The Lessons of History

FOR GOODNESS SAKE, READ HISTORY (Part One)

Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: FURY
Word of the Day prompt: SUSTAIN
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: EULOGY

Fury, Rage, and Free Press

Sue over at Crooked Creek has done reports on the new books about Donald Trump: TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH written by his niece, Mary L. Trump, and the other, RAGE, by Bob Woodward. I think Sue has done a great job of introducing the books lightly and fairly, without getting into personal opinions about the contents.

Stickler for accuracy that I am, I do object to the subtitle “…the world’s most dangerous man.” It sounds so sensational. No doubt he is one of the most powerful men on the planet but when I think of some dictators, money men, heads of organized crime and drug lords, I’m not so sure who should receive that title. But I’ll leave that where it is.

When I read these book reviews, my thought was: at least we live in a world of free speech. People have compared Donald Trump to Hitler, but there’s so much difference. Read about that history! If any writer wrote a news story calling Hitler a megalomaniac or tried to publish a book about Adolf Hitler, the most dangerous man on the planet (which he was, in his day) the journalist or author would have disappeared in the night and never been heard from again.

I have a book here written by a woman who was a girl in Nazi Germany. Her father, a loyal army officer who had serious misgivings about the whole regime, quietly got involved in a “Schindler’s List” type arrangement with a factory owner. When this was discovered he was arrested and secretly executed. Trump may not respond well to criticism but I’m not hearing anything about vocal Democrats being rounded up and quietly disposed of.

“The Worst Ever” Usually Means “I Haven’t Heard of Anything Else”

We live in a world of sensational superlatives. The media delights in them. “The worst pandemic in history”; “the biggest, the worse, the most devastating storm” ever. Climatic conditions like fires, droughts, hurricanes, are “the most calamitous,” “unsurvivable” and “portents of much worse to come.” Political races may be called “the most contentious” or “the most fateful decision ever.”

It’s rather thrilling to believe we actually live in an era of the worst ever. These days we seem to be surrounded by news and Facebook and Twitter working to sustain panic and fury. Many people are chanting some eulogy for the West — or America. I can’t predict whether things will get worse or better, but I do believe it would be great if more people were studying history.

Speaking of which, I’ve just started reading PROHIBITION: Thirteen Years that Changed America, by Edward Behr. Fascinating era!

Image by MabelAmber — Pixabay

Word Prompts Whirl

Good morning everyone!

I woke up and looked at the clock, which read 7:01. After a moment’s pondering, I rolled out of bed, got to my feet, and enjoyed a moment of gratitude because I CAN get up and stand on my feet. I CAN move around. When you’ve worked in a nursing home as I have, and seen people who lie in bed for months and even years, you do appreciate the ability to move around.

I recall a time when I was twenty-something. I’d just woken up and was pondering rather ungratefully how life wasn’t going well for us. My husband had to give up his job as a grain buyer because of allergies; at that time he was taking odd jobs with farmers to keep us afloat. We could hardly pay bills; we were living upstairs in his parents’ home. No, our life just didn’t look very rosy at that moment with us being so broke. Then I got out of bed and looked out the window, across the houses and tree tops of Moose Jaw, and the thought came to me, “You have something wonderful. You can see.”

Remember that old poem about the person who was feeling envious until she met a lad who was blind. The last line being, “Oh, Lord, forgive me when I whine. I have two eyes; the world is mine.” Not that my gratitude should be based on what others don’t have and can’t do, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to count your physical blessings. Mr Google tells me you can read the poem here.

