Friday, 17 November 2017


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

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

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

Newfound and Labrador is outlined in red.

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

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

And a picture to whet your appetite for more:

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

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

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

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

Have a good weekend, all!

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

Monday, 13 November 2017

Poetry Monday: Remembering

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Remember

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

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

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

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

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

courtesy of Pixabay


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

Friday, 10 November 2017

Cooking, Crafts, And Cats

A collection of odds and ends today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 And more things made with buttons:

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

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

Ho Ho Ho!

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



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

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

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

(photo from

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

Monday, 6 November 2017

Poetry Monday: Brrrrr

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

My inspiration this week came from two sources.

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

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

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

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

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

This Weather Will Feel Downright Balmy In January

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

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

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

A beverage
Steamy hot
With a tot* or maybe not

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

*tot - a small amount of a strong alcoholic drink


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

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

Friday, 3 November 2017

Humpty Dumpty

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

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

Jenny O'Donkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halfway through a yawn with eyes squeezed shut . . .

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

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

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

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

Monday, 30 October 2017

Poetry Monday: I'd Love To Have A Blue Pair

The weeks are getting shorter--or so it seems. Here it is, Poetry Monday already! Didn't we just have one?

This week's theme is "feet" as suggested by Diane  (her blog is HERE). Join Diane, Delores (her blog is HERE), Joan (in the comments here), and me, as we waltz, quick-step, two-step, hot polka, run, jog, mince, flounce, or otherwise use our feet--and brains--to cover this topic. Anyone can play and you can write a poem on a different topic if you prefer. The more the merrier, so sharpen your pencils (or your fingers)(no, wait, not your fingers)(maybe your typing skills),  bookmark your favourite "rhymes with" website and write a few lines just for fun.

Feet. FEET. FEEE-E-E-ET. . . Is there anything that can be said about feet that Dr. Seuss has not already said? He did a smashing job of writing about them, didn't he? For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure, here is the first bit of his book on feet, to give you a sense of just how deeply he delves into the subject:

Left foot, left foot
Right foot, right
Feet in the morning
Feet at night.
Left foot,
Left foot,
Left foot,
Wet foot, dry foot
Low foot, high foot
Front feet, back feet
Red feet, black feet
Feet, feet, feet
How many, many feet you meet.

(You can read all of it HERE, if you like. I would, if I were you. You will find yourself mentally chanting it the next time you have to walk somewhere and you need some rhythm.)

This short week is getting only a short poem from me, because for a short week it sure had a lot packed into it. Crafting and baking for the craft sale, the all-day craft sale itself, root canal, work deadline, trip to Emerg with my mom--yep, that short week covered a lot of ground.

Here's my short poem.

Big Important Question

If feet rhymes with feat,
And meet rhymes with meat,
And beet rhymes with beat . . .
Why doesn't greet rhyme with great?

Blue-footed booby feet. Aren't they a great colour? Who needs blue suede shoes with feet like those?

Here is the whole bird:

(Photo by Benjamint444 on Wikimedia)

What kind of feet would YOU like to meet?

(BFB feet courtesy of Pixabay)

Friday, 27 October 2017

Celebrating Black Cats: Redux

Did I hear someone say "Donkey's got the dates mixed up; we just did a Black Cats Appreciation Day post in August"?

Well, if that was you, you're darned smart. Yes, I did do a post on black cats in August (HERE).

But if one day a year is good to celebrate black cats, then two are even better. It turns out that October 27 is National Black Cat Day in the United Kingdom, so we're going to have a bit of deja vu, except without the accents on "deja vu" because I haven't learned to do that yet.

I know some of you are big fans of black cats, as am I, so I'm thinking a second post on black cats will not be a huge imposition. (Spoiler alert: for the rest of you, at the end of the post there are some black dogs.)

