Monday, 27 March 2017

Poetry Monday : Unlikely Sources Of Inspiration

Thank you for your supportive comments on my last post. The fact that many people are fighting temptations and trying to live in a healthier way is not something that I was unaware of - I've known it on one level for a very long time. But, as my experience showed, sometimes knowing something intellectually is a different thing from knowing it in your bones. That's what the epiphany was about. Thank you for helping me feel less stupid now than I did when I wrote it.

Ah, the things we do for blogging. I'm actually finding that one of my main concerns when I started my blog - keeping my anonymity - is surprisingly easy. Keeping my pride is another thing altogether. Fortunately, you are all kind people. And in case any of the other type creep in, comment moderation will take care of them :)

It was a stroke of luck that I had that post ready early in the week, because a virus attacked my bronchial tubes on Monday and by Friday I was feeling a bit like stabbing myself in the chest with an ice pick just to improve my breathing. My airways are twitchy at the best of times, and respiratory viruses do not help. However, inspiration knows no boundaries and apparently has no shame (again, Walmart), because that virus became the basis for my latest Haiku.

Apologies in advance to Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border, who came up with Poetry Monday, and Delores at Mumblings, who enthusiastically joined up. I'm sorry to lower the tone of Poetry Monday so badly!


Haiku For My Bronchial Tubes. And Cats. Because Everything Comes Back To Cats, Haiku-Wise.

As a child I barked
More than coughed. Six days ago
My dog days returned.

Talking and laughing --
The worst instigators. But
Breathing's guilty, too.

Sore ribs, sore throat, sore
Chest BARK sore chest BARK sore chest ...
Can lungs be coughed out?

Alarmed cat eyes watch.
Their thought balloons say: Don't die!
(At least, feed us first.)

Worry not, kitties.
Mr. PD's thumbs still work.
Meals will continue.

But please may I have
Just one corner of the couch
On which to expire?

*****




Hope you have a good week, with healthy tubes of every kind.

 


Friday, 24 March 2017

Epiphany At Walmart


As eagle-eyed readers may have noted in some of my posts, I am trying to lose weight. It wasn't always this way. I was a scrawny kid and an underweight adult. I've also been a low-energy person my whole life. After we had children and a house and yard to take care of, the stress started to increase, and I coped by eating chocolate chips straight from the bag. I still remember clearly the day I realized there was no one to say no to this decadence, no one to frown upon the disappearing baking ingredients. There was just me, and I looked the other way.

As the years went by, the pounds crept on. I have occasionally been able to lose small amounts of weight by watching my diet and walking most days of the week, only to have it return if I ease up on that regime. But things are getting serious the last couple of years. I'm at risk for diabetes, having had gestational diabetes requiring insulin in my first pregnancy. My joints are suffering from wear and tear, and now my blood pressure, which has been fine my whole life, is starting to go up. So I have ramped up my efforts to walk and to cut excess calories.

And yet, and yet ... I don't like not being able to eat delicious sugary and salty and fatty things. My diet is already restricted because I can't tolerate caffeine, acidic foods, and spices. I'm getting tired of counting every calorie and eating foods without sauces, dressings or salt. I'm feeling hard done by with my limited diet. It's not fair, whines the six-year-old princess inside my head. Everybody else can eat whatever they want, as much as they want, but not me. Bah, humbug.

The pity party was really going full blast last week. I felt persecuted by ... I don't know who ... just Fate, I guess. I felt hungry, tense and irritated for four days straight - I'm talking cravings, not real hunger, of course. My weight inched ever upward as the week progressed. I was cranky and crabby and felt like punching myself in the nose. And, to be honest, everyone else, right in the nose. This is not my usual outlook, and I didn't care for it.

It all came to a head on Saturday evening as I walked through Walmart, looking for a greeting card, and had to pass a display of cute little cupcakes with icing piled as high as the cupcakes underneath. A rainbow of sugary fat. A tray of sugar jolt. I knew just what those things would taste like, and yet how unsatisfying they would be, requiring half the tray to be eaten, requiring one to feel sick before being sated. Why do mass-produced baked goods LOOK so good and TASTE so terrible? And set up such a craving? (Yes, probably because of the sugar/insulin cycle. But it's not any more fair even when we know that, is it?)

