Blissful Retreat

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was BLISS. And Frank Prem writes about wanting to attend their annual Rainforest Writing Retreat. What a blissful thought!

Actually the thought of any retreat where you can kick back and relax with friends/fellow writers sounds great, especially when their official website invites you to “Escape reality with your fellow writers in Australia’s lush mountain rainforest at O’Reilly’s in Lamington National Park!”

Yes, BLISS! Just a continent and a small fortune away. Sigh. Frank laments that he can’t go either now, because of new COVID restrictions in their area.

RETREATS: An Absence of Real-World Temptations

Twenty-five years ago I knew a lady in Montreal who went on several retreats. Not the blissful kind, though. Over time she paid out what amounted to a small fortune to spend time at a holistic health retreat in the country, where she did nothing but NOT EAT. For $70 a day she was given a tiny room with a bed, a dresser and not much space to move, where she spend several weeks at a time just resting, supposedly cleansing her body of toxins, reading, meditating, praying. She could walk around, but there was no encouragement to exercise; folks were there to purify their bodies.

She felt this effort brought her closer to God, but she also had practical motives: lose weight and quit smoking. Someday I’ll write more about her episodes, but suffice it to say, the plan didn’t work in the long run. Living only on water and juices, of course she lost weight. Back in the real world food and nicotine tempted her as always. Coming home after a retreat one time, she ordered an extra-large pizza — and ate the whole thing. Then her body was suddenly overloaded and she suffered. In all that enforced deprivation, she’d let self-discipline slip away.

So I shall forgo rainforest retreats until my ship comes in. Even being in a gorgeous, low-stress setting, surrounded by all those good vibes, won’t guarantee that a person would spend the time in her seat writing every day once she’s home again. The enthusiasm and inspiration would be a boost any writer would enjoy and you’d come away with fresh inspiration. However, it still takes self-discipline to keep pounding the keyboard when those temptations to skip off and play come beckoning. 🙂

Pixabay image

One More Day of To-Do’s

Hi Everyone,

I thought I’d give you another glimpse of life at my house, as I prepare for the grand event on Tuesday. I’m to be at the hospital and ready for my minor surgery at 7am, which means I have only this evening and tomorrow to accomplish a dozen things in preparation for having limited mobility for 4 to 6 weeks.

I’ve borrowed a few books from the library and downloaded a couple from Kindle Unlimited. (Not that I was ever lacking.) I’ve a tub of articles and verses to-key-in-someday, and this I’ve set on a dresser so I won’t have to lift it. I’ve visited Michael’s and bought a few more paints. I was going to buy canvas board, which is quite stiff, but then I spied a “Canvas Pad” – something I haven’t come across before. It turns out to be ten sheets of stiff prepped canvas duck, about the weight of card stock and ready to paint on. I bought this more for practice, but we’ll see how the finished painting looks.

One of the books I borrowed from the library is HOW TO WRITE A MYSTERY — © 1996 by Larry Bienhart. Random House. I’m finding it delightfully humorous! He starts by explaining the impulse that started him on his mystery-writing career: he read two mysteries in one day and both of them were awful. A conviction settled: if he wrote a mystery, no matter how pathetic it was, someone would buy it. “What was exciting, thrilling, illuminating, was that someone had published these meandering, illogical, poorly constructed, cliche-ridden manuscripts and – I presumed – actually paid the writers! This was attainable.”

I’m only in the first chapter and already he’s mentioned one of my biggest peeves in story lines: people acting irrationally, or contrary to human nature, just to make life easier for Syl the sleuth. Since the points he makes about mysteries is applicable to other genres as well, I’m eager to read more. Any story has to hang together and needs to offer the reader a reason to keep reading.

I also have a few jigsaw puzzles that I could do during my enforced idleness, and have invited a couple of seniors from the Villa here to play Mexican Train (a dominoes game) with me once I’ve up and around. I’ve a half dozen Sudoku and Word puzzle books to work on, and a few sewing projects I should complete. Actually, having reviewed all the things I could do, I’ve realized what I really need is six months on a desert island! Covid-19 hasn’t done it for me because there’s so much that can be done at home, right?

