Friday, 31 March 2017

Furry Friday

You'd think that being sick and off work all week doing nothing but shuffle from fridge to couch to computer would mean I'd have a stockpile of posts by now.

... No.

I have five drafts; two of them are only titles and the other three, on re-reading, don't make any sense.

So it's back to icanhas.cheezburger.com for some funny cats and dogs.

Yay! Who couldn't use some fun at the end of the week, right?




















































John Gray, if you're reading, this one's for you :)

Have a good weekend!





Monday, 27 March 2017

Poetry Monday : Unlikely Sources Of Inspiration

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****




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

 


Friday, 24 March 2017

Epiphany At Walmart


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missing ... evading ... whichever.

But the realization makes a world of difference.

Epiphany at Walmart. It really happened.


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

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

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


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

Hope you have a lovely weekend, my friends.

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


Monday, 20 March 2017

Two Poems! And One Of Them Is Mine!

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

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

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

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

... but more commonly known as ...

Purple Cow

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


Sound familiar?


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

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

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


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

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

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

HUGE apologies to Mr. Burgess.

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

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

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

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

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

 ****

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



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

Friday, 17 March 2017

Springy Things, Plus Funnies

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

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

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

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

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


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



This also happens in the spring:


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



And finally, this:




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


Have a good one!





Monday, 13 March 2017

Poetry Monday; And, The Results Are In!


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

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


Is There A Problem?

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



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


*          *          *

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

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

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

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

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

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





Friday, 10 March 2017

A River In The Sky

Last weekend while running errands, I took this picture from the parking lot of our mall. The sky was intriguing with its layers of clouds - heavier ones further away, and smoke-like wisps hanging in the air in front of them.



I kept snapping pictures, ignoring cars that were driving by, pretending I was comfortable being stared at, because Hey, this is my job, man... even though it's clearly not, at least not when I'm carrying only a point and shoot camera.


And as I clicked and clicked in the deepening twilight, I realized I was seeing something else in the sky.


Can you see them? If you click on the photo it will get bigger, although if you have sharp eyes you may be able to see what I'm talking about without enlarging it.

All those black dots that I'm hoping you're able to see are crows, and they were flying to a local roosting area. Every day in early evening, thousands of them come from all over to fly steadily in an overhead corridor until they've all reached their safe sleeping place, a wooded area off the highway.

This sight always gets my attention. There are just so many birds. They come in a steady stream for about thirty minutes as the sky darkens with the setting of the sun.

The first time I ever saw this phenomenon was about nine years ago. My father was in the hospital after his stroke, waiting for an opening in a nursing home. He was able to get around a little in a wheelchair and we had gone to one end of the hall to look out a large window at the pinkness of the early evening sky. We began to notice birds flying toward us and over the hospital.

On and on they came; it seemed there would never be an end to them. I can still see the black wings silhouetted against the rosy sky, wave after wave of crows, instinct driving them to gather for shelter as the day ended. Positioned on the top floor of the hospital, we had probably the best seat in the county from which to watch the spectacle.

It's a bittersweet memory, spent with my dear father as he struggled to adjust to his newly constricted life with hemiparalysis, yet filled with the beauty and wonder of nature and its creatures.



You'll find there is a short break in the stream of crows partway through the video, but things get busy again within fifteen seconds. You'll also hear the traffic going by, which is why the camera was aimed so high in the sky. At least none of the drivers got shouty at me, and don't worry, I was safely parked and not in their way.

If you want to read more about my father's stroke and paralysis, click here
 
Happy weekend to all. I will return on Monday, and there WILL BE exclamation marks involved.





Monday, 6 March 2017

BOGO: Poetry Monday, And Giving Up A Writing Crutch

I already had my post underway for today when I "remembered" it's Poetry Monday ... and by "remembered" I mean that Diane, over at On the Alberta/Montana Border, reminded me and her other readers ...

Poetry Monday was conjured up by Diane, who was then joined by Delores (at Mumblings). If you go to either of their blogs, you will find other people who have joined in as well.

So today: BOGO - buy one post, get one free (and don't think you aren't "buying" because you're spending precious time to read this stuff, so it's anything but free ...)

ANYWAY.

I think many people hear the word "poem" and either roll their eyes or run screaming for the hills.

But there are so many kinds of poems; it's just a matter of finding some that fit the reader's likes and preferences.

Personally I enjoy a wide variety of poetry - everything from sonnets to limericks to free verse to cat haiku. And I've written many kinds, although I'll admit some of them were for a project in high school. But occasionally since then, too. Sometimes a few lines will pop into my head and - just like having a mouse in the house - I can't rest until it's out of there.

What is cat haiku? If you haven't run into this concept before, here's an example:

Grace personified.
I leap into the window.
I meant to do that.


(Like me, you may have learned in school that a haiku is a Japanese form of poetry consisting of three lines, with a certain number of syllables in each line - five, then seven, then five. Actual REAL haiku counts Japanese characters, not syllables, but in English we have to use syllables instead.)

