The Three Degrees

These last two writing prompts have given my muse a workout. Yesterday’s Ragtag Daily Prompt was PURIST. The question came to me: So when are you a PURIST and when are you NITPICKING?

In some respects I’m a purist. Incorrect word usage makes me grit my teeth. I hear someone say, “He contributed his success to luck and hard work,” and I think, NO! You contribute–donate–to a worth cause. You attribute–ascribe–some (usually good) result or quality to what you’ve done or received.

People usually attribute their success to hard work, a good education, helpful parents, or just plain luck. On the other side, someone may attribute (credit or blame) their life of crime to their miserable childhood, but their behaviour contributes (add) to the rising crimes stats.

If I verbalize my dissatisfaction some people will say, “Why nitpick? You know what they meant.”

Today’s prompt word is FLATTER. Again, when are we FLATTERING and when are we simply ENCOURAGING? Am I flattering or encouraging if I say, “You have a beautiful voice”?

When praising children – which we definitely should do – I feel it’s better to encourage them when they’ve done their best, rather than flatter them with, “You’re the greatest!” or “You’re a STAR!” Life has some sharp reality checks for teens and adults who think of themselves as the greatest.

As the old school song says, “I’d rather be a little thing climbing up than a big thing tumbling down.”

Every coin has a flip side, likewise most virtues. Thrift can become parsimony. Determined can become pig-headed or pushy. Honesty can become offensive, even brutal, if not infused with kindness and tact.

Years ago the Toronto Globe & Mail had a little humor section that made use of this fact. Readers could send in their responses to these three viewpoints:
I am…
My friend is…
Someone I don’t like is…

For example:
“I am decisive; my friend is steadfast; that other guy is obdurate.”
“I am circumspect; my friend is astute; the one I don’t like is cagey.”

This is a great exercise for writers, or anyone who likes adjectives. Want to try it and leave your response in the comment box below?

Holiday Plans

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is LITTORAL

Actually, I was thinking of the sea this morning, as I just read a poem about the sea, written by someone who loved it dearly. The verse is long-winded but delightful, written in the early 1800s. I’ll post it later for those of you who enjoy such poetry. But now for my response to the prompt…

Holiday Plans

Ellen, studying the inviting seaside scene on their calendar, turns to her spouse. “Fancy a LITTORAL holiday this summer, dear?”

Ed frowns. “Littoral? Nah. I don’t want to hang out in libraries, or spend a week wandering through bookshops, either. Or were you thinking of Stratford, taking in Shakespearean plays and such? I find them rather boring, to be honest.” He looks up at the calendar. “I’d rather go fishing.”

Ellen laughed. “Actually Littoral and Literary are different genres altogether. Mind you, I’d love to spend a few days visiting bookshops. Especially used bookshops…finding some old classics I haven’t read yet.” She pondered the thought. “There are some huge ones in Toronto.”

“Blah! Coping with all that traffic and the crowded streets, carting around a ton of books? Not a holiday for me!” He points to the calendar. “Why don’t we rather go to the coast this year? Some place like that.”“Walk along the sand, hear the sea roar, maybe watch the whales.”

“An excellent idea, Ed. I’ll see what I can find.”

“That we can afford,” he adds.

Image: dimitris vetskias 1969 — Pixabay

The Uninvited Guest

Here’s Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt

And here’s my little story in response:

THE UNINVITED GUEST

“There he is, just like clockwork. I’ve no idea how he knows when I’ve made roast and mashed spuds for Sunday, but soon as I’m dishing out the meal, he’s knocking at our door.”

“We can pretend deafness,” her son Lance suggested. “He’s bound to leave if no one answers.”

“Dream on,” Sue retorted.

“She’s right. He won’t leave.” Dad chuckled. “I wouldn’t put it past him to climb in a window.”

“Mavis says he shows up every time they have barbecue,” Mom said.

Lance grinned. “Must be great to have a nose that keen.”

Sue rolled her eyes.

Quick Trip

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: DRIVEN

If all goes as planned, today I will be driven to Moose Jaw by my chauffeur-ish husband — in fact we expect to leave in fifteen minutes, so this will be a quick post. And a quick trip, as we expect to leave there after supper and get home this evening. This is a 2 1/2 hour trip one way and we pass through the beautiful Qu’Appelle Valley — one of Saskatchewan’s scenic beauties on the otherwise very flat prairie highway.

I’ve uploaded three boxes of jigsaw puzzles to take along and offload on a family member, who is saving some for me. Hopefully I won’t overload her — but like most puzzlers, she has friends and relatives who’ll gladly accept used ones. She and I do a puzzle exchange about once a year.

Our cat seems driven at this moment to go outside and check if there are enemies lurking. He’s yowling around my feet here, wondering why I’m ignoring him. However, leaving him outside to scrap with all comers might well be a disaster.

An interesting word I’ve come across recently in an old British novel, is the verb HAVER. According to Lexico, means to equivocate, vacillate (waver) and “Havers!” means “Nonsense, poppycock!” I don’t know if this expression is still in current use over there, but new to me. Are you familiar with this word?

