“Red Sails in the Sunset”

Our boss, Jim Watson, had been to the local Super Discount store and bought our weekly grocery needs. When he got back to the senior’s home he hauled in his purchases, in miscellaneous boxes and bags, storing most of them in the large walk-in fridge just off the kitchen. On his way out again, he set one of these boxes on a stool that sat perpetually beside the fridge. Likely he meant to dispose of it, but it was forgotten there for about a week.

I was working as part-time cook/ part-time cleaner in this senior’s home at the time and I happened to work in the kitchen the next day. I noticed that box sitting on the stool and stopped to read the writing on the side: Red Sails Whisky.

I guess this dates me, but some memory bank in my mind started playing the song, “Red Sails in the Sunset.” It had been years since I heard that song, but the association was immediate. And the next day while my boss was working in the kitchen, though he paid no attention to the box, I heard him humming that same song.

The next day the main cook was back on the job and I was doing the day’s vacuuming, but came into the kitchen just before lunch to carry loaded plates to the residents, serve the tea, and help with the cleaning up after. As we were occupied with this last task I heard her humming the tune “Red Sails in the Sunset.”

I laughed. “You, too?”

“What?”

“You’re humming that tune, too. You must have seen the box.”

“What box?”

I pointed it out to her. She hadn’t even noticed the words. In fact the box itself, during its short stay, had blended in so well to the kitchen decor that it hadn’t registered on her conscious mind. But her subconscious mind had picked up on those words and recalled the same tune that popped into my own mind and my boss’s mind.

Just as the song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” was one of the things that popped into my head when I saw today’s daily prompt word: smoke. And looking through all the responses to the prompt, I see the same switch was flicked in the minds of a lot of other bloggers.

Instant association. You see something and, far faster than the speed of thought, an image, a statement, a slogan or the line from a song, pops into your brain. (And often it’s for the best if you can keep it from popping out your mouth! Let’s not go there. ☹ ☺)

Sometimes as I’m walking down the street, I get a whiff of tobacco from a freshly lit cigarette and my mind goes back to my dad. He smoked for over thirty years until one day he realized how it was sapping his lung power, thus his ability to work, and he quit cold turkey.

Actually, one of the first thoughts that came to mind when I saw this prompt was my Dad’s death as a result of smoking. I wrote an article about this; you can read it HERE.

Before I posted my article, I asked my doctor if I’d get into trouble claiming that smoking caused his cancer. Was there enough medical evidence to verify this, or would I get sued by the tobacco companies for defamation of product? “Yes, you can say smoking causes cancer,” he assured me. “There’s definitely enough evidence to back up that statement.”

This word also prompted thoughts of all the smoke we get hereabouts when forest fires are raging in the north. So I saw the word SMOKE from several different angles — and judging from the many links at The Daily Post HQ, others have, too.

Answers to Prayer

Sunday Morning Musings

Apparently someone once asked George Mueller if he spent a lot of time in prayer, to which he replied that he prayed for hours every day.

“I endeavour to live in the spirit of prayer,” he added. “I pray as I walk, when I lie down, and when I rise. And the answers are always coming. Tens of thousands of times have my prayers been answered. The great fault of the children of God is that they don’t continue in prayer… They do not persevere.”

When we consider that George Mueller successfully pastored a church of 1,200 members, housed, fed clothed, taught and evangelized 2,050 orphans annually, supported 187 missionaries, organized a society that distributed vast quantities of Bibles and tracts, and went on lecture tours in his old age, one can believe that he received all those answers to prayer!

Apparently he never accepted a salary, nor mentioned financial needs to others but depended on God to supply their needs. And he never went into debt.

Oh, me of little faith!

When I read this account of George Mueller, I found his life of prayer an inspiration and a reproof. God does answer prayers. It’s not all about maintaining a loud enough, persistent enough wail that God will finally give in and give me what I want, as I see some children do. It’s about having the confidence to ask and the faith to leave the need in His hands. “Not my will, but Thine, O God.”

