Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ships in Bottles

I have always been completely fascinated by Ships in Bottles. I’m certain the very first clipper ship I ever saw was a miniature in a bottle.

I saw it at a house my parents visited when I was but a child. But to me, it was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. I never forgot how beautiful it was with its wee sails and rigging and every detail so exact. And yes it was on a blue ocean and there in front of a window, with bright sunshine lighting the interior of the bottle, it seemed all too real. And then, of course, the most fascinating enigma of all, was “How did they get that ship in that bottle?”

And so now, for Christmas, I found a very simple kit for building a ship in a bottle and bought it for my 7-year-old grandson. Now just because I have a great love, and fascination, with ships in a bottle will not mean that he has. There is no context in his experience to give him the same fascination.

So I wrote a wee book for him with ship poems, ship-in-a-bottle history notes, and my own story of my first encounter with the ship in a bottle when I was a child. I will spare you the reading of the entire book. I only want to share with you a silly poem I wrote for his little book.


They were sailing, fast a-sailing
In a sunbeam on the shelf
Sea a-foaming, sails a-billowing
Captained by a tiny elf.

They were rum-mied up and jolly
Singing songs of sailing fame
And I could not help but want so much
To join them in their game.

To face the sea from the upper deck
And see flat waters with a curve
They call’d to me, “It is your watch.”
I thought that quite absurd.

The tiny ropes were coiled up tight
Lifesavers in their places
The main sail billowed like a flying kite
With the ocean spraying traces.

I could not stay my little hand
The sea called out to me
So I took the ship down from the shelf
To sea what I could see.

I turned it over in my hands
To have a better look
And yes, I saw the captain there,
And I think I saw the cook.

I pulled the cork out of the bottle
Looked in that porthole small
Then suddenly the bottle slipped
I saw it bump the wall.

I scooped both hands so quickly
Down near the hard slate floor
And in a nick of time I caught
And saved the Misty Moor.

Tiny voices rummied up
All danced and cried with glee
And in that careless wreckless dance
They fell into the sea.

Before I could cast my tweezers
Down the tiny bottle-neck
I saw the cook throw out life savers
And say, “Get these round your neck!”

They grabbed the tiny lemon candies
The LifeSavers that were chucked
And so managed to keep a-floating
Till with tweezers they were plucked.

I pinched their trousers in the backside
And pulled them up on the deck
And again I heard that same small voice
Muttering, “What the heck?”

So now they’re back there in the cabin
Of the tall ship, Misty Moor
And I am very grateful that
With my help, they did endure.

When ships are built in bottles
The crafting lends a charm
That will safely keep the real ship
Forever free from harm.

Later on the radio,
I heard something very odd
The real Moor was so embattled
Only help could come from God.

They said she clashed with giant waves,
Round the coast of Cull Eldees,
There was little hope she could be saved
In those rough, tempestuous seas.

But a miniature in a bottle
Made with patience and with care
Gave salvation to the Big Ship
To escape the wild sea’s snare.

Because that mini-ship was bottled
The Big Ship was safe that day,
And the Misty Moor, at nightfall
Docked safely in the bay.

2009 Roberta Smith

Hope you enjoyed the poem.

Have a Very Happy Holiday Season!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Untitled Thoughts

Today I write recklessly thoughts as they come. Too inebriated with concern to care how my thoughts are perceived. And what I’m so concerned about is ‘my golfer friend’ (may I call him that even though I don’t know him personally), and his wife. And what concerns me most is that adultery may not be as destructive to their two lives, as the media may well be.

Digging for dirt, digging for more dirt. With all that dirt flying reporters are missing the obvious. And the obvious, to me, is that any woman who would pursue her man in anger, with a golf club, and smash windows out of his car – cares. Very much cares. If she didn’t, she would simply fill another bowl on the coffee table with trail mix and settle down to watch a little television.

The two of them have money, and they have luxury, but what they don’t have is time in their busy lives for bonding and more importantly self-reflection. And in that self-reflection, that there is no time for, the understanding of responsible behavior to protect and uphold each other.

And because they don’t have that self-reflective time, neither can find within themselves the realization that despite what has happened, they care deeply about each other. That the livid rage stems from caring. That the heartbreak stems from caring. That the tree and the smashed window all stem from caring.

And furthermore, how can they know any of this when everyone is advising wife, that in order to preserve her good name, and her self-respect, she must leave him? And he, to preserve some slight semblance of dignity must scream from the rooftops what he has done. Neither of them need advice, review of past sins, and more advice. What they need is quiet time with their own thoughts. He needs time alone in his cave to realize the gravity of his actions, and ultimately, the realization that has not yet hit, that she is integral to his life and the well-being of both he, and his children.

Decisions need to be made, but they are decisions of the heart, and thus cannot and should not be based on society’s perception of fashionable dignity. No one, absolutely no one, knows the intimacy of another’s heart, or even their own heart, if they take no time or thought for critical examination.

I am drunk with worry. Seriously inebriated. But in this state I am a cranky drunk. Yes, infidelity is evil, no two ways about it. But one of the media persons that is all over the evils of infidelity, the lack of respect, etc. has a story of her own. She was married for a time to a great husband, a lovely understanding person, (who is still a close and dear friend), but she left the marriage because of a change in sexual preference.

So then, I begin to wonder theoretically. What led that individual to this new enlightenment? Would it be too much of a stretch for me to think that a hetero, could know this, could perceive this, have a certainty in this, without participating in a homo tryst? And if so, is that not infidelity? Or is such infidelity not considered infidelity because it is a seamless blend of a homogenous mix?
I know we have too many laws, but still we have not enough. There should be a law against all commentary of personal matters of the heart. It is every bit as necessary as a law against uncontrolled police pursuits. This is an uncontrolled pursuit and parallel in everyway to a police pursuit, that so endangers innocent bystanders, in this case, the children.

Famous or not, my golfer friend and his wife, have a right to examine, without interference, where they choose to go from here and be damned the issues of self respect, dignity, etc. in a society that thirsts more for blood than manna.

It seems to me that this harassment of their personal lives, only fuels the heartbreak they are already dealing with. In my mind, these two people, may well have hidden in all the turmoil, a deep affection that needs to grow, that needs to mature, and that needs to heal, and possibly could, if they allowed only their own hearts to advise them the path to take. But the media has buried all that in a mountain of dirty ‘good clean advice’. Even the uneducated man or woman on the street knows that in these situations, you don’t give advice. You simply listen and lend support for strength in the moment.

But in this instance, with all the advice being dished out, the divorce lawyer is too soon on the line.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sufficient for Any Season - III (conclusion)

Wounded Enough to Smile

Now all that I have told you so far is a multi-layered thing. And it is only now, in the writing of this, and in present reflective contemplation of my past, that I attempt to peal back the layers to find what drove me to be the kind of person I was.

And regrettably, if only somewhere along the way, I had done the level of inner reflection I now do, I could have done so much better. I could have been, in my youth, so much more the optimist, more the happy, more the dispenser of (sincere) smiles.

But all I can do now is discuss the experience and ponder over what might have been. A useless exercise so many will say, but if there is a story in it, I am a story teller, and I will tell the story.

And so, from that point on, rather than smiling, I took on a wounded countenance. As a teen I used my wounded countenance to flirt with cute boys. Of course it was a wounded countenance with sad, sad, eyes, and no hint of a smile. That proved to be a delicate exercise to get just right, the wounded look, without a scowl.

Now I can hardly bare to write this next sentence – in retrospect, it was such a dumb philosophy, but all I could calculate as a worthy measure at the time. The theory when it came to flirting? Make them feel sorry for you and they’ll ask you for a date. Be humble, be quiet, reserved, and act wounded.

But now I’m going to leave that and fast track ahead to one brief period of enlightenment along my long road of, for lack of a better word, stupidity. Not too many years ago, I encountered an old flame whose looks are now charred, as mine are, by gray hair, wrinkled skin, and the physical wasting and weakening ravages of time.

Now way back then, he was a prize, or so I thought, and so I looked him over and wondered what drew me to him. And immediately I realized it was his smile. His perpetual smile.

And wouldn’t you know it? Right then, in that chance meeting, so many years later, he handed me the gift mentioned in the beginning of this rant – that old familiar smile. And I felt the joy that the gift of a sincere (though somewhat foolish), smile can give. Jolted me back to the original story we discussed at the beginning of this rant.

So now I’m back in a space wavering between smiles and wounded looks. The wounded look cannot continue. I am forced to return to the original act of dispensing with unlimited generosity an abundance of smiles. Not smiles of big God grace, or movie-star pasted, or ‘see my nice teeth’ (though my new dentures are very nice indeed), but smiles of absolutely nothing more than true sincerity. Fundamentally because I have reached a point where I have nothing else to flash that will create a gift-exchange of joy equal to that discussed in a small classroom so very long ago.

And added to that, life has a fragility now that could cause it to so easily break, that it is silly to take it too seriously. And furthermore, I have so many more reasons to smile than look wounded. Because even without the beauty of my youth, and even with the pain of rheumatism and the discouragement of the sameness of routines and the bothersome chores and difficulties of each day, I have reasons to smile.

I smile now because the sky is so beautiful, the season so precious, the snow so white and fresh, and the weather all that it promised to be and more (Brr…). I smile because big scary global warming is happening, but not where I live.

On top of that, I smile because I have the comfort, security, and confidence that I understand where I once was, and where I am now. Truly, that is a reason to smile.

I smile too because compassion is no longer a happening. Try as I might, I can’t even put on a wounded look anymore. You have to be fresh and vibrant to do that.

