A Season of New Things

Spring Has Sprung and So Have the Cats

Our cats are so happy to be released from their long winter’s confinement. We’ve had some lovely weather lately and they’re making the best of it. Other creatures, too, are popping out of hibernation.

Yesterday afternoon I looked out and saw Pookie sitting on his haunches on the lawn, with a magpie facing him about two metres away and another one standing about that far away on his right. Lying between the three of them was the limp body of a full-grown gopher. (Aka, thirteen-striped Richardson ground squirrel.) Whatever it was once known as, the dead critter had become the object of a property dispute.

Magpies are thieves; we see it all the time. If the cats catch something and haven’t eaten it yet, there’s usually a magpie peering hopefully from the garage roof or strutting in the grass nearby. And they often work in pairs. Like: “You distract the cat and I’ll grab the corpse.” Even if there’s no loot magpies often work in teams to torment cats.

So when I saw this standoff I opened the window and shooed the magpies away. With the birds gone Pook went back to playing with the thing awhile, even if it offered no exciting resistance. As soon as he got tired of the game and wandered off the magpie was back, snatching bites of the prize, which Pook didn’t tolerate. He rushed back to reclaim the gopher, then a few minutes later our black cat Angus sauntered up and began gnawing on it. Pook went back to wait beside the gopher hole for another one to pop out. Poor gophers. It’s a hard life at the bottom of the food chain.

Angus likely caught the thing in the first place. Pook is a bit of a thief himself. As I said in an earlier post, he’s an invasive species; he has this habit of pushing his nose into whatever interesting meal Angus is eating and slowly takes over the dish. Or mouse. Or whatever. Anyway, an hour later all trace of the victim was gone, so I imagine whatever remains remained when Angus left the magpies snatched.

Tuesday en route to the city we saw ducks in the ponds. This morning my husband opened the window and heard a meadowlark singing. Bliss! I went outside a bit later and heard the honking of a goose. I looked up and saw a line of snow geese headed by what looked like a Canada goose and he was the cheerleader. So spring has returned to our land.

A New Home for My Stuff

Since spring’s a time of beginning again, I’m going to catch that wave and move to a new blog home.

I’ve been contemplating this for awhile, wanting to bring all my writings under one roof but not quite sure how. I shut down Swallow in the Wind a few months back, but still have Christine Composes for my fiction, plus this site. Now I’m going to bring all my writing to Christine’s Collection’s new home. I contemplated a major renovation, but the categories and tags on my posts would all need reworking to fit the new plan. Easier to start from scratch, I decided.

I’ve had a “spare” private blog for a couple of years, using it to test out new themes before going to all the work of installing them on my public sites. Last week I enlisted the help of Bruce at WordPress Support and he’s been guiding me through this move, bless his heart.

Bruce says it’s no problem to switch the domain name for both active sites so that anyone who types in christinegoodnough.com or christine composes.com will land up there. All subscribers from both sites will be switched to the new one. And I will only have one better-organized blog to contend with. This sounds great to me now, given my health issues.

So I’ve been going back and forth for a few days now, carrying and unpacking a few files, scheduling future posts and generally preparing the site for visitors. I’m delighted with the new look, though I’m sticking with this basic layout. I’ve learned how to build Categories into the main menu, now my category “closets” are easily accessible and every genre will have its proper place in the grand scheme.

I thought I’d give you this heads-up a week or so before I do the final move and open the new site for public viewing. But the only difference you’ll find is that this current site will revert back to the pre-domain address of christinegoodnough.wordpress.com, so if you want to check out some post in these archives you’ll need to type in that address. Christine Composes will go back to christineevelynvance.wordpress.com.

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Those Answering Machines!

I read an interesting post recently: a blogger writing about her father, a Polish immigrant to the US in 1947. He never quite caught on to the business of answering machines. Read her story here.

I remember folks getting quite creative on their answering machine recordings. Years back I phoned a number — someone advertising something for sale, if I recall rightly — and they weren’t home. Instead I got this C&W verse sung by some fellow with a nasal twang, that went something like:
Hello, so nice of you to call. And how are you, your wife and the kids, your Mom and the dog? A couple more lines, then he launched into a different melody starting with, “Where oh, where, are we today…”

When my daughter got home I called back so she could listen to it, too — hoping no human answered the phone! I wonder how often those folks were told, “Er… Hello. Um…well, I actually didn’t call to talk to you. I…uh…just wanted my friend to hear your answering machine song.”

I was inspired to write a little ballad (set to the tune “Streets of Laredo”) telling the tale of a poor fellow and his answering machine. If you’d like to record it on your machine, feel free. 🙂

I just walked out to the store at the corner;
I thought I’d step out for a bit of fresh air.
Then don’t you know it, my phone started ringing,
and as you will know I just wasn’t all there.

The phone started ringing, my dog started barking,
and woke up my neighbor who sleeps half the day.
He phoned the police and they came in a hurry
and the pound keeper came to take Rover away.

I pleaded my cause and they gave me a warning,
“Get an answering machine or get rid of your hound!”
Well, I love old Rover — my best friend, I tell you!
So I bought this contraption— the best one in town.

Now when I’m outdoors or downtown on an errand
leave your messages here at the sound of the beep.
I’ll be calling you back soon if you leave your number,
but don’t call again. Let my poor neighbor sleep.

Making A House A Home

LANDLORD AND TENANT

by Edgar Guest

The landlord wouldn’t paint the place
or keep it in repair,
yet at the window panes was lace,
though every board was bare
and those who passed it by could trace
the tenant’s tender care.