The Cockney & the Lark

We have another brilliant day here in southern Saskatchewan; only a few clouds in the north smudging an otherwise clear blue dome. Plus some flocks of geese en route. I opened my window first thing to drink in the fresh air, and right then a huge flock of snow geese — about 200, I’d guess — were winging it NW over this acreage. Quite a few of them passed right over our trailer, in fact, affording me a good view of their undersides.

When I stepped out the door a few hours later, I heard the distinctive trill of a western meadowlark. Driving down the road I saw it flit across and perch on a fence post. In this country meadowlarks and fence posts “go together like a horse and carriage,” to borrow a line from an old song.

(A song quite obsolete these days, expressing what would be classed as archaic sentiments. I’m sure the words will ring a bell with you other silver-haired seniors.)

Back to the lark again. Seeing and hearing one this morning made me think of the larks over in England, after which our bird was no doubt named. It would be great to hear one someday and compare notes. Which brings to mind a little anecdote I read one day:

Apparently a school class of East End London Cockney children was on a field trip somewhere in the country. This happened back in the 50s and some of these youngsters had never been in a rural setting before. Arriving at the chosen spot, they eagerly piled out of their bus and busied themselves with inspecting, classifying, and generally admiring the local flora and fauna.

From some nearby branch a lark took flight; the children watched in fascination as the bird flew straight up into the sky. He then hovered there a moment pouring out his heart in a rousing song.

One young lad, obviously never having seen the likes, watched the bird soar upward and listened to its cheerful notes. His teacher couldn’t help but chuckle as she heard him exclaim, “Say, but that sparrer can’t ‘arf ‘oller!”

A lark, by any other name…

The New Scrooge

The WordPress prompt asks which fiction character we’d like to visit with. Well, I’d like to sit down and visit with Ebenezer Scrooge — after he’d seen the light about his parsimonious past and sad future. Come with me and let’s imagine how much he changed after the spirits of Christmas clued him in.

Scrooge Comes Calling

“Old Mother Hubbard went to her cupboard to get her poor dog a bone
but when she got there, the cupboard was bare…”
except for a small bag of pot barley, a chunk of salt, and a bit of parsley.

She looked sadly down at her hound and shook her head. “Sorry, old Jack. Only enough for one last pot of barley broth for us. No meat. Not even a dry bone.” A tear trickled down her cheek. The dog sensed the situation and hung his head in despair.

A sharp rapping on the door made her jump. “Whoever could that be?” Poor, emaciated Jack gave a few brave barks and wobbled over to the door—and there he plopped down, too weak to stand.

With her apron she wiped away her tears. “Maybe it’s someone bringing a poor widow a bite to eat, eh Jack. Maybe?” She unbolted the door and opened it a crack.

The finely dressed gentleman standing there removed his top hat with a flourish. “Good morning, Mrs Hubbard.”

Mother Hubbard gasped, then stared wide-eyed at the caller for a full two minutes. Even Jack stared at the stranger, but had not an ounce of strength to bark at him.

“Ebenezer Scrooge! What on earth…?” Old Mother Hubbard thought she was seeing a ghost, but the man seemed alive enough. Though she barely recognized him. Ebenezer was actually smiling—something she’d never seen him do in all the years she’d passed him on the street. She visited his office every month to pay the rent on her tiny hovel and had gotten a glimpse of his dour face on occasion, but never had she seen him looking cheerful.

Jack managed to rise and stumble over to the man, sniffing at his shoes, then at the bag he held in his hand. His tail gave a few weak wags.

Ebenezer doffed his hat. “Indeed it is I, Mrs Hubbard.”

The old lady winced. In her penury she had nothing with which to pay her rent, so she’d stopped her landlord on the street as he passed just a few days ago and pleaded with him not to evict her.

His reply had been rude. “If you can’t pay your rent there are others who can. Have the money here by due date or I’ll send the bailiff around to evict you.” Now she feared the worst.