Reading FlyLady’s latest post, I’m encouraged to take small steps toward specific goals, rather than taking huge chomps of everything at once. We’ll see how I manage that in the coming month. One of my first steps will be to varnish the paintings I have finished.

Thanks to the live streaming we can access these days, I listened to a church service in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, which started at 7:30 am this morning, then we listened to our church service here at 10:45. In the afternoon I listened to a Christian Endeavor program from Fleetwood, PA, then our evening service here at 7 pm. Altogether a very inspiring day! Because Covid cases are dropping in a big way here in Saskatchewan, the govt is saying things will be opening up more by the end of this month, including more people allowed in meetings.

First thing tomorrow morning I want to do some loads of laundry and pack a bag for my over-night stay at the hospital Tuesday night. Yesterday I filled some flowerpots with fresh dirt; tomorrow – Victoria Day here in Canada – I want to visit a local greenhouse and get some bedding plants for them. We had a light dusting of snow Friday morning, which settled the dust for awhile; this evening we’re enjoying a drizzle and hoping the prediction of more rain tonight and tomorrow will pan out.

Well, that’s enough for tonight. It may be a few days until I’m back at the computer. Meanwhile, I’ll be hoping that you all have a great week.

Image from Pixabay

Our Poor, Neglected H

And now for one of the most misunderstood letters in the English language…

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Accused of being HIGH-BROW or even HAUGHTY, the use of an H is at least controversial. Some groups of English speakers do an automatic delete, and for sure the French do. We can’t blame the use of H and TH on the Norman invaders. Lately I heard a Cockney speaker explaining that if you want to sound like them, “Get rid of the H’s. Don’t need ’em.” Ditto with the TH’s. “Oo needs an H? Ged along royt wew wivoud ’em, we can.”

The other linguistic foible is to stick them in where they don’t belong. “H’Irvin h’Armstrong was here today. He wanted to h’ask you h’if you’d gotten his message?”

But H is here to stay, because we need to HALF– so many things, and because it starts out so many short everyday words we can’t do without:
HURT + HEAL
HOLD + HURL
HELP + HINDER
HIM + HER

Doing some research on the origins of our letter H, I discovered that our H words are mostly Germanic in origin, that their roots go back to a common Indo-European language, and they mostly began with a k or kh sound.
Here, Who, How < kho
Hind (deer) < Kemi
Hip < kheup
Heart < kadia or kerd
Hearth < kherthaz
Help < kelp

The Japanese are fond of their H, giving us words like HONCHO and HAIKU, and who knows how many more if the current linguistic melange continues.

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Dorothy Sayers, in her book, THE FIVE RED HERRINGS, waxed merry with various accents and dropped or added aitches in a realistic way. The book was published in 1931 and she died in 1957, so I’m hoping I’ll be okay reprinting this bit.

Investigating the suspicious death of Mr Campbell, Inspector Macpherson called on Mr. Gowan. When the haughty English butler opened the door, the Inspector asked to speak to the gentleman.
“Mr Gowan is h’out. He’s gone to London.”
In his Broad Scots accent, the inspector explains…
“I will tell ye, wi’oot circumlocution, that there is mair than a suspeecion that the puir gentleman was murdered.”
“So I h’understand.”
“Your name is Halcock, is’t no?”
The butler corrected him. “H’alcock,” he said, reprovingly.
“H, a, double l?”
“There is no h’aitch in the name, young man. H’ay is the first letter, and there is h’only one h’ell.”

Then the Inspector goes on to question Hammond, Mr Gowan’s chauffeur, described as a small, perky man, mongrel in speech, but betraying a strong streak of the fundamental cockney.

