Monday, 27 November 2017

Poetry Monday: People

The topic this Poetry Monday is "people" - join Diane, Delores, Joan (in the comments here) and me as we take on this wide-open-to-possibility theme. You can take part, too; leave a poem at any of our blogs or on your own. If you do the latter, please leave your blog address in the comments so we can come along and cheer you on.

Get comfortable, people, because we're going to take the long and winding road to this week's poem.

On Saturday afternoon I decided to head into the countryside to a craft sale I'd never been to before. I wasn't sure exactly where it was, but the community wasn't very big and it wasn't far from where I grew up so I figured I'd find it. But when I reached the hall where I thought it might be, there was no signage and only a couple of cars in the yard. I decided to check another venue on a side road in case the sale was actually there instead, but I still didn't see any signs and by that time I was well along the side road and there was a rather large truck on my back bumper, so I had to keep to the speed limit or risk being flattened and before I knew it I was way out in the country where I went to high school.

And since I was that far along, I thought I'd keep going out to the little community where I grew up. The route I followed was the same route I took home from school on the big yellow bus every day for six years, so as I drove I remembered all the kids who got let off along the way. Eventually I got as far as my old home and a bit further to the church where we were married and then I turned around and drove back to my current home by way of a different country route which we used to take to get to town every Saturday when I was growing up. And so I saw even more homes of more people I knew until I moved away as a university graduate on my own at last.

So I never did make it to the craft sale but that drive certainly stirred up a few memories for me. I recalled my best friend of many years, and realized I need to call her because it's been too long since we've gotten together. I was reminded of the older boy who spent his summers working on the farm across the road from us, and what a gentleman and a hard worker he was, with a great sense of humour. I remembered the poor family whose kids always seemed to be grimy-looking; their parents spent their money on cigarettes and booze and I always felt bad for the kids, but the daughter who was about my age was one of the kindest girls in school. There was the lady who played the organ in church every week; she played at our wedding, too. There was the church itself, the setting of many a potluck dinner and many a community concert, one of which included yours truly on the recorder, and one of which included my brother and three of his friends lip-synching to a Beatles hit, and all of which included fudge for sale at intermission and not a drop of water in the building. There was the empty lot of land where our telephone operator's little house used to stand; my mother gave her a home permanent every so often and the one time that I went with her, I was put in front of the old-timey plug-style switchboard, given a ten-second lesson on how to connect people if the phone rang, and remained sitting there, paralyzed with fear that it actually would ring. (It didn't.) I recalled the live-in housekeeper of the farmer one house down, who kindly welcomed us with cookies and milk, and often a shiny dime, when we knocked on her door, and who looked after my brother and me the time we had chickenpox and my mother was teaching. I remembered the retired nurse who lived two houses down, to whom my mother sent my brother when he stepped on a board with a nail in the end - it flipped up and the nail went into his forehead right above his eye. I saw the empty land where our two-room schoolhouse used to stand, and in my mind I saw the kids playing in the yard at recess.

And mostly I thought about my own family, and the house I grew up in. It was sold a few years after my dad's stroke. It wasn't in great condition to start with and with no one living in it, it was going downhill fast. He sold it to the first buyer who came along, who - as it turned out - didn't have the means to keep it up either. The house is empty now; the flower gardens my mother laboured over with love for years and years are now overrun with scrubby trees and long grass. The vegetable gardens my father put in every year and gave carloads of food from are long gone to grass as well. The garage where my father spent so much of his time tinkering and doing car repairs for the neighbours is falling in.

It was a melancholy way to spend a gray fall afternoon and I was glad to get back to my town and re-surface in the present. Nothing is the same as it was, and I'm not sure I'd even want that. But I wish I could step back in time just for a few minutes, and have the future spread out before me like the full blue sky on an early summer day, and a community of hard-working, kindly neighbours at my back.

After all that, we need a very short poem, don't we? Emphasis on "short."

My People

The people of my childhood
Are frozen in time in my mind
Like black and white photos--
Like a group school picture,
A community baby shower,
A card party,
A dance,
A Sunday school picnic at the park.
So many are gone now,
Living elsewhere,
Or no longer living.
But, always, they will remain
In a little flame of memory
Burning in my mind's eye.


