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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IT’S HOME

This is my response to today’s Word Press Daily prompt word: Abide. Long-time readers may have seen a lot of this, but it lets all you new readers know a bit more about the place where we abide.

Welcome vs Irksome

Though our mornings are usually frosty, the snow of late September is long forgotten here in Sask. November is starting out unseasonably mild for us; Saturday was not only warm and sunny, it was a record high for these parts, beating the high in 1948. I was happy to get at some neglected housekeeping and was outside on my ladder cleaning the kitchen windows. Seeing the weather is supposed to remain quite warm all week I hope to clean more windows.

Today our sunny afternoon was perfect for a walk, though the wind is cool. I made it to the railroad track and back — which isn’t so very far but I can always do this trek again. Every little bit counts toward getting my energy back after my chemo-therapy.

We’ve had a special treat this past month as three blue jays have made our woods their home. They come to check out the bird feeder every morning and several times during the day. Since our feeder is built for smaller birds, I spread seeds on the ground to accommodate them even further. They’re rather noisy at times but we love their colors brightening up the yard and they must realize they’re welcome, for they aren’t easily frightened away..

Today’s daily prompt word is irksome, which brings to mind thoughts of the gluttonous magpies that also show up whenever seeds are offered. One night I spread feed on the ground for the early morning arrival of the jays and the next morning saw 7 or 8 magpies polishing it off. Grrr… They make a big mess rooting through the hanging feeder, too. Seeking their favorite nuts and seeds, tossing everything else to the four winds, they can empty a feeder in short order. Grrr again! A blue jay’s call may be screechy, but magpies have a combination squeal/grunt/oink that sounds like a bunch of pigs are biting each others’ tails.

Cats find magpies irksome because magpies love to tease and torment cats, also to steal their catches. I’ve seen magpies prancing a couple of metres in front of a cat trying to lure it into a chase, especially if the cat’s just killed a mouse. The birds often work in a team; one magpie tries to distract or irritate the cat, inviting a chase so the other can gab the mouse.

One day some years back I saw two magpies teasing our big fluffy cat, Panda, in the back yard. I watched as one bird strutted a metre in front of her while the other snuck up behind and grabbed at her twitching tail. She whipped around to face that one and the bird in front edged closer, wanting to pull at her ears. And those brutes have pretty vicious beaks!

Magpies know people find them irksome. As soon as you show your face and make a few motions they’re off into the trees. Folks say the crafty birds can spot a gun barrel half a km away and they don’t stick around to see what you’re aiming at. I’ve many times threatened to get a rifle and learn how to shoot magpies, but I’m a timid sort and fear for my windows, car tires, etc.

On a cheerier note, I see this blog has its 500th follower. Ta-da! Welcome! I appreciate everyone who drops by to read my posts and to express a LIKE — and special I thanks to all 500 of you who FOLLOW my posts.

Summer Sunshine

It’s a beautiful summer day here on the prairies, warm but not really hot. I’m hearing the hum of our riding mower as I’m typing this; hubby has decided this is great weather for cutting the lawn. I have some sewing lined up and want to start working on that shortly, but first a long-overdue post to let you know things are going fairly well right now.

I wrote about my chemo consequences last Thursday when I was feeling pretty down about it all. Then Friday morning I woke up feeling much improved, had more energy, was able to stay on my feet and get something done for a change. Perhaps my body was finally getting a grip on the side effects and/or perhaps my improvement was the result of prayers offered on my behalf. Whatever the case, I’ve sure been thankful for the better week I’ve had. Thanks for your prayers everyone.

I’m booked for a ST scan tomorrow afternoon to check the internal effects of the chemo-therapy, to assess how effective its battle has been against the leukemia. In the first CT scan I had they found swollen lymph nodes here and there plus my spleen was enlarged. Hopefully those symptoms will all have disappeared by now. I’ll consult with the doctor next Friday, then #5 treatment is coming up the first week in August.

I still get a really bad taste in my mouth after I eat certain things, and that lingers for about an hour or so. Much worse after certain sweet fatty foods like chocolate, pastries and ice cream. One of my favorites, coffee, tastes awful these days so I’ve replaced it with tea. The foods that work best for me now are things like salads. In fact when I do get a bad taste, I can almost banish it by munching on celery. Maybe my taster has decided to take my dietary preferences to task after all these years of decadence?

Our poor cat, Pookie, has been in recovery mode for the past couple of days. It’s obvious he got into a scrap with something during the night or early yesterday morning, because there was white fur fluffed around on our step. And he came in with a few punctures; since then he’s mostly been flat out on the spare bed or in an office chair.

The prairies have been decked with golden patches now, since the canola fields came into bloom. And the sloughs are filled with waterfowl. One morning we were on our way to the city when, coming up to a large slough beside the highway, we met a Canada goose family out for a stroll on the pavement. Looked like about ten rather ungainly young ones—all neck, it seemed—plus their parents urging them to hurry and get off the road.

I haven’t seen any humming birds at our feeder lately, but several times I’ve seen an oriole slurping away. One morning one large bird must have attacked another in midair not long before I looked out the front window, because there were whitish feathers laying around on the lawn. We looked around but no sign of an injured bird, so who knows. By afternoon a busy little sparrow had gathered these to feather his own nest.