A failing thing cannot apply a wounded look sufficient for anyone to notice.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sufficient for Any Season - II (cont'd)

The Wounded Look

In my analysis of other people, which I have been doing for a lifetime, more so than analysis of myself, I realized early on that sincerity coupled with wholesomeness has great appeal. There is no denying that. And so I returned to an examination of other facets of righteous, forever smiling, beautiful people like those depicted in my Sunday School paper.

And what I came to realize is that Godly people, (and perhaps even the un-Godly), if they are sincere in their role of a beautiful person, must, as part of that dedication to being a ‘beautiful person’, be compassionate to the nth degree. That is a necessary requirement for the ‘beautiful person’ commitment.

So in my struggle for popularity, acceptance, and joy in life, why not forget about the foolishness of smiling and instead simply reveal my need for compassion. Life is too worrisome to smile all the time, so why not put on a glum, serious face, and in doing so, buy into the compassion of the beautiful smiling people?

After all, my Father is a beautiful person, and he is compassionate when I am sad. My Mother is a beautiful person and she is compassionate when I am sad. Even my siblings, though not exactly beautiful people, become compassionate when I, for a certainty, am sad.

The bottom line is if one must smile with insincerity or foolishly, for the sake of a smile exchange, wouldn’t it be better to adopt a wounded look that invites doting compassion. And then smile with true delight while bathed in the compassion of others? Somehow, that seemed like a loftier perch than the equanimity of foolish and rather meaningless smile exchanges.

Seeking compassion, and receiving it, it seemed to me, could create a situation touching for all, and for me, only me, a dramatic saturation of joy in all my emotional hot spots.

And so, with that realization, I took on this wounded countenance. This glum look. This unsmiling look. This look that begged for compassion. And soon it became a way of life.

NEXT POST: Wounded Enough to Smile

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sufficient for Any Season - I

1. Beautiful People

Today I’m thinking about a story told by my teacher (when I was in first grade), and a fascinating story it was. A story about something we all have in abundance. That caught my full attention because in my childhood the only thing we had in abundance was ‘want’. Want of money, want of food, want of warm clothes, and want of enough coal for the long winter.

And more surprising, the something in the story, though precious, was meant to be given to others fast and furiously, yet it could never be depleted. Because always as much as one gave away, the same, or more, would be returned. And the exchange, whether giving or taking, would bring much joy. How amazing is that!

Obviously, ‘This is either a new fairy-tale, or a pretend situation similar to the trick of my Dad pinching my nose and playfully extracting it between two fingers and putting it in his pocket. A story, like the extracted nose trick, that requires me to pretend something is real, that isn’t real.’

Pretend or not, the answer was eventually revealed, and the answer, of course, was ‘a smile’.

I was a wee bit disappointed but still I smiled at the story and so did my classmates and as we glanced (and smiled) at each other, for one quick moment the joy that the story promised for ‘the exchange’ was felt. True to the tale, but the recompense rather short-lived. And so I began to give much thought to the worth of smiles.

And that is when I noticed that in Sunday School papers there were always children who ceaselessly smiled. Children with ruddy glowing faces and great broad and beaming smiles.

I envied their beauty and could only think it was because they were wrapped in pure thoughts, silver notions, and God-possessed grace. The orphan child’s face, the forgotten waif’s, the thin hungry child – all of them – depicted with beaming beautiful smiles. It mattered not that they faced such obstacles. Regardless of their many trials, they peeked at me from those pages with optimistic delight. I guess if you have enough discipline, self-confidence, and righteous grace, it is not possible to be ruffled by want or cruel misfortune.

And so I envied their happiness. I envied their happiness when they had reasons to be happy. But I envied even more the individuals who were happy when they had so little to be happy about. It never occurred to me that their flat world of printed and color-washed sketches was too vastly separated from my reality to even have relevance.

I reveled in their glowing faces and broad smiles that made them so stunningly beautiful. That is what I wanted as well – to be that beautiful. So I tried desperately to clone the personalities revealed in the stories that surrounded them. I tried to clone their purity, grace, patience, forgiveness, and staunch self-confidence in their own righteousness.

But it was not so easy. Classmates taunted me for my valiant goody two-shoes efforts. Even my teacher became impatient, as did my parents and siblings, with this great and wonderful righteous thing I was trying to do.


And so, before long, I had a different take on the perpetual glowing smiling face. I was still a pre-adolescent when I realized that life is not something to be taken that lightly. Life is a struggle. A struggle to do well in school. A struggle to make friends. A struggle to feel good about wearing hand-me-downs, that are neither fashionable, colorful, fresh-looking, or warm. All of these obstacles added up to too much embarrassment and degradation for me to pass around smiles all day long without reservation.

Furthermore, as time passed, I met too many people that smiled too much. There was the nurse my Mom knew whose face was forever flushed with an ironic smirk-smile. A smile that deviously attempted to mask her distaste for all of life and the inhabitants in it.

And there was the Sunday School teacher that smiled too much in an attempt to clone wholesomeness beneath a private wealth of sins. And there was the School Bus driver that smiled too much in an attempt to always look professional (I guess). And there was the man and his team of perpetual smilers who walked the streets shaking hands and knocking at doors for several weeks in order to gain support for a local upcoming election.

There was the half-wit in town sweeping the sidewalks and perpetually smiling at some nonsensical nothingness. There was the neighbor who smiled all the time but in all things was such a failure because his smile was a cover for all he did not understand about finances, farming, or the seriousness of life. I began to think they were a bunch of fools. Foolish people smile all the time. People too foolish to realize life is serious business and all applications of it, serious as well.

Obviously, with these observations, I could only conclude that the value of a smile is both overstated and overrated, and so it quickly became a shabby accessory in my books.


Cont’d: Next Post: The Wounded Look

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Evolution of Correspondence

I see them everywhere. The many who so totally thrive and seem to be nurtured in some strange way by ‘word correspondence’. And yes, although my neighbours are all socially polished enough to ignore the newspaper on the kitchen table when they come for coffee, at the same time, in one short hour they will whip out cell phones every four minutes for a brief ‘read’ or more amazing yet, to write.

It is all, to me, such an amazing phenomenon. When did ’writing’ and ’reading’ become such a passion, such a delight, such a part of humankind’s existence? I would never have expected our species to come to this.

I remember my Mother nagging us when we were kids to send a note to Grandma to thank her for the new doll, or a note to Aunty for inviting us for the weekend. We cringed and wailed and held back hoping she’d forget it. She had to be kidding. Expecting us to go to school everyday, and write all those words and figures and then on an evening or weekend to be expected to send written correspondence to someone. Yikes.

Eventually, with all the nagging, the girls in the family might eventually send an un-inspired floral card. But with the boys, it was a useless battle, like expecting them to wash their ears once a week -- Not going to happen!

And yes, we were all keen to have a pen-pal. I enlisted several. Did I write to them? Not so much. A couple of grand epistles and that was the end of that. And even dear friends that moved away. The written exchanges dwindled away rapidly.

And I remember in school when the English Lit assignment was a short paragraph. An audible sigh of objection swept through the classroom that mimicked that same collective sigh heard when the health nurse arrived and we were all advised we were going to get a shot. And if the assignment was 200 words, the wail was a grand duplication of anguished souls in a great pit of fire.

Nothing was quite so degenerating as a request to write something down. We object, we scoff. We know full well what is, or isn’t, a waste of time. And written correspondence is a complete waste of time.

Reading, likewise. But without the luxury of television, we will read comics of a Saturday morning. Yes we will. But assigned reading? Not so much. For the book report, the art of it was to read a bit of the introduction, a page in the middle, and the final chapter all of which sufficed for that assignment. But even that was too much for most of the boys. They shuffled their feet under their desks, they agreed the book report was due, but even at that, no such attempt ever saw the light of day.

Hub was in the same Lit class with me when we were in school, and I know it is true, when he says he did not submit one written assignment during the entire year. He did not, nor did other boys in that class of the same ilk. In those days there were no bigger nerds, than the savages that devoured text or spit it out for love of it. No fashion in it, no style, no sophistication, no class, no koolness.

But now, look around you. Texting, texting, everywhere, without a chance to think. Talk about a savage perusal of written language. People, both young and old, of all genders, are tweeting, twittering, texting, like fiends out of control. And the necessity of doing it ranks right up there with the need for food, water, and shelter.

Texting is totally swank. Written exchanges are welcome and heartily engaged in whether one is eating, sleeping, driving, socializing, sexing, or on the john. When and how did this all happen?

And the amazing thing is the art of texting parallels, in a crazy way, that of the book report aforementioned. It has less to do with content and more to do with speed, terseness, compaction, and overall efficiency.

But even more an enigma, is my position in this new clime of correspondence. I don’t text, but I’m in there. Doing the trendy thing with my writing and blogging.

Yet, even in this new clime, among my circle of friends that are texting someone, somewhere, every four minutes. And same friends that are simultaneously aware of my passion for writing and aware that I have a secret blog. These same, reportedly, among themselves, with sadness that precipitates dewy eyes, express an ongoing and painful concern about the mental deficiency that drives my passion for written text on a daily basis. Go figure!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Roberta Speaks to You of ‘The Inequality”

Lend your ear. “The Roberta” has something to say.

To start with it amazes me how we beat away at the pendulum of racial bias, social injustice, political incorrectness, etc. and seems the more we beat it, the farther out of whack it becomes.

We push it and push it away from the bad, towards the perceived good, never mindful that it can be pushed too far the other way. And then, in the end, there is no balance, no sensible sway, and it is way out of perpendicular.