First, here is the latest Simon's Cat video, which is about . . . black cats, of course:

And right here, I was going to put some pictures of the three black cats who have owned me through the years, starting when I was about eight, but I ran out of time due to the straw that broke the camel's back . . . I was handling my work deadlines okay, and I was handling my craft fair deadlines okay, and we were eating regular meals (okay, so a lot of the time lately they weren't homemade and they weren't very balanced, but they were food) and we were wearing clean clothing and our two remaining cats were complaining about not getting hours of attention but they were doing all right if you ask me . . . and then today my mama (who you may remember is getting older and has health anxieties) needed to be escorted to outpatients, and those six hours were the straw, as it were. She is fine, don't worry. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

But getting back to my very own black cats, that will have to be a post for another day.

Wishing you a lucky-black-cat kind of Friday, and in case you're a dog person and you're feeling left out, here are some nice black dogs (no, no, not that kind of black dog--the nice kind) to keep you content. And when I was looking for pictures of black dogs I learned that apparently it is as hard to find homes for black dogs living in shelters as it is for black cats.

Eight-week-old black Lab puppies

And one more, just because of the sweet widdle bottom teefies on this little guy/gal:

Sorry about the lack of contrast; it's too late now to find new pictures! I feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, looking at my pocket watch and saying "I'm late! I'm late!"

See you on the other side of the weekend!

(photos courtesy of

Monday, 23 October 2017

Poetry Monday: Sport Shorts

Well, folks, it's that day of the week again, the day we put on our togas or our peasant shirts or our smoking jackets (what DO poets wear, anyway?) and lie around on our chaise lounges or our Ikea furniture or our (imitation) leather couches (what DO poets recline on, anyway?) and scratch out poetry with our chisel-and-rock or our stubby pencils or our fountain pens (what DO poets write with, anyway?) . . . or, more likely, we sit at our computers trying to fend off curious cats. Or is that just me?

Today's theme is "sports" and you can find sports-related poems at Diane's blog (HERE) and Delores' blog (HERE), as well as right here on Procrastinating Donkey (including Joan's poetry from Joan of Devon, in the comments). Feel free to read, write, or contribute in any way. Have fun!

I have to say right here that I'm not really a sports fan. I'm a fan of sitting. There isn't much sitting in most sports, and even the ones that do involve sitting don't let you get away with doing nothing, as your arms are in constant use (eg., rowing, paddling, kayaking) or else you are in constant danger from excessive speed (eg., bobsledding, racing).

I've never been coordinated, I've never had a personal energy surplus, and my speed and balance are below average. I don't like danger and I don't like competition and I'm not motivated by winning or losing. I don't like doing anything that requires strapping things to my feet or any other part of my body, or anything that might cause me sudden pain from being hit in the face or stomach or from breaking a bone, and I really, really, really don't like wearing spandex or a wetsuit or a helmet.

Nevertheless, in my high school--and probably in yours--gym class was a compulsory course.

And we had a compulsory uniform. For girls, this was called a "gym suit" and was a one piece article of clothing, in school colours, that looked like a blouse sewn to a pair of short shorts and buttoned up the front. For boys, the uniform was short gym shorts in school colours, topped with a plain white T-shirt. The most important word to remember for the sake of the following poem is "short." Remember we are talking the late sixties, early seventies here. There were no long baggy shorts for guys and those gym suits had no mercy for girls whose thighs weren't perfect.

Enough background! Time for the poem of the day.

As I Remember Gym Class

She cavorts;
He cavorts;
They all cavort in short shorts.

They'd rather not--
Unless they're hot
And like to show off what they've got.

The rest of them
Themselves condemn,
And wish for shorts with longer hems.


Here is what our gym outfits looked like, approximately, except ours were maroon because our school colours were maroon and grey:




What did you wear in gym class? Did you like sports, loathe them, or was it a mixed bag?

P. S. I may have slightly overstated my aversion to sports :)

Friday, 20 October 2017

A Pinch Of This, A Sprinkle Of That . . . Bork! Bork! Bork!

It's a mixed bag of stories today, because I've been reading so many good articles on different topics that I can't pick just one to talk about. I'm still in crafting mode, in addition to work deadline mode, in addition to family birthday mode, so I'll keep my comments to a minimum and provide links to the original articles that caught my eye.