*****

Thank you for reading. It was a long post, and I appreciate you hanging in there.

A community shower; I'm not sure if it was a baby shower or a bridal shower. It was my first; I was all of three months old. Can you find me? (That's a kindly neighbour who is holding me.) You can see part of an old-fashioned telephone at the top of the photo, just left of center. The baskets of gifts for the honoree of the shower can be seen on the floor. All the women wore dresses. And most of them wore high heels. I wore a diaper and a nightie. By the time I got old enough to be the guest of honour at a shower women were mostly wearing trousers. Way off topic, I know.


There I am!


Question:  What kind of community did you grow up in?





Friday, 24 November 2017

Where In The World? . . . There's Probably More Than One Answer To That

I was all set to write about names of places around the world and about how many are familiar to me because we have the same ones here in Nova Scotia, Canada. For example, England and Nova Scotia both have places called Plymouth, Falmouth, Chester, Liverpool, Durham, and Truro. This is a novelty to me as I have not travelled much and never read a map for fun until Google Maps showed me a whole other side to seeing the world. Zoom in! Zoom out! Street view! Satellite view! The fun goes on and on.

And then along came a news story that just begged to be included in this post.

The story is about a man from Truro, England, who decided to drive around the world, ending in Truro, Nova Scotia. Benjy Davenport has been travelling for the past six years throughout Europe, Russia, Middle Asia, Canada, the United States, and Central America. It took him five years to plan the trip and work to raise enough money to get started and to convert a 1998 Land Rover so he could sleep and eat in it.

Davenport was born with Noonan syndrome, which is a genetic disorder preventing normal development in various parts of the body and causing a variety of problems such as unusual facial characteristics, short stature, and heart defects. He decided his trip would be to raise awareness of this disorder and also to show that you don't have to be perfect to pursue a dream.

Along the way, Davenport acquired a street dog named Jake, a Golden Retriever/Australian Shepherd mix who followed him around during his time in Guatemala. He found he just couldn't leave "such a well-mannered dog" behind, so he got him his shots and papers and now Jake is his travelling companion.

Davenport plans to be in Nova Scotia until the end of November, and would like to visit Sydney, NS, because he was born in Sydney, Australia. After that he will be taking at least a year off, but hopes to eventually go back on the road and explore South America.

For the full story, click here: Around the world from Truro to Truro. I've summarized most everything in the article for those who don't like to click on links, but there are a couple of pictures there of Davenport and Jake, and the full length article.

I thought this story was as compelling in its own way as last Friday's post on Mermen -  a good news story with a twist.

Got any good stories about duplicated (or triplicated) place names? Please share!

And have yourselves a good weekend. I think mine's going to be the best one this month (my fall was the last day of October), because I am moving so much better now. I'd been improving a little every day, but there seemed to be a breakthrough three weeks and one day after my injury. I suddenly noticed I was moving naturally again, without pain except for certain things like getting my left leg into the car when driving, or putting on my left sock. My hand, which I also hurt, is taking a bit longer, but even it was noticeably better the same day. Is three weeks some kind of magic recovery period? I'm not going to question it any further - I'll just enjoy it.


The earth seems to have shrunk since the internet came along, with its blogs and its maps and its instant everything. And I'm glad.


(Photo by Pixabay)


Monday, 20 November 2017

Poetry Monday: Light

It's Poetry Monday, and the topic this week is "light."

Join Diane, Delores, Joan (in the comments here) and me as we try to shed some light on "light" . . . Read, critique, leave a poem in the comments or post one on your blog and tell us where to find you. It's all for fun so have a good time with it.

The only thing that came to my mind around the topic of light was the phrase "go toward the light" . . . and given the fall I had a few weeks ago, I wasn't exactly partial to writing about that. It feels like tempting Fate.

. . . Oh, what the heck, eh? Tempting, shmempting . . . Let's go there.



