The Party Line

I’ve been inspired to write and post this humorous little poem this morning and today I also plan to Reblog a few other bloggers’ poems I’ve found enjoyable and/or inspiring.


Sounds of a Six-O-Phonecrank-telephone

Grandma cranks and cranks
the old wall phone,
rouses Central to connect her
with her sister Margaret,
eager to share the news:
her daughter-in-law just gave birth
upstairs — in double quick time —
to a healthy baby. Number nine.

Margaret’s phone rings,
two long one short. All down the road
telephones tinkle.
Housewives leave their work;
half a dozen hands grab.
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.
Half a dozen ears pressed to earphones,
listening on the party line.

“Another boy,” Grandma says —
and a whopper. Almost nine pounds!”
“That’s a good size,” says Margaret.
Half a dozen silent nods.
Good size. Good size. Good size.
Good size. Good size. Good size.

Before Margaret can ask
her neighbor Flo interrupts,
“What are they calling him?”
“Billy, after his Uncle Will.”
Half a dozen silent nods
and murmurs all along the line.
“Good choice,” says Margaret. “Won’t Will be pleased!”
Won’t he be pleased! Won’t he be pleased!
Won’t he be pleased! Won’t he be pleased!
Won’t he be pleased! Won’t he be pleased!

Right shortly six more calls
tinkle over the line as six tongues repeat,
“Another boy. Number nine. Good size.
Billy, after Uncle Will. Won’t he be pleased?”

“There’s talk of change,” says Belle
who lives two miles down. “But
how would you ever hear anything?”
Heads nod all down the line.
Anything? Anything? Anything?
Anything? Anything? Anything?
“We need our party line!”




Invitation to Chip In

“She has the money,” Fred argued. “Her husband left her swimming in the stuff. She can’t spend it all, so why not give some to her daughter if she needs it?”

George clunked his empty mug on the table, scowling. “So you think it’s okay for May’s son-in-law to blackmail her like this? To forbid the grandkids to see her unless she forks over the dough for their mortgage payments?”

Fred waved a hand in protest. “I didn’t say that exactly.”

“The poor boys have to sneak out if they want to see their grandma. I think their dad’s a deadbeat if he’s expecting May to pay for their home. He needs to get out and find a job.”

“But people hit rough spots sometimes. Maybe he’s tried and there just isn’t anything right now? Besides, Nadine’s her only child. She’ll inherit everything when May’s gone. Why not give her some now? May’d never miss it.”

George stubbornly shook his head. No way were they ever going to agree on this issue.

Suddenly he sat back and looked Fred in the eye. “If you’re feeling so charitable why don’t you help them out? You sold your farm. You’re sitting on a pile of money yourself. You could pay off their mortgage and never miss it.”

Fred snorted. “Are you kidding? Why should I shell out to support that shiftless son-in-law of May’s? He’s not my problem.”

George recalled that old cliché. “The worm has turned! It’s always easier to solve a problem when the answer doesn’t come out of your pocket.”

Fred turned red, then glanced at the clock. “Gotta be going.”


Last night I recalled a conversation I was part of years ago. A dear friend of my dad was in this situation: emotional blackmail, you could say. Her nine-year-old grandson, being forbidden contact, would sneak away from home to see her. I listened as one party in the conversation presented Fred’s argument, which had some validity. My dad thought like George.

What about you? How would you advise May?

I gave the tale this ending twist to fit today’s Word Press prompt: invitation.

Traveling On Together

Wishing you all a Happy New Year. I thought this an inspiring poem for friends starting out in a new year.

A Mile With Me

By Henry van Dyke
1852 — 1933

Oh, who will walk a mile with me
along life’s merry way?
A comrade blithe and full of glee
who dares to laugh out loud and free
and let his frolic fancy play
like a happy child, through the flowers gay
that fill the field and fringe the way
where he walks a mile with me.

And who will walk a mile with me
along life’s weary way?
A friend whose heart has eyes to see
the stars shine out o’er the darkening lea,
and the quiet rest at the end of the day.
A friend who knows and dares to say
the brave, sweet words that cheer the way
where he walks a mile with me.

With such a comrade, such a friend,
I fain would walk till journey’s end
through summer sunshine, winter rain,
and then — farewell, we shall meet again!

Maddening: the Perfect Example

Our Word Press daily prompt today is maddening. Does that mean we’re allowed to rant on our posts today?

This morning I got an e-mail from myself — sort of. Right name; wrong carrier. No subject; no text. All it contained was a link. Grrrr…. As if!

