Storms And More Storms

Winter “Clipper” Roars Through

Yesterday morning our weather had warmed up here in Sask — temp got up to -9̊ C. Which brought in a fast-moving storm by evening with howling wind gusts that rattled our windows something fierce. I was afraid the power might go out, so I placed candles and flashlights in strategic places, just in case. Thankfully we haven’t had a lot of snow to blow, and not a lot came down during the “clipper”, or it would have been much worse for drivers.

This morning dawned clear and sunny, but the temp has dropped to -31̊ C, below -40 with wind-chill factored in. I call that “bitterly cold”! So I’m happy to stay inside all day, thankful I don’t have to pump gas or do any other out-in-all-weathers job.

Today’s Word Press prompt is someday. Very fitting.

Someday it will be spring. The grass will green up, the trees will bud and blossom, perennials will poke through. Someday. Meanwhile, today I plan to edit this book I’ve been working on, for teen boys.

I also posted Winter’s Day Dreams on Tree Top Haiku.

Book report: Hurricane
© 2003, 2008 by Terry Trueman
HarperCollins Publishers

Speaking of a book for teen boys, I read one yesterday that I thought was terrific. In the book Hurricane, by Terry Trueman, Jose, a young teen from a small Honduras village, stays at home with his mother and younger siblings in their small village while his dad, older brother and sister, have gone to the city. The day starts out rainy, nothing too unusual. Unknown to them, this is the forefront of Hurricane Mitch, the storm that devastated Central America in 1998.

They initially have to contend with the worsening storm, trying to keep their belongings dry under the leaking roof, and wondering about their missing family members. I small battery radio tells them about the damage Mitch is doing all over their country.  Then before the night is over Jose hears a great rumbling sound and mud from the loggers’ clean-cut patch on the mountain above comes pouring down on them, burying most of the village in sludge.

The author has done a great job of depicting the feelings of a boy caught up in a tragedy. We understand his amazement facing a sea of mud, overwhelmed by the cries of survivors needing help. We see his efforts together with neighbors digging in the mud for their loved ones and for food. We feel his revulsion at finding dead bodies — and sympathize with his constant fear that his father and siblings have been swept away, buried in other mud somewhere. Will they ever be found? Sandwiched in between are his flashbacks to the good times and questions about the future.

The author does all this in a refreshingly “clean” story with very little profanity and no immorality. Jose’s family, God-fearing Catholic people who believe in prayer, are trying to apply faith and trust in the midst of tragedy. This is a book I’d give to any reader, teen or adult.


Boxes and Paper Mountains

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a merry Christmas, a great weekend and a happy time together with your families.  Here on the prairies things were pretty brown and bare until Dec 24th, when a fine snow began to fall. It kept coming down all night so we had a white Christmas after all.

Now it’s Boxing Day here in Canada. I’ve heard various accounts of how Boxing Day got its start, likely from making up boxes to donate to the poor in one’s community back in merry old England. However, yesterday morning at church we heard about an interesting New Year’s Day custom in Haiti that one might call “Unboxing Day.”

The man who was speaking talked of their time at the mission in Jeremie, Haiti, and how folks there would store their unneeded belongings in suitcases much like we stash things away in our closets — which are rare in poorer Haitian homes. Every year around this time the locals would open the suitcases and wash the stored clothes and hang them up to air. After a few days they’d pack them away again, maybe for another year. This custom struck me as a rather useful one to have, comparable to a lot of housewives’ spring cleaning routines.

Of course his words called up a mental picture of my own stored boxes, unopened for a LONG time. We live in a mobile home with two bedrooms, an already overcrowded office, and no basement, so I do have possessions stashed in every closet and in plastic bins under the two beds. These usually do get opened at least once a year when I’m on a hunt for something I just can’t find.

As I haul out each box and look inside, I wonder why it’s so easy to collect stuff and so hard to get rid of excess? Seems I’m always tossing stuff but more soon takes its place. “The Curse of the Packrat’s Closet.” Does anyone want to write the novel?”

In particular I have two boxes and a bunch of notebooks that might delight Pandora: the boxes where I store all the miscellaneous scraps of paper destined to become verses of poetry or articles — when I find time to work on them. Will they ever or will they never? Will I ever rein in my ADD muse or will she always be a wild child?

My paper mountain
of brilliant ideas,
sheet by sheet it amasses
in boxes under my bed until
one day it raises the roof.

Then it all tumbles down
suffocates me in soppy scraps,
buries me in muddy musings.
And my sad children,
upon my demise, bring in

a paper shredder.
Next year I’m getting them
a sharp one for Christmas
so they’ll be prepared
when that time comes.

— C.G.

I think I’ll begin by opening my DropBox. That’s easier. 🙂

So Much To Discover!

When I saw the Word Press prompt word of the day is Discover, it sent a meteor shower of ideas through my brain. So many things are just waiting to be discovered, and finding them is usually so exciting and inspiring!

Unless it’s discovering a mouse nest in your cupboard. Or you forgot your best friend’s birthday. Or discovering that this promising new book you downloaded is full of stuff you don’t want to hear about. TMI. Not long ago I discovered that TMI (too much information) is now listed in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, along with a lot of other new ones I’ve never heard.

In the past six months I’ve discovered so many new things. I could make a dozen blog posts just telling you about:
new bloggers I’ve met
talented poets I’ve followed
new writers and characters
interesting and inspiring books
Amazon’s “100 Free books” list
how to become a ferocious self-editor
a great story idea for my grandson’s Christmas present

Discovering how to do something you’ve never done before is empowering. (When is that word going to appear as a daily prompt?) A few days ago I got a handle on how to text on my new phone. ‘Old hat’ for most of you, I’m sure, but I’m technologically challenged so it takes me awhile to learn the ropes of these new gadgets. (I’ve had the phone for over a year now.☺) Next my husband added a Kindle reading app to my phone, so now I can read books while I travel &/or wait.