Rent control gone awry:
Many countries have a bleak history where their indigenous people are concerned, and Canada is no exception. As our country marks its 150th birthday this year, not all our citizens are in a celebratory mood, and no wonder. The original inhabitants of this country got a raw deal long ago, and things haven't improved a whole lot. The latest item in the news: First Nations seek to raise Canada's rent after 150 years of $4 payments

Another blot on the Maple Leaf . . . literally:
If you read Steve's blog "Shadow & Light", you will have already seen the pictures he took of maple tar spot disease on maple leaves in England. We have the same fungal infection here in Canada, not on our native maple species (sugar maple) but on the Norway maple, which is an import from Europe and Asia. Here's the link to Steve's post with the pictures, because his photos are excellent and mine are not: West Wickham to Hamsey Green (scroll to the final photo). Thanks for that, Steve :)

On to some lighter fare . . . or maybe not:
If you've ever considered seriously decluttering your belongings, you may have turned to books or blogs to get tips and encouragement. Books by authors as diverse as Peter Walsh and Marie Kondo have been available over the years, and there are many blogs on the internet to help people pare down their belongings. Now there is "dostadning" or "Swedish Death Cleaning" which is defined as ". . .  slowly and steadily decluttering as the years go by, ideally beginning in your fifties (or at any point in life) and going until the day you kick the bucket . . ." , the purpose being ". . . to minimize the amount of stuff, especially meaningless clutter, that you leave behind for others to deal with . . ." This is the real reason behind my decluttering these days. My husband and I are both "savers" and although we've donated and shredded and discarded many things, there are miles and miles to go before we sleep . . . so to speak . . . and I don't want our grown up kids to have to do any more work than necessary when the time comes.

Okay, some truly lighter fare, also from Sweden . . . sort of:
How many of you remember the Muppets? The Muppet Show was big here in the 1980's, and my favourite character, hands down, was the Swedish Chef. With his unintelligible commentary, his signature "Bork! Bork! Bork" windup to his intro song, his carefree tossing of kitchen implements (and other things) over his shoulder, and his trusty blunderbuss, he stole my heart.  Just the other day I found some compilations of Swedish Chef segments from the shows, and fell in love all over again. Check out one example here: Swedish Chef Compilation Part 1

That's it from my house to yours. Have a good weekend, friends!

Fear not: Procrastinating Donkey keeps one ear to the ground for all the latest news :)



Monday, 16 October 2017

Poetry Monday: Why Wasn't I This Clever When I Went To School?

It's Poetry Monday, as I'm pretty sure you all know by now. Started by Diane (here), picked up by Delores (here) and me, with regular contributions here from Joan (of Devon). Anyone can join in! Write a poem, read a poem, borrow a poem--it's all good. If you post on your blog, please leave us your address in the comments so we can follow you home and admire your work.

No more preamble today; the whole back story is contained in the poem itself.


History in General, and Mine in Particular

It was late in the sixties and bell-bottoms ruled
When I entered into junior high school.
Six years later they let me go free,
Clutching my high school diploma--Whee!!

School didn't bother me like it did some;
It was something to do, sometimes even fun.
I loved English class, and French, and Home Ec.
Math I loved less, and Science less yet.

But at the absolute bottom of the heap
Came History, a subject so wide and so deep,
I felt close to drowning from all of those facts:

So when graduation meant I was free,
I thought, Never again will I take History!
On to an Institution Of Higher Learning I went
And tuition never NEVER on History was spent.

My learning was leaning to far different things,
For that is the freedom university brings.
A business degree doesn't bother with much
Except business-y things like accounting and such.

Working and marriage and babies came next;
The long years of busy-ness replaced "business".
And a funny thing happened as the years went by:
I started to ask--Who, What, When, Where, Why?

Why are they fighting? And Where did it start?
When did their countries all fall apart?
What will it take to make enemies friends?
And Who are the leaders to best make amends?

Who are the players, and What makes them tick?
When did the critical junctures get missed?
Where will the answers be found for release? 
And Why, people, Why can we not live in peace?

I think that you know how this story proceeds--
History is more than reciting old deeds.
To understand Now, we must study the Past;
Only then might the Future be better at last.

I try every day to make up for lost time,
To do my small part to find reason and rhyme.
The volume of knowledge will always dwarf me,
But I'm finally keen to embrace History.