Anyway, I headed for the kitchen for my morning coffee, my thoughts still flitting around my experiences in the nursing home. Breakfast: I can do it. I can fix myself, and enjoy, cereal, toast an egg. I recall how we’d feed those folks mush because they couldn’t swallow anything solid. Thank you, God for the ability to move, to swallow, to see – even if the season’s changing in a way I don’t appreciate.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: FRUSTRATION. Not at all this morning, thankfully. As I was saying, I’m feeling grateful rather than frustrated at all at the start of this new day – except maybe by the fact that the week has flown by so fast. Being retired, I can’t say like many others are morning, “Thank God it’s Friday!” But I will say a special thanks to you bloggers who supply us with new writing prompts every day. 🙂

Your Daily Word Prompt: PERFIDIOUS. Ah! This weather. This morning I opened the front door, looked out and took note of my coleus plant in a pot on the deck. Yesterday when I watered it, this plant had lush green leaves, swirled with appealing red tones as coleus are. This morning it’s limp and solid purple. Yesterday when the sun was shining brightly and the evening was fairly mild, I didn’t even think about frost. I have been taking in some nights so it wouldn’t freeze, but wasn’t thinking of frost last night. “Haha,” said the perfidious temperature as it dipped down and dealt my coleus a death blow.

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: RECONCILE. Yes, I need to reconcile myself to the idea that autumn is here. The leaves are going to fall – in fact the maples have shed a lot already – and my plants are going to freeze. I need to get outside and do some fall clean-up before the snow flies. And the snow will fly, though it’s been so dry we may not get a lot. Back in 1976 we had a really dry fall here on the prairie and got no snow to speak of until February.

Word of the Day: AGASTOPIA. I saw this and wondered, what on earth is that? Neither Lexico nor Merriam-Webster can help me out. According to the prompter, this word means “The visual enjoyment of the appearance of a specific physical aspect of another person.” It can have a sensual context.

When we lived in Montréal I had this friend, a delightful person, with a real weakness for colours and textures. Today we’d call her “bipolar”; back then it was “manic-depressive”; at any rate, she was apt to react more strongly than most of us to visual or textural stimulus. Walking through a mall with her one day I had to be patient, as she’d see some fabric that excited her and she’d have to stop and handle it. A fur vest – she just had to rub it.

She told this story on herself: she was riding home on the subway one day when a man sat in front of her. Well, he had the thickest, darkest, most appealing mop of hair. She was fascinated and tried to restrain herself, but finally she couldn’t anymore. She reached out and buried her fingers in it as she exclaimed, “You have beautiful hair!” I gather he was surprised, but thankfully more flattered than alarmed. He just said – perhaps with a bit of uncertainty, “Thank you.” But she was such a cheery, likeable person that he didn’t take offense.

Lastly, Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day this morning is DELVE. I’ve been delving into Bible prophecy – the different ideas that have been embraced by Christians – and plan to post an article on premillennialism and dispensationalism later today. What huge words, eh? The first word means “before the thousand years” and the second refers to ages or eras.

I want to say a hearty thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to read this ramble of mine. But now it’s 10:30 and I’ve journalled enough. I’d better get on with some real work of the day. I hope you all have a great weakened weekend. (English is so much fun! )

The Constant Sea

Image by K Moser — Pixabay

The salt smell of the sea, the foamy breakers, the incessant screaming of the gulls in their wild play. These familiar sights and sounds soothe old Matt as he walks along the beach. When life is out of kilter he wanders down to the beach again to watch that constant rolling reminder that life goes on. There’s something solid about the sea. The thought makes him smile. It’ll be here ’til the end of time.

He delights in recalling the days of long ago when he worked with his uncles on the Doughty Daisy before a vicious storm tossed her on the rocks. He sees again the line of fishing boats heading out to sea, imagines the wind, the spray, the thrill of it all when, as a young deck hand, he was part of the crew harvesting the sea.

He thinks of the wild storms that held them in port for several days – or worse, swept down on them while they were filling their nets. All hands on deck back then, fighting to ride the waves and keep the equipment – and each other – from washing overboard. Those were the days when you worked, boy!

The fishing isn’t good now, the new crews tell him. Too many fish harvested by the factory ships; stocks haven’t had a chance to replenish like they should. Cod are about gone, they say, and rarely do you find the big tuna anymore.