And now I’d best leave off computing and get back to my sewing project. Thanks to all of you who read and follow my scribblings. As I said, I appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers with regard to my health. Wishing you all (in North America) a great evening and readers overseas either a good night or a good morning, as the case may be.

Darkness: Not my favorite thing

Yesterday’s Word Press prompt was Darkness and I started to put my thoughts down, then wimped out. Even though we now have the light of a new day — and a new prompt — maybe I’ll just continue with what I started.

Darkness is something we don’t have a lot of right now. When I woke up just after 5am this morning it was already broad daylight, and we enjoy our evening light until about 10:30 pm these days. A couple of weeks ago I looked out to see the last rays of sunset lingering in the western sky at 11:45. I enjoy being outside in the dimness of twilight time, or at the first crack of dawn. And I love the inky blackness of the sky pierced by the zillions of stars and the crescent of a new moon such as we had last night.

On the other hand, we’ve seen a lot of dark storm clouds these past two weeks, and a couple of them have dropped hail in our yard. Last Thursday afternoon I took note of a huge dark sculptured cloud formation coming our way — I’m guessing it was about 2 km in circumference. I was fascinated by its color, shape and movement as it drifted in from the northwest. The west side of the cloud bank was darker with very dark shredded clouds hanging below the central mass and moving toward the south. The east side of the cloud bank was more white, clearly defined rings swirled like soft ice cream in a sundae dish, and turning slowly toward the north.

When the eastern edge of this cloud moved into the field between us and the highway I called my husband to come and see this giant tornado in the sky. He came to watch for a few minutes, too, but the lightening flashes zapping out of the rather chaotic clouds in the center seemed too near for his liking. We came in and I continued to stare out the window at this phenomenon, though I wasn’t too thrilled when icy chunks of hail started pelting down on us.

Hubby googled this apparition and learned that meteorologists call this a super cell. It often leads to things like tornadoes and we later heard there were a few isolated touch-downs in this part of the province, plus various reports of funnel cloud sightings. Thankfully the hail didn’t do much damage here, no twisters fell out of the sky, and we got an intriguing “sound and light show” out our west window for 30 minutes or so.

Darkness is something I don’t have much use for. First thing I do when I get up is open all the blinds. Even in the daylight hours I’m quick to turn on lights if the room gets dim. We have visited in homes without electricity, where the folks have used kerosene lamps as their main source of lighting in the evening. I’m not sure how I’d be able to bear that lifestyle. Seems it would bring constant eye strain, especially in winter.

There are a few types of darkness I really do appreciate, like dark chocolate —YUM! Or rich, full-flavored coffee pouring into my mug. I add cream, though, which totally ruins its darkness. (Some people frown and call this polluting good coffee. Too bad.) I like dark brown sugar. I always choose to buy that kind if it’s available, instead of the “golden yellow” variety. However, it isn’t very dark after all, more like the color of wet sand. (I use it to sweeten my coffee — further polluting it, some folks will say.)

And we have two black cats. This works out fine unless I’m wandering around half asleep at 2 am and step on Panda. She’s taken to spending her nights lying on our cozy plush bath mat right in front of the toilet in the main bathroom. If I don’t happen to think of this, she may get an unwanted nudge when I stumble in. And Angus likes to curl up in my black leather office chair in front of my computer. Sometimes I’m in a hurry to check something out, swivel out the chair, and am almost sitting on him before I realize he’s there. One can easily understand why people over the years have gotten this attitude toward black cats.

So there we are. My thoughts on darkness. I had chemo treatments Monday and Tuesday, so my thoughts and/or feelings have been as muddled as some of these dark clouds passing over. The chemo week is a yucky time, but I feel more upbeat now for having gotten something written. Hope you all have a great weekend.

It Couldn’t Be Done

The Daily prompt word for today is contrast and I don’t have to look far to see a live demo. We have a second office chair in this room, not far from my desk, and at this moment it’s occupied by one of my cats. Totally relaxed and dozing, my black Angus, with his Siamese genes, is a perfect illustration of flexible.

He’s doing what I call “the watusi” — even though I’ve never seen that 60’s dance performed. Or maybe this is a cat version of the hula? His head and top third are facing left, legs totally stretched out. Somewhere in the middle third comes a twist, which brings his belly up to the light. Then the back third faces right, with his extended back legs hanging off the chair.

By contrast, here I sit, stiff and sore. This morning I can’t quite swivel my my neck a full 45 degrees in either direction. Muscles pull and protest when I straighten my shoulders and sit up properly. If I’d try to hula with Angus, arms reaching one way and feet set the other, I’d be apt to lock in that position and need a chiropractor to release me.

Another major contrast between me and my cats is that I want to sleep at 3 am but they want me to open the door so they can go exploring the yard. After all, there may be a mouse out there waiting to play tag. However, having checked out the yard, they soon feel the mouse must have gotten in and they need to sniff around the closet, or maybe the washer and dryer. At 5:00 am this morning I was mentally writing a poem about the cat that wants in, then out, then in. Then I shut our bedroom door — which I should have done in the first place.

This brings to mind another contrast: how soundly I sleep when I go to bed on an empty stomach versus how restless my sleep when I eat half a bowl of popcorn at midnight as I finish off a good book. (Note to self: NOTHING to eat after 8pm!)

That said, I hope you will enjoy this poem about the contrast in personalities. Our world today owes a lot to the few who persevered in spite of the naysayers.

IT COULDN’T BE DONE

by Edgar Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co