For a moment my resentment rose to a new level. I thought about all the people walking by the display, and felt irrationally upset that they were free to buy and eat all the cupcakes, or brownies, or pie they wanted, while Poor Me had to pass them by and pass them up, or else I'd be passing on sooner than I should.

Then ... my mind working away like a little squirrel, as my mind always seems to do ... a seismic shift in thinking. What if that man - that one right there, coming toward me - what if he has a heart condition and has to keep his weight in check? What if that little girl further along, walking with her family, is Type 1 diabetic and has to avoid sugary foods to try to head off long-term complications of her illness? What if that woman - that slim one right there, resolutely looking away from the cupcakes - has spent years watching her diet and exercising, and still feels the pull of sugar, and has the will to keep walking?

Suddenly, I felt like I belonged. I'm one more person in the army of resisters, the silent majority who value their health and battle every day to make good choices in diet and activity. I feel like I'm not held down but that I'm pushing back - against the marketing, against the physical craving and visual allure of processed foods, and against the profit-first orientation of business.

I realize I'm the only one who can help myself. My family and friends, no matter how sympathetic they are, can't do it for me. Not even my doctor can do it for me, not even if he orders me to lose weight. It is still up to me to do the work.

But I've also realized that I'm not alone as I struggle.

And while that may seem like the most obvious point in the world, it was a point I was failing to connect with, a point I was missing.

Missing ... evading ... whichever.

But the realization makes a world of difference.

Epiphany at Walmart. It really happened.


We, who are also battling the bulge, are not amused by your self-absorbed, entitled attitude toward your first world problems, Donkey. Suck it up, buttercup.

 (Photo courtesy of Pixabay. I could post pictures of highly processed and attractive food items, but I CHOOSE NOT TO. I feel the pounds falling off already.)

 And, to lighten the mood a wee bit, this picture -


- which I love with every inch of my self-absorbed, entitled-attitude heart. We got a Febbawarry-type blizzard on Thursday, and the woolly hats are very much in use here.

Hope you have a lovely weekend, my friends.

P. S. I may be naive, but I like to think that anyone who would bother to knit a tiny woolen hat for their kitten is the kind of person who would pull that hat over the eyes of that kitten for ONLY the short time it would take to snap the picture.  That's what I'm hoping. (Photo courtesy of lolcats at icanhas.cheezburger.com.)


Monday, 20 March 2017

Two Poems! And One Of Them Is Mine!

Actually, three poems. Technically speaking. But, still, only one of them is mine :)

It's Poetry Monday! Started by Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border; picked up by Delores at Mumblings. Join in, or just read, or just skip - your choice, as always!

First of all, my inspiration poem, by American writer Gelett Burgess, with the original title of ...

The Purple Cow's Projected Feast/Reflections on a Mythic Beast/Who's Quite Remarkable At Least

... but more commonly known as ...

Purple Cow

I've never seen a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.


Sound familiar?


Now, according to Wikipedia, Mr. Burgess was less than pleased with his poem as time went by. It was widely quoted, often without giving him proper credit; it became his best known work, and he eventually resented it. Whereupon he wrote another poem called ...

Confession: and a Portrait, Too, Upon a Background that I Rue 

Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow" --
I'm sorry, now, I wrote it;
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'll kill you if you quote it!


Now, I've been having a bit of trouble coming up with a poem for today's post. I wrote one in free verse, but it was long and kind of depressing, and I'm saving it for a soggy grey day when the news is bad and we are all about to weep into our soup to start with. A public service, if you will, to help everybody have a good cathartic cry.

In its place, I set about to try to write some rhyming poetry. The only success I've ever had with rhymes in the past has been when lines just pop into my head -- it's like a crack of lightening, only less painful. To sit down on purpose and try to compose something with the proper rhyme and meter is quite difficult. (For me. I'm not sure how hard it is for Diane, because she produces them regularly, as if by magic.)

You may have heard the saying "The perfect is the enemy of the good." In the spirit of "good" rather than "perfect," I offer these mushrooms from my soul. They are not 100%, but they're 75%, and y'all are welcome to leave only 75% of a comment (if you choose to leave any at all).

HUGE apologies to Mr. Burgess.

 My Rhymes Don't Work/I'm Going Berserk

I've never written rhyming verse.
With every line the chore gets worse.
Lines One through Three I can coerce --
It's Line Four that messes everything up.