I know that finding world peace is only one reason to study history. What do you first think of when you contemplate the word "history"? One of the things I like best about Poetry Monday is seeing how differently people think about the same topic! Let me know what you're thinking.

Sunrise courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, 13 October 2017

I Hear The Train A-Comin' . . .

Just two items today, since I'm pushing up against the craft sale deadline here, one of the items making up the choo-choo of frantic activity in which I am engaged each year from September to December.


First, a blogging problem.

I am a procrastinator, although I try to counteract that by using schedules and deadlines. Knowing this, I decided when I started this blog to have a set posting schedule here, too. Mondays and Fridays are my days to post. I'm pleased to say I've never missed one.

But last Monday's post, although written and published, didn't reach some of you who have kindly signed on to receive my drivel automatically. I noticed on a number of blogs--those with a sidebar showing the most recent post--that it had not appeared. On further checking with a friend, this sad fact was confirmed.

I'm not sure what the problem was; it might have been that I edited a couple of errors in the post immediately after it published. I don't know how these things work. Does it take some time for the post to make its way around the world? Are the internet's series of tubes clogged?

If my editing wasn't the issue, I fear there may be a problem with my Blogger account.

Has this ever happened to you?

Anyway, if it's Monday or Friday and you haven't received my post, there's a jagged fracture (or a huge clog, same result) in the internet, or in the blogging world, or at least in my Blogger account. You can always check my blog directly to find the post instead:


And I want to recommend a book I just finished. It's not a recent one, and it was much acclaimed when it was published (and also won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography), so perhaps you've heard of it: The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. It tells the story of the first year after the sudden death of Didion's husband. For more, you can go HERE.

I knew this would happen. As soon as I want to talk about a book I've read, I run out of words. Seriously, my word bank just dries up. This is why I don't write reviews. But the link above will cover the material in the book nicely. And I really only wanted to add that I found it very moving, I found it very familiar (grief is grief, no matter what relationship is under discussion), and I felt relieved--as I tend to do--to find out I was not alone in my reactions to grief.


And why was I reading when I have a craft sale deadline? Because procrastination, that's why.

That's it, plus a picture:

This dear little deer was caught on camera looking in our basement window last week. It was one of two fawns who, with their mother, were having a snack in our back yard in broad daylight.

Happy weekend, all!


Monday, 9 October 2017


It's Poetry Monday but I am giving it a pass today in order to post something that has been on my mind lately. Anyone who would like to leave a poem in the comments is still welcome to do so. The theme this week is Harvest, and you can use it or not, as you like.

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I have a lot to be thankful for: living in a democratic, peaceful country, in a region where the weather is varied and interesting but not deadly, with access to good health care paid by our tax system, and caring, kind family members close by. I have plenty of healthy food, clean air, decent shelter and, as you might recall, far more than enough clothing (although I will remind you it was purchased at dirt-cheap prices).

About twenty years ago, a friend lent me a copy of Amy Dacyczyn's book, The Tightwad Gazette. It was based on the newsletters of the same name that, at their height of popularity in the 1990s, had over 100,000 subscribers. Her tips for living frugally were meant to help people pay less but be able to live happily and healthily. There is a short YouTube video from 2009 HERE. It explains a little more about her philosophy if you're interested.

As much as I enjoyed Amy's frugality ideas, recipes, sewing tips, and overall approach to life, there was one essay in her book that really stood out for me, so much so that I typed it out to keep, and I have thought of it in many situations and at many times in my life in the ensuing two decades. It is called "A Stolen Thanksgiving Soap Box Speech", and was paraphrased from a lay sermon preached by her neighbor, Charlie Woodward, who worked with low-income families and the homeless.

In Amy's words:

I had heard bits and pieces of this sermon before. I have picked his brain on a number of occasions to understand why poor people are poor. Invariably the conversations have concluded as Charlie patiently reminded me that we have not all been born with the same gifts.

A gift is anything that we have that we did not work for. People born to wealth have more advantages than those born in poverty. People with a high intelligence will probably fare better than those born with low intelligence . . .

. . . Being born in [a First World country] is a gift. While not all of us are rich, we are likely to have greater opportunities for education, health care, and employment than those living in Third World countries.