On this Poetry Monday I feel like writing cat haiku, so here goes. This one is inspired by our finicky male cat, who maintains his svelte figure by never eating, except sometimes when we least expect it.

Dinner time so soon?
That bowl of food revolts me.
Take it away, slave.

What is this I see -
Yesterday's forgotten bowl?
Leave it! I must eat.

*          *          *

And now the other half of the "buy one, get one free" post.

And this one really hurts me. Don't be alarmed. It only hurts in the literary way.

I am about to embark on an experiment. It involves giving up something very dear to me. Something I use every day, in every way, to express my feelings of joy! excitement!! disbelief!!! rage!!!!

Yes, it's the exclamation mark, also known as the exclamation point. And according to every grammar site I've checked, people are using too many of them. I know this particular person is.

As an aside, Wikipedia says that the exclamation mark is thought to have derived from the Latin exclamation for joy (oi) and that the modern representation started in the Middle Ages, when medieval copyists wrote it at the end of their sentences to indicate joy. (If I were a medieval copyist I'm pretty sure I'd be using it at the end of my painstakingly handwritten sentences, too.) And then it evolved into its present day form over time.

I love that punctuation mark. Until emoticons came into widespread use, it was my only means of expressing emotion in the written word. When I look at the letters I wrote to my parents from university (which my mother kindly saved for me, I know not why) I am embarrassed - embarrassed, I tell you - by the number of them I used.

I admire writers who can get across their joy, excitement, disbelief and rage without the use of flagrant punctuation. I want to become one of them.

So I'm giving up exclamation marks for a whole week. In my posts, in my comments, in my replies to comments here.  It's going to be a rough week, but I did want to warn you. Nothing has happened to me - I'm not sad, I'm not depressed, I'm not bored with life. None of those. I'm trying to progress as a writer, and I'm hoping that one week will turn into longer.

I have to admit I am not optimistic about this experiment. But I'm going to give it a try.

Who knows? If this is successful, maybe I'll try living without my next-most-favourite crutch, the smiley face :)



"I narrow my eyes at your lack of optimism, Slave. Signed, Finicky Male Cat"

Did you reflexively go back and count the number of exclamation marks today? I'm proud to say I edited out five, and left in eleven, but I think all eleven are used correctly!

Make that twelve, now ...

Friday, 3 March 2017

Friday Round Up: The "Maybe It Was Art After All" Edition

When I posted last week about the peace signs and other things I saw in the cracks in the sidewalks and streets, I was just having fun with it.

But a few days later an email landed in my inbox from Colossal, a website dedicated to "Art, Design, and Visual Culture," and one of the highlighted articles in the email was a piece about some street artwork by Rachel Sussman, called Sidewalk Kintsukoroi. It is based on the Japanese art of kintsugi, described as "...the ancient technique that traditionally involves the process of fixing broken pottery with a lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, resulting in an a repair that pays homage to the object’s history ..." -- except that Sussman used gold paint to fill in cracks in the streets. Actual gold, in actual streets. (That's not quite true; she used tree resin, bronze and gold dust. But really - gold dust?!)

Here are some of the pictures from the article:




So, hey - now I don't feel quite so much like a silly ten year old for my "cracked" observations. However, I don't think I'll be running out to buy gold dust anytime soon to fill in the cracks in our streets.

*          *          *

Have you ever noticed how, after first hearing of an idea or a word or a term, it seems to pop up again and again? Like, for instance, how that email came to my attention right after my "art" post?

Some people call that coincidence; others attribute great meaning to it. I tend to believe that it's just that we don't notice stuff until it's already been planted in our heads somehow.

It turns out there's a name for that. It's called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or alternatively "frequency illusion." You can read more about it here, if you're interested.

I love Google. That website is the first one that came up when I was looking for a quote I'd heard long ago that described what I was trying to say. I didn't find the quote I wanted, but I learned something new.

*          *          *

Aside from that, I've been reading about political stuff in the world. And reading. And reading. Some day my bottom will turn completely flat from sitting in this chair.

The latest article of interest that I read is this one by David Frum in The Atlantic. Fair warning: It's long. But if you are wondering what ordinary citizens can do to save U.S. democracy from potential serious harm under the current administration, he speaks to that at the very end of the article. (The Atlantic is described by Wikipedia as "a high-quality review organ with a moderate worldview" and David Frum is a senior editor for it, as well as a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Given his background, it's interesting to read his sobering thoughts on the current president.)

*          *          *

I've gotten out for a few walks, although I had to start slowly again because I missed some time during the snowstorm's aftermath. But I did get a few pictures I liked.

This is the ice breaking up on our tidal river:




And I caught this crow in the edge of my shot, a happy accident:


We had a cloudburst yesterday followed by an enormous, brilliant rainbow that looked as if it was just above the houses in the next street. It faded from view so quickly that I barely caught it with my camera before it disappeared, like a faint echo of a song:


And that's it for this Friday.

If you made it to the end, thanks for reading!

Happy Weekend to all.