Monday, 29 May 2017

Poetry Monday: Acres of Fabric, A Ladder, And A Knitted Shark Hat. And Love.

Donkey is tired out.



I spent Saturday doing errands and Sunday washing curtains at my mother's house.

It took five hours to wash three sets of curtains -- no, not just to wash them ... they of course had to be taken down, shaken out, then washed, dried, and put back up. One very large set had to be ironed. There was a lot of up-ing and down-ing on the ladder and stairs. There was moving of furniture, and vacuuming of crevices and washing of trim. There was chatting with Mom and trying not to knock over plants or put the curtain rods through the TV. There was running out for groceries and back to my house to get cleaning rags. (My mom had no rags in the house - imagine that, being so up to date with sorting and decluttering that there was nothing to tear up for rags!) Thank goodness we live so near each other.

So I am pooped. I had a nap when I came home, woke up a hundred years later, judging from how much older my body felt, and realized -- Poetry Monday!! No post written!!

Several aborted Google searches later, during which I re-visited poems I had studied in high school but discarded because they didn't spark my imagination at the moment, I changed directions and decided to write my own poem after all. After more labour than the result would appear to have required, I offer the following:


Some Debts Cannot Be Repaid, But We Can Try

My knees are creaky
There's an ache in my back
It hurts to walk
And that's a fact.

But helping a mom
Who's always helped me
Is worth every ounce
Of disability.

*****

How did you spend your weekend? Have you ever helped someone else clean house while your own needs it more? What do you think about chocolate as a means of treating muscle aches and pains? Did you write a poem in anticipation of Poetry Monday?

Don't forget to visit Diane HERE and Delores HERE to see what they've been up to, poetry-wise. And if you'd like to join in, leave your poem in the comments of any of our blogs, or on your own blog (leave us a link in the comments so we can find you.)

Meanwhile, Monday is here, and I am taking my cue from this kitty cat:



I hope you all have a good week :)




Friday, 26 May 2017

No Phone, No Pool, No Pets ... And NO DRIVE, Thanks Anyway

If you've been reading regularly, you know that I'm stretched thin these days between work and mom-care.

Thank you for your concern for my mom; she is noticeably improving now and even her thinking is much clearer. I am hopeful that she will get back to exactly where she was before her medical issues started one month ago.

On the work front, I am still staring down that 18-wheeler that's headed my way.

So there has been little time to ponder or read or take pictures. When it came time to write a post for today, I had only a few minutes and no plan. All I could think was that I had no photos, no ideas, no time, no energy ... and -- poof! -- an old country and western song ("no phone, no pool, no pets") came to mind. I haven't heard Roger Miller's "King of the Road" for decades, so I decided to see if it was on YouTube.

Sure enough, there it was.

(Isn't the internet a gold mine? Okay, YES, it's a black, tarry pit of hell in some cases, but so often when I have a question or want to relive an old memory it coughs up the answer or memory in such a brief flash of time that I am almost giddy.)

I remember hearing quite a bit of C&W music while growing up. Tunes by Roger Miller, Hank Snow, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and many others were played on our radio station, and the radio in our kitchen was on full-time. My father enjoyed this music, so I associate these songs with both him and my early years -- a winning combination for a good memory for me.







That's it for today. And I'm hoping that by the end of the weekend Life will be calmer here.

For now, it's still a case of ...

Life, I decline your kind offer of a drive. Vamoose!



P. S. A bird-y postscript: a little woodpecker comes to our deck regularly now for the purpose of drumming... or so it seems. He sits on the barbecue and jack-hammers away on the lid. Does anyone know WHY he might be doing this? Wouldn't he be in danger of blunting his insect-hunting equipment?? He's fun to watch, although I didn't realize how loud he was until a day ago when the window was open. I thought there was someone on our deck with a hammer and a sheet of metal!

Wishing everyone a good weekend :)



Monday, 22 May 2017

Poetry Monday. Sort Of.