Now if only I could discover how to remember everything I’ve learned! 🙂

Anyway, here’s a bit about one terrific book I discovered last month:
Of Moose and Men: Lost and Found in Alaska
by Torry Martin and Doug Peterson
Published by Harvest House Press. Available in print or as an e-book.

Actor Torry Martin leaves his unsatisfying party lifestyle in LA and heads for Alaska to escape from the kind of society he has known heretofore. Not really sure what he’s looking for in the wilderness of Alaska. And there he meets God — or rather, God finds him and sets him back on his feet again.

In this book he shares his and his friend Rob’s experiences working as directors in various summer camps in Alaska and their encounters with various wildlife —and churches. Later he describes their move to TN and a few of their experiences while living there. In addition to the humorous way he relates what happened he also shares inspiring spiritual lessons God was able to teach him through these incidents. I’d highly recommend it for anyone who likes outdoor & wildlife stories with a Christian flavour.

Metaphors–Prose & Haiku

Today The Write Practice post dealt with how to create colorful metaphors. I went about this exercise seriously, cutting paper into 16 bits for my abstracts and 18 for my objects. Maybe I’ll keep adding bits to the bowl and write a few more, but here’s the metaphor that came of today’s match-up: fear = book.

My book of Assorted Fears fell open this morning at the chapter, “Nobody loves me.” It’s a depressing read, but I skimmed through the pages anyway, went down the bullet point lists of why nobody should. Then I turned to the pages of Convincing Evidence. The ink was dark and damning, many remarks recorded in boldface type. I read half a page before my eyes got blurry, so I slammed the book shut, crawled back into bed and pulled the covers over my head. Someday I’ll burn that book, I vow.

Reading through another blog I noticed the word “dizzy.” Right then some muse gave me a nudge and popped a picture into my mind, which resulted in this verse. I find haiku so suited to metaphors.

child on a swing
twirling herself dizzy
fallen leaves skitter by

The Simple Things

by Edgar A Guest

I would not be too wise — so very wise
that I must sneer at simple songs and creeds
and let the glare of wisdom blind my eyes
to humble people and their humble needs.

I would not dare to climb so high that I
could never hear the children at their play.
Could only see the people passing by
and never hear the cheering words they say.

I would not know too much — too much to smile
at trivial errors of the heart and hand
nor be too proud to play the friend the while,
nor cease to help and know and understand.

I would not care to sit upon a throne
or build my house upon a mountain-top,
where I must dwell in glory all alone,
and never friend come in, or poor man stop.

God grant that I may live upon this earth
and face the tasks which every morning brings
and never lose the glory and the worth
of humble service and the simple things.

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

Written in the Book of Life

André was one of those “colorful characters” you meet from time to time. A French-Canadian by birth, born illegitimate, an orphan abandoned by his adoptive parents at age five, he’d been brought up in an orphanage run by a religious order that shall here remain nameless.

In his youth the nuns had taught him to cook and he grew up to be an excellent cook. He continued with the religious order as an adult and traveled around as a monk, seeing the world and fine-tuning his cooking skills. Then one day he quit the order, packed his bags and headed out on his own.

Rough and tough on the outside, on the inside still hurting badly from being abandoned by his parents and then abused at the orphanage, André was looking after himself now. He earned his living by cooking in fine restaurants in the East and in various remote construction camps in the West. For a time he worked as Head cook for the Alberta Tar Sands project, feeding thousands of men every day. But André had a problem that finally sank him in a deep, black hole.

Somewhere in an eastern Head Office, some bookkeeper sat up and took notice of the receipts coming in from one of the camps. Checking back, he became intrigued by the amount of vanilla being consumed in their remote Northern Alberta operation. He got on the phone to the head honcho there. Why was the Cook ordering in vanilla by the case? The handwriting was on the wall.

André found himself out of work, out of money, and drunk in Vancouver one morning. Skid row loomed ahead. Wandering along the sidewalk with nowhere to go, he happened to see a Bible verse printed on a billboard outside a mission-type church.

He knocked on the door and told the man who answered, “I need help.”

The man scoffed. “You’re drunk!”

“Yes, I’m drunk, but I need help.”

They talked. André started going to the services. He came face to face with the real need in his life and the gospel of Good News. He turned his life over to God and God picked him up out of that deep dark hole.

Up until now the only thing he’d ever done was cook, and there was good money to be made in the mining and exploration camps in the North. Thus he signed up as a cook again, but he didn’t want to slide back into the life he’d lived before. So he took a Bible with him and throughout the long evenings, alone in his bunk, he copied out the entire Bible by hand several times.

He showed us the notebooks he’d filled. No hastily scribbled words for him. He’d learned penmanship in the orphanage school and had excellent handwriting, that flowing, flowery style so popular sixty years ago. His handwriting put most of ours to shame.

André developed diabetes, then heart trouble, and had to retire from cooking. But he did some work with Teen Challenge after receiving his disability pension. If I remember rightly, he came back to Québec to start a group home there. We met him one Sunday morning when we were on a visit to Montréal; a few years later, while we were living there, André became our brother in the faith.

He’d been through a lot and could still be fiery or defensive at times, but the Good News he’d embraced in Vancouver had worked in his life and softened his character a lot.

Word Press daily prompt: handwriting