“So you’ve come in person to order me out, Mr. Scrooge?” She summoned up her courage and looked him right in the eye. Mother Hubbard had her dignity; she wasn’t going to grovel for this greedy grasping villain.

“No, Madam, not at all. I’ve come to make amends for treating you so poorly last week, Mrs. Hubbard. You see, I’ve had a…shall we say, a miraculous…change of heart.”

Mother Hubbard was speechless. She could see by his countenance that something amazing had happened. Why he looked almost…kindly!

Jack was sniffing eagerly at the bag in Scrooge’s hand; Mother Hubbard eyed it now herself. It looked a bit bloody.

Scrooge held the sack out to her. Here you go, Mrs. Hubbard. I’ve brought you two chickens to cook for your Christmas dinner. And I’ve left orders at the grocer; they’ll be sending around a food hamper on Monday.”

Mother Hubbard, not sure if she was hallucinating all this, took the sack and peered inside. Sure enough, from what she could see it did indeed contain two chickens. “How can I ever thank you, Mr. Scrooge?” she stammered.

“And you needn’t worry about your rent money, either, Madam. I’ve given instructions for Bob Cratchett to mark your account paid in full for the next year. I have enough money; I don’t need yours.”

Mother Hubbard’s mouth dropped open, but not a word came out. Scrooge, however, didn’t seem to need more thanks. He tipped his hat again and bid her good day, a merry twinkle in his eye.

Ms Hubbard blinked twice and came to her senses. “Mr. Scrooge,” she called. “Wait, sir! Seeing as you’re feeling…um… generous at the moment, will you permit me to entreat you on behalf of a poor neighbor of mine. She lives down at the end of the road and just around the corner.” Mother Hubbard indicated the direction with a wave.

“She’s a sailor’s widow and has all she can do to put food in the mouths of the children she now has. But such a great heart she has, people keep bringing her orphans and she can’t bear to turn them away. Just yesterday she told me all she had to give the lot of them was a bit of broth — not even a slice of bread. If you could be so kind, sir, as to send a bit of bread to the poor little ones…” She paused, fearing she’d really pushed her luck.

“I’ll see to the matter myself,” Scrooge assured her. “You say at the end of this lane?”

“Yes. She lives in a house made from a shoe box. I don’t know if you should go there yourself, sir. They’re such a noisy, lively bunch. I’m sure you’re not used to that.”

“Well, maybe I should get used to that. Maybe an old man like myself would do better to be around some lively children.” Then he walked away, stepping lively.

All amazed, Mother Hubbard closed the door. She looked at the sack, then at Jack. She shook her head — and keeled over in a faint. By the time she came to, Jack had eaten two drumsticks. She sat up and heard the bread-man’s wagon rattling down the street, headed toward the tiny house at the end of the lane.

Scrooge had come through. God bless that man!

Writers Conference Travelog

HOME AGAIN…

after a five day trip to Edmonton, Alberta, to attend a writers conference and a Sunday side trip to visit friends and worship with our church family at Edberg.

We left home Wednesday afternoon and checked in at our hotel in Edmonton about 7:30 pm. Bob has a GPS app for his phone, so we obediently followed that lady’s directions all the way to the hotel entrance. En route we took note of all the signs of fall: leaves turning; combines harvesting canola; vees of migrating geese.

In one valley, not far from the highway, we saw a huge flock of snow geese. Easily a thousand birds, they formed a shimmering cloud over a pond — hovering, circling, milling as snow geese do, their white bodies reflecting the rays of the afternoon sun.

After we were settled in our room Bob went out for a brief tour of the hotel, then later I did. I was wandering through the lobby when I met up with Jeff Goins, no less! (I had no trouble recognizing him from his blog and book cover photos.) He was our first motivational speaker at the conference, also there to sell and sign his latest book, The Art of Work. I didn’t curtsy but I did shake hands and introduce myself — then was rendered speechless. Good thing for him, eh? 🙂

On Thursday morning we left the hotel and went to see a relative at St Albert, just north of Edmonton. Rose is the widow of Bob’s cousin, Ron Goodenough. (Ron & his dad used the ‘e’ in their spelling of the name.) Rose is 91, a tiny, cheerful soul who loves the Lord. She gets out for a long walk every day — which is better than I do. We had a nice visit and took her out for lunch.