Health is a gift, at least the health with which we were born. Most of us are botching it to some degree or another. But our genetic package plays a large role in why some can abuse their health and never get sick while others work at being healthy and still get sick.

Those of us who were raised in good families have a gift. Not everyone was raised with love, security, positive feedback, and values. Charlie believes that the "work ethic" is also a gift. Some parents taught it to their kids and some parents did not.

Many examples come to mind of individuals who have overcome a lack of gifts. These people always have a variety of other gifts.

The bottom line is to understand that what we have and who we are has a lot to do with factors we received in a package deal when we came into the world.

She goes on to explain that most people use their gifts well enough to have either a surplus of either time or money, and that by donating some of our surplus time, money, or energy we express thankfulness for the abundance of gifts with which we were born.


Over the years I have tried to do what I can to help others. Money has not always been in surplus here but there are other ways to give back. When our children were young, I did quite a lot of door to door canvassing for various charities, and for eight years I was a local officer of a national organization to promote education .

During this time our daughter became very ill and volunteering went by the wayside for a few years. Her health had just begun to improve when my father had his stroke, and for the next eight years I was busy with responsibilities related to his care. It took me two years after his death to feel like I had the energy to do anything other than look after myself (except for "mom" emergencies, fuelled by adrenaline rather than a surplus of energy).

And that brings us to the present.

I'm thinking it's time I started doing something to give back again. I don't know what that something is, but my eyes and ears and heart are open.


Have you been lucky in the lottery of life? Have you had bad luck but choose to do what you can with what you have? If you are giving back to the world, would you consider sharing with me what you do? I am looking for ideas, the more the better. (Note: I know some of what a few of you do--I have been paying attention, but maybe tell me again for the benefit of others who may not know.)


Friday, 6 October 2017

Like Watching Paint Dry

I mentioned on Monday (HERE) that I'm busy sewing for a craft sale.

One of the most important items I use when sewing is the lowly straight pin. Plus all its brothers and sisters, because one pin isn't a whole lot of good all by itself.

I'm going to assume that everyone knows what a straight pin looks like, but if anyone doesn't, scroll down and you'll see several pictures to illustrate.

I'm not sure how many pins other people go through in their lifetime, but I still have all the pins I ever bought. I started sewing on my mother's treadle machine, and back then I was still using her pins. That was over fifty years ago. I was about eight. My mother sewed her clothes and my clothes, and I sewed doll clothes.

This is what a treadle sewing machine looks like, by the way:

Uses foot power, not electricity. This looks a lot like my mother's machine.

But then I eventually went to high school and we needed our own supplies for sewing class in Home Economics. This is my first container of pins--yes, I still have it. And they are far superior in quality to the bendy ones you have to buy these days. More on that later.

Purchased in 1969. Nice and sturdy, and they don't reach out and poke you when you least expect it.

 And here's the pin cushion I made (hastily) from scraps a couple of years later--yes, I still have it.

Circa 1971. The light areas on top are where the nap has worn off the corduroy material. Just look at those loose stitches . . . I sewed it by hand and the stuffing put a strain on my lousy seam! I was fourteen years old. I have forgiven myself.

Somewhere along the line, I misplaced my little blue container of pins, and when I took up sewing again, I needed more. Here they are:

These pins are extremely sharp and much thinner and weaker than my originals. I don't like to use them because I hurt myself on them ALL THE TIME. And you can't sew over them with a sewing machine the way you can with thicker ones. The world is going to heck in a handbasket, if you ask me. Even if you don't ask me, it is.

And I was given a new pincushion by . . . somebody in my family (what? can you remember who gave you every single gift you've ever gotten?) at Christmas one year. Or my birthday. I can't remember that either.

This is the classic "tomato and strawberry" pincushion sold everywhere. The big part is the tomato and the little part is the strawberry and you can sharpen your pins and needles by running them repeatedly into the strawberry because it's filled with emery. (I had to look that up on the internet because I actually never knew what was in them before.) My husband says it makes no sense to have a tomato and a strawberry together, and he's right, but someone thought it was a good idea at some distant point in sewing history and apparently no one has put up much of a fuss because this is the way they're still made.