He turns to watch the gulls wheeling, ever on the lookout for some tasty gift from the sea, and squabbling over it when they find it. Ah, now they’ve spotted something further up the beach. A couple of gulls have landed beside it, one’s carefully inspecting it while the other argues “finders-keepers” with his mates in the air.

“Now what do you suppose those birds have found?” Matt slowly makes his way over to the spot. By the time he gets there the gulls have flown away. He looks down and laughs. A tube of Paradise Suntan Lotion – Economy size. Just what he needs. He sticks it in his pocket; there’s a trash can up along the walkway.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: INCESSANT
Your Daily Word Prompt: SUPPOSE

A Unique Editing Encounter

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge for today is REPLACE
The Daily Spur word prompt yesterday was EDITOR
The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was WOODSY

Fandango had an interesting story as his response to these prompts, the furious reaction of a writer who’s sent his manuscript off to an editor and it comes back thoroughly red-penned. He calls the editor, irate about all the marking and even replacing of sections. So I’ll credit Fandango for my tale. His story got me thinking down this line. I do feel a bit of sympathy for that editor, though he overstepped his role.

One day, after reading a story by a multi-published author, I asked my eight-year-old grandson, “How can a person fall off a train and land in front of the train? And furthermore, land far enough in front of the train that the train can stop in time to not run over the person’s body?”
He thought for a moment and said, “It would work if the train’s going backwards and the person fell off the engine.”
A certain writer should engage my grandson as technical advisor.

A Unique Editorial Encounter

I was wandering my way through an Ontario woodland path one morning, taking in the sound of birds, the woodsy smell of the trees and earth, listening to the wind fluttering the leaves, when I came upon a penguin weaving its (its – not it’s) way among the trees.

“What on earth! Oh, I’m losing it,” I exclaimed. “Penguin! What are you doing in these woods?”

“I don’t usually do woods,” the creature replied. “I seem to have gotten lost.”

“Big time. You’re over half a planet from home.”

“Can you tell me the way to Puddleville?”

“Puddleville? I can, but what do you want to do there?”

“A writer who lives in Puddleville wants a penguin for her story; she ordered me from e-Bay. She’s writing something about Hudson Bay and she wants me to do a guest appearance in her story.”

“But there are no penguins in Hudson Bay. Ever,” I protested. “Never have been.”

“You’ll have to take that up with the writer. I’m just one of the cast. I’ve supposedly stowed away on a fishing boat going into Hudson Bay. Now I’m to fall off the boat and flail around in the bay so her brave main character can save me from drowning in the frigid water.”

“Save you from drowning? But you’re a penguin – you can swim. And as far as frigid waters go, the water in Hudson Bay is a lot warmer than the Antarctic.”

“Say, you really like to find fault! What are you, an editor? What have you got against an exciting sea rescue? She’s writing it in a very dramatic style readers will love.”

“I like my drama to be realistic, even in fiction. A lot of readers do, you know. She should have at least hired a seal.”

“But I’m way more interesting than a seal any day.” He took a moment to preen a bit. “Anyway, I’m just going to do what I’m told, then grab the bucket of fish she’s offering as payment, and head south.”

“I think this whole story is going to head south. What’s the name of her book so I don’t spend good money on it.”

“She’s calling it Igor’s Alaskan Adventure. I’m Igor. “

I shook my head. “Why am I not surprised? Anyway, how be you follow me home, then I’ll drive you to Puddleville in my car. You’re never going to get there hobbling through the woods like this. I might even have a word with this writer about geography. Alaskan Adventure indeed!”

“You’d better watch out. Writers don’t always react well to some ‘slash and burn’ editor type finding holes in their plots.”

“You’re probably right.” I sighed. “Well, come on, Igor. Your adventure awaits.”

Forest Image:
F Richter & S Hermann at Pixabay

Six Words or Wisdom?