But one thing about it, it has left us all with a truly refined understanding of social injustice and discrimination. No one can deny that. The media daily reviews and renews our understanding of inequality and injustice. And the schools incorporate this mind-set into students whether the discussion be centered around communication, living skills, history, or anti-bullying.

Should be good, should be well. Should make all of society the best it can be -- should it not?

But now, there is a new style of discriminatory address, nomenclature, that I feel compelled to discuss. Saw it on television two days in a row. So, seems to me, it is catching on fast.

First it was Donald Trump. In case you are unaware, Donald Trump is no longer Donald Trump. He is now “The Donald”. And furthermore, Oprah is no longer Oprah, she is “The Oprah”.

And so, why should it matter? I’ll tell you why it matters. It creates a status, a bias, a separation, an inequality of these people with the rest of us. Maybe not in a negative way for them, but in a negative way for the rest of us. Why? Because “The”, (simple word that it is) means very distinct, unlike any other.

The distinctiveness of ‘the’ speaks of a uniqueness unequalled. Even titles of “Queen”, “President”, and “Duchess” are less powerful or separating, because there are more than one of them. They belong to a group, a rather large group if the history of the world is taken into account.

But with “the”, there is no group, no fraternity, brotherhood, or even clan. “The” specifies something completely unique. Simple example would be if I direct your attention to ‘the pen’ I hold in my hand, ‘the’ signifies no other though there may be many pens equal and alike in every respect.


Now I don’t know Donald Trump well enough to know if he could ever get it. His forte, according to him, is being able to spot a beautiful woman and “inappropriate” speaks to him of a sexual act rather than anything else. With that kind of restrictive thinking, I don’t think he would get it.

But Oprah? That is a whole different story. She has heart and spirit and human understanding, and I am truly disappointed in her if she can’t see that this kind of thing speaks of discrimination and inequality of persons. I would have thought she’d have no part of it.

And that’s ‘The Roberta’s’ spiel for today.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another Strain of Influenza

In “Little Dorritt“, Charles Dickens makes some surprising observations about a strain of Influenza, still spreading, still infecting, that humankind chooses to ignore. Dickens explains it here:

“…it is…as difficult to stay a moral infection as a physical one…
…such a disease…will spread with the malignity and rapidity of the Plague...
[and]…the contagion, when it has once made head, will spare no pursuit or condition, but will lay hold on people in the soundest health, and become developed in the most unlikely constitutions…
[this is]…a fact as firmly established by experience as [the fact] that we human creatures breathe an atmosphere.”

And from there Dickens goes on the say:

“A blessing beyond appreciation would be conferred upon mankind, if the tainted, in whose weakness or wickedness these virulent disorders are bred, could be instantly seized and placed in close confinement (not to say summarily smothered) before the poison is communicable.”

Of course, even though the disease is far more rampant today than it was in Dickens’ time, ‘smothering’ is not the kind of archaic cure that modern society would ever consider. We have only those few local governments that still call for a death penalty for the sickest of the sick. For the rest, a shot in the arm, immunization of the yet still uninfected, is all we can hope for, to effect a cure.

But the problem is, that for scientists to create a vaccination, they need weakened or dead vestiges of the ‘organism’ that initially caused the disease, and where can that be found?

Certainly not in woods or fields. Certainly not in fowl of the air, or fish in the sea. There are no creatures of land or water or air who have the self-same evil strain of the moral influenza flagrant among people.

And in humans, the murderers, perverts, and predators, never fully recover enough (despite rehabilitation programs), for the microbes within to weaken or die in order that these same microbes can be extracted from framework or phlegm and used as an effective base for immunization.

There are no weakened or withered vestiges of the evil that corrupts our government, theatres, television screens, churches, cities, or even isolated communities to be found. All causal microbes are alive and well.

So with immunization out of the question, see what a hopeless situation we are in.

Nothing for it…short of Dickens’ suggestion… “summarily (meaning immediately and without attention to formality)smothering!”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Back to Blogging with a Vengeance

Looks like I’ve completely run out of excuses. The garden is done, the yard work is done, veggie and fruit preserves done… I even have a brand new laptop that talks to both printers from the kitchen through some kind of invisible aura, but, despite all this, the blogging is not getting done.

In the knitting basket, there are socks getting done, and slippers getting done, but still the blogging is not getting done. There is Christmas shopping getting done, but no blogging getting done.

Hub is a bit dejected. Thinks I don’t appreciate the new laptop cause he can easily see the blogging is not getting done. And he knows that since 2003, blogging has been so important to me, and now of a sudden, the blogging is not getting done.

I think the real root of the problem is I am quite distressed by what is happening in this old world. The news I heard the other day has investigators, once again, looking for a missing child. This time a 7-month-old babe weighing, according to HNN’s newscasts, 10 pounds. According to the parents, the child went missing from their bedroom while they were sleeping.

Now as sad and distressing as these situations are, I find it comforting to know that the people discussing the situation on newscasts have more intelligence than I. I am comforted when they think of things that I would never think of to solve a case. But now I am quite distraught when, with this particular case, I realize they know so little.

In all their panels of expert detectives, lawyers, medics, newscasters, none zeroed in on the most significant up-front fact in this story. To me, the most outstanding detail in this mystery of the missing baby, described by her family as a little girl with a very big head, is that if a child seven month’s old weighs only 10 pounds, of course she will have a very big head.

And if she weighs only 10 pounds, it is obvious what happened to her. She physically faded away, before her body was hidden, taken, whatever the case may be. I would think any common-sense individual would know that unless a child has a serious hormonal imbalance that affects their growth, what child, at seven months, would weigh only ten pounds?

And so, then what distresses me even more is the realization that we seem to have become a culture that lives with a greater cloud of dread and fear of obesity, than our will and effort to promote good health. We have come to fear obesity to such an extent, that our children are bloody hungry. I see, in shops and on the streets so many babies that are so thin, so tiny, so delicate like porcelain dolls. I ask how old they are and am so shocked at how much older they are than what they look.

Doctors are not helping. Both of my daughters were told by their doctors not to feed their children any solid food until they were 5 or 6 months old. I am so grateful they ignored this advice. Their children got food at two months old and despite Nancy Grace reiterating again and again in the last few days that “babies do not sleep in”, this is not true. Babies can and do sleep in.

When they have had sufficient Pablum to hush hunger demands for eight hours, they will sleep ‘like babies‘ through the night at three months old.

I am just so offended that we do all those seatbelt safety checks, all that monitoring of childhood safety with toys, and bouncers, cribs and highchairs and rockers, and while all this is going on, children are not being adequately fed.

I know what hunger feels like. It is the most anxious, unsettling, empty feeling that one can have. A anxiety that is hard to label and understand. Especially when the child becomes a young toddler and parents are barking, “What’s the matter with you? Stop the whining. You had your supper!”

Meanwhile the clock says half-past midnight, and that very small stomach was last filled at 5:30 p.m. and of course by now is quite empty.

Yes, I am disheartened, sad, and crabby. Anxious and unsettled with a great empty feeling inside. But it is not hunger that makes me feel this way. It is sadness for children who are so helpless, so wholly dependent on our care and good will. I don’t think that legally one adult can force another to diet without ‘permission’, but kids and babies, that’s a whole different story. You must keep them safe, and keeping them safe, is to make sure you never, never, never, feed them as much as they would like.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ten Things I Never Told You

I prefer curiosity that I am not in a condition to satisfy

I prefer markers of time lowered into deeper pockets
Buried and ignored

I prefer deviations peculiar to dreams --but still
I prefer to be found in my wrapper by my nightmare

If I cannot sleep, I prefer to cry myself better in a pillow,
(when I haven’t any tissue, And I haven’t any sleeves)

I prefer to give testy dialogue a grand poke in the middle

I prefer to name ‘Monday’ and leave the rest anonymous

I prefer the oblique separation of rain falling in slanted lines

I prefer a world dimensionally narrow

I prefer oblivion to the fact that I am out of place

Most of all I prefer the particularities and generalities of a gloomy life with bright glories of fancy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Burrowing Deep - Part II

A Holistic Conclusion

Now just in case you’re thinking, after reading Part One of this rant, that this is going to be another of Roberta’s sermons, advocating religion and God belief, let me assure you that is not the case.

You may leave ‘The Good Book’ on the dusty shelf, because there are other books that build conscience, (dare I say way more effectively than even that one?). But, like so many other things I have mentioned, these books too are collecting dust – no longer in vogue.

Foremost in my mind are Charles Dickens’ books. Charles Dickens is the strongest advocate I have ever read that makes me fully aware of the pain of hopelessness, poverty, bullying, and cruelty in all its aspects. I truly believe if his books were required reading in elementary schools, there would be no bullying, violence, or cruel taunting of other children. In surprising ways, Dickens’ books mold the best of an ethical conscience without Biblical reference.

Now I wonder if you will allow me for just one brief moment to deviate from the topic at hand. I have wondered and tossed around in my mind for most of a lifetime, whether it is fair to a critically ill or injured individual to let them know for a certainty that their transition is near at hand or if one should slide around the issue.

After reading about the devastating hopelessness of young boys in Dickens’ book “Nickolas Nickleby”, I finally have an answer to the question. No matter what the situation, no one has the right to take away, (or falsely add to) an individual’s hope, regardless of how fleeting or short-lived that hope may be. In that, I’m sure many would disagree, but I’m just saying that is the conclusion I have come to. Each and every separate individual must be allowed to keep whatever primeval and fundamental hope they have within themselves – without outside tampering. There is a kindness in allowing the primeval and fundamental hope within oneself to be left alone.

