Monday, 5 December 2016

Monday Better Be Better

It's been a sort of "blah" weekend, with nary a blog inspiration in sight.

I feel at loose ends, kind of blah myself, and need some distraction.

So, doggone it, I'm resorting to again, this time with ... dogs.

 I hope that once the week gets underway, I'll once again feel that gravity is worth fighting.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Goodbye Autumn. I'll Miss You. But I've Got My Art To Keep Me Warm.

Like so many places in the northern hemisphere, we've had our first snow of the season. In fact, we had a couple snow events one after another.

Unlike many of those other places, we did not get an unbearable amount of snow. But it was wet and it was heavy and it made the roads very slippery.

In this photo we had just received a dusting, and it was late, so everything is kind of grey and colourless. But it has its own kind of beauty, I think.

But just before I turn my thoughts too far toward snow and ice and cold, there's something I need to do.

I need to have one last look at autumn.

The reds

The yellows

Sunrise on a cool morning

Birds flocking in the trees (those black dots in the bare branches). If you click on the picture it should get bigger and hopefully make it easier to distinguish the birds from the leaves (the leaves being the brown dots).

Different day, more birds flocking ... they're getting ready to go south.

I just like this picture. Repetitious, I know.

Those birds are a noisy bunch. They swoop down on lawns, peck bugs out of the grass, chatter to each other. I'd love to know what they're saying. These pictures show only a small part of the flock that was around that day.

And last of all, just before I wave goodbye to colour until, say probably April or May, I want to show you one more thing.

I already posted this picture here:

When I took this shot, I had something in mind.

From Grade Primary to Grade Six, I attended a rural two-room school. We had one teacher for Grades Primary to Three, and a different teacher for Grades Four to Six. In the "Little Room," as we called it (Gr. P to 3), we had Art class every Friday afternoon. I looked forward to it so much. It was a break from the 3Rs, and even though my artistic talent was confined to my baby fingernail, I loved to mess around with paint and chalk and collage materials.

Here is one of the pieces we did in Art class. It is a sponge painting of "Woods in Autumn" - the teacher showed us how to take a small square of sponge and different colours of paint to create what we felt were masterpieces. With the advantage of a few decades of experience, I can see mine was not nearly so; nevertheless, I hold this and all the other little pages in my art book close to my heart.

I'm guessing I was about seven or eight at this point in my art career. Penmanship was never my strong point either.

I'm saving a post about our teacher for another day. She was a remarkable lady and deserves her own space.

Here's the cover of my art book, by the way. We used a potato stamp (really) to make the pattern of circles.  You can see how I started every line with a load of paint on the stamp, and kept grimly using the same paint to the other side, growing fainter and fainter!

Apparently, my scissors skills were on par with my painting and penmanship!! Just look at that label :)

This isn't the first thing I would grab if I had to evacuate our house (people and pets would be first, of course) but it's irreplaceable, to me, and would be a serious contender for top five.

How about you? Did any of your childhood creations, in or out of school, survive the years to the current day? Did you create something that you can't bear to give up, that says "I did this, and it makes me happy to look at it"? Or did your abilities tend toward activities and games and such?

As I may have mentioned at some point, I was neither coordinated nor competitive, so my achievements did not run to sports or teams ... but if yours did, please tell me about it. Or maybe you were what we called well-rounded, you lucky devil - good at everything! Tell me that, too :)

Monday, 28 November 2016

Missing Photos

I am still working my way through articles and TED talks and opinion pieces trying to understand the issues involved in the Brexit vote and the American vote and the situation in our community, and indeed in my country of Canada.

Here's what I've been reading, in case you are interested. (And I understand if you're not. Everyone comes to the table with different experiences, and what I find helpful isn't necessarily of any use to the next person.)

Elizabeth Lesser: Take "the Other" to lunch   (TEDWomen 2010)  Suggestions on talking to those whose views are different from yours, including being genuinely curious rather than trying to debate or persuade.

Did Americans vote out the media, too, in this election? Ideas on why the media got it wrong when they predicted who would win the recent American election.

Taking Aim at the Establishment: Why Some of Europe's Top Leaders Are Walking Dead.  Brexit and the US election may be just the beginning.

Donald Trump Could Happen in Canada. It's Already Begun.  The title is self-explanatory.