I wonder how the scribes of yore
Found just the words they needed, for
They never seemed to be word-poor,
Unlike me, who has to Google "rhymes with" in order to come up with anything.

They must have had so many words
Flitting in their heads like birds.
Today we'd call them rhyming nerds
Or maybe rhyming ninjas, and it would definitely be a compliment.

When all is said and done, I say
A poet's work is hard -- but, hey!
I'm not a poet anyway,
Which is painfully, obviously, irrefutably, and undeniably clear.

 ****

Tha-tha-that's all, folks! Hope you have an excellent week :)



Pixabay, how I love your pictures. Although, this is more a lavender cow than a purple cow. But it will do.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Springy Things, Plus Funnies

Even though the vernal equinox is still three days away, there are signs of spring everywhere here. A snowfall on Tuesday was followed by rain, so the ground is mostly brown again. The river has frozen and thawed too many times to count. The sun is warm and the wind is numbing cold. Yep, it's spring in Atlantic Canada.

Ice patterns in the river. I keep seeing a salamander shape there.

Mucky path or mucky grass -- neither one is my preferred walking medium. But it's spring!

Our irises are peeping out. They are on the south side of our house, so they get a head start.

Sad little piles of snow sit forlornly in the oddest places.


Hummingbirds and flowers -- a garden stepping stone. In the summer it is completely surrounded by perennial plants. At the moment, it is sitting (along with its mossy fringe) in the middle of a huge patch of muck. Hopefully things will rise from the swamp in a month or so. Plant-type things.



This also happens in the spring:


And for the dog-lovers, because this is an equal opportunity blog:



And finally, this:




.... known in some circles as "the weekend" ...


Have a good one!





Monday, 13 March 2017

Poetry Monday; And, The Results Are In!


It's Poetry Monday! Started by Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border, and joined by Delores at Mumblings. Join us in writing, or share a poem you like, or just read and enjoy ... or you can cross to the other side of the street and run away. It's all good. Just come back when the danger has receded, eh?

This is a poem I wrote a few years ago based on the writing prompt: "Write a poem that contains only questions."


Is There A Problem?

What?
You want me to do what?
Write a poem that contains only questions?
What kind of a suggestion is that?
Do you realize how silly you're being?
Do you know how hard it is to do?
Do you care?
If you don't care, why should I?
Did you get this idea from "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" *
Why aren't you answering me?
Are you upset with me?
Can't you hear me?
How can I get you to speak?
Will I regret it if you do?
How long can I keep this up?
Would you like to call it quits?
Can I join you?
Can we never do this again?
Can you stop whining now?
Can I apologize now?
Must you cover your eyes and ears like that?
Isn't this the worst poem ever?
Can you prove you wrote a worse one?
Is there a prize involved?
How will I know when I am done here?
Are you as bored as I am?
Why are we still here?
Who thinks I should stop writing?
Are you sincere?
Is it even possible to stop?
What if I never find the right words to finish?
Doesn't everyone want their poem to end with a bang?
Can you believe I think I'm finished?
Can you at least try?
Do you think I should write another poem?
No?
Will you pay me to stop?
How much?
Do you know - ouch! - how much that rotten tomato hurt?



*Note: "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" refers to both a short-lived British radio show and its spin-off American improvisational TV comedy. One of the regular skits requires the actors/comedians to converse only in questions - unscripted and unrehearsed. For a Youtube video example, click HERE.


*          *          *

Last Monday, I stated my intention to give up the use of exclamation marks for one week.

It was about as difficult as I had expected. The week is over now, and I have put them back in my pencil case along with my ellipses, dashes, and asterisks, with a big sigh of relief.

Actually, I didn't last the full week. I cheated toward the end.  

The exercise was useful, though, because it raised my awareness of my writing habits. I immediately realized just how much I use exclamation marks. I also realized that I don't always overuse them. If the topic is a serious one, or if I'm writing business-type correspondence, I don't feel the need to use them at all. I also realized that my writing style here is often like my speaking style with friends - relaxed and animated. It's hard for me to express myself in real life without some body language and excited talking, and in my writing I've decided to go back to flinging punctuation around like confetti to convey my enthusiasm.

... Maybe not like confetti. Maybe less than that.

But it is not a crime to use exclamation marks! It might be a crime to use smiley faces, but until the Smiley Face Police come to get me, I'm hanging on to those little guys too.