This is a perfect example of maddening. And it reminded me of a little campaign I wanted to launch about a year ago to try and get hackers declared a menace to mankind.

Hacking Is A Crime Against Humanity

I’d received four e-mails from contacts with no message included, only a link. I suspect if I’d clicked on any of those links my own contact list would have been “harvested” and forwarded to certain individuals or companies who would then send out ad e-mails, in my name, to all my contacts. And slurp the address book of whoever clicked on the link.

And now it’s happened. Imagine getting an e-mail from yourself and knowing someone is now using your e-mail ID to hack others! The good part is that it showed cc’s to only three or four others, odd addresses, unfamiliar carriers. No one I know has been affected by this so far. I’ve had friends have to change their e-mail address completely, so I’m lucky so far.

For years people considered hacking as irritating and disruptive — though maybe a bit amusing, too. Like, “Did you hear about that thirteen-year old whiz kid who hacked IBM?” Let’s get serious about this and view hacking as a crime against us all. In public estimation hackers should drop to the level of axe murderers. Hacking is a plague to the average Joe, and no one can compute the cost to each of us when multinational companies are hacked and personal data stolen. It’s not a lark, “just to see if I can” and “see how clever I am” sort of thing. It’s a crime.

Companies that try selling products through generally broadcast e-mail ads need to be reported as SPAM and shut down ASAP. And those that hack into individual address books need to be prosecuted. It’s one thing to send ads by e-mail to personal contacts, but to steal someone’s contact list and send e-mails in that person’s name for commercial purposes ought to be considered a serious crime. (Hopefully it is.)

There needs to be an easy way of reporting these URLs to our e-mail carriers so they can be checked out and zapped. This has gotten easier; some years back I tried to report a site to my internet carrier when I discovered this site was a front for e-mail “harvesting” but ended up in a merry-go-round of “click here…go there…click here”.

I’ve felt strongly about this for awhile, now I’m doing my own little grassroots protest against hackers. “Hacking is a CRIME against humanity — an injustice against us all.” Pass it on.

And if you get an e-mail from me with no subject, no text — only a link — I didn’t send it.

Message Managing & Vanishing

I got up early this morning, 6am, and two hours vanished while I scrolled down my InBox, reading and deleting posts.

Some bloggers say they get all their notifications (of posts on all the blogs they follow) go only to their Reader, but I don’t know how I’d keep track of all the incoming posts. I have mine set up so almost all new posts come to my e-mail Inbox. This works okay as long as I can keep up with all the incoming e-mail — which includes a flood of Amazon and Kobo ads. But when I fall behind I can get quite a backlog.

Every once in awhile I go through as much as I can, sending mail “to be saved” into its proper bin and deleting a bunch of old messages. This morning I spent two hours “cleaning house,” watching messages vanish into my Trash — where I’ll have to make them vanish all over again. It takes a lot of time to keep house for an e-mail account!

I also posted a question on Community Pool, asking for advice. I can’t seem to keep up with several blogs anymore, so have been thinking of merging my blogs, Christine’s Collection, Swallow in the Wind, and Christine Composes. I don’t know how this merger will alter the appearance of this blog, or if it will at all. But if you notice one day that my fiction blog has vanished and this blog has a new look — maybe even a new title — you’ll know what happened.

Sometimes I wish I could start all over with a new blog and do it right with proper Pages, Categories, and Tags. I started from scratch with only the basic “how to” knowledge and have been bumbling along ever since. When I give advice to new bloggers now, I tell them, “Categories are your filing cabinet and tags are the tabs on the files. If you start out with these things in place you’ll be a lot better able to keep track of what you’ve posted and your readers will be able to find specific topics a lot easier.”

Can you guess that I’m one of these people who divides their food into separate little piles on their plate? Meat here; veggies here; potatoes here, etc. Or picks out all the red Smarties and eats them first, then the brown ones, then the green ones, etc. (Is there some psychological term for this affliction?)

When I woke up this morning it was -10̊ C and the wind is sharp. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be -17̊. Our milder days have vanished and harsh December has arrived. One thing I really regret is that our windows are so frosted up now I can’t see the bird feeders or watch the blue jays coming around.

We’ve received several Christmas cards already. Later this evening I’m going to have to sit down and write letters to my European penpals, to be included with the cards I send them. I’ve had penpals for thirty-some years now; though the list has swindled down I still correspond with some of those original pals in England and France. Exchanging letters has been a very rewarding and worthwhile hobby, but of course now we have the same sort of thing going on the Internet.

Here’s to blogging and making new friends on cyberspace!

Daily Prompt word: Vanish