My mom-care duties racheted up another notch or two over the weekend. Even though my mom's original infection is cleared up, she is having a lot of anxiety about her health because (a) she is 87 and has been very healthy all her life, so she isn't used to being sick nor is she used to the tiredness that follows illness (b) she's still not processing things entirely well (c) she is having new symptoms, unrelated to the old symptoms and (d) it's a holiday weekend so her doctor won't be in until Tuesday and that feels like months to her, given (a) through (c).

It was impossible to completely dismiss the new symptoms, since I am not a nurse, or a doctor, or even a veterinarian, so off we went to the ER, twice more, over the weekend. (The end result: paperwork has been started for a specialist appointment, which I suspect was more a means of getting her to stop going to the ER than a necessity or a solution, and which will -- if history is any indication -- cause a flurry of new worries by my mom, plus a car trip either two hours in one direction or three hours in the opposite direction.)

*bangs head slowly but forcefully on desk*

And my work deadline, which was extended by one week, is now coming at me like an eighteen-wheeler on the freeway.

*lays head on desk and cries a single, futile tear*

But!! I rallied long enough to write a poem.

Here it is.

Donkey Lament On A Holiday Weekend With No Holiday In It

I'm tired and stressed and full of frustration.
I need a stiff drink and a two week vacation.


*****
I didn't say it was a long poem.

Or a good one.

*****

I leave you with this other bit of verse and a sweet little face:



May your week have some good beverages and/or some cute in it.

P. S. At least our weather is back to cool and comfortable! That's one less stress for me!

*lifts head off desk and feels she may live after all*


Poetry Monday can also be enjoyed at these fine blog sites: Diane's HERE, and Delores' HERE ... join in if you like! Leave your poem in the comments at any of our blogs, or leave a link to your blog so we can find you.



Friday, 19 May 2017

Birds and Squirrels and Little Jimmy Dickens

Between continuing to check on my mom, whose recent illness has caused cognitive issues and make me cautious about leaving her on her own, and deadlines at work, I've found myself without a plan for this Friday post.

There isn't much in the way of bird-y news, but you can be sure that what little there is will be captured in blurry photos and captioned to death.

First, the finches, demonstrating how they blend into the trees (no wonder we never see them once the leaves come out):

Mr. Finch is on the right. The leaves belong to a tree that grew up beside the deck steps and was half lopped off by my husband last fall, with the intention of finishing the job this spring. Well, those plans have been scuppered by the birds, for whom the remains of the tree provide a good waiting area when lining up at the feeder. This is why we can't have a nice yard. Do I care? Not really. Anyway, this little half-a-tree is the same kind as the trees that line the back edge of our property. Ergo, invisible finches after the leaves make an appearance.

And here are the pigeons who came a-calling (because I flung (flinged? flang?) handfuls of seeds over the yard in an attempt to feed the birds who like to eat from the ground):

You would be correct if you were thinking our grass isn't grass. Two years ago we had a record dry and hot summer and it killed our lawn. We are still repairing it, in pieces. This is not one of those pieces. This is WEED HEAVEN.


Here's one of the doves who coo at dawn and dusk, a most gentle and calming serenade to the beginning and end of the day:

More weeds. And sticks. Donkey hasn't gotten around to picking up the yard yet. Work deadlines and Mom-Duty, have I mentioned those already? I think this is a dove. For all I know, it could be another pigeon. We'll say it's a dove for now. My research is not going well.

Last, but certainly not least, our visiting squirrel (who I hope doesn't become our house squirrel):

He knew I was LOOKING at him from the deck, but he was hoping I wasn't SEEING him. He stayed as still as a rock until I started to turn away. Then he high-tailed it away through the trees, leaping from slender branch to slender branch, about 8 to 10 feet off the ground. I had an "aha" moment as I realized where the word "high-tailed" probably came from. His tail was straight up as he scurried along.

So, that's the report from Donkey-land, where the temperature and humidity have taken a giant step into "uncomfortably warm" the last two days, and neither of them even said "Mother May I" ... so if I'm not around on Monday you'll know I've melted into a puddle of goo until the weather moderates.

Just kidding. It would take more than that to keep me from blogging. I'm having far too much fun.

Have a good weekend, everyone. As the old song by Little Jimmy Dickens goes, "May the bird of paradise fly up your nose."