Good morning friends. Welcome to another patchwork of Saturday musings from me. A good day to be inside, it’s actually raining here on the prairie, which should suppress the clouds of dust that billow up every time a vehicle passes our place. (We live on a gravel road that turns to powder when it hasn’t rained for a month.)

Because the birds seemed to have disappeared a couple of weeks ago — off to find a drink somewhere, I imagined — I took in the shallow basins of water I’ve had out in the yard for their benefit. But yesterday we saw a small flock of robins in a nearby tree and later one was sitting on the bowl of water I leave out for the cats. Since it was almost empty, poor robin would have barely gotten his beak wet! So I put out the basins again.

We had a hard frost earlier this week; thermometers said -4 C. Squelched my balsam and marigolds, but we’d brought the tubs of tenders inside for the night, so I still have colorful petunias and patience plants blooming outside –and the pansies have withstood the onslaught. Yesterday the temp got up to 30C — a one heat wave that could give us the illusion that summer’s going to stay awhile!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is ILLUSION. While the warm weather may be convincing, when we see our maples completely yellow, and the maple leaves lying on the ground, we sigh and know more frosty nights are coming. It appears most grain fields have been combined already, and huge round bales of straw dot the golden stubble. The sandhill cranes will be along shortly to do the final harvest.

Inside our house I have a “Mexican hat plant” that must have been impressed by Jack & his Beanstalk and decided to do likewise. Bryophyllum diagramontianum, a type of kalanoche also known as “mother of thousands,” looks like this and grows STRAIGHT up:

Whole plant of Bryophyllum daigremontianum.
Image: Dave’s Garden.com
SIX-WORD Wisdom

As to the title of this post: Six Words or Wisdom…what brought that on was seeing another Six-Word Story Prompt from Shweta. The word prompt for this week is MOTIVATION. Here’s the link, if you’re interested in checking out this prompt.

I may contribute something yet, but I’m seldom motivated to do such brief story prompts for the simple reason that it’s such a challenge to say anything really meaningful so tersely. It’s not hard to string six words together, like “No motivation for even simple tasks,” but what does that tell anybody? “Even simple tasks exhausted her now,” tells you something happened to her oomph. But what?

Anyway, once my mind started in that direction, I thought of “He wanted to, but he didn’t.” Six words, but again, nothing much revealed. On the other hand, “He who hesitates is lost,” is only five words but contains a whole chapter from the Life’s Lessons book. In other words…

“Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight. Indecision is a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind.” — Jan McKeithen

Consider the six-word sagacity of “A stitch in time saves nine.” The old adage, “Least said, soonest mended,” is brilliant wisdom in four words.

In the past half-dozen decades the idea was: “Out with the old-timers’ cliches ’cause they’re meaningless to this new generation. Toss out the old anchors; this ship is sailing on to new frontiers!” But the new frontiers are getting scary; so many ships have been battered and broken on new-found rocks. Maybe there’ll be a reaching back to those old anchors again, the wisdom that got Grandma and Grandpa through tough times. Hey, I’ve even seen an article in a psychology magazine promoting self-denial!

Blogger Sue over at Jibber Jabber is wishing for a return to The Golden Rule in a Not-So-Golden World. Longing to see common courtesy in comments. She writes: “After all of this rambling on, I guess what I am really trying to say is that we are overdue to go back to our roots wherein personal integrity meant something, stood for something.

When readers comment on an article they don’t like, especially when they can comment anonymously, courteous disagreement often gives way to nastiness and name-calling. Some of my biggest shocks have been in the language Americans get into when it comes to politics and individual politicians. It’s one thing to disagree with someone, but to call any person — no matter who or for what reason — degrading names degrades the critic, too, IMO.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, but I think this is enough random musing. I’ve gotten sidetracked this week; now I want to get back to my articles about Jesus and the Kingdom of God.