Missed By THAT Much

My foot did slip upon the stair;
My back did bear the consequence.
I'm paying still for that wild fall,
And here it is, near three weeks hence.

But Oh! My dears! It could be worse;
I could have hit elsewhere instead.
I could have ended in a hearse
If I had landed on my head.

So every day I tell myself:
While falling wasn't very bright,
At least I'm still alive to say
I did not go toward the light.

*****

Sorry to be going on and on about that fall, but maybe you'll forgive me if I tell you I spent hours trying to find inspiration, but when I thought of "light" in this way, the poem itself took ten minutes. Hah! Take that, Dylan Thomas!

(Please, Fate, don't be mad at me for using Dylan Thomas' name like that.)

And just to update you with actual facts about my back, I've been to my own GP and am scheduled for an x-ray tomorrow. My doctor is pretty sure I just have soft tissue damage, but he wants to set my mind at ease. I'm still having pain while sitting unless I'm leaning forward on my arms or elbows. Did I ever mention that my employment requires me to sit for prolonged periods without leaning forward on my arms or elbows? Well, it does. I see physio in my future.

Hope you have a good week, and if you see any bright lights . . . you know what to do.



It turns out that the light I saw was just the ceiling light fixture. No, this is not our fixture. But it's much more interesting than ours. (courtesy of Pixabay)




 

Friday, 17 November 2017

Mermen

It's been another one of those weeks where things don't go as planned and there are too many nerve-wracking appointments (root canal finale, plus doctor appointment to follow up on my lingering back pain and numb foot, which by the way seems like it should be terribly serious but probably isn't, but I'm having an x-ray at some point to make sure) and it feels like walking through mud up to your knees and all of a sudden it's time to write a post and WHAT???

Well, this is what bookmarks are good for. And today the bookmarks tell me I must inform you about Mermen and a hilarious, catchy, warm-your-heart fundraising calendar being sold in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Here's a picture of Newfoundland and Labrador (abbreviated as NL), in case you're "from away" (as they say in that province, meaning "someone who doesn't live there"):

Newfound and Labrador is outlined in red.


Okay, if I were to do this post the way it deserves to be done, it would take a lot of work. So I'm going to be lazy and just put in a link and a picture, because I am pooped. My apologies.

The link to an article on the Mermen and their fundraiser:  HERE

And a picture to whet your appetite for more:


Can you even stand how much fun that is?? (picture courtesy of The Daily Mail from the link above)


By the way, in case you're as pooped as I am and don't want to follow the link, the money raised from sales of the calendar is going to Spirit Horse NL, a project that uses horses to help young people, adults, families and other groups enhance their mental health and learn new skills.

And plans are already underway for next year's calendar, to benefit a different charity.

The world is full of wonderful people, innit?
* * * * *

Have a good weekend, all!

Question: Would YOU dress up in a mermaid/merman costume for a good cause? Have you ever done anything outrageous (even slightly) for a good cause of any kind? Spill the beans, people!





Monday, 13 November 2017

Poetry Monday: Remembering

We are two days past the official date, but we at Poetry Monday could not let Remembrance Day get too far out of sight without proper recognition.

Don't forget to check out the offerings of Diane (On the Alberta/Montana Border), Delores (Mumblings), and Joan (in the comments on this blog). You can comment, critique, or leave your own poem at any of our blogs, or on your own blog (just make sure we know you've done so and we'll come along and read/encourage). Feel free to choose a different topic if you wish.

First, the background to Remembrance Day, which is familiar territory for many of you. In Canada, as in so many countries around the world, this day is observed on November 11 each year. This is the date on which the armistice which ended World War I was signed in 1918.  In Canada, it is meant as a day to remember the men and women who have served and who continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace. This includes the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and all conflicts since then in which members of the Canadian Armed Forces have taken part.

Many Canadian families have lost dear ones, especially in the two world wars. While I had some relatives serving, none were lost. I have not suffered the deprivations of war; I have not ever been fearful for myself or anyone I am close to. So my only knowledge of war comes through reading, and I am often drawn to books about wartime. I marvel at the heroic and selfless behavior of not only the armed forces of land, sea, and air, but also of nurses and other medical personnel, of spys, of civilians caught in bombing raids in cities or displaced from the countryside during active engagement, of prisoners of war, of victims of concentration camps. I find myself wondering how I would behave under any of those circumstances.