Well, maybe not up your nose. But close enough for you to enjoy its plumage :)




 


Monday, 15 May 2017

Poetry Monday: Things Are A Little Nuts Here

For more poems, visit Diane and Delores, my partners in crime. Except their poems are all originals. And good! And if you'd like to join us, leave your poem in the comments section of any of our blogs, or let us know where to find your blog.

People! It's Poetry Monday AGAIN!

 That week went by like a ... a ... well, like a peregrine falcon.

Which, according to Doug in the comments on Friday's post can reach top speeds of 200 MPH.

So, yeah -- lickety split.

I would like to be able to say I spent the week searching my soul and pondering and ruminating until I crafted an astounding piece of poetry. But the truth is that I was checking on my mom four times a day to make sure she took her antibiotics (because she was quite confused), and I was working, and doing all the usual other stuff, so this week Poetry Monday was looking like it would be bleak and empty.

Then I remembered a poem from my childhood. (And I realized I lied when I said HERE that I've only memorized two poems in my life. Because clearly I still remember this gem and that means I memorized it, too.)

Maybe I remember this verse so clearly because of the circumstances. My uncle was a member of the Armed Forces and was stationed in Egypt as a member of the UN Peacekeeping Force in the 1960s. My aunt (his wife) and their three children were visiting us for a few weeks in the summer. My brother and I brought the total kid count to five, ranging in age from three to eleven; I was in the middle of the pack at about seven years old. One day, when we were probably driving our mothers up a tree with our behavior, we were tasked with writing letters to my uncle. We used blue airmail paper, tissue-thin and of small dimensions, because it cost less to send it overseas. Then, as now, I loved any kind of paper and this was particularly intriguing because each sheet folded up to make its own envelope.

I had to plan my letter carefully because there was so little space on the page. I didn't really know what to say to my uncle. He had been a rather hazy figure in my life until that point. But I knew he liked jokes and funny stories, and I had just read a good one in a children's magazine. It went like this:

A peanut sat on a railroad track;
His heart was all a-flutter.
A train came speeding down the track --
TOOT!! TOOT!! Peanut butter!!

When I read it, I laughed so hard I had a stomach ache and tears running down my face. It was just one of those times -- you know what I mean? -- when something strikes you as being SO funny and the more you think about it the funnier it gets.

So I started my letter with the usual enquiries of his health, and the fact that my health was good (i.e., "Dear Uncle, How are you? I am fine."), and then offered up the adventures of Mr. Peanut.

When my uncle returned from Egypt, I was thrilled to find he had brought me a finely tooled drawstring purse made of soft leather, which I treasure to this day. In it was an Egyptian coin which I have kept for all these years, too.

And most important of all, I still have his letter that he sent in reply to mine, before his return to Canada. In it, among other comments, he said "this old country is hot and dusty," and that he had liked the verse very much.

What a kind response to a child's attempt to entertain. I'm fairly sure his deployment wasn't very much fun and that verse didn't do much to help. But it made my day when that thin, blue letter arrived in our mailbox with my name on it.

*****

Maybe next week I will be able to crank out an original poem, for a change. Wish me luck; I'm going to need it.

*****

This fellow doesn't need luck. He got his head in there with the peanuts by dint of hard work, a clever brain, and a nose like a bloodhound. Not to mention those little paws.

I think there's a lesson in there somewhere for me.


(Photo credit: Pixabay, a bottomless well of freely available photos for anything your furry little heart desires.)



Friday, 12 May 2017

All the Little Birdies

I am thrilled to report that the new bird feeder is now hung up and it immediately attracted numerous tiny birds as well as some larger ones -- a couple of which I have never seen in our area. That's how well those guys can hide under normal circumstances, I guess.

The finches and chickadees are regular customers, and little sparrows are sometimes in attendance. There are two new arrivals also -- a pink/brown fellow as seen below, and one that looks similar to the yellow/black guys below except it's quite a bit larger. They all share nicely, which is delightful.

Here's proof:

It took many many shots to get this slightly blurry photo. There was always SOMEBODY moving. Group photography is always a chancy proposition!