May Journal Page

Hello everyone! Yes, I’m still alive and well, though I haven’t been near the computer very much lately.

Spring – or summer? – is finally here. After our last snow the thermometer rose steadily and we’ve needed our air conditioner. Smoke from northern fires has made the air hazy for a week. The birds have returned; the trees around us are noisy from morn til night. No rain for weeks, just a bit last night, so I’ve been filling water basins on the lawn for the birds again. Chokecherries and lilacs are blooming and I should be doing something about my planters and flowerbeds.

My courage has been low these last two weeks. So much to do — it feels like I’ve five mountains that should be moved right shortly and have only a trowel to work with. Where to start? (Is this a sign of OCD?) Sewing projects waiting, flowerbeds to work, writing & editing needing done plus a heap of housework. Then I’d like to paint & draw again.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is INDEFATIGABLE –and I’m not. 🙂

I can’t blame it on my health woes because the medication I’m taking has done wonders in bringing my blood counts back toward normal. Something to be very thankful for. I’d like to be upbeat but think of all the work that need doing and wish I had more energy to tackle it. Sometimes I do have good days; it’s not all bad.

At least I’m getting lots of fresh air these days, having become the peace-keeping force in our yard. A stray cat has wandered in – or someone has left it off. Anyone who thinks they can drop an unwanted cat off at some town or farm and it will cheerfully blend in with the locals needs a sharp lesson on cat behavior. Predators grab the weaker ones. The stronger ones have to fight for every bit of food and shelter they find.

Our Angus likes being outside, and he’s very territorial. He won’t tolerate this stray in our yard – and the stray won’t run from a fight. He isn’t going to let Angus boss him around. When the two meet, it’s claws and flying fur. So I’ve been keeping an eye on Angus when he’s outside and bringing him in the house should the other appear. Or I swoop in at the first sign of aggression, sometimes having to separate the two combatants. Not an easy task!

I have accomplished a few goals. Over the past two months I did get a new dress pattern worked out, a prototype for every day and then a Sunday dress made. I dug up part of my flowerbed yesterday. Saturday I did some decluttering.

I’m a hoarder – may as well confess. In the course of looking for our finch feeder I found a box containing old greeting cards and other paper keepsakes. Get-well cards from 1980 when I had my cancer surgery; cards from my 40th birthday party, from friends back in Ontario. My grands can deal with them someday. 🙂

Are you sentimental? Do you have old cards and diaries like these squirreled away? Or are you a minimalist?

Rambles In Sand

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is BULL

This is dry land. Some crop land, a lot of pasture and hay with patches of brush. On prairie soil maps the soil in this area is classified as “dune sand” – not much worry about getting stuck in mud after a rain. Plus it’s rather saline, not suitable for a lot of trees and shrubs.

Buffalo berry, wild sagebrush, some wild rose bushes and chokecherries are the natives here. Silver Buffalo Berry (shepherdia argentea) is a very hardy, slow growing shrub found around sloughs, in coulees, and on light soils across the prairies. Buffalo berries, like chokecherries, are food for birds. The shrub is blessed with natural deterrent: deer won’t eat silver-leafed bushes and cattle seem to leave it alone, too. It can handle this alkali soil so it survives here. Ditto with sagebrush (artemisia tridentata)

As I said, we have a lot of pasture and cattle. There are a few dairies so we see some Holsteins, but mainly black Angus beef cattle. Some farmers have a mottled mix and I’ve seen the odd animal with long horns, indicating some Texas ancestry. Pasture grass is not lush here; beef cattle growers need to have a fair number of acres per animal and supplement with hay in winter & spring. We often see round hay bales being transported on flatbed trailers or sitting in neat rows in fields.

In spring and early summer we’ll see a few bulls in a pasture by themselves, or even one lone bull grazing or lazing. Contented or bored – one never knows. In early July they’ll be called upon to do their duty again, so calves will be born in April. Obviously calves have a much better chance of survival if the worst of winter is past. Calving is a hectic time for local ranchers, who must be near at hand, checking cattle frequently, to be sure no complications develop that will cost them a calf.

Light as it is, in the Dirty Thirties this soil really blew. Wannabe homesteaders picked a 160-acre quarter section at some govt office–usually the Land Titles Office in Winnipeg. Did the homesteader threw a dart at the huge map there? Most of them had no clue what they were getting and no idea how to farm this dry country.

However, they got the land and it was their business to farm it, until people realized – and the govt finally admitted – that some land may be open prairie, easy enough to plow, but NOT suitable for constant cultivation. And for sure not deep plowing. After the 1930s the govt bought back huge chunks of land in this area and designated it as community pasture. So it is to this day. From time to time we see mini cattle drives down our road, moving cows from the community pasture just east of us to pastures just west of us.

Inspired by today’s prompt, I hope my little ramble has given you a little picture of what we see in our area.

mission accomplished
Old Angus sits in the shade
bull dozer

🙂