The tomato is upside down in the picture. On the bottom (not shown) is a piece of star-shaped green material to represent the leafy stem end of the tomato. But the pins won't go through that fabric, so it works better upside down. Another design flaw that has never been corrected! Some day I must register a complaint with someone, somewhere.

I've just remembered that I DID buy another box of pins between the two shown here, but I have no idea where it is. I'm lucky to have rounded up these ones for the pictures. You'll have to use your imagination to picture a small hinged plastic box with a black bottom and a clear top. The pins in it are also good quality. I'm set for life as far as sturdy pins go.

But the real whole point of this post is something I bought last week for fifty cents in our local thrift shop. I adore it. And I don't use the word "adore" lightly.

Here is my new pin dish:

I've been looking for a pin dish for months now. This one makes my heart go pitter-pat. I know, I know, I'm not right in the head.

And here it is being useful:

Sitting on the draft blocker that I sewed inside out by mistake. I don't even care! My pin dish makes everything better.

And now you know the reason for the title of this post :)

What's new and exciting (or old and comfortable) in your world? Do tell!

And please have yourself a good weekend :)

Monday, 2 October 2017

Poetry Monday: thanksgiving (the lowercase version)

Poetry Monday was started by Diane, of On the Alberta/Montana Border, taken up by Delores of Mumblings, and by Joan (who contributes in the comments here) and me. Anyone who'd like to join in is welcome to do so on any of our blogs, or you can leave us your blog address in the comments if you are posting on your own blog.

Thanksgiving holiday in Canada is one week from today, and I have a special post for that day.

Today, though, the topic suggested by our fearless leader Diane is "thanksgiving" and I'm using it in the general sense, with a lowercase "t".

Try as I might, I could not come up with an original poem that encompasses my gratitude for all I have. The topic seems huge, and when it comes to poetry I'm better at humour than serious topics.

Therefore, I would like to share a favourite poem with you from author e. e. cummings. Perhaps you are already familiar with it; both the author and this poem are well known and well-studied by high school students here, and that may be true in other areas as well.

This poem expresses my feelings completely in a way that I'd never be able to do. Not holding religious beliefs myself, it could be considered ironic that I love this poem as much as I do. But I choose to interpret the concept of God in an exceedingly broad way, and its usage does not--for me--change in any way the power and beauty of e. e. cummings' words. (Source: click here)

i thank You God for most this amazing

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


the spring version of amazing
the summer version of amazing

the fall version . . . where leaping greenly turns to fiery reds and oranges and yellows . . .

. . . and winter . . . still amazing with no leaves at all . . .

(All photos by Procrastinating Donkey, who has been procrastinating up a storm lately. You may (or may not) recall that last year at this time, I spoke of the feeling of standing on train tracks with a train bearing down on me from behind--the feeling I get every year from September to December. Well, that train has crept up on my procrastinating self again. Currently I am busy sewing draft blockers  for a craft sale. Today I sewed one completely inside out. And I sewed another one shut at both ends before I had a chance to stuff it. I'm a little afraid of what tomorrow will bring.)

Friday, 29 September 2017


I think I've mentioned that I had a few more stories about my dad and his life-changing stroke (click here) and the years following it, and that some of the stories were quite funny. And also that I should write them down, to make sure I remembered the smiles as well as the sadness.

So, here's one. It's from the very beginning of his stroke journey.

My dad was living with his lady friend at the time. In her words, "he moved in after his heart operation [a few years prior to that] and never moved out." He hadn't been feeling well for a few days, and before she left for work that morning, she asked if he'd like her to stay home. He was still groggy from sleep, and he said, no, it was fine.

She was driving away from the house when my dad realized he wasn't fine after all. He pulled on his pants (trousers, for those of you across the Atlantic) without bothering to fasten his belt and went to the door to try to call after her to stop. He shut the door behind him so the dog wouldn't get out . . . and the door locked behind him. On the tail end of his belt.

He couldn't get the belt out of the door. He couldn't get back in the house to telephone for help. He was having a stroke and was losing his coordination and ability to think.