The two yellow finches (?) above are, I think, actually one guy and one gal, the guy being the bright yellow one, as seems to be nature's preferred colour scheme. There are at least three (maybe more, heck they all look alike to me) pairs that show up now, where there seemed to be only one male and a half-dozen females before. I wonder why the difference? Were the other males out hunting for food sources while one male stayed with the group of females?  Now that there's an abundance, are they free to all travel together?

It's so enjoyable watching these birds while the trees are still bare. Soon they will be hidden by the leaves and I'll see them only at the feeder.

But I'm finding it a painstaking and frustrating exercise to try to identify most of the birds I see. I'm absolutely sure of only the chickadees, bluejays and robins. I'm not at all sure that what I'm calling crows aren't ravens instead. I have no knowledgeable person to ask and only the computer to help ... and usually I end more confused than ever. I don't think I'll ever be a birder.

But I'm a bird appreciator -- of that I am certain.

As are our cats. Oh yes they are. Although they must do their appreciating from inside the house.

Happy weekend, folks. I hope you are getting a chance to enjoy all the little birdies -- and the big ones, too -- wherever you may be.


Monday, 8 May 2017

Poetry Monday: Robert, and Dan, and Sam, and Grampy, and Me

It's another non-Donkey poem today (two poems, actually) for Poetry Monday, as promised in last week's post.

My grandfather, the one who had the sweepstakes luck in the coal mine, and who commandeered me as his piano-chording sidekick when he played the fiddle, lived alone for many years after being divorced twice and having all the kids grow up and leave home. While he enjoyed a good debate on politics or religion with anyone who happened to show up at his door, he was happy to be alone most of the time. He pursued many solitary pastimes, among them the already mentioned fiddle-playing, board games like checkers and Scrabble (playing against himself, and always simultaneously winning and losing), and reading. The reading sometimes led to memorizing, either a favourite line in a book, or, more often, a piece of poetry that interested him.

He especially liked Robert Service's poems, and of those, he had a particular fondness for The Shooting of Dan McGrew and The Cremation of Sam McGee. If you're ever run into these poems you will probably recall that they are long and wordy and darn good stories with excellent rhyming. Grampy liked to break into a verse or two whenever the conversation flagged, and it was definitely easy for us, his audience -- all we had to do was listen, try not to choke on the blue haze that filled his little home from his constant cigarette smoking, and smile when he finished.

At the time we didn't see it that way at all. Grampy was not an adult who understood kids very well. Instead of trying to understand what was going on in our minds and lives, he tried to involve us in his interests, by offering to play checkers with us (he did not believe in letting anyone win, no matter what their age), or by talking of his days in the coal mine, especially the part where he was the local head of the union, or by reciting poetry. I understand why ... now. And I understand that I gained a lot of interesting memories by not being the coddled centre of attention. And I never doubted that he loved us. He was just a different kind of grandfather from the ones in the books I read.

Looking back, that's just fine with me.

On to the two poems I mentioned above (in bold type). Because they are SO LONG, I'm going to reproduce only the first verse of each -- those are the verses I remember best anyway, and they're the ones that bring Grampy into clear focus. I remember him reciting them in his quiet, clear voice, and I picture him, warm brown eyes and slightly inclined head, cigarette dangling from one hand with an inch of ash trembling on the end, trying to establish contact with his fidgeting grandchildren with only the use of his voice and his amazing memory.

The Shooting of Dan McGrew

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up
In the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box
Was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game,
Sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o'-love,
The lady that's known as Lou.
.
.
.
(The rest is HERE if you're interested -- you may notice that at this link, in the title, Dan McGrew's name is mis-spelled. I looked for another source but couldn't find one in the time allotted to write this post!)

*****

The Cremation of Sam McGee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
.
.
.
(The rest is HERE if you're interested -- and if you have time to read just one of these two poems, I'd recommend this one. First, it's shorter; second, it's funnier; third, it's got a surprise ending. Case closed!)

*****
 Note: If you'd like to read more about Robert Service, go here for the long version or here for the short version.


Don't forget to visit Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border (who had the idea for Poetry Monday in the first place) and Delores at Mumblings (who knew a good thing when she saw it and joined in).

I also want to mention that neither Diane nor Delores are anywhere near as long-winded as I am, so there's that.