One of the biggest reasons it just isn’t fair to tamper with a person’s ‘hope’, is because ‘hope’ authors courage and wee moments of joy in the direst of circumstances.

Now with that discussion now concluded, let us return to the original topic. So while others seek ethical guidance in The Good Book, Dickens gives his readers a fuzzy soft heart without them wanting it, seeking it, or expecting it.

And so, now you may argue, “Is this so different from ethics taught through prepared flow charts, manuals, self-help books, and workshops?”

Indeed it is different. Because at no time does Dickens provide instruction. He simply provides for the reader an organic diet of the personal experiences of children, adults, families, and society as a whole, without ethical processing, refinement, or preaching.

If you are only aware of Dickens “A Christmas Story”, you probably wonder what I am yapping about. Well, to be quite honest with you, although the story touches on ethics of generosity and caring, it is the story I least like of all Dickens’ work. Just way too much fiction and fantasy in that story for me particularly because I was born so drenched and saturated in fantasies of my own.

But Dickens’ books are not the only books capable of doing what his books do – but his and other such books are no longer in vogue. The libraries have been pretty well cleansed of the books that tell raw and holistic stories of the hopelessness of the starving beggar, the orphaned child, the forgotten waif, or the betrayed love one. Discarded to make way for synthetic wizards and relationships of caricatures with generic souls and superficial conscience whose greatest trial is loss of flight or a spell convoluted by the unexpected interference of a purple haze.

And so my brain aches for some tiny miraculous sign from heaven or earth that we might find out way back to nobler hearts for the sake of ourselves, and the successors of the present generation. But I see nothing to give me ‘hope’ as I meander about soberly with head downcast to protect the magic wizard-like lens in one eye from the sun. And so I have decided to take off my glasses and look upward and allow the sun to magnify the heat in my brain the same way that the organics of the human mind have been artificially magnified by the application of technical and chemical interference.

And, as earlier stated, if what ‘they say’ is true, the magnified burn applied to my eye will reduce to ashes the anxieties in my brain. After all, the road I walk, is not so long that I need these dismal thoughts laboring there.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Burrowing Deep - Pt. 1

Behavior Patterns 101

Oh, a blazing sun is a great rarity here, but today is as hot as a brimstone pit. I long to stare at the sky, knowing I should not. Knowing full well that the artificial lens transplanted in my right eye acts like a magnifying glass that could easily and quickly smolder a tunnel into my brain. But maybe, that is just what I need to do.

Since eye-repair surgery, I am no longer in the habit of staring at things overhead – sun, clouds, and sky. I don dark glasses with ritual faithfulness all days and walk about with bowed head looking at my feet. Staring only at ground cover, turf, leaf mold, and soil. But more so, each day, as an elderly with a rotting brain, fading memory, and a fuzzy mind, I want to look up. It’s beginning to seem that a hollowed-out brain, consumed by smoke and fire is of little consequence.

I want to look up because there are things in my gray matter that perhaps a bonfire could cure. Starting with that anxious deep-seated belief that the world is close to utter destruction. An odd sort of destruction – destruction of humanity, not by atomic or cosmic force, and not by flood or fire, or the hand of an impatient creator, but insidiously through the destruction of what we feel and how deeply we feel it.

I believe the days of Armageddon began when researchers began ripping apart the magic and mysteries of life. When they began burrowing into investigations of DNA, brain cells, pheromones, ascendants, descendants, etc. until in their polished wisdom they refined all human behavior and relationships as chemical interactions rather than raw and organic spiritual phenomena.

So now the manual for ‘crafting behavior patterns’ is a mixture of Science, Physics, and Math – minus – for all time – ‘fuzzy emotions’.

I don’t have to tell you or anyone that fuzzy emotions are no longer part of the mix. Fuzziness is out of vogue. So far out of vogue that our present generation knows nothing of fuzziness. They don’t know it, can’t feel it, and fail to understand it. It no longer even rates as a topic for jest.

And so no longer are marital intentions ruled by holistic fuzzy emotions. The new non-organic and highly refined process is ruled by what one’s intended eats, where they work, how often they exercise, what vehicle they drive, and the health of their teeth.

Marital intentions also have much to do with taught, practiced, and reviewed verbal expressions of sensitivity, and taught, practiced and reviewed rituals such as bouquets for anniversaries, and scheduled post-marital date nights. And through these lessons, fuzziness of the heart has been replaced in all its wondrous aspects by physical expectations and rituals, rather than the sweet tug of hearts and souls intertwined. But then, let’s face it, hearts and souls intertwined are no longer in vogue, or understood as well.

I guess this is what happens when behavior patterns are converted into hard learning through charts and data, rather than through internal, and oh-so-vital connections and convictions. Weird how we clamor for organic food and alternative and holistic medicine for our physical bods, but for the soul we only want a highly processed (and somewhat toxic) mix minus the organics of raw conscience and warm, soft, and fuzzy flavor. But then as I have already mentioned, touchy-feely is out of vogue and so is soft and fuzzy.
And so, the loss of a raw and organic conscience and conviction is what happens when the mysteries of life are converted into lab language and reactions.

Yet, prior to today’s sophisticated and over-refined interpretations, when ‘unrefined behavior’ was not fully understood or analyzed from a biological perspective, when it was raw and organic, when it was such a great mystery and enigma, the strength of that monitor of behavior was so much more than it might otherwise have been.

I am witness to that. I saw with my own eyes when the organic conscience, that once was, could crush and break the hearts of wicked individuals with more writhing and pain than an electric chair. And I saw with my own eyes that same conscience, that once was, bestow bountiful joy and peace on those individuals who allowed it to gently guide their way. But that kind of behavior patterning is also out of vogue.

And so, today’s disfavor of violence, bullying, and cruelty; and alternatively favor of positive family intermingling learned from lessons without organic connection, lessons in an academic vein, generic, book learned, superficially planted in mind only, fail to truly alter disposition, or character.

And so such lessons (or should I call them calculations?), rather than burrowing deep into the spirit of individuals, and planting deep seeds of conviction, that can never be compromised, or ignored, are instead superficially splashed on an individual’s exterior, like moisture sprinkled on water-repellent canvas. ‘Good behavior’, manufactured or generic, is accomplished for the moment, but it can be shed at will. There is no inner saturation and so in the end, no certain or everlasting rendering of a delightful disposition of charity and generosity.

NEXT POST: A Holistic Conclusion

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fly Poopies on My Toast

It’s quite okay that with aging my flesh has thinned and paled, my hair grayed, and that I have persistent and hardy curly black hairs descending from my chin, and the flesh on my neck is folding. I am not a vain person and I prepared myself to accept these changes with good grace…and I have.

But hey, there are other things going awry that I cannot so easily accept. And one of them, most annoying, most disconcerting is how something with a brain less big than an atom can drive me to such distraction. And how something can so rule my life. And so seriously challenge my sanity by squatting forever near me and casting its glossy eyes on me while rubbing its hands together with evil glee and sticking out its tongue at me with such obvious disdain.

And should I, for one moment, ignore his presence, he alights on my hair or flesh and walks about as if wearing hob-nail boots. He might be tiny, but you immediately know he is there – clomp, clomp, clomp.

So now this is what haunts every minute of my day and in the haunting has thoroughly crushed my confidence, courage, and control. For two long days he and I have been sparring. In my youth, I use to quickly take control of such a situation. But I am now an ‘elderly’ and I can only think it is because of that that I constantly and clumsily and fruitlessly misfire the fly swatter at that one annoying housefly.

No one ever told me that the ultimate curse of being an ‘elderly’ would be the sad day when I would have to give up in frustration on the killing of a housefly. And that someday I would become, in this combat, the weakest link, leaving me with only one ultimatum.

To cover my toast with a napkin and cup my hand over my mug while meekly and submissively horking down my food and drink as quickly as possible.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sucked in by Another Addiction; Drowning in Another Passion

Yahoo! Anybody there?

Yes, I’m still here. Not often though. Another passion has taken over with burning fervor. I keep hoping (and so does Hub), that I’m fairly close to burn out.

Some days I feel I’m very close. Other days, when the tiles are the best that tiles can be, I’m pretty sure not. But if, and when, burn-out happens, I know what I will do. I will do what I have always done since I lost the competitive spirit of my youth.

I will eventually leave. And on my day of leaving, with no real destination in mind except the comfort and familiarity of places I have known, I will tread the circular pattern of someone lost for a time in life, ambition, and spent passions, but eventually returning to the comfort of my Blog.

But right now, I’m kind of stuck where I am with this feeble excuse. I’m not often going back and forth, because one cannot go ‘back’ without first going ‘forth’. And so in the meantime, despite a heavy ‘nebula’ (Note: good Scrabble word) of guilt, I am hanging out way too much at “Word”, my pseudonym is “Keat”, and I am busy, very busy, playing Scrabble.

So if you’re missing me, like I’m missing you, come play a game or two with me. Just ask for ‘Keat’. We can drink coffee, play Scrabble, socialize, and tweet, rather than twitter. And perhaps some new word or bit of tweet will lend itself to the subject matter for a new Blog-rant.

Or, if you prefer to be helpful in another way, Hub would much appreciate any hints, or solid 2-step plans, to cure my latest out-of-control addiction before it drives him to complete distraction. Escape is complicated when one is trapped in an addiction that clutches most firmly lovers-of-words.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Inspirational Phenomenon

Often I find that writing inspirations are born in my mind, at an ungodly hour, with such intensity they arrive kicking and screaming. Minuscule in size, but with the strength of Charles Atlas (or the strength of that other guy that holds up the world with slightly folded legs and hunched back under the strain).