With much fumbling, he managed to step out of his pants and work his belt out of the loops, then put his pants back on. Luckily, his car was in the yard and the keys were in it. (Oh, how many times we had appealed to him to take his keys out of his vehicle! Once he had all his mechanic tools stolen from our front yard because of this, but that's another story.)

Anyway, he got himself into the car and drove to his buddy's house a couple of miles away. By the time he got there, all he could do was lean on the horn until his friend came to his door to see what the noise was.

From there, his buddy took him to the emergency department of the nearest hospital, which was a fifteen-minute highway drive.

My dad told me this story as he lay on the stretcher in the ER. He could see the humour in the situation, perhaps because he didn't realize yet how serious his condition was. Being similarly unaware, I thought it was funny, too.

At the time.

So much for recording the funny moments, because now I'm having trouble seeing the joke. Now it just makes my heart ache.

But it also makes me marvel at the human spirit, and think about the part that luck plays in our lives.

Dad's drive to survive allowed him to overcome several dilemmas and get to his buddy's house, even though his brain wasn't working properly.

He was unlucky to have had a stroke to start with, but he was lucky to only gradually lose his muscle control. He was lucky his keys were in the ignition. He was lucky he didn't go off the road or hit another vehicle. He was lucky his friend was home.

And I was lucky, too -- to have him around for another eight years, to talk to, to help care for, to learn family history from, to be a bridge to closer relationships with some of my relatives on his side of the family, to laugh with and cry with, to share memories with, to share the making of new memories with (a marriage and the births of two great-grandchildren) . . . and to love.

Some day soon, I'll tell you another story, which I hope turns out to still be funny when I write it. It involves chocolate, so that's a point in its favour right there.

If there a lesson in today's story, I think it would be this:

If everything seems too much, just look for the next step to take . . . and take it. Then the next step. And so on. You can do more than you think you can.

Have a good weekend, my friends.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Poetry Monday: What You Wear Under There

That week sure went fast ... maybe partly a little bit perhaps probably TOTALLY because I was SO looking forward to the topic Diane gave us for this Poetry Monday ... underwear.

Ha ha. I lie.


Whatever you call them - underwear, undies, gotchies, pretties, unmentionables, knickers, smalls - they aren't something we were ever encouraged to talk about in polite company in my family when I was growing up.

Now, I know perfectly well that they are just another article of clothing. And I also know that Diane and Delores and Joan will find a delicate way to discuss undies. And probably be hilarious while they are doing it.

But this is the best I can do, given my upbringing and resulting inhibitions.


Do I dare
Talk about

Do I dare
Write about

Do I care
To even think about

In my opinion
The biggest thing
To remember about

Is that it
Should never
Be spelled

Other stuff.

Or think of it
Like this:

   U is for under clothing
   N is for no holes or tatters
   D is for decorum, please let's have some
   E is for everybody please wear some
   R is for really, please wear some
   W is for wishing everybody would wear some
   E is for everyone you see is either wearing or not wearing them but you can't always tell
   A is for always glad I can't tell
   R is for rolling eyes, because by this point you likely are, and I know I am

Aaaaaand . . . done!!

Actually, I'm so rattled I forgot the preamble. I'll do it as a post-amble. Poetry Monday is brought to you by Diane, Delores, Donkey (me!), and Joan (in the comments). Read a poem, write a poem, leave a poem in the comments or join in on your blog if you have one!

Donkey snickering about underwear, no doubt. Because real donkeys don't need any.

P. S. If you want to read about more euphemisms for underwear, check out this page:

Friday, 22 September 2017

Lazy Friday

It has been a quiet week here. My poem is all ready for next Monday, but what can I write about today?

It certainly hasn't been a quiet week in the rest of the world. But I have no heart to write about natural disasters, humanitarian crises, wars, political machinations, or even arts and entertainment.

Instead, I return to the icanhas.cheezburger website.

Well, maybe just one political statement first . . .

Not confined to just one politician. Many are behaving badly at the moment. And some of them are Ma'am, not Sir.

Now on to other things:

A lazy Friday here at Procrastinating Donkey . . .

Hope you have a lazy day in your calendar soon. Unless you like the other kind of day; then I hope you have one of those :)