And those who passed it by could see
a blossoming plant or two.
Despite the tenant’s poverty
a little garden grew,
lovely and gay and orderly
the blazing summer through.

The landlord Life at times seems cold
and deaf to every plea,
yet to our dreams we still can hold;
courageous we can be
and round the place plant marigolds
for passers-by to see.

We, too, with faith, can plant a rose
where all is bleak and bare
and fashion pretty furbelows
for windows of despair,
and work, till our poor dwelling shows
a tenant’s tender care.

From his book, LIFE’S HIGHWAY
© 1933 by the Reilly & Lee Co.

Nice New Floor!

Floor Facelift Complete!

Hello, dear friends. In spite of the gray, foggy day I’m in a joyful mood this morning. I’m delighted with my new kitchen-dining room-bathroom floor. It’s lying so nicely in place and our workman has made one last appearance to put in the baseboard trim all around, plus re-install the toilet in our main bathroom. Tra-la-la!

Once he’s finished we can move the big stuff back into place in the affected rooms. This being a mobile home, our dining-living room area is all open so the table and chairs got shuffled into the LR for the interim. And as part of our renovation the carpet in the living room was trimmed back so the dining room flooring now extends another couple of feet into the living room. We needed the extra DR space — whenever the table was extended the end chair was half on the carpet — but we’ll now have to shift things around in the living room, too.

It hasn’t been that dusty an operation, yet I feel it’s time to give everything a good cleaning — and I’m so thankful that my energy is finally coming back so I can do that. It seems I went down rather than up for the first few months after I finished chemo, but I’m definitely feeling much perkier now. So don’t be surprised if you don’t see many posts here for the next couple of weeks while I put things to rights around here.

Following Via the Reader

I wonder how many of you follow other blogs strictly via your Readers and how many of you opt to receive e-mail notifications of new posts? I’ve tried just using the Word press Reader, but I do prefer the e-mail notices, since with me it tend to be “out of sight out of mind.”

There are times when I know I’ll be otherwise occupied and don’t want my In-box filling up, I shut off these e-mail notices and just check the Reader. Then when I switch the e-mail notifications back on, I get a “You have successfully subscribed to So-and-so’s blog” e-mail from Word Press, even though it’s not a new subscription at all. Since I’ve received dozens of these, I’ve gotten curious. Do folks whose blogs I follow get a notice that “Christine is now following your blog” and chalk up a new follower every time I switch on the e-mail notices again? Am I messing with other bloggers’ stats?

Having another blogger in the house, with his computer just a few feet from mine, meant this morning I could do a little experiment. I turned my e-mail notifications for his blog off and on a couple of times, and am happy to see that his blog didn’t register any of my messing around. So I hope the other blogs I follow won’t, either.

Anyway, hasta la vista everyone. Have a great weekend.

Half A Chaos Load

As the sun rises on our small acreage this morning, tinting the thin layers of cloud with delightful rosy shades, it finds our mobile home in a state of upheaval. And clothes drying, since I was up early this morning getting the wash done before our workman gets here.

We’re having the flooring replaced in our dining area-kitchen-hallway, which is all one open area, plus the main bathroom just off the hallway. Of course this involves the main traffic area in our mobile home, so hubby and I have been holed up in the office for the most part since the work began. We’ve chosen interlocking vinyl slats 1′ x 2′ to replace the wood laminate stuff that was cracking, peeling and chipping. It has been removed and stacked outside and most of the stick-down tiles that were under it have been lifted and tossed, too, and a start made at laying down the new stuff.

Our washer and dryer have already been moved, the flooring replaced under them and the appliances put back again. Today it’ll be the fridge & stove’s turn. Isn’t it shocking what all hides under your appliances and shows up when workers are around to see it? Mostly we’ve found dust bunnies and rags fallen behind the washer — but we needed to move a tall bookcase in our living room and underneath that was a mouse’s nest from who knows when. Yuck!

Part of our sub-floor has gotten water-damaged, so our worker has been replacing some of that. Which means sawing and drilling, which means some dust flying, which means the place needs a thorough cleaning when it’s over. Plus we need to move the second living room bookcase to see if another mouse lived there. Have our cats been sleeping on the job?

Being stuck in the office is not a heavy cross, I’ll admit. I’ve been writing short fiction, plus working on a Hardy Boys-type story for my teen grandson. But as soon as this renovation work is done I’ll be overworked, trying to restore order to this chaos.

The chemo-therapy I had last year really has punched the lights out of my memory cells. I realized this again recently at my husband’s cousin’s wife’s funeral. I asked about another cousin and Bob told me, “He’s my Uncle John’s son.” I stared at him blankly. He didn’t have an Uncle John — at least not one that I knew of. Eventually it came back to me, but the lapse did give me a jolt.

Last week when I’d written my short story for Friday Fictioneers (see link at right) I decided to post all those stories on Christine Composes, my fiction blog. Then I forgot and posed it here yesterday as When Fear Makes You Sweat. (Work isn’t the only thing that makes you sweat. The fear of forgetting can be another cause.)

I got another reminder last night when I came across a story in my Documents. I vaguely remember writing it, maybe a year ago? Seems I posted it, too, but I can’t find it on either of my blogs. So I’m posting it this morning on Christine Composes and offering my apologies if you read it last year. Read it here: A Counselor’s Toughest Job

And this morning a phone call reminded me of the birthday party I’m invited to this afternoon. I mark these things on the calendar — when I remember. Some folks tell me they wish they could blame memory lapses on chemo, but their minds just don’t retain —  probably overworked.

And now I’d best arise and go do some work.

The Word Press daily prompt for today: overworked.

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.