War and its tentacles have caused enormous loss of life, not just in the military, but in general, and that deserves to be remembered at all times. Remembrance Day is set aside specifically to recognize those who put themselves on the front line, those who gave or are willing to give their own lives so that others may have a chance of peace, of freedom, of life itself. Where would our world be today without the members of the military who turned the tide in each of the world wars? That example alone is a very bleak thought. Those who serve today follow in the footsteps of soldiers before them, willing to risk everything to do the job they signed up for.

Back to the purpose of Poetry Monday. It's difficult to compete with the eloquence of John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields." It's hard to find something original to say. But it is not hard at all to feel gratitude and to write simply and from my heart.

We Remember

At the eleventh hour
Of the eleventh day
Of the eleventh month,
We remember.

In tiny towns,
In large cities,
In each of our hearts,
We remember.

Our army,
Our navy,
Our airforce . . .
We remember.

The very old, with heads and backs bent by time;
The middle-aged and the young, tall and strong, in active duty today;
And those whose ages are frozen in time forever--
We remember.

May we understand and honour their sacrifices.
May we be thankful for their lives.
May we try harder to love our fellow beings.
May we always remember.



courtesy of Pixabay


*****

Thanks for reading, my friends. See you on Friday. 





Friday, 10 November 2017

Cooking, Crafts, And Cats

A collection of odds and ends today.

I've literally been out of the house only once since my trip to Emergency about my back. But I've been cooking real food for supper meals, which is good.

Maybe pizza isn't the best example of "real food" . . . but it's the only meal I thought to take a picture of


I worked on a few craft items that I can do while standing, because standing was more comfortable than sitting for quite a few days there, plus I have the chance to enter a couple more sales.

I don't make the vases, just the flowers. They are made with florist wire and buttons. I'm trying to decide if I need to make more flowers or if I'm just as bad at arranging fake flowers as I am real flowers, which is quite awful, really.



More of the same. These are fantasy flowers, so I can make them any colour I want. At least that's what I tell myself.


Vases still waiting for flowers. I admit that I have a thing for vases. And there are several of these I'd like to keep. All of them were bought at thrift stores, top price was $2, cheapest was 50 cents.



Maybe we should get the rest of the craft pictures out of the way while we're at it.

 

Draft blockers! Pictures requested by Joey! I'd already sold a couple before I remembered to take a picture. I sew the casings, which are fully lined, and stuff them with sliced-up fabric from worn out and out-of-style clothing.


In the process of filling a bag with chopped up old fabric, all cut with a pair of scissors. As always, I got a blister from using the scissors so much. If there's a better way, I haven't found it. I tried one of those rotary cutters, but it was hard to use, and I didn't feel safe. I'll stick with my blisters.


 And more things made with buttons:


. . . and empty wooden thread spools, bits of old Christmas cards, and (I confess) new beads and lace . . .


Closer, but somehow not all that much clearer . . .





Ho Ho Ho!


Christmas trees for your Christmas tree . . . what the? . . . but people buy them


Snowmen

Angels

Can you tell that I have a thing for buttons as well as vases??


One last picture, not craft-related! Our cats have been helping me stay mobile and limber as my pain retreats. They've both missed the litter box (which they never do otherwise) and they've both regurgitated their kibble at least twice each. I inch my way to my knees to clean up, and they peer over my shoulder to make sure I'm doing a good job. Then they wander off, apparently satisfied, to find a clean piece of upholstered furniture to sleep on. Meanwhile, I haul myself up using the nearest solid object. Not a cat. Some other solid object. It's a new form of physio, folks!