And so, when inspiration comes with that kind of intensity, I am certain the newly birthed, crudely formed Phenomenon in my mind, when bathed and the umbilical cord cut, will be an utter thing of beauty and wonder that will live forever.

And despite the torrid slime of birthing fluids, even in its naked rawness, the Phenomenon looks good, sounds good, and is bright with an aura of thought provocation. I am certain, that it is a notion so inspirational that it will fit nicely into my own lifetime legends and equally as nicely into the external long-term consciousness of society as a whole. No doubt, when properly groomed, and securely kenneled, it will hold forever a shining place in my catalogue of writs (or should I say 'wits'?).

And when I blog this new inspiration, even come-by-chance-flat-minds will read my rant with blasé-ity, and in the midst of that read, the flatness of their conscience will be whipped into 30-foot-swells that will leave them forever mindful of the new notion—with a magnitude that renders a zealous wonder-dipped combo, of brutal soul-ache and singing joy.

Already I am imagining, some time in the future, the finely-dressed-in-text Phenomenon taking up a space on Book Store shelves reserved only for works, once so sophisticated, but now so much less formal than mine, of Billy Shakespeare, Jeffy Chaucer, Johnny Keats, and of course, my close friend, Chuck Dickens. Obviously there is no time to lose. The Inspirational Phenomenon must be penned, texted, and shared.

So 30 minutes later, after the birth of the Phenomenon, I run to my computer.

But already the prose composition, that the infant thought was going to form, is pretty much de-composition-ed. And though weak and fading fast, the Phenomenon still has strength enough to shun (though I apply with mighty force) attempts to manage and check its struggles with a sharp pen (usually so efficient) and close iron-meshed text—but alas, to no avail. The Phenomenon is too intent on plunging free and unfettered—for me to hold it, for me to pen it. And so it slips out of my grasp in its rawness and still unrecognizable form, to some other individual hungry for inspirational thoughts.

And, of course, we know what will come of that.

Again it will pervade a mind, and play the ‘Provocative Phenomenon’. Again, by another’s hand, a penning attempt will be made. Again, it will kick and throw verbs and adverbs, similes, even rhymes about, with a force phenomenal as itself. And yet again, with unequaled strength, it will blunt the pen, knock down carefully meshed walls of text, and rage away, until escape is managed, though it be weak, broken, and now of no particular matter or interest to anyone.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That Which is Fact and That Which is Fiction

It’s easy to believe that touching a blue spot on paper each morning can put one in protective custody for the rest of the day. And that a bowl of oranges on the table can provoke congeniality within a household. Or metal bracelets can relieve physical distress, or potions of the most unlikely mixes of raw ingredients can relieve pain. Or practicing mental stretches of thought can provoke a life of wealth and success, and vitamin supplements of unknown origin can extend earth life, and a dab of frog-sweat on the epidermis can cure skin disorders.

Yet, in this mix of unscientific and trumped-up unproved convictions, why can’t we wrap our silly heads around a belief in a loving and supreme creator though it seems to me, in light of these other convictions, it should be easier than easy.

But of course one has to understand that if our magical and mystical potions do not work, there are good and valid reasons. Most obvious is probably because our biological make-up is too alkaline or too acidic. Other easily understood reasons – the blue spot is too dusty, or the metal bracelet was too close to an electronic device that drained its power. Or the potion was contaminated with a metal spoon, or our mental stretches were too fragile, or the frog sweat was collected prior to sunset, etc.

But really, there’s no problem when these things fail. It is easy to accept that such therapies waver in heat, and cold, and light, and temperature. And of course, it is understandable, as well, that these are therapies that only work for some of the people some of the time.

Still, let me remind you, that these are convictions about potions and rituals that are regularly and forever collaborated in a reasonable way by others in the group who have been cured and cleansed of a depressed mind and ill-health by following the prescribed regimen with dedicated resolution. And furthermore, small moments of doubt, of faltering disbelief, are usually not long-lived. Not with a common sense approach that sets a proper context for standards. When these remedies fail, so what?

It is undoubtedly our own fault. We obviously erred in the application.

On the other hand, when it comes to the God-thing, we are intellectual and reasoning realists. In light of that, we are totally unable to accept a fairy-tale God without solid proof. Since the Big Bang Theory, drop it. There is no collaboration in the God-thing provided by trees, breezes, flowers, and sunsets.

And of course, if there is a God, he/she is unquestionably obligated to benefit our being ALL of the time – with unsurpassable perfection and profuse blessings. We can’t have none of the wavering that accompanies our other collection of deeply embedded and ever expanding convictions.

What excellence in critical minds, rational minds, thoughtful minds—like ours, that have sufficient wisdom to so wisely filter out that which is fact and that which is fiction.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Proof There Still Exists Obliging (and Efficient) Clerks

Now not all blogs are as provocative as I would hope. But still each some miniscule way.

This story is about an obliging store clerk trained well in public relations. It started when an item caught my eye in this week’s grocery flyer – “Breakfast sausages thawed for your convenience” –at a giveaway price.

Now Hub and I might eat 2-4 sausages at a sitting, so I thought to myself, “I need to buy some of these. Not ‘thawed for my convenience’, but frozen.”

So I went to grocery meat counter and asked for the sausages on sale – “frozen, if you don’t mind.” The attendant rummaged the cooler.

“Truly sorry, madam,” he said, “but we have no frozen sausages.”

“That’s okay,” I said. “Still thanks for looking.”

I turned to leave. The attendant caught at my sleeve. “Wait,” he said. “Are you able to come back tomorrow?”

“Certainly,” I said. “Will more be coming in tomorrow?”

“No,” he said. “But I will freeze some for you tonight and you can pick them up tomorrow.”

Not too many employees in retail outlets that obliging, are there? Also not too many butchers so poorly trained in fitting ways of handling fresh meat.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Commiserations No. 2

Still here. Up to my neck in beets, beans, and chard. Picked high bush cranberries – made jelly. Picked saskatoons – made jelly. Made borsch, beet pickles, and mustard bean pickles. Tucked in the tomatoes last night after frost forecast (in the middle of August, in the middle of global warming ???, no less.).

Thankfully my garden escaped the frost as it is well sheltered by trees, but a chilly 2 degrees Celcius around 4 o’clock this morning tells me there was frost in some of the surrounding areas. And that will mean a lot of my neighbours will not be so lucky. Only exceptions—the ones whose gardens have already been picked clean by the locusts.

Gardening has got to be something to love to hate and hate to love. It brings personal-satisfaction, personal rejection, joy, frustration, inspiration and exhaustion all in one sometimes dragged out, sometimes condensed, little disassembled unit. I’ll be glad/sad when it is all over for another year.

Meanwhile my new garden potatoes, wrapped in heavy cream, and fresh dill are calling me for lunch.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Book of Common Commiserations – No. 1

My newest writing effort is a book of commiserations. I will only know how many I have as we proceed. I call them ‘Commiserations’ because they are laments of common, rather than uncommon situations, that I share in order for others to feel their own common laments are shared and understood.

I can’t believe how numb men are. Numb, I said, not dumb. Hub cannot feel a mosquito on his neck or a stroking touch on his back or arm. Not too surprising because when he comes in from the shop he often looks as if he has been physically assaulted. Deep cuts on his hands, sizable abrasions on his arms and extensive bruises on his legs. I examine the damage and worry about infections. “These wounds need to be treated and bandaged,” I say.

“What wounds?” is his response. He usually doesn’t even know he has any.

But this morning he is in a real flurry.

He yelled for the wife, the needle, the light, the tweezers, the gauze, and the alcohol, than twisted his hand 340 degrees around so the small shaft of sunlight coming through the window shone directly on the inside of his pinky finger. No it was not that he imbedded a 3” screw into his hand – he had a sliver. With those rough, I won’t say work-worn, but generic work-worn hands, I could not believe he could even feel it. With my new bi-focals, I still couldn’t see it. I could have zeroed in on a small red pimple of infection but there was none.

Still the pain, oh God, the pain – must have been akin to child labour. One hand on the table in the shaft of sunlight and the other gripping the chair with white knuckles and feet braced so firmly on the floor, he occasionally levitated. He tried to remain still, while his torso writhed in agony and his breath came in fast sharp pants. He tried to be brave as I rotated the needle over, as in above, the ‘injury’ and waited for him to calm a bit.

A couple delicate picks of the needle, and there it was. The relief on his face surpassed even that of seedy individuals I sometimes see standing amidst an ever-fading, while enlarging, yellow bloom of water in the public swimming pool. (And I was so certain nothing could surpass that look of relief).

We of course had to disinfect Hub’s bloodless, microscopic wound seven times and sympathetically suggest that he might want to take it easy for a day or two.

Oh, and the sliver. You must see the sliver. Here it is…right here (at the tip of the arrow, but for God's sake, stand back! I don't want it to poke ye in the ey!!) --->

Of course now we understand, don’t we – how brave and courageous Hub is!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fresh-Cut Flowers in the Hall

I remember how difficult it was, when I was a child, to avoid picking all those flowers, spread at my feet, there for the picking—lovely, delicate, easy to grasp, hand-height for a little one, and as a result softly brushing my fingertips, and so easy to uproot (if the stem did not easily give way). I found it hard to ignore a thing so fragrant, so colorful, and so delightful.

So yes, I am the guilty one. I picked way more tame flowers than I ever should have. My mother thought it was an incurable obsession with me. She thought I was a flower-picking-addict.