Then back to the hotel to officially meet and listen to Jeff Goins at 1:30 pm. This kicked off our three-day InScribe Christian Writers’ Conference, where we met a number of inspired and inspiring Christian writers and learned about the ins and outs of Christian literature and the publishing industry. My writing spirit has been sagging lately; these meetings have rekindled my enthusiasm.

The most helpful information I received was about how to publish through CreateSpace and that Canadians can apply for a tax exemption number through CreateSpace without having to apply and submit ID to the US government — including our passports — to get a number. Yay! Now I can finally see my way through to publish Silver Morning Song, the book of poems and short stories I compiled two years ago and have been dithering over ever since.

Another bit of guidance I received came during the workshop entitled “Finding Your Niche.” Our instructor told us that we need one main focus, one main genre. We were given the example of drilling for water: you need to dig one hole and stick with it, keep digging until you hit water. Thus we shouldn’t focus on this, then on that, then on another type of writing, until the whole field is filled up with holes we’re apt to stumble over. I talked to the workshop leader about my various blogs and she said, “There you go. That’s just it!” So I’m reconsidering my diversity.

So I’d just decided I’m going to focus on children’s fiction, then we went to our next workshop. This was a poetry class; here I compiled a “found poem” the class thought was beautiful and profound. Our teacher, an accomplished poet and songwriter, even asked me if she could have a copy to share with her husband. (I’ll post it here tomorrow, too.) But now I’m confused again. Fiction or poetry? Short stories or haiku? For those of you who “know me” from my various blogs and writings, what genre should I focus on?

Friday evening I was able to meet with my cousin who lives in Edmonton; her son’s fiancée brought her to the hotel and we had a visit in the restaurant over dessert and coffee. I was so happy to finally be able to meet David’s intended. While I was doing this, Bob was at the conference winning first prize for a blog post he wrote. He joined us in the restaurant briefly to say hello.

Saturday we all rounded up the Conference around 4pm, then Bob & I left the hotel and went to Edberg. Our friends Harold & Val had invited us to spend night with them and Sunday dinner. As they say, a good time was had by all.

We left Harolds’ yard around 4 pm and headed east, then southeast. We stopped for supper near the AB-SK border, then got to watch the “super moon” rise above the highway in front of us. So huge! With a tiny bite out of one edge. We knew nothing about the eclipse, but it soon became apparent something abnormal was happening up there. Watching this awesome lunar eclipse all the way home was definitely the grand finale to our trip and made the homeward journey much more interesting.

Now, can you guess what I did yesterday? If you said, “Laundry,” then I know you’re an experienced traveler. 🙂 And then there were the 160 e-mails in my In-box. I’m slowing working my way through them.

Bob picked up the mail yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised to find a package, a gift from fellow haiku poet Ron Evans. This contained four delightful little books, three of them translations of Japanese haiku by past masters like Basho & Issa. I’ve been reading through them off & on ever since I opened the package, and writing a few verses of my own.

When we left home all our the small maple trees in our yard were golden; now I see very few leaves left on them. The majority of cranes have left us, but there are still a few dozen wandering around. Some of the emu-like birds, looking like mini grey haystacks with long necks and legs, were grazing in the field beside our trailer yesterday morning.

And that brings me to today. I’m looking ahead with more courage, planning to be more faithful in my writing endeavors. Tomorrow morning I need to get the last details off to the printer so my children’s book, The Rescuing Day, can go to press.

I’d like to say a special thanks to all of you who read and follow my blogs, forgiving my lack of inspiration and irregular postings. I appreciate you, all your encouragements, and hope life is treating each of you well today.