“Did ye drive Mr. Gowan onywhere on Monday last?”
“Drove ‘im ter Dumfries. Mr. Alcock comes down when I was ‘avin’ me supper, and says Mr. Gowan wanted the saloon round at 8 o’clock ter tike ‘im ter Dumfries. And I says, ‘Right-oh!’ I says, ‘an’ I can pick up them there pitchers at the same time.’ That’s what I says and that’s what I done.”

As I understand Cockney, this would have sounded like, ” ‘At’s Royt. Drove ‘im ter Dumfries. Mr. Alcock comes down when Oy was ‘avin’ me suppah and says Mr. Gowan wanted the saloon round at oyt o’clock… ‘at’s wha’ Oy says and ‘at’s wha I dun.”

(The WordPress Spell-checker doesn’t like this colloquial post. There are red lines everywhere!)

“Fight the Good Fight”

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The Letter F takes its place and stands tall amongst all the other letters, for it starts many a great and noble word. The feisty F has proven itself quite useful for alliteration, too.

Some folks are FOOTLOOSE and FANCY FREE
Others talk of FREEDOM, FIDELITY, and FRATERNITY.
They rally round their FLAG and FIGHT what they consider to be the FORCES of oppression. (However, opinions on “oppression” differ.)

The Apostle Paul urged the followers of Christ to

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The flexibility of the letter F is also useful for this cute
little verse my mother-in-law liked to quote:
A flea and a fly were imprisoned one day in a flue.
Said the fly to the flea, “Let us fly!”
Said the flea to the fly, “Let us flee!”
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

F can stand for FIRST. And this week I’ve seen some first-class spring signs:
the first butterfly
the first robin
the first meadowlark

But watch your step, because F can also begin:

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As in this poem I’ve called “FOLLY”

Fools are always rushing in
where another fool’s already been,
the path well trodden by the feet
that think temptation’s end is sweet.

The Essential E

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and conclude that the letter E holds pride of place in the English language.

You can’t SUCCEED, PROCEED, or even ENTER without it! Yes, the lowly E is NEEDFUL, REQUIRED — the KEYSTONE, EVEN, for most English words.

Fans of cryptograms can tell you that the letter E, and the combo of

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are the first things they look for when setting out to solve the puzzle.

That said, did you know “English” started out milleniums ago meaning a fishhook?

The Angles, a West Germanic people who immigrated to the British Isles, hailed from the Angul district of Schleswig, which is just south of modern Denmark. Their homeland, part of the Jutland peninsula, was shaped somewhat like a fishhook so its inhabitants used their word for fishhook to refer to their country. When they sailed across the sea they brought this name along, plus the words angler and angling. They weren’t the only Germanic people who came and decided to stay; the squeezed-out locals tarred them all with the same brush: Anglo-Saxons.

An Ethnic Legend:
We have a friend whose parents immigrated to Canada from Denmark. When she was young, her father told her that the original inhabitants of Britain couldn’t talk; their only communication was grunts and squeaks. He claimed the Angles were the ones who taught the British how to talk. I’m not sure where he learned this bit of history, but we took it with a grain of sea salt.

The Dreadful D’s

Today we’ll dither over

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Thinking about this letter brings to mind a host of depressing words:
Degenerate
Degraded
Demented
Depraved
Depressed
Detest
Dissipated
Dissolute
Drivel

This clever image is by Piyapong Saydaung — Pixabay

Looking on the bright side,

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Words like DAYLIGHT, DAPPER, DARLING, DEAR, DECENT + DELIGHTFUL
help to balance the scale. One of the more appealing D words that comes to my mind is…

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Image by Radoslaw Ciesla — Pixabay

And then there’s

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Which can mean…
Academic, bookish, cerebral, civilized, cultured, enlightened, erudite, highbrow, intellectual, informed, knowledgeable, lettered, pedantic, polished, refined, scholarly, schooled, skilled, trained, versed, well bred.

Pixabay image

In other words, don’t ask DIDACTS to explain what they mean unless you have a lot of time to hear them out.