But with so many reprimands, reminders, and a bit more maturity, I finally quit ripping up other’s flowers. In fact, somewhere along the way, I came to view cutting domestic flowers as a sin of damnation. And so, with that awareness finally soundly instilled within my mind, flowers were left in the garden. The only few that made their way into my house were the broken off, or over-weighted, or the lying on the ground, or those sure to suffer an early death by an untimely frost. Occasionally wild flowers, and of course, in addition to that, those ‘few’ bouquets that came from a flower shop for a special occasion or to sooth a particularly vicious attack of PMS.

But now, more recently, I’ve come to realize that flowers have a sharing purpose that mimics the sharing joys of steadfast friends. As a child, summer visits with friends, were always accompanied by a leisurely stroll in the garden. This was the entertainment…the sharing…the happening…the event of the visit. It was assumed, and I guess forever it has been, that the purpose of flowers is to allow the gardener or grower to ultimately partake of the beauty, fragrance, color, and exquisite form of the flowers with others, in a shared setting. What other good reason to plant and maintain a flower garden?

For those who grow them, for those who tend them, can there be a greater compliment than the visitor who says, “After tea, may we take a walk in your garden?”

I remember those strolls in gardens with my parents and their friends when I was a child. The fragrance, and the most pleasant of conversations. Almost as if the verbal exchanges were set to a rule like some other rather humorous rules we had. ‘No singing at the table, no laughing in the kitchen’, and when visitors came ‘no gawking out the window’.

And, in the garden, a rule as well – ‘no ill-speaking or gossiping allowed’. A rule never given voice, as the others were, but still always given respect.

It was as if, through some magical aura in the garden, even the tartest of individuals skirted their normally chronic desire to gossip or be critical of others. Here it was as sacrilegious to gossip or put people down as speaking out loud during church. And there was no vulgarity. Here conversation clung like sticky burrs to a graceful protocol. (Not always the case when Hub and I plant potatoes together, but we’re talking flowers here).

But now, what I’m finding more and more, is that fewer visitors respond with enthusiasm to an invitation to walk in the garden. A large number of superficial concerns come into play – some real, some imagined. They might step in doggie-do with their new designer shoes on the way there. Spiders might parachute down onto their stylized tuffets. Insects might attack exposed skin and leave unsightly welts. Allergies might be provoked. Burrs might cling to their slacks.

And unfortunately, there is no way, in these conditions, to resurrect the enthusiasm that once was so potent in garden ramblers. No way to conquer the foreboding. And so, without a garden stroll, my flowers are not being shared. And without that, those same flowers have little purpose – like a friendship without a friend.
Or a special happening with no place for the event.

So I’ve returned to plucking flowers – from my own garden, that is. Without conscience, I cut them when they bud, before they bud, unmindful of their private progress. Yes, I do. I chop them off and put fresh-cut flowers in the hall. They blush at each passerby and sweep them with a dusting of delicate fragrance, without the dreaded garden walk-about.

And so, yes, I have fresh-cut flowers in the hall and as warped as it may sound, since I put them there, I swear coffee and dinner conversations are more gracious. The topics are more pleasant; the mood of visitors lighter. And troubles and vexations, perched on lips, fully meant-to-be-told, are discounted and dismissed.

It’s the kind of thing that happens during garden strolls…or when there are fresh-cut flowers in the hall.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


For the next few weeks I have houseguests from Australia and so with sightseeing, visiting, cooking, eating, socializing, etc, I will not have the luxury of blog time. But hang in there, I will get back to you very soon.

This update is to let you know all is well with me and Hub though silence may reign. In the meantime, if your looking for us, you'll probably find us in Hub's cabin having "bickies and tea".

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Three Ha's

It is a silly little thing, hardly worth discussing, but still I want to discuss it.

So this is the theory and it has to do with the meanings of ha, or ha-ha, or ha-ha-ha.

A one-syllable ‘ha’. What does it mean? I hear Hub say it a lot. He says it when he is working on a problem and in the process something positive is accomplished or discovered. ‘Ha’ is a good thing.

Now think about ha-ha. Another positive meaning—something amusing.

But ha-ha-ha. Do you remember hearing that in conversation? If you do, did you notice the negative meaning? That three ha’s usually signify a kind of sneering contempt?

And of course, remember when you heard ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Magically that lengthier repetition gives ‘ha’ a positive meaning of total hilarity.

So now that is the theory. The negativity of three ha’s is something I came upon recently in a book. I believe it was in “The Curiosity Shop” by Charles Dickens. (Don’t quote me on that though, because I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and was unable to relocate the page for reference.)

But going back to our original conversation, I have to say that when I think about my own experiences, I recall many times in conversations with friends, if a joke fell flat, the response from the audience to the joke-teller was invariably three evenly spaced ha’s. And other times, when a joke was very funny, the audience complemented the teller with four or more ha’s. So as silly as the theory is, I think it is true.

And so now, if the theory is true, why does the exact same syllable render such conflicting meaning dependent on the number of repetitions? Those three ha’s seed and expand an aggravation within similar to the aggravation of listening to a musical performance punctuated by errors.

And so, with this new enlightenment, I begin to wonder if one shouldn’t be mindful of syllabic rhythm when composing a love sonnet, or a poem honoring the beauty of nature? They say the magic in poetry is the coupling of the words with a hypnotizing rhythm and that might be more important than even the content of the text. So in light of the theory expressed in the foregoing paragraphs, it might be well to stay away from three-gaited syllabic lines or meters.

I mean, truthfully, wouldn’t we all be a little chagrined, if door bells went ding-dong-ding, and clocks went tick, tock, tick? My beeper alarm clock goes beep-beep-beep, beep-beep-beep and God help me, let’s not even go there.

I don’t know enough about musical bars, beats, and measures to analyze the syllabic beats, but I wonder if pleasant or disagreeable melodies are tied to this same theory? If the theory is correct, then perhaps the triple lilt is the flaw that splays emotions all over the back fence when seduction is what we had in mind.

So maybe it would be well for us to pay attention to the beat cause it might be sounds in our environment that layer distress in our minds. Maybe it’s not situations in our day-to-day lives. Maybe the real cause of our distress is syllabic triplets in the beat. I’m just saying.

And so, now in conclusion, I have given this a lot of thought in the past few days. And then just when I decided to dismiss it all, an eight-year-old from next door asked me if I wanted to play “knock, knock, knock”.

I immediately felt that flash of edginess that three ha’s engender and without thinking snapped, “I know whose there. Someone who can’t count!”

The thing I still remain unsure of is whether the aggravation is an uneven lilt or a three-legged lilt.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy & Content

We just can’t come to a solid conclusion about what ‘happy and content’ is, can we? We look for it in other lives, adjacent to our own. We look for it within, and look for it without. We probably even Google it. And still don’t know what the real answer is.

But as for me, I’ve lived enough years I should be able to find, somewhere in my past, a day ruled by happiness and contentment in all forms, facets, designs, and configurations.

And so I say to myself, ‘It must have been the day when I was no more than nine or ten years old, when amidst all the faded and worn apparel in my clothes cupboard, my friend from the city loaned me her very best dress for the day. A lacy navy and white dress with a stiff airy crinoline that billowed out from my waist like a large cloud.’

And it just so happens, that was the same day I was sporting a new flattering haircut that made my hair shine and glisten without split ends. A magical trim that made my hair fall into place exactly how I wanted it to.

And that was the same day, with a distinctive and emerging confidence inspired by the beautiful dress, that I excelled beyond all my classmates in scholastic endeavors.

And that was the same day when my mother handed me those new red shoes from the Eaton’s catalogue (that took forever to come), that I’m sure were of the best leather because they never pinched or rubbed or felt too hot or too cold.

And that was the same day, when that little guy who I thought was so cute, finally noticed me. That was the day he hid in the playground behind trees, and tossed pine-cones at me shyly and discretely, and in a most gentle way, to get my attention.

So now, let me see, if that is true happiness and contentment, how do I fare if I reconstruct that day now?

A beautiful navy and white dress is still guaranteed to make me feel good. Maybe a more mature and sober style, but, still beautiful. Beautiful because I favor those colors best and they are colors that make me happy.

And a glossy mane of shining hair, behaving and settling into a flattering look, yes, that would be really good too. Particularly because my hair is now rather dry, dull, and colorless.

And to impress a group with some highly rated intelligence – coming from what I swear is an ‘Alzheimic’ mind, — that would be good too. Especially, if such intelligence, could somehow get splashed onto this blog.

And really comfortable shoes that make my tired old feet want to run and skip rather than bumble along – that would be a happy thing. And with a navy and white dress – red, of course!

And now, before this final bit of reconstruction, let me make it very clear that I am not flirtatious. And I will not allow you to accuse me of the indignity of flirtation at my age. But still, you know, to make the reconstruction complete I will need to have some old fellow, with remnants of the good-looker he once was, discretely tossing pine cones at me from shadowed recesses in the park to attract my attention. That would be good too. I might belong to Hub, but still it would be nice to know my navy dress, my red shoes, my shiny hair, and my expressions of intellect are appreciated.

Gee, I think I nailed it… the ‘happy and content’ thing. Cause no matter how I look at it, seems that is about as close as I can hope to come to that which might be still attainable in present time and space.

And for anyone, who Googled ‘happy and content’ and as a result fell into this trap…. Sorry, there’s no world cruise here… No grand riches… No great fame. Just some simple reminiscing and fanciful reconstruction, of a special time that served up a generous portion of H & C.