     *     *     *     *     *

And in this spot right here, I was going to put a picture of my Grandad and me, from when I was about four years old. That's the same Grandad who played the fiddle and worked in the coal mines.

I went to the spot where we store photo albums, sure that I could lay my hands on the picture I wanted in no time at all.

It was nowhere to be found.

One hour later I was still looking.

Actually I'm still looking.

Here's another picture of me instead.

I bet you were expecting a donkey, right? But I'm feeling kind of sheepish today. Thanks, Pixabay. It's a good thing your photos are better organized than mine are.

Are your photos shipshape? or would I feel right at home at your place?

Friday, 25 November 2016

Class Is In

My mother was a junior high school English teacher for most of her working life. She has been retired now for about twenty years, but she still has poems and plays and short stories and novels embedded in her brain, and when we talk she frequently references a literary piece that she is reminded of and that applies to the topic or situation.

When Mom mentions a piece, often I'll know what she is talking about because I went through the school system while she was teaching - at the same school, in fact - so I was learning the curriculum while she was teaching it. But every so often she will quote something from her own school days, or something her father taught her, or something she came across while she was upgrading her teaching license in middle age. 

This is one poem she referenced a couple of years ago that I hadn't heard before, and I like its message so much I am now a fan.

And it's been popping up in my brain lately.

The author, according to Wikipedia, was a "popular poet rather than a literary poet" but notes that "...  in her poems she expresses sentiments of cheer and optimism in plainly written, rhyming verse." I say there's nothing wrong with being a popular poet, if it helps make the world a better place.

(Thank you to this source for providing the poem, as published in The Charlotte Democrat way back in January of 1896.) 

Two Kinds of People
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

There are two kinds of people on earth today,
Two kinds of people, no more, I say.

Not the good or the bad, for 'tis well understood,
The good are half bad and the bad are half good.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift-flying years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.

Not the rich and the poor, for to count a man's wealth
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life's busy span
Who puts on vain airs is not counted a man.

No! The two kinds of people on earth I mean
Are the people who lift, and the people who lean.

Wherever you go you will find the world's masses
Are ever divided into these two classes.

And, strangely enough, you will find, too, I wean,
There is only one lifter to twenty who lean.

This one question I ask. Are you easing the load
Of overtaxed lifters who toil down the road?

Or are you a leaner who lets others bear
Your portion of worry and labor and care?

     *     *     *

I think it's useful to consider every now and then whether I am a lifter or a leaner. Just to check, you know. And maybe make some adjustments, as I've been trying to do lately.

Hope you enjoyed this literary experience, brought to you by Procrastinating Donkey and her mom.

See, Mom? I really do listen to you. (Pixabay Photo)

Happy weekend to all.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Fiddle and Piano

After I posted the poem about my grandfather, it started me thinking about the other memories I have of him.

He told great stories - yes.  He played baseball when he was younger, and was good at it. He bowled when he got older, and he threw that bowling bowl like any former pitcher would do - fast and straight. We took him bowling with us a few times when our kids were young; he would have been in his mid-eighties, and he put us all to shame.

After he retired from mining, he taught himself to play the fiddle. He had quite a repertoire, and was continually adding to it.

And I was his mostly-unwilling accompanying pianist. I was taking piano lessons, but they were classical pieces, not Scottish fiddle music. Therefore he taught me simple chords in several keys.

Grandad would come to visit, a couple of times a month. With his fiddle.

After supper, he'd warm up by playing a few tunes on our piano. Then he'd open up the fiddle case and rosin his bow, and nod for me to join him. He'd play for anywhere from a half an hour to over an hour.

I was fourteen.

I did not want to be at his beck and call when he came to visit.

I never refused to play, but I was a reluctant participant.

How I regret my begrudging behavior at age fourteen. And my foot-dragging at fifteen. My eye-rolling at sixteen; I especially regret that. And my wooden, duty-warped performances at seventeen.

By the time I was eighteen, I was away to university. I may have chorded for him at holidays, but I can't remember.

Anyway, I'd give a whole lot to hear him play again - and this time, I'd play willingly alongside him. And I'd put my heart into it, and smile at him.

Here's one of the tunes I remember.

For the record, I danced with my Grandad, too, something similar to the video - but none of us were in kilts, and we sure weren't in a castle.

Only once, but I did. And I truly enjoyed it.