does the Aunt Bessie (An Isle of Man Cozy Mystery) series.

The Markham sisters are two retired teachers who spend their little inheritance windfall on a bed & breakfast in what they think will be a calm little English village. Which it is, for the most part; the locals do their best to make the sisters welcome. The constable drops in often just to check on them—and is easily persuaded to stay for a bite to eat, seeing what a great cook Joan is.

Owning a bed & breakfast has been Joan’s dream since she was young, and since she’s the older, she’s persuaded younger sister Janet to go along with the plan. But running a business and dealing with customers sometimes proves intriguing. Joan has a stronger sense of propriety — which means “no snooping.” It’s Janet who gets quite curious about people who are acting suspiciously or whose stories don’t add up. Joan tells her to mind her own business, but Janet can’t resist doing some investigating.

This series is quite tame, more along the lines of Nancy Drew mysteries. Just what I like: no dead bodies discovered, but smaller crimes like art fraud, an odd shortage of narcotics at the drug store, counterfeit money being passed, and people who aren’t who they claim to be. The novel “cases” are named alphabetically and each book is a short, easy read.

There are ordinary day-to-day details some might find rather boring, but I enjoy the setting and characters. I’d take away one star, though, for the way the sisters interact sometimes. They are in their 60s but Joan is still bossing Janet like a teen older sister — at times this seems overplayed. And Janet, when she’s miffed, still sticks her tongue out behind Joan’s back. I’d think if they’ve lived together all their lives they’d have developed more of a respect for each other, show more of an accepting, “live-and-let-live” attitude. (Mind you, I’ve never lived with a sister for years, so I can’t say what roles they might fall into.)

There is a certain “ghost” angle written into these tales that, for my part, could have been left out. In the stories I’ve read so far it’s only been references to sounds Janet hears and occasionally a strange wind slamming a door.

Anyway, I’d give this series four stars. I read each book separately, but I see the author has published collections now, available free to those of you who have Kindle Unlimited. Here are first four cases:

A Markham Sisters Collection - ABCD by [Xarissa, Diana]