Watch out! Better duck or get your red shoes on and run with fluffy skirts billowing. Cause here comes another pine-cone!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It Takes a Village

In a special little spot on Planet Earth, a small village has been established. I took this picture of it so you could see what I am talking about. It is quite amazing, and although I have lived in this country all my life, I have never seen such a colony. It is a village of wee towers, (there are many more than this picture shows), and in these towers live a vast number of jolly, dwarf-size bumblebees. One of which is peeking in the doorway of the farthest tower in this picture. And although it doesn’t seem so, the little towers look smooth and elegantly constructed to the naked eye, although in this magnification they seem so crude.

I frequently inspect the area. The inhabitants know when they are being watched. They sing loudly and dart about as if agitated, but they never attack so Hub and I assume they are non-aggressive. Either that, or they are too busy, far too busy, for a fight.

And so, I watch them work and wonder if each of them has, and knows, their own particular abode. I think they do, but they freely visit the homes of others. I saw one bee pop into several little towers before eventually descending into one where he stayed for a time. That final stop must have been his own wee hut, but the protocol of his cluster environment compelled him to stop to say a quick and cheery good morning to his neighbors.

Yesterday there were probably ten or more elegant towers in the village, but after a rain, although the construction is in a protected spot under a narrow eave, it looked as if the colony had endured an earthquake. Little towers tumbled over every which way and many broken. I felt so bad when I saw the destruction and quite puzzled at how such damage occurred.

I stayed awake most of the night feeling dismal about the carnage in the little village. Too early I was up to see if repairs were being done and how the work was going. I was surprised. There was the little village of towers looking as clean and neat as a pin. No towers toppled. None broken. All in excellent repair. I planned to take a picture but decided it could wait until after breakfast.

After breakfast I went out and to my dismay, again many of the towers were toppled or damaged. Still repairs were underway. One had a good quarter inch of new construction that was still wet. And then I had to wonder, ‘Could these little bees do that much repair in so short a time when the work they do is comparable to working with atom-sized stones fashioned from one microscopic drop of spittal and one grain of sand?’ Comparative, it would seem, to our efforts to build a full-size basement with a truck load of concrete and nothing to mix and move it except a two cup measure and a soup ladle.

Now I have torn down or burned more than my share of bee’s nests in my time, either for amusement, or for fear of being stung. I have never felt guilt or remorse about doing that. I have never let any thought occupy my mind about how much patience and diligent work it took to construct those nests. But when you see bee’s building homes out of mud, so representative of our own houses, their efforts become a lot more relevant. And also, there is another pattern of life similar to our own, when I see them forming small communities. And a pattern of life similar to my own represented by their tiny huts and narrow streets.

And so, when I see such a village, with goings on so closely patterned after my own environment, I begin to feel truly distressed about the work involved in the building, and the sorrow and heartbreak of the destruction of that long, patient, and diligent effort – by a few tiny little bees.

And so, now in summation, what I need to tell you is that as one ages, we toughen up quite a bit. Tears come less often. Discouragements, though sad, are dismissed with a shrug. But at the same time, deep within there is a new softness forming. And harbored within that softness, is more pathos – pity for the helpless; and more ethos – greater attempts to be a better person. It is the way of an aging heart and aging flesh.

And so, I appease my guilt in this particular matter, by vowing to never rip down another bee’s nest if there is any kind of slight possibility that we can get along. And to vow I will not harm those little mud towers (I screamed at Hub to get out of there with his shovel). And while I’m forming these new resolutions, I might as well include a vow to nevermore scramble ant piles.

Surely, for my own peace of mind, it is better to change the things I can, than simply assume that mistakes of my past cannot be altered.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Kind of Brain Drain

Seems like our culture/society has a warped philosophy when it comes to education that each of us can 'be all things to all people'. But we can't.

And so, I have oft contemplated another approach. And that approach was first broached to me by one of my elementary school teachers. What he said is that Russia's school system is so unlike our own. In Russia, he said, rather than forcing a child gifted in Math and bored to tears by Literature to pursue both, such children are allowed to forge ahead in Math, and leave Language Arts behind. Perhaps this was fiction – I have never investigated it to see if it was so.

Still, I do remember thinking, “How enviable the approach to learning that allows students to sidestep all that memorization of irrelevant stuff. Stuff like the time spans of various Wars, the winners and losers, and the names of long dead Presidents and Prime Ministers, and the years of colonization and discovery of so many places and things. Without all that I could really ace the rest of my studies.”

But how can that happen within an education system that tries to force every student to ‘be all things to all people’? Or within a system that for me created such a drain-brain, that I couldn't focus properly on any one discipline?

History was bad enough, but then there was the Science stuff that made for an even greater brain drain. The memorization of Chemical symbols and properties and how positive ions react with negative ions, etc. And the considerable brain drain caused by the puzzling situations I had to resolve through the complexity of the Laws of Physics. And don't even get me started on the most irrelevant of all - the biological mysteries of amoebae and other one-celled thingies and their uncanny ability to skip gender issues by physically contorting their bodies into self-impregnating acts. And I have to pity kids nowadays because added to that is all the memory and recall needed to learn both English and French and manage all the new technology.

We think of 'brain drain' as being the migration of our great minds to another continent or country. Is this not the same?

The coercive and forced migration of individuals’ very personal and somewhat limited brain cells into receptacles for meaningless junk. Obviously the measure of data that impacted on whether I passed or failed each progressive step in school created a serious brain drain. I was handed a volume of stuff to learn and memorize that was beyond the bounds of reason.

In fact, one time in discussing the content of a correspondence course I signed up for, the Instructor told me the assigned reading was impossible to do in the allotted time. So he suggested I keep in touch with him so he could define what was pertinent. Hey, everyone, hold on a minute here. If there is more than a student can hope to read during the allotted time, then this course is broken. It needs to be fixed. It isn't working the way it is supposed to.

But all that aside, it was this encroachment of too much stuff on my hard drive that drove me to hurry up and finish school so I could get the hell outta' there. Too much of my brain was being drained into irrelevance for me to happily pursue with unimpeded passion those things that really interested me. The things I could have aced well enough to walk away with one or two prestigious awards without even blinking.

So if my education had not been a series of commandeered courses, so many irrelevant to my passions, where would I be today if it had been up to me? I'd be known worldwide as the "Foremother of Nifty Handwriting" and the Governor General Award-Recipient for the new Literary Genre of “Wild Fact and Windblown Fiction", plus other honorable mentions.

And I would not just be ‘Roberta’ I would be "The Roberta" and my Blog would be influential and spellbinding.

I might not know you, but you would know me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Deletion of Bags and Boxes

There’s a rumor going around this small community that is disturbing. And, although here things happen at a much slower pace than in large urban centers, rumors travel at warp speed. And the latest rumor is that the B&Y Store, and the Magnate Store and the other Store are no longer giving out bags for purchases.

Now of course for ‘shock value’ none of the messengers of said rumors elaborate enough to say, that ‘yes, there will be bags available at a price if customers don’t bring their own’. That part of the story would water down too severely the intensity of such a shocking rumor.

So the original rumor, without the above qualifier, put me in a state of angst, and in that angst I remain. First, it was so shocking and unbelievable that I would cater to a business and then have to leave my purchases behind with no means to carry them to my car. The whole situation puts me in mind of stumbling on a lush blueberry patch in some backwoods retreat without a pickin’ pail. You cup your apron, and pick. You pick into your hat. And then you remove your high-top rubber boots and fill them because rubber boots hold a heck of a lot of berries. Still, the biggest and best berries are left behind.

So I think you can easily see how the rumor is so unsettling. I am both shocked and wounded. Isn't it enough that I am already paying deposits on milk cartons, juice cartons, and bottles, some of which have recycling value, and some of which don’t?

Of course I’m annoyed. We’re talking fixed income, here. Just getting what I need takes strategic budget planning without having to puzzle over which containers are refundable and the added cost of bags. The whole turn-around is a process so convoluted that I begin to question if it is a good thing or simply a circuitous way of attaching hidden taxes on food and other necessities? A strong argument cannot even be made that containers cost money for the retailer. I don’t put my car gas in a container, but I still pay an added fee for that as well.

And refundable containers hardly seems like a good thing when the drive to the recycling depot costs me more for gas than any costs I manage to recover?

So now, with this latest rumor, I begin to seriously fear that boxes and bags are becoming extinct. I truly fear they are going the same way as the unicorn and the woolly mammoth. Or tough men with macho gauchos and chest hair?

I knew it would eventually come to this, but still I was so unprepared. The last time Elder Daughter moved was a few years ago. That day, the day we were packing up all her stuff, ED scouted the downtown-area for boxes-to-be-had-for-the-asking from various stores. That is how moving has always been done. But there were no boxes to be had.

So that is when I began to realize that cardboard boxes were becoming extinct. When ED returned a few hours later with nothing but a couple of packages of large plastic garbage bags.

Truly, it is easier to pick blueberries in rubber boots than safely pack breakables and china in plastic bags. Still we did the best we could but it was one of the more difficult things I have ever done. And so, since then I treat boxes as things of value. Slicing them carefully along taped lines, folding them flat, and stashing them behind a craft table in my basement. Then afraid to use them because whatever came in those boxes, if it needs repair, or is flawed, cannot be returned to the retailer without the original box! And furthermore I don’t want to be the cruel heartless person that dispensed with the last of the cardboard box species.

But now bags? What the hell?

Always my one security is that no matter how much life may change one stable aside from food, shelter, and clothing, would be bag and box containers. Without them, whoever coined the phrase ‘thinking outside of the box’ was ahead of their time…a prophet, so to speak.