You can join in too -- read a poem, write a poem, copy/paste a poem, talk about something completely different that comes to mind -- it's all good! If you write a poem on your blog, leave us a link so we can find you. Or you can put it in the comments at Diane's, Delores', or right here.

Thanks for reading!



Grampy's cigarette smoke? Sam McGee's cremation smoke? Who knows?





Friday, 5 May 2017

The Ongoing Bird-y Saga

It's beginning to seem that Fridays are bird posts just as surely as Mondays are poetry posts, here at Procrastinating Donkey's writing desk.

And by writing I mean typing, and by desk I mean computer table. Somehow typing-computer-table doesn't have the same ring as writing desk, though, does it?

Moving right along.

Our bird feeder has attracted the attention of a couple of very large crows, who are none too pleased with the fact that the feeder is hanging up. They much prefer to wrench it free and throw it on the ground, where they attack it with their pointy face-weapons.

I'd throw it on the ground out of sheer embarrassment, too, if I were a crow. trying to sit on top of that very small feeder. It looks a little like an adult sitting in a toddler-size chair. I haven't managed to get a picture yet because there is a very small window of time between the crows' arrival at the feeder and the throwing of the feeder to the ground; however, I shall persevere.

As if re-locating the feeder every day is not enough, the crows have also damaged it; the hook at the end of the chain has disappeared into the lawn, no doubt to be spit out by the lawnmower this summer. I just hope it doesn't hit anything important, like a person or a window.

This has been a busy week for me due to some health issues my mother is having. So I'll wrap this up with a picture borrowed from icanhas.cheezburger.com, and call it a day.





Have a good weekend, everyone. May all your hobbies be done in surroundings more comfy than a tree limb :)


Monday, 1 May 2017

Poetry Monday: Come Fly With Me

It's Poetry Monday! How does this day come around so fast every week?

Started by Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border, and picked up by Delores at Mumblings, Poetry Monday is a chance to celebrate poetry by writing, reading, or both. You can leave your offering in the comments at any of our blogs, or on your own blog. Just let us know where to look.

At Procrastinating Donkey, I am running out of ideas for my own poetry. This may have something to do with my real job taking more of my brain recently, or maybe it's just that I'm not, at heart, a writer of poetry as much as a reader of it. Whatever the reason, I am posting someone else's poem today. It's one I discovered as a teenager when my Grade 12 class was given an English assignment. The assignment seemed simple enough: "Create your own anthology. At least half must be poetry, and at least half must be original work."

I still have my anthology and treasure it. I remember every piece I wrote for it, and looking through magazines for artwork to illustrate my choices. The assignment left a lot of room for non-original pieces, too, and there was one poem I liked so much I memorized it -- without being required to.

Now that is not a major accomplishment by the standards of even one generation before me. My parents were routinely given poems to be memorized and recited in class. My grandfather's generation was also made to do this, and he continued to commit poems to memory into his old age, just for fun. (More on that next Poetry Monday.) 

I can still recite today's poem, over forty years later. The words, ideas and phrases just begged to be read aloud again and again, and seared themselves in my mind.

As an aside, there is only one other poem that I have ever learned by heart: In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae. I think just about every Canadian child is required to lean this for Remembrance Day recitations; McCrae was a Canadian poet and a physician in World War I, and his poem is one of the best-known war poems ever written. I consider it a privilege to have had the chance to learn it as a youngster.

But when, you ask, are we getting to the poem du jour?

Right now!

This is another poem from wartime. I didn't realize until I was doing some research for this post that it is as famous as In Flanders Fields. Both poems still gives me goosebumps.

High Flight
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air ...

Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.



From Pixabay, used with great appreciation.


*****

A note on the poet, from wwwyourdailypoem.com:

"John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922 - 1941) was born in Shanghai, China, to an English mother and an American father. At the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, trained as a pilot, and was sent to England to fly a Supermarine Spitfire with the 412 Fighter Squadron. After a high altitude test flight one day, John wrote his parents a letter and enclosed a poem--this one--that test flight inspired. He was killed a few months later, when his plane collided with that of another British military pilot."

High Flight is in the public domain.