Not our cat, but the look is familiar. The look says, "You're a bit slow today, human. I hope there won't be any delays in getting my supper." Oh, they care; it's just buried really deeply inside :)

(photo from icanhas.cheezburger.com)


Hope you have a good weekend, folks, with lots of good eating, buttons to hold your clothes together, and pets who care :)


Monday, 6 November 2017

Poetry Monday: Brrrrr

It's Poetry Monday and the theme for this week is "cold."
Brought to you gleefully by Diane of On the Alberta/Montana Border.
Joined exuberantly by Delores of Mumblings and Joan (from Devon, who can be found in the comments below).
And me, Jenny O'Donkey, dragging my a- . . . er, never mind.

My inspiration this week came from two sources.

First, the word "cold" kept triggering these lines from T. S. Eliot's poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, which we studied in high school and maybe you did too:

"I am old
I am old
I shall wear my trousers rolled"

I kept wanting to write "I am cold, I am cold, In a blanket I am rolled" and eventually since I couldn't get it out of my head, I decided to use it, with some alteration.

Second, our weather has turned cooler. We had a beautiful September and October, but now the days demand warmer clothing and the heat has been turned on.

So, this week's paltry - I mean poetry - offering:


This Weather Will Feel Downright Balmy In January

It's November
I am cold
In a blanket I am rolled

With a scarf
And a hat
And on my lap a cat

On my feet
As I rest
Are my socks (two sets are best)

A beverage
Steamy hot
With a tot* or maybe not

If it's this cold
In November
How'll I manage in December??


*tot - a small amount of a strong alcoholic drink

*****

Short and sweet and to the point this week, while I rest and mend. Thank you for your kind wishes on my last post. I didn't take any pain medication at all yesterday! That is a step forward :)

No socks. Maybe it's hard to find flipper socks.


Friday, 3 November 2017

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again

Jenny O'Donkey slipped on the stair
Jenny O'Donkey got hurt landing there
Jenny can't sit and Jenny can't drive
And she cannot lean over but at least she's alive


Jenny O'Donkey


Yes, folks, another example of one blink and life changes. After the trick-or-treating was over on Tuesday night, I was letting one of our cats up from the basement, and went down the steps to bring her food and water dishes upstairs. On the bottom step I slipped and landed on my back on the pointy part of the wooden stair. I haven't hurt that badly since I delivered our babies thirty-odd years ago.

The bad part is that I can't lean over and I can't sit any way except gingerly and very upright on a hard chair for short periods of time. The good news is that standing, walking and prone are all pain-free positions for me.

The good news is also that I'm off work for awhile, so I have loads of free time. The bad news is that I can't accomplish much with all that free time, because I also wrecked two fingers on my dominant hand, and, in addition to not being able to lean over, I can't lift, push or pull.

The bad news is that it took four and a half hours of mostly standing in Emergency the next day to see a doctor for five minutes. The good news is that she told me if I was walking and standing I hadn't broken anything that mattered, in spite of the grinding noises I was hearing in my lower back. The good news is also that Tylenol (acetaminophen) really works to help with the worst of the pain.

Really, there are so many other things I am thankful for. My work deadlines were already met. My craft sale had already taken place. And what I'm most grateful for is that the damage to my body was not worse. When I think of what could have happened, my stomach does a little twirl, and not in a good way.

The thing I still can't get over is how I slipped in the first place. I go up and down those stairs many times every single day, doing laundry, placing and retrieving cat dishes, looking after litter boxes, etc. One moment was all it took.

Anyway, I think that's all the good news/bad news I have.

No, wait. I received this photo from our son, with whom our black cat now lives. This is definitely in the good news category.


Halfway through a yawn with eyes squeezed shut . . .


He (the cat) is getting along really well, and one way I can tell how happy he is now is that his fur has grown in again above his right eye. He had developed a habit of scratching there the last six months or so that he lived with us; seeing how good it looks now makes me realize he must have being doing it from boredom or anxiety. Our son plays with him a lot, every day, and Kitty loves it.

Actually, "he" the Son is getting along really well, too, and loves having Kitty. It's all very good.

What's good/bad in your part of the world today? My back may be rickety but my shoulders are strong and my ears are in "receive" position. Fire away!


Have a great weekend, everyone. And watch those stairs :)