What we fail to realize is that a world without boxes and bags impacts on more than just the physical. Without the philosophy of the limits of containers, be it boxes or bags, humankind has no mental context for that notion in our consciousness that there are limits to how we think and act.

And without it, the whole world is going awry. Limits of containment, so plainly illustrated by the use of boxes and bags, are no longer understood. And so with that mental perception missing—without boxes (or bags), generations evolve that can only think outside the box, even the violent and criminal-minded and it is not good. That causes me concern as well.

But my bigger concern, as a hoarder, is how can I live with all my ‘things’ without anything to put my ‘things’ in. I didn’t save all those cloth scraps, canvas, buttons, tape, and lace, to sew bags with and then have nothing to put in them.

Bags and boxes sustain me and facilitate my everyday life. That statement does not mean that I am a villain. I do so understand environment. I recycle everything --- E-V-E-Y-T-H-I-N-G, but this ‘really good thing that I do’ cannot continue if I have neither a bag, or a box, to put my ‘things’ in!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What a Wonderful World!

My greatest wonder in life has nothing to do with the mechanics of anything. That is Hub’s department.

What I find wondrous is nature, and life, hopes and dreams. But having lived in the same house with the same man for more than thirty years, beyond a new bend in Hub’s sense of humor, what new could I possibly find to wonder at in my home environment? The mechanics of material things change, which doesn’t impress me, but little else. Still, even at that, unexpected situations arise that tap into my emotions and leave me quite awe-stuck.

Take this morning, for instance.

Hub is in a funk and I am beginning to worry about it. He’s bored. He eats too much and sleeps too much. Seems restless and unable to focus on anything.

Added to that, the weather remains nasty, which doesn’t help. And so I am beginning to fear if the weather doesn’t turn, Hub may not turn either. Back to his normal happy and carefree self.

Still I do my best to try and cheer him, but all to no avail. So there remains little left for me to do except to remain quietly supportive and at the same time more attentive to Hub’s conversations in hopes of finding an opportunity to assist him, in some unexpected way, back to his normal good humor.

And so, for these reasons, I am immediately alert, when Hub says to me at the breakfast table this morning, “Do you know the words to this song?”

I perk up my ears and wait for him to hum a bit of the melody, but all I hear coming from his side of the table is a deep muffled rumble like a slipper tumbling in a clothes dryer. His lips are ever so slightly parted in a duplication of Mona-Lisa’s famous smile, and I can tell he is deeply concentrating while exhaling a soft sound, so I go to his side of the table and bend over and listen. An uncommon thing for me to do, because normally Hub talks and sings, so very loud.

As I bend near his face, I hear a rumbling hum that seems to be coming from inside one of the table legs rather than from him. I bend closer and peer into his eyes and see a look of such intense concentration. A look that leads me to think Hub may have quietly slipped out-of-body. It is a glazed look that tells me he has moved somewhere else—leaving me feeling quite alone. He is not immediately behind his eyes, as he should be. Normally I feel an intimate adjacency to the person behind the eyes, but when I look at him, it is like looking through 140X Binoculars across a great expanse. He seems so very far away.

But, despite that, if I am to render normality here, I must pay attention. I must listen and try to identify the song. And so I listen very carefully to muffled modulations of oblique sound that have spacing and rhythm that is vaguely familiar.

But the tune? There isn’t any. And that sets me wondering what is going on, because Hub, like most people, always attempts to jar my memory with bits of the melody when he wants to remember an old song.

This morning there is no tune. The sound is more like a liturgical chant. There is no melody. But that is not the full extent of the weirdness of the situation. What is even weirder is the sound I hear is, in no way, representative of Hub’s voice. Not his sad voice, his happy voice, his normal voice, or even his silly voice.

It is not Hub’s familiar voice I am hearing. It is another tone, another pitch, another pronunciation, another shade, another frequency. It is simply not Hub’s voice. But yet, there is something strangely familiar in this never-before-seen-or-heard rendition. The pulses of the sound are scattered but not random.

And now I begin to verge on a kind of panic with the dragging and quickening of bass-toned exhales and inhales, and again, I say, without melody. And furthermore, the sound is incredibly soft, because it is as if Hub is forcing from somewhere deep inside a sound outside of his own voice range.

I don’t know what is happening here but my inner gut tells me it must be way more serious than a high fever, a blood clot, or an aneurysm. And the eyes though still and unblinking, remain fixed on me in an imploring stare. Across the huge expanse I referred to earlier.

And then, by God, it suddenly hits me. I know the song! I know the song!

Not from the nature of it, but the mechanics of it. Hub was amazed I did it. But I was far more amazed at how ‘The Lord of the Mechanics of Everything’ (that would be Hub) packaged the clues to a musical piece into nothing more than the mechanics of the piece.

Now that I understand the virtual impossibility of what he was doing, of course his eyes veiled over with such intense concentration. It’s pretty close to miraculous when someone can deliver a memory of a song with little more than vibrations of E.S.P. accompanied by a rhythmic percussion of nothing more than the sound of a slipper tumbling about in a clothes dryer.

Now Hub can carry a tune. He knows if it is right or wrong. But as he told me later, he had completely forgotten the tune. He had forgotten the words as well. He had forgotten the name of the song, and he had forgotten the artist. But what he hadn’t forgotten was that the song was a happy song. That is the memory that led to the twisted Mona-Lisa-smile. And he hadn’t forgotten the timber of the singer’s voice or the rhythm of the song.

Now Hub is not an impersonator in any way, shape, or form. But the voice I heard, that was not Hub’s, but yet was vaguely familiar, was the deep voice, magical and dream-shaped, of Louis Armstrong.

And the song Hub needed to remember was “What a Wonderful World.”

Isn’t that totally delightful? When Hub wants that desperately, and needs that desperately to recall a song to sing this early in the morning, and that particularly happy song is the song he wants to sing, my heart is lifted and I know all is well. The weather has cleared despite the dreary skies outside the window, and I know Hub’s funk has flown.

Hub is out in his shop right now singing at the top of his lungs, in tune, and in his own voice with impeccable phrasing…

“I see fields of green, red roses too…”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Garden Rhymes & Nursery Whines

Roberta, Roberta,
From chilly Alberta,
How does your garden grow?

With brush and thrush,
And quiet hush,
And fresh-pressed footprints
In the snow.

(for a bit of extra amusement, try reading the second verse out loud as fast as you can -- not easy is it?)

As I told you last post, my garden is seeded. One picture was taken during the snowfall and one after. By way of explanation, beyond the swing, a comfortable swing, that doesn't squeeze my hips or cause hip dysplasia, is my garden, and beyond the garden is the tree stump Hub planted upside down.

We haven't done it yet, but on hot summer days, we plan to drape ourselves in skimpy faux-fur body scarfs and sit under the stump. We will sip jars of cool lemonade and wave to passer-bys. A pretense it would seem of the lives of Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

So now you know. 'Playing cabin' is not the only game we play.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Garden Daze

Flat and fragmented thoughts, which are what most of my thoughts are these days.

Hub cultivated the garden a few days ago. He started parallel to the road and when he got to my row of perennials, shrubs, and rhubarb, he ended up at a serious angle. Then he began urging me to plant it. But when I saw the rows running at such an angle, it wouldn’t do. I asked him to cultivate it again and run the rows parallel to my row of shrubs and perennials. I don’t care if my garden isn’t square with the road, or the world, I just want it to look like it is square within its own perimeters.

So grudgingly he cultivated again, all the time singing at the top of his lungs some made-up jingle about redoing a job that was already done, and why must he do the same labour twice when his rows ‘aren’t nearly as crooked as Brian Mulroney’ (You have to be Canadian to get the joke, or just Google the name and you’ll soon know).

And then of course deeply entrenched in my psyche is the old adage ‘waste not, want not’, which is not always a good thing. So first a neighbour brings me the excess of sprouted garlic that would not fit in his garden. Then another brings me two plastic bags with a bushel of soaked peas in one, and a peck of soaked beans in the other. And I also have all the seeds I purchased a few weeks ago to put in the ground.

Now I had no intention of planting garden yesterday, but what could I do? Soaked seeds generally have to go in the ground within 24 hours of soaking them. And of course, I couldn’t throw them out. Can’t be wasting them. So now I’m planting. Oh yes, I’m planting.

Enough peas and beans to feed a small village. I don’t pick peas, shell peas, or freeze peas. That is way too labour-intensive for me. Not when I can buy a big bag for about three dollars. I only plant a wee row of peas for the education of the Grandchildren. So they know where peas come from and what peas taste like fresh from the vine.

But this year, to fit in all those peas, I have two long double rows. And of course come fall, the Grandchildren will barely be able to make a dent in them and there I will be. On the back porch, like I was when I was a kid, shelling 5-gallon pails of peas for days on end.

But that’s not all, while I’m doing all this I’m thinking I shouldn’t even be planting anything when the soil is too cold to even step on in bare feet. But anyway, everything is in the ground, except the spuds and Hub will help me with them next week.

Now if it doesn’t all freeze - - - - I guess we’ll be doing okay. My neighbour tells me the seeds are deep enough that if they germinate in the next few days, the frost won’t get to them. As for me, I’m not so sure about that. This afternoon there were snowflakes again floating around outside trying to hide from view in a light foggy mist. But I saw them when they settled on Dough-Gee-Dog’s silky black fur.

And so now I’m wondering if the wood ashes I brought from Hub’s cabin cook-stove and sprinkled in the rows of radishes and turnips will stave off the bugs. I don’t know if it will work but it seems like a greener thing to do then using toxic insecticides that are so often years later pulled from the market because of risk to environment and body and blood and DNA.